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I am trying to find the parents of Ellen Morrison(Morison) married to Francis Tomlinson(I would like his parents also). I have a printout copy of their headstone in Drumreagh cemetery, Ballymoney, Antrim, that shows Francis died 27 April 1907. It also has the names of the family on it. The only record I can find of a marriage is of a Francis Tumbleson and an Ellen Morison( parents William Tumbleson and Robert Morison) married 11 April 1873 in Drumreagh, Ballymoney, Antrim.  Is it possible that these could be the same people?  If so why the difference in spelling? Any help would be greatly appreciated.  They are my Great Grandparents. My mother was Margaret Jane Tomlinson, Born Oct 1907 in Balnamore, Antrim, daughter of James Tomlinson and Margaret Jane Cooper married in Ballymoney in 1905. James parents were Francis and Ellen.  I am having trouble tracking down the Cooper line also.  Thank you very much for anything you can tell me.    Sheila. <>   


Thursday 2nd September 2021, 01:52AM

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  • Tumbleson is simply another way of spelling Tomlinson. Such variations are very common in Ireland.  Kirkpatrick/Kilpatrick, Falconer/Faulkner, Robertson/Robinson, Nogher/Connor, Patterson/Pattison, , McConnell/McDonnell, Kerr/ Carr, Stewart/Stuart are other examples.

    The idea of a single or correct spelling for a surname or a place name in Ireland is very much a recent phenomenon designed to meet the needs of modern officialdom. Before that there was no consistency. Names were spelled phonetically and each variation was down to the whim of the particular person recording the information. You will often see the spelling change as the records go back. This rarely indicates a deliberate decision to alter the name, nor even a mistake. Not everyone was literate, but even when they were, exact and consistent spelling simply wasn’t something they bothered about. In addition to varying the actual spelling, O’ or Mac prefixes were optional and were often omitted. 

    In 1899, the Rev Smith reviewed the early records of Antrim 1st Presbyterian church (covering the years 1674 to c 1736). He noted: “Even the same word is not always spelled alike by the same hand. Indeed spelling with most of the recording officials (and they must have been fairly numerous) was a matter of the most sublime indifference. The name William, for instance, is spelled 3 different ways in as many lines; while Donegore, a neighbouring parish, is spelled 10 different ways; but these extend over a good number of years. Many families names are spelled phonetically, while others are given in the most round-about fashion.”

    So expect spelling to vary. That was the norm.

    This looks to be the family in the 1901 census. Different spelling again.

    Family in 1911:

    Son James birth certificate:

    Tradition was to marry in the bride’s church so Drumreagh Presbyterian may be where Margaret Jane Cooper was baptised. That churches records start in 1864 for baptisms and 1845 for marriages. Copy in PRONI in Belfast.

    This is probably Hugh Cooper’s death in 1908. Wife Margaret Jane still alive:

    Margaret Jane in 1911:

    Hugh’s marriage to Margaret Jane Thompson in 1878:

    Birth of Margaret Jane Cooper in 1884:

    Anna looks to have been born 6th Feb 1882.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Thursday 2nd September 2021, 04:45AM
  • Dear Elwyn;  Thank you for clearing up the spelling for me. It was kind of confusing.  Also thank you for verifying the info that I have.  However I am assuming that the records for finding Ellen's parents (Father shown as Robert Morrison) and Francis's parents (father shown as William Tumbleson) are not available because they are to far back?  Also I can't seem to find any info on my grandmothers father other than the death record for Hugh Caldwell Cooper. Who was his wife and where were they originally from.  It is so sad that they didn't understand the importance of keeping records back then.  My mother and family moved to Greenock, Scotland in 1912.  Thank you for the help you have done.  Someday I hope I will find the answers.     Sincerely Sheila Ross.   <>


    Thursday 2nd September 2021, 06:02PM
  • Lillyjoy,

    Statutory recording of births & death started in 1864. Marriages were recorded from 1845 (save for RC marriages which were not recorded till 1864). Prior to those years you need to rely on church records, where they exist.  And for Presbyterians, they rarely kept burial records so they are particularly hard to trace.

    Where baptism and early marriage records do exist, for Presbyterians they are often not on-line. Your only option is to search in PRONI (or get a researcher to do it for you).  But you need to have an idea if which churches to search in. 

    I had a look for a death post 1864 for William Tumbleson (and variant spellings) but did not find one. I suspect he died pre 1864, or had left the immediate area. Labourers moved around all the time to follow the available work. And they were forever going to Scotland to work, so it can be very difficult to trace them.

    You ask who Hugh Caldwell Cooper’s wife was. I am fairly sure she’s the lady in the 1911 census and in the 1878 marriage certificate I gave you links to. Margaret Jane Thompson. She was born in Co Antrim according to the 1911 census. I have looked for the family in the 1901 census but cannot find them. Perhaps out of Ireland at the time, or badly transcribed, or simply missed on census night.

    Ellen Morrison’s birth is before the start of birth registration so you are not going to get a birth certificate for her. And if she was baptised in Drumreagh then their baptism records don’t go back far enough. No easy way round that. But she might have been baptised in one of the many other Presbyterian churches in the area.

    The only Robert Morrison death I can see 1864 – 1901 in the general area is this one. The informant was his daughter Ellen of Balnamore, but she appears to have been single in 1895, so can’t be the Ellen who married Francis Tomlinson.

    In 1817 the Rev Park took over as Minister of Ballymoney 1st Presbyterian church and he conducted a census of the whole parish (all denominations).  That’s on Bill McAfee’s website:

    There were no Tomlinsons and only 1 Morrison family (no Robert). But quite  a few Coopers.  So probably the Tomlinsons and Morrisons came from outside the parish of Ballymoney. The 1803 agricultural census is also on that website. You might want to look at it.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Thursday 2nd September 2021, 06:34PM
  • Dear Elwyn;  Thankyou for the information. I had the feeling that they may have come from somewhere else. The problem is trying to tell which of all the names that show is the one you are looking for when you have so little information.  So much is by guess and by gosh for the early years.  Thank you again for your help. It is greatly appreciated.  You are doing us a great service with being so willing to help.  I know I can contact you later if needed.  I have decided to change my contact name to my own name.   Bye for now.  Sheila.


    Friday 3rd September 2021, 05:05AM
  • Margaret Jane Cooper’s death in 1917:

    Informant was daughter Anna, and the certificate confirms Margaret was the wife of Hugh Cooper (deceased).

    I compared the 1901 census for Balnamore with that in 1911, and I think part of the 1901 is missing, which is probably why I can’t find Hugh Cooper and family in 1901. There’s just 9 houses in the 1901 census and about 60 in the 1911.

    Following her mother’s death, Anna married Robert McGarry in 1918. He was a soldier, then based in Shropshire.

    John C. Cooper was a witness.  Who was he? An uncle perhaps. (Anna didn’t have any brothers. We know that from the 1911 census. Just 1 sister).

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Friday 3rd September 2021, 12:22PM
  • Hi! Elwyn;  Thank you for the info on Anna.  I always wondered what happened to her. I have a copy of the 1911 Ireland census that shows a Margaret Jane Cooper, age 72, widow  and an Anna cooper, age 29, single, daughter of Margaret,  which would mean she was born ab't 1882.  But they don't indicate where the census was taken other than in Antrim County.   Thanks again for your help.   Sheila.


    Wednesday 22nd September 2021, 07:07PM
  • Sheila,

    The 1911 census does give an address. The family were living in Ballinamore (modern Balnamore) town. That’s a village a mile or so west of Ballymoney.

    It’s the same address as on Hugh’s death certificate in 1908.

    Annie was born 6th Feb 1882 (surname Couper in the records). The birth isn’t on the irishgenealogy site but GRONI have it on their site. 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. 

    The Valuation Revision records list Hugh Cooper arriving in Balnamore in 1904.  It’s in the townland of Ballynacree Skein and he had a building that had previously been a house and shop but the shop part is deleted in the records when he arrived.  It was plot 6(4) and was beside the Braidmore Spinning Mill which is presumably where Anna was working, as the mill company were the owners of the cottage. Her occupation is “spinner in flax mill.” (See copy attached).

    Now in looking those records up, I may have stumbled across the answer to your question in your other post about where the Caldwell came from in Hugh’s name. I noticed that the family in the next house to the Coopers was a Robert John Caldwell. Could be a coincidence but he arrived in 1904 too.  Possibly a connection?

    This might be his marriage:

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Thursday 23rd September 2021, 07:08PM

    Attached Files

  • Dear Elwyn;   Thank you so much for the additional information.  Each little bit no matter how small really helps. I don't know what we researchers would do without you wonderful people so willing to help us.  It makes a big difference when you are right there to access the information in records that don't show up online.  Thanks again.    Sheila.   P.S.  Just in case you were wondering, I live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada so it is real expensive to fly over there but oh how I wish I could.  


    Thursday 23rd September 2021, 09:26PM
  • Sheila,

    Glad to have helped.

    I understand your frustration at the cost of travelling to Ireland. I have had the luck to visit Canada 5 or 6 times and have even been to Edmonton.  Edmonton's almost identical to Ireland so there's probably no need to travel here. (That statement may not be quite true! And you are most welcome if you do come).

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Friday 24th September 2021, 07:02PM