Friday, 26 February 2010

The Dwyer family of Wexford

The Dwyer Family of Sparkhill , Birmingham

Family History

My wife's father, Edward Dwyer ( Ned ) was born in Wexford, Ireland in 1915 and died at East Birmingham (Heartlands) Hospital in 1987 at the age of 72. Edward was one of six children ; George , Sarah (Sis ), Patsy, Andy and Mat. Three of the children ( Edward , Patsy and Andy ) left Wexford to live in Birmingham , England .

Edward Dwyer met and married Catherine ( Kitty ) Stone of Moate in 1954 in Dublin.  They had seven children - their first child Michael was born in 1955. They then moved to live at 81 Newton Road, Sparkhill, Birmingham where the other children were born ; Terence in 1957 , Edward in 1959, twins Angela and Kevin in 1961, Imelda in 1963 and Theresa in 1964 .

Electoral records for the Sparkhill Ward ( Polling District BBM 715 ) do not show Edward and Catherine Dwyer at 81 Newton Road before 1957 . Prior to 1957 the property was occupied by Mr & Mrs Bradley and Mr & Mrs Willis . However , we do find records of Andrew and Ann J Dwyer at 74 Newton Road in 1956. 

By 1967 we discover in the records that Edward and Catherine Dwyer are most definitely established at number 81 Newton Road , along with Francis Barton at the same address. At number 80 we find James & Verna Webster and Sarah Boag , and at number 82 we discover that the neighbours are Joe and Agnes Carey. Also at this time we see that Andrew and Anne J Dwyer are still at number 74 .

Edward Dwyer worked at Nuffields, later he worked at British Leyland . Edward liked a drink in the pubs of Sparkhill and loved working on his allotment where he produced fruit and vegetables . He also enjoyed breeding Jack Russell dogs. He is remembered fondly, he had a good sense of humour and was always very smartly dressed . In earlier years he was a heavy smoker - he gave up in 1965 and then smoked pipes for a couple of years. He built and plumbed a bathroom on the Newton Road house and was always a very practical man.

Kitty Dwyer ( nee. Stone ) worked at the local laundrette ( now a Balti restaurant ) as a pressing assistant , then she worked as a home help, later working at the Women's Hospital on Stratford Road , Sparkhill and her last job in England was as a clerical assistant at BT. Kitty is a very practical woman, good at dress making , cooking , gardening and is a devout Catholic. Following the sad death of her husband Edward in 1987, Kitty sold up and moved back to her home town of Moate.

The seven Dwyer children grew up in the family home at 81 Newton Road, Sparkhill. In their later years Kitty and Edward moved to Hall Green. All of the Dwyer children have families but I will not identify children or give other details of the private lives, jobs or whereabouts of living relatives online.


Sunday, 21 February 2010

Patrick Finn in the 1891, 1881 , 1871 and 1861 Census for Birmingham

Further to the research outlined below provided by Jamie Evans, here are records of Patrick Finn from the census from 1861 to 1891. Only in the 1871 census are there two Patrick Finns in Birmingham and strangely both were born in the same year, both had wifes named Catherine (or Kate) and both had very simililarly named children including a Winifred in both families).

The 1891 census record is the one which Jamie highlights contains a daughter and her children with the surname Ratchford. The 1881 census record is the one highlighted to me by Ian Payne several years ago who told me that Patrick Finn was the brother of Martin Finn who was father of my g-g-grandfather Thomas Finn and his own g-grandfather James Finn. So does Patrick Finn provide the answer as to our American connection?

1891 Census

Person: FINN, Patrick

Address: Court 5 House 5, Lancaster Street, Birmingham

FINN, Patrick Head Married M 56 1835 Bricklayers Labourer Ireland

FINN, Cathorine Wife Married F 52 1839 Ireland

FINN, Mary Daughter Single F 37 1854 Spoon Tinner Birmingham

FINN, Annie Daughter Single F 23 1868 Press Worker Birmingham

RATCHFORD, Ellen Daughter Married F 30 1861 Spoon Polisher Birmingham

RATCHFORD, John Grandson M 8 1883 Birmingham

RATCHFORD, James Grandson M 3 1888 Birmingham

RATCHFORD, Thomas Grandson M 1 1890 Birmingham

1881 census - household transcription

Person: FINN, Patrick

Address: 8 C 1h, Lench St, Birmingham

1881 census - household transcription

Person: FINN, Patrick

Address: 8 C 1h, Lench St, Birmingham

FINN, Patrick Head Married M 55 1826 Labourer

Galway Ireland

FINN, Catherine Wife Married F 50 1831

Mayo Ireland
FINN, Mary Daughter Single F 29 1852 Tinner

Wellington Shropshire

FINN, John Son Single M 24 1857 Labourer Bricklayer

Birm Warwickshire

FINN, Catherine Daughter Single F 19 1862 Button Stamper

Birm Warwickshire

FINN, Ann Daughter Single F 13 1868 Button Stamper

Birm Warwickshire

8 C 1h, Lench St, Birmingham County: Warwickshire

1871 census - household transcription

Person: FINN, Patrick

Address: London Prentice Street, Birmingham

FINN, Patrick Head M 44 1827 Ireland

FINN, Catharine Wife F 40 1831 Ireland

FINN, Mary Daughter F 19 1852 Shropshire

FINN, Winefred Daughter F 17 1854 Cheshire 

FINN, John Son M 14 1857 Warwickshire 

FINN, Ellen Daughter F 12 1859 Warwickshire

FINN, Catharine Daughter F 9 1862 Warwickshire 

FINN, Julia Daughter F 6 1865 Warwickshire 

FINN, Ann Daughter F 3 1868 Warwickshire 

FINN, Martin Son M 0 1871 Warwickshire 

London Prentice Street, Birmingham County:


1871 census - household transcription

Person: FINN, Patrick

Address: Brickiln Street, Birmingham

FINN, Patrick Head M 44 1827 Ireland

FINN, Kate Wife F 37 1834 Ireland 

FINN, Mary Ann Daughter F 18 1853 Worcestershire

FINN, Mary Daughter F 15 1856 Worcestershire 

FINN, John Son M 14 1857 Worcestershire

FINN, Winifred Daughter F 12 1859 Worcestershire

FINN, Thomas Son M 8 1863 Worcestershire

FINN, Kate Daughter F 6 1865 Worcestershire

FINN, James Son M 3 1868 Warwickshire


Brickiln Street, Birmingham County:


1861 census - household transcription

Person: FINN, Patrick

Address: 3, Brickiln Street, Birmingham

FINN, Patrick Head Married M 32 1829 Labourer

FINN, Caroline Wife Married F 27 1834


FINN, Mary Daughter F 8 1853


FINN, Margaret Daughter F 6 1855


FINN, John Son M 4 1857


FINN, Winiford Daughter F 0 (6M) 1861


FINN, John Lodger Widower M 56 1805 Labourer


Birmingham Address:

3, Brickiln Street, Birmingham County:


Making sense of these Census records

Sometimes census records can appear very mind boggling, especially when we are presented with large families occuring in sequential census records with similar names, ages and other facts, but also sometimes containing notable differences. The census records above provide an interesting example of families who on first viewing seem like the same family but under closer scrutiny appear to be two different families. When trying to identify families in sequential census records we have to take into account other factors such as mis-spelt or misheard names, slight differences in year of birth, rounding off of birth years as a standard procedure in early census records, infant and childhood deaths, people moving out of families at a young age, daughters in particular moving back into families with a married name and children having the married name , etc. We also have to take into account that the person transcribing the old records may mis-read the scrawled handwriting of a hundred years ago, thus a Catherine might become a Caroline, a Margaret becomes a Mary, etc.

But even taking into account these variants, it is still generally possible to identify the same family in different decades usually because the patterns of our matches become so obvious.

One way of analysing these records in order to identify such matches is through a table in which we can systematically compare the members of each family and their birth dates. In terms of the Finns it becomes quickly obvious that these records contain at least two different families, for starters in the 1871 census there are two different couples named Patrick and Catherine Finn with their families at two seperate addresses (Brickiln Street and London Prentice Street). It then becomes a case of trying to match the families in the earlier and later census records with one or both of the 1871 families.

In the table below (click for a close-up view) it seems that the 1861 family is the same one as the family at Brickiln Street in 1871, firstly because the street address is the same, secondly because there are obvious matches in the sequence of the children and thirdly because many of the children were born in Kidderminster and Worcestershire.

However, the family recorded in the 1881 census would appear to be the same one recorded at London Prentice Street in 1871 because, again, there are matches in the order of children and also because Shropshire occurs as the place of birth of some of the children. The family in the 1891 also appears to have matches in terms of the order of children with the 1881 and 1871 family (also bear in mind that many of the children listed of 1871 will be adults by 1891 and therefore gone from the family) though there is a notable difference in the ages of the parents (Patrick and Catherine) and also no mention of Shropshire as a birth place for children.

As for John Finn of Weaman Street, who is the man we are most trying to identify as he is an important jigsaw piece in the Cleveland, Ohio connection, whilst he seems to be one of the most consistant figures throughout the whole table in terms of his recurrent birth year (1857), unfortunately it is so consistant that he could be from either of the two families. The one factor which might help us here is that the John listed with his wife at Weaman Street in 1901 was a bricklayer, as was the younger man in the 1881 census. John's birth, marriage and death certificates may contain other facts which will help us to place him with one of these two families.

Incidentally, a couple of additional questions also arise from the fact that at least two different families are identified in this table. Firstly, were the families themselves related to each other? Perhaps the two Patrick Finns were cousins. Secondly, what happened to the first of these families after 1871? Where did the Finn family of Brickiln Street go to by 1881?

On the trail of the Cleveland Finns

I am most grateful to Jamie Evans for sharing with us his latest research as he coninues the search for evidence of his Birmingham ancestors who migrated to Cleveland, Ohio. The starting point for Jamie was that his grandmother, Martha Lilly Walton, travelled to Ohio in the 1920s, her intention appearing to be to settle in the USA with her own daughters. However, family anecdote goes that Martha's mother-in-law took out an injunction at the very last moment which stopped the children being taken to America, in fact it was such a last moment action that the children were actually removed from the boat as it was about to set sail.

The potential connection between my own family research and Jamie's is that in both families there were ancestors named Finn, who orignated from Ireland (probably Galway) in the 19th century. In both cases these Finns lived close to St Chad's RC cathedral around Newtown, where there was a small but closely knit Irish community in the mid to late 1800s and that in my family as well as Jamie's there are these family tales which specifically state that members of the family migrated to Cleveland, Ohio with some coming and going across the Atlantic.

Whilst Jamie's research in the past week alone has been extensive, we are still both of us scrutinising our records in the hope of making the elusive but definitive connection. If we do not find one it doesn't matter too much because Jamie's family tree is just as unique and remarkable as anyone else's and the parallels between our respective families are fascinating in terms of social and family history. However, one can not help feeling that the similarities suggest more than just coincidence.

For starters, why were people heading for Cleveland, Ohio in particular which lies some 250 miles west of New York? Why not do what most poorer migrants tended to do when arriving in America (especially Irish migrants) and stick to the big cities on the east coast like New York and Boston?

Also, in my own family research I am concious that I haven't yet explored the full exent of the Finn and Flynn families who came to Birmingham in the 1850s, probably from Galway, although both Sligo and Mayo were once mentioned to me in family anecdote. Stories of people being burnt out of their homes in Connaught were once told to me, though one never knows how much this is family myth and how much was truth, but all the same one gets the impression that these families were quite poor when they arrived in Birmingham and that they were large families with a close extended family network.

On at least three other occasions in the past few years I have made contact with other Finn and Flynn descendants who then reveal whole lines of the family tree going back to these original families which I was unaware of - often cousins of my direct ancestors. So I share Jamie's belief that we may have common ancestors here amongst the Finn family of 19th century Newtown, my guess being that his Finns could go back to cousins to my g-g-grandfather Thoma Finn who was born in the 1840s (the peak famine year being 1847).

Below are the main points of Jamie's research in the past week. I am not going to attempt to reorganise, edit or analyse it at this point in time as I feel the greater value is getting it published online quickly as this increases the chance of third parties picking up on it who may be able to shed more light upon our collective or individual pieces of research. Some of the clues to the puzzle may well lie in the archives of St Chads cathedral in Birmingham, where many of the Birmingham Irish families recorded their marriages, funerals and baptisms. Possibly even more detail than this.

If anyone can help us in this respect, please get in touch via email

White Star liner SS Cymric 

Dear Pete

Just an update on what I have found whilst trawling the US Immigration records for the names of Finn/Flinn/Flynn, the following are the ones where Cleveland was their named place to visit, except the last one, John Finn in 1922 where he was going to New Jersey!!

1. Catherine FINN, aged 60, a widow, Charwoman, last residence, Birmingham, was going to the US to visit her daughter, Mrs Robinson at 25, Dalloff Street, Cleveland, Ohio, who she stated paid for her passage and gave her $8 dollars to enter the US with. She travelled on the White Star liner SS Cymric from Liverpool on 6th October 1899 to New York.

This appears to be a flying visit to see what it was like in Cleveland, unlike the Americans the British had no such immigration checks coming back across the Atlantic, because:

2. Catherine FINN, aged 60 now, married and a wife!! Last residence Birmingham, she states she is going to visit her daughter, Mrs Robinson at 25, Dalloff Street, Cleveland, Ohio again. However this time she is travelling with Agnes McNamara aged 31, a Domestic, married, last residence Birmingham, she is visiting her sister Mrs O'Neil of 815, St Clair Street, Cleveland, Ohio, who also paid for her passage. They travelled on the White Star liner SS Teutanic from Liverpool on 15th December 1899 to New York. Could Mrs O'Neil and Mrs Robinson be sisters? If so Agnes McMamara is also Catherine Finns daughter?.

Again no record of Catherine Finn coming back to the UK, however:

3. Catherine FINN, aged 60, a widow again, housekeeper, last residence, Birmingham, travelling to visit her daughter in Cleveland, Ohio, no address given this time, she states her daughter paid for the passage. Her health is described as 'Senility' She travelled on the White Star liner, SS Germanic from Liverpool on 8th August 1900 to New York.

In all cases she stated she could not read or write in all the 3 ship's manifests.

4. James FINN, aged 66, stated to be single? and Irish, travelling to Cleveland,Ohio, to visit his son-in-law William Robinson, 68, Jewett Street, Cleveland, Ohio, last residence Liverpool, he states that his son-in-law paid for the passage. He travelled on the liner, SS Majestic from Liverpool on 9th November 1904 to New York. He was also unable to read or write.

A check of US Naturalisation records show that a William ROBISON (a good Scottish name and spelling) of 68, Jewett Street, Cleveland, Ohio, became a US Citizen on 24/3/1899, his record shows he was born in England on 9/3/1857 and arrived in the USA on 27/7/1881.

So it looks like that the Robinson daughter, Catherine Finn was visiting was actually spelt ROBISON and her husband having recently become a US Citizen (presumably with his wife and family) they invited their family from Birmingham to come and visit them?

5. Martha Lilly WALTON, (my Grandmother) aged 33, a housekeeper, last residence Birmingham, travelling to Cleveland, Ohio, she states her next of kin to be her Grandfather John (spelt Trim) (sounded) Finn of 75, Coventry Street, Digbeth, Birmingham, she was living at 74, Coventry Street, Digbeth at that time. She travelled on the SS Olympic sailing from Southampton on 14th April 1922 to New York. She apparently stayed for 6 months and returned to Birmingham with the intention of returning to Cleveland with her 4 daughters, but the girls were removed from the ship at Liverpool, after their Grandmother, Mary WALTON (deceased fathers mother) took an injunction out to stop them being removed from the country. They all returned to Birmingham and never made it to Cleveland.

6. John FINN aged 19, a Clerk, states he is English, but race as Irish , last residence, Birmingham, his next of kin is given as his sister, Miss M.E. FINN, 75, Foley Road, Washwood Heath, Birmingham, he states he is travelling to New Jersey City. He travelled on the SS President Adams on 1st July 1922 from London to New York.

I hope that this shows that there was some connection between the Birmingham FINN's and a branch of that family in Cleveland, Ohio, but we must now identify this Catherine FINN born about 1840, who travelled 3 times to Cleveland in 1899 and 1900? the search goes on.

Jamie Evans

Cleveland, Ohio on the banks of Lake Erie 


I hope that this helps to answer the question about why my grandmother (Martha WALTON) went to Cleveland, Ohio in 1922.

Having gone back the the Ancestry site and looked again at the Immigration lists, I found that there were some records of passengers returning to the UK and this is what I found:

1. On the 9 th August 1922, the White Star liner SS Celtic returned to Liverpool from New York, on that ship travelling in Third Class, was a typed record stating that one of the passengers was Martha WALTON aged 33 years living at 75, Coventry Street, Birmingham. Remember she had travelled to the US in April 1922.

Now the 'answer', travelling with my grandmother and listed above her is ELLEN RATCHFORD, 62 years a wife, living at 74, Coventry Street, Birmingham. ( John and Catherine FINN actually lived at 75 and Martha Walton at 74.)

This gave me a new name to search with the following results:

2. Sailing on the SS Celtic on 17th August 1911 from Liverpool to Philadelphia, USA, was a Miss ELLEN RATCHFORD aged 18 years, a Domestic, her next of kin was given as her mother, Mrs E. Ratchford of Court1, 8 house St George Street, Birmingham, she was travelling to Cleveland, Ohio.

She also had a travelling companion, a young man!! John McKIERNAN aged 18 years, of 64, Hanley Street, Birmingham. On the 1901 census, he is 6 years old and living with his family at 10 Court 3, Legge Street, Birmingham. Anything known of this person or the girl?

3. Sailing on the SS Merion on 18th September 1912 from Liverpool to Philadelphia, USA, I found the following passengers, ELLEN RATCHFORD aged 43 yrs, a brass polisher, her next of kin is given as Mrs E. RATCHFORD of St Georges Street, Birmingham. With her are her 2 children, Alice Ratchford aged 13 years and Bernard Ratchford aged 11. The record states that they are going to visit a friend Mrs Julie ROBINSON in Cleveland, Ohio. Do you have any further details of the children, did they ever come back?

Then I thought it a good idea to check the US Army Draft cards for 1917, when the USA entered the First World War.

4. Registered on 6/5/1917, at the Local Board for District No3, Central Armory, Cleveland, Ohio is JAMES RATCHFORD, born on 2nd October 1887, (29yrs) of Birmingham, Warwickshire, England, an Alien, working as a Linesman for the Bell Telephone Company. He was living at 3030 West 44 Street, Cleveland with his WIFE and MOTHER (no names given)

So it looks like it was the Ratchford family that went to the US, not the Finns, however the fact that we have the first recorded trip in 1899, it appears there was someone to visit before the turn of the century, my guess is that it was Mrs Julie Robinson and her family, could she be from the LADYWOOD, Robinsons!!!!

Mrs Ellen Ratchford who sailed in 1912 must be the daughter of Patrick and Catherine FINN, who was living with them at 5 Court, 5 house 19, Lancaster Street Birmingham in the 1891 Census, she is even a Spoon Polisher!!

The Catherine FINN travelling to the US must be her mother?

So who is the 18 year old Ellen Ratchford travelling in 1911? Could she have been the Nun 'Aunt Nell'

When James FINN went to Cleveland in 1904 he stated he was visiting his son-in-law William Robinson 68, Jewett Street, Cleveland, Ohio. In the 1900 US Census there is a William Robinson born Dudley 9/3/1857, who died in Cleveland Heights, Cuyahoga, on 6/6/1927 aged 70 years and buried at the Woodlands Cemetery on 9/6/1927. His wife's name was Elizabeth (might have been a second wife?). His fathers name was Joseph, mother Elizabeth Robinson (nee Cadman) he was a widower and worked as a Water Engineer for Standard Oil. He lived at 11714 Lenacrave Street, Cleveland. Could this be one of the Ladywood ROBINSONs?

If you put the address into Google you can see a picture of this house which is still there!!

For your information, my Grandfather's (John Walter WALTON) mother Mary WALTON (nee HOGAN), lived at 2 house 10 Court St George Street (page from 1925 B'ham Voters List) from about 1890 until 1933, as she came from Galway I am sure that she would have known the FINN family very well and that they were close, which is clear from the fact that John Walter WALTON and later his widow lived next door to a member of the FINN family at various addresses for years. Also that Martha Walton, John's widow stated John FINN was her grandfather when she travelled to the US in 1922.

Having just read the above I now think it asks as many questions as it answers, please let me know if you can add any more information about the above from your side of the family. I still feel there is more information out there, are you in touch with any Birmingham, Ratchfords?

Speak soon,

Jamie Evans

Sunday, 14 February 2010

John McDonnell stands for re-election: Poor Law Governer


Inn's Quay Ward Poor Law Elections

29th May, 1905

To The Burgesses

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the request of a number of Electors we, the undersigned, seek re-election as Poor Law Representatives of the Inns' Quay Ward.

During our term of office we have striven to the best of our ability, to look after the interests of the Poor with a proper regard to economy in the spending of Public money.

While deploring the alarming increase of poverty in our midst, and believing that steps should be taken to give relief where distress exists, still we considered it our duty to oppose the recent attempt to saddle the Ratepayers with the Linenhall Barracks scheme, which we believe was rightly called a pauper-manufacturing device. We contend that where distress is caused by a local paralysis in the Labour Market, a judicious extension of the Outdoor Relief system should be applied, and prevent, as far as possible, the forcing into the Union, to be branded as paupers, of decent families who are willing to work if provided with the opportunities.

We do not desire to rush in where angels fear to tread to create confusion and call it reform, as we believe that those who talk about abuses should be sure of their remedy.

The removal of the lunatics to the Asylum, and the consumptives to a Sanitorium, would completely relieve the present congested state of the Union, and would relieve rather than increase their rates.

For the past six years Mr McDonnell has been indefatigable in his interest in and advocacy of the cause of the Blind. He has succeeded in having resolutions passed and representations constantly made to the Government with a view to legislation giving State Aid to the Blind in Ireland, and so relieving the Loacl rates, while conferring a necessary benefit on a most afflicted and deserving class.

We are Nationalists and supporters of the Irish Revival movement, and we have advocated and supported with our votes the giving, where possible, of orders for supplies to Irish and Local Firms, as we consider that the people who pay the Rates may, with advantage, be given a reasonable preference.

We have always advocacted the just claims of Labour, and will continue, if elected to support the Fair Wages Resolution of the Board.

As Catholics, and bearing in mind the Pastoral of His Grace the Archbishop, we are fully alive to the necessity of safeguarding the religion of children entrusted to our care.

John McDonnell, P.L.G., 49 Bolton St, late Chancery St.,
Nicholas McCluskey, P.L.G., 48 Bolton Street

Sinn Feinn, Sinn Fein Amain


Vote for John McDonnell!


Poor Law Elections, 1911

To The Electors of Inns Quay Ward

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In view of the approaching Poor Law Elections, we take this opportunity of soliciting your vote and influence on behalf of Mr John McDonnell, who has been again selected as the candidate of the National League of the Blind, and in whom you repeated your confidence on two former occassions.

To truly estimate the invaluable service rendered by Mr McDonnell to the cause of the blind in his public capacity would be an impossible task within the domain of this circular, entailing as it would an unbroken record of diligence and self sacrifice of which few, if any, in public life can equal.

The energy and ability by which he has stoically devoted himself to the consideration of the many important questions affecting the social and industrial welfare of the Blind has by this time gained the appreciation of every class without distinction.  His sympathy in the interests of the afflicted poor are self-recommending testimonials, of which the electors of the Inns Quay Ward should be justly proud.

In urging the re-election of Mr McDonnell, we desire to briefly emphasise the necessity that exists for affording direct Poor Law representation to the Blind as being essential from every point of view, but especially because the various Poor Law Boards of the country are to a large extent responsible for their supervision and care. Direct representation is the most satisfactory means of ensuring that the ratepayer's money is described to the objects for which it is intended, to alleviate the sufferings of a class totally dependent upon public donation, a class willing but unable under existing circumstances to adequately provide for themselves.

With confidence, therefore, and on their behalf, we appeal to the good sense and intelligence of the electors to vote for one who has accomplished much significant work, and who has proved himself to be a genuine benefactor to the Blind, while his record attendance at the Board meetings testifies to his attentions to the general interests of the public.

The Whelans - more old photographs

Lily, Mary, Kitty and Margaret, Granny and Granddad Whelan, John ( my Dad ), Jimmy, Dick, Peter and Pat

Sean Whelan writes: "This is the most well known picture and the only one we have of the family which was hanging on the wall in the drawing room of 49 Bolton Street for as long as I can remember. We do not know when it was taken or where but these are all your mother's Aunts and Uncles".

Gaye Mulholland writes: "This was the wedding of Sean Whelan (John jnr’s and Mollie’s son) to Eileen. Sitting on the floor is Patrick Whelan. Then from left is Patrick’s wife Florrie, Eileen (James Whelan’s wife), Mollie Whelan (nee Leonard) John jnr.’s wife, then her son Sean (the groom) beside his new wife Eileen, my Mother Margaret Younge (nee Whelan), Emily Whelan (nee Younge) who was Richard (Dick) Whelan’s wife, she is sitting next to her brother my Father Denis Younge and on the end is James Whelan."

Gaye writes "This was also taken in the yard of 49 Bolton Street. This time the window of the cottage is on the left and everyone is standing outside the backdoor of 49. A lot of these people have familiar faces that I can’t put names to which may indicate that they are not relatives but friends or neighbours. The ones I recognise are as follows from left the first lady is Eileen (James Whelan’s wife) next to her my mother Margaret, is that granny Lawlor next to her? I can’t make out anyone else till you come to grandad Whelan (John snr.) standing in the middle and next to him granny Anne Whelan (nee McDonnell), I don’t recognise anyone else apart from the man standing behind and between granny and grandad could be either their son James or Pat and the 3rd person in on the right popping her head out is definitely Florrie Whelan (nee Melodie) who was Pat’s wife."

Gaye writes "shows my Dad Denis Younge second from right and on the far left his son in law Tony Mockler who was my sister Marjorie’s husband. My Dad died in 1985 and was followed only two years after by Tony who died suddenly of a brain hemorrhage having survived one about 18 years previously. The lady and gentleman in that photo with them are James Whelan (your nanny Lawlor’s brother) and his wife Eileen."

"Starting from the left we have Richard (Dick) Whelan, granny Whelan (Anne nee McDonnell), Paddy Leonard, Eileen (Jame’s Whelan’s wife) and behind is Emily (nee Younge) who was Dick’s wife. "

Gaye writes: "from left Grace Doyle (nee Leonard), my brother Denis jnr. (Denny) Younge and Phylis Whelan (John and Mollie’s daughter). "

Gaye writes: "thiis my Father Denis Younge Snr. and his sister Emily Whelan (nee Younge). "
Gaye writes: "Mollie Whelan (nee Leonard), Eileen Whelan (James Whelan’s wife), Emily Whelan (nee Younge) and Mollie’s friend who may have been called Rosaleen."


John McDonnell of Dublin - a remarkable man

My thanks to Sean Whelan, who is my mother's cousin in Dublin and the son of John Whelan who was my grandmother's oldest brother. Further to the fascinating information and photographs sent to me over the past month by Gaye Muholland about family of my grandmother, Lily Lawlor, nee. Whelan, Sean has sent me more photographs and scanned documents which give us a fascinating insight into the life my great gradmother's father (my g-g-grandfather), a blind man named John McDonnell who became a successful businessman and land and property owner in late Victorian / Edwardian Ireland.

But if the story of John McDonnell's successful basket making business is not enough, it appears that this fascinating blind man had several other strings to his bow, which included working to get better conditions for other blind people across Ireland. Sean Whelan expands on the life and achievements of our remarkable ancestor:

"I am Sean Whelan son of John Whelan who is referred to in the web pages as (Granny Whelans eldest son John). Many interesting documents came into my possession after my dads death which may be of interest and some old photographs. Some of these date back over 100 years and referred to John Mc Donnell my great grandfather".

"As was mentioned, John Mc Donnell was a basket maker and had a factory in Chancery Street in Dublin"

"As you can see from the above document dated 1895 we think Chancery Street, which is beside the Four Courts, was Pill Lane at one time. This document is dated 1895. Earlier on you will recall that Granny (Ann) Whelan drove him around in a pony and trap made by the basket makers at his factory. A lot is recorded about the many properties he had but he was also A Poor Law Guardian. The following documents are his election flyers from which we can see they ask support for his re-election".

"The Elections of 1905

The 1905 list of names and supporters are very extensive in seeking the reelection of John McDonnell. This would suggest that he was a Poor Law Guardian for many years and seeking reelection in 1911 would be this third time to be elected that would be 18 years in office. You can also see that he did a lot of work for the Blind which is not surprising.

"The flyers also make reference to Linenhall Barracks which was situated in Constitution Hill. It is also worth noting that just off Bolton St was Yarnhall Street, the site of the Linen trade. The Printing works which printed the election flyers is situated there and to this day is still trading.

Other points of note are:

The only pub in Dublin to run the entire length of a street is Bodkins on Yarnhall Street.

Bolton Street is named after the Duke of Bolton who was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland between 1717-1721 and was formerly part of Drumcondra Lane with Dorset Street but was renamed around 1724 after the development of Henrietta Street.

DIT Dublin Institute of Technology - Department of Metal now situated in the Linenhall, Yarnhall Street, Dublin 1.

Yarnhall Street (Opposite the main Bolton Street College building this was built as a college in 1911. Before that it was the site of the European Hotel.

" THE STREET NAMES OF Linenhall Street and Yarnhall Street, off Bolton Street, are the only reminders that for much of the 18th Century, Dublin was of central importance to the countryĆ­s linen trade.

Linen weaving has been a feature of Irish life from as far back as the late Bronze Age and it was a particularly important industry during the 18th and 19th Centuries. In those days, linen manufacture was a cottage industry and it provided a regular source of income for families in rural areas throughout Ireland.

The first Linen Board was established in 1711 to control the sale of linen, and it was originally based in a small rented room on Cork Hill.

At a meeting of the Linen Board on St Patrick's Day in 1722, the question of building a centralised Linen Hall was addressed and several prospective sites around the city were considered. One or two sites in Drumcondra were looked at and rejected because they were too far away from the city and more importantly from the Liffey. Another site near Ballybough was rejected for the same reason.

The board eventually decided in favour of a three-acre site, which was located at the top of Capel Street, which was then on the perimeter of the city. This site was chosen because of its proximity to the inns and taverns on Church Street and Pill Lane, where many linen traders lodged while on business in Dublin. Over the next six years, the Linen Hall gradually took shape and it opened for trade on November 14th, 1728.

The Dublin Linen Hall was modelled on the famous Cloth Hall of Hamburg and the great London market, Blackwell Hill. The Linen Hall contained a large trading floor and 550 compartments or bays for the storage of linen. There was also a large boardroom for the use of the trustees and what was described as "a large and elegant coffee-room for the accommodation of factors and traders who daily crowd its courts".

Security was tight in the Linen Hall. The market began and ended with the ringing of a large bell and anyone still on the premises after closing time was liable to be kept there overnight. The whole operation was overseen by a chamberlain, whose main task was to look after the hundreds of keys required for the Linen Hall's numerous linen lockers and chambers.

Other staff included a uniformed gate-keeper, a clerk and several porters and during the night, the premises were guarded by night watchmen who were issued with firearms.

With the opening of the Belfast Linen Hall in 1783, the Dublin industry went into terminal decline and the Linen Board was abolished in 1828.

During the 1870s the Linen Hall was used as a temporary barracks by the British Army and it was taken over by the board of works in 1878. One of the last events held in the Linen Hall was the Dublin Civic Exhibition of 1914 and it was destroyed by fire during the 1916 Rebellion.

"Two views of Bolton Street. I wonder who the two boys are outside 49, the style of the car gives some idea of the date of when these photos were taken".

The family of John McDonnell in the 1911 Census for Ireland

Residents of house number 49.1 in Bolton St. (Inns Quay, Dublin)

McDonnell, John
aged 70
Head of Family
Roman Catholic
Born in Dublin City
Retired Basket Manfr
Married for 46 years

McDonnell, Catherine
aged 63
Roman Catholic
Born Dublin City
Can read and write
Married for 46 years
Given birth to 16 infants - 5 surviving

Banett, Catherine (this should be Barrett)
Aged 31 Female
Roman Catholic
Born Dublin City
Can Read and write
Married for 13 years
No children

McDonnell, John
Aged 23 Male
Roman Catholic
Born Dublin City
Can read and write

Note that John and Catherine had an incredible 16 children, 11 of whom had died. One of the survining children was my great grandmother Anne Whelan, another was Catherine Barrett who was a witness to my great grandparents marriage and the third child here was John McDonnell junior whom I believe also became blind.

We can therefore conclude that there must have been two more surviving children of John and Catherine McDonnell, one of whom may have been the son sent packing to America after he allegedly set fire to the family's country farm house.

More information about 49 Bolton Street

The Building Return from the 1911 Census provides more information about 49 Bolton Street:

49 Bolton Street comprised a shop and dwelling. There were no outbuildings and had between 10 and 12 rooms with 5 windows at the front of the building.  The building was considered to be first class house.

There were 4 distinct families living at 49 Bolton Street:

John McDonnell's family of 4 (see listed above) occupied 3 rooms
Edward Maher and family of 4 occupied 3 rooms
John Whelan (my great grandfather) and family of 6 occupied 2 rooms
James Byrne and family of 3 occupied 2 rooms

John Leonard and family of 5 occupied 1 room in 51 Bolton Street

Details from my great grandparents marriage certificate

31 August 1904

John Whelan of full age, a bachelar and a grocer from 93 Capel Street
Anne McDonnell of full age, a spinster from Cloghan Sands, County Dublin

at Pro Cathedral in North Dublin

John's father was Richard Whelan, farmer
Anne's father was John McDonnell, also a farmer

Witnesses were Catherine Barrett and Joseph J Lucen

Friday, 12 February 2010

John Flynn ......or John Finn?


St Chads RC Cathedral
Many of the roads mentioned in connection with the Finn and Flynn family such as Weaman Street, Lench Street and Hanley Street were just a short distance away from the Cathedral

Having discounted John Flynn, son of Patrick Flynn, as a possible candidate to have been the John who was Jamie Evans' ancestor (great grandfather) living at Weaman Street, it is therefore back to the drawing board. But a fresh lead is not far away.

In terms of family anecdote about the Flynns and the Finns, firstly I guess the actual surnames are so close that confusion can occur. When I first heard these two surnames from members of my dad's generation, they were always recited with great confidence, putting strong emphasis on the fact that the names were not only similar, but actually rhymed!

Whereas one family surname told to me by family elders, Hadley, turned out to be Adderley... there was never a doubt about FLYNN and FINN.... "who came over from the potato famine".

The problem then is not getting the surnames right in the first place, but working out which family stories relate to Finn, which to Flynn, and which could actually be related to both and I would remind ourselves here that one story claims there was a marriage of cousins between Finn and Flynn in the dim and distant past, as if we aren't confused enough already!

In terms of the story of Jamie's grandmother, having checked the 1911 census, it does seem that it was John Finn and not John Flynn living at Weaman Street who possibly went to live in Cleveland, Ohio. In fairness Jamie did suggest in at least one of his recent emails that it might have been Finn and the fact that there is a confusion between Flynn and Finn in his research as well as mine, would add strength to the fact we are talking about the same family.

This is the census record:

1911 Census
1, 3, Court House, Weaman Street, Birmingham

FINN, John
Head Married
M 44
born 1857
Bricklayers Labourer
Born St Peters Birmingham, Warwickshire 

FINN, Catherine
Wife Married
F 40
Born 1861
Press Worker
Born in Bath St, Birmingham, Warwickshire

FOODY, Lettie
Boarder Widow
F 37
Born 1864
Birmingham, Warwickshire

F 10
Born 1891 Scholar
Birmingham, Warwickshire

This record may shed more light on the enquiry and again I go back to my previous research on the Finn family to find a John Finn who fits the profile. The following information was given to me in 1998 by Ian Payne whose great grandmother was Mary Jane Payne nee. Finn, the lady who was my great grandmother, Mary Clayton's cousin.
I know already that Mary Jane Payne and her husband did go to America, possibly on more than one occasion and set up Danny Boy Coaches in Newtown. This is Ian's story of John Finn who it appears was Mary Jane Payne's cousin.
“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 travellers route through Shropshire?

With his birthdate recorded as 1857, could this John Finn be the person we are looking for as the man who lived in Weaman Street in 1911 and Coventry Street in 1922?

A search for John Flynn

Further to my post below relating to a possible connection between my Flynn and Finn ancestors, a branch of whom it is known went to live in Cleveland, Ohio and the Flynn or Finn ancestors of Jamie Evans who were also known to have gone to Cleveland from Birmingham, I have tracked back through the material previously posted on this website to explore the connections further.

Starting with the Flynn family.

Firstly though, it is worth rehighlighting the two additional pieces of information which are common to both stories, firstly the Flynn/Finn family in both instances appear to originate from the Newtown area of Birmingham near St Chads RC Cathedral (a tradional gun making area on the border of the jewellery quarter). We do know that the Flynn and Finn family settled in this area when they first arrived in Birmingham from Galway in the late 1860s.

Secondly, the year 1922 is specifically significant to both stories, being the year that someone visited my great grandmother's family in Ladywood and left a photo of a nun, referred to as aunt Nell, a member of the Flynn family from Cleveland, Ohio, which has been passed down through the family. 1922 is also the year in which Jamie's grandmother went to America, heading it would seem for her Flynn / Finn relations in Cleveland, Ohio.

Back to my previous research on this website, there was a John Flynn born in 1877, whose father Patrick Flynn was the brother of my great great grandmother Bridget Flynn. Patrick and Bridget were both born in Galway along with their siblings which included the lady named Maria Flynn who never married, may have had a mental health condition and lived all of her life with my great grandmother's family in Garbet Street, Ladywood. The fact that Maria Flynn lived in the home of her niece for all these years makes the case stronger that someone from the Flynn family returning from the States would have made a priority to visit them in 1922. Was this visitor Jamie's grandmother temporarily returning to England with the intention of taking her daughters back with her to Ohio?

In my research I have found 4 Census records between 1871 and 1911 which appear to appertain to the family of Patrick Flynn. Interestingly the only census where there does not appear to be a record of this family is 1891. I wonder if this has any significance in terms the Ohio story? I may be completely wrong here but bearing in mind there would be a twenty year gap between the census of 1881 and the census of 1901, that gives us a fairly decent window of opportunity for a family to move to the States and return.

These are the four census records for Patrick Flynn's family:

Living at Cheapside, Deritend, Aston in 1871 were:

Patrick Flynn aged 30 born in Ireland
Bridget aged 28 born in Ireland
Mary Ann aged 5 born in Birmingham
Helen aged 4
David aged 1
Selina aged 0

No occupations given in this Census record

Living at No 5 Court, Cheapside, Aston in 1881 were:

Patrick Flynn aged 42, born Galway, Stamper (Artz)
Bridget Flynn (wife) aged 39 born Ireland (Polisher - Artz)
Mary A Flynn (daughter) aged 15 born in Ireland (Ruler)
Selina Flynn aged 14 born in England (pipe mounter (tobacco)
David Flynn aged 11 scholar
Ellen Flynn aged 10 scholar
Rose Flynn aged 6
John U Flynn aged 4
Edward Flynn aged 3

The same family is recorded in the 1901 census:

Patrick Flynn, 64 year old brass stamper, born in Ireland.
Bridget his wife, aged 56, born in Ireland.
Nellie aged 30, an India rubber saleswoman (daughter).
David aged 28, brass worker.
Rose aged 25 (at home).
Joseph aged 24, a wire maker
Edward aged 22, a gun barrel forger
Arthur aged 15, a tin plate worker.

All of the children were born in Birmingham.

The same family are recorded in the 1911 Census, though at this stage the oldest son David is recorded as the head of the family. It is noticeable that there are 4 single adult sons living in this home plus a widowed sister and a total absence of children:

1911 Census
Address: 14 Hollier Street, Deritend

David Flynn, Head, Single, M, aged 39, born 1872, Clerk Brass Foundry, born Birmingham
Patrick Flynn, Father, Married, M, aged 74, born 1837, Retired, b. Ireland
Bridget, Mother, Married, 48 years, F, aged 70, born 1841, Retired, b.Ireland
Joseph, Brother, Single, M, aged 33, born 1878, Wire Mattress Work, b. Birmingham
Edward, Brother, Single, M, aged 30, born 1881, Brass Burnisher, b. Birmingham
Arthur, Brother, Single, M, aged 34, born 1877, Tin Plate Worker, b.Birmingham
Mary Ann Brome, Sister, Widow, F, aged 44, b.1867, House Keeper, b.Birmingham
There are one or two slight discrepancies in these four records, such as the order of children's ages changing slightly between records, but on the whole we can safely say it is the same family in all four records. There are two potentially significant children in the records, firstly the child name John U who first appears in the 1881 census, aged 4. In the subsequent census records his name changes to Joseph though his reported age remains consistent. I have come across the name John being changeable with both Jack and Joseph in other parts of my research. Joseph is aged 33, single and living at home in 1911.
However, this does mean that in 1922 he would have been 43 and if he wasn't married by the age of 33 it seems unlikely he would have become a grandfather to someone who was an adult by 1922 (i.e. Jamie's grandmother).
The other child in Patrick Flynn's family with a significant name in terms of this line of research connected to Cleveland Ohio, was Ellen who was aged 10 in 1881, aged 30 in 1901 but was not registered in the family in 1911. Could Ellen have been Aunt Nell the nun? By 1922 this lady would have been 50 years old.

The Cleveland Ohio connection

Aunt Nell from Cleveland, Ohio

Blimey! The power of the internet heh?

I'd like to thank a gentleman in Lincolnshire named Jamie Evans for contacting me in regards to his descendants who may be related to the Flynn side of our family tree.

The Flynns are ancestors of my paternal great grandmother

Geoff Millington (my dad) --- Florence Millington, nee. Clayton (Nanny Mill) --- Mary Clayton nee. Finn (Great Granny Clayton) --- Bridget Finn nee. Flynn (G-G-Grandmother)

The Flynns arrived in Birmingham probably in the mid to late 1850s from Galway in Ireland. They settled in Newtown and my great great grandmothers brothers and sisters seemed to all marry other local people, some being other Irish migrant families but some local Birmingham people.

There is a strong story in the family, which I heard from my aunty Kath who grew up in the 1920s in Ladywood that some of the Flynn family went to live in Cleveland, Ohio in the early part of the 20th century. The story goes that a family photo of a nun was someone named Aunt Nell who was one of the people in Ohio.

Below are sections of Jamie's recent emails (reproduced with his permission) and even in this past week he has made progress in getting more information:

Dear Pete,

I have just found your family web site, it has answered a question that I have been trying to answer for over 30 years of searching my family history!!!!!!!!!!!!! the wonders of the internet!!! I am over the moon, I really am!!

My grandfather John Walter WALTON, died in August 1918 after service in the1st WW, his close friend was JOHN FINN or FLINN, in 1915, my grandfather lived at 4 Court/1 Weaman Street, my mother was born at 4 Court back 7 Weaman Street in 1913.

Living at 3 Court back of 1 Weaman Street was John FLINN with his wife Catherine, the families were apparently very close, because they both moved to Coventry Street, Digbeth in about 1917, where my grandparents lived at 74 and John and Catherine FLINN lived at 75.(next door then) They were still there in the Voters Register of 1920. Members of my family lived at this same house until it was demolished in the late 60's.

My mother always called Catherine FLINN 'our nan' and thought a lot of her and the help they gave after her father died, she said that things were really hard after the war for everyone and people had to share everything.

Apparently in about 1920, John and Catherine FLINN, don't know of any children, left Birmingham to live in CLEVELAND, OHIO!!!!

My grandmother now a widow, left her 4 daughters in Birmingham and in 1922, she sailed from Liverpool on the SS Olympic the sister ship to the Titanic, to visit the FLINNS in Cleveland Ohio, she is recorded as entering the USA on the Ellis Island web site.

She must have enjoyed herself because she stayed for about 6 months and on returning to Birmingham, immediately arranged to take her children back to Cleveland, however as they were boarding the boat at Liverpool, the grandmother of the children, the mother of John WALTON took an injuction out and had the children removed from the ship, so they never made it to the USA. Otherwise I would have been a yank!!

My mother told me about the FLINNS often and how they keep in touch with her mother until her death in 1935, the family returned to Birmingham and they all lived there until their deaths, then with her sister for some time after, who apparently visited them in the late 60's but I never had any further details, until I read your blog tonight.

Are you in contact with any of the family in Cleveland Ohio?

I am so happy, I thought I would never answer this question, wonderful news

I am retired and now live far away from Brum in Lincolnshire.

James Evans

Hi James

It's very exciting to hear from you, thanks for the email, which has some potentially fascinating information.

That's an interesting story about the grandmother taking the children off the ship! That would have been quite some incident and denotes that emotions were running high to say the least. It would be interesting to clarify whether the Flinns (or Flynns) were directly related. The other circumstances you describe would indicate that the ties were closer than neighbourly friendship.

There was a John Flinn / Flynn in my family tree who may have fitted the profile, he was the son of my g-g-grandmothers older brother Patrick. You'd have to dig around my family tree to spot him. But there could have been others I haven't picked up on yet.

I'll come back to you shortly James, but please feel free to expand. Do you mind if at some point I add your information to my website?

Pete Millington

p.s. the Cleveland Ohio connection is too much to be a coincidence isn't it? My aunty Kath who died a few years back but was born when my grandad Millington was in the army serving in India in 1922, was very specific about the fact that Flynns went to Cleveland and her story was that someone came to visit the Claytons (my fathers maternal great grandmother) in Ladywood from Ohio in about 1920-22 - Kath recalls this from anecdote passed to her later, as she was a baby in India in 1922 so her own parents missed this visit from Americans though it obviously had an impact. But the photo of the nun on my website was apparantly left by someone from Ohio on their visit and it has always been referred to as Aunt Nell in Cleveland. You'll find the photo if you search around my website.

There was also an American connection with the Finn family - my great grandmothers first cousin Mary Jane Finn and her husband Payne went to the States in the late 1800s and returned with enough money to establish a coach frim which started off as Danny Boy Coaches in Aston (note the Irish reference) but eventuially became know as Paynes Coaches.
Hi, Pete,
I am glad that you got my E mail, I was up to the early hours reading all your blog and all the info about the Flinns/Finns.

My mother who died in 1993, she always called them (John and Catherine) FINN.

Please use any of the information that you want, as without your information mine is worth nothing.

I have a copy of the Ellis Island reference to my grandmother entering the US, the date and ship if you want to put it on the website.

I am off to the local Library to research Ancestry to see if I can locate this JOHN FINN!!! Census and WW1 records!!

Speak soon,

Jamie Evans

Dear Pete,

Also you were right about a close relationship of the families, Walton/Finn, yesterday I found the original passenger manifest for the SS Olympic sailing from Southampton on 19th April 1922. My grandmother Martha Lilly Walton a widow is on there and she states that her next of kin is John Trim (obviously mis heard as FINN) living at 75, Covenrty Street, Birmingham described as her GRANDFATHER, this must be on her late husbands side, so some more digging needs to be done!!!! She states she is travelling to CLEVELAND, OHIO!!!! unfortunately she does not state to whom!! obviously that would make it to easy for us!!

Speak soon,

Jamie Evans

Thanks for this Jamie

The 1922 date of sailing is interesting and would tie in with the story in my family that someone visited my great grandmother Mary Clayton nee. Finn in about 1922 with the news of people in Ohio and the photo of the nun (see my website).

I am fairly certain about the year 1922 because my grandparents were in India which is where my aunt was born in 1922 and when they came home they learnt that the Ohio visitors had been to visit my g-granny Mary Clayton in their absence. Though I have no details of who the visitor(s) was.

Mary Clayton was the oldest of the Finn children (her mother was dead by then - Bridget Flynn) so Mary was very much a matriarchal sort of woman who people went to as the centre of the extended family.

So it makes sense that if your granny returned to Birmingham from Cleveland to collect her daughters - she would have visited Mary Clayton in Ladywood to give her news of ... I guess it would have been Mary's uncle and aunt or cousin (need to work that one out!!)

When you said the name Trim, my heart sank thinking we are talking about an entirely different person, but I see what you mean about it being misheard, this sort of error was extremely common, and one can imagine trying to get on a boat in those days was probably a hectic affair with people queuing up in ports etc. So that wouldn't be an issue for us to worry about.

So, the plot thickens Jamie. You are making great progress!

Speak soon.


Sunday, 7 February 2010

Canadian Home Children apology - the campaign hots up

From my website

How my genealogy research has led to an international campaign!

Regular Spaghetti Gazetti readers will recall my recent article about the Canadian Home Children from Birmingham and how 2010 is the official Year of the British Home Child in Canada. Home Children were children from very poor families or families with other social problems who were emigrated to countries like Australia and Canada in the early 20th century where many were brought up in harsh conditions and were literally used as slave labour.

I became interested in the phenomenon of Home Children when I made contact via the internet with a Canadian man named Ralph Edwards who was, like myself doing genealogical research. It turned out that not only was Ralph's father a Home Child shipped off to Canada from Birmingham in the early 1900s but that he was my great grandfather, William Clayton's nephew. Ralph and his wife Phylis came to Birmingham about three years ago to meet myself and other descendants whom I had never met before myself and together we visited a former Middlemore Home building in St Luke's Street near Bristol Street in Birmingham which was the last residence of Ralph's dad as an orphaned little boy before being put on a ship bound for Canada.

In Canada literally millions of people are descended from British Home Children and there is massive interest in tracing their roots amongst these descendants. In Britain however, very little is known about the plight of these forgotten little Brummies or their fate across the great oceans of the world.

My article suggested that, because Middlemore Homes were a Birmingham charity and therefore many of the Canadian Home Children came from the West Midlands, Birmingham City Council should take a lead in officially recognising Canada's Year of the British Home Child. My article was also published on Adrian Goldberg's website The Stirrer and gained a response from at least one city MP, John Hemming of Yardley.

I have since learnt from Adrian that he has progressed the story on The Stirrer and also on his national radio programme on Talk Sport Radio and my article has helped to stimulate a national campaign to ask the UK government to officially recognise the story of the British Home Children to Canada and to offer an apology to their families as Gordon Brown recently did for the descendants of Australian Home Children.

This is Adrian's latest email to me with links to recent articles:

" Hi Pete,

Have interviewed John Willoughby on Talksport and am making this a running Stirrer feature

Let's pile on the pressure.


Adrian Goldberg"

Watch this space as they say

More revelations from Dublin coming soon...

First time visitors to this website may be forgiven in wondering why it's called a Brummie Family Tree when so many of the posts immediately below this one are about my ancestors in Ireland. If you have a few minutes to scroll down and click on older posts, you will indeed find plenty of information about the Brummies although it's worth remembering that up until 250 years ago, Birmingham was a small Warwickshire market town so the 1 million modern citizens of the UK's second city are 95% of us descended from migrants, whether these be local rural migrants from the shire counties, migrants from other parts of the islands such as Scotland, Wales and Ireland, or from further afield - Italians, European Jews, Poles, people from Yemen, Pakistan, India, West Indies, etc.

"How do you tell a Brummie? By the shamrock in his turban!" might sound like an old gag, but believe me I have seen such a sight on the Birmingham St Patrick's Day Parade.

Coming soon, I will take a look at the ancestors of my wife's father, Edward Dwyer, who were farming people from county Wexford and also to dig around a little deeper in Lurgan, county Offaly to find out more about the origins of the Stone family.

Also coming in the future, anecdotal stories from my father's brother Bill and sisters Nance and Kath who all three died in the last decade, but not before sharing with me a few memories and insights into working class life in the back-to-back houses of Ladywood and Hockley. Learn how Uncle Bill's appendicitis was cured when a neighbour attempted to get him through the cobbled streets of Ladywood to the Children's Hospital on a horse and cart and how I made contact with that same man's grandson. Hear how my dad Geoff kept his rabbit on the roof of a local factory and fell off the roof of the Palais de Danse on Monument Road. How in my role as editor of the Marston Green Gazette I discovered that the owner of the Palais de Danse was Mr Bulpit, the same man who owned the Bulpits Factory on Monument Road who used the carpet from the Palais to refurbish Marston Green Village Hall!

Learn why Winston Churchill was a regular visitor to the back streets of old Ladywood and once drove past Uncle Harry's pub in Ledsam Street. Read the letters sent to me by a man who grew up just yards away from the Vesper Bell pub, including a shop by shop plan of the entire street he drew from childhood memory!

Also, I must thank my mother's cousin Sean Whelan in Dublin for sending me some fascinating documents about my great great grandfather John McDonnell (including the drawing above) who, in spite of being totally blind in the harsh landscape of Victorian Dublin, made his fortune selling basket weaved products, became a political candidate on behalf of the National League for the Blind, a Poor Law Guardian, a member of the Irish National League and a campaigner for better provision for blind people in Ireland. Now that's my kind of ancestor!

So keep visiting the website for more on the amazing real life story of G-G-Grandfather John McDonnell.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Griffiths Evaluation - more detail

This is a breakdown of the rateable annual value of the various occupiers of the townland of Lurgan in 1854. It is worth noting that there are two people with the surname Stones living in Lurgan, John and Timothy. The main lessor of land in Lurgan is Joseph Gough who does not appear to occupy buildings on any of the land but does pay rates on sections of bog which we know has it's own limited value for cutting turf for fuel locally (Offaly contains a large part of the Bog of Allen in Ireland).

Timothy Stones, whom I believe to be my wife and therefore my children's direct ancestor, also appears to lease his land from Joseph Gough, though he sub-leases it to smaller tenants. After Robert Low, Timothy Stones appears to be the most affluent farmer in Lurgan. We can perhaps speculate that John Stones was his brother.   

Lurgan (Ord. S.1.)

1    Occupier - Patrick McGuire
Immediate lessor - Joseph Gough
House and land
Area (A.R.P)   5. 1 . 15
Rateable annual value of land £2.10.0
RAV of buildings £0.05.0
Total rateable value £2.15..0

2   Occupier - James Callaghan
Immediate lessor - Joseph Gough
House and land
Area (A.R.P)  9 .0 . 27
RAV land  £4.10.0
RAV buildings  £ 0. 10. 0
Total rateable value £5 .0. 0

3A & 3B Occupier - Joseph Gough
Immediate lessor - in fee
Area (A.R.P) 23.2.27 and 10.0.0
ARV land  £0.4.0 and £10 .0 .0
No buildings
Total rateable value £0.5.0

4  Occupier - Thomas Hankinson
Immediate lessor - Joseph Gough
House and land
Area (A.R.P.) 11.1.36
RAV of land £5.3.0
Value of buildings £0.7.0
Total rateable value £5.10.0

5  Occupier - John Stones
Immediate lessor - Joseph Gough
House, office and land
Area (A.R.P.)  15.1.0
R.A.V of land  £5.0.0
R.A.V of buildings £1.10.0
Total rateable value £6.10.0

6A & B - occupiers James and John Henson
Immediate lessor - Joseph Gough
2 Houses, offices and land
Area (A.R.P)  18.3.16
RAV of land  £6.8.0 and £6.8.0
RAV of buildings  £0.15.0 and £0.10.0
Total rateable value - £7.3.0 and £6.18.0

7  Occupier - Timothy Stones
Immediate lessor - Joseph Gough
House, office and land
Area (A.R.P)  59  0  20
RAV of land  £30.10.0
RAV buildings £1.10.0
Total ratebable value 32.0.0

8  Occupier Michael Mullins
Immediate lessor - Timothy Stones
House and land
Area 1.0.11
RAV land  £0.5.0
RAV buildings £0.10.0
Total RAV £0.15.0

9 Occupier Michael Fox
Immediate lessor - Timothy Stones
House and land
Area 1.1.22
RAV land £0.10.0
RAV buildings £0.10.0
Total £1.0.0

10 Patrick Brazill
Immediate lessor - Timothy Stones
House and land
Area 1.3.3
RAV land 0.10.0
RAV buildings 0.10.0
Total £1.0.0

11 Robert Low
Immediate lessor - Joseph Gough
House, offices, land, bog and herd's house & office
Area 207.1.3
RAV land £94.0.0
RAV buildings £6.0.0
Total £101.0.0

Area 01.2.7
RAV land £1.0.0
RAV Buildings £1.15.0
Total £1.15.0

Digging even deeper at Lurgan


Griffith's Valuation was a count of households and land in Ireland betweenn 1847 and 1864. The 1854 index of surnames just for the parish of Kilmanaghan in County Offaly alone is very long so I have extracted and printed only the names of people listed in the townland of Lurgan below. Some of the surnames we can recognise from the 1911 Census such as Callaghan, Henson, Low and of course Stones.

Note there are two people with the surname Stones listed, one is John and one Timothy. I know already that there was an ancestor named Timothy Stones who was noted as the father of Daniel Stone on his marriage certificate.

Griffiths Valuation of Ireland - Kilmanaghan, County Offaly

Surname    First Name   Townland        Parish                 County    

Callaghan    James            Lurgan              Kilmanaghan        Offaly

Fox            Michael          Lurgan             Kilmanaghan         Offaly

Gough       Joseph            Lurgan             Kilmanaghan         Offaly

Hankinson Thomas          Lurgan             Kilmanaghan         Offaly

Henson      James            Lurgan             Kilmanaghan          Offaly

Henson      John              Lurgan             Kilmanaghan           Offaly

Low          Robert           Lurgan             Kilmanaghan          Offaly

Mc Guire   Patrick          Lurgan             Kilmanaghan          Offaly

Stones       John             Lurgan            Kilmanaghan           Offaly

Stones       Timothy       Lurgan            Kilmanaghan           Offaly

Most common surnames in Kilmanaghan in 1854

Surname & No of Households

Daly 14

Murray 8

Bracken 7

Grennan 7

Stones 7

Higgins 5

Keenehan 5

McLoughlin 5

Egan 4

Holmes 4

Note of Lowe in Griffiths Evaluation, 1854

Found in a website about the Lowe family in Ireland
Robert Low 2 plots in Lurgan, Kilmanaghan parish, Kings Co. This townland is adjacent to Ballyscarvan, with Ballynamuddagh next to it. This was Robert Lowe of Cornaher; he was born and raised his children on his farm in Lurgan. This is the farm with the stone house and stone outbuildings, and tenant's stone house in the yard, that Don Lowe visited. Robert had 61 acres, and two house-sized plots nearby.

Digging deeper at Lurgan in the 1911 Census

Thanks to Emma Dwyer, daughter of my wife's brother Kev Dwyer for bringing a section of the 1911 Irish Census to my attention which I had not noticed before. This is where the training of a professional  archaeologist such as Emma comes in handy above the passionate though at times amateur efforts of the common or garden genealogist! Someone to dig a little deeper shall we say and also who knows where to dig.

The 1911 Irish Census (and I am not sure whether this also applies to the Census for England and Wales of the same period), contains  not only a page listing the residents of any given abode, but also contains a supplementary page recording the number and type of buildings including out houses, number of rooms in a dwelling, tenancy or ownership arrangements, etc.

For urban dwellings, especially those of the working class, this information may be of passing interest and merely confirm how poor the majority of people were in our particular family (I'm afraid no unclaimed fortunes so far folks and if there had been you think I'd tell you?) However, for families such as the Stone family of Lurgan where we know there was a dividing up of farm land between siblings at various points in the 19th and early 20th centuries, it does give us an added insight into how people were living and how they compared to their close neighbours.

Incidentally, my wife Theresa has confirmed that Lurgan has always refered to a wider area of farms and homes, not just the ancestral family farm which Uncle Dan inherited (I have been under the wrong impression that Dan's farm was specifically called Lurgan but actually in rural terms it's the equivalent to an urban neighbourhood) and she also adds that in her own memory the Lowe family (as mentioned in the Census details below) lived in the more impressive looking house in the area.

Below is an image of the original Census page for the whole of Lurgan, followed by my transcription:

Form B1
House and Building Return

Parliamentary division No.2 Tullamore.
Poor Law Union - Tullamore
District Electoral Division - Gorteen
Townland - Lurgan
Barony - Kilcoursey
Parish- Kilmanaghan

House number 1
Head of family John Corrigan
A built private and inhabited dwelling with 4 out-offices/farmsteadings.
House is built of stone, brick or concrete with a roof made of wood, thatch or other perishable material. The house has 2 occupied rooms and 2 windows at the front. It is considered a 3rd class house and is home to 6 people.
John Corrigan owns his house.

House number 2
Head of family Daniel Callaghan

A built private and inhabited dwelling with 7 out-offices/farmsteadings.
House is built of stone, brick or concrete with a roof made of wood, thatch or other perishable material. The house has 3 occupied rooms and 3 windows at the front. It is considered a 2nd class house and is home to 3 people.
Daniel Callaghan owns his house

House number 3

Head of family John Stones
A built private and inhabited dwelling with 10 out-offices/farmsteadings.
House is built of stone, brick or concrete with a roof made of wood, thatch or other perishable material. The house has 4 occupied rooms and 3 windows at the front. It is considered a 2nd class house and is home to 5 people.
John Stones owns his house

House number 4

Head of family John Henson
A built private and inhabited dwelling with 6 out-offices/farmsteadings.
House is built of stone, brick or concrete with a roof made of wood, thatch or other perishable material. The house has 3 occupied rooms and 3 windows at the front. It is considered a 2nd class house and is home to 5 people.
John Henson owns his house

House number 5

Head of family Rose Stone
A built private and inhabited dwelling with 8 out-offices/farmsteadings.
House is built of stone, brick or concrete with a roof made of wood, thatch or other perishable material. The house has 3 occupied rooms and 3 windows at the front. It is considered a 2nd class house and is home to 5 people.
Rose Stone owns her house

House number 6

Head of family Anne Stone
A built private and inhabited dwelling with 4 out-offices/farmsteadings.
House is built of stone, brick or concrete with a slate, iron or tiled roof. The house has 4 occupied rooms and 4 windows at the front. It is considered a 2nd class house and is home to 5 people.
Anne Stone owns her house

House number 7

Head of family Daniel Stone
A built private and inhabited dwelling with 9 out-offices/farmsteadings
House is built of stone, brick or concrete with a roof of wood, thatch or other perishable material. The house has 4 occupied rooms and 4 windows at the front. It is considered a 2nd class house and is home to 7 people.
Daniel Stone owns his house.

House number 8

Head of family George Lowe
A built private and inhabited dwelling with 11 out-offices/farmsteadings
House is built of stone, brick or concrete with a slate, iron or tiled roof. The house has 7 occupied rooms and 7 windows at the front. It is considered a 1st class house and is home to 5 people.
George Lowe owns his house.

House number 9

Head of family Joseph Fleming
A built private and inhabited dwelling with 4 out-offices/farmsteadings
House is built of stone, brick or concrete with a wood, with a roof made of thatch or other perishable material. The house has 3 occupied rooms and 3 windows at the front. It is considered a 2nd class house and is home to 4 people.
Joseph Fleming owns his house.

House number 10

Head of family William G Lowe
A built private and inhabited dwelling with 12 out-offices/farmsteadings
House is built of stone, brick or concrete with a slate, iron or tiled roof. The house has 5 occupied rooms and 5 windows at the front. It is considered a 2nd class house and is home to 7 people.
William Lowe owns his house