Where did my great great grandfather Patrick Biggins (1807-1882) of Romeoville, Illinois, come from in Ireland? Was it County Mayo, the place my cousin Daniel Biggins remembers being told of, and the place where most people named Biggins live today? Or, did he really come from County Monaghan, where the Biggins family who lived across the road from Patrick came from? Or, was it Drumgill in County Cavan, just across the border from County Monaghan, where a Patrick Beggan was born in 1807 to Hugh and Ann Cusack Beggan?
Map showing Drumgill, where the Beggan house and farm is. The dot to the left is St. Brigi's Church in Kill. In the upper left is Clones, the center of the biggest concentration of households in the Griffith's Valuation of 1848-64. The monastery of Clones was established here in the 6th century by St. Tighernach. The jagged line to the left of Clones is the Fermanagh-Monaghan border, which is the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
My Y chromosome DNA, which is handed down father to son like surnames, matches with testers named Beggan, and variations thereof, from the Clones area, including County Fermanagh, County Monaghan, and County Cavan.
Patrick's tree may look something like the following as of 2009, based on information shown on this page:
- Hugh Beggan m. Ann Cusack
- Michael Beggan 1803-1878, b. in Drumgill, County Cavan, Ireland, m. Mary King
- Rose Beggan b. 1832 in Drumgill
- James Beggan (Beggins), farmer, b. 1841 in Drumgill, m. Catherine Maguire
- Mary "Minnie" Beggan (Beggins) 1883-1956. m. Patrick Lee 1871-1961
- Patrick Lee 1914-1987, inherited the farm in Drumgill, m. Alice Reilly, who now owns the farm but does not live there
- Mary Ellen Lee, d. in her teens
- Gerry Lee 1922-2016, b. in Drumgill, d. in Drumnagress, County Cavan
- Michael Beggan, b. in Drumgill
- Patrick Beggan, b. in Drumgill
- Patrick Beggan (Biggins) 1807-1882, b. in Drumgill, m. 1825 to 1829 Bridget, emigrated before 1833 to Ontario, Canada, then Will County, Illinois, USA
- Daughter, name unknown, b. 1826 to 1830 in Ireland or Canada
- Anna Biggins b. 1833 in Ontario, m. 1855 John Gaffey (had 8 children, first son named Hugh)
- Francis Biggins 1838-1891, b. in Will County
- Philip Leslie Biggins 1841-1913, b. in Will County, m. 1875 Sarah Ella McNally
- Philip Leslie Biggins 1877-1959, m. 1900 Emily Foy
- Mary Kathleen Biggins 1902-1986 m. 1828 Philip Coverdale 1908-1978
- Emily Maria Biggins 1905-1918
- Philip Leslie Biggins 1909-1967 m. Loretta Olive Taylor 1913-2002
- John Alfred Biggins 1910-1979 m. 1937 Jane Marie Drueke 1914-1998 (parents of Peter Biggins)
- Richard Vincent Biggins 1913-1994 m. 1937 Virginia Margaret "Dolly" Shay 1916-1985
- Arthur Biggins 1879-1900+
- Rosanna Biggins, b. 1843
- James A. Biggins 1846-1890, b. in Will County. m. 1875 Elizabeth Healy
Gerry Lee. On my third trip to Ireland in October 2009, I met Gerry Lee, great great grandson of Hugh and Ann Cusack Beggan, and visited the Beggan farm in Drumgill where Gerry grew up.
Jonathan Smyth at the Cavan Town library suggested I contact John McCabe who lives near Drumgill and might be able to lead me to the Beggan farm and any descendants in the area. I drive to the area and stopped at a furniture store in Drumgoon. They called Tom Maguire who lives in Drumgill, and Tom took me to the house of Gerry Lee. Tom said, "if anyone knew about the Beggans, Gerry would. He's been around longer than anyone." I followed Tom over to Gerry's house in Drumnagress and asked Gerry if he knew any Beggans. He said, "my mother was Mary Beggan." So, I had found the last living descendant of Hugh and Ann Cusack Beggan, parents of Patrick Beggan, who was born in 1807 in Drumgill, the same year my great great granfather, Patrick Biggins was born.
Gerry called John McCabe, a farmer who lives in nearby Drumgoon and has an interest in genealogy. His brother is a professor at Trinity College Dublin. He is the one that Jonathan Smith at Cavan Town library had referred me to. I drove over to John's house, and he took me over to see the Beggan farmhouse in Drumgill. The house has been vacant since 2002, when Gerry Lee moved into a new smaller house in Drumnagress.
To get to the Beggan farmhouse from the Cavan-Cootehill Road in Cootehill, go 4.1 km south on the Mountain Lodge Road, turn left, go 1 km east, turn right, go 0.4 km south to the house, which will be on the left.
Gerry was born in 1922 and never married. He had an older sister Mary Ellen who died in her early teens. His older brother Patty Lee (1914-1987) inherited the farm. Patty married Alice Reilly in the 1960s and died in 1987. Alice owns the farm but does not live there. Gerry's parents was Patty Lee (1871-1961) and Mary Beggan (1883-1956). Mary was an only child of James Beggan and Catherine Maguire. James' father was Michael Beggan (1803-1878) and his mother was Mary King. Michael's parents were Hugh and Ann Cusack Beggan.
Drumgill is in Kill parish, also known as Kilsherdany. The church in Kill is St. Brigid's.
Gerry's parents are buried in Old St. Brigid Cemetery. Gerry took me to the cemetery and showed me a plot with two Maguire stones.
Gerry and my father would be third cousins.
Gerry Lee died May 12, 2016. Following a funeral Mass at St. Bridget's Church in Kill, he was buried in the adjoining cemetery. Dianne Ward from Western Australia told me in 2018 about Gerry's death. She is researching her Kelly ancestors in the same area and found that one of her Kellys sold his house to Gerry Lee. Mullen's Funeral Directors say that "the death has occurred of GERRY LEE
Drumnagress, Kill, Cootehill, Cavan. Peacefully at Fairlawns Nursing Home, Bailieborough. Reposing at his home on Friday from 2pm. Removal from his home on Saturday morning at 10am to arrive at St. Bridget's Church, Kill for 10.30am Funeral Mass. Burial afterwards in adjoining cemetery. MAY HE REST IN PEACE. Date Published: Friday 13th May 2016. Date of Death: Thursday 12th May 2016."
Gerry Lee, age 87, outside his house in Drumnagress, 2009. His mother was Mary Beggan. The Beggan farm cannot be seen but is on the other side of the drumlin in the right background.
Beggan house in Drumgill, County Cavan, Ireland, 2009. Vacant since 2002. Second story added circa 1950. In the foreground is John McCabe of nearby Drumgoon who took me to the house. The 1911 Census says the house was built of stone, brick, or concrete rather than mud, wood or other perishable material. The roof, was of thatch, wood, or other perishable material rather than slate, iron, or tiles. The house had 3 or 4 rooms. There were 4 windows in the front of the house. It was a second class house, like the other 7 houses in Drumgill except one, which was third class. One family lived in the house. There were 9 out-offices intended for agricultural or domestic purposes: a stable, coach house, cow house, calf house, piggery, fowl house, barn, potato house, and shed.
Irish Naming Convention
- 1st named after father's father
- 2nd named after mother's father
- 3rd named after father
- 4th named after fatherís oldest brother
- 5th named after fatherís youngest brother
- 6th named after motherís oldest brother
- 7th named after motherís youngest brother
- 1st named after mother's mother
- 2nd named after father's mother
- 3rd named after mother
- 4th named after motherís oldest sister
- 5th named after motherís youngest sister
- 6th named after fatherís oldest sister
- 7th named after fatherís youngest sister
Patrick Beggan of Drumgill, County Cavan. My interest in the Beggan family of Drumgill townland, County Cavan was triggered by an item in Genealogy Notes of Kilsherdany Parish, part of a comprehensive review of Beagan genealogy by Al Beagan. The item is the baptism of Patrick Beggan on May 22, 1807. He was born to Hugh Beggan and Anne Cusack of Drumgill townland. The baptism was recorded in St Bridget's Church register, Kilsherdany Parish, County Cavan. The source is the County Cavan Genealogical Research Centre. Kilsherdany Parish also is known as Parish of Kill or Kildrumsherdan.
The parish is now Kilsherdany & Drung, which includes four churches: Church of the Immaculate Conception in Drung, St. Patrick's in Corick, St. Mary's in Bunnoe, and St. Brigid's in Kill. The parish is part of the Diocese of Kilmore in Cavan town, County cavan.
There are several arguments in favor of Patrick Biggins and Patrick Beggan being the same person.
- My Patrick Biggins was born in 1807, based on his age in the 1870 and 1880 censuses for Will County, Illinois, and his obituary in 1882. This is the same year that Patrick Beggan was born in Drumgill.
- Patrick Biggins named his second daughter Ann. Irish naming convention would indicate that Patrick's mother was, therefore, named Ann. As noted above, Ann was the name of the mother of Patrick Beggan from Drumgill.
- My Patrick Biggins was a farmer. The Patrick Beggan of Drumgill was born into a farm family.
- Two farmers named Biggins lived across the road from Patrick Biggins: James and Owen. An 1890 biography of James Biggins (1822-1884) says that he and Owen were brothers from County Monaghan. This county is contiguous to County Cavan. Drumgill is only a few miles from the border with County Monaghan. The history does not mention Patrick Biggins.
- The original name of the Biggins families in Romeoville was not Biggins and could easily have been Beggan. A descendant of of James Biggins told me that she had been told that the name was different originally. And, a review of documents relating to Patrick, James, and Owen indicates many variations of Biggins were used before the names converged on Biggins: Bagin, Beggins, Begins, Bagan, Beagan, Bagans, and Bigins.
- DNA testing indicates that my Biggins ancestors match with Beggan and related families from the area of Counties Monaghan and Cavan. See: Biggins/Beggan DNA.
Beggans in the 1901 Census and 1911 Census for Drumgill. The Irish censuses for Drumgill townland, Cootehill, County Cavan, for 1901 and 1911 contain only the James Beggan/Beggins family
In 1901, the farm included 5 out-offices and farm steadings: stable, cow house, piggery, fowl house, barn.
- 1901 Census. Signed James Beggan X His Mark, witness John Morris, Const.
- James Beggan, head, Catholic, cannot read, age 60, farmer, married, born in County Cavan
- Catherine Beggan, wife, Catholic, read and write, age 50, married, born in County Cavan
- Mary Beggan, daughter, Catholic, read and write, age 17, scholar, not married, born in County Cavan
- 1911 Census. Signed James Biggins X His Mark, witness Minnie Beggins
- James Beggins, head of household, Roman Catholic, cannot read, age 69, farmer, widower, born in County Cavan
- Minnie Biggins, daughter, Roman Catholic, read and write, age 27, single, born in County Cavan
In 1911, the farm included 9 out-offices and farm steadings: stable, coach house, cow house, calf houe, piggery, fowl house, barn, potato house, shed.
Griffiths Valuation, 1854. Griffiths Valuation records for 1854 show four Beggan households in Drumgill townland, Parish of Kildrumsherdan, County Cavan.
Bellamont House, Cootehill, 5 miles from Drumgill.
- Michael Beggan, Jun., house and 9 acres
- Michael Beggan, Sen., and Patrick Beggan, house and 9 acres (Michael, Sen., could be Michael, 1803-1878, son of Hugh Beggan, and he could be a brother of Patrick Biggins who emigrated to Illinois)
- Margaret Beggan, house
The lessor was Richard Coote who probably lived at Bellamont House, a Georgian Palladian-style house on 1,000 acres of grounds in Cootehill, County Cavan. The house was completed in 1730 for Thomas Coote, a Cromwellian Colonel and a judge of the Court of King's Bench during the 18th century. He also established Cootehill as a prosperous linen town. Cooteís grandson, Charles, inherited it in 1764 and became the Earl of Bellamont of the 2nd creation in 1767. The new Lord Bellamont sired at least six children. On his death in 1800, the estate passed to these descendants who lived on at Bellamont House, also known as Bellamont Forest.
Tithe Applotment Books, 1833. Tithe Applotment Books for 1833 show Hugh Beggan in Drumgill townland, Parish of Kildrumsherdan, County Cavan.
Other Beggans from Drumgill. Al Beagan's Web site includes several other Beggans from Drumgill and St. Bridget's Church.
- The 1796 Spinning Wheel premium entitlement list of Ireland included Widow Beggan, Cavan; Kilsherdney
- Book of St. Bridget's, Kill: July 15, 1805, Marion is born to Jacob Smith and Susanna Conoly. Sponsors were Patritus Finly and Bregid Beggin.
- St Bridget's Church register: Jan.20, 1805 James Beggan is born to James Beggan and Catherine Roe of Curraheny townlands, recorded in Kilsherdany Parish, County Cavan. County Cavan Genealogical Research Centre
- St Bridget's Church register: May 22, 1807 Patrick Beggan is born to Hugh Beggan and Anne Cusack of Drumgill townlands, recorded in Kilsherdany Parish, County Cavan. County Cavan Genealogical Research Centre
- St Bridget's Church register: Jan.1, 1808 Peter Beggan is born to Eugene Beggan and Bridget Sweeney of Drumerkillew townlands, recorded in Kilsherdany Parish, County Cavan. County Cavan Genealogical Research Centre
- An 1813 list of freeholders in the civil parish of Drumgoon in County Cavan shows Hugh and Michael Beggan as a forty shilling freeholders in the townland of Drumgill, the landlord being Chas. Coote, Esq.
- Oct.11,1823 John Beggan is recorded in the Tithes Applotment books renting 5-01-4 acres of land in the townlands of Kilairuney (Killaire [oru] ney) , parish of Kildrumsherdan, Co Cavan. Janet Ruddy. The other townland where you located the name John Beggan in the townland of Kilairuney - this is the townland of KILLACREENY -it is situated on the northeast of the Parish of Kilsherdany. I did locate the entry in the Tithe Applotment Books for John Began (spelt thus). Catherine McNally, Cavan Genealogy Center
- 1830 John Beaghan, of Crush Townlands, Parish of Killsherdeny, Diocese of Kilmore, County Cavan, Ireland pays tithes on 7 acres of land. County Cavan Tithes Applotment Book p9. Dingnavanty?
- St Bridget's Church register: Jan. 5, 1830 "James (Jacob) McCullen is born and bap to John (Joannis) McCullen and Rosa (Ro) Beggan of Drumalage. The sponsors were Bernard (Berd) Coyle and Brigid (Briga) Beggan." Cavan Genealogical Research Center, Kilsherdany Register page 228.
- St Bridget's Church register: Aug. 28, 1830 "Bernard (Brd) Beggan is born and baptised to Bernard (Bernardi) Beggan and Mary (Maria) Lannen of Lurton. The sponsors were Pat Bernard (Berd) (no surname) and Anna McKernan." Cavan Genealogical Research Center, Kilsherdany Register page 233.
- St Bridget's Church register: Jan. 25, 1831 "Elizabeth Hopkins is born and bap to Edward (Edwd) Hopkins and Brigid (Brd) Beggan of Lislea. The sponsors were P. Ramsey and Susanna Beggan." Cavan Genealogical Research Center, Kilsherdany Register page 237.
- St Bridget's Church register: Jan. 14, 1832 "Bily McCullen is born and bap to John McCullen and Rosa Beggan of Drumleag. The sponsors were Michael Fitzsimons and Mary Clarke." Cavan Genealogical Research Center, Kilsherdany Register page 245.
- St Bridget's Church register: April 29, 1832 "William (Guilim) Joy is born and baptised to John (Johanis) Joy and Bridget Clerken of Drumman (Drumin). The sponsors were John Clerkin and Catherine (Cath) Beggan." Cavan Genealogical Research Center, Kilsherdany Register page 247.
- St Bridget's Church register: May 7, 1832 "Rose (Rosam) Beggan is born and bap to Michael (Michis) Beggan and Maria King of Drumgill. The sponsors were Michael Beggan and Brigid McCabe. Cavan Genealogical Research Center, Kilsherdany Register page 247.
- The Tithe Applotment Books: 1832 Beggan family, p. 47, CS484, I74, film 5: Oct. 30,1832 (Oct. 15, 1833 on another sheet) Hugh & Widow Beggan are recorded living on 19 acres in Drumgill townland, parish of Kilsherdeny, County Cavan.
- St Bridget's Church register: Nov. 13, 1832 "Pat Maguire is born and bap to Edward (Edw) Maguire and Catherine (Cath) Brady of Drumgill. The sponsors were Thomas (Thos) Maguire and Margaret (Marga) Beggan." Cavan Genealogical Research Center, Kilsherdany Register page 252.
- St Bridget's Church register: Dec. 17, 1832 "Thomas (Thos) Masterson is born and baptised to Francis Masterson and R. O'Reilly of Potilboy. The sponsors were Bernard (Berdi) Tierney and Rosa Beggan. Fil Iligit" Cavan Genealogical Research Center, Kilsherdany Register page 252.
- St Bridget's Church register: Oct. 27, 1833 "Ann Hopkins is born and bap to Edward Hopkins and (unclear christian name) Beggan of Lislea. The sponsors were John (Johanis) McDermott and Billy McClallen." Cavan Genealogical Research Center, Kilsherdany Register page 260.
- St Bridget's Church register: Feb. 19, 1834 "Mary (Maria) McCullen is born and bap to John (Joannis) McCullen and Rosa Beggan of Drumlegue. the sponsors were Michael (Mich) McDonnell and Catherine (Cath) McEnroe." Cavan Genealogical Research Center, Kilsherdany Register page 264.
- St Bridget's Church register: Sept. 30, 1834 "Mary (Marian) Drum is born and bap to Edward (Edr) Drum and Brigid (Brg) Beggan of Killacreeny. The sponsors were John Fannon and Anna McBrien." Cavan Genealogical Research Center, Kilsherdany Register page 268.
- St Bridget's Church register: March 2, 1835 "Patrick (Patritium) McBride is born and bap to Peter (Petri) McBride and Catherine (Catho) Lee of Corfad. The sponsors were Francis (Franciscus) Lee and Anna Beggan." Cavan Genealogical Research Center, Kilsherdany Register page 272.
- St Bridget's Church register: March 31, 1835 "Catherine (Catherina) McCabe is born and bap to Bernard (Bernardi) McCabe and Nora McEntee of Drumgill. the sponsors were Michael (Michel) Beggan and Margaret (Margret) Beggan." Cavan Genealogical Research Center, Kilsherdany Register page 273.
- St Bridget's Church register: March 8, 1836 "Rose (Rosom) McCullen is born and bap to John (Joannis) McCullen and Rosa Beggan of Drumlegue. the sponsors were Michael (Mich) Coyle and Mary Coyle." Cavan Genealogical Research Center, Kilsherdany Register page 283.
- St Bridget's Church register: May 16, 1837 "Mary Higgins is born and bap to Philip (Philipi) Higgins and Maria Beggan of Killacreeny. The sponsors were John (Joannis) Higgins and Maria Drum." Cavan Genealogical Research Center, Kilsherdany Register page 297.
- St Bridget's Church register: May 22, 1837 "Catherine (Cath) Drum is born and bap to Edward (Edwardi) Drum and Brigid (Brga) Beggan of Drumhurt. the sponsors were John (Joannes) Hall and Lena McBrien." Cavan Genealogical Research Center, Kilsherdany Register page 297.
- St Bridget's Church register: March 8, 1839 "Patrick (Patri) Lee is born and bap to Patrick (Patrii) Lee and Maria McBride (McCabe) of Corfad. The sponsors were Francis Lee (Franciscus) and Anna Beggan." Cavan Genealogical Research Center, Kilsherdany Registe page 319.
- St Bridget's Church register: March 9, 1839 "Pat Higgins is born and bap to John (Joannis) Higgins (Higgans) and Mary McBreen of Drumlague. The sponsors were Philip (Phillipus) Higgins (Higgans) and Maria Beggan." Cavan Genealogical Research Center, Kilsherdany Register page 319.
- St Bridget's Church register: Sept. 15, 1839 "James (Jacob) Higgins is born and bap to Philip (Philipi) Higgins and Maria Beggan of Killacrany. The sponsors were Peter (Petrus) Drum and Maria Drum." Cavan Genealogical Research Center, Kilsherdany Register page 325.
- St Bridget's Church register: Sept. 15, 1839 "Pat Drum is born and bap to Edward (Edwardi) Drum and Brigid (Brigida) Beggan of Drumsheel. The sponsors were John (Joannis) Hall and Lena Fannon." Cavan Genealogical Research Center, Kilsherdany Register page 325.
- St Bridget's Church register: Dec. 20, 1839 "Patrick (Patricium) Lee is born and bap to Francis Lee (Francisci) and Anna Beggan of Lislea. The sponsors were Michael Lee and Anna Beggan." Cavan Genealogical Research Center, Kilsherdany Register page 328.
Ordnance Survey: 1835. "One of the greatest miseries of human life, the deprivation of fuel, oppresses the peasantry of Kill. Tubary is quite exhausted over a very large extant of the parish . The tenantry located in its central and Northern sections are obliged to carry their turf 5 and 6 miles without any hope of ever ameliorating their unfortunate condition. ..The faintest trace of natural woods nowhere exists within the parish. .... the surface of the parish presents a very naked and cheerless landscape. ......The general appearence of the scenery of the parish, like many others of the surrounding district, is bleak and dreary. Very few trees appear upon its surface. The cabins of the tenantry are wretched in the extreme....The tenantry of the parish attend the petty sessions of Coothill every wednesday for the redress of grievances. Colonel Clements of Ashfield and Maxwell Boyle Esquire of Tullyvin, both resident within the parish, supported by the magistrates of Drumgoon, comprise the bench. The character of the parish is quiet and orderly. Illicit distillation is carried on when the price of corn is much reduced but not otherwise. ....In several localities where slate rock abound, the cottages are built of stone, with glass windows, devided into 2 and 3 apartments: but when the grauwacke rock prevail, which are exceedingly irregular in cleavage, the cabins are formed of mud and seldom exceed the ground floor. .....Potatoes and buttermilk constitute the chief and almost only diet of the people. Very coarse friezes and corduroys with home-spun woolens and fancy cottons form their attire. One striking peculiarity in the dress of the males is their never wearing a neck cloth: and the females, in the hottest days of summer, wear their cloaks and feel undressed without them. ....A few families dispose of the interest in their leses and emigrate annually to the Canadas, and vast numbers would follow their example if furnished with the means of paying their passage. None return, nor does any depart from hence during the harvest season. ....the great landed proprietors of the parish are Colonel Clements of Ashfield, Major Burrows of Stradone, Maxwell Boyle Esquire of Tullyvin, Charles Coote Esquire of Bellamont Forest, Charles Adams Esquire of retreat and the bishop of the diocese. ......The same destructive influnce which cramps the energies and paralyses the physical powers of the occupying tenantry, the subletting and subdivisions of the soil into small holdings, is equally operative in all its ruinous consequences on the prosperity of the parish of Kill as it is in every other parish of the surrounding district."