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HomepageA Brief Summary of Cullen Family History
in the United States, England, & Ireland
Jim Cullen

This document was produced in order to present names, dates, locations, and family ties in one message. The purpose is for distribution and (hopefully) the discovery of new connections for the Cullen family and any other family, however distantly related.

Enos and Seth Cullen came to the U.S. in 1840 and settled the northern regions of Ohio, along the shores of Lake Erie. Enos lived in Sandusky and Erie Counties. Seth lived in Lucas, Henry, and Paulding Counties. From obituaries, grave markers, and estate papers it was known that Enos was born in 1821 and Seth in 1819, both near Boston, Lincolnshire, England. From known family history, they were brothers. It is also said that we are Irish, though our name was not originally O'Cullen as others.

In the Mormon IGI, entries for Enos and Seth were found at the expected place and dates. The parents were William Cullen and Elisabeth Houghton who were married at Great Hale, Lincolnshire in 1816. Their children were (all christened at Great Hale): Ann (1817), Seth (1819), Enos (1821), Sarah (1823), Charlotte (b.1825 d.1826), George (1827), and Charlotte (1830). Father William was christened at Great Hale in 1795. A researcher hired out of England says that, although the father of William is listed as William, it is likely that the father was actually Thomas Cullen of Great Hale and that he was not present at that christening - so William is listed twice.

Thomas Cullen was a farmer, a laborer, and a yeoman at Little Hale. He married Elizabeth Gratrix at Grantham, Lincolnshire in 1778. Elizabeth was the daughter of John and Ann Gratrix, christened on Feb 2, 1758 at Grantham. The first child of Thomas & Elizabeth, Sarah Cullen, was christened there in 1778. The rest of the children (all christened at Great Hale) were: Gervas (1785), Mary(1787), Elizabeth (1789), Gratrix (1790), Elizabeth (1792), William (1795), and John (b.1798 d.1814). Father Thomas (1751-1848) and wife (1758-1809) are buried at St. John Baptist, Great Hale. With extra info that other Cullen families provided I was able to find the records for Gervase Cullen who was said to be the father of Thomas.

Gervase was born in 1718 and was from Upton, Nottinghamshire. It was known that we had relatives in Nottinghamshire. We even have a picture taken there in 1916 of an unknown relative. Gervase married Elizabeth Millward at North Muskham, Nottinghamshire in 1749. Elizabeth was from Nottingham city and was born in 1724. The first child of Gervase & Elizabeth, Mary Cullen, was christened there in 1750. From the IGI and from family history, the rest of the children were (all christened around Grantham, Lincolnshire): Thomas (1751), Elizabeth (1753), Ann(1755), Sarah (1757), Garvis (1759), William (1762), and Richard (1766). William (b.1762) was married to Martha Charity and the family came to the U.S. and lived in Richland County, Ohio.

Gervase was christened April 20, 1718 at Upton to parents Thomas and Elizabeth Cullen. It is then very likely that he was the son of Thomas Cullen (of Cromwell) and Elizabeth Whitton (of Kelham) who were married Nov 7, 1715 at South Muskham, Notts. Other children (all christened at Upton) were: Elizabeth ch.1722, Sarah ch.1723, Mary ch.1724, William and John ch.1726. There may also have been an earlier son, Thomas, ch.26Aug1716 at Averham. Two later children, Thomas and Anne ch.1730 & 1731 were likely children of another set of parents Thomas and Elizabeth Cullen. The father Thomas, born about 1690, was very likely the Thomas christened on Jan 26, 1692 at Southwell to parents Gervase and Elianor Cullen. Other Cullen marriages in the same place and time period were: Susannah Cullen m. William Hollis on Nov 7, 1721 at S. Muskham; Sarah Cullen m. William Fletcher on Nov 7, 1708 at S. Muskham. Since Gervase Cullen married Elizabeth Millward on Aug 7, 1749 at N. Muskham, it's not too much to to believe that there is some relation here.

In Southwell there was more than one 'Gervase' in the marriage records though it is also likely that a Gervase Cullen married more than once. We have a Gervase and Elianor (marriage date unknown) who were parents to Thomas born 1692 in Southwell (see above); we have a Gervase Cullen who married Ann Goodwin on Nov 12, 1695 at Southwell; and we have a Gervase Cullen who married Mary Reresby on Apr 18, 1697 at Southwell (these parents to Susannah Cullen ch. Nov 28, 1697 at Southwell).

It's not too hard to believe that the same Gervase Cullen could have married three times. In fact, there is a Gervase Cullen, yeoman of Upton, who is known to have been born Sep 22, 1662 and died Jul 2, 1717. This Gervase was the son of Gervase and Katherine (Robinson) Cullen and this of course puts us into the main line of the Cullen families in 'The Rude Forefathers' (see below). This is a highly speculative connection but provides a starting point for further research.

The Cullens that lived in Upton, Nottinghamshire were part of a large group of yeoman farmers. A book written many years ago by Francis Horner West - "The Rude Forefathers" - contains a genealogy of the Cullen family there, the information regarding them having been extracted from old parish records. It has been conjectured, based on the names of Richard's children and the known history of the related Cullens in Ireland, that either Richard or his immediate ancestors lived for a time in Scotland. Relation to the Norman-Irish family is assumed and has been accepted as a near certainty on the basis of several pieces of circumstantial evidence. A summary of the known line in Nottinghamshire from the book by Francis West and from the research of others follows, beginning with Richard Cullen of Upton:

George Cullen (a cousin ?) married in 1650 at Upton.
Richard Cullen m. Jane Wilson Dec 26, 1649 at Upton.
Thomas Cullen m. Alice Robinson Sep 12, 1657 at Rolleston.
William Cullen m. Mary Ward Aug 27, 1635 at Rolleston.

Deborah m. Richard Chapman Jul 2, 1677 at Upton.
Katherine m. ? Jul 23, 1694 at Upton.
Katherine possibly m. William Hall Jul 6, 1686 Easthorp, Southwell.

When these names were checked against the Mormon IGI, I was surprised to find that nearly all of them had a notation that indicated relatives of John F. Atterton. John Francis Atterton, born 1875 at Grantham, Lincolnshire, had a grandmother named Anne Cullen. Anne's father, John Cullen born 1808, was a member of the Brant Broughton Cullen family in Lincolnshire, a branch descended from the main line of Cullens in Upton, Nottinghamshire. Evidently, back in the 20's and 30's, Mr. Atterton had done a great deal of research on the Cullen family in Nottinghamshire. He also places relatives in Lincolnshire and in Ireland - Counties Leitrim, Dublin, and also in Ulster. Having taken down all the references, I tried to fit them into a line. Both the Irish and the English lines ran back to the same approximate time and no 'link' could be placed to indicate the direction of migration. One group of names was familiar: the descendants of Patrick Cullen as mentioned in a published history of the Cullen family, which follows:

"From one of the before-mentioned Irish lines of the family was descended Patrick Cullen, of County Leitrim, Ireland, who married Isabella, daughter of Cairncross Nesbitt, in the early seventeenth century and was the father by her of Patrick, who married Judith, daughter of Owen Wynne; of Cairncross, who married Elizabeth, daughter of James Soden, and was the father by her of Cairncross, John James, Henry Francis, Catherine, Jane Elizabeth, and Eliza Melvin; of James, who married Elizabeth, daughter of Samuel Adams, and was the father by her of Anna and Francis Nesbitt; of John, who was first married to Margaret, daughter of Samuel Adams, and later married the Lady Catherine Burmingham; of Francis, who died unmarried; of Henry, who died unmarried; of Isabella; Margaret; and Elizabeth."

Incidently, 'one of the before-mentioned Irish lines . . .' refers to Cuilin of the Leinster O'Cullens, or to Dermod O'Cullen from Carbery and the area of west Cork. Supposedly, a common ancestor of both is Lugaid, son of Olioll Flann Beag (Ailill Flann Beg), King of Munster, whos genealogy by tradition is traced back through the Milesian descendancy to Adam and Eve. Though the the Milesian descendancy can be trusted back to a point, generally the 5'th or 6'th century, earlier generations are highly speculative and the various experts are holding out for more documentation

Recently, information concerning the Cullens of Co Leitrim indicates that the above Patrick Cullen (known as Patrick-Mor who married Isabella Nesbitt) was the son of a John Cullen who was in turn the second son of a Captain John Cullen. Captain John Cullen is said to be descended from Cullen, Prince of Cumberland and King of Scotland elected in the tenth year of the tenth century. It is believed that Captain John Cullen came over with Cromwell in 1648 and was granted lands in Co Tyrone for his service. Not caring for this area, he relocated to the Scotch colony in Manorhamilton in 1660. Captain John Cullen had three sons; Patrick-Garr of Cloonaguin, John of Skreeny, and James of Townamoil.

This information is interesting since, knowing that Cromwell collected his forces in England and Scotland, we come back again to the connection between the Cullens of Nottinghamshire, England and Co Leitrim, Ireland. John F. Atterton's work was carefully researched and his claim that the families are related can not be dismissed so easily. Burke's states another opinion, which is that the family originated in Co Wexford, lost their lands due to the penal laws, migrated for a time to Scotland, then returned to settle granted lands in Co Leitrim. One or more facts may be in error here or we have another split in the family not previously known. Supporting this idea is the fact that there were related Cullen families in Dublin and Londonderry as early as or perhaps even earlier than the arrival of Captain John Cullen to Co Tyrone in 1648. Furthermore, in Prendergast's "Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland", there is a list of Surnames of the Adventurers for Lands in Ireland under subscription of Charles I, from 1642 to 1646. Cullen is not listed, which indicates that Captain John Cullen may have arrived under a different set of circumstances. Still, the year 1648 IS outside of the date range for the names listed.

Anyway, back to Patrick Cullen. He married Isabella Nesbitt around 1745. The children (all born Leitrim, Skreeny) were: Patrick (1747), Cairncross (1749) , James (1750 ?), John (1751), Francis (1753), Henry (1757), Isabella (1764), Margaret (1761), and Elizabeth (1763).

Cairncross Cullen married Elizabeth Soden around 1780 or so (again, not listed in the IGI). The children (all born Leitrim, Skreeny) were: Cairncross (abt 1785 ?), John James, Henry Francis (1780), Catherine (1782), Jane Elizabeth (1784), Eliza Melvina (1786).

James Cullen (born 1750) is said to have married Elizabeth Adams, but the only relative of John F. Atterton named James Cullen married Anna Adams in 1788 at Sligo, Skreeny. The only children I can determine is Anna and Francis Nesbitt (1804).

A list of unplaced individuals with the surname Cullen in Leitrim that are listed as relatives of John F. Atterton follows (sorted according to date and place as best as possible - no parents listed in IGI). The letter codes are m or f (for male or female), followed by b, m, or d (for birth, marriage, or death):

Richard FrancisWilliam AdamsAnna LouisaEdmond WilloughbyElizabeth CatherineFrancis NesbittEthel HenriettaKate SusannaConstance ElizabethCairncross PalmerCairncross Thomas
PatrickMB1725Leitrim, Skreeny
Judith AnneFB1759"
Arthur PatrickMB1852Leitrim
Francis JamesMB1846"
FD1857Leitrim, Glendale

A list of Cullen relatives of John F. Atterton in other areas of Ireland (besides Dublin) follows:

AnnFB1693Ulster, Londonderry
Jane (d/o Thomas)FB1667"
Mrs. Jeane (d/o Henry/Jeane)FB1693"
Mrs. MaryFB1676"
Mrs. OwenFB1636"
Richard (s/o Owen)MB1656"
Mrs. ThomasFB1647"

There is another entire family of Cullens related to John F. Atterton in Dublin. Here, for now, I will list only the marriages:

Charles Cullen m. Sarah 1678
Edward Cullen m. Mary Ryan (or Man) 1766
George Cullen m. Mary Smith 1659
John Cullen m. Margaret Jones 1676
John Cullen m. Hannah Gibbons 1691
John Cullen m. Catherine Wemys 1762
Robert Cullen m. Mary Burk 1721
Thaddeus Cullen m. Amy Tabanor 1651
William Cullen m. Margaret Bodfield 1701

All these branches of the Cullen family are related in that the parent family was originally located in County Wexford prior to about 1600. This is according to the family tradition of the Cullen family which is still living in Leitrim, Ireland. At the time, the Cullens were evicted from their lands due to the penal laws. Some relocated to other areas and later returned. Some went off to Scotland and England. This explains the scattering of the family right around the end of the 16'th century. I have been in contact with the family that resettled in Co. Leitrim and they have forwarded much info about what is known of their history. According to Burke's Landed Gentry:

"This family, which claims to be derived from the old Irish race of the O'Cuilleans, is stated to have migrated for a time to Scotland, but to have returned eventually to Ireland temp. Charles I, and to have obtained by patent considerable grants of land in the Co. Leitrim."

The referral to these Cullens as descended from the old Irish Race of the O'Cuilleans is troubling. The Cullens of Co Wexford are commonly referred to as Norman, having originated in Wales or Flanders. The O'Cuilleans are found to be descended from a Cuilin who was a descendant of Brian Boru. It is interesting to note that Brian Boru's bloodline was intermixed with that of the Vikings settlers that came up the Shannon several centuries prior to the Norman Invasion. It is said that Brian Boru himself had blonde hair and blue eyes, as do the Kennedys that were descended from his family. It would be tough to distinguish between the Irish O'Cuilleans and the Norman Cullens but distinct they are. In Co Wexford the Irish families outnumbered the Norman families nearly six to one, and they concentrated themselves in separate baronies - one Irish, one Normanised. That these two groups intermixed there is no doubt and no wonder then that the early history of the name is so cloudy in south Leinster.

In the Manorhamilton area of Co Leitrim the most prominent Cullen family were the descendants of Patrick Cullen who died in 1774. Patrick is descended from the Captain John Cullen who arrived in Ireland in 1648. Patrick's family has been described in some detail above. Some of his descendants were the Cairncross Cullens of Skreeny Manorhamilton. As far as is known, none of this line is left in the area and indeed very few of the Protestant branch of the family remains. There are numerous members of the Catholic branch still living in North Leitrim. According to these Cullens, both branches were from the same family that was pushed out of Co. Wexford. Some became Protestant in order to hold onto their lands around Manorhamilton; the others were evicted and ended up in nearby Glenfarne where many still live today.

Pictures of my line of Cullens from generations back and from more than one branch were forwarded to the family in Leitrim for comparison of family likeness. The report has come back that there are physical similiarities between our respective lines, which is supportive but not entirely conclusive. One interesting item is the Cullen birthmark, handed down through the male line for many generations. The mark is a hereditary defect in the gene that controls the formation of fine blood vessels under the skin. As it turns out, the Cullen family is not the only Norman family of Co Wexford, Ireland that bears a hereditary birthmark. The Ro(a)ches, Brownes, and Rossiters are other families known to have some sort of hereditary marking passed on through the male line. In general, these birthmarks are considered to be very old in origin, persistent in the bloodline, and consistent through the generations as far as placement and appearance. Overall, the hereditary marking is quite distinctive and has been shown to be reliable enough to be used to identify the family line.

No contact has yet been made with any of the Dublin branch of the family.

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