John Duffield and Margaret McGaw

John Duffield was born in 1830 in Ireland, the son of James Duffield, a labourer.

He married Margaret McGaw on March 6, 1857, at the Templepatrick Trinitarian Meeting House in Templepatrick, Antrim, Northern Ireland. The marriage record indicates that John, like his father, was a labourer.

Marriage Record

Margaret McGaw was born in 1829, the daughter of William McGaw, a grocer.

Note: the name “McGaw” is sometimes also spelled “Megaw” in records. I had to choose one, so to keep things clear, I have used “McGaw.”

They had at least1 four children during their marriage.

  • Samuel Duffield (1857-1900) married Elizabeth Robinson (1856-1896)
  • Margaret Duffield (1862-1936) married Robert James Hill (1855-1931)
  • Mary Ellen Duffield (1864-1927) married Hugh Young (1861-1925)
  • Isabella Duffield (1866-1869)

Given the loss of Irish records in an explosion in 1922, there are no census records for me to use to trace this family, so it was necessary to use other records to prove relationships.

Several records place Samuel’s birth on September 10, 1957, in Belfast. Marriage records for Samuel Duffield name John as his father and his death record confirms his parents were John and Margaret Duffield.

I have described how I located Samuel’s siblings in the article “Finding the Irish Duffields.”

The younger Margaret’s death record places her birth on March 18, 1962, in Belfast. This record also specifically names her parents as John Duffield and Margaret McGaw.

Mary Ellen Duffield was born on May 15, 1864, in Belfast. Her birth record exists and the family is recorded as living on Lisburn Road. John’s occupation is listed as “Labourer.”

Birth Registration

Isabella Duffield was born on July 1, 1866. Her birth is recorded as “Bella Duffin.” The family is still living on Lisburn Road and John’s is still a “Labourer.”

Birth Registration

Isabella died at the age of three in 1969. Her death certificate suggests the family was living at 2 Ulsterville. She died of “scarlatina” (scarlet fever). Her mother is recorded as present at the time of her death.

Death Registration

In December, 1876, an ad appears in the Belfast Telegraph seeking the return of John’s lost dog, who answers to the name “Fan.” It appears someone on neighbouring Michael Street may have found her.

Belfast Telegraph, December 12, 1876

As described in my article “The Fighting Duffields,” an incident occurs on “The Twelfth” in 1878 involving John, Samuel and Margaret’s eventual husband Robert James Hill.

The younger Margaret marries Robert James Hill on September 9, 1879, in Belfast. After the birth of two of their children, they emigrate to Providence, Rhode Island in 1882 , where they have several more children.

Samuel marries Elizabeth Robinson on Christmas Eve in 1879. Samuel is listed as a “Dairy Man” on the marriage register, and his father with the same position. The couple has two children over the next three years, and follow sister Margaret to Providence, Rhode Island in 1883.

The 1880 directory for Belfast places the family adjacent to 31 Ulsterville Avenue off Lisburn Road. John’s occupation is “Dairyman.”

Lenon Wylie transcription

You’ll note there is not a number next to John Duffield’s name in the directory. Number 31, occupied by John Bullock, is currently a row house, as are the homes adjacent. I suspect that these homes date to a time after 1880, given there is “vacant ground” listed between the Bullock and Duffield households and the houses currently there are contiguous.

31 Ulsterville Avenue, Current Day (image via GoogleMaps)

Mary Ellen marries Hugh Young on August 30, 1882. Her marriage register notes father John is a “Cow Keeper.” The couple settles and raises a family in Belfast.John Duffield died on July 16, 1897, in Belfast, Antrim, Northern Ireland, at the age of 67. This YouTube video of Belfast was filmed along Castle Street the year John died.

Margaret died on July 4, 1906, at the home of her daughter and son-in-law, Mary Ellen and Hugh Young, at 50 Melrose Street, Belfast, Antrim, Northern Ireland at the age of 77.

The Belfast Newsletter, July 5, 1906
50 Melrose Street, Belfast, Ireland (image via Google Maps)

Below is more video of Belfast, this one taken around 1900.

1Other Potential Family Members

As mentioned before, during my research I came across a family of Duffields that traces to New Zealand who believe that they also descend from this couple through John Henry Duffield, born in 1853 in Belfast. His birth appears to predate the marriage of John and Margaret by more than five years, and reports appear to suggest that he was Margaret McGaw’s son and my John’s stepson. While I haven’t been able to prove this relationship, I haven’t been able to disprove it either. All records of this John Henry Duffield begin when he leaves Ireland to New Zealand. No records from this point (including marriage and death) mention his parents. I am currently preparing a further post covering my research of this man.

Similarly, there is Lieutenant Colonel James Duffield born in 1858. Member of his family also have traced James as the son of John Duffield and Margaret McGaw. This relationship is more reasonable, coming shortly after the birth of Samuel, and definitely after the couple’s marriage. However, similar to John above, I haven’t been able to definitively trace James to his birth. Despite a very well-documented history, while his father was a John Duffield, none of the records specifically mention his mother, leading me to question if his father was my John Duffield. There are also no mentions of his siblings. I am also preparing a post to trace my research of James.

I have been told that DNA testing of their descendants does appear to link this John and James Duffield. And, of course, it is quite likely that a DNA test could prove or disprove my relationship to both of these men, however, I have been focusing on the pure research aspect of my family tree and have not yet gotten a DNA test.

Main Image Credit: Royal Avenue. Belfast. Co. Antrim, Ireland (image credit Wikimedia Commons)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

AG Knapper

I’ve been researching my tree for over twenty years…and I’ve found some easy branches, and some gnarly ones…

Get fresh updates
about my life in your inbox