ONORMANDIA - Irish in Puerto Rico

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ONORMANDIA - Irish in Puerto Rico

Post by benart2 » Wed Nov 17, 2010 4:18 pm

In the late 17th. and early 18th. centuries, many Catholic Irish citizens had their lands confiscated and their church records destroyed as part of the political struggles between Catholic and Protestant groups. Some of these victims of persecution chose to enter miltary service under the Spanish flag and were sent to Spanish colonies in the Caribbean. Names such as O'Reilly (a General), O'Donell and Donahue became part of Spanish history. Some immigrants decided to adopt a Spanish version of their surnames, changing Murphy to Morfi, or O'Sullivan to Solivan. My ancestor, the son of Richard O'Brien and Ellen Murphy from Tipperary County in Munster Province, followed the lead of other migrants and adopted the surname O'Normandia in memory of their Norman ancestors and the Dukes of Normandy under which their families had thrived. My ancestor Thomas O'Brien, aka Tomas Onormandia. arrived in Puerto Rico about 1740 at the age of 19 and with the rank of Alferez (Lieutenant). Official documents report he was held in high esteem by other Irish officers because of his noble ancestry. He was even visited on the island by General O'Reilly, who went there on a miltary visit. Tomas married the daughter of a high-ranking Spanish officer. One of their daughters married another miltary officer and required special proof of her ancestry because her birth certificate was destroyed after a severe hurricane ruined the records. This same daughter later became the grandmother of General Valero, an important member of the liberation army which brought independence to several South American countries. Any information on Irish records related to Thomas O'Brien's origins in Ireland or any references regarding Irish soldiers in the Spanish army is appreciated.

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