Sunday, 15 October 2017

Wynne family: Taking the search to Co. Tipperary #6

John Wynne, the potential ‘DNA cousin’ of my great-great-grandfather, died in Melbourne, Australia, in 1872, having emigrated from his home in Dublin city, twelve years previously. On his death certificate, it was claimed he was born in Co. Tipperary, about 1798, though the names of his parents were ‘unknown’. If he was from Co. Tipperary, and if we were related to him, there’s a good chance our Wynne family originated in Tipperary, too. Right?

Sadly, the chances of finding John Wynne in Co. Tipperary are slim. Unlike, our family, these Wynnes were Protestant. And, Protestant church registers, for that time in Irish history, are as rare as hen’s teeth. Plus, few of the registers that did survive the civil war are searchable online. 

Still, I had to check.

And, as I suspected, no likely Protestant Wynne family was identified in Co. Tipperary.[1] In fact, the entire county seemed devoid of any Wynne families at all, apart from one extended family, living in the townland of Twomilebridge, not far from Clonmel, in the Roman Catholic parish of Powerstown, in South Tipperary, close to the border with Co. Waterford.

Was this where we came from, originally?

The John Wynne living there was a blacksmith cum farmer. Occupations often run in families, but my John Wynne worked as a sales assistant in Dublin, while John Wynne, his prospective ‘DNA cousin’, was a slater by trade. So, no match. Then again, the amount of shared DNA suggests the relationship occurred a few generations prior, allowing time for a change in occupation and religion.    

The Catholic parish registers for Gambonsfield, a parish neighbouring Powerstown, show John Wynne married Maria Mangan, in 1841. Their surviving daughters - Johanna, Mary, Honora, and Anastatia – were all baptised in Powerstown.

Richard Wynne lived in Powerstown too; his daughter Anastatia was christened there, in 1839. John Wynne was her Godfather, suggesting John and Richard may have been brothers. They may also have had an elder sister Mary, who married James Carroll, in the parish, in 1833.

Catholic Parishes, Registers held by the NLI

The Powerstown registers date to the first decade of the nineteenth century, and show two older Wynne women, both undoubtedly from the same family, though it’s difficult to determine their precise relationship to John and Richard. Joanna Wynne married Denis Hunt in 1811, thirty years before John’s marriage, and Anastatia Wynne married Mathew Grady in 1824. Perhaps they were their elder sisters, or maybe their aunts. It’s even possible one was their widowed mother remarrying.

Unfortunately, there is nothing much to connect this family with our ‘DNA cousins’, just one tenuous and probably coincidental link - the name Richard Wynne was not a common name, but it was shared by members of both families.

There’s absolutely nothing connecting them with my own Wynne family.


Previously, I found the baptism of a John Wynne, in the registers of Saints Michael and John's parish, in Dublin city, dated 1822. There’s an outside chance it’s my great-great-grandfather’s. It meets all the known criteria – albeit, everything ‘known’ stems from the 1901 census, when John claimed he was born in Dublin city, about 1821.

In this baptism, the child’s parents were named as John Wynne and Honora Minor. A couple, spelling their names John Wynn and Honora Minihan, quite possibly the same couple, christened their son Robert, in the same parish, in 1831.

I had also, previously, linked this couple with their namesakes in St Mary’s Parish, Clonmel. John Wynn and Honora Minehan had a daughter Mary, baptised there in 1820, and a daughter Catherine, in 1828. Was this the same family, alternatively living in both Dublin and Tipperary? It’s only two and a half hours drive now, but, in the 1820s, it was a long journey by horse and coach, and maybe a tad expensive for most pockets.

Clonmel is only two miles from Twomilebridge, so proximity alone suggests a relationship between the Tipperary Wynnes, not to mention the similar family names. Nonetheless, while it’s curious the same corner of the country cropped up twice in my own family research, there’s still nothing actually linking us there.

[1] Transcription of parish registers, online at (€), 19 Sep. 2017.

See first post in this series: DNA Diary: Seeking to demolish a brick wall.

© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Identifying the 'Australian’ Wynnes, back in Dublin #5

With all the information garnered from Australian records, it was easy to locate our target Wynne family - the potential DNA cousins of my great-great-grandfather back in Dublin. And, like many semi-skilled workers in nineteenth-century Ireland, this ‘cousin’, also named John Wynne, moved from one tenement dwelling to another, while remaining in the same general area of the city.

His identified addresses between 1821 and 1851 are reflected by the red stars on the map below.

John Wynne (c.1898-1872) (married to 1) Anne Doyle 2) Mary Brodie
Wynne residences, Dublin City, 1821 – 1851 (click on image to enlarge)[1]

We know from the record of John Wynne’s death in Australia in 1872, he married Ann Doyle, in Dublin, about 1823, and had six children with her – James (dead), Richard (1826), Henry (1828), Thomas (dead), Edward (1835) and Jane (dead). Other sources indicate, John married a second time, to Mary Brodie, with whom he had a son, John William, in Dublin, about 1841.

And, for the most part, although some dates were misremembered, there is supporting evidence of this in the records of Dublin city.

John and Anne Wynne lived in Werburgh Street in 1821, when their son James Thomas was baptised. Then, the family spent some years in St Mark’s parish, just over a mile to the east, where Richard, Elizabeth and Jane were born. Henry, Thomas and Edward were probably born in St Mark’s parish too, but their baptism records have not been found. The register of Jane’s baptism provides the family’s address as Denzille Street, as well as confirming John Wynne’s occupation - as a slater - increasing the likelihood this is the right family.

While most sources indicate the family were of the Protestant persuasion, Elizabeth and Jane were also baptised in St Andrew’s Roman Catholic church, suggesting their mother may have been Catholic. This view is perhaps confirmed by the insertion of the letters ‘R.C.’ in the burial register next to Anne Wynne, who died aged forty-two years, in August 1840. (St Andrew's R.C. parish covers much of the same district as St Mark's Church of Ireland parish.)

Burial register, Anne Wynne, 1840, St Mark’s Parish, Dublin

In 1841, 1842, and 1843, John Wynne, a slater, was recorded as living at 8 Peter Street. Only the fairly well-to-do were named in the Dublin city street directories, so perhaps John's business was doing particularly well around this time. But, from 1844 onward, he was no longer listed, suggesting he probably returned to tenement-type accommodation.[2]

Although no record of the event has been found, it would seem, soon after Anne’s death, John married Mary Brodie. No record of John William was found, but the baptism of a James Wynne, son of John Wynne and Mary Broody [sic], took place in St Nicholas R.C. parish on 2 September 1844. Nearly three months later, on 26 November, the three-month-old James Wynne died at home, in Whitefriar Street, and was buried in St Peter’s COI parish.

Sadly, it seems, John Wynne lost his second wife at an early age, too.  Mary Wynne of Whitefriar Street, aged thirty-six years, was buried in the graveyard at St Peter’s, on the 5 January 1846. Within a week, a second infant, James Wynne of Whitefriar Street, was buried in the same graveyard. And, in 1851, a surviving extract from the Irish census confirms John Wynne headed the only Wynne household in Whitefriar Street.[3]

John Wynne of Whitefriar Street was the only man of that name recorded as resident in Dublin’s south city, in 1851, apart from my own great-great-grandfather, who lived in Thomas Street.

[1] Excerpt from map of Dublin City, Pettigrew & Oulton, Dublin Almanack & General Register of Ireland, 1840, accessed at SWilson.Info.
[2] Pettigrew & Oulton, Dublin Almanack & General Register of Ireland, 1840 to 1844, various online sources.
[3] David Chart, ‘Dublin city, Head of household extract from 1851 census of Ireland’, National Archives, accessed on (€) 
[4] Dublin birth and death details from the church baptism and burial registers, accessed on

Note: The Wynne surname, although spelled consistently in this article, was subject to numerous spelling variations (including Wynne, Wynn, Winne and Winn) in the nineteenth-century records.

See start of discussion about this DNA match, here

© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Wynne origins: Seeking answers in Australia #4

This week, I’m staying on the trail of our new DNA match, hoping the records of their Wynne lineage will point to the origins of my brick-wall ancestor - John Wynne, born about 1821 in Dublin city. John’s potential second-cousin, Henry Wynne, along with Henry’s brothers, Richard and John, were all born in Dublin too, but they made their homes in Australia. Henry’s brother Edward Wynne remained in Dublin, where I traced him from the time of his marriage, but no direct association with our family was uncovered.

Australian records are often far more informative than their Irish equivalent, typically providing the names and address of the subject’s parents. The three Wynne brothers all married and died in Australia, creating plenty of opportunity for these details to have been recorded.

We already know the boys father was John Wynne, a slater, with a one-time address in Dublin city. But, from the indexed record of Henry Wynne’s death, we learn his mother was Annie Doyle - another clue to help hone in on earlier records of family back, back in Dublin.  

Henry Wynne, 1876, deaths index, Victoria

John William Wynne married Agnes Anne Browne, on 1 April 1867, in Sydney. Their marriage certificate confirms John William was the son of John Wynne, a slater, from Dublin, and Mary Brodie – a different mother to Henry. Still, it’s quite likely we’ve identified the right man. This John William was named as an executor to Henry’s will, and Mary Ann Nelch, the wife of Richard Wynne, was a witness at his wedding.  

So, most likely, John William was Henry and Richard’s half-brother. There were already some indications Henry and Richard’s mother died young. In 1842, Richard’s ‘Assisted Immigrant’ record, named his parents as John and Ann, with a additional note saying his father was still alive, indirectly suggesting his mother wasn’t. And, unlike many of the other convicts transported to Australia in 1844, Henry’s mother’s name was omitted from the register, perhaps also signifying she was deceased.

In 1861, John Wynne senior followed his sons to Australia. He lived in Sydney for four years, before moving to Melbourne, where he died on 25 May 1872. Thanks to our DNA cousin, I have a copy of his death certificate. Unfortunately, at the time of his death, his parent’s names were unknown, but there was plenty of other information relevant to the search.  
From the death record of John Wynne, 1872

John Wynne was supposedly seventy-four years old when he died in 1872, indicating he was born about 1798. He married Ann Doyle in Dublin, when he was twenty-five years old, so about 1823. His death record contains no mention of Mary Brodie, or their son John William, but six children from his first marriage were listed - James (dead), Richard (46), Henry (44), Thomas (dead), Edward (37) and Jane (dead). Henry and Richard were said to have been three years younger than other records have indicated, implying all dates mentioned here may be similarly understated.

That’s plenty of information to identify this family in Dublin city. 

And, maybe the biggest clue provided by John Wynne’s death certificate is the claim he was born in Tipperary. If this Wynne line originated there, and we were related to them, our Wynne line may have come from Tipperary too. This gives us a completely new line of inquiry and just might open a window in our brick-wall!

See start of discussion about this DNA match, here.

Continued, here.

© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Checking for a ‘Wynne’ connection in Dublin #3

Mam and her new DNA match, Cousin B, share 37 centimorgans of DNA, across two segments. It’s a small match, putting them in the third to fifth cousin range. Cousin B’s great-grandfather, Henry Wynne, was born in Dublin city, about 1825. Henry also had three brothers – Richard, Edward and John. IF Mam and Cousin B are related via their Wynne lines, and IF they are fifth cousins, then, Henry and his brothers were my great-great-grandfather’s second cousins.

Of the four brothers, only Edward Wynne remained in Dublin - the others all eventually found their way to Australia. So, any evidence of an ongoing relationship between our two families would most likely to be found in the records relating to Edward.

Depicting the estimate fifth cousin relationship

Edward Wynne was born about 1835, he wasn’t sure exactly when, given the spread in his age reported over his lifetime. He married Anne Mills, in St Peter's (Church of Ireland) parish, in Dublin city, on 29 November 1858. Like his father John, Edward was a slater by trade, unlike our John Wynne who worked as a shop assistant. The witnesses to Edward and Anne’s marriage were Mary Nolan and Anne Mooney, of no known relationship, to either of our families.

Edward and Anne had four children - John Edward in 1859, Henry in 1861, Bridget in 1863 and Richard Edward in 1866. Their respective Godmothers - Mary Nolan, Susanna Shaw, Margarita Horlahan and Sara Thompson - are of no known significance to our search, and were likely on Anne Mills’ side, given the children were baptised in the Roman Catholic faith. Sadly, the two eldest children did not survive.[1]

William Malone, a ‘missionary’ employed by the Presbyterian church in Ormond Quay, kept a record of his visits to Protestant households in Dublin city, giving us an insight into Edward’s life, in 1875.  Malone wrote: 
“Wynne, 89 Capel Street, Epis[copalian]. Spoke to him about his intemperate habits and told him of his danger, to which he listened attentively. Prayed with him and his two children. Wife not present, being a Roman Catholic. These two children, Richard and Bridget, are to be sent to Dominick St. Sab. School.”[2] 

Edward’s ‘intemperate habits’ likely contributed to his frequent stays in the workhouse. His admittance was recorded in 1865, with further visits in the 1870s and 1880s, and more frequent visits in 1895, 1896, and 1897, until his death there, in May 1897.[3] Yet, unlike many who died in the workhouse, he was not abandoned to a pauper’s grave, but was buried in a family plot, with a headstone, at Glasnevin Cemetery.[4]

Despite his illness, Edward rarely ran afoul of the law. Once, in 1883, he was sentenced to spend twenty-four hours in the Richmond Penitentiary, for drunkenness. The prison register contains Edward’s physical description. He was only four feet, ten and a half inches - short, even by Dublin standards. He had dark hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion, not unlike many in our Wynne family.[5]

But, regrettably, that was the only ‘connection’ found. 

[1] Church marriage and baptism registers,
[2] Dublin Presbyterian Colporteur’s Notebook, 1875’, available to members of the Irish Genealogical Research Society.
[3] Admittance register, North Dublin Union Workhouse, accessed on ($)FindmyPast.
[4] Burial register, Glasnevin Cemetery, Glasnevin Trust.
[5] Prison register, Richmond Penitentiary, accessed on ($)FindmyPast.

See start of series about this DNA match, here.  

Continued, here.

© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday, 9 September 2017

DNA Diary: Is it a Wynne match? #2

shared surname and place of origin makes for a great start, with any new DNA match. But, it could be a coincidence. That was my concern when commencing the investigation into our match with ‘Cousin B’, from Australia.  We both share Wynne as an ancestral surname and we both trace their origins back to Dublin city, in the 1820s. But, that does not ‘prove’ we’re related through our Wynne lines. 

Fortunately, several known descendants of my great-great-grandfather, John Wynne, have already taken a DNA test. There is Mam and her brother Colm, from Dublin, their first cousin Larry, born in the U.K., as well as their 2C1R (second cousins once removed), Phyllis and her sister G, from America. Cousin B confirmed her 2C and her 3C1R, both from Australia, have tested too.

I'm no scientist, but my understanding is, if we can identify a specific segment of DNA, common in both my extended Wynne family and in Cousin B’s, we must have inherited that segment from the same ancestor. We still might not ever find out their name, but we’d know for sure they were related, somehow, to John Wynne, or maybe to his wife, Bridget Hynes.

Unfortunately, we all used different DNA testing companies, making it difficult to see who matches who. Then Larry and Cousin B agreed to join GEDmatch, a free DNA database, where we confirmed they match each other. They both share a segment of DNA with my mother, thus eliminating all Mam’s maternal ancestors from this equation, and enabling us concentrate solely on her paternal line. 

Ideally, we need everyone else to join GEDmatch too. Nevertheless, the preliminary results do look promising.

Phyllis and I have been working together and identified numerous matches between our Wynne family and the Australian Wynnes:

a) Mam and Cousin B are said to be between third and fifth cousins;
b) Likewise, for Larry and Cousin B, although they share less DNA;
c) Phyllis and M are also estimated as being between third and fifth cousins;
d) Phyllis and L have a more distant match - between fifth and eight cousins;
e) Larry and L are related, being a 'shared match' of Phyllis and L, though the extent of their relationship is, as yet, not known. 

This is not exactly the 'proof' we were looking for. But, while we’re waiting for everyone to join GEDmatch, it’s encouraging to see the number of ‘coincidences’ mounting up.

It’s a good sign, right?

Continued, here.

© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday, 2 September 2017

DNA Diary: Seeking to demolish a brick wall

John WYNNE, my great-great-grandfather, claimed he was ninety-one years old in 1911, and said he was born in Dublin city. Yet, in the years since this record was first found, nothing has shed light on his origins. He is my longest standing genealogy brick wall. All leads have been painstakingly exhausted, more than once, and my guess is DNA is our only chance of making progress.  

So, I was delighted when my mother received a new DNA match, with a lady in Australia, whose pedigree chart says she descends from Henry WYNNE, born in Dublin city, about 1825. The amount of DNA they share signifies a relationship between third and fifth cousins. She is Mam’s closest match, when our known relatives are taken out of the equation.

DNA match, at GEDmatch

I may be chasing a bunny down a hole, as far as our Wynne brick wall is concerned–the relationship could be on another line entirely–nonetheless, I’m happy to see where this clue takes us.

It turns out Henry Wynne was convicted of larceny in Dublin, twice, once in 1843 for stealing tools and again in 1844, when he helped himself to somebody else’s ‘stone lead’.[1] After his second offence, Henry was transported, for seven years, to Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania), even though it meant leaving a wife of two months behind in Dublin.

Quite a lot can be gleaned about Henry from his ‘convict papers’.[2] In 1844, aged nineteen years, he was 5 feet, four and a half inches tall, of stout build, sandy hair and hazel eyes. The prison registers, on the other hand, say his eyes were grey. He worked as a slater. His father was John Wynne, and his brothers were John, Edward and Richard.  JOHN, like my great-great-grandfather! Except, Henry was Protestant.

And, when our John Wynne married Bridget Hynes, on 16 September 1849, the ceremony took place in St Catherine’s Roman Catholic Church, Meath Street. A mixed marriage, you might think, except at that time in Irish history, a marriage between a Protestant (practising or otherwise) and a Catholic was invalid in law, unless it was conducted by the Protestant clergy. John and Bridget would have known this. And, from 1845 onward, it was compulsory for all non-Catholic marriages to be registered with the civil authorities. John and Bridget’s wasn’t. So, we ‘know’ they were Catholic.

Consequently, it’s doubtful John was Henry’s brother. But, there are some unsubstantiated rumours our Wynne family was once Protestant. Plus, the DNA match suggests a more distant relationship. It’s possible John’s father, or grandfather, married a Catholic and brought the children up in the Catholic faith, while Henry’s line remained Protestant.

If the fourth cousin relationship is anyway accurate, we’re looking at our common ancestors being John and Henry’s grandparents. They were probably born about 1770, or so. That’s likely too early for documentary evidence to ever confirm the precise relationship, and the connection might go back even further. Still, if we can locate Henry’s origins, it just might provide a vital clue regarding where to look for John’s.

Continued at Is it a Wynne match? #2

[1] Irish prison registers, 1790-1924, accessed on Findmypast. 
[2] Convict register, LINC Tasmania. 

© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday, 26 August 2017

The gardener, in the Phoenix Park

When I first started ‘doing’ genealogy, my mother mentioned her father had a cousin who worked as a gardener in the Phoenix Park, in Dublin. She didn’t know his name, and hitherto, I’ve been unable to identify him. Well, I love mysteries, so I kept looking, and now, I think I may have finally found him. He was Robert Leo Lockwood, the husband of my grandfather’s first cousin, Mary Bridget Vaughan. Here is their story. 

Mary Bridget was born on 6 January 1880, in High Street, in Dublin city. She was the eldest of two children born to John Vaughan and Margaret Wynne. Margaret Wynne was my grandfather’s aunt, his father’s eldest sister. John and Margaret’s second child was born in March 1882 and they named him John Joseph. But, within a year, in January 1883, Margaret died of rheumatic fever, leaving her husband alone with the two young children.
John Vaughan remarried in August 1885. His second wife was Hannah McArdle, a farmer’s daughter from Co. Wicklow. They had one son, James Augustin Vaughan, born in August 1887. In those years, John Vaughan worked as a brush-maker in Dublin, but in later life, he joined Dublin Corporation, where he was employed as a sanitary officer. This may be in keeping with another of my mother’s recollections - that the Vaughans were rat-catchers in Dublin.

Mary Bridget Vaughan grew up and married a British soldier by the name of Robert Leo Lockwood. Robert was born in Liverpool, England. After their marriage in May 1906, the newly-weds moved to Ballincollig, Co. Cork, where Robert was stationed with the army. Their eldest daughter Margaret Mary was born in Ballincollig, in August 1907, but sadly she didn’t survive. Robert was then transferred to Mhow, in Bengal, in India, where he worked as a farrier in the cavalry unit. Mary Bridget went with him and their second daughter, Nora Cathleen, was born in Mhow, in October 1909. 

Many years later, in 1937, Nora married Patrick Lawlor in Augrim Street Church, in Dublin city. Her home address at the time was given as the ‘Spa Lodge’, in the Phoenix Park. She had no occupation and by then, her father had left the army and was employed as a ‘park ranger’.

From the copy marriage register of Patrick Lawlor and Nora Lockwood, 1937

So, was Robert Leo Lockwood the cousin, remembered as having worked as a gardener in the Phoenix Park? He certainly lived there, as a park ranger. Perhaps he was. 

Sources: Copy birth, marriage and death registers, General Register Office,; 1901 and 1911 Census of Ireland, National Archives; 1911 Census of England and Wales, overseas military,; ‘India Births and Baptisms, 1786-1947’, FamilySearch.

© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Third great-grandparents, confirmed with DNA

Just last April, I mentioned the new approach I was taking to our genetic genealogy research. I started to trace forward the descendants of known ancestral relatives, hoping to discover the names of their children and grandchildren, such that they might become more recognisable among our lists of DNA matches. 

Many of our matches, who for the most part live in the U.S. or Australia, have not managed to trace their origins back to a specific place in Ireland, making it next to impossible to connect our family trees. So, I also hoped this new tactic might help bridge that gap too. 

Beginning with Andrew Byrne - my second great-granduncle, born in Athgarvan, Co. Kildare in 1855 - I followed him and his family to Chicago, Illinois, in the late 1880s. There, I located the marriage of his daughter, Anna Mae Byrne, to James Ellsworth Coughlin, in 1909, and then the marriage of their daughter, Luella Coughlin, in 1933. I wrote about the family here

Astonishingly, my new approach has worked already. I’m now in contact with a descendant of Andrew Byrne, in America. How’s that for instant success!

Last month, Anna Mae’s great-granddaughter found my blog about her family and got in touch. Happily, I could introduce her to the names of her third great-grandparents, in Ireland. And, identify where exactly they once lived. They were Andrew Byrne and Anne Clinch, from Athgarvan, in Co. Kildare, and my third great-grandparents too.

My new-found cousin mentioned she’d tested her DNA with several testing companies, bar the one we had used – Murphy’s law! But, I took the opportunity to upload Dad’s DNA results to MyHeritage, one of the companies she had tested with, to see if we matched. And, it was confirmed, our match was well within the expected parameters for third cousins, once removed.

Our lineage back to Andrew and Anne (Clinch) Byrne has been established once again, this time in blood. And, I’ve gained a new fourth cousin in the process. It doesn’t get better than that! 

Hopefully, that's just the start of our genetic genealogy success.

© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Dad’s ethnicity – according to MyHeritage DNA

Dad is Irish, born and bred.  His ancestors were Irish too, at least as far back as I’ve managed to trace. Granted, I’ve not gone back far – barely into the eighteenth century on most lines, if even. But, his known surnames are mainly of Irish origin – Byrne, O’Neill, Mahon, Donovan, Leahy, McDonnell, Lynch, Clinch, Cavanagh, Flood, Coyle, Corcoran – okay, Clinch was definitely English, though well-known in Leinster since the early fourteenth century.

FamilyTree DNA, the company who tested Dad’s DNA, wholeheartedly concurred - 100% British Isles they said - no surprises there. They have not tried to break it down between Ireland and Britain, yet. 

But, according to MyHeritage DNA, where I’ve uploaded Dad’s test results, we’re a mixed bag from all over Europe – only 69% ‘Irish, Scottish, and Welsh’, 12% Scandinavian, 9% Italian, and 9% East European, with no ‘English’. Okay, I don’t know the maiden name of one of Dad’s maternal great-grandmothers yet, but 31% DNA is equivalent to at least two great-grandparents. I’m not saying there were no foreigners in Ireland then, Mam’s grandaunt Isabella married the son of a French tailor, in Dublin, in 1892, but Ireland was no melting pot. Not at that time. And, with 31% ‘exotic’, I just don’t believe it! 

So beware! If your ancestors left Europe in the last few centuries, and you genuinely have no clue where to start the search, these Ethnicity Estimates could lead you astray.

Still, for me, it was worth uploading our DNA results to MyHeritage. Dad has only 83 cousin matches there, and one of them happens to be my fourth cousin. I’ve proven it with conventional genealogy. More on that soon...

MyHeritage's DNA offering is relatively new, and to help grow their database, they are currently accepting DNA results from other companies, FOR FREE. If you’ve already tested your autosomal DNA elsewhere, you might want to consider it. 

And, if you're in the market for a DNA test, many of the testing companies have a sale on at the moment. For example, FTDNA are offering their Family Finder test for US$69. 
© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Myles McDonnell (1899-1918)

All in all, seven of Myles McGrane’s grandchildren were named after him. Last week, I introduced you to the youngest, Myles Joseph McGrane (1904-1977). The eldest, my great-granduncle Myles Byrne (1873–1928), has also featured, as well as Myles Vickers (1900-1970). This week it is the turn of Myles McDonnell (1899-1918). 

Myles McDonnell was born on 24 January 1899, the second son and fourth child of Catherine (Kate) McGrane and her husband Peter McDonnell. And, like so many of his extended McGrane-family, he was born in Lower Jane Place, off Oriel Street, in Dublin’s north inner city.  

Portrait of Myles McGrane (1899-1918), Royal Irish Regiment
Myles McDonnell (1899-1918),
sketched by his nephew, Thomas Turp

His parents married on the 18 May 1890, in the parish church of St Laurence O’Toole’s, and they had seven children; Michael in 1893, Annie in 1895, Margaret in 1897, Myles in 1899, Rosanna in 1901, Peter in 1903 and Anthony in 1905. They all survived childhood, bar Anthony, who died, aged only two weeks, on Christmas Day, 1905.

Myles lost his mother Kate when he was only thirteen years old. She caught influenza and died on 10 May 1912.  She was probably buried in the cemetery at St Margaret’s, in Co. Dublin, in the same grave as her husband Peter, who lived until 1941. Available records for the cemetery do not commence until 1936.

Like his elder brother Michael, Myles joined the British Army and fought in the first World War. He enlisted with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, serving in their 5th regiment and later joined the 7th Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment (also known as the South Irish Horse).  He died in action on 2 September 1918, just two months before the end of the war. Corporal Myles McDonnell was buried at Dranoutre Military Cemetery, in Belgium.

William Orpen, 1917, South Irish Horse. 
A Dubliner resting on his way to Arras Front,
© IWM (Art.IWM ART 3027)
Imperial War Museums
It is a little surprising to find McGrane relatives among the ranks of the British army. In 1916, not long before Myles signed up, his first cousin Frank McGrane had been arrested and charged with absenting himself from British military service. He then vigorously resisted conscription, in the Irish courts. Around the same time, his other first cousin, Myles McGrane, served in the Old IRA, actively fighting the British forces in Ireland. Yet another first cousin, Frank Teeling, also fought in the War of Independence. He was sentenced to death by hanging for his part in the killing of Lieutenant Angliss, a British spy, on Bloody Sunday, in 1920 and would have died had he not escaped from prison. The McGrane family’s strong nationalist views are obvious - I wonder what they thought when the McDonnell boys enlisted.  

One thing is sure, World War I was a double tragedy for the families of Irish soldiers who lost their lives. While they were away fighting to protect the small nations of Europe against 'German' invasion, the War of Independence was raging at home. It caused a deep-felt bitterness towards the British military in Ireland. So much so, families often mourned their loved-one’s passing in private - to do otherwise might invite open hostility. Irish society certainly did not recognise the war-dead as heroes and, although 200,000 Irishmen joined the army, and up to 50,000 lost their lives in the War, they were all but officially forgotten by the emerging Free State government. 

But, Myles McDonnell remained a hero in his family. He was especially remembered by his sister Margaret (McDonnell) Turp, who emigrated to England in the 1920s. Perhaps living in England made it easier to keep his memory alive. Margaret’s son Thomas sketched the picture of Myles shown above, probably from an old photograph taken shortly before he went to war. In it, I can see the resemblance to his first cousin Thomas McGrane and even to his cousin, Benjamin Byrne.

World War I medal awarded to Myles McGrane, Dublin (1899-1918)
Memorial Plaque
Myles McDonnell (1899-1918) 

Thomas Turp later named his son 'Myles', after his uncle, and this son now proudly holds Myles McDonnell's Memorial Plaque. The Memorial Plaque, popularly known as the 'Dead Man's Penny', was issued to the next-of-kin of all British soldiers who died in the War.

Sources: Copy birth, marriage and death registers, General Register Office, accessed Civil Records on; Burial register for St Margaret’s cemetery, Buried in Fingal; Myles McDonnell in Ireland's Memorial Records 1914-1918, p. 357, accessed 'Ireland, casualties of World War I, 1914-1922',; Myles McDonnell in Soldier's Wills 1914-1918, National Archives; M McDonnell in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

And, a special thanks to Myles Turp for sharing his family pictures with us.

© Black Raven Genealogy