Saturday, 8 October 2016

James Wynne – a man of music

Blogging about your ancestors hugely increases the chances of connecting with their other descendants, and this year has been no exception. I love meeting new cousins and swapping ancestor stories with them. Plus, they usually have far more surviving family photos than my direct line.

And, so it was when I ‘met’ my third cousin from Australia. She’d gathered together quite a few tales about her great-grandfather, James Wynne. Like all family lore, these stories may have become a little distorted in the retelling, and they were likely prone to some exaggeration here and there, but undoubtedly they contained a kernel of truth, nonetheless.

James Wynne was my great-granduncle, born on 25 November 1857, in Thomas Street, Dublin city. He worked as a brush-maker, probably at the Varian Brush Factory in Talbot Street, just like most of his brothers. In 1892, he married Christina Kavanagh and together they had five children - John Augustin, Nora Isabel, James Percival, Moira J, and Edward Patrick.

Supposedly, James Wynne (1857-1935)

The above picture, thought to be of James Wynne, was found among his grandson’s possessions. Do you see a resemblance to either his brother Patrick or to his sister Mary, below? I’ve only found pictures of two of his siblings, so far. 

Patrick Wynne (1868 – 1937) & Mary (Wynne) Finley (1860 – 1934)
Patrick Wynne (1868-1937) & Mary (Wynne) Finley (1860-1934)

According to the information passed down via James Wynne’s grandson, James was ‘a very fine singer’.  Supposedly, he even became choirmaster for the Palestrina Choir of St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral. There’s no doubt we should take this claim with a pinch of salt, but another account makes him choirmaster of a Dominican choir in Dublin. Somewhere within this family lore lies the truth, and it’s fairly certain James was a man of music, with associations to a church choir. 

A third story, also originally told by James Wynne’s grandson, again refers to his musical talents. James died of bronchitis on 15 March 1935, twelve years after the death of his wife, Christina.  His grandson recollected, immediately after his funeral, ‘Lily [the wife of James Percival] put all his music, including his own compositions, under the copper and burnt it, which particularly upset Nora [his mother, and James Wynne’s daughter] and the whole family’.

That is the type of calamity that would probably have happened in our branch of the Wynnes too.

Image credits: James Wynne, courtesy of his great-granddaughter Kerry in Australia; Mary Wynne, courtesy of her great-granddaughter Phyllis in California; Patrick Wynne, author’s own collection.

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© Black Raven Genealogy

16 comments:

  1. Wonderful! Did you know you had relatives in Australia? I think there is a resemblance between the two men.

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    1. Not until we started researching our genealogy, Ellie. My cousin interviewed our first cousin, twice removed and learned that Nora had emigrated to Australia.

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    2. Ellie and Dara, there is also my uncle Terence Wynne [son of Patrick Wynne and Teresa 'nee Carroll' Wynne], who emigrated to New Zealand - I believe his last home there was in Tauranga, North Island. He developed cancer of the throat and was operated on, which made his speaking voice on 'recovery' changed and limited - something that I could tell frustrated him, when he visited the UK in the 1960s, and our house in Bristol.

      Terence had children, I forget their names, one of his sons visited us in Bristol, as did one of his daughters, who was a the time a veterinary student. I believe that when she qualified that she specialised in farm animals.

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  2. James and Patrick have a definite resemblance. You are so lucky to have connected with these cousins and be able to share photos and stories!

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    1. I agree, Marian, it's one of the greatest advantages of blogging. I can see a resemblance in their features too, although their colouring is so different, it masks it at first glance.

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  3. These stories must be true. I have never heard of any Irishman exaggerating a story.

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    1. Whatever do you mean, Wendy? LOL, why spoil a good story with the truth.

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  4. Great finds! I love meeting these distant cousins through blogging. Photos and stories are two added benefits!

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    1. Dana, it makes all the hard work worthwhile ;-)

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  5. Three cheers for meeting new cousins who share photos!

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  6. I do see a resemblance Dara. I agree with you about connecting with cousins via our blog posts. It increases our chance of finding more information and maybe even photos. Win..win.
    Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I see the resemblance to my great-grandfather now too Diane, especially in the shape of his face, shape of his eyes and nose, etc. I didn't see it when I first looked. Thanks for your input.

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  7. I too think the men resemble each other. I've heard many credit their fine ability to tell stories to their Irish heritage! What fun are they if not "interesting?"

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  8. It is nice to see pictures of my close relatives. The photo of Patrick, my maternal granddad, his daughter Nora being my mother, is one I recall seeing when visiting nanna in Newcastle.

    ps. Regards genealogical likeness, I once lined up a photo of my father {Norman Skelton] with one of myself, and another of my eldest son, Domonic - my son commented that it looked like three peas in a pod.

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    1. Larry, the picture of Patrick above was cropped from his wedding picture, dated 1906, though they married in 1905. I'll email a copy of the picture to you.

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