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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