The Beck Family - The First Generation

The first member of the Beck family of whom we have any knowledge of is Alexander Beck who was the father of William Beck, our immigrant ancestor. Grey Abbey, where William Beck was born, is in Strangford Lough, about six miles from the town of Newtownards, in the province of Ulster. This is the area of Northern Ireland that was populated by the English who pushed the Irish inhabitants out forcing them to move to Ireland to the south.

It is very difficult to trace ones ancestors in Northern Ireland. There is a Beck family Archive in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland that consists of Genealogical Notes, Abstracts and Pedigrees of Beck families from County Down and County Armagh. One of the interesting documents contains the 1821 Census Return for Ireland which includes the following:

"These traditions took various forms but in general they were to the effect that two or three brothers, one of whom was killed or died shortly after arrival in Ulster, came as soldiers with English troops top Ireland towards the end of the sixteenth or early seventeenth centuries, and eventually settled in County Down, later some of their descendants settled in County Antrim and County Armagh....

from what portion of Britain the brothers originated has not been ascertained but clues contained in the fact that for well over one hundred years and up to the present day, a crest has been used by several generations of families which has been identified by the Office of Arms as similar to the crests in the armorial bearings of Beck of London and Beck of Upton, Cheshire. The former family were of known foreign extraction and resident in London and Essex during the 16th and 17th centuries...

It is highly probable that the names of the first two brothers Beck who settled in Ulster were John and Adam...(probably buried in the old Abbey Yard, Movilla)," (Movilla = Newtownards)

At a later point in his writings the author of the Beck Family History states:

...That the Beck family of Greyabbey are direct descendants of Adam Beck, the second of two brothers who settled in Ulster, some of the Becks of Greyabbey were engaged in the Linen trade and moved to Lisburn, County Antrim, and established a large Linen firm in that town...

Hopefully there will be a break through of sorts in the years ahead and I will learn more about the Becks.