BADGER FAMILY CHRONICLES

© Christopher Earls Brennen

CHAPTER 10

THE FYFFE FAMILY


Area east of Strabane, County Tyrone, home of the Fyffe family

This chapter delineates the family of Jane Fyffe, the mother of Frances Jean Miller (see preceding two chapters).

Records show that Scotch-Irish immigrants named Fyffe have lived in western County Tyrone since the mid-1700s and were probably participants in the Plantation of Ulster in the preceding century.

  1. Mathew Fyffe (senior). There is an anecdotal legend that Matthew came to Ireland from Fifeshire, Scotland, with two brothers and settled on a farm at Archill, parish of Derrygoon, County Tyrone, 22 miles from Londonderry. This land is about 11 miles south of Strabane. The story also goes that his two brothers left for America while Mathew remained in Tyrone and lived to be 100. There is little documentary evidence of this early history. However, on Oct.9, 1745, the Arms Muster Roll for the Manor of Derrygoon includes John Fyffe with one gun good and William Fyffe with two guns very good. Also in 1745 the list of the tenants of the Baronscourt Estate of the Marquis of Abercorn includes William Fyffe of Derrygoon. A document in the Abercorn Papers (D623/D/1/13) is a survey of part of Derrygoon manor about 1756. In Lower Archill, John Fife has 38 acres, 2 roods, and 16 perches. Another document in the Abercorn Papers (D623/D/1/16 and 19) contains valuations of Manor of Derrygoon in 1777 and includes Matthew Fife in Archill with 37 acres, 1 rood, and 20 perches. This is likely same land held by John in 1756 and may mean that the father of Mathhew Fife (senior) was John Fife. In the following century families by the name of Fyffe or Fife also appear in records from Strabane, Omagh and several locations in County Fermanagh. It is said that Matthew Fyffe (senior) had two sons and four daughters:
    1. daughter Fyffe married Joseph Ralston.
    2. daughter Fyffe married James Porter.
    3. daughter Fyffe married Robert Frame.
    4. daughter Fyffe died young.
    5. John Fyffe. We suspect that John was married twice, first to Elizabeth Bannerman who was born about 1790 and died at Baronscourt on Apr.6, 1816, at the age of 26. Elizabeth, wife of John Fyffe, is buried in St.Eugene Church of Ireland Cemetery, Newtownstewart, Parish of Ardstraw, Co.Tyrone, with their son, John James Fyffe. His second wife was Sarah Sproule, who was born about 1790, the daughter of James and Margaret Spoule of Newtownstewart. Sarah died at Baronscourt on May 9, 1818, at the age of 28 and was buried with her father and mother in the St.Eugene Church of Ireland Cemetery, Newtownstewart, Parish of Ardstraw, Co.Tyrone. John Fyffe had children:
      1. John James Fyffe, son of John and Elizabeth Fyffe, was born in 1815 and died at the age of 5 months. He is buried in the St.Eugene Church of Ireland Cemetery, Newtownstewart, Parish of Ardstraw, Co.Tyrone.
      2. James Fyffe
      3. William Fyffe
      4. Charles Sproule Fyffe, son of John and Sarah Fyffe, was born about 1818 and died as an infant 5 days after his mother on May 14?, 1818. He was buried with his mother in the St.Eugene Church of Ireland Cemetery, Newtownstewart, Parish of Ardstraw, Co.Tyrone.
      5. Mary Fyffe
      6. Nancy Fyffe
    6. Mathew Fyffe (junior) married Mary Ralston. A document in the Abercorn Papers (D623/C/4/7 pg. 1-7) records a rental in the Manor of Derrywoon for the term of twenty one years from November 1787 in Archill to Matthew Fife and James Fife (likely brothers) who are sharing the rent. Another document in the Abercorn Papers (D623/C/4/7 pg 58 a + b) is a rent account book for the Manor of Derrygoon 1794 -1809 which includes the following paying rents: Matthew Fife of Archill for 37 acres 1 rood 20 perches; under his name it says Matw Fife new lease 1808-1811. It seems likely these two records refer to the same plot of land and the same land referred to in the aforementioned Abercorn rentals. Mathew Fyffe (junior) and his wife Mary had four sons:
      1. James Fyffe (senior), our ancestor, was born about 1797. He is listed on the marriage certificate of his son James Fyffe (junior). He or his immediate forbears must have moved from Archill to the neighbourhood of Strabane. The rentals in the manor of Cloghogal (Abercorn Estate) in 1848 include a James Fyffe in Castletown, a townland about a mile east of Strabane, County Tyrone. In addition, the Griffith Valuation for Leckpatrick Parish in 1858 includes James Fyffe in the Abercorn Estate and a James Fyffe is listed among the pewholders in the Second Strabane Presbyterian Church, Leckpatrick Parish, in 1862. We also have evidence that the maiden name of the wife of James Fyffe (senior) was Irwin and that his brother-in-law was Thomas Irwin of Killen (see below). James married Isabella Irwin, born about 1804. Isabella Fyffe died on Apr.12, 1874, aged 70; James Fyffe died on Aug.18, 1889, aged 92 and both are buried in Patrick street Interdenominational Cemetery, Strabane, where their gravestone reads: "In memory of David Fyffe of Castletown who died 12th May 1868,aged 37; also his sister, Isabella Fyffe died 23rd June 1871 aged 30 years; also his mother Isabella Fyffe who died 12th April 1874 aged70 years, also her son Thomas Fyffe died 11th August 1882 aged 45 years: also her father James Fyffe died 18th August 1889 aged 92 years; also his son James Fyffe, died 12th Jan 1890 aged 45 years; also his daughters Fanny Fyffe aged 6 years and Maggie Jane Fyffe aged 2 months." The family of James Fyffe (senior) and his wife Isabella:
        1. David Fyffe of Castletown, the eldest son of James Fyffe (senior), was born about 1831. David died aged 37 on May 12, 1868, at Castletown and is buried in Patrick Street Interdenominational Cemetery, Strabane, as the above gravestone inscription details.
        2. Charles Fyffe was born in County Tyrone about 1832. He is listed in the 1901 Census as a 70-year-old unmarried Presbyterian laborer (born in County Tyrone) living with his widowed sister-in-law, Jane Fyffe, in Castletown, County Tyrone. Charles is buried in the Strabane Municipal Cemetery with his sister Margaret, sister-in-law Jane and nephew John James Fyffe.
        3. Mary Fyffe is mentioned in the will of Thomas Irwin. Mary Fyffe, a spinster of full age from Castletown, and James Tait, a widowed farmer of full age, were married on Mar.9, 1858, in Strabane Second Presbyterian Church, Strabane. James Tait died prior to the 1901 Census for that lists Mary Tait as a 50-year-old widow (born in County Tyrone) residing in the home of her daughter, Maggie (Tait) McKeown in Dergalt, Co.Tyrone. Mary's daughter:
          1. Maggie Tait was born about 1874 and married Alexander McKeown. In the 1901 Census, 40-year-old farmer Alexander, and his 27-year-old wife Maggie McKeown are recorded living in Dergalt with their two children, Mary Tait, and Maggie's uncle, 95-year-old Samuel Fyffe. In the 1911 Census, 49-year-old farmer Alexander McKeown and his 42-year-old wife, Margret McKeown are living at house #5 in Bergalt (sic), Camus, Tyrone, with their five children as indicated below. The children of Alexander and Maggie McKeown:
            1. Mary Eliza McKeown was born about 1897 and is recorded in the 1901 Census as a 3-year-old living with her parents in Dergalt, County Tyrone. In the 1911 Census, Mary Eliza is listed as a 13-year-old living with her parents in Bergalt (sic), Camus, Tyrone.
            2. James Alexander McKeown was born about 1899 and is recorded in the 1901 Census as a 1-year-old living with his parents in Dergalt, County Tyrone. In the 1911 Census, James is listed as an 11-year-old living with his parents in Bergalt (sic), Camus, Tyrone.
            3. William John McKeown was born about 1901 and is recorded in the 1911 Census as a 9-year-old living with his parents in Bergalt (sic), Camus, Tyrone.
            4. Maggie Jane McKeown was born about 1905 and is recorded in the 1911 Census as a 5-year-old living with her parents in Bergalt (sic), Camus, Tyrone.
            5. Annie Martha McKeown was born about 1908 and is recorded in the 1911 Census as a 2-year-old living with her parents in Bergalt (sic), Camus, Tyrone.
        4. Jane Fyffe was born about 1835 and is mentioned in the will of Thomas Irwin. Jane Fyffe and John James Stewart were married on Jan.23, 1868, in Strabane Second Presbyterian Church, Strabane. John James Stewart is listed as a full-aged bachelor farmer of Dergalt, County Tyrone, whose father is Andrew Stewart, a farmer. Jane Fyffe is listed as a full-aged spinster of Castletown whose father is James Fyffe. The witnesses are James Fyffe and Samuel Stewart. In the 1911 Census, 68-year-old farmer John James Stewart and his 75-year-old wife, Jane Stewart are living at house #21 in Bergalt (sic), Camus, Tyrone, with their son David Stewart. The children of John James and Jane Stewart:
          1. Mary Jane Stewart was born to John James Stewart and Jane (Fyffe) of Dergalt on Jan.10, 1874, and baptized in First Strabane Presbyterian Church.
          2. Martha Stewart, born to John James Stewart and Jane (Fyffe) of Dergalt on Dec.21, 1875, and baptized in First Strabane Presbyterian Church.
          3. Margaret Stewart, born to John James Stewart and Jane (Fyffe) of Dergalt on Jun.30, 1878, and baptized in First Strabane Presbyterian Church.
          4. David Stewart was born about 1882 and is listed in the 1911 Census as a 28-year-old farmer's son living at house #21 in Bergalt (sic), Camus, Tyrone, with his parents.
        5. Thomas Fyffe was born about 1837. He died on Aug.11, 1882, aged 45 years and is buried in the Patrick Street Interdenominational Cemetery, Strabane, as the above gravestone inscription attests.
        6. Isabella Fyffe was born about 1841. She died on Jun.23, 1871, aged 30 years and is buried in the Patrick Street Interdenominational Cemetery, Strabane, as the above gravestone inscription attests.
        7. Margaret Fyffe was born in County Tyrone about 1841. She is listed in the 1901 Census as a 59-year-old unmarried Presbyterian housekeeper (born in County Tyrone) living with her widowed sister-in-law, Jane Fyffe, in Castletown, County Tyrone. Margaret is buried in the Strabane Municipal Cemetery with her brother Charles, sister-in-law Jane and nephew John James Fyffe.
        8. Samuel Fyffe is mentioned in the will of Thomas Irwin.
        9. James Fyffe (junior) was born about 1845. On his children's birth certificates he is listed as a farmer in Ballee, parish of Leck. In the marriage certificate of his daughter Jane Fyffe he is listed as a farmer in Castletown just northeast of Strabane, Co.Tyrone. James Fyffe was married to Jane Porterfield on Mar.16, 1871, in Urney and Sion Mills Presbyterian Church, Strabane. On the marriage certificate James is given as of full age, a bachelor farmer of Castletown whose father is James Fyffe, a farmer. Jane is described as spinster of full age from Gortlogher whose father is John Porterfield, a farmer (Gortlogher is a townland about 2.5 miles southwest of Sion Mills and about 6 miles southwest of Strabane). The witnesses were W.A.Russell and Thomas Fyffe. James Fyffe (junior) late of Castletown, Co. Tyrone, farmer died aged 45 on Jan.12, 1890, and was buried in the Patrick Street Interdenominational Cemetery, Strabane, as the above gravestone inscription attests. James left most of his estate to his wife Jane (Porterfield) Fyffe until the majority of his only son, John James Fyffe. His also left a sum of money to each of his five daughters. In his will James Fyffe (junior) also mentions the possible receipt of money from the estate of his late uncle, Thomas Irwin of Killen, who must be either his mother's brother or his father's sisters husband. The former is more likely since that would be a blood relative and James would be much more likely to receive a legacy from a blood relative. If this is the case it means his mother's maiden name was Irwin. The 1901 Census lists James's 45-year-old widowed wife, Jane Fyffe, as the head of the household in the townland of Castletown, Ballymagorry, County Tyrone. Jane is recorded as a Presbyterian farmer, born in County Tyrone. Included in the 1901 Census of that household are six of Jane's children (see below), her unmarried 70-year-old brother-in-law, Charles Fyffe (see above), her unmarried 59-year-old sister-in-law, Maggie Fyffe (see above), and two unmarried Roman Catholic farm labourer servants, 17-year-old Henry Toland and 16-year-old Charles Harn. All of these residents were born on County Tyrone. In the 1911 Census, Jane Fyffe is listed as a 59-year-old widow (Presbyterian, born in County Tyrone) living in Castletown with her children, Minnie, Margaret, John James and Edith (see below). The in-laws, Charles and Maggie Fyffe, are no longer listed and the servants have gone. Jane (Porterfield) Fyffe died on Nov.7, 1915, and is not buried in the same Strabane graveyard as her husband but in the Strabane Municipal Cemetery with with her sister-in-law, Margaret Fyffe, brother-in-law, Charles Fyffe and son John James Fyffe. The children of our James Fyffe (junior) and Jane Fyffe:
          1. Isabella Fyffe, known as Bella, was born in Ballee, Strabane, on Dec.28, 1871. She is listed in the 1901 Census as a 21-year-old unmarried Presbyterian farmer's daughter (born in County Tyrone) living with her widowed mother, Jane Fyffe, in Castletown, County Tyrone. Isabella Fyffe and William McKean were married on Jan.20, 1909, in Strabane Second Presbyterian Church, Strabane. Isabella McKean was the executor of her mother's will in Nov.7, 1915.
          2. Frances Fyffe, known as Fanny, was born in Ballee, Strabane, on Oct.18, 1873. She died at the age of 6 years and is buried in the Patrick St. Interdenominational Cemetery, Strabane, as the above gravestone inscription attests. We note that her younger sister, Jane, named her only daughter, Frances.
          3. Margaret Jane Fyffe, known as Maggie, was born in Ballee, Strabane, on Sep.11, 1876, and died at the age of 2 months. She is buried in the Patrick St. Interdenominational Cemetery, Strabane, as the above gravestone inscription attests.
          4. Jane Fyffe, our ancestor, was born on Dec.21, 1877, in Ballee, Strabane, County Tyrone, with Margaret Byrne present and was baptized on Jan.21, 1878. She is listed in the 1901 Census as a 19-year-old unmarried Presbyterian farmer's daughter (born in County Tyrone) living with her widowed mother, Jane Fyffe, in Castletown, County Tyrone. On Aug.26, 1903, in Strabane Second Presbyterian Church, Jane Fyffe was married to John Wesley Miller (see previous chapter), born about 1879 in County Tyrone. John is listed on the marriage certificate as a bachelor of full age, a shopkeeper who is resident in Belfast at the time of his marriage. His father is stated to be David Millar, Clerk to the Petty Sessions. Jane is listed on the marriage certificate as a spinster of full age who is resident in Castletown, Strabane, at the time of her marriage. Her father is stated to be James Fyffe, a farmer. The children of John Wesley Millar and his wife, Jane (Fyffe), are described in a previous chapter.
          5. Minnie Fyffe was born in County Tyrone about 1884. She is listed in the 1901 Census as a 16-year-old unmarried Presbyterian farmer's daughter (born in County Tyrone) living with her widowed mother, Jane Fyffe, in Castletown, County Tyrone. In the 1911 Census, she is listed as an unmarried 27-year-old (Presbyterian, born in County Tyrone) living in Castletown with her mother. Minnie Fyffe married Thomas McKean of Rateen, Donegal, the brother-in-law of her sister Isabella.
          6. Margaret Fyffe, known as Maggie, was born in County Tyrone about 1886. She is listed in the 1901 Census as a 14-year-old schoolgirl (born in County Tyrone) living with her widowed mother, Jane Fyffe, in Castletown, County Tyrone. In the 1911 Census, she is listed as an unmarried 25-year-old bookkeeper (Presbyterian, born in County Tyrone) living in Castletown with her mother. Margaret Fyffe and William Marshall Fulton were married on Aug.2, 1911, in Strabane First Presbyterian Church, Strabane. In 1917 they were living in Lumsden, Saskatchewan, Canada. After Margaret died William married her sister Edith.
          7. John James Fyffe was born in County Tyrone about 1888. He is listed in the 1901 Census as a 12-year-old schoolboy (born in County Tyrone) living with his widowed mother, Jane Fyffe, in Castletown, County Tyrone. In the 1911 Census, he is listed as an unmarried 23-year-old farmer (Presbyterian, born in County Tyrone) living in Castletown with his mother. John J. Fyffe of Castletown Strabane, signed the Ulster Covenant in Strabane on Sep.28, 1912. According to First World War Archives, Attestation Paper No. 1250729. John James Fyffe, unmarried farmer, of Castletown, Tyrone, born 31 Oct 1888, joined the Canadian Expeditionary Forces in Regina on 16 Feb 1917, while living in Lumsden, Saskatchewan, Canada with his sister, Mrs. Margaret Fulton. John James Fyffe is buried in the Strabane Municipal Cemetery with his mother.
          8. Edith Anne Fyffe was born in County Tyrone about 1890. She is listed in the 1901 Census as a 10-year-old schoolgirl (born in County Tyrone) living with her widowed mother, Jane Fyffe, in Castletown, County Tyrone. Edith Anne Fyffe of Churchtown, County Tyrone, was present at the birth of her nephew John Reginald Miller on Jun.3, 1904, in 22 Avonbeg Road, Belfast. In the 1911 Census, she is listed as an unmarried 21-year-old bookkeeper (Presbyterian, born in County Tyrone) living in Castletown with her mother. Edith married her brother-in-law William Marshall Fulton after her sister Margaret, William's first wife, died.
      2. David Fyffe was born on Dec.24, 1799, and married a woman named Nancy (born in 1800) in Ireland. They emigrated to the United States and had four children listed below. Nancy died in Ohio in 1852. David was married in Ohio for a second time to Mary A. (born in Ohio in 1811) and they moved to Illinois. David died in Crawford County, Illinois, on Mar.28, 1875, and Mary in 1877. They are buried in the Palestine Cemetery, Crawford County, Illinois. The children of David and Nancy Fife:
        1. Martha Fyffe
        2. Ann J. Fyffe
        3. William Fyffe was born on Aug.22, 1832, in County Tyrone. He may have been married three times, to Martha J. Paris (1839-1911), Harriet M. Young (1848-1920) and Louese Lisman Woodworth (1851-1930). William died in 1924 and is buried in the Palestine Cemetery, Crawford County, Illinois. William and Martha had two sons:
          1. Robert Fife (1872-1939) was born on May 16, 1872, in Crawford County. He married Inez Ambrose and they had a son Harold Ambrose Fife (1901-1935). Robert died in Crawford County on Sep.13, 1939, and is buried in the Palestine Cemetery, Crawford County, Illinois.
          2. Matthew Fife (1879-1938)
        4. Margaret Fyffe
      3. Matthew Fyffe III. It seems possible that this is the Matthew Fife who as a full-aged, widower, gentleman of Castletown (father: Matthew Fife, farmer) was married in Castletown on Nov.22, 1883, by the Strabane Registrar to Fanny Porterfield, full-aged, spinster, of Gortlogher (father: John Porterfield, farmer). Charles Fife witnessed the marriage. It is also suggested that Matthew Fyffe III emigrated to the United States.
      4. Samuel Fyffe, born about 1805. The 95-year-old widowed farmer Samuel Fyffe (Presbyterian, born in County Tyrone) who, according to the 1901 Census, is living in the home of his "neice" (grand-neice?), Maggie (Tait) McKeown in Dergalt, Co.Tyrone.

Marriage certificate of James Fyffe and Jane Porterfield

1901 Census return of Jane Fyffe and family in Castletown, Tyrone

Last updated 9/20/11.


Christopher E. Brennen