Saturday, March 16, 2013

My Irish Heritage

I am a Newberry and my paternal Grandmother was an O'Hare.  I am the descendant of a long and proud line of Irishmen and woman.

The name 'Newberry' is actually Norman from Le Newbourg in Central Normandy, anglicized to de Newburgh, meaning new town.  The head of the family was Roger de Beaumont,  a powerful noble, he was a part of the Norman Conquest in 1066 with William the Conquer, his second cousin.  They battled by his side at the Battle of Hastings.  As reward for their service and loyalty with many English lands and titles.

Roger de Beaumont was nicknamed  'La Barbe' because he wore a beard and moustache, while most Normans were clean shaven.  It is said that this is him likeness can be seen in the 'Bayeux Tapestry' which depicts the feast after the Battle of Hastings.

My ancestors did not get to Ireland until the 1600s when Colonel Thomas Newburgh, was sent by there by decrees of King Henry VIII, then King James of Scotland and finally Charles I, to 'shire' or 'plantation' the country.

16th Century Irish Soldiers a wood craving by Albercht Durer

Donegal County countryside 

Then in 1725 my 5th Great-Grandfather was born in Donegal, Ireland.  When he was just a boy in the 1730s when he stowed away on a ship bound for the Colonies in America.  Of course he was discovered and was then sold into servitude to a blacksmith who used him as an apprentice for 7 years. The ship landed in Virginia and Samuel later settled in Montgomery, Bland County. He built a home called 'Newberry's Run'.  He assisted in the Revolutionary War by providing provisions and supplies to the troops under General George Washington.

The countryside of Bland County, Virginia 

His grandson, Henry Clay Newberry, was one of the original settlers of Texas, where my father was born.  In the 1930s his family left Texas for California.  They were forced from there land by the depression, drought and the dust bowl.

I never got a chance to discuss family history with my father, he passed when I was only 19 and at that time I was definitely not into genealogy.  His mother died of the Spanish Flu when he was only 6 months old and his father died when I was 4.  The family was a complete mystery to me, we (my brothers and sisters) assumed they were English who migrated much later then the 1730s.  This discovery of our ancestors was a complete surprise to all of us, and a welcome one especially for me.  I have been a life long Anglophile and this was like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  Pure gold. I highly recommend using to search out your ancestors and family history. My sons have used the family history in several papers they have had in history classes over the years. It really helped them be more interested in history when they could relate it to a family story.

I am a proud Irish-American.

Enjoy Y'all

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