Scotch-Irish-L Archives

Archiver > Scotch-Irish > 2011-10 > 1319733106

From: Bob Kissel <>
Subject: Re: [S-I] Antrim Ancestors
Date: Thu, 27 Oct 2011 09:31:46 -0700 (PDT)
References: <>
In-Reply-To: <>

Hi Linda -
    Wow, I am still in awe.  I have a Phillips family that moved from Belfast to
Liverpool in 1856.  This family used surnames as middle names which I hope helps
(Philip Marmin Bartholemew Phillips, mothers name was Ann Marmion).  He had a
brother Hugh Phillips.  They both had daughters An Lowry Phillips and sons
William John Phillips.  There father was William Phillips.  I found Philips
marriage to Mary Chapman in 1855 in Newry.  But they did not use their real
places of birth, just where they were living.  I traced Mary Chapman to Lambeg
and found her family.  Philip is a puzzle at every turn.
I believe Ann Marmion was from the Kilkeel area.
    I have a cousin in England who's grandmother was the granddaughter of
Philip's son Hugh.  We have got several clues.  Philip went from being an iron
moulder in Belfast to being a warehouseman in Liverpool.  So somehow he came
into money.
    I found a man in Ireland who came up with dead ends but did find a few
I will go over your manual and it looks good.
Thank you again,



From: "" <>
Sent: Thu, October 27, 2011 9:26:26 AM
Subject: Re: [S-I] Antrim Ancestors

Hi Bob, yup, we're all in the same boat here. It is frustrating because on the
one hand we're told that it's easy to do family history (by TV ads for Ancestry,
etc) and on the other hand we can be told by instructors of Irish courses that
it's impossible. So what is the truth?

The truth is it can sometimes be done but only with hard work. Some families are
more easily researched because they have rare surnames, they were well-off (and
so are named in more records), they lived in the right place and time, they were
the right religion (ie one that kept records that survive), or even they were
very good at retaining oral history.

So far my Kellys have not made much progress -- a zillion of them around and, as
far as we know, the male line is extinct, so no DNA. My grandmother said they
came from County Down, but she never did any genealogy. It's amazing she knew
there was a County Down. There is of course a clan in County Down. There's a
clan everywhere <grin>. Well, not really...but it seems that way. We can't even
get them out of the county in Pennsylvania, though we got new clues by
re-reading the wills and noticing who the witnesses were. I read about this in
an article. A Reformed Presbyterian minister was witness -- and he, we now know,
was the grandson of another one of our ancestors. He lived in Wilkinsburg, PA,
where there was a famous Kelly family. However it died out with no heirs. So
apparently my Kellys were not close enough to be an heir. Or by the time of this
event, 60 years or so after my Kelly left a will, the courts didn't research
back that far.

The hard work part? That's where you have to learn. What do you learn? You have
to learn general genealogical research methodologies as well as ones specific to
your locale (s) and time period. You also have to learn to do Irish genealogy,
even if you just graduated with an A+ from American genealogy class. Every
country is different.

But you must also learn more than the basics, which might be enough for others.
You really have to learn the advanced stuff -- how to prove your case using
indirect evidence and flimsy clues. If you are a trial lawyer, you're in good
shape <grin>. It is very much like that, so if you are fond of murder mysteries,
you already know that you don't need to find the murderer hovering over the body
with the smoking gun still in his hand. Lots of people are in jail or ... eh...
fried (by the governor of Texas...) based on the flimsiest of clues, like they
have a motive. Just having a motive doesn't mean you killed your wife, does it?
I sure hope not. Some additional evidence is needed. Even our courts know that
and so they bring in the cadaver dogs, etc. So we're actually pretty well
educated about this, but we don't know how to apply it to genealogy.

You also need to get a very good understanding of history. This can be tricky,
especially in Ireland. When I started out I had some oral history that made
absolutely no sense in the context in which I understood Irish history. And for
a long time it got no better. That's because Irish history is complicated. First
of all, there's the joke about there being our history and your history. The
majority of Irish people are Irish. They are culturally Irish, though perhaps
their ancestors were Norman or English, etc. Meaning they're at least culturally
Catholic and strongly identify with the version of history they were taught in
which the English are the villains, St. Patrick was hero, etc., etc. That's
"Their" history. Actually, much of it is interpretable. Some events occurred,
some were forgotten, some remembered, and out of what's left several versions of
what happened are created. Some are versions only historians understand and
others are populist renderings of events that s!
erve to help create the cultural identity of today.

However that's not our history. Largely the Ulster Scot is not even mentioned in
the grand picture of Irish history except very recently and then in very
negative terms. They join the English as villains. The Ulster Scot is a very
small potato in Irish history of any stripe. Most Irish people are not Ulster
Scots. So if you read Irish history looking for info on your Ulster Scot
ancestors you will not find much at all. Certainly you will find little that is
of use in family history. For example, they're all Scots! Now this part is also
similar in the Scotch Irish/Ulster Scot version of history. However it's untrue.
Ireland in the 1500s and Ulster in the 1600s was a 'to go to' place, like
America, only closer (worse tempered natives though with a much longer history
of bloody conflict with lots of dead immigrants). So many people came from
England, Wales, France, Germany, Holland, and some were Irish all along. So if
you immediately dash off to Scotland and try to find your f!
olks there, you might be looking in all the wrong places.

The Irish didn't document their villains well. This is unlike the English, who
did. You can learn a lot about the Irish in English Parliamentary Papers, if you
are lucky enough to have real Irish villains for ancestors. Those are the lucky
ones. However the Irish failed us in documenting our history. Dour Scots farmers
were just not nasty enough for balladry. Of the Germans they were only
interested in the Palatine's daughter!

Eventually I did locate the origins of a few of my family's oral history events,
but it was in Ulster history I found them. My favorite is the one about how we
were living in a village that was run down by English soldiers who killed
everyone, including women and children. At the time we were living on the coast
and fighting with the Irish chiefs, whom we much preferred to fighting with the
English as they had higher moral standards and were gentlemen. I believe this
was the Andersons, living on the Antrim coast in the 1500s. They lived far
enough away from Carrigfergus to barely survive one of the ugliest, though
totally forgotten, atrocities in Irish history. Which I learned about in
Bardon's "History of Ulster".

There are good histories of Ulster about that debunk the standard, no-brainer,
Readers Digest versions of Irish history. You need to read them because the
history of Ulster is a little different from the rest of Ireland and your
history isn't in the populist versions of Irish history. For one thing, it was
infested with Ulster Scots, where this ethnic group played a major role in its
history, unlike the rest of Ireland. Their presence cause its history to be
different. Even though there were Protestants and English throughout Ireland,
they were of different ethnic and social classes than the Ulster Scot and they
played a different role. The land owners were run out by the Land Wars in the
late 1800s. The rest -- traders and soldiers -- largely assimilated, including
all of Cromwell's army who didn't sale out and move to the West Indies in the
mid 1600s. Many a fine Irishman has a Cromwellian soldier in his tree -- but
probably not us <grin>.

The best history of Ulster, I think, is Elliott's "The Catholics of Ulster"

The Catholics didn't like it because it debunks much of their populist version
of things. Rather than making heroes of the fleeing earls, it suggests that this
was probably rather cowardly and that they abandoned their people, who then had
no leaders to protect them and represent them in court. It also contains a huge
amount of information on how the various people in Ulster (once a sea of
differing ethnicities) were melded into merely two and how they all got along,
or didn't. It will tell you that it wasn't just the Catholics who were schooled
by the hedge priests, for example. It has lots of footnotes, so people
disagreeing with her can follow up on her sources and make their own evaluation.
Of course 99.9999% never do. However the sources for her footnotes contain a lot
of other information -- and maybe some on your ancestors. Elliott is a real
scholar, but her version of things seems to conform with the version I got from
reading a lot of history books for fun. My versi!
on has helped me do genealogy successfully -- and I suggest this book will help
you do yours.

The usual problem we have is we have no idea where to look. The way to learn
what exists is through bibliographies and footnotes. The truth is there is a
huge amount of information both in books and manuscripts. We couldn't possibly
research all of it in our lives. One starter is google books, where you can find
books for free that I paid a hundred dollars for -- like Hill's history of the
McDonalds and O'Hart's "Irish Pedigrees".

What I generally do is:
1. Profile the American (etc) family. Did they seem to come over as a family (ie
well off to pay for all those tickets) or a singleton? If singleton, consider he
might have come as an indentured servant. Harder to research. Gather all oral
history, the names of all the people the children married, study ALL the local
and county histories. The third one I read had a detailed accounting of how my
one set of ancestors arrived in Baltimore and took wagons to western
Pennsylvania and had info on where they came from. We were looking in Philly for
them. Duh!!!!! You want to have an idea about their social class, their
religion, their associates, their skills and talents (blacksmiths?
carpenters?)...etc. ID any oral history or clues to where they came from.

2. Do your preliminary Irish survey. This is where you go for the 'low hanging
fruit' -- the easy stuff. You can pay a firm in Northern Ireland or here to do
it for you, but if you do you will not learn how to do Irish genealogy. So when
it comes to step 3, what will you do? Most people get no further than this step.

3. Identify probable areas where they came from. You got this info in step 2.
Then decide how you are going to figure out which place they came from and
proceed. One way is DNA. At this point you need to be able to drill down into
local Irish resources. Ireland is very rich in these, particularly Ulster. It
seems all the ministers took up local history in their senior years and wrote
nice books about their district.

With genealogy you always first check out the standard sources, even though
these are often not very good. But you still need to do it, then you circle
around, like a detective or a cadaver dog, checking. Your circles become smaller
and smaller.

Good ways to become an instant expert in a new area: download the free Family
History Center guides. They got them for the USA and all the states as well as
Ireland. Not only do they have general guides but also ones on indexes. The
indexes are how you find people. I download them, convert from PDF to Word or
something, and then knock them off. Some are redundant. I check them off as I

Or purchase the upgrade to the free Legacy Family Tree (
). It contains a research guide section. You select a feller and go to that tab.
It'll figure out, based on info you entered, what you should check. Very good
for USA. Donno about Ireland or Ulster, haven't used it for that. I should
check! It will tell you where the source is. When you check it, you can tick it
off and produce a nice list of things you've accomplished.

You also need to use the FHL catalog. If you have a library science degree, this
helps a lot.

Basically with Irish genealogy, what I learned was you should be spending one
third of your time figuring out what exists, a third tracking down the sources,
and only a third researching. Squinched into that one third is not only sitting
in the library copying stuff out with a pencil because the librarian won't copy
it (too delicate) and won't allow pens) but analysis time. These days, frankly,
I think it is far easier to find stuff than it used to be. Much is on line, much
of it free. The point is most of us are like hound dogs: we only consider it
hunting when we're running through the hillside barking loudly. The rest of life
is 'not hunting'. However there is more to genealogy than sitting in a library
with a pencil stump. There is reading books and articles, taking courses,
reading free daily how-to enewsletters, googling all over the place, leaving
plugs in various lists and message boards, reading history books, re-reading all
the stuff in your heap, filing it so you !
can find it again, etc, etc....the running over the hillside barking part is
only a small part, though it is the fun part.

I haven't done the barking part in years on my current major project. We're in
the writing down part, which is similar to the 'going to the dentist to have
your teeth pulled out' part. Down to the 'edit the footnotes' part, which so
far, is the worse ever part. Arrrgggg. Now I know why most books don't have very
many. The new generation of academics have all kinda software to do it with, but
it takes longer to learn to use them and to import all the footnotes than it
does to complete the job by hand. Next project I will use a database of some
sort. Open Office has one built in. You type the stuff in once and then you can
automatically make correctly formatted footnotes and bibliography.

Yes, you got to document what you find so you don't end up like my great Uncle
Ralph, who found family in South Carolina, but didn't tell anyone where. We
definitely still miss him -- and all the notes he didn't take.

Linda Merle

----- Original Message -----
From: "Bob Kissel" <>
Sent: Thursday, October 27, 2011 7:59:28 AM
Subject: Re: [S-I] Antrim Ancestors

Hello Linda,
I am impressed with your knowledge. Very interesting history.
I am struggling to learn about my Irish amcestors. I have PHILLIPS, CHAPMAN,
HARPER and BLAIR in my tree.
I am having a diffcult time finding much on them. They all seem to be from
Belfast to Lambeg.
They seem to be Ulster-Scots.
I have not got back much further than about 1790.

Thank you for sharing,


From: "" <>
Sent: Wed, October 26, 2011 3:32:27 PM

Hi Sean,

I am sure McFee's have been in Ireland much earlier than 1690 simply because
Scotland is close to Ireland. Also the McPhees were hereditery keepers of the
records of the Lord of the Isles. The McDonald clan has official ties in Ulster
reaching back into the 1400s when through a marriage they acquired right to
Antrim. They later used this as reason to invade around 1550. They didn't invade

by themselves. They brought an army of Scots with them, all Gaelic speaking
highlanders, like themselves, Catholic. They fought with the various Irish clans

and then later with the English, holed up in Carrigfergus. The English finally
settled the brugh ha ha by murdering everyone and everything within 20 miles or
so of Carrigfergus. This created a famine which killed anything else they
missed. The local Irish continued to rebel against Queen Elizabeth until after
her death (which they didn't know about or they'd not have surrendered). Now
we're up to the very early 1600s where there wasn't!
a church in Ulster with a roof.

Her heir happened to be king of Scotland. so in the settlement, not
surprisingly, King James took the side of the McDonalds and recognized their
claim to County Antrim. He made a couple stipulations. Among them were that they

settle lowland farmers amongst the highlanders and Irish. This was fine with
Randal McDonald. Highlands and Irish, besides being largely Catholic and Gaelic
speaking, were also both very good at cattle raising but not great farmers.
Farmers helped ensure the viability of the estate. Later, in 1642 with a Scots
army was marrauding through Ulster it slaughtered a group of McDonald tenants
who, it is claimed, were loyal, but spoke Gaelic and were McDonalds. This was
enough for the Campbell army to slaughter them all. The point being in the mid
1600s even in County Antrim, many of the so -called Scots were Catholic, Gaelic
speaking highlanders. The McFees would have been highlanders.

As to when your particular group came to Ireland, we donno. How they got to
Fermanagh also is a mystery. It is possible they migrated there, possibly from
Antrim. There was lots of moving about in Ulster. I do know for certainty that
some from central Antrim settled in Tyrone.

It is possible the McPhee/McFee clan has history relating to specific groups in
various places in Ulster, but more likely they do not.

Page 59 of Bell "Book of Ulster Surnames" indicates that in the 17th century the

McFees scattered. Other MacFie sept names that came to Ulster were MacAfee,
MacFee, MacHaffie (now Mahaffy). Your ancestors could be hiding out under these
names. Unfortunately for us, the Irish and the highlanders didn't use fixed
surnames. The English liked to assign these to people so they could draft them,
tax them, and if they proved too intractable, hang them. So why would anyone
want one or be stupid enough to go by one moniker?

However you have another problem, one we all share with you. That is that it is
not for certain you should be having fantasies about Scotland at all. It was an
Irish colony. About 500 AD it seems the Scotti moved from Ireland to Scotland,
then known as "Pictland" or Alba, and inhabited by Picts. By the time of Kenneth

McAlpin the Picts were totally subsumed by the Gaelic speaking Scotti, even
Pictish was lost.

So bear this in mind when I tell you that on page 64 of the same book it tells
us that (Mc)Fee (Fey and Fie) are anglicisations of O'Fiaich, which comes from
fiach or raven. They were an Irish sept of Cenel Eoghain, descended from a son
of the founder of the O'Neill clan. Their original home was County Fermanagh.
We're told that the O'Fees and the Cosgraves were erenaghs of Derrybrusk near
Enniskillen. The 'census' of 1659 supposedly records O'Fee as a principal name
of the area. Your research would tell you if this is near where your ancestors
are buried.

They spread to Armagh and Cavan (Cavan was a 'native' plantation and the higher
parts of Armagh have never appealed to Scots or English). The book also tells us

that (Mac)Fee is also common in Antrim, where some were probably Scots. The
Antrim McFees probably cluster in the Glenns. Many Glenns people are highland
Scots in origin. Many remain Catholic and consider themselves Irish, not Ulster

So how do you sort this out? I suggest to you the quickest and cheapest way is
to have your DNA tested. There are many firms you can google for, but largely
there are two: . They seem to have cornered the market on
Y chromo testing. You will have to find a male relation whose surname is McFee,
meaning a direct male line. He would bear the family Y chromo. ORder a 67 marker

test (almost worthless with less -- our DNA is very alike). If you are +M222,
you are probably descended from the Irish sept. M222 is the marker for northwest

Irish DNA. If something else, maybe Scots. The DNA experts can tell you more.

Meanwhile, you've got at least six weeks to kill, till test results arrive. You
can spend it gathering information.

The first thing to know about Irish genealogy is it is local history, local
history, and more local history. Buried in the local area where your family came

from may be the history of your specific group. Parish histories (especially NOT

of your ancestor's religion) are useful. One place with a huge collection is the

Family History Library in Salt Lake City. They also have copies of the
Parliamentary Records relating to Ireland. The depositions from the 1641 rising
are now free on line too. You may catch wind of them there. Be sure to check a
zillion spelling variants. You'll be interested in knowing what happened on the
estate and townland where your ancestor lived.

For example one client of mine line was first seen in the barony of Dungannon,
largely in Tyrone. This is where the last O'Neill castle was - the heart of the
kingdom. His DNA is Northwest Irish, though the family came to America in the
early 1770s and became hillbillies, like the rest of us here <grin>. Lots of
hillbillies are Irish.

The only traces we can find of the surname earlier are 1. on a townland that was

part of a Church of Ireland estate and that was leased to a local landowner. At
the time of the public Plantation by King James, the British landowners were
supposed to kick off the Irish and only rent to British. They couldn't do that,
because not enough British settlers came, but many were dispossessed. The church

was not required to do this, so many Irish fou nd refuge on the church estate.
This particular townland, even in 1800, was peppered with Irish surnames. So
even without DNA, we'd suspect his ancestors were Irish. What's the history of
the townland where your ancstors lived?

The second clue is in the Parliamentary Papers which indicated that a man with
this name was 'out' in rebellion in 1641. He was a cowman for a local landowner.

This part of Ulster was lost to the British, who fled or were killed. So if it
is living in that area of Tyrone in, say, 1650, it's Irish or an English soldier

(not many of those about, either). Did that happen in your area? I don't know.
Find out.

Other important clues you haven't provided are the religion. It's touchy, but
we'll all too old to threaten you <grin>. People did change religions. My case,
above, did, but we don't know when. We do know they were poor folk because
they're not in the Convert Rolls. Only people who would have to prove they were
Protestant bothered to officially convert. We didn't find them, but it confirmed

that they were poor folk. No estate to lose. important clues.

The other clues are their social position in Griffiths and the Tithe
Applotments. How much land were they farming and did they have tenants? They
seem to have been better off -- they actually had tombstones, you're telling us.

Not a lot of us have ancestors with tombstones. This means you might find more
out in trade records (blacksmiths, etc), town records (were any freemen in
Enniskillen?), and even land records. The indexes are terrible, but by drinking
a lot of good Irish whiskey (very slowly to keep from passing out prematurely),
you can gradually read them and learn if your ancestors might be named in
memorials or as tenants in deeds.

In another family I researched, DNA is O'Neill, though most believe they're
Scots, in the Tithe Applotments and Griffiths, there's one with the name who had

a whole townland, which he sub let out to many relatives. Though he had to be
Protestant to own this much land, after Catholic emancipation, the family helped

build the local Catholic church and were buried as Catholics. Somewhat typical
Irish pattern.

By the time you do this, you've researched the estate. You might find that the
estate was that of a prominent Scots family from one of the areas where the
Scots McFees came from. You may find out where the estate records are and be
able to find more about the family in the records. This is more likely if they
were better offs than if they were very poor. Since you have tombstones, you are

probably in good stead.

If you take a course in Irish genealogy they'll tell you it is almost impossible

to trace non-gentry before church records start around 1820 or later. This is
really not true, though it isn't easy. It is easier for Protestants because
their church records usually start earlier and they are more likely to be named
to various types of records that do survive, like muster lists.

If you want more URLs, etc, let us know. OR search the archives of the list.
However I suspect your people are Irish, not Scots, because they seem to be
located where an Irish sept lived. This is often the case for us here as many of

the Irish used the same sept names as the Scots and basically spoke the same
language of Gaelic. They were all basically the same people. The history of the
last 300 years has largely 'un-united' them.

Another book I found useful was Mullin's "Ulster Clans". There's a film copy at
the Family History Library.

Also don't go to Ireland -- go to Salt Lake. It's all in one place there and the

library is open for long hours of the day. In Ireland various kinds of records
are all over the place where the hours are short. You can view what is at PRONI
(public records office of Northern IReland) on their website and do much, much
research there on line. HUGE amounts of research. 70 or more film are in the
FHL. The catalog for the Linen House Library is also on line. If you see a book
there you can use Worldcat to find a copy nearby (or orderable through
interlibrary loan), or in the FHL in Salt Lake.

Not a lot of Scots soldiers came to Ulster in 1690, or 1650. The reason is the
same: all the land was already held by British so there was little available. In

both cases the settlements were in southern Ireland. Cromwell's settlement was
largely of English soldiers, not Scots, anyway. He had had a little problem with

the Scots, you might recall. They supported King Charles (before he lost his
head) and Cromwell invaded Scotland. The thought of an army of Scots no doubt
gave him heartburn. The Scots army came in 1642 to Ulster. Largely it harried
everyone, didn't really do much more, though many remained, marrying rich widows

and the like. It was largely a Campbell army, though it's possible a McFee was
in it.

The other possible origin of a McFee in Ireland is the galloglass soldiers. In
the 15th and 16th century thousands of highland Scots soldiers were brought to
Ireland in the pay of Irish lords and also the English. Ten thousand came as
part of one bride price! They were huge, heavily armed fellows, unlike the
lightly armed, small but fast Irish kern. Excepting the few who had castles,
most habitations had one room. And the lord would make his tenants and clansmen
house these guys. Not surprisingly, you find Scots galloglass dna in every
county in Ireland. Some started their own Irish clans. They assimilated into the

Irish nation having nothing in common with the British, culturally or

Most likely you will not find records that can establish the ethnic origin of
your specific ancestors unless that was a mighty huge tombstone they had. You'll

need some DNA.

If you can't locate a cousin, do autosomal testing. This is trickier and can be
done at the same place or 23andme has the market cornered (so
they have the largest number tested). In any case, check to see if there is a
McFee or O'Fee DnA project...I see a McDuffie (associated sept in
Scotland....though it means 'son of blackie' and so of course you've got a lot
of black haired Irishmen too...sigh).

It's good to test a couple family members with the autosomal because you do not
have all the DNA of all your ancestors. Only some. So you might not have any
McFee DNA to compare with. But I'd bet you're an O'Neill. After all, if its
under an apple tree, it's probably an apple and not a peach <grin>.

Best of luck in any case,

Linda Merle

----- Original Message -----
From: "sean roche" <>
Sent: Wednesday, October 26, 2011 2:22:12 PM










To unsubscribe from the list, please send an email to
with the word 'unsubscribe' without the quotes

in the subject and the body of the message

To unsubscribe from the list, please send an email to
with the word 'unsubscribe' without the quotes

in the subject and the body of the message

To unsubscribe from the list, please send an email to
with the word 'unsubscribe' without the quotes
in the subject and the body of the message

To unsubscribe from the list, please send an email to
with the word 'unsubscribe' without the quotes
in the subject and the body of the message

This thread: