Friday, November 7, 2014

Crashing the Family Constellation

Even though I had assembled a paper trail, before traveling to Ireland, that reached back to the late 1820s for our Tully line in County Tipperary, I had hoped I’d be able to push back the brick wall one more generation. You know how it is: never satisfied, we always want just one more.

Struggle to press further back in time as I did, I really wasn’t able to push through. But I did find a name to bring back home—a possibility to toy with, once I was again equipped with my online arsenal.

That name was Darby Tully. Listed as tenant just one plot over from our Denis Tully, my husband’s second great grandfather, he presented a strong possibility of relationship. But which? Brother? Father? Maybe just a cousin. I had no way of knowing from the documents I had been able to find while in Ireland.

As much as I bemoaned the missing pages on the Tithe Applotment Books the other day, I did find a different copy—likely from another year—that showed the full readout for the townland of Tountinna where the two men lived. According to this version, Darby and Denis were the only Tully men in that townland.

Darby, however, was linked to more than one property. According to results from, Darby showed up in four different entries, possibly suggesting that he was either a more active businessman or an older, more experienced man—or perhaps both. Perhaps that suggests that Darby was old enough to be Denis’ father, although that might be a judgment clouded by my own wishful thinking. He could just as likely have been an older brother. Whoever he was, I couldn’t locate him in the later tax records, Griffith’s Valuation—suggesting he had either passed away before that point, or moved out of the area.

One of my other tasks had been to glean all mentions of our family surnames from the baptismal records for the area, so I could then piece together any patterns of association, such as witnesses for weddings, or sponsors for baptisms. An entry for Darby Tully in the 1832 record caught my eye. Difficult for me to read under the conditions of the microfilm copy, it didn’t provide all the information I’d like to obtain. But it provided some hints. Keep in mind, the original record itself had had the edges of the pages torn or crumbled off—up to and including portions of peoples’ names which were closest to the margins. The date was missing; it looked like 28th August, 1832. That guess couldn’t have been too far off, though, for it was the last entry made before the ledger continued with the September 1832 baptisms.

The record mentioned “John, of Darby Tully and Mary Hog - - ” with the last portion of the woman’s maiden name cut off. Based on surnames in the area, it is possible Mary’s name could have been Hogan, but that was only my guess. Complicating matters was the possibility that the woman’s name was listed as “Marg” and not Mary; it was difficult to read.

One of the sponsors of the infant was—no surprise here—Darby’s next door neighbor, Denis Tully. The other sponsor, whoever she was, instigated an unreadable flourish on the part of the recording parish priest. Her name could have been Ellen Floyde. But just as easily, taking into consideration the lettering styles of the time, she could have been Ellen Hoyle. Either way, she possessed a name unfamiliar to me.

But baby John didn’t. His name, his father’s, even the possibility of his mother’s—along with his Tully godfather—were quite clear.

Fortunately, John wasn’t the only Tully child I was able to find in that baptismal record. With a little patience—and still enough time before the doors closed on that last Saturday of my visit to the National Library—I was able to locate the couple’s Christmas baby two years later. Naming him Daniel, proud parents Darby Tully and Mary Hogan named as his godparents Matt Brien and Sally Hogan. The Hogan maiden name was confirmed!

With a little tenacity, I was able to extract two children’s names for the immediate family of this other Tully of Tountinna, neighbor of our Denis Tully. Of course, the question in my mind is: can I find out anything else about Darby, his wife, or any of his children in subsequent years that can fix any sort of family relationship between the two neighbors?

More to the point: if Denis chose to move his family to Canada West, did Darby, too?


  1. Good morning! You may know this, but Darby is one of those names that alternates. It may also recorded as Jeremiah, especially once they have emigrated.

    1. That is indeed how it is turning out! Thanks for mentioning that, Kat!

  2. Denis as sponsor sounds like a brother to Darby.

    1. Well, I know they were neighbors as well, Wendy, but I'm hoping your vote of confidence is how it will turn out.

      Slow and steady as she goes, though...

  3. Well, there is little to no doubt they were related! As slender as this lead is, you found some small thread that might unravel the mystery!

    1. I can't see the records themselves, but Ancestry has a large number of Darby Tully born in Ireland records.

    2. Thanks for mentioning that, Iggy. Yes, there are quite a few. Some are from Galway and other unnamed parts of Ireland, so I can disregard those. But there are still enough others to make the pursuit a lively one! If, that is, our Darby did indeed follow Denis to Canada.

  4. Replies
    1. Oh, if only genealogical research were based on democratic principles...


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