Tuesday, 30 January 2018

From Feeny to Feeney - Our DNA discoveries!

You may have noticed that we've changed the spelling of Jane's family name from Feeny to Feeney and welcomed descendants of Edward and Thomas Feeney in a recent post.....

Genetic genealogy, commonly referred to as DNA testing, is one of the new tools being used by family historians.  Quite a few of the Killion cousins have tested and we're looking forward to Quinn and Hand cousins testing! 

So it's been a busy few months on the DNA front following matches between Killion cousins and descendants of two brothers, Edward and Thomas Feeney.  We've been working hard to piece together the story.  With all the evidence that we've gathered, we're confident that Edward and Thomas were Jane's brothers!!  We also appear to have found Jane's mother, also named Jane, and two sisters, Eliza and Ann.  

The search continues and the DNA matches keep coming.  However, it seems a good time to share an overview of the Feeney family....

  • Jane Feeney snr arrived from Dublin in 1841 with two daughters, Eliza and Ann.  Jane snr was about 36 and the girls were about 17 and 15, respectively.  Jane came as a single woman.  So it's most likely that her husband, Edward, had died in Ireland earlier.  Edward was a weaver.  Interesting when you look at the number of dressmakers in "our Jane's" family!
  • Jane snr and the girls settled in Sydney around the Kent and Clarence Street area.
  • Jane snr's two sons, Edward and Thomas, arrived in 1843. The boys were about 12 and 14 when they arrived.   Both became boot-makers in the inner city.  
  • In 1849, "our Jane" arrived in Sydney on board the Digby.  She was in Port Macquarie about 6 weeks later.  In Sydney, she was housed at Hyde Park Barracks - just a few streets from the Feeney's!  Jane was about 8 when Jane snr left Ireland and about 16 when she arrived in Sydney.
  • Ann Feeney married Richard Wilkinson in 1848 and died in 1850.
  • Just weeks before Ann's death, there's an entry in the NSW Colonial Secretary's papers showing "Jane Feeney of Sydney" making an enquiry about her  "daughter, Jane Feeney, arrived per Digby".  Sadly, the letter hasn't been located.
  • In 1851, "our Jane" married John Killion in Port Macquarie.
  • Jane Feeney snr died in 1852 as the result of burns when cooking.
  • In 1853, Edward Feeney married Margaret McCabe.  Margaret had arrived on the Digby with Jane.
  • Eliza Feeney married John Johnson in 1854 and moved to Victoria.  She had a daughter, Eliza Rebecca Johnson, on Boxing Day 1854.  Eliza died on New Year's Eve 1854 and her daughter died on 02 January 1855.
  • In 1858, Thomas Feeney married Julia Cooke at St James Church.


Edward and Margaret Feeney had 8 children with their first, Edward James, dying as an infant.  Thomas and Julia Feeney had 11 children with two dying as young children.  Thomas died in 1890, Edward in 1893 and "our Jane" in 1907.

John and Jane Killion's two sons were named Edward and Thomas, after Jane's brothers who were living in Sydney. It's most likely that the three Killion daughters, Rosanna, Mary Jane and Margaret, were named after Margaret Feeney (nee McCabe) and two of the other girls who came to Australia with Jane on the Digby.

We find tantalising clues about the relationship between the Sydney Feeney's and their sister Jane living in Port Macquarie.  In 1865, when Jane Killion (nee Feeney) married Thomas Seward, there's a notice in the Sydney Empire.  In 1871, Edward Feeney advertises for sale the Killion/Seward farm on the North Shore of Port Macquarie in the Sydney Morning Herald.




Our search continues to build the story of the family's life in Ireland and Australia.  We're pleased to have descendants of Edward and Thomas join our family group.  

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