Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Too Many Margarets


Taking the long view of your genealogy, does your family favor a certain given name? Given the Irish naming pattern we discussed yesterday, such a tradition could serve to amplify those specific names and repeat them through multiple lines over the generations.

In the Tully family's case—at least among the women—that most-repeated name appears to be Margaret. As far back as I've been able to trace that family—which, sadly, is only until the 1830s—Margarets have popped up with frustrating regularity in all branches of the Denis and Margaret Tully family.

Denis and Margaret were my husband's second great-grandparents, the founding immigrant ancestral couple who left their homeland in the far north of County Tipperary, Ireland. Although our branch of the Tullys eventually arrived in Chicago, Denis and Margaret initially settled the family in what was then called Canada West.

In the 1851 census, we can find the family living in Paris, Ontario. Sure enough, the couple named one of their two daughters Margaret. Though the Tully family sons eventually outnumbered those daughters four to two, the name Margaret solidly advanced to the next generation with each child of this family who married, ensuring that his or her mother's name was honored with a namesake in the subsequent generation.

Thus, it is not a surprise to see, in reviewing the family tree of our mystery Tully DNA match, that the name Margaret made a fair showing in that related line as well. Not only among that founding immigrant ancestor's children, but in his own selection of a wife. You see, the difficulty is that the match's founding ancestor—also named Dennis—happened to marry a woman named Margaret, as well. The problem is that this Dennis married a woman named Margaret Hurley, while our Denis was wed to Margaret Flannery.

There are, of course, some differences between the two couples. Our Denis was born approximately 1802, the other Dennis in 1830—a generation apart, if we go strictly by the numbers. Our Margaret can be found in the Catholic Parish Records for Ballina in County Tipperary while the other Margaret cannot (at least as far as I can tell at this point). Our Denis was likely married in Ballina, whereas the other Dennis probably met and married his Margaret after arriving in Canada.

Looking at the other Dennis and Margaret in the 1861 census, we can already see two of their daughters sporting names familiar to our line of Tullys. Looking ahead to the 1871 census, it is easy to notice the family's choice of names—Margaret, Mary, Johanna, Patrick, John—were echoed in our own Tully line. Add in the DNA connection and it seems surely there is a match. But how?

In thoroughly reviewing the generation-to-generation documentation of this DNA match's tree, it does seem that the original settlers were indeed Dennis and Margaret Hurley Tully. After all, a key death certificate seems to shout out that very conclusion. But neither this match's researcher nor I can come up with the next step: connecting that Dennis, born 1830, with our Denis of County Tipperary.

Even more disappointing, while I already have ample confirmation that our Tully line came from the region around Ballina, there is nothing I can find in that parish's Catholic Church records to show the younger Dennis' baptism—or even a possible record to point to another Tully who could have been his father.

There are, unfortunately, some other details nagging at me to keep pressing forward with this chase. We'll take a few days to examine some very weak clues.


  1. Denis Tully bp 1 Sept 1834 son of Thomas Tully and Margaret Wilkerson sponsors John Tully and Margaret Flannery? Address Forth Henry parish Ballina

  2. Kat, I am strongly considering that option. There is one drawback to that scenario, besides the later date of baptism. One would expect a son of Thomas to name one of his own sons by that same given name, yet that is not what we see for the Canadian Dennis Tully. Of course, the parish records online for Ballina don't reach as far back as 1830, so there may be information unavailable to us online--or elsewhere.


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