Thursday, August 30, 2018

Catholic Harbisons

Wild Billy Harbison married a Catholic servant girl
When all his Loyal family passed on:
We danced round him shouting 'To Hell with King Billy'
And dodged from the arc of his flailing blackthorn
Forsaken by both creeds, he showed little concern
Until the Orange drums banged past in the summer
And bowler and sash aggressively shone
-- Like dolmens round my childhood, the old people, from Poisoned Lands, and other poems, John Montague, 1961.
John Montague (1929-2016) was the Irish Poet Laureate. Born in Brooklyn, NY, he grew up in East Tyrone; the poem is about his childhood. The same story of Wild Billy was passed down through my family. Bowler and sash refers to the traditional garb of the protestant Orange Order, during summer marching season, when they march, banging loud Lambeg drums, usually through Catholic areas, to show them who is boss. (Tiocfaidh ár lá, bitches) And King Billy was of course William of Orange, who defeated James II 1688-1691, resulting in the imposition of the Penal Laws on the Catholic population.

On my first day in secondary school -- high school, to youse Yanks -- Mr McGillen, the drunken Latin teacher featured in Roddy Doyle's Smile, started calling the roll, and when he got to my name, called me up to the front of the class

Yes, sir
That's a Protestant name.
So they say, sir.
Are you Protestant, Harbison?
No sir.
Good. Sit down.

As we've seen, he wasn't wrong. The Harbisons who came to Antrim 1650-1670 were Protestant, specifically Presbyterian, likely some of them Covenanters. The very existence of Catholic Harbisons is an anomaly. And yet there are at least three clusters of us. One, as we've seen already, is on the western shores of Lough Neagh, from Magherafelt in the north to Dungannon in the south, but mostly within a few miles of the lake. It dates to at least 1745, the approximate birth-year of James Harbison of Donaghenry; and in the north, the birth of John Harbison of Ballyneill, born about the same time or even earlier.

The second is on the other shore of the lake, around Portmore. I'll get into this group a little later, but to tide you over there's an excellent write up by the Digger of Lisburn; the Catholic cemetary at Laa-Lou houses the grave of Arthur Horbison, his wife and children, d 1736 age 51.

And there's a third cluster in Newry, in County Down near the Louth border, about which I know very little.

If one assumes each group descended from a single family, then we have two or maybe three families of Catholic Harbisons in very early 18th century Ulster. If they're related to each other, we have to go back even earlier.

Since the major migration from Scotland to Ulster was 1650-1700, it is possible that a Catholic family of Herbertsons/Harbisons migrated from Scotalnd with the large-scale Presbyterian migration. This seems somewhat unlikely. The Catholic Church was heavily suppressed in lowland Scotland pretty much since the reformation in 1550. And most of the Harbisons/Herbertsons seem to have been Presbyterians, and sometimes Covenanters.

But conversion seems equally implausible. The penal laws against Catholics in Ireland were at their most severe in the early 18th century. Converting to Catholicism meant losing one's land, and existing Catholics had to distribute it evenly among their sons with each generation, rapidly making farms unviably small. While it is not clear these laws were universally applied, if they had been applied stringently anywhere, it would have been in Ulster.

Presbyterians were also subject to persecution, but it was not quite so severe. Moreover, while one could reasonably envisage conversion from Prebyterianism to Church of Ireland or Church of Ireland to Catholicism, a conversion of Presbyterian to Catholic involved a huge change in beliefs; from a non-hierachical religion to an intensely hierarchical one; acceptance of transsubstantiation, sacraments, etc..

Therefore, the Wild Billy story makes a certain amount of sense, and I'll deal later with a slightly modified version of it that also explains the DNA results. But the Digger gives an alternative story, equally romantic.

Family historians who have researched the surname in this area, relate a story about a member of the family who was sentenced to death by hanging in the area. It is alleged he was given a 15 minute reprieve to run for his life. He took that opportunity, went into hiding, and then made his escape across Lough Neagh to the County Tyrone shore, making a new life for himself and establishing the family surname in a new territory.
It explains where the Tyrone/Londonderry Harbisons came from, but not the Portmore Harbisons. And I don't believe it, anyway.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

William Harbison (1782-1868). Part II: the real estate.

William is listed in Slater's Directory of Ulster (1846) as a grocer,wine and spirit merchant. Selling liquor seems to be a family tradition.

These are his real-estate holdings, listed in Griffith's Valuation of 1858, Ireland's first systematic government valuation of real property.

46 acres and £42.25 valuation may not sound like much, but they mark him as a fairly wealthy man for the time and place; at least middle-class. Griffith's does not let one easily identify the house numbers. However, it seems pretty clear the Conyngham St. property was the one shown in the 1832-1846 Ordinance Survey map; nothing else fits the description. Note everything is leasehold; the Worshipful Company of Drapers and the Church of Ireland owned everything, back in the days before land reform.

We can get a broader look at the real estate using the Griffith valuation map.

Coltrim lot 6 is towards the bottom left, adjacent to Crossnarea 9. Crossnarea 10 is closer to Moneymore, and Ballygruby 7 is near the top, to the right of center.

All of these were confirmed to be the real William by examining the valuation revision books at PRONI. The Ballygruby holding was transferred to William's son Michael and thence to James, between 1858 and 1863; the rest were inherited by daughter Mary between 1864 and 1874, a time period which spans his death. They were sold after her death in 1905

Sunday, August 26, 2018

William Harbison, 1782 - 1868. Part 1: the family.

William was my third great grandfather, and the oldest ancestor to whom I can fully attest.

William heads a hulking great family gravestone is the churchyard of St. John and Trea, Moneymore, Co. Londonderry. It's somewhat unfortunate they seem to have the date of his death wrong (it was 1868, not 1866); we know independently from a civil death certificate and from his obituary in the Dublin Freeman's Journal it was July 12 1868 (ironic). His wife, Mary (1783-1865) is also buried there.

The gravestone lists some but not all of his children. These are
  1. John, 1809-1891 (my 2nd great grandfather)
  2. James, 1810-1891, not on the gravestone, but separately interred at the Church of St. John Milltown, Magherafelt.
  3. William, Dec 4 1811 (Moneymore) - Sep 12 1890 (Woodstock, Illinois, US). Added December 25, 2019.
  4. Joseph 1812-1831
  5. Francis 1815-1873
  6. Mary 1817 - 1905, not on gravestone, but connected via newspaper articles and census records; she died a spinster.
  7. Henry 1820 - 1889, not on gravestone, but he was a famous Redemptorist cleric and a nationalist firebrand, with multiple links back to the family.
  8. Andrew c.1822 - ???, not on gravestone, added July 9, 2020, a ne'er-do-well. I added him in July 2020.
  9. Elizabeth Harbison Hughes, ???-1896, referred to in a wedding announcement as William's youngest daughter, but birth date unknown.
  10. Michael (~1827 - 1865)
  11. Thomas II (1828-1858)
  12. Thomas I and David died in infancy
Michael and Thomas were born not much more than a year apart. There is, uniquely, a record of Thomas's christening in Ballinderry on Sep 30 1828. I've looked hard for a similar record for Michael (Ballinderry began recording christenings in 1826) but can't find it. Thomas's christening register does, however, give William's wife's full name as Mary Donnolly. This is the only other record we have of her. A William Harbison also is recorded as a godparent in an 1827 christening in Moneymore. Those are the earliest contemporaneous records of William.

There are the data from the Irish census of 1831 for Moneymore. The house number is arbitrary.
The three females are all accounted for; Mary Donnolly Harbison, and daughters Elizabeth and Mary, both of whom would have been underage. Of the eleven males, one is obviously William; we know of nine sons, the oldest, John, was 22, not yet married and likely still at home. That leaves one male unaccounted for. It might be William's father, who was likely 70 - 85 and might still have been alive; an uncle, a brother, or another son. After all, several of the children we know of were only identified by a single piece of data; we might have completely missed others. All we really know is that the other missing son wasn't named John, James, William, Joseph, Francis, Henry, Michael, Andrew or Thomas.

Thomas was almost certainly the last child. Mary Donnolly would have been 47 by the time she was ready to conceive again, and she'd already given birth 14 times. William was certainly religious, and the child would therefore have been baptized. By 1830 most of the local churches at which he might have been baptized were keeping registers, though bad clerical handwriting, stains and fraying of the edges always mean a few baptisms are lost.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

"The spawn of Scottish covenanters"

Scotland's reformation dates to 1560, when John Knox, one of Calvin's acolytes, co-wrote the Calvinist Scots Confession, and it was approved by the Scottish parliament. It was not approved by the monarchy until Mary Queen of Scots' overthrow in 1567. There followed a struggle between Presbyterians, who were against the appointment of bishops, and Episcopalians (episcopes = bishop). With the fusion of the Scottish and English monarchies, the King tried to introduce Anglican practices into the Scottish church, notably a slightly revised version of the Book of Common Prayer, which caused rioting in 1637. In 1638 the Scots drafted the National Covenant

But in special we detest and refuse the usurped authority of that Roman Antichrist upon the Scriptures of God, upon the Kirk, the civil magistrate, and consciences of men; all his tyrannous laws made upon indifferent things against our Christian liberty; his erroneous doctrine against the sufficiency of the written Word, the perfection of the law, the office of Christ and His blessed evangel; his corrupted doctrine concerning original sin, our natural inability and rebellion to God's law, our justification by faith only, our imperfect sanctification and obedience to the law, the nature, number, and use of the holy sacraments; his five bastard sacraments, with all his rites, ceremonies, and false doctrine, added to the ministration of the true sacraments, without the Word of God; his cruel judgments against infants departing without the sacrament; his absolute necessity of baptism; his blasphemous opinion of transubstantiation or real presence of Christ's body in the elements, and receiving of the same by the wicked, or bodies of men; his dispensations, with solemn oaths, perjuries, and degrees of marriage, forbidden in the Word; his cruelty against the innocent divorced; his devilish mass; his blasphemous priesthood; his profane sacrifice for the sins of the dead and the quick; his canonization of men, calling upon angels or saints departed, worshipping of imagery, relics, and crosses; dedicating of kirks, altars, days, vows to creatures; his purgatory, prayers for the dead, praying or speaking in a strange language; with his processions and blasphemous litany, and multitude of advocates or mediators; his manifold orders, auricular confession; his desperate and uncertain repentance; his general and doubtsome faith; his satisfactions of men for their sins; his justification by works, opus operatum, works of supererogation, merits, pardons, peregrinations and stations; his holy water, baptizing of bells, conjuring of spirits, crossing, saning, anointing, conjuring, hallowing of God's good creatures, with the superstitious opinion joined therewith; his worldly monarchy and wicked hierarchy; his three solemn vows, with all his shavelings of sundry sorts; his erroneous and bloody decrees made at Trent, with all the subscribers and approvers of that cruel and bloody band conjured against the Kirk of God.

Stirring stuff, no doubt. You could have pasted it seamlessly into any Ian Paisley speech of the 1960s. But, together with the Puritan agitation in England, it started a prolonged war. Copies of the Covenant were sent around the country for signing, and we know of three Herbertsons who signed it, though there were doubtless many more. Despite the fact that Cromwell probably approved of most of the Covenant, the Byzantine machinations of the war made him an enemy of the Covenanters, and this was the catalyst for the huge migration of Scottish Presbyterians to Northern Ireland, starting in 1652, and including the first Harbisons to arrive in Ireland. After the Restoration in 1660, things got still worse; the Covenanters assassinated the Primate of Scotland in 1669, and staged a series of rebellions, which the establishment met with summary executions, in a period known as the Killing Time. This, and the Scottish famine of 1690-1697, drove another wave of Presbyterians to Northern Ireland, and ultimately many of them to the United States.

Anyway, 70 years later, in the 1766 Religious Census for Tyrone, I came across this charming little snippet, which indicates that bygones had certainly not yet become bygones.

I also found in the townland of Ballymenagh, parish of Tullaniskan, two papists listed as James Horsin and Patrick Horisin. This was in a transcription of the original handwritten record, and I suspect (since neither is an Irish surname) that James may be the James Harbison (b. ~1745) of Donaghenry that Steve Harbison claims as an ancestor. But now when I'm next in Dublin I'm going to have to look at the original. Ballymenagh is just a mile from the southwest boundary of Donaghenry parish, where James's son John Harbison was born in 1772. There are also two families of papist Harts in the same parish (James's wife was Mary Hart).

Friday, August 17, 2018

The First Irish Harbisons (?)

Harbisons did not seem to participate in the original Plantation of Ulster, which began in 1609. There are no records of Harbisons or any even approximately similar names in the Muster Rolls that were collected between 1618 and 1630. This was fortunate for them, given that at least 10,000 planters were killed in the 1641 rebellion. The next source we have are the Summonister Rolls for Londonderry in 1657, and the Hearth Money rolls for most of the province, 1666-1669. In the first we find a William Harbison, from Lislea, in Londonderry but on the Antrim border, who was brought up on some charge, and John Herbertson, from the next townland north (Moyknock), who was empaneled as a jury member. There are ten Harbisons, all from Antrim, listed in the Hearth Money Rolls of about 10 years later.
Since these were 12 male heads of household, in total, if you include families there were likely 50 or more individuals, a considerable migration. I've mapped the two 1657 (blue) and ten 1666-1669 Harbisons (red). They all seem to fall in the southern two-thirds of Antrim, or just over the river Bann in Londonderry.

DNA genealogy 'splainer 2: maximum parsimony

So let's take the first two rows from the table in the last blogpost: that is, the STR results from the first two individuals, who, we're assuming, are living today.
As you can see, there are three changes, in DYS464-3, CDY-1, and CDY-2. There is also, of course, a common ancestor, whom we'll call person A. Now in principle, person A could have any STR count, but what we'll assume is that a minimum number of changes in STR number happened in going from A to 1 and A to 2. This makes sense; changes are rare, perhaps one every four generations. Obviously, the minimum number of total changes three, and there are four ways to do that.
Now you could argue, that because A lived probably more than 100 years before person 1 and person 2, and therefore about the same length of time before each, the changes from A to 1 and from A to 2 should be approximately equal. And that is true, but it's only a probability; there is a ¾ chance the changes are split 2:1 (top row), and a ¼ chance they are split 0:3 (bottom row). For the moment, we're going to assume that isn't enough of a difference to count on (If we did, the method would be called maximum likelihood, not maximum parsimony, and I'll get to it later). So, from a maximum parsimony standpoint, these tiny two-person trees (let's call them 2-trees) are equally good.

So let's try a 3 tree. Here are three individuals.
Simply by trial and error, it's easy to come up with A as the 'ancestor'; A has two differences with 1, one with 2, and one with 3, for a total of four differences. We can depict it thusly.
So this time there's a unique solution for A; no other will give us the minimum four total changes.

But we've been making one mistake, and that's to call A the ancestor. Imagine the common ancestor actually had the same STR counts as 3. That common ancestor was ancestor to A, who was then the common ancestor to 2 and 1. That scenario would have the exact same number of changes. In fact, it would really be the same tree. Using just maximum parsimony data, we can't distinguish. In fact, the 'root' -- the common ancestor -- could be either 1, 2, 3 or A, or even half-way between 1 and A.

This is a limitation of maximum parsimony within a single cluster of individuals; you can find the best tree, but you can't locate the root within the tree (maximum likelihood says it's A, but that's only a probability).

When we go to four individuals, we can construct all sorts of trees, and so we need to set some rules. There are the rules I'm going to set.

  • All 'ancestors', which we've seen may not really be ancestors, so we'll call them nodes -- they're the blue, lettered circles -- are connected to exactly three other points, either other nodes, or individuals
  • All individuals, which we've seen might also be ancestors, are connected to only one other point, which must be a node. We'll call them vertices.
  • There are no cycles or rings, where (say) A is connected to B, which is connected to C, which is connected back to A. This doesn't work, even in Appalachia.
We've entered an area of mathematics called Graph Theory. Fortunately, our trees are almost the simplest kind of trees, so we don't actually need to know much about graph theory to use it.

You might object that one ancestor might have four or more descendants. And that's true. But we can take care of it by simply saying there are two connected nodes, A and B, with 0 distance between them. Or more.

The beautiful thing is we end up with a rather small number of possible trees, and a systematic procedure to find the minimum parsimony tree. In fact, there's the only possible 4-tree that obeys our rules. And below it is the only possible 5-tree.

So if we have say five individuals and want to find the most parsimonious tree, we have a three step procedure
  1. Arrange the individuals in the empty vertex slots on the 5-tree, in every possible unique configuration
  2. Use a systematic or random procedure (I use the latter, an algorithm called Monte-Carlo/Metropolis) to change the STR counts of the nodes until the maximum parsimony solution is encountered
  3. Select the vertex arrangement which together with maximum parsimony gives the lowest overall number of changes.
The word 'unique' is important. because it doesn't matter how we order two vertices connected to a single node, and all trees related to each other by simple symmetry operations are all the same, there are actually only three ways to create a 4-tree.

Our final post will consider how to root the tree.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

DNA genealogy 'splainer 1: Short Tandem Repeats

Most people know DNA contains four bases: adenine, thymine, guanine, and cytosine, or ATGC. Each of us has about a billion of these bases, more or less unique. And you could certainly contruct a family tree by collecting DNA from each of us, and matching it up (of which more later). But it would be expensive (a full sequence is still more than $1000) and a huge amount of computation.

So what we use most of the time are things called short tandem repeats, or STRs. These are non-coding stretches of DNA, more or less tiny parasites in our genome. They consist of short repeated sequences of bases. For example, a STR called DYS393 is (AGAT)n: that is, it's AGATAGATAGATAGAT... It has a particular location on the Y-chromosome. Y-chromosomes are good for genealogy, because in principle they follow the male line, along with the surname, and don't recombine (or scramble) with other chromosomes. And because STRs are non-coding and have a tendency to replicate or dereplicate, they vary fairly frequently, sometimes as often as once every 8 generations.

Humans have DYD393 count numbers of 9 to 17. A typical commercial Y-DNA test includes as few as 11 STRs or as many as 111. 11 probably isn't enough. So let's do an example. This is a sequence of count numbers from seven different STRs, from six individuals, all named Harbison, all apparently related. I've omitted the STRs that don't vary within this set.

So how do we turn this into a tree? You could probably do it by hand, but in the next posts I'll describe the formal mathematics.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Hinkle: not fraud, defrauded.

Some more news of the fraudulent Hinkle genealogy of the medieval Irish Harbisons. Edith Hinkle Harbison was not actually the creator of the fraud; instead, she paid good money for it. The fake genealogy was the creation of Gustave Anjou, one of the great fraudsters of the early 20th century.

'Anjou' came to the US from Sweden in 1890, after doing a little time in the Ikea-furnished big house for forgery, back in the old country (he was the bastard son of a guy called Carl Gustaf Jungberg). He proceeded to infiltrate various American genealogical societies, and then, at a time nouveau-riche Americans were willing to lay out hard money for a bit of class, started producing insta-genealogies for well-heeled families, showing their descent from various crowned heads of Europe. Gustave would charge up to $9,000 for a descent from Charlemagne, though usually it cost only a few hundred for a generic minor nobleman. My guess is that Hinkle was pretty stingy, because all the Harbisons got was a lousy Nottinghamshire village.

He died undetected in New York in 1942, a wealthy man.

I'm still trying to get hold of Anjou's original chart of the Harbison genealogy. I'm sure it's a gas.

Some more Scottish Harbison name analysis

Using data for Scottish christenings, 1550-1650, I found the following unique spellings of Harbison/Herbertson:

Harbesoun (1,1619) Herbertson (4, 1615-1642) Herbertsone (43,1574-1650) Herbertsoun (3,1615-1636) Herbertsoune (1,1638) Herbesoun (13,1612-1636) Herbesoune (5,1610-1623) Herbiesoun (2,1615-1619) Herbisone (3,1615-1618) Herbisonne (1,1623) Herbisoun (1,1618) Herbisoune (2,1617-1619)

The frequencies 1650-1750 were very different

Harbeson (2, 1718) Harbesoune (2,1680) Harbisone (5,1652-1655) Harvison (14,1665-1750) Herbertson (79,1662-1750) Herbeson (5, 1683-1722) Herbison (10,1732-1749) Herbisone (2,1655-1684)

The spelling of Herbertson seems to have regularized, but Harbison not so much. Also, the first vowel seems to have sometimes shifted from 'e' to 'a'. This may be part of the Great Vowel Shift, which was only partial in Scotland and happened rather late. But it should be appreciated that the shift in spelling may not have been simultaneous with a shift in pronunciation. The progression from a to æ to ɛ was not always accompanied by a shift in spelling. 'Derby' and 'clerk' are still 'Darby' and 'clark' in the UK. So we don't actually know if Herbertson in 1600 was pronounced 'Herbertson' or 'Harbertson'.

Caveats; after 1700, there are records from more counties, and this may have skewed the distribution. And of course, with any database, there may be missing data. But one final interesting graph.

Why the apparent shift from 'Harbison' variants in the early 17th century to 'Herbertson' variants mid-century, and then a total collapse of the numbers? No idea, except 1650 was about when Harbisons started appearing in Northern Ireland.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The earliest records

This is the entry for Herbertson in The surnames of Scotland, their origin meaning and history, by George Fraser Black, New York : New York Public Library & Readex Books, 1946.

HERBERTSON, ‘son of Herbert,’ from OE. personal name Herebeorht, meaning army bright. Archibald Herbertson was burgess of Glasgow in 1525 (1), and Robert Herbertsoune was notary public there in 1536. The name is common in the Glasgow Protocol books of the sixteenth century as Herblsone (1551), Herbisoune, (1550). George Harbertsone, is recorded as a witness in Glasgow in 1559 (2) William Herbesone of Nortb Berwick is mentioned in 1555 (3), and Richard Harbertson, son of Jobn Harbertsoun, notary, was burgess of Glasgow in 1605 (4). Margaret Herbertson is recorded in the parish of Monkland in 1619 (5), and Martin Herbertson was tenant in the barony of Mousewall (Mouswald, Dumfrlesshire) in 1673 (6). An action at law against Georg Harbiesone in Hairshaw, 1706 (Corsehill, p. 213). Harbersone, Harbertsone, Harbeson. and Harblsone 1706, Herbertsoun 1609. (1) Registrum episcopatus Glasguensis... Edinburgh, 1843. 2 v. p. 497.
(2) Highland papers. Edited by J. R. N. Macphail, Edinburgh, 1914-34. 4 v. p 203.
(3) Carta Monialium de Northberwick... Edinburgh, 1847, p. 70.
(4) Inqvisitionvm ad capellam domini regis retornatarvm, qvae in pvblicis archivis Scotiae adhvc servantvr, abbreviatio. 1811-16. 3 v., p. 75.
(5)The commissariot record of Hamilton and Campsie. Register of testaments, 1564-1800. Edinburgh, 1898.
(6) Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Edinburgh, 1851-1938.
(7) Corsehill baron-court book, 1666-1719. (In: Ayrshire and Galloway Archaeological Association. Collections, v. 4, p. 213).
Commentary: it is obvious the spelling of the surname that was originally Herbertson was highly variable even before it ever left Scotland. The t, which is often glottalized (even by myself) in North-of-England and Scottish dialects, therefore is prone to disappear in the mouth of someone who doesn't use glottal stops. Thus do the Haole mispronounce Hawai'i. And while Scots do not tend to lose the 'r' (in fact, they rrroll it) the English do.

As for the name itself; it might have arrived in the Scottish lowlands via the major settlement of southern Scotland in the 11th and 12th centuries by the English, which Black (loc. cit) attributes to the Norman push north into Lancashire and Yorkshire. He says there is no evidence Gaelic was spoken in southern Scotland outside of Galloway after the mid-12th century. There are however, no Harbisons, or Herberts, or any variation thereof, in the Ragman Rolls of 1291-1296.

Black suggests the use of -son suffix as a patronymic began in the early 14th century.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Ballyneill More and Beg

One Catholic Harbison (John) appears in the 1766 Religious Census for Londonderry. This is the transcribed record, courtesy of Bill McAfee. My working hypothesis is John is the ancestor of all of the Catholic East Derry and East Tyrone Harbisons, as well as most if not all of the Catholic Harbisons who emigrated to Philadelphia in 1816 and after.
Here is the map from Griffith's Valuation of Ireland, almost a century later (1858), showing the townlands of Ballyneill More, Ballyneill Beg, and Ballyriff, with a bit of Lough Neagh stuck in to orient you. You can zoom in a bit. The townland names are not particularly easy to see, but they're there. The full map is available here.
And here is Ballyneill More in the bigger scheme of things. It's the little purple blob.
The Ballyneills are mentioned in the first layout of the land of the Plantation of Ulster, listed in the record of a court of Common Council of the City of London, held on 17 December 1613. This particular part of East Londonderry, originally belonging to the exiled O Neill, was granted by patent to the Worshipful Company of Salters, one of ten London companies. The territory of the ten companies, once part of Tyrone, was split off as the new county of Londonderry. T.W. Moody, my old history professor at TCD, transcribed the record, and they appear in Schedules of the Lands in Ulster Allotted to the London Livery Companies. 1613, T. W. Moody. Analecta Hibernica, 8, 1938, 299-311.
Here's the mention in the 1654-1656 Civil Survey
In 1659, Ballyneill More and Ballyneill Beg had populations of 6 and 3 respectively, all Irish. In fact, the entire parish of Artrea was overwhelmingly Irish. This is from A Census of Ireland circa 1659, compiled by Séamus Pender (1939)
A protestant finally shows up in the 1662 Subsidy Rolls; his name is Humphrey Tracy, living in Ballyneill Beg. The valuation (5 pounds) is quite high; he must have owned a significant part of the townland. There were Tracys in ballyneill Beg until at least the late 19th century. He also shows up (as Humphrie Tracy) in the 1663 Hearth Money Rolls, along with two Irishmen, James McArt and Gillaspie McGuckin. Note that both rolls were means-tested, and so poorer people wouldn't have appeared.

Unfortunately townlands were frequently unspecified in the 1740 Protestant Householder Rolls, but there are two Tracys in the parish of Artrea; likely one was in Ballyneill Beg. The 1766 Religious Census, though, is a boon; we count 56 head of households, 17 Established Church and 39 Catholics (papists); remarkably, there were no dissenters recorded. I will have more about correlating the 1766 Religious Census with the 1831 Census and the 1858 Griffith Valuation, since we have names; we may be able to get a better idea of where exactly John Harbison lived.

Anyway, to conclude our stroll down demographic lane, in the 1831 census, there were 39 households in Ballyneill Beg, 11 Established Church, 24 Catholic, and 4 Presbyterian (yay dissenters!), for a total count of 61 Established Church, 126 Catholics, and 21 Presbyterians, or 208 individuals on 480.49 acres, a density of one person per 2.31 acres.

There were 47 households in Ballyneill More, 19 Established Church, 24 Catholic, and 4 Presbyterian, for a total count in both townlands of 86 households. In Ballyneill More, there were 113 Established Church, 134 Catholics, and 21 Presbyterians, or 268 individuals, on 632.78 acres; a density of one person per 2.36 acres. This is an unsustainable density in a rural area, and directly led to the Great Famine of 1845-1848.

Monday, August 6, 2018

The Hinkle genealogy

Sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s a gentleman from America called my father at our listed Dublin telephone number, and said he was researching his 'roots'. If I recall correctly, he was a descendant, maybe a grandson, of a John S Harbison, apparently famed among beekeepers for introducing the honeybee to California. My Dad thought this was all hilarious (unjustifiably; just think of the economic impact of honeybees to a farming state).

In any case, my father told him his fanciful theory, originally my uncle Austin's, that the Harbison name was a corruption of 'FitzHerbert'. Maria Anne Fitzherbert was mistress of George IV, and we were descended from her bastard child (and were therefore 78th in line to the throne, or something). Total rubbish of course. But my Dad did put the American in touch with my cousin Rosemary, who had done quite a bit of genealogy, back to the 18th century, and had a theory we came from Renfrewshire, and this is probably correct.

But Rosemary's genealogy wasn't of much use to our putative American cousin, because our branch of the family are Catholic, and are only distantly related to his Protestant ancestors. In fact, while we had a theory of how we became Catholic, we really had very little idea of our family line before about 1800. That's part of being Catholic and Irish.

But the American did leave a piece of paper.

The creator (top right corner) is someone called Hinkle. I'm 99% sure this was Mrs. Edith Harbison Hinkle, 1877-1947, daughter of John S Harbison. She seems to have gotten interested in genealogy while preparing her application to be a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

In fact, you can find the Hinkle genealogy all over the net. I found 22 separate versions of it on Here is a representative one, condensed a little for brevity. It doesn't seem to have been published (at least, I can't find it on WorldCat) but seems to have been disseminated first by photocopy machine and then electronically.

As you can see, the Harbisons are supposed to have migrated to Ireland from Harby, a small village in East Nottinghamshire in England, in the early 15th century, via Cork.

The places are mostly real. Harby exists, though I don't know if it existed in 1415; Barley Field is a small townland near Kinsale, Co. Cork. Shanroe is a townland on the Monaghan/Fermanagh border; Trough is a barony that makes up most of far-northern Monaghan. And Roagh isn't easy to locate, but may be a corruption of Trough.

But the genealogy is rubbish. Here's why:

  • There is no sourcing. The 22 family trees on do not have a single source cited, except for other family trees. And if you try to source any of the individual persons, you hit a brick wall...
  • ...but then, if you look in A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Ireland, by Bernard Burke, 1899 you can find, on a single page (p. 63; shown below) dedicated to the Carsons of Shanroe, most of the places and people listed in Hinkle's "genealogy": George Scott of Roagh, Co. Monaghan; the parish of Errigal Trough; Shanroe; Waggett; and Catherine Robinson. That's one heck of a coincidence.
  • Katherine Polsagh, daughter of Thomas, is in fact mentioned in the History of the Family of Borlase. She was involved in Chancery proceedings for 1424-1425, in Cornwall, England, 200 years before she supposedly married James Harbison. Polsagh is an uncommon surname. In fact, it's apparently extinct. Note that both of the books I cite are 19th century and would have been available to Hinkle.
  • Finally, Hinkle's genealogy completely ahistorical, written in apparent ignorance of the state of medieval Ireland in general and medieval Monaghan in particular. Monaghan in the 1400s and 1500s was the remnants of the Kingdom of Oriel, owned by the MacMahons, an Irish family. It was a cockpit of near-continuous warfare between them, the O Neills of Tyrone, and the English of the Pale. The idea of a genteel English family sedately living in northern Monaghan among the wild Irish, and carefully listing the dates of their births and marriages, is ludicrous. Shirley (1877), in her History of the County of Monaghan describes the county in the 16th century as being in a state of desolation due to the never-ending war.

So why did Edith Harbison Hinkle concoct this fake? Possibly she was entranced by the idea of the Harbisons being from Harby, in dear old Nottinghamshire, with perhaps one of her ancestors a Merrie Man. Perhaps she was just a fantasist. This is not merely careless genealogy, of which there is far too much. It's obvious fraud.

And this is why you shouldn't trust anyone else's family tree unless it's meticulously sourced and you can check the sources.