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March 14, 2020 / sennettfamilytree

Crowdfunding* – SINNOTT, SENNETT DNA studies

This is a blatant plea to anyone interested in Sinnott/Synnott genealogy to help support and build our DNA surname project at  Read on to find out why.479652

The Sennett (Sinnott, and all variant spellings) DNA surname project at was started a few years ago, with the assistance of the DNA advisor of the Guild of One Name Studies.  If you aren’t already aware, the Sennett (Sinnott, Sinnett, Synnott, Sennitt) surname study is registered with the Guild of One Name Studies and now has around 80,000 people in the database, the large majority linked to extended family trees. However in spite of so many families having a common Irish origin, trying to confirm links between these families was proving impossible, even where they came from a known parish or townland.   So, I started to think about building a genetic tree to see if we could use that to add to or fill in gaps in the documentary evidence.

My initial idea was to prove or disprove that “all Sinnott (S-NN-T) families of known or suspected Irish origin shared a common ancestor – the SYNAD believed to have arrived in Co Wexford Ireland in the 12th century along with others of Norman origin”.   Because we want to focus on the surname line, it is a Y-DNA project, which means it follows the male lines of descent.  Because the earliest known person bearing the surname is somewhere around 20-24 generations back from the present, autosomal DNA tests (like the Ancestry one or Familyfinder at familytreedna, that at best can only identify some relatives beyond 5th cousin level) weren’t going to be good enough.

Initially testing focussed on a 37 marker Y-DNA test, and I was extremely interested to find a large proportion of men testing showing a haplogroup (genetic group) that was relatively rare in Ireland (E-M35), and wasn’t the R-M269 that a very large proportion of Irish origin families (of any surname) will share.  Not confirmation, but another bit of evidence compatible with later (12th century) arrival in Ireland.

The DNA project grew slowly, and project members began to fall into three distinct categories:

  1. Those showing a E-M35 haplogroup, who had lots of matches to others of any spelling variant of S-NN-T (and very few matches to those of any other surname).  These were the ones who looked like they had a common S-NN-T ancestor, but couldn’t take their genealogy back far enough to find that ancestor.
  2. Those who didn’t have an E haplogroup, with no matches to anyone else of the same or similar surname and no matches within the surname project.  I now suspect these have taken their S-NN-T surname either from a female S-NN-T or by name change or adoption somewhere back in time.
  3. Those of a different surname, with close matches to S-NN-T, but none to their own surname.  I also believe the surname has been taken from a female line, adoption, or name change, with possible S-NN-T paternity somewhere back in time.

37 marker YDNA testing separated out these groups well, but even pushing up to 111 marker YDNA hasn’t made the links between families any clearer.  BigY testing is a different matter.  block tree 14 mar 2020

With just 6 BigY tests completed so far we can see the beginnings of the family branches starting to emerge (above), but we are missing both recent and more distant information.  That will come by double or triple testing families (two very closely related plus one more distant cousin in each family) and by testing many more currently unlinked families.   BigY is expensive. So far some of the cost of testing has come from donated funds, and that is where my readers, their families and anyone else interested in the surname can help.

  • if you can encourage a male family member to join the DNA project, that will help build the genetic database.
  • If you can contribute to the cost of a family member testing (initial test at Y37 or upgrading a test to BigY), that will help a lot.
  • If the male line has already died out in your family but you still want to help build the genetic tree, a donation to the project general fund will be very useful.

If we bumble along at the current speed of testing we will get there, but results that are useful enough to help you fit your own S-NN-T family into the larger Sinnott tree will be a long time coming.   If we can crowdfund and dramatically increase the rate of testing  at both Y37 and BigY upgrade levels the genetic tree branching will develop so much faster that it will make it a lot easier to determine how many of the thousands of S-NN-T families I have in the study database connect together.

This is the link to order a YDNA (male line) test (YDNA37 or go straight to BigY) – click on JOIN in the header image of the link, and follow the instructions

This is the link to donate to the DNA project general fund:  in the link, click on the general fund DONATE button on the left side of the page

Thanks to everyone who is actively supporting this project, and to those considering supporting it in the future.

*(definition from Wikipedia) Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.



March 7, 2020 / sennettfamilytree

SENNETT brothers or cousins?

The 1851 Census in West Yorkshire, England, shows two SENNETT households in Irish Row, Whitwood.   Are they related?  It would be reasonable to think so, but are the heads of these households more likely to be brothers or cousins?1851 whitwood

The first (house 27) has the coalminers widow Martha SENNET (aged 46) and her unmarried children George (aged 21), Elenor (aged 19), Besy (aged 16), Dora (aged 14), Edward (aged 12), Etty (aged 10), Ann (aged 8) and an unmarried nephew Edward SENNET (aged 34). All were born in Ireland.
The second (house 28) is that of Joseph (aged 30) and Julia (aged 31) SENNET with their children James (aged 8) and Julia Ann (aged 5) both born in Ireland, and Mary (aged 3) and Joseph (aged 0) both born in Whitwood.  Also in this household is Eliza SENNET, an unmarried servant aged 25, born in Ireland (no relationship stated), a single lodger and two other Irish families .

Initially, other family researchers identified a George SENNETT who had died in Whitwood in 1846 as the father of James (the husband of Martha, of house 27 above).  I think this was a reasonable assumption given that James and Martha appeared to have named their first son George and the informant for the death was a James Sennett of the same address.  At this time, neither the marriage nor baptisms for James and Martha and children had been found, and nor had the marriage of Joseph and Julia or the baptisms of their children, so the next assumption made was that Joseph (who married Julia Ann), and Edward (even though he was stated as being a nephew of Martha at 1851) were also sons of George.   Looking back further to Ireland, a family in Dunganstown Co Wicklow appeared to fit the bill and the tree was drawn up.

Then came the availability of a few more records and everything changed.

A marriage was found for James SINNOT of Cronebane, Castlemacadam, Co Wicklow to Martha WHITE of Balincor, Rathdrum, Co Wicklow at Rathdrum Church of Ireland on 31 dec 1827. Baptisms in Castlemacadam (Church of Ireland parish) were then found between 1830 and 1844 for 6 of their children with birthplaces in the Avoca Valley of Co Wicklow, at Kilmacoo, Cronebane and Sroughan. A further child, Martha was born in Whitwood in 1849 and died in 1850, with parents confirmed as James SENNETT and Martha WHITE.   Martha was widowed by the time of census 1851, and a death record for James having died on 14 Mar 1851 at Whitwood, with the informant being George SENNETT of the same address, fitted with this information.

The family of Joseph and Julia (Julia Ann RYAN) was also confirmed with their marriage in Templerainey (RC) Chapel, Avoca Parish Co Wicklow on 14 sep 1840, and the subsequent baptisms of four children in the same parish between 1841 and 1845.  Of these children, only two (James and Julia) survived to emigrate to Yorkshire.  A further 8 children were born in Whitwood between 1848 and 1863 with mother maiden name confirmed as RYAN.

Eliza SENNETT (in Joseph and Julia’s household at 1851) married Charles FARRAH on 19 apr 1852 at Featherstone, West Yorkshire, and also gave her father’s name as James.  A birth at Tigroney (also in the Avoca Valley) and a baptism record at Castlemacadam CoI indicates parents James and Martha, however with a date of 8 Mar 1825, this conflicts with the marriage date of 1827 for James and Martha White.   Was there another James and Martha?

Also living in Whitwood, but not found on the 1851 census is William SENNETT (of “full age” at marriage to Emma IDLE on 16 jun 1850 at Featherstone, so born about or before 1829 and stating his father to be James SENNETT, a miner). Emma remarries as a widow in 1854, but no death record has been found for William.

Edward SENNETT, living with Martha in the 1851 Census, married Bridget QUINN on 22 Nov 1853 at Halliwells Chapel (R.C.), Tanshelf. His marriage certificate stated that his father was James SENNETT, a joiner.    But, this James can’t have been the same James who married Martha, either from his age, or from Edward’s stated relationship of nephew to Martha at 1851.   One little bit of information that makes you start questioning the whole tree, and looking to find more evidence.

That evidence came in the form of evidence to the inquest of Edward Sennett reported in the York Herald – Saturday 02 June 1883

“NORMANTON – SUDDEN DEATH AND SUICIDE – On Tuesday evening, at the Union Hotel, Normanton Common, two inquests were held by Major Taylor. The first was on Edward Sennett (66), Benson’s Lane, Normanton Common, who hanged himself in his bedroom, having been dismissed from his situation as banksman at Messrs Briggs and Co’s Good Hope pit, where he has been employed for nearly forty years, in consequence of his drunken condition. Verdict: “Deceased committed suicide whilst of unsound mind.”

At this inquest Julia SENNETT (Joseph’s wife) gave evidence that he had not coped well with the death of his wife Bridget, but more importantly for the family genealogists, she stated quite clearly that Edward was her husband’s brother.

So now we have three SENNETT men, all about the same age (born about 1807 to 1816) – James  whose father appears to be George; Edward whose father is James; and Joseph who is the brother of Edward.  With this new knowledge, the links to Castlemacadam parish, the Avoca Valley, Rathdrum, and Dunganstown in Co Wicklow, and keeping the assumption that the families were related, as well as now having much greater availability of appropriate parish records, a new tree has been drawn up.  It makes sense of all the information we have about the families of these three men (including family stories that Joseph and others of his family had converted from Church of Ireland to RC while in Ireland), and it takes our family tree back another couple of generations (click on the highlighted name links above to see the family trees).   What it doesn’t do yet is confirm the relationships of Eliza (b 1825) or William who had married Emma Idle (both of whom give father’s name as James, but which James?) …. and there may yet be a few more changes to the tree as more information comes to light.



February 24, 2020 / sennettfamilytree

Gravestones and virtual Cemeteries

Cemetery records and headstones can be valuable sources of information for genealogists – not just dates, but often names of other family members on the headstone.  If, like me, you do a lot of your genealogy research online, there are a variety of different types of websites offering information.   This may be local council burial records (names, dates, possibly who owned the plot and how much they paid), cemetery indexes with or without memorial transcriptions, local genealogy society records that may have cemetery maps so you can locate a grave, or the big online sites like Findagrave or Billiongraves that are made up from public contributions of photos and records.

I’m a big fan of Findagrave – it is free to use, it has lots of photos, is easy to contribute your own records to, and easy to add other biographical information including linked relationships to other people.  A wealth of information – as long as you consider carefully where that information has come from (I’ll talk more about that later).

I am also a contributor to Findagrave – some years ago a friend and I photographed every visible headstone in a small cemetery (Normanton Lower Cemetery, in West Yorkshire, England), and I uploaded these to Findagrave.

fgrave Normanton lower

Another contributor (who I don’t know) who also had an interest in this cemetery, took on the task of adding information from burial records.  Along with a few other smaller contributors, this is a great example of collaboration, resulting in 5019 documented memorials, of which 30% have photographs.   This may seem a low percentage of photographs, but there are an awful lot of unmarked graves in this cemetery.

Another feature of Findagrave that I find really useful is the ability to “save” records of interest by creating a Virtual Cemetery.  I have done this for my surname study (Sennett/Sinnott/Sinnett. Synnott, etc) – adding records to my Virtual Cemetery at the same time I add the information to my One Name Study files.

virtual cemetery

You can keep your virtual cemetery private or you can share a link.  This is the link for the S-NN-T cemetery   It doesn’t yet contain every S-NN-T in the findagrave database, but I keep working on it.

The pitfalls – in general death records of any kind are only as good as the knowledge of the next of kin.  Ages, places of birth, and even given names on grave markers can be suspect.   Headstones erected at the time of death are possibly more likely to be correct than a memorial stone erected generations later (which may not even be in the place where the person was buried).  It is often quite easy to identify stones erected by later generations if you compare them to others with similar death dates in the same cemetery or the same family.   These examples are all the same family (father and two sons) who died within 20 years of each other.  The father has no known original grave marker, but has at least two memorial plaques erected many generations after his death.

Another thing to watch out for on Findagrave is biographical information that hasn’t come directly from the headstone transcription.  Some of this extra information can be extremely useful, especially if it is backed up by additional images (a death certificate, a newspaper obituary or death notice) or source information, but like all “secondary” genealogical information it is up to you to check the source and assess whether it has been applied to the correct person. The  example here has some great information in an unsourced newspaper article,  though it does identify the contributor who has a contactable link,  which may help you to confirm the source.

Because Findagrave allows you to also link memorials to related people, there can be errors in family relationships where an incorrect link has been made.   If you do find evidence of wrong information, there are however fairly easy processes to report and submit corrections.

If you have random odd gravestone photos, do consider uploading to somewhere like Findagrave, so others can benefit from this information (there are ways to do bulk uploads too).   And, if you have a big family genealogy study, a surname study, or a geographic study, do consider creating your own Virtual Cemetery to group all those records from different places together.  I know I have found it very useful in my Surname Study.


February 2, 2020 / sennettfamilytree

Taking another look at the Census

When I started my SENNETT (also Sinnott, Sinnett, Synnott, etc) one name study, one of the first sets of data I looked at was the England and Wales Census of 1881.  It is a good place to start for one-namers (check out the Guild of One Name Studies if you want to know more about one name studies) as you can use the numbers you find here to figure out whether your study is likely to be a manageable size.

As my study expanded into other countries and began to include more variant spellings I realise now that I didn’t always go back and check those basic census sources for my new variant spellings.   As a result, I am still now (nine years later) coming across families that are new to me, where I should have already picked them up in census records.  The time has come to go back and take another look at the Census.

I’ve chosen 1910/11 as the year I want to look at first.   This is perfect for my study, as I can find records for most of the key countries where the surname is located: England & Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Canada all have a 1911 census, and the United States has a 1910 one.  It is also great because these have additional valuable information.

England & Wales 1911 census gives access to the actual form filled out by the household.  One question that was often misinterpreted was the question about years married and number of children born.  It wasn’t intended to be answered by those widowed, however if you look at the original record rather than just the transcript, you may be lucky enough to see the answers given by the head of household, crossed out by the enumerator.   Years married can be difficult to interpret (was it given as “how many years ago were you married” or was it “how many years were you married before your spouse died”?) but gives you a starting point.   Number of children living and who have died gives clues to infant deaths or others who you haven’t yet found.   In one case in my own family it even named the two children who had died.  A great find!

C1911 Edward Sennett

The Ireland 1911 census similarly includes years married and number of children born and died.  If viewed online from the Ireland National Archives site, there is another interesting feature that can help sort out possibly related families living in the same townland.   Selecting the townland name (from a family record page) results in a listing of all the surnames in all the houses in that townland.  In this example you can see SINNOTT at house 6 (with Kirivan) and at house 10.  Further down the list there is also a SINNOTT family at house 33.  Well worth taking a closer look at to see if they are related.

Ireland 1911 surnames in house

I don’t have many in my study living in Scotland, with the 1911 census only showing 28 people.   Like the England & Wales and Irish Census of the same year, there is also a question on fertility (years married, number of children born and died).  If you want to see the full record you do need to purchase credits, however you can see household groupings from the index by looking at the reference numbers.  This doesn’t give relationships, and in some cases you may find that the same page or household reference includes more than one family, but it is a good starting point. You do need to log into the ScotlandsPeople website, but that is easy enough to do.

Scotland 1911

The 1911 Census from Canada (I usually view this from the Library and Archives Canada website) gives you the month and year of birth as well as year of immigration, though be aware that year of birth may be calculated from age, so could be a year out.

C1911 Ontario

The same questions on years married and number of children born appear in the US Census of 1910.  In addition, of particular use to me with a lot of Irish emigrant families is the identification of the birthplaces of parents, noting that “Canada Irish” doesn’t necessarily mean that the parent was born in Ireland (but was of Irish ancestry), but does indicate I need to look at earlier Canadian records and border crossing records for that family.

US1910 bUS1910

So how far have I got with this Census review?    I am just at the end of reviewing the 1699 entries that come up in a wildcard search (S*NN*T) in the England and Wales Census.  Ireland has 1996 on the same wildcard search.  There are only 28 in Scotland, so that will be easy.   Canada has 76 SINNOTT and 53 SYNNOTT, though I may also have to look for other variant spellings.  The United States is a bit more daunting with either 3537 (Findmypast) or  4402 (Familysearch) coming up in an initial search, though both of these may contain names that aren’t my study surname variants.

So it’s head down and back to the databases for a bit, with results appearing soon as updates to my SENNETT/SINNOTT surname study website (supported by the Guild of One Name Studies)

January 19, 2020 / sennettfamilytree

DNA – a relatively rare genetic group for Sinnott, Sinnett, Sennett, Synnott

Genealogical DNA studies can be a really exciting adjunct to a surname study, as well as an almost essential part of a surname study.  Exciting, because DNA can help show surname origins, and hint at (or in some cases, prove) links between families not otherwise able to be connected by documentary evidence.  Almost essential, because in many cases that all-important documentary evidence is just no longer available, so DNA is the ONLY way to positively make connections between families.

Some of you may know that the surname study for Sennett/Sinnott/Sinnett/Synnott (all variant spellings in the form S-NN-T), registered with the Guild of One Name Studies, also has an associated DNA project at

ftdnaheader imageAs a member of the Guild of One Name Studies I had the opportunity to set up an associated Surname DNA study with support from the Guild DNA advisor, when I was very much a beginner in my understanding of using DNA in genealogy.  I’m still nowhere near an expert, but learning fast, as the S-NN-T Surname DNA project starts to make great strides in understanding the connectedness of our separate S-NN-T family groups, and in tracking the origins of the surname prior to arrival in Ireland (in the 12th century).

So what have we found out from DNA?

First of all, Spelling doesn’t always matter. Whatever your family version of the S-NN-T surname is, if you think your family once lived in Ireland, even if that was many generations ago, the chance of your being a descendant of the first SYNNOT to have arrived in Ireland in the 12th century, and therefore showing a genetic match with other Irish SINNOTT/SYNNOTT/SYNNOT is pretty good. What isn’t quite so easy to show right now is who or where the common ancestors of the different families are, but we are working on that (I’ll talk about BigY testing a bit further down).

The E-M35 haplogroup appears to be the “genetic signature” for the S-NN-T group of surnames (with the known 12th century arrival in Co Wexford, Ireland).
This Irish Sinnott genetic connection also includes SENNETT from Cornwall, who share this relatively rare (3-5% in Britain) E haplogroup. I’d like to be able to say that Welsh SINNETTs are also connected, however we don’t yet have any SINNETT of Welsh origin with the E haplogroup so this is still an unproven theory.

Less clear (because again we don’t yet have anyone in the DNA project to prove or disprove a genetic connection) is whether there is any common ancestry between SENNITT of Cambridgeshire and Irish SINNOTT, or any of the SENET/SINET/SINOT families of French origin (including some in Louisiana, and some in Quebec).

The lesser numbers of DNA project members who don’t show an E haplogroup, and whose tests don’t match others of the surname, are random enough to assume that these represent some kind of break between the Y-chromosome and the surname – including men taking on the S-NN-T name from a maternal line, and known or hidden illegitimacy. Many f these (especially the R-M269 group) may still have a long Irish ancestry with the break in paternity any time up to 20 or more generations ago. The remaining non-E haplogroup testers may represent families who were either not Irish in origin, or where a not-expected-paternity event has happened outside of Ireland. This group would include a number of emigrant families (to Britain or US) who are known to have changed their surname, as well as other families where the country of origin is not known, but where there is some history that would suggest European rather than Irish origin.

The DNA project for our surname started by testing to Y-37 level (male, surname line testing, with analysis of STRs, or short tandem repeats, to 37 markers). This level of testing is still a good starting point to identify those with the E haplogroup, and show matches with other project members that would indicate common ancestors.

There are published pedigrees and very early genealogies showing some of the very early (1200-1700) generations of Sinnotts, but as every S-NN-T researcher will discover, a lot of detail is missing.  It can be incredibly difficult to even identify the 18th or 19th century Irish townland origin of your emigrant ancestor, let alone work out how your family fits with those early pedigree charts.

Y37 testing will show matches to other S-NN-T families, but it isn’t enough to show how or when the big Sinnott genetic tree has branched off to separate families, and that is where other testing comes in.

The BigY DNA test has now entered the market, and this is providing an enormous amount more detail of how an individual’s DNA branches off to its own unique position within the bigger Haplotree. The first four Big-Y results for the S-NN-T surname project are in, and the multitude of new branches formed below E-M35 and E-V13 from just these four have taken our little surname group into a branch not shared by other surnames (represented by the two branches of the darker blue column on the left of this section of the E haplogroup block tree).  block tree 14 jan 2020

As more testing is done at Big-Y level we can expect to see how each Sinnott or Synnot or Sinnett family branches off from our common 12th century ancestor, and even put a more accurate timeframe on branch formation, which will help identify those elusive common ancestors.

These are exciting times, but the project still needs a lot more families represented.

If you are a Sennett or a Sinnott or a Synnott or a Sinnett (or any other surname form of S-NN-T) and are interested in the use of DNA for genealogy, then I’d love to hear from you. It is the Y-DNA (male line) that is most useful for surname studies as it is passed virtually unchanged from father to son, so I am particularly keen to hear from any men who would like to join the Surname project at (with an initial YDNA-37 test).  This project doesn’t focus as much on Autosomal DNA tests (AncestryDNA or Familyfinder at, however if you have already done one of these two tests you are welcome to also join the Sennett (Sinnott, etc) Surname project at, so please contact me (using the contact link here) for joining instructions.

As a final note, the Sennett (Sinnott, etc) DNA project has been very fortunate to have been able to sponsor a number of initial tests and test upgrades, however this relies on donations.  If you wish to support the project, the General Fund donation link is here.

This blog post has been written as part of a ten post blog challenge being undertaken by a number of members of the Guild of One Name Studies.

January 5, 2020 / sennettfamilytree

SENNETT surname study goals for 2020

website imageThere it is.  I’ve put it in print.  A blog title about goals for 2020 for my Guild of One Name Studies registered surname study (which isn’t just SENNETT, it is SINNOTT, SYNNOTT, SENNITT, SINNATT, and just about any other combination of S-NN-T or S-N-TT with or without an E on the end).

I don’t usually do research goals – I’m one of those research butterflies who flits around from one interesting bit to another.   This goal challenge has come from the Jan 2020 Genealogy Blog Party theme of “Organize & Prioritize”.  It is the first time I have joined a Blog Party (though I am also currently taking part in a 10 blog challenge with other members of the Guild of One Name Studies).  Writing about study goals is not something I usually do, but something that will undoubtedly be useful to my study.

Organize – this I have already started.   With 94,000 people in my study database, succession planning and study preservation is a big deal.  Luckily it is also a priority for the Guild of One Name Studies, so having my Sennett/Sinnott study as part of their “Members Website Project” where the website will continue to be maintained long after I stop working on it, is perfect.   The “organizing” part of it is me finding ways to regularly update and add as much as I can into it, which is going to take a bit more effort.  Currently the data there is basic – names, dates, places and relationships.  I’ve not put any detail (all the the “general notes” field of my database) in, because for many entries my research notes are just far too messy.   Organize.   Set a goal.  Work through family by family getting those notes into shape.  I need them published, because otherwise they may be lost forever in time.  I’m reminded of that question, “how do you eat an elephant?” – one bite at a time.

GOAL 1: add something to website every month (research update on “whats new” page)

GOAL 2:  update trees on website every second month, checking and publishing “notes” for separate tree branches one branch at a time.

Prioritise – I’m a bright shiny object seeker – “ooh, look, a new record set”,  “ooh, look, I recognise that name”, “oooh, look, is that another variant spelling?”.   What I’m not so good at is working my way through each record set without going off on sidetracks.  But, I currently have a findmypast subscription that has a great set of indexed Irish parish records, and I need to make the most of my subscription.   Irish Parish records are especially important to my ONS (one name study) because so many of the families in my database are Irish emigrants.   A systematic searching of earlier Parish Records and creating a comprehensive spreadsheet of these has already helped me match quite a number of emigrant families to their Irish townland origins. m james and eleanor nowlan 1751

GOAL 3: set a research priority of gathering birth, marriage and death information from Irish Parish Records.

And finally, another key aim for those of us managing registered one name studies:

GOAL 4:  Publish.   Share my findings.  Share my trees, whether complete or not (and actively invite people to critique, point out errors, or add to them).  Blog regularly.

(This blog post is also part of the #GOONSblogchallenge 10 blogs in 12 weeks challenge for members of the Guild of One Name Studies)


January 1, 2020 / sennettfamilytree

A brush with the law

Newspaper archives can throw up some really interesting bits of information about your family, both happy and sad (see my previous post about a very near miss for my family).  They can also record the bits of history that perhaps close relatives might want to forget. With the distance of another couple of generations we can more easily see the funny side about what our ancestors got up to.

Meet my Great-grandmother Fanny Sennett, nee Ward.

Fanny Sennett nee Ward

Fanny was born in 1884 and died in 1957.   She appears to have been the unofficial midwife and attendant at deaths for the wider family, with people from at least three generations  having been born in her house in Aylesham, Kent.   From all accounts she was a strong, determined woman, doing her best to keep things together in often hard times.  So it probably wasn’t that much of a surprise to me to discover she had had a brush with the law while trying to provide for her family, as reported in the local newspaper.

“Dover Express – Friday 20 January 1939  – Snowdown Pit-head coal thefts

Mrs Frances Sennett (56), 31 Clarendon Road, Aylesham, was summoned for stealing coal, valued 8d from a tip at Snowdown on 10th January.

Defendant pleaded guilty.

Supt Webb said that PC Starbuk stopped defendant who was pushing a pram, in Hyde Place.  The pram contained 1/2cwt of coal and some wood.  Defendant said “we have not got a piece of coal or wood in the house.  I have put in for my coal and they have not sent it”.  Supt Webb added that there was a regular income coming into the house as the husband and sons were in regular work.  On December 17th defendant appeared on a similar charge and was bound over for twelve months……

The Chairman said that when defendant was put on probation she promised to be of good behaviour for one year.  In a little over a month she had broken that promise.  Now she would have to forfeit the £5 and she would be placed on probation for a further two years.  If she broke that probation he would leave her to guess what the alternative might be. “

I could just picture Fanny trundling off to the pit-head with the old pram to load up with what was probably very poor quality dusty coal, and I can quite imagine that she had done this trip far more often than the two times she was caught.   It was another colorful little story about our family, to go with the ones about joyriding a “borrowed” motorbike, and keeping a dog without a licence.  I was eager to share these stories and have a laugh with other relatives,   but, do I tell my mother?   Unlike us, Mum remembered her granny.  Would she be offended?

In the end I showed my mother the newspaper articles.   There was a short thoughtful silence, then she laughed and said “I think I might have helped granny go get coal in the pram”.

(I’m taking part in #GOONSblogchallenge – a small group of members of the Guild of One Name Studies who have challenged themselves to produce 10 blog posts in 12 weeks)

December 23, 2019 / sennettfamilytree

Sinnotts – Christmas Day births and marriages

John Sinnett marriage 1821 pembrokeshireYou can’t pick your birthdate,  but it does sometimes seem a little odd to us now that people would choose to get married on Christmas Day.  In the past though, it may not have been so much of a choice – Christmas Day and Boxing day were often the only days that young working class couples could guarantee a day off work.    Mass weddings on Christmas Day did become quite a tradition in the 18th and 19th centuries, so it isn’t so surprising to discover one in your family.   There is a bit more about Christmas Weddings at this findmypast blog.

Did your Sennett/Sinnett/Sinnott/Synnott ancestor have a Christmas birthday or Wedding?  A quick look through the surname study database brings up a long list – it won’t be complete though as I have many more records of December marriages and births without an exact date.  If you know of one in your family that isn’t listed below, please let me know.

So, here is the list, starting with Births, and then the Marriages:

Christmas Day BIRTHS

Alfred Langford SENNITT, 1873 in Cambridgeshire, England
Joseph SENNITT, 1817, in Cambridgeshire, England
Lewis Frederick SENNITT, 1906 in Suffolk, England
Clara Ethel SENNOTT, 1926 in Illinois, US
Sally SENNOTT, 1828 in Maine US
Clarence Conner SINNETT, 1898 in Kansas, US
Debra Lynn SINNETT
James SINNETT, 1843 in Canada
Martha SINNETT, 1916 in Lancashire, England
Richard Henry SINNETT, 1902 in Haverfordwest, Wales
Alfredo SINNOTT 1928 in Brazil
Anne SINNOTT, 1872, Tara Hill, Gorey, Co Wexford, Ireland
Barbara SINNOTT, 1904, Rhode Island
Catherine SINNOTT, 1829, New Ross, Co Wexford, Ireland
Christina SINNOTT, 1869, Dublin, Ireland
Dora SINNOTT, 1876, Co Wexford, Ireland
Elizabeth SINNOTT, 1860, Camolin, Co Wexford, Ireland
Elizabeth SINNOTT, 1867, Placentia, Newfoundland, Canada
Florence Mary SINNOTT, 1922, New Jersey, US
Henry Joseph F SINNOTT, 1939 Liverpool, Lancashire, England
John Henry SINNOTT, 1899, New York, US
John R SINNOTT, 1915, Illinois, US
Margaret SINNOTT, 1930, Nebraska
Mary SINNOTT, 1876, Ballinrobe, Co Mayo, Ireland
Mary Ann SINNOTT, 1894, Cranaghan, Co Cavan, Ireland
Olive Mae SINNOTT, 1920, Alberta, Canada
Richard SINNOTT, 1881, Glamorganshire, Wales
Robert Patrick SINNOTT, 1908, Oregon, US
Thomas Henry SINNOTT, 1859, Boston, Massachusetts, US
Victor Hilray SINNOTT, 1908, Western Australia
Veronica SINNOTT, 1908, New York, US
Frances Maud SYNNETT, 1878, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Christopher A SYNNOTT, 1924, Dublin, Ireland
Henry James SYNNOTT, 1855, Glasnevin, Dublin, Ireland
Mollie Jean SYNNOTT, 1908, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Peter SYNNOTT, 1855, Tomacork, Carnew, Co Wicklow, Ireland

Christmas Day MARRIAGES

Annie Lavina SENNETT to Edmund James NORRIS in 1895, Ontario, Canada
Catherine Elizabeth SENNETT to Solomon BAYLISS in 1888 in Warwickshire, England
Charles SENNETT to Corrissan J MURRILL (nee GOULD?) in 1880, in Boston, Massachusetts, US
George Alfred SENNETT to Alice Maud JACOB in 1909 in Cardiff, Wales
Grace Adelaide SENNETT to Domingos Gracie ROSA in 1912 in Massachusetts, US
Helena Dasha SENNETT to Charles Edward BENDRY in 1933 Essex, England
Ida Beatrice SENNETT to Charles Henry WHITCOMBE in 1915, in Cardiff, Wales
James SENNETT to Ann CARROLL in 1841 (in Maine, US?)
Maggie M SENNETT to Sherman HARMAN in 1911 in Ohio, US
Pearl May SENNETT to Hugh Tarring MILLER in 1925 in Pennsylvania US
Emily SENNITT to Montague FREEMAN in 1913 in Kensal Green, London, England
Mary Harriett SENNITT to Henry STEMP in 1887 in Islington, London, England
Emma SINNETT to Thomas Clare MERCER in 1908 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England
Florence SINNETT to John James HESKETH in 1920 in Lancashire, England
Florinda SINNETT to Harmon Sinnett NOTTINGHAM in 1877, in Virginia US
Frederick Arthur SINNETT to Annie Kate AYLING in 1920 in Islington, London, England
Harriet C SINNETT to John HULDERMAN in 1874 in Ritchie, Virginia, US
Henry Grant SINNETT to Susan Eva MORRIS in 1896 in Kansas US
James Monroe SINNETT to Mary Ann NEELY in 1945 in West Virginia, US
John SINNETT to Elizabeth THOMAS in 1821 in Pembrokeshire, Wales
Louis C SINNETT to Sarah Elizabeth (NOAH?) in 1896 in Oklahoma, US
Malinda Catherine (Caddie) SINNETT to Charles Austin PROPST in 1913 in West Virginia US
Margaret SINNETT to Paul CRAY in 1835, in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England
Sarah SINNETT to Peter GEORGE in 1785 in Haverfordwest, Wales
Mary Smellie SINNOTT to Bernard FITZPATRICK in 1820 in Greenock, Scotland
Patrick SINNOTT to Catherine ROBBINS in 1854 in New York, US
William SINNOTT to Catherine SMYTHWICK in 1826 in Callan Co Kilkenny, Ireland
Edith Alleyne SINNOTTE to William MUMFORD in 1930 in Victoria, Australia
Mignonette May SYNNETT to John Thomas NEATE in 1903 in South Australia.

If any of these are your families, check out the information I have on them at and if you have anything to correct or add, or you want further information, I’d love to hear from you.   Either reply here, or use the contact link on the website or the surname study contact (search Sennett or Sinnott here to get the details)



November 5, 2019 / sennettfamilytree

Behind the scenes of the Sennett (Sinnott, Sinnett, Synnott) one-name study

Who knew that writing a short blog post regularly could be so hard?   Truth is, the writing isn’t that hard, it’s the prioritising of blog over research that gets difficult, when you know there is still so much to do with your surname study, and when you know you need to focus on getting your research online so more people can see it and collaborate with you on it.

I’ve made massive progress since I last blogged here – the database now stands at around 75,000 names, and I have been able to link many more emigrant families back to their Irish townland origins.   There is still lots more to do, and I still have too many duplicate entries for people with common names from the same places where it is incredibly difficult to sort out which family they belong to.   Some absolutely excellent work is also going on behind the scenes with a small but dedicated group of research colleagues who are sifting through every early reference and source they can find for the first SINNOTT/SYNNOTTs in Ireland and in some cases challenging previously written SINNOTT surname history.   Some of their work on the Sinnott name origins can be found here    and on the earliest genealogies here  .

The other thing that has been taking my time is the DNA surname study This has shown up a linked group of families of Irish origin with a relatively rare E haplogroup, which appears to be the genetic signature for families descending from the very first SYNAD/SYNNOT to arrive in Ireland (in the 12th century).  With four DNA project members having, or in the process of upgrading to the BigY test, we hope to get both a lot more information about the earliest origins of the Surname, as well as being able to put better time frames on when the various branches may have formed. This Y-DNA (male line) study needs a lot more participants, so if you are a S-NN-T, or know someone who wants to take part, please do follow the link to the project.   A Y-DNA37 test is the recommended minimum, and thanks to donations to the project general fund we can offer some subsidised tests (if the family is not already represented in the DNA project, and has documented family tree research).

As a Guild of One Name Studies member, with a registered surname study (SENNETT, and variants including SINNOTT, SYNNOTT, SINNETT, SENNITT, SINNATT etc), I made the decision to join their members website project to give me a place to publish my research online, but also to ensure preservation of my study.   What I didn’t expect was the massive dilemma about when to publish – Do I publish tree by tree, as I complete work on them?   Do I wait until I am sure I have got everything “right”?   Do I wait until I think I have included every reference to the surname I can find?

In the end, the answers to these questions were No, No, and No.   Discussion with my Guild colleagues made me realise that I needed to get my work out there, with all its potential errors and omissions, so I can invite collaboration and get help to make these family trees as complete as they can possibly be.    This study isn’t just about a surname, it is about lots and lots of individual families.

So here I am, having now exposed my entire database to the scrutiny of the public in my Guild of One Name Studies supported website, waiting for messages  saying “you got it wrong”, “you missed out my grandfather”, or “we don’t spell our surname that way in our family”.

If you are a SENNETT or a SINNETT, or a SINNOTT, or a SYNNOTT, SYNNOT, SYNOTT, SYNETTE, SINETTE, or even a SINEATH or any name that looks a bit like S-NN-T or S-N-TT, please take a good look at the surname study website, and use the contact links to suggest changes or offer your help to get your own branch of the family correct.   You can view and search the website from this link.

Lets hope we don’t have to wait another few years for my next blog post!


July 12, 2016 / sennettfamilytree

Irish Catholic Parish Records at the NLI

A contact from a Kentucky SINNETT descendant has brought me back to my rather neglected blog, and the realisation that I haven’t posted anything here since January this year.  Interestingly that was about the time I decided to put my focus on the newly released Irish Catholic Parish Record set at .   These are unindexed images of original parish records, with some registers 300 or more handwritten pages long, which as you might imagine can take some effort to decipher.  It is paying off though, and I have had the thrill of finding quite a few families that I already had in my database and being able to confirm their townland of origin in Ireland.  As usual though, it has also created more questions than answers with many new families I haven’t been able to conclusively link to existing ones.  I’ve been concentrating on first covering the parishes in Wexford where I know SINNOTTs have lived, then spreading out to the rest of Co Wexford, and then I will slowly work my way through other counties, again starting with ones I know I have had SINNOTTs come from (eg. Tipperary, Waterford, Wicklow).  At the same time I have been working through the Ireland 1901 and 1911 censuses (also available online via the NLI) and trying to match families to the parish records and to existing families in the database.  I think my last published count was something just over 40,000 records in my database (S-NN-Ts, spouses and immediate families) – I just looked again and my record count is 51,212 and still increasing.

If you would like to help contribute your research to the SENNETT/SINNOTT surname study, I’d love to hear from you and compare notes on your family tree.  Under the terms of my membership of the Guild of One Name Studies, I will always respond to enquiries and share any of my relevant research at no charge to anyone with an interest in this surname.  I’m also still keen to increase the number of families represented in the genealogical DNA surname study – you can find out more about that and order a test (Y-DNA37 is the recommended one) at