Tuesday, May 5, 2015

52 Ancestors No.18: Matthew Moynahan's Last Will (1770-1860)

This is the eighteenth of 52 blog posts for the 2015 edition of the 52 Ancestors challenge. I have been blogging my family history for the #52Ancestors challenge since it began in 2014.

#52Ancestors asks bloggers to "have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.

This week's blog post theme is "
Where's There's A Will" and I am focussing this blog post on the will of my great-great-great-great grandfather Matthew Moynahan (1770 - 1860) 

Matthew is my oldest known Moynahan ancestor. My family history trail stops with him. The rest of the story remains unknown (so far) in county Kerry, Ireland

Matthew died on the 3rd of February 1860 in Maidstone, Ontario.

Burial record: 5 Feb 1860 (Maidstone, Ontario)
Source: Catholic Church Records, Drouin Collection (1747-1967)
Mathew was buried the 5th of February 1860. He was ninety years old when he died. The witnesses at the burial were "Richard Barret, Michael Twomey, Denis Moynahan and many others."

Matthew was buried at the original St. Mary's cemetery adjacent to the first brick church in Maidstone. When the new St Mary's church was built, all those interred in the old cemetery were moved to the new one. No marker presently exists for Matthew Moynahan.

Source: OGS: St Mary's R.C. Cemetery
Source: OGS: St Mary's R.C. Cemetery
I have tried to locate an obituary for Matthew in 1860 but the Ontario papers of the day have great gaps around 1860.

The Will

I located Matthew Moynahan's memorial registration at the Archives of Ontario (GS 987 Sandwich Township, Essex County, Deed, Vol. D, 1857-1860, #581-993)

No.915 was entered on the 23rd of May 1860 at 3 minutes after twelve o'clock noon. It makes reference to being "provided the last will and testament of the late Matthew Moynahan....bearing the date the fourteenth day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty six" and then the document goes on to quote certain other facts.

Firstly, Matthew devised and bequeathed " all real and personal property of whatsoever kind or nature or where so ever situated unto my beloved wife Honora for and during her natural life should she survive me"

"Secondly, after the death of said wife, if she shall survive me, I give devise and bequeath unto my son Timothy Moynahan, his heirs and assigns forever all my real and personal property except one bed and bed clothes which I give and bequeath to my daughter Mary Moynahan"

Only Honora, Timothy and Mary are named in the will. But what of the rest of the family?

Timothy Moynahan, in a 1900 Detroit Free press article, spoke of his brothers and sisters:

"There were five brothers and three sisters" "all gone" by 1900 when the article was written.

We know of another of Matthew's son James Moynahan (1805-1958) from the biography below:

Other research has led us to two more children: We read of a Jeremiah Moynahan of Detroit with whom Mathew had had a falling out over an incident on Matthew's farm that caused some damage.

We have also located a Johanna (Moynahan) Sullivan (1806-1891) of Washtenaw, Michigan whose death record show parents Matthew and Honora Moynahan. That still leaves a few blanks in our history of  Matthew and Honora.

There are still so many pieces left to my Moynahan ancestor puzzle, and wills are a great source of information!

Resources for Research on Wills


Michigan, Probate Records, 1797-1973 (4,710,990 images at Family Search) Description Probate records from county courthouses in Michigan. Most of the collection contains estate files. The content and time period varies by county. Some of the records date before 1837 when Michigan became a state


How to Find a Will in Court Records - Archives of Ontario (Updated May 2014) This research guide describes how to find a will that was filed in an Ontario court.

 Ontario Court of Probate and Surrogate Court Records: Wills and Estate Files - A Pathfinder


Family Search Historical Collections Index

1 comment:

  1. How interesting! I have no doubt you will uncover more of the family - you've certainly unearthed a lot of records about them already. It was so nice to see the picture of the man too.