Tuesday, 28 April 2015

MDKA Profile - Luke Spearing 1792-1860 (US65-NJ1)

Luke SPEARING is the MDKA (Most Distant Known Ancestor) of the family branch US65-NJ1. The purpose of this profile is to characterise this individual and allow comparisons to other MDKA profiles of other family branches, in the hope that the parents of this individual can be identified or links with other family branches can be established.


Luke (c.1792-1860) was born in Adare, Limerick.  Little is known of his early life, but he married about 1817 and had moved to Lancashire (by 1838). His son Michael (c.1819-1899) emigrated to New Jersey (1848). There are no records of Luke's marriage or his children's baptisms. He may have had a brother James, and another son John.

Click to enlarge

No birth or baptism record has been found for Luke. The 1851 England Census (taken on 30th March 1851) records a Luke aged 58 (giving a tentative birth year of 1792), living in Ashton in Makerfield,  and notes he was born in Adare, Limerick. His 1860 death certificate gives an estimated birth year of 1790, and the 1841 England Census gives an estimated birth year of 1801. This Luke is presumed to be the father of Michael below.

Luke's son Michael’s 1899 New Jersey death certificate records his parents as Luke & Catherine. Presumably they were married in Limerick about 1817, but no church record could be found for their marriage (according to a 2006 Report from Catriona Crowe of Limerick Genealogy). Catherine’s maiden name and her date of death are not known. There is currently no further evidence directly linking the Luke living in Ashton in Makerfield with Michael in New Jersey.

Luke had a son Michael (born in “Ireland” about 1819, from US censuses) and possibly a son John (the witness at Michael’s 1846 wedding). No baptism records for them have been found. It is not known if Luke & Catherine had any other children.

Michael (c.1819-1899) married Johanna Kelly (c.1823-1893) on 30 June 1846 in Askeaton, Co. Limerick. [1] Their witnesses were John Spearing (possibly a brother of Michael) and Martin Keeffe. They emigrated to New Jersey in 1848 (according to his Naturalization Record; no immigration records located to date) and had 5 known children – James, John, Mary, Catherine, & Eliza, all born in New Jersey (1852-1860). It is strange that none were called Luke (Michael’s father) or Patrick (Johanna’s father).

Sponsors at children’s baptisms
Despite several extensive searches, no baptism records have been found for Luke’s children, Michael and ?John (both probably born in Limerick).  It is likely that the records have been destroyed. Baptism records may be available for Michael’s children (born in New Jersey) and may mention his siblings (if they emigrated also). This may give clues to inherited family names (assuming some degree of naming convention was followed).

Luke was a tailor (England census 1841 & 1851; 1860 death certificate). He appears to have worked in Ashton in Makerfield, Lancashire, England from 1841 up to his death in 1860. It is not known if he returned to Limerick for periods during this time.

Luke probably had a brother James. A Sarah Woodcock (living at School Lane, Ashton) is the witness on Luke’s 1860 death certificate. She lived a few doors down from Luke (in the 1841 England census) in Ashton in Makerfield, Lancashire. And a Luke Spearing is a witness at her 1838 marriage to Henry Woodcock in Wigan, Lancashire (this is his first appearance in any records). Her maiden name was Spearing, she was born in Limerick, and her father was James Spearing, a farmer. Given their age difference, she is probably Luke's niece. Why she came to Lancashire and who she lived with are unknown. She had no children by her marriage to Henry Woodcock.

No further information is available for her father James. Presumably he was a farmer in Limerick, where she was born. There is a James Spearin in Griffith's Valuation for Limerick (dated 1852). He rented a House (but no land) from John O'Donnell in the townland of Carrigmartin (Parish of Cahernarry, Barony of Clanwilliam, about 1.5 km northwest of the village of Ballyneety in west Limerick). The fact that there was no land involved suggests that this is not the same James, unless perhaps he had retired. No James appears in the Tithe Applotements.

No direct information is available about Luke’s parents, but he probably had a brother called James (see above). Therefore their father or grandfather may have been called Luke or James.

Naming Convention
Luke’s only known children are Michael & possibly John. Therefore his father or grandfather may have been called Michael or John.

If his son Michael & Johanna followed Catholic naming conventions, and we have identified all their children and in the correct birth order, then their children’s names would imply the following:

Deductions from male children’s names:
Father’s father:                      James (incorrect – it is Luke)
Mother’s father:                    John (incorrect – it is Patrick)
Father:                                   n/a
Father’s oldest brother:         n/a
Mother’s oldest brother:        n/a

Deductions from female children’s names:
Mother’s mother:                  Mary (incorrect – Johanna’s mother was Catherine)
Father’s mother:                   Catherine (correct – Michael’s mother was Catherine)
Mother:                                 Eliza (incorrect – it is Johanna)
Mother’s oldest sister:          n/a
Father’s oldest sister:            n/a

As there is no apparent pattern, either they did not follow Catholic naming convention, or not all the children are known (e.g. they may have had children before they left Ireland in 1848).

Other information
Further details of Luke SPEARING can be found on the online trees available at the following links:

[1] Marriage of Michael Kelly to Johanna Kelly 1846Date of Marriage: 30/06/1846
Parish / District: ASKEATON
County: Co. Limerick
Husband: Michael SpearingWife Name: Johanna Kelly
Denomination: Roman CatholicOccupation:
Husband's Father: SpearingWife's Father Name: Kelly
Husband's Mother
Wife's Mother Name:
Denomination: Occupation:
Witness 1 Name: Martin KeeffeWitness 2 Name: John Spearing