Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Different Diffin

Back in 2013, I reported some Diffin Connections to, we believed, our Gillespie family of Armagh. We had three reasons to pursue this lead:
  • In the 1881 census of Quebec, there was one Mary Diffon, age 27, living with my ancestor James Gillespie. Who was she?
  • My Gillespie family inherited an old photograph taken in Armagh which was labeled in pencil (by whom we don't know) as Mrs. Diffin.
  • Contact from a Mr. Diffin who lives in Ireland, and whose ancestors were Henry Diffin and Mary Jane Gillespie.
Here is what we've learned since then.

Indeed, Mary Jane Gillespie married Henry Diffin in 1866. Her father was Thomas Gillespie 1799-1865 who lived in Ennislare and married Mary McCord. Several records are missing for this family group, so much of what we know is based on the genealogy research of Mr. Diffin in Ireland as well as what we can surmise from extant records. There is still some possibility, at least in my mind, that the photograph we have is of Mary Jane Gillespie Diffin. And if that is true, then the fact the photograph ended up with Gillespie family belongings who went to Quebec still suggests that we are some how related to Mary Jane.

Meanwhile, who was Mary Diffon living with James Gillespie in 1881 Quebec? We have not found anybody in the family lines of Henry Diffin to explain who she might have been. But as I mentioned 6 years ago, there were other possible Diffin connections to our family, which now might offer the explanation we've been looking for.

As we know, my ancestor James Gillespie emigrated to Quebec in the 1830s but before leaving Ireland, he married Mary Orr Jamieson in Lisnadill. Mary was the daughter of Arthur Jamieson and Mary Orr. I recently searched for other children born to Arthur Jamieson, and found one Ann "Nancy" Jamieson, born in 1832 who married one James Diffin in 1852! This James Diffin was from the same townland, Garvaghy, where Henry Diffin had lived, making it seem likely that James and Henry were cousins. And even though I find no baptism record for Mary Diffin born about 1854, it seems quite likely that she was the daughter of James Diffin and Ann Jamieson. In that case, she was James Gillespie's niece (by his wife), apparently coming to Quebec when she was 25. I have not found what became of Mary Diffin after 1881, but now we better understand her connection to our family.

So how are the two Diffin lines of Henry and James connected? The answer to that question is still as uncertain as how are the families of Thomas Gillespie of Ennislare and Thomas Gillespie of Cavanacaw connected? But thanks to clues found in North America, we know these families most certainly have some connection, some how. Research goes on.