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Shields Documents, Manuscripts, Reports, etc.

Daniel Shields

of County Antrim, Ireland
and his descendants
in America

Robert J. Shields


Pages 1 - 6

Pages 7 - 13 Pages 14 - 23 Pages 24 - 30 Pages 31 - 37 Pages 38 - 41

[Page 3]


While my father lived, it was only necessary to apply to him for information concerning the family history, such as dates of births and deaths, the ages of our grandparents, who they were and where they came from.

When he passed away, these facts could not be so readily obtained.  I then began to collect such data as could be found in old letters, papers, etc., and by a great deal of correspondence with relatives and others (whose acquaintance I have been glad to make), but the greater part of the information contained in the following record I obtained from my mother.

Robert J. Shields.

New York, N. Y.,
December 18, 1903.

[Page 4]


Since the publication in 1903 of the brief record of Daniel Shields of County Antrim, Ireland, and his descendants in America, copies of which have found their way into several public libraries in various states of our country, and further information having been acquired, not only from my mother, but also from many other sources, especially from John A. Shields, Minneapolis, Minn.; Robert J. Shields, Los Angeles, California; Carrie Nichol (Mrs. John) Cameron, Souris, N. D.; and others, another issue seems appropriate.  The former issue is depleted.

Moreover, the natural events of the twenty-seven intervening years from then until now are also recorded here.

Robert J. Shields

New York, December, 1930.

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[photo of]
Robert J. Shields
New York

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[photo of]
Mrs. Robert J. Shields
(Jennie Hunter)
New York

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[photo of]
Summer home of Mr. and Mrs. Robert J. Shields
Tottenville, Staten Island, New York

[Page 5]

The following is a letter written by John A. Shields of Minneapolis, Minnesota, to whom reference is made in the Second Preface, to John H. Shields, Postmaster, Wichita, Kansas:

May 24, 1916.

Mr. John H. Shields, Postmaster,
Wichita, Kan.

Dear Mr. Shields:--

I think it is clear that we are not related this side of "the auld sod," and equally clear that we are related on the other side.  I thank you for your good letter.

I have made a considerable study of the Shields.  I recently got the result of nearly half a century of study of the family, put in by a gentleman of our name, head of a big Catholic University, specialist in Irish History and the like.  What he did not tell me, he told me where I might find it.

Briefly, his studies and references show that in the third or fourth century there were five kings of as many divisions of Ireland, the king of Munster being O'Brien; later and down to about 1200 he was the head-king of the whole of the country.  The younger son of this third century O'Brien traveled throughout Europe for twenty years, and then returned to claim his patrimony.  On account of his debonair manners, picked up at the courts of the Continent, he was dubbed "Siadhal," which means "the gracious," and because there were so many O'Briens he adopted the more modernized Irish form of the old word, and called himself and his children "Shiel."  In Latin the name is Sedulius.  We find a great many people of this name prominent, particularly in ecclesiastical and literary history.  One of them wrote the first of a series of treatises on Ethics that all the Christian Princes were required to study.  One was attached to the Court of Charlemagne.  One was prominent as a member of the Papal family of early times.  Several were delegates to Church Conventions, etc.  One introduced rhyme into Latin poetry, and is called the Christian Virgil to this

[Page 6]

day; he wrote "Carmen Paschale."  He has a good biography, from the pen of Hellman, published in German, in Munich, 1906.  Six of them are mentioned by the Four Masters between the years 785 and 855.

As you probably know, or would find in any good early Irish history, the Irish family records and historical data are the best in existence of any century.  This arises from the peculiar land tenure Laws.  The Irish are the direct descendants of the Phoenicians, who invented the alphabet, and the science of Mathematics, but were driven out by the Greeks.  They had a custom of appointing a sort of Parliament of Scholars who once each year checked up the facts of current history, and particularly the genealogical records; thus we have a mine of information, much of it published.  These are largely in the Annals of the Four Masters.  A history of the Shields family is found in Rooney's Aristocracy, the only copy of which I ever found in this country was in Bishop Phalen's library, and he is now dead, and his books are scattered.

At the time of the Reformation, 400 years ago, one branch of the family moved to the North of Ireland -- Ulster.  This family became Protestant, and changed its name slightly.  It became Shields.  It may be that it Anglicized the name Shiel, because the English were the promoters of the Reformation, and the oppressors of the Catholic Irish.  There was an intermarriage with the Norman family of Scyld, which means "Shield" in English.  This Scyld family was in early days the reigning family in Denmark.  Whatever the reason, the new name was taken on.  The Shiel, O'Shiel, Shiell, Shield, etc., are probably all related to the old family that stayed in Munster -- Cashel, in Tipperary, is the seat of the old O'Brien castle and capitol.  All of the Shields I know of are from Ulster, except some who have gone from there to Germany and Spain -- but that is the beginning of the name.

The family of General James Shields, leading Catholic, was of the Northern Ireland family, re-converted to Catholicism.  My own family is Protestant all the way down.  So also are most of the Immigrant Shields people

Pages 7 - 13 Pages 14 - 23 Pages 24 - 30 Pages 31 - 37 Pages 38 - 41

Source: Daniel Shields of County Antrim, Ireland and his descendants in America, by Robert J. Shields, 1930
Transcribed by Susan Shields Sasek.

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Page Updated on: 21 Jan 2004 Page Visitors: c. Susan Shields Sasek