RE: ORIGIN OF IRISH BATTLE NAME- PART II
I mentioned earlier that there was a possibility that the Battle clan were a sept of the McDonaghs. But in the early 1960's a Dublin dealer in coats of arms was willing to sell me an elaborate plaque bearing the arms of the McDonagh family with the comment that "Battle takes the same arms as McDonagh" I was young and naive, but not that naive. I knew then and know now that one family simply does not appropriate the arms of another. As a matter of fact, the Battle family in non-armigerous, i.e. we don't have a coat of arms. (Footnote: "The term ‘sept' has never, as far as I know, been given an authoritative technical definition. It can perhaps be explained by saying that it is a collective term describing a group of persons who, or whose immediate and known ancestors, bore a common surname and inhabited the same locality." MacLysaght, op.cit., pp 10-11). However, the Irish Genealogical Office, in research I commissioned in 1963, made clear that they had found no evidence of a clan or sept relationship between the Battle and McDonagh families.
As interesting asides to this discussion, Woulfe (op. cit. Page 15) says that: "Mac-surnames are, generally speaking, of later formation than O-surnames." And MacLysaght adds (op.cit. Page 16): "I may refer here to the widespread belief outside Ireland that Mac is essentially a Scottish prefix. To us this idea is absurd, for many of our foremost Irish families bear Mac names such as MacCarthy, MacDermot, etc. etc. ..."
Another aside. I have been assured that at the time the first Battles arrived in North America in 1831 (see below) that they were most certainly bilingual, speaking Irish at home and among themselves and English when they felt it necessary. This would seem to be confirmed by a sentence in an obituary of my great grandfather Patrick (1880): "Our first introduction to Mr. Battle took place at his daughter's house. He was then a very old man; but when the conversation turned on Irish affairs, he was as fresh and vigorous in his recollections of the old land as a man of 40 just arrived; and to show that he had not, though many years had elapsed since he left ‘home', forgotten his vernacular, he favored the company with several songs rendered in the mellifluous language of Irish tongue."
In answer to questions I had posed to him in letters dating from the mid-1960's, Dr. MacLysaght said that MacEncatha was probably ‘translated' into the English-sounding Battle in the mid- 1700's and that he thought there was a possibility of finding the name in documents of that time.
In a further letter to me dated 11 July 1963 MacLysaght says that he had checked the Co. Sligo Hearth Money Rolls of 1661 and, although he found several householders of the name MacEncatha, he found no Battles. It would seem likely then, that the name was translated into Battle sometime between 1661 and 1700.
MacLysaght adds, in the same letter, that "the birth registrations for 1865 record 11 for Battle, eight in Co. Sligo and three in adjacent Mayo. In 1890 there were six, all in Co. Sligo."
In a search I had done for me by the Irish Genealogical Office in 1963 they add that the six Battle births recorded in 1890 (see above para) represent about 230 persons of the name then resident in the county (one in 44.8 persons was the average birth rate for that period).
I will follow up with a list of the sources searched for me by the Irish Genealogical Office at that time so that others will not make the mistake of paying to have the same ground covered again.
In his Irish Families, page 18, MacLysaght has the following comment which seems relative to the Battles of Sligo: "One of the most striking and interesting of the phenomena to be observed in a study of our subject is the tenacity with which families have continued to dwell for centuries, down to the present day, in the very districts where their names originated." And again, on Page 28: "... the extent to which the present-day descendants of the old Gaelic families still inhabit the territories occupied by the medieval septs from which they stem is most remarkable." The implication seems to be, and MacLysaght almost said as much in one of his letters to me, that if your name is Battle, and if you are of Irish origin, then you are almost certainly related to all other Battles of Irish origin somewhere back in time. Tom Battle of Boothwyn, PA and I are convinced we are related somewhere along the line, but have not been able to make a connection over the almost 250 years our respective family histories cover. Perhaps one day soon,DNA profiling will solve most of these questions for us one way or the other.
Tom's family arrived in Quebec from the port of Sligo in 1831, the same year my great grandparents arrived in Quebec from Sligo. (The most obvious reason for our families' choice of ship to Quebec rather than to Boston or New York was that the fare to Quebec was considerably cheaper which, with a family in tow, was an important consideration). But while my family remained in Canada (Quebec City, Ottawa. St. Catharines and Thorold, Ontario), Tom's family pioneered farming in New Glasgow/Ste.Sophie, a small community about an hour's drive by car north of Montreal. After clearing the land and farming in the area for 35 years or so, they moved on to the States and finally to Isabella Co., Michigan. Tom has done extensive research on his family's history and must have a virtually complete genealogy by now, from c.1800 or earlier to the present.
Incidentally, Tom's family and mine are the first Irish Battles to come to North America, as far as I know.The Quebec Gazette of June 8, 1831 notes: "The number of immigrants arrived (to date in 1831) ... was 19,874 ... At the latest date 11 vessels had sailed from Sligo and 11 more were about to follow, all with immigrants. In former years only one vessel has been known to leave that part of Ireland with settlers."
The first church record (Notre Dame de Quebec) of a Battle I have been able to find, records the baptism on 14 June 1831 of Patrick (born ten days ago) to James Battle and Winy Haly (Winifred Healy) "emigres". I would interpret this to mean that Patrick had been born while their ship, or brig, was still somewhere down St. Lawrence River and that the parents had gone almost directly from the ship on landing to the nearest Catholic church to have their son baptized. Since there is no further information about Patrick, we assume he died in infancy, perhaps on their way upriver by steamboat to Montreal.
All the ships leaving Sligo for Quebec at this time were brigs, many of them built in Quebec and sailed to England with a cargo of timber where they were then sold, cargo, ship and all, as a package. In a book called: Memory Harbour: The Port of Sligo, by John C. McTernan (Avena Publications, Sligo, 1992) the author explains why such a large number of brigs left Sligo for North America and the reason was simply that the sand bars and other obstacles to navigation in the harbor did not allow larger ships to come right in to the quays closer to the city. Full rigged ships did sail from Sligo, but they anchored further out in the harbor, making it necessary to ferry passengers out to the ship - at another cost to the passengers, of course. It was cheaper to board one of the brigs and avoid this extra charge.
Most of the passengers were probably from Co. Sligo itself, though they came in on foot from neighboring counties as well, from Mayo, Roscommon, Leitrim and probably Donegal. Of the first eight brigs arriving in Quebec in 1831, with the help of statistics which I got from Lloyd's of London in the early 1960's, it would seem that the average brig was of about 185 tons, with an overall length of 80 or so feet, a beam of 22-23 feet and depth of hold about 12.5 feet. The average number of settlers per ship ("settlers" is the word used in the Daily Shipping Register in The Quebec Gazette) was 167 and the average length of the voyage from Sligo to Montreal was 38 days. If you can find a book called "The Atlantic Migration 1607-1860" by Marcus Lee Hansen (Harper Torchbooks - The Acadeny Library, Harper & Brothers, New York, 1961) it will give you a good idea of the extent to which these poor people were conned and bullied by all and of the miseries they suffered at sea.
A number of other Battles settled in the New Glasgow/Ste.Sopie area of Quebec and had, in fact, neighboring farms, which leads me to believe they were not only related, but were brothers and sisters. In addition to James and Winy Healy, their neighbors included John Battle and his wife Ann Mahon (or Nancy, in some of the records), Martin Battle and his wife Mary McLean and Patrick Tempany (later always Tenpenny) and his wife Catherine (Katy) Battle. All these families disappeared from the area around the same time that Winy Healy, now widow of James Battle, left with her family for Iowa and finally to Isabella Township, Michigan.