Emigration from County Armagh, Ireland to Canada, 1800 - 1855
County Armagh is now one of the six counties of Northern Ireland
Photo Source: Thanks to Mike O'Shea for the following photograph. Mike's Trainor ancestors came from County Armagh
to the Toronto, Ontario, Canada area in 1825.
Scene from Damoily Townland, County Armagh, Ireland
June 9, 2011:
County Armagh is one of the six counties which make up the Country of Northern Ireland. The others are County Down, County Antrim,
County Londonderry, County Fermanagh and County Tyrone. The major urban centres of County Armagh are Armagh City, Keady,
Portadown, Lurgan and Tandragee / Tanderagee.
Most of my ancestors on my mother's side came from what is now the Republic of Ireland. However, my McGee ancestors came from Keady,
County Armagh. They came to Canada in 1828 and I'm trying to research the conditions in County Armagh between about 1780 and 1835
when many families came from County Armagh to the Ottawa area of Canada. How did a number of families from County Armagh come to Canada;
how did they settle in groups in parts of the Ottawa Valley; were they looking for work and came here to work on the construction of
the Rideau Canal; were they "exiled" to Canada for political / legal reasons?
My plan is to try and get information regarding the Armagh Disturbances which began in the 1780's, the formation of the
group the Defenders, which later evolved into the Irish Republican Army, and the historical 1798 Rebellion in Ireland.
Bytown or Bust has just acquired a copy of an excellent book regarding Forkhill Civil Parish in the south
of County Armagh. Here it is:
Forkhill Protestants and Forkhill Catholics, 1787-1858, by Kyla Madden, McGill Queen's University Press,
2005, ISBN 1-84631-015-5, Hardcover.
On page 12 of Madden's book is the following excerpt:
The Defenders' origins can be tracked back to 1784, when Protestant gangs in north Armagh attacked and ransacked
Catholic homes for weapons in a transparent effort to enforce the surviving penal law that forbade Catholics
from bearing arms. The raids and robberies of the Portestant Peep O'Day Boys inspired the lower orders of
Catholics to form their own organizations for the purpose of self-defence.(41) This period of outrage, which
spilled over into the southern reaches ofthe county persisted for nearly ten yers and was widely known as the
We can read Kyla Madden's Masters Thesis online at http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/obj/s4/f2/dsk2/tape17/PQDD_0004/MQ28230.pdf.
It is called TEN TROUBLED YEARS: SETTLEMENT, CONFLICT AND REBELLION, IN FORKHILL, COUNTY ARMAGH, 1788- 1798.
This is very good background material for our interest in the conditions in Ireland for the generation previous
to the coming of the earliest Irish settlers in the Ottawa, Canada area.
Another good book is The Orangeman: The Life and Times of Ogle Gowan, by Donald Akenson, James Lorimer and Company,
Toronto, 1986, ISBN 0-88862-963-X. Donald Akenson is a professor at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, and is one of
the foremost experts on Irish-Canadian history. His book documents the life of Ogle Robert Gowan who came to Canada from
County Wexford in the 1820's and was integral in setting up hundreds of Orange Lodges in Canada. The Orange Lodge was established
in County Armagh in 1795, following the 1791 murder of a Protestant teacher named Barkley / Berkley by a Catholic group
called the Defenders. In 1795, there was a pitched battle (the Battle of the Diamond) between the Defenders and the Protestant
Peep O'Day Boys. Towards the end of 1795, the Orange Lodge was formed.
And, finally, here's another book for our home libraries:
Peep O'Day Boys and Defenders - Selected Documents for the County Armagh Disturbances, 1784-1796
David W. Miller, Editor, 1990, Public Record Office, Northern Ireland, ISBN 0905691-26-1
It contains the following background material:
Many of the pioneer Irish families, both Protestant and Catholic, who came to the Ottawa area in Canada between 1820
and 1855 came from County Armagh. My Armagh ancestors (McGee / McKee) were Catholic.
November 7, 2013, Added the following picture.
The Lewis Topographical Directory of County Armagh, 1837 can be read online as a general history of the County.
Many of these folks are recorded in the Drouin records for Notre Dame Cathedral on Sussex Drive in downtown Ottawa
(available through ancestry.ca, and many others show up on the 1829 McCabe List.
My McGee ancestors came to Bytown (Ottawa) from County Armagh in 1826 to work on the Rideau Canal.
After the construction was completed in 1832, they acquired farms at South Gloucester and became involved in municipal politics.
Four McGee brothers from County Armagh married four Hughes sisters who also came from County Armagh, with their father,
Patrick Hughes, who is ML# 491 on the McCabe List.
The first census of Ireland occurred in 1821, although not much of it has been found. See the following link to the
most common names which appear in 1821 in County Armagh.
1821 Census records for Forkhill Parish, County Armagh.
Two of my McGee ancestors were Terence McGee, ML# 559 and his brother Patrick McGee, ML# 431.
This web page will use Kyla Madden's book as a reference guide to examine social conditions for the period in County Armagh
when the earliest pioneers came to the Ottawa, Canada area between about 1815 and 1855.
Map Sources below: LEFT Map is a portion of a widely-distributed black and white map of Ireland in 1848.
It appears in, for example, The Great Hunger, Ireland, 1845-1849, by Cecil Woodham-Smith, page 13
May 28, 2011: RIGHT Map: Peep O'Day Boys and Defenders - Selected Documents for the County Armagh Disturbances, 1784-1796
David W. Miller, Editor, 1990, Public Record Office, Northern Ireland, ISBN 0905691-26-1, page 5
Feburary 10, 2012:
The place names of county Armagh shown on the map (above, right) have been transcribed alphabetically here:
Acton Armagh Ballymacanab Ballymore Bann Foot Blackwatertown Brackly Bunkerhill Carnavanaghan Carrick Blacker Carrickastickan
Charlemont Church Hill Clare Castle Comakinnegar Cordrain Creggan Cross Derryall Derrycrew Drumbee Drumilly Drumlin Hill Durmbanagher
Edenknappagh Eglish Forkhill Granemore Grangemore Hamilton's Bawn Keady Killeen Lisnadill Loughgall Lurgan Markethill Mount Norris
Mullaghbrack Newry Newtown Hamilton Portadown Rich Hill Seagoe Silver Bridge Tanderagee / Tandragee / Terraskane "The Diamond" Timascobe
Emigrants from County Armagh, Ireland, to Ontario and Quebec, Canada, 1820-1855
|BENNETT, Robert||from Tanderagee||left two brothers in Tanderagee / Tandragee, Henry and James|| ML# 413
|BENNETT, William||from Tanderagee|| ML# 414
|BOLAND, Alexander / Abraham||ML# 244||from Grange, County Armagh
|BROWN, Hugh married Isabelle McGorgan (sp?)||
|GILLISSIE, Thomas||wife Bridget O'Callaghan came from County ARMAGH||
|DONNELLY, Patrick||From Forkhill||to Westport, Ontario
|DROMGOOLE, Patrick||from Newry, ML# 10||brother John in Newry in 1829
|ELLIOTT, Francis||death notice in the Ottawa Times||
|FITZSIMMONS, William||from Drumgar||
|GORDON, William||Genealogy book at OGS Library||to Goulbourn Township
|HANRATTY, Peter||from Forkhill Parish||
|HOLLAND, William||to Pontiac County, Quebec||came in 1838
|HUGHES, Patrick|| ML# 491||from Carana
|KEARNEY, Edward married Elizabeth McGuigan||Connally, Creegan||ML# 369
|KEARNEY, Peter married Helen Wade||Hamilton, Newtown||Ottawa, ML# 180
|LANG, William||from Loughall||ML# 310
|McCARTIN, John||in Notre Dame records||
|McGEE, Dennis||from Keady||to Ottawa in 1830
|McGEE, John Joseph||half-brother to Thomas D'Arcy McGee ?||became Clerk of the Privy Council
|McGEE, Patrick||ML# 431, from Keady||brother Dennis still in Keady in 1829
|McGEE, Terrence||ML# 559||from Keady
|McGOEY, Father Patrick||taught English at University of Ottawa in 1848||
|MEHAN / MEEHAN, James||Tandragee, Kilmore||ML# 210||
|NIXON, William||to North Gower||
|PATTERSON, John||from Mullaghglass, ML# 585||brother-in-law John Mitchell, known to Lord Gosford||to Almonte ?
|SHORT, Michael, son of Peter Short and Mary Slaven / Slavin||parents stayed in County Armagh||in Notre Dame records
|TRAINOR, John||from near Markethill||to Peel and York Counties
|WOODS, Margaret||parents in Armagh: John WOODS & Margaret SHERIDAN||married Pat McGRATH in 1844, at ND
May 11, 2011:
Here is a concentration of families from County Armagh who came to Fitzroy Township (now part of the city of Ottawa).
Source: 1852 Census for Fitzroy Township.
Thomas and Eliza ANDREW, John BOYLE, John BRADLEY, a large CRAIG family, the CON / CONN family, DOLAN, HENRY, HOWARD,
MAY, McGUIRE, Mathew TAYLOR and Sarah WILSON.
May 16, 2011:
Here is a book review regarding conditions on the Gosford Estate in County Armagh in 1821. Lord Gosford had a connection to Canada.
He was the Lieutenant Governor for Lower Canada between 1835 and 1837 and negotiated with Louis-Joseph Papineau at the
time of the Rebellions of 1837.
June 3, 2011:
William Craig was a Protestant (Church of England), and was one of the weavers who came to Fitzroy Township c. 1834.
Here is his family in the 1851 Census for Fitzroy Township, Upper Canada:
January 29, 2012:
Thanks to Mr. Bruce Wright for the following resources available about County Armagh at familysearch.org :
Just would like to give my two cents, here! I have been doing genealogical research for 35 years, especially on county Armagh.
Just wanted to pass on some information regarding research in co. Armagh. Hopefully, you are aware that there is a tremendous
amount of films available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake city, that you can consult and borrow those films at a
local Family History Center where ever you live! (The local LDS branch in Ottawa is on Prince of Wales Drive, north of Baseline Road ... Al)
You should go online and at the familysearch.org address and go to card catalog and under location: type in Armagh, Ireland ...
it will then give you the list of films and list areas of available films ... you click on any topic and it will list the films.
You should also check out within the co. Armagh films available, the ones of the topic of: Crossle's Genealogical Abstracts and
Sir Betham's Genealogical Abstracts! Philip Crossle has transcribed a boot-load of work from the original sources prior to the
fire of 1922. He transcribed births, marriages, deaths, wills, censuses, church records, etc. and wrote them into a ton of
notebooks which have been microfilmed by the LDS church! Some of these notebooks are listed by surname (A thru Z)! However,
sometimes you will find various surnames listed in the entries within a book. It is tedious work, but if have gone through and
looked through these books (on microfilm) and found information on family surnames in books that I did not expect to find any
information, so I just rent the films of his works and look at all of the books to find information on my family.
I just wanted to emphasize that there is a lot of information that has been microfilmed. Most of this material comes from the
Armagh Museum as well as other places, and also contains information on other surrounding counties of co Armagh! ... and sometimes
families in co. Armagh had ties and dealings with other individuals in surrounding counties. Depending on what the occupations of your
families, they may have dealings with Belfast, and Dublin counties. You will find information on this also. I mention all this because
sometimes people are not aware that these films exist and are availabe on loan at your local Family History Center. Do not think that
you have hit a brick wall on any research before 1800. By the use of many of these co. Armagh films you may further your
research efforts! However, there is no guarantee either! ... you also may not find what you are looking for, but if you don't look at
these films, you will never know. If I can be of further service, I would be happy to help direct you, etc.
November 3, 2013:
After five years of trying to buy a copy of A Famine Link -- The Hannah - South Armagh to Ontario, we now have it
in our library at Bytown or Bust. This is another amazing book (aren't they all?). This one chronicles the
voyage of the ship Hannah in 1849 from County Armagh; after striking an iceberg in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, many passengers were lost.
The captain of the ship was the first to abandon ship, instead of being the last man on board.
Many of the survivors made their way to Quebec City after being rescued by passing ships and they eventually made their way to Westport, Ontario.
These families are documented in the book mentioned above, A Famine Link, by Kevin Murphy and Una Walsh. These emigrants came from
Forkhill, County Armagh where some of them had connections to earlier settlers who pioneered along the route of the Rideau Canal about 20 years earlier.
E-mail Al Lewis
Back to Bytown or Bust - History and Genealogy in the Ottawa, Canada, area