Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Most of my family lines go back to immigrants who came to New England in the 1600s. However, I have one 3X great-grandmother who came from Ireland, probably in the 1820s according to census records. Eva Bean included John Williamson among the veterans of the War of 1812 but that doesn't make sense with the census records. The family is not in the 1820 census and according to later census records Rebecca was born about 1816 in Ireland. If the family was here in time for the War of 1812, Rebecca would have been born in the U.S. In the 1830 Bethel census John Williamson is the head of the household and there are two females - one between 30 & 40 and one between 15 & 20. These facts line up with the dates passed down through the family for John, his wife Ann, and his daughter, Rebecca.
Williamson is not a very Irish sounding name so I wonder if they were English and moved to Manorhamilton somewhere along the way. I also would love to find out why they left Ireland. Regardless of the exact date they came, it is clear they were in Bethel well before the potato famine in Ireland.
The family came from Manorhamilton, named for Sir Frederick Hamilton who was granted the land for his services in the European wars of the 17th century. The town was called Clonmullen and in the hands of the O'Roarke clan prior to its being granted to Sir Frederick. Manorhamilton Castle, built by Sir Frederick was burned to the ground in 1652 by the native Irish. This act appears to have been provoked by Hamilton’s cruel treatment of prisoners and his burning of Sligo town. Here is a sketch of the castle before the fire and three pictures of the castle ruins.
In searching Irish records, I can see general information without paying and I can find several passenger lists with Williamsons on board but none of the dates and ages of the passengers line up with my ancestors. I'm unwilling at this point to pay about $20 just to look at one record. Hopefully some day I will be able to go and look through records myself. For now, I will have to be content with what I know about their time in the United States. Williamson is not a very Irish sounding name so I wonder if they were English and moved to Manorhamilton somewhere along the way. I also would love to find out why they left Ireland. Regardless of the exact date they came, it is clear they were in Bethel well before the potato famine in Ireland.
In honor of St. Patrick's Day and through the magic of the internet here are two videos of Manorhamilton.
St. Patrick's Day Parade - Manorhamilton, Leitrim, Ireland 2009
Youtube - Manorhamilton
Wikipedia - Manorhamilton
Lapham, Howard B. "History of Bethel:." Google Books. Google.com. Web. 03 Mar. 2012. <http://books.google.com/ebooks/reader?id=4vUgAQAAMAAJ>.