William Moloney Oral History

The following is from the (unpublished) nine-page, printed recollections of John Henry Maloney, M.D. (1918-2001):

"William Maloney1 was born in County Clare, Ireland.

"He and his brother, Patrick Moloney (as they spelled their name then), were conscripted in Bunratty, Ireland and drafted in the English Army for services overseas to put down the rebels of the American Colonies who were then (1775) fighting for their independence.

"The two brothers did not see each other during the war, but met in Baltimore after the war.

"William was insulted by a Dutchman, who had been an officer in the American Army. He slapped this man. A duel was arranged at the back of the tavern. Some say he killed this man and others say he only wounded him. Anyway, he had to make a quick exit. He met Capt. Mabe who hid him aboard a ship sailing to Canada. He made his home on Bonaventure Island.

"The information above has been handed down to [our branch of the family] by word of mouth.

"The name of William's father was not known, nor the exact village, town etc., in County Clare whence they came. It was known that they ran a blacksmith shop and all were first rate woodworkers.

"After VE Day, May 1945, I returned to England from the Continent and decided to look up the Maloney ancestors in Ireland. I arrived in Holyhead, the Irish Sea terminus of the mailboat, on a Saturday night and had to wait for the boat till Monday morning. On Sunday morning, I climbed a hill overlooking the harbor to see what the huge monument there, memorialized. It had been erected after WW I as a memorial to the hundreds of passengers and crew lost in the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915. I sat on the base and gazed out over the sea. Presently a young man came and sat a little distance from me. We both gazed. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed he was suffering from a skin rash on both hands and half way up to the elbow.

"Thinking that I would astound him with my diagnostic acumen, I said, 'You're working in the munitions!'

"'No,' he said in an Irish accent, 'I'm making shoes and this (pointing to the skin rash) is from the tannic acid.'

"He then told me that he had been in the RAF as a rear gunner providing air cover for the 8th Army in North Africa. One afternoon, in a scuffle with a Messerschmidt, he had the front of his abdomen shot away. After six months in a hospital, he had been invalided out and picked up a job making shoes. He, too, was waiting for the Monday morning boat to Ireland, to visit his wife and daughter, age five.

"He then asked me what I was doing there. I told him that my people had come from Ireland about 170 years before and that I was going to look them up, and all I knew was they had a blacksmith shop near the Shannon in County Clare.

"'And what would your name be?' he asked.

"And when I replied Maloney, he said, 'Oh yes, that would be old Tom Maloney's in Ardnacrusha. I was at a card play there one night just before I joined the RAF. I'll be going there myself, and we'll go together.'

"By then, the pub had opened and we walked down the hill, and I said to Cohan, 'Nobody ever traced down his ancestors with more dispatch and less trouble.'

"Two days later, by bus and jaunting car from Limerick (a distance of approximately ten miles), we arrived at the house and nearby Forge. The family were friendly and the grandfather, also Tom Maloney, told me that he didn't know how old the forge was, but that he knew his grandfather had worked in it as a boy.

"I also learned that Tom was renowned locally for his sense of humour. One incident that had helped to create this reputation was as follows: Forges always have a tank for the rapid quenching used in tempering iron. In this forge, the water was held in a huge hollowed-out stone 6-8 feet in diameter.

"Some of the local young bloods had taken to quietly urinating in the stone pool and then watching Tom's discomfiture at the smell of hot urine every time he quenched a piece of red hot iron. Tom retaliated by rigging to the tank the high voltage coil from an old Model T Ford. After a few lads has suffered electrical shocks to the penis, he was never bothered again.

"The family knew that some of their family had gone out to America but nothing more than that.

"About the fate of the second brother, Patrick, who remained in the United States after the revolution, we heard nothing. My father told me that in the 1930s there was a Senator Maloney from Virginia. Again in 1990, I received a letter from a Department of the Commonwealth of Virginia government, stating that they had certain property of mine that had been unclaimed for more than three years. Delighted, I replied that I was now prepared to take possession - only to find out that the property consisted of a Blue Cross overpayment by Dr. John Henry Maloney that remained unclaimed. I think we can probably conclude that the second brother married and established a line of Maloneys there.

"Because William had fought against the Americans in their war of Independence (1775-1778), he was eligible for grants as an United Empire Loyalist, even though his departure had been precipitate. He applied for land, shipbuilding rights and [a] tavern license and was told he was eligible so long as he signed the Test Oath. The Test Oath was an oath which must be taken by a Catholic to obtain public employment or grants. In the Oath, one swore to repudiate the papacy, the mass, and something about the Blessed Virgin. William, according to his descendants, told them to stick it and ended up with a land grant only. The Test Oath was abolished in 1829. This land on Bonaventure Island remained in the Family till 1971, when the Quebec Government expropriated it as a bird sanctuary, and the last descendant, Sidney Maloney,2 moved to Coin du Banc3 (Corner of the Beach), leaving the largest gannet colony in the New World to the gannets. A long article on Sidney Maloney and Bonaventure Island can be found in [the June/July 1986] issue of The Canadian Geographic."

Quoted with the permission of the family of Dr. John Henry Maloney.


1William Moloney (c. 1760-1810).
2John Sidney "Sid" Maloney (1923-2000) left Bonaventure Island on 26 Jun 1974.
3On land where the descendants of Captain Mabe had run a sawmill, Sid Maloney opened l'Auberge Coin de Banc.


Last Updated: 2014-07-10
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