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Fifth Irish Born Protestant Ancestor
William Kelly or Liam Ceallaigh "Gentleman" died 1748
O'Kelleys of Tara Co Meath Ireland
 
I believe William O'Kelley a Merchant and a "Gentleman"  of Kells was my 6th great Grandfather and the last of my Irish ancestors to be buried on his native Irish soil.  Because he was Irish Gentry he could also be addressed as "Master" and in some cases "Captain" and bore his family Coat of Arms which would be similar to the one I have displayed but of course without the 13 star American Flag background.  William is found recorded in the Prerogative Wills of Ireland in 1748.  For me all the bits of data come together to support this conclusion.

1.  Ruth Barton Pullium posted in Genform in 2000 that her father told a story said to be handed down from his mother Selina O'Kelley that our O'Kelley ancestor came from Tara in Co Meath Ireland and our O'Kelley ancestors were "prominent" in that area.  Kells is in the northern part of Co Meath and only 16 miles from the Hill of Tara and William Kelly a merchant and a gentleman and his kin would be "prominent" in that place.  My DNA research supports Selina O'Kelley story handed down as my closest DNA matches are to two Taltys, a Conley, and a Kearns, we share a common male ancestor living 100 years before my ancestor was born and their traceable ancestors lived or came from the area no more than 30 miles from Kells and 55 miles from Tara.  

2.  Harold Ernst O'Kelley author of his 1985 book "Four Families Through Georgia" uses our National Archive records to document that our ancestor's son Captain William Dennis O'Kelley was a commissioned officer during our America Revolution.  Officers came from Gentry families, they didn't come from the families of common Irish unless there was some greatness that occurred and none seems to exist for William.  There wasn't anything remarkable about William's military service that would cause me to think he earned this commission by anything other than birth to a Gentry family. 

3. Rev James O'Kelly was a minister in the Episcopal English Church even before our Revolution and this is well documented and this too didn't happen for the common Irish, it only happened for the sons of Irish Gentry and the "gent" that appears with William Kelly tells us he was a "Captain", he was Irish Gentry and being a merchant he had to be protestant, his sons could become ministers and military officers as these were common occupations for the sons of the Gentry, occupations closed to the poor common Irish.

4. In her 1976 book "A Patchwork of Memories, a Knowles/O'Kelley Genealogy", author and descendant Judith Knowles Ries states that our ancestor was James O'Kelley and he was a Methodist Episcopal Minister in the English Church.  Judith has personal possession of the oldest known Family Pedigree of our family written in Dr Thomas K O'Kelley's own hand likely about 1904 and he was Judith's great great grandfather's so the stories handed down in her family have some substance behind them that few others can make claim and her James O'Kelley and Anna Dean Pedigree was created more than a half century before Alethea Jane Macon published her book declaring Thomas O'Kelley to be our ancestor to come from Ireland.  If Macon had published that our ancestor was Rev James O'Kelley the father of the more famous Rev James O'Kelly, this matter would be settled and not even questioned today because that is how Thomas O'Kelley came to be the name most descendants accept as our ancestor's name, they read it in Macon's book.  Even Ruth Barton Pullium accepted Macon's claim that Thomas O'Kelley was the name of our ancestor and she does this without asking how Macon came to her conclusion.

5.  Author Wilbur E. McClenny in his 1910 book about Rev James O'Kelly says that his father was a "William O'Kelly" of Ireland and while I don't agree and I have proven much of what he says about James O'Kellys Irish ancestors is not true, I do find merit in his belief that James O'Kelly named his son William after a paternal ancestor, I think William was named after William Kelly of Kells Co Meath Ireland, the grandfather of Rev James O'Kelly. Rev James O'Kelly also named a son James and I believe this son was named after both his grandfather and father.  What happened to him isn't know but he isn't mentioned in his father's will. 

6.  Alethea Jane Macon in her book reports that some descendents believed that our ancestor to come from Ireland was THE Rev James O'Kelly founder of the North Carolina Christian Church.  I wonder if this might have been misunderstood as Dr Thomas K O'Kelleys Pedigree reports that both our ancestor and his first born son were named James and based on Judith's book they were both Episcopal Ministers of the English church and it seems the father was forgotten as the son became famous and two were merged into the one and that is what caused some descendents to believe that Rev James O'Kelly the son might be our ancestor when it was his father also Rev James O'Kelley who is our Irish ancestor.  This could easily be confused.

7.  Ron Lansing in his 2005 book titled Nimrod, Courts , Claims, and Killing on the Oregon Frontier on page 207 reports that Nimrod's grandfather who would be my ancestor was a Methodist Episcopal Minister in the English Church and I contacted Mr Lansing seeking his source but he had moved on to new projects and no longer had his source material available.

8.  William Kelly Gentleman of Kells Co Meath Ireland occupation is given as a Merchant and a Gentleman.  We have no method to know the size of his business at that time, but because he is given as a "Gentleman", it seems certain he was much more than just a common corner store owner so he could have sent his son also named William Kelly to Caroline Co Virginia in his early manhood to establish and expand the family business and the son is the William Kelly that Harold Ernst O'Kelley mentions in his book finding him in the Caroline Co records as a minor merchant.  If Rev James O'Kelley, my ancestor, took his inheritance and left Ireland when his father died in 1748 it seems only natural he would come to be near his brother William Kelly and there could have been other Kelly brothers who also came with him including a brother named Thomas O'Kelley but I remind my readers that we have only Alethea Jane Macon's claim that she had evidence that our ancestor's name was Thomas.  No proof can be found in the records nor in the naming of the sons and grandsons, all evidence indicates the name Thomas came from the maternal grandfather, Thomas Dean and not from a paternal grandfather named Thomas O'Kelley.  James is the name that appears most often in the first America born grandsons of our ancestor.  Neither Charles or Benjamin named a son Thomas but Charles named a son James before he named a son after himself and I believe Benjamin named his son Solomon, James Solomon O'Kelley a name carried down to Solomon's grandson.

9.  Humans tend to remember the last great calamity and forget the many that came before and so it was in Ireland for few record exist of the winter of 1741 and the spring, summer and winter of 1742 in Ireland.  The few records that exist claim it was an "end of the world" event that never seemed to end.  A great frost or freeze as we would call it came over much of Europe and it lasted for weeks and in Ireland it was so devastating that it killed the seeds in the ground, the birds in the air most of the wild animals, even the seed potatoes in the cellars were wiped out so a great many Irish starved because this was followed in the Spring of 1942 with no grass to feed the cattle that managed to survive and it was compounded with a drought so great that rivers and streams that had never failed in the memory of the Irish failed in the summer of 1742.  To try to survive, some Irish collected urine and attempted to drink it then in the winter of of 1742 the heavens opened and all of Ireland was flooded.  Many Irish were washed out to sea, many died.  It was said it took decades to restore Ireland, to replant, regrow trees and shrubs, wild animals like the red deer had to be imported to restart the herds so it seems likely that my ancestor would seek the opportunity to escape Ireland to America to leave behind what to him must have been some very bad recent memories of his motherland.  He and his wife Anna might have lost children to this calamity and needed respite from their sorrow.

William Kelly might be the descendant of the William Kelly, wife, and family who are found on page 268 of History of Monaghan County Ireland living in Carrickmacross Co Monaghan which is within the borders of Bregia and only 20 miles from Kells and this family was said to have given aid to the English Protestants during the 1641 Irish Revolt.  The birth of a daughter in 1663 to a Thomas Kelly is recorded in the Protestant Parish Church Records within this book and Edward Williams is given as her God Father.  I am reminded that Benjamin O'Kelley married Mary Williams so there could be many connections back to Ireland still waiting to be discovered.

Perhaps the greatest proof of the gentry status of my ancestor is found in the documents relating to his sons.  They marry Tuckers and Crowders who are founding families that trace back to the founding of James town in the 1620s.  The 1779 Mecklenburg Co Virginia Militia Roster shows 19 year old Charles O'Kelley one of the grandsons of this William Kelly and Lt John Farrar the first cousin of Thomas Jefferson is given as his substitute.  Lt John Farrar married Ann Baskervill and her brother William was also an officer during the revolution and after the war the clerk for Mecklenburg Co Virginia and he is give as the "second" for Francis O'Kelley and his wife Delilah Crowder. 


My Conclusion:  William Kelly had the right name, he is lived in the right generation, in the right place, in the right time, had the right occupation, was a protestant and because he was Irish Gentry his sons could become ministers and military officers, this is as close to a smoking gun as I think we will ever receive.  He was the last of my grandfathers to die in Ireland.

William O'Kelley "Gentleman" and my grandmother married in Ireland about 1710 and had the following children:

+9 ix. William O'Kelley born about 1712 near Kells Co Meath Ireland died in Caroline Co Virginia - a merchant and the subject of Harold Ernst O'Kelleys investigation  
+10 x. James O'Kelley born about 1715 near Kells Co Meath Ireland died at Brandywine Sept 11 1777  My Ancestor