Saturday 11 April 2015

Not a single shred of evidence…but, a great find!

The truth is, having spent the last two weeks searching for a connection between my third great-grandmother, Jane (Daly) Byrne, and Richard Daly, her neighbour in Upper Jane Place in Dublin; I have found nothing to link them.  Likewise, apart from opportunity and proximity, there is not a single shred of evidence to suggest Jane's parents, William and Hannah Daly, were in fact the same people as Richard's parents, William and Hannah (Dillon) Daly, from Spring Gardens, in Dublin.  That is not to say it's not still a perfectly valid theory, just one that might not be provable.

Part of the problem is, after Jane married Francis Byrne in Dublin city in 1846, they received only sporadic coverage in available records. The baptism of just one child, Catherine, in January 1861, was found in the registers of St Laurence O'Toole's parish. Then in December 1869, their daughter Hannah married John Comiskey in O'Toole's parish, and Francis and Jane's address was given as Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire), in south county Dublin. They were still there in September 1871, when my second great-grandfather, Francis Byrne, married Margaret McGrane. But, by 1878, the year their children, Jane and Charles, married their respective spouses, Francis senior was confirmed dead and Jane had moved back to O'Toole's parish, where she lived with her daughter Hannah, in Upper Jane Place. 

Francis Byrne senior was a fireman, but not in today's sense of the word. He was a stoker, a man who tended the fire and shovelled coal into the boilers of steam engines, be they steam trains, steamships, or maybe even in factories. I don't know where Francis worked exactly, but given their Kingstown address, he may have worked on a naval steamship; Kingstown Harbour was then the main port for shipping between Ireland and Great Britain. Richard Daly, on the other hand, was a carman, living in Oriel Street, in O'Toole's parish, at least from 1851, before moving to the newly built cottages, around the corner, at Upper Jane Place.

Steam train from Kingstown Harbour, ‘D&KR view 1840’ Wikipedia

Like, Francis and Jane, Richard's life with his first wife very nearly went completely undocumented, and similarly provided little scope for uncovering a relationship with our Jane. No marriage record was found and they do not appear to have had any children. But, thanks to a burial register recently shared by a fellow McGrane researcher, I now know, in 1875, Richard organised the interment of a Jane Daly, the wife of a carman from Upper Jane Place. Undoubtedly this was his wife. She was buried in the family plot at Glasnevin Cemetery, where Richard was later buried in 1888. Hannah Daly, Richard's mother and my prospective fourth-great-grandmother, was the first occupant of this grave, when she died, aged forty-eight, in 1840.

Strangely enough, when Richard's father, William Daly, died, aged ninety-four years, at Richard's home in Upper Jane Place, he was not buried in the family plot with his wife and daughter-in-law. In 1876, Richard organised his interment in a separate section of Glasnevin Cemetery. The other occupants of his grave were seemingly not even family members, and had no apparent connection to Jane (Daly) Byrne. 

Yet the week has not been entirely devoid of excitement… 

Having written about finding Jane listed in the newly released New York City death records, Jacqi from the blog A Family Tapestry, kindly directed me to a local Brooklyn newspaper, where I might expect to find Jane's obituary.  I have to admit, I didn't really hold out much hope that her death would have warranted a mention in the newspaper.  My ancestors were respectable, hardworking people, but they'd all lived under the radar of the national newspapers serving their native Dublin city and I suspect Jane might not even have been able to read.  Yet, this was New York, so, of course, I had to take a look.

And, lo and behold, amongst the hustle and bustle of New York's Long Island, there she was.

The obituary confirmed Jane was the widow of Francis Byrne, not that there were any lingering doubts the subject was my third great-grandmother. It provided her cause of death as pleuro-pneumonia and advised she was a devout member of St Elizabeth's Roman Catholic Church at Woodhaven, in Queens.

But best of all, the real little gem of information shared, was the fact, like so many generations of her Byrne descendants left behind in Dublin, Jane was a shop-keeper. Although, there was no hint of her occupation in either the New York State Census of 1892, or the 1900 US Federal Census, Jane had kept a store at the corner of Jamaica Avenue and Enfield Street in New York, for nearly twelve years before her death. Now isn't that something!

Jane (Daly) Byrne (c.1830-1901), wife of Francis.
Jane (Daly) Byrne, Obituary, Long Island, New York, 1901

Main Sources:

© 2015 Black Raven Genealogy


  1. Very cool! I love newspapers! Sorry about the hours of frustration on the other - wishing you a break soon!

    1. Thanks Jo, I especially love newspapers too!

  2. Dara, I'm delighted to learn that Brooklyn resource has worked out well for you! There is another newspaper link I'll be posting on Sunday that may be worth a try, as well. Evidently, back in that era, there were a number of small newspapers covering the news of both Brooklyn and Queens. You may find an additional insertion in another newspaper that proves to be a bit more chatty.

    1. Looking forward to checking it out, Jacqi. :-)

  3. Dara, that's a great discovery. You could write to the cemetery & find out if they have a 'plot card' which might tell who bought the plot & if there are other family members there.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!