Saturday, 30 November 2013

Sibling Saturday ~ Mary Wynne, a woman of many names

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Mary Wynne 1860-1934
Mary Wynne was born on 24 May 1860 at 23 Thomas Street, Dublin, the daughter of John Wynne and Bridget Hynes. She was an elder sister to my great-grandfather, Patrick Wynne. 

On 31 May 1885, Mary married Michael Finegan, in St Andrew’s church, Westland Row, Dublin.  Michael worked as a ‘range setter’ or stone mason and Mary as a dressmaker.  They had two sons born in Dublin, John James in October 1886 and Francis (Frank) Edward O’Brien Finnegan in April 1889.

This was the last mention of the family found in the Irish records, but it was known that they had left Ireland for Colorado Springs, so I started to search for them there. The surname Finegan has many variants, including Finnigan and Finnegan, all of them used by Michael and Mary at different times.  It was the name change to Finley though, that was most unexpected.  

It seems that Michael had already left for the U.S. when his second son was born. The Colorado Springs city directory recorded M. Finnigan living at Cascade House in 1890. Nearly three years later, on 18 March 1892, Mary Finnigan and baby Frank arrived at Ellis Island, on route for Colorado. The 1900 U.S. federal census finds them all living in Colorado Springs, now with four sons; Joseph was born in Colorado Springs in April 1895 and Gerald in May 1898. They remained there until about 1903. In 1904, the Colorado Springs city directory helpfully advises that the family moved to Pueblo City, Colorado.

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Mary Agnes (Wynne) Finley
It was shortly after moving to Pueblo that the Finnigan family changed their name to Finley, a surname of seemingly Scottish origin. Mary also adopted the second name, Agnes. Perhaps they met with anti-Irish prejudice in Pueblo and the name change was an effort to appear more ‘American’.  In the 1910 census, Michael, Mary and three of their children, John, Joseph and Gerald, were living in Peublo, under the surname Finley.

Sadly, after thirty years of marriage, it seems Michael and Mary separated, shortly before Michael’s death. The city directories clearly show them living apart. Michael reverted to using the surname Finnigan, but Mary and the boys kept the name Finley, Presumably the name change was more Mary’s idea. Michael was working as a janitor at the Saving Heart Church, when he died of heart issues on 20 April 1917.

Mary married Charles W. Walker on 6 January 1920 in Colorado. Charles was an American, born in Missouri and worked as a carpenter. Mary, having disappeared from the city directories for ten years, was back living in Pueblo by 1930, without Charles, and had reverted to using the name Finley. However her death, at St Mary’s in Pueblo on New Year's Day in 1934, was registered under the name Mary Agnes Walker. A widow, she died of Myocarditis/Pericarditis and was buried in Roselawn Cemetery, Pueblo, Colorado on 3 January 1934.

These lovely photos of Mary were kindly sent to me by Mary’s great-granddaughter and my newly found third cousin.  Thank you, Phyllis!

Sources: Birth, marriage and death registrations; U.S. census records and Colorado city directories, available on request.

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© 2013 Black Raven Genealogy

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Pick of the week ~ Pyke

My favourite resource this week was a book written by Noel Kissane and published by the National Library of Ireland, back in 198. The book is entitled The Irish Face.  I recently purchased a copy for less than €5. It is not exactly a genealogical source, but family history can be found anywhere and in it I came across a name I recognised - Bobby Pyke. My aunt had once mentioned his name.
This little book is about the portrayal of Irish faces down through the ages, starting with the pre-historic stone-carved faces from the period 3000-2500 BC and ending with modern photography. One of my favourite chapters was the ‘Illuminated Manuscripts’, including an illustration of a golden-haired, fair-skinned, Christ from the famous Book of Kells. According to Kissane, there is no evidence that hair was dyed in ninth-century Ireland, but it was sometimes lightened with a bleach of ‘stale urine’ (p. 16).  From someone who occasionally lightens my hair, ‘Thank God times have moved on’! 

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Austin Clarke, by Bobby Pyke (NGI), 

Kissane, ‘The Irish Face’, p. 53.
It was the chapter called ‘Alternative Perspectives’, featuring the work of prominent Irish cartoonists, where I found reference to an item of interest to my own family history research.  My father’s first cousin, Bobby Pyke, was a cartoonist. His sketch of the famous Irish poet, Austin Clarke, hangs in the National Gallery of Ireland and a copy if it is included in the booklet (p. 53).

My father never met Bobby, nor knew of their relationship. It was my aunt who first mentioned his name. Bobby died in Dublin in 1987; I think it is time we found out some more about him... 

To be continued one day…


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© 2013 Black Raven Genealogy


Saturday, 16 November 2013

Tracing my Irish ancestors in 19th-century tax records

Elizabeth Mahon, who married Michael Byrne in 1894, was my great grandmother and the only child of James Mahon. James was born in 1823 and died in 1903. His father was Patrick Mahon, who was born about 1784 and died in 1865. They came from Yellow Walls, a townland in Malahide, Co. Dublin. I grew up in the same house that Elizabeth lived and died in; a house that has allegedly been passed down in our family since the mid-nineteenth century. While the lineage back to Patrick has been ‘proven’ by ‘conventional’ means, it was still interesting to trace it through Irish property-tax records. 

Griffith’s Valuation was a mid-nineteenth century survey of property occupiers in Ireland. It was a taxation scheme, implemented to calculate how much a person should pay, based on the value of their holding. For each holding, it recorded the occupier’s name, the immediate lessor’s name, the acreage and the annual valuation of the buildings and land. The Valuation, with accompanying maps, is now freely available online and the lists for Malahide date to 1848 and 1850.[1] Griffith listed a number of people named Mahon in the townland of Yellow Walls, all tenants of Lord Talbot, of Malahide Castle fame:

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Yellow Walls Mahons, listed in Griffith’s Valuation, 1850

Knowing the area well, it was easy to pin-point our exact location on the ordinance survey map. Plot number 50, as highlighted below, was definitely ‘ours’.


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Mahon property, Yellow Walls, Malahide, mid-1850s


I expected to find my great-great-great-grandfather listed and, sure enough, in 1850 a Patrick Mahon rented three acres, two roods and sixteen perches, roughly the expected sized plot. (There are forty perches in a rood and four roods in an acre.) The holding included a house and shed. However, Griffith indicated that Patrick was at map number 44, not 50 as expected. An unknown Francis McCann rented our plot 50, which made little sense. 

Until the 1970s, regular revisions were made to the lists for each townland, to update them for changes in occupier, lessor, acreage and valuation. These handwritten changes, colour-coded by year of amendment, were recorded in manuscript books.  New books were opened as necessary and the Cancelled Valuation Books for Malahide are now held in the Valuation Office in Dublin. It is therefore possible to trace the chain of ownership, from the time of Griffith’s Valuation to near enough the present day.

The earliest Cancelled Valuation Book for Malahide commenced in 1855, five years later than Griffith’s Valuation. It recorded Patrick Mahon’s holding of three acres, two roods and sixteen perches, but referenced it to map number 50 in Yellow Walls.  This better matched expectations, indicating that the map itself had been revised after Griffith’s Valuation had been published.

In this oldest book, ‘Sen.’ (senior) had been inserted after Patrick’s name, sometime after 1855.  Later still, James Mahon Jun. (junior) replaced Patrick as occupier of this plot. According to the key at the start of the book, the red ink indicated this occurred in 1868. Patrick’s death certificate confirmed he died on 6 December 1865.

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Mahon, excerpt from Cancelled Valuation Book, 1855-1902

The Cancelled Valuation Book for 1902-1945 recorded that Michael Byrne replaced James Mahon Jun., in 1905. James Mahon had died on 2 February 1903, according to his death certificate. Michael Byrne was his son-in-law. Michael died in 1927, around the time his eldest son, my grandfather James Byrne, was recorded at plot number 50.

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Byrne, excerpt from Cancelled Valuation Book, 1945-1960

From a precursory look at the other Mahon holdings in Griffith’s, it is most unlikely that James Mahon Jun., with 5 acres, 3 roods and 37 perches, was Patrick’s son. It is also unlikely that James Mahon Sen. was Patrick’s father, as he was replaced by a Patrick Jun. after 1855. They were all probably related somehow and another trip to the Valuation Office may enable their relationship to be established. 

Sources available on request.



[1] http://www.askaboutireland.ie/griffith-valuation/
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© 2013 Black Raven Genealogy

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Philip Camillus Wynne – Killed in Action in World War I.

Kevin Wynne had a first cousin who served in World War I, so as tomorrow is Remembrance Day:

Philip Camillus Wynne was the youngest of ten children, born to John Wynne and Margarita Armstrong. He was born on 21 May 1895, in Dundalk, Co. Louth, Ireland. Philip sometimes went by the name of Camillus. His mother died of tuberculosis in October 1900, when he was only five years old and he was raised by his father and elder sisters. In 1911, Philip lived at 4 Annaville Terrace, Dundalk Town, with his sister Frances Stowell. 

Copyright © 2013, Dara McGivern, http://blackravengenealogy.blogspot.ie/
Poppy field
During World War I, Philip Camillus enlisted as a rifleman for the British Army at Dundalk, Co. Louth. He served in the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles, under regiment number 15706.  He fought in the Western European Theatre, in northern France and Flanders. He was killed in action in Flanders, on 16 June 1915, aged twenty years. He lost his life during the Battle of Bellewaarde, which proved to be one of the bloodiest battles of the war. More than 1,000 men died that day, fighting on a battlefield measuring only half a square mile. For more information about this battle, see Bellewaarde 1915 where Phillip’s name is remembered.

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WWI medals (Ancestry)
After his death, Philip was awarded the following medals:  the 1914-15 Star, also known as 'Pip'; the British War Medal, 1914-18, also known as 'Squeak' and the Allied Victory Medal also known as 'Wilfred'. 

Were Phillip’s medals treasured by his family? A baby brother lost, I’m sure they were. Although, perhaps quietly. The political climate in Ireland changed so much during the war years. Yes, War Gardens at Islandbridge were built and dedicated to the memory of the Irishmen killed, but over the years veterans were not celebrated here, like in Britain. Despite any noble or nationalistic intentions, by the end of the war, participation in the British Army was seen as almost shameful by many, running contrary to the quest for Irish independence. In recent years, this stigma has diminished considerably. I wonder where Phillip’s medals are now.  

Philip is remembered, with honour, at the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium, his name being listed at panel 40.  The memorial commemorates more than 54,000 ‘Commonwealth’ soldiers, who were missing in action and have no known grave.

He is also remembered, under the name Cameltus Wynne, in Ireland's Memorial Records 1914-1918, an 8 volume set, originally published in Dublin in 1923. This work commemorates over 49,000 'Irishmen' who were fatally injured in the Great European War.  Harry Clarke, better known for his work in stained glass, designed the decorative page borders.  More recent editions are available in the main reading room of the National Library of Ireland, in Kildare St., Dublin.

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Ireland's Memorial Records 1914-1918, xiii, p. 389 

Sources available on request.

More about Philip Camillus Wynne here and here

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© 2013 Black Raven Genealogy

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Aunt Annie’s Will

Anne (Annie) Carroll was Kevin Wynne’s maternal aunt. She was the second daughter of Maurice and Anne (Ratcliffe) Carroll. On 6 September 1894, aged only nineteen years, Anne married William Smith Singleton, in Rathmines, Dublin. William was born in Manchester, England, in 1869, the son of John and Betty Singleton. He was baptised into the Roman Catholic Church on the same day as his marriage to Anne.

Then, William and Anne disappeared. No baptism records were located for their children. They were not found in the 1901 census, either in Ireland or Britain. Anne was next located in the 1911 Census of England and Wales, at 3 Ethel Street, Benwell, Newcastle on Tyne, in England’s north east region. She appeared to be living incognito, under the name Annie Smith. She was the head of the household and William’s whereabouts are unknown. The census confirmed that she was aged thirty-five, had been married for seventeen years and had no children. It also stated that she was a grocer by occupation, born in Dublin, Ireland. The only other occupant of the house was her domestic servant, Katie Rooney, a single, eighteen year old girl from Carlisle, England.

Annie Singleton’s will was written in 1925, when she was residing at 21 Upper Rutland Street, Dublin, the home of her elder sister Mary Carroll. At fifty years of age, she was relatively a very wealthy woman, owning the two properties, 1 and 3 Ethel Street, in Newcastle on Tyne. The terms of her will suggest that something was amiss with either her marriage or with her husband; rather than leaving her estate to William, she bequeathed it to him at a rate of two pounds per week for his lifetime.

The bulk of her estate was left to her sister Mary, subject to the payment of William’s salary over his lifetime. Annie also left £200 to her sister, my great grandmother, Teresa Wynne, £200 to her former servant Catherine Rooney and £200 to an unknown friend, Mary Magennis. 

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Anne (Carroll) Singleton’s will, 1925

Annie died on 7 August 1926. Her will was probated in February 1927. She left an estate valued at over £6,000, a tidy sum in 1926. 

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Probate of Anne (Carroll) Singleton’s will

The above reads: ‘Be it known, that Annie Singleton of Chestnut Villa, Greenhalgh, Kirkham, in the county of Lancaster and formerly of Benwell, Newcastle on Tyne, in the county of Northumberland and of 21 Upper Rutland Street, Dublin in the Irish Free State (wife of William Smith Singleton) died on 7th day of August 1926 at Chestnut Villa aforesaid.’

The copy of the will and probate document were gratefully received from a descendant of the Singleton family. 

Other sources available on request.

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© 2013 Black Raven Genealogy