The Cartys of Lithgow, Australia

I use MyHeritage, a family tree software package, which is great for matching up family trees, bar when it goes wrong, and it can be quite laborius to rectify.

It matched my Thomas Carty and Mary Anne Mullaniffe with a couple in Lithgow in Australia, whose daughter Mary married a Kirkland, whose descendents have a very well put together family tree, which ends with Thomas and Mary Anne, as does ours.

Theres only one problem – they are the grandparents of my grandfather, who was born before their daughter Mary who married Kirkland.

They are probably not the family of ours, and its just a co-incidence that these two rare names are married into each other.

But if they were, how could this be?

When researching family history, you must always look at the more unconventional stories when a mystery presents itself. That means look into unmarried mothers, or the possibility of same, etc.

If these are the same people as my grandfathers grandparents who were never in Australia that I know of, and we take in the possibility of an unmarried mother presenting a cover story, the following could explain it.

A girl has a child and is unmarried. She is in a new town, which is not long founded and has a massive newly arrived population, where no-one knows everyone but the baby must be registered.

She presents the child, her child, as not being her baby but her sister, and registers the baby with her parents names as the childs’, even though they are her grandparents.

Official are official, they dont verify much, and it gets written down as such. The child is then reared believing the mother is in fact her elder sister, probably being told that her parents, who are really her grandparents, went back to Ireland, or maybe died.

Thats just a theory, but a plausible one.

So, lets look closer at the child.

She grows up and married a KIRKLAND. Thats a Scottish name I thought, and found some from Donegal and Leitrim. It means Church-lands, probably a warden of churchlands or a sexton or similar. They appear to be Protestant.

Now I have found some in Longford.

So I will be following that up.

And if thats NOT the story?

Lithgow has a massive Irish population, many from Longford, Leitrim and surrounding areas. Its a mining area. I have been on to the local libraries and they sent me on to councils and Im waiting on replies from a few places. In the meantime, there are other senarios to consider.

  • Also from Longford, there’s ANOTHER Thomas Carty who married a Mary Anne Mullaniffe?

Mullaniffe is a very common name in Longford, and Mary Anne relativly common. In Longford in the 19th century there were many Carty families in North and South Longford and also in Leitrim all the way up to Sligo. So it is possible another Thomas Carty, maybe a cousin, nephew or grandnephew of our Thomas Carty and Mary Ann Mullaniffe married another Mary Anne Mullaniffe and settled in Lithgow.

We must search further and wait and see.

And if its a transcription error?

The name might be Carter, or Carte (a French name) or Cartier, or the  name Corti, or even the German Kurti (often Anglicised as Curtis). The latter is common around the Shwab areas of the Danube but the former theoiry is more interesting.

Frank Corti is the subject of a meme doing the rounds on the internet of an old man, a former boxer, who left a burgular a hospital case and is now a folk hero. This article in the Daily Mail tells the story


While searching for the name I was told that there is a name, Mulinifer, like Mullaniffe in Italy. I searched for this spelling and found it in one document, which I sent to a friend for translation, who said it was a dialect word for “miller” an occupation.

So if it is Mulinifer, how could that end up in Longford as a name?

In 1798, and in 1690 there were foreign regiments in the British armies that came to put them down. Some soldiers would have stayed in the area, and settled and married among the native Irish, and gaelicised their names. Rare names like Gunshinan are said to be Hungarian, one origion of Doddy has the same origion, and some folk in Longford call Kinsella “Ginseller”, which is a German or Dutch name for a publican.

So we must always keep an open mind and be prepared for the killing of sacred cows. Who the hell do you think you are? You might not be that at all!