Exploring the family history of the Bagley family in Offaly: Clara and Toberdaly. By Fourth  great-granddaughter, Ginny Birmingham Haen

Several of my ancestral families came from Ireland in the early to mid 1800s.  They came from Counties Dublin, Armagh, Tyrone, Westmeath and King’s (now Offaly) and surrounding midlands counties.  The one common factor was that they all migrated to Quebec, settling in several small communities in the area just southeast of Quebec City across the St. Lawrence River. 

After a generation, many of those families moved to western Canada or the United States, often settling together.  Many went to Wisconsin and Michigan where they worked in the logging industry and farmed.  In the next generation, some married into other Irish families, so studying one’s family gradually evolved into studying several.  My families were among those settling in Jacksonport, Door County, Wisconsin.

I had always wondered how and when these Church of England/Ireland families got to Ireland from England and Scotland, then migrated to the same places in North America. What did they have in common?  There are no relevant ship manifest lists for British Isles migrants going to Canada since it is a part of the British Commonwealth, and it was not like going from one country to another.

I have an old family Bible with some information, but for the most part all I had to go on was Canadian census records or church records which gave a child’s birthplace and age, indicating approximately when the families left Ireland, and if I was lucky, a more specific birthplace.  Usually, specific meant only a county.   Family lore told of one or two Bagley children being born in Clara, Kings County.  Other names of the Quebec families appeared in the Irish Midlands, so I concentrated my research there. 

The townland of Cappanamorath is northeast of Clara. Map courtesy of Offaly History and was made about 1910 by the Ordnance Survey.

Researching the Bagley branch of my family began with a mysterious document online.  Fourth great-grandpa John Bagley was born about 1775 in Ireland; a couple of his children listed Clara as their birthplace.  John and most of his adult family emigrated to Quebec in the very early 1830s and he died there, leaving a will dated 8 January 1849.   The mysterious document was a probate record in Ireland dated 1850, for “Lot 8, consisting of the Town and Lands of Caponarath, otherwise Capna Murhead, otherwise Caponrath, held in Fee- simple, situate in the Barony of Kilcourcy, and King’s County.[1]  The tenant’s name was John Scally, Assignee of John Bagley (either a representative of or the recipient of the property), and it referred back to a lease dated 13th April 1797 for three lives: an observations column in the document stated “two lives (Isaac Bagley and William Bagley) in being.”  Isaac was age 12, William was age 10.  At that time, tenant leases were often written for three lives, the second and third being younger family members, a lease not ending until the last named person died.   This allowed the family to hold the land for a longer period under the same conditions as the original lease.  Also note that Caponarath had other spellings in other documents, including Cappanamorath and Capnareath.  From this point forward, the spelling will reflect the spelling  in the particular document, followed by (var.).

George + Sarah (Bagley) Bagnall + son, Richard Tolerton Bagnall (b 1862). Courtesy of the author Jinny Haen

This got my attention for several reasons.  Clara, birthplace of several of John’s children, and Caponarath (var.) are both in the Parish of Kilbride, Barony of Kilcoursey; there were several generations of Johns, Isaacs and Williams going forward in the family; and John had recently died, though it seemed strange that this transaction occurred almost 20 years after he had left Ireland.  My interest was piqued so I followed the clues in early documents resulting in the following findings:

  • 1794: A memorial of indentured deed (a copy of the original deed) from 1794 shows Isabella Bagley (executrix) and Isaac Bagley (dec’d)  transferring  land to Isaac the younger.  Isabella’s residence: townland of Tubberdaly (Toberdaly), Barony of Warrenstown, Parish of Castlejordan, Isaac the younger being of the same place.  The land being transferred was described as “called the nineteen and being in the Barony of Kilcoursey, King’s County containing by estimate nineteen acres…the same more or less.” [2]  Isaac the younger can be assumed to be the son of Isaac (dec’d) and Isabella.  Their relationship to my John Bagley is unknown.
  • 1797: Another document, referred to in the mysterious probate record, refers back to the 1794 document above.  In1797 this memorial of indentured deed, transferred land from Gustave Lambert to John Bagley, in the townland of Capna Murhead (var.) , otherwise Caponrath (var.), Barony of Kilcoursey, Parish of Horseleap, commonly called “Nineteen Acres,” specifying the land as 18 acres and 12 perches more or less.  At this time in Ireland, land was measured in acres, roods, and perches, a rood being a quarter acre and a rood containing 40 perches.  It was to last for three lives, John’s and his brothers’ Isaac and William (ages 12 and 10). [3]  Though the aforementioned Tubberdaly (Toberdaly) is in eastern King’s County, the “Nineteen Acres” transferred sounds like the Kilcoursey property further to the west.  I can’t explain why this document puts the property in the Parish of Horseleap rather than Kilbride.  On the later Griffith’s maps, Caponarath (var.) is clearly  in the Parish of Kilbride, adjacent to Horseleap.  Possibly there were boundary changes between 1797 and 1854?
  • 1797: Then, in order to understand events of these times, I read newspaper accounts  of the Irish Rebellion of 1798.  I couldn’t believe what I was reading.  In 1797, in Tubberdaly (Toberdaly), an Isaac Bagley and wife Sarah were murdered and their house burned.  Their young children, John and Mary witnessed this and were injured but survived.  The perpetrators wanted guns and money, and Isaac was accused of resisting the United Irishmen and being a “Tory Hunter.”   The accused perpetrators were acquitted. [4]
  • 1826: The Tithe Applotment books of 1826, showed a John Bagley living in Capnareath (var.).  My ancestor, John, had married Ann Holmes, and his son Isaac, my third great grandpa, married Eliza Rothwell. [5]   Looking a little closer at the Tithe Applotment books, more surprises. Very near to John Bagley, in Balicknahee, were a William Rothwell and a Courtney Holmes.  [6]
  • 1826: Plotting the 1826 properties on the later Griffith’s Valuation maps, revealed their locations. [7]  The townland of Ballicknahee is adjacent to the townland of Cappanamorath (var.).
  • 1852:  An Isaac Bagley of Grange (Barony and Parish of Geashill, Ireland) (was charged with leaving his horse and car unattended in the townland of Edenderry, Barony of Coolestown, Parish of Monasteroris.[8]    This was near the Toberdaly/Tubberdaly family property in the 1794 land transaction above.  It’s just a fun fact, too late to be my immediate family but interesting to note the repeated use of the name Isaac in the Bagley family.

1854  Griffith’s Valuation:

John Scalley1854Cappanamorath (var.)KilcourseyKilbride
Francis Rothwell1854BallicknaheeKilcourseyKilbride
Robert Holmes1854Tn of ClaraKilcourseyKilbride
John Holmes1854Erry ArmstrongKilcourseyKilbride
  • 1854: Though John Bagley and William Holmes have already gone to Canada, Griffith’s is significant because of their absence.  John Scalley/Scally is still occupying Cappanamorath (var.) following his mention on the 1850 Landed Estate Court/Probate record previously noted.  There is still a Rothwell in Ballicknahee.  Though there is not a Holmes shown in Ballicknahee in 1854, there are a Robert Holmes and a John Holmes in nearby Clara and Erry.[9]
  • 1899:  Mrs. Isaac (Eliza Rothwell) Bagley died in Marshall City, Calhoun County, Michigan, USA at the home of her daughter.  Her parents were listed as William Rothwell and Bessie Holmes.[10]  Was this the same William Rothwell that lived in Ballicknahee near John Bagley in 1826? Was Bessie a member of the Holmes family who married into the Bagley family? 

These were all probabilities but not proof.  Was this the end of the search?  No, the Offaly History Centre then located birth/baptismal records for Isaac & Eliza Bagley’s children in the Banagher Union of parishes in the Civil Parish of Tisaran, Barony of Garrycastle. [11] Those birthdates matched those of the known children of Isaac & Eliza (Rothwell) Bagley that I had discovered in my genealogical research.  The Parish of Tisaran was a little to the southwest of the Parish of Kilbride where the Bagley, Holmes and Rothwell families had lived.

The 1824–1856 Valuation Records (Field & House books) revealed other interesting facts. Though Isaac didn’t appear on the 1820s Tithe Applotment books, he occupied all 196 acres of the townland of Lisdaly in the parish of Tisaran in 1844 and 1845. The first seven pages of the 1844 Field book describe each section of the property. [12]  They give many details such as ruins of buildings, soil type, whether the land was meadow, pasture or bog and mention of streams or rivers.  The 1845 House book detailing just the buildings, describes a large house, 48 x 15.5 x 17.5 feet, a barn and other outbuildings. [13]

Later  in 1845, another House Book record showed Isaac Bagley’s name crossed out and replaced by Beresford L’Estrange, from a neighbouring property. [14]  The L’Estrange family had owned land in nearby Hunston since the mid-1700s. [15]  This was common practice of the time when land changed hands rather than creating new books.

Cappanamorath from the first issue of the Ordnance Maps in 1838 – the six-inch scale. Courtesy of Offaly History

Details become a bit blurred at this point after the years of the famine and exodus of many, but by 1854, the Lisdaly property and over 7,300 more acres in the Parishes of Tisaran and adjacent Clonmacnoise were incumbered and sold to others, [16] including Henry Lord Viscount Ashcroft who is shown as owner, occupier and landowner of Lisdaly in the 1854 Griffith’s Valuation.[17]  The Encumbered Estates Court (or Incumbered as it was referred to in older documents I read) was established in 1849.  Due to the famine, many tenants could not pay their rent or had emigrated in order to survive.  This left the landowners unable to make their own mortgage payments and as a result defaulting, so their land became incumbered and sold to speculators and others who could afford it.

By 1851 Isaac Bagley was a farmer in Standon, Bellechasse, Canada East (Quebec) . [18]  He and Eliza added two more children to their family after arriving in Canada.

I now know that this Isaac Bagley was my third great-grandfather.  Strong evidence shows that John and (Ann Holmes) Bagley of Capnareath (var.) were his parents, and that the William Rothwell living nearby was the probable parent of Eliza (Rothwell) Bagley, but proof is elusive.  

Questions remain.  John Bagley occupied his Kilcoursey land “in fee,” indicating ownership of some sort.  Also noted on the document was, “from the date of this Lease, the Tenant would appear subject to rent-charge, yet the Landlord has always paid it.”[19]  Why?  Why did his brothers, William & Isaac not continue to live on the land?  Did they die in the rebellious years or did they default on the land?  How were the extended Bagleys in County Offaly connected?  Though Isaac occupied a full townland of 196 acres, was he an owner, lessor or a tenant farmer?  What was the common thread among the other families from the Irish midlands who emigrated to the same area of Quebec (family names: Smith/Smyth, Crawford, McNeely, Henderson, Bradley, Dickson)?    

I will continue to wonder about all these families, in particular, the haunting story about young John and Mary Bagley who watched their home burn and their parents murdered during the tumultuous 1790s.  And I will continue to look for more clues.


  • Photo of George & Sarah (Bagley) Bagnall with son, Richard Tolerton Bagnall (taken about 1866 in Quebec); original in the collection of the author.  Sarah (1832-1913) was the oldest child of Isaac and Eliza (Rothwell) Bagnall.
  • 1850 “mysterious” document (see source, endnote 1)
  • Map of “the nineteen acres” In Kilcoursey Ireland; Landed Estate Rentals; v 1-3, Feb 1850 to November 1850; record of the National Archives of Ireland; found on www.familysearch.org (accessed May 2022)

[1] “Ireland Landed Estate Court Files, 1850-1885,” database, FamilySearch https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9Q97-YSVV-Z2D?cc=2040586%20%3A%2016%20June%202017, > image 1 of 1; National Archives, Dublin; (accessed May 2016) .

[2] Family History Library film #545051, Transcripts of memorials of deeds, conveyances and wills, 1708-1929; Authors:  Ireland. Registry of Deeds  (Main Author), V. 480-481, 1793-1796  (2nd half  film, Page 181 #306832)

[3] Family History Library film #536054, Transcripts of memorials of deeds, conveyances and wills, 1708-1929; Authors:  Ireland. Registry of Deeds  (Main Author), V. 509-510, 1796-1798  (Book 509, Page 157, # 330007)

[4]  Dublin Evening Post, 16 September 1797, pp 2, 3;  www.findmypast.com

Saunder’s News-letter, Dublin, 15 September 1797, pp 1, 2; www.findmypast.com

(both accessed May 2018)

[5] Family records in possession of the author

[6] National Archives of Ireland; http://titheapplotmentbooks.nationalarchives.ie/search/tab/results.jsp?surname=bagley&firstname=john&county=King%27s&parish=kilbride&townland=&search=Search (accessed March 2020)

[7] Griffith’s Maps;  https://Griffith’s.askaboutireland.ie/gv4/single_layer/i8.php?lat=&longt=&dum=0&sheet=8,2&mysession=2811815903096&info=&place=&county=Offaly&placename=Cappanamorath&parish=%3Cb%3EKilbride%3C/b%3E&country=Ireland&union=&barony=Kilcoursey (accessed May 2018)


[8] “Ireland, Petty Sessions Court Registers, 1828-1912,” database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QKS2-MZFR  : 25 September 2020), Isaac Bagly, King’s, Ireland; records extracted by Findmypast and images digitized by FamilySearch; citing Court, King’s, Ireland, The National Archives of Ireland, Dublin. (accessed May 2016)

[9] Griffith’s Valuation; Valuation of Tenements, Parish of Kilbride; page 57; https://www.askaboutireland.ie/griffith-valuation/index.xml?action=doNameSearch&PlaceID=722427&county=Offaly&barony=Kilcoursey&parish=%3Cb%3EKilbride%3C/b%3E&townland=Cappanamorath (accessed May 2020)

[10] Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, Michigan; Death Records; Description: 015: Calhoun-Gogebic, 1898-1899; accessed atwww.ancestry.com May 20, 2022; death of Eliza (Rothwell) Bagnall, 26 Nov 1899 at the home of her daughter.

[11]  Church of Ireland records from the Banagher Union of parishes which includes the records of Clonmacnois, Ferbane, Gallen and Wheery, and Tisaran; 

for Sophia:  http://ifhf.rootsireland.ie/quis.php?page=0&prevStartQuery=0;

for the seven other children: http://ifhf.rootsireland.ie/view_detail.php?recordid=4300096&type=bch&recordCentre=laoisoffaly&page=1&n=1&backLink=quis.php&sc=0 (accessed December 2021)

[12] Ireland, Valuation Records, 1824-1856; ancestry.com; October 1844: Images 728-731 of 1455. Original data: Valuation Office house, field, tenure and quarto books 1824 – 1856. Dublin, Ireland: Microfilm of original records held at the National Archives of Ireland.  https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/62024/images/62024_b952437-00838?treeid=&personid=&rc=&usePUB=true&_phsrc=CMS245&_phstart=successSource&pId=1618745 (accessed December 2021)

[13] Ireland, Valuation Records, 1824-1856; ancestry.com; May 1845: Image 1452 of 1455. Original data: Valuation Office house, field, tenure and quarto books 1824 – 1856. Dublin, Ireland: Microfilm of original records held at the National Archives of Ireland.  https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/1659005:62024?tid=&pid=&queryId=6c42408c5220b3b81568e93f81a0a033&_phsrc=CMS246&_phstart=successSource  (accessed December 2021)

[14] Ireland, Valuation Office Books, 1831-1856; House books, v. 1348, King’s County, Barony of Ballycowan; v. 1349 – v. 1361, King’s County, Barony of Clonlisk; v. 1362 – v. 1365, King’s County, Barony of Coolestown; v. 1366 – v. 1368, King’s County, Barony of Eglish; v. 1369 – v. 1383, King’s County, Barony of Garrycastle; v. 1384 – v. 1387, King’s County, Barony of Geashill; v. 1388 – v. 1389, King’s County, Barony of Kilcoursey; 1845 document shows Isaac Bagley crossed out, Bereford L’Estrange written above: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVML-T2MS (accessed May 2022)

[15] Hunstanton Norfolk to Hunston Offaly and the L’Estrange family. By Sylvia Turner

October 10, 2020 ~ Offaly History; Offaly History Centre; https://offalyhistoryblog.wordpress.com/2020/10/10/hunstanton-norfolk-to-hunston-offaly-and-the-the-lestrange-family-by-sylvia-turner

[16] Family History Library Film 100567 (8077458); Ireland Register of Deeds, Transcripts of memorials, deeds, conveyances and wills; Land Index; Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, King’s (1850-54); Garrycastle, Lisdaly; and film 555192, Vol 3, image 512-514 (5 page document).

[17] Griffith’s Valuation, Valuation of Tenements, Parish of Tisaran, Townland of Lisdaly; https://griffiths.askaboutireland.ie/gv4/z/zoomifyDynamicViewer.php?file=150217&path=./pix/150/&rs=52&showpage=1&mysession=2814701761534&width=&height (accessed May 2022) 

[18] 1851 Census: Bellechasse, Canada East (Quebec); Schedule: A; Roll: C-1115; Page: 9; Line: 1; ancestry.com; Original data: Census of 1851 (Canada East, Canada West, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, subdistrict: Buckland, Standon and  Ware); Original data: Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Canada.Census of Nova Scotia, 1851. Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada: Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management (NSARM)

[19] “Ireland Landed Estate Court Files, 1850-1885,” database, FamilySearch https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9Q97-YSVV-Z2D?cc=2040586%20%3A%2016%20June%202017, > image 1 of 1; National Archives, Dublin; (accessed May 2016).

We thank Ginny Haen for all her work in preparing this article. It is a well reseached story of emigration from Ireland and the background to the family here. Grat use of the records and much that we can all benefit from. If you have a story of Offaly interest. Why not share it by emailing us info@offalyhistory.com