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?

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