Saturday, 5 December 2015

Genealogy Saturday: The Rattys of Baldoyle

When I first located my suspected fifth great-grandfather, Thomas Ratty, in Baldoyle, it was surprising to find a second man with the same name in the parish. Ratty was a nickname for Radcliffe, an English surname, and rare among the Catholic population of county Dublin. The odds on finding two men of the same name in the small rural village were long – unless, of course, they were related.

While ‘our’ Thomas Ratty married Mary Cullen in 1790, his namesake married Agnes Durneen, probably between 1801 and 1805, coinciding with a gap in the parish registers. According to those same patchy registers, both couples then bore children, concurrently, until at least about 1810.[1]  

So, the second Thomas was seemingly younger, though not young enough for them to have been father and son. Perhaps he was a nephew or a first cousin, someone that might one day help extend our pedigree back even further. Initially though, as I learnt to distinguish one from the other, he only hindered the progress – especially when it transpired the younger Thomas was the more prominent of the two.

It was the ‘other’ Thomas who was buried in Sutton graveyard. His headstone, erected by his son Patrick, showed his wife Agnes died, aged thirty-six, in 1819. Thomas lived to be eighty, not joining her until 1857, while their son Thomas followed in 1858 and Patrick lived until 1887.[2] Throughout the nineteenth century in Ireland, headstones were normally the preserve of the better-off families.

Griffith’s Valuation, a property tax listing dated 1848, listed a Thomas Radcliffe senior as occupying a house and garden, with Thomas junior occupying the house and yard next door. Thomas senior also leased the local forge.  It's even more likely now this was the other Radcliffe family, since our discovery last week that our Thomas was probably a painter.

The only other Radcliffe Griffith's listed in Baldoyle was an Alice Radcliffe, whoever she was.[3] Our Thomas and Mary might have died by then, or perhaps they were living with a married daughter. The last time Mary’s name was found mentioned in the records was in 1809 when her daughter Margaret was baptised.

On 1 January 1841, the inhabitants of Howth, Baldoyle and Kinsealy called a meeting at 2 p.m. in Howth, to be attended by the famous Catholic emancipator, Daniel O’Connell. There, they all signed a petition calling for the repeal of the Act of Union between Ireland and Great Britain. The 'other' Thomas senior, Thomas junior and Patrick were among the men listed, their surname being misquoted as Batty.  Thomas Ratty, probably my fifth great-grandfather, was also named as a petitioner, suggesting he was still living in 1841.[4] None of his sons signed the petition.

So where did the rest of our Radcliffe family go? 

A clue might be held in a government survey published in the mid-1830s suggested living standards in Baldoyle were poor. According to the Parish Priest, Revd Young, the labouring class lived on potatoes, herrings and milk, with bacon on Sundays, occasionally.

But, in periods of unemployment – i.e. the long winter months - conditions became ‘wretched’. Some parishioners even resorted to begging, while others were forced to eat cockles collected from the shore. Shell fish was known as poor mans' food then, a prejudice that lasted in Ireland until recently. They all considered themselves ‘well-off’ to have potatoes.[5]

So, it's easy to understand why the sons of Thomas Ratty, all left Baldoyle to earn their living elsewhere - Mark in the city of Dublin and Peter in Yellow Walls, Malahide, five miles along the coast.

Malahide was a small rural village then too, but, in the 1820s and 1830s, Lord Talbot commenced a program of extensive repairs and renovations to the Castle. There was probably a plentiful supply of painting work for Peter Ratty, my fourth great-grandfather, as he came of age.

Malahide Castle, c.1840

1 Baldoyle (Archdiocese of Dublin), Catholic Parish Registers at the National Library Ireland.  
2 Kilbarrack Cemetery, Sutton, County Dublin, Cemetery records online at
3 Radcliffe, Baldoyle, Co. Dublin, Griffith’s Valuation, Ask about Ireland
4 Freeman’s Journal, 1 January 1841, p. 1.
5 Poor Inquiry (Ireland), pt i, Reports on the state of the poor, with supplements containing answers to queries, H.C. 1836, first report, supplements to appendix D, p. 53.

Image Credit: Irish Penny Journal, 14 November 1840. 

© 2015 Black Raven Genealogy

No comments:

Post a Comment

I look forward to reading your comments, even more especially if you're related to someone mentioned in this post.

Comments are visible publicly. You may also contact me privately by email - blackraven.genealogy [at] gmail [dot] com.