A birth record for Richard McManus would have obviously answered this question, however I’m starting to think that his birth was either not recorded or his year of birth may be completely off (I’ve manually searched St.Columb’s baptisms and can’t find him around that period). So I’ve been using some more creative techniques to try and find Richard’s family back in Ireland.
In his marriage record his parents are listed as John McManus and Jane, and from a possible naturalisation records his date of birth is 17th March 1845. The year of birth is consistent in other documents, so even if the naturalisation is for a different Richard, the year is a good guide. Searching for John McManus in Londonderry was not very useful as it yielded way too many results.
And here come the DNA!
Genetic genealogy involves using DNA to find or confirm relationships between people, and is often used in combination with traditional paper-based genealogy. With the prices of the DNA kits down as low as $80 it is a very fast growing area. The idea behind it is that every child inherits half of their DNA from each parent. Using autosomal DNA one can confirm with quite high certainty all close relationships. It’s also useful for confirming more distant relationships, but the more distant the relationship is, the higher the possibility of an error. Hence, if you are planning on using DNA to prove your paper-based family tree or to break through brick walls – make sure you test the oldest relatives possible.
My husband did an ancestry DNA test couple of years ago, and based on matches with known cousins we’ve confirmed that two of the lines on his paternal side match the paper records as far back as 1850s (the Hensman/Frost and the Wittnebert lines) I’ve been looking into trying to figure out how some of the rest of the people who share DNA with him fit in his tree.
One of his matches on ancestry, I’ll call her J., was a reasonably close match, who had a small tree.
What caught my eye were the names in her tree – they were all very common surnames for Derry, but all lived in New York. The tree went back as far as J. grandparents, so I thought I’d extend it further back and in next generation the name McManus appeared!
Margaret McManus, b. 1856, baptised 5 Apr 1856 in St Columb’s, Derry city… and the really exciting part – her parents were John McManus and Jane Hegarty! If my theory is correct, J. and my husband are 3 cousins once removed. While the DNA is consistent with this, the relationship is a little bit too distant to be able to conclusively prove it. Thankfully, an older relative had kindly agreed to test, he is two generations closer, and his results will hopefully be the proof we need.
Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure Jane Hegarty is Richard’s mother, so I’ll continue working on that theory.
John McManus and Jane Hegarty were married on 20 Nov 1841 in St Columb’s Londonderry. The witnesses were Daniel Hegarty and Ann Bradley. Daniel is Jane’s brother, more on him later, and I’m not sure yet who Ann Bradley is, but the Bradley surname appears in the godparents for the children. Catherine (Richard McManus’ wife, Jane’s daughter-in-law is Bradley, however I haven’t found a connection between her and Ireland yet, and there are a lot of Bradleys in Derry, so it could be just a coincidence with the name)
John and Jane McManus had a number of children, I haven’t found all of them yet as there are gaps in years the databases available online, but the children I’ve found are:
- John b.1842
- Catherine b.1847
- Mary Jane b.1852
- Margaret (1852-1925), married Daniel McDaid (McDade) and lived in New York
- Bridget b. 1857, married Edward Doherty
- Jane b.1866
- Philip b.1867
There are a large gaps between the births of some of the children, so it’s quite possible John and Jane had more children who I haven’t yet found. It’s also plausible that Richard b.1845 is their second son.
Jane was still alive in 1901, age 80, living together with her son Philip in the household of her son-in-law and daughter Edward and Bridget Doherty, Fulton Place.
She is listed as a “boarder” not as a mother-in-law. Jane died a year later, and the newspaper notice of her death mentions she died in Fulton Place in her son-in-law’s residence. She died of “diarrhoea 21 days, exhaustion 5 days” which I’m guessing would mean dehydration. She was 81 and a widow. She would have been born c.1821 in Derry City.
The newspaper announcement also mentions she will be buried in the Long Tower Burrying ground, so I’m planning to find and contact the cemetery to see if they have any further records, or do they know if any other relatives are buried with her or nearby.
I’m currently looking into the godparents of Jane and John’s children to see if they give more clues about other McManus or Hegarty relatives.
Remember Daniel Hegarty who was the witness in John and Jane’s wedding – he is most likely her brother. I haven’t found much information on him, but I may have found his son – Daniel Hegarty (Jr) born about 1866 and died 6 Jan 1909 of a heart failure, age 46. Daniel was married twice. His first marriage was to Sarah McNulty on 05 May 1887, and they had two children – Daniel (b.1890) and Margaret (b.1896). Sadly Sarah died before 1901 (Daniel was a widower in 1901) and he married a second time – to Caroline McLaughlin on 31 May 1902. Daniel and Caroline had a son Joseph born 1904.
I’ll end this post with one last census record from 1901 which was mis-transcribed and I only found it when I was manually looking through all households on Fulton place where Jane McManus lived in 1901.
The names and ages of John, Richard and Catherine match the names and ages of the three children of Richard and Catherine who were left behind in Derry. The places of birth are not very clear, but seem like Boston, United State of America (and Richard is listed as born in New York) I will be looking to see where were John and Catherine in 1911 (Richard was married in 1909 and in 1911 lived on Bridge Street.
*** Update: DNA results came in and confirmed Richard’s mother is indeed Jane Hegarty!