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Everyone in our family knows that we are related to the glamorous hero of the First World War Battle of Jutland. When I asked my father how he knew, he said “Oh, everybody knows that!” His father Archie had a beautifully framed and labelled large photograph of “Admiral Beatty on board his flagship watching the surrender of the German fleet”. Which obviously proves it ūüôā

"Admiral" Archibald Beatty c. 1930

Unfortunately I’m sure this is one of those family myths. The well documented family tree of the famous Earl goes back through many generations of soldiering Anglo-Irish gentry whose family mansion was Borodale in County Wexford in the far south-east of Ireland. On completely the other side of Ireland in County Fermanagh in the 17th century a lot of Scottish borderers were settled as tenant farmers, many of them named Beatty. You can tell that our Beattys were originally Scottish because James Beatty (born 1842 Co. Fermanagh, father a farmer) was both married and buried a Presbyterian. The family of his wife Marcella (the Pagets) were Anglican though as were his children. I’m afraid it’s highly unlikely that any relation of David Earl Beatty wandered up to Fermanagh or Mayo to take up farming or shop keeping with the Presbyterian Beattys up there.

I think the fun-loving Archie Beatty is the culprit. While I can find no mention at all until the mid 1920s that we are supposed to be related to County Wexford Irish gentry on the Beatty side, once the fame of David Beatty spread, Archie started to sign himself “Admiral” and kept notes from his friends where he is addressed as “Skipper”, “Admiral of the Fleet” and even “Earl”! I suspect it was fun to assume a relationship based on shared name and Irish ancestry and never mind the boring details. He is even on record dressed for the part! He has certainly made it difficult for family historians among his descendants though. What killjoys we are!

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It’s becoming clear why the Pagets left for Australia. Not sure what it says for my research skills that my best discoveries are through serendipity though. ¬†I was on HAGSOC duty the other day (that’s my local family history society), filling in a spare minute or two browsing a recent issue of ¬†“Irish roots” when an article caught my eye: “The rise and fall of County Sligo landowning families” by John C. McTernan. The Pagets are not mentioned by name as some of the larger landowners are, but the following quote very likely applies to them:

“As the 19th century progressed several estates found themselves in serious financial difficulties arising from extravagant living, over ambitious house building activities and more especially a loss of rental revenue in the aftermath of the famine. The introduction of the Encumbered Estates Court in 1849 and the Landed Estates Court a decade later facilitated the sale of encumbered estates. Between 1850 and 1876 a total of seventy-seven estates or portions thereof changed hands within the county.”

Following the death of our James Paget, first his elder son James Reginald in 1876, followed in 1878 by his wife Hannah, second son Charles Thomas Stavely and his eldest daughter Marcella with her husband James Beatty, all emigrated to Australia, and parts of their County Sligo property, at least, were offered for sale in the Landed Estates Court in 1874:

http://www.landedestates.ie/LandedEstates/jsp/estate-show.jsp?id=218

You can see Kinard Lodge on the satellite version of the map link provided by this document, but in maps with historic overlays (links on rh column of this page) you can see that in 1840 it had extensive formal gardens. ¬†In 1814 there appears to have been no landowner’s residence at Kinard. The earliest reference ¬†to Kinard as a residence that I can find is 1834, when it is the residence of James Paget. ¬†He may have built Kinard Lodge sometime in the 1820s. ¬†I don’t know about the “extravagant living” described in the article, though maintaining that garden may have cost a bit. The rest of it fits pretty well though. It would have taken a hard landlord to expect starving tenants to keep paying full rent, no matter what the debts. Spurred by a few high-handed landlords in Mayo, by the 1870s the Fenian movement was gaining ground too. ¬†I enjoy imagining the young Paget boys saying “Dad, let’s cut our losses and emigrate. Every one else is!” and him saying “Over my dead body!” Which it turned out to be. It was probably considered a shrewd move on Marcella’s part to have married a ¬†merchant like James Beatty.

Who were James Paget’s parents? ¬†Since he’s a “Gentleman”, it should be much easier to figure out his ancestry than it will be to get any further back with the Beattys. ¬†The Landed Estates database (link above) refers to James and Thomas Paget as though they’re related, as they almost certainly must be. Unfortunately all the references that might confirm this are unobtainable in Australia, although Thomas Paget of Knockglass, being the senior family member of their generation is mentioned in such sources as “The Country families of the UK” by Edward Walford, 1860:

Entry for Thomas Paget of Knockglass, Crossmolina, Mayo in Walford’s “Country families of the United Kingdom and Ireland” 1860

Neither of the James Pagets mentioned here are our GG Grandfather. Our James (born 1803) is most likely the younger brother of Thomas. It’s interesting that Thomas seems to have married his cousin. That could have been to consolidate the Estate. The fragmentation of the estates due to the inheritance laws was a problem at the time. The father of our James was probably either the father of Thomas (Robert Paget)or of his wife Margaret (James Paget of Knockglass).
Kinard Lodge was taken over by a Captain John Paget Bourke after our Pagets left. I think he was a nephew of Thomas Paget, whose sister married a John Bourke. When our Aunt Peg Beatty went to Enniscrone and Ballina in 1952 in search of Beatty and Paget relations she was sent to see a “Mr Paget Bourke” of Ballina. Sadly he was not at home or all of this might have been easier!
To get much further I probably need to consult books and records which are only held in Dublin, especially at the National Library of Ireland. Anyone want to come with me?

Added 9 May 2012: My most up-to-date information on the Pagets is now part of The Forgotten Pagets of County Mayo – see the link to other chapters of the family story in the right hand column.

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I’ve been in eighteenth century Northumberland visiting all the families in the Coquet River valley! Time travel courtesy of the handwritten Allenton (Alwinton) parish registers. They were so interesting I read through the lot. It took a few days on the microfilm readers at HAGSOC (my local genealogical society). You can see the recurring combination of family names and farm names, recognise each separate family and farm despite name and spelling variations and enjoy (as tis said), ye arcane terminology, appreciate the Minister who adds little extra details to the record, feel sad as his writing becomes shaky and the next burial is his own.

I’m afraid the Bygate Hall myth is totally blown. Jack Forster was apparently a bit of an old romantic! The Forsters were certainly only ever employees there and lowly ones at that! From the parish registers it is obvious that numerous families lived at Bye-Gate-Hall at any given time. Also, going by this quote from a contemporary account (citation below*), it usually had absentee landlords:

Bygate Hall, Makendon, Loungesknow, and Sirdhope, all fine sheep-lands, were sold in 1792 for £16,000 by the late Matthew Bell, Esq. of Wolsington, to the late John Carr, Esq. of Dunston, in the county of Durham.

Jack’s map helps you work out what’s where in the valley:

https://taggerty.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/map-of-r-coquet-with-bygate-hall-from-jack-f-1962.jpg

Anyway, Back to the parish register. No Forsters at all are mentioned in it until 1727 when one or two marry into the district, including William Forster of Rothbury Parish who married Mary Taylor of “Make a dean”, presumably Makendon, a farm on the Coquet even more remote than Bygate Hall, right up on the Scottish border. These two are the probable parents of our Luke Forster. We know our Luke was probably born in 1741 because of the age given in his later death entry shown below. ¬†William Forster had two sons, Mark, born at Peels in 1738 and Luke born at nearby Harbottle in 1741. Both boys are among the “births of protestant dissenters” in the register. Just a year after Luke’s birth, his father William Forster of Harbottle is listed among the burials. I wonder if his widow is the Mary Forster of Harbottle who two years later in 1744 married James Stevenson also of Harbottle? It must have been hard raising children as a widow.

In 1773 Luke marries Mary Stokoe. Here’s the entry for both the banns (where the Minister misspelled her name “Stoker” and where we see that both are living and presumably working at Bygate Hall before their marriage) and the marriage entry with both their signatures.

Alwinton Parish Register entry for banns and marriage of Luke Forster and Mary Stokoe both of Bygate Hall, 1773

 As they were probably both servants, this is how Luke and Mary could well have dressed in their early adulthood:

Below is the much later 1806 death entry for Luke Forster, “labourer” who died while working at another farm, Sheep Banks. At this period the death entries are really informative and it runs¬†across two pages of the register.

Alwinton Parish register page with entries for deaths of Luke Forster in 1806, and also his son-in-law William Wilson in 1807 - page 1 of 2

Alwinton parish register entries for deaths of Luke Forster 1806, and his son-in-law William Wilson in 1807 page 2 of 2

The birth of Luke and Mary’s son Mark Forster isn’t in the Alwinton register but that of ¬†“The Scotch Congregation at Harbottle”, and we know he also had an older sister Elizabeth born 1778. I wonder if I can get the Harbottle register? ¬†Here’s a sad footnote to the story of the Forsters at Bygate Hall:

Death of baby Elizabeth Forster, daughter of Luke Forster at Bygate Hall 1776. Image from Alwinton parish register.

No baptism seems to be recorded for this child who died in 1776 so perhaps this first Elizabeth was stillborn. At this period, age at death was not being recorded in the register. The name of her mother must be an error. There will only have been one Luke Forster fathering children at Bygate Hall at the time and his wife’s name was Mary nee Stokoe.

At some stage between the birth of their son Mark in 1782 and Luke’s death in 1806 ¬†Luke and Mary left Bygate Hall and went to work elsewhere in the Parish. They may have been at Bygate Hall for as little as ten years. Son Mark went all the way up to Paxton in Scotland to be married to Margaret Wilson in 1801 though she was probably a neighbour. I wonder if that was to do with them being Presbyterians or to do with the marriage laws being different up there at the time? There were many other Alwinton entries relevant to our family, ¬†especially to the Wilsons, who seem to have been in the district well before and well after the Forsters. After their marriage Mark and Margaret went to Rothbury to set up home and business, but that’s another story.

*Historical, Topographical, and Descriptive View of the County of Northumberland, and of those Parts of the County of Durham situated North of the River Tyne, with Berwick Upon Tweed, and brief notices of celebrated places on the Scottish Border. Mackenzie, E. 2nd Ed. 1825. Full-text online via google.

Parish registers on microfilm obtainable from LDS via genealogical societies.

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