Bridget (Hynes) Wynne, my great-great-grandmother, was a midwife from Co. Limerick. At least, that’s what Pat Fegan, Bridget’s granddaughter, told us, and her claims usually turn out be true. In fact, there is already ‘evidence’ she came from Limerick - Bridget even said so herself on admittance to the Grangegorman Female Prison in 1884. Now, for the first time, I may have found documentary support for the theory she was a midwife.
Although it was not unusual at the time, Bridget’s occupation, if any, was omitted from her death register. Married women were normally said to have been the wife or widow of whatever their husband did for a living, even when they worked themselves. And, Bridget’s case was no exception. When she died in 1895, her daughter Agnes reported her as the ‘wife of a shopman’ and her burial register shows she was ‘a shop assistant’s wife’. There is no mention anywhere Bridget worked outside the home.
This week, I was searching for the copy birth registrations of Bridget’s grandchildren. I found one for John Joseph Vaughan, the only son of John Vaughan and Margaret Wynne. Margaret was Bridget’s eldest daughter. John Joseph was born at 10 Christ Church Place in Dublin, on 25 March 1882. The following month, Bridget registered his birth, confirming she was present when he was born. She lived nearby at 4 Christ Church Place.
But it was the entry in the register immediately preceding John Joseph’s that caught my attention. Mary Anne Howard was born on 4 April 1882, the daughter of James Howard, a tailor, and Margaret Lightfoot. Mary Anne was born at 10 Christ Church Place, same as John Joseph. This house was probably a tenement building, shared by numerous unrelated families, and as far as I know, the Howards were not related to the Wynnes.
Even so, when Bridget registered the birth of her grandson, she also registered the birth of Mary Anne Howard. She claimed to have been present when Mary Anne was born as well. Does this indicate Bridget was the midwife? Well, maybe not on its own, but it's a good first step. And, it certainly suggests she was handy to have around during childbirth.