Teare genetics: Y-DNA and the origins of Manx family names

teare and sons DNAThe Teare name is Manx in origin and its earliest recording is from 1599. It has developed and contracted to its modern spelling from the Manx Gaelic ‘Mac-y-teyir’ meaning ‘son of the craftsman or carpenter’. The Y-DNA project, which uses modern DNA analysis to trace the male genetic line, has shown that the Teare families tested have two separate male ancestors, both of Celtic origin, who would have lived about 1000 years ago.

The Isle of Man is small geographically (221 square miles) and its population has always been small relative to its larger neighbours. Despite being equidistant to Scotland, England, and Ireland (about 20 miles) and a little further to Wales the population historically had little mixing with ‘the other countries’. In this rural community, until the 19th century, the majority of the population worked on the land or the sea; often both – farming most of the time but also taking advantage of the seasonal herring fishery around the island. It was common to have marriages between neighbouring families, especially when farmers were looking to acquire new land or marrying someone from another parish. Consequently anyone researching their Manx family history will soon find their ancestors were related to a range of families, usually with very Manx names.

Families who have been connected with the Isle of Man over the last 500-1000 years are identifiable by their distinctive Manx family names. Previously people were known by single or personal names, sometimes nicknames, such as Duggan meaning the ‘little dark man’. Around 1000 years ago the Celtic patronymic system of names started to be adopted where the personal name was based on the name of your father or grandfather. This system means that a person can be identified by their personal name plus that of their male ancestor, for example Cormac MacNeill = Cormac Son of Neill. Names could describe attributes of the individual, their appearance, trade, or the place they lived but the Celtic patronymic ‘Mac’ meaning ‘the son of’ was the most common. From about 1100 AD onwards on the Isle of Man these family names, mostly unique to the Island, started to be adopted permanently and passed down to father to son unchanged.

Today there are some 125 hereditary family names surviving and still in use on the Island and these are the modern forms of the original Gaelic names in use around 1000 years ago. Modern genetic analysis using DNA testing throws light on the early history of the Manx population by tracking the Y-DNA makeup of men bearing these distinctive Manx names, including Teare. So far the study shows that Manx families tested are descended from one or two original patriarchs and so can be described as having a known genetic origin – the picture that would be expected for small families possessing family names with low overall frequency (see www.manxdna.co.uk for more details of the approx. 80 names investigated and latest results).

The Isle of Man was under the rule of a number of Scandinavian or Norse invaders for around 350 years and the study reveals only 25% of men of Manx origin today are descended from Scandinavians. This is a smaller number than might have been expected and the majority of modern Manx men have Celtic origins from men who arrived either from Scotland or Ireland. From the testing of modern Teare men in Isle of Man, UK and USA it is clear there are two different Teare genetic lines (both Celtic) on the Isle of Man. More testing is on-going to try and determine a more precise picture. However, testing carried out so far does confirm that the Teare lines from Peel (now in IoM and UK) and Patrick (now in USA) are closely related – for more on this connection see http://teareandsons.com/category/mining/ .

The phenomenon of two separate Teare male family lines is a good example of the same hereditary family name being formed in parallel and at around the same time (family names became hereditary on the Isle of Man between ca 1050 and 1300AD) by different families.  In a Gaelic speaking environment where patronymic names were in use, it is easy to expect that the same “son of: something/somebody” name could be adopted by more than one male-led family group at the same time.

But if this is true and occurs in the small Gaelic world of the Isle of Man, then it is even more so in the wider Gaelic-speaking world of Ireland and Scotland. So the Irish Kelly’s have no connection at all with the Manx Kellys for example. Hence we must learn not necessarily to expect that all families with the same name of Gaelic patronymic origin automatically have a genetic connection with each other!

However, all Manx families have mixed origins especially with the marriages between families over the centuries. Certain families are descended from a small group of male patriarchs who arrived on the Island in early times and this means many present day descendants of the families bearing unique Manx names, like Teare, are much more closely related to each other than they realise.

Teare ‘Clan’ – IoM, UK, USA

Screen Shot 2014-04-25 at 18.07.21 The information about the mining Teare family from Patrick and their voyages to and from the IoM to the USA and Canada was sent me by John Teare jr. now living in West Virginia, USA. (see blog : Teare mining families – IoM, USA, Canada http://teareandsons.com/2014/04/teare-mining-families-iom-usa-canada/)

When we started comparing notes and family tree information John Teare jr. had another insight into the Teare family connections.

Of the Teare family from Peel, that ended up as ropers, sail makers and ships chandlers in the 19th century, there are now families living principally in IoM and UK. The UK families resulted from emigration to UK at the beginning of the 20th century, after Dumbells Bank crash in 1900, which had such a negative impact on the Manx economy and especially the fishing industry. There were other Peel Teare’s at this time that emigrated to Canada but at present no connections to living families.

The IoM and UK Teare families had a common ancestor in Nicholas Teare (1766-1837) married to Mary Gibson (Cannel) (1770-1831).

It was John Teare jr. who noticed that Nicholas had a brother Edward (1757-1809) who was in his family tree. Edward married Margaret Caine (1766-1795) and these are the common ancestors for his family line, many of whom ended up in the USA and /or Canada.

The parents of Edward and Nicholas were John Tear (d 1789) and Jony Cosnahan (d 1797) so the Teare’s of Peel and the lead miners from Patrick are part of the same family.

At the end of the previous blog I commented on the contemporary accounts of how early Manx immigrants to the USA continued to speak Manx and were considered clannish. This summary family tree shows the connections of the Teare families now in IoM, UK, USA and Canada – and it’s only a summary there is much more detail if you’re interested.

It may have taken a couple of hundred years but the Teare family clan is connecting again.

Teare iom uk usa canada

Teare mining families – IoM, USA, Canada


Mining has a long history on the Isle of Man with earliest records going back to 1246 when King Harald granted mining rights to the monks of Furness Abbey.  During the period from the 1830’s there was a great revival in the Manx mining industry and rapid development. In1848 the Foxdale mines had proved to be the most productive in the island. In 1871 a new lease was granted and the mine was renamed the Central Foxdale Mine, sometimes know as the east mine. The three main shafts were renamed ‘Amy’, ‘Elizabeth’ and ‘Taylors’. Elizabeth was the deepest at 145 fathoms and was the engine shaft. The mine had a workforce 70 men underground and 45 at the surface in 1882 and the annual production of ore was between three and four hundred tons. (http://www.manxmines.com/FOXDALE%20MINE.htm )

John Teare jr. from West Virgina, USA recently contacted me with information about Edward Teare and his family from Patrick. He takes up the story – Edward Teare and Elizabeth “Betsy” Kennaugh, both of Patrick Parish, had eight children. In 1861, aged 24 he was married to Elizabeth and working as a fisherman and agricultural labourer but by 1871 he was a miner as well as farming 6 acres. He continued working as a lead miner in the 1881, 1891 and 1901 censuses.

His eldest son, William Edward was born 1858, and another Teare relative reported that he had been in the USA at the time of the 1891 IoM census, but no record of his visit has been found, so far. He married Sarah Ellison and was living on Glen Rushen Road, working as a lead miner. He was a widower living in Douglas when he died in 1920.

Thomas Henry Teare was born 1861 in Patrick Parish and arrived at New York (age 26) along with William Christian (age 22) on March 10, 1888 aboard the “City of Chicago” and destined for Michigan. His wife Emily Margaret Cain (daughter of Philip Cainand Anne Callin) joined him later with their children and other children were born in Michigan. The family returned to the Isle of Man, arriving at Liverpool, England in 1899 aboard the “Campania”, prompted, I believe by his father’s failing health. He returned to the USA without the family and in 1900 he was boarding in Ishpeming but in 1901 he was in Port Erin (his father died 1 April 1901) and then he returned to America without his family, sailing from Liverpool on 4 May 1901 and arriving New York aboard the Camapnia on 11 May. He was killed in a mining accident 23 December 1901 (ironically, at the Foxdale mine in Ishpeming) and buried in Ishpeming. His widow Emily and 4 children arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in May 1907 aboard the Cymric destined for Cobalt, Ontario, Canada to join her brother, Cesar Cain. His son, Thomas Henry Jr., now age 16 is listed as a miner. Emily died in Timmons, Cochrane County, Ontario, Canada in 1932.

Ambrose Teare was born in 1863 in Patrick Parish but by 1900 the census shows him living in Ishpeming, Michigan with his Swedish born wife Annie Peterson (married about 1894) and adopted daughter Kate. He arrived in the US in 1886 and was working as an iron miner. In 1910 the family was living in Mace, Shoshone County, Idaho and he was a Quartz miner. Also in the household was Thomas Quilliam aged 43, also a Quartz miner. The following week Ambrose, Annie and Kate crossed the Canadian border at Kingsgate, British Columbia bound for Langdon and in 1911 the family is found at McLeod, Alberta, Canada where he is a farmer. In the same housing unit are Mark Crellin, his brother in law, married to Elizabeth, the youngest of Edward and Elizabeth’s children. After Annie died in 1913 Ambrose remarried to Eleanor Elizabeth Christian born Glen Maye, Patrick about 1875. They had one child, John Frederick Teare, born 1914 in Alberta Canada. Ambrose died in 1915 at Carseland, Strathmore, Alberta, Canada.

John Albert Teare was born Patrick 1866 and died 1885. He was a fisherman, aboard the Tartar in 1881 with James Cubbon, age 73.




Joseph Benjamin Teare, my great grandfather was born in 1872 in Patrick. In 1891 he was the oldest child still living with his parents at Kerroodhoo, Foxdale. He was a lead miner like his father. He arrived at Ellis Island, New York on 16 Apr 1896 aboard the “Teutonic” sailing from Liverpool; he traveled with Thomas Garrett 27, Fred Quine 25, and Wilfred Shimmin 21, all listed as Manx miners. He came back to the IoM and married Eleanor Jane Clague at Patrick Parish 01 Jun 1899 before returning, without his wife on his second voyage to the US on the S.S. Servia in 1900: passenger index shows that his 2 brothers (Thomas and Ambrose) are in Ishpeming, Michigan. On this trip he traveled with John McQuiggan, 25, Irish from Foxdale, who was previously in U.S. in 1892 for 2 years and was going to Ishpeming to visit his nephew. Joseph and Eleanor had two children whilst in Ishpeming, Robert Edward (called Eddie) born 1903 and Eva Elizabeth born 1906. The family moved to Cuyuna, Minnesota in 1911 and then to Crosby, Crow Wing County, Minnesota in 1912. By 1930 the census shows Joseph is still an iron ore miner. Eva, a schoolteacher, is living at home. She never married. Robert married my grandmother, Louise Marion Simpson in 1930 in Brainerd, Crow Wing County, Minnesota and the newlyweds lived in Crosby; Robert was a grocery deliveryman. Robert and Louise had three children, all born in Crosby: Robert Edward born 1931, Joseph Moses born 1932 and John Richard (my father) born 1934. My grandfather died when the children were young in 1937 and my grandmother, her mother Alice Simpson and the three boys moved to Philadelphia. Robert grew up to be a butcher, Joseph was an airline mechanic and my father John an insurance salesman.

John Teare jr. now lives in West Virginia. This story gives so many insights into where families started out and then end up in the world and the work they did. Also the voyages made between USA and IoM, in both directions. The number of marriages recorded to people with Manx names, even after leaving the island, is fascinating and fits with contemporary accounts of early Manx immigrants to the USA which show how they settled in the same areas, they spoke Manx and were considered clannish.