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William Hemphill

my gg grandparents were married in lower moville in 1863 , William Hemphill and Sarah Turner, sarah was born in Glasgow but I'm trying to find out if William was born in Ireland


Tuesday 4th August 2020, 06:06PM

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  • The 1863 marriage certificate puts William Hemphill in the townland of Ballynally in the parish of Moville Lower. His father is named as James, a farmer.  

    There is 1 Hemphill family in Ballynally in 1901:

    I don’t think this is your William’s father James. The James in the census married Sarah Peoples in 1875 and his father’s name was Thomas, a farmer. However he’s likely to be a relation. The family was Church of Ireland. The name Hemphill is common in Moville. The parish of Moville was split into Upper & Lower in about 1860.  The early records are in Moville Upper. They start in 1804. You might want to check them for your William’s baptism. They are not on-line so far as I am aware but there is a copy in PRONI in Belfast.

    Your question was whether William was born in Donegal. I don’t know the answer for certain but I think it highly likely. You would need to check the parish records to find out for certain.

    Here’s a James Hemphill farming in Ballynally in the tithe applotment records for 1827:

    Some general information on the parish:


    Tuesday 4th August 2020, 07:19PM
  • Thank you Elwyn,
    I know Sarah was born in Glasgow as they moved back there to live .
    What is PRONI, I'll have a dig about there when I know and its safe to do so , I'm hoping to visit Moville as soon as I can .
    Thank you again


    Tuesday 4th August 2020, 07:33PM
  • Alan,

    PRONI is the Public Record Office in Belfast.

    You can also contact the church but with the Church of Ireland there is usually a fee to pay for searching the records. Something like £19 an hour. (They’ll advise). However if you go to PRONI the same records there are free to view.


    Tuesday 4th August 2020, 09:15PM
  • Elwyn
    Thank you Again for your help


    Tuesday 4th August 2020, 09:22PM

    Alan, there are two James Hemphills in Ballynally at the appropriate time (middle 1800s) and lots more in the general vicinity. On William's marriage certificate to Sarah Turner, his father is shown as a "farm servant". The other James, who is my great grandfather, is shown on his daughter's marriage certificate one year earlier as a "farmer". In all other respects, the information is the same, indicating the two Jameses are probably closely related. Both couples (William married Sarah Turner; Catherine married John McCurry) were married in the Moville Lower Church of Ireland and even one of the witnesses is the same. This William is not Catherine's brother as we have identified a William Hemphill in nearby Tullyally as her brother, via the information that his nephew James Cooke was the person present at his death in 1899. James Cooke is the son of Catherine's sister Mary Jane. To date, we have not been able to discover exactly how the two James Hemphills are related, and there is some controversey about which James belongs to which child (a descendant of William's claims James-the-farmer as his ancestor, despite the designations on the marriage certificates). At present, we are working with DNA to see if the mystery can be cleared up.

    As for William's birth date (and I am quite sure he was born in Donegal, though he and Sarah did move to Scotland after their marriage) confirmation records show he was confirmed in 1857 at the age of 15, giving him a birth year of about 1842. This is as close as I have been able to get to birth information for any of the Ballynally Hemphills in these two families. Elwyn, have you found him at PRONI? I haven't.

    If you want to email me at, I can send you much more information about these families.



    Friday 7th August 2020, 11:45PM
  • Hi Frances
    That is absolutely fantastic, I've sent you an email, thank you.


    Saturday 8th August 2020, 07:41PM