Update on my Scots-Irish Research


I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving and stayed safe. It's been a busy week...it's almost a full time job keeping up with all of the special promotions. Today being Cyber Monday, there is a lot to take advantage of. Just about every company we deal with as genealogists and family historian has a special promotion. Keep checking the Promotions page to see what's happening. Today is the last day to take advantage of Ancestry's $49 promo. Family Tree DNA's $49 promo on the FamilyFinder (autosomal) ends tomorrow, December 1st. These may be the lowest prices you see (although I'm sure there will be additional promos through the month). I always stock up on kits...you never know when you might run into a cousin to test.😀 I realize that most of us are not traveling now, but you still might find a cousin online. A few months ago I sent a kit off to a paternal 3rd cousin so I would have someone on that line with whom I could share matches. 23andMe Health and Ancestry kit at $99 also ends tonight. That's the lowest price I've seen, $100 off.


My youngest daughter spent two weeks with me, so I've gotten a bit behind on some of my genealogy. She was between jobs and enjoyed the warm weather. She and her trusty dog, Tucson, drove down from Virginia and on Monday, her husband flew in and we had an early Thanksgiving on Wednesday. They drove back to Virginia on Thanksgiving Day. Both had negative COVID tests on Friday, and she started her new job on Sunday. While she was here, we had a conversation on DNA, and unfortunately, like her older sister, she wants nothing to do with it. I'm not sure if it's a Millennial thing.


I wish I could say I've made a lot of progress on my Scots-Irish Shaw research. It's taken a back seat the last few weeks, however, I have accomplished some things. I re-read everything in my file and created a timeline.

I also began checking online family trees. I found information that clearly was incorrect, based on the fact that Robert stated he was born in Ireland on his Petition for Naturalization. Multiple trees at Ancestry showed him as the son of Victor, however, Victor was born in Bucks County...so this isn't correct. I'm not sure of the original source of the information, as it had been copied into a number of trees. At MyHeritage there was an interesting entry which came from a FamilySearch Tree showing him born in Dunaghy Parish in Antrim. The source appears to be Griffith's Valuation which took place in Antrim between 1860 and 1862 (and my Robert emigrated about 1794). I frequently mention that Griffith's can be a resource even if your ancestors emigrated earlier, so let me show you how I use it.


The first thing I do is go to John Grenham's site, IrishAncestors, and type in a name, in this case Shaw. There are 864 Shaws across Ireland, but they are clustered in the eastern portion of Ulster...Down, Antrim and Armagh. According to Robert Shaw's naturalization, he was born in Antrim, so I'm going to look at only the Shaws in Antrim...it lists 97. One of the things to remember is that Griffith's is a tax list, so the same person can be listed multiple times. Next, I'm going to add a second name to the search...in this case Downey. Robert Shaw and Jane Downey were married in Ireland and their first three children, Frances, Margaret and Robert were born there. In the late 1700s people were not that mobile and tended to live and die in the same general area. Even if your ancestor emigrated, there are likely family members still living in the area at the time of Griffith's. Individuals typically married someone from their parish or possibly an adjoining parish. By adding the name Downey to the search, I'll find only those parishes where both names occur.

My next step is to add the localities to a map (I use Brian Mitchell's A New Genealogical atlas of Ireland. Over the generations, families may have moved across parish borders, so I consider the possibility of individuals in adjoining parishes to be part of the same family...possibly cousins. Now that I know the possible localities where both Shaws and Downeys lived (at the time of Griffith's).

I then add the localities to a spreadsheet and look at the given names of the families in each location. If you're not familiar with Irish naming patterns, you can read this blog. I noticed that I didn't mention in that blog that a similar pattern is used for females, beginning with the maternal grandmother:

1st daughter - named after maternal grandmother

2nd daughter - named after paternal grandmother

3rd daughter - named after mother


The spreadsheet has the parish, the number of Shaws and Downeys and then the given names that appear in that parish. I use one of the Griffith's Valuation sites to identify the names. If you're using AskAboutIreland (free) make sure you're only picking out the correct surname as they may have been sub-leasing land to individuals with a different surname and therefore listed as the Immediate Lessor.

Here is a look at how Robert Shaw and Jane Downey named their children. There is always the possibility that some children didn't survive and there is no record of them.

If the pattern is working, it would be likely that Robert Shaw's (b. 1794) paternal grandfather was also Robert and that his brother William might have been named after his maternal grandfather. Since the name Robert is already used, looking at the additional names, Andrew and David might be brothers of Robert Shaw or Jane Downey. It's also possible that Frances might be Jane's mother and Margaret Robert's mother. Again, I want to caution you that this is strictly a hypothesis to help focus your search. The place where all of the names occur (with the exception of Frances) is Shankill, which is a parish of Belfast with lots of possibilities. After that, I would look at Carnmoney and Skerry.


So that's as far as I've gotten. I now have three places to focus my research, most of which will have to be done in Ireland. I've added these items to my to do list for October 202. In the meantime, I will continue to research here to see what else I can find.


Happy Hunting and Stay Safe!





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