Monday, December 28, 2015

Success after a 20+ year search for a great-grandmother's baptism records

Back in July of 2015, I finally found the baptism of my great-grandmother (Margaret Butler), thanks to the Catholic Parish Registers of Ireland being made available online. I had been searching for this record for almost 25 years, since the early 1990s.  I was very happy to find this record. I've only just now spent some time completing the blogpost below that I started when I found the baptism record in July 2015. Of course, finding this record spurred me on, with the help of some long-lost cousins, to find the baptism records of Margaret's siblings.

Where did I find her baptism?


The Catholic Parish Registers were recently made available on the National Library of Ireland's website: http://www.nli.ie/en/parish-register.aspx.

http://www.nli.ie/en/parish-register.aspx


Because these baptism records are not indexed, they need to be searched by reading through pages of handwriting, some of which is quite scribbled and very difficult to read. Some of the pages are also very damaged at the edges. However, in the last few months, a wonderful woman named Marie Crowley has been diligently transcribing these records. Thanks to Marie!

For a great account of how to systematically search these registers, see the following post on Lorine McGinnis Schulze's The Olive Tree Genealogy blog:

10 Steps to Searching the Irish Catholic Parish Records When You Only Know a County of Origin

So, when was Margaret BUTLER born and baptised? 1853

Margaret Butler


My great-grandmother's name was Margaret BUTLER. Her parents were John BUTLER and Mary FITZPATRICK, also from County Clare.

The story in our family was that she was born on 25 or 26 August. However, we were never sure of the year of her birth. Based on later records of hers from when she was living in Australia (birth of her children, death records, etc.), I had guessed that she was born around 1855 or 1856. However, by looking through the Catholic Parish Registers (National Library of Ireland), I found her baptism record in the August 1853 - October 1853 records in Kilmurry Ibricken; County of Clare; Diocese of Killaloe (Microfilm 02486 / 01, Page 174). These records show that she was baptised on 11 September 1853 in the small town of Doolaugh. Her parents were John Butler and Mary Fitzpatrick and the sponsor or godparent at the baptism was Mary McMahon.

Transcription: 11 September 1853: Margaret of John Butler and Mary Fitzpatrick
Sponsor: Mary McMahon
Location: Doolough

Location of Doolough, a town in County Clare, Ireland



Margaret BUTLER later travelled to Australia and arrived here on 2 March 1880. She married William KENEALLY/ KENELLY in 1890, had 2 children and lived in the Drummoyne area of Sydney. She died in 1946 at her daughter's place in Five Dock.

Before I found this baptism record, we thought she was 90 when she died. Her death certificate (4 August 1946, NSW BDM no. 17208/1946) and her grave both state that she was 90 years of age when she died. So, we thought that she would have been born in about 1855 or 1856. This turned out to be quite incorrect, as indicated by her baptism record.

Excerpt from Margaret Kennealy's (nee Butler) death certificate

Margaret Kennealy's (nee Butler) gravestone


When were Margaret BUTLER's siblings baptised?

With the help of my distant cousins who are descendants of Margaret's siblings, the baptism records of Margaret's seven siblings are collated below. There may have been other siblings but these are the baptisms that have been found so far. All but one of Margaret's siblings (Bridget) also migrated to Australia and lived in Sydney and NSW, as did Margaret.

Firstly, for the record, here are a list of the Butler siblings and an indication of whether or not (as far as we currently know) they migrated to Australia:

  • Michael BUTLER (arrived in Australia on 22 July 1878, on the Earl Dalhousie)
  • Margaret BUTLER (arrived in Australia on 2 March 1880, on the Norval, sponsored by brother Michael)
  • Bridget BUTLER (don't think she migrated to Australia)
  • James BUTLER (arrived in Australia 16 January 1882, on the Forfarshire, with his sister Maria, sponsored by sister Margaret)
  • Thomas BUTLER (arrived in Australia on 13 January 1884, on the Selkirkshire, with his brother, Patrick)
  • Maria BUTLER (arrived in Australia 16 January 1882, on the Forfarshire, with her brother James, sponsored by sister Margaret)
  • Patrick James BUTLER (arrived in Australia on 13 January 1884, on the Selkirkshire, with his brother, Thomas)
  • Ellen Josephine BUTLER (arrived in Australia on 2 April 1885, on the Merkara)
Note: There may be other children, in addition to the eight listed above, born to John Butler and Mary Fitzpatrick that I have not yet found in the records.

Michael BUTLER (baptised 1852)



Michael BUTLER was probably born late in 1851 or early in 1852 since he was baptised on 27 February 1852. His baptism records were found in the Kilmurry Ibricken; County of Clare; Diocese of Killaloe Baptisms of Jan. 1852 to May 1852 (Microfilm 02486 / 01, Page 167). Although we think this is the record of Michael's baptism, his name recorded here looks like James or Francis. Although it looks more like James, I don't think it is as the first letter looks more like an F than a J (going by other Fs and Js on the page) and he also had a brother, James BUTLER, who was born in 1858.


Transcription: 27 February 1852: Francis (?) or James (?) of John Butler and Mary Fitzpatrick
[I think his name was originally Francis and he became known as Michael]
Sponsor: Mary McMahon
Location: Doolough

Michael BUTLER later travelled to Australia and arrived here on 22 July 1878. Michael married Catherine CRAWFORD in 1879, had 7-8 children and lived in the Balmain area of Sydney. He died in 1913.

Bridget BUTLER (baptised 1856)


Bridget BUTLER was probably born early in 1856 since her baptism is recorded on 8 (?) May 1856 at Doolough. Her baptism records were found in the Kilmurry Ibricken; County of Clare; Diocese of Killaloe Baptisms of April 1956 - May 1856 (Microfilm 02486 / 01, Page 193, no. 218). 

Transcription: 8 (?) May 1856: Bridget of John Butler and Mary Fitzpatrick
Sponsor: Mary Gallery
Location: Doolough

At this stage of my research, I don't know whether Bridget stayed in Ireland or migrated to Australia or elsewhere. I guess that she stayed in Ireland.

James BUTLER (baptised 1858)


James BUTLER was probably born in the first half of 1858 since his baptism is recorded on 19 June 1858 at Doolough. His baptism records were found in the Kilmurry Ibricken; County of Clare; Diocese of Killaloe Baptisms of May 1858 to June 1858 (Microfilm 02486 / 01, Page 209, no. 596).



Transcription: 19 June 1858: James of John Butler and Mary Fitzpatrick
Sponsor: Mary Malony
Location: Doolough

James BUTLER later travelled to Australia and arrived here in 1882, on the same ship as his sister, Maria (Mary) BUTLER. James Does not appear to have married, going by his funeral notices, but he lived with his brother, Michael, in the Balmain area of Sydney. He died in 1884.



Funeral notices of James Butler in The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday 25 August 1884, page 12

Note: There appears to be an error in the notice placed by Michael Butler as he is referred to as Michael’s son instead of his brother.

[Thanks to Keith and Marjorie, for additional information regarding James Butler.]

Patrick BUTLER (baptised 1860)



Patrick BUTLER was probably born in the first few months of 1860 or the last few months of 1859 since his baptism is recorded on 11 March 1860 at Doolough. His baptism records were found in the Kilmurry Ibricken; County of Clare; Diocese of Killaloe Baptisms of March 1860 to April 1860 (Microfilm 02486 / 01, Page 221, no. 914). 




Transcription: 11 March 1860: Patrick of John Butler and Mary Fitzpatrick
Sponsor: John and Bridget Costeloe (?)
Location: Doolough

Patrick BUTLER later travelled to Australia and arrived here in 1884, on the same ship as his brother, Thomas BUTLER. Patrick married Eugenie Dobbs in 1898 or had about four children. He lived in the western area of NSW and died in Stockinbingal, NSW in 1943.


Thomas BUTLER (baptised 1862)

Grave of Thomas Butler, Rookwood Cemetery, NSW


Thomas BUTLER was probably born in the first few months of 1862 or the last few months of 1861 since his baptism is recorded on 3 May 1862 at Doolough. His baptism records were found in the Kilmurry Ibricken; County of Clare; Diocese of Killaloe Baptisms of March 1862 to May 1862 (Microfilm 02486 / 01, Page 232, no. 1291). 




Transcription: 3 May 1862: Tom of John Butler and Mary Fitzpatrick
Sponsor: Martin and Mary Murphy
Location: Doolough

Thomas BUTLER later travelled to Australia and arrived here in 1882, on the same ship as his brother, Patrick BUTLER. Thomas married Catherine HERATY in 1892 and had a family of six children, including three daughters and three sons. He was living in Marrickville in Sydney when he died in 1929.



[Thanks to Keith and Marjorie, for additional information regarding Thomas Butler.]

Mary/Maria BUTLER (baptised 1865)

I think Mary BUTLER became known as Maria BUTLER.



Maria BUTLER was probably born in the first few months of 1865 or the last few months of 1864 since her baptism is recorded on 5 February 1865, at Doolough. Her baptism records were found in the Kilmurry Ibricken; County of Clare; Diocese of Killaloe Baptisms of December. 1864 to February 1865 (Microfilm 02486 / 01, Page 248, no. 1751).


Transcription: 5 February 1865: Mary of John Butler and Mary Fitzpatrick
Sponsor: Mary Murphy
Location: Doolough

Maria BUTLER later travelled to Australia and arrived here in 1882, on the same ship as her brother, James BUTLER. Maria married James EMERY in 1890 and had six children including three daughters and three sons. She was living in Leichhardt in Sydney when she died in 1948.

Grave of Maria Emery (nee Butler), Field of Mars Cemetery, North Ryde, NSW


[Thanks to Keith and Marjorie, for additional information regarding Maria Butler.]


Ellen BUTLER (baptised 1868)


Ellen BUTLER was probably born in 1868 since her baptism is recorded on 26 September 1868, at Doolough. Her baptism records were found in the Kilmurry Ibricken; County of Clare; Diocese of Killaloe Baptisms of September 1868 to December 1868 (Microfilm 02486 / 01, Page 266, no. 2285).



Transcription: 26 September 1868, Ellen of John Butler and Mary Fitzpatrick
Sponsor: Margaret Hehir
Location: Doolough

Ellen  BUTLER later travelled to Australia and arrived here in 1885. Ellen married John BRITTON in 1894 and had six children including one son and five daughters. Ellen lived around the Marrickville/Leichhardt area. During the last 20 years of her life she spent time with three of her daughters at Beverly Hills, Burwood and Petersham and she died at the Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick on 9th December, 1963.


[Thanks to Keith and Marjorie, for additional information regarding Ellen Butler.]

Why couldn't I find records of Margaret Butler's baptism before this?


The main reason I was not able to find her baptism record was that the Catholic Parish Registers only became available online during the last few weeks.

Margaret had also reduced her age in some of the key documents about her life in Australia (migration, marriage and children's birth certificates), making me think that she was born in 1855 or 1856 instead of 1853.

The other reason that I think I was misled in my previous searches for her birth or baptism records is that my great-grandmother, Margaret BUTLER, always said she was from Kilmihil, County Clare, Ireland. However, she was actually born in Doolough, Doolough (meaning black lake, in Irish). Doolough and Kilmihil are about 10km apart.

Source of map: Google Maps

It appears, from the Catholic Parish Registers, that Margaret and her siblings were all born in Doolough in the 1850s and 1860s but lived in Kilmihil just before they left to sail to Australia in the late 1870s and 1880s. Doolough is about 9-10 km from Kilmihil.

Source of map: Google Maps

We also think that their father, John BUTLER, may have died some time before they left County Clare to move to Australia and that his death may have prompted them to move from Doolough to Kilmihil. Perhaps Kilmihil was the original home of Mary Fitzpatrick, Margaret and her siblings' mother and John BUTLER's wife. There are still Fitzpatricks living in the town of Kilmihil.


The "we" referred to in the above blogpost acknowledges I have had help from some of my long-lost but recently-found cousins and cousin-in-laws, Des, Donna, Keith and Marjorie.


5 comments:

  1. This is a wonderful blog entry. You have given me ideas! My brother, just yesterday, was asking me how I was leaving all my research for future generations. What you have created here is so straightforward and accessible that even descendants who are not ancestry buffs could appreciate it. Thank you so much.

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  2. Thanks Tom. It was fun to put it together.

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  3. Congratulations Maria and cousins - I think an Irish Jig is in order.

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  4. Haven't these Irish parish registers online made such a difference to our research?!

    A classic example of chain migration with the Butler family. I wonder if Bridget stayed at home to look after their mother? Did she marry in Kilmihill? Did she die young? Or, if she had been looking after their mother, did she emigrate much later? I have seen that with some.

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