Though based largely on conjecture, it has been fascinating to see how many baptismal names from back in County Tipperary correspond to families clustered in various settlements in Ontario, Canada, following the exodus from the Great Famine in Ireland. On Friday, we discussed following one William Flannery in the Canadian census records and discovering he lived next door to two different Tully relations.
Since William Flannery was a name mentioned as godparent in baptismal records, back in County Tipperary, for a son of Denis Tully and Margaret Flannery, it stands to reason to conclude that William was brother to Margaret. After all, before the famine, the Catholic tradition on the west side of the island was to name as godparent siblings of either parent—or at least in-laws. For Margaret Flannery's son Michael, William Flannery had been named as godfather, at least according to the church record dated June 5, 1834.
In the 1871 census, we had found William Flannery next door to Michael Tully's older sister Johanna and her husband Edward Ryan. At that point, William was a widower with two adult children in his household, so I wanted to trace him back another ten years by locating him in the 1861 census.
In 1861, William was not living in McKillop Township in Huron County, but showing in the town of Saint Marys in Perth County. To my surprise, he was neighbor to yet another possible relative on the Tully side. The family I spotted belonged to John and Biddy Tully, and included a familiar litany of children's names: Mike, Mary, Maggie, Bridget.
Who was this John Tully? Could his wife Biddy have been a Flannery? After all, along with William Flannery's name as godfather for Michael Tully, someone named Bridget Flannery was named as godmother. Could Bridget Flannery have become Biddy Tully?
Of course, the next step was to trace the John Tully family through time to see what else could be discovered about their identity. That, however, was the theory; the reality is proving more difficult.
The 1861 census record indicated that the youngest of John and Biddy's children—daughter Bridget, born about 1857—was born in Ireland, as were all the other children and their parents. That means an arrival in Canada after that point, a relatively late emigration from Irish shores.
The problem emerged when I could not produce the couple in subsequent census records. Nor could I find a reasonable identity for any of the children, whether single and retaining their birth name or, for the daughters, marrying in Canada. Perhaps, like William Flannery's later related neighbors, Johanna Tully and Edward Ryan, they moved far from their home in Ontario (the Ryans departed, first, for Dakota Territory in the United States). But, alas, so far no sign of any member of that family.
Further concerning was that, working backwards in time, neither was I able to find a baptismal record in the home parish in County Tipperary for any of John and Biddy's children. There were other Tully families, of course, but no baptisms for children of John and Biddy.
The pursuit is ongoing, of course—a task to be done behind the scenes, while we wrap up our Flannery experiment tomorrow. While I'm disappointed that I haven't yet achieved my goal of determining the siblings of my father-in-law's great-grandmother, Margaret Flannery Tully, it is only a goal to be set aside for now. With more records—perhaps even more access through travel or sub-contracting the chase—the answer will someday materialize. But for now, we have other goals to tackle, come September.