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Effects of the Famine many of the same Surnames as in North America:


The late 18th century and early 19th century was a boom period for Irish agriculture caused by the Napoleonic wars. After the end of the wars a deep depression descended made worse in areas such as West Cork by the collapse of the home weaving sector.  Emigration commenced in late 1820s of Protestant families and gathered pace in the later decades.  These families were small to middling tenant farmers with a sprinkling of labourers and carpenters, masons, blacksmiths, etc.  The area looked at is the triangle bounded by Skibbereen, Bantry, and Crookhaven.  Among the families (Catholic) from this area and period were those of the singer Bing Crosby.

At the time Rochester, New York was enjoying a boom due to the opening of the Erie Canal linking the Atlantic to the Great Lakes.  In politics some of the families especially from the Durrus area took to the area like ducks to water.  The following is  description    There is an interesting piece of history in Rochester connected to Co. Cork. “The community designated as Cork was in the section comprising Ontario, Davis, Kirk (Woodward) and North streets. The community was settled in the early 1840s and was composed of Protestant Irish immigrants from County Cork, Ireland. For years they were known as Corkonians and later as the “ninety-nine cousins”, it being claimed that the little colony bragged of 99 voters, unconditional Republicans. The families comprising the section were the Attridges, Bakers, Dukelows, Gays, Gosnells, Skuses, Swantons and Whitleys. James Baker, a political leader of the clan, a deacon of the North Street Methodist Church, a teetotaler, was the excise commissioner, in charge of granting licenses to the saloons of the city, there being one in the rear of many grocery establishments. In the 1880s and 1890s, when the detective force of the city consisted of but a small fraction of the present force, the “cousins” were represented by four: Baker, Dukelow, Skuse and Swanton.” Another article about the 99 Cousins also stated that the Shannon and Killip families were part of this family compact, and that they were a powerful force in local politics, with representatives in city government from the mayor’s chair down to the street cleaning department, and many on the police force.’.  The Mizen/Muintervara had an active history of political agitation.  In the 1830s the men of Durrus were led by a Catholic Landlord one of the O’Donovans of O’Donovan’s Cove to a monster meeting re Repeal to Mount Gabriel. It is interesting that John Attridge of Durrus was the godfather to one of the O’Donovan children.

There are accounts of  Monster meeting addressed in Durrus by the temperance pioneer Fr. Mathew.  Late during the Land Wars 1880s Durrus was a hot spot needing RIC reinforcements and the Protestant Tenants on the Earl of Bandon’s estate went on a rent strike.  They were described by his agent Richard  Wheeler Doherty as little better them animals.  This was the local background and the interconnected  families in Rochester built a political machine under the Republican Party which was more often be associated with Irish Catholic emigrants and the Democratic Party.   Details of the  records many from the US census are here…


It is also interesting that some of the Durrus families emerged in London during the Fenian Agitaton and their descendant were associated with Michael Collins in London. John Dukelow from Crottees married a Catholic lived at various houses around Durrus and emigrated to Poplar in East London. He died of cholera. His family were interconnected with the Swantons, and Hurleys in London during the Fenian Agitation. The Hurleys keep appearing were probably the tenant of a large farm in Ballycomane pre 1780 (one of them may have married one of the Vickeries who took over the farm). Michael Ducklaw is living in Edwardsburgh, Ontario in 1871 and the neighbouring farmers are Hurleys possibly a branch of the Durrus Hurleys.

The census records show the low economic status of the emigrants, labourers etc and with low property values.  As the decades roll on the children are emerging into the US mainstream becoming teachers, clerks photographs etc.  In the 1880 census there is a question on native language, many reply by putting in Irish.  It is not clear if they bi-lingual or meant the variant of English spoke in Ireland.  In the 1900 census some reply to ethnic origin by putting in Irish/English as say the Canadians put in Canadian/Engish/French.  Before that they invariably put in Irish to the question, it may reflect contemporary tensions in Ireland. For any amendments, additions comments contact pat25a@gmail.com

The family names were selected by using those common in the Tithe Aplottments 1830s, and Irish Loan Reproduction Records of the 1840s and are an educated guess.  They include those of Allen, Baker, Dukelow, King, Coughlan, Daly, Skuce, Attridge, Salter, Melville, Copithorne, Lannin, Gay, Varian, Peer, Gosnell, Croston, Williamson, Swanton, among others.

In 1860 Land Grants became available and many of the Rochester families decamped to there.

Some families from the 1840s settled in Percy Township, Northumberland County, Ontario.  Names such as Dukelow, Beamish, Williamson, Baker and Roycroft appear.  In the case of Mary Dukelow b 1833 probably Durrus she married Charles Beamish 1821-1881 possibly from Kilcoe in Rochester, New York in 1851.  This shows a link to the significant Cork community in Rochester.  He emigrated to Ontario in 1848 and they appear in Canadian census at Percy Township thereafter.


In the recently published Atlas of the Irish Famine there is a map of population densities based on the 1841 census.  The map is adjusted for mountain and hill, bog and lakes.  It shows the Mizen and Muintervara with population densities among the highest in the non urban world, akin to India and China. It is hard to believe now but hundreds of thousands of people if not more especially from North America have an ancestor who came from the area.

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