Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Fitzhenry name stats from the USA

A top tip from the Guild of One Name Studies forum was to put the Fitz(-)henry surname into the US whitepages on-line.
As you can see, in the grand scheme of things, we're a small and select bunch with the Fitzhenry name ranking 33,784th most common surname in the US
(between Everingham and Frankenberg). with 516 individual entries.
That's 516 individuals who have a phone of course.
Allowing for the fact that 3 are known to this blog (including Ann of course), where are the rest of you? Send us a "Hello, I'm one of the unknown Fitzhenrys" email.

A breakdown of the stats for the more nerdy brained amongst you can be found here by clicking on the Fitzhenry link below

Name Popularity

Fitzhenry listings in the USA:

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Sunday, 28 December 2008

The Tale of Two Brothers

One of my favorite things about genealogy is encountering the unexpected. I was researching a family member interred at Ft. Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota, when I discovered not one, but three FitzHenrys buried there. Who were the other two FitzHenrys honored at this sacred place? With respect for their service to our country, I began to piece together the tale of two brothers, Donald W. and Kenneth James FitzHenry. These sons of William and Agnes FitzHenry, were born in Hennepin County, Minnesota in 1925 and 1928 respectively. Their older sister, Irene, was born about 1924 and died in childbirth in 1942.

Donald and Kenneth earned their place at Ft. Snelling for their service in WWII. Both men served in the Air Corps and eventually earned the rank of sergeant. They enlisted on the same day, January 12, 1946. I can only imagine their mother’s worry. Both men survived the war and went on to marry and have children in the 1950s. Their children joined the 79 million babies that were born in the baby boom years in the United States between 1946-1964. I have more information about their living descendents, but will refrain from publishing details for privacy reasons.

Donald was laid to rest at Ft. Snelling in 1998 and his younger brother, Kenneth, in 1989. Information about their interments can be found here and here.

The FitzHenry Connection

Once I had the first few pieces of Donald and Kenneth’s family group, I wanted to answer the question: Were they descendants of Enoch?

Patrick J. and Mary Gillan FitzHenry, Donald and Kenneth’s grandparents, were waiting to be discovered. Patrick and Mary were both born in Canada in 1858 and 1871, respectively. According to census records, they immigrated to Minnesota in the 1870s. Their parents were born in Ireland. No connection appears to exist with Enoch since he was born almost 100 years before. Following is the information I have gathered thus far:

Patrick J. FitzHenry was born 1858 in Canada. He died in Minnesota 1916 and is buried at St. Michael’s cemetery in Montgomery, Minnesota.

Mary Gillan FitzHenry, the daughter of Michael and Mary Gillan, was born about 1871 in Canada. She died December 3, 1938, in Minnesota and is buried at St. Michael’s cemetery in Montgomery, Minnesota.

Patrick and Mary had at least five children. Census records indicate there may have been six, but one was not living. All of their children were born in Minnesota.

William FitzHenry, was born July 8, 1896, he died October 1974. William and his wife, Agnes, had three children: Irene, Donald and Kenneth.

George FitzHenry was born March 6, 1899, and died September 16, 1962. George and his wife, Beatrice, had three children.

John Joseph FitzHenry was born October 19, 1900 and died June 21, 1979. Marital status unknown.

Margaret FitzHenry is buried at St. Michael’s cemetery in Montgomery, Minnesota. Her birth and death dates up for debate. According to the Minnesota Cemetery Inscription Index, Margaret was born in 1866 and died in 1884. Using those dates, her mother would not have been born at the time of her birth. However, the inscription indicates that Patrick and Mary Gillan FitzHenry were her parents. Something is definitely amiss!

James FitzHenry was born June 25, 1905 and died April 9, 1970. Marital status unknown.

Exact dates for this family have been difficult to verify. I have seen several conflicting records. If any of our Canadian friends have more information, please stand up and be counted.

Thank you to Donald and Kenneth for their honorable service to our country and for the unexpected opportunity to research their family. Rest in peace.

*Photo credit: Contributor: G.B.O.

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Monday, 22 December 2008

Swim like a Fitz!

Back in July, six members of the Fitzhenry family from Sidmouth, near Exeter in Devon swam the English Channel.
An amazing feat especially when you see the rather circuitous route they my reckoning they crossed at least 5 ferry lanes!

Bev Kronk spotted it all the way through the Earth in Australia - those of us nearer to the event (me) are ashamed to say we missed it.

So in an attempt to redeem myself as the contemporary historian of all things Fitz(-)henry, well done to Paul, Neal, Lee, Craig, Dave and Daniel. Here's the details of the charities they were supporting by doing their epic swim. You can still donate through their website.

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Sunday, 21 December 2008

End of 2008 "State of the Nation" address

So here we are at the end of another year, and I just wanted to highlight how far this Fitz(-)henry one name study has come over the past 12 months.

At the end of 2007, this blog was just me prattling on, on a fairly irregular basis to an unknown audience.

Then some brilliant things happened.
Ann contacted me for the first time, and Lesley rekindled an old friendship.
Over the next few months they started providing me with such good stuff that they became co-authors of the blog - and I couldn't have done it without them!

And I also discovered Feedburner which meant we could offer people with an interest in the Fitz(-)henry name the chance to keep up with our findings by subscription, and gave us the information about how many people potentially were out there reading our blog. As of today, there's 13 of you, so you're still a small select band but growing!

This year we also kicked off the Fitz(-)henry DNA study. It only has two participants so far, so if you are wondering what to give the Fitzhenry man who has everything for Christmas this year, why not consider his very own DNA profile - linked to our study of course!

In April, the Guild of One-Name Studies (GOONS) gave us accredited One-Name study status and we are now the official registrants of the Fitz(-)henry name at the Guild.

And we've made contacts with Fitz(-)henrys from all over the world this year.
I'd like to name check all the people who emailed us or left comments on the blog - big thanks to you all all.
Keep reading the blog and sending us more stuff.
Tell your Fitz(-)henry relatives and friends about us!
Bev Kronk (Australia) - prolific supplier of facts. Thanks again, Bev.
Rodrigo Palacios Fitz-Henry (Chile) - thanks for your information about our only known South American branch, and will you please email me again through the blog, as I don't think my emails are getting through to you. I would really love to publish the info you've sent me and just need your permission.
Canon Patrick Comerford (Ireland)
Garry and Laurie Fitz-Henry and their family, Brian Dulcombe Fitz-Henry and Annabella Fitz-Henry (all from Canada and descendants of William Fitz-Henry and Martha Eagles).
Tom Fitzhenry (Dublin, Ireland)
Mrs Betty Volante and Mr Michael Volante (England)
Terri Tiffany (USA)
Sarah Murphy (England) a descendant of John Fitzhenry of Oswestry (died in WW1)
Kerry Robinson nee Fitzhenry and Christine Fitzhenry (Australia) who are both descended from Peter Fitzhenry of the AIF (died in WW1)
Sandra Fuller (Australia)
Norma Temperton (England)
Glen Porteous and Lynda Moseley (USA) for their research about William Fortune
Darren Fitzhenry (USA)
Shilo Fitzhenry (USA)
Kim Tregellas (USA)
Geraldine Cheyne and Paul Davies (Australia) researching the (Fitz)Henry connection in the Vitzdamm family.

There.... I think that's all of you - apologies to any I may have missed!

And what's in store for next year?
We hope to get more people interested in the DNA study - pop over here to take a look at the website.
The DNA website will be expanded to hold more in the way of reference material for our One-Name study - the family trees we've put together and suchlike.
And we hope that you all keep healthy and happy in the year ahead.

Merry Christmas.
Jo Fitz-Henry

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Thursday, 18 December 2008

Road Trip 3 - the Surrey Record Office

The Surrey record office in Woking is a real gem of a place. Lovely open modern building, lots of lovely records to lose yourself in and enthusiastic helpful staff.
I was on the trail of the family of William Fitz-Henry and Martha Eagles of Ashtead. I wanted to know where William was buried to see if a gravestone would give me any further clues about his ancestors. I'd looked in the graveyard of the parish church of St Giles when I visited Ashtead earlier in the year, but hadn't found a gravestone.

The first bonus was finding that the parish records of St Giles weren't on fiche - this meant I got to look through the original register. And what a splendid register it was, all leather bound and gold tooled. I have got photos of it, but the copyright declaration that I had to sign said I would put any of the photos on t'internet. Sorry.

So who did I find in the register?
William and Martha's first two children (Hester and Rowland) were born before they settled in Ashtead, but I did find the baptisms of:

Harry Duncombe Fitz-Henry christened 8 May 1882
on of William FH (Captain Retired full pay) and Martha Elizabeth.

Woodfield Duncombe Tighe Fitz-Henry born 26 January 1883, christened 6 May 1883
Son of
of William FH (captain in the Army, retired full pay) and Martha Elizabeth.

William Fitz-Henry, born 30 October 1885, christened 19 August 1886
Son of William (Captain in the Army) and Martha Elizabeth.

Harry Duncombe died in infancy, but neither he nor his father William (died November 1885) were buried at St Giles. One of the records office staff suggested that one or both of them may have been buried at the new municipal cemetery in Leatherhead (the nearest big town). This would mean a trip to the cemetery itself to consult their records.

As a stroke of fortune, the records office also had some editions of Kelly's Directories for Surrey on fiche. Amongst the "Private Residents" were
1885 edition, Fitz-Henry Capt. William at Oakfield Lodge
1886 edition, Fitz-Henry Mrs. at The Shaw.
I had previously thought that she had gone back to be near her family in Buckinghamshire straight after she was widowed, but the christening of William and the Kelly's entry showed that she was still a fixture in the village for at least another 8 months. Oakfield Lodge was still shown on the Ashtead map of 1932, but the current Google map shows some modern houses on the site in what is now Balquhain Close.

So... why was baby William's christening delayed for so long after his birth? This was answered the following day at Guild of One Name Studies lecture in Dorchester. In short, a woman did not re-enter society after the birth of her baby until she had been "churched" - going to Sunday service at her church a month after the birth. Often the baby was taken along and was christened at the same time - not before, unless the baby was very sickly. However, Matha's husband died before she had baby William christened and she entered her six month period of "deep mourning". To have the baby christened during this time was considered at the very least disrespectful, and at worst it would have brought misfortune on the child. Hence Martha had baby William christened when the mourning period was over.

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Sunday, 14 December 2008

The Family of John and Anne Fortune

After Jo’s visit to the National Archives, I wanted to learn more about William Fortune. What circumstances led him to die in England all alone? What do we know about this supposed cousin of Enoch FitzHenry?

Fortunately, I have been in contact with a very knowledgeable Fortune family researcher. The following report is posted with her permission and is public record at Fairfield County, South Carolina. The document contains information about the entire Fortune family. However, for brevity, the excerpts below focus on William Fortune.

The comments in italics are my own.

Background Information

John Fortune was born about 1725 in Ireland. He and his wife, Anne and their family of seven children arrived in Charleston, South Carolina on August 23, 1767 aboard the ship Britannia. Anne was born about 1726. Her maiden name has not been proven, but may have been Fitzhenry. The names and dates of birth of the children: Mary, born June 15, 1746; William, born December 30, 1748; John Jr., born February 20, 1752; Jane, born September 1, 1754; Mark, born June 23, 1756; Richard, born June 17, 1758; and Elizabeth, born December 23, 1759.

There is some confusion over where in Ireland the family departed. Janie Revill, in her book, Protestant Immigrants to South Carolina 1763-1773, pages 82-84, transcribed the South Carolina Council Journals, specifically Journal 33, pages 234-237 (meeting of September 1, 1767), which states the Britannia arrived from Newry. R. J. Dickson’s excellent book, Ulster Emigration to Colonial America 1718-1775, states the Britannia sailed from Belfast to Charleston in 1767, but sites the Revill book as its source.

Agents for the port of Newry were located in Belfast, and agents for Belfast were located in Newry, according to Dickson’s book. The overwhelming majority of Fortunes have been concentrated in Wexford County, Ireland since the 1600s, and the majority of Fortunes in Wexford since have been of the Roman Catholic faith.

Evidence contained in an 1815 letter written by William Fortune to his son, Joseph Fortune, proves he had relatives in Wexford. Whether they were Fortunes or members of his mother’s family is unknown, but I believe he was referring to his father’s family.

Revill’s book states the passengers aboard the Britannia were Protestant, but no proof has been found to determine the Fortune family’s religious denomination once they arrived in South Carolina. (It is likely the Fortunes were Protestant. Immigration to the Carolina’s exploded with the promise of free land to Protestants via the Bounty Act of 1761.)

Another letter written by William Fortune to his son Joseph in 1821 refers to an uncle, Owen Fortune, “the brother of my father, John Fortune”, and at least three of Owen’s children: Richard, John and an unnamed daughter who married and was living in London, England in 1821. At the time, Richard was visiting his sister and was enlisted with the 18th Hussars in France. His rank is not known. Richard’s brother John is also mentioned as being a soldier, but his company and rank are not given. This is as much as is currently known of Owen Fortune and his children.

The belief that Anne Fortune’s maiden name was possibly Fitzhenry also stems from a letter purportedly written by Enoch Fitzhenry to William Fortune. Enoch Fitzhenry allegedly wrote to William Fortune, in which he referred to William in the letter as a cousin. There is recorded evidence Enoch Fitzhenry was in New York during the early 1800s, but no connection to him or his descendants has been proven.

There is no evidence the Fortunes arrived in South Carolina as indentured servants. Written evidence proves they were literate. They also paid for the surveys of their bounty land very shortly after their arrival in Fairfield District. There is a seven month period between their arrival and the issuance of their grants in which the family’s whereabouts are undocumented, and it is assumed they spent the time traveling from Charleston to Fairfield District, possibly stopping from time to time to work and earn enough money to continue.

The Bounty Land

John Fortune, Sr. was granted 100 acres in Craven County on the head of Jackson’s Creek on March 2, 1768, which I believe is the same 100 acres surveyed for John Fortune, Jr. on October 1, 1767.

John Fortune, Sr. was granted 350 acres in Craven County on the head of Jackson’s Creek on March 8, 1768, being the 100 acres surveyed for John Fortune, Jr. who apparently died before the grant was finalized.

Mary Fortune was granted 100 acres in Craven County on the head of Jackson’s Creek on March 8, 1768, bounded on the Northwest by land laid out to her brother, William Fortune.

William Fortune was granted 100 acres in Craven County on the head of Jackson’s Creek on April 6, 1768.

The record shows that Richard Winn purchased William Fortune’s 100 acre grant from William and his wife, Mary on November 26, 1771. This 100 acre tract is the site upon which Winn would later establish the Town of Winnsborough.

John Fortune, Sr. died in Fairfield District in November, 1776. He is buried on the 350 acre plantation granted to him in 1768, although the exact location of his grave is unknown. Although several sources report that his Will is of record in the Office of the Probate Judge for Kershaw County, it is not. The estate file there contains a transcribed affidavit from his daughter Mary Fortune McCreary who testified in an 1815 civil action in Richland District that her father died in 1776 and that he had made a Will, which was in her possession for some years after his death. She testified the Will directed the bounty lands in his name be sold by her mother, Anne.

Robert McCreary and wife Mary Fortune McCreary conveyed Mary’s 100 acre grant to Joseph Owen on February 8, 1778.

Anne Fortune died in 1783 while living on Thorntree Creek near Camden, probably with the family of her daughter, Jane Fortune Robinson, wife of Judge Walter Robinson. Her Last Will and Testament is of record in Kershaw County in Will Book A1, page 157. In it, she states her husband’s Will was destroyed by their son, William Fortune and devises the 350 acre tract owned by her husband to her Executors, Walter Robinson and Thomas Mews. She contracted to sell the 350 acres under Bond for Title to John Milling in shortly thereafter, although the exact date is not revealed of record.

William Fortune fled South Carolina for England in 1783. By 1802, he was living in Hawkesbury, Canada. On February 8, 1802, claiming by right of primogeniture, as the oldest son, sold his father’s 350 acre tract and the 100 acre tract surveyed for John Fortune, Jr., to John Woodward, Sr., James Barkley and James Barber.

On May 10, 1813, in Columbia (Richland) District-Sarah Milling filed suit for partition against John Woodward, Sr., James Barber and James Barker to recover the land sold to them by William Fortune in 1802. The land was eventually ordered to be divided into lots and sold in Winnsborough at public auction on the first Monday in August, 1818. It is not known who purchased the property at the sale.

The suit was over the 350 acre tract only, and it appears Woodward, Barber and Barker retained possession of the 100 acre tract originally surveyed for John Fortune, Jr.

The Town of Winnsborough was later established on much of the 650 acres granted to the Fortune family, particularly the 100 acres granted to William Fortune.

Life of William Fortune

William Fortune was born December 30, 1748. He married Mary (last name unknown), probably Brown, in Fairfield District. At least two of his children, William Jr. and Joseph, said to be Cornwallis Joseph, were born there as well. William and Mary had six children. In addition to William and Joseph, they were: Thomas Patrick, Rawdon, Eliza and Louisa. Joseph, Eliza and Louisa all lived in Canada. Eliza married a Hoople. Letters written from William to his son, Joseph between 1817 and 1821 consistently state that Joseph was his only son, so the other boys must have died young.

Much of William Fortune’s life is revealed in the many letters he wrote to his son Joseph. He was a land surveyor and a soldier. Pay vouchers and affidavits from several Loyalist officers, including Lord Rawdon, Earl Cornwallis, Maj. Thomas Fraser, Col. Alexander Stuart and other officers and enlisted men in the Volunteers of Ireland prove he was a Loyalist for most of the War. He petitioned the Canadian government from Charleston and from Point Fortune for bounty lands, eventually amassing several thousand acres. There is also evidence William and his brother, Richard, served the American cause as members of Col. Thomas Taylor’s regiment, from which they deserted prior to 1783. Their names, along with brother-in-law John McWatty, appear on a list of 38 deserters from Col. Taylor’s regiment. William’s property was confiscated and he left South Carolina around 1783 for England. His numerous petitions for bounty lands in Canada state he was involved in the Battle of Hobkirk’s Hill in 1781, and the Battle of Eutaw Springs, as well as the evacuation of Charleston.

William Fortune’s letters paint a portrait of a greedy, self-absorbed man who appeared to suffer from grandiose fantasies. To say that he was enamored of Lord Rawdon is an understatement. He claimed a close connection to him and several high ranking or titled men in England. He was a scoundrel and led a colorful life, and according to his letters, was estranged from his daughters for many years.

It is fact that he spent months incarcerated in debtor’s prison in Gloucester Castle, London, England between 1815 and 1817. It is also fact that he mostly lived apart from his family between 1789 and 1821. His letters during those years are franked from London, Bristol, Bath and Brighton. He relates in one that he was rescued from Gloucester Castle by a woman who paid him 15 lbs. sterling in exchange for the promise of marriage, although he never married her. He died after 1821 and is said to be buried at Point Fortune, Canada. (We now believe he is buried at Hurstpierpoint, England. Please refer to William Fortune -The National Archives, Kew.)

Thank you to Lynda and family for their years of research!
If you would like more information on the Fortune family, please contact us.

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Sunday, 7 December 2008

Road Trip 2 - William Fortune (The National Archives, Kew)

To the American Fitzhenrys, William Fortune has the same mythic status as Enoch Fitzhenry. The legend of Enoch has it that William Fortune (his cousin) was the only relative that Enoch had contact with after his arrival in the United States. One of Enoch's sons (William Fortune Fitzhenry) was given the middle name Fortune in his honour. William Fortune was a soldier who had fought for the Brits in the American War of Independence (bad idea!) and had subsequently lost his lands in South Carolina and went north to Canada after a stay in England.

Ann Fitzhenry (co-author of this blog) and Glen Porteous (another Fitzhenry researcher) had both done their research on William Fortune, and they had found that there was a file on him in the War Office Records held at the National Archives in Kew. Was this going to be a story of heroics and being mentioned in dispatches? Or William acting as a double agent while he was staying in England?


It was a bureaucratic wrangle over who should pay for William's funeral. Probably the only reason these few sheets of paper were kept was because it set a precedent which enabled the War Office to pay
for funeral expenses of British Army soldiers to someone other than the next of kin or executor of a will.

Let me summarise what I discovered (for indeed there was a lot of repetition).

William Fortune had found himself in the village of Hurstpierpoint in Sussex in the year 1822. Hurstpierpoint while unremarkable in itself, is just north of Brighton on the south coast of England and at that time in Regency England, Brighton was the most fashionable place to be seen apart from London. Hurstpierpoint was also on the main coaching route from London to Brighton so William may have been just "en route", or he may have been paying someone a visit.

He was taken ill. Then he died on 26th November, and was buried in the Hurstpierpoint parish churchyard on 29th November 1822.

We know this as the curate of Hurstpierpoint, a Reverend John Charles Fowell Tufnell wrote to the War Office asking for recompense for the medical bills and the cost of the funeral which he had personally paid for.
The Reverend said that there were no relatives in the country (England) who could pay these bills and William had not enough money at the time of his death to cover his debts. Could he (the Rev. Tufnell) receive the balance of the army pay
that was outstanding up to the time of his death, which William Fortune was entitled as a British Loyalist in the War of Independence.

There was then a flurry of correspondence around the War Office, and from his first request in November 1822, the Rev. Tufnell finally received his money in March 1823.

What else did I find?
William Fortune was either a Colonel or a Captain; he is mentioned as both in the correspondence although the Rev. Tufnell referred to him as Colonel.
His regiment was referred to as either the American Loyalists or the American Provincials.
His regimental number was 132807.

He had been placed on half pay in 1783 and was still receiving this pay at the time of his death.
His outstanding pay amounted to £15 and 15 shillings, or 15 Guineas (a Guinea being a pound and a shilling, an archaic form of British currency which is still used in horse-racing). This sum was not to be sniffed at, as an agricultural labourer's wage was 8 to 12 shillings a week.

I visited the Sussex Record Office a few days later on the road trip.
A very old and worn microfiche scan of the Hurstpierpoint parish register confirmed that Colonel William Fortune had been buried on 29th November 1822 at the age of 74 years by the Rev Tufnell. It gave his place of residence as Hurstpierpoint rather than saying that he was visiting from elsewhere.
Unfortunately there was no records of the monumental inscriptions in Hurstpierpoint churchyard at the records office, and Hurstpierpoint was at the other end of the county and in the opposite direction to where I was heading next.
So that's a visit for another time.

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Friday, 5 December 2008

Revealed:The Mystery Lady of Brompton Cemetery

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Well, this is one loose end that can definately be sewn up !! Today two death certificates arrived, one of which was for the mystery lady, Ann Fitzhenry, discovered at Brompton cemetery by erstwhile Fitzhenry sleuth Jo!

The document positively confirms the lady's identity as Ann Fitzhenry daughter-in-law of Elizabeth (and Michael) Fitzhenry, and widow of their eldest son George Fitzhenry.

Ann died of Enteritis on the 29th April 1889 at 61 Duffield Street West Battersea. Her occupation is listed as "Widow of George Fitzhenry a compositor" . Whilst one might take issue with this description as being an occupation, it certainly helps to confirm her identity!. The absolute proof though, is the name and relationship of the informant, A E Puddle. This is Annie Puddle, Ann's eldest child, and who was living with her brother George FH in Battersea in 1891. The certificate identifies A E Puddle as the deceased's daughter, and she was present at her mother's death.

So another mystery solved, but another emerges........what happened to Ann's two sons, William born in Ireland in 1868 and George Fitzhenry born Manchester 1875 ? Maybe the 1911 census release will help to solve this one....but if you know what happened to the two FH boys, please don't keep us in suspense, drop a line here !!

PS. For those who were wondering, the second death certificate was for Ann's husband, George Fitzhenry who died 9 May 1879 of Phthisis (TB) aged 39. He was living at 18 Pimlico Rd Pimlico Belgrave when he died, and was an Army Pensioner at this date (having previously been in the 12th Lancers). The informant was his widow A Fitzhenry (see subject of above entry).