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I'm looking for any information on the Grahams who lived in and around Middletown in the late 1700s. In some records the name is Grimes, which I've been told could be just a mispelling by the British or a name the Grahams used to avoid conflicts with the British. The name Gormley has also come up as a possiblity from other records. There is some indication that Gormley may be the original family name, which got changed to Graham and/or Grimes over the years. 

I've been to Ireland a couple of times and was able to track down graves and the locations of two old Graham family farms with the help of a local historian. One was in Castleblayney in County Monaghan. Abraham Graham, born 1838 in Tattygare townland, was my great-great grandfather. His father, Hugh Graham, had a farm just outside Castleblayney in Tattygare. When I was there last it was owned by a McMahon, but I don't recall his first name. The first time I was there in 2016, most of the original farmhouse was still standing, but it collapsed in a bad storm just before my second trip in 2018. It's likely Hugh Graham got the farm after marrying Sarah McMahon. She was born about 1811 in County Monaghan. They are both buried in Castleblayney. Hugh was born about 1799 in Middletown, County Armagh. Abraham and several of his brothers emigrated to the U.S. in the mid-1800s. Abraham came in 1857 via Liverpool.

The other farm I found is owned by a McKearney family now. Hugh Graham's mother was Anne McKearney likely born around 1770 in Middletown. Here is a link to a map of where it is.,+Armagh,+UK/@54.25968,-6.8225411,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x486097f29ac2a407:0xae72aebb5c0e6699!8m2!3d54.25968!4d-6.8203524

A bit of the old house was still standing in 2018. It's just across the road from the modern house in the link. Also, the business "Tom McKearney Mushrooms" is just down the road maybe 300 meters. So, I would assume much of the area has been Graham or McKearney land for generations. 

As far as I've been able to determine, Hugh's father's name was Archibald "Archie" Graham, born about 1770 in County Armagh, but I haven't been able to confirm any of this on my own with records. I also haven't been able to trace the family line any further back. I've seen that both Archie and Anne died around 1857 in Middletown, but I'm not sure that is even remotely accurate.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, especially any information about the Graham name variations.


Thursday 6th August 2020, 07:47PM

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  • You say that your Graham family came from Tattygare. I assume this is them in the 1901 census (note that Tattygare is in Co. Monaghan rather than Armagh):

    John was born in Armagh whereas Sarah was born in Monaghan.

    Same family in the 1911 census:

    Here’s their son Hugh’s birth in 1881:

    Hugh senior died 15.5.1885 aged 87:

    Here’s Hugh’s daughter (Grimes) who married John Gormley in 1880. So did a Grimes marry into the Gormley/Graham family? Is that the Grimes connection:

    With regard to the spelling of names, we have quite a few interchangeable surnames in Ireland. Other examples I have come acorss are Nogher/Connor, Kirkpatrick/Kilpatrick, Faulkner/Falconer,  Robertson/Robinson & Uprichard/Bridget.  Grimes/Graham looks to be another. I don’t think it’s anything to do with the British administration, more a local custom. (In some cases you can trace it back to the way an Irish name was anglicised.  When translating a name from Irish there can be several different English words, and so that can lead to multiple names). Ireland has always had a fairly relaxed attitude to spelling and to multiple names. Many people weren’t literate but even when they were, they didn’t really care much how their name was spelled either. According to MacLysaght’s “Surnames of Ireland”, Graham is a “Scottish name very numerous in Ulster, is used as an anglicised form of two Irish surnames namely Gormely & Grehan.”

    Tattygare is in the RC parish of Clontibret. Their records only start in 1860 so you will probably struggle to get back further than that if the family originate there. But if they originate in Armagh you would need to search adjacent parishes to the north.

    I don’t see any Graham/Grimes/Gormley farm in Tattygare in the tithe applotment records for 1830, so possibly the family arrived in the townland after that.  There's a Hugh Grimes is listed farming 8 acres in the townland in Griffiths Valuation for 1861. That puts the Grimes family in the townland then but I think the Graham/Gormley family came from elsewhere. John's townland is Doogray on the marriage certificate but I am not sure where that is.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Friday 7th August 2020, 10:47AM
  • Thank you for sharing the information you found! That helps clear up the names a bit. 

    The Armagh reference is to the elder Hugh Graham's place of birth. His father Archibald "Archie" Graham is the one I'm most looking for information about. I am not sure the first name is correct as I got it off someone's personal website. That is my direct line, and I believe the family was living in County Armagh near Middletown in the 1700s. I'd also like to know any information about Hugh's mother, Anne McKearney, and her family. A link I shared in the original post was to the land where I believe they lived based on records. The land is owned by a McKearney family now. I think it was the tithe appointments, or maybe flax farmer records where we determiend to location. Those records are where the Graham/Grimes/Gormley question came from. There are a bunch of different variations of spellings of those names in the records as well. I found a couple of Arthurs but no Archibalds. I met a local historian in Castleblayney during my first trip to Ireland. It was during the second trip that he tried to help me track down the Armagh connections and took me out to the farm near Middletown.  

    We believe the John Graham is the son-in-law of Hugh based on writting on the family headstone at the cemetery in Castleblayney. My relation to him would only be through his marriage to Hugh's daughter Sarah. So it does appear a Graham (or Gormley) married a Graham (or Grimes). I had found a lot of information about my Graham ancestors from the 1800s and early 1900s in Tattygare/Castleblayney, but had not seen the record of John Gormley marrying Sarah Grimes. That matches up with information I had found that John had lived in County Cavan before Tattygare. There is a Doogray townland in Cavan, so I think this is the same John and Sarah Graham for sure. I was able to find the record you directed me to today on to attach to their entries in my family tree.

    That's interesting that John's name is Gormley and her's Grimes in the marriage record, but both are Graham later. Is that common? I can't find the name or word "Greidhim" anywhere using Google. Do you know what it means or how it is pronounced? Could it be a bad transcription from the original 1911 census record? Here is the link to the original. It looks like a good transcription to me, but I'm not sure.

    If I recall correctly, Hugh and Sarah's farm in Tattygare was previously listed as owned by a McMahon. Because Sarah was a McMahon, we assumed they got the farm from her relative after they married and Hugh moved from County Armagh to Tattygare. We also deduced that the farm then passed to John and Sarah because all of Hugh and Sarah's sons had left for America in the mid-1880s. 

    Another question I've had that you might be able to answer is about my great-great-grandfather's name, Abraham. Isn't that generally a Protestant name? All the other first names in the family appear to follow Irish Catholic naming convetions from the time, but not Abraham. Do you have any inisight on where his name may have come from? Could Hugh's father's name have been Abraham instead of Archibald? Or maybe Abraham's maternal grandfather had the same name? Where the Grahams possibly Protestant and converted to Catholic at some point?

    These decades I'm researching are such interesting time in Irish history, but the lack of records and name variations makes it quite difficult to connect the dots. Thank you for your help.


    Friday 7th August 2020, 06:41PM
  • You ask whether Abraham was a Protestant name. Looking at the 1901 Irish census there were 808 people in Ireland named Abraham (from a population of 4.4 million). 115 were Roman Catholic. So it was not a common name in Ireland at all but it was 8 times more common in protestant families than in RC.

    Were the Graham family originally Protestant? It’s possible. I can’t really offer any conclusive evidence on that. However if their roots are Scottish (as many Grahams are) then that is quite likely. At some point down the years a mixed marriage may have led to a switch to Catholicism. The Grahams mostly originated in the Scottish Borders and large numbers were moved to Ireland in the period 1610-1625. (If you are interested the background a good read is “The Border Reivers” by Godfrey Watson. Plenty of detail about the Grahams there.)  They settled in many counties in Ulster including Armagh.

    You ask about the name in the 1911 census (Greidhim). Perhaps it isn’t obvious but the family completed that census in Irish, not English, so what you are looking at is the Irish version of Graham. It was then, and still is, legal in Ireland and the UK to complete a census return in Gaelic (Irish & Scottish). Your Graham family exercised that right in 1911.  It has to be seen in the context of the campaign for home rule for Ireland. Completing the form in Irish was, for some, a way of expressing your views on that issue. The writing is very neat, and clearly written by a well educated person. So this form was probably completed by the local priest or school teacher. John Graham didn’t complete it himself, I am sure.

    In Irish, Seaghan = John in English & Sorcha = Sarah.

    John Graham/Gormley’s marriage certificate gives his father as Felix Gormly, farmer (not Hugh). I notice a death registered in Armagh on 6.12.1875 for a Felix Gormley aged 65. Might be your man. That death is not available free at present. You can view the original certificate on-line on the GRONI website, using the “search registrations” option:

    You will need to open an account and buy some credits. It costs £2.50 (sterling) to a view a certificate. 

    Griffiths Valuation for 1864 lists a Felix Gormley in Doogary (parish of Tynan) in Co Armagh. My guess would be that that’s the Doogry on John’s marriage certificate. Felix had plot 13 which was a total of about 12 acres. That farm today is on the modern Monaghan Rd near the Sisters of St Louis (BT60 4SQ).

    This family living in Doogary in 1901:

    Ellen Donnelly had married Hugh Gormley. Here’s their son John’s birth:

    Hugh died in 1895 aged 58:

    Hugh married Ellen in 1880. His father was James Gormley who was dead by that date:

    The Valuation revision records on the PRONI website indicate that plot 13 changed from Felix to James in 1878. There’s a James that died there in 1879 aged 28 who was a bachelor: was Hugh. 

    The tithe applotment records for 1827 list 7 Gormley farms in Doogary, held by Bryan, Daniel, Francs, Hugh, James, John senior and John junior:

    So there’s a complex number of Gormleys in Doogary for you to research. But that’s where I think your John Graham originated.  Why they kept the Gormley name and he changed to Graham, and why Sarah’s former name appears as Graham on the birth certificates for Sarah, Catherine Ann & Hugh rather than Grimes is not something I really know the answer to. Some people did use alternative surnames. I wouldn’t say it was widespread by it did happen. Here you have 2 families apparently changing. 

    In Catherine Ann’s birth certificate John’s occupation is shoemaker rather than farmer. Slightly surprising.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Saturday 8th August 2020, 02:57AM
  • That's a lot of info for me to dig through! Thank you for looking it up.

    I'll have to look into Felix and John more, but I don't think I'm related to them other than through John's marriage to Sarah Graham. Sarah's father Hugh is definitely my great-great-great grandfather. I know that for sure because of several records in the U.S. including an article written about Abraham Graham and his family while he was still alive and his death certificate in the U.S.

    Curious about the gaelic spelling for Graham. I thought "Greachán" was the Irish spelling. Is that essentially the same as "Greidhim" just translated into English differently?

    Do you live in Ireland? If so, you're either an incredibly early riser or night owl. :)



    Saturday 8th August 2020, 03:34AM
  • I should have said that I know for sure the Hugh Graham and Sarah Graham living in Tattygare townland in County Monaghan are my great-great-great grandparents because the article on Abraham has this information. 


    Saturday 8th August 2020, 03:54AM
  • I live in Ireland. My knowledge of Irish isn’t good enough to say for certain what the most accurate translation of Graham is. I am not sure you would see it written in Irish much at all and possibly the person who completed the form just gave it their best guess. There were often several options depending on how you chose to approach a name. MacLysaght doesn’t offer any translation into Irish suggesting perhaps that it wasn’t common to use one.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Saturday 8th August 2020, 08:22AM
  • With the info you proviced me I've been able to track down several new records, but I'm still hitting brick walls all over the place. 

    Do you know how I could find out who lived on and/or worked a particular piece of land through the years without knowing any of the names? 


    Saturday 8th August 2020, 04:38PM
  • If the period you are interested in is within the approximate timescale of 1855 to 1930, you can usually see who was the tenant/owner of land using Griffiths Valuation and then the Valuation revision records. Griffiths is on-line on this site:

    If the land is in what is now Northern Ireland, then the Valuation revision records are on the PRONI website and are free:

    If the land is in the Republic of Ireland then you need to contact the Valuation office in Dublin. They can look them up for you, but there might be a fee to pay:

    If the timescale is outside those years (1855 – 1930) then there are some other options such as the Registry of Deeds. Probably it’s easiest to give advice if I know where the land is and what timescale you want to enquire about.

    At the risk of stating the obvious, it gets harder the further back you go.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Saturday 8th August 2020, 08:36PM
  • It's those two farms where I believe some of my Graham ancestors lived. One is in Tattygare near Castleblayney in County Monaghan and the other is in County Armagh just over the border into Northern Irealnd in the vicinity of 16 Crossdall Road. I think the townland is also Crossdall.   

    I found the 1861 Griffith's entry for Hugh Graham (listed as Grimes) in Tattygare. There are several McMahons around him, but I haven't been able to figure out if one of them is the father of Hugh's wife, Sarah. The lessor is Henry T. Hope, and he is listed on many of the entries for the area. There is a Hope "Castle" in Castleblayney, which Henry T. Hope bought along with the entire estate in 1853. He was a member of the banking family that owned the Hope Diamond.

    In the 1865 Griffith's Valuation, Daniel Graham and Patrick Graham, who I think are Hugh's brothers and thus sons of Archibald (if that's really his first name), are listed side by side in Crossdall, Tynan, Tiranny, Armagh, with Edward Johnstone listed as the lessor. There are several McKearneys listed in the same area with the same lessor. I am assuming it is very likely that these are relatives of Archibald's wife, Anne. 

    I've tried finding earlier listings using the databases on, but I'm not having much luck. 

    Any direction you can provide would be greatly appreciated. 


    Monday 10th August 2020, 03:43AM
  • Regarding the Tattygare property, you know from Griffiths that in 1857 it was occupied by Hugh Grimes (in their records). It was plot 4 and was just over 8 acres.  You can see where it is today on the Griffiths maps. (It’s up a dead end lane off the R181).

    What you need to do next is contact the Valuation office in Dublin and get them to search the Valuation revision records (sometimes referred to as the Cancelled Books). Ask them who was the tenant/owner of plot 4 through to the end of those books (1930s).  Many farmers purchased their farms under the terms of Wyndham’s Land Act. So from around 1904 onwards their status is described as “in fee” meaning they owned the freehold. There is usually a purple stamp saying “L.A.P” which means Land Act Purchase.

    Given that Hugh Grimes died in 1887 and John Graham is apparently there in 1901 you would expect the records to show a change to his name around 1887. (The Griffiths clerks revisited every couple of years and sometimes their dates are out by a year or two). Obviously the Grahams were still there in 1911. The Revision books will show you who was the occupant for the next 20 years or so. 

    Looking again at High Grimes death certificate, I don’t know if you noticed but his wife Sarah was the next death after his. She died 5 days after him aged 85. Their daughter Sarah was again the informant.

    John Graham died in 1917, so you know he was still farming there then:

    The informant was Sarah E. Graham. His wife Sarah had pre-deceased him in 1913:

    John Graham’s will is on-line on the PRONI wills site. Here’s the abstract:

    Probate of the Will of John Graham late of Tattygar County Monaghan Farmer who died 10 February 1917 granted at Armagh to John McNally and Hugh McShane Farmers. Effects £114 15s

    John left the farm to his son Hugh, and he left Sarah Elizabeth £40. It also mentions a grandson Patrick McEnally of Tullyskerry who was to get John’s donkey, cart & harness.

    I noticed this marriage in 1925 for a Sarah Elizabeth Graham of Tullyskerry (which is not far from Tattygare). I think it’s probably John & Sarah’s daughter Sarah E. Graham:

    Since Sarah’s townland was Tullyskerry I’d guess that she had been living there with her sister Kate who had married John McNally in 1907:

    Family in 1911:


    Turning now to Crossdall, we know that in Griffiths in 1865 there were 2 small farms held by the Grahams. Plot 6a was Daniel Graham with 11 acres and next door on plot 7 was Patrick with a combined total of 2 acres. Both those properties today are on the Crossdall Rd.

    The Valuation revision records for Co Armagh are on-line so we don’t need ot contact the Valuation office for them. They are on the PRONI site:

    You can follow those forward. Watch out for a John Graham who appear in the records on plot 19a by 1898.

    Plot 6a is reps of Daniel in 1888 (indicating he had died), then to Patrick in 1893. Plot 7 has Patrick deleted in 1881 and Ed McBennett amalgamates the land into his farm.

    Probate of the Will of John Graham late of Crann, Co. Armagh, farmer, who died 4 December 1916 granted at Armagh to Robert Hamilton, Crossdall and Robert Graham, Crann, farmers. Effects: £716 15s 0d.

    Above will is on-line on the PRONI wills site. It details his children and leaves the farm to son George Graham.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Monday 10th August 2020, 09:00PM
  • Thank you again Elwyn!

    More great information. Hopefully I'll have some time later this week to dig into it your last couple of posts.

    Do you do genealogy research for a living or as a hobby? 



    Wednesday 12th August 2020, 02:35AM
  • It's just a hobby. (I am retired).

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Wednesday 12th August 2020, 09:09PM


    Hi I'm looking for some information on the Graham's.

    The highest graham I have is Michael Graham and Bridget (maybe last name was Maher) 

    they had Patrick Graham (1865, County Monaghan- abt 1918 Belfast) Patrick married Ellen Mcguigan and had 7 children.

    Patrick Graham (1892, Belfast - in 1970s Glasgow) he married Letitia Doyle.

    Bridget Catherine Graham (1894, Belfast- 1941 Belfast) she married Joseph Mcwhinney (1895-1941)

    Margaret Ellen Graham (1898, Belfast- ?) she married William Meighan.

    John Joseph Graham (1901, Belfast -?) he married Eliza Davey

    Michael Graham (1903, Glasgow-1975 Belfast) he married Ellen Jane Mcauley

    James Graham (1905 Glasgow- ?)

    Peter Graham (1908 Glasgow-1982 Belfast)



    Saturday 18th September 2021, 01:54PM
  • Patrick & Ellen’s marriage in 1886. His father Michael was dead by that date.

    Family in the 1901 census:

    I can see the following children to the couple, born in Belfast:

    Patrick 23.1.1892

    Bridget Catherine 6.1.1894

    John Joseph 10.3.1896 (died 6.8.1897)

    Margaret 27.6.1898

    John Joseph 3.1.1901

    Patrick’s death in 1918 at 18 Alton St:

    Ellen is in the street directory for 18 Alton St till 1847. Possible death 28.6.1949 aged 76. (Viewable on the GRONI website for a fee).

    Bridget Graham’s marriage in 1919:

    Margaret’s marriage to William Meehan in 1917:

    John Graham married Eliza Davey on 12.9.1925 in Belfats. That certificate is viewable on the GRONI site.

    Michael Graham’s marriage to Ellen Macauley was on 21.2.1925 in Belfast.

    Possible death for Patrick Graham in 1979 Glasgow, Park Circus district, aged 88. (You would need to order a cert from Scotlandspeople). Can’t see Letitia’s death in Scotland.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Saturday 18th September 2021, 09:53PM
  • Hi,

    So for Patrick Graham's death does that mean his dad is called Patrick too because on his marriage it says Michael  

    Sunday 19th September 2021, 04:33PM
  • Is Patrick that passed away in 1918 Ellen Mcguigan and Patrick child or are his parents Patrick Graham and Letitia Doyle

    Sunday 19th September 2021, 04:56PM
  • Irish death certificates don't normally record parents names (save sometimes for children). So the certificate doesn't say what the Patrick who died in 1918's father's name was, but you have that information from his marriage certificate. That Patrick was married to Ellen McGuigan. She was the informant for the death. She described herself as his widow on the death certificate.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Monday 20th September 2021, 07:26PM