And so in 1808 we find the birth of two probable descendants of these 17th century immigrants - William Abernethy, born in County Tyrone, and Elizabeth West, born the same year in neighboring County Armagh.
We know little of this couple in the early years of their lives, except that they married young in their native Northern Ireland and had a daughter Sarah about 1829, a son William in 1832 and perhaps another child about 1836, who died before they left Ireland. When they emigrated to England some time in the 1830s they settled in the industrial northeast, in the booming port of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
William was a weaver by trade, but the rising demands of industry may have tempted him to more profitable effort, because he put his hand to other work - namely a furnace-man and worker in a chemical factory.
There would be sadness and setbacks for the family in those early years in England. Three months before his 6th birthday in 1838, little William died of typhus fever in the early hours of the morning of Saturday, January 27.
By the spring of 1841, there were three children living with William and Elizabeth in their house in Fenkle Street, Newcastle. Irish-born Sarah was by this time 12, and her two little English sisters were Elizabeth age 2 and 4-months-old Mary. By the turn of the half century, three more sons and a daughter had been born to the Abernethys, although son William, born in 1842, did not survive infancy.
When another son, William James, was born in 1846, he was the third to be named after his father, and the only William to survive to adulthood. By the time the Abernethys’ last daughter, Hannah, arrived in 1851, father William’s widowed mother Ann had also come to live with them from Ireland. She was 67 years old, and Ireland in mid-century was no place to be poor and alone.
As for the Irish-born patriarch of the family, William Abernethy did not live to a great age. He died in 1868 at 60 of chronic bronchitis. His wife, Elizabeth, outlived him by 18 years.