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The Short(t) Family Research Leads Down An Improbable Path

by Familia Ulster Genealogical Review: No. 26, 2010


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by Margaret Gordon

"When all pathways of genealogical research appear to lead nowhere should serendipity be given a chance? I decided to seize the opportunity to see where it might lead despite the problems of researching in Canada with limited access to Irish records. My research challenge had in any case been made all the more intriguing because the principal subjects of my inquiries, the first members of my family to arrive in Canada in the 1830s, Joseph and Isabella Shortt, were unique in the sense that Isabella’s maiden name had been Short (with one ‘T’). The names ‘Shortt’ and ‘Short’ are in themselves extremely rare in Ireland. To find them marrying each other was in itself more than curious.

All this mystery was compounded by the fact that there never had been any meaningful folklore in my family about the background to the families Joseph and Isabella had left behind. All that we were able to glean was that Joseph had apparently been disowned for marrying Isabella, that his family had been involved in the famous Siege of Derry (which lasted over 100 days at the time of the Battle of the Boyne in the period 1689–90 and is the last great siege recorded in British history) and that the family had been involved in the linen industry, the spinning and weaving of which fabric had been so characteristic of the Ulster economy throughout the eighteenth and into the nineteenth centuries."

This article explores the author's family research into the mysteries of the Short(t) family.