Saturday, March 19, 2016

Can we go back another generation?

We have identified members of our Browne family, know where they lived in Limerick, and what the house looked like.  Can we identify previous generations and where would we go to look for them?

 The Tithe Applotment record for Fanningstown1 (click here to see the Tithe record) shows 75 acres in two plots held by “Browne Jno & Brothers.”  The Tenure Book for Fanningstown identifies four men who are likely those brothers – John, James, Thomas, and our Timothy (Thady).   It is also highly likely that this property was previously held by one man, the father of the “Browne brothers,” and that the property was divided equally among the sons according to the Penal Laws.2   The task, then, is to identify this man.   Since John was specifically listed by name in the Tithe records, the suggestion is that he was the oldest of the sons.

 Baptismal records for any of the sons would be the first place to look to identify a father.  We know the marriage of Timothy Browne and Honora Kelly took place in early 1830 in Patrickswell RC church.3   Marriages were normally held in the bride’s parish.   However, since their children were also baptized in this parish, and, we know the Browne brothers were living in this location, we should look in this parish for other church records.  Records for Patrickswell begin in 1801; early for the area.  Records for surrounding areas do not start until the 1820s, much later than Patrickswell. 

Lithograph of Fanningstown Castle from 1860 sales catalogue
 As indicated in the January 2004 letter from the Limerick Archives (click here to see previous post), no baptismal record was found for Timothy, or Thady, Browne, nor for any of the other brothers, John, James and Thomas in Patrickswell or the surrounding areas.  I did find other records that alluded to the family.  One was a marriage record for John Brown to Ellena Kelly in 1825.  One of the witnesses was Patrick Brown.  This couple had a child (John) baptized in March of 1826.  The sponsors at the baptism were Thadeus Brown and Honora Kelly.  This certainly suggests that John is one of the brothers, but, the witness at the marriage, Patrick, is probably not the father since the earlier Tithe record was already in the name of the Browne brothers indicating that the father was deceased by this time.

Another option to check for earlier generations is estate records.  Fanningstown was sold at auction in 1860 because it was an “encumbered estate.”  A sales catalogue was created describing the land and tenants.  This was shown in the last post.  Often the original estate records were destroyed after the sale since they were no longer needed.4   However, it is worth looking for original records to see if anything did survive.  The National University Ireland in Galway (NUI Galway) has created a database covering landed estates in Connaught and Munster (see below). 5   The estate for Fanningstown and the Jackson family (the owners of Fanningstown until 1860) is included in the database.  (click here to see information on the Jackson estate at NUI Galway)  The origin of this family was Duddington, Northamptonshire, England.  There is an inventory of their records held at the Northampton Record Office.6   I have reviewed the FHL microfilm which includes an index identifying the contents of the Jackson collection, and, while there are many interesting entries, no Irish records are available.

Lithograph of Athlunkard House from 1860 sales catalogue
Part of the Jackson estate sold in 1860 was located in County Clare.  County Clare has a wonderful library containing many genealogical sources associated with the County including an index of the Petworth House Collection.7   The collection contains information about Fanningstown in County Limerick.8  I did check with the West Sussex Record Office, who has access to the records at Petworth House.    As it turns out, there are two townlands named Fanningstown in County Limerick located less than ten miles distant.   The “other” Fanningstown is located in the parish of Fedamore and was owned by Colonel George Wyndham.  Since the Jacksons leased a house, Athlunkard House, from Colonel Wyndham, records could have been deposited in that collection.  However, there is no record of the Browne family in the documents.  It would be interesting to see if there is any relationship between the two Fanningstowns, but, that will have to be a project for the future.

Irish records for the 1700s and early 1800s are scarce.  Another record set that covers the period is the Registry of Deeds.  These records are associated not only with land records as the name would suggest, but, include sales, assignments or conveyances, rent charges, leases, mortgages, marriage settlements, and wills.9   Registration was not mandatory and most seem to be recorded where there was a need to provide legal evidence, as in the case of a land dispute, and probably excludes extremely poor people.  A tenant holding 75 acres on a long term lease could hardly be labeled extremely poor, but, that does not guarantee that any “deeds” were recorded.   There is an ongoing project, (Registry of Deeds Index Project 10) started in 2007, to index principle information in each “memorial;” however, to date, that project has covered about one half of all deeds.    There are some entries in the project for the Jackson family that owned Fanningstown, but, it is undetermined if all of the geographic area was covered or only selected deeds associated with the family.  A further search of the records is indicated.  This will take quite awhile to accomplish.11 

While the names of earlier generations are not readily evident, I will continue searching and will report on findings in Ireland as appropriate.   For now, it is time to leave Ireland and continue with the story of the family in America.  That is where we will go in the next post.

1.       Browne, Jno & Brothers, Tithe Applotment, Townland of Fanningstown, Co. Limerick, dated 1821, National Archives Ireland,
2.      Miller, Kerby A., Emigrants and Exiles:  Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America, Oxford University Press, New York, New York, 1985, pp. 21-22  The Penal Laws were imposed in Ireland in the early 1700s to  prevent Catholics from  gaining power.  One of the stipulations was that Catholics could neither, “purchase land or to lease it for more than thirty-one years. . . “   Furthermore, “a Catholic could not bequeath land at discretion; at his death it had to be divided equally among all heirs, thus fragmenting his estate, unless the eldest son converted to the Anglican church. . .”  This raises another question about the division of the land.  Four “sons” were identified, yet the property was divided three ways.  The Tenure Book, House Book, and the published version of Griffith’s show John and James on the same holding.  Could it be that James was somehow “disabled” and not able to care for himself?  Thus, the property was divided among the three able bodied sons who were to care for James?  
3.      U.S. Census records and the ships passenger list suggest that Hannah Kelly was born between 1804 and 1809.  A Baptismal record from Patrickswell RC Church on 19 Jan 1802 exists for Honora Kelly with parents Thoma Kelly and Catherine McNamara.  If this Hannah was married in 1830, she would be a little older than normal for a first marriage.  This could be our Hannah but more research needs to be done in the church records to determine any association with this person to the Browne family.
4.      Find My Past, Landed Estate Court Rentals 1850-1885, available online
5.      Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Connacht and Munster Landed Estates Database, National University of Ireland, Galway.  The database is a collection of information relating to historic houses, landed estates and the families who owned the estates in Ireland from 1700 to 1914. It is a “comprehensive and integrated resource guide to assist and support researchers working on the social, economic, political and cultural history of Connacht and Munster . . .”    Information in the database was gathered from a variety of sources and is displayed by subject, (name of estate, name of family or name of house) to assist researchers with locating more detailed data including specific resources about the topic.  It is available online at:   
6.       Northampton Record Office, Records deposited by . . . Jackson (Duddington) collection . . ., Family History Library, microfilm #1951384.
7.      Petworth House is located in West Sussex, England.  The manuscript collection is made available through the West Sussex Record Office located in Chichester, West Sussex, England.     
8.       Two sets of documents were identified.  One of the contents is, “Accounts for Fanningstown model farm and other documents, 1851-1852.”(Vol 4, #11,953-11,954).  Another is, “Quietuses for crown rents:  Fedamore and Fanningstowne, Co. Limerick 1604-8, 1608-12.” (Volume I, #342).   
9.       Rosemary Ffolliott, “The Registry of Deeds for Genealogical Purposes,” Irish Genealogy: A Record Finder, Donal F. Begley, editor (Heraldic Artists Lts, Dublin, Ireland, 1981), pp 139-156  
10.   Registry of Deeds Index Project, online at .
11.   The original indexes to the memorials, as well as the memorials themselves, are available at the Family History Library.  There are a total of 2,686 microfilm rolls. Two indexes to the records are given: a Grantor (seller) Index, and a Townland Index.   It will be necessary to review the indexes for possible pertinent records and then view the associated document.



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