Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Richard Corrigan Papers
Courtesy of Turtle Bunbury

Page 14

Background Information To The
Hypothetical Germaine Family Tree

            Kaye Cole


The Germaine family probably came to Co. Carlow from England sometime in the 1690s.   Their name indicates that they were originally Huguenots or French Protestants who had fled from religious persecution, following the revocation in 1685, of the Edict of Nantes, which had previously guaranteed them religious freedom.  There is a possibility the family had originally fled to The Hague before coming to England, however the evidence is somewhat inconclusive.

The English Government encouraged Huguenot refugees to settle in Ireland, since they were anxious to populate Ireland with “Bons Protestants”, to contain and discipline the recalcitrant Irish Catholics.  This policy was unsuccessful in numerous ways, as we can see today.  The total conversion of the Carlow Germaine family to Catholicism within about 100 years of their immigration is a beautifully illustrative irony.

During the 1690s there was already a French Church in Carlow with more than 50 members.  However as the records of this Church have all been lost, the early documentation of the Germaine family is to be found in the thirteen memorial inscriptions identified to date in various churchyards in Co. Carlow and nearby.

Since memorial inscriptions do not necessarily provide information about the parents or the children of deceased persons, they offer only a limited basis on which to begin the construction of a family tree.  However it seemed better to include these names in a hypothetical construction, rather than to cast them aside.

Basis for development of the tree.

It was decided to use the naming pattern as a basis for developing the hypothetical Germaine tree.  If the naming pattern has been adhered to, the first son is named after the father’s father, the second after the mother’s father and the third after the father himself, while the first daughter is named after the mother’s mother, the second after the father’s mother and the third after the mother herself.  If either the mother’s or father’s name has already been used, any name may be chosen for the third child of the relevant sex.

While there can be no certainty at all that this pattern was adhered to, the presumption that the children were named in this way allows us to construct a reasonably coherent family tree from the quite voluminous but unconnected material which is available about the Germaine family in and around Co. Carlow.

*  Prepared and revised 1990-1998 by Kaye Cole, 15 Howitt St Northcote, 3070 Victoria, Australia, a descendant of Michael Germaine of Lisnevah, b. 1795/6


Difficulties encountered and benefits ensuing

The very frequent repetition of the names Thomas, John and Philip in the four earlier generations recorded created some difficulty.  For example in the fourth generation, born in the 1790s just prior to the start of the (Catholic) parish registers for Rathvilly where the family was then located , there were four Johns, two or possibly three Thomas’s and two Philips.

While this made it difficult to distinguish individuals in some cases, it did provide a workable assumption that there were probably earlier unknown Germaine ancestors with these first names, since the names have descended so strongly for as many as six generations.

Further, since there are two sides to every coin, the presence of four people named John Germaine in one generation band, at least three of whom survived to adulthood, also led to the conclusion that there were probably four separate (but connected) Germaine families having children in and around Co. Carlow in the period 1790 to 1803, as it is very unusual to find more than one live child with the same first names in the same family.

The naming pattern, in conjunction with assumptions of the type just described, thus provided the conceptual framework on which the hypothetical Germaine family tree has been constructed.  The tree should be regarded as a set of hypotheses to be tested and if appropriate reshaped, by every new piece of evidence or information which becomes available.

A more detailed description of the Germaine tree

The two sheets of the tree should be placed side by side.  Each sheet has seven levels, starting at about 1705 for level one, and proceeding through to 1930 or so at level seven.  The idea of using the naming pattern as the basis for the tree, led to the “Invention” of two hypothetical ancestors at level one, two at level two and one at level four.  Their names are shown in brackets, eg. (John Germaine b.c.1705).  All other names on the tree are people whose existence is documented in memorial inscriptions, parish registers or other records.

Where a relationship is known, the link between the generations is shown in colour.  For example, Michael Germaine of Lisnevah (my GGGF) is documented in memorial inscriptions and the Rathvilly parish register as the father of John, Edward and Michael, so the link is drawn in colour.  However there is no documentation of the older Michael’s parentage, so the hypothetical link with his supposed father, John of Tobinstown, is not coloured in.


The parentage of Michael Germaine b. 1795/6 could in fact have reasonably been attributed to John of Lisnevah b.c.1758 (sheet II level 2, section D.) since Michael falls quite conveniently between Philip b. 1792/3 and John b. 1796/7.  This would make him a member of the Grangecon family , and would accord with the strong family resemblance between some of my own immediate family and current members of the Grangecon Germaines.

However I have placed Michael as the son of John of Tobinstown b.c. 1760 (sheet I level 3 section A) and brother of John of Lisnevah b.c. 1790, who is the father of Theresa b. 1820, as Michael was one of the witnesses at Theresa’s baptism.  This demonstrates the kind of reasoning which underlies the structure of the hypothetical tree.

One assumption which has been put to use, is as follows.  Where a “New” or “Foreign” first name appears for the first time, e.g. Michael, it has been assumed that this is a second son named after the wife’s father.

Obviously other arrangements of names in levels 1 to 4 are quite possible, and will probably occur if/when further research is undertaken.  Given our current state of knowledge the tree as presented is, in my opinion, the “Best fit” which can be achieved for the names, dates and family links known to us.  However, every single piece of additional information obtained about the people in levels 1 through to 5 has the potential to change and correct the tree.  So please tell me if you have information which contradicts or extends what is presented on the tree, since your information may have far reaching implications!

Sources Used For The Tree

1.     (M.I.)  = Memorial inscriptions, taken from the burial place shown or the published record of same (e.g. Kilkea, Clonegal)

2.     (Deeds) = Registry of Deeds

3.     (P.R.) = in parish register for the named area

4.     (In tithe[townland name]) = in Tithe Applotment Books for the named area

5.     (In val.[ named area]) = Griffith’s Valuation for the named area.

6.     (C.R.) = Civil Registration, Ireland or Australia.

7.     (Obit.) = Obituary for Philip Germaine in the Freeman’s Journal, probably of Jan. 1887, in which he claims fame in the tithe wars which may now be his!  (I have a copy of another published but unsourced report of what was obviously the same incident but attributed to another (Thomas) Germaine.)

Transcribed by Maribeth Nolan Nov/Dec 2012

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