Mary Hickey (1819 – 1890), my third great grandmother, came to South Australia in 1840 on the “Birman” with her sister Julia (1817 – 1884) and brother Michael (1812 – 1840) and Michael’s wife and their two young children. Michael died on the voyage; his wife and children returned to Ireland. In 1843 Mary Hickey married Gordon Mainwaring, a farmer.

Although I have found records for Mary Mainwaring nee Hickey in Australia I have not been able to trace her origins in Ireland. It is possible however that DNA may provide clues to more information about Mary Hickey and my Hickey forebears

My father has a DNA match with JW on ancestry.com. They share 21 centimorgans of DNA across 2 segments. JW is my father’s sixth cousin once removed. Their most recent common ancestors are Godfrey Massy (1711 – 1766), a clergyman, and his wife Margaret Baker; Godfrey and Margaret are my father’s sixth great grandparents. The amount of DNA shared is rather a lot for such distant cousins but not impossible. However, there may be a closer connection.

My father and JW uploaded their DNA to GEDMatch, a site that enables users to analyse and compare their DNA results. AncestryDNA uses algorithms to remove components of a match in cases where the company believes that the shared DNA may be due to general population inheritance rather than a genealogical relationship. On GEDMatch my father and JW share three segments of DNA on chromosome 3 totalling 37.6 centimorgans. They also share 49.4 centimorgans across two segments on chromosome 23, the X chromosome.

Shared segments of DNA reported by GEDMatch for my father and JW illustrated using DNAPainter. The purple bars highlight the lengths of the shared segments.

My father inherited his X chromosome from his mother, and a Y chromosome from his father. My father’s mother inherited her two X chromosomes from each of her parents but her father inherited his X chromosome only from his mother. Inheritance on the X chromosome thus has a distinctive pattern.

Godfrey Massy is shown on the fan chart highlighted in purple with an arrow pointing to his position. When the fan chart is overlaid with the X DNA inheritance path it can be seen that Godfrey Massy can not be the source of the DNA shared between JW and my father on chromosome 23.

My father’s X-DNA inheritance path is highlighted. The area with black X’s represent the X DNA inheritance paths for a male being the only possible ancestors who could be sources of X DNA. Charts generated using DNAPainter.

JW’s great great grandmother was Ann Hickey born in County Limerick in about 1823 who married James Massy in about 1841. James Massy was the great grandson of Godfrey Massy. James and Ann had a son Michael (1842 – 1888) and a daughter Margaret born 1844. Ann Massy nee Hickey died about 1845 and James remarried to a woman called Mary. In 1847, by his second wife he had a daughter they called Mary. James Massy, his second wife and his three children emigrated to Queensland on the Florentia, arriving in April 1853. James’s wife Mary died during the voyage. The shipping record states that James Massy was aged 30 (born about 1823), was born in Limerick, was a carpenter, a Roman Catholic, and could read and write.

The X DNA inheritance for JW shows that she could have inherited some of her chromosome 23 from her great great grandmother Ann Massy nee Hickey. My father and JW also both share DNA with matches who have Hickeys from Limerick in their family tree.

Ann Massy nee Hickey, JW’s great great grandmother, is indicated with orange and marked with the black arrow. Godfrey Massy, JW’s fifth great grandfather, indicated with light orange and a green arrow.
JW’s X-DNA inheritance path includes Ann Hickey highlighted with the orange arrow; Anne Hickey is a source of 25% (on average) of JW’s X DNA. Godfrey Massy, shown with the green arrow, is not a source of X DNA for JW. While there are certainly many other possibilities of sources for X DNA for JW, shared DNA matches with my father point to the Hickey line.

While exploring records for Hickeys of County Limerick I came across a series of records for a woman called Bridget Hickey of Sallymount who had applied for a Poverty Relief Loan. One of the  guarantors was a James Massy, the other was named William Kennedy. It could be a coincidence, but perhaps Bridget was related to Ann Hickey, the wife of James Massy.

The Irish Reproductive Loan Fund was a micro credit scheme set up in 1824 to provide small loans to the ‘industrious poor.’ In November 1843 Bridget Hickey, shopkeeper of Sallymount, received £4 principal on which 20 shillings interest was payable. Six years later, in 1849, Bridget Hickey, James Massy, and William Kennedy were served with a notice stating that Bridget had neglected to pay most of the amount owing . They were obliged to appear in the Sessions-House of Castle Connell.

Irish Reproductive Loan Fund, T91 (The National Archives, Kew) Security notes of borrowers and sureties for loans Archive reference T 91/178 Retrieved through FindMyPast

On the reverse side of the notice it is noted that Bridget Hickey was dead and was the sister of James Massy and of William Kennedy. I interpret this to mean she was the sister-in-law of James Massy, the sister of Ann Hickey.

overleaf from above notice

In a return to the Clerk of the Peace signed 5 March 1853 – a document associated with Bridget Hickey’s loan – James Massy, a fishing rod maker, is reported as having left for Australia in November last. This fits with his Australian arrival on the Florentia in April 1853; the Florentia departed from Plymouth on November 22. The trade of fishing rod-maker, of course, is not too distant from that of carpentry. In that time and place, fishing pole manufacture was not an ordinary trade.  Fishing could be an upper class pursuit and a maker of fishing poles could have an intermediate status in the class structure, like an estate agent or a gamekeeper.

In the same return Bridget Hickey is stated to be a pauper last seen about November in the City of Limerick. The report of her death in 1849 seems to have been incorrect.

Ireland, Poverty Relief Loans 1821-1874 Returns to the Clerk of the Peace [dated on next page 5 March 1853] Source Irish Reproductive Loan Fund, T91 (The National Archives, Kew) Archive reference T 91/180 number 1034 retrieved through FindMyPast

I am reasonably confident that James Massy, husband of Ann Hickey, is in some way connected to Bridget Hickey. Ann and Bridget were probably sisters. Bridget Hickey and James Massy lived in either of the adjoining townlands of Ballynacourty and Sallymount, parish of Stradbally. Given the likely DNA connection between Anne Massy nee Hickey and Mary Mainwaring nee Hickey, I intend to look for the family of Mary Mainwaring nee Hickey in the adjoining townlands of Ballynacourty and Sallymount, parish of Stradbally.

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