Saturday, February 11, 2017

Another Disambiguation: Three Miguel O'Reillys in St. Augustine!

In 1788, there were three men named Miguel (Michael) O'Reilly in St. Augustine, Spanish Florida.  Their disambiguation was necessary to identify the one who was a witness to the petition of Guillermo (William) Gernon and Isabel (or Elizabeth) MacEnery for permission to marry, filed 17 December 1788.(1)  In his witness statement, the particular Miguel O'Reilly stated that he was 31 years old.  According to the 1793 census, there was a Miguel O'Reilly in St. Augustine who was either married or widowed, with three sons, a businessman or trader (tratante in Spanish).(2)

The most well-known man of the same name was the Irish assistant priest at the Catholic church.  He would have been 36 years old in 1788, the year of the above petition.  He died in 1812.(3)  As a Catholic priest, he was, of course, single.  He can be ruled out.

Another Miguel O'Reilly was a single young man, according to his death certificate, 25 years old at the time of his death, possibly in some sort of industrial accident.  He would have been either 22 or 23 in 1788, too young to be the witness to Gernon's petition.  Nothing else is known of him besides his marital status, his age at death, and his date of death, 28 November 1791.(4)

The third Miguel O'Reilly, the businessman, self-described as above as 31 years old and shown to have children, signed his name to the petition of 1788.  At that time, many men, especially those of importance or substance, added a flourish to their signatures, known as a rubric.  Father Miguel O'Reilly, the priest, had a rubric which was complex, with an ornate flourish at the end.(5)  His handwriting differs significantly from the signature on the petition, and he has already been ruled out.

Miguel O'Reilly the businessman had a rubric which was simple and quick to execute, indicative of one who deals with a considerable amount of paperwork, as seen on his signature on the 1788 petition.  The Miguel O'Reilly who witnessed Guillermo Gernon's petition in 1788 was the businessman O'Reilly.

(1)  Petition of Guillermo Gernon for permission to marry Ysabel Mac-Enery, Matrimonial licenses, Reel 132, Bundle 298R9, #31, East Florida Papers.  (Names are as they are in the document.)
(2) 1793 Census, Reel 148, Bundle 323A, East Florida Papers, f. 135v.
(3)  Michael V. Gannon, The Cross in the Sand (Gainesville:  University Press of Florida, 1965), 116.
(4)  Death certificate of Miguel O'Reilly, Death records, Book 1, 1784-1793, Ecclesiastical Records of the St. Augustine Diocese, Vanderbilt University (online).
(5) For an example of Father Miguel O'Reilly's rubric, see any of the church records, Ecclesiastical Records of the St. Augustine Diocese, Vanderbilt University, (online), between 1784 and 1812.

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