After an extensive search made by Justin Martin (genealogist) based in Dublin, Ireland, there are no proven records of our Bleakley family. However, with the information I have, added to the data that Sue Huggins has accumulated, we had come to a very probable conclusion about our Irish forebears.
Bleakley and Huggins have been closely related going back at least six generations most probably to Robert Huggins’ father Bleakley Berry, son of Andrew Huggins and Margaret Blakely with Isabella Huggins who married William Bleakley, his sister. But you can then go back another generation with the Berry name; Jane Berry married William Bleakley whose son William (1773) was married to Isabella so another Berry would have to be involved with either Andrew Huggins or Margaret Bleakley for them to use this name repeatedly in succeeding generations. These people were all living closely with one another, very clannish and perhaps because of the oddity of the name Bleakley among the Irish names, thought there was safety in numbers.
So to maintain a credible link to Ireland, rather than just the appearance of a family landing in Moreton Bay in 1860 with links to somewhere in Ireland, we have taken poetic license and used this information to link us to the above families. There are so many connections that cannot be ignored although the path to the right answer is complicated with so many options that one comes to think – is there a simple answer or are we muddying the waters, so to speak, with making it more complex? How right that observation was.
Then it came to my notice that a Jackie Brieden of Dublin (who lives in Cavan) had written a thesis on the Farnham Estate. In her research, Jackie was able to collate a great deal about the Bleakley’s of Portlongfield (and I am told from a very reliable source, Gillian Alfredsen, descendant of a younger brother of William (1773)), that Jackie had viewed the parish records of Andrew, his father Andrew and William (1859). Now at the time of writing, I am trying to locate Jackie so I can verify authenticity of those documents, even though looking at her thesis it is obvious she must have viewed parish records. Jackie also tells us that there were two distinct lines of Bleakley’s in Portlongfield (William and George see below). Where Jackie saw this information is not known but she obviously viewed information held by a family or saw official records that are not available today or Justin would have been able to access them. So thinking that we had taken a stab in the dark we had actually hit the jackpot.
The records are very fragmented, frustrating and in many cases just not there and you have to be a genealogist anyway, to access many records and then said genealogist has to be lucky to view the ones with the old information in them. Records start in that area of Ireland in 1735 but are very hit and miss as it was not compulsory to register family information prior to 1841 and many records were lost anyway in 1922 so any proven information is not easily found except in the case of this lady Jackie who seems to have been extremely clever or lucky, but it was a momentous day for us when she decided to research the Bleakley.
Even information we do have, i.e. the birth dates of Andrew, 2/8/1838 and William 6/5/1859 are not to be found in present day records, neither is a marriage registration for Andrew and Margaret Nolan or indeed the parish record of Andrew and Elizabeth’s marriage. On the 1841 census, it was noted, that there are a few examples of names that are very prominent in one townland but are hardly represented elsewhere in the parish. For example there are seven Bleakley families in Portlongfield.
There were two distinct lines of the Bleakley family, William and George. William is documented but George is not as clearly defined. (I have some other information which I have not entered in this book as it has not been proven or connected to either family). George and Lily Bleakley were having children a little earlier than William and Jane Berry Bleakley.
Names used in those days were all family names; they didn’t look outside the circle. The Bleakley’s lived closely together as each new generation came along so the apple didn’t fall far from the tree and although some Bleakley’s ended up in the West Indies, it is not clear if any of our Bleakley’s were among them. Bleakley was not an Irish name so maybe they lived closely because of that. But having said that, there are people who live in an area with a pub and a church and these people attend church, work and socialize with each other within that area. These small villages are all over Ireland; probably they are closer to being called a hamlet but after a church was built were able to be called village.
My journey hasn’t finished and the search for family will continue after this book is finished but as the Reunion time is nigh, I need to stop.