Quinns in NLI parish records

Our recent trip to Ireland encouraged me to take another look at my husband’s lines of Irish ancestry and follow up with research in the parish records now available online through the National Library of Ireland (NLI).

Bill’s great-grandfather was Thomas Quinn. Here’s what I’ve learned about him:

  1. Thomas Quinn (1831-1888) is buried in All Saints Cemetery (Lakeville, MN). “Spouse Rose Rowan. Born in Ire. Came to Lakeville 1880. Father died in 1844.” From Dalbydata.com.
  2. The source of the information in quotes is likely a biographical sketch in History of Dakota County, Minnesota, (Lakeville Township), published 1881, which was at one time found on Dalbydata. Quinn’s bio gives his birth year as 1834; further, it states he and Rose married in 1860 and had 10 children. (A digital version of the book can be found on books.google.com.)
  3. Another Quinn buried at All Saints Cemetery was Michael Quinn (1838-1912). “Sp. Mary Murray. Mother Hannora Quinn 1794-?. Born Roscommon Co. Ireland.” (Dalbydata.com.) From census records and passenger lists, I’ve concluded Michael and Thomas Quinn were brothers.
  4. The 1857 Minnesota Territorial Census showed Honora Quin [sic] (age 63) living in Dakota County, MN, with Martin (27), Thomas (23), Patrick (22), Michael (20), Andrew (18), as well as James (28) and his wife Margaret (22) and son Thomas (1).
  5. “Honor” Quinn arrived in Philadelphia, PA, on 21 May 1850 on the ship Saranak. Other passengers were Martin (22), James (20), Thomas (18), Patrick (16), Michael (14), and Andrew (12) Quinn. Listed next to “Honor” on the passenger list was Pat Cunniff (age 3), possibly a nephew? From Philadelphia Passenger List on Ancestry.com. (I note there are other Quinns on the passenger list, but I haven’t been able to make a connection between the two families.)
  6. My source citations fail me on this point: somehow I concluded years ago that Honora’s maiden name was Foley, but how? I need to re-plow that furrow.
  7. An analysis of Griffiths Valuation records suggests the Quinns, Foleys and Cunniffs were all residing in County Roscommon, St Peter’s parish. A possible townland: Monksland.

I looked in the NLI parish records for an 1844 burial of (father) Quinn in St Peter’s parish. The good news: During this period there are many fewer deaths than births which makes the query relatively easy.  On microfilm 04615/02, I found this entry under ‘Mensa September 1844‘:

(September) 20    Petrus Quin – Gallows Hill – 50

  • The age (50) seems right. Petrus would have been born about the same time as Honora (1794).
  • But the first name Petrus? None of Honora’s sons is named Peter. Naming conventions would call for one of the sons to be named after the father. ‘Patricius’ (Patrick) might be more plausible. Could the name be misspelled in the burial record?
  • Gallows Hill? I find no townland by this name. Was Petrus executed (hung) for a crime? A closer look at the NLI parish burial records showed two more deaths from Gallows Hill, Henry Wallace (25) on 14 October 1844 and Martin Brennan (54) on 19 October 1844. It seems unlikely that three men would be executed within a 30-day period. Detailed maps of the area indicate a big army barracks near Athlone. No ‘Gallows Hill’ is shown on the maps I found, but it’s not out-of-the-question for a geographical feature to be named as a location.

I’ve begun researching marriages and births in St Peter’s parish, but it’s tedious work. The numbers of marriages and births, the discrepancies in birth years for the Quinn sons, and the priests’ poor penmanship combine to make it a challenge. But, how advantageous to be able to research the parish records from my home computer! The search continues.

If you haven’t used the NLI parish records since they came online in July, take a look here: http://registers.nli.ie/.


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