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I am searching for my paternal ggrandfather's family from Armagh, Ireland.  James Slean was born about 1811.  His sons John ( b. ab 1831) and son Thomas Archer Slean b 11 Oct 1840. I think they left Ireland about 1850 and may have come via New York City through to Toronto Ontario Canada where they settled and raised their families. Thomas Archer Slean was my ggrandfather who lived. in Toronto.  I'm sorry I don't have more information about where in Armagh but I would appreciate any help you can give.

I have just found that in 1843 James and his wife Anne Jane had a daughter, Ellen Slean, born in Tyragerty, Armagh.  Is that searchable?


Sunday 26th August 2018, 11:24PM

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  • James & Thomas’s births are well before the start of statutory birth registration in Ireland (1864) so you would need to rely on church records to trace them. You haven’t said what denomination they were. The majority in the 1901 Irish census appear to have been RC. I checked the on-line RC baptism records but did not find any that might be Thomas. It’s possible he came from a parish that doesn’t have any records back as far as the 1840s.

    Possibly DNA testing may be a way of matching with others who have additional information about where the family originate. Family Tree DNA reportedly has more people with Ulster roots than any other company. That obviously increases the chances of finding a match. You might want to try them or, if you have already tested, you can transfer your results to them for no fee.

    The North of Ireland Family History Society are running an Ulster DNA project and can offer FTDNA testing kits at a reduced price. (Go to DNA project on the website).



    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Monday 27th August 2018, 07:58AM

    Dear Elwyn,

    Thank you for your prompt reply.  Thomas Slean always listed himself as Presbyterian.(as am I), and I know from experience the Catholic church kept better records when birth registrations were not available.

    I had not thought about DNA testing.  Ancestry is running a special right now but would the North of Ireland Family History Society DNA be a better choice?

    I've spent many days going through microfilms at the Family History Centre in Ottawa for Irish records of the name Slean in Armagh. I found them  listed in a Linen Tax but that was all.

    Thank you so much for your help.


    Lois Beaton



    Tuesday 28th August 2018, 03:11AM
  • Lois,

    If Thomas was Presbyterian then that helps narrow the search. However it’s important to know that not all Presbyterian records are on-line and also that not that many Presbyterian churches in Armagh have records for 1811 or thereabouts. The records that do survive are in PRONI (the public record office) in Belfast. But a personal visit is required to view them.

    I had a look in the 1901 Irish census. All of the Slean/Slane households from Armagh were RC. Not a single Presbyterian. There was one family who were Church of Ireland (ie Anglican) who had moved from Armagh to Belfast. That was it. Do you think James might have “changed lanes” over the years from RC to Presbyterian? (It did happen, sometimes through a mixed marriage).

    Regarding which DNA test to go for, I find that very hard to advise on. I am not an expert on DNA. I have heard anecdotally that Ancestry (though a big and reputable company) have slewed their DNA analysis to focus on genetic illnesses. So they are reportedly looking for potentially hereditary complaints, because that information may be of commercial value to them outside the genealogical field. They still offer a very reputable genealogical comparison service but there is some doubt in my mind as to how good the genealogical service is now. But that’s just opinion and hearsay. You would need to make up your own mind, or seek advice from others better informed.  You could go for the Ancestry test and then upload your results free to FTDNA and back both horses that way.

    The problem with the Linen Tax and other early records is that if you know that your ancestors lived in a given place, then finding their name in the spinning wheel records etc. confirms their presence a bit earlier, But if you don't know where they came form, then there’s no way of knowing if the James Slean in the record is your James. So their value is limited.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Tuesday 28th August 2018, 08:33PM