Wednesday, August 10, 2011

He Was Born In Ireland, but English and Protestant

Robert Brereton was my grandmother's grandfather.

My Ancestor, Robert Brereton (1824-1880)

Robert Brereton was born in 1824 in Tullamore in King’s County, Ireland, which at the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922 became County Offaly.  Tullamore is located on the Grand Canal which connects the Shannon River (20 miles west) to the Irish Sea at Dublin. It has been reported that the Railroad is now through the spot where the home stood where Robert Brereton was born. The Brereton farm holdings were located just outside Tullamore.

 According to a newspaper article published in 1904 about Robert’s brother, Rev. Frank Brereton, their father was Thomas Brereton and their mother was Betsy Dobson. However, others in the family have suggested the father’s name to have been Daniel or George or David or John. It is most significant to have found a legal record in which his name was listed as John. Robert and Frank had an older brother, John, who was married in 1850 before leaving Ireland. The marriage record is filed as a Civil Registration, Kilbride and Tullamore, Kings, Ireland, and includes the name of both fathers; there the groom’s father is shown to be John Brereton.

 The Breretons probably came from England to Ireland in about 1700. In Ireland, the Breretons were aloof British Protestant landlords, never intermarrying with the Irish.  John Brereton  apparently incurred some Irish enmity, and a flaw was reportedly found in his land title.  When he lost a large section of his holdings to Irish claimants in the 1800s, prior to 1850, he carried the case to the highest court of claims in England, and according to family legend, when the case was decided against him, he dropped dead in the courtroom. It is believed that the mother was already deceased. The oldest son George got what property was left. The other four sons and one daughter left Ireland and came to America. George made one visit to America in connection with the death of his son John in New Jersey, but returned to Ireland without seeing his brothers or sister because he had lost their addresses.

Before leaving Ireland, family history mentions that Robert had served for four years in the army of Queen Victoria. Records for the Royal Irish Constabulary, 1816-1921, show  Robert Brereton, age 23, born in Kings County, enlisted in 1843. Also appearing in those records were a William, age 20 who enlisted in 1843, and a George, age 21, who enlisted in 1837; both were also shown as born in Kings County.

New York Passenger Lists show that on 15 July 1850, Robt Braratan , age 25, arrived in New York on the ship St George which had departed from Liverpool, England. Robert’s brother William had made a similar voyage almost exactly two years previously. Their sister Eliza and her husband George Kinch and infant son John came in April of 1851. Their brother John and his wife were married on January 15, 1850, in Ireland, and left shortly thereafter for New Orleans; accompanying them was the youngest brother Frank. The story of their voyage was reported in detail by Frank in a newspaper article published in 1904, but the exact date is unknown. Frank became a Methodist Protestant minister and was well known in the area.

Robert Brereton was naturalized on June 18, 1859 at District Court in Mt. Pleasant, Henry County, Iowa. His residence address was given as Henry County, Iowa. His country of birth was shown as Ireland. The date and port of his arrival in U.S. was left unanswered. Witness was Judge Francis Springer. The certificate was recorded in Volume E-P.174. Index card is coded B663.

Robert spent a couple of years in Ohio, and ultimately settled in southeast Iowa, near Lowell.  There he married Margaret Jane Anderson, on 14 Feb 1858, shortly before her 18th birthday. Robert was 33. The family Bible shows their names as Robert Brereton and Margret J. Anderson. Births of the oldest children show the surname spelled Brereton, and the youngest ones as Britton.

Robert built a house of logs on the 40-acre farm he bought in Baltimore Township, Henry County, Iowa, northwest of Lowell. There, the Robert Brereton family adopted the name Britton, which is the pronunciation the neighbors gave to the name Brereton. The John Breretons kept the original name, and Rev. Frank used both for awhile, eventually using Britton. Another brother, William,  settled in Butler County, Ohio, and appears to have retained the Brereton spelling although legal records do show a variety of spellings—Briereton, Brardton, Bruraton, Braraton, Buraton, and Brereton.

--genieBev (Genealogy Beverly)

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