Sunday, December 8, 2019

Birth order 1: the children of John Harbison, b. c. 1740

I've previously listed William and his siblings. In the light of the rules for given names I discussed in the last post, I'm going to revise that slightly.

William seems to be the unquestioned oldest son, and would therefore have been named after his grandfather. The second and third sons on my original chart had fishy birthdates. John's birth year of 1785 is based solely on his death cerificate, and he died a very old man. Sampson's is based on entries on the 1850 and 1860 census, which give wildly discordant birthdates (1790 from the 1850 census; 1782 from the 1860 census). Previously I just averaged them. Looking again at the 1850 census, which got his name incorrect in any case, it's plausible his age was entered as 66, rather than 60. That would give birth years of 1782 and 1784, averaging to 1783, making him older than John.

If Sampson were the second son, he would have been named after his maternal grandfather. This makes a certain amount of sense, since his name is unique among the Harbisons to himself and his descendants. That would then made John the third son, named after his father. It is notable that the first sons of most if not all of William's siblings were also named John. So this tends to bolster the hitherto rather weakly-proven conjecture that William's father was the Catholic John Harbison resident in Ballyneill during the 1766 religious census.

The fourth son would then appear to be Henry. He would have been named after his grandfather William's eldest brother. And, sure enough, the two Harbisons mentioned in the Protestant Householders census of 1740 for the parish of Ardtrea in the barony of Loughinsholin are William and Henry! There is an entry in the will index at PRONI for Henry Harbison, d. 1765, so he never made it to the religious census. It is also possible that William and Henry were Catholics, since Bill Macafee noticed that apparently the census for Loughinsholin seemed to include some Catholics. Or William Harbison in the 1740 Householders List may have been the legendary Wild Billy Harbison.

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.

In all honesty, I'd have to admit I have no clue about the birth order of the final three sons, though I suspect Edward was the youngest. Likewise about the three daughters, although, I suspect, Eleanor was the third.

Given name birth order

I was brought up in Ireland. I thought I was pretty much familiar with Irish popular culture, particularly the aspects of it absorbed into my own family. But I didn't know this.

Angus Baxter in "In Search of Your British and Irish Roots" describes a pattern that was popular in England in the 1700-1875 period:
  • The first son was named after the father's father
  • The second son was named after the mother's father
  • The third son was named after the father
  • The fourth son was named after the father's eldest brother
  • The first daughter after the mother's mother
  • The second daughter after the father's mother
  • The third daughter after the mother
  • The fourth daughter after the mother's eldest sister
In fact, several other sources have suggested that it was also obeyed in Ireland. It certainly seems to have been obeyed in my family. Consider the order of first born sons from 1740 through 1885.

  • John Harbison, (b. c. 1740)
  • William Harbison (b. 1780)
  • John Harbison (b. 1809)
  • William John Harbison (b. 1854)
  • John Henry Harbison (b. 1885)

The rule predicts alternation in given names along this line. You see this, for example, also in the kings of Denmark, all the way from 1534 up to the present day.

John b. 1809 had 7 daughters before he had a son, and so William John might have been an effort to cram 2 names into 1, because he was running out of time. In fact, most of my ancestors did not have middle names until the mid-19th century.

Anyway, as is obvious, we can predict the grandfather of William (b. 1780) was also William, and I have a candidate. More of this anon.

Friday, December 6, 2019

A new son of William (b. 1780), from an old list post

Chris Harbison back in 1999 referred to two letters, one of which I'd heard of previously, originally discovered by Edith Harbison Hinkle.
Mrs Edith Hinkle copied two letters when she visited Ireland back in the 1920/30s: May(??) 26, 1860, from Henry Harbison near Williamsburg, Huntingdon Co.,PA to John Harbison, Moneymore, Co. Derry, Ireland, and Jan 23, 1841: From son Wm Harbison at Vincennes, Knox Co., Indiana; to Wm & Mary Harbison (parents). He had lived in Washington for a time, speaks of brothers John, Francis & Michael.

By my reckoning, the first was Henry writing to his brother John in Ballyneil, near Moneymore. It could have been his nephew John, of course, but the nephew had been in Cookstown since the 1830s.

The second is clearer and more informative. William and Mary Harbison were obviously William b. 1780 and his wife.

John, Francis and Michael were all sons of William. Previously I wondered why there was no William Jr.. Now we know -- he went to America, as his uncles Henry and Sampson did! The most probable American records are an arrival in Philadelphia from Liverpool in 1840; and a death in Philadelphia in 1845. But I'll do more research on this. He was likely in Washington or Knox County Indiana only briefly. William is given as 30 in 1840, which would make him the next sibling (younger, or perhaps older) to my second great grandfather John.

I would dearly like to get hold of these letters. They really should be preserved.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Names, Protestant and Catholic

Inspired by the late Chris Harbison, and as an attempt to flesh out sparse data from the 18th century, I used Bill Macafee's data from the 1766 Religiou Census of the baronies of Loughinsholin and Keenaght (basically East Co. Londonderry, minus the barony of Coleraine) to ascertain if some given names were predominantly Protestant or predominantly Catholic. Caveats: these data are transcriptions of transcriptions, the originals having been lost in the 1922 Four Courts fire in Dublin. I've made obvious substitutions, mostly expanding abbreviations. (John from Jno., William from Wm., etc.) I've combined variant spellings (e.g. Brian, Bryan), and expanded obvious familiar versions (Daniel from Dan). I've tried to be careful with all of these; since, for example, I don't know if Ar is Arthur or Archibald, I haven't used it. There were a total of 3424 entries on the census, of which 68.5% were Protestant (I haven't broken down Protestant into Established Church and Dissenter, though that would be possible). I used any name that occurred 6 or more times, which accounted for 2965 of the 3424 names. Only three names were female, because the census counted heads of household, and because many of the women were simply listed as 'widow'. Here are the results.

The red line gives the percentage one would expect if there were no religious bias in naming. There is a clear break around that point, indicating that indeed some names were predominantly Protestant or Catholic. Those that are very heavily Catholic include clear transliterations of Irish (Gaelic) names: -- Phelomy, Brian, Owen, Shane and Cormac. Names that are not obviously associated with saints, either Old Testament (Benjamin, Samuel, Adam) or secular (Alexander) are heavily Protestant. But many differences are inexplicable (why is Matthew Protestant and Paul Catholic?).

Also a little surprising is the absence of influence of politics. Approximately 75 years after the Williamite war, William and James are almost equally favored by Protestants. My parents used to claim Catholics did not take the names of English kings, but that's obviously false (Edward, Charles, Henry, Richard). My suspicion is that this is because names were simply passed down through families, somewhat like hereditary diseases. My own family heavily used William, Henry, John, James and Thomas. Perhaps this really reflects some early conversion from Protetantism.

And finally, Patrick is intriguing. It is of course of Irish origin, but more recently than this census the Church of Ireland embraced St. Patrick. However, at the time of the census it was clearly not much used by Protestants.