Feeds:
Posts
Comments

We know a lot about James Beatty, Draper, of Ballina, born Co. Fermanagh c1842, who came to Melbourne with his young family in 1878, but his father James Beatty the farmer/swimmer continues annoyingly elusive. Clutching at straws, I decided to investigate the Archibald Beatty, merchant, “Late of Lisnaskea” who appeared on the record in Ballina in 1861, about the same time as James is first mentioned there. With that name, and also from Fermanagh could he be a relation? It wasn’t hard to find out a lot about Archibald, mainly because he tended to put notices in newspapers, including his marriage to Eudora Tucker (though they misspelled her name)

Archibald Beatty, merchant of Lisnaskea. Marriage 17 June 1858

Archibald Beatty, merchant of Lisnaskea. Marriage 17 June 1858

Another thing that made him easy to track was his move to Liverpool in 1874 after about 15 years as a “well to do merchant” in Ballina. He and Eudora and their son Edward John (born in Lisnaskea c1859 and obviously named after his maternal grandfather) appear in the 1881 and 1891 census in Liverpool, though I don’t know what happened to the daughter whose birth was announced in Ballina in 1861. Archibald and Eudora evidently both returned to Fermanagh from Liverpool in the 1890s as they both died there, he aged 61 in 1897. Archibald left his estate to his son also a merchant. Here’s his will:

Archibald Beatty death, 1897 from Index of Wills

Archibald Beatty death, 1897 from Index of Wills

Archibald was about 6 years older than draper James, and his father was also a James Beatty. Could they be brothers? I even lashed out $40 to get Archibald’s marriage details as that would give the profession of his father. Now you’d think that someone who was a “merchant” by age 22 was probably the son of a merchant right? Well no. His father James Beatty was a farmer! Another coincidence?
A few months after Archibald died, his bacon factory in Enniskillen (near Lisnaskea) was broken into:

Archibald's nephew is a Joseph Beatty - Belfast Newsletter 9 July 1897

Archibald’s nephew is a Joseph Beatty – Belfast Newsletter 9 July 1897

According to this news article he had a nephew Joseph Beatty. Joseph is another name that has occurred in our family – Alfred Joseph was the youngest son of James the draper. I think this is too many coincidences. I’m going to track down Joseph now, in case he eventually leads back to the mysterious farmer James. 

Image

Kinard at Landed estates Court from Belfast News-Letter, 27 June 1874

Oh Dear! No wonder the Pagets and Beattys emigrated in 1878. I have found James Paget’s will. He made our gg grandmother Hannah Dempsey (note use of her maiden name) the sole executor. Subsequently she sold all his remaining land in Ireland at the Landed Estates Court in 1874 to one of James’s second cousins John Paget Bourke for £6,225. Hannah continued living at Kinard Lodge with the children until they emigrated 3 years later. It’s pretty clear now that James and Hannah were not technically married.

Image

From Freeman’s Journal – Dublin, 16 February 1877

Also, I had wondered why James Beatty didn’t set up as a Draper in Melbourne and instead worked in clerical or travelling salesman jobs. Well he evidently wasn’t such a great businessman since his Ballina drapery business went broke! This fire sale was just a couple of months before Archie’s birth. I wondered why Archie was born at Kinard Lodge and not in Arran street, Ballina like his siblings James and Emma.

Anyway, on the far side of the world nobody knew  (until now!) about illegitimate births or bankruptcies. Hannah was the widowed Mrs. Paget for the rest of her life and she and her eldest son James Paget both bought farms at Baddaginnie in Victoria while James Beatty and Marcella (nee Paget) were friends of the bishop in South Yarra, Victoria and all highly respectable.

Image

From Belfast News-Letter late July 1861

I did find out something that might be a good lead on the elusive Beatty ancestors though. At about the same time as our g grandfather James Beatty the draper (who was born somewhere in county Fermanagh) appeared on the record in Ballina, Mayo, an Archibald Beatty, merchant, appeared there too. Of course his name (Archibald) made me wonder if they were related even apart from their sudden appearance in Ballina at about the same time. The earliest mention of this Archibald in any source I’ve found so far was 1861 and he isn’t mentioned in connection with Ballina after 1871 and I don’t know where he went. Anyway, look at this notice about the birth of his daughter in 1861. It would have been more useful if it had named either his wife or daughter, but it does have three VERY interesting words “late of Lisnaskea”. Where is Lisnaskea I wondered? Have you already guessed? It’s in County Fermanagh :) The plot thickens!

Records are so sparse for nineteenth century Ireland that we may never know much about our Beatty ancestors before the emigration to Melbourne in 1878.

While awaiting the outcome of an upgrade from 37 to 67 markers on our DNA test which may or may not help find out more, I’ve been pondering the usefulness of the only surviving family anecdote about the first known James Beatty. HAP was told that his Great Grandfather James Beatty, father of the James Beatty who came to Australia, was a strong swimmer who “used to swim with Captain Webb”. HAP will have been told this by his father Archie because HAP himself was a strong swimmer and the school breaststroke champion. His proud father probably saw it as an hereditary trait. Sadly HAP was told (or remembered) nothing else about his Great Grandfather.  Archie has a credibility issue as he was the source of the (since debunked) rumour of our close relationship to Admiral Beatty. However I think the Captain Webb thing may have a grain of truth. Why would Archie have known otherwise that there was a west coast of Ireland connection to Captain Webb? At least one whole book (“The Crossing” by Kathy Watson) has been written about the famous Channel swimmer which doesn’t mention that he ever went to Ireland at all. David Elderwick in “Captain Webb : Channel swimmer” says “A trip to the Faroe Islands as Chief Officer of the ‘Ballina’ and a six-month spell as captain of the steamship ‘Emerald’ preceded Webb’s departure for new pastures … His employers were sorry to see him go. The rapid passages he had made between Liverpool and Ballina on the west coast of Ireland had boosted the company’s trade considerably.” Terry Reilly in “Ballina : a storied place…” says “Captain Matthew Webb became the first man to swim Killala Bay in 1874, from the Enniscrone (Sligo) side to the Kilcummin (Mayo) side. He boasted to fellow drinkers in McDonnells Pub on Bridge Street (now the Bolg Bui) that he would buy them all a drink after successfully completing his Channel challenge.” http://www.everytrail.com describing the “Yeats country drive” claims that “Captain Matthew Webb used the lake [Lough Gill] as part of his training for the feat [his Channel swim]. He was a friend of W.B. Yeats grandfather who lived in the area”. Lough Gill is close to Sligo town and it turns out that Yeats’ grandfather was William Pollexfen of Sligo town, one of the largest ship-owners in Sligo and the grateful employer of Captain Matthew Webb as mentioned above.

Anyway, for the lack of much other evidence I’m going to explore the possibility that our gg grandfather did know Captain Matthew Webb. It doesn’t matter whether he swam with him or was just a fellow drinker at the pub, this would mean that he was still alive in 1874 and lived a short buggy ride from either Lough Gill and Sligo town or (more likely) Ballina. Have a look at County Sligo in google maps to see what I mean. We know (from the marriage certificate of his son James who was born in county Fermanagh in 1842) that he was a farmer. By the dob of his (eldest?) son, he must have been in his 50s when he “swam with Captain Webb” who was much younger. HAP was a formidably strong swimmer into late middle age too though. 

So James and his family evidently left county Fermanagh (in the 1840s or 1850s?) to farm near either Ballina or Sligo town. This probably isn’t surprising either as a lot of people moved around during and after the potato famine. HAP said the swim was “across Sligo Bay”, but, never having been to Ireland he may have meant Killala Bay. Whichever bay it was, that’s a smaller haystack to examine for our elusive ancestors. At the moment I think Ballina more likely. That’s where James’ son James set up his drapery business and his brother (or another son?) Archibald was a storekeeper/auctioneer in the 1870s. Also, Peg Beatty went to Enniscrone and Ballina in the 1950s expecting to find Beatty relations there. Surely this was because her father had lead her to believe they would be there?

What do you think? I think I feel another trip to Ireland coming on.  

 

DNA testing

Well it’s official. We have genuine Beatty DNA going back (almost certainly) to an ancestor from the River Esk region of South-West Scotland in the 15th century. No wonder we’re a rowdy lot as ours was one of the notorious border reiver families. Several other Beattys who’ve been tested are very closely related (meaning we almost certainly have common ancestors within the last 8 generations) and some of those have ancestors known to have lived in Sligo or Fermanagh.
As suspected, we don’t seem to be all that closely related to the famous Admiral, but I’m waiting for my email to work again so I can talk to the experts.
At some stage ours should be added to the data in the BeattyDNA project though it’s not easy reading. Ours is Lineage 560.
Watch this space!

There’s such a lot of traffic on my website lately (well by family history website standards) apparently because the Paget family ancestral pile (Knockglass House, near Crossmolina, Mayo, Ireland) is to be auctioned on Thursday 14th of February. The price has come down to only 340,000 Euros, or about the cost of the average boring Australian suburban home in Australian dollars currently. What a bargain! A beautiful secluded Georgian mansion on 53 acres with river frontage, pretty much as the Pagets left it! Very tempting. Does anybody want to go shares in a classy B&B on the other side of the world? I hope whoever does buy it won’t stuff it up with unsympathetic renovations. Here’s the story of the Pagets of Knockglass for those interested in the history of the house:

http://taggerty.wordpress.com/the-story/chap-1-the-forgotten-pagets-of-county-mayo-ireland/

 

UPDATE 20-2-13 Sold at auction: see comments.

This is a bit weird. After much fiddling I worked out how to get the photo out of Marcella’s locket. Naturally it contains a photo of her husband James Beatty which you can now see under “Image gallery– Beatty, James and family”. The tiny photo may have been taken the same day as our earliest photo of him (around 1873?) as he appears to be wearing the same suit. The locket itself is decorated with the intertwined letters AEI (Amity, Eternity and Infinity) in decorative red and white enamel, the enamel now much damaged. It has a case which was obviously made to fit it, which is labelled “Waterhouse & Compy, The Queen’s Jewellers, Dublin”. Presumably it came from Ireland with the family in 1878. I wonder if it was an engagement or wedding present from James to Marcella? The weird thing is this photo (here very much enlarged) of a very young man – a boy perhaps – which was hidden underneath James in the locket. Who the heck is this?Image

I’ve finally written up what I’ve discovered about our Paget ancestors. It’s now the first chapter of “The story”. See the link in the right hand column. It’s really just a first go, and, like the rest of the story I’ll keep updating it as I learn more. One thing that made this study fascinating for me is that, unlike other branches of our family, hardly any other family history researchers appear to be interested in the Pagets of Mayo although so much documentation about them can fairly easily be found, especially at the Registry of Deeds in Dublin. The verdict of professional historians is summed up by Donohoe (rather unkindly I think!) on page 588 of his “History of Crossmolina”, 2003:

The Pagets were a minor family who did not figure much in the political and social life in North Mayo. They were Justices of the Peace, sat on the Bench and served in the army. Their daughters married local landowners but the family died out.

Has this branch of the Pagets died out? In terms of descendants with the Paget surname I think they have, even in Australia. There are dozens of descendants in the Paget Bourke and Paget Beatty and other lines, but no actual Pagets that I know of who are descended from the first Thomas Paget of Knockglass. If you know better please contact me.

We believed we were of Irish descent and were taught how to pronounce “Enniscrone” with an Irish accent, but how Irish were the Pagets or even the Beattys? As far as the real Irish are concerned the Pagets were really English, part of the hated landlord class. Does this contribute to the lack of interest in them? Were they kind or heartless landlords? I can’t tell, although I was told in Enniscrone that the Ormes (closely related to the Pagets) were considered to be reasonably good landlords. It must be nicer to discover ancestors you can be unreservedly proud of though such as First Fleet convicts :)

There are lots of things I’d like to add to the Paget chapter such as maps of Knockglass and Kinard from the 1840s, but I can’t link directly to the Griffith’s Valuation maps of the estates themselves and am prevented by copyright from displaying them. Maybe at some stage I’ll draw my own! Also I’ve heard from people who lived at both Kinard and Knockglass, the former especially with wonderful accounts of life there in the mid 20th century some details of which can’t have changed all that much since the Pagets lived there. I might add some of that eventually if my sources agree.

There are tantalizing unresolved issues in this story which I could spend the whole rest of my life trying to tease out. Much more is to be discovered at the Registry of Deeds for example and if there’s a lawyer in the family I’d love to have some help working out what those deeds are actually saying in among all the verbiage.

Now for the Beatty part of our Irish story. They will probably be equally fresh fields but much harder work.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.