The Deely Hypothesis
Where was Michael Deely (or Daly) of Limerick, Ireland and father of James Martin Daly (1850-1927) born?
my great-grandfather James M. Daly (1850-1927) was born in Limerick (city), Ireland. He was baptized as James son of Michael Deely and Julia O’Brien on June 18, 1850. James joined the British Army and served in Ontario, Canada where he purchased his discharge for £20 pounds sterling in 1870.
But, who was his father?
Was he a Daly or Deely?
Was he from Limerick or someplace else?
So, let’s look into these questions.
Michael and Julia had 4 children baptized in the same church with different references to their names. Michael’s surname spelling starts as “Deely” but evolves to “Daly” over time. Part of my question is whether that change is significant or just another phonetic spelling situation?
I will try to apply the Genealogy Proof Standard to the question above in this post. It’s my first time so bear with me.
The Genealogy Proof Standard needs a question to analyze and answer so the question is:
Where was Michael Deely (or Daly) of Limerick, Ireland, and father of James Martin Daly (1850-1927), born?
Step 1. A Reasonably Exhaustive Search
The first step in determining whether Michael Deely of Limerick, Ireland was the father of James Daly of Sayre, Pennsylvania, USA is to identify potential records that might help prove, or disprove, the relationship. Many 19th century records were lost and record keeping wasn’t like it is today, so records may be hard to find. The typical records to look for include:
- Birth or baptism
- Death, burial or obituary
- Newspaper articles
- Griffith’s Valuation
Birth or Baptism
There were no formal birth certificates in Ireland issued by the state during the 19th century until 1864 so church records are the primary source before that year. Since James Martin Daly of Sayre was Roman Catholic, a search of the Catholic Parish Registers published at the National Library of Ireland (NLI) are the key records for births.
- James Deely was baptized June 18, 1850 at St. Michael’s parish on Denmark Street in the city of Limerick, County Limerick, Ireland [BAP-1]. His parents were listed as Michael Deely and Julia O’Brien and the sponsors were Jeremiah Deely and Mary Grany. St. Michael’s is a Roman Catholic parish. Often sponsors would be a brother or sister and their spouse.
- John Deely was baptized April 14, 1848 at St. Michael’s [BAP-2]. His parents were listed as Michael Deely and Julia O’Brien. His sponsors were John Gardiner and Johanna Cunningham. John joined the Rifle Brigade May 8, 1862 at Dublin. I know they were brothers because they lived a few streets from each other in the US.
- Bridget Daly was baptized September 30, 1852 at St. Michael’s [BAP-3]. Her parents were listed as John Daly and Judith O’Brien and her sponsor was Mary Moore. There was no godfather for her. This isn’t the first reference to “Daly” but it seems to be the start of a shift. The reference to “John” is clearly the wrong name while the mother’s name is consistent. I also looked for any other John Dalys in the parish and didn’t find any.
- Michael Daly was baptized November 25, 1854 at St. Michael’s [BAP-4]. His parents were listed as Michael Daly and Julia O’Brien. The sponsors were Maurice Hickey and Honor Kennedy. Michael also moved to the US and lived near his brothers.
Marriage records are about as available as baptisms. The following was found by Limerick Genealogy during a hired search. The record is not available online.
- Michael Daly, a soldier of the 61st Regiment of Foot, married Julia O’Brien on December 6, 1843 at St. John’s church in Limerick [M-1]. I could not find any other Daly-O’Brien marriage within a reasonable time before the baptisms.
No death or burial records have been found (so far) for Michael Deely or Michael Daly in Limerick. We don’t know if he died there, moved from Limerick or if he emigrated.
- James M. Daly of Sayre, Pennsylvania died June 11, 1927 according to his Pennsylvania death certificate [DC-1]. He was buried June 14 at Epiphany Cemetery in Sayre. The record also says he was born June 18, 1850 in Ireland. His parents were Michael Daly and Johanna O’Brien, both of Ireland. the informant was James’ son, James Daly of Towanda, PA. I have been informed by many Irish online that “Johanna” is a reasonable alternative for “Judith” or “Julia”.
- Michael Daly was renting a house and yard from Mary Henn on Lord Edward Street during the 1850 Griffith’s Valuation. No other useful information about the family was included [CEN-1].
- Michael Deely was discharged from the 61st Regiment of Foot, also called the South Gloucestershire, June 13, 1846 at Limerick [MIL-1]. He enlisted at the age of 19 on May 17 1825 at Gort, County Galway, Ireland. His parish was listed as Kiltartan, just north of Gort.
- John Daily was given a medical discharge from the Prince Consort’s Own Rifle Brigade on May 8, 1868 at Ottawa, Ontario, Canada for scrofula [MIL-2]. His obituary [OBIT-1] says he was sent back to England for treatment. I only have a transcription for this record.
- James Daily purchased his discharge from the Prince Consort’s Own Rifle Brigade on April 7, 1870 in Ontario, Canada for £20 pounds sterling [MIL-3]. I have a poor photocopy of the paper made in the 1970s but no one in the extended family knows where the original went.
There were no newspaper mentions found (so far) for Michael Deely or Michael Daly in Limerick.
- John Daly of Waverly, New York died October 26, 1915. His obituary [OBIT-1] says he was born in Limerick, Ireland on April 16, 1848 and he was “educated in a British Military school in Dublin”. The obituary mentions his wife and children along with his brother James Daly of Sayre.
Step 2. Complete and Accurate Citations
Source citations are critical in helping researchers find a record used in a genealogy or history report. It’s easy to forget where or how you found a record a few months later. So, the source citations used in this report are listed below by type.
BAP-1. “Catholic Parish Registers at NLI“, database, National Library of Ireland (http://www.nli.ie); St. Michael’s parish, Diocese of Limerick, County of Limerick, Ireland; Baptisms Dec 1838 to Dec 1852, Microfilm 02416/03, Page 501 (https://registers.nli.ie/registers/vtls000635028#page/261/mode/1up); Baptism of James son of Michael Deely and Julia O’Brien, 18 JUN 1850; accessed 15 APR 2019.
BAP-2. “Catholic Parish Registers at NLI“, database, National Library of Ireland (http://www.nli.ie); St. Michael’s parish, Diocese of Limerick, County of Limerick, Ireland; Baptisms Dec 1838 to Dec 1852, Microfilm 02416/03, Page 407 (https://registers.nli.ie/registers/vtls000635028#page/213/mode/1up); Baptism of John son of Michael Deely and Judith O’Brien, 14 APR 1848; accessed 15 APR 2019.
BAP-3. “Catholic Parish Registers at NLI“, database, National Library of Ireland (http://www.nli.ie); St. Michael’s parish, Diocese of Limerick, County of Limerick, Ireland; Baptisms Dec 1838 to Dec 1852, Microfilm 02416/03, Page 587 (https://registers.nli.ie/registers/vtls000635028#page/306/mode/1up); Baptism of Bridget daughter of John Daly and Judith O’Brien, 30 SEP 1852; accessed 15 APR 2019.
BAP-4. “Catholic Parish Registers at NLI“, database, National Library of Ireland (http://www.nli.ie); St. Michael’s parish, Diocese of Limerick, County of Limerick, Ireland; Baptisms Dec 1852 to Oct 1861, Microfilm 02416/04, no page numbers (https://registers.nli.ie/registers/vtls000635029#page/35/mode/1up); Baptism of Michael son of Michael Daly and Julia O’Brien; accessed 15 APR 2019.
CEN-1. “Griffith’s Valuation 1847-1864“, database, National Archives, Dublin, Ireland; Public Record Office, Belfast, Northern Ireland; Ancestry.com Operations, Provo UT, 2008; “Primary Valuation of Tenants”, Page 62, “Edward-Street” line 16, Michael Daly (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/1269/32504_LIMERICK_14-G01?pid=1970261), accessed 15 APR 2019. Subscription ($) required.
DC-1. “Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966“, James M. Daly, 11 jun 1927, Sayre, Bradford County, Pennsylvania, USA; Bureau of Vital Statistics, Department of Health, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; File No. 62714, Registered No. 151, Registration District No. 253; citing Ancestry on 9 Apr 2019 at https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/5164/42342_2421406259_0611-02952/4872173.
M-1. “St. John’s Church, Marriage Records 1842-1845“; St. Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick, County of Limerick, Ireland; Book 1842-1845, Page 29, No. 79; Marriage of Michael Daly, soldier, and Julia O’Brien of this parish; photocopy of original record provided by Ms. Noreen Ellerker, 2 APR 2019 via email; citing transcription at rootsireland.ie (http://ifhf.rootsireland.ie/view_detail.php?recordid=578725&type=mch&recordCentre=limerick&page=1); accessed/received 2 FEB 2019.
MIL-1. “Royal Hospital Chelsea Pensioner Soldier Service Records 1760-1920“, WO 97, 61st Regiment of Foot, Soldier No. 833, Michael Deely; citing fold3.com (https://www.fold3.com/image/586803727), accessed 15 APR 2019.
MIL-2. “Royal Hospital Chelsea Pensioner Soldier Service Records 1760-1920“; WO 97, Prince Consort’s Own Rifle Brigade, Soldier No. 713, John Daily; citing The National Archives, Kew, England, WO Form 83 (printed).
MIL-3. “Final Description of Discharge of No. 806 Private James Daily“; transcription of a now lost discharge paper in the possession of James Daly, Sayre PA; 7 APR 1870, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
OBIT-1. “Well Known Musician is Dead“; The Morning Telegram (newspaper), 31 OCT 1915, Page 2, Columns 2-3; “John Daly Passes From Earth …“; citing FultonHistory.com (http://fultonhistory.com/Newspaper4/Elmira%20NY%20Morning%20Telegram/Elmira%20NY%20Morning%20Telegram%201915%20Grayscale/Elmira%20NY%20Morning%20Telegram%201915%20Grayscale%20-%200883.pdf), accessed 22 APR 2019.
Step 3. Analysis
James Martin Daly of Sayre, Pennsylvania was my paternal great-grandfather (as I mentioned above). His life and burial were told to me by my own father. Plus, I’ve been to his grave. That’s my starting point for this analysis.
What I know
- James Martin Daly (1850-1927) is my direct-line paternal great-grandfather. I know my grandfather and father but I’m not going through them here.
- James Martin Daly (1850-1927) lived in Sayre, Bradford County, Pennsylvania and is buried at Epiphany Cemetery. I have visited his grave several times over the years.
- At one time, I saw a photocopy of James Martin Daly’s discharge from the British army – specifically, the Prince Consort’s Own Rifle Brigade – but I do not know where the original is or that photocopy. It was never in my possession. I have a transcription I made of it a long time ago. This paper was not found in the army records; it was something given to the soldier to prove he had been discharged. The paper identified his parish as St. Michael’s in Limerick; that was its primary value in this analysis.
What I think I know
- According to James Martin Daly’s (1850-1927) Pennsylvania death certificate, his parents were Michael Daly and Johanna O’Brien. James son, James Patrick Daly (1880-1950) was the informant.
The baptism records at St. Michael’s include three boys for Michael Deely or Michael Daly and Julia O’Brien. There is also a baptism for a girl, Bridget, to a John Daly and Judith O’Brien. The timing and mother’s name feel like the father’s name is an error rather than a different family. A search of other John Daly and Judith O’Brien records found none. It seems reasonable, then, to say that the four children were born to Michael and Julia.
There was no marriage record for Michael and Julia at St. Michael’s. A commissioned search was widened to all churches in Limerick before 1848 when son John was born. That search found a marriage record at a protestant church for a soldier named Michael Deely and a local Julia O’Brien. A soldier would probably marry in the protestant church to make sure the army considered it legal. Remember, the Anglican church formed a partnership with the crown in the United Kingdom so the army was protestant. This marriage seems like a reasonable connection to the baptisms.
The marriage record says the groom was a soldier of the 61st Regiment of Foot so I commissioned a search to find anything in the 61st Regiment records. A discharge and service file were found for a Michael Deely with “Limerick” written in big letters at the bottom of the discharge paper. This service record connects directly to the marriage record. Regimental records suggest the regiment – or part of it – was garrisoned at Limerick during the mid-1800s before being deployed overseas. The timing fits for the regiment and the marriage and discharge.
There was also a Michael Daly in the 61st Regiment but records at the regimental archives indicate he went out to Australia. So, not my man.
If we agree that the spelling varied in records and evolved from Deely to Daly then it seems reasonable that Michael Deely of Kiltartan Parish, County Galway, Ireland is the father of James Martin Daly of Sayre, Bradford County, Pennsylvania, USA
Step 4. Contradictory Evidence
There’s always information in different records that will be, well, different. This contradictory information should be considered to determine which information is more likely to be correct. Some notes about the contradictory information include:
- Some records spell the surname Deely, Daley, and Daly.
- Bridget Daly’s parents were listed as John Daly and Judith O’Brien.
It is common knowledge that people spelled phonetically before education became widespread. As more and more children learned to spell in school, spelling became consistent. Why? Because [probably] teachers needed a way to measure progress.
As spelling became consistent, various accents almost certainly influenced how a name was spelled. Deely, Daly, Daily, and other variations were also influenced by where the person was living when the spelling settled down.
So, Deely and Daly are not that different… if they were ever different. Both can descend from the same occupational name: Ó’Dálaigh. In the end, 19th century spelling doesn’t define a separate family. Deely might also be a distinct surname with a separate origin. The history of some surnames is messy.
Bridget’s 1852 baptism lists her parents as John Daly and Judith O’Brien. Judith and Julia are the same name but John is not like Michael. Baptisms every 2 to 3 years was fairly common so it’s likely that “John” is a mistake in the record. This puts Bridget between James in 1850 and Michael in 1854.
A typical birth pattern in the 19th century was to have a child every 2 to 3 years. That pattern would make sense for Bridget to be their child. Barring any other evidence, Bridget will be considered one of their children for now.
Step 5. Conclusion
I believe the short answer is that Michael Deely, also known as Michael Daly and erroneously as John Daly, was born in or near the parish of Kiltartan, County Galway, Ireland was the father of James Martin Daly. Michael was born about 1806 and enlisted in the British Army in 1825 at the barracks in Gort. He served in the regiment for about 20 years, which was a typical enlistment in the 19th century. Some of those years were spent “abroad” (not in Ireland or Great Britain).
He arrived in Limerick city in the early 1840s, met, and married Julia O’Brien. Julia was born in or, at least, living in Limerick at the time. When he married he decided he would not reenlist at least partially because he had medical issues from living in Ceylon (Sri Lanka today). They settled down and began a family. Michael was formally discharged in 1846 and their first child arrived 2 years later.
The distance between Limerick and Kiltartan isn’t that far so Michael was in familiar territory if not ‘home’.
Kiltartan, County Galway, Ireland (north of Gort)
Michael and Julia had four children; 3 boys and 1 girl. All of the children were baptized at St. Michael’s, a Catholic church. Their children included:
- John (1848)
- James (1850)
- Bridget (1852)
- Michael (1854)
John probably didn’t go to Dublin for “military school”, as his obituary suggests, but he probably enlisted in Limerick and went to Dublin for induction. James would have followed his brother’s path. Did they show musical talent before or after enlisting in the army? We don’t know. That part of their story did not get passed down. They were, however, trained in Dublin or England to learn music. They probably started with the bugle to sound orders to the troops on the parade ground or battlefield.
First Battalion of the Rifle Brigade was sent to Canada during and after the American Civil War. There had been several attempts by Americans to invade and ‘free’ Canada before the Civil War that it was a prudent decision to have trained troops in place.
John developed scrofula, which meant he could not close his uniform collar. As a result, John could not serve the regiment any longer. He was sent back to England for treatment in 1868 and probably discharged in 1870. He probably wrote to his brother James about returning to North America and James saved up to buy his way out of the army.
Going back to before the boys were born, we find Michael Deely was a soldier in the 61st Regiment. He met and married a local girl in Limerick when he was closing in on 40 years old. He wasn’t born in Limerick, however, since army units rarely stationed locals in an area because they might need to confront their neighbors. Moving men to other areas separated them from the locals.
So, Michael Deely from County Galway evolved into Michael Daly of Limerick. He was the father of John, James, Bridget, and Michael where the boys moved to the United States after the American Civil War.