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Irish Ancestry

There have been updates in recent years regarding Pritchard roots in Ireland. First, James Kenny reported that James and Judith Pritchard had lived as tenants on the Hilton estate of the Madden family in County Monaghan (apparently Briscarnagh townland was part of the estate until the estate was broken up, probably in the 1920s). Second, Niall Pritchard has provided a family tree showing that James' father was Samuel Pritchard and that James had brothers Thomas and Joseph (Niall is descended from Thomas). James and Thomas lived in Briscarnagh townland, Joseph lived in adjacent Lurganboy townland, and married a Jane Robinson. These updates are not inconsistent with information shown below, obtained earlier.

bulletIrish Emigration
bulletMap with Briscarnagh
bulletLetter from Theo McMahon of Monaghan Ancestry
bulletIan Pritchard re. Irish Relatives
bulletLoose Ends


Irish Emigration

Most of the original settlers of the Gatineau Valley were transplanted Irish, with Northern Irish Protestants located near Wakefield and Rupert, and Roman Catholics further north.

In the early 1600's, Scottish settlers began to come in large numbers to the historic province of Ulster, which includes counties Cavan, Donegal, and Monaghan. The Plantation of Ulster was the organized colonization (or plantation) of Ulster by people from Great Britain. Private plantation began in 1606, while official plantation controlled by King James I began in 1609, transferring land ownership to Protestants and settling their lands with Protestant tenants. (However, Monaghan was not planted like the other counties of Ulster, although there was some later settlement, mostly Scottish farmers brought over from the area of Strathclyde. Common names among these settlers included "Ferguson". In 1861, only 12% of the Monaghan population was Presbyterian.)

Large-scale emigration of "Scots-Irish" to colonial America began in 1718. The traditional view of emigration in Presbyterian Ulster was that the New World offered deliverance from religious intolerance and economic oppression, whereas for Gaelic Catholics emigration meant exile.

A flood of emigration from Ireland began in the early decades of the 1800's. The fundamental cause was rapid population growth, but other factors included discrimination under the Penal Law, the rebellion of 1798 that led to union with England in 1800, and recurring crop failures well before the Great Famine of 1845-1855. As well, widespread depression followed the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1814; once the shipping lanes to the Americas re-opened, mass emigration started. From 1815-1819 about two-thirds of emigrants were from Ulster, and many emigrants were artisans, shopkeepers, strong farmers, and professionals, most often travelling in family groups. British legislation discriminated against United States shipping, keeping the cost of passage prohibitively high for the poorest classes, and most emigrants went to British North America, in returning Canadian timber ships. The vast majority pushed on from Canada to the U.S., although increasing numbers began to stay in the colony.

In 1827, all restrictions on emigration were repealed, and between 1828 and 1837 almost 400,000 Irish people left for North America. Up to 1832, about half of emigrants still came from Ulster, but after that, the Scots-Irish proportion of emigration was in continuous decline. top

Map with Briscarnagh

The townland of Briscarnagh is in the parish of Currin, which is in south-west Monaghan and includes the towns of Drum and Scotshouse.

View Larger Map

Letter from Theo McMahon

Monaghan Ancestry
(Ginealaigh Mhuineacháin)

Mr Keith Lachance
2661 West 45th Ave
Vancouver, BC
V6N 3L2
Ref. 07900
6 Tully
Co. Monaghan
22 May 2000

Dear Mr. Lachance,

          Thank you for your enquiry regarding your Pritchard/Irwin ancestry. James Pritchard emigrated quite early in 1832 and quite a time prior to the Great Famine of 1845-1847. The earliest newspaper in Co. Monaghan, the Northern Standard, was first published in 1939 [sic] and by that time it clearly indicated in advertisements that there were regular sailings to Nova Scotia and Quebec. The earliest church records for Currin civil parish are those for the Church of Ireland and these only list baptisms from 1810 and marriages from 1812. A chapel of ease at Drum in Currin parish has baptismal records from 1828 and marriages from 1829. From this you will see that there is no way of getting back to records prior to these dates and especially into the 1700s. Methodism did not keep records until much later and many Methodists, in the early 1800s, used the Church of Ireland for burials and other sacraments.
          The earliest land record for Currin is that contained in the Tithe Applotment Book dated 1826. This is a listing of land and the tithe or tax to be paid on the quantity and quality of land held. In the townland of Briscarnagh (your Briskinagh) in 1826 Joseph Pritchard was leasing 14 acres of 2nd quality land and a James Pritchard was leasing just over 11 acres of land. A Robert Irwin was also located there in 1827 with over 7 acres of land. As Briscarnagh is located about half way between Scotshouse (where the main Church of Ireland for Currin) and Drum Village. I have examined these records to see if I could find anything relevant.
          The next major return is that contained in the Griffith Primary Evaluation for Currin civil parish dated 1858. In Briscarnagh in this year (1858) a James Pritchard Jun. was leasing two small properties. One was of land only of just over half an acre and adjoining this he was leasing an office (outbuilding) and land of just over 5 acres. This property was numbered &A and B.
          A Joseph Pritchard and James Pritchard were jointly leasing properties 8 a and 8 b. Joseph was leasing a house, offices (outbuildings) and land of 11 acres and James Pritchard a house, offices (outbuildings) and land of 10 acres in this division of the joint leasing. The Irwin surname had disappeared from Briscarnagh.
          Thus we get a Joseph Pritchard and James Pritchard with farms in Briscarnagh in 1826 and by 1858 we had a James Pritchard Jun and a Joseph Pritchard still in Briscarnagh in the old home townland of Briscarnagh. It would appear that descendants of Joseph certainly remained on in Currin parish.
          A list of freeholders for Currin parish noted for the years 1803-1806 for 'Bruskinagh' include a Thomas Pritchard and a Joseph Pritchard in this return. Also noted in the same townland was a Robert Irwin.
           In the Index to Clogher Wills 1659-1857 the will of a Samuel Pritchard was proven in 1809. Unfortunately the originals of these wills were destroyed as late as 1922 during the Civil War when the Public Record Office in Dublin was destroyed. All that remains is the index.

Children of Irwin Unions from Briscarnagh

Baptised 9 April 1813 Sarah, daughter of Robert Erwin (thus) and Margaret Pritchard, Briskernagh.
Baptised 23 December 1827, Elizabeth daughter of John Irwin and Jane Conly, Briskenagh (thus).
Baptised 7 September 1828 Robert son of Joseph Irwin and Mary Pritchard, Briscarnagh.
Baptised 8 January 1830 Joseph son of Foster McCrief and Mary Irwin of Briskernagh (thus).

*This baptism seems to be the only relevant one which links with your family group sheet on the Irwin/Pritchard side.

Children of Prichard unions from Briscarnagh

Baptised 18 April 1826 James Henry, son of James Bryce and Jane Prichard, Briskinagh (thus).
Baptised 9 March 1828 Robert son of Wm. Bonum and Mary Prichard, Briskernagh (thus).
Baptised 31 January 1830 David, son of George Hall and Jane Prichard, Briskernagh (thus).
Baptised 7 October 1832 Bessy, daughter of above union and place.

          From this you will see that nothing is coming to light on James Pritchard (#823) and his wife Judith Ferguson (#824). We get one reference to a child named Robert (born 1828) of the union of Joseph Irwin (#822) and Mary Pritchard (#821) of Briscarnagh. This child named Robert is not listed in your family tree for this union.
          There is a strong possibility that some of the family were Church of Ireland (Anglican) but became Methodist and that this is why we are hitting this dearth of records. The Wesleyan Methodist Circuit operated from Cootehill, Co. Cavan and the only extant baptismal records are those from 1846. These are too late to throw any light on the families sought.
          The Ferguson surname in the 1828 return only occurs in Lisnalee townland where a John Ferguson held 10 acres and in Drum village where a Widow and Edward Ferguson held one acre each on lease.
          This is a full overview of the extant records of the Church of Ireland from 1810. Methodist records are only extant from 1846 and Presbyterian records for baptisms from 1867 and 1845 respectively. Regrettably due to the scarcity of the early church records I cannot recommend any other course to take. You could expend money unnecessarily on searches that would yield nothing and I would not recommend this.
Yours sincerely

Theo McMahon

This above letter has been scanned (page 1, page 2), along with  a map of Currin townlands (note Hilton Demesne) and the Griffiths Evaluation for Briscarnagh (three Pritchards were leasing from John Madden in 1858).top

Ian Pritchard re. Irish Relatives

Ian Pritchard provided the following account based on findings from his visit to Ireland about five years ago. Much of the information was obtained through Theo McMahon of Monaghan. 

There is anecdotal evidence that James Pritchard had a brother that came to the Toronto area, but we have no concrete evidence of his siblings or even his parents. The difficulties in fixing relationships is reflected in the Irish searches which have been attempted. 

The Pritchard name is not in Irish antiquities, appeared
rarely in Monaghan records, and is not common in Ireland
today. The Hearthmoney Rolls of 1663 and 1665 for Currin
parish do not list the surname Pritchard so it looks as if the family came into the Currin area in the 18th century. Mass migrations into Ireland were not known at that time as in the much earlier Ulster Plantation, so it is interesting to speculate as to why the move occurred.

It is known that Methodist revivals were sweeping through Wales, and that the founder of Methodism, John Wesley, preached from the Fort at Clones (derived from the Irish Cluain Eois) in 1775. There he addressed his largest audience in Ireland. He again preached in Clones in 1778 and 1779. Wesley's Methodist Church there became the centre of one of the six Methodist circuits in Ireland in 1791. Given the strong religious faith of the pioneers in Canada, there might have been a link here that has never been explored. 

The Church of Ireland records for Currin commenced in 1810 while the Presbyterian records for Drum start in 1845, thus provide little help. In a "List of Those who Received Spinning Wheels, 1796" a Thomas Pritchard is listed for Currin parish where he was granted one spinning wheel as a premium by the Linen Board for growing one rood or quarter of one acre of flax seed. A wheel was granted for each quarter grown. This is our earliest record.

The earliest land records for Currin civil parish are those contained in the Tithe Applotment Book dated 1827. In this source we find: (1) a James Pritchard was leasing in Briscernagh (properly Briscarnagh) townland in Currin, eleven and a half acres of second quality land; (2) a Joseph Pritchard was leasing 14 acres in the same townland; and  (3) a John Stinson was also leasing over 10 acres in the same townland; a possible indication of the later Pritchard-Steenson link. The only other land reference to the surname Pritchard in Currin civil parish is to a Thomas Pritchard who was leasing in Lurganboy townland in 1827 just over 7 acres of land. Lurganboy townland adjoins Briscarnagh to the north.

The Freeholders Register of Currin, 1803-1806 (a rare document in the National Archives), lists the following in Bruskinagh (properly Briscarnagh):  Thomas Pritchard and Joseph Pritchard. The eligibility to vote was based on the valuation of a holding being forty shillings; such voters were known as the "forty-shilling freeholders" and when voting their choice of candidate had to be publicly declared. In the Lurganboy townland in this return the surname Pritchard is not recorded.

In an Index to Clogher Wills, 1659-1857 the will of Samuel Pritchard of Briskinagh (sic) was proven in 1796. In Lurganboy the will of Thomas Pritchard was proven in 1839. No unproven wills or intestacies are listed. These original wills all perished in Dublin during the Civil War in 1922.

The Griffith Primary Valuation of land and property dated 1858 still listed the names of a James Pritchard Jr. and a Joseph Pritchard.

The Drum Church of Ireland records two Prichard baptisms
for this period as follows:  May 20, 1832 - Baptized Thomas son of Joseph Prichard (sic) and Jane Robinson, Drumacrow (properly Drumcrow), parish of Currin; November 9, 1834 - Baptized Eliza daughter of Joseph Prichard and Jane Robinson, Drumacrow (sic), parish of Currin.

Some of the Pritchard family were members of the Church
of Ireland and are buried at Scotshouse in Currin parish. These include:  PRICHARD, THOMAS of Briscarnagh buried on Saturday, May 25, 1839 aged 60; and others later. The last recorded burial of a Pritchard there was a James
Pritchard in

"Loose Ends"

bulletIt appears that the second child of James Irwin and Mary Pritchard was a son Robert (baptized 7 September 1828) who doesn't appear in the family tree. Did he die in childhood?
bulletJames Pritchard and Judith Ferguson may not have lived exclusively in Currin parish before coming to Canada. The Hall's Cemetery headstone for their daughter Ann (Stevenson) shows her birthplace to be Clones, which would be either Clones parish or the town of Clones in that parish. This might explain the absence of Currin baptismal records.
bulletGeorge Hall (m. Jane Prichard) and Foster Moncrieff (m. Mary Irwin) were also early Wakefield settlers, and related by marriage to the Pritchards and