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Hello!  I have hit a brick wall in my family research.  I have been searching for many years for information on my 3rd great-grandfather, Thomas Rowan 1795-1881.  I know he possibly had a brother, Andrew, had a farm/home in Altnamachin (near Newtownhamilton) Northern Ireland before 1831. Thomas was a Weaver.   Thomas and his family moved to Erin, Ontario, Canada in 1831.  I have recently seen Thomas and Andrew listed on the Griffiths Valuation for this area. I don't know what happened to Andrew after 1831.  I have a few records from Clarksbridge Presbyterian Church, but nothing to indicate who Thomas' and Andrews parents are, or where they were born, etc. Past researchers (in Ontario) suggested that Thomas' parents were Scottish, but I can't find any records on . Thomas' wife, Agnes Matthews (1796-1831), I believe was born in Ayr, Scotland (there is a record of her baptism). I would love to find out more, can anyone help!  Thank you, Victoria Rowan, Ontario, Canada




Wednesday 22nd July 2020, 03:35PM

Message Board Replies

  • Victoria,

    I think the references you have found to Thomas & Andrew were in the tithe applotment records for Newtownhamilton parish in 1830:

    To be in the tithes you had to land (it was a tax on land) so in 1830 they both had farms.

    Neither is in Griffiths Valuation which, for Altnamackan, were compiled in 1864. There were no Rowan farms there then, so that indicates Andrew had either died or moved away. And Thomas had left some 33 years earlier.

    I had a look in the PRONI e-catalogue to see if there are any documents relating to your family in Altnamackan but none is listed.

    If the family attended Clarkesbridge Presbyterian church then firstly that hints strongly that they originated in Scotland (but probably in the 1600s). There are no Rowans listed in Armagh in the Muster Rolls c 1630 implying they arrived after that. There was widespread Scottish migration to Ulster in the 1600s. Some 200,000 Scots settled there (representing something like 20% of the entire Scottish population). Some came in the Plantation 1610-1625, others followed throughout the 1600s with a big surge in the 1690s due to famine in Scotland.  A few may have arrived in the 1700s but by then the Scots were starting to leave again for North America and elsewhere, so anyone arriving then was bucking the trend. In my opinion, Thomas’s parents were likely born in Ireland.

    Secondly, Clarkesbridge only has baptism records from 1822 and marriages from 1840. Possible earlier records were either never kept or have been lost. So you won’t find baptisms for Thomas or Andrew, nor is it likely you’ll find any marriages for either of them.  Presbyterians generally don’t keep any burial records.  You might find a gravestone for Andrew (assuming he died locally) but that’s probably it.

    You say Thomas’s wife Agnes was born in Ayr c 1796. I have checked Scotlandspeople too and can’t find a marriage. However like Ireland, not all parish records have survived and so the church records are far from complete. Or the couple may have married in Ireland. 

    You are up against what researchers in Ireland call the 1800 barrier. It is very difficult to get back any earlier than that due to a general lack of records.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Thursday 23rd July 2020, 07:47PM
  • Thank you very much, Elwyn!  Although disappointing for me to be still up against the 1800 barrier, your information is greatly appreciated and gives me more pieces to the puzzle. Do you know if the records in Ireland are still being added to the PRONI system or has everything been catalogued? I am still hoping one day something will show up about my 3rd Great grandfather, Thomas in Northern Ireland.

    Best Regards,

    Victoria Rowan 



    Saturday 25th July 2020, 03:57PM
  • Victoria,

    PRONI are certainly always acquiring new sets of records but as far as church records are concerned, I think the vast majority have now been located. (They have been collecting them since 1922). There will of course be the odd early baptism register mouldering in someone’s attic.  A few years back a PhD student at Trinity digging in old church records somewhere discovered a transcript of part of an early census for Co. Cavan. So you get little surprises now and again. But I think it unlikely that any earlier records for Clarkesbridge are likely to turn up. But you never know.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Sunday 26th July 2020, 08:48PM