Kinsearching November 9, 2008




Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     As genealogists trace their lineages, they may discover that the variety of religious denominations to which their forebears belonged is as diverse as their ethnic backgrounds. Their ancestors' religious inclinations often influenced where they lived, who their friends and associates were, and whom they married since members of the same spiritual group tended to maintain close ties. Descendants of ancestors associated with the Religious Society of Friends will welcome the new second edition of A BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF IRISH QUAKERS edited by Richard S. Harrison and published by Four Court Press in Ireland. As Harrison states in his preface, this revised and expanded version of his 1997 book was prompted in 2004 by the 350th anniversary of the arrival of the first Quakers in Ireland. His interesting introduction provides detailed information about Quaker history from its beginnings in the mid-1600s in England to the present and about their religious beliefs.

     Offering biographical sketches of a wide range of Irish Quakers (also known as Friends), the information supplies a mixture of family history, data about commercial and industrial life, and sometimes humorous anecdotal material. Although the sketches mainly pertain to eighteenth and nineteenth-century people, some furnish details about twentieth-century individuals. In addition to the expected entries for such surnames as BEWLEY, EDMUNDSON, JACKSON, PIM, JACOB, NEWSOM, and RICHARDSON, the volume lists names of many persons not currently remembered as being Quakers. The editor also includes individuals who were Quakers at one time but left the Religious Society of Friends or who were not necessarily Quakers but belonged to an extended Quaker family. Harrison's work covers Quakers from all four Irish provinces and most major cities and towns, those who moved to North America (including the West Indies), and missionaries to such places as China and West Africa.

     Genealogists should keep in mind that most Irish Quakers were not of Irish descent; Harrison calls them Irish if they lived or worked in Ireland or passed through there at one time. Many trace their pedigrees back to England, Scotland, or Wales. Jasper TREGOES, who died in 1695, was a Cornishman. Some, like Gershon BOATE (1648 - 1704) and Garrett VAN HASSEN (died 1695), were of Dutch ancestry, as was the mother of William PENN.

     Penn, the most famous Irish Quaker in American history, spent a small part of his life in County Cork and later managed his father's estate in Ireland. In his biographical sketch, Harrison focuses on Penn's connections to the Emerald Isle. He was well-known to Irish Friends who had many personal and business ties to his American colony.

     Genealogists who trace their lines back to these affiliations are probably familiar with the standard reference, IRISH QUAKER ARRIVALS TO PENNSYLVANIA, 1682 - 1750 by Albert Cook Myers. Many of the families named in that volume also appear in A BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF IRISH QUAKERS. For instance, William PIM (1692-1751), who served many years as clerk of Bradford Monthly Meeting in Pennsylvania, is a descendant of William PIM (died 1718) of County Cavan. Isaac JACKSON (1665-1750), who married Ann EVANS and settled in Pennsylvania, has thousands of descendants in the United States; he is related to Isaac JACKSON (1705-1772) of Dublin, since both claim Anthony JACKSON of Eccleston, Lancashire, England, as their ancestor. Anne GOODBODY, who attended the Philadelphia Monthly Meeting in 1729, may be related to the several generations of the GOODBODY family who remained in Ireland. Isaac SHARP, who arrived in New Jersey about 1702, was the son of Anthony SHARP of Dublin. Thomas GRIFFITTS (1685 - 1746), who immigrated from Cork to Philadelphia, has information about him in both books. Samples of other recurring surnames in Harrison's publication are ABELL, BARCROFT, BARRINGTON, BASS, BEALE, BENNIS, GRUBB, DEAVES, EUSTACE, HAUGHTON, HARVEY, HOBSON, LAMB, LECKY, MALCOMSON, PIKE, SHACKLETON, STRANGMAN, TODHUNTER, TOMEY, WALPOLE, and WIGHAM. Material on many of these families can also be found in William Wade Hinshaw's classic multi-volume ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AMERICAN QUAKER GENEALOGY. Due to the myriad transatlantic links between Quakers in Ireland and North America, genealogists will want to see what data about their kith and kin the BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY may offer. In addition, they may glean tantalizing clues for further research.

     Since many Quakers were involved in Ireland's commercial and industrial sectors, A BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF IRISH QUAKERS will also be of interest to historians. Harrison's sketches contain much information about those aspects of Quaker activities as well as their participation in reform movements (anti-slavery, prison, and temperance, for instance). John CHRISTY (born in 1642), for example, is considered the father of Ulster's linen trade. Francis DAVIS (1807-1890) tried to help relieve misery resulting from the Great Famine and successfully treated cholera victims. Another interesting character is Robert COOKE (died about 1726), who "pioneered a vegan life-style...."

     Although the volume is not meant to be comprehensive, Harrison's collection of biographical sketches pertain to Friends, both men and women, who run the gamut of Quaker beliefs, occupations, and activism. Written in a lively manner and presenting interesting stories, A BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF IRISH QUAKERS provides both valuable data for researchers and entertaining reading for the general public. Serving as a companion piece to Myers's book and to Hinshaw's encyclopedia, Harrison's work will be a valuable addition to library genealogical collections.

     Included in the 260-page hardback is a map showing the location of Friends Meetings in Ireland in 1794. An in-depth glossary explains common terms associated with the Religious Society of Friends. Arranged in alphabetical order, each entry specifies the main sources consulted. The seven-page bibliography of references also lists the abbreviations used. Names of places and topics appear in the index. Priced at $75.00, the book may be purchased from International Specialized Book Services (ISBS), 920 N. E. 58th Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, OR 97213-3786 (phone 503-287-3093; fax 503-280-8832; e-mail; website

     Charles N. Ferguson, 811 South Market, Shawnee, OK 74801 is seeking information about the family of James Walter BARTLETT, born 8 Feb 1887 in Ramsay, IL, and died 23 Dec 1975 in Rockdale, Milam Co., TX. When did he marry and who was his wife? Did he have any children?

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