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My gg grandfather, James Kelly, born ca 1797, indicated that he was married to Mary Doherty on or about 1834 in Inver parish. After losing 2 young daughters (presumably) to famine in the 1840's, he, Mary and 4 children emigrated to Scotland until 1867, when their family now with 9 children came to the U.S. staying briefly in Brooklyn, NY before most settled in Wilkes Barre, PA. Earliest records located to date are those of Scotland, no succesful research in Donegal records to date. Their eldest son was named Anthony, and my visits there have located other Anthony Kelly's in the Glencough, Frosses and Mount Charles area; but no connection established yet. James also indicates he was at the Battle of Waterloo, and spoke of the numerous British attempts to recruit the Irish; but never revealed which side he was with at the Battle. Apparently without knowledge of which regiment he might have been with, research is futile. I am trying to determine if James was actually born in Donegal, or if he may have migrated there from one of the Kelly septs in the nearby counties.


Sunday 2nd November 2014, 05:11AM

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  • I assume the family were RC. Unfortunately Inver RC baptism & marriage records don?t start till 1861, so if he was married there in the 1830s you won?t find a church record of it. (That?s not untypical for Co Donegal where few RC parishes have records for the first half of the 1800s.)

    If James and Mary happened to have any children born in Scotland in 1855 or 1861 onwards, then the date and place of the parent?s marriage will normally be recorded on the child?s birth certificate (which you can get on the Scotlandspeople site).

    If James & Mary ever claimed under the Poor Law (and many Irish residing in Scotland did claim), then their parish in Ireland will normally be recorded in the Scottish Poor Law files, often with details of family and next of kin. You don?t say where in Scotland they resided, but if it was in the Glasgow area then the Poor Law records for that area are in the Mitchell Library.

    I looked for mentions of Irish fighting for the French at Waterloo. According to this reference, there was a Legion Irlandaise, but they didn?t fight at Waterloo, and were disbanded soon after.

    Statistically, I would have thought he was more likely to have been in the British army, but obviously that?s just speculative.

    Ahoghill Antrim

    Sunday 2nd November 2014, 11:14AM
  • Thank you very much for your response, and helpful assistance. Indeed they were RC, and had left Ireland long before church records were started in that area. You are quite correct, it was on one of their childrens Scottish birth records that he stated their marriage to be on or about Aug 1834 in Inver Parish, and also listed the number and sex of children born and surviving. This is an excellent tip on the Scottish Poor Law files. I was completely unaware of this resource. They were living fairly close to Glasgow, in Old Monkland Parish, so I will definitely be investigating the Mitchell Library source and link you have provided. Thank you! In regard to his Waterloo experience, my source on this is quite weak, and I have always been curious about the wording used when it was referenced. He lived to 98 years of age, so he apparently warranted a front page death notice on 19 Feb 1895 of the 'Wilkes Barre Record' newspaper (Pennsylvania, U.S.). The portion referenced states: "His memory was remarkably good. He distinctly remembered the battle of Waterloo, and told many stories of the efforts of the English government to draft troops from Ireland at that time. Mr. Kelly during life was unusually companionable, and his recollections of olden times were exceedingly interesting.". I'm not sure if that meant he was actually there or not, or whether he even enlisted or not. However, be that as it may, I will definitely take advantage of the 'militaryheritage' link you have provided. Thank you again for your kind assistance. It is truly appreciated. Regards, James Kelly


    Monday 3rd November 2014, 06:43AM
  •  James,

    You are lucky. You obviously have an 1855 Scottish birth certificate. In that year only, they recorded all the information about how many children the parents had as well as date and place of marriage, on the certificate. It was dropped after that year because the Registrars complained there was too much work involved. Date and place of parents marriage was reinstated in 1861 but not the number of previous children. But lucky you.

    Regarding the possible military career, having read what you say, I can see how that could be interpreted in different ways. It might just mean he was old enough to remember the battle of Waterloo taking place, rather than that he was there.

    There was no conscription in Ireland and so recruits were all volunteers. Consequently there was a fair amount of campaigning to get people to sign up. (And many did). If you read it that he might have fought on the French side, you would need to ask yourself how he learned to speak French. If he wasn?t in an Irish battalion (and there don?t appear to have been any at Waterloo) then he?d be in an ordinary French unit and would surely need to speak French? Where would he have learned that? So if he was there, I?d say he fought on the British side. But he might not have been there at all.

    Waterloo was obviously one of these keystone events, like the great storm of January 1839 (when hundreds were killed by collapsing buildings etc, and some accounts tell of the grass being ripped from the ground), which older people would mention if you asked them about their lives.

    I suppose today it would be like remembering where you were when JFK was shot or when 9/11 occurred.




    Ahoghill Antrim

    Monday 3rd November 2014, 08:48AM