Sunday, June 14, 2015

Hearth Rolls of County Donegal, Ireland

From previous posts you may remember that I have been attempting to trace where in Ulster (Northern Ireland) Samuel Bradford, father of our Rebecca, came from by attempting to locate the birthplace of his brother James Bradford. There is more written about James, probably by virtue of the fact that he is the father of David Bradford of Whiskey Rebellion fame.  I reasoned that if we can James' birthplace, we may have also found the birthplace of his brother and our progenitor, Samuel.

To refresh your memory, here is the reference where we learned that James Bradford was from Ireland:

"Mary Bradford, born about 1748 in Ireland, daughter of James Bradford [brother of Samuel Bradford, our Rebecca Bradford's father] and a sister to David Bradford who is well known in connection with the Whiskey Insurrection of 1791. Mary immigrated with her family from Ireland to Cecil Co. Maryland, later moving to Washington Co. Pennsylvania. She is buried in Chartiers Hill Presbyterian cemetery near Canonsburg, Pennsylvania." (source:

We learn later in this article that the above-mentioned Mary Bradford married James Allison, also of Ireland:

"Judge James Allison was a prominent citizen in Washington Co. Pennsylvania. James [Allison] was born in Ireland about 1743. He immigrated to Maryland with his brothers and one sister. He married Mary Bradford, daughter of James, and they moved to Chartiers Hill in  Washington Co. Pennsylvania where they raised 8 children. James along with Dr. McMillan and John McDowell established the Washington Academy later renamed Jefferson College. James was an associate Judge in Washington Co. He died July 24, 1820 and is buried in the Old Chartiers Hill Presbyterian Church cemetery near Canonsburg, PA. The 1882 History of Washington Co. by Crumrine has a biography. "

It's reasonable to suggest that finding the ancestral village of the Allison in-laws might provide a possible clue as to where our Bradford's hailed from. A Google search turned up Allisons in County Donegal, Northern Ireland "hearth roll" (see note # 1 below).  It mentions a James Allison in the parish of Conwal (see note #2 below).  I wondered if this was the same James Allison who married Mary Bradford, niece of our Samuel?  

However, upon searching this record which contains hundreds of names, not a single Bradford is listed.  As ever, our Bradford's remain frustratingly elusive!  

However, it did notice several Dunlaps and Gibsons, and those names are prominent in the list of in-laws of Millers and Bradfords respectively.

While it will take more research to determine of any of these people are our direct or indirect ancestors, this hearth roll record is worth keeping in mind as we continue our long-fought Miller-Bradford research.

#1:  In our day and age, many taxes seems extremely arbitrary.  It looks like this practice is not new--the people of Northern Ireland were taxed on how many hearths they owned!  Here is how the above-referenced record:

#2:  Is it just a coincidence that Conwal Parish is only 15 miles from Ballindrait, the village next to Lifford where our Miller's are from? 

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