Since John F. Kennedy was elected U.S. President in
1960, much has appeared in print on his Irish and American ancestors U .
However, to this writer's knowledge no research has been conducted on the Irish
antecedents of the immigrant Patrick1 Kennedy, who left Dunganstown, co.
Wexford, in the famine years of the late 1840s. This article will briefly
outline new material on the Irish Kennedys and the first generation of Kennedys
and connected families in the U.S. The writer hopes to extend this research, in
collaboration with an Irish researcher, to earlier generations of Kennedys in
From census and vital records we may infer that Patrick1 Kennedy was born
about 1823. That his birthplace was the townland of Dunganstown, parish of
Whitechurch, co. Wexford, is a family tradition; apparently no official record,
such as a baptism, naturalization or headstone inscription, corroborates it. The
only clue to his parents' names is a notation in the Loretta Kennedy Connolly
collection at the Kennedy Library that they were Patrick and Mary Johanna (----)
Kennedy of Dunganstown.
Roman Catholic parish registers of White church, co. Wexford begin in 1824. A
search of baptisms between 1824 and 1830 by the rector uncovered no Kennedy
baptisms. Possibly the family worshipped at a nearby church; the registers of
several surrounding parishes are now being searched. Some of these registers
date from the late 1700s, so it is hoped that earlier generations may also be
traced. The Tithe Applotment Book of 1824 for Dunganstown shows a Patrick
Kennedy with 16 acres, 1 rod, 17 poles; Patrick Kennedy Junior with 2
acres, 3 rods, 39 poles; and Martin Kennedy with 8 acres, 0 rods, 20 poles.
Omitting Martin Kennedy, whose relationship cannot be ascertained (the name
Martin was not continued in the American family), it would appear that Patrick1
Kennedy's father was one of the two Patrick Kennedys in Dunganstown in 1824.
These latter may have been, but were not necessarily, father and son. Previous
research  has determined that Patrick1 Kennedy had at least two older
brothers, John and James, born about 1809 and 1815 respectively; so their
father's approximate birth date is about 1785. Quite possibly this earlier
Patrick (father of the immigrant, John and James) was Patrick Jr., aged almost
40 in 1824, while his own father, perhaps Patrick Sr., was in his 60s or
Griffith's Valuation of Ireland, completed for Dunganstown in 1853
but probably compiled over several previous years, shows Patrick and John
Kennedy as householders. We assume that these were Patrick (born ca. 1785),
father of the immigrant Patrick1 who was already in America, and John (born ca.
1809), his eldest son. Death records in Ireland began only in 1864, and no
search in them has yet been undertaken for the senior Patrick Kennedy or his
wife; nor have existing probate records been checked. But from Richard J.
Hayes, Manuscript Sources for the History of Irish Civilisation (1965),
and from further correspondence with the National Library of Ireland, this
writer uncovered another potentially valuable source: estate records of the
Glascott family, who held Whitechurch parish and much surrounding land from at
least 1756 onwards and were landlords of the Kennedys and other resident
Catholic tenant families.
The Glascott records are currently held by the National Library in off-site
storage and are not readily available for research. It is hoped that an Irish
genealogist will soon have access to them. Included are leases and deeds
(1715-1848); rental records (1820-27 and 1830-42); and accounts (1826-71). Ian
Cantwell, an Irish researcher whose father, Brian Cantwell, has compiled several
volumes of co. Wexford tombstone  inscriptions, sent the
following inscriptions from Whitechurch yard (three headstones in one enclosed
Erected by James Kenedy in memory of his father John Kenedy of Dun
ganstown who depd this life 29 Octr 1803 agd 63 years also his wife Bridget
Kennedy alias Shallow depd 17th July 1774 aged 30 years.
Erected by John Kennedy in memory of his mother Mary Kennedy alias Cunnip
of Dunganstown who died 30th Dec 1898 aged 85 years also his father John Kennedy
who died 24th March 1864 aged 55 years [the interments of John (Jr.) and
several brothers and sisters follow]
Erected by Patrick Kennedy [of Dunganstown in memory of his
father James Kennedy who died 13th Feb 1881 aged 66 years also his mother
Catherine Kennedy who died 10th Nov 1904 aged 85 years [the interments of
Patrick, three of his children and a sister follow].
Almost certainly the above John Kennedy (ca. 1809-1864) and James Kennedy
(ca. 1815-1881) were the older brothers of the immigrant Patrick1 Kennedy.
Unfortunately no headstones were found for their presumed parents, Patrick and
Mary Johanna (___) Kennedy. The John Kenedy who was buried in 1803, aged 63,
might have been the father of the older Patrick Kennedy in Dunganstown
in 1824, father or grandfather of the younger Patrick Kennedy (b. ca. 1785,
probably also in Dunganstown in 1824), grandfather or great-grandfather of the
the immigrant Patrick1 Kennedy and great-great--great- or
great-great-great-great-grandfather of the president.
American research has uncovered several other families, probably from
Dunganstown, with whom the Kennedys were associated in Boston. Patrick1
Kennedy's children were born in East Boston in the 1850s. Among the surnames of
their baptismal sponsors Barron, Aspell and Maloy are quite common in southwest
Wexford, the Kennedys' homeland. A Patrick Barron (born ca. 1777, died Boston
20 Sept. 1852) and wife Mary (Aspell) Barron (born ca. 1781, died Boston 30 Dec.
1856) are first found in the 1850 Census of Ward 12, Boston. They had at least
four children James, born 1809, died after 1860, probably Boston; Thomas, born
1813, died Boston 10 Nov. 1891; Patrick, born 1820, died Boston 6 July 1891; and
Johanna, born ca. 1827, died Boston 23 June 1916. The naturalizations of James,
Thomas and Patrick Jr. all give co. Wexford as their place of origin. James,
Patrick Jr. and Johanna were all living with their parents in the 1850 census.
Living with them was Nicholas Aspell, aged 40, also a sponsor to one of Patrick1
Kennedy#s children, and adjoining the Barron household was that of a Francis
Kennedy, aged 25, with a wife and two small daughters. According to city
directories and vital and census data the brothers James, Thomas and Patrick
Barron, Jr., the probable cousins Nicholas and Richard Aspell, and both Francis
and Patrick Kennedy were all employed as coopers.
The Patrick Barron, Jr. noted above migrated to East Boston at about the same
time as the Kennedys, was one of two witnesses at Patrick Kennedy's 1849
wedding, and sponsored one of the Kennedy children. A close Barron-Kennedy
connection is likely, especially since the maiden name of Patrick Joseph2
Kennedy's mother is mistakenly given as "Barron" on his 1928 death record (it
was actually Murphy). Possibly Mary Johanna (___)Kennedy, mother of the
immigrant Patrick1, was a sister of Patrick Barron, Sr. Boston vital records
establish that the latter's wife Mary was an Aspell, and Richard and Nicholas
Aspell (the latter b. ca. 1810), who were in Boston by the 1850s, were probably
her nephews. Both Nicholas and Richard changed their surnames to Archibald (of
which Aspell is a derivative) sometime in the 1860s. According to Boston vital
records, Nicholas's parents were John and Bridget (Hanlon) Archibald, and
Richard's were James and Mary (___) Archibald. Their kinship to the Kennedys,
while probable, has not been proved. No Barrons nor Aspells appear in the 1824
Tithe Applotment Book of Dunganstown, although several lived in Whitechurch and
A Patrick Maloy was sponsor to one of the Kennedy children in 1852, and
several other Maloys were sponsors to children of Patrick Barron, Jr. in the
1850s. Although incomplete, research thus far indicates that this Maloy family
consisted of at least four brothers -- George, Valentine, Patrick and William,
born between 1810 and 1825 -- sons of John and Ann (Grace) Maloy. At least
three of the brothers, residing in Dorchester in the 1840s, moved to East Boston
in the 1850s. George Maloy's naturalization record states that he was from
"Suttons" parish, co. Wexford, of which Whitechurch was part (see Samuel Lewis,
Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, vol. 2 [1837, reprint 1984], p.
181). The Tithe Applotment Book for Dunganstown shows James, John, William and
Widow# Muloy, along with Michael and #Widow# Grace, as householders; the 1853
Griffith#s Valuation shows Patrick, John, Michael and Thomas Molloy as
householders there. No kinship of these Maloys/Mulloys to the Kennedys has yet
The writer is continuing research on the Kennedys and their connections, and
would welcome any further information. He may be contacted at P.O. Box 6101,
Boston, MA 02114.
 The best monograph to date is certainly Edward L.
Galvin's "The Kennedys of Massachusetts," in the Register
139(1985):211-24, reprinted in The Irish in New England (NEHGS,
1985), pp. 25-38. See also TAG 53 (1977):145-46, 55(1979):50, 57(1981
):89, 61 (1985-86): 173; Harvey Rachlin, The Kennedys: A Chronological
History, 1823-Present (1986); Doris  Kearns Goodwin,
The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys (1987); and G.B. Roberts,
Ancestors of American Presidents, preliminary edition revised, 1989),
pp. 72-73, 127.
 Look magazine of 14 March 1961, Pp. 17-25. A
photograph of the Kennedy-Cunnip tombstone appears on p. 19.
Richard Andrew Pierce is a professional genealogist in Boston who
specializes in Irish and 19th-century research. He is a volunteer at the
Society and contributed to Ancestors of American Presidents (1989) by
Editorial note: This article will become, we hope, the first in a series
exploring 19th-century Irish origins and using both materials at the Society and
data obtained from Ireland. Especially welcome will be studies of members'
forebears whose place origins were first revealed in volume I of The Search
for Missing Friends.--RS/JHO