Dennis Bill’s Family History

Researching the BILL and WISEMAN families in UK, Ireland, USA, Canada and wherever


Listed below are my main areas of research, detailing where I am seeking help and where I have data that may be of help to other researchers.

The BILL Family - of Belfast

My WISEMAN research

French Canadian WISEMANS

Newfoundland WISEMANS

BENNETTS and TROWBRIDGES of Tollard Royal, Wilts


TOUHEY/TOOHEYs of Feakle, County Clare

CARROLLs of Birr, County Offally (King’s County)

DELANEYs of Birr, County Offally (King’s County)

The BILL family - of Belfast

When my great-grandfather James Bill joined the army in Belfast in 1868 he gave his place of birth as Shankhill, Belfast (born 1848). The army records indicate that he was a Presbyterian. I visited PRONI in Belfast in June 2004 and searched the parish records then available and the only potential baptism I could find was one in St Anne's, Shankhill, in 1849 that could have been James BILL or BELL - there were many Bills and Bells in Antrim at this time. The date and the father's name, William, fitted with what I knew but of course it wasn’t Presbyterian. Then a few years later I had a contact from Terry Morrow, a possible distant cousin, saying that he thought he had found James and his family in Glasgow in the 1851 census. When I had time to look I found this record very convincing. However, a revisit to this research in early 2017, thanks to a couple of house-bound wet summer days, revealed that this James married in Scotland and was recorded with his family in later censuses but recorded as BELL not BILL and with spurious ages, no wonder I couldn’t find them initially. In June 2018 I visited the new PRONI in Belfast and went through all the available Presbyterian church records for the Belfast-Antrim area - but with the same result. All this seems to point to him being the illegitimate son of a Bill female. Since my 2018 Belfast visit I have compiled a database of all the BILLs I could find In the Belfast/Co Antrim area. The data has been drawn from the 1901 and 1911 censuses, civil registration records, parish registers at PRONI, 1833 census of Templepatrick and other online resources. I have over 400 BILLs in this database (some of these are probably duplicates where the father’s name has been taken from Marriage Certificates) plus over 500 spouses and other in-laws’. I have used this database to help sort and identify my autosomal DNA matches and I have been able to identifiy a match in Canada whose tree links to a chap I met at PRONI in 2018 whose mother was a BILL. They are, in fact, 2nd cousins once removed and I have been able to put them in contact with one another. I too must be linked to this tree but just how is still a mystery. I have six Y-DNA matches at 111 markers, four of whom have the surname Ferguson (confirming the expected Ulster-Scotland connection) but the relationship is many generations back, over 500 years, and so of little help. I do have a BILL match at 37 markers, but again this is many generations back and the family tree does not link to the group mentioned above. I will be pleased to hear from anyone who has Belfast/Antrim family ca 1840s, especially those with BILL connections back to top

My WISEMAN research

I began by finding that the majority of my WISEMAN ancestors didn't stray far from Ringwood in Hampshire, about 30 miles from where I live. I soon found a family tree online that went back to about 1540. It seemed too good to be true - and it was! When I checked the data against the parish records there were large gaps. As the WISEMANs had been fairly static, I decided to extract all WISEMAN records from the parish registers and then see if I could construct a tree that way. I have gathered the data but it does not form a contiguous tree. There are small related groups but without connections between them. This is not helped by some gaps in the parish registers, one as much as 20 years (1680-1700). Apart from these obvious gaps the registers are clearly very poorly kept with many events not recorded, this is evident not only in the WISEMANs but in the other Ringwood familes I have researched. I have also collected data from the adjoining parishes (Ellingham, Ibsley, Harbridge, Sopley, Fordingbridge and Christchurch) . I’m fortunate that I live just a short motorway trip from the Hampshire Record Office and I have spent countless hours there over the last twenty years. Most recently I have been revisiting the Manorial Records in more depth, in particular the Courts Baron records where they have survived for the Manors of Ringwood and Bisterne. I have recorded all the mentions of my surnames of interest - mainly WISEMAN and WITT - and by creating a chronological list of these records I have been able to add some further links to my tree and push my direct WISEMAN line back at least one more generation to John WISEMAN (1696-1752) and his wife Hannah (c1696-1742) but alas no marriage record exists. I have also been able to extend some other WISEMAN branches that so far remain unconnected to my direct line by evidence from these Courts Baron records. A typical example records: “We present the death of Nicholas Wiseman a copyholder of this Manor is dead who has a cottage and a herriot of 2s and Philip Wiseman his son is the next holder” This Philip can be positively identified by the date of later entries recording his death and the passing of the copyhold to his wife Ann that coincide with parish register entries and although his baptism is not recorded in the parish register I now know that he was the son of a Nicholas WISEMAN. There are still some Bisterne Manor records in private hands that might aid this research when they become accessible. back to top

French Canadian WISEMANs

Please see the story on my Skeletons page. I would like to hear from descendants of: James (Jacques) Wiseman who married Madeleine Delisle in Quebec on 16 Sep 1783, and his great (x2) grandson Elzear Phillipe Wiseman (born Quebec 1858) who perished on RMS Titanic in 1912. back to top

Newfoundland WISEMANs

Thanks to Brian Bursey who contacted me through Ancestry DNA I have become aware of some Ringwood Wisemans in Newfoundland, arriving there in the early 19th century or even before through the fishing trade operating out of Poole in Dorset. The most identifiable one is James WISEMAN, born in Upper Kingston, Ringwood and baptised there on 7 Oct 1789, he was the son of John & Lucy WISEMAN. He settled at Heart’s Content on Trinity Bay and died there in 1874, allegedly aged 87 having spent 68 years in the province. There are quite a number of WISEMANs in the Newfoundland & Labrador archives but not all were from Hampshire, some were from Scotland and at least one other had a Northern Irish background. I would appreciate any information about James’s descendants in Newfoundland and any other Ringwood WISEMANs in the province. back to top

BENNETTs and TROWBRIDGEs of Wiltshire & Dorset

My great-great-great grandparents were James BENNETT and Dinah TROWBRIDGE of Tollard Royal, Wiltshire. I have traced their families back and after only two generations they end at the same place - they were apparently cousins descended from John BENNETT (born 1723) and Sarah BENNETT. I am still looking for the baptism of their daughter, my great great grandmother, Rachel BENNETT, about 1816. See my James Bennett story on the Skeletons page. I am currently looking at Australian BENNETT connections but the sources are somewhat ‘sketchy’. back to top

FOSTERs and PENNICOTTs - DNA testing comes to the rescue (partly)

My great grand-father was Amos FOSTER (b 17 Jul 1850, Whetstone, Middx), son of Mary Ann FOSTER and allegedly Charles FOSTER. He gave Charles as his father when he married Louisa PENNICOTT (father Joseph Pennicott) at St Mary's Church, Portsea, Portsmouth, on 24 Sep 1871, but his birth certificate shows no father's name. After much searching (before the census data came online) I found him in the 1861 census as a boarder, age 10, with a family called COOPER (husband, wife and six children). This quickly led me to the 1851 census where he is with the same family as a 'foster child', age 11 months. It was some time afterwards that I noticed that the wife of the COOPER household was called Mary Ann !! Could this be the answer? Again after much trawling through the Portsmouth area marriage registers I found the marriage of William COOPER to Mary Ann FOSTER in Alverstoke on 14 Aug 1826 - Bingo?! Well I thought so until 2020 when I had two autosomalDNA contacts from Australia. They both have a family link to another, I thought seperate, FOSTER in my tree. My great aunt Annie Georgina WISEMAN’s second husband was a retired Royal Navy Pettty Officer called Joseph FOSTER (see about her first husband on the Skeletons page). I researched his ancestors as best I could online but could not prove a link between my two Foster families. However, these Australian autosomalDNA links show me having a ‘cousin’ relationship to them and they having a proven connection to Joseph FOSTER’s family means that I must be related to him as well. Joseph FOSTER had an aunt called Mary Ann who would have been about 17 at the time of Amos’ birth. She subsequently married Charles Henry Scovell in 1853. Judging by her age, the Mary Ann that fostered Amos is probably this younger Mary Ann’s aunt - but I have yet to prove this connection, but DNA doesn’t lie, does it? I am currently working on my DNA matches to try and identify the family of Amos’s unknown father. If you know anything about these FOSTER families I would like to hear from you. Amos and Louisa FOSTER had twelve children between 1873 and 1891. I have searched all the Portsmouth churches but cannot find a single baptism for these children, nor are they in the civil registrations. Also I have failed to find any birth record for Louisa nor can I find her parent's marriage. All help welcomed. back to top

TUOHEY/TOOHEYs and GAVINs of Feakle, County Clare, Ireland

My great-grandmother was Mary TUOHEY who was born in Feakle, County Clare in 1860. Her father was Patrick TUOHEY and her mother Catherine GAVIN. They had at least five other children, Bridget (1862), Michael (1863), Catherine (1866), Patrick (1868) and Edmund (1870). There do not appear to be any other GAVINs in Feakle at this time so I would appreciate any information on Catherine's history and on Patrick's as well. There are many TUOHEYs buried in Feakle churchyard and I was told (by a man in the pub!) that there are three families in the village now. Any information on TOUHEYs and GAVINS in the Feakle area gratefully received. back to top

CARROLLs of Birr, County Offally (King's County), Ireland

My great-great-grandfather was Michael EGAN (b1812). He married an Ellen CARROLL about 1830/40ish but I can't find the marriage (it probably pre-dates the church registers that start about 1838). I searched the 1821 Census for Birr and found the following five Ellen CARROLLs within an acceptable age range: A - Ellen CARROLL (b 1819) of Tim (b 1771) and Catherine (b 1786) B - Ellen CARROLL (b 1818) of Daniel (b 1789) and Catherine (b 1792) C - Ellen CARROLL (b 1814) D - Ellen CARROLL (b 1812) of Michael (b 1776) and Eliza (b 1783) E - Ellen CARROLL (b 1810) of John (b 1770) and Mary (b 1786) HELP !! back to top

DELANEYs of Birr, County Offally (King’s County), Ireland

My great-grandfather was Daniel DELANEY (b about 1860) who married Mary TUOHEY (see above) in Birr on 25 Oct 1884. His father was recorded as Daniel DELANEY, bellhanger. In the 1901 and 1911 censuses Daniel and Mary are both recorded as being born in 1860, his birthplace is shown as King’s County (now County Offaly). There is no baptism record for him in St Brendan’s RC Church, Birr nor is there a birth registration for him with this place and birth date. When the Roman Catholic Church Registers came online in 2016 I could find no matching record anywhere. However, there is a record for the baptism of a Daniel DELANEY with a father of the same name and mother Sarah CARROLL in St Brendan’s in 1856. There is also a baptism for an Eliza born to the same parents (although the mother is recorded as Sally) on 18 Jan 1853, presumably the same couple. There is no record of a marriage for this couple but the St Brendan’s registers only start in 1848 so it is probable that they were married before that. There is no matching marriage anywhere else in Ireland. It seems that the 1856 baptism is ‘my’ Daniel and his birth date is incorrectly recorded in the censuses although it must be pointed out that his occupation is variously recorded as pound master, gamekeeper and labourer, which may or may not indicate that these records refer to more than one man. There was also no obvious death registration for him in County Offaly either, the only Daniel Delaney death registered in Birr was recorded as 61 years old in 1928 when ‘my’ Daniel would have been 71. On my last Ireland trip (2018) I visited the Council Offices and with the help of the Cemetery Caretaker, Michael Spain, I was able to check the original registers and maps which recorded his age correctly as 71. Stangely he was not buried with his wife Mary (nee Tuohey) but in an adjacent grave. Any help with this family line would be much appreciated. back to top
Dennis Bill 2023