Saturday, 4 October 2014

Petition for clemency signatory, John Wynne

The very earliest mention so far found of my great-great-grandfather, John Wynne of Thomas Street, was as a signatory to a petition for clemency, in 1848.

This petition was for William Smith O'Brien, an Irish nationalist, who led a rebellion in Co. Tipperary in August 1848, for which he was arrested and found guilty of high treason. His death sentence caused great upset in Ireland and by May 1849 over 80,000 signatures requesting clemency had been collected, most of them in Dublin.

William Smith O’Brien Statue, O’Connell Street, Dublin

It is only John Wynne’s relatively uncommon surname, in addition to collaborating evidence proving his Thomas Street address, which permits any level of certainty that this was our John Wynne who signed the petition.

Unfortunately, the image of my great-great-grandfather’s signature was not made available online. I would have dearly loved to see it, and compare it to the signature on the 1901 Census, but the original documents, held on a roll in the National Archives, have since been withdrawn from public use. Nevertheless, at least we now know that John Wynne of Thomas Street signed the petition and lived in Dublin city before his marriage to my great-great-grandmother, Bridget Hynes, on 16 September 1849.

John was also recorded in an extract of the 1851 census, living at 56 Thomas Street, in the parish of St. Catherine, in Dublin’s ‘South City’.  The census itself perished during the Civil War. Luckily, a man called Dr David Chart had already created an extract of the 60,000 ‘heads of households’ in Dublin city and it is  available in the National Archives.  The city directories for this period generally only included rate-payers, so the extract provides another fortuitous record of my great-great-grandfather.

Extract 1851 Census, Jno Wynne, Thomas Street, Dublin (NAI, MFS 50, p. 552)

Admittedly, the extract does not make up for the destruction of the census itself. It contains no mention of those living with John and does nothing to further my search for his parents. I know this record relates to my John Wynne because his address, 56 Thomas St., was also the address recorded at the baptism of his son James in 1857. The extract has thus helped pinpoint his location six years earlier than James’ birth and shows John Wynne’s attachment to the Thomas Street area. It has added to what I already know and helped identify John in the William Smith O’Brien petition.

Absolutely nothing about John’s life prior to this has yet been uncovered!

Sources: The William Smith O’Brien petition index and the 1851 census extract are now available on the subscription web-site FindmyPast. 

© 2014 Black Raven Genealogy


  1. What a fascinating account Dara. I note you quote sources and state where they are available to view, what a helpful thing to do. I really need to get more organised and keep notes of sources, dates of newspapers and so on. I find myself reading the same things repeatedly. I guess all this comes as one gains experience, well that’s my theory. I hope your week is going well, Barbara.

  2. Thanks Barbara, I really appreciate your comment. It is a good idea to record your sources -best to make it a habit from the start - If I didn't, I'm sure I'd start doubting myself, especially when conflicting information is found.

  3. How fortunate that extract was made even if all it does is confirm the address. Is it possible a librarian or archive worker could get a copy of his signature?

  4. You know, Ellie, I did not specifically ask if 'they' could take a copy – maybe I got fobbed off too easily – I’ll add this to my ‘to do’ list for the Archives. Thanks.

  5. A signature on a petition; you never know where our ancestors are going to turn up.

  6. True Colleen, and easier to find with digitalisation - now if only John Wynne would turn up somewhere before 1848 ;)


I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!