I’ve finally got around to keying up the reminiscences of Harold Forster as written down by his sister Hilda during her visit to England 1954-1955, which covers most of his long seafaring career. I typed it up originally in the 1990s from Hilda’s pencilled notes but couldn’t find the electronic version so keyed it all again. I’ve tried to organise it in chronological order as it jumps about a bit. I guess Harold told the stories as they came to him. Here’s the first page of the original:

Page 1 of “Dick’s digest” as written down by Hilda Forster

I’m sorry it’s taken so long as Harold was surely the most interesting of the whole interesting Forster family. For example in 1914 he was selected to navigate the plane for Gustav Hamel which was to be the first flight across the Atlantic. He’d navigated plenty of ships across it so why not? Hamel’s death over the English Channel put paid to the scheme – maybe just as well for Harold?

Yet to come are three letters he wrote to his sister Constance after sailing off “before the mast” at the very start of his career. He was Con’s favourite brother and her son Harold Beatty was named after him.

Here’s the link to the page with the text of Dick’s Digest It starts with a few photos.

I finally got around to writing more of the family saga. Being locked down has advantages. Fittingly it’s Chapter 13 – as everything went wrong for the Beattys of “Enniscrone”, Mont Albert and of Stanhope Grove over this period. Mind you a lot of other people’s lives were stuffed up during WW2 as well. I was going to call it “Camelot unravels” or somesuch, but thought maybe that’s too corny? Anyway, the section on Harold finally gives a point to the name of this website and the photo at the top of it, which is “Enniscrone”, Thornton (taken 1975) from Walker’s property looking across to Mt. Cathedral with Taggerty out of sight to the right.

I have to acknowledge the Diary of Peg Beatty as a really fabulous source. Unlike many diaries it isn’t a sounding board for her feelings and opinions, in fact she so rarely expresses either that it really gets your attention when she does. She just records every move she and members of her household make, including frequent mentions of numerous extended Beatty and Forster family that she sees or exchanges letters with, and she writes every day without fail for 55 years. Maybe I should offer it to the National Library?

I can’t write much further ahead now though I’ll think about it. My policy is the same as most family historians which is that you don’t mention people who are still alive, but you also don’t want to upset anyone – though I try to be very fair. I do have a fair bit of stuff about Harold Forster and Hilda Forster which ought to be up there and so I should get on with that next.

I found and copied out Deed 169-116-112988 when I was in Dublin last year, but have only just got around to incorporating the new information into the Pagets of Mayo story. It’ll take a bit longer before it gets incorporated in my family tree.

Henry Paget of Knockglass  “did thereby deed, assign and make over” Knockglass and all his real estate in Co. Mayo to his nephew Thomas Paget (c1715-c1791) of Fahy in 1754. In return Thomas was to pay Henry an annuity of 13 pounds and 10 shillings for the rest of Henry’s life. Thomas’s own address at the time was another home of the Mayo Pagets, Fahy House. In the deed the surname is spelled Pagett. I’ve updated my tree in Ancestry with the new information, and am a bit startled to discover that there are now about 6 other trees with the early generations of Pagets – I think mostly derived from mine. When I made my tree there was nothing about them at all! Maybe they’re not so forgotten after all.  A couple of the trees have added the information that the father of above Thomas Paget, and therefore the brother of above Henry Paget was a Robert Paget. No source is given for this information although it could well be the case. Thomas’s father probably lived at Fahy too. If anybody knows a source, please let me know.

I knew there would be more to find out about the Pagets of Mayo at the Registry of Deeds in Dublin, but until now it has been a time consuming business getting the deeds on microfilm, or getting to them in Dublin. Miraculously, the entire Registry is now available online (well all the memorials and old indexes as images) indecipherable writing, impenetrable legalese and all! I guess there’s no longer any excuse not to trawl through the few dozen Paget deeds for further clues, though most of the deeds concern Pagets who live in Dublin. While I’m at it I’ll add records to the Registry of Deeds Index Project

I’ve now updated the chapter: “The Beattys out of Ireland” in the family story to include all the latest information I have about the early generations of our Beatty family. The Colebrooke Estate records at the Public records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) didn’t go back quite far enough to tell me where our ancestor James Beatty (1797-1873) came from before taking up farming at Aghavoory townland just south of Fivemiletown, Co. Fermanagh, sometime before 1829. They did tell me the year he died, so here is his death record.

James Beatty of Aghavoory, co. Fermanagh. Death record 1873

James Beatty of Aghavoory, co. Fermanagh. Death record 1873

They also showed that the land which James later farmed was leased in 1787 to a Robert McKnight, then aged 32, and that that name remained against James Beatty’s Aghavoory land in the Colebrooke Estate rent book until November 1865 even though James Beatty paid the rent. The original Robert McKnight would have been aged 105 by then. Maybe it was sublet to James by the McKnight family all that time? There seems to be no surviving lease for Aghavoory in James Beatty’s name, even from 1865.

So who was Archibald Beatty, Farmer, who was given as James’s father at his (second) marriage?

We know from genetic testing that we are very closely related to the Beattys of Farnamullan. The YDNA tests indicated a 70% probability that Charles Beatty (1725-1798) of Farnamullan was the common ancestor between our family and descendants of the Farnamullan Beattys. I’m told that analysis of “BigY” tests using the same DNA samples gives an even stronger indication that either Charles or his father must be the common ancestor. I confess that I don’t really understand “BigY”.  As mentioned in earlier posts, Charles Beatty of Farnamullan had a son Archibald Beatty (1758-1831), who married Martha Moore of Aghavoory in 1792. Their second son was a James. It was the coincidence of Martha Moore being from Aghavoory that compelled me to visit PRONI in Belfast. It’s now confirmed that our James was born in 1797. This is the perfect date to be the second son of a couple who married in 1792 and had 8 children right? The order of Archibald’s children (but not their birthdates) is given in a transcription of a document whose original is lost. The birthdates of the two youngest children are known from tombstones, indicating that Martha had at least 2 children in her forties. The ages at death of Archibald, his wife Martha and their eldest son Charles who died young come from the transcription of a tombstone, very faint when transcribed, which has since been lost. According to the transcription, eldest son Charles would have been born in either 1805 or 1800 – too late for our James to be his younger brother. But if this birthdate is correct, Archibald and Martha had no children for at least 8 years after their marriage and then had 8 children when Martha was aged 36 to 48. It makes much more sense to me that a date on a barely legible tombstone was transcribed wrongly and they began having children soon after marriage as is normal! There was no mention of their second son James having died young, so where did he go then??

In short, I haven’t given up on Archibald Beatty (1758-1831) of Farnamullan as the father of our James after all, although there is still no proof. If this Archibald is not the one, and we take the genetic test results seriously, then we’re probably looking for a son Archibald of a hypothetical brother of Charles Beatty (1725-1798) of Farnamullan who would need to have been about the same age as the above Archibald; have married at about the same time and also have a son James. There weren’t as many Archibald Beattys as there were James Beattys, but of course he could have lived at any townland in Fermanagh, and the further back you go the sparser the already sparse Irish records get. Sigh! I think I’ll leave it at that for a while!


Only one more day in Ireland, and I’m spending a few days in Dublin in a down-at-heel but friendly and perfectly adequate guest house where you share a toilet (not the bathroom as was advertised – I get a shower of my own!) I’m on the top floor so get lots of exercise. The linen seems clean, I get eggs and toast for breakfast, I can come down to the kitchen to fill my cup with boiling water for my bed-time herbal tea, and if the free wifi is playing up I can come and work down in the kitchen where it’s always good 🙂

As it happens, I’ve suddenly found out what I came over here to establish – in a way.  We had hoped that our ancestor James Beatty of Aghavoory was the son of Archibald Beatty of Farnamullan. DNA testing had indicated  that it was highly likely (our DNA being practically identical to a descendant of the Farnamullan Beattys). The Farnamullan James Beatty was born in 1807. At PRONI in Belfast last week I found that our James Beatty died in 1873 – when the Estate Manager  wrote DEAD beside his name in the Colebrooke Estate rent book. Today I got his death record from GRO Dublin. Due to the number of James Beattys it took a couple of goes and he turned out to be 10 years older than I was expecting. Anyway, James Beatty, Farmer, aged 76, married, died of Bronchitis at Aghavoory 14 Nov 1873. His eldest daughter Matilda Robinson of Breandrum was the informant.

This means he was born in 1797 and is 10 years too old to be the son of Archibald Beatty of Farnamullan! Back to the drawing board. [4/5/2016 Not so sure about this now. See next post] We know that the families must be connected in the preceding generation or two, but how? One good thing about this is that it makes sense of something I was told while visiting Aghavoory and Agheeter . Tommy, who apparently knows the whole history of all the local families for ever, and who knew James’s grandsons, assured me that James Beatty had come from Breandrum. So now we’re looking for an Archibald Beatty of Breandrum  mid to late 1700s. As Pete says: The hunt continues!

Aghavoory today

Today was the sunniest day since I arrived in Ireland, and a lovely day to be driving around in Fermanagh. I was determined to find Aghavoory townland where James Beatty of Ballina/South Yarra must have been born in 1842. I drove over to Fivemiletown, found a house on what would once have been Farmer James Beatty’s land in Aghavoory, and knocked on the farmhouse door, not sure what to expect. To my astonishment, our relations are still farming there! James’s half sister from the second marriage of Farmer James, Eliza Ann Beatty, married Samuel Hall in 1886. Today their descendants were very kind and interested. They showed me an aerial photo of the old house (demolished in the 1990s) and fed me tea and pikelets.

The homes (both new and old) are beautifully situated on a hill with pleasant views over Aghavoory and neighbouring townlands. I forgot to ask the current farmer about farming on the townland, but you can see the Friesians in the photo.

This afternoon I couldn’t resist a tour of Coole Castle, built and furbished about 1800. The servant’s quarters were fascinating! Very Downton Abbey! Off to Dublin tomorrow.

This morning didn’t start out all that well. The usual car-hire firms don’t operate in Enniskillen apparently, but one of the local car dealers was willing to hire a car at what seemed a very reasonable rate. I was grateful to get a car at all, so didn’t ask too many questions. I was a bit startled to find myself the proud driver of a flash looking new baby Citroen straight off the showroom floor, diesel, with gears (gosh can I remember those?), no GPS, and the fuel light flashing yellow! Apparently, empty to start with is how it’s done in Enniskillen. The  alarming thing was I had to find an Ulster Bank to get cash to buy diesel, and find my way to both places without a map before running out of fuel! It took me an embarrassing 10 minutes just to manoeuvre my way out of the car yard 🙂

Anyway, cashed and dieseled up and equipped with the Ordnance Survey map of the district (should have enough detail?)  I headed south through Belllanaleck towards Corrigan’s Shore Guest House which looked to be about 15 minutes from Enniskillen. It took a bit longer because the last couple of miles is along a very narrow lane between hedgerows and farm gates. Every time I saw a farmer coming on his huge tractor – or any other vehicle at all really 🙂 I pulled over into the nearest gateway or such, thinking this couldn’t be the way to a popular Guest House!

It is though. As I pulled up by the lake, lovely welcoming Catherine threw open the door and made me a pot of tea with scones! I can’t remember the last time I got to spend an afternoon in such a restful place. All I can hear is an occasional moo, a rooster (!), and a clock ticking. No wonder the guy at the tourist info where I bought the map said he thought this was the best B&B in Fermanagh. Sometimes you can be lucky. I think tomorrow’s plenty soon enough to find Aghavoory townland.

I’d had enough of Belfast, so dragged my chattels down to the bus station through the rain and got on the next bus to Enniskillen. The weather changed from warmish and sunny to rain and sleet five times in the hour and a half it took to get here! So here I am in actual Fermanagh, in a little motel room where I can cook my own dinner (bought ravioli and pasta sauce!) and enjoy a glass (or 2) from my own bottle of (Chilean) wine for the price of one glass in the pub.
Enniskillen is cuter than Belfast at least. I’ve spent the last two days coughing and spluttering all over the kind, helpful people at Enniskillen Library. Maybe a bit less today than yesterday which seems like a good sign. I sure hope you don’t catch this flu Sean! I looked through the 19th century Fermanagh newspapers, but there was no death notice for our farmer James. This is not surprising. Until the late 19th century, newspaper readers evidently only wanted to know about the doings of the upper classes, or drownings and suicides – oh, and “ruffians” get a lot of press – a term which apparently included Union members 🙂
Today I learned as much as I could about farming in mid 19th century Fermanagh.James Beatty land description 1863
This is the description which goes with the map of James’s land in the last post. He has 15 acres of arable land, 13 acres of “heathy pasture” and 3 acres of “whiny pasture”. The latter I’m told, means covered with gorse (currently in vivid golden bloom) not much use for anything.
James, with 60 acres before he split his land with his eldest son Joseph in 1855, and with 33 acres thereafter had a relatively large holding for a farmer at the time – the average was 15 acres I’m told.
He can’t have just grown potatoes, as was scornfully suggested by one of his descendants!  The “arable” land could well have been used for various crops, but, I’m told, would have grown enough potatoes to sink the Titanic!  The “heathy pasture” was probably used for cattle. The contemporary newspapers report frequent sales of “black cattle” at the local markets. Sean thinks these were probably the same as “Kerry c0ws” (Sean says “a lot of Irish things get called  “Kerry””). I gather that both of these terms refer to the cattle that were around in Ireland before they decided that there should be “breeds” of cattle – cattle breeding as such was something the gentry later got into.  James’s farm would certainly have produced milk, butter, eggs and everything else they needed to subsist and earn enough to pay the rent every six months. They may also have had sheep, pigs or goats. It’s also clear from the survey maps that during James’s time an orchard was established. Tomorrow. I’ll go there.

I’ve been crook with a pretty savage flu for the last few days, and even spent the weekend in bed watching silly movies on TV! Today I feel better enough to venture forth, albeit with a lot of coughing and trying to keep away from others as I’d hate to pass it on. Luckily today is Monday when the archives are open again. Belfast continues bleak and rainy. I’ve given up trying to find good coffee – I can’t taste anything at the moment anyway, but the pubs are warm, friendly and very atmospheric.
No, I haven’t been able to prove that our James Beatty of Aghavoory is the same person as in Pete Beattys’ tree, although it’s still highly likely that he is. I’ve learned a couple of other things about him though.

James Beatty's land, Aghavoory townland 1863

James Beatty’s land, Aghavoory townland 1863

His land in Aghavoory had originally been leased to Robert McKnight in 1787, so it did not belong to the Moores although it adjoins their land. It has been suggested to me that (if it is the James Beatty born in Farnamullan) he could have married and needed land of his own before his father Archibald was ready to hand over Farnamullan and no leases were available near Farnamullan. However, if a parcel of land came available next to his uncle’s farm in Aghavoory, the Moores could have recommended him for it. James Beatty paid the rent on that parcel of land without the name being changed from McKnight and I don’t know why, but I can’t find a lease in his name. James also had 33 acres in Agheeter townland. When James’ own eldest son Joseph married in 1855, James gave him the Agheeter land – well in the rent books the name changed from James to Joe Beatty. His younger sons, Archibald and James (that we know of) must have been encouraged to make their own way. They certainly did. Unfortunately Farmer James wasn’t a noticeable tenant. He paid the rent exactly on time every time. The Estate Manager’s note book is occasionally entertaining reading as he threatens to evict miscreants who mistreat their wives, take over land without the Estate owner’s permission, build houses other than where they were told to, or (horror!) with thatched roofs. On the Colebrook Estate everything has to be “slated”! James Beatty never gets a mention, presumably because he never did the wrong thing. We now know that he remarried in 1858 though I still haven’t found out the name of his first wife.
In the Colebrook Estate rent book for May 1873, there was a note against his name “dead”. Even knowing the year of his death, I still can’t find a will.
Enough for today. I’m off to the pub for dinner!


After a wonderful diversion via Bolzano, Italy and Innsbruck, Austria, I’m actually here in Belfast. I’ve spent two days at the Public Records Office (PRONI) now. I’m afraid Belfast strikes me as rather bleak and grim, though it could be mainly that PRONI is in the Titanic quarter where the extensive shipyards used to be, largely a wasteland now, with a huge new stadium, flash new PRONI, and (yes, they built it here) the Titanic museum. My hotel is very comfortable with a view over St Anne’s Square in the Cathedral Quarter, over the river from PRONI. All I’ve done so far (apart from persuading KLM to find my suitcase which they left in Amsterdam – it did turn up, 24 hours after I did) is work all day, and in the evenings try to find a cheap dinner. So far the pubs are best.

After two days I’ve worked out the system at PRONI, but haven’t made much progress yet towards establishing the relationship between Archibald Beatty of Farnamullan and James Beatty of Aghavoory. There are certainly many thousands of documents in the Colebrook Estate records, but most of them are after 1850 and too late to tell us which Archibald Beatty was the father of James of Aghavoory. I’ve found a couple of coloured maps of James’ farm, so if I go to Fermanagh I should be able to see if the birthplace of James Beatty of Ballina/South Yarra (1842-1903) is still there. I was going to put one in to add colour to this post, but I’m too tired to work out how to convert it from PDF and I don’t have the “snip” tool that’s on my computer at home.

I found one map of Aghavoory from 1787 which could have been very useful. It shows Mrs Moore at farm No 1, which was leased by Price Moore in the 19th century. It also shows 4a and b and 10,later leased by James Beatty, but they belong to a Robert McKnight, so we still don’t know how James acquired them.

More tomorrow.