Humphrys genealogy

Genealogy research by Mark Humphrys.

Blennerhassett Blog

Updates on the Blennerhassett problem, the "Holy Grail" of my family tree research.

See Proof of our descent from Blennerhassett.

The new mission to search the Baronets documents

Now the DNA says we are related to the Baronets branch, the remaining challenge is to find the exact link in the documents. Given how many documents I found survived in the Letitia of Tarbert branch, there should be many documents surviving in the Baronets branch. This is now the priority.


Unknown portrait inherited by the Blennerhassett Baronets.
It is possible this is the 1st Baronet.
Though it might be some other ancestor.



Saturday, 22 June 2024

O'Mara papers

Hoping for some mention of Cashel.


Rowan manuscript (in my possession)


Garvey research in PRONI

"Black Jack's Book" in TCD

Chute papers in KCL

Blennerhassett letters in BL

Blennerhassett Baronets papers

The Grant of Arms to the 1st Baronet, 1808.
Copy retained in the Baronets family.

Blennerville House visit

In July 2022, I finally got in to see Blennerville House, probably my actual surviving ancestral home.


Me at the rear of Blennerville House.

Garden walk at Blennerville House.
It may have changed since the Blennerhassetts' time, but they did walk here.

Denny papers

The signatures of Thomas Blennerhassett and his son Robert.
On the 1598 petition in the Denny papers.
The first two Blennerhassett settlers in Kerry.


Blennerhassett Challenge is closed

The Blennerhassett Challenge, offering a prize of €1000 to anyone who solved the Blennerhassett problem, is now closed. Nobody won the grand prize.

I paid out six interim prizes of €100 to: Eily Moylan, Jackie Lindsay, Teresa Stokes, Emma Pinnell, Elizabeth Humphrys and Nicole Scannell-O'Leary.


DNA project, 2019 to 2020

DNA testing proved the Letitia of Tarbert theory is false.

Looking again at the Baronets branch

If Letitia Blennerhassett of Tarbert is not the link, who is?

By starting again and reconsidering the evidence, the obvious "plan B" is the Blennerhassett Baronets branch. We now pursue both documents and DNA in this branch.


DNA testing proved many things

Even if the Letitia theory did not work, the DNA testing proved much of the Cashel tree to be true. It gave major breakthroughs in Kickham, Pigott, Gould and other lines. It proved much of the "Black Jack" branch of the Blennerhassett tree to be true - even if that is of no use to me.


The Letitia theory is false, April 2020.

After many DNA samples, and a new analysis of the results, it seems to me that DNA testing has proved the Letitia Blennerhassett of Tarbert theory is false. This is very surprising. It leaves a lot of paper evidence that demands explanation. And we need to construct an alternative theory for how we might connect to Blennerhassett.


The Letitia theory is false

By 2020, I had done hundreds of DNA one-to-one comparisons of Cashel people with Letitia people. And I had never got a match better than 8.4 cM.
Comparing this with what hits are like for real cousins shows I should have already found a load of great, strong hits. But I got nothing. The Letitia theory is false.

Later, after hundreds more comparisons, I got up to 9.4 cM but that hardly changes the argument.

Letitia Blennerhassett's native Irish ancestry

Letitia Blennerhassett of Tarbert has exotic native Irish ancestry through Fitzgerald and O'Brien.


Major update to Kickham tree

In August 2019, DNA analysis finally, after over 30 years, proved my relationship (through George Cashel's wife Mary Kickham) to the Fenian Charles Joseph Kickham. See the proof. The link was what Pat Lavelle said it was: Mary is 1st cousin of the Fenian.


Grave of Charles Kickham (born 1752).
My first proven Protestant ancestor.
Discovered when I was over age 50.

Robert Kirkam of London listed among the Cromwellian adventurers for land in Ireland in 1642 to 1646. He is possibly the unnamed Cromwellian settler who is ancestor of the Kickhams of Co.Tipperary and my ancestor.

Fifth and sixth interim prizes awarded, March 2019

The fifth and sixth interim prizes of €100 are awarded to Elizabeth Humphrys and Nicole Scannell-O'Leary for suggesting DNA to solve the problem.

My thinking on DNA has evolved over time, but I really needed to start doing DNA experiments in order to see what the issues are. They are not what I thought they were.

DNA project starts, 2019

In 2019 I started a systematic project to DNA test relatives of Letitia Blennerhassett of Tarbert and George Cashel, in order to see if the link could be proved.


Letitia of Tarbert theory, 2009 to 2019

For over a decade, it seemed like Letitia Blennerhassett of Tarbert was our ancestor.
Fourth interim prize awarded, Jan 2019

The fourth €100 prize for an interim solution has been awarded to Emma Pinnell, for providing proof in the Goddard letter of 1806 of the Goddard link to England.

Goddard letter proves the link to England.

The wife of Blennerhassett Cashel


More work on ancestors of Letitia Blennerhassett of Tarbert

William Kickham, brother-in-law of George Cashel

William Kickham grave in Washington D.C.
Known grave for George Cashel: 0.
Known grave for his siblings: 0.
Known grave for his wife: 0.
Known grave for his wife's siblings: 1 (this one).

Third interim prize awarded, Aug 2015

The third €100 prize for an interim solution has been awarded to Teresa Stokes for her ongoing research on the descendants of Rev. John Blennerhassett.

Rev. John Blennerhassett (born 1732-1733).
Father of Letitia Blennerhassett.

Elizabeth Blennerhassett (bapt 1772).
Sister of Letitia Blennerhassett.
Wife of Capt. Edward Fuller.

Leslie papers

Letitia Blennerhassett of Tarbert's most recent English ancestor:

North Tidworth, Wiltshire.
This is where Capt. Thomas Goddard grew up.
His father Rev. Thomas Goddard was Rector of this church 1708 to 1731.
Capt. Thomas Goddard left England for Ireland in 1736.

Letitia Blennerhassett of Co.Limerick

Letitia Blennerhassett of Co.Kerry (Tralee and Tarbert)

Letitia Blennerhassett, daughter of Rev. John Blennerhassett.
She married 1stly to Richard Ponsonby and 2ndly to William Lindsay.

The White House, Tarbert, Co.Kerry.
This is where Letitia Blennerhassett, the daughter of Rev. John, lived in 1875.
She probably died there in 1876.
It is now an Asian restaurant.

Tomb of Arthur Blennerhassett of Blennerville (died 1839), Blennerville, Co.Kerry.
If Letitia the daughter of Rev. John is the one, then this Arthur (the son of Sir Rowland Blennerhassett, 1st Baronet) is the likely candidate for "A.Blennerhassett J.P." who recommended George Cashel for the police in 1828.

Second interim prize awarded, Sept 2010

The second €100 prize for an interim solution has been awarded to Jackie Lindsay for getting me started (in late 2009) on the family of Letitia Blennerhassett, daughter of Rev. John.


Blennerhassett Challenge, 2008 to 2009

After my Dad died, I got serious about solving the Blennerhassett problem before I died.
First interim prize awarded, June 2008

The first €100 prize for an interim solution has been awarded to Eily Moylan for fleshing out the family of George Cashel and his connection with Kickham.

Kickham tree now online. New details about George Cashel.

Disciplinary action against George Cashel, 1829.

"Slievenamon" by Charles Joseph Kickham.
Sung by Maureen Hegarty.

Coverage of the Blennerhassett Challenge
  1. Item in Irish Roots magazine, 3rd qr, 2008.

  2. Item on 18 June 2008 in Irish Family History blog (now gone).

  3. Item in Ancestors magazine, July 2008 issue.

  4. Item in newsletter of Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies, summer 2008.

  5. Item supposed to appear in Oct 2008 issue (issue 83) of newsletter of Glasgow and West of Scotland Family History Society.

"Blennerhassett Challenge" competition launch, May 2008

In 2008, I got serious about solving the Blennerhassett problem. I launched a competition with a prize of €1,000 for anyone who could solve it. The prize later rose to €2,000. Then €1,000 again.

I also offered interim prizes of €100 for help towards a solution.


Early days, 1985 to 2008

I have known about the Blennerhassett mystery since 1985, but progress was slow.
My website in 2007


The 1st Baronet on my website in 2007.

Letitia of Tarbert on my website in 2007.

My website in 1999

The 1st Baronet on my website in 1999.

Letitia of Tarbert on my website in 1999.

Pre-Web family tree

I made out computerised offline family trees in 1990-92.


Sir Rowland Blennerhassett, 1st Baronet, in my offline family tree, 1992.
See full image.

Letitia Blennerhassett of Tarbert in my offline family tree, 1992.


The start of the hunt in 1985

When I read the following Burke's entry as a teenager in 1985, I realised that Blennerhassett could be my gateway to the World family tree. It took 35 years to prove it.


BLENNERHASSETT entry in [Burkes Irish, 1976, p.136].

Letitia of Tarbert in Burke's.

Part of the entry for the 1st Baronet in Burke's Peerage.
5 sons are listed. No daughter is listed.

Blennerhassett Cashel.
My gateway to the Western family tree.

Proof of our descent from Blennerhassett

Things to do - Blennerhassett problem

Things to do - Blennerhassett problem (more)

DNA testing - Blennerhassett problem

The families

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