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AN AMERICAN PRESIDENT FROM CO. KILDARE

Leinster Leader 6 November 1969
 
A President of the United States from Timahoe
Richard Nixon’s Forebears Originated in Co. Kildare
 
The many Irish people who felt honoured by President Kennedy’s Irish connections may be pleased to know that Richard Millhouse Nixon also has strong connections with this Country.
   Nixon’s ancestors sprang from people who left this country long before the great tide of Catholic emigration from Ireland reached the shores of the United States. The following tell something of those ancestors of the future President Nixon.
  In 1641 Thomas Fitzgerald, who belonged to a branch of the family of the Earls of Kildare, owned among other places Timahoe in the north of Co. Kildare.
 In that year a great rebellion broke out that caused great destruction all over Ireland. In nearby Donadea the Rev. Mr. Pilsworth was robbed of all he had and turned out of doors with his large family. The rebels were going to hang him, but he was saved by the intervention of a priest whom he did not know.
  As a result of the rebellion that ended in the victories of Oliver Cromwell, great numbers of Irishmen lost their lands and after Cromwell’s death many of them tried to get possession of their properties again.
  In 1660 Thomas Fitzgerald of Timahoe in a petition to Charles II mentioned that he had never taken part in the rebellion, but that he was nevertheless dispossessed of his estate. He did not take land in Connaught, but had lived, he said, on the charity of well disposed Christians. He was, he said, patiently expecting the King’s miraculous restoration.
   That Thomas Fitzgerald was not to experience the miraculous restoration is evident from later events.
  In 1662 a John Burniston got custody of the lands of Timahoe, Carrick and Gilltown, and we later find him complaining that others were trying to dispossess him of the lands of Thomas Fitzgerald, to the ruin of his wife and ten small children. The next owner of Timahoe would seem to have been the Duke of York who later became King James II and was ousted by King William and defeated at the Battle of the Boyne. After the defeat of King James his estate in Timahoe became the property of Robert and John Curtis of Dublin.
 In 1704 Robert and John Curtis leased the lands of Timahoe and Gilltown-a nearby townland-to Theobald Burke and Richard Aylmer. In the same year we find Burke and Aylmer in turn leasing this property to a group of people who were members of the Society of Friends, and commonly called Quakers.
  This group consisted of Alexander Wyly of Gilltown; Samuel Mickie of Timahoe; Robert Wyly of Timahoe; James Miller of Timahoe and Samuel Miller of Timahoe; John McKay of Timahoe and John Millhouse of the same townland. These Quakers, who had many relatives in the north of Ireland, held their lands in common for a period, but in 1709 we find them partitioning the lands into separate farms.
  In 1710 John Millhouse made its will with the object of putting his affairs in order. He named his friend Alexander Wyly of Gilltown, farmer, his friends and kinsmen, John Mickie, Killmuclone, King’s Co., farmer and Samuel Mickle of Timahoe, farmer, and his wife, Sarah Millhouse. Among the debts that were owed to John Millhouse in 1710 were several for measuring land, for as well as being a farmer, he acted as a surveyor and must have been kept at this work by the many new sellers then establishing themselves in the area in which he lived.
   John Millhouse held by several leases the great area of 237 plantation acres.
       An inventory of his good taken in May 1710 by Richard Millhouse, John Wardell and Robert Wyly discloses that on the farm he had about forty-six cattle; eighty-two sheep with thirty-three lambs and seven horses. Among the crops mentioned are wheat, barley, peas and oats. Among the furnishings of his home are mentioned one cheese press; two hutches; one oval table; one square table and two feather beds; beds, clothes and hangings.
   As John Millhouse did not farm all his land himself, we find him leasing lands to undertenants. Among those who owed him rent in May 1710 were James Haverin, Daniel Connor, John and Patrick Connor, Nicholas Fox, Richard Foxe, Garrett Walsh and partners, Pierce and James Fitzgerald, John Hanlon, Robert Greer, Hugh Downey, Manus Downey and John Coin.
   Many of these no doubt were the descendants of the people who had been settled in the area for a long time and who in the 1641 period had been undertenants of Thomas Fitzgerald who had been dispossessed. Many of the descendants of these tenants still live in Timahoe. Pierce and James Fitzgerald mentioned as tenants in 1710 may have been the descendants of the…..[apparently a paragraph or line missing from the newspaper].
  Among the children of John Millhouse, we find the names of Thomas and Robert Millhouse.
 This Thomas Millhouse was born in Timahoe in 1699. He married Sarah Miller who was born in 1701 and was probably the daughter of either James or Samuel Miller who were among the original Quaker settlers in Timahoe.
  In 1744 Thomas Millhouse and his wife emigrated to America at a time when there was a great movement of people from north of Ireland to that country. Thomas Millhouse’s family prospered and spread in this new land. The most prominent descendant of their family at present is Richard Millhouse Nixon.
  Robert Millhouse continued to live in Timahoe after his brother went to America. He is mentioned in records dealing with the property in the Timahoe area until 1751.
  A map of Kildare for the year 1752 shows a Quaker Meeting House in Timahoe near the ruins of the castle of the Fitzgeralds.
  It would seem that after this time the Quaker Colony in Timahoe declined in importance. By 1850 no land owners or tenants in Timahoe bore such names as Millhouse, Mickie, Miller or Wyly.
   All traces of a meeting house have also disappeared. One memorial that recalls the previous existence of the past is the site of the Quaker graveyard where no doubt lie the remains of John Millhouse, one of whose descendants becomes President of the U.S.A.
    -M. Kelly.

The 350th article on EHistory.

An article from M. Kelly forty years ago in the Leinster Leader of 1969 on the Co. Kildare origins of a well-known US President. 


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