Ned Rodgers: a Fenian in the Family?

Ned Rodgers, 1915

Ned Rodgers, 1915

Another bit of family oral tradition about Edward "Ned" Rodgers goes like this: He had to leave Ireland because of some "trouble" with the predecessors of Sinn Fein. He went to England, then went back to get his wife, and then they came to America. He changed his name from something like McGillicuddy to Rodgers.

I think these are two stories combined together, but both of them are likely to be true.

First, the name change was probably from Magrory or MacRory, not McGillicudy. To substantiate this, the Irish Times site says: "Mac Ruaidhrí. Ruaidhrí was a popular first name in mediaeval times: meaning "red king". The English name Rodgers appeared in 17 cent and has superceded the native one but see Mac Rory."1

I can't say that Ned's own family was affected as early as the 17th century, but their name was almost certainly changed long before his birth. The fact that he would remember this and pass it along to his children and grandchildren lends a lot of credence to the second part of the story, namely:

"he had to leave Ireland because of some trouble with the predecessors of Sinn Fein"

There was indeed a lot of "trouble" with the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1867, namely the Fenian Uprising. And Ned Rodgers might have left Ireland about 1867. Their first child, Mary, was born in Kilkeel district in February 1866. Their second, Hugh, was christened in Kilkeel in January 1868, and their third child, William, was born in 1870 in Liverpool. Was Ned in Liverpool when Hugh was christened? I didn't find a civil record of Hugh's birth. Did Anna have her child and leave Ireland before registering his birth? On one US record Ned says he immigrated in 1867 and Ann in 1870, which might indicate that they left Ireland at different times.

There are no records of Edward Rodgers' service in the Britsh Navy in the British Archives, but I was unable to get a non-bureaucratic answer when I asked them "Were the records of suspected Fenians removed from the files?"

So it looks like Ned Rodgers left Ireland because either 1) he was a Fenian and the British were looking for him, or 2) he was a Unionist/Loyalist and the Fenians were looking for him. As a Rodgers descendant, I think I know enough of their sympathies to say that the first choice is the truth.

For this complete series of articles, see:

Part one: Edward "Ned" Rodgers of Kilkeel and Cleveland

Part two: Ned Rodgers: a Fenian in the Family?

Part three: Edward and Anna Rodgers: the Outbound Journey

Part four: Edward and Anna Rodgers: the Cleveland Years

Part five: Ned Rodgers and the Blind Pig

Part six: Anna (Cunningham) Rodgers, of Kilkeel and Cleveland

Footnotes

1. http://www.irishtimes.com/ancestor/surname/. Then search for "Rodgers".