The Kennedy Clan in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland

This month I have concentrated on researching some of my ancestors from Northern Ireland. On my maternal line I am descended from the Kennedy’s of County Tyrone.

Gilbert Kennedy was born about 1827, son of Thomas and Mary Kennedy near The Rock, County Tyrone, Ireland. I have not been able to locate surviving baptism records for the parish churches, in this area of Northern Ireland. I am continuing to research the Kennedy families in this part of Ireland and found some were still there in the 1901 Census.

On 3 February 1852, Gilbert married Ann Hunter at the Artrea parish church. Ann was the daughter of Robert and Jane Hunter of Ballyneill More, in County Londonderry.

In 1854 Gilbert and Ann Kennedy had a daughter who was named Elizabeth.

In 1856, Gilbert and Ann decided to emigrate to New South Wales. They traveled to Belfast where they took a boat to Liverpool and boarded the emigrant ship, Kate. The Kate left Plymouth in mid-September and arrived in Sydney two days before Christmas in 1856.

Advertisements appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald later that week stating that there were a number of Agricultural Labourers who had arrived by the ‘Kate’. It is believed that Gilbert and Ann Kennedy went to the Camden area to help with the summer harvest.

The Kennedy family were at Spring Creek, near Camden two years later when a daughter Mary Jane was born on 9 March 1858. They are believed to have been renting a farm there.

In 1860, a third daughter, named Mary Ann was born. In that same year their eldest daughter, Elizabeth, died from croup.

Another daughter, Isabella was born in 1862 followed by Martha in 1864. However, four-year-old Isabella drowned at Spring Creek in 1866. Soon afterward the family moved to Abbotsford, Picton. A son William James Kennedy was born at Abbottsford on 7 June 1866.

It was about this time that Gilbert Kennedy’s health started to decline and in February 1870 he was admitted to the Parramatta Asylum, where he remained until his death on 1 September 1903. The admission registers for this time period have not survived, to give us the medical reason for Gilbert’s admission. Gilbert was buried at Rookwood Church of England Cemetery, but there is no headstone. He is memorialized on his wife’s headstone at St Mark’s, Picton.

Parramatta Asylum was opened in 1849 in the old Female Factory. From the outset, it consisted of a free and a criminally insane division. By 1870 there were about eight hundred patients, over seven hundred being free. Although in 1885 a new hospital wing was completed, overcrowding was always a problem. Several photographs of Parramatta Asylum at the turn of the 20th Century can be viewed at the State Records website at . Because this Asylum was so much a part of my ancestor’s life, finding these photographs have been very helpful. An article in the Town and Country Journal, 12 August 1871 gave a detailed description of the establishment, which helped me put our Gilbert Kennedy’s life into context. The reporter mentions an inmate by the name of ‘Kennedy’, but further research showed he was a ‘William Francis Kennedy’ and not our ‘Gilbert Kennedy’. I have copies of surviving Asylum records relating to Gilbert, but they do not give a great insight into his ‘illness’.

In 1875, Mary Ann Kennedy, the second surviving daughter of Gilbert and Ann Kennedy died, of ‘disease of the throat.’ She was buried at St Mark’s, Picton aged 15 years.

Less than two years later Martha Kennedy, the fifth child and second surviving daughter of Gilbert and Ann Kennedy died of cancer. She was only 13 years of age. She is also buried at Picton.

On 23 March 1878, a joyous occasion was celebrated in the family, when ‘Margaret Jane’ the only surviving daughter of Gilbert and Ann Kennedy was married to James Baxter, in St Mark’s, Church of England, Picton. The following year a son was born to James and Margaret Baxter who was named ‘William James’.Nine children were born to James and Margaret Baxter over the next twenty years or more, all of whom survived. The youngest child, a son, was named ‘Ewart Gilbert’ in honour of his Grandfather Kennedy.

In 1894, William James Kennedy the only son of Gilbert and Ann Kennedy married Florence Emily Evans. They were to have twins, Myra, and William in 1896, followed by Stella in 1897 and Dorothy in 1899. This family resided at 73 Lincoln Street, Stanmore for over fifty years.

Ann Kennedy went to live with James and Margaret Baxter’s family in the late 1890s, until her own death in 1912. She is buried in St Mark’s Picton alongside her daughters Isabella, Mary Ann, and Martha. Headstones mark these graves.

James and Margaret Baxter are also buried here and a headstone marks the grave.


14 thoughts on “The Kennedy Clan in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland

  1. Hello Nola
    I wonder if you know anything of a Sarah Kennedy from County Tyrone who married a James Little probably in the 1850s ? They had a daughter Jane born abt 1861 who moved to Edinburgh as a teenager and was totally estranged from her parents They were listed as dead on her wedding certificate in 1886 but that might not be true. Jane’s granddaughter remembers her but heard nothing of her grandmothers family

    • Hi Sylvia,
      Sorry been away for a while and didn’t see your comment. I have no information on your Sarah Kennedy who married James Little at present. Does the Scottish Census give a parish or townland in Tyrone where she was born? There are lots of Kennedy’s in County Tyrone, which makes research very difficult. My family left Ireland because they were well below the poverty line and were starving.
      However I will search my notes and see if I can find any possible Sarah Kennedy’s for you.

  2. Hi Nola, my 7xGreat grandmother was a Jane Kennedy born in 1683 and died in 1739 in Ireland. Her husband was John Dixon. And their son Thomas Dixon born in Calliman Parish Tyron, Ireland. Thomas moved to the USA at a date I don’t know but died in Bedford, Virginia in 1764. Don’t know if this could be part of the your family or not. Some time after John’s wife{Jane Kennedy} died he sailed to the USA to meet up with his son Thomas. He was sailing with Thomas children to meet up with his son in New York. But John died on routine to US and was buried at sea. I just got back from Ireland an I went to Belfast to look up family records but they had nothing for me. They said they didn’t know of the name of Calliman Parish. Do you know if that Parish merge with a another Parish or if it was renamed. Thank you, Linda

    • Hi Linda,
      As yet I haven’t found any connections with our families, but you are much further back than I with the research.
      In rural Ireland the address is always given as the Townland, then parish and Baronry, and then County.
      As all information was given orally to the Establishment there can be a great variation in the ‘hearing’ and the recording of information.Here is a possible Townland and Parish which might be useful to your research. My Kennedy family resided in a nearby Townland and Parish.
      50122 Caledon Town Aghaloo Dungannon Lower Armagh Tyrone
      50209 Caledon 232 Aghaloo Dungannon Lower Armagh Tyrone
      I hope you can get another clue to continue your family research.
      regards, Nola

    • Hi Linda, in searching my ancestors I ran across your letter to Nola. My. 8th great grandmother is also Jane Kennedy and John Dixon. Do you by chance have who Jane’s parents are? I have come to a road block on her. Any information you have would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

  3. My grandfather kennedy was born in 1932 in Stewartstown county tyrone , his father William was born in 1895 in cookstown , county tyrone. His father was a Samuel kennedy , a hawker by trade , this is all I know currently.

    • Hi John, Thank you for making contact. I do not know if my Great-Grandfather Kennedy had a brother or relative by the name of Samuel Kennedy. They did come from the Cookstown area, so it may be a possibility. Need to get back to researching my Kennedy family.

      • Have you done any dna test? My Samuel only had one sister , so I’d assume that if we were connected it would be further back.a dna test would likely pick up this connection.

        My Samuel was born in 1870 in bovevagh county Derry to a john Kennedy. I have found many dna matches from Ontario Canada with kennedys from n.i in their tree. All with similar names – William , john , Samuel etc, it’s likely that a generation before official documents 1864 that many of my Kennedy clan emigrated to Canada.



      • Hi John,
        Yes, I have had DNA Tests done but unfortunately, I haven’t had any matches to my Kennedy line as yet. I believe my Kennedy ancestors, Thomas and Mary Kennedy were at Desertcreat, Tyrone in the 1830’s. There were a few family marriages at Artrea, Londonderry in the 1850’s. They emigrated to Australia in 1856.

  4. Hello , I was told by my father our family of Kennedy’s are from county Tyron. Don’t know when whom ever left there was. We came to Canada Toronto.

    • It is quite possible that your Kennedy family came from County Tyrone as many Kennedy families who emigrated to Australia, USA and Canada came from there. I suspect at least some of them are related to Gilbert Kennedy of Dunure, 1st Lord Kennedy of Scotland.

  5. My family is also from County Tyrone , I believe they left Ireland around 1850 and settled in the Toronto. They were quite successful in Canada owning a brick factory and lumber mills, unfortunately they got wiped out after the stock market crash in 1929.

    • Good Morning Mike, Thank you for the contact re the Kennedy’s in Tyrone. I’msorry I do not have any information on Kennedy families emigrating to Canada. My family were from The Rock, parish of Desertcreat, Tyrone.They were destitute and used an Australian Colonial Assisted Scheme to emigrate to New South Wales.

  6. Hello Linda,

    It sounds to me that Calliman is a vernacular variation of Killyman. I’m surprised that your researcher did not spot the Ca/Ki dialectal shift. Killyman parish is in the South East of County Tyrone extending into County Armagh. Fortunately the Church of Ireland records exist from the 1740’s which may provide a link with your Kennedy family.

    Good Luck,

    Robert D. McClure.

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