Wednesday, 23 December 2009

How were the Flynns related to my Great Granny Clayton?

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Great Granny Clayton was born Mary Helen Finn on 24th September 1871. She was born in Smith Street, Newtown at the home of her grandmother, the widow Mary Flynn.



With fairly detailed additional evidence taken from similar old records, we can make definite links to show that the Flynn family of Northwood street (1861) and Smith Street (1871) was directly related to Mary Helen Finn (Granny Clayton).

Mary Helen Finn, by coincidence, was also born in 1871, the year of this particular census. She was born on the 24th day of September of that year, in Smith Street, probably at the home of her grandmother, Mary Flynn. Her mother was Bridget Finn, formerly Flynn, and her father Thomas Finn, whose trade was a tube drawer.

Mary Helen was the first born child of Bridget and Thomas. They had married the previous year, in 1870, at St Chad's RC Cathedral near Newtown.

The Marriage Certificate of Thomas Finn and Bridget Flynn. Apparently both were born in Galway and married at St Chads Cathedral, Birmingham on the 14th August 1870.


Thomas Finn and Bridget Flynn married on the 14th August 1870. Thomas was a 25 year old gas tube drawer from Hanley Street in Newtown, his father was recorded as Martin Finn, a labourer.

Bridget was a 23 year old spinster from Smith Street whose father was recorded as Daniel Flynn, a shoemaker. Daniel would therefore have been the husband of Mary Flynn, the widow of Smith Street. He had obviously died sometime between 1855 and 1871. My guess is that he may have died in Ireland.

All parties signing the marriage certificate, with the exception of the priest and registrar, were illiterate. The witnesses were James Flynn and Mary Rattigan. James might have been another brother or an uncle of Bridget Flynn. We now know that Mary Rattigan was Bridget’s older sister.

The reference to Thomas Finn's address in Hanley Street, Newtown in the marriage certificate of 1870 once again links conveniently to a record in the 1871 census. The census reveals an exact address for Thomas and Bridget at 16 B.H. Hanley Street in 1871, explaining why they are not recorded at Bridget's mother's home in Smith Street. The same entry in the 1871 census also reveals the family of Thomas's older brother James Finn, a 35 year old labourer born in Ireland, his 36 year old wife Mary, also born in Ireland, and their three children, Anne aged 9, Thomas aged 4 and baby James aged 1, all residing alongside Thomas and Mary Finn at 16 Hanley Street.

The information from this record once again allows us to speculate with some level of accuracy about the years in which the Finn side of the family might have arrived in Birmingham. All three of James Finn's children were born in Birmingham, the oldest being Anne who would have been born in 1862. We can be certain then that the Finns had arrived in England before this year, possibly during the mid to late 1850s, at a very similar time to the Flynns.

The big gap in ages between Thomas Finn and his older brother James, who was 9 years his senior, must surely indicate that there had to have been other siblings in between. Had Thomas followed his older brother James to England or were they part of a larger family who had traveled together? What truth was there in the old family myth that Bridget Flynn and Thomas Finn were actually first cousins?
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