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Nugents of Galway

I’ve been researching my husband’s side of the family whose great grandfather was Patrick Nugent, a stonemason and builder who lived in Galway. His death record, in 1885, gives his date of birth as 1811 (Galway, Vol. 4, Page 183, Quarter Apr-Jun) but I have been unable to find any details of his parents or siblings. Trawling through Irish newspapers, I came across this news item in The Galway Vindicator and Connaught Advertiser for Wednesday 27 July 1859 which said:-


By the last American mail we have news from San Francisco as to the approaching election in several counties where delegates to the State Convention have been chosen, the contests were quite animated among the friends of the several candidates for offices. So far, Latham and Nugent are ahead: Denver comes next, and Weller’s prospects are daily growing more gloomy. In about a fortnight it will be known with some degree of certainty who is to receive the nominations for Governor from the Administration democrats. The fight appears now to be between Latham and Nugent. Denver is strongly objected to on the ground that he was sent here from Washington to be Governor. In other words, that the people of California are directed by certain politicians in the East to select him for the highest position in the state.

Mr John Nugent here mentioned is a Galway man and has been connected with the press. He is the brother of Mr Nugent, a respectable builder in this city.”

There was also similar item, in The Galway Mercury, Saturday 30 July 1859


By the last accounts from San Francisco, California, we are happy to learn that Mr. J Nugent headed the poll as delegate to the State Convention. Mr Nugent is a native of this town and brother to our respected fellow citizen Mr. Patt Nugent, builder.”

On looking into John Nugent, I discovered a man of many parts as the first paragraph of this biographical note displays:-

“NUGENT, JOHN, journalist and U.S. government agent; b. in 1821 ? in County Galway, Ireland; d. 29 March 1880 in San Leandro, California.

John Nugent’s parents brought him to the United States at an early age. In the 1840s he served in Washington as correspondent for the New York Herald. At the decade’s end he travelled overland to California, and in 1851 became owner-editor of the San Francisco Herald. In 1856 he opposed the re-establishment of the Vigilance Committee, a business-supported, extra-legal organization for the preservation of law and order. His failure to support it was an unpopular move which led to his newspaper’s collapse. It was a blow from which his career never recovered. He continued in journalism, however, and five years later he was Democratic runner-up in an election for the U.S. Senate. He tried, unsuccessfully, to re-establish the Herald in 1868 and, toward the end of the 1870s, worked on his memoirs.” – Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Volume X (1871-1880)

John Nugent (1821? - 1880) married Magdalena Estudillo on Tuesday 26th August 1860.  She was the daughter of Jose Joaquin Estudillo (1798-1852), a rich land owner, and his wife Juanita Maria Carmen Martinez (1805-1879). The Estudillos were the founders of the city of San Leandro, California. John and his wife, lived with her mother at 550 West Estudillo Avenue which was subsequently the site of St Leander’s Church (California Historical Landmark #279 - ) The couple had four children; Sybil G (1862-1909), Maud (1866 -1922), Elsie (1868-1942) and John (1871-1948).  

As far as I've been able to find, so far, his father was Timothy Nugent  (1785- 7 Jan 1857), also a stonemason and builder, and his mother was Margaret ? (1783-1857).  John's siblings include Frances (1818-?), Mary (1820-?), Thomas A (1822-1890) and Abigail Mary.  The family, with the exception of Abigail, emigrated to New York in the early 1840s and can be found in numerous state and national census of the time.   

However, I've been unable to find is any record, apart from the newspaper reports above, that shows that Timothy Nugent is also the father of my husband's great grandfather, Patrick.  If anyone can help, I'd be most grateful.



Friday 10th August 2018, 10:28AM

Message Board Replies

  • Rosie:

    Welcome to Ireland Reaching Out!

    You have done a great job of researching your Nugent family.

    I checked the subscription site Roots Ireland to see if they had any Patrick Nugent baptismal records. I found an 1806 record in Cappataggle RC (father Thomas) and an 1813 record in Tuam (father Andrew) but I don't think either record pertains to your ancestor. Many RC parishes do not have records back to the 1810 era.

    What was the name of Patrick's oldest son?

    Have you considered DNA testing? Maybe a descendant of John has taken a DNA test and the matching data may assist you in making the connection between Patrick and John.

    Please consider adding John's very interesting story to our XO Chronicles site

    Roger McDonnell

    Castlemore Roscommon

    Friday 10th August 2018, 04:22PM
  • Hi Roger,

    Thanks for the reply and suggestions.

    Patrick Nugent married Catherine Codyre on 4 May 1836 in Rahoon and they had the following children - Abigail Mary (1836-?), Thomas (1837-1898), James (1839-1885), Patrick (1841-?), Timothy (1844-1871) and Daniel Henry (1853-1901).  All were baptised in St Nicholas North and East, Galway.  I matched these names against the traditional naming patterns and that suggested that Timothy was Patrick's older brother and that John was Patrick's cousin rather than, as recorded in the newspaper reports, his brother.  It might be that John travelled to the US not with his parents, as I had assumed, but with his aunt and uncle and his cousins.  I've searched for a Thomas Nugent in the appropriate time period but have only come across an entry in Parish Congregation records in Cappataggle, Clonfert.

    As far as I can tell, the US side of this Nugent family died out in the middle of the 20th century.  One other lead I have is a newspaper snippet in the marriage announcements of the Dublin Observer 17 August 1833 -

    "In Galway, Mr James Ferguson McManus, printer, to Abbygale Mary, eldest daughter of Mr. Timothy Nugent."

    I found the marriage recorded in the parish records of St Nicholas North and East as taking place on 4 August 1833 and it states that Patt Nugent and James Nugent were present.  However, apart from a reference to a James McManus, printer taking out a loan under the Irish Reproductive Loan Fund in 1839 in Castlebar, County Mayo I have drawn a complete blank on Abbeygale and James.

    The final clue I have about John Nugent is in a book about the history of the parish of Newark (link below) concerning his early days in New York, which states-

    "Failing to employ the services of Kearney, Father Moran employed John Nugent, a "young man", wrote Dr Elliott, recently arrived from Ireland, a graduate of Maynoth College, *  *  * He was a student in the law office of Wlliam Whitehead.  He was in charge of the scool for two years."  The school was located at 168 Plane street and was the first parochial school in Newark.  Young Nugent, its first principal, subsequently became private secretary to United States Senator William Wright, of this city, and while in Washington DC, was correspondent of the New York Herald.  Later on he edited The Vindicator, a Newark weekly paper, and after a time removed to California where he established the San Francisco Herald."

    A history of the city of Newark, New Jersey: embracing practically two and half centuries 1666-1913 by Frank J Urquhat

    I've looked to see if Maynoth College has such records online but drew a blank.

    I've just taken the plunge on DNA testing hoping to blast open some of the brickwalls on my side of the family tree, I've yet to persuade my husband to do the same.  

    I certainly will consider adding John's story as I've become quite obsessed with him as you might have gathered. 



    Saturday 11th August 2018, 09:31AM