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I have been attempting to uncover some information for a Mary Ann McCoubrie for my brother in law.  She married a John "Jock" Thompson and left for South Africa c. 1892.  I am informed that  she left two sons behind.  The family in South Africa also say that she was born in Scotland.  Her year of birth per her Death Cert would suggest 1864/65. I have not found any verifiable records for Mary Ann.  However, I decided to undertake an analysis of the 1901 census with a view to listing all the "McCoubries" that cited Scotland as their place of birth.  I came up with two entries (families) that satisfied this condition. William McCoubrie aged 39 of Carrick Fergus, Co. Antrim and Edward Muir McCoubrie, aged 37 of Whiteabbey, Co Antrim.  Edward's situation was only some time later clarified when I visited the 1911 census. It would seem the two are connected and perhaps brothers.  I gleaned  information from a date of birth for William McCoubrie of September 7th 1861 at Greenock, Renfrew, Scotland. His parents are recorded as Thomas McCoubrie and Janet Muir. This explains the use of"Muir" in the surname.  Further, I came across an 1881 census entry for William at 19 years and also Marriage record to Margaret McVicar in 1881 in Greenock, Scotland.  I also have it from the people in South Africa that they were told that it was possible to see the shores of Northern Ireland from their home  in Scotland.  The marriage of William to Margaret was furtther confirmed with the  birth of their son William James June 15th, 1885 in Westmeath. Also before I omit this fact  I have found a birth record for a Mary McCoubray in Greenock Old or West, the same area as William and Edward.  The year however is 1868 offering a difference of at least 3 years given or YOB: 1865.  I have been able to progress the families of William and Edward.  William married again: Isabella Long, birth name Russell April 5th, 1892.  One of the  sponsors on the Marriage Certificate ( appears to be Mary McCoubrie? A commom theme also is the occupation of Gardener for William, Edward and Thomas, William's father in Scotland.  In fact Mary Ann McCoubrie's Spouse John "Jock" Thompson became a horticulturalist.  William and Isabella McCoubrie's two daughters married.  Isabella married  James Ogg 1913 while Janet McCoubrie married Samuel Connor in Carrickfergus and believe she may have died c. 1915.  My Question in all this is that although the circumstantial connections seem to persuasive there is no tangible evidence linking Mary Ann to William or Edward.  No Marriage record for Mary Ann to John Thompson.  Baptismal records of the children for Edward or  William might show mary as sponsor if lucky.  I would be most grateful if you can help in this matter.  Thankng you in advance for any effort you might take.


Tuesday 28th May 2019, 10:15PM

Message Board Replies

  • Frank,

    I can see a death for Janet McCoubray previously Muir, in Greenock in 1870, aged 33.

    Marriage for Thomas McCoubry to Janet Muir in Greenock in 1860.

    Thomas McCoubry 34, & Janet 24, are in the 1861 census for Upper Dunoon St, Greenock. He was a gardener and born in Ireland. Janet appears to have been born in Fife.

    I see 5 possible children to this couple, all born in Greenock:

    John McCoubra 1866

    William McCoubray 1861

    Mary McCoubray 1868

    Thomas McCoubry 1864

    Edward Muir McCoultrey 1863


    I don’t see the family in the 1871 Scottish census so suspect they had moved/returned to Ireland, following Janet’s death perhaps.

    John McCoubrie (Gardener) married Margaret Hawthorne in Lisburn on 6.5.1894. Thomas McCoubrie was a witness.

    Here’s that family in 1901:

    Thomas McCoubrie (junior) in 1901:

    I can’t see a marriage in Ireland for Mary, nor a death for Thomas senior. I also searched for children to parents named Thompson & McCoubrie born c 1892 but did not find any in Ireland.

    Edward Muir McCoubrie married Margaret Jane Broome on 30.4.1897 at Clough Presbyterian church in Co Down. His father was Thomas, Gardner.  Edward was living in Annadorn, Co Down at the time (parish of Loughinisland).  Son Wm John was born 6.2.1898 at LoughEske in Co Donegal and Janetta Ann 18.2.1899 at the same place.

    Lough Eske Castle is now a 5 star hotel but it was a private house in the 1890s and so I suspect Edward was employed in the grounds of it then.

    The big estate in Annadorn was Nutgrove House, so I suspect that’s where he was working when he married.

    In the 1800s, Nutgrove House belonged to the McCammon family. This is them in 1901:

    Interestingly, in the 1901 census, there is a servant named Samuel McCoubrie aged 20 and born Co. Down working there. Unlikely to be a coincidence, I think.

    Samuel was born 23.10.1878 to John McCoubrie and Margaret McKnight of Castlenavan, Loughinisland.

    There’s a couple of McCoubrey households in Castlenavan in 1901:

    This second one looks to be Samuel’s family:

    Ellen McCoubrie was born 21.2.1885 to same parents as Samuel. John McCoubrie, farmer, died at Castlenavan on 1.4.1894 aged 64. He and Margaret had married on 12.2.1875 at Clough Non Subscribing Presbyterian church. His father was Samuel Macoubrey, farmer.

    This John McCoubrey was born c 1830, so of an age to be a brother to Thomas who married Janet Muir.

    NB Non Subscribing Presbyterians don’t subscribe to the concept of the Trinity (ie Father, Son & Holy Ghost). They believe in a single “unity” and so are often known as Unitarians. Clough NSP has baptism & marriage records starting in 1792. There’s a copy in PRONI.

    The McCoubrey name, location (ie Co Down) and Presbyterian denomination point strongly to them being descendants of Scots who settled in Co Down in the 1600s.  There was a massive migration of well over 100,000 Scots to that part of Ireland in that century.

    Probate abstract from the PRONI wills site.

    McCoubrie Edward Muir of "Kia Ora" Circular Road Whiteabbey county Antrim gardener (retired) died 21 June 1943 Administration Belfast 10 January to Jeanetta Anna McCrea widow. Effects £1000.

    I can confirm that Northern Ireland can easily be seen from Scotland, though not I think from Greenock which is way up the River Clyde, and round a corner. But Ireland is easily seen not too far away, further down the Scottish coast, from places like Troon or Ayr. At the closest point (The Mull of Kintyre) it’s only about 11 miles across to Ireland. The quickest ferry crossing these days is probably from Ballycastle in Co. Antrim to Campbeltown in Argyll which takes 45 minutes. Folk have been going back and forth for thousands of years. In the 1800s there were daily sailings from Belfast to Greenock & on to Glasgow and tens of thousands of folk made that journey in both directions every year.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Tuesday 28th May 2019, 11:33PM


    Thanks so much for all your extensive research on this subject.  I must shortly take some time out and absorb the full content.  I'm sure I'll be back to you after I have digested it all.

    Much Appreciated,





    Wednesday 29th May 2019, 07:32PM
  • Hi Elwyn
    I have had a break through that has completely changed my direction. On the website there is a 2002 narrative recorded by Bob Hunsley and replying post from Niall McCoubrie that matches the emigration story of Mary Ann McCoubrie and John Thompson to South Africa and the abandoned son. It gives the Mary's parents as James McCoubrie and Sarah Plunkett Drumaghlish/Rademon in the Ballynahinch area near Crossroads Mary date of baptism was 04/12/1864. I think a Google search of McCoubrie and genealogy com will generate the message board in question.. Before I speak to the South African descendants you might please review and give me your thoughts


    Sunday 2nd Jun 2019, 08:47PM
  • Hi Elwyn
    I have had a break through that has completely changed my direction. On the website there is a 2002 narrative recorded by Bob Hunsley and replying post from Niall McCoubrie that matches the emigration story of Mary Ann McCoubrie and John Thompson to South Africa and the abandoned son. It gives the Mary's parents as James McCoubrie and Sarah Plunkett Drumaghlish/Rademon in the Ballynahinch area near Crossroads Mary date of baptism was 04/12/1864. I think a Google search of McCoubrie and genealogy com will generate the message board in question.. Before I speak to the South African descendants you might please review and give me your thoughts


    Sunday 2nd Jun 2019, 08:47PM
  • Frank,

    Regarding the change of parents, do you have a death certificate for Mary Ann McCoubrie? If so, what parents names does it give?

    I can see a marriage for James McCoubrie to Sarah Plunkett on 5th March 1864 at Kilmore Presbyterian church. James was a flax dresser from Drumaghlis and Sarah was a servant from Rademon.

    According to the 1911 census they had 9 children of which 8 were still alive that year. I can find the following children in GRONI's rtecords. There were evidently more:

    Robert 25.2.1867

    Male (no name) 8.8.1869

    Elizabeth 10.4.1873

    James 16.7.1880

    Thomas 17.8.1882 born Drumaghlis

    This looks to be James & Sarah in 1901, by then living in Rademon:

    And in 1911:

    I can’t see a Mary born to those parents, nor obviously does it help find a marriage for her, to Jock Thompson.

    I can see that Martha Humphries was born to John Humphries and Martha McCoubrie and that Charlotte Isabella Blake was born to James Blake and Sarah Margaret McCoubrie. This account of the family by Bob Hunsley mentions 10 children but no Mary:

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Sunday 9th Jun 2019, 03:53AM
  • Hi Elwyn,

    The details you've have come up with match my information.  In fact Bob Hunsley recently sent me the whoble tree on the Family Tree Maker programme.  Amy the person in South Africa from whom the request came via my brother in law explained to me recently that the huge motivation to discover the family heritage is because her mother, Maureen,  is hoping to establish that her Grandfather, Mary Ann and John Jock's son, Thomas Victor Thompson was born in Ireland.  Maureen is hoping to gain Irish citizenship. This is proving an extremely difficult task given as you have noted above the records are sparse with regard to Mary Ann, John Jock and also Thomas Victor. To establish some linkeage would mean: finding 1.a birth certificate for Thomas Victor and  2.a marriage certificate for Mary Ann and John Jock  Thomas Victor's birth is supposed to have occurred a few days before arrival of the ship at Capetown.  I have sent a request to the GRO in Roscommon and await a reply but the indexes for 1891 to 1893 did not show any evidence of a sea birth for Thomas Victor. No marriage record either for Mary Ann and John Jock has been uncovered in South Africa.  Thanks again for all your help to date.  Any ideas you might have re the above would be much appreciated.

    Thomas Victor's Death Certificate and Marriage Certs can be view on  I simply used search term Thomas Victor Thompson and Location: South Africa. Also there, is a Marriage Cert for Thomas Victor.







    Wednesday 12th Jun 2019, 08:51PM
  • Frank,

    If I understand correctly you are now saying that 2 sons weren’t left behind in Ireland and that instead one (Thomas Victor Thompson) was born at sea en route to South Africa. Is that correct?

    If Thomas Victor Thompson was born at sea, then his birth may not be registered in Ireland.  It may have been registered with the British authorities in South Africa, and if so, could be in the overseas births section at the GRO in Southport, England. (Bear in mind that Ireland didn’t exist as a separate country until 1922 and so in the 1890s the Thompson family were British for nationality purposes, not Irish).

    This link may explain a bit of background:

    I am not an expert on nationality law. You probably need a specialist immigration lawyer for reliable advice if you find a birth certificate. However I am fairly sure that under UK law, a grandparent’s birth in the UK (which of course includes Northern Ireland) isn’t sufficient to get a passport. Nationality only goes back 1 generation in the UK. However there are UK grandparents visas which allow some sort of residence rights (though not a passport), and that might be a fallback if all else fails. The Republic of Ireland does grant nationality on the basis of a grandparent being born in Ireland (and that includes Northern Ireland). But that might be the nub of the matter. If Thomas Victor was born at sea, he wasn’t born in Ireland, was he? (And it wouldn’t have been an Irish ship in 1892. It was probably a British ship).

    If GRO Roscommon do not find a birth certificate for him, my advice would be to check the overseas birth section at GRO Southport. If you find one there, you could look at applying for a UK grandparent visa. But take advice from a qualified expert too.




    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Thursday 13th Jun 2019, 07:29PM
  • Thanks Elwyn for all the trouble you've taken in this.  I will follow your advise and see where it takes us.  Thanks Again.



    Friday 14th Jun 2019, 06:23PM
  • Frank,

    My paternal grandmother was Janet Muir McCoubrie married to Samuel Johnston Connor.   Unfortunately Janet died in a Belfast Hospital on 8 April 1912, only 24 years old.  My father, William Connor, was born in 1907, his brother Alexander Connor was born in 1910 and Margaret Connor (known as Peg) was born in September 1911.   As you can see my Aunt Peg was only a baby when her mother died.  The 3 were brought up by their Aunt Ellen Connor, a spinister, she also brought up one of her sister's 3 kids as well.   They were brought on the family farm "Echo Valley", Upper Woodburn, Carrickfergus, County Antrim.  The family never spoke about her, or I was too young to listen.  My Dad never spoke much and when my mother died when I was 10 he didn't speak much about her, I expect it was the generation and also the fact his aunt brought him up.  I do remember her, seeing her when she was very old.  I am always talking to my children re the family.  I was born in Enniskillen, Dad went there as a butcher and met my mother, Mabel McCullagh, who was from a well known Enniskillen family.   I had one sister, Margaret Elena (known as Rita, as there was so many Margarets in the Connor family).  I believe a boy was either born or my mother had a miscarriage.  I came along 9 years after my sister in 1946.  My sister and her family came to Queensland, Australia around 1965 and in 1973 my husband, my 2 girls and my father came out too.  I will have to try to get my tree together before I get any older!



    Tuesday 30th Jul 2019, 11:22AM
  • Hi Fergirl,
    The reason I happened upon your ancestors who all seem to hail from Greenock in Scotland was because at the time my brother in law's relatives in South Africa claimed that their Mccoubries came from there. So by using the search criteria "born in Scotland" in the 1901 & 1911 censured was able to narrow down my search. However having effectively put the Tree together with the help of Elwyn it transpired that the Muir Mccoubries were not the correct line. A post written in 2002 by Bob Hunsley revealed all. I have however collected much data on your ancestors, some of which is included in the above post, if you wish to see it.


    Wednesday 31st Jul 2019, 08:07PM
  • Hi Frank,

    Thanks for getting in touch.  I would love some more information of the McCoubries,  that would be very kind.   I have a cousin who starting his family tree and I  need to let him know what I have got.  His  Dad was a brother of my father.  My husband was actually born in Dunfermline, Fife so there is a bit of Scottish around our house!





    Thursday 1st Aug 2019, 05:42AM

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