Saturday, 1 August 2015

Genealogy Quest: The case for Maryanne Coyle

Last week, I identified potential candidates for the role of my paternal great-great-grandparents, the parents of Mary Agnes (Donovan, O’Neill) Ellis. They were John Donovan and Maryanne Coyle, who married in St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, Dublin in 1851. Maryanne gave birth to six children between 1854 and 1862, leaving a nearly too short window for the birth of Mary Agnes, yet, there are many ‘coincidences’ suggesting these were her parents.

First, we know Mary Agnes’s parents were called John and Mary Anne Donovan, so named when she married Charles O’Neill in St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, in 1874. We just don’t know Maryanne’s maiden name.

Secondly, a Mary Agnes Donovan was Godmother to Maryanne (Coyle) Donovan’s daughter, Teresa Anne, in 1862. This at least proves there was a Mary Agnes in the Donovan-Coyle family. It was not unusual for older siblings to act as Godparents, and is in-keeping with the theory discussed last week, asserting Mary Agnes was older than stated in the 1901 and 1911 census returns.

It also seems our Mary Agnes really did have a sister (or relative, at least) named Teresa. A Teresa Donovan lived with her for a number of years after her marriage and registered the birth of two of the O’Neill children. If Teresa Anne, daughter of John and Maryanne (Coyle) Donovan, known to have been born in 1862, was our Mary Agnes’s sister, she would have been orphaned by the age of thirteen, making it reasonable for her to live with her elder sister and Godmother. 

There was a tradition in Ireland at the time, although not always followed, of naming children after their grandparents. The eldest son was named after his paternal grandfather and the eldest daughter after her maternal grandmother, with subsequent children being named after their other grandparents.  In a post entitled ‘An Unexpected Discovery’, I concluded that Thomas and Catherine Donovan may have been Mary Agnes’s paternal grandparents, or at least close members of her father’s family. And, evidently, the name Thomas was important to the Donovan-Coyle family too. They christened two sons Thomas; Thomas Joseph in 1854 and, after his death, Thomas Laurence in 1857. Significantly, the name Catherine was given to their daughter born in 1860 and it is also of interest to find the couple had no other daughter named Mary, especially as the mother’s name was Maryanne.

A Joseph Coyle was Godfather to John O’Neill, the son of Mary Agnes and Charles, baptised in 1879, proving a Coyle connection to our Mary Agnes.

There is some evidence to suggest that my great-great-grandfather, John Donovan had a sister, or other close relative, named Alice Donovan. I mentioned her before, here. And, an Alice Donovan was a witness to the marriage of John Donovan and Maryanne Coyle, in 1851.

Finally, Denis Newport, an unusual enough name in Dublin, was best man at John Donovan and Maryanne Coyle’s wedding in 1851. That year, a Denis Newport lived at 36 Cole’s Lane, also in St. Mary’s parish and in 1845 a Denis Newport operated as a cabinet, chair and sofa manufacturer at number 40. Mary Agnes’s father, an upholsterer, worked in the same industry and was likely employed by a cabinet maker. Later, Mary Newport of 27 Cole’s Lane was bridesmaid at Charles and Mary Agnes’s wedding in 1874.  Denis and Elizabeth Newport had a daughter Mary who married a William Ryan in St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, in November 1877.

This seems like a lot of coincidences to me, maybe not enough to fully complete the jigsaw and conclude that Maryanne Coyle was my second-great-grandmother, but going in the right direction nonetheless. Don’t you think?

The search for the missing pieces continues…


See also the previous post in this quest: 
The Search for Maryanne...
Sources: Church records on; Copy birth registers, General Register Office; Chart's head of households survey, extracted from the 1851 census of Dublin, FindMyPastPettigrew & Oulton's Dublin Almanack & General Register of Ireland, 1845, FindMyPast. Image credit: Pixabay.

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