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Help with Irish Roots - Mary Ann Mullen (abt 1831 Ireland - 1907 Saskatchewan)

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    Help with Irish Roots - Mary Ann Mullen (abt 1831 Ireland - 1907 Saskatchewan)

    I have little experience trying to trace Irish ancestors, and the little experience I have has resulted in a sore head as a result of repeated contact with a brick wall. Now I’m trying to assist a cousin to trace his direct descendant and my ancestor by marriage. If anyone could point me in the right direction, we would appreciate it.

    What we know:
    Mary Ann (or Maryan or Maryanne) Mullen (or Mullan) married John Thompson (or Thomson) (1813-1906) in Argenteuil, Quebec, Canada on 08 Aug 1848. A John Mullen was a witness as was a Finley McGibbon. Husband John is of Irish descent, son of John & Jane.
    The 1851 census data for Chatham, Argenteuil, Quebec is missing, or we can't find it.
    Mary Ann, John & children Elizabeth, John, Maryann, William, and Robert are fairly easily traced thru the Canada Census from 1861 onward. Most census data shows her as a Baptist, and born in Ireland although the 1861 census shows born in Lower Canada (Quebec). The family lived in Chatham, Argenteuil, Quebec until they moved west to Abernethy, Saskatchewan in 1882/83. The 1901 census shows an immigration year of 1833 for Mary Ann.
    Her tombstone identifies her as Maryan Mullen, 1830-1907.

    What we think:
    Her elderly grandson born 1906 told the family Mary Ann was the daughter of John Mullen and Elizabeth Shannon.

    To complicate matters:
    An 1851 Census of Scotland has worked its way into the research and may or may not be our John Mullan family. That census is for
    Civil parish: Houston and Killellan
    Town: Crosslee
    County: Renfrewshire
    Address: Stevenson's Land
    And pertains to a John, Martha, Sarah, Mary Ann, Martha and John. This would be three years after Mary Ann’s marriage in Quebec so I doubt if it applies, but the Mullan family had intermarried with the McFadzen family from Ayr, Scotland, only about 50 km from Renfrewshire, so it is not inconceivable. These names and dates appear on various Ancestry trees but are not verified as far as I know.
    As far as I can see, there are very few records of Irish immigrants to Canada before the mid-1800s, or passenger lists. On-line records for Ireland don’t seem to be a great deal of help, but perhaps I don’t know where to look. AND, I have no idea where in Ireland the family may have come from other than that husband John’s family MAY have come from County Cork.

    Any ideas or suggestions would be appreciated.
    Last edited by Prairie Chicken; 22-03-13, 19:14.

    Have you seen this books about Abernethy:

    Lots of potential here:,746388-50

    I didn't see a newspaper listing for any of those, but I would imagine there were newspapers.

    I haven't had any luck with early Canada immigration, either.

    bcbrit usually has lots of good advice for that side of Canada
    Last edited by PhotoFamily; 22-03-13, 19:04.
    My Families
    London-area Coverly Family Finder DNA Project


      Thanks Sarah! There's lots of good info there to be sure, but unless there are secrets yet to be discovered in the data from Argenteuil, Quebec I'm not finding any leads to trace Mary Ann. I think the local histories and digests may be the answer, but haven't found the right one yet.

      Any other ideas, or are we just out of luck until we learn more about Mary Ann's family?


        I am very sorry to have to say that unless you have some idea of where in Ireland that your Mary Ann Mullen came from, then you really have little chance of finding her. Mary Ann are extremely popular Christian names in Ireland and Mullen is quite a common Irish name found everywhere in Ireland.

        How do you know she was born 1831 if you cannot find her in Ireland? Are you just going on census/gravestone ages both of which can be notoriously wrong? Family Search have few Irish records pre 1864 on their site.

        Believe me even knowing the town my Irish anestors are from can only get me back to 1827 on one line and 1798 on another line and getting further back is just about impossible, unless you have stories passed down which may implicate your ancestors in the Fenian movement and in this case you MAY find something from the Petty Sessions records on FMP but even here you really need to know at least the county from which they came. Immigration year of 1833 is pre famine times. I notice you spell the name Mary Ann rather than Mary Anne which gives a slight clue to the Protestant/nonconformist Ann which ties up with you thinking they were Baptist. Your only saving grace there is that Ireland back in the early 1800's was 80/85% RC and the remaining 15/20% being Protestant or nonconformist with very few of that number being nonconformist, so you could maybe write/email National Archives Dublin to see what records they have for the nonconformists or where you might find any records appertaining to Irish nonconformists and try to home in on some areas that way. Their website is as follows:

        It is also possible that as Ireland was under British rule that maybe the Baptist Records may have come over to England but National Archives Dublin may be able to help you with that one. Unfortunately although Protestant records were kept at the National Archives Dublin and can go back further than RC records these were the records that were lost in the Forecourts fire of 1922 and I assume that Baptist records would have been stored with Protestant records but not necessarily so.

        Was Mary Ann the youngest or the eldest? If she was the youngest have you followed siblings on census to see where they were born?

        Last edited by Janet; 23-03-13, 16:05.


          Thank you Janet. I'm afraid you're confirming what I'd already suspected. At least you've given us a few threads to nibble at, and some historical perspective to think things through.

          We know next to nothing about Mary Ann before her marriage. All we have is the witness John Mullen at the marrige, the census data post marriage, tombstone dates, and the elderly grandson who told us her parents were John Mullen and her mother Elizabeth Shannon. She was reportedly Irish. We don't know of any siblings.

          One of Photofamily's references refers to one of Mary Ann & John's sons as being named John Peckingham Thompson II and I hadn't heard the reference to Peckingham before. I'll see if by chance that name gives any clues.


            I should really have referred to the Young Ireland Movement rather than the Fenians but even the Young Ireland Movement is really too late for your ancestors because that Movement occurred with the uprising of 1848. But there MAY be some mileage in the 1798 Rebellion, but here again this would tend to be more RC Irish involved. The Fenians came after the Young Ireland Movement.

            You may like to read around the history a bit because Ireland did have many wool and cotton mills at one stage and was very involved with weaving and it was around the 1790's to 1830's that the decline came and many emigrated during this time. A logical place to go first of all would be Scotland until the industry declined there as well. If they stayed for a while in Scotland you may be able to trace them through Scotlands People and the Parish Registers.


            If John Mullen is a witness at Mary Ann's marriage was he not Mary Ann's brother? Have you tried to trace John Mullen through census to see where he is baptised? They did tend to live near each other in communities when they emigrated. I have many Irish marriages and all seem to have a sibling as witness to the marriage wherever possible.

            I do sympathise as I know how hard Irish tracing is, though I have made inroads by finding people in Albany NY State and just this Christmas somebody from Boston has been in touch confirming much of the work done in Chicago with Photofamily. So you just never know your luck!

            Last edited by Janet; 23-03-13, 19:47.


              That was an excellent article on Irish History Janet! Thank you. It does help to put things into perspective.

              Yes, I'd considered the John Mullen as a brother, but without more to go on, I've gotten nowhere with him. I'll keep looking though. Thanks again.