Saturday, 7 November 2015

Flood – Adding a new Surname to our Family Tree

Flood surname;
It's always exciting to discover a new ancestral surname! In my genealogy quest to learn more about John and Maryanne Donovan, Dad's maternal great-grandparents, I may have had just such a breakthrough.

As I worked my way backwards through the names of the fourteen other people interred with Maryanne, in the Donovan family grave at Glasnevin Cemetery, I came to a John Flood of Upper Liffey Street. John was from the parish of St Mary's Pro-Cathedral in Dublin city, same as John and Maryanne. He died in April 1854, aged 64 years.  

First off, I searched the digitised church registers of Dublin city for any records containing both surnames, Flood and Donovan. The search yielded sixteen records.[1] But, it was the marriage of Thomas Donovan and Cathe Flood in November 1821 that initially caught my attention. They also married in the Pro-Cathedral.

This was not the first time I'd noticed the couple. A Catherine Donovan, who died aged 86 in 1873, was also buried with Maryanne – and I suspected she might have been her mother-in-law. Catherine's husband, a carpenter, had survived her passing and the search for a Donovan male, of such longevity, who died after Catherine, on the north side of Dublin city, led me to Thomas Donovan.

Thomas was a sawyer, said to have been 86 years when he died in 1875.  I already knew that a Thomas Donovan was present when Catherine died – he registered her death. So, it's easy to speculate Thomas and Catherine Donovan were John's parents, my third great-grandparents, or else they were close relatives.[2]

There were a few other couples named Thomas and Catherine Donovan in Dublin city around this time – and there may have been more who did not feature in these online church records. But, even before the newly found Flood connection in a family grave, this Donovan-Flood couple had stood out. They were the only couple who seemingly lived in St Mary's parish, in the 1820s. Plus, at one point, they may have lived in Great Strand Street.

And, the prison admission registers indicated John Donovan was born in ‘Strand Street, Dublin’, between about 1822 and 1826.  Although no record of John's baptism has been found, a Thomas Donovan of Great Strand Street was baptised in the Pro-Cathedral in 1828. This child might have been my second great-granduncle. His parents were Thomas and Cath Donovan, though unfortunately, the baptism register did not mention Cath's maiden name. 

In the relevant time period, there were four children, born to Thomas and Catherine Donovan, all baptised in St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral. The mother’s surname was not actually stipulated in any record, but there was a Flood connection, via the Godparents.
  • June 1820, Eliza, Sponsors: Richd Flood & Mary Flood
  • August 1823, Elizabeth, Sponsors: Edwd Gregan & Jane Flood
  • April 1828, Thos, Sponsors: Mich Kennedy & Mary Ann Rice
  • September 1832, Cathe, Sponsors: Patk Flood & Mary Rice

In three of these baptisms, the Godparents were members of the Flood family, including the first Eliza, born the year before Thomas Donovan and Catherine Flood married. The surname ‘Rice’ seems to connect the records with Flood Godparents to the birth of Thomas Donovan in Great Strand Street, where my second great-grandfather said he was also born.

So, we know my second great-grandfather was somehow related to Thomas and Catherine Donovan – why else would Catherine share a grave with his wife? And, we've found a Thomas and Catherine Donovan living in the same street, around the same time he was born. And, the best guess is this couple was Thomas Donovan and Catherine Flood. What are the chances these were John's parents?

Admittedly, the evidence is not conclusive. On the plus side, John Flood, of a similar age to Catherine, was interred in our Donovan family plot - at least proving a Flood connection to our family. So maybe my third great-granny really was Catherine Flood. It's definitely a reasonable hypothesis to work on...

© 2015 Black Raven Genealogy

[2] Copy death registers for Catherine Donovan, 1873 and Thomas Donovan, 1875, General Register Office. 

Image credit: image chef  


  1. Dara, a well thought out and interesting path to adding the ‘Flood’ surname to your family. You have given me pause to reconsider those seemingly unconnected persons interred in the Glasnevin graves of my grandparents and great-grandparents. Thank you for sharing your breakthrough, and congratulations on adding the new surname! I hope you are able to learn more about them.

    1. Thanks Jennifer. Many of my ancestors are interred in Glasnevin with strangers. The family were given a set period to buy out the plot outright, but if they did not, the grave could be sold on. Glasnevin records who owns the grave and when it was purchased, and this information gives a good indication if the occupants might be related. I’ve always found the staff very helpful and responsive to emails, if you've not already inquired.

  2. Always intriguing as we delve into likely connections...for what it's worth, I think you are on the right track..

    1. Thanks Chris, it’s helpful to get a second opinion. Sometimes, I’m afraid it may be a case of wishful thinking.

  3. I love finding one more bit of evidence that gets me closer to proving my latest theory correct. It sounds like you're close to writing a follow-up post!

  4. I'm afraid this was the follow-up post, Wendy. Often, it's like drawing blood from a stone!