Thursday, 1 September 2016

Online launch: Irish birth, marriage & death registers: 8th September

Oh my! 
This is going to be epic.
My thanks to Clare Santry of the Irish Genealogy News blog for bringing us this news (and to Debbie Cruwys Kennett of the Guild of One Name Studies for passing the news on on the Guild facebook page)

Clare writes:
"Next Thursday, 8 September, will be a red-letter day for Irish genealogy.

The General Register Office's historical birth, marriage and death registers will be launched online on that date, joining the GRO Index and a collection of church records on Further details will be released early next week. For now, this is all the information being made public.

When this move was first mooted, back in July 2014, it came with an assurance that these records would be accessible free of charge. Subsequent intervention should also have made us quite certain that the records will be subject to the 100-75-50-years rule ie only those births more than 100 years old, marriages more than 75 years ago, and deaths 50 years ago.

I'll bring more news when it's available."

For an Irish based One Name Study, this is fantastic news. All those Fitzhenry and Fitzharris BMD entries which will now be available online... for free.
If you haven't already visited the website, it is fantastic. The quality of the church register scans is excellent (and in colour).
And well done to the Irish Government for doing this. It's really about time the English GRO registers were opened up in the same way...

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Charles Fitzhenry of the 9th Battalion AIF - a search for living decendants

I was very touched to receive this essay as a comment to our post about Charles Fitzhenry of the 9th Battalion AIF and the graffiti he left in the caves in Naours.
It was written by Lucie Greff, aged 13, who wrote it as part of her school project, and I thought it was so good that it merited a post of its own. 
Lucie would like to get in touch with a member of Charles' family, so please do contact her by leaving a comment below.

Hello !
My name is Lucie, I live in France (Somme).I’m 13 years old. I live near Naours and its Cave. With my college, I have a project called “Soldats Voyageurs”. The project is about the Australians during the 1st world war. We are 20 in this club and we are all volunteers. I must take a photo about an Australian’s graffiti. Found in Naours’ caves. I have 2 soldiers’ name: Alister Ross (probably known by Charles Edward Fitzhenry if they were not friends) and Charles Edward Fitzhenry/William Doyle. My mission is a lot of information, search all the things about him during the war and contact a person from their family. My project won 2 prizes, one in France (3rd prize) and in Australia (1st prize (Sadlier Stokes)).

I saw an article about Charles’ tree, I was very interested. I have taken 2 graffitis in photos written by Charles, one with his real name and another with William Doyle.
Charles’ history:
Charles was born the 23rd of February 1888 in Casino, near Lismore, Australia. His father was Michael Herbert (he died before the war) and his mother was Elizabeth Doyle/Fitzhenry. He had many sisters and brothers who had wives and husbands. Charles was Roman Catholic. Physically, he had dark hair, he was suntanned or had a black skin and he had bluish eyes.
Before the war, Charles worked for the Australian Naval Force for 3 years. His service number was the 865. He was an ordinary seaman. He served the ANF only 3 years because he was discharged.
After that, he was shearer and lost his little finger on his hand.
The 21st of September 1914, Charles joined the army known as William Doyle, the reasons of its modifications are unknown. Doyle was his grand-mother’s family name. His service number was the 1126. He went to the 9th Infantry (like Alister, my second soldier who moved to Lismore with his brother).
During the war, Charles was sick, but, it wasn’t serious. Charles fled the trenches during the New Year and was punished. He was in captivity for 168 hours and wasn’t paid for 20 days. But, the 12nd of august 1918, Charles was wounded at his head and was unconscious. His friend, called Mister Carr, saw Charles and helped him. Charles was admitted to a very big Australian hospital but stayed unconscious and died the 21st August 1918. He hadn’t got any children. I’ll go to Le TrĂ©port to see Charles’ tomb and take photos.
If anybody has more information, can he or she write a comment please? And, of course, can I contact one person in his family?
Many thanks with advance,


Sources: national archives of Australia, Australian War Memorial and your blog.

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Monday, 20 June 2016

Ballycanew, County Wexford: A potential hometown for Enoch Fitzhenry?

The title is just a teaser for many of you Fitzhenrys who can trace your line down from Enoch. But there may well be some mileage in this supposition. Excitingly, this is where DNA testing and good old fashioned paper research come up trumps together.

To recap:

The Fitzhenry-Fitzharris DNA surname study has given us several interesting leads:

The descendants of Enoch Fitzhenry (huge family in the US, number 002 in my database*) have provided us with 4 DNA tests now - these have tested the lines of four of Enoch's nine sons. They all match up showing that this is reliable data for this family. However it is unknown precisely where in Ireland Enoch had come from or anything about his Irish family.

The DNA pattern from Enoch's tree also matched up with a Fitzhenry family now resident in Australia, whose most distant ancestor was John Fitzhenry born about 1800 and who lived in Oulartwick, County Wexford (this is group 020*).

Oulartwick is to the north eastern side of Enniscorthy, County Wexford. This caused us great excitement when the two family groups matched DNA patterns in 2009. As we said then, Group 002 and Group 020 were historically Protestant rather than Catholic.

Then last year, we had a further DNA test result from a Fitzhenry family whose most distant ancestor was a Samuel Fitzhenry born around 1799 (Family group 075*). He married Mary Anne, the daughter of a Methodist minister, the Rev. Robert Banks in 1832 and had a large family which continued to be Methodist.
The descendant of Samuel had a DNA pattern which matched that of both Enoch (group 002) and John (020). But ... we didn't know where Samuel came from either. We had inferred his birthdate from his age of death of 65 years in 1864 in the Lismore registration district in Waterford, but hadn't seen a birth or baptism record.

So up until now we had three Fitzhenry families, with only one attached to a geographical place.

Until I found these couple of lines in a little known Irish newspaper, The Pilot:

In Athy, Samuel FitzHenry, of Ballycanew, county Wexford, Esq., to Mary Anne, eldest daughter of the Rev. Robert Banks of Athy.

The Pilot [Dublin, Ireland] 14 Nov 1832 page 4 - FindMyPast online newspaper archives

The fact that Samuel was called Esquire in the announcement hinted at money and status, rather than a simple farm labourer. It was also in a national rather than provincial newspaper which indicated that one or other of the families wanted the marriage to be widely broadcast. And also implies that Samuel was "Protestant enough" (either Methodist, or at the very least Church of Ireland or converted Catholic) to have the approval to marry the eldest daughter of a Methodist minister. Samuel became an auctioneer with his own auction house in Waterford.

Ballycanew is on the North East side of Enniscorthy less than 9 miles from Outlarwick, heading more northeast on the road to Gorey. So did the wider family come from Oulartwick or Ballycanew, or somewhere in the vicinity?

Not only is this finding very exciting, but there is another Fitzhenry family associated with Ballycanew, which is as yet untested for the DNA study. 

This is family group 025, whose earliest known ancestor is a John Fitzhenry who married Ann Jane Cranwill at St Mogue's Church of Ireland Church in Ballycanew on 27 December 1819. Ann Jane was born in 1790, so I'm assuming a similar birthdate for John. The Cranwills (or Cranwells) were established members of the Church of Ireland congregation in Ballycanew from the old Vestry records which are online. There are no Fitzhenry mentions in the Vestry records, but if John was from another parish originally, he settled and had property in Ballycanew by the 1853 Griffiths' Valuations (a house in the village and farmland) and his three children (Jane Elizabeth 1821, John Cranwill 1823 and Mary Ann 1826) were baptised at St Mogues. The two younger children emigrated to Fulton, Illinois, United States. 
I've not actually seen the documentary evidence for the marriage of John and Ann Jane myself, but I used the evidence from the excellent Hollygardens website ( which has a very well documented genealogy of the Hollingsworth family, of which the Cranwells are a part, and a pdf link to John Beatty's transcription of the Vestry Books of St Mogue 1760-1819

Are there any male Fitzhenry descendents of John Fitzhenry and Ann Jane Cranwill who would be willing to discuss joining the Fitzhenry surname DNA study to positively link this Fitzhenry branch into these other three Fitzhenry branches? Please get in contact!

* The family group numbering system is purely the order in which they were assembled in my database, my own family being Group 001. It does not imply any degree of hierarchy or preference, and is purely there for convenience as a shorthand when discussing the different trees. I currently have 117 trees comprising some 9000 individuals.

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Monday, 11 April 2016

Johanna: An unexpected third wife of William Fitz-Henry of Arklow

I was being creative with my search terms in the Find My Past newspaper collection last night, and turned up this entry:

April 1, at Arklow, Johanna, the beloved wife of Mr William FitzHenry, after a long and protracted illness, which she bore with Christian resignation anf fortitude, sincerely and deservedly regretted by all who knew her.

Warder and Dublin Weekly Mail 6 April 1844 page 7

This was unexpected, as the Arklow Fitz-Henry family were a small tight knit group, who were affluent enough to have nice gravestones and regular mentions in the local newspapers. The OCR hadn't originally picked up the surname Fitzhenry, so I found this by querying "Fitz Henry" and "death". Splitting the name helps if the Henry part of the name has been orphaned onto the next line.

So... there was only one candidate for the bereaved husband. He was William Fitz-Henry (1788 - 22 Oct 1859), merchant of Arklow. 

He married his first wife Sibbella (surname unknown) before 1812. They had at least 5 children and she died 21 July 1832, and has her grave in the Old Kilbride cemetery near Arklow. William was buried with her.

Then there was a puzzling 12 year gap, and 56 year old William remarried to the 33 year old widow Mary Jenkinson in May 1845 by who he had another 6 children. Mary and two of their infant children are buried in another grave in Old Kilbride cemetery.

But what of Johanna?
More creative searching  - "Johanna" in the first name box, "Fitz* " in the surname box, and "Arklow" in the keyword section, turned this up:

Yesterday, at St Andrew's church, by the Rev. Mr. Nevin, William Fitzhenry Esq., to Johanna, widow of the late Thomas Smyth Esq, both of Arklow.

17 January 1834 - The Pilot - Dublin

Which nicely fills William's apparently unmarried period 1833-1845. The OCR had made Henry into Henrv, which is why it hadn't been picked up before.

I have no more details about Johanna, her age, maiden name, whether she had any children with William, or indeed where she is buried.

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