Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The family of John Finn

In 2006 I have been lucky to make contact with Ian Payne through the Genes Reunited website. Ian is the son of Gerald Payne, who so kindly wrote to me in 1998. Ian has recently confirmed the connection between the Payne and the Finn families. He also has new information about an ancestor named John Finn who had close connections with the Payne family. Ian told me:

“I went to visit my great grandparents grave (Mary Jane and Frederick’s) in St Joseph’s churchyard in Nechells. Whilst I was there I had a look around the cemetery and in the grave yard I found a stone with John Finn on it, so I decided to ask in the church for any information they could give me on either of the graves.

Looking through the records they found that John Finn was registered by his nephew, Frederick Payne (my grandfather). Also in the same grave was John Hughes, this happens to be my great uncle, he was the husband to my great auntie Lizzie (Payne). I have done a little more investigating on this and found that John Finn lived at 8 Lench Street in 1881 with his father, his mother and his sisters”


Ian told me more about the Finn family registered at 8 Lench Street in 1881. John Finn himself was born in 1857 in Birmingham. His father was Patrick Finn born in Galway in 1826. His mother was Catherine Finn who was born in 1831 in Mayo. John’s sisters were Mary Finn (born Wellington in 1852), Catherine Finn (born Birmingham in 1862) and Anne (born Birmingham in 1868).


Ian believes that John’s father Patrick Finn was the brother of Martin Finn who in turn was the father of Thomas and James Finn. Making John their cousin. What is of further interest is the birth of the oldest child Mary in Wellington in 1852. Can we speculate from this that the Finn family arrived in either Wales or Liverpool in the years directly following the Great Famine of the late 1840s and made their way to Birmingham via the well-trodden traveller’s route through Shropshire?


Mary Ann or Mary Jane?


Both Kathleen Robinson and Gerald Payne referred to Mary as Mary Jane Payne, not Mary Ann Payne. The evidence from the census records of 1881 and 1901 convinces me that they are one and the same person and that Mary Payne was born in Birmingham as opposed to Ireland, growing up close to Granny Clayton in Newtown.

Questions arise as to how Mary and her husband Fred Payne came to go to America in the late 1800s or early 1900s. Was this where she started to achieve her wealth? But why did she then return to Birmingham to make her long-term home close to the slums of Newtown?

What is of further interest however is the American connection. We know that relatives of Granny Clayton lived in America, but who were they? Could they have been the family of James Finn who is not to be found living in Birmingham in the 1891 census?
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