Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sorting McCowns and McKowns in Fermangh and America

I have taken the liberty of reporting to you, in his own words, some very interesting thoughts in regard to the DNA matches between Jim McKown, and me, and research sources from William Roulston, Research Director,
Ulster Historical Foundation, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK

Dear William,

That is very interesting to have found such a close match. One wonders
whether your earliest ancestor in America and his were brothers,
uncle/nephew or cousins, and whether they emigrated together and then
went their separate ways in America.

With regard to the McKowns in Fermanagh in 1911, I carried out an
exercise comparing these names with the 1901 census. Interestingly, not
one of the McKowns in 1911 turns up with that spelling in 1901.

There were, as you have noted, 7 instances of McKown in Fermanagh 1901
(all in the townland of Crocknagrally, and interestingly Protestant
(Church of Ireland)) - again their surnames were spelled differently in
1911 (McKeown).

The difficulty you have is the fact that official records of emigration
from the British Isles do not begin until 1890. Before that you are
depending on the survival of a passenger lists or records in America of
people arriving there.

Have you had a look at Janie Revill, 'A Compilation of the Original
Lists of Protestant Immigrants to South Carolina, 1763-1773', Columbia
SC: The State Company, 1939, reprinted Baltimore: Genealogical
Publishing Company, 1968. It might be worth checking that out.

Another difficulty is that we still are not certain where your ancestors
left from. Certainly DNA has shown that your McCown ancestor was
originally a Maguire and therefore his origins lie in County Fermanagh.
However, the considerable disruption to Irish society in the 17th
century meant that people ended up in areas perhaps some distance from
where they came from. Our friend from the early 1600s, Edmond Maguire
McCown, turns up in Tyrone. There were even Maguires in Strabane in the

As emigrants often maintained a degree of kinship, what could be useful
would be to assemble a list of the surnames that occur in the immediate
environs of the McCown homestead in South Carolina. Would that be
something difficult to do? Then by comparing the names with their
distribution here in Ulster it might be possible to see patterns that
could lead to where your ancestors lived in Ireland prior to their

An interesting discovery that I've just made is that of a Lawrence
McQuoan in The Five Towns, Creggan parish, County Louth, in 1766. He was
a Catholic. One can easily imagine McQuoan being pronounced in much the
same way as McCown.

A further interesting discovery, perhaps even more so, is that of a
Laurence McCowen in Lisburn, a town near Belfast, in 1766. He was a
Protestant. It was the combination of names in both instances that I
found so interesting. Law(u)rence is certainly not a common
'Scots-Irish' name. Lisburn and the Lagan Valley certainly was an area
associated with with large-scale migration to Colonial America.


Dr William Roulston
Research Director
Ulster Historical Foundation
49 Malone Road
Belfast, BT9 6RY
028 9066 1988

Saturday, August 7, 2010

As the Buzzard, said, Patience Heck, I'm Gonna Kill Me Somehtin'

Since last I mentioned Jim McKown, brother Dick suggested that the probable reason
that Jim's family tree doesn't match his DNA is that there is an error in the family
tree because DNA doesn't lie. Jim confirms that from about 1785 to present, his family tree reflects his own research and the part going back to 1685 in Perth, Scotland, was furnished by another researcher. That doesn't mean that the research was bad by either researcher but that the tree is grafted where it shouldn't oughta be.

FTDNA has a tool to predict the percent probability that two men who match had a Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) so many years ago, with the usual comparison by four generations apart. Cousin Sam, descended from the younger brother of my great grand father, and Jim McKown and I have MRCA's that differ by only hundredths of a percent at any generation going back 24 generations (600 years ago at 25 years per

The case is further strengthened in that only Sam and Jim match me exactly at 12 and 25 markers and at 36/37. Sam has his 67 marker result and it is a 66/67 match.
The next best matches from other men to date are 24/25, 34/37 and 63/67 and I consider those as very important as well.

As far as I am concerned, Jim, Sam and I are related based on our surname and 36/37 matches alone. The MRCA is icing on the cake and I fully expect when Jim's 67 marker results come in, that he will match me at 66/67 as well. Oh, by the way,
by calculating the MRCA by each generation, Sam and I have enough percentage of probability to be judged by two FTDNA Group administrators as close enough to show
a relationship 7 generations ago, which comes out as 175 years ago. Since it is only 140 years from my great great grandfather's birth to mine that MRCA could have been in only as far back as 1755.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Newly Found Cousin, Jim McKown

Jim just received his FTDNA Y-DNA results. We match exactly at 12 and 25 markers and at 36/37. This is truly exciting to me because, although my brother, Dick, had read Jim's family tree on Ancestry.com, we didn't appear to be related---but that was then and this in now, Oh, Boy! That means he has all of the Maguire clan matches as well as other Ulster matches that I do.

Why did I write this? Because I just had to tell somebody!