Like great-great-great grandfather, like ggg granddaughter?

One of my hobbies (yes, I have non-genealogical hobbies) is writing letters to the Irish Times. They’re kind enough to publish them some of the time. Here’s one I wrote before the 2022 census.

So imagine my surprise when I was playing around with the new search functionality on the newspapers section of Findmypast (which is the British Newspaper Archive’s database with a different skin) and I turned up a letter from my 3x great-grandfather!

Firstly, let’s have a look, and then I’ll tell you how I’m sure it’s my guy.

This letter was originally in the Freeman’s Journal but the print readability is much better in this copy from the Dublin Evening Mail. Alexander Ure seems to have been a man with a social conscience. He was complaining that his friend died through an inability to pay for a doctor, which is terribly sad, and something that still happens in many countries today. This letter is also probably the only evidence of Patrick Hand’s death, since civil registration had not yet begun in Ireland.

How can I be sure this is my ancestor? Let’s take it step by step. I have a documented paper trail from me to my mother to her father to his father to his mother to her father. I’m not going to produce all of that here, but take it from me that on paper I am very confident my 3x great-grandfather was called Alexander Ure. If you’d like to read a very cool step by step, I highly recommend Yvette Hoitink’s serial blog proving she’s descended from Eleanor of Aquitaine. (Tangent: I don’t think we can blame her for her ancestor’s husband taking control of Ireland in the 12th century).

I also have DNA proof I’m descended from Alexander Ure with several cousins in multiple generations going back to my own 2x great-grandmother and her siblings. I also have some matches to Alexander’s brothers’ descendants, which allowed me to confirm their relationship. And because that’s very unusual surname in Ireland, I’ve made a decade long study of everyone called Ure in Ireland. This was published in the IGRS journal in 2020.

This is also how I know there was another man in Dublin with the same name, but he was not a permanent resident. AU Alexander Ure was a Scottish sea captain. He plied his trade across the Irish Sea and you can find advertisements mentioning him in newspapers too. This man died aged 40 a bachelor in 1877 in Dublin. So in 1858, he was just 21.

In my old paper files, I have a poor photocopy of Lloyd’s Register of Sea Captains, which shows an entry for this man, born in Dumbartonshire in 1836. His first captaincy was in the early 1860s and he sailed the Belfast-Glasgow route for many years before the Dublin one. The ad below is from 1870.

Scotland’s People has an inventory of his estate, which was claimed by a relative called James Ure in Glasgow and notes this Alexander was ordinarily resident in Garelochhead in Dumbartonshire. I feel confident we can rule out this man as having written the letter in 1858.

My Alexander Ure lived at a number of different locations around the north inner city over the years & now I can add 10 Terrace Place to the list. The letter gives fantastic insight into his character: he was a good friend, he had a social conscience, he was thoroughly literate. He read the Freeman’s Journal and he wrote letters to it. An ancestor to be proud of!

Perhaps we can say that I got some of his letter-writing DNA too.

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