Jill Hennessy

Hennessy in 2012, image via kathclick/bigstock.com

Birth Name: Jillian Noel Hennessy

Place of Birth: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Date of Birth: November 25, 1968

*father – Irish, French-Canadian, Italian, Swedish
*mother – German, Ukrainian

Jill Hennessy is a Canadian actress and musician. She is known for her roles on the television series Law & Order and Crossing Jordan.

Jill is the daughter of Maxine and John Hennessy. Her sister is Jacqueline Hennessy, a journalist, television host, and actress. She is married to Paolo Mastropietro, with whom she has two children.

Jill has said that her mother is mainly a “Ukrainian Gypsy.” Jill’s mother has German and Ukrainian ancestry. It appears that Jill may not have been referring to Romani people in her statement, rather using “Gypsy” as a term for a lifestyle.

Jill’s paternal grandfather was named John D. Hennessy.

Jill’s paternal grandmother was Eleanor Marie Renaud (the daughter of Raymond Renaud and Rose Carnegie/Carnaghie). Rose was born in Ontario, to Italian parents, Louis Carnaghie and Mary.

Jill’s maternal grandfather was Harry Dearing (the son of Mack Frederick Dearing and Elsie Bertha Zielke). Harry was born in Alberta. Mack’s mother was German. Elsie was born in Alberta, the daughter of ethnic German parents from Poland, Martin Carl Zielke/Zeilke/Zilka and Christina/Christine.

Jill’s maternal grandmother was Anne/Annie/Ann Dankowich (the daughter of Steven Dankowich and Tilly Gach). Anne was born in Saskatchewan, to Ukrainian parents, of the Ukrainian Orthodox religion. Tilly was the daughter of Ivan Gach and Paraska Nykolchyk. Jill has said, “My grandmother was a powerhouse force of nature… She grew up in a Ukrainian camp outside of Edmonton, not speaking any English.”

A picture of Jill with her mother can be seen here.

Sources: https://www.avenueedmonton.com

Obituary of Jill’s paternal grandmother, Eleanor Marie (Renaud) Hennessy – http://erbgood.com

Jill’s paternal great-grandmother, Rose (Carnegie/Carnaghie) Renaud, on the 1911 Canada Census – https://www.familysearch.org

Jill’s maternal grandfather, Harry Dearing, on the 1926 Canada, Prairie Provinces Census – https://www.familysearch.org

Jill’s maternal great-grandmother, Elsie Bertha Zielke, on the 1916 Canada, Prairie Provinces Census – https://www.familysearch.org

Jill’s maternal grandmother, Anne/Annie/Ann Dankowich, on the 1926 Canada Prairie Provinces Census – https://www.familysearch.org

Obituary of Jill’s maternal grandmother, Anne/Annie/Ann (Dankowich) Dearing – https://www.newspapers.com

Obituaries of Jill’s maternal great-grandparents, Steven Dankowich and Tilly (Gach) Dankowich – https://www.findagrave.com


Curious about ethnicity

30 Responses

  1. madman says:

    Her grandfather:

    This is probably him (if they are the same person):

    The man was the son of Mack Frederick Dearing and Elsie Bertha Zielke. Mack’s mother was German. Elsie was the daughter of ethnic German parents from Poland, Martin Carl Zielke/Zeilke/Zilka and Christina/Christine.

    • madman says:

      Tillie’s surname is Gach according to findagrave, so the parents listed are likely correct.

      Jill’s grandmother:

      Her parents were born in Austria, and has their race listed as “Austrian” too. Many Canadian censuses weren’t very specific with the race- and ethnicity-listing for minority groups in countries, the most prominent example being people from Austria-Hungary being listed as “Austrian”. I just mention it because Austrian can now be removed from her ethnicity, since her grandfather was mainly German and her grandmother’s parents were probably Ukrainian or Romani, but certainly not ethnic Austrian.

      There an Annie Dankowick, also born in Saskatchewan roughly the right year to a Steve Dankowick, and with a little brother also named Mike, both also born roughly at the right time. The mother is (likely) a different woman though. Anyway, their race is listed as “Ruthenian” (=Rusyn).

      If they’re the same person, I don’t think she has any Romani ancestry.

      • bablah says:

        I don’t think Jill ever actually implied to be of Romani ancestry. I think she used the word gypsy to indicate that they were transient.

        • madman says:

          I’m pretty sure she used it when stating her ethnicity in the Baltimore Sun article that’s not available anymore. In reference to ancestry, I can’t really see how anyone could use Gypsy to mean something other than Romani. But that’s just me, maybe the word has a broader use in English.

          • bablah says:

            Irish travelers are also called Gypsies.

            Americans often use the word to describe migrant people, without realising it’s also an ethnicity. See for example Jason Momoa’s instagram handle. I think Canadians are even more detached from the original meaning of the word, since Romanis are basically a nonentity there.

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