Saturday, December 9, 2017

Witness to Discoveries: Analysis of Witnesses and Sponsors Leading to Potential Family and Birthplace for Thomas Donnelly

Thomas Donnelly was said to have been from County Tyrone in Northern Ireland, though no evidence had been found to confirm his townland. According to multiple records, Thomas Donnelly was born about 15 Feb 18591 in Ireland. He immigrated to the United States sometime between 1875-1877 according to the census records2,3 and settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States.

Thomas married Mary J. Campbell on 11 Oct 1885 at St. Anne’s Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  According to the marriage information, the witnesses included James McGlone and Agnes Moran.4  Thomas was living at 2500 N. 2d Street and Mary was living at 971 Richmond St according to the marriage license application.1


Thomas and Mary had 4 children, two of whom, Anna and Catherine, lived to marry and have children.

Children of Thomas Donnelly and Mary Campbell Birth Death
Anna Mary Donnelly 2 May 1886 16 Sep 1959
Catherine R Donnelly 2 Mar 1888 Unknown
Thomas Donnelly 1 Sep 1892 12 Feb 1894
Mary Dolores Donnelly 5 Jan 1895 13 Oct 1918


The baptismal records for all four children were located on FindMyPast.com in the Philadelphia Archdiocese Roman Catholic Baptismal Records.  The dates as well as sponsors were listed for each child. All four children were baptized at St. Edward the Confessor Parish in Philadelphia.

Thomas Donnelly and Mary Campbell's Children's Baptismal Dates and Sponsors
Child Baptism Date Sponsors
Anna Mary Donnelly5 24 Oct 1886 James Mallon and Anna McAnany
Catherine R Donnelly6 11 Mar 1888 Jno Quinn and Catherine Campbell
Thomas Donnelly7 11 Sep 1892 William and Jane Donnelly
Mary Dolores Donnelly8 20 Jan 1895 Joseph McGurk and Catherine Campbell

The only son of Thomas Donnelly and Mary Campbell was sponsored by William and Jane Donnelly.  Employing a well known technique of researching family, acquaintances and neighbors (or FAN),and thinking there may be a relationship between Thomas initial searches of William led to interesting results. A 1900 U.S. Census record for a William and Jane Donnelly in Philadelphia9, in the Kensington area of Philadelphia was located and the address is close to where Thomas and Mary Donnelly lived in 1900.  William and Jane had two children in 1900, Jane, aged 8 and William, aged 6.

1900 U.S. Census William Donnelly
Name Relation Age Place of Birth Year of Immigration
William Donnelly Head 40 Ireland 1882
Jane Donnelly Wife 30 Ireland 1885
Jane Donnelly Daughter 8 Pennsylvania N/A
William Donnelly Son 6 Pennsylvania N/A

William is a saloon keeper.  He and Jane have been married 10 years.  They are living on Montgomery Avenue in the 18th Ward of Philadelphia.  A marriage license was located for 1890 between William Donnelly and Marion Jane Gaven.6  A search of the Philadelphia Catholic Baptisms on FindMyPast for Jane Donnelly, born about 1892 resulted in her baptismal record for 1891.7  The sponsors for Jane were identified as Thomas Donnelly and Catharine Campbell. Thomas' mother-in-law was Catharine Campbell, thus the records continue to link Thomas Donnelly and William Donnelly.


Jane Donnelly Baptismal Record (Philadelphia, 1891)







William Donnelly’s petition for naturalization was located from 1890.8  Thomas Donnelly, of 2500 N 2d Street in Philadelphia, signed as witness and citizen.  Thomas Donnelly, as previously indicated, was known to be living at 2500 N 2d street.  This represents the third record that links Thomas and William in some way. Though, nothing is explicit to their connection, it is likely that William Donnelly and Thomas Donnelly are related.  According to the petition, Thomas Donnelly, was a citizen by 1890 though his petition/naturalization records have not been located.

Petition for Naturalization of William Donnelly (Philadelphia, PA) 






































Continued research into William Donnelly resulted in the discovery of his passport application. William Donnelly indicated he was born in Cookstown, Tyrone, Ireland on 7 Oct 1859.  The application lists his father as John Donnelly (deceased).  William was traveling to settle an estate.  Thomas Donnelly’s death certificate listed his father as John Donnelly, which if they are related might suggest that William and Thomas are brothers.  Incidentally, a passport application for William’s wife, Jane Donnelly was found as was William’s son, John Joseph Donnelly.

Passport Application for William Donnelly (1923)

William indicated his date of birth as 7 October 1859 on his passport application.9 Comparing William's birth date to Thomas Donnelly's birth date, which was noted to be 15 Feb 1859, would make it unlikely they could be brothers.  However, birth dates were not always accurately recorded or known. Thus, there could be evidence to indicate one birthday or the other is not correct.


Further research into Irish records resulted in a baptismal record for a William Donnelly dated 7 Oct 1859, father John Donnelly and mother, Alice McGurk.10  William was baptized on 7 Oct 1859 in the Diocese of Armagh and the Parish of Desertcraight, in County Tyrone.  Additional searching resulted in a baptismal record for a Thomas Donnelly, father John Donnelly and mother Anne MaGlone dated 15 Feb 1855 in the parish of Lissan, Tyrone, Ireland.11  The townland may be Dramora or more likely Dunmore.  Cookstown is a downland situation central to both Desertcraight (Desertcreat) and Dunmore.



Map of County Tyrone from www.ulsterheritage.com Showing Relationship of the Parish of Lissan and Desertcreat




William Donnelly Baptismal Record (Ireland, 1859) 

Thomas Donnelly Baptismal Record (Ireland, 1855) 










A final record was found for the marriage of Anne Maglone to John Donnelly in the parish of Lissan, Tyrone,Ireland, dated 15 July 1852.12 The marriage record indicates they were married in Moboy, a townland just west of Cookstown. The witnesses appear to be Lester Toal(?) Mallon and Peter Maglone.

Marriage Record (Ireland, 1852) of John Donnelly and Anne Maglone  








It is impossible to conclude from the data the exact relationship of Thomas Donnelly to William Donnelly.  However, the data is suggestive that Thomas and William knew each other well and were likely related as they sponsored each other’s children. The relationship was originally proposed to be brothers, but the birthdates being both in 1859 speak to either an issue in exact dates or different mothers. Thomas Donnelly listed a birthdate of 15 Feb 1859, so perhaps he changed the year or did not recall the exact year, or the evidence is purely coincidental and these are not the same people.

Once again focusing on witnesses and sponsors for various life events of Thomas and William, an interesting find is that a sponsor for Mary Dolores Donnelly, Thomas’ daughter, was a man named Joseph McGurk, the last name of William Donnelly’s mother from the baptismal record.  Furthermore,  James McGlone was witness to Thomas’ wedding.  This may be a spelling difference to Anne MaGlone.

In conclusion, it is likely that Thomas Donnelly and William Donnelly are related in some way.  Both were reported to have a father named John, however each also reported being born in 1859 only 8 months apart.  The two separate baptismal records may suggest different mothers if it is the same John Donnelly.  The additional names of McGurk and McGlone/MaGlone represent areas for additional research to identify the connection. A possible family tree is provided with tentative linkages.

Generated by Parallax View's SVG utility. See http://parallax-viewpoint.blogspot.com/2017/05/interactive-trees-in-blogs-using-svg.html V4.3.1 A marriage record dated 15 Jul 1852 in the parish of Lissan was found for a John Donnelly and Anne Maglone. They were from or married in Moboy, a townland just west of Cookstown. A baptismal record in Lissan Parish, County Tyrone for a Thomas Donnelly, baptized 15 Feb 1855, son of John Donnelly and Anne MaGlone may represent Thomas' birth. Likely born in County Tyrone, Ireland. Possibly from Cookstown, Tyrone, Ireland. Likely born in County Tyrone, Ireland. Possibly from Cookstown, Tyrone, Ireland. John Donnelly Alice McGurk Thomas Donnelly was born 15 Feb 1859 according to his marriage license application. Thomas' death certificate in 1929 identified his father as John Donnelly. Thomas married Mary J. Campbell in Philadelphia in 1885, witnesses included James McGlone and Agnes Moran. A baptismal record in the parish of Lissan, County Tyrone dated 15 Feb 1855 identifies Thomas Donnelly as son of John Donnelly and Anne Maglone. Thomas Donnelly was born 15 Feb 1859 according to his marriage license application. Thomas' death certificate in 1929 identified his father as John Donnelly. Thomas married Mary J. Campbell in Philadelphia in 1885, witnesses included James McGlone and Agnes Moran. A baptismal record in the parish of Lissan, County Tyrone dated 15 Feb 1855 identifies Thomas Donnelly as son of John Donnelly and Anne Maglone. Thomas Donnelly Mary J. Campbell William Donnelly was born 7 Oct 1859 according to his passport application in the United States. William indicated he was born in Cookstown, Tyrone, Ireland. A birth record from the Irish Catholic Parish Registers, Diocese of Armagh, and parish of Desertcreight lists a baptism on 7 Oct 1859 for William Donnelly, son of John Donnelly and Alice McGurk. William Donnelly was born 7 Oct 1859 according to his passport application in the United States. William indicated he was born in Cookstown, Tyrone, Ireland. A birth record from the Irish Catholic Parish Registers, Diocese of Armagh, and parish of Desertcreight lists a baptism on 7 Oct 1859 for William Donnelly, son of John Donnelly and Alice McGurk. William Donnelly Jane Gaven Anne MaGlone

Family Tree created with SVG Utility created by Tony Proctor of Parallax-viewpoint


1 Philadelphia, PA, marriage certificate no. 33 (11 October 1885), Thomas Donnelly and Mary J. Campbell; Philadelphia City Archives, Philadelphia.
2 Ancestry.com, 1900 United States Federal Census (Name: Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.Original data - United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 18;), Year: 1900; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 18, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1460; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 0355; FHL microfilm: 1241460.
3 Ancestry.com, 1910 United States Federal Census (Name: Ancestry.com Operations Inc; Location: Provo, UT, USA; Date: 2006;), Database online. Year: 1910; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 35, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1404; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 0862; Image: ; FHL microfilm: 1375417.
4 St. Anne Marriage Records, 11 Oct 1885, St. Anne Church; Philadelphia Archdiocesan Historical Research Center, Wynnewood, PA. Thomas Donnelly and Mary Campbell.
5 St. Edward the Confessor (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), , , Anna Donnelly Baptismal Record, 24 Oct 1886; digital images, FindMyPast.Com (FindMYPast.com : downloaded 6 July 2017).
6 St. Edward the Confessor (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), , , Catherine Campbell Baptismal Record, 11 Mar 1888; digital images, FindMyPast.Com (FindMYPast.com : downloaded 6 July 2017).
7 St. Edward the Confessor (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), , , Thomas Donnelly Baptism, 11 Sep 1892; digital images, FindMyPast.Com (FindMYPast.com : downloaded 6 July 2017).
8 St. Edward the Confessor (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), , , Mary Donnelly Baptismal Record, 20 Jan 1895; digital images, FindMyPast.Com (FindMYPast.com : downloaded 6 July 2017).
9 Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004. Year: 1900; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 18, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1460; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 0349; FHL microfilm: 1241460
10 Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Marriage Indexes, 1885-1951," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JJJG-1FM : 25 September 2017), William Donnelly and Gaven, 1890; citing license number 38417, Clerk of the Orphan's Court. City Hall.
11 St. Anne (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), , , Jane Donnelly Baptismal Record, 27 Sep 1891; digital images, FindMyPast.Com (FindMYPast.com : downloaded 25 November 2017).
12 National Archives; Washington, D.C.; ARC Title: Naturalization Petitions for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 1795-1930; NAI Number: 6; Record Group Title: M1522. Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Federal Naturalization Records, 1795-1931 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Certificate #1160.
13 National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 - March 31, 1925; Roll #: 2206; Volume #: Roll 2206 - Certificates: 260350-260849, 27 Mar 1923-28 Mar 1923. Volume: Roll 2206 - Certificates: 260350-260849, 27 Mar 1923-28 Mar 1923. Certificate #260397.
14 Ancestry.com. Ireland, Catholic Parish Registers, 1655-1915 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016. Catholic Parish Registers, The National Library of Ireland; Dublin, Ireland; Microfilm Number: Microfilm 05585 / 01. Year Range: 1839 - 1880.
15 Ancestry.com. Ireland, Catholic Parish Registers, 1655-1915 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016. Catholic Parish Registers, The National Library of Ireland; Dublin, Ireland; Microfilm Number: Microfilm 05585 / 01. Year Range: 1839 - 1880.
16 Lissan, Archdiocese of Armagh, Counties of Tyrone, Baptisms: July 22, 1839-Dec. 30, 1880; Marriages: Sept 1, 1839 - Nov. 20, 1880 Transcription". Online database, FindMyPast (http://findmypast.com). Database by National Library of Ireland (accessed 9 Dec 2017); page 89, John Donnelly and Anne Maglone, July 15, 1852.