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  1. #1
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    Default Thomas Johnston(e) Castlerock Coleraine Derry

    I posted a few years ago about this 'brick wall' on my tree and I think I have found the man above, my G G Grandfather on my direct paternal line.
    Born c 1851 Castlerock as above. Presbyterian. Birth record not found.
    1911 census says married in 1879 to Jane, I believe Jane McConaghie.
    Again 1911 census notes 11 children, 9 still alive. I know of Samuel (1880), William J (1885),James L (1885, d ), Mary E (1891), David John (1893), John (1896-1916), Robert (1896-twin) and Martha (1900). The five youngest sons were all in the Army, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
    I would love to hear from anyone who has any of this family in their tree. When the local presbyterian church is open after COVID restrictions I will ask for any records held there. Any other thoughts to get more detail appreciated.

  2. #2
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    There are 2 Presbyterian churches near Castlerock. 1st Dunboe has baptisms from 1805 onwards (with some gaps). They are complete from 1843 onwards. Marriages start in 1845 (and are on the irishgenealogy site).

    2nd Dunboe only has baptisms from 1864 onwards (earlier records were lost or never kept). Marriages from 1845 onwards, again they are on the irishgenealogy site.

    Thereís a copy of both Dunboe sets of records in PRONI in Belfast, if you donít get a response from the Ministers. The PRONI copies are not on-line so a personal visit is required to view them. Researchers in the PRONI area: https://sgni.net

    Thomas & Jane were married 15.4.1879 at 1st Dunboe. (Tradition was to marry in the brideís church, so you may find her baptism there and that of any siblings). Thomas was living then in Knocknogher, which is where Samuel was born in 1880.

    https://civilrecords.irishgenealogy....65/8048093.pdf

    Martha Johnstoneís birth at Pottagh 12.5.1900:

    https://civilrecords.irishgenealogy....00/1769116.pdf

    Agricultural labourers and weavers moved around a lot, following the available work, so you often finding them moving from townland to townland. Makes them harder to track.

    Family in Pottagh in 1901:

    https://www.census.nationalarchives....ttagh/1517212/

    According to the 1911 census for Ardina, the couple had 10 children, 9 of whom were still alive.

    https://www.census.nationalarchives....Ardina/587944/

    I see a Thomas & Jane Johnston of Quilly both signed the Ulster Covenant in 1912. Had the family moved there? You can see their signatures on the Ulster Covenant site:

    https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/services...lster-covenant

    Thereís a Samuel who signed in Dunboe too but he didnít put his townland. (Signing the Covenant tells you a little about their politics ie they were anti- Home Rule. Many Presbyterians were).
    ELWYN

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    Wow. Gobsmacked. I have just read this and will follow up these records. Thomas Johnston b 1851 (the subject of this post) is named on my G Grandfather's birth cert as a builder of Barmouth. That record includes my G Grandmother Mary Johnston nee Davidson age 17 from Stevenston, Ayrshire. On the 1881 Scotland Census she is named as Mary Davidson, single, but her then two children are named as Thomas (Archibald) Johnston and Polly Johnston (despite her birth cert saying she is illegitimate). This Thomas Johnston is the only real contender as the father of Thomas Archibald b 1871 though frustratingly there is not absolute evidence that he is the correct man. Interesting to note your comment about agricultural labourers moving about, do you think it likely he would have travelled across the sea to Stevenston for work in around 1870? I have been unable to find if there was any sort of ferry service then? I really appreciate your efforts and the information provided.

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    The Barmouth referred to on your G Grandfather’s birth certificate is probably the barmouth for the River Bann which is just a couple of miles away from Castlerock. It’s still in use today, mainly by pleasure craft, and is known as Barmouth. There are two long protective walls that run out from the land into the North Atlantic to make it safer for shipping. It’s a notoriously difficult bit of water to navigate if there is a strong wind or swell. Photo here, with Castlerock in the background:

    https://eoceanic.com/sailing/harbour...wer_river_bann

    Yes people went across to Scotland for work all the time. (They still do). There were regular sailings from Londonderry, Coleraine and Ballycastle to Greenock & Glasgow. It was a journey of just a few hours. (At the closest point it’s only 11 miles from Ireland to Scotland. The modern ferry from Ballycastle in Ireland to Campbeltown in Scotland takes 40 minutes). The main business in the 1800s was cargo (often cattle) and passengers were sort of top up income, so fares were very cheap. Labourers often went for summer seasonal work in Scotland (planting and lifting potatoes or berry picking). Others went for coal mining and related industries.

    Ireland lacks natural resources. No coal, oil, iron ore etc, and so apart from a modest amount of shipbuilding in Belfast and the Belfast linen mills (which mostly only employed women), it did not really get the industrial revolution that benefited England and Scotland where mills, steelworks, ship building, coal mining and all their support industries were major employers creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Much better paid than subsistence farming or weaving. Added to that you had the effects of a massive population explosion in Ireland – up from 3 million in 1750 to 8 million in 1841 (no-one is really sure of the reasons why but reduced neo-natal deaths seem to be a factor) and the famine. So some push factors and some pull factors saw huge numbers of people leave Ireland. Something like 8 million people emigrated from Ireland between 1801 & 1921.

    https://www.irish-genealogy-toolkit....h-century.html

    If you look at the Scottish censuses for the Glasgow area in the late 1800s, you will see that about every fifth person recorded there was born in Ireland. People working in Scotland could come home for weddings or the harvest, as well as holidays (Glasgow used to shut down for 2 weeks every July, known as the Glasgow Fair holiday and there would then be a huge exodus to Ireland). You could also send children back to stay with their grandparents, thereby leaving the wife free to work. You couldn’t do all those things so easily from Australia, America or Canada etc. For Presbyterians, Scotland also had the benefit of being culturally very close as well as geographically. (The Johnstone family probably originated in Scotland and moved to Ireland in the 1600s).
    ELWYN

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    Elwyn your profile says 'knowledgeable and helpful', which is an understatement to say the least! Your social history knowledge has really made sense of a scenario I have considered but not had information about for the past fifteen years or so. I will follow up the 1st Dunboe records for Jane. I just need to try and find any other record to go with my birth certificate for Thomas Johnston's son (Thomas) to definitively link the two individuals together, which may not ultimately be possible. Next plan is to try and trace the family into more recent times and see if I can find a descendant who may have done, or will do a DNA test to see if there is an DNA in common with my own, which would be a clincher.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by p.mca View Post
    Elwyn your profile says 'knowledgeable and helpful', which is an understatement to say the least!
    And so say all of us.
    Thank you Elwyn for your input and insight.

    Christina
    Sometimes paranoia is just having all the facts.
    William Burroughs

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    Quote Originally Posted by christanel View Post
    And so say all of us.
    Thank you Elwyn for your input and insight.

    Christina
    Thank you.
    ELWYN

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    The missing children from the Johnstone/McConaghie family appear to be:

    Martha Jane b 2.2.1887 at Glebe. Died 20.1.1896
    Andrew b 11.8.1882 at Dartries

    The dead Martha’s name was used again for the next female birth, as was the custom of the time. They liked to keep family names alive.

    Andrew Johnston looks to have married Lizzie Crawford on 3.6.1909 at Portstewart Presbyterian. (That’s about 10 miles east of Castlerock).

    https://civilrecords.irishgenealogy....16/5642678.pdf

    Andrew in the 1911 census:

    https://www.census.nationalarchives.i...uarter/595694/

    Probably Andrew in 1901:

    https://www.census.nationalarchives.i...e_Beg/1517190/

    William Johnston looks to have married Annie O’Brien in Castlerock Church of Ireland on 16.10.1906.

    https://civilrecords.irishgenealogy....42/5689985.pdf

    Family in the 1911 census:

    https://www.census.nationalarchives.i...oollen/588003/

    David Johnston looks to have married Emily Adams at Coleraine Church of Ireland on 1.1.1920.

    https://civilrecords.irishgenealogy....48/5347301.pdf

    Robert Johnston looks to have married Jane Baird on 20.11.1919 at Dunboe Church of Ireland.

    https://civilrecords.irishgenealogy....92/5515230.pdf

    There’s a marriage for a Martha Johnston to a Mr Blair in Coleraine on 7.11.1929. I don’t know if that’s the right family as that record is not on-line free. You would need to pay to view it, if you are interested in it, on the GRONI website.

    Unless you can find trees on Ancestry, you would probably need to pay a researcher to try and trace those families forward. A tricky task with common names, and of course people moved, so there’s no guarantee they stayed in Ireland.
    ELWYN

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    I have followed the leads above and now have a line two generations younger emigrating to Canada, which I am chasing down to try and find some DNA leads.
    One other question - does anyone (Elwyn...) know if in 1871 Northern Ireland the father named on a birth certificate could be subject to any sort of paternity order / child support sort of situation and if so where that information might be found? Newspapers?

  10. #10
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    Before the Poor Law system was introduced in Ireland c 1840, the church was responsible for supporting the poor. When a woman had an illegitimate child the Presbyterian Church would usually challenge her about it. She and the reputed father would appear before the Kirk Session and be interviewed. If they admitted their sins they’d be reprimanded and sometimes the father would be ordered to pay support. But there was no equivalent civil system whereby a mother could seek a court order for maintenance for her child. If there were any financial arrangements made it wouldn’t have made it into the newspapers.

    Once the church was formally relieved of the financial responsibility for the poor by the Poor Law system, post 1840, it became rarer to see them make a father pay. The church did still support some poor of course, and people were still reprimanded for “ante-nuptial fornication”. They had to sit on the naughty chair in church and were denied Communion for a period of time.

    I looked to see what Kirk Session records exist for Dunboe 1st & 2nd. Here’s the full set of records for Dunboe 1st:

    Baptisms, 1805-12, 1825-6 and 1843-1949; marriages, 1845-1934; session and committee minutes, 1828, 1841-54 and 1859; male communicants, 1826-66; list of the poor, 1830; seatholders’ account book, 1853-65; receipt and expenditure book, 1847-72.

    So they don’t appear to have any Kirk Session minutes for the 1870s.

    Dunboe 2nd likewise only has session minutes up to 1868:

    Baptisms, 1864-1983; marriages, 1845-1913; session minutes, including entries for baptisms, marriages and communicants, 1835-68; stipend book, 1894-1951; details about persons emigrating, 1841-7 and 1866.

    I said in an earlier post that Dunboe 2nd only had baptisms from 1864 onwards. I realise now that they do have some earlier records but they are included in the session minutes. (If you decide to search them allow plenty of time. The session minutes can be quite lengthy, and the handwriting not always easy to follow. It’ll take a bit of time to search 33 years of session minutes!)
    ELWYN

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