The Moughty’s of County Westmeath

    The Moughty family came from a townlands on the border of Westmeath and Longford.  I wrote a blog when I first launched my site in 2007 describing my first trip to Ireland with my daughter.  When we first arrived in Ireland, Sarah sent a note to two Moughty’s she found in the phonebook explaining that she was flying home after a week, but her parents would be staying in Dublin at the Berkeley Court the following week.  Both individuals called us, but Jack Moughty insisted on driving to Dublin to meet us.  

    On the appointed day, the concierge called us to say that Mr. Moughty had arrived and would meet us in the pub.  My husband Brian, went down first.  He, of course did not know who he was meeting, but when he entered the pub, a gentleman was just turning from the bar and as he explains it, “the hair stood up on the back of my neck.”  The man at the bar looked just like his father (who had been dead for over ten years).  There was no doubt that he had met Jack Moughty.

    When I tell this story, people frequently ask how we are related.  For many years, I didn’t know.  I couldn’t get back far enough to discover the relationship, even though the photo alone was enough to tell me there had to be a relationship. It took me a while to get into DNA testing, but in 2015 I took a FamilyTree DNA test to Ireland with me as Jack had agreed to test.

    On a subsequent trip, Jack was able to clear up one mystery for me.  I had researched all of the Moughty’s that had come from the registration district of Ballymahon, and had put together an entire family group.  James Moughty had married twice…his first wife died shortly after the marriage and there were no children, but he and his second wife, Maria Duggan, had ten children.   I had discovered a number of the children had emigrated to Buenos Aires, Argentina .  I couldn’t, however, make a connection with our Moughty family.

    Jack took us to the cemetery where Brian’s great grandfather and great uncle were buried.  He said he remembered attending both their funerals.  The headstone was one of the largest in the cemetery, however the names on the headstone did not include Bernard and Jack (Brian’s ancestors) but James, his wife Maria, two of his daughters and his father, also Bernard).  When I asked Jack how Brian’s great grandfather Bernard was related to this James, he said they were brothers!  He also said that Bernard (James and Bernard’s father) was the son of Patrick who had been evicted from his land at Barnacor in Longford and moved to Westmeath. 

    Confused yet?  One of the most difficult issues in Irish research is sorting out the large number of individuals living in the same area with the same name.  Although not a hard and fast rule, it was not uncommon for the eldest son to be named after the paternal grandfather, the second son after the maternal grandfather and the third after the father.  Here, both James’ and Bernard’s first sons appear to be named after the great grandfather.  James goes on to name his second son after his father, the third after his father-in-law, the fourth is named Michael and the fifth, James. These given names are used over and over in the various Moughty families.

    Because of the uniqueness of the Moughty name, I’m hoping there is a hint here.  Jack Moughty’s father was Michael, his grandfather James, and his great grandfather Michael.  The repetition of all of these names (besides the obvious resemblance <g>)  had me speculating that possibly Jack’s great grandfather, Michael, and Brian’s great great grandfather were brothers…that would make them 3rd cousins, once removed (as they are in different generations).  Church records appear to go back to the 1820’s in the area and with added benefit of having burial records, uncommon for Roman Catholic Churches in Ireland. Although Brian’s grandfather, Patrick said the name was “always” spelled MOUGHTY, I’ve found a number of variations on the name.  In Griffith’s it spelled Mughty and I’ve found church records as Muchy, Muchta, Mooty and even Murtagh, although I believe this is an entirely different family.  In fact, my father-in-law’s birth certificate from New Rochelle, New York spelled the name Moody (which is how it sounds)!  According to Jack, there was also a protestant line of the family (converted during the penal laws) that changed their name to Auchmuchty. I’m not sure that is true as the Auchmuchty family can be traced back to the early 1600s from a Scottish family from Fife. I haven’t done anything specific on this connection as the records don’t go back far enough, although I found no record in the Catholic Qualification and Convert Rolls at the National Archives.

As to the DNA results, my initial test was a Y-DNA test (since the surname was the same) and Jack and Brian match at 37 markers with a genetic distance of 1. After learning more about atDNA I upgraded both of their tests to atDNA and their match was 53cM, consistent with a 3rd cousin 1x removed. I have since tested others at the same generation as Brian and their matches were at 61cM and 67cM. Because of the burial records I have Moughtys back into the mid-1700s. Some of the records give ages, and it appears that Patrick Moughty who died in 1838 was born about 1752, making him too old to be the father of Bernard and Michael. There is likely another generation in between and my hypothesis is that James was the son of Patrick (he named his oldest son Patrick) and that James is the father of Bernard and Michael. Bernard named his oldest son James and Michael had a son James, but farther down the line. It’s possible that there was an earlier James who died. I am open to any new evidence that would shed more light on these relationships.