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Samuel Donaldson (1782 - 1877) married Nancy Burns in about 1815.  They were Presbyterians.  They appear to have lived in Templemore Parish, which is in Londonderry, Co. Londonderry, very close to Co. Donegal.  He was a weaver.  Nancy died prior to 1841.  It would appear that Samuel and his unmarried daughter Jane came out to Australia, probably on the 'James Baines', arriving Melbourne on 27th June, 1856.  Samuel died at Moranding, near Kilmore, Victoria on 19th August, 1877, aged 95, at his son William's home. 

His son, William Donaldson, was born about 1819 in Londonderry, Templemore Parish, Inishowen, Co. Londonderry/Donegal.  He married Rosanna Burns in 1840/41 in Derry, Co. Donegal - they were Presbyterians.  William was aged 21.  Rosanna was born 23/1/1819 or 3/11/1819 in Derry, Co. Donegal to parents John and Jane Burns.  William and Rose, together with William's sister Mary, emigrated to New South Wales in Australia in 1841, sailing from Greenock on 'New York Packet' on 8/7/1841, arriving Sydney on 23/10/1841.

Another daughter, Anne/Nancy, (born 9/6/1828 Templemore, Co. Londonderry), married Joseph Miller in Great James St. Presbyterian Church, Templemore on 31/1/1851.  They arrived in Geelong, Victoria from Liverpool, UK on 'Mirzaphone' on 12/10/1852.

Samuel's Death Certificate shows a youngest son, Andrew aged 51.  We have no knowledge of Andrew's existance.  

Samuel is believed to have a brother, William Donaldson, married to Catherine Margaret Williamson, who lived at Eskaheen, Carry, Muff, Donegal, and worshiped at Knowhead Presbyterian Church.  

I would be most grateful if someone is able to help me with any additional information whatsoever on any of the above families. 

Cheryl Elliott



Wednesday 1st Dec 2021, 12:59AM

Message Board Replies

  • Cheryl,

    Here’s a death of an Andrew Donaldson who was roughly of the right age. Don’t know if it’s your family though but the general area is right.

    Informant was daughter Mary Jane Mitchell of Creggan Rd. Looked for her marriage but couldn’t find it.

    Knowhead Presbyterian has baptism records from 1826 and marriages from 1846. Copy in PRONI in Belfast.

    I looked for Samuel Donaldson & family in the 1831 census but did not find him in Co. Derry. There was a Samuel in Drumachose but he appears to have been living with a servant only. No wife and children. If he had a servant, he’d likely have been a farmer, not a weaver.

    Here’s a Samuel Donaldson, son of William Donaldson, farming in Eskaheen in 1901:

    His marriage to Matilda Wilson. His previous wife had died.

    Same family in 1911:

    Samuel’s first wife looks to have been Jane Jack. Birth of their daughter Elizabeth here:

    Jane’s death in Feb 1894. (He didn’t hang about as his remarriage to Matilda was on 2nd April 1894).

    Samuel’s previous marriage:

    You will see he was a widower at that marriage too. Can’t find his previous marriage.

    Administration with Will Annexed of the estate of the late Samuel Donadson, Iskaheen, Muff, Co. Donegal, Farmer, who died 31 January 1920, granted at Londonderry 9 June 1920 to Elizabeth Dickson, Married Woman, the daughter. Effects: £340 2s 7d. 

    The above will should be in PRONI. They will copy it for you for a fee.

    Daughter Elizabeth’s marriage in 1911:…

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Wednesday 1st Dec 2021, 11:19AM
  • Elwyn,  

    Thank you very much for all your very helpful information.  Some I knew of, but to have the certificates is a great help.  As you say, Andrew could be the son from Templemore.  These (apart from possibly the Andrew you found) are all family of William married to Catherine Margaret Williamson.  I will go through all the certificates and extract all the information I can later on today!


    Have you been able to find anything of the family of Samuel Donaldson married to Nancy Burns in Templemore Parish?  (This Samuel is the above William's brother.)  Those records seem to be more elusive unfortunately.  Thank you one again for your great help.




    Thursday 2nd Dec 2021, 12:18AM
  • Cheryl,

    No I didn't find anything on Samuel & Nancy. I would have expected to see them in the 1831 census but they are not there. Death registration didn't start till 1864 and Presbyterians generally didn't keep burial records, so you probably won't find Nancy's death. Their marriage would also have been before the start of statutory marriage registration (1845), so for that you would need to know which church, plus the records probably aren't on-line anywhere. I'd obviously start with Presbyterian churches in and around Londonderry (Derry is in Templemore parish). Tradition was to marry in the bride's church, after which she'd normally attend her husband's, so the marriage and subsequent baptisms of their children may not be in the same church. You would need to get a researcher to go through the records in PRONI for you, assuming you can't get yourself.

    Weavers and labourers can be tricky to trace as they tended to move about a fair bit to follow the available work. And they don't feature much in official records, often being largely below officaldom's radar.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Thursday 2nd Dec 2021, 11:23AM
  • Elwyn,

    Thanks again for your help and advice.  I have looked back over various other sources of information, ((Hearth Money Rolls, Protestant H'holders Returns, Flaxgrowers List etc.) but there is no way of proving any of the Donaldsons I found would actually be connected with our particular family.  The families who came out to Australia couldn't write, so we have no written information or letters to work with.  We are fortunate to know what we do know.  



    Thursday 2nd Dec 2021, 10:53PM
  • Cheryl,

    A lot of Irish reserarch comes to a stop around 1800 due to the general lack of records, so you are not alone in facing this problem.

    Samuel's apparent absence from the 1831 census of Co. Derry makes me wonder if he was in Co. Donegal then. (The Co Donegal 1831 census hasn't survived). That's obviously where some of the family ended up, or were they born there?  As you  probably know, Muff is just a few hundred yards into Co Donegal from Derry. (You could probably walk from Muff to the centre of Derry in 30 minutes).  So quite plausible that they were there then.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Friday 3rd Dec 2021, 08:17AM

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