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Published by Federation of Local History Societies www.localhistory.ie
Local history can be a useful aid in our detective work into the lives of our forebears. The latest Annual Journal of the Federation of Local History Societies is a case in point. While serving as an update on the many member Societies of the Federation, it also contains over 100 pages of lively and erudite articles across a range of local history topics, several of which also provide information of direct interest to the family historian.
Larry Breen has written an article on the family of Wolfe Tone entitled “Wolfe Tone – Family Man”. Theobald Wolfe Tone is famous due to his role in the 1798 Rebellion. His background, we are told, was French Huguenot, and his Grandfather is recorded as holding a leasehold in the Bodenstown area (Wolfe Tone was later buried in Bodenstown Cemetery, which is the scene of the annual commemoration ceremonies). The article describes his father’s marriage to Margaret Lamport and subsequent family life in Dublin, where their six children, including Wolfe Tone, were born. It was interesting to learn that the “Wolfe” element of Theobald’s name recalls the main landowning family in the Bodenstown area, the Wolfes, from whom the Grandfather had leased land. The article describes the fate of his siblings, including a brother, Matthew, who was a member of the French Army, sailed to Ireland with Humbert’s forces and was subsequently captured and executed. Sadly, only one of Wolfe Tone’s own children, William, survived to adulthood. He and Tone’s widow moved to the United States. There he married the only surviving child of another United Irishman, William Sampson, but they in turn had only one child, a daughter, Grace Georgina Tone, who married Lascelles E. Maxwell. The article closes with a description of the re-interment of the body of Wolfe Tone’s widow by the children of Grace Maxwell, née Tone, following the sale in 1891 of the original cemetery in which she had been buried.
A second article which focuses on another famous figure is “The Multifaceted History of the Synge Family” by Myles Duffy. The Synge family hailed from Shropshire, moving to Ireland in the early 17th Century. Predecessors of the famous playwright, J.M. Synge 1871-1908, included John Hatch MP 1720-1797 and his son-in-law Francis Synge MP (dates not provided) both of whom represented the Swords parliamentary borough prior to the Act of Union. The article then goes on to outline the involvement of other family members, such as John Hatch Synge 1788-1845, in the Plymouth Brethren movement during the 19th Century. It concludes with a brief account of his immediate family and the death of his father, also named John Hatch Synge 1823-1872, who died from smallpox when J.M. Synge was an infant.
The journal also includes articles on the lives of individuals, namely the botanist Ellen Hitchins (“Rediscovering the story of Ellen Hitchins of Ballylickey” by Madeline Hutchins) and Daniel Fitzgerald (“My Grandfather, Daniel Fitzgerald, R.N., at the Battle of Jutland” by Marie McCarthy nee Fitzgerald) which would also be of interest to family historians.
Unfortunately in the absence of an ISBN reference it is not clear from the Journal whether it is generally available through bookshops or online, but anyone interested could make enquiries from their local history society affiliated to the Federation or directly from the Federation itself via its website.
Reviewed by Lucinda Mac Mahon