On this day, October 2nd, 753 years ago – in 1263 – a small Scottish force met an equally small invading Norwegian force on a beach near Largs, Ayshire. Although the Norwegians were able to hold the field after fierce back-and-forth fighting, they were subsequently forced to gather their dead and retreat to their ships. It was the beginning of the end of Norwegian overlordship of the western seaboard of Scotland. Three years later, by the Treaty of Perth, King Magnus VI Haakonsson of Norway ceded the Hebrides and the Isle of Man to King Alexander III of Scotland.
By military standards the action had been a small one, tactically inconclusive even though it ultimately proved strategically significant. In a sense the invasion had even been accidental, for while the Norwegians had amassed a vast armada of ships, it had been a storm that prematurely drove some of the boats onto the beach, triggering the Scottish reaction. Similarly, it was weather that forced the armada to retreat to Norway.
A Fateful Thistle
Beyond the bare historical account there is a curious, romantic story about the Battle of Largs that holds great cultural significance for Scotland. According to tradition, the Norwegian presence on the beach at Largs was unsuspected until one of the barefoot Norsemen stepped on a thistle, crying out in pain. The Scottish troops were alerted, and the battle was on. As a result the thistle has become a symbol of Scotland itself.
Is the thistle story true? There appears to be no primary source for it. But as early as 1470, King James III used the thistle as a national symbol on coinage. In 1540, King James V created the Order of the Thistle, an honorary title for Scottish knights. The thistle today is regarded as the oldest of the national flowers, and it decorates many a coffee mug and T-shirt in tourist shops in Edinburgh.
Kelburn in the Battle of Largs
The thistle tradition holds a special place in my heart, because tradition also places the Boyle family of Kelburn Castle at the Battle of Largs, aiding King Alexander . Possibly commemorating that, in the 19th century, Kelburn Castle had a turret that terminated in what was said to show “the finishing personality and nationality of Scottish architecture — the crest of the Laird surmounted by the thistle.” 
Was the fateful thistle a Boyle one? Largs is only two miles from Kelburn Castle. Given that the site of battle is not entirely certain, and that lordly domains extended over large distances, it is not out of the realm of possibility. However, most likely not. In the middle and late 13th century, the lordship of Largs was held by the Baliol family , and that likely encompassed most if not all of the possible battle sites.
Thistles at Kelburn
Nevertheless there are still thistles at Kelburn. Earlier this year my wife and I toured the castle gardens. We found among the proliferation of flowers in the Plaisance, the brilliant rose of the thistle (photo). Whether the traditions are true or not, my ancestral estate of Kelburn recognizes its place within the colorful, historical Scottish landscape.
Postscript: Developments in the Boyle of Kelburn Ancestry
This is only one of several blog entries I have written on the Boyles of Kelburn. Others include “8. The Kelburn Castle Origin of the Boles Family: A DNA Success Story”, and “24. Tartan Day and Our Scottish Origins”.
As outlined in the first of those blog entries, there is Y-DNA evidence that my ancestor James Bole (1752-1836), of Westmoreland and Armstrong counties, Pennsylvania, was descended from the Kelburn Boyle family. In a book I expect to release in January 2017, I include a lengthy “Origins” chapter that outlines the most likely line of descent of James from the Kelburn family – and beyond.
The story runs through known Boyle settlers of the Plantation of Ulster under King James I of England (VI of Scotland), back to Boyles of the west coast isles, before coalescing with the ancestry of the Boyle Earls of Glasgow around the year 1495. The book is titled, “The Origins and Descendants of James Bole of Westmoreland and Armstrong Counties, Pennsylvania.”
Meanwhile, if you are a Boyle or Boles, please consider Y-DNA testing! Any male bearing the Bole/Boles/Bowles/Boyle name, of these or other spellings, who is thought to have Irish origins and a Protestant background but whose background is otherwise unknown, has a legitimate shot of descending from the Kelburn family.
You can obtain further information from the project webpage at http://www.ancestors-genealogy.com/bowles/index.html. Clicking on the “visit this site” link provided there will show the range of tests available. It is strongly recommended that 25 or more genetic markers be tested, as the 12-marker test is not very diagnostic. Besides providing you with evidence bearing on your own origins, your test results will be of considerable benefit to the Bowles DNA Project — even if you know little about your exact ancestry.
 Tales From Scottish Lairds (1985). Norwich: Jarrold Colour Publications.
 Millar, A.H. (1885). Historical and Descriptive Accounts of the Castles and Mansions, of Ayrshire. Edinburgh: William Patterson.
 Chalmers, G. (1890). Caledonia: Or, A Historical and Topographical Account of North Britain. Paisley: Alexander Gardner, v. 6.
As far as can be determined, I have no ancestors who immigrated to America after the Revolutionary War. This has been a great boon for my genealogical research since it has guaranteed that in every line traced back from the present, several generations of records can be found — and in English, and relatively locally.
Not so my wife. Her ancestors came to this country over a wide swath of time, ranging from 1623 to 1893 with many gradations between. Among the earliest were the following :
Thurlow ca 1635
Emerson ca 1637
Martin bef 1640
Walcott/Wolcott/Woolcott bef 1654
Sebring bef 1660
Trotter bef 1664
Barber bef 1667
Hayden bef 1667
Pride bef 1669
Crocheron bef 1671
Brown bef 1675
But my wife also descends from a number of relatively late immigrants coming variously from Ireland, Luxembourg, Germany, and Sweden [1,2]:
Sinnott ca 1853
All of these families and more, early immigrants or late, are covered in the Omnibus Ancestry, available for download through Lulu.
Embracing the Past
Recently on a pleasure trip to New York City we decided to embrace the pasts of a couple of the late immigrants, Anders Persson Malmberg and Emma Swanson (Svensson). Anders was born into poor circumstances in 1866 in Södra Sallerup parish, Malmöhus county, Sweden, to a couple living in Sallerup village. His surname, meaning “iron mountain”, was assigned to him when in 1886 he enlisted in Regiment 2, Sandby Squadron of Royal Swedish Hussars [1,2]. Anders’ eventual wife Emma was born in 1872 in Osby, Kristianstads county, Sweden, the daughter of crofters. According to family legend they met while working for the same family, he as an outdoor laborer and she as a maid [1,2].
After his discharge in 1891, Anders immigrated to America, according to his later naturalization record arriving in New York in November of that year. He passed through to the Midwest, where according to legend he made money working on Mississippi River levees and helping build an iron staircase for the upcoming World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Removing to Iowa, he sent for Emma to join him. After one false start foiled by an epidemic on board her ship, she arrived at New York in 1893. They married the following year, and raised a large family in southeastern Iowa [1,2].
As family records go, these lent an unusually good start to learning more about the immigration of this couple.
Anders Comes to America
One of the first questions raised by the family records was whether or not either of the pair immigrated through Ellis Island. In Anders’ case the answer is simple, and negative — since he had arrived in Nov 1891, he could not possibly have come through Ellis Island, which opened in Jan 1892.
Nor, oddly, would he have come through Castle Garden in Battery Park on the southern tip of Manhattan, which is often represented as the earlier version of Ellis Island. For between Apr 1890, when Castle Garden closed, and Jan 1892 when Ellis Island opened, a narrow slice of arrivals passed through the Barge Office in Battery Park, which had been temporarily pressed into service as an immigration center.
Unfortunately while pictures of the Barge Office survive (above), the office itself does not. The building was razed in 1911 .
Emma Comes to America
With Emma we enjoyed quite a bit more luck. Even before our trip to New York, I was able to access the on-line immigration records at the Ellis Island site. I found what surely is a match: Emma Svensson, age 21, native of Sweden, servant, arriving with one piece of luggage on 8 July 1893 on the ship New York from Southampton, England (presumably after transshipment from Sweden). True, my wife’s ancestor was actually 15 days short of age 21 on that date. But no one else was a better match in name, place, age, and date [4,6]. Arriving when she did, she of course must have been processed through Ellis Island.
Her ship, shown in the accompanying picture, was notable for being at that time (1892-3) the fastest in the world. Built in 1888 for the Inman & International Steamship Company as the ship City of New York, it was sold in 1893 to the American Line and renamed simply New York (picture below). It was destined to undergo other name changes as well as brief service in the U.S. Navy during the Spanish-American war, before being scrapped in 1923 .
Arriving at Ellis Island, Emma would have been processed through the original wood-framed immigration facility, shown below.
An interesting woodcut of the Great Hall inside this building is also available for viewing online .
Unfortunately the station burned in 1897, at which point immigrants were again received at the Barge Office. A new station was built at Ellis Island in the same spot, with the proviso that it not be of wood, and came into service in Dec 1900. It is the building that tourists visit today (below).
According to Emma’s daughter Hulda Malmberg Barth, Emma had once worked drawing patterns for fashionable coats while in Sweden. However, Hulda also stated that Emma did not arrive in Chicago until Christmas or New Year’s Day. That leaves a period of about 6 months unaccounted for. It therefore seems possible that instead of drawing coat patterns in Sweden, Emma instead did so in New York, saving money before passing onward to Chicago. Perhaps she found employment in the Garment District, which by the late 1800s was already known for the production of clothing .
Our Visit To Ellis Island
Ellis Island is reachable only by ferry. We made reservations a day or two in advance, a necessity given the large tourist crowds of July. Although initially cowed by the size of those crowds, we found the park service intake on the tip of Manhattan to be efficient, moving people quickly through the airport-like security screening. Then it was simply a matter of getting on the boat.
We had only part of an afternoon for our trip due to an evening engagement and limited choices of ferry departures. (Lesson: Make reservations more than a day or two in advance!) Deciding to forgo the first stop, at the Statue of Liberty, we passed on to Ellis Island and disembarked there.
The main building was fully accessible, and the size of the crowds quite tolerable. There were extensive displays of immigrant stories, passports, and pictures of ships. We appreciated seeing the hospital-like inspection rooms, where the immigrants were screened for disease and “mental defect”.
All in all it was a very worthwhile experience. It was also a very American experience, the melting pot in evidence in the diverse faces of the crowd. Yet there was also a substantial contingent of international tourists, interested in the story of Ellis Island.
We did not, it must be said, find a lot on Swedish immigration in particular. Much of the emphasis seemed to be on Eastern Europe and Russia. However, it is true we only saw a fraction of the exhibits in our limited time.
At the return jetty the crowds were large and pressing. But the ferry service performed well, bringing on an empty boat after few passengers could get on a crowded boat carrying people from the Statue of Liberty. The weather cooperated, with a heavy storm starting while we were in the museum, then letting up just as we walked to the jetty to leave. How many times, I wondered as we walked, had our footsteps crossed those of Emma Swanson?
 Boles, D.B. (2016). The Omnibus Ancestry: 589 Documented American and European Lines, 2nd ed. Available for immediate download through Lulu.
 Boles, D.B. (1993). Barth-Hickey Ancestry. Troy, NY: Private print. Available for mail order through Bolesbooks.
 Information retrieved from http://www.shorpy.com/node/17266 (2016). Another picture of the Barge Office is published at this site, interesting to inspect because it has very high resolution, revealing details such as a lunch wagon and a sign for the Ellis Island ferry.
 Other minor discrepancies from family legends include the “Minn” destination stated on her immigration record, i.e., Minneapolis; and that she came on a ship of the American line, not the White Star line (Barth-Hickey Ancestry, see note 2). However, out of ignorance of American geography she may not have known her exact destination, and so Minneapolis may have been entered simply as a “ballpark” midwestern place west of Chicago. The White Star ship may have been the ship of her epidemic-shortened first effort to sail, or it may have been the one that brought her to Southampton for transshipment (see text).
 The closest were two 19-year-olds: Emma Svensson, arriving 5 May 1893 on the ship Servia, destination Chicago but an English citizen; and Emma Ch. Svensson, arriving 30 June 1893 on the ship Virginia but of “Forslofs” (Förslöv), Sweden, a location nearly 60 road miles from Osby. Neither ship was of the White Star Line (ibid).
The ancestry of Dugal McQueen is extensively traced and referenced in the Omnibus Ancestry (available for download at Lulu). Other blog entries on the McQueens include 4. Dugal McQueen, Scottish Rebel and Gateway Ancestor to Royalty; 18. Witches, Wizards, Ghosts, and Things That Go Bump in the Night; BRIEFLY NOTED: A McQueen 300th Anniversary; and 24. Tartan Day and Our Scottish Origins.
On June 15th I was privileged to visit Pollochaig in the Scottish Highlands, the home of my mother’s McQueen ancestors. My wife Joan and I had slated the location for a special visit while on our vacation in Ireland and Scotland.
We parked at a sheep gate at the two-house settlement of Ruthven above the town of Tomatin, Inverness-shire, and hiked in. In retrospect, we could have opened the gate and driven most of the way, but walking certainly set the scene for what would come.
The day was a wild one, with constant rain showers and cold, blustery winds. Though wearing ponchos and jackets, our legs and feet were quickly soaked. We passed along the Findhorn River, its green banks grazed by sheep.
A couple of miles in, the first view of the ruins took my breath away. The dark remains of buildings against impossibly green pasture, the multitude of bleating sheep, the towering dark hills in the background with cloud-obscured tops, and the small burn in the foreground leading down to the river, made an impression that a sunnier day could not possibly have equalled. Joan would later call it her “Quintessential Scottish experience.”
On inspection it became apparent that the upper, more distant structure had been a house, because a hearth and the lower remains of a chimney were built into the north end. One entrance, at least, had been through a door on the east side.
The lower structure was more enigmatic to our amateur eyes. There appeared to be one large chamber with an attached byre, an inside corner of which is barely visible to the right of my picture below. There was no evidence of a hearth at any of the walls. Also the walls did not appear to be thick enough for the structure to be an older home of the blackhouse type , which would have had no chimney and a possibly less detectable central hearth. Perhaps the structure was simply a barn, larger than the house up above.
Records suggest that Pollochaig was “probably in sheep before 1800” . Certainly it has remained so, with dozens if not hundreds of sheep bleating in greeting as we arrived. They all mysteriously went silent as I started capturing a movie, so that bit of geographical magic remains unrecorded!
A bit up the road after we left, I turned for my last misty view of Pollochaig. Inevitably I thought of my ancestor Dugal McQueen, looking back while taking much the same route in 1715 as he left to join the rebel army . It would be his last glimpse of home. A lump came to my throat, unbidden.
The material below is treated at greater length, with full references, in the Omnibus Ancestry (available for download at Lulu).
In 1683 Ralph Lewis emigrated from Wales to Pennsylvania. He took with him a Certificate of Removal from the Friends’ (Quaker) Men’s Meeting for Cardiff and Treverig, co. Glamorgan, stating that he was leaving with John ap Bevan (John Bevan). Shortly before, while in Wales, Ralph had purchased Pennsylvania land from John, at which time he was described as a resident of “Illan”; i.e., Eglwysilan parish. The removal certificate was signed by a man named Thomas Prichard, among others [1,2].
By 1691 Ralph had settled in Darby (now Upper Darby) township, then in Chester county but now part of Delaware county, Pennsylvania. He appeared in the records of the Quaker meeting in Haverford township, (now) Delaware county, and owned land there and in the townships of Upper Darby and Lower Merion (now in Montgomery county). His will was made in 1712 when he was still a resident of (Upper) Darby, and he died that same year. Ralph left many descendants through his large family of 9 children, 8 of whom lived to married adulthood [1,2].
The Contribution of Thomas Allen Glenn
The identity of Ralph Lewis’ parents has long tantalized genealogists, not least because of his known place of origin and his association with John Bevan, a Pennsylvania Quaker of known royal descent . In the late 19th century, the genealogist Thomas Allen Glenn took up this problem, initially concluding that Ralph’s father was another Ralph Lewis, whose 1683 will indicated he was of Llanishen, co. Glamorgan . Glenn’s rationale was unexplained, but because the will did not name sons, was probably based on nothing more than the testator’s name and the proximity of Llanishen to Eglwysilan.
More importantly to the possibility of royal descent, however, Glenn concluded that the immigrant Ralph’s mother was a Prichard:
She must have been Ann Prichard, as Thomas Prichard is called Uncle, by William [Lewis] in letter to Ralph, and for a number of minor reasons all of which make me consider this as proved and beyond question. 
It is through a Prichard connection that John Bevan has a traceable royal descent. He was the son of Evan John, of Treverig, co. Glamorgan, and his wife Jane Prichard, the sister of Ann and Thomas Prichard. The Prichards were the children of Richard ab Evan, of Collenna, co. Glamorgan, and his wife Catharine Bassett [1,2,4]. Then, by tracing a number of additional generations, they are found to be descendants of Edward III, King of England [1,2,3].
In subsequent years Glenn changed his mind about the father of Ralph Lewis. In 1913, as part of a much larger work, he published a brief account of the family in which he stated that there was “evidence amounting almost to a certainty” that Ralph Lewis of Pennsylvania was the son of one David Lewis, of Eglwysilan . To my knowledge, however, Glenn never reported the nature of that evidence.
The Publication of Withers-Davis Ancestry
Leading up to the publication of the Withers-Davis Ancestry in 1998, which included a treatment of the Lewis family, I was intensely concerned with acquiring whatever evidence was to be had on the subject of Ralph Lewis’ ancestry. For a time I maintained a round-robin mail discussion among Lewis researchers that unearthed a number of publications and manuscripts.
In retrospect, the most important document found in this discovery process was the letter alluded to by Glenn. It was found transcribed in three different sources, two in unpublished form (one manuscript and one typescript) and one in published typeset form. The letter was written in 1684 “from Ilan” by William Lewis to his “Dear Brother” Ralph Lewis. It mentioned “thy t[w]o sisters” and that “Thy Brother David doth Remember himselfe to thee” .
The critical passage that Glenn had noticed was transcribed most clearly by the highly-regarded local historian and genealogist Gilbert Cope, working from a photograph of the original, and had been published in 1887 :
Remember me to my Loveing frind John ab Evan, for his Chilldren were Sike and now they are well. youre unkel thomas prichard were ded and mary william. [6,8]
Based on this letter and a number of other records, including (a) a substantial list of associations of Ralph Lewis with John Bevan, and (b) evidence that Thomas Prichard had married an heiress, I concluded that Ralph was a blood nephew of Thomas, and accordingly that Glenn was right in concluding that his mother was Thomas’ sister . Furthermore, because previous pedigrees of the Prichard family named only one sister whose marriage was not given:
It is likely that her given name was Anne, although this seems somewhat less certain in that it is unclear whether the known list of siblings … is exhaustive in nature. 
The question of Ralph’s father, however, seemed even less certain given that Glenn had not named his sources or even stated the basis of his opinion that his father was named David. After equivocating on how best to represent this situation, I named his father as David, citing Glenn as the source, but noted that:
… evidence that the father was David Lewis is weaker than evidence that the mother was a sister of Thomas Prichard. 
The volume then traced the extensive noble and royal ancestry of the Prichard family.
I was reasonably certain that a sister of Thomas Prichard was the mother of Ralph Lewis, but a small residual doubt remained in my mind following publication. It was triggered by the ordering of the statements in the critical paragraph of the William Lewis letter. Specifically, “Remember me to my Loveing frind John ab Evan” preceded “youre unkel thomas prichard were ded”. There seemed to me a small possibility that when William used the term “youre unkel”, he was addressing himself to John ab Evan (John Bevan). Bevan, of course, was indeed the nephew of Thomas Prichard, his mother Jane having been Thomas’ sister.
To be sure, taking this alternate interpretation would involve accepting some syntactic gymnastics within the paragraph. Between the statements “Remember me to my Loveing frind John ab Evan” and “youre unkel thomas prichard were ded” was inserted the wording “his Chilldren were Sike and now they are well”, so if a change occurred in mid-paragraph in who was being addressed, the transition between “his Children” and “youre unkel” was jarring. Although the alternate interpretation was judged unlikely, it nevertheless remained within the realm of possibility.
The True Father of Ralph Lewis
While preparing to publish the Omnibus Ancestry, I revisited the issue of Ralph Lewis’ parentage, concentrating my efforts on wills. Initial searches using the Lewis surname were fruitless, replicating Glenn’s unsuccessful search.
But then I hit on the possibility that Lewis may not have been a true surname as Glenn had assumed, but rather a patronymic, a name based on the name of his father. In 17th-century Wales, a process was underway in which patronymics were being converted to permanent surnames. Thus the Prichards derived their permanent surname from “ap Richard” (i.e., “son of Richard”, as borne by the children of Richard ab Evan). But the process had just begun. In some families it would not be completed until the 19th century . I reasoned, therefore, that Ralph Lewis might have been the son of a man with Lewis as given name rather than surname.
So it was that I found the true father of Ralph Lewis. In his will, Lewis William named, among other sons, Raulph Lewis, David Lewis, and William Lewis — all known from the 1684 letter. Two daughters Gwenllian Lewis and Elizabeth Lewis were also named — the 1684 letter, of course, mentioning to Ralph “thy t[w]o sisters”. The final proof of identity was the naming by Lewis of “Mary William my wife”. As William Lewis had indicated in his 1684 letter, “youre unkel thomas prichard were ded and mary william” . Without a doubt, Lewis William was the father of Ralph Lewis of Darby township.
The True Mother of Ralph Lewis
How William Lewis chose to convey news of the death of Mary William is of central importance to this story. He didn’t lead off his letter by saying “our dear mother is dead”. Indeed, Mary’s death was almost an afterthought, inserted as a postscript at the end of a letter that began by describing the good health of Ralph Lewis’ brothers and sisters and their families. Even John Bevan’s children and uncle Thomas Prichard’s death received priority over poor Mary William.
Because no son would announce the death of his mother so offhandedly, there can be very little question that Mary was the stepmother, not mother, of both William and Ralph. As their stepmother, it could well be the case that neither brother felt a strong emotional attachment to her, particularly if she had married their father relatively late in life and he had long been deceased when the letter was written.
But Mary William’s mention at the end of the critical paragraph has another, rather profound implication. Because she had a relationship by marriage to Ralph Lewis, but none at all to John Bevan, her naming indicates that the entirety of the paragraph was addressed to Ralph. If syntactic gymnastics are required to assume a shift of address from Ralph to John Bevan, as suggested above, then the shift back to Ralph within a single sentence (“youre unkel thomas prichard were ded and mary william”) is simply impossible. Thus by William Lewis’ own testimony, Thomas Prichard had to have been Ralph Lewis’ uncle. Glenn was right in this.
But what was the given name of Ralph’s Prichard mother? As mentioned, Glenn and I had both assumed that her name was Anne, because she was the only Prichard sister in existing pedigrees whose marriage was not given.
Here, once again, Welsh wills proved to have something to say. The father of the family, Richard ab Evan, made his will naming among other relatives his daughters Anne, Katherin, Marie, and Flourance Prichard . Because Anne was still alive in 1671/2, while Lewis William died previously, she obviously could not have been Lewis’ first wife. But the letter carries a further implication, because the previously-mentioned pedigrees naming the children of Richard ab Evan did not include daughters named Katherin or Flourance [1,2]. Neither of those could have been Lewis’ first wife for the same reason that Anne could not have been. But their existence raises the possibility that Richard ab Evan had one or more daughters, deceased and not named in the will, who also did not appear in the pedigrees.
That is how I prefer to leave it, with the mother of Ralph Lewis a Prichard of unknown given name, but certainly one of the daughters of Richard ab Evan and his wife Catharine Basset. Assuming that she was a daughter not yet identified, Ralph Lewis and John Bevan were first cousins.
Nevertheless, there is another intriguing possibility worth noting. As mentioned, John Bevan was the son of Evan John and his wife Jane Prichard. The dates of death of both parents are unknown. It is possible, therefore, that Jane was widowed by the death of Evan John, and married as her second husband Lewis William. In other words, Ralph Lewis may have been John Bevan’s half brother through a shared mother. That would certainly account for the known close associations between Ralph and John .
This speculative raw material, unfortunately, must be left to future workings of The Genealogist’s Craft. Until then descendants of Ralph Lewis may claim descent from King Edward III through his unknown Prichard mother. That descent, and many others of Ralph Lewis, are given in the Omnibus Ancestry (available for download at Lulu).
 Boles, D.B. (2016). The Omnibus Ancestry: 589 Documented American and European Lines, 2nd ed. Available for download through Lulu.
 Boles, D.B., & Boles, H.W. (1998). Withers-Davis Ancestry. Decorah, Iowa: The Anundsen Publishing Co. Available for order from Bolesbooks.
 Richardson, D. (2011). Plantagenet Ancestry. Salt Lake City, Utah: private print.
 Glenn, T.A. (1899). Lewis. Typescript, Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania.
 Glenn, T.A. (1913). Welsh Founders of Pennsylvania. Oxford: Fox, Jones and Co.
 Cope, G. (1887). Genealogy of the Sharpless Family. Philadelphia: Dando Printing and Publishing Co.
 Rowlands, S. (1994). The surnames of Wales. In J. Rowlands (Ed.), Welsh Family History: A Guide to Research. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., pp. 57-72.
 The original letter, Cope indicated, had been in the possession of a Dr. George Smith, of Upper Darby, whose widow was a descendant of Ralph Lewis. Its present whereabouts is unknown, assuming it is extant at all.
Image Copyright Gareth James. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic Licence. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, Cali
Happy Tartan Day! It’s probably safe to say that most Americans don’t know about this commemoration of Scottish heritage, or that the U.S. Senate in 1998, the House in 2005, and the President in 2008 recognized it. Whether official or not, it has spread to other countries of the Scottish diaspora — notably Canada, Australia (although there it is celebrated on July 1st), and Argentina. It has even gotten back to the home country of Scotland, where regional councils are attempting to promote it as a global celebration .
Why April 6th? That was the date in 1320 that the Declaration of Arbroath was signed, declaring Scottish independence from England. I have written about the declaration previously on my Bolesbooks Facebook page. Considered by many a foreshadowing of our own Declaration of Independence, it denied the divine right of kings and left to the nation the choice of its sovereign.
Some Scottish Origins
In the case of my family tree it was understood from an early date, certainly the early 1960s if not previously, that we had discernible Scottish origins among its many roots. However, this came from an indirect assessment of surnames more than from direct evidence. Ancestral “Mc” surnames such as McCrosky, McFadden, and McIntire were recognized as most probably either Scottish or Scotch-Irish, even though repeated searches failed to turn up evidence of specific places of origin. The later additions of my wife’s ancestral families of McClain and McMurtrie fell into the same vaguely Scottish category.
Today we have hints of whispers of the origins of a couple of these families: Possibly co. Antrim, Ireland, for the McCrosky (McCoskery) family, and co. Antrim, Ireland, for the McMurtries, who in both cases were therefore most likely Scotch-Irish . But actual hard evidence of specific geographic locations has been slow in coming. Below I’d like to highlight three ancestral lines for which hard evidence exists, namely the Ellyson, Boles, and McQueen families.
The Ellyson Family
I descend from Virginia’s Ellyson family through my mother. Her ancestor Deborah Harbour’s mother was a Thomas, her mother was a Jordan, and her mother was Susanna Ellyson, daughter of Joseph Ellyson, a Quaker of New Kent county, Virginia. From there the line is traceable to two Robert Ellysons, father and son, who lived in Gloucester and James City counties. The two are almost universally confused both because they shared their given name, and because they died nearly simultaneously (1668/9 in the case of the son, and about 1669 in the case of the father) [2,3].
Their distinctness, however, is attested by an extraordinary family Bible entry written in the late 1700s, reciting the ancestry of one Robert Allison (Ellison) three generations back to the younger Robert Ellyson, then to his father Robert, and finally to the immigrant ancestor John Allison. The entry concluded with a geographic payoff: John was stated to have come from Windyedge, co. Lanark, Scotland, sometime before 1625 .
This account has been sufficiently corroborated through other evidence that it can be taken as largely accurate. One thread of evidence is that an Alison family is historically known at Windyedge, a farm located in Avondale parish in the vicinity of Strathaven. One member was James Alison, born 1621, who resided at Windyedge. His sons John, Michael, and Archibald all took up the cause of the Covenanters, a nationalist Presbyterian movement that dominated Scottish politics between 1638 and 1651, but which was doomed to defeat by the forces of Oliver Cromwell and later King Charles II [3,4]. John was taken prisoner at the Battle of Bothwell Bridge in 1679, and banished to Virginia. Michael fled to Ireland after the military defeat at Airsmoss in 1680, and was at the siege of Londonderry in 1688/9. Archibald, however, was the most unfortunate. He was executed at Edinburgh in 1680, his dying statement appearing in the book A Cloud of Witnesses .
The Virginia Ellyson family, incidentally, provides a major royal descent from King Edward I of England, as well as from a raft of noble families. This thread came into the family from the marriage of the younger Robert Ellyson with a Gerard wife, about the year 1655 [2,3].
The Boles Family
I have written extensively about the Boles family origin in a previous post, 8. The Kelburn Castle Origin of the Boles Family: A DNA Success Story. The American ancestor was James Bole (1752-1836), who died in Armstrong county, Pennsylvania, and whose son William (my ancestor) added the friendly ending “s” to the name .
For many years we thought the Boleses might be English. However, their true origin began to emerge when it was discovered, from the apparent statement of a grandson, that James was born in Ireland. That, and his known Presbyterian religion, pointed clearly to a Scotch-Irish origin. In other words, James was almost certainly the descendant of a Scot who had crossed to Ireland, probably specifically to Ulster .
The next realization was the family might ultimately have been from Kelburn, Ayrshire, Scotland. This hypothesis emerged as it began to be appreciated that the spelling of the surname varied in American records, and Bole could sometimes appear as Boyle. A family named Boyle, now Earls of Glasgow, have been seated at Kelburn castle continuously since at least the late 1200s, plenty of time to generate cadet lines, one or more of which may have crossed to Ireland. Furthermore until early in the 20th century, the surname Boyle was pronounced in Ayshire as Bole, potentially explaining how the Bole and Boyle spellings could refer to the same family.
The Kelburn hypothesis recently received a ringing confirmation when it was discovered that a male-line descendant of James Bole has a Y chromosome with similar genetic markers to that from a male-line descendant of John Boyle (1688-1740), the 2nd Earl of Glasgow and a member of the Kelburn family. The relationship certainly was not close; my ancestor may have left the castle, never to return, around 1430. Nevertheless it affords a second specific Scottish location to feel a connection to, one that is all the more meaningful because it connects me to the origin of my surname.
The McQueen (MacQueen) Family
The family most appropriate to recognize this Tartan Day, however, may be the McQueens. Unlike the Ellysons and Boleses, who were Lowlander families having little to do with tartans, the McQueens were Highlanders and presumably did wear the plaid (see graphic).
I have written extensively about my ancestor Dugal McQueen (ca 1666?-1746) in two posts, namely 4. Dugal McQueen, Scottish Rebel and Gateway Ancestor to Royalty, and BRIEFLY NOTED: A McQueen 300th Anniversary. It is sufficient to say that he is known to have been of Pollochaig, Moy parish, co. Inverness, Scotland, a location made possible to identify through an English prison record establishing his Moy origin . Today the manor house at Pollochaig is in ruins but can still be visited at its location near Tomatin.
Dugal’s known ancestry is very extensive, being known in his male line for an additional two generations back to 1644, with a family presence at Pollochaig likely back to about 1510, and for many generations back through his mother and numerous intermarried Scottish families .
Dugal came involuntarily to Maryland in 1716, exiled and probably in chains, having been captured in the Battle of Preston the previous year . Whatever one’s views of the failed Jacobite rebellions of the 1700s, their participants saw them as nationalist expressions of freedom from English overlordship. That seems appropriate to recognize on Tartan Day.
The difficulty of genealogically “jumping the pond” to Scotland should not be underestimated. Looked at together, the three geographic locations I’ve described were all the result of unusual discoveries. They included a remarkable family Bible entry, a converging pair of Y-DNA tests, and an obscure prison record from a failed rebellion. Other families, like the McClains, McCroskys, McFaddens, McIntires, and McMurtries, have so far proved impossible to trace back to Scotland. In most cases this is due to the stretch of years taking family origins beyond available church records, and in some if not most cases due to intervening lost generations spent in Ireland.
Nevertheless unusual records sometimes exist, and they make good material for the genealogist’s craft. Keep weaving your threads together! But on today’s Tartan Day, feel free to celebrate your Scottishness no matter how it is known.
A couple of weeks I ago I noted on my Bolesbooks Facebook site that Ancestry.com has released a vast collection of Irish parish records. As reported by the Associated Press:
BOSTON (AP) — Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, genealogical research website Ancestry.com is making 10 million Catholic parish records from Ireland — some dating to 1655 — available online…
The goldmine of information… includes baptism, confirmation, marriage, and burial records from more than 1,000 parishes in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland….
It would be hard to overstate the potential importance of this collection to genealogical research involving Irish Catholics. Prior to the release, it was necessary to determine – or in many cases, guess – the parish from which an ancestor might have come, followed either by renting microfilm (if available) or by actually visiting record repositories in Ireland.
But unfortunately, for many an Irish ancestor not only the parish but even the county of origin is unknown. In such cases there has been no practical hope of locating the relevant records. Having a searchable database of the records should allow a major leap forward.
But how useful is the collection really? A first glance suggests it is quite useful indeed.
Patrick and James Hickey, of Decatur, Macon county, Illinois
One of my family’s mysteries most resistant to solution is the origin of my wife’s ancestor Patrick Hickey (1828?-1902), and his presumed brother James (1829?-1907), both of Decatur, Macon county, Illinois. While an abundance of records establish that the pair came from Ireland, and that they married the Irish-born sisters Catherine and Anastacia Sinnott [1,5], no reliable record of their exact origin has been found this side of the Atlantic.
Family legends have proved contradictory, with a granddaughter of Patrick having claimed that the family was from co. Wexford , while the wife of one of his grandsons stated that Patrick was from co. Cork [1,5]. Both locations are problematic, Wexford because Hickey is not a common name in the county and because there may have been some confusion with the Wexford origin of Patrick’s wife; and Cork because the grandson’s wife later denied having made the statement! [1,5]
One origin-related fact has seemed fairly clear, however. In the 1900 census of Macon county, Illinois, Patrick was stated to have immigrated in 1849. If so, then he was probably the Patrick Hickey who arrived at New York on 28 June 1849 on the ship Guy-Mannering, from Liverpool, England [1,5]. At the time Liverpool was the intermediate destination of most Irish immigrants to America. Furthermore, Patrick’s arrival was shortly preceded (2 May 1849) by that of a James Hickey, who may have been his brother. James’ ship was the Silas-Grimshaw, likewise from Liverpool and arriving at New York [1,5].
The stated ages of both men were roughly in accordance with other records. At arrival Patrick was stated to be age 22 (b. 1826/7), and James age 20 (b. 1828/9) [1,5]. Neither is a perfect match, however. If Patrick was age 22 on 28 June 1849, he was born between 29 June 1826 and 28 June 1827. But in the 1900 census, his birth month was stated as March 1828. James’ circumstances were similar, as he was stated to be age 40 on 22 July 1870, at the time of the 1870 census of Decatur, Macon county. Thus he was born between 23 July 1829 and 22 July 1830 according to the census, and between 3 May 1828 and 2 May 1829 according to the arrival record [1,5].
Records of age are notoriously unreliable, however. The real problem was that no corresponding Irish records had been found.
Convergence Between Patrick and James
As I pointed out in a recent post (21. The Power of Convergence, Part 2: O Brother, Where Art Thou?), the use of converging records involving brothers affords a major way of extending ancestral lines across the Atlantic. The recent release of Irish Catholic records by Ancestry.com was well suited to a search for records pertaining to Patrick and James Hickey, both of whom were Catholic .
It did not take long to find a match. As extracted from church records :
Patricius [Patrick] Hickey, bap. 17 Mar 1827 in Tipperary, co. Tipperary, son of Joanne [John] and Maria [Mary] Gleeson [no sponsors shown]
James Hicky, bap. 9 Nov 1828 in Tipperary, co. Tipperary, son of John Hicky and Mary Leeson [sic], [sponsors] Joe Nacholson and Mary (C?)—
Also recorded was the marriage of their parents :
12 Aug 1828 — Marriage of John Hickey and Mary Gleeson, witnessed by Thos Morany and (Mary?) Doherty, “Gratis”
Thus the couple had their first child, and conceived their second, prior to their marriage. It can only be a matter of speculation that the priest had volunteered to perform the marriage “Gratis” (free of charge) to end what he regarded as living in sin .
A Close Enough Match?
The correspondence between “Patricius” and James Hickey of Tipperary to Patrick and James Hickey of Decatur appears close enough to support the conclusion of a probable match. In both cases, Patrick was the elder brother, and the baptismal dates closely match the inferred birth dates of the 1849 immigrants. However, the birth dates of the immigrants are not perfect matches to those inferred for the Decatur residents.
Although Tipperary Catholic marriage records appear available (thus containing the record of the John Hickey – Mary Gleeson marriage), neither Patrick or James seem to have been married there. That is consistent with immigration. There is also the fact that no other Patrick-James pairing emerges from the parish records that provides nearly as good a match to the Decatur men.
Yet for now, I feel this remains a probable and not quite proven match. For one thing, Catholic burial records appear not to be available yet, at least not from Tipperary. Finding an Irish burial record for either man would be highly problematic, while failing to find any such record would lend an incremental amount of confidence to the match.
Although it may be wishful thinking, finding any kind of record suggesting that one or both of the Decatur men was from co. Tipperary would certainly lend considerably greater confidence in the match. After all the family legends, though problematic, stated that Patrick came from counties Wexford or Cork. As for the failure of other Patrick-James matches to appear in the parish records, there is simply no good reason to believe that Irish Catholic baptismal records are 100% comprehensive.
The bottom line is that the Ancestry.com records release allows just what it should allow: A search of Irish Catholic records with the aim of uncovering evidence pertaining to the likely origins of families. That the evidence may not always be conclusive is simply the normal state of genealogy.
As always, patient application of the genealogist’s craft is required to locate and combine records meeting a reasonable standard of proof. The Ancestry.com database, available in many public libraries, is certainly a good start.
 Boles, D.B. (2016). The Omnibus Ancestry: 589 Documented American and European Lines, 2nd edition. Available for download through Lulu.
 Muleady, A.F. (ca 1964). Muleady Family Record. Typescript, copy in my possession.
 An account written in 1877 indicated that there were three fees associated with Irish weddings: Typically 5 shillings for a certificate allowing the groom to contract marriage with any woman who was free of impediments; 7 shillings sixpence for the license to marry; and an unspecified marriage fee to the priest performing the marriage (information retrieved from http://cbladey.com/wedding/Iwed.html, 2016). It is easy to understand that these could have posed substantial hurdles to an impoverished couple.
 Boles, D.B. (1993). Barth-Hickey Ancestry. Troy, NY: Private print. Available for purchase at Bolesbooks.
Now available for download: The Omnibus Ancestry: 589 Documented American and European Lines, by David B. Boles. As indicated on the Lulu website:
366 pages. This recently released 2nd edition extends many ancestral lines, adds about 50 new lines, and corrects errors in the 1st edition. The book covers 589 family lines, principally but not limited to the colonial and post-colonial United States, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Germany, France, and the Netherlands. The great majority of the ancestral lines in the previous works on the Author’s Spotlight page are covered in handy, condensed, corrected, and referenced form. Extensive notes are used to explain the logic behind conclusions and to provide suggestions for further research.
Covering such a large geographical area and span of time (from the present back to about 1350), I anticipate that the work will be of interest to a wide range of genealogical researchers with American or European ancestors. Using a condensed format, paired with extensive notes, I have endeavored to provide new, diverse, and unique information and insights not only to casual family readers, but to genealogical novices and experts alike. Over 60 years of family history findings are represented, the product of two generations of research using a large array of genealogical techniques.
An index of the families covered appears below.
Why a 2nd Edition?
There are many, many changes to the material covered in the 1st edition. The approximately 50 new lines are the proverbial tip of the iceberg. On publication of the 1st edition, I undertook a year-long line-by-line review, rechecking accuracy, and scouring a variety of new sources for information to extend the lines or add to them. Many extensions and corrections were made. In a handful of cases old lines were dropped when they were found to be unsupported or contradicted by sound evidence. The resulting 2nd edition is more complete, more accurate, and (I think) more interesting than ever.
What is Meant by “Documented Lines”?
Every genealogist has experienced the frustration of dealing with unsourced or poorly-sourced family lines. Many prove to be mutually contradictory and rife with error. Instead I have provided a reference or references for virtually every statement in the book. If nothing else, I hope that the extensive referencing alone makes the book a worthwhile download, as it should save the reader a great deal of time and effort in locating sources.
In the very few cases where I believe a statement is correct but have no reference, I acknowledge “Reference unknown” or the equivalent. These are always limited to minor biographical details; unknown sources are never accepted as support for intergenerational connections.
Will You Agree With Every Conclusion?
Of course I’d like to think so, but I know that experienced researchers like to reach their own conclusions after a balanced weighing of the evidence. I certainly do. That’s why I have endeavored to provide explanations for every point I think might provoke controversy. These are again contained in the notes following an ancestral line. As a reader you of course have complete freedom to accept or reject the arguments.
I’d like to carry this one step further by asking that you contact me if you want to discuss an issue. No one has all the information possessed by researchers at large, and I would like to learn what you have found as well. Contact information is given in the introduction to the book, or you can post a comment to this blog.
Why a 1350 Cutoff?
Like the 1st edition, the 2nd edition cuts off beyond about the year 1350. I adopted this date because it seems to provide the best balance between coverage of essential material and bloat. The cutoff allows for the inclusion of about 20 ancestral generations.
However, that does not mean the ancestry ends there. Far from it. Most known lines of that antiquity are either royal or noble in nature, or trace to royal or noble ancestry within a few additional generations. Fortunately these generations have been widely published and need not be repeated in my book. Instead, in the notes I provide easy-to-obtain references should you want to trace further.
In effect, the cutoff has allowed me to focus my expertise on solving the problems that are the hardest — but also the most rewarding.
A Final Word
In 2010 I found myself the author or coauthor of 14 books of an ancestral or genealogical nature, tracing hundreds of family lines. How could I make this work accessible to a broad audience?
The answer was a single volume, the first edition of the Omnibus, condensing all of the previous work into an easy-to-follow line-by-line format. A considerable amount of new material was added, to the extent that an estimated 40% of the ancestral lines did not appear in the previous publications.
I consider The Omnibus Ancestry the capstone of my genealogical career. The present edition, like the first, is intended to inform you of “the state of the art” while providing a blueprint for future research. Each of the 589 lines is an open invitation to build further. I hope some of you will join me in the labor. But even if you don’t, please enjoy its fruits.
The Omnibus Ancestry may be ordered from Lulu. You can access it either at the book page itself, or through the Author Spotlight page, which shows all of my Lulu genealogical publications. Just click on one of the two links for a preview and more!