Friday, August 27, 2021

Two More Neighbors


Among the godparents listed for the children of Denis and Margaret Flannery Tully was a sibling named William Flannery. That was in Ballina in the northern portion of County Tipperary, Ireland. When Denis and Margaret moved their family to colonial Canada West, it seemed some of their relations moved with them.

Among the suspected relatives was a man named William Flannery. We've already found him, courtesy of his son John who bore the same name and birth year as another John Flannery—that one, son of Edmund, but who was a native-born Canadian.

After stumbling upon the son John in William's household in the 1871 census, I kept pushing back to find any earlier documentation. Once again, just as I had been surprised to notice neighbors with familiar names, the 1861 census led me to the household of a William Flannery with family possibilities.

In the case of this William Flannery, it was the handwriting of the enumerator that had me stumped at first. Was his wife's name, for instance, a sloppily rendered Nancy? Or something different?


Deciding that "Movey" was not a reasonable guess for a first name—although can you blame me?—it occurred to me that the actual name might be something more fortuitous. What if William's wife's name was the same as what was listed in the Irish baptismal records for William's children? One of the two possible Williams I had found, back in Ballina, was married to a woman named Hanora McNamara. While I've noticed such a given name sometimes was shortened to Nora, could it be possible that it also could be transformed into a nickname like Norey?

Comparing this 1861 census entry with what we know about our William, back in Ballina, it was easy to spot the three names we'd found in the baptismal records: Judy, John, and Margaret. For two of them—Judy and Margaret—the dates were off by a mere year. John, according to the baptismal record, was born in 1845 while the census showed someone born closer to 1848. It will take following this family further to uncover any details to confirm or reject the connection between William Flannery in Ballina and the one in Canada West.

Another entry that stumped me in this census record was that for the couple's oldest son. The handwriting left me in doubt over my guess—could the nineteen year old boy be named Willie? 

I let my eyes wander over the page, looking for similar letters to help me decipher what the enumerator was trying to convey. That's when I spotted the neighbors next door, whose first son listed had the very same name. Only this time, the writing was a bit clearer, and I realized, first, that the name was actually Mike—and, second, that the neighboring family's surname was Tully.

In this case, it was yet another John Tully—seemingly a popular name in our Tully family. This John Tully claimed for his wife a woman named Biddy, nickname for the popular Irish name Bridget. Was it just coincidence that brought this Tully family right next door to the godfather of some of our Tully relatives? Or was there a connection that we can confirm? Time to search for more records—and add them to an expanding floating tree.


Above excerpt from the 1861 Canadian census for Saint Marys, Perth County, Ontario, courtesy  


  1. Too bad the penmanship is so bad! I see you made a Tully connection!! Hope you are well!

    1. Yes, the blanks are getting filled in on the Tully side of the family equation, Far Side...and we are staying well--and as smoke-free as possible--during this crazy and unpredictable season.


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