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Archive for the ‘Ballina, Co. Mayo, Ireland’ Category

I’m going to focus on breaking through the James Beatty of Fermanagh brick wall now. Just because it’s difficult is no excuse not to try. For those of you interested in the Forsters/McLeans though, I did find one more document which casts a little more light on the McLean family, particularly James McLean, in 1858. It’s now incorporated in the McLean family story .

A question for other family historians: How much circumstantial evidence do you need before you conclude that two people are related? Yes, I know. It isn’t proof. It’s certain that James Beatty the Draper, who is first documented in Ballina, Co. Mayo in 1862 and who brought his young family to Melbourne in 1878, was born Co. Fermanagh in 1842. All we know of his parents is that his father, also James Beatty, was a farmer. At about the same times as James, an Archibald Beatty, Merchant, 7 years older than James, also appeared in Ballina. He is first documented there in July 1861. It is certain that he had formerly been a Merchant in Lisnaskea, Fermanagh, but his father, also a James Beatty, was also a farmer. Could this be just a coincidence?  Beatty was not nearly such a common name in Mayo as it was in Fermanagh. Yesterday I found a document showing that Archibald and James Beatty both joined the Freemasons in Ballina on the same day, 16 Dec 1867. Only 2 others joined the same day. What’s the probability that James and Archibald Beatty are brothers? James the Draper named his second son (my Grandfather) Archibald.

The main thing that came out of the DNA testing was finding a fellow researcher whose family are genetically very closely related to ours and who has a detailed family tree of Beattys in Fermanagh, including Archibalds and a James. Thanks Pete! I’m going to work on the area around Lisnaskea, Fermanagh, and follow the names James and Archibald, and hope to work out which Farmer James Beatty is our ancestor!

 

 

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We know a lot about James Beatty, Draper, of Ballina, born Co. Fermanagh c1842, who came to Melbourne with his young family in 1878, but his father James Beatty the farmer/swimmer continues annoyingly elusive. Clutching at straws, I decided to investigate the Archibald Beatty, merchant, “Late of Lisnaskea” who appeared on the record in Ballina in 1861, about the same time as James is first mentioned there. With that name, and also from Fermanagh could he be a relation? It wasn’t hard to find out a lot about Archibald, mainly because he tended to put notices in newspapers, including his marriage to Eudora Tucker (though they misspelled her name)

Archibald Beatty, merchant of Lisnaskea. Marriage 17 June 1858

Archibald Beatty, merchant of Lisnaskea. Marriage 17 June 1858

Another thing that made him easy to track was his move to Liverpool in 1874 after about 15 years as a “well to do merchant” in Ballina. He and Eudora and their son Edward John (born in Lisnaskea c1859 and obviously named after his maternal grandfather) appear in the 1881 and 1891 census in Liverpool, though I don’t know what happened to the daughter whose birth was announced in Ballina in 1861. Archibald and Eudora evidently both returned to Fermanagh from Liverpool in the 1890s as they both died there, he aged 61 in 1897. Archibald left his estate to his son also a merchant. Here’s his will:

Archibald Beatty death, 1897 from Index of Wills

Archibald Beatty death, 1897 from Index of Wills

Archibald was about 6 years older than draper James, and his father was also a James Beatty. Could they be brothers? I even lashed out $40 to get Archibald’s marriage details as that would give the profession of his father. Now you’d think that someone who was a “merchant” by age 22 was probably the son of a merchant right? Well no. His father James Beatty was a farmer! Another coincidence?
A few months after Archibald died, his bacon factory in Enniskillen (near Lisnaskea) was broken into:

Archibald's nephew is a Joseph Beatty - Belfast Newsletter 9 July 1897

Archibald’s nephew is a Joseph Beatty – Belfast Newsletter 9 July 1897

According to this news article he had a nephew Joseph Beatty. Joseph is another name that has occurred in our family – Alfred Joseph was the youngest son of James the draper. I think this is too many coincidences. I’m going to track down Joseph now, in case he eventually leads back to the mysterious farmer James.

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Kinard at Landed estates Court from Belfast News-Letter, 27 June 1874

Oh Dear! No wonder the Pagets and Beattys emigrated in 1878. I have found James Paget’s will. He made our gg grandmother Hannah Dempsey (note use of her maiden name) the sole executor. Subsequently she sold all his remaining land in Ireland at the Landed Estates Court in 1874 to one of James’s second cousins John Paget Bourke for £6,225. Hannah continued living at Kinard Lodge with the children until they emigrated 3 years later. It’s pretty clear now that James and Hannah were not technically married.

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From Freeman’s Journal – Dublin, 16 February 1877

Also, I had wondered why James Beatty didn’t set up as a Draper in Melbourne and instead worked in clerical or travelling salesman jobs. Well he evidently wasn’t such a great businessman since his Ballina drapery business went broke! This fire sale was just a couple of months before Archie’s birth. I wondered why Archie was born at Kinard Lodge and not in Arran street, Ballina like his siblings James and Emma.

Anyway, on the far side of the world nobody knew  (until now!) about illegitimate births or bankruptcies. Hannah was the widowed Mrs. Paget for the rest of her life and she and her eldest son James Paget both bought farms at Baddaginnie in Victoria while James Beatty and Marcella (nee Paget) were friends of the bishop in South Yarra, Victoria and all highly respectable.

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From Belfast News-Letter late July 1861

I did find out something that might be a good lead on the elusive Beatty ancestors though. At about the same time as our g grandfather James Beatty the draper (who was born somewhere in county Fermanagh) appeared on the record in Ballina, Mayo, an Archibald Beatty, merchant, appeared there too. Of course his name (Archibald) made me wonder if they were related even apart from their sudden appearance in Ballina at about the same time. The earliest mention of this Archibald in any source I’ve found so far was 1861 and he isn’t mentioned in connection with Ballina after 1871 and I don’t know where he went. [Update Apr 2015: He moved to Liverpool in 1874]. Anyway, look at this notice about the birth of his daughter in 1861. It would have been more useful if it had named either his wife or daughter, but it does have three VERY interesting words “late of Lisnaskea”. Where is Lisnaskea I wondered? Have you already guessed? It’s in County Fermanagh 🙂 The plot thickens!

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Records are so sparse for nineteenth century Ireland that we may never know much about our Beatty ancestors before the emigration to Melbourne in 1878.

While awaiting the outcome of an upgrade from 37 to 67 markers on our DNA test which may or may not help find out more, I’ve been pondering the usefulness of the only surviving family anecdote about the first known James Beatty. HAP was told that his Great Grandfather James Beatty, father of the James Beatty who came to Australia, was a strong swimmer who “used to swim with Captain Webb”. HAP will have been told this by his father Archie because HAP himself was a strong swimmer and the school breaststroke champion. His proud father probably saw it as an hereditary trait. Sadly HAP was told (or remembered) nothing else about his Great Grandfather.  Archie has a credibility issue as he was the source of the (since debunked) rumour of our close relationship to Admiral Beatty. However I think the Captain Webb thing may have a grain of truth. Why would Archie have known otherwise that there was a west coast of Ireland connection to Captain Webb? At least one whole book (“The Crossing” by Kathy Watson) has been written about the famous Channel swimmer which doesn’t mention that he ever went to Ireland at all. David Elderwick in “Captain Webb : Channel swimmer” says “A trip to the Faroe Islands as Chief Officer of the ‘Ballina’ and a six-month spell as captain of the steamship ‘Emerald’ preceded Webb’s departure for new pastures … His employers were sorry to see him go. The rapid passages he had made between Liverpool and Ballina on the west coast of Ireland had boosted the company’s trade considerably.” Terry Reilly in “Ballina : a storied place…” says “Captain Matthew Webb became the first man to swim Killala Bay in 1874, from the Enniscrone (Sligo) side to the Kilcummin (Mayo) side. He boasted to fellow drinkers in McDonnells Pub on Bridge Street (now the Bolg Bui) that he would buy them all a drink after successfully completing his Channel challenge.” http://www.everytrail.com describing the “Yeats country drive” claims that “Captain Matthew Webb used the lake [Lough Gill] as part of his training for the feat [his Channel swim]. He was a friend of W.B. Yeats grandfather who lived in the area”. Lough Gill is close to Sligo town and it turns out that Yeats’ grandfather was William Pollexfen of Sligo town, one of the largest ship-owners in Sligo and the grateful employer of Captain Matthew Webb as mentioned above.

Anyway, for the lack of much other evidence I’m going to explore the possibility that our gg grandfather did know Captain Matthew Webb. It doesn’t matter whether he swam with him or was just a fellow drinker at the pub, this would mean that he was still alive in 1874 and lived a short buggy ride from either Lough Gill and Sligo town or (more likely) Ballina. Have a look at County Sligo in google maps to see what I mean. We know (from the marriage certificate of his son James who was born in county Fermanagh in 1842) that he was a farmer. By the dob of his (eldest?) son, he must have been in his 50s when he “swam with Captain Webb” who was much younger. HAP was a formidably strong swimmer into late middle age too though.

So James and his family evidently left county Fermanagh (in the 1840s or 1850s?) to farm near either Ballina or Sligo town. This probably isn’t surprising either as a lot of people moved around during and after the potato famine. HAP said the swim was “across Sligo Bay”, but, never having been to Ireland he may have meant Killala Bay. Whichever bay it was, that’s a smaller haystack to examine for our elusive ancestors. At the moment I think Ballina more likely. That’s where James’ son James set up his drapery business and his brother (or another son?) Archibald was a storekeeper/auctioneer in the 1870s. Also, Peg Beatty went to Enniscrone and Ballina in the 1950s expecting to find Beatty relations there. Surely this was because her father had lead her to believe they would be there?

What do you think? I think I feel another trip to Ireland coming on.

 

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I’ve just spent days nutting through all the information I gathered in Dublin and am confident that I have figured out the structure of the Paget family in Mayo. It’s lucky that there were so many documents from all the Pagets called Thomas, Robert or James at the Registry of Deeds where the preamble lays out the residence of each at a precise date and the relationships between them. I’m also very grateful to the first Thomas Paget of Knockglass for marrying Margaret Orme since her family history is all in Burke’s – genealogy the easy way. The result is that the Beatty side of Harold Beatty’s family tree now goes back a generation further than the Forster side – well the Orme part does anyway. Our 7th great grandfather William Orme (1614-1665) owned and resided at Hanch Hall, a serious mansion in Staffordshire.

Beatty family pedigree after Ireland visit

The other thing I worked out is our relationship to Mary Robinson (nee Bourke) the former President of Ireland. The local history experts in Enniscrone, Co. Sligo told me that we were bound to be related to her through the Bourkes of Ballina. So we are! She is our 5th cousin for those of the same generation as I am. How thrilled she would be to know that! I think we should all go and visit! 🙂 We share the first Thomas Paget of Knockglass as our 4th great grandfather.

From Thomas Paget of Knockglass (centre) up to Mary Robinson’s grandfather and down to mine.

The Bourkes of Ballina, like the Beattys, are a family where marrying one of the Pagets of Mayo made such a big impact that Paget recurs for many generations as a forename. The Mr. Paget Bourke of Ballina (our fourth cousin once removed) who Aunt Peg Beatty was referred to on her 1953 visit, was later knighted by the Queen. What a shame he was out and she didn’t get to meet him. She was such a monarchist and would have loved following his career.
Considering Donohoe in “The History of Crossmolina” (p.588) describes the Pagets as “a minor family who did not figure much in the political and social life of North Mayo…[and] died out” I think they’ve done, and are still doing pretty well!

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Very eventful day today. Firstly I’ve discovered a descendant of Alf Beatty (or rather she discovered me) who has more photos that are sure to help us identify the whole James Beatty family. More next week.

This morning I talked to Mrs. Mac Hale the expert on local Enniscrone history, and through her the authors of two of the most useful books about Kinard and Enniscrone, her son Conor Mac Hale and John McTernan. I came to Ireland to find the books – let alone talk to the authors! I feel very privileged and have some new leads to follow up

Since I now know that our James Paget is the son of James Paget of Knockglass, Crossmolina, I drove over there this afternoon and got soaked scrambling around the churchyard of St. Mary’s looking for the Paget graves.

Paget plot at St. Mary's Crossmolina

The old part of the churchyard is an overgrown, slippery mass of roots, stinging nettles and broken and indecipherable headstones. Two of the Paget headstones had collapsed on their faces, and despite being fit from weightlifting “tombstones” at the registry of Deeds I couldn’t shift these.  The standing ones are descendants of James’s cousin Thomas Paget.

Determined to find Knockglass House where James Paget junior was born in about 1803 I drove up and down several narrow muddy lanes until a kind farmer told me to keep driving past a ruined gatehouse for about a mile through a dense, ragged forest labelled “Game reserve”, pretty much the first actual forest I’ve seen in Ireland apart from some pine plantations. It seemed a most unlikely drive for a substantial home, and after about three quarters of a mile there was a very new and businesslike locked gate.

Locked gate on the long track up to Knockglass House, Crossmolina

Refusing to give up having come so far and there being no “No trespassing” sign, I left the car and climbed over the gate in the rain, and continued up the muddy track through the forest on foot, wondering if such an isolated house might belong to a weird cult or drug barons or someone else unsympathetic to my desire for a photo of the ancestral home and hoping it wasn’t guarded by savage dogs. The ivy-draped trees made sinister groaning noises and I jumped out of my skin when a pheasant (or something) suddenly clattered across the track. Around a last corner into the open and to my relief the house was empty and deserted so figured nobody would mind if I photographed it

Knockglass House, Crossmolina, Co. Mayo where Marcella's father James Paget was born in about 1803

I later learned that it is for sale.

I drove back through Ballina where the main streets probably haven’t changed all that much since the Beatty family lived there, the River Moy  practically running a banker through the middle of the town. Too tired to take more photos, camera, car and shoes all very wet and muddy, I went home to Enniscrone to dry out. It gets dark by 4.30 here anyway. Back to Dublin tomorrow.

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A few leads have emerged which I haven’t got around to documenting here yet but I’m too impatient to keep on waiting to get information out of Ireland page by painful page when I can see how much of  it is right there in the National Archives and National Library in Dublin. Good grief I could spend the equivalent of the airfare in dribs and drabs before getting noticeably further so why not just go? Good excuse eh? I booked the flights this morning.

We knew that James Beatty had a drapery business in Ballina, Mayo in 1876 and that his two eldest children were born in Arran street Ballina in 1874 and 1875.  No James Beatty owned or leased land in Ballina, or anywhere in Mayo for the Griffiths Valuation, but somewhere between 1857 and 1863,  No. 5 Arran street was leased by, not a James, but an ARCHIBALD Beatty.  Now there’s a familiar forename.  Slater’s directory of 1870 has the following business addresses for Beattys in Ballina:

Under Linen & Woollen Drapers & Haberdashers:  James Beatty, Knox street

Under Grocers; Leather sellers and as an Auctioneer: Archibald Beatty, Arran street

As there’s no James Beatty leasing in Arran street where his children were born, and his business is in Knox street, it’s quite likely that the family lived at 5 Arran street with Archibald. Living with extended family was quite common back then. Was Archibald James’s uncle or his brother perhaps?

My other lead is about the Pagets. One source I’ve seen recently has Kinard being originally purchased in 1810 by “James Paget of Knockglass”. Our James Paget was only 7 in 1810, so who is this James Paget? His father? His Uncle? I think at least it does prove that our Pagets are the same family as the Pagets of Knockglass, Crossmolina.

Remember the Beatty brother and three sisters who lived at Enniscrone, County Sligo, the last of them dying only 3 years before Peg Beatty went looking for our forebears there in 1953? Someone posted here who is definitely related to them, and to most of the other Beattys of Mayo and Sligo of the late 19th century and we’re exchanging information. Whether we are all related to each other or not remains to be established, but the more researchers trying to sort out the Beattys the better. Thanks for your help new contact!

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