Saturday, 19 June 2010

The search for Miss O'Hagan - a new location in the 1891 census?

Mary O'Hagan was the spinster aunt of my great grandfather Terence Millington and an older sistser of my g-g-grandmother Alice Millington, nee. O'Hagan.

I first heard her referred to as 'Miss O'Hagan' through the anecdotes of my aunty Kath Robinson, nee. Millington. Kath was born in 1922 so she would never have known or even met Mary O'Hagan who died in 1907. But Kath herself had heard family anecdotes about Miss O'Hagan whom she believed to have been a teacher at St Patrick's school on Dudley Road. Kath also told me that when Miss O'Hagan died she left a Will and my great grandfather Terence (her nephew) was a beneficiary but was said to have squandered his money in the public houses of inner city Birmingham.

I wrote to the headmaster of St Patricks school a few years ago but unfortunately there are no records of teachers from that period in the school archives. On obtaining Mary O'Hagans death certificate and also studying the transcript of her Will, it transpires that her profession was given as being a domestic cook and that she owned a small cottage in William Street in Ladywood, the sale of which constituted the main bulk of what was left to her nephews and nieces in her Will.

If Mary had spent large parts of her life in domestic service as a cook, this would go some way to explain why (1) she remained single, and (2) in spite of coming from a background of poverty (her father Patrick O'Hagan once described his profession as a 'traveller') she had saved enough money to buy a cottage and leave affects to the value of £710.

I have written a full post on this website detailing my research into the life of Mary O'Hagan which can be read at this link:

Part of this research material includes my search for Mary O'Hagan in census records. She can not be found residing at her cottage in William Street in the census records so I therefore concentrated on searching for her working as a domestic cook in larger houses around the West Midlands. This is a section of my previous post, examining this research:

Miss O’Hagan in the 1881 and 1901 Census?

I was recently told by one of my dad’s cousins (Patricia nee. Millington) that the O’Hagans possibly came from Newry, which is on the border of counties Down and Armagh in northern Ireland (Newry is quite close to the Mountains of Mourne).

There is a record of a Mary O’Hagan born in Newry in the 1901 census. This lady was single and was working as a Domestic Cook at a place called Haunch Hall in Longdon, Staffordshire. Mary O’Hagan is recorded as being 53 years of age. We already know that at the time of her death in 1907, Mary O’Hagan was 65, therefore the age of the lady in Longdon is about 6 years out.

However, bearing in mind that census records and transcriptions are quite often inaccurate, for instance 58 or 59 could easily be read as 53, and as there are no other Mary O’Hagans recorded elsewhere in the 1901 census with a similar profile and this one is in the West Midlands, I would not therefore rule out the fact that this lady could be the one we’re looking for.

Pictures of Haunch Hall, a listed building in Longdon, Staffordshire
Rumoured to be haunted

The lady recorded in the 1901 census was working at Haunch Hall for Stephen and Alice Stokes. Stephen was a 76 year old leather merchant of PCC who had been born in Wednesbury. His wife Alice was 77 years old originally from Tutbury in Staffordshire. Their 42 year old son Thomas A Stokes was a barrister coroner born in Walsall and they also had a 39 year old daughter named Clara Stokes born at Edgehill, Staffordshire.

The rest of the household were servants, Mary O’Hagan being the oldest. Alice Mullinder was a 28 year old housemaid from Penn. Emily Hawkins was a 28 year old ladies maid from Stafford. Maud Gregory a 20 year old house maid from Handsworth. Gertrude Bromhead was a 30 year old house maid, also from Handsworth and Elizabeth Copestake was a 17 year old kitchen maid from Gentleshaw in Staffordshire.

There is also an earlier record of a Mary O’Hagan working as a cook in domestic service, this time in the 1881 census at a dwelling called the Royal Oak Hotel at Bettws Y Coed in Caernarvon, Wales (pictured right). Once again there is slight discrepancy in the recorded age of this particular lady, she was 35 according to the census which is about 4 years out when compared to her age at death. However, again I would not discount this record purely on this basis as I have observed far bigger anomalies within old records, where it has turned out that two conflicting pieces of information turn out to be the same person.

What interests me about this record relating to an address in Wales is that I have on occasion heard my father and his siblings recalling that someone on the Millington / O’Hagan side of the family was either Welsh or had Welsh links. It could even have been that Miss O’Hagan herself had a Welsh accent. At the moment this is 50% conjecture but I believe it is a hunch worth pursuing. Did Mary O’Hagan live and work for a large part of her life in Wales?

In any case, the household at the Royal Oak Hotel at the time of the 1881 census was fairly substantial, including Mary O’Hagan there were 20 people, seven were members of the Pullan family who owned the hotel, four were visitors and eight were servants:

Edward Pullen, aged 51, born at Knaresbro, York was head of the household and was the hotel keeper as well as a farmer of 70 acres. His wife Lousia was 48, born at Harrogate, York. The Pullens had three daughters, Dora (21), Kate (19) and Hetty (18) and two sons, Frank (16) and Percy (5), all born at Harrogate, York.

The visitors at the Royal Oak Hotel were Robert Ackrill, a 64 year old printer and newspaper proprietor born in Worcester, his wife Caroline aged 58, Henry T Grubb, a 44 year old civil engineer from Ireland and W.Graham, 45 year old Captain H Militia, also from Ireland.

The servants at the Royal Oak were Thomas Hughes the ostler (groom) aged 46 from Capel Curig in Caernarvon, James Laurie the gardener aged 35 from Scotland, Mary O’Hagan the cook aged 35 from Ireland, Hanna Roberts a waitress aged 26 from Bettws Y Coed, Annie Owen a 19 year old housemaid from Llangerniw in Denbigh, Jane Jones a 28 year old housemaid from Capel Garmon in Denbigh, Jane Lloyd a 46 year old housemaid from Pennal, Merioneth and Sarah E Jones a 22 year old kitchen maid from Bangor, Caernarvon. With the exception of Jane Lloyd, all of the servants are listed as being unmarried – again this evidence fits our profile of Miss O’Hagan who remained unmarried all of her life.
1891 Census
Further to the information above from my earlier post, I have found a record for a Mary O Hagan working as a domestic cook in the 1891 Census. This Mary is also within the correct age profile and she was born in Newry, County Down. Mary is living and working at Eaton Mascott Hall at Berrington in Shropshire for the Congreve family:
1891 census - household transcription

Address: Eaton Mascott Hall, Hamlet, Berrington, Eaton Mascott

Married M
Born 1841 in Wicklow, Ireland
Living On Own Means

Married F
Born 1863 in Otago, New Zealand
Son M
Born 1884 in London

Son M
Born 1887 in Wigtownshire, Buenos Aires

Daughter F
Born 1888 in Buenos Aires

Boarder F
Born 1872 in Clapham, Middlesex

45 born 1846 in Newry, County Down
Domestic Cook

BEVON, Agnes
29 born 1862 in Weston Burton, Cheshire
Parlour Maid

EYLAND, Elizabeth
29 born 1862 in Shrewsbury

OWEN, Elizabeth
18 born in 1873 in Ridgway, Shropshire
Kitchen Maid

22 aged 1869 born in Shrewsbury
Under House Maid

A search for Eaton Mascott Hall on the internet did not find any photographs or old pictures of the hall but did lead to an interesting modern story about the Hall. In February 2005 Eaton Mascott Hall was the venue for one of the first fox hunts under new government legislation and the hunt was organised by a person named Otis Ferry who is joint master of the South Shropshire Hunt and also happens to be the son of rock star Bryan Ferry!

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