Saturday 3 December 2016

Jeremiah Keogh & Jane Crosby - Married by Licence in 1833

My biggest genealogical discovery this week was the baptism record for Mary Anne Keogh, my great-great-grandmother. Her parents, Darby and Jane Keogh, organised her baptism on 9 February 1834, in the Roman Catholic Parish of Lucan, in Co. Dublin. Her christening took place six years earlier than might be expected based on her reported age at death, but that’s nothing unusual. 

Baptism of Mary Anne Keogh, 9 February 1834, Lucan, Co. Dublin.

When Mary Anne later married John Devine in Dublin in 1859, her parents were named as Darby Keogh and Jane Crosby, so this baptism fits nicely. Especially since Darby Keogh and Jane Crosbie married in the same church in Lucan on 26 April 1833, not ten months before Mary Anne's birth.

Curiously, Darby and Jane applied for a marriage licence prior to their wedding. The copy of the licence itself perished during the Irish civil war, but an index record survives and clearly shows Jeremiah (a common variant of Darby) Keogh and Jane Crosby applying for a licence in 1833.

To obtain a marriage licence a couple provided a sworn declaration confirming there was no legal obstacle to their marriage. The alternative was marriage Banns, where the proposed marriage was announced in advance at Mass on three consecutive Sundays. As a result, the licence was beneficial to those who wished to marry quickly or without public notice.

But, it was relatively expensive to get a marriage licence. Most people could not justify this cost without good reason. So, I did a bit of digging to see why Darby and Jane might have needed a licence, in 1833 and here's what I found out:-

  • Members of the gentry class were far more likely to obtain a marriage licence than the rest of the Irish population. And, for the most part, they were wealthier, but it even became a status symbol of sorts. This did not apply in the case of my ancestors.

  • Often, a couple applied for a licence if the intended groom was home on leave for a short period only, say like a soldier or a seaman. Such a couple might wish to marry in a hurry before he returned to work. However, all records indicate our Darby was a stone mason, equivalent to a modern-day bricklayer, so this did not apply either.

  • They may also have required privacy if Darby and Jane were from different social classes, though there is no evidence to support this scenario and it seems unlikely.

  • If their families opposed the marriage, they might not have wished to draw attention to their impending nuptials.  But, this was unlikely too. John Crosbie and Mary Anne Keogh, presumably representatives from both families, stood as witnesses to their marriage.

Marriage of Darby Keogh and Jane Crosbie, 1833, Lucan

So, after much researching, the most obvious reason for their prompt marriage was that Jane discovered she was pregnant. And now, while it appears Mary Anne was a honeymoon baby, she was born more than nine months after her parent’s marriage. 

And, I don’t know what to think. 

Update: a new hypothesis regarding their need for a marriage licence - See  Mummery and Trumpery ~ John Crosbie, Lucan, 1834.

Granny’s path to Darby and Jane Keogh

Source: Catholic Parish Registers, NLIAn index to the act or grant books and original wills of the diocese of Dublin from 1800 to 1858, H.C. 1900 (Cd. 4), xliv, 1, pp 238, 589, National Archives.

More about Mary Anne (Keogh) Devine: Child Mortality, the Devine family of Dublin

© Black Raven Genealogy


  1. I'm sure there is a good explanation for how Darby became a variant of Jeremiah, but it is going to gnaw at me all day. I enjoyed reading your background information on marriage licenses and banns. That is a good reminder that knowing the law of the time can shed light on our family's choices and actions. Is it possible Darby and Jane were expecting, miscarried, and then became pregnant again?

  2. Darby is the Latin form, Wendy, often used in church records, though for this man it was sometimes used in civil records too. I don't suppose we'll ever learn the true reason for the licence, unfortunately, all we can do is speculate.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!