View Full Version : Thomas QUIN, Royal Artillery, b. Armagh 1760

Jane Elderfield
24-06-2014, 5:20 AM
Hello members,

Does anyone have a QUIN family in Armagh in their genealogy? I'm looking for my only Irish ancestor (so far), Thomas QUIN, born approximately 1760.

Thomas QUIN, aged 18, joined the Royal Artillery on 02 August 1778. His record states that he was born "Armagh parish, Armagh city, Armagh county". The record gives a physical description of Thomas, and the fact that he could read and write. His spelling his surname with one N suggests that his family were Church of Ireland. (Catholics tend to use the two-N spelling, Quinn.)

Thomas was "inlisted" by Corporal Purcell, along with several other young men, into the "Detachment of 5 Company", R.A. He was posted to Plymouth Dock, Devon, England, where he married Charlotte MASON in 1781.

The couple apparently had at least two children, John Thomas QUIN, born Plymouth ~1782, and William QUIN, born Woolwich, Kent (home base for the Royal Artillery) in 1787.

Their son John Thomas QUIN is my ancestor and I know the outline of his history. John Thomas QUIN joined the Royal Artillery in 1793 as a drummer and trumpeter, aged eleven, and remained in the R.A. most of his working life.

The Armagh soldier Thomas QUIN died in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1792. I do not know what became of his English wife Charlotte nor of their son William.

The parentage and earlier history of Thomas QUIN of Armagh is also unknown to me. In Bradshaw's Directory for 1819, there are some QUINs in English Street, Armagh, including a John and a Thomas. There are also voters' records and wills for various Armagh QUINs in the mid 1800s, but I have no clue to whether any of them are related to my Thomas.

--Jane E

Jane Elderfield
21-04-2015, 4:43 AM
The wife of Thomas QUIN may have been born in Woolwich, Kent (the home base of the Royal Artillery. Her forename can be Charlotta or Charlotte.

Jane E

Frank Bunting
25-01-2016, 4:18 PM
Hello Jane,
have you found the 1770 Armagh Town "census" (view for a fee via Ancestry Ireland, Ulster Historical Foundation)?

It denotes 4 Quin households (all "papists", ie. Catholic), with 11 children between them in that year. Your Thomas should be one of them aged around 10 by then. A reasonable guess would be his father was the John listed there, and so born around 1740. That's because the 1st son of your Thomas was John Thomas, your ancestor (very common naming pattern back then). Perhaps all 11 kids descended from the same Quin grandparents (John and ?, originally from The Fews area of South Armagh - see below).

Family heads in the census were:
1. Brian (wife, 1 child, Callan St)
2. John (farmer, wife, 4 children, Castle St)
3. Widow Quin (poor, 3 children, English St)
4. No first name Quin (wife, 3 children, Callan St)

Blind harper Patrick Quin (famous) who later lived in Portadown, is reported to have been born to John Quin (a chandler) of Abbey Lane Armagh ca. 1746. Patrick was blinded accidentally as a child and was then trained to play the harp by an older relative (uncle or cousin?, again famous) Patrick Linden/Lyndon of "The Fews" area of Sth Armagh county. This area was a long term "outpost" of the O'Quinns and O'Neills, both members of the same clan originating in the Dungannon area of Tyrone. Patrick Quin's family was also catholic, but well respected by the Anglican establishment (Irish News, 1st Aug 1946). I suspect (still working on this) that Patrick's sister (or cousin?) was Mary Quin (b. 1735-40) who around 1760 married Edward Bunting (a carpenter of Scotch St in 1770). The family surname was sometimes misspelled Bunton by Irish officials. Edward had been a coalmine manager in Tyrone, and I have evidence he was a carpenter before becoming a collier back in Derbyshire. You will see that the 1819 Bradshaw's directory of Armagh town lists a John Quin as a carpenter - a nephew of Mary's perhaps who had joined the family business??

Edward and Mary were the parents of famed Irish musician, Edward Bunting (see Wiki for out of date bio - I will update it eventually). Father Edward was literate and well-connected in Armagh, and so presumably was Mary. Mary and family exposed young son Edward to traditional Irish music. Musician Edward wrote about Patrick and included him in the acclaimed 1792 Belfast Harp Festival, but never hinted at a family connection. Musician Edward was intimately associated with the United Irishmen leadership, easily understood if his mother's side of the family was catholic. I descend from Anthony Bunting, also a musician and older brother of musician Edward, and so Mary Quin is my 6G grandmother (save for infidelity, there is no doubt). Have you found any early musical Quins on your side, other than the drummer-trumpeter?

Patrick was no longer a child by 1770, and may have already moved to Portadown. Mary Quin was a Bunting by then, so she was not listed, other than as wife of Edward. If I have this right, then Patrick and Mary could be siblings of the 4 Quins referred to in the census, one of whom you will certainly be your ancestor, father of Thomas Quin

Thus, we could share common ancestors: John b. 1715 and ? Quin from The Fews/Armagh town who married around 1735. Mary Quin may have been the sister of John b. ca. 1740 and aunt of your Thomas b. ca. 1760. Mary Bunting nee Quin b.1735-40 had a son and grandson named John (same name as her Derbyshire father-in-law, but quite possibly of her father also, if she really was Patrick's sister). She had many great grandsons, two of whom were Thomas and William (my 3G grandfather). This may be just coincidence regarding your line of course. But the 1770 census shows Edward and Mary had 5 children by then, and the history books (on musician Edward) tell us that they had at least 2 more afterwards. Aside from at least one daughter, I have seen evidence that one of these sons was a Thomas (perhaps an architect in Portadown, living ca 1758-1840), and suspect another was William because of subsequent Bunting naming patterns. The names Thomas and William do not feature in my direct Bunting line back in Derbyshire, so may have come from the Quin side.

The above discussion is a mixture of hard data (some newly unearthed) and conjecture needing more research, but in the end perhaps only genetic testing will be the means to verify or refute.

Any help to you?

Jane Elderfield
31-01-2016, 4:40 AM
Hello, Frank--

Thank you for a most fascinating post!

I had seen the listings for the four QUINs in Armagh, but without names and birthdates of the children, I had not speculated which, if any, might be the parent of my Thomas QUIN, the soldier.

"John", of course, occurs in my John Thomas QUIN's name; it is also the name of his eldest son John QUIN, b. 1803, in Uttoxeter, who also joined the Royal Artillery, but died of consumption in 1835. Other QUIN descendants were also named John. But it's such a common name, I thought. Doesn't every family have a John?

I had also found out about Patrick QUIN the blind harper, but hadn't seen any connection to "my" QUINs.

However, I like very much your potential connections-- and our possible cousinship!

I immediately sent your long post to another QUIN descendant, who lives in Britain and occasionally gets to Kew, where she does very meticulous research in military records. Since she and I are both females, genetic testing would not be of much help. Nevertheless, the continual opening of old records onto the Internet keeps new information arising, so perhaps dedicated scholarship from our own homes will eventually provide answers.

Thank you again--
Jane Elderfield (in Canada)

Frank Bunting
31-01-2016, 5:37 PM
Hello again Jane,

Hang in there!

As you no doubt know, because the central records were destroyed in the 1920s in Dublin, the task of following family lines in Ireland prior to then is very difficult, if not impossible by usual means. What I have done on my Bunting line, successfully eventually with persistence and luck, was to look at what reliable info is available, consider the implications and then set hypotheses for testing. It is the approach used in science, and one that I have spent a career employing. The best breakthroughs seem to come from merging logical with intuitive thinking early in the process.
You were right not to speculate (publicly at least) on any particular relationship between your Thomas and one of those 1770 Quin families. But you can be pretty sure he was one of those kids (unless he was missed in the census), and his son’s name gives you some evidence as to which family named there was his, something which I don’t think you should ignore. You have incomplete evidence, not none, so could form a hypothesis to test. You would have something specific to search for; something that may provide the breakthrough once you have weaved your way through the endless name recycling, creative spelling variations thereof and even errors in the actual records! Why do we do it!!
Going through the arguments again for clarity: because of the naming patterns I mentioned (ie. first born males were commonly named after their father or/and grandfather), it is a good working hypothesis that the father of your Thomas Quin was named John. A very common name as you say and pity it wasn’t Xavier, or similar, but it is what it is. Looking at the dates, this possible John is a match (unconfirmed) for the actual one in the census. If this John of the 1770 census was in fact a sibling of harper Patrick, which is indicated (from that old newspaper) by place/timing/surname/religion/naming patterns (again), then his father was also John.
I have since learned that Patrick Linden (harper/poet from The Fews), whom I mentioned last post, was the cousin of Patrick’s father, John. Again, since there are so few Quins in the Armagh town census, I’d be looking in The Fews for clues and earlier ancestors – Quins seem like they were only 2 generation old imports to Armagh town in 1770. My Mary Quin could have been one of them, and I have more evidence for that now, but such a fit is still just a hypothesis. The other possibility (and the one inferred as fact in the literature on Edward Bunting) is that she was a direct descendant of Quins from the Dungannon area, Tyrone, rather than indirect via The Fews. I am currently researching that looking for the evidence in Tyrone.
The impetus for this Quin research is that I am writing an article on the family of musicologist Edward Bunting for an Irish journal to be published later this year. So my work is being done as carefully as possible.
I live in Surrey, UK, close to Kew and although I have purchased scanned records from the records office, I have not yet visited. Easily done though. I have been to Armagh quite a few times, and hope to be there again this year.
The real hope for me in researching my non-Bunting lines in Ireland is that there will be breakthroughs (several of which I enjoyed several with Buntings) via scanned old newspapers (Australia, Ireland) now put online. The other that I mentioned is DNA. Things have moved on now beyond using just y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA. Non-male line (or female line) relationships back 6-8 generations can be shown using autosomal DNA (beyond 6 to 8 generations is possible using autosomal DNA testing, but gets increasingly dodgy). Autosomal testing is inexpensively offered by Ancestry and FamilyTreeDna and other groups. Having spent ages doing homework, I am getting reading to do this.
I am in contact with a female descendant (possible) of that Thomas Bunting architect from Portadown. Her Bunting family certainly came from Portadown and she has done this test via Ancestry, so her data exists. This Thomas Bunting MAY be the son of Mary Bunting nee Quin, and so be one of her 4 missing children from the 1770 census. This is what we are keen to see evidence for in comparing her data with mine. If this Thomas relates to mine in this way, then he may have been the nephew of harper Patrick Quin, also of Portadown... therefore Thomas Bunting could be the cousin of your Thomas Quin. That’s something you could test by comparing yours with mine and/or my contact’s DNA (actually Ancestry would point it out if the data indicated it -don’t give them any prior hint of it though!). The magic of this is that when there is not enough data to solve a problem, you can (with some care) make your own!
Even if the above is beyond what is possible just now, DNA testing (must autosomal anyway since Thomas Quin and Thomas Bunting don’t have a male-line ancestor in the hypothesis) could sort this out in a few years as the technique develops, and may be the only way to do it.
If I discover anything significant to help with your Thomas Quin work, I will let you know.
Best regards,
Frank Bunting (in UK, via Australia and Canada)