Friday 9 January 2015

Friday’s Faces from the Past: More Wynne cousins

James, Clarissa and Gerald Wynne, Dundalk
James, Clarissa and Gerald Wynne, the children of John and Maggie Wynne from Dundalk, Co. Louth, were first cousins of my grandfather, Kevin Wynne.  Clarissa’s story was told previously here, so today let me introduce you to James and Gerald. They too emigrated to New York in the early twentieth century. 

James Augustine Wynne, with an address at Chapel Lane, Dundalk, Co. Louth, was baptised on 9 August 1888, the son of John Wynne and Margt Ward. His birth date was 5 August 1888. He seemingly acquired his middle name later in life, perhaps as his confirmation name. Augustine was not recorded as part of his name at the time of his birth, either in the Dundalk baptism register or on his birth register. He may have taken the name in memory of his eldest brother, John Augustine, who died in 1893, aged only sixteen years. 

James followed his brothers, Joseph and Gerald, to Manhattan in 1915 and obtained U.S. citizenship on 2 May 1922. There, he worked as an elevator-man in a hotel, a career he undoubtedly never considered as a child growing up in Dundalk. While James registered for the US Draft in 1918 and again in 1942, there is no evidence that he served in either World War. He did join the US Army National Guard in 1920 and was promoted to Captain before his retirement in 1929. 

The 1940 US Federal census lists the fifty-one year old in Manhattan, still unmarried and living with his sister Clarissa. However, the transcript of his baptism register contains a note reading ‘Dominica Nordene 28121956 St Patrick's Dundalk’ that suggests James married a lady called Dominica Nordene (not your typically Irish name) in St Patrick’s, Dundalk on 28 December 1956. No reference to this marriage was found on the FamilySearch marriage index for Ireland, but, an unsourced family tree on Ancestry also shows James married to a similarly named, Dominea Nardoni. It’s nice to think, even if he had to wait seventy years, James finally met someone that made him happy. 

Gerald Patrick Wynne, with an address at Bachelor’s Walk, Dundlak, was baptised on 13 July 1890, the son of John Wynne and Margaret Armstrong (not Ward). His birth date was 10 July 1890. Gerald emigrated to New York about 1911, where he became a barber. There is no indication that Gerald ever married, but he remained in New York all his life and died there towards the end of 1967. 

There is a little confusion surrounding James and Gerald’s mother, i.e. was her maiden name Ward or Armstrong? Margarita Mary Ward, the daughter of John Ward, was said to have been a spinster at the time of her marriage to John Wynne in Dundalk on 11 July 1876. However, the surname Armstrong was recorded when their three eldest children were born, John Augustine in 1877, Margaret Isabel in 1879 and Mary Frances in 1881. She then used the name Ward at the baptisms of Joseph, Mary Agnes, Nora Mabel and James between 1883 and 1888 and reverted to Armstrong again, between 1890 and 1895, when Gerald Patrick, Mary Clarissa and Philip Camillus were born.

Initially, I thought John Wynne may have married twice - two Margarets - or that there were two completely separate Wynne families. Yet, the dates do not line up for a second marriage and many of these children can be seen together with their father in Bachelor’s Walk at the time of the 1901 census. When, I obtained the register of James Wynne’s birth, his mother’s name was recorded as Armstrong, not Ward as given at his baptism, suggesting there really was only one Margaret. Perhaps, Armstrong was the name of her ‘adoptive’ father?

Sources include: Church records on RootsIreland; BMD registers, General Register Office; FamilySearch, Ireland, civil registration indexes, 1845-1958; 1901 and 1911 census, National Archives Ireland; and Ancestry - New York Naturalization Records 1882-1944, 1920-1940 U.S. Federal Census, New York Military Service Cards 1816-1979, World War I Draft Registration Cards 1917-18, World War II Draft Registration Cards 1942, U.S. Social Security Death Index 1935-2014. 

Wynne family photograph courtesy of Gabrielle, a relative of the Dundalk family.

© 2015, Black Raven Genealogy


  1. James was an elevator man. charming. I remember when there were men in elevators who would operate the elevators. They wore uniforms and got to slide the door closed. As a child I thought it would be a fun job.

  2. I can picture him in a uniform with big brass buttons, Colleen.


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