Saturday, 17 June 2017

A grave error? - Charles Byrne (1878-1879)


Charles Byrne was the fourth son of Francis Byrne and Margaret McGrane, and a younger brother to Mam’s grandfather, James Byrne. He was born at 12 Upper Mayor Street, in Dublin, on 6 March 1878, and was baptized in St Laurence O’Toole’s church that same day. He was probably named after Francis’ brother Charles.

Margaret did not get around to registering her son's birth until the end of June. Presumably to avoid a late registration penalty, she then claimed Charles wasn't born until 4 April 1878, by which time the family had moved to 18 Upper Jane Place. Still, her delay provides an accurate timeline for when the Byrnes first lived in Jane Place, a neighborhood that became their home for nearly a hundred years.

Soon after his first birthday, little Charles died of scarlatina, otherwise known as scarlet fever.  His no doubt heart-broken mother carried his remains to Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery, where he was buried on 13 April 1879. He was interred in the section of the graveyard known as St Patrick’s.

When Charles’s father died many years later, in December 1912, he was buried with another baby named Charles Byrne. Their grave was in the St Bridget’s section of the cemetery. This little Charles died in 1891, coincidentally when he was also a year old. Initially I thought our family was somehow related to the second baby too, or that there was a mix-up of some sort with the graves.

This Charles was the son of George and Harriet Byrne. George worked as a policeman, living on the south side of the river Liffey. Our Francis was a labourer, working in the Dublin dockyards, and living north of the river. Their lives were quite different and no connection between them could be found. 

Now, Glasnevin Trust have confirmed my great-great-grandmother only purchased the grave in 1912, two days after her husband’s death and twenty-one years after the funeral of the second Charles. There is no longer any reason to suspect a connection with George and Harriet. The cemetery was known to sell on graves, if they had not been purchased outright, after a specified time had passed.

Glasnevin Trust also confirmed our baby Charles was buried in an Old Angels’ plot. Such plots were communal graves, shared by many other babies. Being what was considered a ‘poor ground plot’, it would never have been available for Margaret to purchase. But, I wonder did she know this in 1912? Did she think her husband was laid to rest with their baby son? Or, was it merely a coincidence a so-named child shared his grave? 

Sources: Church and civil records on Irishgenealogy.ie; Burial register for Glasnevin Cemetery (pay-as-you-go); Image from Pixabay.

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Black Raven Genealogy

4 comments:

  1. Glad you could sort out that confusion.

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  2. Was it serendipity or design? Interesting story!
    My great-grand uncle in Quebec had a nephew Albert. Albert died in 1906 of the Black Measles, a very rare and deadly disease. Because of this he was refused burial at the cemetery and so was buried north of the homestead in a secluded grave. It was believed the germ would never die, so the grave was never to be opened.

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    Replies
    1. That must have been heart-breaking for his family, Dianne, not just to lose a son but also to have him turned away from their burial ground.

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