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
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.
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
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.
The townland of Briscarnagh is in the parish of Currin,
which is in south-west Monaghan and includes the towns of Drum and
View Larger Map
|Mr Keith Lachance
2661 West 45th Ave
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
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
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
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
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
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
This above letter has been scanned (page
1, page 2), along with
a map of Currin townlands
(note Hilton Demesne)
Griffiths Evaluation for
Briscarnagh (three Pritchards were leasing from John Madden in
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
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
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 1903.
|It 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?|
|James 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
|George Hall (m. Jane Prichard) and Foster Moncrieff (m. Mary Irwin)
were also early Wakefield settlers, and related by marriage to the
Pritchards and Irwins.|