Saturday 20 August 2016

More about my Great-Granduncle, John Byrne

Last week, I wrote about my Granny's favourite cousin and the difficulties I experienced tracing her father, John Byrne. A John Byrne married Margaret Burke from Summerhill, on 18 September 1910 in the Pro-Cathedral. And, apart from a single big anomaly – the groom’s father was named Thomas, not Francis – everything suggested this John was my missing great-granduncle.

First, at the time of their marriage, John resided at 9 Lower Jane Place, the same street in Dublin city where my Byrne family had lived for decades. Secondly, John was a sailor, and although other records show our John also worked as a factory operative and a labourer, his grandfather and his brother Benjamin both went to sea. Thirdly, Patrick Byrne was the best man at John’s wedding, and, while his name was not exactly unique in Dublin, our John’s next born brother was also Patrick. But, this whole issue became moot when I recently met my mother’s second cousin online. She confirmed her grandparents were indeed John Byrne and Margaret Burke.

Six months into their marriage, at the time of the 1911 census, John and Maggie, as she was known, lived at 7 Lower Sheriff Street, just around the corner from John’s parents. John was a sailor and must have been on shore-leave at the time. The young couple rented a room from the Dalton family. William Dalton, aged sixty-three years, was a master mariner, so perhaps he worked with John.

John and Maggie went on to have six children – all girls. Their names were Margaret, Elizabeth, Mary, Anne, Kathleen and the youngest who is still living.

By the time their daughter Margaret married James Norton in 1935, the family had moved back to 31 Lower Jane Place. This street contained thirty-one cottages, with those numbered 1 to 15 running along one side, returning with houses 16 to 31 on the other. The extended Byrne family occupied quite a few of the cottages.

For example, John’s brother James, my great-grandfather, lived at number 3. The family of John’s eldest brother Myles, who passed away in 1928, lived at number 8. The Fays, descendants of his sister Jane, lived at number 1. Can you imagine, growing up with all your cousins barely a stone’s throw away!

Like his siblings Myles and Jane, John also died young. He passed away at his home in Jane Place, on 15 January 1930. He was only forty-four years old. His registered cause of death was ‘congestion of lungs’, though he suffered ‘cardiac failure’ at the end. His heart-broken widow was left to raise their six girls by herself.

For at least eight years afterwards, on the anniversary of John’s death, his family remembered his passing by placing a notice in the newspaper.

Death of John Byrne, 31 Lower Jane Place, 1930
Irish Press, 15 January 1933

Death of John Byrne, 31 Lower Jane Place, 1930
Irish Press, 15 January 1938

When her eldest daughters had both married, Maggie and the four younger girls moved back to her family home, in Summerhill. There, she lived with her sister Annie who never married and her sister Agnes who was also widowed young.

Maggie outlived John by thirty-five years. In June 1965, she finally joined her husband and her sister Annie in the grave they all share at Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.

© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday 13 August 2016

Granny’s favourite cousin

My grandmother had a first cousin named Margaret Byrne who grew up beside her at Jane Place in Dublin city.  Margaret is known to have married a man named Norton, in the mid-1930s. It’s also remembered she lived in Summerhill in Dublin, before moving to Clontarf. 

One day, I set out to find Margaret.

And, there was a likely couple, James and Margaret Norton, listed in the Dublin electoral rolls. They lived with the Burke family in North Summer Street, Summerhill in 1939 and 1940. Between 1941 and 1950 they lived at Larkhill Road, Whitehall. From there, they moved to Seapark Drive, Clontarf. Seems like a good match!

Margaret was Granny’s favourite cousin. But, as her father's name was forgotten, her place in the family tree was unclear. She was initially thought to have been the daughter of Benjamin Byrne, Granny’s youngest uncle. But, that didn’t pan out. Benjamin became a sailor, eloped with his Protestant bride in 1918, and lived happily ever after in Liverpool, England. So, he’s been ruled out as Margaret’s father. 

Next, I got a copy of her marriage register, as that would show her father’s name. And, in January 1935, at the time of her marriage to James Norton, Margaret lived at 31 Lower Jane Place - the same tiny row of cottages where my grandmother lived. It was all going swimmingly well. Her father was down as John Byrne, a labourer by occupation.

Marriage, James Norton & Margaret Byrne, 1935, General Register Office

And, my grandmother had an Uncle John - one of the gaps on the Byrne family tree I’m trying to plug. When last seen, at the time of the 1901 census, he was a fifteen-year-old factory worker, still living with his parents. He probably got married in Dublin North between then and the next decennial census, except so too did over forty other men sharing his name. 

But, of all those forty-odd men, one of them married a lady called Margaret Burke. Remember, in the aftermath of their marriage, James and Margaret Norton lived with the Burke family in Summerhill. I thought I had it nailed.

All that remained to do was connect Margaret’s father John, with my great-great-grandparents - Francis Byrne and Margaret McGrane.  So, I ordered the marriage certificate for John Byrne and Margaret Burke, hoping it would confirm John’s father was Francis. And, that’s where the trouble started.

At the time of their marriage, in September 1910, John Byrne was a sailor living at 9 Lower Jane Place. Margaret Burke lived at 15 North Summer Street. Despite being a sailor and not a labourer, it still seemed likely John was my great-granduncle. Others in the family went to sea, including John’s paternal grandfather and, of course, his brother Benjamin.

Except, according to this marriage certificate, John’s father was Thomas, not Francis!

Marriage, John Byrne and Margaret Burke, 1910, General Register Office

Was this a simple error? It might have been easy to mistake Francis for Thomas if the source handwriting was unclear. Or, maybe the confusion arose because the bride’s father was Thomas - Thomas Burke.

Still, this raised a niggling doubt. And, to make matters worse, the electoral rolls revealed there was a man called Thomas Byrne living at 9 Lower Jane Place, in 1909 - just a year before the wedding.  Who was this Thomas? Bizarrely, Francis Byrne was missing from the rolls in 1909.

I didn’t know what to think. So I parked it for a while.

Then, recently, I met a daughter of the James and Margaret Norton online.  She is planning a trip to Ireland later this year and hopes to meet her extended family. She confirmed her grandparents were John Byrne and Margaret Burke. My mother even remembers her from school in Clontarf.

Now, there is little doubt I've found Granny's cousin, and her father John Byrne, even with his father’s name wrongly recorded on the marriage register.

But, if this error had occurred at a time when no one still living remembered the family, it would be far more difficult to reach any conclusion.

See: More about my great-granduncle, John Byrne

© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday 6 August 2016

Locating all the Byrnes of Jane Place

One of my genealogy goals for this year is to find all the children born to my second great-grandparents, Francis Byrne and Margaret McGrane. They got married in Dublin city in 1871. From the census, we know they had fourteen children altogether, although three of them died before 1911. 

The baptism records of St Laurence O’Tooles church in Seville Place confirmed the names of the five eldest – Myles, James (my great-grandfather), Francis, Charles and Margaret. Their younger children, Mary Anne, Jane, John, Patrick, Paul, Kate and Benjamin, were living at home when the 1901 census was enumerated. And, since I began this quest, I’ve also discovered little Michael, born in 1887, who died of Bronchitis as an infant in 1889. Sadly, though, the name of one child remains unknown still. 

The difficulty tracing some of the others started after they left home. With a surname as common as ‘Byrne’, keeping tabs on them was never going to be easy, especially as they were relatively poor and living among the labouring classes of the city. See all the blanks I’ve left to fill!

Child’s Name
Birth date
Death date
Spouse, marriage year
Myles Byrne
15 Jan 1873
2 Nov 1928
Elizabeth Bethel, 1897
James Byrne
18 May 1874
29 Jul 1948
Christina Devine, 1897
Francis Byrne
21 Feb 1876

Maryanne Drennan, 1896
Charles Byrne
6 Mar 1878
12 Apr 1879
Margaret Byrne
15 Nov 1879
25 Jul 1932
James Fay, 1920
Mary Anne Byrne
about 1882
After 1959

William Vickers, 1901   
Jane Byrne
about 1884
17 Mar 1919
James Fay, 1916
John Byrne
about 1885
 15 Jan 1930
Margaret Burke, 1910
Michael Byrne
21 Oct 1887
10 Jan 1889
Patrick Byrne
about 1890
26 Jul 1923

Paul Byrne
18 Sep 1891
Kathleen McDuff, 1916
Kate Byrne
about 1893

Ben Byrne
21 May 1896
Annie Porter, 1918

before 1911

Here’s what I currently ‘know’ about those with blanks: 

Francis Byrne and Maryanne Drennan got married in St Agatha’s Church on 18 May 1896. In 1901, they lived at Common Street, Dublin, not far from Francis and Margaret. They had two young children at that point - Francis and James Joseph. The census enumerators seemingly missed them in 1911, but they remained in the area. They lived in Newfoundland Street in 1914 and 1915 when Francis registered to vote. Then, I lost them again.

Mary Anne Byrne married William Vickers, on 18 August 1901, in St Laurence O’Toole’s parish. The couple were living in Lower Oriel Street in 1911, with their son Patrick. Mary A. Vickers was still living there in December 1912 when she registered her father’s death. And, by 1930, when her mother died, she had moved out to Ellenfield in Drumcondra.

John Byrne, aged fifteen years, was living with his parents in 1901 but had left home by 1911.  Chances are he married in the intervening ten years. But, so too did forty-odd other men in the area who shared his name. I’m now fairly sure what happened to him, a story I’ll share on another day, soon. 

Update: See further information on John Byrne in the following posts:
13 Aug 2016 - Granny's Favourite Cousin 
20 Aug 2016 - More about my great-granduncle, John Byrne 

Patrick Byrne, a married man, died at 5 Upper Rutland Street on 26 July 1923. He shares a grave with his parents at Glasnevin Cemetery. On 2 April 1911, he was single and still living at home, so his marriage took place after this date. But, like John, there are too many potential marriage records in this name to ascertain the name of his bride.

In 1911, Kate Byrne was seventeen years old, single, and earning her keep as a paper bag maker. In October 1920, she witnessed the marriage of her sister Margaret to James Fay. The use of her maiden name suggests she was still single at this time. Then, she too disappeared among the many others named Kate (or Katie, Kathleen, etc.) Byrne, in Dublin city. 

So, if you descend from any of these Byrnes, or if you think you can fill in the missing details, please do let me know.  All hints, gladly accepted! 

Updated 17 Sep 2016 at:   Filling in the blanks just got way easier

Sources: Research certificates, General Register Office; 1901 and 1911 census, National Archives of Ireland;  Church registers,; Burial register, Glasnevin Trust; Dublin city electoral rolls, Dublin City Library & Archive

© Black Raven Genealogy