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January 4, 2015 / sennettfamilytree

New Family Tree section added to the website

I’ve just added a new “page” for Family Trees -this is where I will be publishing visual family tree charts, starting with about 10 charts for the Sennett (Sinnott) family of Normanton, West Yorkshire. Wasn’t the easiest family to start with, having 97 different people (including spouses) by the time it got to generation 3, which is why it has been broken down into smaller charts, but I think I have a handle on how to embed the charts in a way that keeps them easily readable.

More charts for different family groups will follow as fast as I can find the time to put them on.

January 3, 2015 / sennettfamilytree

2014 in review – my Sennett / Sinnott blog

So I’m not the most prolific blogger out, but I’ve definitely improved this year, as my stats show. New Years resolution is to definitely keep up blogging, and to try to remember to blog EVERY time I discover something interesting in my S-NN-T one name study.

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here's an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 540 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 9 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

January 2, 2015 / sennettfamilytree

When is a family tree good enough to publish?

This was a question I recently asked on the forum of the Guild of One Name Studies. I’ve been very nervous about publishing the results of my one-name study family tree reconstructions, largely because I’m aware there are so many dodgy trees published on various genealogy sites and I didn’t want to be guilty of adding to them.

Its seems easy to think that you can actually make a “correct” family tree, but so many things conspire to bringing in elements of doubt. When you have a surname like Sennett/Sinnott which seems to end up with lots of transcription and recording errors and changes of spelling over time (virtually every combination of vowels between the letters S-NN-T), and then add in a very limited range of given names in the many the Catholic Sinnott families, it becomes incredibly difficult to know for sure which James or Joseph or John Sinnott it really was who married great aunty Elizabeth, and whether that J Sinnott was the same person who emigrated to Canada, or Australia or United States. Even obtaining birth, marriage or death certificates doesn’t always help (though that is impossible to do with all 35,000 names in my database!).

Part of my commitment in registering a one-name study with the Guild of One Name Studies ( is to share and publish the results of my study, and ensure it remains available long after I cease to work on it. One of the easiest ways of doing that is to put trees online and to collaborate with other researchers. I am now realising that if I wait until I am sure I have all the information true and correct, then its never going to happen. Thanks to the good folk at GOONS (Guild of One Name Studies), I’ve been given encouragement to put up my “working” family trees, in the hope that it will encourage people with common ancestors to contribute, confirm and also to correct information.

So that’s my New Year Resolution – start publishing Sinnott/Sennett family trees online as collaborative working documents.

December 29, 2014 / sennettfamilytree

“Visitation of God hastened by use of ardent spirits”

Yet another gem from the Trove online Australian newspaper resource  (

This time its the inquest into the death of Edward John Sinnett in 1855, found dead on a dray at Geelong, Victoria, Australia.   An unfortunate end for a much-liked man, but you have to smile at the wording of the Jury’s verdict:  “Died by the visitation of God in a natural way, hastened by the excessive use of ardent spirits”

Edward John Sinnett inquest 1855

Its a sad story as Edward left a widow, Eliza  and young son, (also Edward John).  Eliza married again, but the new husband was said to be abusive to young Edward, and by the age of 8 he had run away from home.

reward Edward John Stokes

Edward John Sinnett senior was said to have been born in 1822 in Maidstone, Kent, but as yet I have found no trace of a birth record or later immigration record to Australia.  If anyone can help me on this (or has further details of his marriage to Eliza Halse that may give more clues), please contact me through the Sennett surname project at the Guild of One Name Studies (

December 25, 2014 / sennettfamilytree

Born on Christmas Day – Sennet, Sennett, Sennitt, Sinnett, Sinnott, Synnett, Synnott

Its the wee small hours of Christmas day, and I really should be in bed, but just out of curiosity, I had a look through my genealogy database to see how many people in the S-nn-t one name study were Christmas babies. There are certainly quite a few more that I don’t have confirmed dates of birth for that I could add to the list, and I haven’t included anyone born after 1925, but here is the partial list:

Joseph Sennitt, born 1816, of Stretham, Cambridgeshire, England
Lewis Frederick Sennitt,born 1906, of Suffolk, England
Sally Sennott, born 1828, of Saco, York, Maine
Clarence Conner Sinnett, born 1898, of Kingman, Kansas
Barbara Sinnott, born 1904, of Rhode Island
Christina Mary Sinnott born 1868, of Dublin, Ireland
Dora Sinnott born 1876, of Co Wexford, Ireland
John Henry Sinnott born 1899, of Utica, New York
John R Sinnott born 1915,of Illinois, US
Olive Mae Sinnott, born 1920, of Alberta, Canada
Victor Hilray Sinnott, born 1908, of Western Australia
Frances Maud Synnett, born 1878, born in Tasmania, Australia, and lived in New Zealand
Henry James Synnott, born 1855 Dublin, and lived in Dekalb, Illinois

If you recognise any of these names and want to know more about their families, or if you have others to add to the list of Christmas babies, I’d love to hear from you. You can contact me through the Guild of One Name Studies ( profile page for the Sennett study.

December 18, 2014 / sennettfamilytree

William Sinnott injured in attempt to assassinate Roosevelt

Still working my way through the Australian newspaper records at and another interesting article has come up. Roosvelt assn William Sinnott

This was about the assassination attempt on President Roosevelt. In all, six shots were fired with five persons being wounded, one of whom was named as William Sinnott- receiving a gunshot wound over the left eye.

I wonder if the story of this has passed down through William’s family, and whether there is anyone living now who has heard the story?

December 7, 2014 / sennettfamilytree

Laurence Synnott, 14 year old Irish convict sent to Australia

Today’s genealogy research brief was to check out descendants of John and Moses Synnott/Sinnott of Lower Clonee, Ferns, Co Wexford and update my records with new information (thanks Sue), but as usual I have been completely sidetracked.

I was looking on the NSW state government website ( to see what records they had and came across an index entry for a certificate of freedom for Laurence Synnott dated 30 December 1842. The record indicated that he was sent to Australia on the convict ship Hive in 1835.

Australia has a really great newspaper index at and a further search for “Hive, 1835” turned up trumps with a newspaper article from 17th december 1835. This wasn’t your usual shipping arrival record though, as it told the story of the ship running aground.

Sydney Herald 17th Dec 1835

Sydney Herald 17th Dec 1835

The full text of the article is as follows:
The Sydney Herald.
“Sworn to no Master, of no Sect am I.”
The report which reached Sydney on Sunday last, of the Hive, convict ship, being on the Coast, having on board upwards of 300 souls, was the means of producing much excitement in Sydney for the last four days,indeed so much anxiety was felt by the inhabitants for the fate of the vessel and those on board, (expecting an addition to the late melancholy shipwrecks near our shores) that as soon as the Tamar
steam-packet was signalled yesterday, great numbers of the Townpeople were ob- served flocking to the Dockyard and other places where information might be obtained relative to the accident. The following particulars have been derived from authentic sources, principally from a gentle- man passenger in the vessel.

The ship Hive, Captain Nutting, (notLuscombe), left Portsmouth, for Dublinand Cork, on the 3d of August, with
£10,000 in specie for the Commissariat Department of Sydney. She took prisoners at Dublin, and completed her complement at Cork, from which port she sailed on the morning of the 24th of August, having on board John Donohoe, Esq., Surgeon, R. N., Lieutenant Lugard, 31st Regiment, Ensign Kelly, 17th Regiment, Henry Lugard, Esq., of the Royal Engineers, 29 rank and file of the 28th Regiment, 8 women, 11 children, and 250 male prisoners. The vessel touched nowhere on the passage, and nothing occurred of any consequence, except the death of one of the prisoners, up to the night of Thursday the 10th instant. During the whole of Thursday, the Hive, it appears, kept within sight of land, and it is said, passed the Royal Sovereign ; in the night it blew pretty fresh, and a dense fog came on. Our informants here leave us in the dark, as well as the ship, and we next hear of the vessel being stranded on the Coast near the Pigeon House, within 10 miles of Cape George. All hands were immediately called up, and the boats lowered, one of which was stove in the attempt, and the persons capsized,- one of whom reached the land, by whose exertions a hawser from the ship was made fast ashore. This enabled the Captain and crew to lower the rest of the ship’s boats, lines being made fast stem and stern, when as soon as one boat was filled with the persons on board, those on shore dragged the boat towards them, and they were landed. By this means the whole of the men, women, and children, were discharged from the ship, which was done without the least confusion. On the morning of Friday, Ensign Kelly, of the 17th Regiment, by the assistance of some blacks, found his way to the station of John Lamb, Esq., to whom he reported the circumstance. From this place Ensign Kellytravelled to the estate of Alexander Berry, Esq., a few miles further on, and from whence a messenger was despatched to Wolongong; the Police Magistrate there being requested to forward the account of the accident with all despatch to head quarters. The people belonging to the ship were, during this time, engaged in getting the luggage and stores from the ship, and the prisoners ashore forming bowers for resting places at night. Mr. Berry, in the most prompt manner, as soon as he heard of the circumstance, sent his schooner to the Hive well manned, but her assistance was not required – the weather being fine and the vessel close in upon the land. One accident happened during the night, the boatswain in attempting to save the life of a lad belonging to the ship, was unfortunately drowned, the boy being washed ashore by the surf. On Sunday the Revenue Cutter started for the Hive, and took charge of the specie, all of which was saved. Shortly after the Revenue Cutter, the Zebra, brig of war, and the steam packet Tamar, reached Jervis Bay ; and, as soon as practicable, Dr. Donoghoe, Surgeon Superintendent of the Hive, Mr. Lugard, of the Royal Engineers, part of the guard, and 100 of the prisoners, were forwarded in the steamer to Sydney. The Zebra also took charge of the specie, all the mails, and 100 prisoners, the rest being ordered to remain near the ship to render assistance in getting her off the beach, if possible. The Zebra is expected in port to-day, with the mails, &c. Several gentlemen who have been to the Hive, state that she has not the appearance of being damaged in any way-and that every thing on board has been preserved ; the only difficulty remaining is the hauling of the vessel off the shore-in which she is unfortunately embedded in the sand. Ensign Kelly, chief officer, part of the crew, and the guard, are mentioned in terms of commendation for their praiseworthy exertions after the vessel grounded. We have now given every particular that we could glean of this strange “mistake,” as it is called, waiting the explanation of Captain Nutting when he reaches Sydney. It was a most providential circumstance that the vessel did not go ashore a few miles higher up the Coast, or but few would have been left to tell the tale.

So who was this Laurence and what became of him? I found a list of convicts on this voyage on Babette Smith’s website and it gave a bit more information: Laurence Synnott was one of the youngest convicts on this voyage. Along with 12 year old Cornelius Sheehan (convicted of stealing a salt cellar), and John Shiell aged 13 (picking pockets), Laurence was in his early teens (given as age 14). He was described as a butchers boy, of Co Dublin, sentenced on 15 Jul 1835 at Queens Co for picking pockets. What would seem to most people today to be a relatively minor crime got him a sentence of 7 years six months and transportation to Australia.

As I noted earlier, Laurence was given his freedom in 1842. I don’t think we can underestimate how hard life must have been for transported convicts, particularly ones as young as Laurence, but part of me wonders whether this sentence gave him opportunities he may never have had otherwise. Right now, I don’t know what happened to Laurence after he was given his freedom. If you are related to him or know more, I’d love to hear from you and find out more.

November 13, 2014 / sennettfamilytree

DNA update – SENNETT or SINNOTT of Co. Wicklow

The full 37 markers are in for the genealogical DNA test done by a SENNETT whose origins are SINNOTT in Co. Wicklow, and as it appeared from the first 12 markers, its a completely different genetic signature to any of the Co. Wexford tests already done. Interestingly, this test has been identified as being of the “Niall of the Nine Hostages”, or Irish Modal haplotype – the most common Irish Y Haplotype, and one that could possibly mean much deeper Irish ancestry than the Co Wexford Sinnotts, whose origins in Ireland appear to be around the 12th century, immigrating via the Flemish Communities in Wales. Rather than get myself confused trying to explain history I don’t fully understand, here are some links to further information about Niall’s DNA heritage:

October 23, 2014 / sennettfamilytree

Calling all SINNOTT/SENNETT with Co Wicklow origins

The first DNA results are now in for a SENNETT (originally SINNOTT) with Co Wicklow origins, and the predicted haplotype is R-M269. Its a fairly common haplotype so right now at 12 markers there are in excess of 600 matches, however that number will diminish once the rest of the 37 markers have been reported.

What is interesting is that this is quite a different haplotype to the three different lines of SINNOTT originating from Co Wexford who have already tested as either E-L117 or E-V36.

It would have been very easy to assume that with Wicklow and Wexford being neighbouring counties, SINNOTTs in both counties would share the same origins, but that doesn’t appear to be the case for this first Co Wicklow test.

What happens next? It would be great to get a few more tests from folk with S-NN-T ancestors originating from Co Wicklow, and from any group of S-NN-T (with any combination of vowels in the spelling) who don’t think they originate from Co Wexford. There are still a lot of family groups who don’t know their ancestry much beyond 1800, and genetic DNA is one way to push the boundaries and see which groups do share common ancestry. So, if you are or know of a male who can show an unbroken father-son line back to an early S-NN-T ancestor, please consider joining the SENNETT (Sinnott, Sennitt, and other spellings) surname project at familytreeDNA. Feel free to also contact me through the Sennett one name study (registered with the Guild of One Name Studies).

October 17, 2014 / sennettfamilytree

Getting sidetracked- the DIGNAN and SENNETT connection

It doesn’t take much to have me heading off in a new direction with genealogy research. This time it is the DIGNAN-SENNETT connection – sparked by an email from another Guild of One Name Studies member (registered names DUIGNAN, DIGNAN and variants) asking if I knew anything more about Patrick DIGNAN, who had married Mary Agnes SENNETT in 1912.

Mary Agnes is from my own SENNETT line, but I realised I really didn’t know anything much about the DIGNANs, though I was able to find gravestone photos

Normanton Lower Cemetery, Patrick Dignan and wife Mary Agnes (nee Sennett)

Normanton Lower Cemetery, Patrick Dignan and wife Mary Agnes (nee Sennett)

I’d taken these photos in August when I was staying in Yorkshire. This headstone gave a few more clues with an approximate birthdate and date of death, which allowed the death registration to be found. But that’s where the trail has ended temporarily. The only Patrick DIGNAN that either I or Fiona (the DIGNAN one name study holder) can find in the 1911 census is a policeman living in Lancashire. My mother remembers visiting some of the DIGNAN family but I don’t recall her ever mentioning a police officer, which would have been a fairly unusual occupation in our largely coal mining family. A little bit more digging has revealed that one of Patrick and Mary Agnes’s sons was also a police officer, as was a son in law. So is ours the same Patrick as the one in the 1911 census?

I’m not usually one for jumping straight to buying certificates, but in this case its going to help not just one surname study, but two (SENNETT and DIGNAN) so my order for Patrick and Mary Agnes’s marriage certificate has been placed. With a bit of luck that will confirm Patrick’s age, give his occupation and father’s name and occupation, and that will be enough for Fiona from the DIGNAN study to then link him back into one of the family groups she has. Its been a great collaboration between two different one-name studies, with the added advantage of having a personal interest in one of the names, which meant that I could offer not only gravestone photos, but also a photo taken in the late 1930’s of one of the daughters of the family with my mother as a very young child.

As the administrator of the SENNETT, SINNETT, SINNOTT (S-NN-T) one name study I really enjoy working with people researching their own branch of this name – the combination of their personal knowledge of the family with my extensive database and research skills is a winner every time, often breaking through brick walls for other people. I’d definitely encourage everyone interested in genealogy to check whether there is a registered one name study for their name, and if so, to contact the holder of the study and be open to sharing and comparing the information you have – its a great way of checking your research assumptions (and we all make them!) and adding to what you know.

For more information about the Guild of One Name Studies please check out Membership is open to anyone interested in one-name (surname) studies, not just those with registered studies.