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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.

 

DNA testing

Well it’s official. We have genuine Beatty DNA going back (almost certainly) to an ancestor from the River Esk region of South-West Scotland in the 15th century. No wonder we’re a rowdy lot as ours was one of the notorious border reiver families. Several other Beattys who’ve been tested are very closely related (meaning we almost certainly have common ancestors within the last 8 generations) and some of those have ancestors known to have lived in Sligo or Fermanagh.
As suspected, we don’t seem to be all that closely related to the famous Admiral, but I’m waiting for my email to work again so I can talk to the experts.
At some stage ours should be added to the data in the BeattyDNA project though it’s not easy reading. Ours is Lineage 560.
Watch this space!

There’s such a lot of traffic on my website lately (well by family history website standards) apparently because the Paget family ancestral pile (Knockglass House, near Crossmolina, Mayo, Ireland) is to be auctioned on Thursday 14th of February. The price has come down to only 340,000 Euros, or about the cost of the average boring Australian suburban home in Australian dollars currently. What a bargain! A beautiful secluded Georgian mansion on 53 acres with river frontage, pretty much as the Pagets left it! Very tempting. Does anybody want to go shares in a classy B&B on the other side of the world? I hope whoever does buy it won’t stuff it up with unsympathetic renovations. Here’s the story of the Pagets of Knockglass for those interested in the history of the house:

https://taggerty.wordpress.com/the-story/chap-1-the-forgotten-pagets-of-county-mayo-ireland/

 

UPDATE 20-2-13 Sold at auction: see comments.

This is a bit weird. After much fiddling I worked out how to get the photo out of Marcella’s locket. Naturally it contains a photo of her husband James Beatty which you can now see under “Image gallery– Beatty, James and family”. The tiny photo may have been taken the same day as our earliest photo of him (around 1873?) as he appears to be wearing the same suit. The locket itself is decorated with the intertwined letters AEI (Amity, Eternity and Infinity) in decorative red and white enamel, the enamel now much damaged. It has a case which was obviously made to fit it, which is labelled “Waterhouse & Compy, The Queen’s Jewellers, Dublin”. Presumably it came from Ireland with the family in 1878. I wonder if it was an engagement or wedding present from James to Marcella? The weird thing is this photo (here very much enlarged) of a very young man – a boy perhaps – which was hidden underneath James in the locket. Who the heck is this?Image

I’ve finally written up what I’ve discovered about our Paget ancestors. It’s now the first chapter of “The story”. See the link in the right hand column. It’s really just a first go, and, like the rest of the story I’ll keep updating it as I learn more. One thing that made this study fascinating for me is that, unlike other branches of our family, hardly any other family history researchers appear to be interested in the Pagets of Mayo although so much documentation about them can fairly easily be found, especially at the Registry of Deeds in Dublin. The verdict of professional historians is summed up by Donohoe (rather unkindly I think!) on page 588 of his “History of Crossmolina”, 2003:

The Pagets were a minor family who did not figure much in the political and social life in North Mayo. They were Justices of the Peace, sat on the Bench and served in the army. Their daughters married local landowners but the family died out.

Has this branch of the Pagets died out? In terms of descendants with the Paget surname I think they have, even in Australia. There are dozens of descendants in the Paget Bourke and Paget Beatty and other lines, but no actual Pagets that I know of who are descended from the first Thomas Paget of Knockglass. If you know better please contact me.

We believed we were of Irish descent and were taught how to pronounce “Enniscrone” with an Irish accent, but how Irish were the Pagets or even the Beattys? As far as the real Irish are concerned the Pagets were really English, part of the hated landlord class. Does this contribute to the lack of interest in them? Were they kind or heartless landlords? I can’t tell, although I was told in Enniscrone that the Ormes (closely related to the Pagets) were considered to be reasonably good landlords. It must be nicer to discover ancestors you can be unreservedly proud of though such as First Fleet convicts 🙂

There are lots of things I’d like to add to the Paget chapter such as maps of Knockglass and Kinard from the 1840s, but I can’t link directly to the Griffith’s Valuation maps of the estates themselves and am prevented by copyright from displaying them. Maybe at some stage I’ll draw my own! Also I’ve heard from people who lived at both Kinard and Knockglass, the former especially with wonderful accounts of life there in the mid 20th century some details of which can’t have changed all that much since the Pagets lived there. I might add some of that eventually if my sources agree.

There are tantalizing unresolved issues in this story which I could spend the whole rest of my life trying to tease out. Much more is to be discovered at the Registry of Deeds for example and if there’s a lawyer in the family I’d love to have some help working out what those deeds are actually saying in among all the verbiage.

Now for the Beatty part of our Irish story. They will probably be equally fresh fields but much harder work.

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!

One mystery is completely solved. We now have a labelled copy of the 1892 photo of the whole James Beatty family, and yes, the baby is Rupert and Charles Gordon is on the far right! Also the earlier photo was apparently taken in Dublin, which narrows the window of opportunity for the family to have travelled to Australia. Many thanks to Jocelyn, grand-daughter of Alfred Joseph for permission to include her family photos here, and also to the Charles Gordon branch for photos of him.

James, Kathleen and Emma Beatty above, and Archie Beatty sitting in front, Melbourne about 1884

This is my favourite of the photos Jocelyn sent, as one of Archie’s grandsons looked so comically like him at the same age.
I’ve revamped the Beatty page of the image gallery with all the new photos, and rewritten the relevant parts of the chapter of the story “The Beattys out of Ireland“. I haven’t uploaded the revamped family tree yet but will get there. I think I’ll write a new chapter about the Pagets next.
It would be wonderful if we could get in touch with the heirs of the eldest Beatty, James Paget (Jim) as apparently they have Marcella’s own Bible and the 1835 document appointing her father James Paget a JP! A letter from Janet Godfrey to Pag Beatty listed Marcella’s entries in the Bible. Mostly this was information already known, but included details such as Archie having been born at Kinard Lodge in Enniscrone and Marcella Constance Isobel having died aged 4 weeks at Woolpress Farm, Baddaginnie, presumably on a visit to her grandmother. All this information is now included in The story and will be in the family tree when I update it.

So what did I find out about the Pagets after two weeks of hard work?

Well on the male side our Paget family tree now goes back two generations further than gentleman James of Kinard Lodge (1803-72). I have discovered that he had two brothers who didn’t live to adulthood and four sisters who did, one being another Marcella. They all seem to have been born at Knockglass House.  His father James Paget of Knockglass (1749-1826) was a very conscientious father. For each of his four daughters there is a document at the Registry of Deeds making sure she will be well provided for if she should outlive her husband, and two of their marriages were important enough to be mentioned in Burke’s or Walford’s. One of the missing marriages is his own though. None of his children were born until he was fifty. The mother of two of them is Margaret Cummins, her name appearing after his in the birth entries in the Crossmolina parish register as though they are not married? Surely they must have been though for his daughters to marry so well. Was she the mother of all his children including our James?

They were a very in-bred lot. James of Knockglass’s younger brother married Catherine Orme, his Aunt Margaret had married Edward Orme, his grandmother (I think) was Margaret Orme and his youngest daughter  Marcella (the Aunt of our Marcella) married another Edward Orme. If there wasn’t an Orme to marry they even married each other. His eldest daughter Margaret Paget married her cousin Thomas Paget.

The most annoying missing marriage is the one I was determined to find between James Paget and Hannah Dempsey and I’ve looked everywhere.  James was definitely married in 1829 to Catherine Benson though they seem to have been childless.  I think I mentioned in a previous post the document I found at the Registry of Deeds dated 1849 between James Paget and Charles Benson which I (very roughly and possibly wrongly) translate as “I’ll give you a couple of Townlands if you’ll take your daughter back”. Opinions are divided among the experts I’ve consulted here as to whether James would have been allowed to marry again with a living wife. Divorce as such wasn’t recognised then though I’m told “There were ways and means”. He certainly made up for lost childbearing time with Hannah, married or not. Our Marcella was the eldest of five.

In short I found out both much more and much less than I had hoped. Half an answer leads to two more questions. No wonder people who get sucked into family history spend the rest of their lives at it! Anyway I think I’m over the Pagets for the time being. If I come back to Ireland I’ll try the Beattys.

 

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.

Am here in Enniscrone!

Left Dublin at 9.30 this morning in a little Suzuki hatch, switching the wipers on and off instead of the indicators. It was more annoying than usual because I then couldn’t see since it was raining. Drove through several indistinguishable counties, though the scenery got progressively more interesting through the morning with lakes and finally as I reached Co. Sligo, some actual hills. After 4 hours I reached Enniscrone, where Archie Beatty was born.

The first visit was to Kinard Lodge to take some photos.

Kinard Lodge, Enniscrone, Sligo with gate and drive

The nice lady who currently owns it, Mrs. Mary Judge was really interested in the history of the house and invited me in for a chat and showed me around. The inside was completely renovated about 30 years ago and only the windows, deeply inset in the stone walls still look Georgian but the sheds and gates outside look original.

Next I went to Kilglass Church, wrestled open the big cast iron gates and found James Paget’s tombstone. It’s now very hard to read, and like everything in Ireland, covered in moss.

Apparently the person to talk to is a Mrs Mac Hale who knows the whole history of Enniscrone. I might see her tomorrow. Some friendly locals were interested to help trace the Pagets, but quickly concluded “Oh They’d have been the Landlords. The enemy! We wouldn’t know anything about them!” only half joking after 150 years.

Enniscrone is a seaside town, the stone buildings still huddled along the original narrow road through the town,  probably little changed since the Beattys and Pagets left in 1877. The beach is very wide at low tide and pretty impressive even to Australian eyes, and this afternoon a fierce surf was rolling in from the Atlantic driven by a bitingly cold breeze.

Killala Bay from Enniscrone, cold November afternoon

I hope conditions were milder when Captain Matthew Webb swam across Killala Bay from here. According to the story he was accompanied by James Beatty’s father James. I wonder if there’s a grain of truth in that or if it’s another family myth?