Tuesday, April 29, 2014

52 Ancestors: #17, Michael Murphy, Immigrant Ancestor of My Immigrant Ancestor

What exactly do we mean when we refer to our "immigrant ancestors?" Born in the United States, I could be talking about the earliest ancestor in a line who immigrated to the U.S. But with two of my four grandparents stemming from Canadian forbears, I tend to think more in terms of the earliest ancestor who immigrated to North America from "across the pond."

By the stricter definition, the "immigrant ancestor" in my Murphy line is my grandfather, William G. Murphy, who immigrated from Prince Edward Island, Canada, to New Hampshire around 1911. But in fact, I consider my "immigrant" Murphy ancestor to be William's immigrant ancestor, his great-grandfather Michael Murphy, an Irish immigrant to Prince Edward Island in the early 19th century.

Hard information about my great-great-great-grandfather, Michael Murphy, is sparse. All I really know about him comes from two head-of-household censuses1, 3 and baptismal records for three of his children.4 The rest is deduction and conjecture.

Michael Murphy was born in Ireland no earlier than 17965 and probably about 1801.6 He emigrated to Prince Edward Island probably between 1820 and 1825, paying his own passage and settling on a 15-acre plot, which he owned "in fee simple,"7 in the vicinity of Georgetown in Kings County.8 (Click on any of the maps for a larger, and more legible, view.)

Eastern end of Prince Edward Island (Kings and Queens Counties), with the Georgetown area circled in red.9

He married Magdelen Morrison (who was born on PEI), most likely around 1827.6 Michael was a sawyer, as at least one of his sons would later be, but like most of the people of the time, he also farmed on his 15 acres. In 1841, he lived in Georgetown Royalty, Kings County, almost certainly on the tract labeled "M. Murphy" on the 1828 map shown below.10 During the previous year he had raised 100 bushels of oats, 20 bushels of wheat, 15 bushels of barley, and a whopping 500 bushels of potatoes – not too surprising for an Irishman's family. The family owned thirteen sheep, 3 hogs, and 5 neat cattle.8 (The number of slovenly cattle was not recorded.11)

Plan of Georgetown, Georgetown Common, and Georgetown Royalty, 1828.10
The red box (added by the author) is approximately the area of the detail shown below.

Detail from Georgetown Royalty area of the map above. The lot numbered "5" near the upper right is labeled "M. Murphy."

Michael and Magdelen had at least seven children (the household had four boys and three girls under 16 in 1841),12 and perhaps as many as ten. Of these, the only ones I have hard evidence for are my great-great-grandfather William, and three boys for whom there are baptismal records (and oddly, for those three I have no other documentation). Thanks to an online family tree,13 I was tipped off to the existence of four more prospective children: three daughters and another son, tentatively identified based on their reported parents in marriage or death records, and their apparent relationships to each other deduced from city directory and census records in Newburyport, Massachusetts. (These four, and my g-g-grandfather, all emigrated to Newburyport – which seems to have been a magnet for PEI Murphys – though at widely divergent times.) The other two are conjectural, to make up the seven children in the 1841 census; one would have to be a girl and one a boy.

Children of Michael Murphy and Magdelen Morrison (known, tentative, and conjectural):
  1. Unknown, b. ca 1828 (conjectural).
  2. William Murphy, b. 1830, married Flora Ann McDonald on PEI.
  3. Unknown, b. ca 1832 (conjectural).
  4. Mary A. Murphy (tentative), b. ca 1834, married 1) George W. Bowlen in Newburyport, Mass., 2) Daniel W. Green probably in Newburyport, 3) Samuel Bamber in Lynn, Mass.
  5. Donald Murphy, b. 1836.
  6. Patrick Murphy, b. 1838.
  7. Catherine Murphy (tentative), b. ca 1838-1840, married George Linklighter or Linkletter, possibly on PEI or else in Newburyport, Mass.
  8. James Murphy, b. 1842.
  9. Elizabeth Murphy (tentative), b. ca 1843, married Demas Mason on PEI.
  10. Daniel Murphy (tentative), b. ca 1843-1844, married 1) Johanna Collins on PEI, 2) Anastasia Welch in Newburyport, Mass.
There was no census on PEI in 1851, and the 1861 census again listed only the head-of-household by name. Moreover, not all of the census has survived. Nevertheless, it's quite possible that the Michael Murphy, farmer, in Lot 41, Kings County, is "my" Michael, with one male and one female over 60 and one male 21-45 in the household, farming on 50 acres.14 Unfortunately, the agricultural schedule for Lot 41 does not appear to have survived.
1861 Prince Edward Island Census, Kings County, Township 41, Michael Murphy household

Again, there was no PEI census in 1871. By the time the province got a full nominal census in 1881, there is no Michael Murphy who fits the bill at all, nor any known variation on Magdelen (Maggie, Margaret, Matilda, Martha...). So it appears both must have died before 1881, though no death or burial records appear to exist. Currently my best estimate of the death of my immigrant ancestor's immigrant ancestor is a decidedly imprecise "between 1861 and 1881."

My descent from Michael Murphy:

(Note: This post is in response to Amy Johnson Crow's "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" challenge at No Story Too Small.)

  1. "PARO Collections Database," Public Archives and Records Office of Prince Edward Island (http://www.gov.pe.ca/archives/parosearch : accessed 12 Feb 2014), record for Michael Murphy, "Lawyer" [Sawyer],2 1841 Census, "Township 99"; also accessible via the same site's "P.E.I. Census Documents Data Search" database (http://www.gov.pe.ca/archives/census/index.php3), an older version of the database (accessed through the Genealogy at the Public Archives > Genealogy From a Distance page) which identifies the lot/township as "George Town Royalty" rather than the (non-existent) Lot 99 indicated in the PARO Collections Database.
  2. A 19th-century uppercase script S is easily confused with an L, which has more than once transmuted my humble sawmill-operating ancestors into ostensible barristers. 
  3. 1861 Census of Prince Edward Island, Kings County, schedule 1, Township No. 41, p. 4, unnumbered line 1, Michael Murphy household; "1861 Census of Canada," index and digital images, Ancestry.com (http://search.ancestry.com : accessed 12 Feb 2012).
  4. Division of Vital Statistics, Public Archives of Prince Edward Island, Prince Edward Island baptism card index, cards for Donald (1836), Patrick (1838), and James (1842) Murphy; digital images, “Prince Edward Island Baptism Card Index, 1721-1885,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 13 Feb 2014).
  5. 1841 Census. The two adults are no older than 45 and thus born no earlier than 1796.
  6. Marshall K. Kirk, "Murphy: Massachusetts Data," typescript, ca 1991; Marshall K. Kirk Research Files, privately held by the author, Virginia Beach, Virginia. This summary and analysis of Kirk's research on his Newburyport, Massachusetts, Murphy relatives includes a section identifying the immigrant Michael Murphy and linking him to his son William Murphy. His analysis of the 1841 census records indicates that, of the four Michael Murphys in the census, only the one in Georgetown could possibly be our ancestor, and that other circumstantial evidence is consistent with the Georgetown location. Additionally, he provides a rationale for the estimated dates of birth and marriage.
  7. Holding land in fee simple means the owner has a "permanent and absolute tenure in land with freedom to dispose of it at will." Oxford Dictionaries (http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/fee-simple : accessed 29 Apr 2014).
  8. 1841 Census. The PEI proprietor-tenant system was under scrutiny at the time, and one group of census questions was designed to evaluate the numbers of immigrants who paid their own passage versus having their passage paid by a proprietor, as well as how many of the latter had repaid the proprietor for their passage. The census also recorded how many acres the family held and in what form (fee simple, leasehold, etc.), amount of produced raised, and livestock owned.
  9. "Counties of Queens and Kings," map, Atlas of the Maritime Provinces of the Dominion of Canada (St. John, N.B.: Roe Brothers, 1878), p. 79; digital image, University of Prince Edward Island Robertson Library, Island Imagined (http://www.islandimagined.ca : accessed 27 Apr 2014). 
  10. Surveyor General, "Plan of Georgetown, Georgetown Common, and Georgetown Royalty," manuscript cadastral map, 1828; digital image, University of Prince Edward Island Robertson Library, Island Imagined (http://www.islandimagined.ca : accessed 27 Apr 2014).
  11. Though they may well have been exceptionally tidy cows, no doubt the census had in mind the dictionary definition of "neat" as a noun meaning "Cattle of the bovine genus, as bulls, oxen and cows. In America, this word is used in composition, as in neats tongue, neats foot oil, and tautologically in neat cattle." From "Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913 + 1828)," University of Chicago Department of Romance Languages and Literature, The ARTFL Project (http://machaut.uchicago.edu/websters : accessed 28 Apr 2014).
  12. 1841 Census. All seven children are under age 16. Given the typical 2-year spacing (and barring twins, stillbirths, and children dying young), the first child must have been born between 1826 and 1829, and the youngest of the seven between 1838 and 1841.
  13. "Public Member Trees," database, Ancestry.com (http://trees.ancestry.com/tree/12995771 : accessed 22 Sep 2013), profiles of Michael Murphy, Margaret/Magdelen Morrison, and children, in "Dwyer Family Tree," owner "dgbishop189". This tree is partially sourced; I am in the process of tracking down additional documentation in hopes of verifying the identifications, and will report my findings in a future set of posts.
  14. 1861 Census.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

You and I are related to Michael Murphy and Magdalen Morrison via #4: Mary A. Murphy (tentative), b. ca 1834, married 1) George W. Bowlen in Newburyport, Mass., 2) Daniel W. Green probably in Newburyport, 3) Samuel Bamber in Lynn, Mass.

And yes, Mary (her name was indeed Mary) Murphy married Daniel Worthen Green in Newburyport, MA...but it was the final of her three marriages, not the second. Mary was my great-great-great grandmother. Mary Murphy + Daniel Green > my grandmother Sarah Worthen Green (b. 1861 Newburyport) who married Benjamin Melville Rowand. Their son Louis Davison Rowand (b. 1883, Newburyport) was the father of my mother Priscilla (b. 1924 in Stamford, CT...and still alive).

I read her your entry on the phone. She said "Imagine at age 91 finding this out for the first time." She thinks it's so much fun and so wonderful. Thank you. And thank you Michael and Magdalen!