Saturday 17 December 2016

More about Mary

Here’s my mother’s pedigree chart. See the blanks to the right where the names of her great-great-grandparents should appear. Well this week, I filled in one of those blanks!!! I even added the name of another of her great-great-great-grandfathers!  

Before the Wynnes get too excited, John Wynne’s parents have still not introduced themselves - they’re proving to be a shy and retiring bunch, quite unlike their living descendants. On the other hand, the names of John Devine’s parents are within my grasp and 2017 should see them brought back to the fold - I’m nearly sure of it. As for Margaret, the wife of John Hynes, there’s a strong chance her maiden name was Hayes, which just leaves Mary, the wife of John Radcliffe.

And, this week, I finally found a record of John and Mary’s marriage.

So, what did we already know about Mary?

Well, when her daughter Anne Radcliffe married Maurice Carroll in 1869, her parents were named as John and Mary Radcliffe from Yellow Walls (in Malahide, Co. Dublin). They didn’t give Mary’s maiden name but did record John’s occupation – he was a plasterer. We also knew Anne, who was born about 1849, grew up in Yellow Walls and married in the neighbouring town of Swords, her parish church.

We can surmise John was only about twenty-two years old when Anne was born. His baptism took place in Swords, in June 1827.  So, he was presumably not long married. His and Mary’s wedding ceremony probably took place about 1848.

In the 1901 and 1911 Irish census returns, Anne claimed she was born in Co. Dublin. But, there is no mention of her baptism in the Swords parish registers. There is no record of John and Mary’s marriage there either.

We also knew that by the mid-1850s, John Radcliffe was a widower. He left Anne with his parents in Yellow Walls for a new life in Australia. When he remarried in Melbourne in 1861, he claimed his first wife had died in April 1853, leaving only one child – presumably my great-great-grandmother. 

The only potential sighting of Anne as an infant with her parents was in Rainhill, in Liverpool, in the English census of 1851. There, I found a family meeting all the known criteria. John Ratcliffe, a plasterer (tick), aged twenty-four years (tick), born in Ireland (tick), lived with his wife Mary (tick), and their two-year-old daughter, Ann (tick, tick). Additionally, John’s sister-in-law, Ellen Slanety, aged ten years, lived with them. If this was my family, and I still suspect it was, the Slanety surname remains more a mystery than a clue.

Because, if I really have found John and Mary’s marriage, it took place in Liverpool and Mary’s maiden name was Leonard.

John Radcliffe and Mary Leonard were married in the Church of St Nicholas, Liverpool, on 25 January 1848, according to the rites and ceremonies of the Established Church. The marriage date is as expected, though it’s a surprise to find it taking place in a Protestant church. John’s family were Catholic. It makes me wonder if Mary was Protestant, and if perhaps they eloped.

Radcliffe-Leonard marriage, 1848, Liverpool, England

John’s claim to be ‘of full age’ was five months premature. But, as a minor, he needed his parent’s permission to get married. And, his parents were back in Ireland. So, perhaps he fibbed. That’s if he knew how old he was in the first place.

Everything else in this marriage document is consistent with the known facts. John was a plasterer. His father was named as Peter Ratcliffe, a painter. John was literate and, like Mary, he could sign the register. Both their witnesses only made their mark.

The birth index for England and Wales confirms a baby girl named Ann Radcliffe was born in Liverpool, in the last quarter of 1849. Her mother’s maiden name was ‘Lennard’. She may have been my great-great-grandmother. I’ve ordered her birth certificate to be sure.

Granda’s path to John and Mary Radcliffe

At the time of her marriage, Mary Leonard named her father as John Leonard, a labourer. Now, I wonder how we’ll ever find out more about him. There’s not much to go on.

© Black Raven Genealogy


  1. Congratulations! What a find, John & Mary's marriage. Genea-Santa is being good to you. Merry Christmas.

    1. It was great to finally find them Marian, Merry Christmas to you too.

  2. Yes, congratulations! I hope your able to uncover more of Mary's "missing" ancestors in 2017! (And, of course, possibly in 2016!)

  3. Great! You have made some great progress and hopefully you will be able to uncover even more. It is certainly fun to watch your efforts and successes. Merry Christmas to you and wishes for a great 2017 with many more discoveries!

  4. Congratulations Dara! Way to start the new year; here's to happiness, good health and many more discoveries in 2017.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!