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James Donnelly (1816 - 1880)

James Donnelly
Born in County Tipperary, Irelandmap
Son of [father unknown] and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married 1840 [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died in Biddulph, Middlesex, Ontario, Canadamap
Profile last modified | Created 22 Jan 2019
This page has been accessed 136 times.


James was born in 1816. He died on 4 February 1880, along with other members of his family, in Buddulph Township near Lucan, Ontario, Canada.

1871 Census of Canada. Biddulph Township, Middlesex County, Ontario. Surname spelled Donoley. [1]

James Donoley Male 50 Ireland
Johanna Donoley Female 48 Ireland
William Donnoly Male 23 O
Patrick Donnoly Male 21 O
Michael Donnoly Male 19 O
Robert Donnoly Male 18 O
Thomas Donnoly Male 16 O
Jane Donnoly Female 14 O

Although James Donnolly's young relative, Bridget Donnelly (1858-1880), was not with them long enough to appear in a census, she did live in the home of the senior Donnellys and died along with them on 4 February, 1880 in Biddulph Township, Middlesex County, Ontario, Canada. One of the early books on the Donnellys gave Bridget's relationship to James as his niece. She was born in Ireland and apparently came to live with her relatives in Canada. Her death record is on the same page in the register as those of three of her relatives; James's record is on the following page. [2]

Research Notes

Death record notes that he was "supposed to be murdered", meaning that he was understood to have been murdered. [3]


  1. "Canada Census, 1871," database, FamilySearch ( : 24 October 2018), Jane Donnoly in household of James Donoley, Biddulph, Middlesex, Ontario, Canada; citing 1871; citing National Archives of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario.
  2. Death record for James Donnelly, 1880 in Biddulph, Middlesex, Ontario, Canada
  3. "Ontario, Canada, Deaths and Deaths Overseas, 1869-1946," database and images, Ancestry, ( accessed 22 January 2019), death of James Donnelly, 4 February 1880, Biddulph, Lucan, Middlesex, Ontario, "Registrations of Deaths, 1869-1946," Collection: MS935; Reel: 25; Archives of Ontario; Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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The three different books that I have read about what happened to the "Black Donnellys" varied widely in their sensationalism, quality of research and insight into what was going on at the time. The earliest books from the 1950's and 60's tended to be the most sensational, containing all the gossip and local myths about what the Donnellys were supposed to have done.

The most believable book was one that I read decades later (the name of which I have now forgotten), which noted that the Donnelly Stagecoach business and the willingness of this family to befriend and do business with Protestants was a sore point among the Catholics of Biddulph Township. The Wikipedia entry describes these conflicts and has many sources in the footnotes.

posted by Joanna Gariepy

D  >  Donnelly  >  James Donnelly