Saturday, 31 December 2016

Immigrant Ancestors -- Jane Gallion abt 1602-abt 1666

It is often said in genealogy research that finding information about our female ancestors is especially hard. It's as if women were non-persons when it came to record-keeping. You see vital and church records time and again where the male is listed but if the female is mentioned at all, it is by first name only.

Which brings me to my 9th great grandmother, Jane Gallion, who has fascinated me for reasons I can't explain since I first found her. The spelling of Jane's last name varies: Gallen, Gellyn, Gallin, Gellyn, Gallant, Gillon, and so on. Could she have been of French Huguenot origin? She may have been born in London (many references list that as her birthplace) in 1599, and baptized at the ancient church that still stands in the Strand, St Clement Danes, where the Gallin spelling is used. There is no record of the names of her parents.

Jane was married twice, first to Thomas Paine (abt 1608-abt 1635), described as a London merchant, who may have died either in England or in Massachusetts Colony. They had two children, Jane (abt 1625-1648 and Thomas (1632-abt 1657). Was Thomas Paine already in Massachusetts and did she join him? Or had they emigrated together as a family after the birth of their son? For a woman to undertake such a journey alone with two young children with no family to meet her would have been quite unusual at that time.

By 1635, Jane Gallion was married to Thomas Mayhew (1593-1682), and they had their first of four known daughters, Hannah (abt 1635-1723). It was a second marriage for both. I write about Thomas here -- my first immigrant ancestor profile. Their daughter, Martha (abt 1638-1717) is my 8th great grandmother.

Jane's daughter from her marriage to Thomas Paine, Jane Paine (abt 1625- abt 1648) went on to marry Thomas' son by his first marriage, Rev. Thomas Mayhew (abt 1616-1657).

While much is recorded about the life of Jane's husband Governor Thomas Mayhew, almost nothing can be found about Jane. I know that she is buried with her second husband Thomas Mayhew in Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard. Jane died about 1666, predeceasing her husband by about 22 years.

The never ending story continues.....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016 All rights reserved

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Family history is also about food....

When I was a child, my mother often prepared what she called Baby Dinner, especially on Christmas Eve, saying it was so easy, when she would be preparing the huge Christmas dinner with all the trimmings that was our Christmas Day tradition. At left is how I remember it looking on our dinner plates on Christmas Eve.

This was a meal of ground/minced beef mixed with sliced carrots, absolutely no seasoning, and accompanied by potatoes. She did this for the unsophisticated palates of her four children, but also because my father had a series of stomach ulcers and needed bland.

Baby Dinner was my mother's adaptation of the traditional mince and tatties dinner she had grown up eating, as prepared by my grandmother, Dorothy Young Matheson, English-born but never tell her that, as she was born in Berwick-upon-Tweed, the border town that changed hands many times between Scotland and England. My granny was a Scot through and through. That much was always abundantly clear as soon as she spoke.

This morning on Christmas Eve, I found myself thinking about Baby Dinner, which my siblings and I finally rebelled against, because it was so bland--no, tasteless. I don't remember my mother ever making proper mince and tatties when we were older, which is a shame. I'm going to do the mince and tatties soon, the way the recipe was meant to be prepared, with all the ingredients and seasoning. Here is one recipe I found -- from Scotland of course.

I wonder what happened to my grandmother's recipes. I still make my mother's roast turkey or chicken stuffing, which came from my grandmother: sage, onion, celery, thyme and savoury mixed with diced day old bread. That's made ahead in fact, and sitting on my stove top for tonight.

Merry Christmas to all, and thank you for reading.

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016 All rights reserved

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

The Nevills of Raby Castle

I'm descended many times from different branches of the wealthy Nevill family, who were at one time the most powerful family in northern England, with a long history. The first Nevills were Norman nobles. Modern spelling is Neville, but the original spelling didn't have that e at the end. I use the original spelling in my family history. The family was closely entwined with the Plantagenets and their fortunes or misfortunes for decades. 

My 18th great grandfather, John Nevill, 3rd Baron Nevill de Raby (d 1388), had Raby Castle built in County Durham between 1367 and 1390, which today is regarded as one of England's finest and best preserved medieval castles. John made a dynastic marriage in about 1357, to Maud de Percy (1335-1379) of the equally powerful Percy family of Northumberland. John and Maud had seven children. I descend from their son, Ralph, the first Earl of Westmorland (1364-1425).

Raby Castle
The Raby Castle website has this about the castle's history.

Raby Castle was confiscated from the Nevill family in 1569 after the failed Northern Rebellion, also known as the Revolt of the Northern Earls, or the Rising of the North, led by the Nevills and Percys against Queen Elizabeth I, in support of Mary Queen of Scots and the Old Faith (Catholicism).

Raby Castle was in Nevill hands for almost 400 years before it was confiscated. It eventually passed into the hands of the Vane family, one of whom must at some point have married a Nevill descendant, as the names of the father of the current owner of Raby Castle included Neville. 

Today, Raby Castle is open to visitors for several months each year. I can't begin to imagine the value of such a massive estate. Clearly, the British inheritance taxes played a large part in opening up Raby Castle to the public. Its website is full of fascinating information. I would love to tour this home of my ancestors one day.

For more background about the Nevills, I read this post at one of my favourite blogs, History...the interesting bits! I'll no doubt write further about the Nevills down the road. Theirs is a multi-faceted story. 

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016 All rights reserved

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Ancestors come to life through Shakespeare

Like most of us, I read my share of Shakespearean plays a long time ago in school. I've also seen several productions of those plays. Since I  learned a few years ago that I'm descended from Plantagenets, Nevilles, Mortimers and more, I watch these plays with a new appreciation, since, as I wrote here, the Plantagenets have long held my fascination.

Henry VI (1421-1471)
 National Portrait Gallery
Last week, I watched the first of three episodes of The Hollow Crown: Wars of the Roses. These wars went on in many battles for 30 years between two Plantagenet lines: the Yorks (the white rose) and the Lancasters (the red rose), who both wanted the crown of England. Read more. Several of the key participants in the Wars of the Roses were descended from Edward III (1312-1377), my 19th great grandfather.

This series is, as it says here, epic, and brings my ancestors to life. Several of the major characters are my aunts, uncles and cousins many times removed, beginning with the title character in the first episode, Henry VI, Part I, who is my 1/2 2nd cousin, 17 times removed. Yes, that's a bit of a remote connection, I'll grant you. But he's still my ancestor, and I'll claim him.

Other ancestors of mine in Henry VI, Part I include:
  • Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester (1390-1447)
  • Richard of York (1411-1460) and his wife, Cecily Nevill (1415-1495), who were the parents of Edward IV and Richard III
  • Cecily's brother Richard, known as Warwick the Kingmaker (1428-1471)
  • Henry Beaufort, the Bishop of Winchester (abt 1375-1447)
  • Henry's brother Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter (abt 1377-1426)
  • Their nephew Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset (1406-1455)
  • Edmund Mortimer (1391-1425)
  • William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk (1396-1450)
Tonight, Henry VI, Part II, the second part of this series airs. I can't wait to see Benedict Cumberbatch's portrayal of Richard III in this and next week's final episode, Richard III. This Richard is of course, my dear cousin Richard of the car park.

The never ending story continues.....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016 All rights reserved

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Immigrant Ancestors -- The Nutfield Connection

Heather Wilkinson Rojos writes a wonderful New England blog, Nutfield Genealogy, that covers the areas of Londonderry, Derry and and Windham in New Hampshire. Heather has become one of my genealogy blogger heroes for her well-researched and informative posts.

Nutfield was the name of the original land grant given to the first Scots Irish settlers in 1719. As Heather explains in her FAQs

Londonderry is where my early Scots-Irish ancestors first settled after arriving from Ulster. When I say early, I'm speaking of mid 18th century. My Moore or Moor, Morrison and Logan ancestors who later settled in Nova Scotia were first in New Hampshire.

I'm sharing two of Heather's recent posts that are both keepers for me: How did the Scots Irish celebrate Christmas? and Top ten books about Nutfield history and genealogy.

And because there is always more research to do, the never ending story continues.....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016 All rights reserved

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Black Sheep Sundays: Margaret Grace Caroline (1846-?)

One of the stories I learned over the last few years was that of my great aunt, Margaret Grace Caroline. She didn't get along with her father, and they apparently argued often.

Margaret walked away, alone, from the Caroline farm in Granby, as a young woman -- no one can recall the year, and was never heard from again. The exact timing of her disappearance and the details have been lost to oral history, or not passed down. Was that because of shame? In last half of the 19th century, giving yourself a new name was easily done. No need for anything official. You just arrived in a new town and called yourself by a new name. When she left, was she doing so by pre-arrangement, meeting someone in town? Did she stay in Quebec or go into the United States? Who knows. No trace of Margaret has ever been found. Believe me, I've looked.

Okay, she probably wasn't a black sheep, but clearly, well brought up young women didn't just leave without a word at that time. Did she become a victim of foul play? I think it more likely that she changed her name, and hopefully had adventures in life as a woman ahead of her time. I hope that's not rose-coloured glasses on my part.

And yet, she was in her father's thoughts. When Hugh wrote his will in 1877, he left her $100, as this was the same amount he bequeathed to all six of his daughters. But there is a caveat to his will: if there were any delays in paying the daughters their inheritance, that payment be made by age, oldest to youngest. Margaret was the youngest daughter. In 1877, she would have been 31 years old. Hugh died 18 months after signing his will, which he did with a shaky hand.

Act III, Hugh Edward Caroline, Will signed 21 Nov 1877

How much would that $100 be worth in 2016 dollars? Statistics Canada's inflation calculator goes back only to 1914, and if $100 was paid out in 1914, that would be equivalent to this in 2016.

Did Margaret ever reach out to her brothers and sisters? I wonder what happened to the $100 her father left to Margaret. We'll never know.

The never ending story continues.....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016 All rights reserved

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Immigrant Ancestor: Abraham Pierce

Another 9th great grandfather of mine, Abraham Pierce (abt 1605-abt 1673), arrived at Plymouth Colony in July 1623 from England on the Anne, along with several other ancestors. Plimoth Plantation has this information about Grandpa Abe. Apparently, he was about 18 years old when he arrived, possibly as a servant to another passenger. This is mentioned in several sources. He was the first Pierce to settle in the Americas. has this more interesting biographical sketch, sourced to The Great Migration Begins: Immigration to New England 1620-1633. Abraham's origins in England are unknown.

He married by about 1637 to a woman named Rebecca. Together, they had five children, the youngest of whom is my 8th great grandmother, Alice Pierce (abt 1650 - 1712). He was a freeman of Plymouth, and by about 1642 had settled in Duxbury in Plymouth Colony.

Abraham may have been an original purchaser of Bridgewater, adjacent to Duxbury in about 1645, but never lived there, according to some sources. He died in Duxbury by June 1673. Like many early settlers of the Americas, too little is known about him and his family. Their stories are lost to history.

The never ending story continues....

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Don't ignore random inquiries: lessons learned in family history research

Years ago, I first learned the hard lesson of never to make assumptions in genealogy research or inquiries. It's still a lesson I continue to learn.

Let's recap. As I mentioned here, I was contacted back in the late 1990s by a woman that I really just blew off, much to my regret. Mary had posted widely in 1998 and 1999 looking for information about the Kingston, New York Doughertys. Here is one of her posts, and it is remarkably detailed. It contains information that I later found in my own research. Mary wasn't a Dougherty descendant herself, She had married a descendant of my 1st cousin 3x removed, Bridget Dougherty Hayden.

Evidently, Mary took to the internet late in life. But she posted everywhere, looking for Dougherty family ties. She even reached out to my 4th cousin, Hon. Charles Doherty Gonthier QC (1928-2009), who at that time sat on Canada's Supreme Court.

How Mary had gathered her information, I don't know, but once I began my own documented research, it lined up exactly. I've not come across other descendants of Bridget who are researching their family history, but hope springs...

I'm trying to prove a connection to two other lines of Doughertys now. In one case, the owner of a family tree shares my belief that we're related, mainly because he descends from a Thomas Dougherty (abt 1820-abt 1888), born in Ireland and who first settled in South Hero, Vermont. This Thomas went to Nebraska with his family as a widower. Is he the mystery third brother that different oral histories and stories have mentioned? And as my yet to be confirmed cousin says, "nobody named Dougherty goes to South Hero for the weather" and likens to soap characters who go upstairs never to be heard from again. A sense of humour is always great. He hasn't yet done any DNA testing, which would help to confirm our connection. The family of this Thomas has some of the familiar names in my line: James, Isabella and yet another Thomas.

The never ending story continues....

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The Ancients: Eleanor of Aquitaine

After a long drought of new content (sorry to my avid readers), this marks the return of regular posts here, and also begins a new intermittent series about some of my very oldest direct ancestors. Yes, it's a visit back through the way back machine. Readers who are boomers like me will get that reference instantly.

Eleanor of Aquitaine (abt 1122 - 1 Apr 1204) is my 25th great grandmother.

Even before I learned quite a few years ago that I am one of--okay--millions of her descendants, I had always admired Eleanor as a woman clearly before her time. As a teenager, Katherine Hepburn's portrayal of Eleanor in the 1968 film The Lion in Winter was my first exposure to this remarkable woman. It made a lasting impression on me. I've re-watched that film many times.

Now, Katherine Hepburn is one of the 20th century's greatest actors, so I admit, I had to wonder why was that why the film left such a lasting impression. No. It's definitely Eleanor, not Kate. Eleanor led a truly fascinating life, and is regarded as one of the most wealthiest and powerful women of her time in western Europe.

I've read many biographies, articles and other sources about her tumultuous life, including the
British historian Alison Weir's outstanding 1999 biography. Eleanor was brave, fierce, adventurous and a strategic leader and thinker, centuries before that phrase came into common usage. She led armies in the Crusades!

After an annulled first marriage to Louis VII of France (by whom she had two daughters but failed to provide the always at that time crucial male heir), Eleanor quickly married Henry Plantangent, then Count of Anjou and Duke of Normandy, her third cousin and 11 years younger than her, on 18 May 1152. You will know Henry from your history lessons better as Henry II of the House of Plantagenet -- he became king of England in 1154. Henry was the great grandson of William the Conqueror.

Eleanor and Henry had 12 children who survived childhood. I am directly descended from Eleanor and Henry through two of those children: John (24 Dec 1166-19 Oct 1216) and Eleanor, Queen of Castile (13 Oct 1162-1 Oct 1214) who married Alfonso of Castile.

John reigned as King of England from May 1177 until his death on 19 Oct 1216. His brutal reign led to the baronial revolt and the Magna Carta, signed in 1216. John was also mortalized as the evil king in the fictionalized stories of Robin Hood. I'm not sure how I feel about him being my 24th great grandfather, given his infamy.

Despite their very acrimonious married life (she was held prisoner for many years in a convent), Eleanor was buried next to Henry II at Fontevraud Abbey, together with their son Richard the Lionheart and Isabella of Angouleme, second wife of their son John, in Anjou, France. The Plantagenets were longtime benefactors of the Abbey.

You can read more about Eleanor of Aquitaine here, here and here, or at many other sources.

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016 All rights reserved