There are a number of issues in trying to do Irish research, most of which relate to the loss of records for the 19th century. From Griffith's Valuation (1846-1864), until the 1901 census, there are a few records to tell us anything about our ancestors lives. We do have civil registrations from 1864, and if your ancestors were Protestant marriages from 1845. But where else are you supposed to find information about your family in the intervening years?
As I continue my research on the Johnston family, I've run into all of these problems. Church of Ireland records are unavailable in the area until the late 1870s. I've gone through marriage, death and probate records to pull together some information about the various Johnston families, but what about their life between the 1850s and the 1901 Census.
As Irish researchers we will use just about anything we can find, and one of my favorite resources is the Ireland Dog License Registers 1866-1914. (I typically use the Findmypast version as it has more search options than the Ancestry version.) You might think what will that tell me about my ancestor other than he owned a dog? If you follow your ancestors from the beginning to the end of the database, it might tell you more than you think. The database is arranged by the local Court, and Findmypast gives you a list of the courts by County. This database only covers the Courts in the Republic of Ireland. For my Johnston family, that meant I was searching the Kinlough Court in northern Leitrim. What happens when your ancestor disappears from the dog licenses? Some people say well, the dog died, but more likely your ancestor may have died or emigrated. These dogs were not pets as we think of them today, but working farm dogs, so, if the dog died, they replaced it. You can see this as you work through the dog licenses when the type of dog changes. Sometimes our ancestors just forgot to register their dog for a year or two, (and you might find them in the Petty Sessions for having an unlicensed dog) but if you follow along, you'll see where they disappear from the records. That's the time to start looking for a death record. In the sketch below, on Margaret Johnston Curry, George Curry appears in the records in 1866, 1867 and 1872 and then doesn't appear again. In 1872 George Curry (#122) paid 2 shilling License Duty and a fee of 6 shillings to register a male black and yellow collie. Checking IrishGenealogy.ie I found George’s death record on 14 Dec 1873.
The second database I use for this time period is the Petty Sessions Court Registers 1828-1912. This also is organized by Court. The Petty Sessions were the lowest courts, sometimes referred to as the Magistrate Courts presided over by a Justice of the Peace (with no legal training), typically the local landowners. The types of offenses range from disagreements with neighbors (our ancestors in Ireland were a litigious group), to failure to pay Poor Rates, to drunk and disorderly, to assaults, to not maintaining the local roads. The registers name the Complainant and the Defendant, as well as witnesses, and usually indicates the name of the townland for the individuals. This is a great way to separate people of the same name. Frequently there are multiple defendants in these cases. If there are Johnstons that seem to always be named together in various cases, If they hang out together could they be related? It’s clearly not any type of proof, but it may provide a hypothesis to work on. The John Corry below (last line), along with James Mackey, both of Laghta along with John Johnston of Moneen were required to repair the road between Kinlough and Uragh, which they had neglected to do. They were required to complete this within three weeks and pay court costs. John Corry and James Mackey were brothers-in-law living on adjoining properties in Laghta. Both of their wives were Johnstons, and the third defendant was John Johnston of Moneen, a nearby townland.
Below is the second sketch in the series I’m writing on the Johnston Family. A couple of weeks ago I wrote on James Johnston both the father and the son since all I know about James Johnston, the father, is that he appeared on his son’s marriage record. I included James’ oldest daughter, Eliza as she never married and I've found very little information about her. She appeared with her brother, William and his wife at Unshinagh in both the 1901 and 1911 census.
This sketch is about Margaret Johnston Curry, James’ second daughter. I've found that writing the sketches helps me organize my research, as well as to identify missing information including sources from my early research (which is why it takes me so long!). My early research led me to Margaret as the sister of my GG Grandmother, Rachel. In the late 1990s, during a lecture I was giving on Griffith's Valuation, an audience member commented that the family directly below by GGG Grandfather, was his relative. He was descended from George Curry. You never know where information will come from! These sketches are a work in progress and I’m always interested in hearing from you if you connect and have new or corrected information. Also check out my Photos page as I have a collection of photographs from my great grandmother's photo album. Let me know if you recognize anyone! These sketches are sourced, so I ask if you do use the information you source the information as coming from my blog. That way others who might not have seen the information on my blog can contact me.
Source: Moughty, Donna “Margaret Johnston Curry,” IrishFamilyRoots.com, 28 Aug 2023.
When I copy the material from my word processor into the web program I don't have the ability to use superscripts for footnotes/endnotes. You will however, find a list of the sources at the end of the sketch.
Margaret Johnston Curry
Daughter of James Johnston and Unknown
4. Margaret Johnston ((James2, James1). Born abt 1844 in Leitrim. Margaret died in Shanmullagh, Fermanagh, Ireland, on 28 Sep 1929; she was 85.
Margaret Johnston, age 20, was living in Cornagee [Cornageeha] at the time of her marriage to John Curry on 21 Jan 1864 at the Parish Church of Rossinver. John Curry, a 25 year old bachelor was the son of George Curry, a farmer of Laughta. There is no notation on the marriage registration to indicate that Margaret’s father was deceased, however the Revision Book entry changing the occupant of the property at Unshinagh to Jane Johnston in 1862, would likely indicate his death. The mother of Margaret has not been identified. The name Curry/Corry appears interchangeably in various records.
Margaret died on 28 September 1929 in Shanmullagh, Trory Parish in Fermanagh (Registration District Enniskillen). She was a widow, age 78 [more likely closer to 85), and her son, John was the informant.
Between 1864 and 1887, nine children have been identified born to this couple. Two died in infancy. No birth registration has been found for George James. Some online trees have his birth as 1 Jul 1867, however since William’s birth registration gives his birth as 12 Mar 1867, that’s not possible. Because he appears to be named after both grandfathers, it’s likely he is the oldest child. John Curry and Margaret Johnston were married 21 Jan 1864 making it more likely his birth was about 1865.
John Curry and Margaret Johnston had the following children:
8 i. George James Curry (abt 1865-24 Feb 1918)
9 ii. William Curry (12 Mar 1867-9 Nov 1908)
10 iii. Ellen (Helen) Curry (22 Jan 1869-15 Oct 1957)
11 iv. Mary Jane Curry (17 Sep 1870-26 Sep 1955)
12 v. John Jones Curry (29 Feb 1872-10 Dec 1947)
13 vi. Emily Curry (7 Jul 1876-17 Sep 1876)
14 vii. Margaret Curry (13 Sep 1878-25 Jul 1962)
15 viii. Arthur Curry (2 Jul 1882-5 Oct 1883)
16 ix. Eliza Anne Curry (10 May 1887-)
In Griffith’s Valuation, done in Leitrim between 1855 and 1857, George Curry was on property 30, 31and 32 in Laghta; he was also there in the first Revision Book in 1864. David Curry, George’s son was on property 35. It is unknown who Eliza is. She was removed in the Revision Books in 1862.
George Corry [sic] died 14 Dec 1873 and was buried at the Kilbarron Church of Ireland Parish in Ballyshannon (County Donegal) on the 16 Dec 1873. This is interesting as there were at least two Church of Ireland churches between Laughta and Ballyshannon (Rossinver in Leitrim and Finner in Bundoran.) Matthew Mackey, the father of James who married Margaret’s sister Rachel, was also buried in Kilbarron on the 11 March 1870. What was the connection of these two families to Ballyshannon?
In 1874, George and Eliza were replaced in the Revision Books by John Curry.
In the 1901 Census John (66) and Margaret Corry (54) are living in House #7 in Laghta, (Kinlough DED) in Leitrim along with their children John (28), Margaret (20) and Eliza (13). All were born in Leitrim. By this time, the older children had all emigrated to the United States (most settling in Bridgeport, Connecticut). Margaret married Edward Lipsett of Park townland in 1905.
The 1911 Census of Ireland, Kinlough DED, Laghta Townland lists; John Jones Curry [indexed as Carry] age 76 (born about 1835) a married farmer born in Leitrim; Margaret Curry age 68 (born about 1843) married 46 years (about 1865), gave birth to 7 children, 5 living, born in Leitrim; and John Jones Curry, son, single, age 35 (born about 1876) a farmer’s son, born Leitrim. John married Emily Violet Edwards of Cloonclare in 1914. [The seven children were the ones who survived infancy. William died in 1908 in Connecticut; no death or marriage record has been found for the youngest daughter, Eliza Curry.] The B-1 Schedule (House and Building Return) lists the Currys in house 23, built of stone or brick, a roof of perishable material with 2 rooms and 3 windows, classified as a second class house. The B-2 Schedule of Out Offices and Farm Steadings indicates 2 buildings; a Cow House and a Potato House.
John Curry purchased his property in Laghta in 1918 through the Land Act program (LAP), and in 1927, the property was sold to Patrick McGloin. Because the father and son were John Curry (or sometimes both John Jones Curry), it is unclear who purchased the property. In 1961 the property passed to Eugene McGloin. Since John (the father) was in Fermanagh in 1925 according to the Fermanagh Census, it is unclear whether perhaps his son (also John) stayed on the property in Laghta for a short time after the move. I have not found the death record for John (senior) although the death of Margaret lists her as a widow when she died in 1929.
Sometime before 1925, John and Margaret Curry moved the family from Laughta in Leitrim to the townland of Shanmullagh in the Parish of Trory in Fermanagh. This comes from an article by Terence Dooley in the Clogher Record titled “Protestant Migration from the Free State to Northern Ireland, 1920-25: A Private Census for Co. Fermanagh.” Although the document reads John Curry, Mrs Curry and 6 children, by this time most of their children had already emigrated to the United States or married. It most likely included their son, John Jones Curry and his wife Emily, along with their children. The story was, as Protestants, they did not want to remain in the Irish Free State. According to the Revision Books, John Corry purchased two pieces of property from Jas [James] Lindsay in Shanmullagh in 1925. The first was Property 3B,, which included a House, Office and Land (16-1-85), and what was originally 5 AB which was just land (incorporated into the property 3B).
I have not yet been able to verify a death record for John Curry. He likely died between 1925 when he purchased the land in Shanmullagh, and 1929 when his wife, Margaret died, listed as a widow.
Two other record sets shed some light on John Curry. John appears fairly regularly in the Ireland Dog License Registers between 1869 and 1915. He didn’t miss more than a year up until 1891. He was not listed for most of the 1890s but appeared again beginning in 1901 through 1915. George Corry, John’s father, appears in 1866, 1867 and 1872(he died in 1873). John’s brother David, also of Laughta appeared regularly . When someone disappears over a period of time, it’s likely they died or emigrated as the dogs were working farm dogs so when one died, they were quickly replaced. You can see this in the database when the description of the dog changes.
The other database is the Ireland, Petty Sessions Court Registers 1818-1919. Although the earliest date indicated is 1818, like most records it’s dependent on time and place. There are very few records prior to 1851, and the earliest record found for a Curry/Corry in the Kinlough court was 1852…George Corry, was “Drunk on a public road on 25 Nov,” the punishment being a fine of two shillings plus court costs of 1 shilling. In 1850 a shilling was worth just under the equivalent of $5 (which at that time was about a day’s wages) so the fine was equal to about $14.50 or three days wages. Between 1852 and 1908 there were 54 instances of Curry/Corrys in the Petty sessions. In addition to the Drunk and Disorderly on a public road charges (multiple), there appeared to be an aversion to maintaining the roads, which they were required to do. In these cases, they were frequently mentioned with James Mackey (the husband of Margaret’s sister Rachel) as well as Johnstons in the townlands of Laughta, Unshinagh, Cornagee and Moneen. There were also a number of assaults including one in 1866 in Kinlough along with James Mackey, Laughta; Robt Johnston, Cloonawillin; Edwd Lipsett, Park. An assault in 1860 indicated an imprisonment for two months at hard labor (although I didn’t find any record in the prison records for Carrick-on-Shannon).
1. GRONI, Index and Images Online https://geni.nidirect.gov.uk, 1929 Enniskillen Death of Margart [sic] Curry, Registration Number D/1929/114/1013/30/200
2. “Civil Registration,” Marriage, Ireland, Digital Image, IrishGenealogy.ie, 1864 Ballyshannon, Marriage of Margaret Johnston and George Curry, Group Registration ID 3029216
3. Griffith’s Valuation,” database online, FindMyPast, https://search.findmypast.com/search-world-Records/griffiths-valuation-1847-1864, Parish of Rossinver, Townland of Laghta, Property 30, 31, 32.
4. “Revision Books,” Republic of Ireland, Valuation Office, Dublin, Ireland. Viewed May, 2022, Leitrim, Kinlough DED, Laghta townland. 1862 p. 29.
5. “Revision Books,” Republic of Ireland, Valuation Office, Dublin, Ireland. Viewed May, 2022, Leitrim, Kinlough DED, Laghta townland. 1865-1877 p. 30.
6. “1901 Census of Ireland,” 31 Mar 1901, Digital Image, National Archives of Ireland, http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie. Household of John Corry, Laghta, Kinlough, Leitrim; House 7.
7.“1911 Census of Ireland,” 2 Apr 1911, Digital Image, National Archives of Ireland, http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie., 2 Apr 1911 Laghta, Rossinver, Leitrim, 1911 Household of John Jones Curry [initially indexed Carry], House 23, Laghta, Kinlough (DED), Leitrim.
8. State of Connecticut, Department of Health, Hartford, Connecticut, Vital Records Index 1908 William Curry Death Certificate, Bridgeport, Film D33, Frame 4425
9. “Revision Books,” Republic of Ireland, Valuation Office, Dublin, Ireland. Viewed May, 2022, Leitrim, Kinlough DED, Unshinagh townland. 1895 p. 13.
10. Dooley, Terence A. M. “Protestant Migration from the Free State to Northern Ireland, 1920-25: A Private Census for Co. Fermanagh.” Clogher Record 15, no. 3 (1996): 87–132. https://doi.org/10.2307/27699401.
11.“Valuation Revision Books, 1864-1933,” Public Records Office of Northern Ireland, https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/services/searching-valuation-revision-books, Shanmullagh, Trory, Fermanagh, Ballycassidy ED, PRONI Reference: VAL/12/B/26/2E (1910 - 1929) Property 3 John Corry
12. FindMyPast.com, “Ireland Dog License Registers,” Original Source: National Archives of Ireland; images provided by FamilySearch.org. Search on Curry and Corry, Kinlough Court, County Leitrim. Search on both Curry and Corry spelling.
13. FindMyPast.com, “Petty Sessions Records,” https://search.findmypast.com/search-world-Records/ireland-petty-sessions-court-registers, Original Source: National Archives of Ireland; images provided by FamilySearch.org. Search on Curry and Corry, Kinlough Court, County Leitrim.