Fortuitous 17thC genealogical find for Dobson, Williams, & Wicker

Many descendants of Scots, Welsh, and English emigrants to Ireland hope to find a reference in the historic records to their earliest Irish ancestor's place of origin. If not that, then tracing such ancestors to any part of the 17th century would be nearly as grand. Most of us are reconciled to the prospect that such finds are most unlikely. When it happens then,—even if the breakthrough does not pertain to your own family history (as in this instance)—such a discovery is exciting and, hopefully, significant to other researchers.

Today's case in point is Memorial no. 68-240-47898, a copy of an Irish deed written on the 3rd & 4th January 1731. The primary object of this transaction involved the sale by one party—Joan Dobson née Williams with her sons James, William, and Henry, all of the Manor of Benburb in county Tyrone—of the leasehold in a twenty acre parcel in Drumgor townland, parish of Seagoe and county of Armagh, to our ancestor, James Stevenson of Stewartstown.

At least as interesting is the preamble to this agreement, which not only describes the chain of ownership in this parcel of land from 1669, but also provides rare genealogical detail from the latter part of the 17th century into the early years of the 18th. An outline of these historical characters follows:

  • On the 3rd June 1669, Thomas Wicker‡ and his wife, Ann, of Weymouth, Dorset, sold a sixty-acre parcel in Drumgor to William Williams, a resident of the townland.
  • William Williams was father to Joan Dobson† née Williams, cited above.
  • On the 26th October 1707, Wm. Williams, by his last will and testament, bequeathed the land in Drumgor to his wife, Alice.
  • In September, 1713, Alice Williams, by her last will and testament, bequeathed twenty of the sixty acres, with one acre of meadow, to her daughter, Joan Dobson,
  • whose sons were James, William, and Henry who, with their mother, resided in the Manor of Benburb in 1731. (see note at §, below).

These genealogical gems are not without their pits and needles, however:

     † The forename of Joan Williams' husband, Mr. Dobson, was not cited.

     ‡ It is not known whether the Wicker (sometimes spelt, Whicker)
        family resided in Ireland, or whether they had any connection with
        the Williamses other than this agreement of sale. A search for this
        surname in the PRONI's e-catalogue and in John Hayes' Griffiths
        Valuation (GV) index yielded a null result.

Nevertheless, some of the information in this Memorial may yet prove advantageous to researchers studying the Dobson surname:

     § There were Dobson families in the parish of Clonfeacle, notably at
        Tyrleenan—within the territorial purview of the neighbouring Manor
        of Charlemont*—at least through 1911. For example, the GV Index
        (c.1860), cited above, shows Dobson households in Turleenan and in
        other townlands of the parish, while the 1901 and 1911 censuses
        enumerated this surname primarily at Moy. *The larger proportion
        of Clonfeacle was in the Manor of Benburb.

If any of the information cited in this blog assists another family historian's research, please consider dropping a line to let me know.


  • Memorial no. 35-517-23544 (18 & 19 March 1722) – In a deed of lease and release, Bryan McConwell of Drumgor, in the parish of Seagoe, his wife Mary McConwell alias Williams, and their son, John, with John's wife Alice, conveyed to William Stevenson of Portadown a plot of land in Drumgor, comprising twenty acres of land including two of meadow, forever.
  • Memorial no. 70-401-48895 (6 & 7 July 1732) – In a deed of lease and release, William Williams conveyed to James Stevenson of Stewartstown two parcels of land in Drumgor, of forty and twenty-eight acres respectively.
  • Williams surname index page, re: transcripts of Memorials from the Registry of Deeds (Ireland).
  • Seagoe (parish of) index page, re: ditto.

❖          ❖          ❖

© Alison Kilpatrick, 2016. All rights reserved.
Copyright notice

"The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there."—Lesley Poles Hartley (1895–1972), The Go-Between (1953).

E-mail   |   Subscribe to RSS feed   |   Subscribe to mailing list   |   Privacy statement   |   Site map

© Alison Kilpatrick 2014–2019. All rights reserved.