What if they were friends?

One aspect of our lives that rarely appears in our family trees are our friends.  Unless someone marries one, or the child of one, you really don’t know much about your family’s friends.

My gg-grandparents Robert William Black and Emily Kinley Wilson are alleged to be cousins of some sort.  Unfortunately, due to the paucity of records about their families, this has never been proven.  However, a new theory has come to me recently.  What if their fathers were friends?

Robert William’s father Robert lived and worked in Dungannon until he immigrated with his family in 1863.  He was a draper by trade.  His marriage certificate says his father Joseph was a farmer, so it was not a family trade.  So where did he learn it?  Most likely with another draper in Dungannon.

One of the drapers in Dungannon around the time Robert would have been looking for an apprenticeship was Thomas Kinley.  He seems to have been quite a wealthy man, as directories from 1824 have him associated with various businesses including as agent for an insurance company and the East India Company.

Thomas was the son of John Kinley and Mary Carr.  His sister Anne married John Wilson, the minister at Lecumpher Presbyterian Church.  Their son William E Wilson immigrated to Pennsylvania where he had a daughter Emily Kinley Wilson.

So put it simply, Robert William’s father may have worked for Emily’s great-uncle.

So would Robert (Snr) and William E ever met?  It seems likely.  Thomas Kinley’s oldest daughter (and William’s cousin) was called Emily and she lived in Dungannon.

And if we want to add some soap to all of this, perhaps William E wanted to marry Emily but wasn’t allowed, so he immigrated to Pennsylvania.  She married Rev. Robert Hamilton in 1848, shortly before William E left.

So far, all of this is supposition.  How do we prove it?

With great difficulty, is the answer.  Although the thought did come to me tonight, that I have never researched William E in Ireland.  I’ve always been busy looking for him in Pennsylvania.  So off to search!


Can Alien Ladies Vote?

Updated 19 September 2017 (124th Anniversary of the Suffrage Vote)

New Zealand is very proud of the fact that it was the first “country” (it was still really a British colony) to give women the vote.  The Electoral Act 1893 was enacted on 19 September 1893 in preparation for 28 November elections.

My gg-grandmother Emily Kinley Wilson, Mrs Robert William Black had signed the 1893 Petition and was likely a member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) as the Black family were noted as being teetotal (some more research is needed here!).

But I couldn’t find her on the 1893 Electoral Roll.  I originally thought that perhaps she just signed the petition because everyone else was, until I realised one small detail – Emily was an alien.

No, not a little green man, but a person who was not born a British subject.

Emily had been born in Pennsylvania and as an American was an alien.  However, under section 6 of New Zealand’s 1866 Aliens Act, upon her marriage to Robert William (born in Ireland therefore a British subject) she became a naturalised British subject by marriage (under s14 of the Aliens Act 1880).

So why, on 26 September 1893, did she lodge naturalisation papers?  In order to vote?  Surely she didn’t need to?

Photos 2015-11-18 003

This letter to Canterbury’s Star newspaper (from Papers Past) on the same day shows that there was some confusion over alien women and naturalisation by marriage:

Star - 26-09-1893 Can Alien Ladies Vote - header

Star - 26-09-1893 Can Alien Ladies Vote

Another news item in the Bruce Herald (Otago) on 6 October indicates that the question came up in Parliament on 2 October.  The Hon Sir Patrick Buckley confirmed the right of alien women married to British Subjects to vote.

NZ Hansard 2-10-1893 Snippet
Extract from the Hansard – 2 October 1893

Which is interesting, because when you search the Hansard, you find the Premier Mr Richard “King Dick” Seddon answering the same questions and promising to send a circular to Registrars to set them straight – on September 29.  There is where I could make some comment about men and their listening….?

I asked Graham Langton, previously of Archives NZ, about the situation.  He said that firstly I should check the Supplemental Rolls for the 1893 Electoral Roll.  Many women voters were listed on the Supplemental Rolls because some of the main Rolls had been finalised months before the new legislation allowing them to vote had been enacted.

He was right – there was Emily.  So she was able to vote in that election.

He also suggested that I check back at Archives to see when Emily’s naturalisation was granted.  Which I have done.  And it wasn’t (see below for how to access the naturalisation list).

So, it would appear that Emily did not need to be naturalised to vote.  As she already was, by marriage.  But briefly a mountain was made out of a molehill!

Some further sources

Women, the vote and the 1893 election – New Zealand Parliament

Search the 1893 Suffrage Petition for you ancestress

Archway – search for naturalisation papers

Archives NZ Guide to Citizenship

Archives NZ – Register of Persons Naturalised in New Zealand before 1949 – listed alphabetically by surname – click on the relevant page number on the left – remember married women generally were not naturalised as they got their citizenship through their husbands

New Zealand Historical Hansard – once you’re in a parliamentary session you can search the text.

The American Connection

Updated: 19 December 2013

[A less current variation on this story appears in the October 2013 issue of the New Zealand Genealogist.  The theme of the issue was family taonga (Maori for treasure) and it features the bible I have inherited which belonged to Emily.  ScanTranscript.]

I am 1/16th American.  My great-great grandmother Emily Kinley Wilson was born in Cressona, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania in 1854, the daughter of William E Wilson of Magherafelt, Londonderry, Ireland.  She died in Auckland, New Zealand in 1939.

Grandad was my main source of information when I started out looking further into her family tree. He had found that William E was the son of Rev John (I) Wilson of Lecumpher Presbytarian Church in Magherafelt.  Rev John (I) (c1772 – 1821) was followed in his calling by his son James (1803 – 1878), who was then followed by his sons Thomas (1840 – 1884) and then John (III) (1831 – 1890).

Here’s what Grandad wrote about William E. in a letter to find more information:

He married in Ireland Florence M. C. Kinley and the couple immigrated to USA, where their eldest daughter Emily Kinley Wilson (my grandmother) was born in 1854.  Emily and her mother Florence next surface in 1872, back in Magherafelt where Emily married my grandfather Robert Black.  Her marriage certificate describes her father as “the late William E Wilson, merchant, of Cressona, USA”.  Another Irish record states that Wm E Wilson died on March 19, 1859, but where not stated.

Florence was believed to be the daughter of John and Mary Kinley.  This was supported by a silver spoon  inscribed with the initials J.M.K which is hallmarked to 1822.   Emily gave it to Grandad around 1930 saying it was a wedding present to her grandparents.  Florence was a witness at Emily’s wedding.

The daughter of the minister at Lecumpher in the 1980’s kindly sent Grandad a transcript of all the family inscriptions. Included was a tombstone in the cemetery  of the children of Rev John (I) Wilson.  William E. is listed at the bottom with his death being on March 19, 1859.  This photo was taken on a trip there in 2002.

Photo of Tombstone of John Wilson's children

Living in the UK, I started finding out more about the Wilson’s of Lecumpher.  I quickly found a family tree which had been lodged with the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) which debunked the details of Emily’s mother.

It turns out William E’s mother was Anne Kinley, daughter of John Kinley (1750 – 1819) and Mary Carr (1755 – ?).  They were the JMK of the silver spoon – which could also be hallmarked to 1782, the year before they married.  Their lineage was documented in the tree I’d found.

So the mystery of who was Emily’s mother remained.  The search was not aided by not knowing her name. It remained a mystery to me for over ten years.

Then Ancestry got the Pennsylvania Church and Town Records.  I made a beeline for the National Library in Wellington to see what I could find.

I found some but not all.

William E Wilson married Matilda Bushe Wilson on 20 January 1853 at the St James Episcopal Church in Schuylkill Haven, the town next to Cressona.  On the 12 March 1856, at the same church, they had their daughters Emily Kinley Wilson (b. 1854) and Florence Coulter Wilson (b.1855) baptised.

So I had found the elusive Florence.  Emily had her sister as a witness at her wedding.  And I have since discovered from a bible held by the family that Emily’s godparents were Thomas and Mary Coulter which would account for her middle name.  Emily and Florence’s great-uncle Thomas Kinley married a Coulter, so there may have been a family connection.

Checking the other entries, I believe that Matilda’s maiden name was Wilson.  She’s not one of William’s relatives as far as I’m aware.  And I haven’t found anything else about her, such as when or where she was born.  But at least I now know her name!

For many many years I had no idea where William E died or was buried.  It was sort of assumed by the family that he had died in the US and was being commemorated by his siblings back in Ireland.  An inquiry in 2001 found that the local Pennsylvania authorities only held death information from 1893.  There is no entry for him being buried at St James.

Assuming that he had died in Cressona, there was also the question of when his family went back to Ireland.  They aren’t on the 1860 US Census – undertaken in June.  Passenger lists OUT of the US are not easy to come by.

So imagine my surprise to find this in the Belfast Morning News of 24 March 1859 (available on Find My Past for a fee):

March 19, at the residence of his brothers, in Magherafelt, where he had arrived a few days previously from America, Mr Wm E Wilson, late of Cressona, Pennsylvania, youngest son of the late Rev. John Wilson of Lecumpher.

So William E had returned home with his family.

Find My Past has yielded more.  The ‘Transatlantic Migration from North America to Britain & Ireland 1858-1870 Transcription’ collection includes their return journey.  They traveled first class on the Edinburgh which left New York on 24 February 1859 and arrived in Glasgow on 12 March.  It provides further information.  Firstly, there are 5 Wilson’s on the ship.  The fifth one traveled third class and is therefore not one of ours.  So William E and Matilda had no other children.

[As a small aside, the Edinburgh hit an iceberg on its next journey from New York to Glasgow in June 1859.  She didn’t sink, but what story that would be!]

But the best thing is the information it provides on Matilda.  She is aged 29, therefore born around 1830.  She gives her nationality as Irish, which is the same as her husbands, but the girls’ have American as their nationality.  Now I have somewhere to search for more on her, including her trip the US in the first place.

Here’s an edited condensed version of Kinley Wilson tree.

That ‘E’

I have yet to discover what the ‘E’ in William E stood for.  Grandad assumed it was Ernest as Emily named one of her sons William Ernest.  But William E also had a nephew called William Ebenezer – perhaps named for his uncle?

I have yet to see any document about him which states what it is.  The records of his marriage and his daughters’ baptisms both have the ‘E’.  In contrast, his wife’s name is spelled out in full.

Perhaps it was just as affectation?  None of his siblings appear to have a middle name.

The Wilson family of Lecumpher

Lecumpher Presbytarian Church is set in a lovely rural location in Magherafelt, Londonderry, Ireland.

Photo of Lecumpher Parish Church taken 2002

The congregation there started in the late 18th century – it was a shorter walk than to Ballygoney, six miles away.  In 1796, John (I) Wilson of Tyrone was ordained as minister of the church, starting a dynasty of Wilson ministers which lasted until 1890.

When John (I) died in 1821, the congregation waited four years until his son James could be ordained in 1825.  James was minister there for 53 years and died in 1878.  He left 6 children by his wife Sarah Weir (? – c1843).  Tragically, his fourth and sixth sons, James Mason and Hugh passed away of a fever within a month of each other in 1863.

James and Sarah’s youngest son Thomas Kinley Wilson followed his father as minister at Lecumpher.  He passed away suddenly in 1884 after “an attack of paralysis” aged only 44.  Thomas was Emily’s guardian at the time of her wedding (she was only 18 – I’m not sure if this is a sexist thing or if her mother was dead by then).

Thomas was followed at Lecumpher by his oldest brother John (III).  He and his wife Anna Jane Neilson tendered the congregation until John’s death in 1890.

Another brother of Thomas and James, Silas Ebenezer Wilson was also a minister.  He served in Dromore.

Given the lack of religion that now exists in my family, I used to wonder if William E had immigrated to America to get away from all that religion.  He followed his older brother John (II) who immigrated with his family on the Wyoming  in 1848.

It turns out I was quite wrong.  John (II) was married to Alicia Campbell.  Her uncle Alexander Campbell founded Bethany College in West Virginia and was an early leader in the “Second Great Awakening” – a religious movement which resulted in a number of new church groups in America including the Churches of Christ.

In addition, William E’s aunt, Sarah Kinley married Robert “Robin” Tener who, with their sons, was also a religious mover and shaker.  They too had immigrated to America.

See the Kinley Wilson tree for how they all fit together.

Kinley Wilson Tree

My 3xgreat grandfather William E Wilson spent time in the USA having followed his brother John there.   Having made contact with John’s descendents there is a tangled web of family as second and third cousins married each other.

Here is the edited condensed version of the Kinley Wilson family tree – showing the links to the Coulter’s, Tener’s and Campbell’s.  It’s taken from my Family Tree programme so sorry for all those Caps!  The bolds are my ancestors.

More information on the Tener family can be found in the Tener Book.


JOHN KINLEY was born in 1750 in Drumgold, Dungannon, Ireland. He died in 1819 in Newry, Co Down, Ireland?. He married MARY CARR in 1783, daughter of JOHN CARR and SARAH CALDWELL. She was born in 1755 in Newry, Co Down, Ireland.

JOHN KINLEY and MARY CARR had the following children:

  1.  JOHN KINLEY (died young)
  2.  THOMAS KINLEY (c 1783/1791 –  1853). He married EMILY COULTER
    1. EMILY KINLEY was born in 1828 in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, Ireland. She died on 17 Nov 1869 in Dundalk, Ireland. She married ROBERT HAMILTON on 22 Nov 1848 in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, Ireland, son of Robert Hamilton and Anna Greer. He was born about 15 Sep 1823 in Omagh, Ireland. He died on 13 Jun 1879 in Duncree Rectory, Ireland.  Some of their children immigrated to Australia including Thomas Kinley Hamilton (1853-1917).
  3.  ANNE KINLEY.  She married JOHN WILSON (c 1772 – 13 Jan 1821)
    1. JOHN WILSON was born on 11 Aug 1801 in Ireland. He died before 1863 in Pennsylvania, USA. He married ALICIA CAMPBELL on 11 Mar 1834 in Ireland, daughter of Archibald Campbell and Ellen Carr. She was born on 04 Feb 1812 in Ireland.
    2. JAMES WILSON was born on 19 Sep 1803 and died on 10 Jun 1878 in Lecumpher County, Londonderry, Ireland. He married SARAH WEIR on 27 Mar 1830 in Cookstown, Co Tyrone, Ireland. She died about 1843 in Ireland.
    3. SARA ANN WILSON died 24 Oct 1860
    4. MARY WILSON died 8 Feb 1891
    5. HUGH WILSON died 6 Jun 1869
    6. THOMAS WILSON JP born 21 Mar 1811 and died 15 Apr 1901
    7. JANE WILSON died 29 Dec 1890
    8. MARGARET WILSON died 22 Jan 1897
    9. WILLIAM E WILSON was born before 1821 in Ireland. He died on 19 Mar 1859 in Lecumpher, Magherafelt, Londonderry, Ireland. He married MATILDA BUSHE WILSON on 20 Jan 1853 in St James Episcopal Church, Schuylkill Haven, PA, US.
  6.  SARAH KINLEY was born in 1774 and died in 1855 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. She married ROBERT “ROBIN” TENER in 1800, son of Thomas Tener and Matilda Jebb. He was born in 1770 in Castlecaulfield, County Tyrone, Ireland. He died in 1857 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
    1. JOHN KINLEY TENER was born in 1802 in Armagh, Co Armagh, Ireland and died in 1879. He married (1) MARY FRANCES EVANS, daughter of George Evans and Margaret Harrison. She was born in 1799. She died in 1864. He married (2) MARY ANN GRANT. She was born in Dundee, Scotland.
    2. ISSAC WILLIAM TENER was born in 1808 and died in 1898 in California, USA. He married FRANCES MARGARET EVANS, daughter of George Evans and Margaret Harrison (and sister of his brother’s wife). She was born in 1809. She died in 1897.
    3. RICHARD TENER was born in 1806 and died in 1880 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. He married MARY BROWN, daughter of Henry Brown and Jane Carr. She died in Scotland?.
    4. DAUGHTER TENER. She married MR GALBRAITH. He was born in Derry, Ireland.
    5. WILLIAM TENER died in 1833 (At sea).
    6. THOMAS TENER was born in 1809.
    7. ROBERT TENER died Dsp.
    8. HUGH TENER died Dsp.
    9. MATILDA TENER died Dsp.
    10. JAMES TENER died Dsp.