Thursday, April 17, 2014

What about all those Irish Surnames....

As I began researching our family roots, I was pretty confident I would find my maternal ancestors were predominately Irish with just a sprinkling of English for good measure, as Mom would have said.  I admit I was curious about the alleged connection to "English royalty," my grandmother had claimed and my mother scoffed at. Just in case you're waiting to find our place in line for the thrown, you may want to keep that day job.  I have yet to find any evidence of a royal connection.

What I have found are amazing clues into the lives of working class families, enchanting English villages and a tiny glimpse of what those brave souls emigrating to America may have endured.  My great grandfather, John Cox II, made the trip alone when he was 21 years old, while many others brought their entire family in tow.  The journey, in the mid 1800's, would have taken about 5 weeks aboard a sailing ship, although, by the late 1800's steam ships could make the trip in just 2 weeks for those who could afford them.  It wasn't an easy trip, trapped aboard a cramped ship with limited food and water, conditions perfect for spreading disease.  My ancestors were of modest means and most probably had to scrimp and save to pay the fare, leaving behind everything they knew, for the chance to start a new life in a new world.  As their lives have enfolded before me, I have come to know them as living, breathing people, making the issue of their heritage almost irrelevant to me. 

 Ah, but this is a genealogy blog, afterall, and so I will get back on point.  I have written several posts about the English heritage of the Cox and Bolton families, which can be traced back generations in the East Midland region of England.  The Irish side has proven much more difficult to trace beyond my great grandparents.  There is, however,  information that can be gleaned from the Surnames themselves that I want to share.  I should point out that the distinction between Irish and English, and even Scottish, heritage is often blurry as the history of these countries is so intertwined.  A good example is the recent discovery I made concerning my great grandmother, Mary J. Archer, who is Irish, but may have been born in Dundee Scotland, although both her parents and her siblings were born in Ireland. It appears the family lived in Scotland for a short time before coming to America- check back for more about Mary Archer's life in an upcoming blog entry.  

Ironically, the Archer name (Thomas Hennessy's mother) can actually be traced to nobility almost 1000 years ago and even to the Lord Chancellor of Ireland a mere 700 years back.i

About Surnames

Most Irish names are patronymic - based on the given name of one's father or male ancestor.  The classic Irish O at the beginning of names translates to "son or descendant of."   Typically surnames would come from nicknames given to the chief of a sept or clan.  Also  medeival english did not have spelling rules and names were written as they sounded to the scribe.  It was not uncommon for one person to use different spellings during their lifetime.

Hennessy Surname

hennessyHennessy - originally O'Hennessy- comes from the Gaelic word aonghus, meaning choice or chosen one. The name predates the Norman invasion.  At the time, the leading Hennessy clan, was based near Kilbegan in Offaly county . Upon the arrival of the Normans in Ireland in the 12th century, the Hennessys are said to have scattered to Limerick, Tipperary, and Cork.
Aonghas, anglicised ‘Angus’, one of the pre-Christian Celtic gods

Today 42% of Hennessy families reside in Ireland, 28% in the US and 16% in England

The Hennessy name may be best known for it's Cognac.  Hennessy brandy was first distilled by Richard Hennessy (1720-1800), born in Ballymacmoy House near Mallow in north County Cork. Richard joined the french army in about 1740 to fight the English, becoming an officer in Dillon's Irish Regiment. He was stationed in the Charente region of France discovering the beautiful town of Cognac on the banks of the Charente River.  It was there that he founded Maison Hennessy, the distillery, in 1765. Today, Jas Hennessy & Co sells about 50 million bottles a year and Richard Hennessy's descendents are still involved in the operations.  The Hennessy house at Killavullen near Mallow, overlooking the River Blackwater, can still be seen today and the Hennessy distillery in Cognac is open to visitors..

Archer Surname

My great grandmother: Mary (Archer) Hennessy

The Archer name came to England at the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066, and is derived from the french name, Le Archier. The word literally means an archer which replaced the English word 'Bowman' in the 14th century.   Variations of spelling include Le Archer, Archier, Archar, Arsher, Arshire, Archere, Archire, and many others.   here is actually a great deal written about the Archer family history in England. the Archer name is said to be included in the Battle Abbey Rolls - which was William the Conquerers list of Companions.  They were a noble family in the middle ages, involved in politics throughout the England & Ireland.

A branch of Archers settled in Ireland in the1200s and became one of the Tribes of Kilkenny.  Le Archer, appears in the records of Kilkenny (city), in 1307 and from 1345 to 1652 the Archer name is found 64 times in the city's lists of  Magistrates, Sovereigns, Mayors, Sheriffs, Coroners.

John L'Archers was appointed to the office of  Lord Chancellor of Ireland in about 1342.  He is believed to have been born in England and had a distinguished political career in Ireland, serving as Ireland's Chancellor from about 1342 until he succumbed to the plague in 1349.

I haven't yet determined where in Ireland Mary Archer's family originated, but the Archer name was prominent throughout England and Ireland.

Notable Archers of Kilkenny Ireland:
John Archer, sovereign of the town of Kilkenny - 1439 
Walter Archer, sovereign of Kilkenny - 1544 
Walter Archer Sr., Sovereign of Kilkenny in 1590
Thomas Archer, elected mayor, but removed - 1611 
Patrick Archer, mayor - 1611-2 
Walter Archer, mayor - 1621 & 1625 & 1627 
Henry Archer, mayor - 1628-9 
Thomas Archer, mayor - 1641 
Walter Archer, mayor - 1643-4 

Notable Archers throughout United Kingdom
Robert Le Archer -tutor to King Henry I (1100-1135); received a grant of 7 manors;  possibly same Robert L'Archier, mentioned in "Pipe Rolls of Warwickshire", dated 1166
Richard and Nicholas Archer - on 1214 census of noblemen known as Rotundi Oblitus et Finibus
Roger Archer  mayor of Waterford in 1361
Sir Simon Archer (1581– 1662) sat in the House of Commons in 1640
John Archer(1598-1682) knighed in 1624, sherriff of Warwickshire in 1628.
David Archer, Constable of Gowran in 1608. 
Baron Archer of Umberslade-Cornwall County - A title held first by Thomas Archer and then his son, Andrew, as members of parliament in the years 1747 to1778.  

My great grandmother: Winifred (Cooney) Cox

The Cooney name comes from the Gaelic Ó Cuana -pre-10th century. meaning "elegant" or the "son of elegant one". The Cooney sept originated in the Ulster County Tyrone in Northern Ireland and migrated west to North Connaught, a province in Western Ireland, by the 11th century.   Some branches moved to Tipperary and Offaly.  In 1248 the most distinguished member of the sept, Diarmid O Cuana, "the great priest of Elphin," died.

Winnifred Cooney was born in Galway in Northern Connaught, where most of the Cooney families reside today.  Spelling variations include:  Conan, Coonan, O' Cooney, Cooney, Counihan, and Coonihan

Friday, April 4, 2014

Family of Sophia (Bolton) Cox (1846-1934)

Sophia Bolton was born in 1846 in Market Harborough, England, the daughter of James Bolton  (1812-1886 ) and Elizabeth (Charlton) Bolton (1812-1891) my 3rd great grandparents.

James and Elizabeth were married on March 13, 1834 in Great Bowden, Leceistershire.  They raised their family and lived most of their adult lives on Middle Green in Market Harborough, Great Bowden, while James worked as an agricultural Laborer (ag lab) and a Shepherd.    Their 10 children, born from 1836 to 1857, were named, in order:  James, Emma, Thomas, Eliza, Sophia, Alice, Alfred, Stephen, Mary and Fredrick.

The first English Census that captured the personal information of families was in 1841.  Earlier censuses in England were limited to head counts for taxation purposes.  The 1841 census listed everyone in the household, but did not indicate their relationship to the head of house.  That census included a teenager, Anne Bolton, residing with the Bolton family.  She was, most likely, a relative of James living with them temporarily, perhaps as a mother's helper or servant which was common at the time.  She was too old to be their daughter and there is no record of James and Elizabeth having a daughter named Anne.

Ten years later, in 1851, the Boltons remained at Middle Green, but Sophia was no longer residing with her parents.  At 15 years old, she was living and working as a house maid for a Widow, Mary Rowlatt in Great Bowden.  Sophia probably continued to work as a maid until her marriage to John Cox in 1869.  James Bolton passed away in 1886, while his wife, Elizabeth died 5 years later in 1891.

I have not been able to identify Elizabeth (Charlton) Bolton's parents.

James Bolton was the son of George Bolton (1781-1856) and Mary Martin (1786-1865).  George and Mary were wed on Nov. 2, 1802 and had 8 children.  James was 4th oldest, born in 1812.  The other children, in order of their ages, were: Hannah, Elizabeth, Amy,  James, Edward, Anne, Thomas, Mary and Sarah.  

The 1841 Census shows George and Mary Bolton residing in Bowden Magna, Leicestershire with five of their children Elizabeth (age 30), Edward (25), Anne, (20), Thomas(19) and Mary(15) while George and his son, Thomas, worked as agricultural Laborers.  Edward listed his occupation as a Gardener.  At the time, 1841, James had been married for seven years and was living with his family in Market Harborough.  His other siblings that were not included as living with George and Mary, were probably either married or working elsewhere.  The English Census rules required documentation only of those family members present in the home on the specific day of the census.  It was conducted on a Sunday night so it was presumed most family members would be home, but some were visiting elsewhere, in hospitals or even working as maids or servants which was very common at the time, particularly for teenage girls.

St. Peter & St. Paul Church, Great Bowden - built before 1220

George Bolton(1781-1856) was baptized on July 2, 1781, the son of William Bolton (abt.1738-1827) and Mary (Bailey) Bolton (1751-1822)  at St. Peter & St. Paul Parish Church (Anglican Church of England) in Great Bowden.  He had at least one brother, William Bolton (1776-1857) also baptized at this church.  Based on the age of his parents, it is likely there were other, older siblings.  


Note: George's brother William  had 10 children.  A number of George's and William's children have the same name. Fortunately baptism records indicate the names of their parents for all of William's children and most of George's children.  It appears that after William's first wife, Kezia, died prematurely he remarried and had another family.  William  also has a son named James but he was born in 1830, 28 years after Sophia's father.

Possible, but unproven family connections

At this point the ancestory becomes murky.  The father of William Bolton (1738-1827) may be Richard Bolton (b. 1715), but I have been unable to confirm William's date of birth, place of birth or parents. There was no requirement in England in prior to 1837, to register the birth of a child and, while baptisms did have be recorded, it was done by individual church's without any uniform rules regarding what information was captured and how the records were maintained.  In the absence of any records, I don't know where the assumption originated that Richard Bolton was the father of William Bolton (1738-1827), but I am unable to confirm it.

Richard Bolton was born Nov 3, 1715 and baptized on Nov. 13, 1715 at St. John The Baptist in Croydon, Surrey the son of John and Susan Bolton.   The name of Richard Bolton's spouse as well as,the location and date of his death are unknown.  Richard Bolton is referred to, in other family trees and references, as a 'squire' although I have not found any record or basis for this.  A squire in the middle ages was the apprentice to a Knight, but in the 1700s the term squire was used to denote a "Lord of the Manor", who may have owned much of the land in a village or area, or a gentleman with a coat of arms- perhaps the descendant of a Knight- or even a village leader or Justice of the Peace. 

It may be possible to continue to trace Richard Bolton's family back further, However, I am uncertain he is William's father, and thus our ancestor.  There are a few troubling inconsistencies discussed below.  

  • Richard was born in Surrey, an affluent village south of London, approximately 125 miles from where William, his supposed son, was born.  Richard could have moved from Surrey to Great Bowden, although that seems unlikely given that he appears to have been a land owner or related to land owners in Surrey.  Whereas, Great Bowden and the county of Leicestershire consisted mostly of working class families.   
    • One possibility is that Richard's family went into debt as a result of supporting King Charles during the English Civil War from 1642-1660, forcing the family to sell their land and relocate. Though, to date, I  have not found evidence that Richard Bolton ever lived in or near Great Bowden.
  • England naming patterns of the time made it common to name the first and 2nd born sons after their grandfathers and the 3rd son after his father, etc.   It was not strictly adhered to and, given the lack of baptism records, there are certainly children I have not identified.  Yet, I have not found any children, grandchildren or great grandchildren of William Bolton (1737-1827) named Richard Bolton, which seems highly unlikely if Richard was indeed William's father and George and William Jrs grandfather. 
Bolton Surname - comes from olde english - pre 7th century 'bothl' or 'botl'- meaning dwelling house/hall with the olde englsih 'tun' meaning enclosure or settlement.  In England the original Bolton families were established in the Lancashire area, but over the centuries covered all of the country and parts of Wales.  Greatest populations remain in Lancashire and Yorkshire.