The Book of Ulster Surnames by Robert Bell: Book Review

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purposes of review and I have received other books from Genealogical Publishing Company, also for review. However, my opinions are my own and not influenced by outside sources.

The Book of Ulster Surnames by Robert Bell was originally published in 1988 and reprinted in both 2021 and 2022 by the Ulster Historical Foundation in Newtownards, Northern Ireland.

It is currently being sold in the USA by Genealogical Publishing Company.

It is by coincidence that I’ve recently been working on a collateral branch of my own family tree and also that of my husband involving Scots-Irish immigrants to North America. In the UK, these settlers are referred to as Ulster Scots – Scot families who settled in today’s Northern Ireland from the 1600s onward.

Therefore, this small, but hefty book – 300 pages – was of great interest to me.


Map of the approximate locations of ancient kingdoms and territories in Ireland


Alphabetical list of names


‘Sheep stealers from the north of England’: The Riding Clans in Ulster

Select bibliography

Index of surnames

This isn’t the type of book that one normally reads from cover to cover. Instead, it is an excellent reference book to learn about the origins of Ulster Scot surnames and where they are typically concentrated in both the Republic of Ireland and, of course, in Northern Ireland.

I immediately set about looking up several of the surnames found in my family tree. While my uncle’s family, in Canadian censuses, reported that the Caldwells were Irish – and the most recent immigrants to North America may well have been born in Ireland – at some past point in history, the Caldwells were part of the Scots who made the short trip across the water from southern Scotland to Northern Ireland and began new lives there.

The surname entry on page 22 is about half a page long, gives a summary of the somewhat complicated history of the surname (it can actually be English, Scottish or Irish) and concludes with the statement that it occurs most frequently in Counties Armagh, Down and Tyrone.

The info paragraph length is typical compared to other surnames with most being about a half page long. A few are quite a bit lengthier and a handful might only be six lines long.

The book is very easy to use as variations of the surnames are mentioned and origins of the surnames in Scotland are also given in the summaries.

I learned quite a bit about the Caldwell history, along with that of Porter, Carlisle, Parker, Robertson, Thompson and others.

The introduction by the author provided an overview of the history of Ulster surnames.

The Select Bibliography provided two additional pages of resources, both books and periodicals, on the topic of Ulster surnames.

Finally, the index of surnames at the back of the book was very handy to quickly find names of interest, particularly for the ‘Mac” surnames spelled in Gaelic and anglicized.

A reference book has to be special for me to consider purchasing it. The Book of Ulster Surnames is one I would buy if I had extensive Scots-Irish ancestry because, having been published in Ireland, it’s not a book I’ve come across before and probably won’t be found n the shelves of many U.S. libraries. It’s extremely helpful to gain an understanding of surname origins and to know the areas where those names are most commonly found.

The Book of Ulster Surnames by Robert Bell can be purchased through the Genealogical Publishing Company either on Amazon or through their own website for $34.95, which is well worth the cost.


Friday’s Family History Finds

The best Family History Finds this week:

Family Stories

The Pilot’s Grave by Paul Chiddicks on The Chiddicks Family Tree

Hubby’s Ancestors Worked on the Railroad by Marian B. Wod on Climbing My Family Tree

Research Trip Serendipity by Annette on AK’sGenealogy Research

Research Resources

Finding and Using Archives of Michigan County Guides by Brenda Leyndyke on Journey to the Past

Thank You, David! by Judy G. Russell on The Legal Genealogist

Tech News

Ancestry’s Annual Rules Update 2023 by Judy G. Russell on The Legal Genealogist

Truth by Judy G. Russell on The Legal Genealogist

Tech Searching on Maps! by Judy G. Russell on The Legal Genealogist

Genetic Genealogy

DNA Suggests Merge by Marcia Crawford Philbrick on Heartland Genealogy

Rabbit Holes with Randy – New AncestryDNA ThruLines by Randy Seaver on Genea-Musings


Confirming the Deaths of Sarah Cox Fernando’s Parents. . .Part Two by Teresa on Writing My Past

Proving Sarah Gilbride’s Burial by Nancy Casey on Leaves on the Tree

Education Is for Everyone

Speaking at RootsTech Early by James Tanner on Genealogy’s Star

Horsing Around with Deeds by Michael John Neill on Genealogy Tip of the Day

New Family History Photo Book, New Surname Word Cloud by Marian B. Wood on Climbing My Family Tree

Keeping Up with the Times

Announcing “All About That Place”  – the One-Place Study Challenge Event Taking Place 22 September – 1st October 2023 by Randy Seaver on Genea-Musings

Some Practical Predictions About the Future of Genealogy by James Tanner on Genealogy’s Star

FindMyPast Offers New Three Month All Records Access Premium Subscription by Chris Paton on Scottish GENES

John Adams, Loyalist, CT & New Brunswick, Canada: Generation 4 – Great Grandchildren, Part 4

We are moving along and today will take a look at the great grandchildren of Loyalist John Adams and Sarah Coley through the line of their son Thomas and wife Sarah Brawn.

The last section of this post includes information about Elizabeth Adams who married John H. Buchanan and was the daughter of James Adams, POSSIBLY the son of John Adams, the Loyalist.

NOTE: First and foremost, this is still a work in progress. It’s been at least 20 years since I did a major revision on this family. Many records have been found in that time that tidy up a lot of dates and places, many of which came from family records.

If you are a descendant of John Adams and Sarah Coley and can fill in any more of the question marks, please leave a comment.

John Adams (Thomas2, John1) was born c1804, New Brunswick, Canada; died 1868, Brewer, Penobscot, Maine; married Mary Ann Kyles, c1827. She was born c1807, the daughter of James and Ann Kyles of St. John; died 1877, Brewer, Penobscot, Maine. Not much is known about this family.

 Children of John and Mary Ann (Kyles) Adams:

1. James, born 1829, New Brunswick, Canada; died after 1861; married Ann (MNU)
2. Ambrose, born 28 October 1831, New Brunswick, Canada; died 30 September 1902, Brewer, Penobscot, Maine; married Sarah Jane Conley, c1852, probably New Brunswick, Canada
3. Charles E., born 1843, New Brunswick, Canada; died after 1870, when he was unmarried in Brewer, Penobscot, Maine
4. Charlotte, born c1844, New Brunswick, Canada; probably died young, not at home in 1861

Elizabeth Ann Adams (Thomas2, John1) was born January 1809, New Brunswick, Canada; died  6 June 1878, Eastport, Washington, Maine; married James Greenlaw, 13 September 1828, Eastport, Washington, Maine. James was born c1802; died 23 March 1868, Eastport, Washington, Maine.

Children of James and Elizabeth Ann (Adams) Greenlaw:

1. Edwin Albert, born February 1830, New Brunswick, Canada; died 24 January 1882, Eastport, Maine; married Seretha Lucretia Ossinger, 7 January 1864, Eastport, Washington, Maine
2. Daniel, born 23 March 1833, New Brunswick, Canada; married Lydia Ann Greenlaw, 21 September 1855, Calais, Washington, Maine
3. Elijah Warren, born 18 November 1835, New Brunswick, Canada; died 29 November, Millbridge, Washington, Maine; married Mary Elizabeth Collicutt, 20 September 1857, New Brunswick, Canada
4. Susan Margaret, born 1839, New Brunswick, Canada; died after 1851
5. William, born 1842, New Brunswick, Canada; died after 1851
6. Thomas, born 1844, New Brunswick, Canada; died 5 January 1908, Eastport, Washington, Maine; married Mercy Jane Stokie, 1 July 1876, Eastport, Washington, Maine
7. George Albert, born 1846, New Brunswick, Canada; died 4 January 1831, Staten Island, Richmond, New York; married (1) Maria Spear, 21 November 1868, Eastport, Washington, Maine (2) Margaret A. Black
8. John A., born 31 July 1847, New Brunswick, Canada; died 25 November 1913, Eastport, Washington, Maine; married Jeanette Prime, c1870
9. Caroline Elizabeth, born 1852, New Brunswick, Canada; died 26 April 1886, Eastport, Washington, Maine; unmarried

Daniel (Thomas2, John1) was born November 1810, Adams Island, Charlotte, New Brunswick, Canada; died 8 February 1893, Calais, Washington, Maine; married Sarah Ann Parker of Campobello Island, 15 September 1836, Deer Island, Charlotte, New Brunswick, Canada. He sold land on Adams Island to John Morrison on 22 May 1854. It was land bounded by that of the late Sturges Adams. The deed was not received and recorded until 1868. All children were reportedly born on Adams Island, except for Lowell and Bertha.

Children of Daniel and Sarah Ann (Parker) Adams:

1. Benjamin William, born 1838, Adams Island, Charlotte, New Brunswick, Canada; died 2 June 1914, Lubec, Washington, Maine married Mary Ellen Thayer, 21 January 1861, Lubec, Washington, Maine
2. Emeline M., born 6 May 1840, Adams Island, Charlotte, New Brunswick, Canada; died 11 June 1917, Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts; married Loring Benoni Bill, 22 November 1866, Calais, Washington, Maine
3. Calvin Segee, born 16 March 1843, Adams Island, Charlotte, New Brunswick, Canada; died 15 January 1921, St. Stephen, New Brunswick; married (1) Martha Tillinghast, 12 December 1869, Bristol, Bristol,  Rhode Island (2) Nellie F. Tarbox, 1 February 1875, Calais, Washington, Maine
4. Charles Edward, born 1846, Adams Island, Charlotte, New Brunswick, Canada; died c1865; unmarried
5. Frances Caroline, born 1848, Adams Island, Charlotte, New Brunswick, Canada; died c1933, perhaps Chelsea, Suffolk, Massachusetts; married George James Cragan, 13 February 1889 (intentions), Calais, Washington, Maine. 1880 census says she had pulmonary consumption.
6. Nelson James, born 2 June 1850, Adams Island, Charlotte, New Brunswick, Canada; died 3 December 1918, Calais, Washington, Maine; married (1) Annie M. Stickney, 6 September 1875 (intentions), Calais, Washington, Maine (2) Hannah Elizabeth (?Graham) Olive, 21 September 1904, Charlotte, New Brunswick, Canada
7. Angeline Jane, born 1852, Adams Island, Charlotte, New Brunswick, Canada; died after 1910, possibly in California; married (1) Sturges A. Thomas, her second cousin (2) Samuel Henry Conroy, 22 April 1906, Somerville, Middlesex, Massachusetts, Annie had no children.
8. Bertha M., born 1857, Calais, Washington, Maine; died after 1870 census, probably young as Nelson named a daughter born in 1881 “Bertha.”
9. Lowell Robert, born 1861, Calais, Washington, Maine; died 23 March 1954, Everett, Middlesex, Massachusetts; married (1) Charlotte May Ward, 5 April 1887, St. Stephen, Charlotte, New Brunswick, Canada (2) Grace Barnes, 29 June 1908, Concord, Middlesex, Massachusetts

Charles E. Adams (Thomas2, John1) was born c1812, New Brunswick, Canada; died before 1849, probably New Brunswick, Canada;  married Catherine Stuart, 2 August 1838, New Brunswick, Canada. Catherine married (2) Mr. O’Leary, c1849 (3) James Morrison, 26 April 1854, Eastport, Washington, Maine. The Adams children lived with the Morrisons in Eastport in 1860.

Children of Charles Edwin and Catherine (Stuart) Adams:

1. George E., born 23 February 1840, New Brunswick, Canada; died 4 June 1885, Lowell, Middlesex, Massachusetts of a stroke. George was married, but no evidence has been found of his wife’s name or any possible children.
2. William H., born 19 March 1842, New Brunswick, Canada; died 19 April 1906, Newburyport, Essex, Massachusetts; married Lucy A. Perkins, c1876, per the 1900 census
3. Caroline C., born 1845, New Brunswick, Canada; died after 1860 census, when she was at home

Henry Edwin Adams (Thomas2, John1) was born 1820, New Brunswick, Canada; died 1873, Deer Island, Charlotte, New Brunswick, Canada; married Louisa Eunice Leeman, 26 September 1844, New Brunswick, Canada. She was born 1824, New Brunswick, Canada; died 5 February 1907, Portland, Cumberland, Maine. Henry and Louisa lived one door away from Henry’s parents in 1851 in the West Isles, New Brunswick, Canada.

Children of Henry Edwin and Louisa Eunice (Leeman) Adams:

1. Olive Louisa, born 1846, New Brunswick Canada; died 25 January 1917, Calais, Washington, Maine; married Sewall J. Hill, 5 November 1869, Calais, Washington, Maine
2. Albert H., born 1849, New Brunswick, Canada; died after 1871, when he was at home on Deer Island, Charlotte, New Brunswick, Canada with his parents
3, Infant, born 1851; died 1853
4. Benjamin Franklin, born 3 June 1855, Calais, Washington, Maine; died 19 January 1932, Calais, Washington, Maine; married Mary Jane Deacon, 30 August 1882, Calais, Washington, Maine. He was a sailor’s mate in 1880.
5. Clarence Edwin, born 28 December 1857, Calais, Washington, Maine; died 27 October 1947; married Edna W. Wheeler, 2 June 1889, Portland, Cumberland, Maine. He was a sailor.
6. Gertrude Sophia, born 21 August 1860, Calais, Washington, Maine; died 1957, Fitchburg, Worcester, Massachusetts married George Thomas Dunham; 20 November 1889, Portland, Cumberland, Maine.
7. Sumner B., born 1864, New Brunswick, Canada; died 19 December 1907, Portland, Cumberland, Maine; married Mary A. Douglass, 14 January 1888, Portland, Cumberland, Maine
8. William Leslie, born 1867, New Brunswick, Canada; died after 1956, Yarmouth, Cumberland, Maine; married Sarah Cady, 8 March 1886, Portland, Cumberland, Maine

???Elizabeth Adams (James2, John1) was born 1814/17, New Brunswick, Canada; died 19 January 1866, Shediac, Westmorland, New Brunswick, Canada, aged 52; married (1) John H. Buchanan, 31 January 1837; (2) Robert Abercrombie, Esq., 27 December 1849, St. John, New Brunswick, Canada.  At the Old Burying Ground, St. John, a stone was erected by survivors of the children, James Adams, and John H. and Elizabeth Buchanan. John was born 1808, Inverness, Scotland; died 12 November 1845 of bilious fever, St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. His obituary said he left a wife, but no children were mentioned. They lived at the corner of Duke and Charlotte Streets in St. John. Elizabeth’s obituary stated that she was aged 52 and was the wife of R. W. Abercrombie, Esq. No children were mentioned. NOTE: It is thought, not proved, that Elizabeth was the son of James and grandchild of Loyalist John Adams.

Children of John H. and Elizabeth (Adams) Buchanan:

1. Elizabeth Moffatt, born 12 October 1838; died 23 October 1839
2. James, born 20 March 1840; died 12 April 1840, aged 23 days

This concludes the great grandchildren of John and Sarah (Coley) Adams.

Next up are the 2X great grandchildren.


Genealogy Tips & Family History