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I am researching my husband’s paternal line in Londonderry with little information and I realize there are few if any records for the time period I need.  His gggrandfather was JOHN DEVLIN, b. 20 Dec 1821, Londonderry.  John’s sister, BRIDGET DEVLIN stated she was born in 1831 Londonderry.  They both stated separately that father was PATRICK DEVLIN and their mother was BRIDGET HENRY, and that Patrick was a farmer / shoemaker.  They were Catholic.   I know there were other siblings that were referred to in an old letter, but I have no idea of their names.    John Devlin left his “father’s roof” in 1840 and went to Scotland, and then in 1841 emigrated to America.  His sister  Bridget first shows up in USA in 1852 when she married Arthur Faihy (b. 1820 Tipperary) in Portland Oregon.  We know all the descendants of John Devlin, and have been researching for years, including hiring pros and DNA.  We’ve narrowed it down to the southwestern area of Londonderry (which, isn’t surprising because that’s were the first Devlin’s lived)   I have gone through Griffiths 1831 and listed the Civil parishes where I think we might find  PATRICK DEVLIN & his wife BRIDGET DEVLIN and the births or baptisms of John and Bridget.  There were two Patrick Devlin listed in Lissan, in the townlands of Clagan/Claigean and Cotrim.   I wonder if anyone can help me check the records?  Or if anyone knows about the Patrick Devlin family (he must have been born c. 1790-1800)  I know this is almost impossible, but always hold onto hope.  Also, has anyone done DNA testing from your parish that we could compare to?  Other forenames John gave his children in USA are Mary Ann, Francis, Henry James, Charles, Louis, & William - all so very common.

Thanks for any help.

Kathleen Devlin

PS  Other Civil Parishes are Ballinderry, Ballyscullon, Ballynascheen, Desertlin, Artrea


Friday 23rd Oct 2020, 10:14PM

Message Board Replies

  • The tithe applotment records for Lissan list 4 Patrick Devlins in the parish. One in Colereaghs (Standardised as Coolreaghs), 1 in Coltrim and 2 in Tullynure. Coolreaghs is in Tyrone, the others are in Co. Derry.

    The RC parish records for Lissan start properly in 1839 but there are some fragments of baptisms & marriages which go back to 1822. The records from 1839 onwards are on-line but the earlier fragments don’t seem to be. There is a copy of them on microfilm in PRONI in Belfast (MIC1D/89). Might be worth getting a researcher to go through them to see if any of your family is listed. 

    As far as the other parishes you mention are concerened, Ballinderry has records from 1826 onwards. They should be available free on the nli site. Ballyscullion;s do not start till 1844, Ballynascreen in 1836 and Destertlyn/Artrea (the one RC parish) start in 1832. So clearly a problem you face is that there are no records for the years you need in some of the parishes. There’s no easy way around that.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Friday 23rd Oct 2020, 10:41PM
  • Thanks for your additional info   I had forgotten that I posted before, and just found the post.  Sorry for the duplication.   We learn little bits more very slowly,  I'll look at the records you mention and maybe go back to hiring someone.   I really think this is almost impossible, except for DNA and the possibility someone out there is looking for our John. I, and others, take stabs at it all now and then.   We so want to learn the place so we can visit.  Maybe the thing to do is a pub crawl in the region and someone will adopt my husband and cousins!

    All the best,

    Kathy Devlin


    Friday 23rd Oct 2020, 11:07PM
  • Kathy,

    Yes you should certainly visit the area. It will give you a sense of where the family came from.

    If Patrick Devlin was a farmer, then he ought to be listed in the tithe applotment records. The tithes were a tax on land and so almost all farmers were in them. Farmers tended not to move around much so it’s likely all the children were born in the same place. The problem is that Patrick Devlin is a very common name. Here’s a list of all those in Co Derry. If he was a farmer, your ancestor is probably one of these people:

    Devlin, P.-Townland: Ballyquin Year: 1828-Balteagh-Derry

    Devlin, Pat-Tl: Kiltagh Yr: 1826 Notes: Parly -Arboe-Derry and Tyrone

    Devlin, Pat, Sr.-Tl: Drumanagh Yr: 1826-Arboe-Derry and Tyrone

    Devlin, Pat.-Tl: Ballimilligan Yr: 1825-Artrea-Derry and Tyrone

    Devlin, Pat.-Tl: Drumanagh Yr: 1826-Arboe-Derry and Tyrone

    Devlin, Pat.-Tl: Killigonlan Yr: 1826-Arboe-Derry and Tyrone

    Devlin, Pat.-Tl: Kinrush Yr: 1826 Notes: Baldy -Arboe-Derry and Tyrone

    Devlin, Pat.-Tl: Lurgeyroe Yr: 1826-Arboe-Derry and Tyrone

    Devlin, Pat.-Tl: Sessagh Alexander Yr: 1826-Arboe-Derry and Tyrone

    Devlin, Pat.-Tl: Tamnavally Yr: 1826-Arboe-Derry and Tyrone

    Devlin, Pat.-Townland: Dunronan Year: 1828-Desertlyn -Derry

    Devlin, Pat.-Townland: Tulnagee Year: 1828-Desertlyn -Derry

    Devlin, Pat., Jr.-Townland: Tulnagee Year: 1828-Desertlyn -Derry

    Devlin, Pat., Sr.-Tl: Drumard Yr: 1826-Arboe-Derry and Tyrone

    Devlin, Patk.-T: Colereaghs Y: 1827-Lissan-Derry & Lissan

    Devlin, Patk.-T: Coltrim Y: 1827-Lissan-Derry & Lissan

    Devlin, Patk.-T: Drumadd Y: 1827-Tamlaght-Derry & Tyrone

    Devlin, Patk.-Tl: Kinrush Yr: 1826 Notes: Buoy -Arboe-Derry and Tyrone

    Devlin, Patk.-Townland: Dunronan Year: 1828-Desertlyn -Derry

    Devlin, Patk.-Townland: Gortanewry Year: 1827-Desertmartin-Derry

    Devlin, Patk.-Townland: Strawmore Year: 1825-Ballynascreen-Derry

    Devlin, Patk.-Townland: Tamniarin Year: 1828-Ballyscullion-Derry

    Devlin, Patk.-Townland: Termonbacca Patk. Devlin -Templemore {1823-38}-Derry

    Devlin, Patk., Jr.-T: Tullynure Y: 1827-Lissan-Derry & Lissan

    Devlin, Patk., Sr.-T: Tullynure Y: 1827-Lissan-Derry & Lissan

    Devlin, Patrick-Tl: Ballineal More Yr: 1825-Artrea-Derry and Tyrone

    Devlin, Patrick-Tl: Drumanagh Yr: 1826-Arboe-Derry and Tyrone

    Devlin, Patrick-Tl: Mulnahoe Yr: 1826-Arboe-Derry and Tyrone

    Devlin, Patrick-Townland: Drumconready Year: 1828-Maghera-Derry

    Devlin, Patrick-Townland: Gortahurk Year: 1828-Kilcronaghan-Derry

    Devlin, Patrick-Townland: Kennaught Year: 1829-Kilcronaghan-Derry

    Farmers tended to marry locally so it’s likely the Henry family lived nearby. Unfortunately that’s a very common name across Co Derry too, so it doesn’t really help narrow the search much.

    The occupation of farmer and shoemaker is unusual. You don’t normally find those 2 trades combined. Farmers are easier to find that shoemakers, so let’s hope he was a farmer.

    There are over 60 trees on Ancestry with this family but none has any additional detailed information about Patrick & Bridget. (At least one has Bridget dying in Clones, Monaghan in 1897 but I would question the reliability of that. That’s a long way away from Co Derry and she’d have been over 100. I doubt it’s the same woman. One has Bridget’s maiden name as Finlay. No source given. Finlay is not a common surname in the southern part of Co Derry, and where it is found in north Derry it tends to be a Protestant name. I’d question the accuracy of that information on the tree.).

    Good luck anyway.






    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Saturday 24th Oct 2020, 06:06AM
  • Elwyn

    Thanks. That's a great list.  Now what do I do with it? Would I look for churches in those townlands?    Would I ask a researcher to check each townland for any records?   Or do we just say he was likely one of those people and leave it at that?   Many of those names are on my list from the 1831 census.    I'm confident Patrick was a farmer.   His son, John, so stated in a book entitled The History of Clayton County, Iowa, where he settled in 1855. He said his father was both a farmer and shoemaker.   I wondered if there was a guild for shoemakers, but someone told me no, and that often farmers were shoemakers just for their family and immediate neighbors.  I imagine that farming was the main occupation.  

    Most of those trees on Ancestry took info from my tree --  It's fun to see how far the images have gotten LOL.   John's obituary stated that he went to Australia with no date and to the Calif. Gold Rush from 1852-1855, and left his family in St. Louis. Upon his return, they settled in Iowa on a farm he had purchased in 1848, where he built up a large 220 acre farm and was a Justice of the Peace.  I've been there, we've searched high and low for applications for passports, advertisements in news for groups organizing to go to Gold Rush, court documents , passenger lists and all the other sources to no avail. The best is his biography in the 1882 book.    So frustrating!      I keep posting John's pictures, hoping someone will think he looks like their relative.  But, it's a common appearance!

    Thanks so much for your help.  Onward.




    Saturday 24th Oct 2020, 10:30PM
  • Elwyn -- what about passenger lists for people leaving, or some sort of records?  Since his sister arrived in St. Louis, on her way to Oregon, in 1852 - maybe there is some Irish record of her leaving around then? She was 21 years old in 1852  and she may well have been in America prior to that.  No success in looking at online passenger lists for Liverpool and other ports.  If they had other siblings in Australia, I wonder how and when they got there?  Is it likely other siblings got there from workhouses?



    Saturday 24th Oct 2020, 10:38PM
  • Kathy,

    A word about the 1831 census for Co Derry. It’s not 100% complete. Not every parish survived. I think it’s about 90% complete but I know there are bits missing. (I think someone was using the census in 1922 and had it out of the building when the Public Record Office burned down. It’s the only bit of the  1831 census that still exists).

    You ask what to do with the tithe information. I would draw up a table listing all the Pat Devlins, parish by parish. That will then tell you which parishes to search. The parish system in Ireland is used by the Roman Catholic church and by the Church of Ireland. It is normal to attend church in the parish where you reside. There are exceptions of course, where a couple are from different parishes, their marriage will usually be in the bride’s church after which she’ll attend her husband’s but often for the first child’s birth she would have gone home to her mother and so you sometimes find that child baptised in the mother’s family church. Thereafter the children would usually be baptised in the husband’s church.  (With other denominations the church you attend tends to just be the one you like the most and not necessarily the nearest to where you live).

    In many RC parishes there was more than one church (chapel). In some cases that led to several sets of records. In others the priest maintained a central combined set. It varied.

    You probably don't need a researcher for all of this because the RC parish records are mostly on-line on the nli site (I am conscious that the Lissan fragments are not, so you might need a researcher for them):

    This link explains what records exist, parish by parish:

    To make life a little harder you will find that RC parish boundaries are not always the same as the civil ones. Furthermore some RC parishes have different names too. However the PRONI guide (above) explains what the alternative names are. If you want to see a map of both the civil and RC parishes, this site has both:

    A word of advice about dates of birth in Ireland. In the 1800s people didn’t celebrate birthdays and often didn’t know exactly when they were born. If in later life, officialdom asked them for a date of birth, they often just made one up. So even if you have what you think is a reliable date of birth, you may not find a record that matches perfectly. So my advice is to search anything up to 5 years either side of the year you think the person was born in, just to be sure.

    Alexander Irvine was born in 1863 in Antrim town and became a Minister living in the US. This extract from his book “The Chimney Corner revisited” perhaps explains why people often had to guess their ages:

    “My mother kept a mental record of the twelve births. None of us ever knew, or cared to know, when we were born. When I heard of anybody in the more fortunate class celebrating a birthday I considered it a foolish imitation of the Queen’s birthday, which rankled in our little minds with 25th December or 12th July. In manhood there were times when I had to prove I was born somewhere, somewhen, and then it was that I discovered that I also had a birthday. The clerk of the parish informed me.”

    In Rev Irvine’s case it sounds as though he found and used his correct date of birth, but the majority of the population just guessed.

    As far as passenger records are concerned the authorities in Ireland didn’t compile any (there was no real interest in people leaving. It was the authorities in the US, and later Canada, who required that information. The Canadians didn’t bother with passenger lists till the 1850s. A lot of people bound for the US went via Canada because it was cheaper and so entered the US across the land border). Most surviving shipping lists were collected in the US or Canada and are on Ancestry and findmypast. You are right to search departures from Liverpool. There were direct sailings from Ireland but only a faction of the volume from Liverpool which was acting as a sort of clearing house for migrants from all over Europe and often had daily departures. Competition for the business was fierce and the shipping agents often threw in the cost of passage from Ireland to Liverpool free as part of the deal. 

    There is also the Irish Emigration Database (IED) on the DIPPAM site:

    It’s compiled from a wide variety of other sources eg shipping agents records, newspaper adverts for lost relatives, letters home to Ireland that have been saved. And so on. For example, this marriage from an 1846 edition of the Belfast Commercial Chronicle:

    On 7th June, in Pawtacket, Rhode Island, by the Rev. Mr. Fitton, Mr. Patrick Devlin, to Hannah, third daughter of Mr. Hugh McNally, of same place and formerly of Randalstown.

    Or a death notice from the Armagh Guardian in 1872:

    March 28. at New York, after a severe illness, Ann, wife of Patrick Devlin, native of co. Tyrone, aged 31 years.

    You ask about getting to Australia. It and New Zealand were much more expensive to get to (especially in the days of sailing ships because they took so long. 3 months for example). So in the 1800s the percentage figures for Irish emigrants by general destination are something like 50% to England or Scotland, 40% to North America and 10% to the rest of the world.  So it tended to be farmers and other people with a bit more capital who went to Australia. However there were also various schemes to assist poor or destitute people. There was an indenture scheme whereby an employer paid part of the fare in return for the migrant working for them for an agreed period of time. And there were schemes for orphans (the term orphan then included those with only 1 dead parent) - the Earl Grey scheme perhaps being the most famous – to be sent to Australia. And in those cases all of their fare was paid.  Many of those orphans would have been in the workhouse, but not in every case.

    If the Devlins were farmers, why do you think some of the family would have been in the workhouse? Normally a farmer would be able to support a few waifs and strays. Incidentally the workhouse system only started around 1840, so if they left Ireland before that, they couldn't have been in the workhouse.

    The normal arrangement with an Irish farm was that the father left it to the eldest son. The other sons were expected to find work elsewhere as best they could (many went to England or Scotland, as in John’s case) because there was no work in Ireland plus there had been a population explosion. The population in 1741 was 3 million. By 1841 it was 8 million.  Apart from partial famines and other issues in Ireland at the time, there simply wasn’t the work in the country for all those people. Most had to leave. I suspect that John was not the oldest son and that’s why he left the farm. 




    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Sunday 25th Oct 2020, 11:52AM

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