Thomas Kenny and Ellen Purcell Kenny


Here is where they are on the Family Tree

I first learned about Thomas Kenny from his son's death certificate. It showed mother as Lucille Purcell.  After discovering that they had lived in Smiths Falls, Ontario, I ordered the Catholic church records for Smith Falls, and found so much.  Much of my Kenny research came from these records of St. Francis de Salle parish, in Smith Falls.  

Thomas' wife's was named Eleanor (Ellen), not Lucille. This was quite clear in these records of two other children of theirs that were born in Smith Falls, plus countless other records when their children would either marry or where they were godparents to other relatives.  Also census records showed their whole family.  This is where I learned how many children they had and their names.

I searched and searched for the place where Thomas, Ellen and their kids, Bartholomew, James, Edward, Richard and Anne came from.  I knew it was in Ireland.  I had heard through my life that it was County Wicklow, Wexford or Cork.  Well, two of these counties are correct.

The Kenny family lived in Kennystown and the Kilcavan areas in County Wicklow, which is right near the border of Wexford. When this Kenny family left Ireland on April 15, 1851, they were reportedly living in Motabower, County Wexford.  Having been to Motabower and Kennystown, though different counties, they are literally, across the farm yard from each other.

Thomas and Ellen stayed in Smiths Falls, as far as I know.  Thomas did die before Ellen and I could no longer find Ellen's name on the census' in Smiths Falls, but my guess is that she may have lived with a daughter.  I have several pictures of Ellen with various daughters which made me guess this. I was unable to find her death date or place, but Thomas was laid to rest in the St. Francis de Salle cemetery, where he died, July 15, 1861.

On the Family Tree,, I have suggested that Thomas was the son to Bartholomew Kenny and Anne Breen.  I arrived at this assumption from the following data;

1) I received a baptism record from the Wicklow Heritage Centre, showing a Thomas being born in Kilcavan, County Wicklow, and the parents were Batt Kenny and Anne Breen.  Another son to these parents was Richard Kenny, born a year later. 

2) The Irish naming pattern seemed to fit perfectly, knowing from the 1851 census in Smiths Falls, showing Thomas' first son being Bartholomew In these days, The naming pattern was used regularly.

3) In November, 2004, I visited the Kennys in Kennystown and between them and myself, we determined that this looked right.  They explained that Kennys, whether they be in Kennystown, Kilcavan or even Motabower, were most likely all related.

By tying Thomas to the Bartholomew and Anne Breen Union, this tied my branch of the Kenny's to the Kennys in Kennystown.  They were descendants from Thomas' brother, Richard, also son of Bartholomew and Anne.  (See this page for more information)

Thomas Kenny was baptized, Aug. 5th, 1794, in Kilcavan, but most likely Kennystown.  Kennystown is part of Kilcavan. He would have been about 48 years old when he came to America, though there are many conflicting records with various ages ranging a ten year span discrepancy. His wife Ellen was clearly younger than him, and most likely by about 15-18 years.  when they left from Ireland, here is what was shown on the Fitzwilliam records:  Thomas 48, Ellen 35, Mary 17, Bartholomew 12, James 10, Richard 6, Edward 4, Anne 2.  They left from the ship Glenlyon, from New Ross, County Wexford, on April 15th, 1851 to arrive in Quebec, on May 30th, 1851.

Prior to leaving Ireland, it is believed that Thomas was a "black sheep" or possibly disowned. In those days, Land was given to their immediate family members, even if it was small amounts. When he was born, it was his name place on the lease for the "life" of Thomas Kenny, but that must not have lasted because our Thomas was landless.   For some reason, Thomas had no land and was forced to l live as poor laborer on The farms of Roche , in 1839 with John and Robert Roche.  Records show the following:  JOHN and ROBERT ROACH was on 39 acres 2 rod 1 perch.  WILLIAM ROACH aged 36 and his wife 31. On 19 acres 1 rod with 3 sons and 5 daughters living with them.
THOMAS ROACH aged 41 and his wife aged 35 on 19 acres 1 rod with 4 sons and 2 daughters living with them.
JOSEPH ROACH aged 40 and his wife aged 40 living with 1 son and 1 dau. He was a TAILOR.
THOMAS KENNY aged 40 with his wife aged 25 (no land) living with 1 son and referred to as a SHOEMAKER.

(ALL these ROCHE (Roach) emigrated. For that reason THOMAS KENNY changed plots in the same townland of MOTABOWER between 1840 and 1847).

He appears again in 1848 and 1850 in the same townland of MOTABOWER but this time he is living on the plot of ROBERT CONNORS aged 54 with his wife aged 66. They lived on 8 acres 2 rod 28 perch. They had one daughter with them in 1848 and 4 male and 1 female servants/relatives.
THOMAS KENNY aged 43 with his wife aged 35 with a HOUSE and YARD (NO LAND). They had 4 sons living with them in 1848 and THOMAS KENNY was referred to as a LABOURER.
In 1850 THOMAS KENNY gave his age as 47 and his wife as 37. He was only on a HOUSE and KITCHEN GARDEN. They also had 4 sons living with them in 1850.

From this we can determine that most records showed THOMAS KENNY was born c. 1803 (most ages given agree with this year) with one age giving a possible date of 1799. Though his actual birth on his Birth cert would be 1794
His wife ELLEN PURCELL was born c. 1814.

We know that this Thomas Kenny was missing from the family farm in 1827 and I suspect  it is the same THOMAS KENNY who was at MOTABOWER on ROCHE family farm as a shoemaker before 1839. I think even though this THOMAS KENNY was named as a LIFE in the LEASE of 1808it actually went to his second brother RICHARD KENNY and Thomas' age was wrong
 in 1808 as well.

 Tom Kenny and Sally Kenny was sponsor to Mary Balfe, daughter of Sally Kenny and Tom Balfe. John the researcher  further wrote:
"This SPONSOR maybe the same THOMAS KENNY at MOTABOWER as he did not live at KILCAVAN in 1827 or 1839. When he was named in 1839 THOMAS KENNY gave  his age as 40 but he was actually 45 and married to a very much youngwoman and perhaps this may have given rise to problems with his family.  The  FAMILY FARM is all important in those areas. It could be of course that he just had no interest in farming."

Joe Kenny