Saturday, 6 May 2017

The Clynch Connection

The goal this week was to ascertain who, if anyone, my Dad’s great-granduncle, Andrew Byrne, followed to Aurora, Illinois, when he left Ireland for America around 1887. Immigrants often sought out the support of relatives who had already established themselves.

My objective was twofold. First, if an earlier generation of Andrew’s family was found, I wanted to check and see if their descendants were listed among Dad’s DNA matches. Secondly, any information gleaned about Andrew’s aunts and uncles might help reveal the identity of his grandparents - my fourth great-grandparents - whose names remain unknown.

And, I believe I now know who Andrew Byrne followed to Aurora, if indeed he spent time there. It’s a probable family connection I’ve pondered before.

The early emigrants
On 12 May 1854, before Andrew Byrne was even born, the Ticonderoga docked in New York having sailed from Liverpool, England. Its passengers included Edward Clynch, aged 33 years; Martin Clynch, aged 35; Catherine Clynch, aged 25; Mary Clynch, aged 30; and an infant Mary Clynch. They were accompanied by Rose Darcy and Ellen Keally, both 26 years old.  I recognise all these names from Andrew’s birthplace in Athgarvan, Co. Kildare. Andrew’s mother was a Clynch from Athgarvan!

Passenger list from the Ticonderoga, arriving in New York, 12 May 1854

Martin and Edward soon made their way to Aurora, Illinois, where their surname morphed permanently to Clinch. The both claimed U.S. citizenship at Aurora courthouse on the same day in 1860 and in the census that year, Martin was found living in Aurora with his wife Catherine, daughter Mariah (aka Mary), born in Ireland, and an infant son Edward, born in Illinois.

Why do I recognise these emigrants?
Andrew Byrne was the youngest son of Andrew Byrne and Anne Clynch, my third great-grandparents. Edward Clynch was Godfather to Andrew and Anne’s son Thomas Byrne, baptised in August 1838. Mary Clynch was Godmother to their first son Andrew in November 1843. Ellen Kealy was Godmother to their son Edward in November 1850 and Rose Darcy was Godmother to their daughter Anne in May 1853.

Plus, Martin Clynch of Athgarvan married Catherine Fox in the parish church in Newbridge, on 28 August 1853. Their daughter Maria was baptised on 22 January 1854, just a few months before they all up and left the country. Maria’s Godfather was John Byrne, possibly Andrew’s elder brother and my great-great-grandfather John, born in 1841. And, subsequent records for Catherine in Aurora confirm her maiden name was Fox.

Does this help identify my fourth great-grandparents?
Athgarvan was a tiny village back then, and the Clynch surname was relatively rare in Ireland, so there’s little doubt my Anne Clynch was related to this Clynch family. And, although her son Andrew wasn’t born until March 1855, after the emigrants had all departed, and despite not having any 'proof' he contacted them in Aurora, Andrew surely followed in their footsteps.

I’m thinking the three passengers, Martin, Edward and Mary, and possibly my third great-grandmother Anne, were the children of Patrick Clynch and Catherine Murphy. No other Clynch family has been found in the village around the time. Their daughter Mary was baptised in February 1825. She would have been in her thirtieth year when the Ticonderoga crossed the Atlantic.

Regrettably, there is a gap in the Newbridge parish registers between 1795 and 1819, around the same time Martin, Edward and Anne were likely baptised. So, it may not be possible to ever link them directly to Patrick and Catherine.

Still, when Griffith published his Valuation in 1853, Patrick Clynch and Anne’s husband, Andrew Byrne senior, were near-neighbours at Athgarvan Cross. And, a few years later, possibly in the immediate aftermath of Patrick’s death, Andrew Byrne senior took over the lease on Patrick’s cottage and garden. 

I mentioned this last year in my post entitled ‘Succession Rights’. It suggests a close familial relationship, although it also suggests traditional inheritance practices were disregarded - ‘the land’ passed out of the Clynch family name. Perhaps this occurred because the rest of the family had already emigrated, or maybe it’s what prompted them all to leave.

Excerpt Griffith’s Valuation, Athgarvan, 1853

But, I have some niggling doubts regarding Anne's precise relationship to Patrick and Catherine. In 1833, Andrew and Anne married in the neighbouring parish of Suncroft, not in Newbridge, and marriages traditionally took place in the bride’s parish. Also, while their eldest daughter was called Catherine, in line with traditional naming patterns, Andrew and Anne did not name a son, Patrick.

So, there’s still much to do to prove Patrick and Catherine (Murphy) Clynch were Anne’s parents. Patrick may have been her elder brother, or perhaps even her uncle or cousin.

Granda’s proposed path to Patrick and Catherine Clynch

Sources consulted: 1854 Passenger List; Edward and Martin Clinch, Naturalization Index; Martin Clinch houseshold, 1860 census; Newbridge, Catholic Parish Registers; Griffiths Valuation, Blackrath and Athgarvan.

Read about the fate of the Clynch/Clinch family in Aurora, here and see some further reflections on Andrew and Anne's relationship to Patrick Clynch here.

© Black Raven Genealogy


  1. It's such a relief when the details line up the way you need them to. When I am confronted with something that "breaks the rule," I wonder if my family member was a "rebel" or if I really am on the wrong track.

    1. I agree Wendy, it's the little things that often add credence to a theory. Just being in the right place around the right time is certainly not enough!

  2. In my emigrated Irish families I found that once they reached the USA they did not necessarily follow the naming patterns.

    1. True Claudia, they very often did not follow them at home either.

  3. Great work as usual Dara! I love when I start recognizing names and it falls into place.

  4. Thanks Ellie, I love getting to know the guys you write about too - makes them seem like old friends.


I look forward to reading your comments, even more especially if you're related to someone mentioned in this post.

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