Sunday, 14 October 2012

DNA study update - related Fitzhenry families in Maum and Cornamona, County Galway

Within the past few days we have had the very exciting news that two of the Fitzhenry families originating in County Galway are related. The geographical origins are only 11 miles (18 km) apart but as parish records failed to show a connection, up to now we could only speculate.

Once again DNA testing has shown that there is a link between these families going through the male line. Analysis of the Y chromosome which is passed from father to son, has shown that a male descendent from each family share a very close DNA pattern with only 1 difference out of the 37 DNA markers tested.

So let's have a look at these two families, and perhaps someone out there will recognise a pattern from their Fitzhenry family and send in some more information. Our knowledge is hampered by these families not always registering their births, marriages and deaths with the authorities in Ireland!

The family of Edward (or Edmund) Fitzhenry of Maam (or Maum) 
This is the more westerly of the two families. The mountains out here are beautiful but bleak. The farming life must have been very hard. Thanks to the family history information provided by Frank Fitzhenry and Lenard Baldy.
The earliest known male ancestor was Edward Fitzhenry (b 1830) who married Catherine Shaughanessy. In the Griffith's valuations of 1855 he is known as Edmund and is renting land in Maum East from the Earls of Leitrim and Charlesmont.

Edmund had at least 2 children, Mary born 1859, and William (1856 - 1915) who married Bridget Lydon (1869-1953). William and Bridget had at least 11 children:
Patrick ( b and d 1885)
Mary  (b 1886) emigrated to Pittsburgh, married John Coyne
Bridget (1890 - 1971) emigrated to Pittsburgh, married Anthony Coyne
Martin (1892 - 1973) stayed in Maum on the farm, did not marry
Thomas (1893 - 1906)
Stephen (1895 - 1968) emigrated to Pittsburg, married Bridget
Sabina (1898 - 1995) emigrated to Pittsburgh, married James O'Donnell
John (1900 - 1982) emigrated to England, married Ethel Johnson
Edward (1902 - 1957) emigrated to Pittsburgh, married Nora Staunton
William Joseph (1904 - 1985) emigrated to Pittsburgh, married Bridget Joyce
Myles (1906 - 1989) emigrated to Pittsburgh, married Helen Theresa Lally and died in Fort Lauderdale

As far as I can tell, all the surviving descendents of William Fitzhenry and Bridget Lydon now live in the US.
The family of Thomas Fitzhenry of Cornamona
Cornamona is 11 miles east of Maum down the only winding road around the base of the mountains. I am indebted to the research done by Jim McDonough for most of this tree.

Thomas Fitzhenry (1776-1846) married Margaret Joyce (1790-1870) and they had at least 2 sons. We only know the name of one from Jim McDonough's research: Thomas (1808-1873) who married Caitlin Joyce and had at least one child that we know of, again called Thomas.
This Thomas (1841-1933) married Honora (Nora) Burke and had 8 recorded children 
Mary (1875-1879)
Bridget (b 1873) who emigrated to Boston, Mass., and married Patrick McDonough
Myles (1875-1879)
Catherine (b and d 1879)
John (1882-1956) who married Mary Conroy
Catherine (b 1883)
William (b 1885) emigrated to Montana and was living there unmarried at the 1940 census
Patrick Joseph (b 1887) emigrated to New York and married Evelyn Stone.

The other unknown son of the original Thomas Fitzhenry may have been called Patrick or John, as these are are the two male Fitzhenry tenants in Cornamona in the Griffith's valuations. The son with the unknown name had a son Martin Fitzhenry (1849-1944) who married Mary Welch and had  5 known children:
Catherine (b 1883 and still alive at the 1901 census of Ireland)
Mary (b 1886) emigrated to Boston Mass.
Bridget (1888-1911) died in Cornamona
Patrick (1890 - 1981) went to the US for a spell, fought in WW1 in the US army, came home to Ireland and had  a large family. He is buried in the Rosshill cemetery in Clonbur in the family grave but with an additional US army headstone.
John (b1893 and still living with his widowed father Martin in the 1911 census)

Now we have other Fitzhenry branches which came originally from County Galway, and it would be great to know if they are linked to these two families. More about these other Galway Fitzhenry families in the next post.

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