Unluckily for me, both my paternal great-grandfathers have me stumped. They show up, at the time of their marriage to my great-grandmothers, leaving no clue as to where they came from. Or, more to the point, any clues they left behind lead nowhere.
This week the spotlight is on Charles O’Neill. He was my granny Lena's father, a law clerk by occupation. He died in April 1895 when Lena was only three months old. Given everything uncovered during my recent foray into Lena's maternal line, I'm hoping to spot something new specific to the O’Neill genealogy. So, I started with a review of everything already discovered about Charles.
And, the earliest record of Charles O’Neill found previously was dated 1874 - his marriage to Lena's mother, Agnes Donovan. He was then living in Lower Dominick Street, Dublin and working as a clerk. Their marriage was witnessed by George Turley of Cullenswood, which is near Rathmines in Dublin, and Mary Newport of Cole’s Lane.
By now I'm familiar with the Newports, who were recently confirmed as being friends on the Donovan side, so there's a chance George Turley was connected to Charles. Plus, in August 1876, when daughter Catherine O’Neill was born at 26 Denzille Street, Dublin, Thomas Turley acted as her Godfather. Maybe this was a family connection worth pursuing.
There were few people named Turley living in Dublin at this time, so the family were easily found in the church records available online. On 6 February 1870, in Westland Row, George Turley married Katherine Kavanagh, the daughter of Patrick and Mary Kavanagh. But, this was not a match made in heaven. Their daughter Edith was born the following day, so perhaps the marriage was forced upon the couple. In any event, four years later, George published a notice in the newspapers, disclaiming all responsibility for his wife's debts.
George Turley, Cullenswood, Dublin, 1874
Divorce - Irish style!
The search for the second Turley, Thomas, found him marrying Elizabeth, daughter of George Brandon and Elizabeth Fleming, in September 1877. At the time of their marriage, Elizabeth lived at 28 Denzille Street, just two doors up from where Catherine O’Neill was born the year previously. Maybe Thomas met his future bride at the Catherine’s baptism celebration.
Further back, George and Thomas were baptised in Rathmines Roman Catholic parish – George in 1841 and Thomas in 1845. Their parents, John Turley and Margaret Bourke married in St Peter's Church of Ireland parish, in 1833, presumably a mixed marriage with the children brought up as Catholic.
There's no sign of any familial relationship between Charles and the Turley brothers here, although, given we do not yet know Charles' mother’s maiden name, it's hard to say for sure.
Like Charles, who died at the young age of forty-nine years, George was only forty-seven when he died in 1887. An entry in the ‘Calendar of Wills’ that year contains the first real clue as to the probable connection between the Turley lads and my great-grandfather and it seems less likely they were blood-related. All three were law clerks by profession, so chances are they were just friends through work.
As law clerks working for a firm of solicitors, they probably performed the same work as a qualified solicitor, but for a lesser salary. Nevertheless, they were likely far better off than the average worker in Dublin, at the time.
Charles died before the 1901 census was enumerated, but Thomas Turley was still living at the time. Thomas, his wife and two children, plus his son-in-law and granddaughter, were all together in Belmont Avenue, near Donnybrook, in what was then determined as being a first class house. The house had nine rooms, far more than the rest of my ancestors enjoyed in Dublin at that time.
At the very least, this gives us a glimpse into the standard of living possibly enjoyed by our O’Neill family, prior to my great-grandfather's untimely demise.
Sources: Church records on IrishGenealogy.ie; Freeman's Journal, 2 March 1874, p.1, Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1858-1920, National Archives of Ireland; 1901 Census, Ireland, Same.
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