Editorial Comment

Editorial Comment

It is without precedent that I submit an editorial comment to The Breakey Collection, and, further, that I place it at the beginning of the collection rather than maintaining the chronological order that I have always used.   However, due to the implications of recent discoveries, I feel compelled to do so.

For countless years Breakey family members have searched for a common ancestor, more so following the World War II transcription of The Memoirs of Thomas C. Breakey. Since then considerable effort, time and funds have been spent in searching for the French antecedents of the Breakey soldiers of Boyne fame.  I have been one of those researchers for nearly thirty years, yet as can be seen in various manuscripts in the collection some of my research has led me to entertain the possibility that the family of Breakey was not of French origin. The recent discoveries reinforce this possibility and suggest an alternative.

Two works  are currently being prepared for the collection.  At this time The Breakey Family of Lismagonway Townland, County Monaghan, Ireland  is nearing  completion.  I hope to publish it in book form for relatives, and to present it on the website, by the end of the year.  The second work, The Breakey Family of Scotland, co-authored with Kenneth Breakey of Portadown, Northern Ireland who has been  funding the investigation, is still in the research stage yet it has implications for my current work. It is the data presently from this research that I feel warrants this editorial comment.

The Breakey Family of Lismagonway… is primarily a genealogy, and the entry for Rev. Andrew Breakey of Killyleagh, a Presbyterian minister for nearly sixty-three years, is extensive.  Rev. Andrew Breakey died   17 November 1882, and the following excerpt is taken from   The Down Recorder, 9 December 1882:

The late Rev. Andrew Breakey, Killyleagh – Funeral Sermon by Dr. Murphy


On Sunday last [3 December 1882], the pulpit of the First Presbyterian Church, Killyleagh, was occupied by the Rev. J. G. Murphy, LL.D. Professor of Hebrew in the General Assembly’s College, Belfast, who preached with special reference to the death of the Rev. Andrew Breakey, the late beloved pastor of the congregation. There was a very large attendance on the occasion, and Dr. Murphy’s remarks were listened to with the deepest attention …


Your venerable pastor, who has broken the bread of life for you more than half a century, has lately departed to be with Christ, which is far better.  My friend and brother, Mr. McCreery, has delineated his character and career as fully and fairly, that little remains for me but to express my concurrence in his kindly statement.  From a memorandum of his early life I learn that the Breakey from whom he was descended went from Scotland over to Holland, and entered into the service of William Prince of Orange.  They served during the war in Ireland, and on being disbanded, settled as farmers in the neighborhood of Ballybay.  Andrew Breakey was born in 1795 or 1796.  His father took an interest in the affairs of the congregation.  His mother, whose maiden name was Rogers, was a pious woman, from whom he early learned the principles of the Gospel …


*  *  *  *

The following are examples of the records discovered for The Breakey Family of Scotland.

Williame Brakie married Bessie Ramsay 28 November 1655 at Lasswade, Midlothian, Scotland

William Breaky[1] married 2 June 1672 Janet   Duncan at Lasswade, Midlothian, Scotland

John Breakie born 9 March 1673 to William Breakie & Janet Duncan, Lasswade, Midlothian, Scotland

Janet Breakie born 1 November 1674 to William Breakie & Janet Duncan, Lasswade, Midlothian, Scotland

Barbara Brakie born 7 May 1698 to William Brakie & Elizabeth Montgumrie, Newton Parish, Scotland

Sarah Breakey, child of unknown parents, born in Dunluce, Antrim, Northern Ireland, 1692

Borthick[2] Gillespie, son of Joseph Gillespie & Sarah Breakey, born in Antrim, Northern Ireland, 1716

David Gillespie, son of Joseph Gillespie & Sarah Breakey, born in Antrim, Northern Ireland, 1718

William Gillespie, son of Joseph Gillespie & Sarah Breakey, born   in Antrim, Northern Ireland, 1720

Isabella Gillespie, daughter of Joseph Gillespie & Sarah Breakey, born Dunluce, Antrim, Northern Ireland, 1722

Sarah Gillespie, daughter of Joseph Gillespie & Sarah Breakey, born in Dunluce, Antrim 1724

*  *  *  *

The memorandum that Dr. Murphy relied on predated the writings of Thomas C. Breakey and points  to a Scottish origin for the family.  The birth and death records from Lasswade, Midlothian, Scotland predate the arrival of William of Orange in England in November 1688, and Antrim, in the north-east of Ireland, is a natural entry point for emigrants from Scotland.

But another piece of recorded Breakey history that pre-dates Thomas C. Breakey’s work must also be considered.  Isaiah Breakey, the son of James Breakey of County Cavan, Ireland and Sullivan County, New York, was a near contemporary of Thomas C. Breakey’s father, John (1780-1878).   Isaiah was born in Ireland in 1798, immigrated to the United States with his family circa 1818, and upon his death was buried in Bethel, Sullivan County, New York in 1871. His headstone is inscribed, “A descendant of the French Huguenots, born in County Monaghan, Ireland.”

Thus the tradition of a Huguenot and of a Scottish origin existed at the same time.  The implications are clear.  Anyone researching Breakey history should be open to a number of possibilities. The claim of a Huguenot origin may have its roots in the associated prestige rather than fact.  Alternately, some branches of the family may have had their origins in Scotland rather than France, or the Huguenot roots of others may have derived from a maternal line.

*  *  *  *

With genealogical research it’s rather like Oscar Wilde’s statement that I have quoted in a previous manuscript:  “The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.”

It is my hope that the current research will open up new avenues of investigation that have heretofore been unexplored.

                                                                                    Marilyn J. Breakey


                                                                                    The Breakey Collection

                        June 2005


[1] Surname spellings are as they appear in documents.  They are not to be taken as typographical errors.

[2] Borthwick is an” ancient Scottish family of Celtic origin;” there is a Borthwick tartan (Tartans of Scotland) < www.tartans.scotland.net > In America the surname, in some cases, is spelled without the ‘w.’