Margo Roby,, in her Tuesday Tryouts asks us to write a genealogical poem. The creation of my family tree ends on a beach on either Scotland or Ireland sometime around 1768. Sandy is a genealogy buff and has spent hundreds of hours trying to locate a link to the other side of that date. My poem is as factual as deeply researched family records allow.

By Mike Patrick

Flickr image by Darvin Atkeson

Where do my roots lie?
I couldn’t guess, I daren’t try.
All I have is family lore,
and how I’ve wished for something more.

Edward Fitzpatrick first greeted day
on February 16, 1760, or so they say.
Scotland or Ireland? No one knows,
The answer’s lost through time’s dark holes.

Property was owned in both is seems.
Was that the truth or childhood dreams?
While still a lad of tender years,
a change of life, a trail of tears.

While playing on his family’s Irish beach,
he came within the Crown’s long reach.
He and his brother, both were snatched;
as cabin boys they were dispatched

across the seas of unimagined strife.
No mention’s made of shipboard life,
a time he wanted to forget,
perhaps a time of deep regret.

The two jumped ship when first they could,
together they swam until they stood
and parted on an unknown shore;
they came together nevermore.

My ancestor paid with his own blood
for his passage to this land he loved.
To North Carolina, an oath he swore;
against those British he went to war.

And so it is until this time,
with me, one end of a shaky line.
The other end, in mystery hides,
my roots erased by history’s tides.

This entry was posted in Childhood, Family, Iambic, Mixed Meter, Narrative Poem, Old Times, Poetry, Rhyming, Tuesday Tryouts and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to KIDNAPPED

  1. JulesPaige says:

    Delightful! I shall have to add your blog to my list to visit. I have not written with it in a while but I have a glass fountain pen from Italy.

  2. Mike, this is telling. My English side (which I don’t normally talk about) is strictly blue-blood, and I’m so pigs-in-the-parlor Irish, my mom’s side invariably wins. I have read of kids being taken off ships and put right into uniform. Expendables, the poor. Certainly that would have included Mom’s family…

    Strong write, even with the sad ending. Thanks, Mike. Amy

    • Mike Patrick says:

      Apparently it wasn’t unusual for them to grab kids and force them to become cabin boys either. I’m not sure what the duties of cabin boys were, but it must not have been pleasant. It is the one area of his life with no record, that and where he was born and lived before being grabbed off that beach. There are rumors that his stepfather arranged the kidnapping to remove heirs to the family property, but it’s hard to verify rumors and the 1700s when no one knows in which part of a country to research.

  3. earlybird says:

    What a delight, Mike! You’ve done this awfully well.

  4. margo roby says:

    Nice to have the name still in the family. Unusual to have a name come down a line over that long a period of time. Means there were only sons in your direct line. The blockages are interesting, aren’t they? I have two lines we can trace back to about the same time and then nothing. So odd to have found links to that point and have it go dark.
    I very much like the ballad form you use to tell the tale. It suits the mystery which surround your roots.


    • Mike Patrick says:

      What’s strange is Sandy rattling off all the details for this poem (including dates) from memory. The game-ender is the repositories of ancient birth records in Ireland and Scotland. It’s the churches. Those that haven’t burned down have records only for their parishes. When the seeker doesn’t know the name of the church, the town, the county or even the country, it becomes problematic. I’m thinking we should just go over there and knock on doors. Ireland and Scotland don’t look very big on the map.

      • margo roby says:

        That is exactly what my uncle did. He gathered what hints he had and headed over. For one line we only had back as far as my great grandfather. Once over in Ireland, my uncle found the county, the towns and the names of our great greats and a little further. After that, as you say, the problem is with the English burning the churches down.

        Again from family letters, my uncle has picked the Shetland Islands and a town in western Scotland as his next ports of call. As he is 77 I am hoping his health and enthusiasm march hand in hand!

        Did you know that it has been discovered that most churches had a second set of records hidden? There is a project now to get all the information recorded and indexed! Can’t wait for that to happen.

        • Mike Patrick says:

          You just made Sandy’s day. She loves genealogy as much as I love writing poetry. Access to those records would keep her happy for months.

          She has gone so far as to get the names and addresses of Patricks and Fitzpatricks through the international phonebook and send personal letters requesting information. So far, nothing, but doing the same thing in Germany for her family name has garnered information and struck up some international friendships, which continue now over the internet.

  5. margo roby says:

    Tell Sandy I am grinning at her. Does she know there is an organised group whose mission is to record and index every tombstone in the United States? That should be a tremendous help. I’ll let you know when I hear anything else on those two possible sources. Meanwhile I am sorting through possible hits on and finding that people are not doing simple math. They happily claim names as relatives without noticing the parents of parents were dead before the parents were born. Sigh…My next step is to investigate the software of Family Tree Maker which is associated with, so the two work hand in hand.

    My uncle has met cousins of the elusive Irish bunch online and is hoping to meet them. He has met older relatives, so old their memories have faded. I have begun to send out enquiries when I come across information that looks like it might add something, and everyone is so nice. Skip who has been working on his family for awhile has met, both online and then in person, several relatives he had been unaware of.

    I admit poetry and genealogy don’t work well together. Each require absolute commitment. But poetry is my passion. Genealogy is fun. I may have to assign timeouts.


    • Mike Patrick says:

      Sandy has found so many mistakes on, she only uses it for leads. She researches emigration records, census records and county courthouse records for verification. Every fact she can verify has a copy of the document attached when she places in her family tree program. I can do an in depth police background check, but she leaves me in the dust when it comes to this.

      • margo roby says:

        The useful thing about, as you say, is leads. I have found I can get semi-confirmation for what I have, by working from both directions of a particular ancestor. I have so much data, thanks to my two uncles, that it will be a while before I have to get out in the field to dig up more. In fact, I am subtly grooming our daughter to take over some day. And warn Sandy I am keeping her in mind as an expert 🙂

  6. vivinfrance says:

    This is all amazing. Your poem, first: fascinating, and I am wowed by your story-telling-in metre ability. And as for all that research – I wish you both strength, persistence, and a goodly dollop of luck.

  7. gospelwriter says:

    Shaky in lineage perhaps, but not in the lines of this tale of adventure. A ballad, no less – I can imagine hearing it sung…

  8. mareymercy says:

    The answer’s lost through time’s dark holes.

    I love that line! Very clever image.

  9. Nanka says:

    I like families of all seafarers Mike!! 🙂 Glad your roots run deep on ships and seas!! …and you are doing excellently as a poet and surely in the police dept too!! 🙂 Very well done poem and as usual superb!!

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