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Family of Robert and Jane Russell

Brian Leigh's picture

My GG Grandfather was Robert Russell, and his wife was Jane (nee Wilson), which has been established from various Certificates I have relating to his son Samuel, also born in Ireland, but migrated to Australia in 1865.  All stste that they resided in Antrim, Ireland, but give various speling versions of exactly where.  These include Farroy, Fanag, and Fenagh.  Robert was a farmer and linen manufacturer, and lived in a place called "Rosebank", which I assume was the name of his house.  Many years ago, I was told (3rd hand) that "Rosebank" still existed, but had been converted for use as a mental asylum, but how much truth is in that I don't know.  Robert and Jane did visit Australia for their son's wedding in 1873, this information being found in a newspaper article which also gave the information relating to his house being called "Rosebank", but how long they were here is not known.

I am hoping to visit Ireland next year, and need somebody to clarify for me just where the family actually lived, as I seem to find that Fenagh is in County Lietrim, but all my documention refers to County Antrim.  Ahoghill did appear once somewhere, and that is why I have selected this parish, being the only name I recognise.  Perhaps somebody can point me in the right direction.

Looking forward to hearing from a knowledgeable member of your organisation soon.

Brian Russell.


Ahoghill Antrim
Ahoghill Antrim's picture
Super contributor
Joined: 12 Mar 2013
Robert Russell

As far as place names are concerned, the same names are often used all over Ireland. That’s why you might find a Fenagh in Leitrim and another in Antrim. (They are often named after local features eg a hill or a bog, and this in part accounts for the repetition).

Linen manufacturing was mostly undertaken in Ulster and so if your ancestor made linen, I’d tend to focus on that part of the country. Fenagh is a townland just north of Ballymena, Co. Antrim.

This will is probably your ancestor. This is the abstract (summary), which mentions sons Robert, John & William plus daughters Jane & Matilda. There’s no mention of his wife so she probably had pre-deceased him. It mentions a farm in Wilsonstown, Fenagh (which is on the modern Fenagh Rd):

Full Abstract :

The Will of Robert Russell late of Fenagh County Antrim Farmer who died 28 November 1893 at same place was proved at Belfast by James Gaston of Teeshan said County and Jackson M'Cullough of Feenagh Farmers the Executors.             Effects £286 17s. 2d

You can see the will itself on this link:


I would say that this was Robert’s mother will:

Full Abstract :

The Will of Jane Russell late of Fenagh County Antrim Widow deceased who died 18 February 1871 at same place was proved at Belfast by the oaths of Robert Russell and James Wylie both of Fenagh (Cullybackey) aforesaid Farmers the Executors.             Effects under £100

Again the will is on the PRONI website. Her death is in the statutory indexes on Familysearch and her estimated year of birth was 1796. Her son Robert’s estimated year of birth was 1820.

Griffiths Valuation for 1862 lists two farms owned by a Robert Russell in Fenagh. That could be two different Robert Russells but I am 99% certain in this case that it’s the same one renting two farms (usually Griffiths distinguished when two people of the same name lived on the same townland. If there’s no distinguisher, then it’s usually the same person). So I’d guess that the widow Jane was married to another Robert Russell (ie Robert's father was a Robert too). One was plot 6 which was a herd’s house and 13 acres of land. The other was plots 31, 32 & 33 which together were a farmhouse, outbuildings and  13 acres. Both these properties would be easy enough to find today should you wish to do so.

Looking at the land revaluation records for the mid 1890s I see that Robert Russell had been living on plot 6, and that he had been sub-letting the farmhouse on plot 32. (Both farms are shown as “reps of Robert Russell” in 1895 indicating a) he had been tenant of both, and b) that he was now dead. By 1929, the family were still renting plot 6 but had purchased plots 31 – 33.


Here’s Robert & James Russell in the 1901 census. They were the only Russell household in that townland:


By 1911, young Robert has married and has a young family:


The family seemed to have used Kirkinriola graveyard just to the east of Ballymena:

Russell            Kirkinriola Cemetery            1883            Erected By Robert Russell Of Fenagh In Memory of his Father Robert Russell Who Died 26th November 1893 Aged 66 years. Also his Mother Jane Russell Died 12th June 1893 Aged 52 years And his Brother Thomas Died 17th December 1895 Aged 26 years And his sisters Elizabeth Died 6th March 1889 Aged18 years Ellen Died 3rd September 1883 Aged 2 years Isabella Russell Died 12th June 1949 James Russell Died 3rd Jan. 1960

There’s an R Russell living at 88 Fenagh Rd, Ballymena BT43 5NR, in the modern phone book. So possibly the farm is still owned by the Russell family. You might want to get in touch.

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