Thursday, October 25, 2007

Donegal. SURNAMES, MIGRATIONS. McConaghy: Matthew McConaghy 1789 and Descendants

 Scotland, to Ireland, and Global.
A Tale of Two Diasporas - Diasporae
McConaghy's and spelling variations: McConnaghy, McConaghey
In Scotland, the Ulster Plantation, and The Mix

I.   Surname migration
A. Diasporas
B. Specifics - Maurice Edwin McConaghey
C. Ancients to Modern Overview

II.  Family Roots
I. Surname migrations.

A. We are tracing two diasporas - of an comparatively uncommon surname, McConaghy, in Ireland and Scotland.  Variations: McConaghy, MacConaghy, McConnaghy, Maconochie, McConaghey, and on withspread as spellings changed.  Find e's added and subtracted, c's for g's, e's for y's.  The name now is not only in the British Isles, but in Australia, South Africa, Egypt,  the US, and with military in two World Wars and other wars. Matthew McConaghy b.1780;  Grandsons James Foster McConaghy and Robert McClure McConaghy (sons of Joseph - 6); Robert McClure McConaghy had six children, including Robert McClure McConaghy (Jr? II?) b.1877 who married Louise Lucinda Brien (Hilliard b.1877); they had five surviving children, including my mother, Marjorie McConaghy. And pages more.

Researching: It takes a family starter.
  • Our McConaghy records and research is from a family archivist, Violet, a splendid human being, now up in years.
  • We have a number of her letters, logs, research papers; and visited St. Johnston and other family locales. Another cousin has written a narrative with sources. Our correspondence with Violet began in the 1970's; the recent cousin's work is still in progress. Anything we found from the internet is labeled.
B. Specifics

We chose one, Maurice, who was born to a military-medical family in Her Majesty's Service in India, went to Sandhurst, received his officer's commission and served in the Boer Wars; then in WWI where he was killed at Arras, France.  We visited his grave there, and also there began our keen interest in his life experiences.  Details of the family tree follow, since 1785 or so in Donegal starting; but that is of interest only to us.  For anyone else, meet Maurice.

Lt. Col. Maurice Edwin McConaghey b.1877; son of John McConaghy b.1849 and grandson of Rev. John McConaghy b.1812 and great-grandson of Matthew McConaghy b.1780; here at age 10, with brothers John Cunningham McConaghy and Laurence Edgar McConaghy, all then of Westward Ho! Devon; Maurice added the "e" to McConaghy as an adult, to differentiate his military record in the Royal Scots Fusiliers, from his cousin, William McConaghy b.1881, a surgeon in the WWI medical corps. Maurice appears at the far left. He married and lived in Londonderry with his wife, Cynthia Estcourt, reports the 1911 census, http://www.census.nationalarchives.ed/pages/1911/Londonderry

He, at age 33, and his wife, Cynthia Joan (Estcourt) age 23, lived at 8 Victoria Park, Londonderry, district No. 5 urban,; with a sister of Cynthia, and four servants, (find there their church affiliations, Church of England for the family and one servant, Church of Ireland for another servant, and two servants Roman Catholic) All could read and write except the little

Start with ancients and fast forward:

"Scotties" from Ireland to Scotland, Scotland back to Ireland. See the Scots side, Edinburgh and Argyll, at Scotland Road Ways, Surname Roots, Exodus, Campbell, McConaghy.

Then find Scots (and English) who were recruited by the British Crown, the landed and landless, to settle Ulster in Ireland, pushing out whoever was there, beginning in the early 1600's. This became known as the Plantation. We need to root through Pynnar's Survey more on this, for names: see

The Plantation was the Ulster Plantation, of James I, and it holds roots of current conflicts with "Northern Ireland" and the Republic. We find family on many sides:  Anglo-Norman, Plantation Protestant, indigenous Irish Protestant.


C.  McConaghy, McConnaghy, other spellings

1. 1785 est, Matthew McConaghy was born in Greenhills, Convoy / Raphoe, County Donegal. Farmer.
In ____  at _______________, Matthew married Matilda Gray. Is he buried at St. Johnston? Were his forbears part of the Ulster Plantation settlements of landed gentry, and unlanded folk, beginning 1609. See our earliest found source so far, A Special Census of Northern Ireland, Pynnar's Survey, by Rev. George Hill, at

Matthew and Matilda's children:

1.1 James McConaghy, born before 1805, and he married Jane Taylor who was born about 1821. James owned property, as of 1858, in Roosky, Upper Raphoe, some 28 acres. See He spelled the name McConnaghy. Freepages records: McConnaghy , James , Roosky Upper
McConnaghy, James, Roosky Upper
McConnaghy, David, Ardvarnock Glebe
McConnaghy, David, Kiltole
McConnaghy, David, Tullydonnell Lower
McConnaghy , Robert , Carrickbrack
McConnaghy , Robert , Kiltole
McConnaghy, Robert , Magherahee

Using the double "n" spelling of McConnaghy, the other brothers are

1.2 David McConnaghy. There are multiple listings at the 1857 Griffiths Valuation, ours was born 1805, ours died 2/21/1871. Ours married Ann_______ who died on July 8, 1872, and is buried at Convoy Presbyterian Church. David had with property at Tullydonnell Lower, 72 acres, and at Ardvarnock Glebe, 40 acres. There is another David McConnaghy (or the same?) shown at Freepages, at the 1857 Griffiths Valuation, with property at Kiltole

David and Ann's children are

  • 1.2a Nil McConaghy (double n?) (letter from Violet 1992)

1.3 Robert McConnaghy. Robert married Margaret Allen, who was born in Greenhills, Convoy / Raphoe, and died in 1857. Robert was from - born in? - moved to Carrickbrack, County Donegal, and died in 1857. He was a farmer. He owned 13 acres in Raphoe.

1.4 Rev. Joseph McConnaghy born 1811, died 12/31/1875 , St. Johnston, County Donegal, Ireland. He married Mary McClure, St. Johnston.   St. Johnston - St. Johnstown, Taughboyne, Co. Donegal, see

1.5 Rev. John McConnaghy born 1812, died December 11, 1882, "Larkfield", Urney

1.6. Alexander McConnaghy, born est. 1822, died 1889

D.   Places

e. the fifth son, Rev. John McConaghy, b. 1812, scholar, Glasgow Univ. 1832, ordained in 1837, Urney, lived in Sion Mills before moving to "Larkfield" Urney, County Tyrone. Married Elizabeth Cunningham b.1813, in 1841. They had seven children, and descendants include William and his cousin Maurice, both killed in WWI.

There is another Matthew McConaghy, of Antrim, born 1842, who may be the son of our Matthew, but who  knows.  This is fun, not obsessive despite the long entries here. The joy of the chase. Put enough stuff down and see what connects. Non-Maconochies, use these sites to look up your own ghosts. Family issues repeated in the generations, noone resolves, are you in the snare?
So we see these branches

1. Cunningham, maiden name
2. McClure, maiden name
3. The main inheritance surname, Maconochie, McConaghy, McConaghey, etc.

1.  Branch CUNNINGHAM?
  • Cunningham. Elizabeth Cunningham was the daughter of Robert Torrens of Ballyfatton Cottage, Strabane.  but Violet's brother, Charles, has a family painting of an elderly woman named Cunningham, and that name appears on the gravestone of the wife of the Reverend John McConaghy at St. Johnstone; and on the stones of several descendants.  She died in 1898.
  • "Larkfield" Urney, County Tyrone. There are apparently records dated Dec. 11, 1881 and 1882, a stone. Who was it who was age 70 then? 
  • Sion Mills - more connected to Rev. John before he moved to Larkfield?

2.  Branch TORRENS

James Torrens of Urney, County Tyrone
Daughter Sidney Torrens b. 1850, d. 1926 Rahway NJ

Robert McClure McConaghy b.1841 married Sidney Torrens b.1850

They had six children, including Robert McClure McConaghy (Jr? II?) b. 1876
  • Sidney had lived with brother Will Torrens b.1846 d. 1915 NY, and Maggie Torrens b.____, d. 1902, when they were in Ballyfatton Cottage, Strabane
3. Branch McCLURE
Rev. Joseph McConaghy married Mary McClure

Have to repeat some here. Robert McClure McConaghy married Sidney Torrens b.1850, on June 6, 1870.  Sidney is daughter of James Torrens. Sidney and Robert married at Sion Mills, County Tyrone.

4.  Branch McCONAGHY
Joseph McConaghey was officient at this marriage, see June 27, 1862 and other Marriages entries,

III.  Questions

1785.  Matthew McConaghy born.  There is another Matthew McConaghy, a #2, born 1842 in Bushmills. Not us, we think, see ://, unless a missing son of Matthew#1 is Matthew #2. There are repetitive family names there. We need Pynnars -

Pynnars Survey was to provide a report on each owner of land and its status in Counties Armagh, Tyrone, Donegal, Cavan, Fermanagh;

Pynnars Survey of Land Holders - this gives us the real names of landholders, and the location/ condition of their property in Ireland. This includes Counties Armagh, Tyrone, Donegal, Cavan, and Fermanagh with notes on Londonderry. It was originally compiled as a result of the 17th century plantation of Ireland (1609+). A landholders census record, it set about to give us the results of the 'planting' of families from outside Ireland onto Irish lands. Here, Pynnar gives us the name and condition of Undertakers, servitors, and principal natives on these Ulster lands.
That from Who can go through Pynnars? It is really big.
  • This other site says Matthew #1 had 5 sons, not 4. See old census by Rev. John Wray in 1822, a friend and fellow clergy to Joseph McConaghy, as to his flock in Convoy, Raphoe Valley, County Donegal. Is this census the same as a book apparently written, called "Convoy", with access to records now lost. 
  • Go to this Convoy-search result site, and find several McConaghy's and McClures and related spellings, births, marriages deaths.  This is not my field, I am just passing connections on. Archivist, VP, is elderly.
* Joseph McConaghy (our line) - 1811-1875
Matriculated to Glasgow University
Ordained 1834, Irish Presbyterian Church.
M. Mary McClure, who died 1874

His church was at Dundee, St. Johnston, near Strabane.
Joseph and Mary are buried there.
Matilda Ellen McConaghy also buried there. 1843-1863. Is this a daughter? See the later Matilda, below.
  • Both John Wray and Joseph McConaghy had "a wonderful knowledge of most diseases to which the human frame is subject and turning this knowledge to account he was enabled to alleviate mch pain and suffering throughout the entire neighborhood."  See Death of the Rev. Joseph McConaghy, copied byVP "from a newspaper cutting pasted into a session book of Saint Johnston Presbyterian Church." We have a copy of the typed copy.  What is this custom? After praising his life, the article continues: "Nor is it by any means wonderful when as in his case the golden bowl broke, and the silver cord snapped, many, very many, real mourners were going about the streets."  Is that part of lowering the coffin? No idea.
Brother of Joseph, John McConaghy (the line of Violet)
Matriculated to Glasgow University
Became a Rev. also

Son of Joseph:  James McConaghy -

Now:  Joseph McConaghy and Mary McClure apparently had a number of sons, including a James. We find a James McConaghy who married Margretta Elizabeth Hamilton, born 1848, and a saga unfolds at the Hamilton site, by Robert Wilson Hamilton, at

This Dr. James McConaghy (a medical doctor) is affirmed there as the son of the old minister at St. Johnston, Joseph McConaghy/  James practised in the Orkneys, and lived in Sanday. See Orkney Road Ways, Sanday.

He and Margretta had five children, and they moved to London for the sake of the children's educations, but only stayed a few years. James went after his mother-in-law, Jane Hamilton, by writ in Dublin in 1886 for some 250 pounds plus interest.

James's sons as they grew up moved to Australia; and Margretta and the girls followed, and then Margretta died in Melbourne. This is also part of our known tree. Just fun to find it in somebody else's records - collective memoirs. OK, Mr. Robert Wilson Hamilton.  Did Jane pay up?  If not, what are all of us owed now on that 250 pounds plus interest, hmmm? We always knew, we did, that she had it in for our handsome, winsome, Jamie....

Update 3/24/2010 - we heard from someone whose relative came into possession of a silver salver, engraved with a tribute to Dr. James Foster McConaghy who practised in Sanday, Orkney, for ten years.  Read the note and see the photos at the Orkney post, Sanday, and Dr. James Foster McConaghy.  This was the first contact, in part:
''*** My wifes family have a commemorative 14.5" solid silver plate presented to Dr James Foster McConaghey on January 15 1884 by the people of Sanday for his good works and kindness to the poor. Should you be interested to see pictures of this plate please email....***"
So we did, and here is one of the photos.

Now we are looking at gaps in records;
  • The 1851 census apparently was lost in Ireland, so there are many gaps. We have a large family tree done by Violet, however, and will do our best with it - pending. She also did a piece on ancient history, where Celts and others went, Pytheas of Massilia (who?) great fun. No direct line of course, but interesting. What to do with her essays, accounts of her research?
For fun, here is Louise Lucinda Brien (Hilliard) who married Robert McClure McConaghy in New York. She was my maternal grandmother.

Louise Lucinda is the daughter of Margaret Hilliard, who was age 13-14 and working at the great Glengeen Lodge in Trillick, where the local nobleman, William Brien - then age 39 - had his enjoyment; and Louise Lucinda resulted.  Was Margaret only 13 when the encounter took place?
A cousin has researched that story. Louise Hilliard, the mother of Louise Lucinda. My grandmother grew up in Trillick, County Tyrone, and migrated here - proud of her second class ticket with her mother - in about 1889.  Born 1872.

Robert McClure McConaghy married Louise Lucinda (Brien) Hilliard, here with the father, known to us only by stories, and some letters, as Mr. Brien.  If Louise came here at age 18 or so, and married at age 26 to Robert then age 28, when did they meet, where, what was she doing, was she working, was Mr. Brien supporting "Maggie" and Louise, as we know he later did; until the stock fell in 1929 and there were no more dividends.  All gone.  One story says he had his wealth not only from inheritance but also the laying of the AT&T cable on the Atlantic floor.  Tales, tales.

More distant relatives:  Here are two brothers
WILLIAM MCCONAGHY - died 1918.   British Medical Journal 1898 -  Dr. William McConaghey, Lt. Col  was promoted to Col. in the Bombay, India Service see 

See also  Find a Major William McConaghy, died April 7, 1918, Royal Army Medical Corps, nationality UK, Suez War Memorial Cemetery, at D 89, age unknown, see the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site at Start at ://  The cemetery is in Cairo, see :// and ://

MAURICE MCCONAGHEY (brother of William, but he added the the "e") - died 1917, age 39 - Maurice Edwin McConaghey, Lt. Col.,  WWI, buried near Arras, France. See Belgium Road Ways, Battle of Ypres (Ieper), Maurice McConaghey.  Royal Scots Fusiliers, buried at a pocket cemetery called "London Cemetery" at Neuville-Vitasse, France, near Arras. III C 13.

More loose ends:
  • Old Matilda McConaghy and her son James McConaghy. Poor farmers in Convoy, County Donegal, visited by Violet in 1973.  But there is another Matilda born 1871 of another line, in Antrim, from Hugh McConaghy born 1776, See  Which is this?  We are looking for the parents of our Matthew McConaghy born 1785. Any connection?
  • Ronald McConaghy, retired army major, lived in Yorkshire, England, with wife. No children.
  • Christopher McConaghy and his two sons, live in South Africa.
  • Brother to Christopher, John McConaghy, and their mother McConaghy, living in Rhodesia (any word?)
  • Paddy McConaghy, daughter of the late Dr. Richard McConaghy, living in Belgium
  • Charles McConaghy, brother of archivist VP, living in Bobcaygeon, Ontario, north of Toronto. 
The Role of Identity in a Human Life
  • What is an identity, its role in shaping a life. Is slavery identity theft, with ongoing repercussions. A family history is a privilege,a source of rootedness, a starting point for learning history, as well as a recreation.
  • Should reparations for slavery be based on identity theft?
  • Michelle Obama, I have a privilege that you do not, since records of your ancestors only go a limited way: see,0,485324.story/.
    • Compare that to many of us of European descent, where the records of one of our many names go back hundreds and hundreds of years and even produce some laughs or aghasts (who was paid on a note, who was executed).
    • Maurice Edwin up there. Buried at Arras, France, WWI. Find him there. Find old photos. Who married a good-looking, or prosperous person. Who did not. Worth the hunt.