Bill's Genealogy Blog

Bill Buchanan is a long-time genealogy enthusiast, living in Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada. This blog will describe my experiences as I research my family history and help others.

My Photo
Location: Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada

I am a retired online school teacher. I love family history. Since 2007, I have spent much of my time providing part-time support for the world's largest free family history site This is very rewarding. I have helped others with the Family Tree and related FamilySearch products.
In 2010-2018 Iserved in the Edmonton Riverbend Family History Centre. I have a FHC blog at Bill's Family History Center Blog For information the Latter-day Saints and family history click

Monday, January 17, 2011

Some Useful Resources for Irish Research

Tithe Applotment List

1901 and 1911 Censuses of Ireland

Griffiths Valuation of Ireland (1850s roughly)

Griffiths Valuation of Ireland (more info)

Emerald Ancestors (commerical but free search)

Flax Growers of Ireland, 1796

Ulster Covenant of 1912

Irish Pension Records
Pensear is a commercial site, but the information can be surprising. We know that the Irish censuses for 1841-1891 were destroyed, but sometimes they are quoted as evidence in the pension applications. e.g. 1851 Willm. THOMPSON 50 head married 1825, Jane 40 wife, Robert 20 son, Andr.18 son, Caty 16 daur, Willm.14 son, Alix.7 son, Jane 5 daur, Ann 24 daur, absent.

The Thompsons of Collow, County Tyrone, Ireland 
Like most people with genealogy on the internet, I receive a number of email messages. Some people provide updates or corrections to their family information. Others are seeking further information on people in my database. Some are responding to my blog. Most of these messages just require a few minutes of research and a simple reply. Others evolve into major projects.

The Thompsons of Collow project involved 8 researchers on three continents and dozens of documents. Firstly, who are the Thompsons of Collow? They are the Thompson family that lived in Collow Townland, Longfield West Parish, Tyrone, Ireland. Collow measures about one mile by a half mile and is not good farm land, but typicaly supported 4 to 8 families. See the Parish map at:

At the time of Griffiths Valuation of Ireland (1850s), Collow had the following homes:
Unoccupied (house)
Alexander ACHESON
Bernard M'AREE

William Thompson was the person who sparked the project. William's descendant Tim Spencer contacted me about the family. (See Tim's family website:
I felt that others had more information than I did, so I contacted six other researchers who had been in touch with me regarding the family.

Most of the researchers connected to the Thompsons of Collow through William Thompson. One descended from Catherine, and three of us connected through Ann Thompson, who married my 2g-uncle William Buchanan on 24 Mar 1846 at Lower Longfield Parish, Tyrone, Ireland. William and Ann came to Canada in 1847 with William's parents and siblings. (Family lore says that one or two of Ann's brothers came to Canada too, but failed to give their names.)

Ann's marriage certifcate identifies her father as James Thompson of Collow. Her death certificate gives her mother's maiden name also:
Death 024848-1911
Ann Buchanan, Nov 6, 1911, age 87y 4m 28d
Born June 9, 1824; of lot 33, con 9, Elma township; d/o James Thompson and Jane Long, both of Ireland.
Ill four days - died of old age; heart failure.

It was a surprise to learn that Ann's parents and most siblings immigrated to Australia.
Index to Assisted British Immigration 1839-1871
This is an index to Registers of Assisted British Immigrants 1839-1871
Family Name Given Name Age Month Year Ship Book Page
[Sorted by age]
Family Name Given Name Age Month Year Ship Book Page

Why would they have gone to Australia, when some family members already lived in Canada? The answer is probably that as assisted immigrants, the passage to Australia was free. And Australia gets a lot less frost and snow.

In Australia were found the death certificates of both her parents:
Deaths in the District of Duck Ponds in the Colony of Victoria Regitered by James Blair
Died: 13th October 1871, Shire of Corie, County of Grant, Parish of Moranghurk, Duck Ponds
Name and Profession: James Thompson, Coster; Sex and Age: Male, 86 years;
Circumstances: old age and general debility, 2 weeks, last seen by: Dr. John Day, 8th October 1871
Parents: Robert Thompson, tanner; Margaret Thompson M.N. Thompson
Informant: William M Clellan[?], son-in-law, Duck Ponds
Registration: James Blair, 15th October 1871, Duck Ponds
Burial: 16th October 1871, Geelong [?] Cemetery
Minister: Revd George Goodman, Church of England Clergyman; David McKay, James Alain, John Currie, witnesses
Born: Parish of Longfield, County Tyrone, Ireland; Resided in Victoria 16 years
Married: Longfield, County Tyrone, Ireland at age 22 years to Jane Thompson, M.N. Long
Children: Robert 60, William 57, Ann 50, John deceased, James 40, John 38, Gerrard 35, Margaret [illegible], Alexander [illegible], Jane 28, Catherine 26.

Deaths in the District of Geelong in the Colony of Victoria Registered by James Quillan[?]
Died: First May 1858, Bream Creek, Duneed
Name and Profession: Jane Thompson, m. name Long; Sex and Age: Female, 60 years;
Circumstances: Phthisis
Parents: Robert Long; Catherine Thompson m. name Sproul
Informant: John Thompson, son, Bream Creek
Registration: James Quillan[?], Third May 1858, Geelong
Burial: 3 May 1858, Geelong Cemetery; Wm Creig[?], undertaker
Born: Cty Tyrone, Ireland; Resided in Victoria 3 years
Married: Longfield, Tyrone, Ireland at about 20 years to James Thompson, Farmer
Children: Robert, William, Ann, John, James, John, Jared, Margaret, Alexander, Jane, Catherine
Notice that they even give Ann's grandparents names!!! How lucky can you get?!!

And the probate of James' estate gives further information:
4. That the said deceased left him surviving five sons and four daughters all above the age of twenty one years namely Robert and William and Ann at present residing in America, John at present in New Zealand, Alexander at present in Queensland, Margaret now the wife of William McClelland of Lara, Jane now the wife of Gabriel Hunter of Ballarat, Catherine now the wife of George B Hogg of Ballarat in the said colony and me this deponent who are his only surviving next of kin entitled by law to share in his property. 

So which of Ann's brothers came to America (Canada)? Robert and William! William is probably the same William Thompson recorded as the very first settler in the area that later became Elma township, Perth County, Ontario, Canada. The Buchanans followed shortly afterwards.

The research turned up a lot of additional information on the other William's family. From the evidence, there were two different William Thompsons of Collow, probably first cousins.

I will list some of the resources we used in a separate posting. This one is already longer than I intended.

In an anthropology class long ago, the teacher told us that the aboriginal people of Australia were apalled by the ignorance of the English, when it came to names of family relationships. Dozens of relationships that had specific names in their own language were rendered into English as "cousin". As genealogists we are often more specific. I can say "Gordon is my third cousin, once removed.", but that doesn't say which family line we have in common. So I might say, "Gordon is my third cousin, once removed on my Buchanan line."

I recently found out that Gordon's wife is the first cousin of my friend Fran. If I describe my family connection to Fran as a "cousin-in-law", I think most people would get the general idea. (i.e. There is no blood relationship between Fran and me, but we are connected through the marriage of our cousins.)

In the same way, the mother of my friend Donna is the sister to my uncle Charlie's wife. There is no blood relationship between Donna and me, although we share an uncle and aunt.

Wikipedia says that Gordon's wife is my cousin-in-law, but Fran is not, nor is Donna. Hmm ...

Maybe the lengthy explanations are best after all.

Friday, January 14, 2011

[From an email I sent to "Irish Roots" podcaster Michael O'Laughlin]

My Buchanans
I have a website on my Buchanan family that contains genealogy, old stories, some photos, and free e-books about the family.
In 1847 during the peak of the great famine, Andrew and Jane Buchanan and their 8 (mostly grown) children left Binnawooda townland in Tyrone for Canada. The ship nearly sank in a storm and had to return for repairs. On the second attempt, they reached Canada but like so many ships, a plague of "immigrant fever" had broken out onboard. The official quarantine station on Grosse Isle, Quebec was already overwhelmed, so they were quarantined onboard for 3 weeks at Kingston, Ontario, where Andrew and an infant granddaughter died. The family settled in the unsurveyed wilderness that later became Elma Township, Perth County, Ontario, where it grew and prospered. From there it spread out to Manitoba and Washington State, and far beyond.

A YDNA study found that we were of "a typical chiefly line of Clan Buchanan". These chiefs traced their ancestry back to Annselan O’ Cahan son of King Dermond O' Cahan, who reigned in Ulster province, and was a descendant of the ancient kings of Ireland. (The O'Cahans ruled the kingdom of Coleraine, now in County Derry.) Anselan landed in Argyll, Scotland in 1016 with some followers and helped Scottish King Malcolm II to repel Danish invaders, and was granted the Buchanan lands in Lennox, from which his descendants took their name.
So my Buchanans were of ancient Irish descent as well as more modern Irish descent.

I love the family stories and old photos.
Bill Buchanan

Friday, January 07, 2011

The following document sent to the 'Thompsons of Collow' group by Jenny Salmon answers the old question "Which brothers of Ann Thompson Buchanan came to Canada?"

Various people had suggested that one or two of Ann Thompson's brothers had come to Canada from Ireland, possibly on the same boat with the Buchanans in 1847. No one has given their names.

Annie Bray Buchanan McMane in the 1960s mentioned that she had been invited by the Thompson cousins [who would be second cousins to her] in Michigan to come for a visit, and that she hoped to find answers to some family history questions. She never told me whether she had made the visits or whether she had found out anything.



In the estate of James Thompson
late of Geelong
in the Colony of Victoria, Laborer, deceased Intestate

I Gerrat Thompson, of Ballarat in the Colony of Victoria, Laborer make oath and say –
1. That I am seeking to obtain administration of the Estate of the above named deceased.

2. That the said deceased died on the sixteenth day of October one thousand eight hundred and seventy one Intestate and was at the time of his death a widower and unmarried.

3. That the said deceased left real estate in the Colony of Victoria of the value of sixty pounds and personal Estate in the said Colony of the value of twenty one pounds.

4. That the said deceased left him surviving five sons and four daughters all above the age of twenty one years namely Robert and William and Ann at present residing in America, John at present in New Zealand, Alexander at present in Queensland, Margaret now the wife of William McClelland of Lara, Jane now the wife of Gabriel Hunter of Ballarat, Catherine now the wife of George B Hogg of Ballarat in the said colony and me this deponent who are his only surviving next of kin entitled by law to share in his property.

5. That I am the person entitled to administer the estate of the said James Thompson deceased Intestate and I am the only son of the said deceased hereof in the Colony of Victoria.

6. That I have made careful enquiry and search but am unable to find any Will of the said deceased.

7. That if I obtain administration, I will well and truly collect and administer according to law, to the best of my knowledge and ability, the property, lands and heriditaments, goods, chattels, and credits of the said deceased at the time of his death, which at any time after shall come to the power or control, hands, or possession of me as his administrator or of any other person or persons for me: that I will make or cause to be made a true and perfect inventory of all and singular the property, lands and heriditaments, goods, chattels, and credits of the said deceased which shall come to the hands, possession or knowledge of me, or to the hands or possession of any other person or persons for me, and the same so made will sign with my proper handwriting, and will exhibit and deposit, or cause to be exhibited and deposited, the same inventory in the office of the Master-in-Equity within three calendar months next ensuing the order granting administration; and, further, that I will make or cause to be made a true and just account of the administration of   [the document apparently continues on another page]

So which of Ann's brothers came to Canada? Apparently Robert and William! Did they stay? It is possible that William returned, as there is a William Thompson of Collow married to Jane Speer who raised a family in Ireland. But some Thompson descendants were living in Michigan in the 1960s.