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I am searching for my 4th great grandfather, Jeremiah “Jerry” Donovan, who was born in Cork, Ireland around 1785 (possibly Cork city). I have not had success locating his baptismal record.


His parents names may be Patrick Donovan and Jane Crowley, both born around 1760. Jeremiah may have had a brother called George (b. 1790) and sister Catherine (unknown birth year). Patrick apparently died in 1854 in Innishmaan, Galway. Patrick’s parents names may be Cornelius and Ellen Connor (a baptismal record was found for a Patrick, 1761, St. Finnbar's South Parish, Cork). 


The family was Catholic and I believe Jeremiah was a fisherman. He was supposedly pressed into service by the British military and arrived in Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada via the British Royal Navy/Nova Scotia Regiment around 1808 (I have not been able to locate his military record). He married Elizabeth Robinson in November 1808 at St. George’s church in Sydney, Nova Scotia. The marriage record does not state the parent’s names. 

They had 10 children: Timothy, Bridget, Mary, Catherine, Mary Ann, Thomas, Margaret, James, William, and Elizabeth. 

I have not been able to locate Jeremiah’s death record in Nova Scotia (the church burned and records were lost).


If anyone has suggestions on how I can verify who Jeremiah’s parents were and where they lived in County Cork, I would really appreciate any help. Thank you so much!


Tuesday 9th November 2021, 11:11PM

Message Board Replies

  • Shandon:

    There are no baptismal records for a Jer Donovan in Co. Cork with the parents names you listed prior to 1800. There are a limited number of RC parishes in Co. Cork which have records back to the late 18th century.

    The free site had one record around 1785 in Cork city.

    Jer Donovan baptized April 10 1784 St. Peter and Paul parish father DL (possibly Daniel)  Donovan mother Mary O'Brien

    Roger McDonnell

    Castlemore Roscommon, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Wednesday 10th November 2021, 12:05AM
  • It's unlikely that Patrick and Jane were Jer's parents.  According to Irish naming patterns, Jer should have had children named after his parents. But of ten children, there is no Patrick, no Jane. I hope this helps.


    Wednesday 10th November 2021, 12:24AM

    Hi Shandon,

    It's funny- I happened to run a search for Jeremiah Donovan tonight, as I've done before, to see if anything new might pop up, and here you are posting about him the very same day! (Ok a few hours later but still). I made an account just so I could reply to you. He's my 5th great grandfather (via Timothy > George > Mary Jane). I unfortunately don't have much more if any information to share, but I will double check my tree to be sure. Hello anyway, and feel free to send me a message!

    Sarah McGean

    Sarah McGean

    Wednesday 10th November 2021, 05:25AM
  • Thank you so much for the quick responses! Roger McDonnell: Thank you for the baptismal information! It is a possibility.
    I have been searching for years and have not been able to locate any information on Jeremiah that includes a Patrick and Jane and, as Patricia mentions, his children should have included their names. By Irish naming, his parents should be Timothy and Bridget (I haven't found records with those names either). Elizabeth's should be Mary and Thomas. And there are no children named Jeremiah - Unless maybe it was given as a middle name. So either they didn't follow the naming pattern or the parents names are different, which seems likely.
    Thank you for the information:)







    Wednesday 10th November 2021, 09:54AM
  • Hi Sarah, wonderful to meet a relative! Interesting that we were on this site searching for the same information yesterday. I hope you find the information you are looking for too. Thank you. I will be sure to share any additional information I find too :)



    Wednesday 10th November 2021, 10:03AM
  • One (or both) of you may already be aware of them, but there are records for what appears to be your Jeremiah Donovan in the Family Search database [].  If you create a (free) account there, you can find Jeremiah under ID number GQR6-TM1, and can access the records for the others easily through that record, as you will see.  Jeremiah is shown as being born in Ireland, but later being married and dying in Nova Scotia.  He and his wife, Elizabeth Robinson, are shown with 10 children, and the names are almost exactly what you gave (one or two are different).

    The record for Jeremiah shows him as being born in 1785, and shows Patrick Donovan (christened 14 March 1761) and Jane "Checkley" (which may be a mis-transcription of Coakley) as his parents.  There is a document attached to Patrick's record showing that he and Jane were married in 1823 in Ross, County Cork, which does not make sense under the corcumstances.  Perhaps that Patrick was actually a brother who stayed in Ireland and married there.   Jeremiah's record also shows Cornelius and Ellen Donovan as alternate parents, with no documents attached to evidence that, so some things are obviously wrong there.  In each record, at the right hand side of the record you can see the screen names of those who have created or modified the record, and can send them private messages, so you might be able to get more info by contacting them to compare notes (and perhaps also locate some relatives that way).

    FamilySearch is operated by the LDS church, and is free to use.  You have to create an account to use it, but they don’t ask for much personal info, and no missionaries will contact you or anything like that.  The database, which is the largest in the world (bigger than Ancestry)  does not have separate family trees, and is essentially one huge tree of linked records, in which there is a single record for each person, with a unique identification number (although sometimes people unknowingly create duplicate records for the same person, which you can merge when you spot them).

    As you may already have learned, some (but not all) parish priests, when writing down baptismal or marriage records, converted Irish given names to what they considered "Latinized" forms, or replaced them with Biblical names.  At the time in question, nearly everyone in Cork spoke Irish (and most would have spoken little or no English), so your ancestor was most likely named Diarmuid (Dermot), a name which was often "anglicized" as Jeremiah (later shortened to Jerry in some cases).

    In case Ross turns out to be the right place, at this link you can see a list of townlands in the civil parish of Ross, with links to info about each townland,  Note that civil parishes do not always have the same boundares (or even the same names) as the Catholic parishes.

    The Catholic parish is called Roscarberry, and is somewhat larger than the civil parish.  Here's a link to the online records which are available for that parish.  They only go back to 1814, so presumably you won't find any records for Jeremiah there, but you may be able to figure out where Patrick and Jane lived (assuming that they are relevant)  from their marriage record (looking in or around 1823), since it may state the townland where they lived.

    The Coakley surname exists almost only in Cork, and is an anglicization of the Irish name Mac Caochlaoich ("son/descendant of the bllind hero").  It was also anglicized as McKehilly, but that name appears to have been replaced by Coakley, except in Dunmanway parish, which is not far from Roscarberry.  The Irish form of Donovan is Ó Donnabháin (the meaning of which is now obscure, although the donn part is likely the word "brown").  It originated in County Limerick, but spread to SW Cork and is more common there now.


    Thursday 11th November 2021, 06:23AM
  • Kevin:

    Great work!


    Castlemore Roscommon, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Friday 12th November 2021, 04:11PM
  • Hi Kevin,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to do all of that research. It is very much appreciated! I do have an LDS/family search account and have searched numerous genealogy sites over the past several years, including Ancestry, etc. I also have the history of the Donovan name - the meaning is black/brown -relating to dark hair.


    As you mention, there are family trees that include the name Jane Checkley rather than Jane Crowley (also a Cork name); however, they also state Jane was from Checkley, England, which I thought may be suspect. It is interesting to know that the name may have been changed from Coakley – something to research for sure. 

    I have not seen the 1823 marriage document so that is an interesting find -perhaps it is a relation. Thank you for the links to the townlands and parish records.


    I did notice the alternate parent names of Ellen and Cornelius for Jeremiah; however, I also found records of those names as the parents of Patrick, Jeremiah‘s father. It is a good suggestion to contact other relatives through genealogy sites to see if they have more information.


    The suggestion of Jeremiah having originally had the name Dermot is interesting - Perhaps he was baptized under that name.

    I have copies of census records and his marriage record in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia where he lived showing his name listed as Jeremiah (he was known locally as Jerry) so there are records of him using that name in Canada.


    Thanks again for the information - and new 

    leads to research :)

    All the best,




    Wednesday 17th November 2021, 01:04AM