Sunday, November 9, 2014

Any Darbys in Canada?

In this scramble of extra Tully names that don’t seem to plug easily into our family’s tree, I’ve thought that finding a possible relative named Darby would be a bonanza. It certainly isn’t a name that I’d run across nowadays. Not, at least, from my vantage point on the west coast of the United States. If I were still in Ireland, it might be a different matter.

As reader Kat had mentioned the other day, Darby may well be a nickname for the longer given name, Jeremiah. I had heard that the nickname in Ireland for Jeremiah was Dermot, but thought I’d check out Kat’s lead. A brief wiki on Irish names from FamilySearch confirmed it: Darby can be Jeremiah. (Apparently, others have discussed this, too, for a past thread from a genealogy forum lives on in archived form to tell the tale.)

That bit of knowledge may come in handy. Looking at the 1852 census for Canada West—the next stopping point, after Ireland, for our Denis Tully family—I wondered whether there would be any sign of a Darby Tully as well. If not, I’d have to search for census records for a Jeremiah Tully.

Fortunately, there weren’t many, at least in Ontario. Actually, the number was just right: one. With no corresponding sign of any Jeremiah Tullys.

I prefer using Automated Genealogy for many of my census searches of Canadian ancestors because even though it is a rather simple readout, it displays data in helpful ways for my purposes—like this example of a search for all Tullys in Ontario for the 1852 census. You can see at a glance how many Darbys there are—as well as where each was resident.

Residence does call this possibility into question. If my theory were to hold up that Darby and Denis were relatives—say, brothers—who chose to emigrate together, wouldn’t it make sense to see them settle in the new land together as well? But in this lone Darby’s case, he is far from our Denis. Today, that hundred miles between them could be easily navigated along ON-401 in a matter of a couple hours. Back in the 1850s? This would not be a convenient set up for two brothers and their immigrant families.

But let’s just say they made their decision based on other factors—like the land was available, or there was an offer of employment. Maybe those two relatives did decide to settle so far apart. What other details might help us determine whether there was a connection between our Denis and this Darby?

For one thing, we have a record of a son. Born to Darby and Mary in late summer, 1832, the name given to Denis Tully’s godchild was John. In addition, there was this John’s younger brother Daniel arriving at Christmas in 1834, according to the baptismal records back home at the church in Ballina, County Tipperary. What does the Canadian record say about Darby Tully’s family in Blenheim Township of Oxford County, Ontario?

Frustratingly, by the time of the 1852 census, Darby’s son John would have reached the age of twenty. He might or might not still be living in his father’s household. Daniel, at age eighteen, might also have gone out on his own, though that would not be as likely.

Looking at the census record, we see a household comprised of Darby, Margaret, Patrick, Mary, Bridget and—yes—John. John, however, is reported as being a child of three, not twenty. There is no Daniel. And the second on the list—Margaret—is more likely a daughter than a wife, being that her age was reported as fifteen.

Does that mean this couldn’t be our Darby? Not quite. And not just because I’m not ready to give up hope. There are a number of scenarios which could include the possibility of this still being our Darby. First, as the wife was likely deceased—though having made it to Canada to give birth to the youngest, John, before her passing—it may mean that others in the family hadn’t survived the journey, either. If John was an important Tully family name, even though an older child had been given the name, that name could have been passed down to another son if the first child had died. The same could have befallen the 1834 son, Daniel—though with the passing of his mother, no chance would be available to follow through in passing the name along to the next child.

Even though those might not be the scenarios that occurred between the time we last saw our Darby Tully in Ireland and the time we found this Darby Tully in Canada, there might be other explanations that would still lead us to find this is the right Darby.

Or, this could simply be another family. There certainly were plenty of Darby Tullys throughout Ireland who could have supplied this one lone immigrant family to the frontier of Canada West. We could just make that assumption and stop our search there. End of tale.

But you know we couldn’t just stop there. This, my friend, must be an exhaustive search. There has got to be another angle from which to view this situation.

Which is why we will continue this story…tomorrow.


  1. Did you see Findmypast has a free weekend through midday tomorrow, and has Irish newspapers in their records?

    1. Patrick, thanks for mentioning that! Hopefully some other readers were able to get in on that deal at Findmypast! I had a busy weekend schedule which squeezed out much of the time I would have needed to do that research.

      However, I do want to mention that I was able to locate quite a few helpful records via the Findmypast access made available to National Library of Ireland patrons during the time I spent there in Dublin.

  2. Calling all Darby's!! (and their offspring) Looking for cousins!!!

    1. If only they would have left me a bit of a hint. I'm not even sure which continent to find them on!


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