I am a Timmins living in Ireland with a great interest in both my family history, and Irish history in general. The following is the extent of my research on the family up until now.
Like many of you, I started by research with authors such as Rev. Woulfe, Edward MacLysaght, Dubhalthach Mac Fir Brisigh…and various Internet sites. I have come across many different origins for the family, some of which have been very help full, and others that have been completely misleading. My research concentrates mainly on the Irish Timmins/Timmons family. I have heard that there are Timmins/Timmons families of Scottish origin (Wiseman), English origin (of Kent, Dudley and Durham), and French origin. To be honest, I haven’t come across too much concrete evidence regarding these families. I have come to the conclusion that, whether or not there are actually Timmins/Timmons families that have originated outside of Ireland, the Timmins/Timmons family of Ireland has a unique origin of its own. The Timmins/Timmons surname in Ireland is derived from the Gaelic Irish name ‘Toimin’ pronounced ‘Tomeen’. This name is a diminutive of the name ‘Thomas’ i.e. ‘Toimin’ means ‘little Thomas’.
First of all I intend to dispel some common myths about the origins of the Timmins/Timmons family in Ireland:
1)The family was NOT first recorded in counties Wicklow and Carlow in 1172, as has been suggested by a certain Internet site. The names Timmins and Timmons don’t appear until the 18th century. Before this it was recorded as ‘Tomyn’, ‘Thomen’, ‘MacTomeen’…The first mention of any of these names is in 1420 (William Tomyne). So to suggest that it is 1st recorded in 1172 is simply false.
2)The family is NOT a branch of the Barrett family of Cork or Mayo. It is true that there was a branch of the Barrett family of Mayo (not of Cork) called the ‘Clann Toimin’ meaning ‘descendants of Toimin’. These later referred to themselves as the ‘MacToimin’ family (ex. Richard MacToimin was a large land-owner recorded in Tirawley in Co. Mayo). However, O’Donovan (a noted scholar in this field) suggests that this was a ‘clann’ or ‘group’ name only, and that individual members retained the surname ‘Barrett’. Whether they did or not is uncertain, but the current Timmins/Timmons family of Ireland, is NOT of that lineage. The Irish Timmins/Timmons family is from Co. Carlow, which is in South East Leinster (Co. Mayo is in North West Connaught!).
So where does the Timmins/Timmons family come from? The surnames themselves have gone through a long process, which traces it from the current Timmins/Timmons (found from 18th century onwards) back to the surname ‘Tommins’ (which I found in a will dating to 1766), back to ‘Tomin’, which is recorded as “A principal name of the Baronies of Idrone East and Idrone West, in Co. Carlow” (11 holders of the name are recorded in the two Baronies). It is also significant that there is a townland in Idrone East called “Ballytimmin”. This townland, located in the Parish of “Fennagh” is 149 acres in seize. The name “Ballytimmin” is an anglesization of the Gaelic name “Baile Toimin” pronounced “Bolya Tomeen” and meaning “Toimin’s home”. This Toimin is most likely the ‘eponym’ (ancestor from whom the family is named after) of the family.
But who was this Toimin? The first record of a person by the surname of ‘Tomyne’ (an early form of Timmins/Timmons) is in 1420, when one ‘William Tomyne’ was recorded living in Carlow. He was a ‘Parliamentary Collector’ for the Earldom of Kildare (Kildare is just north of Carlow). So Toimin (our eponym) must have lived in Ballytimmin, just before 1420. At that time, the main families in Co. Carlow were the O Nuallain (now O’Nolan/Nolan) family, the MacMurchadha Caomhanach (MacMurrough-Kavanagh) family, the O Ceinnsealaigh (Kinsella) family, and O Broin (O’Byrne/Byrne) family.
The area of central Carlow was originally part of the ‘Fotharta Fea’ kingdom. The royal family of this kingdom were the O Nuallain (descendants of Nuallan) family. However, these kings were reduced to being sub-kings of the Ui Ceinnsealaigh tribe, who were originally from Co. Wexford (South East of Carlow). In 1169, when the Anglo-Normans invaded Ireland, they subjugated the O Nuallain family. Their lands were originally part of the ‘Lordship of Leinster’, which was owned by ‘Isabelle de Clare’, daughter of ‘Richard de Clare’ or ‘Strongbow’, who was a Norman invader, and ‘Aoife NicMurchadha’ daughter of Diarmuid MacMurchadha or ‘Dermot MacMurrough’ who first invited the Normans to invade Ireland. ‘Isabell’ married ‘Earl Marshal’ who them became ‘Lord Leinster’. But the Lordship of Leinster was sub-divided, so that the lands of the O Nuallain family, fell under the control of the ‘de Bigod’ family of ‘Norfolk’ in England… Significantly, I have come across a ‘Thomen O’Nolan’ (anglesization of ‘Toimin O Nuallain) in Kildare in the 1500s. Usually, Irishmen names their sons after former ancestors, which suggests that there had been an earlier Toimin O Nuallain. This leaves open the possibility that the eponym of the Timmins/Timmons family was originally an O Nuallain. So it is possible that the modern Timmins/Timmons family is a branch of the O’Nolan family.
The ‘Liberty of Carlow’ had originally been held by the ‘de Bigod’ family of Norfolk, but the last of these, Roger de Bigod, died in 1306. After his death, the lands passed on to the King of England (who was then ‘Lord of Ireland’) who subdivided it between his subjects. In 1307 the ‘Court Justicary Rolls’ record that one ‘Dounald MacMurwoth’ (an Anglicization of Donmhall Mac Murchadha, who was king of a tribe called the Ui Ceinnsealaigh) held the lands of ‘Fynnagh’ (an Early for of Fennagh, which includes Ballytimmin). From then on, most of Co. Carlow fell under the rule of the MacMurrough-Kavanagh clan, descendants of ‘Domhnall MacMurchadha “Caomhanach”. Domhnall was son of ‘Diarmuid MacMurchadha’ or ‘Dermot MacMurrough’ (father of Aoife). He was fostered by St. Caomhan, as a child. From then on, he got the nick-name ‘Caomhanach’, and his descendants were known as the MacMurchadha Caomhanach clan or ‘MacMurrough-Kavanagh clan.
Another family which ended up in Co. Carlow was the O Ceinnsealaigh (Kinsella) family. They were the descendants of ‘Eanna “Ceannsalach” MacMurchadha, another son of Diarmuid, and brother of Domhnall “Caomhanach”.
In the 1350s Muiris MacMurrough-Kavanagh hired the ‘Gabhal Siomoin’ (descendants of Simon) branch of the O Broin (now O’Byrne/Byrne) family from Wicklow, to fight in an internal dispute between himself and his cousin over the kingship of Ui Ceinnsealaigh. Muiris was successful, and in return he granted lands to the Gabhal Siomoin O Broin family. These lands were located in Co. Carlow.
It is my own opinion that the Timmins/Timmons eponym was one ‘Thomas MacMurrough-Kavanagh’. He was son of ‘Muircheartach’ king of Leinster, and brother of ‘Art MacMurrough-Kavanagh’ king of Leinster. Thomas (who could easily have been nick-named ‘Toimin’ ie ‘little Tom’) lived near Fennagh and died in 1402. We know that he had a son called Thomas who died in 1406. His descendants would have taken the surname ‘O Toimin’ or ‘Mac Toimin’, which would have been anglicised to ‘Tomyne’, ‘Tomin’, ‘Tommins’, ‘Timmins/Timmons’. It is tempting to suggest that he is the eponym, but I can’t rule out the other families that I’ve just listed. Some day I intend to have my DNA test. Using my Y-Chromosomes (passed from father to son, to the 1st humans), and comparing them to the Y-Chromosomes of members of the O’Nolan, MacMurrough-Kavanagh, O’Byrne, and Kinsella families, it would be possible to find out which family the Timmins/Timmons family comes from.
As I have mentioned, the first of our family was ‘William Tomyne’. The family is referred to in the ‘Irish Fiants of the Tudor Monachs’ on several occasions. Next was one ‘Thaddy Tomyne’ recorded in 1552 in Co. Kildare. Next is one ‘Patrick “roo” MacTomen’ (“roo” coming from “Rua” the Irish for “Red Haired”) recorded in 1558 in Co. Wexford. It appears that the family broke into two groups, the ‘Tomyne/Tomen/O’Thoman’ family of Carlow/Kildare, and the ‘MacTomen-roe/MacTomeen-roe’ family of Wexford. I can’t say for sure why the family split, but it appears that the family in Carlow supported the ‘Garryhill Kavanaghs’ (the Kavanagh family of Garryhill, in west Carlow), while the family in Wexford supported the ‘Art Boy Kavanaghs’ (descendants of ‘Art Boy/Buidhe/Yellow Kavanagh’) who were the enemies of the Garryhill branch…
From these record we can get a good glimpse at the family. Some times they have names like ‘Arthur’ (Art), ‘Donill’ (Domhnall), ‘Murtagh’(Muircheartach), ‘Dermot’ (Diarmuid), which are all very common among the MacMurrough-Kavanagh family, which shows their loyalty to that family (it also strengthens the claim that they are descendants of Thomas of 1420). But other times they have names like ‘Edmund’, ‘James’, ‘Walter’, which are all names associated with the ‘Butler’ family, who were the Earls of Ormond (a very strong Earldom, to the west of Co Carlow), showing their loyalty to the Butler family. Some of the family members are recorded as ‘Gentlemen’ (large land-owners), ‘husbandmen’ (farmers), ‘yeomen’ (farmers who became militia), ‘horsemen’ (like knights), ‘Kerns’ (Gaelic Irish foot soldiers)…
As always, the research is on going, but if any of you would like me to share the individual references to the family, from the ‘Irish Fiants of the Tudor Monarchs’, just ask and I will do so willingly.
P.S. If any of you have had your DNA tested in the way that I mentioned just above, could you let me know what the results were?