Thursday, April 04, 2024

Family Tree - The Drennans and Hamills of Donaghadee and Millisle

• Above: Millisle Presbyterian Church, photos from The notes below are posted here in case anyone out there is searching. My thanks to Shirley Cochrane for her help with these.


Over the past few weeks we have had two family funerals, for an aunt and also an uncle. My aunt Eleanor Wilson's funeral service was at Millisle Presbyterian Church on 9 March. Her husband, Vincent, survives her - he was named for his grandfather. This has set me to thinking again about the family tree for that side of the family, my maternal side.

My late mother told me that there was a family Bible which had all of the details about the various generations - but, there was a story in it which outraged my great aunt Charlotte / Lottie Hamill (d. 28.05.2006), so she took it upon herself to burn it, decades ago. The oral tradition was that there were various skeletons in the closet - maybe Protestant/Catholic, maybe 'out of wedlock'.

Good research has clarified some of it. Everyone involved in this particular story was a Presbyterian, from the congregations of Millisle, Ballycopeland, and Ballyfrenis. I have generations of family involvement in all three congregations, of which only Millisle still exists today.


My maternal great-grandfather, Vincent Hamill, was born in Donaghadee, on 21 April 1888.
He was illegitimate.

His mother was 21 year old Agnes Hamill (24.05.1866 – 23.02.1942)
His biological father was a Robert Bryce from Millisle. They never married.

Family oral tradition was that a David Drennan (05.12.1875 - 14.10.1948) a 'sailor & clothier' from Donaghadee 'took pity' on Agnes, gave her a job in his tailor's shop and they married in 1896 when Vincent was 8 years old. David was just 21 and Agnes was 30. 

• Here are David and Agnes, with two new daughters of their own, five years later in the 1901 Census of Ireland.

• By the time of the 1911 Census of Ireland they had three new sons.

• Vincent had married Martha Ann Wallace, on 19 March 1909, and she was who my mother was named for. Here they are.

• David and Agnes were living at 9 Victoria Gardens in Donaghadee when they both died in the 1940s.

• Martha died 24.10.1954 and Vincent died nearly ten years later on 16.04.1964. Bizarrely, the dates on their gravestone, at Ballycopeland, are wrong. 


• David's parents were John Drennan (c. 1838–1886) and Margaret Robinson (c. 1840-1921).
• Agnes's parents were Peter Hamill and Charlotte Stewart.
• Agnes' brother Peter Hamill was a well-known publican/spirit merchant in Millisle, and may have owned either the 'First and Last' or the 'Masonic Arms' which was later the 'Woburn Arms'. He died 08.09.1948.
• Agnes' nephew, also called Peter Hamill, was a grocer in Donaghadee.