In 1965, my father commissioned the Ulster-Scot Historical Society to search for evidence of Henry McElroy's ancestors and family in Drumgooland Parish, County Down, Ireland. The summary of the evidence found is reproduced here. The underlying data is presented on a separate page.
McElroy Ancestors in 18th century Drumgooland Parish
The townlands of Leitrim, Benraw and Leganany, all of which adjoin, lie in Drumgooland Parish and about mid-way between Castlewellan and Dromore. The lands in Drumgooland Parish were in the 18th and 19th centuries part of the estate of the Annesley - Glerawley family.
The earliest reference found to the name McElroy in the Parish was in a Survey Map of Leitrim dated 1727 which records "Muckleroy's quarter" as 126 acres. The next reference found was also in records of the Castlewellan estate -- a map and list of tenants, dated 1742, which mentions William, Patrick and John McElroy holding farms of 31, 32 and 29 acres respectively in Leitrim and a Bryan McElroy in Leganany. Also mentioned in this record were John and Daniel Mackilbouy of Benraw. As no mention of McElroys appear in Benraw and Leitrim in the 1727 estate maps it would appear that two of the family moved to these townlands between 1728 and 1741.
Here it should be mentioned that in order to be eligible for voting occupiers of land were required to hold their leases for a term of lives, not years. The majority of lives named in leases were children or relatives of the lessee although, not infrequently, Royal lives or lives of neighbours or their children were used. On the fall of a life a new life was inserted on the payment of a small fine.
As leases of this nature are helpful in tracing families, particularly in view of the general lack of church registers for the 18th century, a thorough search was made in those available for Leitrim, Benraw and Leganany. Extracts enclosed show that the leases, particularly for the 18th century, are not by any means complete.
The church registers for Drumgooland Parish (Protestant Episcopal) which have not been preserved prior to 1779 record in that year the baptism of John and also in 1782 that of Mary Ann, children of William McElroy and his wife Mary of Leitrim. The children of Samuel, John and Henry McElroy of Leitrim are also recorded in Drumgooland registers in the 1780s.
William, father of John and Mary Ann, was, undoubtedly, also the father of Henry but due to lack of registers and leases for the 18th century it has not been found possible to say which one of the occupiers of land in Leitrim in 1742, viz. William, Patrick and John, was his (William's) father.
A gap in the registers of Drumgooland between 1792 and 1833 made it impossible to trace the descent of John born 1779. The burial registers were so ill-kept that only two McElroy entries appear in a search covering over one hundred years.
A note appears in one of the 'Downshire' letters about the McElroys of near the Mournes who were taken as suspects in connection with the 1798 Rebellion. Most of those who took part in this uprising were either Presbyterians or native Irish. Hugh and John Mcllroy are recorded in a list of Protestant Dissenters (Presbyterians) for Drumgooland in 1775. The Registers of the Presbyterian Church in Leitrim are not extant prior to the 1830s.
The name McElroy appears in the Indexes to Dromore Diocesan Wills and Administrations up to 1858. The Wills of John 1785, Samuel 1787 and William McElroy, 1779 all of Leitrim and other McElroy Wills noted, which would have been of great assistance in the search, perished in the destruction of records in Dublin, in 1922, during the Civil War in Southern Ireland.
A list of Voters, dated 1790, records John and Patrick Mcllroy in Benraw and also five Mcllroy voters in Leitrim whose leases entitling them to vote were registered in the mid-l8th century. William recorded in 1768 in this record would have been born before 1750.
Records available for the 19th century covering Drumgooland Parish were also examined and extracts relating to the name McElroy in Leitrim, etc. are enclosed.
Finally a visit was paid to Drumgooland Parish and an examination made of memorials in the local graveyards. The results show that the name McElroy/Mcllroy existed in Leitrim in 1939. If memorials were erected to the family in the 18th century they are no longer standing.