I recently completed research for a client, and it was convoluted. Other researchers had previously thrown up their hands in frustration. My client didn’t give up. It was simple enough, a Catholic family in Prince Edward Island (PEI) by 1835. Most of the Catholics in this PEI parish were from Donagh Parish, County Monaghan. There was a man in the Donagh Parish Tithe Applotment (1832) with the same name who disappeared by the time of Griffith’s Primary Valuation (1860). The Donagh Catholic parish registers begin in 1837, after the family in question had emigrated. It was a most frustrating case.
The family pinpointed in the 1832 Tithe Applotment had children baptized in the Church of Ireland parish from 1799-1806, including a child exactly the age as our PEI immigrant. This same family then had children christened in the local Presbyterian congregation 1808-1811. The Anglican and Presbyterian connection wasn’t the problem. It’s the Catholic connection in PEI that was the problem.
In order to prove this Protestant family converted, I had the Catholic registers for Donagh Parish searched from 1837 to 1845 for any mention of the surname. Emphasis was on the children I had documented from the Church of Ireland and Presbyterian registers, having children. I couldn’t find other family immigrating to PEI. It turns out I could document someone who stayed.
One of the girls in 1842 was having a child christened in the Donagh Catholic parish. She would have been 39 at the time of her child’s birth, and no other children were found. To me this meant this was the last child. I went immediately back to the Tithe Applotment (1832), and there was the father and godfather of the child living in the exact townland where the family in question was living.
I was tipped off to a possible conversion through an 1832 Protestant Census in the Donagh Church of Ireland registers. The family in question was not listed as Protestants. So between 1811 when the last child was baptized Presbyterian and 1832 when both the Tithe Applotment and the Protestant Census was taken; this family had converted to Catholicism. Don’t know why, and probably never will. It just is what it is, and I must accept the evidence.
The reason past researchers threw up their hands wasn’t they were incompetent. They just closed their minds to the unexpected.