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From:
Subject: Re: [S-I] LAWSON, to PA from "Kingdom of Ireland"
Date: Wed, 06 Aug 2008 15:09:21 +0000


Hi Barb, especially since they claimed they came from the "Kingdom of Ireland" in a court document, which possibly was sworn testimony, it sounds like that is where they came from. The odds are that they did as by far most people in both that area of PA and VA were from Ireland. The experts who
write the books that teach us how to do genealogy say that sworn testimoney is the best to have.
Most people didn't lie to the judge. They spun tales for grandchildren, family genealogists, and
local newspapers.

> Do you have any clues as to learning what ship they arrived on and where
> they sailed from, probably in 1778 since they appear on the 1779 tax lists?

Yes, first of all you need to shift gears a little to succeed in genealogy in the 1700s, not the 1800s.
In the 1800s we have things like ship lists. In the 1700s we do not. That's because in 1820 the
US gov passed a law requiring that all the ships make lists of arrivals. Before that there was no
such law. There are some lists of various types. There was a law, when we were a British
colony, requiring that non-British subjects be required to take an oath of allegiance. Hence
the Germans arriving in PHilly were documented. They are published in a huge series of books.
However a few other people with British sounding surnames got in there too.

Yours and mine walked off the boat and headed where ever. During a few periods various
colonies or towns had laws. Philly for a brief time taxed people bringing in more than a certain
amount of property, so there are lists of richer types lugging big suitcases.

Why don't I know the details? Because all of these colonial "ship lists" (they don't fit the
real definition of one) are published as soon as found. Then they were indexed in Filby. You
used to begin your immigration research by finding a library with Filby and searching for your
ancestors in them. Now you don't have to do any of that. You use Ancestry. The work of
indexing new works that identify immigrants (pre and post colonial) in published works goes on.
It used to cost $300 to buy an update if you were a library, or another $30 or so if you had
the CDs. Now you just renew your Ancestry subscription. They do all the work.

This work now can be done without driving to a library, getting paper cuts reading 30 volumes,
trying to figure out what the entry means when you find it, photocopying, buying food, dragging
yourself home. It takes less than 5 painless minutes.

If you don't find your ancestor there, you move on to the next phase of researching immigration
in colonial times. Or you can spend a few years posting messages and searching websites. Its
good to do these things but it most likely will not get you any information. You are fishing in a
pond with very few live fish.

You can learn more at the free courses at www.genealogy.com/university.html. It'll teach
you to do a methodical, intelligent search for documents and clues identifying the place of origin.

Phase I is gong over all the stuff you have and looking for clues. You then profile the person
so you know you are looking for a man, say b. about 1730, religion is X, he arrived married or
single, the names of all his children (clues to his parents' names), his occupations (there ARE
apprenticeship records from the early 1700s in London and on microfilm), etc, etc. You
will probably find mistaken conclusions. If you don't find these errors, it'll keep you from
finding your guy in Ireland. For example one client of mine th ought that a couple that came
over on the boat were the parents. She didn't see the ages. They were 20 and 21. Her
ancestress was 19. They are not parents. Possibly cousins or sibs. So we are not looking
for a lady with parents named X and Y any more, are we?? We don't know the names of
the parents.

Then you locate what records you do not have. You scour county histories (ALL. On the
3rd one I found a description of how ancestors of mine arrived in Butler CO, PA, from
Baltimore -- not Philly or New York an dhow they took a covered wagon to Pittsburgh, etc.
This was NOT in two other county histories. It ws then I realized that the instructor who
said ALL. That means ALL meant you find them ALL. And man was she right!!!).

Dotting i's is key. In one case I was employed to find the Scottish origins of a BROWN
family who arrived in the later 1800s. The client had written to the county and gotten a
nice death certificate of the wife, with vital info nicely written in the form. I drove to Fayette
County to the library (where I knew there was microfilm and other things rather than the
county courthouse) and looked at the register. It had FAR MORE info than the certificate.
It gave her maiden name and the names of both parents -- and the county in Ireland where
she was born. I later found her father in County Down in the Tithe Applotments. He was
gone in Griffiths. I then was able to find her living with her widowed mom in Scotland in
the 1851 census (as we now knew her maiden name). It was her because the mother
was born on a channel island -- as was indicated in the US US censuses and part of the
family oral history. After that she married, probably an Irish Adam Brown, and disappeared
from Scottish records. So she returned to Ireland, where she had 7 children, none of
whom have any Scottish birth records. They were not Scots but Irish. The point is all of
this fell out of ONE document and one eye-dotting. They considered themselves ethnically Scots so they lied to the census takers. One key clue: when the man naturalized his witnesses were first generation Irishmen. I had no trouble finding them in the censuses. These guys' families were
neighbors back in Ireland. Looking for a Brown is hopeless but they had unique surnames.
So you'd research THEM in Ireland, not Brown.

In this case I was very happy I had learned about this in a book. Otherwise we would still
not know where these people were from.

However we don't all have one document that identifies all the family past. What do we do?
We can build a case by collecting data: all the Lawson families in Ireland, etc, etc,etc.
To learn this you often take classes and/or read articles.

We do DNA research. It is fast and cheap. It may cost you $300 if you don't wait for
a sale on upgrades at familytreedna.... Unfortunately DNA is ve ry much alike in our end
of Ireland, so you may need to upgrade to 67 markers (close to $300) but youc an start
with 25 or 37. If you combine DNA research with paper based research, you can find
the origin of y our family in Ireland. Otherwise, there's a very good chance you cannot.

The other problem that stops people dead is that they think because they know how to
do genealogy in the USA that they can do immigration research and Irish research too.
No, you cannot. You must learn about new record types and new methodologies. So you
need to take courses (on line, free or otherwise), read books and articles (often free on
line too). Otherwise you are stuck not knowing whta to do next. That's always a sign
that what you need to do next is learn something. In this case it is how to do this kind
of research.

One of the differences beween a professional genealogist and a family
historian is that the pro is always learning. He/she knows he doesn't know it all. The
family historian thinks he/she knows it all and gets insulted when you imply he doesn't
or that maybe he has a brick wall bcause of a mistaken understanding of a key record,
etc. Don't be this kinda person. It's self defeating.

We also must consider that we don't have all the 'facts' a bout our ancestors and that some of what we think we know is wrong. In researching a man whose family came about 1870 from Ireland,
I discovered his ancestors had cha nged their name. He was 3 generations away and had no
idea. But the 'coat of arms' he had matched the original name, and I fou nd them in the US
census using the original name. That find made it possible to determine the village where his
family came. That and a marriage record that gave the county of origin and the names of the
man's parents. That let me ID the parents' marriage record in Ireland. This was a 130 years
ago. Ours came much earlier -- we have many more anomolies in our received family history.
My great aunt, born in Scotland, gave the wrong ship in a letter she wrote for my mother. And
the wrong place of origin -- th ough her birth place was indicated on her Scottish birth
certificate. No such ship existed, but I did find them on another one with a similar name.
If we got these errors in just 100 or 150 years, how many more in our colonial family history?

I just found my dad's family in a ship list coming nto New York (these are now indexed at
Ancestry up through the 1870s). We were told they 'came in through Canada'. Wrong. They
came into New York. Someone came in through Canada -- maybe a cousin. Donno....

That's why you try to find corroberating evidence. Maybe your information is faulty. However
if you consider it sacred and refuse to consider your Scottish ancestors might be Irish or
your beloved surname a recent acquisiton... you will not get too far. You have
constructed even more brick walls than you already got for yourself. If they are not in Scotland,
even if you hire 15 genealogists, they will not find them in Scotland. Instead you need to
devise strategies to account for their not being in Scotland. Alas, that is often because they
were in Ireland instead -- where it is much harder to find them.

I am just amazed as I do this at how many surprises one can find in about any family
history. That's one of my big lessons this year.

Footnote's PA records are cosmic!

Linda Merle


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