McCaffrey Family Roots
The History & Genealogy of Hugh McCaffrey and his Descendants
(including McCaffery, McCaffree, McCaffry, McCoffrey, McAfrey, etc.)
Dedicated to the
Memory of our Honored Pioneer Ancestors
"History is lived forwards but it is written in retrospect." C. V. Wedgewood
Hosted by Dave Woody
(A link to the McCaffrey database & pedigree is located at the end of the historical section)
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Very Early McCaffrey Records in Loudoun County, Virginia
Feb 11, 2015 Major Update: In the twenty
or so years since we discovered the first significant McCaffrey records in
Loudoun County, Virginia, we have discovered a few more records and have become
more proficient at the interpretation of these records. The following overview
of the Loudoun County, Virginia McCaffreys is based on new evidence and a
reevaluation of the combined new and old evidence. Most importantly, we have
concluded that there is enough evidence to conclude that Hugh McCaffrey was the
father of James McCaffrey. The sources for this evidence are detailed in the
McCaffrey Database which may be accessed by clicking on the link near the bottom
of this page.
In 1757, Loudoun County, Virginia was carved from the western portion of Fairfax County. The northern border of Loudoun County and Maryland is formed by the Potomac River and many of the first settlers in Loudoun crossed this river from Maryland. It is here in Loudoun that the McCaffrey name is found on parish tithable and personal property lists from 1758 to 1822. The image on the right comes from the "List of Tithables taken by Leven Powell, gent. for 1768". This McCaffery entry in the list of tithables is extremely significant. By Virginia law and custom, all males over 16 years of age were tithable and the first person listed was responsible for payment of the tithe(s). Hugh and James were also listed together in 1767, but in 1769 until 1787 James was tithed/taxed alone and from from 1788 until 1809 James was taxed with one or more of his taxable children. From this tax data we can determine James' birth date as c. 1746. Also, since the McCaffreys were not tithed until 1767, it would seem that they had moved from another location about that time. On September 9, 1768, William Savage and his wife Margaret sold property on Goose Creek to James Leith. Part of this property was described as "whereon Hugh McCaffrey now liveth". Apparently some friction arose between Hugh and James Leith because in March 1769, Hugh initiated a court action against Mr. Leith for assault and battery. The dispute seems to have settled amicably because both parties agreed to a dismissal. From 1770 until 1777, James McCaffrey was employed in Shelburne Parish as an overseer by Leven Powell from Maryland. Powell was a large landowner, politician and a Colonel in the Revolution. Two other prominent Loudoun County names were name Ellzey and Bailey. Since James McCaffrey named a son Bailey and, in turn, Bailey named a son Elzy, there is probably some connection between the families, but we have failed to find it. Although Hugh McCaffrey was not tithed after 1768, we assume that this was because he considered infirm since he was involved in Loudoun court proceeding until September 10, 1770. During this period, William McCaffrey was noted as a tithable in neighboring Cameron Parish from 1771 to 1785. From this evidence we conclude that James McCaffrey was the son of Hugh, but there is not enough evidence to determine their relationship to William McCaffrey. James had seven sons that survived to be taxed with him: Robert, William, James Jr., Thomas, John, Bailey and Levi. All but William are named as sons in the tax documents. The image on the left is a portion of the 1810 Loudoun County census showing Baily and John McCafry. The older James McCafry lived nearby, but he seems to have died c. 1811. Only two Loudoun County McCaffrey marriages have been located. On December 31, 1802, John McCaffey and Nancy Pettit were married by the Methodist minister, John Littlejohn. On November 7, 1821, the Rev. William Williamson married Ira McAfrey and Sarah Martin. The Rev. Williamson was a Scotch Presbyterian who also had a boarding school in Middleburg.
One of the earliest records of a McCaffrey in Colonial America is the October 7, 1741 marriage of Hugh McCaffrey and Mary DeHart in the First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This Hugh is an extremely good candidate for the Hugh found in 1767 Loudoun County, Virginia. We are currently working to obtain more evidence about this possibility.
Since the early Loudoun McCaffreys were not freeholders (landowners), we assume that they arrived in America as indentured servants or were "transported" because of some civil/political/religious offense in Ireland. For instance, in 1738 and 1740, Knogh. and Owen Mc. Caffry were convicted of being "vagabonds" (homeless) and transported from Ireland. Earlier, the 1663 Donegal Hearth Money Rolls list the names of Conner m'Caffrey, Patrick m'Caffery and Donnell boy m'Cafferty.
Bailey, Elza, Washington, Albert & Ira McCaffrey
in Belmont, Guernsey, Monroe & Noble Counties, Ohio
In 1827, Bailey and Washington McCaffrey
were enumerated in a special Belmont County, Ohio census as white males over
twenty one. Belmont County is in east central Ohio near the Ohio River and was
first settled about 1802. Guernsey, Monroe and Noble counties were later spun
off from Belmont and it was in this area that a large number of McCaffreys lived
in fairly close proximity. A comparison of census records shows that many other
Loudoun County residents joined in the migration to Ohio. Belmont was originally
called Wrightstown, after the founder Joseph Wright, and was laid out on the
plan of Dublin, Ireland. Some of the first settlers were Hogues, McKessons,
Groves, Wrights, Greggs, Dillions, Hollingsworths, Trails, Calhouns and
McCaffreys. A McCaffrey owned a stage tavern called the "Good Intent" on the Old Pike (later called the
National Road) east of St. Clairsville, one of the oldest towns in Ohio.
About 1840, the Methodists erected a log meeting house south of Middleburg which
latter became the Middleburg Methodist Episcopal Church. The congregation
included a McCaffrey family. The 1830 Ohio census lists John McCoffrey, Ira
McCofrey and Hugh McCaffery in Belmont County and Washington McKaffy in Morgan
County. The 1840 Monroe County census lists Bailey and Albert, living near each
other in Hendreysburg, which was founded c. 1826 and located on the Old Pike.
Also, Elza and Washington were enumerated living side-by-side in Monroe County.
The 1850 Monroe census lists Baily, age 68, born in Virginia, wife Lydia, also
born in Virginia and one daughter. Two homes away were Elzy, age 38, born in
Virginia, wife Martha (Savage) and six children. (William) Ira McCaffrey, age
45, born in Virginia, wife Sarah, age 45, born in Virginia and two children
resided in St. Clairsville, Belmont County. On May 30, 1846, shortly after the
beginning of the Mexican War, Ira and James McCaffrey responded to President
Polk's call for volunteers and joined Co. D, 3rd Ohio Regiment of Infantry.
This unit later served in Monterey and Buena Vista, Mexico. In the early 1850s,
most of these McCaffrey's pulled up stakes again and moved on; some to Lawrence
County, Ohio and others to Adams County, Illinois.
There is no doubt that these McCaffreys migrated to Belmont County along with many other former Loudoun County, Virginia residents. Sorting out the relationships is another matter. We know that Washington McCaffrey died intestate in 1845 and that Elza and Albert moved with Bailey to Lawrence County, Ohio. Some of John's children and grand children moved to Adams County, Illinois.
Based on tax records of Loudoun County, Virginia, we know that Bailey and John were the sons of James. James also had sons Thomas, Robert, James, Levi and William. Elza, Albert and Washington were the sons of Bailey. Based on the 1850 census, William Ira and John P. appear to be the sons of John, but Ira and Washington might be reversed. We surmise that there is some close connection to the Baileys and Ellzeys of Loudoun; however, onsite research in Loudoun County, Virginia and Belmont, Monroe and Lawrence Counties, Ohio has not resulted in any evidence of such a connection.
Oct 29, 2014 Update - After some twenty years of research, we have finally discovered most of the story surrounding the death of Washington McCaffrey, as well as, the names of his surviving children. As his children looked on, Washington was murdered in his home in Steinersville, Belmont County, Ohio on December 12, 1845. The names of these children were Hannah, Lydia, Virginia, Missouri, Chloe and Adam Clark. Washington's widow Maria soon remarried, but she was widowed again in 1849. By 1856, Maria and four of her children had moved to Appanoose County, Iowa. The details of this story and the subsequent marriages and lives of some of the children can be found by using the Database link below.
Elsey, Bailey, Albert,
George & William McCaffrey
in Lawrence County, Ohio
Many miles down the Ohio River is the
county of Lawrence in extreme southern Ohio. It is here that we next find the
families of Elsey, Albert, Bailey, George and William McCaffrey in the census of
1860. We have no idea why they moved again so soon, but they did. They are all
listed as farmers in the census. The land in Lawrence is quite hilly and
less suitable for farming than the rolling terrain in and around Belmont. As
family farming rapidly became less and less economically feasible, the McCaffreys did as many of their neighbors and moved to larger towns and cities
to find work. Several crossed the Ohio River to Huntington, West Virginia and
raised families. One of the first to leave farming was my great grandfather
William Sullivan McCaffrey. He was a well know merchant and his store and home
were located near the center of Bartramville, Union Township, Lawrence County,
Ohio. The image on the left is from The Atlas of Lawrence County Ohio, published by D. J. Lake & Co.,
Philadelphia, 1887 and shows the location of the residence and store of William
Sullivan McCaffrey. The caption on the map border reads, "W. S. McCaffrey,
Dealer in Dry Goods, Groceries, Hats, Caps, Boots and Shoes, Hardware, Queensware, Cutlery, Notions, Clothing, Cigars, Tobacco and all goods usually
kept in a first-class country store". Adjacent to the McCaffrey property was the
farm of Stephen P. Smith, brother to William's wife, Jeanette Smith McCaffrey.
The Lawrence County Ohio township maps have been republished as the Hardesty
Lake Atlas of Lawrence County, Ohio. This and other books can be purchased from
the Lawrence County Genealogical Society, P.O. Box 945, Ironton, Ohio
45638-0945. William S. McCaffrey was a veteran of the Civil War and his
pension papers mention a family Bible. This Bible has not been located.
John, Ira & Edward McCaffrey in Adams County, Illinois
McCaffrey and Delila Porter were married October 2, 1845 in Belmont County,
Ohio, but we are not completely certain if the groom was John of Loudoun or his
son John P. McCaffrey. Either way, John and Delila had three children before
John apparently died c. 1851. Delila's age seems to indicate that she was the 2nd
wife of John of Loudoun County, but there is strong evidence to the contrary.
Delila soon moved with their three children from Belmont to Adams County,
Illinois where she married Frederick Bender on December 27, 1853. Delila seems
to have accompanied William and Sara Jane McCaffrey Ayres, the assumed daughter
of John of Loudoun. A few years later, William Ira McCaffrey and his son Edward
moved to the same area. Ira was the assumed son of John McCaffrey of Loudoun and
the brother of the abovementioned Sarah Jane. In 1862, Edward enlisted in the 78th
Illinois Infantry, participated in this unit’s Civil War engagements and was
discharged in 1865. To see the details that are known about John and Delila,
click here. Any information concerning
these individuals will be appreciated.
James, Robert & John McCaffrey in Wilson County, Tennessee
The first record of an identifiable Loudoun County, Virginia McCaffrey in
Tennessee is in 1828, when James McCaffrey purchased land on Smith/Smith's
Fork in southern Wilson County near Statesville. Smith Fork is a tributary
of the Caney River, which in turn, feeds the Cumberland River.
James' brother, Robert, purchased land nearby in 1836. On the right is a
small portion of an 1836 map entitled "A New Map of Tennessee", engraved by
J. & W. W. Warr and published by H. S. Tanner. James and Robert were the
sons of James McCaffrey Sr. of Loudoun County, Virginia and both made an
intermediate stop in Halifax County, Virginia where James married Anna
Bailey in 1803. Both men had children that were married in Halifax before
they moved to Tennessee. It seems that Thomas, the
brother of James and Robert, also lived for a while in
Halifax. Thomas moved to Kentucky and is described in the next section. John
(bc 1800), the oldest son of Robert, also lived in Halifax and later moved to Tennessee with James and Robert.
In 1843, John McCaffrey purchased property on Smith
Fork near his father and uncle. This is likely the same person that had married Lavinia Ward in 1828
and, in 1845, he and Lavinia conveyed their portion of the estate of Lavinia's
father to her brother. Next, John apparently married Penelope Kelly in 1848
and finally Rebecca Talley in 1852. In 1860, John sold his land on Smith Fork and he seems to have died
before 1869 when Rebecca received a "widow's allotment" in Wilson County.
The State of Tennessee was created in 1796 from the "Territory of the U.S. South of the River Ohio", a vast area ceded by North Carolina to the United States government at the end of the Revolutionary War. Beginning in 1783, Bounty Land Warrants were issued by North Carolina and Congress as compensation for military service and other reasons. These warrants were transferable and this attribute attracted land speculators and created land frauds on a enormous scale. Bounty land also fueled a mass migration to Tennessee, but most of the original warrant holders sold their awards to speculators and, in turn, these warrants could have been sold and resold several times before the land was actually settled on. Wilson County was established in late 1799 by taking the southern portion of Sumner County, which borders on Kentucky. The Cumberland River now forms the border between Wilson and Sumner Counties. Adjacent to Wilson to the west is Davidson County, the location of Nashville, the capital of Tennessee. Tennesseans know this area as "Middle Tennessee".
James McCaffrey died about 1852 and Robert died about 1856. Both men left wills, as did Robert's son Levi. John McCaffrey died about 1868. Apparently, James did not leave any surviving male descendants, but both Levi and John did. Any information concerning this family will be appreciated.
Thomas McCaffrey in Meade & Breckinridge Counties, Kentucky
In 1783, the District of Kentucky, including the counties of Fayette, Lincoln and Jefferson, was created by the Virginia
Legislature. When Congress created the state of Kentucky on June 1,1792, the
number of counties had increased to nine, including the fourth county of
Nelson, created in 1784. From 1810 until 1860, Thomas McCaffrey (and
variations) was the only person with that name to be enumerated in Kentucky
1808, Thomas McCaffrey married Margaret Finch in Bardstown, Nelson County,
Kentucky, but by the 1820 census, the couple had moved to Stephens Port,
Breckinridge County and by the 1830 census they were in adjacent
Brandenburg, Meade County. In the 1850 Meade County census, Thomas and
Margaret were enumerated as being born in Virginia in 1780 and 1785,
respectively. Thomas and Margaret both lived until after June 8, 1860 when
they were again enumerated in Meade County as being born in Virginia. Thomas
was enumerated as being born in 1772 and Margaret in 1777. These dates are in close agreement
with Thomas McCaffrey of Loudoun County, Virginia, who was first taxed as a
minor (18-21) with his father James in 1796. The census records indicate that
Thomas and Margaret
least five daughters and two sons; however, we have only identified four of the
daughters and neither of the sons. Breckinridge County Road Orders between
1814 and 1819 show that Thomas was a landowner in that county.
It appears that Thomas and Margaret are buried in the Saint Theresa Cemetery in Meade County; however, their well preserved tombstone dates are in sharp conflict with fifty years of census information. The tombstone death date for Thomas is February 15, 1860 at age 107. Margaret's tombstone death date is March 30, 1860 at age 95. These death dates were well before their 1860 censuses enumerations. The death ages imply that birth dates of 1753 and 1765, well out of the range of birth dates recorded from 1810 until 1860. The conflict of these dates is reinforced by the short biography for Thomas McCaffrey found in the Historical Sketches of Old St. Theresa's in Meade County, Kentucky, authored by John A. Lyons and published in 1950. The author notes that Thomas' tombstone is in the St. Theresa Cemetery and the above tombstone dates are repeated. He also adds that Thomas was "born in Ireland and emigrated in early manhood to the American colonies" and that Thomas was a Revolutionary War veteran. The writer implies that this information came from "Parish histories"; however, no other significant data is included. If Thomas was born in Ireland, the 1850 and 1860 census data does not support this assertion. Even more curious is that there is not one Revolution War record that refers to Thomas McCaffrey. In 1832, Congress authorized pensions for Revolutionary War veterans, so Thomas had an abundance of time to apply for a pension, but there is no record of such an application. Also, if Thomas was a Revolutionary War veteran, he would have been entitled to at least one land warrant, but there is not a record of such a warrant. Since two of the daughters of Thomas and Margaret seem to be buried in the St. Theresa Cemetery, we assume that is the case for Thomas and Margaret McCaffrey, however, we strongly suspect that the tombstones were erected many years after the deaths of the couple and that the 1950 biography for Thomas is more legend than fact. However, a Thomas McCaffety/McCafferty is recorded as serving in the Kentucky militia for six months in 1813. It is possible that this War of 1812 service is the source of the biographical assertion.
Since none of the sons of Thomas and Margaret seem to have survived, there is not much interest in this lineage; however, there are probably living descendants of their daughters. Any information concerning this family will be appreciated.
The History of the McCaffrey Name
McCaffrey/McCaffery name was extremely rare in Colonial America; however, even as
late as 1850, Virginia had the highest
distribution (1 in 1000) of the McCaffrey name in America. Reflecting the mass
Irish immigration of the mid-1800s, New York became the distribution leader by
Some sources claim that McCaffrey is part of Clan Macfie, one of the oldest clans of Scotland. Macfie comes from the Gaelic, MacDubhSithe, meaning Son of the Dark Elf. May 27th is Clan Macfie Day all over the world. However, others claim that McCaffrey, Maccaffray and McCaffrie is an Irish name meaning the son of Godfrey (God's peace) and the son of Gachmharcach ( horse rider). Also McCaffrey: From the Gaelic name MacGafraidh which is taken from the Old Norse name meaning god and wise. In our research, we have found that both the Scots and the Irish crossed the Irish Sea to escape the perpetual clan wars and persecution. So there may be truth in both traditions. We have been told that it is an Irish tradition that Catholics use the McCaffrey variant and that Protestants use the McCaffery variant. That may be true but, before the latter part of the 19th century, literacy was uncommon for the vast majority of people, so it was up to the clerk, priest, minister, tax recorder, census taker, etc. to make the spelling determination. However, it is interesting to note that nearly all of the descendants of the Loudoun County, Virginia McCaffreys were Protestant and used the traditional Catholic variant when literacy became much more prevalent in the 2nd half of the 19th century. In our limited research in Northern Ireland, we have found both McCaffery and McCaffrey (and other) variants in 17th and 18th century records.
In the 1659 census of county Fermanagh Ireland, McCaffery is one of the most numerous surnames. Fermanagh is especially interesting because, in 1834, John O'Donovan, one of Ireland's greatest scholars, historic topographers and genealogists, recorded his research in this county. O'Donovan was particularly interested in the surnames of Maguire, O'Flanagan and McManus, the ancient families of Fermanagh; however, he made many references to other notable families, including McCaffrey. His collected papers have been published, edited and footnoted by John B. Cunningham as The Letters of John O'Donovan from Fermanagh.
Other Early American McCaffreys, etc.
Since records exist for a few
other 18th century McCaffreys, etc. in Colonial America, the possibility exists
that some of these people were related to the McCaffreys of Loudoun County,
Virginia. Especially intriguing are the Augusta County, Virginia records
for McCafferty, McCaffrey, etc. because of the relative close proximity of
Augusta and Loudoun Counties. Later, the early records of Kentucky and Tennessee
mention several McCaffreys, etc. that were born in Virginia. Our thanks goes out
to Oliver McCaffrey for renewing our interest in this endeavor.
Urban Ewing Kennedy, the son of Michael and Eleanor McCaffrey Kennedy and a noted Todd County, Kentucky historian, wrote that the brother-in-law of his father was Simon McCaffrey, who was killed by Indians about 1809 while serving as a guide for settlers from Virginia. The marriage Urban's parents occurred on January 12, 1786 and was recorded as Michael Kenady/Kennedy and Eleanor/Ellen McCaferty in both the adjacent counties of Augusta and Rockbridge Counties, Virginia. In this time frame, Cormack, Hugh, Neal, Aaron and William McCafferty are mentioned in Augusta records, as well as, Owen McCaffrey. The most prominently mentioned of these was Cormack McCafferty, who was first recorded in Augusta on October 10, 1768, as a member of Captain George Mathew's Company of militia. Almost twenty years later, on Mar 9, 1785, Cormack McCafferty was exempted from taxes in Botetourt County, Virginia "on account of his age and infirmity". A little later in Augusta, Hugh Green executed his will on June 14, 1786 and Cormack McCafferty, along with his wife Jenny Green McCaffrety and son Hugh were mentioned. In addition, Cormack McCafferty provided surety for the marriage of Matty McCafferty and Scott Smith on November 3, 1783 in Botetourt County Virginia and on February 14, 1787, a Hugh McCafferty married Priscilla Faulconer in the same county. Botetourt County was created from the southern portion of Augusta County in 1769 and 1770. From this evidence, we conclude that Cormack lived in that part of Augusta that became Botetourt. It is alleged by some that Cormick and Jenny were also the parents of Eleanor/Ellen; however, we have not found any evidence to support this assertion. Cormack was living in Botetourt at the time of the marriage and that is where his daughters would have most likely been married.
However, a Owen McCaffrey was recorded as a Revolutionary soldier in the Augusta militia company of Captain Thomas Smith. This Owen McCaffrey was probably the same person transcribed as taxpayer Orvin McCuffrey in Woodford County, Kentucky on May 25, 1790 and as taxpayer Owen McCafferty on August 23, 1800 in Lincoln County, Kentucky. Simon McCafferty was also recorded in Lincoln on the same day as Owen. Also in Lincoln, an Owen McCaffrey was appointed the administrator of the estate of Charles Johnson on November 20, 1792. The above mentioned Michael Kennedy and his wife, Eleanor McCaffrey, etc. Kennedy moved from Augusta/Rockbridge to Lincoln and then Todd Counties, Kentucky in the 1790s. Green County, Kentucky was formed in 1793 from portions of Nelson and Lincoln Counties. On March 11, 1794, Owen McCaffree sold land on Butler's Fork in Green County, Kentucky to Simon McCaffree of Lincoln County, Kentucky and in 1795 and 1797, Owen was taxed in Green. Simon McCaffery is recorded in 1793 Lincoln County as a Private in the 6th Regiment of the Kentucky Militia. In 1797, Simon sold his 100 acres to William Casey for a small profit. In the next several years, Owen sold three more tracts on Butler's Fork in Green with the last sale occurring on June 22, 1797. On April 6, 1795, Polly McCoffree married William Butler in Green County and on July 15, 1800, Becky McCoffree married Peter Dillingham in Green. Simon of Lincoln and Green Counties was very likely the Simon that Urban Ewing Kennedy recorded as being killed about 1809.
So, it would appear that Eleanor, Simon and Owen McCaffrey, etc. lived in Augusta before moving to Lincoln, Green and Todd Counties, Kentucky. We know that Simon probably died about 1809 and it seems likely that Owen did not live until 1810. Since Simon is not mentioned in any of the Augusta records, we conclude that Owen was probably Simon's father or, less likely, his older brother. We also conclude that Eleanor McCaffrey Kennedy, the sister of Simon, was the daughter of Owen or one of the other McCaffreys, etc. mentioned in the Augusta County records.
James McCaffrey (bc 1800), was enumerated in the 1820 Cumberland Co., Kentucky census living next to William Butler. James appears to be the father of William McCaffree (b. 1819, Green Co.), Simon McCaffree (b. 1822, prob. Cumberland Co.) and James McCaffree (b. 1824, prob. Cumberland Co.) of Adair County, Kentucky. James' wife was Margaret Morgan and when James died before 1830, Margaret married William Butler who died before 1840. We conclude that William Butler, the second husband of Margaret Morgan McCaffrey, was the person that first married Polly McCoffree in 1795 and was living beside James McCaffrey in 1820. Adding to the direct and circumstantial evidence is the fact that Simon McCaffree of Adair had a son named Owen. Since Green County was formed from Lincoln in 1793 and both Cumberland County (1796) and Adair (1801) were formed Green County, it is very likely that these people did not move around nearly as much as it may first appear. In fact, some of them may have not moved at all in this eight year period.
We conclude that it is highly likely that James McCaffrey was the son of Simon McCaffrey, etc. and that Simon was probably the son of Owen McCaffrey of Augusta County, Virginia.
Feb 8, 2016 Update: atDNA testing seems to confirm that these McCaffreys/McCaffrees were related to the people with the same surname in Loudoun, Augusta & Botetourt Counties, Virginia and in Wilson County, Tennessee. It seems likely to us that all of these people were descendants of Hugh McCaffrey of Loudoun.
We are looking for images of the appropriate pages of two books that contain information about the early McCaffreys, etc. in Kentucky. If you have access to either book, we will appreciate your assistance.
The Phelps of Lawson's Bottom and Most of their Relatives by Harry H. Ellis
The Early Settlement of Todd County, Kentucky: Sketches by Urban Ewing Kennedy and the Kennedy Family History edited by Ruth Hightower Smith. (Chapter 1: Early history of the Kennedy/McCaffrey families - Early settlements of present-day Logan, Todd, and Christian Counties)
McCaffrey Surname Variations
As can be seen from the synopsis above, the subject surname was recorded
in many variations, even when it related to the same person. This was not an
unusual occurrence and happened with many surnames.
Some of the surname variations we have
encountered: McCaffrey, McCaffery, McCaffary, McCofrey, McCoffrey, McCaffree,
McCoffery, McCoffry, McCoffree, McKaffordy, McAfferty, McCaferty, McCaforey,
McAffery, McAffrey, McCafrey, McCafry, McKaffry, McAfrey, McCaffry, McKafrey, McCaffey, Mecaffrey, Macaforey, McCafney,
McCuffrey and others. When we first began our
research on this family, we skipped over many references to McCafferty. This was
Since only a small percentage of our early American ancestors were literate, it was left to clerks, ministers, priests, census enumerators, tax collectors and others to hand record on paper the name that they had just heard spoken. These literate recorders came from many linguist, religious and cultural backgrounds (e.g. English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, German, Dutch, French and others). Often, the backgrounds of the illiterate person and the recorder differed dramatically, but the recorder wrote the name, in English, as he or she heard it. At that time there was no "right" was to spell the name of an illiterate person, since they did not know how to spell their own names. It was not until the later part of the 19th century that most, but not nearly all, of Americans could spell their name. As literacy became more widespread, some closely related family branches choose different spellings of their surname. We have even seen brothers chose different surname spellings. For the researcher, this situation has been compounded by the transcription process. Virtually all old documents were originally hand written and many of these documents are very difficult to read, even by experienced transcribers. By comparing the images of original documents with the transcriptions of these documents, we have found many very obvious transcription errors and many, many records that have ambiguous names. The very useful process of recopying and indexing records adds another level of errors. In fact, every time that names (or any data) are copied, errors occur. Finally, the Soundex search system will identify many variations of a surname, but not nearly all of those that we should be interested in (e.g. McCaffrey vs McAffrey). So we are left with genetically related 21st century family branches with different surname spellings. In other words, we believe that it is almost a certainty that there are rather closely related living people with completely different spelling variations of McCaffrey, etc. We also believe that applying 21st century literacy standards to older records is completely inappropriate and unproductive. We have never seen a proven instance of the practice of dropping the Mc from a name, but we do not doubt that it happened (e.g. McCaffrey became Caffrey.) However, as family historians, we must work with the records that are available and we must make assumptions and draw conclusions based on these records. When it relates to early American records, we can never have too much evidence, but most of the time we have only meager or circumstantial evidence. Sometimes, in our zeal to extend our lineage, we grasp at exceedingly short straws.
A McCaffrey, etc. DNA Project?
A yDNA surname project is probably the only way to prove and/or extend many McCaffrey, etc.
lineages. In our experience, there has been an almost complete lack of interest
in the McCaffreys, etc. that had their American roots before the 19th century.
This may be because there are few living McCaffreys, etc. that suspect such a
lineage. The ancestors of the vast majority of present day American McCaffreys, etc.
immigrated during the mid-1800s, but even these folks do not seem interested in
the potential of yDNA. Currently,
FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA) has almost 6,500 registered DNA Projects, but not one
surname project devoted to any version of McCaffrey, etc.
WorldFamilies.net also hosts thousands
of surname DNA projects, but not one project devoted to any version of
McCaffrey, etc. We have our own hands full as the founder and co-administrator of
the Woody DNA Project.
A successful DNA project requires a large dose of patience, as well
broad and long term view of family history research; however, the results can be
very interesting, useful and rewarding. We encourage some person with time,
interest, commitment and energy to initiate such a surname project for all the surname
variations of McCaffrey, etc.
"A List of Deported Convicts and Vagabonds 1737-1743", Journals of the Irish House of Commons (Online: Ulster Ancestry)
An Atlas of Lawrence County, Ohio, D. J. Lake & Co., Philadelphia, 1887
Belmont County History, Ohio Extension Homemakers, St. Clairesville, Ohio, 1988
Bockstruck, Lloyd DeWitt. Virginia's Colonial Soldiers, GPC, Baltimore, 1988
Caldwell, J. A. History of Belmont & Jefferson Counties, Historical Publishing Company, Wheeling, West Virginia, 1880
Chalkley, Lyman. Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia, Mary S. Lockwood, 1912
Chiarito, Marian D. & Pendergast, James H. Marriages of Halifax County, Virginia 1801-1831, Clarkton Press, Nathalie, Virginia
Civil War Pension Record of William Sullivan McCaffrey, National Archives, File No. 205853
"Clan Macfie Surnames", Clan Macfie (Online: Clan Macfie)
Cochran, Wes. Belmont County Ohio Marriages, self published, 1946 (LDS film #317290)
Cook, Bettie Cummings. Lincoln County, Kentucky Records VIII, Cook Publications, Evansville, India7uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu6
"Donegal Heath Money Rolls - 1663", Free Genealogy Pages (Online: Ulster Ancestry)
Duncan, Patricia B. Index to Loudoun County, Virginia Personal Property Taxes 1782-1850, Heritage Books, Westminster, Maryland, 2004
Duncan, Patricia B. Loudoun County, Virginia Order Books A-I, 1757-1786, Heritage Books, Westminster, Maryland, 2007
Fermanagh 1659 Census Report (Online: County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland GenWeb)
FindAGrave (Online: FindAGrave.com)
Green County, Kentucky Taxpayers 1795-1799, TLC Genealogy, Miami Beach, Florida
Gwathmey, John H. Historical Register of Virginians in the Revolution 1775-1783, GPC, Baltimore, 1973
Hancock, Tracy. Loudoun County Virginia Parish Tithables 1767 - 1785, unpublished personal communication
Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress - Chronicling America
History of Noble County, L. H. Watkins & Co., Chicago, 1887
Illinois Marriages 1851-1900 (Online: Ancestry.com)
Jewell, Aurelia M. Loudoun County Marriage Bonds 1751-1880, Virginia Book Company, Berryville, Virginia
Lyons, John A. Historical Sketches of Old St. Theresa's in Meade County, Kentucky, s.n., Louisville, Kentucky, 1950
McKelvey, A. T. Centennial History of Belmont County, Ohio and Representative Citizens, Biographical Publishing Co., Chicago, 1903
Ohio Probate Records 1789-1996 - Belmont Inventories 1845 - 1852 Vol. C-D, (Online: LDS FamilySearch - Records)
Partlow, Thomas E. Wilson County, Tennessee Deed Books N-Z 1829-1853, Southern Historical Press, Easley, South Carolina, 1984
Partlow, Thomas E. Wilson County, Tennessee Deeds, Marriages & Wills 1800-1902, Southern Historical Press, Easley, South Carolina, 1987
Partlow, Thomas E. Wilson County, Tennessee Wills Books 1-13 1802-1850, Southern Historical Press, Easley, South Carolina, 1981
Partlow, Thomas E. Wilson County, Tennessee Miscellaneous Records 1800-1875, Southern Historical Press, Easley, South Carolina 1982
Partlow, Thomas E. The People of Wilson County, Tennessee 1800-1899, Southern Historical Press, Easley, South Carolina 1983
Phillips, John T. The Historian's Guide to Loudoun County, Vol. 1, Goose Creek Productions, Leesburg, Virginia, 1993
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Sparacio, Ruth & Sam. List of Tithables Loudoun County Virginia 1758-1769, self published, 1991
Sparacio, Ruth & Sam. List of Tithables Loudoun County Virginia 1770-1774, self published, 1992
Sparacio, Ruth & Sam. List of Tithables Loudoun County Virginia 1775-1781, self published, 1992
Sparacio, Ruth & Sam. Loudoun County Virginia Deed Abstracts 1766-1770, self published, 1987
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Virginia Marriages 1785-1940 (Online: LDS FamilySearch - Records)
Wertz, Mary Alice. Marriages of Loudoun County, Virginia 1757-1853, GPC, Baltimore, 1985
Whitley, Edythe Rucker. Wilson County, Tennessee Marriages 1802-1850, GPC, Baltimore, 1981
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These links will take you to McCaffrey lineages
(Please send me your McCaffrey link)
More McCaffrey Lineages
Ancestors of Nancy Ann Kelly
(Please send me your McCaffrey link)
(Please send me your McCaffrey descendant photos)
The original focus of our research was on the McCaffreys of Lawrence County, Ohio; however, this focus has been expanded to include all of the descendants of the McCaffreys of Loudoun County, Virginia. We invite other researchers to share information and images pertaining to this family line. We will gladly acknowledge your contributions and/or provide links to your online data. Nearly all the work on the descendants of Bailey and Lydia McCaffrey is our own. We have verified most, but not all, of the data provided by other researchers. In creating McCaffrey Family Roots and the associated online database, one of our objectives was to provide a comprehensive, documented resource for those doing research on the descendants of the McCaffreys of Loudoun County. Hopefully, this approach will provide a base that other researchers of this line will enhance with their contributions. For much of this information, we are indebted to the following individuals, institutions and organizations:
Kevin Ahearn, Sharon Sue Altice, Margaret Anders, Rhonda Barbee, Marvin Beatty, Dan Bennett, James W. Blankenship, Stacy Blanton, Daniel Lynn Bolin, Linda M. Bombaci, Dorothy Bonham, Charles David Brammer, Frances Kay Brown, Dee Ann Buck, Charmaine Burgin, Bonnie Burkhardt, Debbie Carnes, Deana Carter-Smith, Lyman Chalkley, Marian D. Chiarito, Wes Cochran, Kim Conley, Bettie C. & Michael L. Cook, Heidi Cornell, Natalie Cottrill, Dorothy Davis, Richard A. Dew, Patricia B. Duncan, Carl Dunn, Wanda Edwards, Charles J. Ernst, Tom W. Garrett, Nancy Gates, Peggy Goodwin, John H. Gwathmey, Leroy Haas, Cheryl Harley, Marty Hiatt, Tracy Hancock, Raymond H. Honaker, Tim Hoot, Thomas Hopper, Richard F. Hunsinger, Ron Hunter, Larry Jacobson, Aurelia M. Jewell, Stella Marie Johnson, Phyllis Murnahan Jeffers, Ryan Kasler, Nancy Ann Kelly, David Kennedy, Sharon Kouns, David Leggett, Maxine Lemke, Judith M. Llamas, Ross Love, Kathy Hill Lynch, Debbie McCaffrey Markel, Stephanie Martinez, Roseann Masavage, Sharon Mason, Oliver McCaffrey, Rosemary Spencer McCaffrey, Judy A. McClarnon, Joseph Neal McDaniel, Charles Edward McGinnis, Gwen McCaffrey McReynolds, Angie Millar, Shannon Moore, Jerry Mower, Jane Mucha, Ray Oehler, John Ott, Connie Lord Paben, Mary Lou Parker, Thomas E. Partlow, James H. Pendergast, Merry Ann Pierson, Marla Price, Karen Wallace Roberts, Karen Jeanine Brannon Robinson, Craig Robert Scott, Stella Marie Johnson Sigler, Jane Smoot, Jeannine Southers, Ruth & Sam Sparacio, Chris Staats, Diane St. James, Sarah Sweeney, Ben Swett, Charles Blair Tavenner, Bill Tucker, Jean Turner, Allen Dale Wallace, Cristia McAdams Warren, Mary Alice Wertz, Edythe Rucker Whitley, Kelsey J. Williams, Moria Wolfinger, Louise McCaffrey Woody, Barbara Wright, Charles C. Yates, the staff of the LDS Family History Centers in Decatur, Alabama, Grand Rapids Michigan, Green Tree, Pennsylvania and Naperville, Illinois, the staff of the Chicago Branch of the National Archives, the staff of the Wheaton Library Genealogy Department, Wheaton, Illinois, the staff of the Briggs Lawrence County Library Genealogy Department, Ironton, Ohio, the staff of the Thomas Balch Library, Leesburg, Virginia, the staff of the Monroe County Library, Woodfield, Ohio, the staff of the Belmont County Library, St. Clairsville, Ohio, the staff of the Barnesville Library, Barnesville, Ohio, the staff of the Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection, Knoxville, Tennessee, the Belmont, Noble, Morgan and Lawrence County Chapters of the Ohio Genealogical Society and the staff of Newberry Library of Chicago. Any omissions are unintentional.
We are especially grateful to the transcribers of old documents. This is a very difficult task and every serious researcher should try their hand at transcription. Copies of original census records are a good place to start. Most of the authors of the transcriptions that I have used are included in the above list.
1990 U.S. Census: Surname - Population Frequency - Frequency Rank
Smith - 1.006% - 1
McCaffrey - .003% - 3,874
McCafferty - .002% - 5,609
McCaffery - .001% - 13,988
McCaffity - less than .001% - 62,011
McCaffree - less than .001% - 81,360
All other variations - less than .001% - greater than 88,799
(Click on Image to Enlarge)
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