My Irish Palatine and German Ancestors

I have two convict ancestors who were transported to Australia from England and Ireland in the early nineteenth century. See here for the story of Thomas Wilson. My other convict ancestor, William Warren (1765-1850), came from Wexford in southeast Ireland and was my 4th-great-grandfather. His wife Eleanor Jeakle (1773-1849) remained in Ireland when her husband was transported to Australia in 1816.  I was recently updating my family tree and an hint led me to a family tree which showed that Eleanor Jeakle had German grandparents who lived and died in the Rhineland-Palatinate.

Family trees on often contain spurious information because people accept hints based on no more than similarities in names and dates, without checking for evidence of relationship. I researched the German grandparents and indeed found that there was absolutely no evidence of a relationship my Irish ancestors. However, in doing so, I came across a website that talked about the Irish Palatines and their emigration from Germany in 1709.  And there in a list of families who settled at Old Ross near Wexford was the name ‘Phil Jeakle’. I was astonished. The link to the Rhine-Palatinate that seemed too fantastical to be true was in fact probably true.

Philipp Jeakle (Jäkell) – emigrant from the Rhine-Palatinate in 1709

I did some more due diligence and found that Jeakle/Jekyll/Jekell was a common surname in the Old Ross and New Ross parishes where the Palatines settled, and that Jäkel/Jökel/Jekell/Gäckel were reasonably common surnames for  births and deaths for that period in the Rhine-Palatinate. Note that ä is pronounced identically to the “e” in Jekell. I then found a list of names of the Germans from the Palatinate who came to England in 1709. Among the arrivals in London in May 1709 was Philip Bekell together with his wife, son and five daughters.

There is no other surname similar to Jekell in the list, and Bekell does not occur in the Irish Palatine name lists or in the birth and death records of the Palatinate. The webpage with the list explicitly warns that there may be transcription errors from the old records.  Given all this, and the matching forename Philip, I think we can conclude with fair certainty that the German immigrant was Philipp Jekell/Jeacle. The 1709 record notes that he was 53 years old (so born in 1656), a husbandman and vinedresser, accompanied by his wife, a 10 year old son, 12 year old and 8 year old daughters, 6 year old twin daughters, and a fifth presumably younger daughter.

The Palatine emigration from the Rhineland to Ireland

Throughout the Nine Years War (1688–97) and the War of Spanish Succession (1701–14), recurrent invasions by the French Army devastated the region of Germany known as the Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz). The French Army pillaged and destroyed numerous cities (especially within the Palatinate) and created economic hardship for the inhabitants of the region, exacerbated by a rash of harsh winters and poor harvests that created famine in Germany and much of northwest Europe. There were nearly 700,000 military deaths and even more in the civilian population. For more information on Palatine history and the events leading to the Palatine emigration of 1709, see the article Palatine History by Lorine McGinnis Schulze, appended at the end of this post.

A View of the Palatine Camp form’d in White Chappel Fields, (c) Trustees of the British Museum

The mass emigration in 1709 to England, of mostly impoverished people, was triggered by the promises of free land in the American Colonies. Between May and November 1709, some 13,000 Germans travelled down the Rhine River to Rotterdam and boarded ships bound for London, England, in the hopes of being transported to America. Around 3,000 of them were sent to America in 1710; and around 5,000 remained in England, many entering the English army. About 3,000 of them were sent to Ireland in September 1709. They were settled as tenant farmers on the Southwell Estate near Rathkeale, County Limerick, and in a second colony at Gorey (20 families) and Old Ross (15 families) in Wexford County. Surnames of these new settlers in Wexford included names such as Fissel, Hornick, Jekyll, Poole, and Rhinehardt (Wikipedia).

Each of the Palatine families was allocated eight acres of land at a nominal rent of five shillings per acre and leases of “three lives”. This was much less than the 30 shillings per acre that other tenants paid. They were also given a not inconsiderable grant of 40 shillings a year for their first seven years in residence. This caused hostility among the local community, and by February of 1711, only 188 of the 533 Palatine families remained on the lands allotted them and 300 had gone to Dublin to seek other work. In all, about 1,200 Palatines remained in Ireland. A significant number of the Palatines emigrated to North America (and particularly Canada) or returned to Germany. After a visit from John Wesley, many of the Irish Palatines converted to Methodism and quite a few of them chose to leave for North America in 1760.

Those who remained in Ireland retained their language and customs as late as 1830, and by 1840 it was said that they could still be distinguished from the Irish population by their names. However, by the end of the nineteenth century, there was no trace of a German dialect left in the Palatine settlements, and their German names were mostly changed in form.

Irish Palatine Heritage Centre, Rathkeale, Co. Limerick

Philipp Jëkell: Palatine settler at Old Ross in 1709

Philipp Jëkel was 53 when he took his family to Ireland and so was born in 1656. I searched the Rhineland-Palatinate birth records and found a record of a Philipp Ludwig Jäckel  (also transcribed as Jaeckle) born in Frankfurt on 16 September 1656 to parents Philipp Jeremias Jäckel and Catharina Elisabetha Jäckel. Frankfurt was within the Palatinate in the 18th century, though the Rhine River, about 30 km west of Frankfurt, now forms the eastern border of the Palatinate. This is quite probably the right Philip Jekell, but this cannot be confirmed.

Eleanor Jeakle’s father George was born about 1748 in Wexford County, but there is no information on his parents. Based on the birth dates, his father was probably the son of Philipp Jëkel, ten years old in 1749 and who would have been 49 at the time George was born. That would make Philipp Eleanor’s great-grandfather.

John or Jacob Poole: Palatine settler ancestors of William Warren

In researching the convict William Warren’s Irish ancestors, I also found that his grandmother was Emily Elizabeth Poole (1728-1804). I remembered seeing the name Poole in the list of Palatine settlers. John and Jacob Poole are listed in 1710 as heads of households in the Palatine settlement at Gorey, Wexford. By 1720 a third Poole, William Poole, believed to be a son of John or Jacob Pool, is listed as head of a Wexford household as well. Emily Poole was probably the daughter of William Poole rather than his father or uncle (John and Jacob). She was born in Toombe, which is a little over 5 km southwest of Gorey. By 1850 some of the family moved from Gorey Wexford to Old Ross where Emily Poole may have met her husband William Henry Warren (1710-1770).

Irish Palatine farmhouse

A quite unexpected connection to Germany

My paternal grandmother was an Engel whose grandfather George Peter Engel (born in Frankfurt in 1821) migrated to Australia in 1849. I was not expecting to find German ancestors on my maternal grandfathers side. I have 6th or 7th-great-grandparents  from two German Palatine families who emigrated to Ireland in 1709, and one of them may well have also been born in Frankfurt. And have learnt quite a bit about European history in the 18th century that I knew very little about, apart from a very sketchy awareness of the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648). And that mainly through reading and very much enjoying Michael Moorcock’ 1981 novel, The War Hound and the World’s Pain, set during the Thirty Years War.

Cover artwork for The War Hound and the World’s Pain



by Lorine McGinnis Schulze
Olive Tree Genealogy
Copyright © 1996

[This article has been published, with my permission as Irish Palatine Story on the Internet
in Irish Palatine Association Journal, No. 7 December 1996

The Palatinate or German PFALZ, was, in German history, the land of the Count Palatine, a title held by a leading secular prince of the Holy Roman Empire. Geographically, the Palatinate was divided between two small territorial clusters: the Rhenish, or Lower Palatinate, and the Upper Palatinate. The Rhenish Palatinate included lands on both sides of the Middle Rhine River between its Main and Neckar tributaries. Its capital until the 18th century was Heidelberg. The Upper Palatinate was located in northern Bavaria, on both sides of the Naab River as it flows south toward the Danube and extended eastward to the Bohemian Forest. The boundaries of the Palatinate varied with the political and dynastic fortunes of the Counts Palatine.

The Palatinate has a border beginning in the north, on the Moselle River about 35 miles southwest of Coblenz to Bingen and east to Mainz, down the Rhine River to Oppenheim, Guntersblum and Worms, then continuing eastward above the Nieckar River about 25 miles east of Heidelberg then looping back westerly below Heidelberg to Speyer, south down the Rhine River to Alsace, then north-westerly back up to its beginning on the Moselle River.

The first Count Palatine of the Rhine was Hermann I, who received the office in 945. Although not originally hereditary, the title was held mainly by his descendants until his line expired in 1155, and the Bavarian Wittelsbachs took over in 1180. In 1356, the Golden Bull ( a papal bull: an official document, usually commands from the Pope and sealed with the official Papal seal called a Bulla) made the Count Palatine an Elector of the Holy Roman Empire. During the Reformation, the Palatinate accepted Protestantism and became the foremost Calvinist region in Germany.

After Martin Luther published his 95 Theses on the door of the castle church at Wittenberg on 31 October 1517, many of his followers came under considerable religious persecution for their beliefs. Perhaps for reasons of mutual comfort and support, they gathered in what is known as the Palatine. These folk came from many places, Germany, Holland, Switzerland and beyond, but all shared a common view on religion.

The protestant Elector Palatine Frederick V (1596-1632), called the “Winter King” of Bohemia, played a unique role in the struggle between Roman Catholic and Protestant Europe. His election in 1619 as King of Bohemia precipitated the Thirty Years War that lasted from 1619 until 1648. Frederick was driven from Bohemia and in 1623, deposed as Elector Palatine.

During the Thirty Years War, the Palatine country and other parts of Germany suffered from the horrors of fire and sword as well as from pillage and plunder by the French armies. This war was based upon both politics and religious hatreds, as the Roman Catholic armies sought to crush the religious freedom of a politically-divided Protestantism.

Many unpaid armies and bands of mercenaries, both of friends and foe, devoured the substance of the people and by 1633, even the catholic French supported the Elector Palatine for a time for political reasons.

During the War of the Grand Alliance (1689-97), the troops of the French monarch Louis XIV ravaged the Rhenish Palatinate, causing many Germans to emigrate. Many of the early German settlers of America (e.g. the Pennsylvania Dutch) were refugees from the Palatinate. During the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, the Palatinate’s lands on the west bank of the Rhine were incorporated into France, while its eastern lands were divided largely between neighbouring Baden and Hesse.

Nearly the entire 17th century in central Europe was a period of turmoil as Louis XIV of France sought to increase his empire. The War of the Palatinate (as it was called in Germany), aka The War of The League of Augsburg, began in 1688 when Louis claimed the Palatinate. Every large city on the Rhine above Cologne was sacked. The War ended in 1697 with the Treaty of Ryswick. The Palatinate was badly battered but still outside French control. In 1702, the War of the Spanish Succession began in Europe and lasted until 1713, causing a great deal of instability for the Palatines. The Palatinate lay on the western edge of the Holy Roman Empire not far from France’s eastern boundary. Louis wanted to push his eastern border to the Rhine, the heart of the Palatinate.

While the land of the Palatinate was good for its inhabitants, many of whom were farmers, vineyard operators etc., its location was unfortunately subject to invasion by the armies of Britain, France, and Germany. Mother Nature also played a role in what happened, for the winter of 1708 was particularly severe and many of the vineyards perished. So, as well as the devastating effects of war, the Palatines were subjected to the winter of 1708-09, the harshest in 100 years.

The scene was set for a mass migration. At the invitation of Queen Anne in the spring of 1709, about 7 000 harassed Palatines sailed down the Rhine to Rotterdam. From there, about 3000 were dispatched to America, either directly or via England, under the auspices of William Penn. The remaining 4 000 were sent via England to Ireland to strengthen the protestant interest.

Although the Palatines were scattered as agricultural settlers over much of Ireland, major accumulations were found in Counties Limerick and Tipperary. As the years progressed and dissatisfactions increased, many of these folk seized opportunities to join their compatriots in Pennsylvania, or to go to newly-opened settlements in Canada.

There were many reasons for the desire of the Palatines to emigrate to the New World: oppressive taxation, religious bickering, hunger for more and better land, the advertising of the English colonies in America and the favourable attitude of the British government toward settlement in the North American colonies. Many of the Palatines believed they were going to Pennsylvania, Carolina or one of the tropical islands.

The passage down the Rhine took from 4 to 6 weeks. Tolls and fees were demanded by authorities of the territories through which they passed. Early in June, the number of Palatines entering Rotterdam reached 1 000 per week. Later that year, the British government issued a Royal proclamation in German that all arriving after October 1709 would be sent back to Germany. The British could not effectively handle the number of Palatines in London and there may have been as many as 32 000 by November 1709. They wintered over in England since there were no adequate arrangements for the transfer of the Palatines to the English colonies.

In 1710, three large groups of Palatines sailed from London. The first went to Ireland, the second to Carolina and the third to New York with the new Governor, Robert Hunter. There were 3 000 Palatines on 10 ships that sailed for NY and approximately 470 died on the voyage or shortly after their arrival.

In NY, the Palatines were expected to work for the British authorities, producing naval stores [tar and pitch] for the navy in return for their passage to NY. They were also expected to act as a buffer between the French and Natives on the northern frontier and the English colonies to the south and east.

After the defeat of Napoleon (1814-15), the Congress of Vienna gave the east-bank lands of the Rhine valley to Bavaria. These lands, together with some surrounding territories, again took the name of Palatinate in 1838.

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Hubble observed a supernova brighter than its galaxy

A supernova releases as much energy in days as our Sun does in several billion years. In 2018, the Hubble Space Telescope observed a supernova 70 million light years away, which outshone its entire galaxy until it faded away over the following year.

This video zooms into the barred spiral galaxy NGC 2525, located 70 million light-years away in the southern constellation Puppis. As we approach an outer spiral arm a Hubble time-lapse video is inserted that shows the fading light of supernova 2018gv. Hubble didn’t record the initial blast in January 2018, but for nearly one year took consecutive photos, from 2018 to 2019, that have been assembled into a time-lapse sequence. At its peak, the exploding star was as bright as 5 billion Suns.

While nuclear fusion and a slow neutron capture process form all the elements up to 83 (Bismuth), the elements are also produced very rapidly in supernovae along with all the heavier elements. Supernovae have produced the the bulk of the universe’s precious metals, silver, platinum and gold, and are responsible for the creation of the heaviest elements up to uranium.

Supernovae like this all peak at the same brightness and so can be used to accurately measure the distance of their host galaxy, allowing accurate measurement of the universe’s expansion rate. The current best estimate is that the universe is expanding at a rate of 69.3 km/sec/Megaparsec plus or minus 0.8. That means that for every Megaparsec (about 3 million light years) that you go out, the Universe is expanding 69.3 km/sec faster. So that means that NGC 2525 is moving away from us at a speed of around 1500 km/s or half a light year each century.

A family history mystery – who is the 2nd Annie Priscilla Wilson?

Thomas Wilson

In a previous post, I wrote about my great-great-great-grandfather, Thomas Wilson (who was transported to Australia as a convict in 1834). He had been sentenced to 7 years transportation for highway robbery. In researching his descendants, I documented a granddaughter Annie Priscilla Wilson, who was born in 1880 to his son Thomas Wilson (1847-1923) and wife Frances Oliver (1852-1893). Annie Priscilla married John Fitzgerald in Manly in 1900 and they moved to Wollongong. She died in 1964, I have seen the death certificate, and she is buried in the Wollongong Cemetery (Sect. RC Row: Nth 25 Site: 26). I have been contacted by one of her grand-daughters who has confirmed all these details.

This is where it gets interesting. In searching for information on Thomas Wilson and his family, who lived at Church Point, Pittwater north of Manly in Sydney, I came across a website with the following information. It described the rediscovery of the graveyard associated with the first St John’s Anglican Church in Mona Vale, about 5 km from Church Point, where the Wilson family lived. This church was a small weatherboard structure built in 1871 overlooking Mona Vale Beach, which was moved to a new site in Bayview in 1888.  One of the gravestones uncovered was for “Annie Priscilla Wilson Aged 2 Years (1880-1882) Dearly loved daughter of Frances and Thomas Wilson”. I have also found a photograph of the Memorial Plaque erected on the site in her memory. There is only one birth “Annie Priscilla Wilson” registered in NSW for anyone with the names Annie, Ann, Anne, Priscilla and parents Thomas and Frances Wilson in the date range 1865-1900. So this is a complete mystery. Although her gravestone has been found saying she died in 1882, she also got married to John Fitzgerald in 1900. I also cannot find a death certificate for Annie Priscilla Wilson in 1882.

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Tracing my paternal ancestors through Y DNA

The human Y chromosome is a male-specific sex chromosome. When mutations (errors in the copying process) arise in the Y chromosome, they are passed down directly from father to son in a direct male line of descent and define a tree of Y “haplogroups”. The mutations on the Y chromosome can thus be used to trace our paternal ancestors all the way back to the most recent common paternal ancestor of all men alive today, Y chromosomal Adam.

When I first got interested in genetic genealogy around 2010, I had my DNA tested by the National Genographic Project, funded by the National Geographic to collect over a million DNA samples to map the patterns of human migration across the world. This project measured mutations known as short tandem repeats (STRs) at 12 sites, and gave a statistical prediction of my Y-haplogroup, R1b (M343) and subclade R-M269. A year later I upgraded my Y-DNA analysis to 44 STRs with At the time, I decided that I would wait for the technology to improve and the cost to drop and do a more comprehensive test which would definitively determine my Y haplogroup.

And so last year I did the Big Y-700 test with FamilyTreeDNA which examines 700 short tandem repeats, and over 200,000 single-nucleotide polymorphisms(SNPs) identifying known haplogroups as well as millions of locations where there may be new branch markers on the Y chromosome. This company claims to have the world’s largest genealogical YDNA database with over 2 million people included.

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Y chromosomal Adam

Y-chromosomal Adam is the name given to the patrilineal most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of modern humans. In other words, he was the man from whom all living humans today descend, on their father’s side, and through the fathers of those fathers and so on, back until all lines converge on one person. He is the male counterpart of Mitochondrial Eve, who,lived in north-western Botwsana around 177,000 years ago (confidence interval ± 11,300 years).

When I did my first Y-DNA test in 2012 with the National Geographic’s  National Genographic Project, it gave a date of 60,000 years ago (60 kya) for Y-chromosomal Adam. This was already outdated, as other recent estimates around that time gave dates ranging from 120 to 160 kya. By definition, it is not necessary and highly unlikely that Y-chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve lived at the same time or in the same location.

However, in 2013 scientists announced the discovery of an extremely ancient Y DNA haplogroup from a sample submitted for an African-American man in the USA.  Y-chromosomal haplogroups are defined by mutations in the non-recombing portions of DNA from the Y chromosome. These mutations accumulate at the rate of roughly two per generation. The accumulation of mutations in the descendants of Y-chromosomal Adam allow us to map out the major branches of the family tree in terms of Y-haplogroups. This discovery adds a completely new branch to the Y-DNA family tree and pushes back the age of Y-chromosomal Adam to around 250 to 300 kya.

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Becoming Human Part 2

This is the second part of a post summarizing current understanding of the evolution of humans. In the previous post, I outlined the evolution of pre-human species from the first monkeys around 35 million years ago (Mya) to the appearance of the first human species around 2 Mya. This post takes a look across the evolution of humans from the appearance of the first human species Homo habilis to the appearance of anatomically modern Homo sapiens sapiens around 250 thousand years ago. The following figure summarizes the evolution of humans over the last 2 million years, based on [1] with some modifications to take account of some recent discoveries.

The evolution of humans (the genus Homo) over the last 2 million years. Updated from Figure in Wikimedia. User:Conquistador, User:Dbachmann / CC BY-SA. ( . The late survival of robust australopithecines (Paranthropus) alongside humans until about 1.2 Mya is indicated in purple. The rapid “Out of Africa” expansion of H. sapiens is indicated at the top of the diagram, with admixture indicated with Neanderthals, Denisovans, and unspecified archaic African hominins.

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Becoming Human Part 1

Our understanding of the evolution of us modern humans has changed dramatically in the last few years as ancient genomes are decoded and we discover that humans, Neanderthals and Denisovans interbred, and also in the remote past interbred with previously unknown “superarchaic” human groups.  Scientists are also discovering new species of extinct hominids, and no doubt will continue to shed further light on our origins. Just to try to sort out the big picture in my own mind and to put these various discoveries in context, I’ve tried to summarize what we think we know, or at least what the evidence available to date suggests. This will no doubt continue to change.

This is the first of two posts and summarizes the evolution of pre-human species from the first monkeys around 35 million years ago (Mya) to the appearance of the first human species around 2 Mya. A following post will summarize the evolution of humans from the appearance of the first human species Homo habilis 2 Mya to the appearance of anatomically modern Homo sapiens sapiens around 250 thousand years ago and  mitochondrial Eve, who lived around 178,000 years ago.

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My maternal ancestors – from Eve via ice age Europe to Victorian England

In an early post on this blog, I summarized my maternal-line ancestors and where and when they lived. In the last 6 years, there have been substantial revisions to estimates of the dates associated with these mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroup founders, and revisions to the mtDNA haplogroup tree (deep-maternal-ancestry-and-mtdna) and this post provides an update. I am a member of mtDNA haplogroup U5, which is one of nine native European haplogroups stemming from haplogroup U which most likely arose in the Near East, and spread into Europe in a very early expansion. The presence of haplogroup U5 in Europe pre-dates the last ice age and the expansion of agriculture in Europe. Today, about 11% of modern Europeans are the direct maternal descendants of the founder U5 woman. They are particularly well represented in western Britain and Scandinavia. My more recent maternal ancestors were part of the population that tracked the retreat of ice sheets from Europe at the end of the last ice age and re-colonized Britain about 12,000 years ago.

The mtDNA sequence at the root of each haplogroup arose from one or more mutations in the mtDNA of just one woman, and the age of the associated haplogroup gives the time in the past when this specific woman lived. To emphasise that the maternal clan founders were real individuals, I have used the names given to them by Sykes [1] and Oppenheimer [2] and given my own names to the more recent subgroup founders. The Table below summarizes these founders, dates and locations and is followed by brief biographies. The haplogroups are identified by the labels used in Build 17 of the ISOGG mtDNA tree which can be accessed at [3]. Dates in the table below have been updated using most recent available dating estimates as described in my previous post deep-maternal-ancestry-and-mtdna.

The migration path out of Africa into Europe of the “grandmothers” linking mitochondrial Eve through to Ursula (U5) is shown on a map in my previous post deep-maternal-ancestry-and-mtdna. The subsequent migration from Europe to Britain is shown in the map below.

Figure 1. Migration path of my maternal ancestors from Ursula (U5) to Viviane (410 CE). A map of the earlier migration from mitochondrial Eve to U5 is included in an earlier post.

Updated biographies of my maternal haplogroup great* grandmothers follow below.

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Deep maternal ancestry and mtDNA

In February 2014, I did a series of posts on my deep maternal ancestors, identified through a test of mutations on my mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) which is inherited only from the mother. This test was carried out by, who have since discontinued tests of mtDNA and Y-chromosome DNA. Costs of DNA tests have dropped dramatically since then, and late last year I ordered an mtDNA test from FamilyTreeDNA ( which carried out a full sequencing of the mitochondrial DNA.

As well as the DNA that makes up the chromosomes in the nuclei of our cells, we also have another type of DNA called mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). The mitochondria are organs located outside the cell nucleus which convert sugars into energy.  Mitochondria have a small circular loop of DNA, containing only approximately 16,569 base pairs in humans. The circular mtDNA is similar to the DNA of bacteria, and it is thought that mitochondia evolved from symbiotic bacteria that were once free living.

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Thomas Wilson – convict ancestor

After my previous slightly light-hearted post about Thomas Wilson ( an-odd-fellow ), I thought I should tell his real story, his transportation to Sydney in the Lady Nugent in 1835 and his later role in the Mona Vale Outrages.

The Lady Nugent on the high seas. Pencil drawing by George Richard Hilliard, 1840 (4).

The Lady Nugent on the high seas. Pencil drawing by George Richard Hilliard, 1840 (4).

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