Thursday, 19 March 2015

A Little Irish Fun

Since it is March and I am posting close to St. Patrick’s Day, I will talk about the search for my Irish family ancestry.
My mother's father and grandmother had died by the time my mother was two months old.  Her mom, a mother of 13, had her hands full raising the six left at home, so there wasn't much sharing of family history. Because of the dire circumstances her mom had to contend with, she had never known any of her father’s family.
I started my research on her father’s mother with just the fact his mother's maiden name was Magill. I was intrigued.  I easily found the book Magill Family Record written by Robert Magill, but could not find a tangible connection to my Magill family.  A cousin of my mother, a Ralph Magill, let me know that Elizabeth Jane Magill was married to Joseph Lester Magill.  He also sent me a copy of a letter he had received from a Magill saying he was related.  I studied the Dear Caleb letter.  I believe every Magill in America has read it. I was sent in all directions to research from the letter, but Caleb was not directly related to my Joseph L Magill in Clark County, Illinois. By process of elimination and places, and times, I finally decided upon the parents for my ancestor Joseph Lester Magill who had died in the 1840's.  
1. I knew he was born in Tennessee from the census's that I found Elizabeth in.  I found a Charles Magill married an Elizabeth Lester in Oct 24 1796.  This became my logical focus. Then I began the search for proofs I needed to have to make it so.  
2. I went to Ancient Irish naming patterns. Irish Naming Patterns, gives a basic pattern as listed below, although depending on circumstances these would sometimes vary. 
Oldest son named after the Father's father
2nd son named after the Mother's father
3rd son named after the Father
4th son named after the Father's oldest brother
Oldest daughter named after the Mother's mother
2nd daughter named after the Father's mother
3rd daughter named after the Mother
4th daughter named after the Mother's oldest sister
3. Joseph Lester Magill's apparent oldest son who appeared on the 1850 census was named after him.  The Daughter Elizabeth Jane could be after either the mother of John or Sarah.  They were both Elizabeth.
The apparent second son was John Davidson Magill which was the  name of Sarah's oldest brother.  Joseph Lester was also the name of Elizabeth Lester Magill's oldest brother.    Still, to prove this, I needed a Charles and an Archibald. As Joseph’s father was thought to be Charles Magill and Sarah’s father was Archibald Davidson. If they were born before 1850 and died I was up a creek without a paddle unless I could find family evidence.  It was about this time my mother's cousin finally broke down and sent me copies of the family bible. 
Marriages Sheet from Joseph Lester Magill Jr's bible

Deaths Sheet from Joseph Lester Magill Jr.'s bible
There was a Charles Andrew Magill first born, and a William Archibald the second born.  I knew I had my family.  I had a probate of when Joseph died in 1844 that named a William Magill along with John Davidson as executors.  William turned out to be Joseph's older brother.  
Then a "distant" cousin researching Charles Magill in Sullivan, Indiana found the land records that involved the heirs of Charles Magill.  My great grandmother was named with her brothers as heirs of Joseph Lester Magill, son of Charles Magill. 
BLM-GLO Image of Charles Magill land patent

BLM-GLO summary

I still wonder what happened that the first two sons died as toddlers, and what happened to Joseph. That will be a different search.

Now you have the story of the method I used to pull my Irish family together… I know, I know, I have not really crossed the pond, but it is known that the father of Charles Magill goes back to William Magill who is spoken of the Chronicles of the Scots-Irish Settlement in Virginia.  So, I claim Irish heritage even if it was only for a 100 years between Scotland and America. J  
Happy Belated St Patrick’s Day!


  1. Fran, I wasn't aware of Irish naming patterns. Nice detective work! Thanks for posting.

    1. You're welcome. I love that many countries had naming patterns. Really helps to sort some out.

  2. A great post, as always, Fran.

  3. Hi Fran, great detective work! I too have used the naming patterns to help me find family! So glad to see i wasn't alone. Helen

  4. Great bit of research. Thanks for sharing the Irish naming pattern, I will be using this.

  5. Great if only I could prove what Henry's real name is, then I could start looking for the pattern! LOL Love ya!


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