Share This:

Hello! I am new here, so please bear with me. I am descended from a William Murdock and his wife Anna McGookin (McGuckin) who immigrated to the United States in 1847, settling first in Indiana and then moving on to Sullivan County, Missouri, where my father was born in the early 20th century. I believe William and Anna, their children and an older relative named John Murdock followed a family named Barkley (John and Mary Jane -- a sister of Anna McGookin?) to Indiana. A family named Stuart also came along at some point. All three families eventually made the move to Sullivan County, Missouri. I believe the Barkleys came from Raloo, and so I'm looking for connections for them or for the Murdocks or Stuarts in that area. It appears that William and Anna were married in Ballyalbanagh. I also have a Murdock family Bible from the early 1800s that contains a document that mentions Carrickfergus. My real stumbling block in the Murdock family is that older relative, John Murdock, who I believe may have been an out-pensioner of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. If any of these factoids seems familiar, even if the connection is weak, I would be very grateful to hear from you. Thank you! 

P.S. -- (My direct line is through William and Anna -- my third great-grandparents -- and their son George and his wife Susan Lewis -- my second great-grandparents).


Saturday 26th June 2021, 06:33PM

Message Board Replies

  • Griffiths Valuation for 1861 lists two McGookin households in Ballyalbanagh. William was farming plot 60 and Thomas plot 45. William died in 1879:  William’s will is on the PRONI wills website.

    By 1901 there was one Murdoch household in the townland:

    John’s father was another John, a farm labourer.

    Family appear to have been Presbyterian (so likely Scottish origins). If your family were also Presbyterian then you might want to check the Presbyterian church records around Ballyalbanagh for baptisms and marriages.  Possible churches would include Ballyeastion (1st & 2nd), Ballynure, Raloo & perhaps Donegore. Copies of their records are held in PRONI in Belfast. If you are unable to go yourself, you could employ a researcher. Researchers in the PRONI area:



    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Saturday 26th June 2021, 07:16PM
  • Hi
    Here's a link to the Chelsea Pensioners:
    You could try contacting them to see if there is a record of your ancestor.
    Good luck with your search!


    Saturday 26th June 2021, 08:16PM
  • Hello! Thank you, both! Yes, the family were Presbyterians, I believe, and there is definitely a Scottish connection, but exactly what it is I'm not sure. Family lore was that the Murdocks came from Scotland and stayed in Ireland only a short time, but I am finding multiple generations born in Antrim. I think descendants have gotten things a bit mixed up, as so often happens in families. Your leads give me multiple things to work on. Thank you again!


    Sunday 27th June 2021, 04:09PM
  • 200,000 Scots settled in Ireland in the 1600s either as part of the Plantation or other settlements. There was also a big surge in the 1690s due to famine in Scotland. Chances are your ancestors arrived in Ireland in the 1600s, so it’s not surprising you are finding several generations of them. That was fairly normal.

    Some history here on this link:

    Dr David Hume’s book “Eagles Wings” tells the story of the Scotch-Irish (or Ulster Scots as they tend to be known in Ireland) fairly well.  Your family were evidently amongst them.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Sunday 27th June 2021, 05:23PM
  • Thank you for this link, Elwyn. I'm seeing lots of things to pursue here. Also, I've always assumed the Murdocks left Antrim because of the potato famine, but I'm finding that the county wasn't affected nearly as seriously as other parts of Ireland. So, I'm not sure why the Murdocks decided to leave, except that they were probably getting news of good land to be had in Indiana. Still, it's quite a voyage to undertake with an older man and eight or nine children, two of which -- the oldest son, who was about 24, and a new baby daughter -- died on the way. Also, I think it's interesting that the Barkleys, Stuarts and Murdocks bypassed the big cities on the East Coast, which is where a lot of the 19th-century immigrants from Ireland were settling. Perhaps it was because these families were Protestant and the city-settlers tended to be Catholic? Eager to keep studying here. Thanks again!


    Monday 28th June 2021, 07:17PM
  • Yes that’s correct that Co Antrim wasn’t as badly affected by the famine as the rest of Ireland. The people who suffered most in the famine were rural agricultural labourers. However in Ulster many of them were involved in the linen weaving industry as a side line, (made at home on portable hand looms usually in the winter months when there wasn’t much labouring work) and this gave them a bit of extra income that prevented mass starvation.  Whilst the overall population of Ireland dropped by about 20% between 1841 and 1851 due to famine and emigration, in Co Antrim the reduction was only about 2%. According to Bill MacAfee’s website.

    You wonder why your ancestors left Ireland. I am sure they left for the same reasons that millions did. To find work, or better paid work. Ireland has very few natural resources (no oil, coal, iron ore etc) and so did not benefit from the industrial revolution in the 1800s, the way Scotland, England, the US, Canada & Australia did, which created hundreds of thousands of comparatively well-paid new jobs in new industries (coal mining, steel making, railways, ship building etc). So that was a big pull factor. There had also been a huge population explosion in Ireland going up from about 3 million people in 1750 to 8 million in 1830. There simply weren’t jobs for all those people. In much of Ireland the only employment was subsistence farming topped up in Ulster and one or two other areas with a bit of linen weaving. And then the straw that broke the camel’s back, along came the famine, numerous times throughout the 1800s. The worst period was when the potato crop failed almost completely 3 years in a row in the late 1840s, and then partially several more years after that. 

    Other factors encouraged emigration, eg early mechanisation on farms. With new machines to turn the soil and plant seed, farmers no longer needed an army of agricultural labourers to help on the farm. So those jobs were rapidly disappearing. Likewise mechanisation had led to linen factories being set up in places like Belfast. These made home weaving uneconomic and so also upset the labourer’s family economy. Agriculture was the biggest single employer in Ireland, but it was mostly a barter economy. Few people had any ready cash save what they could make from weaving or any government sponsored work such as building new roads. So when the opportunity arose to get jobs with a regular wage packet, as opposed to a few pence from your father each week, the decision to migrate wasn’t really all that hard to make. So it was as much about economic betterment as anything

    In addition, the British Government often placed adverts in the press encouraging people to migrate to take advantage of land that was available overseas. 

    There was a massive tide of migration all through that century, including long before the famine. Years after the worst of the famine it’s impact was still being felt across Ireland, and there were still plenty of much better job opportunities in Australia and the USA. 

    So to summarise, people had been pouring out of Ireland long before the worst of the famine. All the famine did was speed the tide up.


    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Monday 28th June 2021, 08:14PM