Finding my Scots-Irish ancestors in Bushmills – Part 3

This blog concludes this series about my search for my ancestors from Bushmills, County Antrim.

In search of the Boyds of Magherintendry

Various records of my great-great-grandfather Stephenson Boyd’s age show that he was born in about 1812-13. An important clue to Stephenson’s origins is given in his death record in Scotland – thankfully, the Scottish recordkeepers sought detailed identifying information from the family when registering a birth, marriage or death. The death record names Stephenson’s parents as:

“Robert Boyd, Agricultural Labourer, deceased”

“Liticia Boyd, maiden surname Stephenson, deceased”

 S Boyd death certStephenson Boyd’s death record, 1878

This information enables us to search the earlier records to locate other information about this couple. Although the 1851 census of Ireland has been destroyed, a census substitute has been created from later old age pension application forms. The old age pension was introduced in Ireland in 1909 for people over 70 years. However, because compulsory registration of births did not commence until 1864, the authorities looked for entries in the 1841 and 1851 censuses to prove the applicant’s age.

The abstracts of the pension application forms show that Robert Boyd aged 68 and Letitia Boyd aged 64 lived at Magherintendry townland, Billy parish, in 1851. Further, this record gives us the names of two of their daughters, Letitia b.1823 and Ann b.1833, one or both of whom were applying for the old age pension.[1]

Boyd 1851 MagherintendryAbstract of the 1851 census search for an old age pension application, 1909.

The 1909 pension information includes Robert’s wife Letitia’s maiden name as the pension applicant remembered it – the name is transcribed as “Steen/Stinson”. Other 19th Century records also show variants of this name, possibly a corruption or antecedent of Stephenson. Interestingly, Margaret and Stephenson’s youngest son Stephenson (b. 1866) was known as ‘Stean’ by the family.

This information leads us to the Griffith’s Valuation of 1859, which, as noted above, is a comprehensive register of all occupiers of land in Ireland. The valuation shows a Robert Boyd occupying a house and garden at Magherintendry, a few miles south-east of Bushmills. Like Eagry (where Margaret Dean seems to have come from), Magherintendry is a townland within Billy parish just a few miles outside Bushmills.[2]

Unfortunately, we cannot say with any certainty that Stephenson Boyd was born and brought up here at Magherintendry, as there are no records that show Robert and Letitia Boyd’s residence prior to 1851, by which time Stephenson was already married and had migrated to Scotland. It is tempting, however, to speculate that Stephenson and Margaret Dean met because they lived only a couple of miles apart and may have met at the Scots-Irish Presbyterian church at Bushmills.

Griffith’s Valuation of 1859 confirms Robert Boyd’s residence in Magherintendry townland where he is shown as the occupier of a cottage.

Griffiths Magherintendry

The Griffith’s Valuation record for Magherintendry, showing Robert Boyd as the tenant of a house and garden. The numbers and letters in the left column are cross-referenced to the map shown below, enabling identification of the exact position of the house.

Griffiths map Magh1859 Map showing Magherintendry townland in lower right, and Bushmills in upper left – Billy parish church is in centre bottom. Robert and Letitia Boyd’s house was located in the southern-most corner of Magherintendry.

The exact location of the Boyd house shown on the 1859 map above allowed me to pinpoint the present-day location. A modern house has replaced the little cluster of cottages that once occupied the site, shown below.


The Billy church (Church of Ireland) sits on a rise a mile or so from Magherintendry, overlooking the Bush valley. Billy churchyard contains a large number of graves which have been carefully mapped and transcribed by a local group.[3] There are four Boyd graves and no Dean graves in the churchyard – Robert or Letitia Boyd are not amongst them, nor any Boyds of Magherintendry. We have no reason to expect that our known Boyd ancestors were wealthy enough for their estates to afford a gravestone, so it is not surprising that there do not appear to be any relevant marked burials here. In any case, since they were Presbyterians, they may have been buried in an unknown graveyard associated with a Presbyterian chapel.

Billy churchBilly church from Craig Park, near Magherintendry

Billy graveyardGravestones in the Billy parish churchyard

I doubt that there is any more to be discovered about the ancestors of my great-great-grandparents Margaret Dean and Stephenson Boyd. But this series, I hope, has illustrated what is possible despite the patchiness of the surviving Irish records.

[1] Source: – Ireland, 1841/1851 Census Abstracts (Northern Ireland)

[2] Source: Primary Valuation of Ireland;

[3] Gravestone Inscriptions at the old burying ground beside Billy Parish Church in North Antrim;

One thought on “Finding my Scots-Irish ancestors in Bushmills – Part 3

  1. I have a DNA Match with a descendant of Robert and Leticia Boyd (nee Stevenson or Stephenson). I also have Boyd ancestors, who were situated in Antrim, Ireland and I was wondering if you have tested your DNA and were interested to see if we were a match?

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