If we can't lift the specifics on our Irish family's ancestors directly from documentation, our next best option is to dive into the details in search of inferences. As we work with the question of Margaret Flannery's family constellation, we'll use the baptismal records from her home church in Ballina, County Tipperary, to see if we can infer relationships through the choice of godparents for her children.
I've used this process before, when working on my father-in-law's Kelly and Falvey ancestors in County Kerry. In that case, the difficulty was that John Kelly's name was so common that I had no way to ensure I was looking at the right John Kelly. Adding to that difficulty, the family seemed to move around from townland to townland.
In this month's research project, however, we have a family which seemed to stay with the same church parish over the years, at least until they made the decision to leave home for good and migrate to a new world across the Atlantic. The same Denis Tully who was listed as father of Margaret Flannery's seven children was consistently noted to have resided in the same townland location—Tountinna—as had been listed in his entry in Griffith's Valuation.
Since we've learned that the godparents named at an Irish Catholic child's baptism—at least during the time period we are studying in the mid-1800s—were either a sibling of one of the child's parents or an in-law, I'm now in the process of determining how each of those godparents were related to either Margaret Flannery or her husband, Denis Tully. Our most logical starting place is to research the sponsor of the eldest Tully child, Johanna, born in March of 1832.
Johanna's baptismal entry suffered damage through the years, including a missing section of the first of two sponsors named, but the second name given is one we can easily place in Margaret's family constellation. Kitty Flannery, the indicated god-mother, would by definition need to be Margaret's sister.
Included in the baptismal records for the church at Ballina, County Tipperary, were some entries for Kitty Flannery's own children. As it turns out, her husband was named John Tully. While living in the Tountinna townland at the time their children were baptised, John and Kitty had a daughter Mary, whose sponsors were identified as Denis Tully and Margaret Tully. By identifying Margaret with the surname Tully in that record, we can't yet be sure whether this was Denis' wife Margaret (a Flannery by birth) or a Tully sister with the same given name, but it is clear there is a sibling relationship both on the Tully and on the Flannery side of the equation.
John and Kitty had two other children baptised in Tountinna: their daughter Judy in 1844, and their son Patrick in 1846. For godparents, the Tully side of the family was amply represented by Darby Tully and Mary Tully for Judy, in addition to the two Tully sponsors named for Mary. The one Flannery godparent chosen, for their son Patrick, was a name we've noted for Margaret's son Michael: William.
What is tantalizing about the discovery of this two-fer for the Tully and Flannery sponsors was in exploring the "FAN Club" for the area in which Denis Tully settled his emigrating family in Brant County, Canada West. Down the page from the entry for Denis and "Mrs." Tully in the 1851 census was one for a man named John Tully.
Of course it would be difficult to ascertain whether this was indeed our John Tully—especially considering his wife was also listed solely by the irritating "Mrs."—but it is encouraging to note that their daughter Mary's name was part of that Canadian household as well, with an age close enough to agree with her baptismal record.
Gone, however, were daughter Judy and son Patrick, if that 1851 census entry is one and the same as our John and Kitty's family. Within the historic context of that time period, though, the possibility of childhood deaths was very real—and may have served as the motivator pushing the family to the difficult choice of leaving their homeland.
Yet the birth of this John's daughter Margaret, two years prior to the enumeration, helps to indicate when that Tully family arrived in Canada from Ireland—and echoes the same dynamic in the Denis Tully family at the top of that same census page, whose family added son William at about the same time. With the appearance of yet another family—a Flannery household—on the same census page, I'm wondering whether there was a migration of several people from the same area in Ireland, settling in the same location at the end of their long journey.
One task to help evaluate the connection would be to trace the Canadian John Tully's family—a simple enough project, at least on face value. We'll explore the possibility of a connection on Monday and see if we can glean any further records on the Canadian side to allow us to accept or reject that idea.