The Moffits

Jessie Dodds Moffitt was the husband of John Black. The Moffitt name appears as early as l824 in the Parish Register at Killerin in Wexford. The three eldest Moffitt girls were all born at Kelso in the border region of Scotland between 1813 and 1822. Jessie's parents were John and Christina Purves and the family had lived in the farming area of Kelso-Melrose region of Scotland since at least 1770. Her father John MofattIII was born at Ouplaw in the Parish of Melrose in the Borders region of Scotland. His forefathers had lived there since at least 1645 when William Moffat was born. The farm still thrives and is now owned by Robert Moffat , but he is not a relative.


The farm with modern extension and the countryside behind the farmhouse
The lower photo is of a farm workers cottage, located to the right of the top scene, where families like the Moffats would have lived.




It seems likely that both families were brought from Scotland to supervise the work on Anglo-Irish estates after the rebellion of 1798. The family must have emigrated to Ireland between 1822 and 1824 when John Moffitt /Moffat took up the appointment of Land Steward at Borleagh House.

Christina Purves bore five more children after the family arrived in Ireland.

The first entry in the Parish Register relating to the Moffitts is the baptism of the second of these children:
"28 March l824 Maria Jane - Dau. Of John & Christiana Moffit of Bureigh Par Killerinin."

The IGI includes the baptism in the Parish of Inch by Gorey of another child.
"John Purvis Moffett on 27 April 1828".

The Sunday School at Inch was opened on 14 October, 1827. The roll for that year included Jessie Moffitt, Barbara Moffitt and Margaret Moffitt. In No. 1 Class, we have
"Jessie Moffett - Residence Bumey - with Parents )Testament,
Barbara Moffett- " Hymns Catechism.
Another entry of 6 January, l828 records that a girl Moffatt was admitted to the Sunday School, 60 boys and 58 girls being present. For the half-year ending in June 1828 the attendance of the females included
" 9. Jessy Moffett 12 times
10. Barbara Moffett 11 times
32. Margaret Moffett 3 times."
There is another entry but no year is given. -
"Daily attendance, March to May"
34. Barbara Moffett
35. Margaret.Moffett".

The Parish Register also contains the names of the children in Classes I-V, apparently the roll of the Parish School, as distinct from that of the Sunday School. There was no child named Black or Moffitt in any class. This may lead to the conclusion that John Black's and John Moffitt's children attended a school in the Kilnahue village. The Moffitt girls apparently came to the Sunday School when their parents drove there to attend Church on Sundays
Both John and Jessie could read and write and married in Coolintagart in January 1831. It seems that this marriage took place on the Borleigh estate. Their first three sons Henry George, John Moffit and George Purves were born there between 1832 and 1836. In 1838 the Black's decided to emigrate. Jessie's sisters - Barbara and Christina, but not Margaret (who was only 14 at that time), decided to accompany her to Australia.

After the family group left other relatives remained. The tithe aplotment book for the barony of Gorey contains six families of Black. Later when the Griffith valuation of Wexford was conducted in 1853 three families of Black's were recorded in the parishes of Inch and Kilcavan. The Rev. Gibson Black was the rector at Inch and rented land in the townland of Bolabradda. James Black rented a house and land from Ellen Gilbert in the townland of Cronecribbin in the parish of Inch and Edward Black rented a house and land from Francis Hatton in the townland of Ballylacy in the adjacent parish of Kilcavan. Both men also rented land adjacent to the houses of the other from the same landlord. As the first child born to the Black's in Australia was named James Edward is probable that two of these men were brothers or cousins of John Black.