Finding the right parents when you have a common name is not always easy. If you have the marriage certificate, that helps and sometimes you are given the father’s name. Even then, you need to use your detective skills. Such was the case in determining the parents of James Whelan. Whelan or Phelan is the 79th most common name in Ireland, so not as difficult as perhaps having a Murphy, but a challenge in the south east of Ireland.
Knowing the Irish naming patterns helps to give clues on the parents’ names. The Irish naming pattern would provide that a first son is usually named for the father’s father and then the second daughter is named for the father’s mother. However, that can be tricky if both the parents of the spouses had the same name. In my case, the first son was named Thomas and the second daughter was named Kate. However, the first daughter was Mary, so if both James and Mary had mothers named Mary, it would be more likely to be Mary.
Based Griffith’s valuation and newspaper articles, I knew that James lived in Oldcourt, Adamstown, Wexford for most of his adult life. This was confirmed with marriage records for children that referred to their father as being from Adamstown and Oldcourt.
Knowing that James was Roman Catholic (RC) and that he was most likely born in the same county as he lived and died, I search for the James Whelans that were born in Wexford within 10 years of what I assumed was the correct age based on when the first child was born. I found two with a father of Thomas, one born in 1810, one born in 1812. Neither were born in Oldcourt. One was born in New Ross (1810), and one in Templetown (1812).
Checking the Tithe Applotment books confirmed that no Whelans were on property in Oldcourt at that time. As James married Mary Delaney and, in the Griffiths valuation, his property was alongside the Delaney property, it is possible that he did not move to Oldcourt until his marriage.
There were two James Whelans that died in Wexford where the approximate ages were correct. One was living in Oldcourt at the time so he was my most likely candidate for the actual birth date. Unfortunately, the birth date assumption based on the age better matched the second James Whelan born in NewRoss. However, the other death also matched the 1810 birth date, so it could not be both of them.
Looking at the civil death record, both the age and the cause of death for the Oldcourt James Whelan matched the line above, indicating perhaps a transcription error on sending in the information. Regardless, death certificate information can be notoriously incorrect, even if the informant is a family member. For instance, my aunt mistakenly listed my grandmothers grandparents as her parents. So I did not want to rely too much on the age on the death certificate.
So, I went back to the naming convention. There were no RC James Whelans born within a 10 year time span in Ireland with a mother’s first name of Kate or Kathleen. Though there were several with a mother named Catherine, none of those had a father named Thomas. So perhaps the mother’s name was Mary if they followed the naming conventions.
The 1810 James Whelan, his mother was Anastasia, for the 1812 James Whelan, his mother was Mary. Mary was the first daughter to James and Mary Delaney, but no Anastasias were found in the family tree working forward. While there were many Anastasias born to other Whelans in Wexford, none, even if subsequent generations, to the family I am tracing.
Therefore, the correct James Whelan must be the one born in Templetown in 1812 to Thomas Whelan and Mary Neile.