Breen Genealogy: Part 2

In my last Blog, I went over my cousin’s YDNA results and some of his genealogy. The genealogy focused in on Rusty’s grandfather John Alexander Breen. A key document I found lead me to believe that John Breen was in the Royal Innishkilling Fusilliers in 1911:

Here was a John Breen who was the right age and was born about the right place. I then supposed that this was the same as a John O’Brien who enlisted twice. However, at the end of my elaborate story I found a document showing John Breen in the 1911 Irish Census that contradicted the above Census:

Here was apparently another John Breen, the same age, in the same census who was living in Recarson. This was significant as John’s ship records from the following year said that he and his mother Mary Breen were from Deverney. According to, “Deverney is in the townland of Recarson.” Now a Townland is usually a fairly small area. So a portion of a Townland is very specific.

That means that I have to prefer this Census above over the Military Census. There is a clear chain of custody. John Breen ended up in Philadelphia. His ship records say he was born in Deverney (part of Recarson). So we have to go with Recarson. The good news is that now we have extra relatives that we didn’t have before.

From Rusty’s YDNA test, we are pretty sure that he is not of the male line of Breen. However, now with a Breen grandmother, we cannot tell where the line was broken. Before I was assuming that it was Rusty’s grandfather John Breen’s mother that was the Breen. However, that is not as clear now. The family story was that John Breen was orphaned. This could very well be the case, as his mother and father are not in this Census.

Isabella Breen, 39 in 1911 – Born in County Tyrone

I would like to find the grandmother, but finding a Mary that married a Breen would be difficult. Isabella should have been born around 1872. Perhaps she can be found in a Parish Register. I was able to find Isabella in one Ancestry Tree from an Irish researcher:

From the above tree, the parents of Isabella, are referenced in this 1901 Camowen Census:

Here is a map depiction of Camowen Townland:

Here is part of a Cappagh Parish Map showing Recarson and Camowen at the Southeast part of the Parish:

It appears that Isabella was working in Beagh in 1901:

This is likely Beagh:

Assuming my fellow Irish researcher got Isabella right, I searched RootsIreland for siblings:

This is putting a lot of pressure on Isabella to be Rusty’s relative. Fortunately, she has a less common name than John or Mary. It looks like the family of John Breen and Mary Quinn had at least five children. The first four were born South of Omagh and the last one was born to the North of Omagh. Here is Tullyvally:

A Breen Breakthrough

After coming up short several times searching for John Breen, I decided to search for Alexander Breen. Here is what I found at RootsIreland. This one document should straighten out a few things:

For one thing, it shows John aka Alexander being born in 1889 – not 1888. This is likely the place where the male McFarlane line comes into the picture. On John’s ship record to New York, he named his mother as Susan and here she is.  Now we have John’s birth name, his mother, grandparents and likely Aunts and Uncles. Thanks to the YDNA test, we likely had the last name of John’s father, before we didn’t know that we didn’t know his last name! This means that Rusty is still descended from the Breens – just not the male line of Breens.

Here is the picture I get of the family so far. I had to push back the birth dates that I had for John Breen and Mary Quin. I would guess that they were born around 1845. And I also pushed John Alexander’s birthday ahead a year.

Questions to Follow Up On and Other Items

  • I couldn’t find a birth record for Susan Breen. Could she be the same person as either Mary Jane, Isabella, or Margaret?
  • What happened to Susan? Isabella seemed to hang around. Is this because she was the same as Susan?
  • I haven’t yet found Parish Register entries for any Breen family births or for the marriage of John Breen and Mary Quinn.
  • I’m still not sure if John Breen was in the British Army
  • The John O’Brien of my last blog cannot be the same as John Breen as John O’Brien’s mom was Annie and I have shown that John Breen’s mom was Susan
  • It doesn’t appear that John was orphaned. In 1901 when he was 12, he was with his grandparents. However, he may have lived with another family before this time that I didn’t know about.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *