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Thomas Woolsey married Anne Woodhouse c 1800 and they had about 7 children, most of whom were baptised in the Seagoe Parish. My ancestor was one of their sons, Samuel Woolsey. In 1838 he married Letitia Birch in Dublin and in 1858 the family migrated to Melbourne. By this time Samuel had changed his name to Thomas Woodhouse. He had been in the linen business and the name change may have been to evade creditors. Documents confirming the change of name can be found in the Registry of Deeds in Dublin.

Interested in the Woodhouse and Woolsey familes from the P{ortadown and Lurgan area.


Tuesday 13th October 2020, 07:16AM

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  • There are 6 trees on Ancestry that list Samuel Woolsey born 1822 married to Letitia Birch in 1838 in Dublin. They have him dying in Armagh in December 1893. Another 9 trees have Thomas Woodhouse born 1806 marrying Letitia Birch in Dublin in 1838 and then dying in Fiji in 1875. So a warning bell is ringing in my mind as to whether there were really 2 Letitia Birch marriages in Dublin in 1838, and perhaps whether different families may have been mixed up. Also if Samuel was born in 1822 then he’s not very likely to have married in 1838. It would have been legal but very unusual for a 16 year old to be able to support a wife. Not impossible that’s correct but unlikely, in my opinion.  

    The Gordon Cameron Cunningham tree on Ancestry has Letitia Birch dying in Belfast on 3.9.1884. The couple are shown as having a son Edward 1841 – 1870 who married Sarah Jane McMaster 4.7.1861 in Killylea, Armagh and who died in Sydney in 1892.

    One tree describes Samuel as alias Thomas Woolsey alias Woodhouse. One has him born in Co. Offaly in 1807 another in Belfast in 1808. Another has him born in Derrynoose, Armagh in 1821. Some have 1823 (making him 15 when he married).

    I searched the Irish death registers for a Letitia Woolsey death 1880 – 1890 but did not find one, anywhere in Ireland.

    Here’s the death certificate for a Samuel Woolsey in Armagh workhouse on 9th Nov 1893. (Not December 1893). He was a widower, an army pensioner, and his normal address looks to be Killycor.

    Here’s a link to Edward Woolsey's marriage in 1884. His father was a tailor (rather than an army pensioner). Edward was living in Killylea when he married, but that doesn’t mean he was born there.

    Apart from church records there are very little sources to research in Armagh for the early 1800s. If the family had land then they would normally be in the tithe applotment records. Those for 1834 list 2 John Woolseys (senior & jnr) in Seagoe Upper. No Woodhouses listed. That doesn’t mean they weren’t living there, just that they had no land so were probably labourers/weavers or servants.

    Griffiths Valuation for 1864 lists just 1 Woodhouse. He was James and lived on Bridge St, Portadown.  1 Woolsey who was John and had a house, foundry and associated premises in Foundry St, Portadown. So neither surname was common in the area by the 1860s.

    Hard to know what to advise. Some of the information on the various Ancestry trees is questionable to say the least and should not be relied on without verification.

    The problem with the likes of a marriage in Ireland in 1838 is that it’s rare for the parents names to be shown. Of course their names might be obtained elsewhere eg from a death certificate or a second marriage but otherwise it can be hard to be sure you have the right family.  Some relationships on some trees may be guesswork. 

    Hopefully you will be able to link up with others who know more about these families.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Tuesday 13th October 2020, 09:42AM
  • Thanks Elwyn. I know my Samuel Woolsey (aka Thomas Woodhouse) was born c 1805, probably near Lurgan, and died in Fiji in 1875. Letitia died as Letitia Woodhouse in Melbourne in 1883.

    Thomas Woolsey had been an officer in the Royal Artillery but I haven't found any service details. He is referred to as Captain or some of his children's christening records, and as Major on later records. Children of Thomas and Anne were Acheson, Samuel, Maria Anne, George, Benjamin, and Elizabeth (x2).

    Maria Anne married John Watson Atkinson in 1827 and Elizabeth married John Whitty in 1833. The Whitty family also migrated to Victoria.

    Thomas Woolsey died in 1819 and is buried in the Clifton Street Cemetery. I visited his grave last year. At PRONI I found baptism records for Acheson, George, Benjamin, and both Elizabeths, all at Seagoe Parish. George probably died before 1819 as he is not a beneficiary in the estate of his father. Acheson must have died before 1838 as there is a record of the family home, 'Harrymount' in Donaghcloney, coming into Samuel's possession when he bought out his siblings shares. The house was mentioned in his marriage settlement.



    Tuesday 13th October 2020, 01:05PM
  • Russell,

    There are often reasonably good records for officers in the National Archives, Kew, London. If you know Thomas was in the Royal Artillery then it shouldn’t be too difficult to track the records down. There are some military records on-line on Ancestry & fmp but the main one remain in paper format in Kew, so you would need to get a London based researcher to search for them.

    Officer’s promotions were usually listed in the London Gazette, so you might find mention of him there.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Wednesday 14th October 2020, 08:02AM