Thursday, March 14, 2013

I found an Irish Ancestor!

My family tree is rather boring.  Everyone is WASPY.  Most arrived in New England with the Great Migration or before 1650, and if they left they returned within one or two generations.  My grandmother and her parents came through Ellis Island, which sounds exciting, but they were English just like everyone else.  I remember one aunt saying to me, “Didn't you even find an Irishman?”  Later, I found one German Hessian, and a Dutch ancestor, and several Scots.  How is that for diversity?  My DNA test came up 63% British Isles, 25% Scandinavian, 12% uncertain.

Well, I finally did find an Irish ancestor!  He was an Ulster Protestant, but at least it shakes up the family tree a bit.  My Boston Brahmin ancestors can now properly roll over in their graves!

My Northern Ireland ancestry dates back to Margaret Homes, born 28 February 1696 in Straban, Tyrone, Ireland.  She came from a family of Presbyterian ministers.  Her father, Rev.  William Homes, was a minister in both Ireland and on the island of Martha’s Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts, and on her maternal side her grandfather, Rev. Robert Craighead,  was a minster in Londonderry, Ireland. Katherine’s brother, Rev. Thomas Craighead, became a Presbyterian minister in Pennsylvania.

The most interesting part of all this is the family connection to Londonderry, Ireland, since now I live in Londonderry, New Hampshire.  I’m living in a town that was settled in 1719 by Ulster Scots who fled Northern Ireland after witnessing the siege of Derry.  They settled in the Nutfield Grant, and renamed their town Londonderry.   It’s funny how things worked out, isn't it?

Margaret Holmes’s father, William Homes came to America in 1686 and taught school on the island of Martha’s Vineyard.  In 1691 he returned to Ireland to enter the ministry, and he was ordained on 21 December 1692 as the pastor at Strabane.  He received a degree from the University of Edinburgh in 1693.  Then in October 1714 the Reverend William Homes and his brother-in-law Reverend Thomas Craighead came to Boston from Londonderry, Ireland on the ship “Thomas and Jane”.  Samuel Sewall welcomed them to Boston.  Reverend William Homes went back to Martha’s Vineyard to be the minister at Chilmark until his death in 1746. 

In Rev. E. L. Parker’s History of Londonderry, page 34 he wrote that a young man named Homes, son of a clergyman, told the people of Ireland the opportunities in New England.  He supposed that this was Captain Robert Homes, son of Rev. William Homes.  In 1717 John McClelland and James Jameson visited Rev. Homes in Chilmark.  William Homes went to Boston to meet with Reverend Cotton Mather at the North Meeting House in Boston.   With Mather’s blessing, five ships of Presbyterians arrived in Boston in 1718 to settle in New England.

                                                           John Craighead

                                                           Thomas Craighead m. Janet Ferguson

                                                   Rev. Robert Craighead m. Agnes Hart

                       Rev. William Homes (1663-1746) m. Katherine Craighead (1678-1754)

                                    Margaret Homes (1696 – 1778) m. John Allen

For more information, please see The History of Londonderry by Rev. E. L. Parker, 1851 page 34.

The Diary of Rev. William Homes of Chilmark, Martha's Vineyard, 1689-1746, can be found at the Maine Historical Society in Portland, Maine.  This diary was transcribed in the Register of the New England Historic Genealogical Society over three years in the following issues:

Volume 48 (1894), Pages 446 – 453
Volume 49 (1895), pages 413- 416
Volume 50 (1896), pages 155 – 166

There was also a genealogy of the extended family at the NEHGS Register Volume 91 (1937), pages 159 – 176.

You can also see the Biography of William Homes from the book Scotch Irish Pioneers in Ulster and America by Charles Knowles Bolton (the entire book is view-able at

Ok, my ancestor was Scots Irish, but now I can officially celebrate St. Patrick's Day! 


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "I found an Irish Ancestor!", Nutfield Genealogy, posted March 14, 2013, ( accessed [access date]). 


  1. Found more on the Haskells of Gloucester, Massachusetts, and doing more research on it. Still trying to find our more on the second husband of Elizabeth (Haskell) Sargent Godfrey, James Godfrey.

  2. Found out also that a daughter of Deacon Joseph Haskell (1646-1717) and Mary Graves, Naomi (Haskell) Frye (1696-1740), married Isaac Frye (1699-1741), a son of Lt. John and Tabitha (Farnum) Frye in 1725. More later.

  3. I found this such an interesting post ...thanks for sharing.

  4. We may be cousins! To be sure, to be sure.