Andrew Porter Sr., or Jr.?

In an earlier post, Irish Ancestral Homelands of the Watne Branch, we learned where the Gallagher-Walker and Hannah-Virtue families were living in County Donegal when they left Ireland for Canada West (now Ontario) by 1851.

We have learned we must research a group of Allied Families—Gallagher, Hannah, Hindman/Hyndman, Kerr, Love, Porter, Virtue, Walker, and others—to understand any one of them.

We have found them living close together, intermarrying, serving as witnesses on birth and marriage records, and moving on as a group to new places in search of a better life for their families.

Despite the progress made in finding their homelands, the whereabouts of Andrew Porter Sr. in Ireland remains a mystery. It is time to resume our search.

Please buckle your seat belt.

Until a record is found that explicitly lists the homeland for an ancestor, we are left to try to match the details (e.g. name, parents’ names, date of birth, religion) from their confirmed records with potential records for them back in a potential homeland. It can be a complex puzzle to solve, requiring research into multiple generations of their family to accumulate enough circumstantial evidence to provide confidence we have identified the correct person. And the last puzzle piece may not exist.

Starting from Andrew Porter Sr.’s confirmed records, we are faced with a few challenges:

  • his birth is listed variously between 1815 and 1831
  • his parents’ names are unknown
  • his homeland is listed merely as Ireland

It is therefore difficult to disambiguate between multiple Andrew Porters in Ireland (and there are many).

What do we know about Andrew Porter Sr.?

From family history, we are told in Hannah 1896–1996 [1] that Andrew was born in Donegal, Ireland, in 1829, and immigrated to Canada in 1852. Further, we are told that Andrew and his wife Jane Gallagher were the only children in each family. At least two of these “facts” are incorrect—Andrew was in Canada by 1851, and Jane had at least six siblings—but who is counting!

In the records of Canada, we learn that Andrew was born between about 1815 and about 1831. The earliest record, and therefore perhaps the most accurate, the 1851/2 Census of Canada, lists his birth as about 1826. In all of these records, Andrew is listed as being born in Ireland, not specifically County Donegal.

[Note: You may remember from prior posts that the 1851/2 Census of Canada was actually begun on 12 Jan 1852.]

Andrew lived in Manvers Township, Durham County, Canada West, on 12 Jan 1852, and removed to Holland Township, Grey County, Canada West, by 1861. Andrew is actually listed as owning land in Holland Township by 29 Dec 1851. [2] We therefore presume he removed his family to Holland Township soon after the 1851/2 Census of Canada.

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Holland Township lots in red, Manvers Township lots in green.

[Hover the cursor over or click on a pin to see more information.]

He later removed to Manitoulin Island, Ontario; Hannah, Cavalier County, North Dakota; and Frobisher, Saskatchewan. We have not found anything in Andrew’s records from these three places pointing to a more specific homeland, so we omit their details.

Andrew died in Frobisher, Saskatchewan, Canada, in 1907. Andrew has a son, Andrew Porter (1856–1941), so they are Sr. and Jr. respectively. We will therefore refer to him as Andrew Porter Sr. (1826–1907).

From what we have learned of the Allied Families, betting odds are that Andrew emigrated with the Gallaher-Walker and Hannah-Virtue families from Ireland to Canada West, and likely lived near them in County Donegal, Ireland.

But it is possible he was indeed an only child, perhaps even an orphan, and that he emigrated from elsewhere alone. If so, he would be the first such confirmed ancestor in our family tree.

This is what we knew about Andrew Porter Sr. until 22 Oct of this year when Porter cousin K. Werner pointed us to a DNA match with our Porter family DNA tests, that match having a family tree containing one Ann Lyons.

Who is Ann Lyons?

Ann Lyons is the wife of James Lyons (1804–1887).

On this 29 Dec 1851 map of Holland Township [2] below, and in the 1861 Census of Canada, we find a clan of Lyons owning land together there on Concessions XI-XII Lots 19-21.

Holland Township, 29 Dec 1851; Porter, Quinn, and Lyons lots. [2]

On the 1851 map, James Lyons owns Concession XII Lot 20. In the 1861 Census of Canada, James owns Concession XII Lot 19.

On the 1851 map, Andrew Porter Sr. owns land 2.5 miles south of James and Ann Lyons, on Concession II East Lot 78. In the 1861 Census of Canada, Andrew owns Concessions II-III East Lots 78.

Below is an interactive map with these same lots marked.

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James Lyons resided on the upper two lots, Andrew Porter on the lower lot.

Interestingly, James and Ann Lyons appear to have arrived in Canada in either 1852 or 1853, and Andrew Porter Sr. is living in Manvers Township on 12 Jan 1852. Perhaps they were able to purchase these lots before departing Ireland.

Note the 1851 map and 1861 Census of Canada list different lot numbers for James and Andrew. Lots were routinely bought and sold, or passed down to children, easily explaining the differences.

James and Ann had at least 8 children, and presumably married in Ireland before 1832.

Their oldest son is William Lyons. On 1 Jan 1859, William Lyons marries Elizabeth Quinn. Note the Quinns on the 1851 map directly between Andrew Porter Sr. and the Lyons clan.

And on the marriage register entry for William and Elizabeth, what do we find?

James Lyons and Ann Porter, parents of William Porter. [3]

Ann Lyons’ maiden name is Porter.

According to Census of Canada records and her death record, Ann Porter Lyons was born in 1811 in Ireland, and died in 1886 in Holland Township. So she is approximately 18 years older than Andrew Porter Sr.

We have ten DNA matches with our Porter family DNA tests whose line up to a most recent common ancestor (MRCA) goes through Ann Porter Lyons. One of these is through Ann’s son William, three through Ann’s daughter Margaret, and six through Ann’s daughter Ellen. All ten matches share an appropriate amount of DNA with our tests for the MRCA to be Ann’s parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents (listed here in descending order of likelihood). Other relationships are possible.

That is what we know about Ann Porter Lyons in Canada, and from our shared Porter DNA. Therefore, Andrew Porter Sr. probably has a close Porter relative living a few farms over in Holland Township in 1861.

Hey! Wait a minute!

You’re asking yourself, “Didn’t we already look for Porters living in Manvers and Holland?”

We did.

In 1851/2, there are 37 Porters in Durham County that were born in Ireland. 34 of them are listed as Presbyterian, 2 as Wesleyan Methodist and married to Presbyterians, and Andrew Porter Sr. is listed as Church of England.

In 1851/2, there are zero Porters in Grey County that were born in Ireland.

It appears that Andrew Porter Sr. is the only male Porter born in Ireland and listed as Church of England in either Durham or Grey County in 1851/2.

In 1861, there are 59 Porters in Durham County that were born in Ireland, 10 of them listed as Church of England.

In 1861, there are 10 Porters in Grey County that were born in Ireland, 5 of them listed as Church of England.

But we have not found anything to connect these post-1851/2 arrivals to Andrew.

And Anne Porter Lyons? Church of England.

Are there more?

Ann Porter Lyons is interesting. Before we search for Ann in Ireland though, are there more Porters nearby?

We searched our Porter family DNA matches again and found we share MRCA Francis Walker and Anne Hindman with DNA match P. Walker. Her line passes through their son George Walker up to them. Three other DNA matches share this same line through George up to them.

In 1851/2, widow George Walker and two children—William, age 6, and Ann, age 2—are living in Manvers Township next door to David Kerr of the Allied Families. We have not been able to locate which lots they lived on, but based on the census pages, they appear to live within a couple miles of our William Gallagher, John Hannah, and Andrew Porter Sr.

In 1861, George is living in Holland Township with only one child, William. Presumably, daughter Ann died during the prior 9 years. George is listed in the census as a tenant on Concession III East Lot 79, next door to Andrew Porter Sr.

P. Walker’s family tree provides an interesting lead for the name of George Walker’s wife. Can we confirm it?

The 1873 marriage registration for George and Mary’s son William Walker lists his mother’s name as Mary Walker. William’s 1940 death registration lists his mother as “– Porter”.

Mary, Mary Porter!

Unfortunately, Mary Porter Walker died prior to the 1851/2 Census of Canada. So we have little to go on. We can infer a little from the births of her husband and two children.

George Walker was born in about 1801. From that, we estimate Mary’s birth as about 1804.

William Walker was born between about 1845 and about 1847. From that, we estimate Mary’s birth as about 1824.

If Mary was born in about 1804, she would possibly have other children born as early as about 1821 to 1828.

But with William being listed as the oldest child, age 6, in 1851/2, there are likely no older children, and Mary is more likely born in about 1824.

George’s family emigrated from Ireland to Canada West between Nov 1838 and 1842. So it is possible George and Mary met and were married in either Ireland or Canada West.

With these four DNA matches sharing potentially two sets of MRCA, Walker-Hindman and Porter-unknown, we can not yet definitively say the shared DNA is from the Walker-Hindman or Porter-unknown side, or both. And our Porter family DNA tests also potentially include Walker-Hindman DNA from the Hannah-Virtue branch. There are many members of the Walker family living in Holland Township in 1851/2 and 1861.

But George Walker’s family lived near Andrew Porter Sr. in Manvers Township after his wife Mary’s death, and then moved next door to Andrew in Holland Township. Why did George do that?

It would be an amazing coincidence that Mary Porter Walker is not related to Andrew Porter Sr.

So “only child” Andrew Porter Sr. probably has two close Porter family members living near him in Canada.

Back to Ireland

Before we dive in, let us briefly review what we know about where this branch of the family lived prior to emigrating.

To date, everyone has been found living around Donegal Bay, located between Banagh Barony and Tirhugh Barony.

17. Donegal, 18. Drumhome, 25. Killaghtee, 27. Killybegs Upper, 28. Killybegs Lower, 30. Killymard, 36. Inver [4]

The Gallaghers were in Derries Townland, Drumhome Parish, County Donegal.

The Walkers were in Killymard Parish, County Donegal, and removed to Derries Townland before emigrating.

The Hannahs were in Derries Townland.

The Virtues were in Kilgole Townland, Drumhome Parish, County Donegal.

Everyone was therefore in either Drumhome Parish (18 on the map) or Killymard Parish (30 on the map).

So we have three new names—Ann and Mary Porter, and James Lyons; and three families of interest—Lyons, Porter, and Walker.

Where do we start? We know quite a bit about the Walkers in Ireland, so let us start there.

Francis Walker (1769– ) and Anne Hindman (1771– ) were married in Drumhome Parish on 6 Aug 1789.

At the time of their marriage, Francis resided in Killymard Parish. Anne resided in Derries Townland. After their marriage, they lived in Derries Townland.

For Francis and Anne, we have the baptism records for 10 children, all born in Derries Townland:

  • Catherine Walker (1793– )
  • Andrew Walker (1795– )
  • Elizabeth Walker (1797– )
  • Francis Walker (1798–1866) m. Elizabeth Hannah (1807–1888); Holland in 1851/2 and 1861
  • George Walker (1801–1882) m. Mary Porter (1824–1852); Manvers in 1851/2, Holland in 1861
  • Mary Walker (1801–1851) m. William Gallagher (1803–1881); Manvers in 1851/2 and 1861
  • Alexander Walker (1805–1881) m. Hannah Love (1802–1881); Holland in 1851/2 and 1861
  • John Walker (1807– )
  • Jane Walker (1809– )
  • Margaret Walker (1812– )

Note that we have death dates for the middle four children. What do they have in common? We know these four emigrated to Canada West, and there we find their death records.

Most of the Allied Families are represented here in this one family.

In this family, we see a marriage occurring between someone residing to the north of Donegal Bay, and someone residing to the southeast of Donegal Bay. We have found numerous other examples of this occurring between members of the Allied Families. We also appear to see a portion of a family emigrating to Canada West, and a portion staying behind.

Ok, what about Anne Porter Lyons, Mary Porter Walker, and our Andrew Porter Sr.?

On, we have identified about 100 vital records (birth, marriage, death) for Porters in the townlands of County Donegal around Donegal Bay between 1702 and 1895. Of these about 100 records, 56 are in Inver Parish, 14 are in Killybegs Upper Parish, 12 are in Drumhome Parish, and 10 are in Killaghtee Parish. This heat map allows you to explore the members of our family tree in these places.

But to date, we have been unable to associate any of them with Andrew Porter Sr. These include three baptism records for children named Andrew Porter. Without any leads to his parents or siblings, it has not been possible to confirm or even eliminate any of the three.

In the available on-line records of County Donegal, we have not been able to find a marriage registration for George Walker and Mary Porter. We have found one possible baptism record for Mary, a Mary Porter baptized 2 Feb 1807 in Tullynaught Electoral Division, which overlaps with both Donegal and Drumhome Parishes. She is the daughter of a John Porter and Margaret. This is a dead end for the moment.

Perhaps Ann Porter Lyons will provide a clue.

Before we proceed, we must stop here and acknowledge that the records of the parishes around Donegal Bay are incomplete. Baptism records are missing for known children of families. Marriage records are missing for marriages confirmed in baptism records of children. And families typically had 8–10 children, so in two generations, we are faced with about 100 first cousins from one set of grandparents, many sharing the same given name. Without a unique given name, it is difficult to confirm relationships.

Ok, with that speeding warning issued, we will spare you the hours of staring at records, and jump to one family of interest.

We have found a marriage record for an Andrew Porter and Isabella Henderson, and baptism records for seven children, the children all born in Drumadart Townland, Inver Parish, County Donegal.

Andrew was born in about 1788. He married Isabella Henderson on 15 Dec 1812 in Killaghtee Parish, County Donegal. At the time of their marriage, he resided in Killaghtee Parish, and she resided in Inver Parish, County Donegal. He died in Drumadart Townland, Inver Parish, County Donegal, on 17 Feb 1848, at the age of 60. Isabella was born in about 1789, and died in Drumadart Townland in 1854, at the age of 65.

The children of Andrew Porter (1788–1848) and Isabella Henderson (1789–1854), all born in Drumadart Townland, are:

  • Anne Porter (1813– )
  • Sarah Porter (1817– ) m. 1st Edward Allingham, m. 2nd James Freil (usually Friel)
  • Archibald Porter (1819– )
  • Catherine Porter (1822– ) m. John Strong
  • Isabella Porter (1824– )
  • Andrew Porter Jr. (1827– )
  • John Porter (1833– )

Do you see it? Ann Porter Lyons was born in about 1811. And our Andrew Porter Sr. was born in about 1826. We have our first two coincidences.

The birth dates for Andrew and Isabella Porter’s children above are all baptism dates, except for those of Andrew Jr. and John. So the first five children were born before these dates, possibly a few weeks, months, or even a few years before. Andrew Jr. and John were baptized 3 weeks and 1 week respectively after birth.

The Friel family is a potential new addition to the Allied Families. We have found two Porter-Friel marriages, and eight other Allied Family marriages witnessed by Friels.

In the 1825 Ireland Tithe Applotment Books, an Andrew Porter is listed in Drumadart Low Townland, Inver Parish, County Donegal, for a 22 acre lot with Hugh Henderson, Widow Vance, Robt Bealy, Hugh Cassidy, and Jas McJunkin. [5] There is only one Andrew Porter listed there for Inver Parish, so surely this is the tithe record for Andrew Porter (1788–1848) and Isabella Henderson (1789–1854).

In Canada West, Vance is a member of our Allied Families. Richard Hannah and future wife Catherine Montgomery lived with Samuel Vance in Manvers Township in 1851/2. Eliza Ann Vance married Robert Hannah in Victoria County, Ontario, on 1 Mar 1871. So we have another coincidence!

There is One more thing …

Our Porter family DNA matches include E. Porter, whose Porter line remained in County Donegal long after ours and immigrated to Massachusetts after 1941. Her Porter ancestor Patrick Porter (1805–1881) resided and died in Gilbertstown, Killaghtee Parish, County Donegal—the same parish where Andrew Porter resided and married Isabella Henderson.

And Patrick Porter’s son Thomas marries Mary Ann Baskin, daughter of Margaret Lyons of Ardlougher, Killybegs Lower Parish, County Donegal. Killybegs Lower Parish is the next parish over to the east of Killaghtee Parish. Two more coincidences!

That is a lot of coincidences.


Andrew Porter (1826–1907). [6]

It is likely our Andrew Porter Sr. (1826–1907) is Andrew Porter Jr. (1827– ), and his parents are Andrew Porter (1788–1848) and Isabella Henderson (1789–1854). That would make Anne Porter Lyons his sister. And Andrew would have four other siblings as well.

And we would therefore know Andrew’s birthdate and place—23 Jul 1827, in Drumadart Townland, Inver Parish, County Donegal.

We are still missing that one last piece of the puzzle—proof. Hopefully this research will help someone find a definitive source proving or disproving our theory.

Andrew Porter (1826–1907) is 3rd great-grandfather of MKS in the Watne branch.

Andrew Porter (1788–1848) and Isabella Henderson (1789–1854) are likely parents of Andrew Porter (1826–1907), and 4th great-grandparents of MKS in the Watne branch.

Ann Porter (Lyons) (1811–1886) is likely sister of Andrew Porter (1826–1907) and 3rd great-grandaunt of MKS in the Watne branch.

Francis Walker (1769– ) and Anne Hindman (1771– ) are parents of George Walker (1801–1882), and 5th great-grandparents of MKS in the Watne branch.

Mary Porter (Walker) (1804–1852) is wife of George Walker, and is of unknown but likely relationship to Andrew Porter (1826–1907).

[1] Hannah, 1896-1996 (Hannah, ND: Hannah History Book, 1996).
[2] Map of Holland Township (#46) (Quebec: Crown Land Department, 29 Dec 1851).
[3] Ontario, County Marriage Registers, 1858-1869, Grey County, 1858-1867, vol 13, image 13.
[4] Map of the Civil Parishes of County Donegal, username Bob Hilchey,
[5] Ireland Tithe Applotment Books, 1814–1855, Donegal, Inver, 1825, image 16.
[6] KMS Family Genealogy Digital Archive, Kathleen Lucille Watne Wetherbee collection.