Sunday 26 March 2017

What happened to the Leahys?

This week, I continued the search for my third-great-grandparents, Michael and Bridget Leahy, the known parents of Alicia (Leahy) Byrne and her sister Mary. I discovered a likely couple living in Dublin city, and am now attempting to trace them forward via a son Michael, born in January 1835.

As mentioned last week, Michael married Ellen Hyland in 1854. He worked as a servant, just like his father. There is no indication my third great-grandfather was a servant, but it cannot be ruled out. He was once said to have been a clerk, except two other records indicate he had ‘no trade’. So, there’s confusion surrounding his occupation, and in most other respects this Leahy family closely matches mine.

The trouble is, the very last record discovered relating to Michael and Ellen was the baptism of their son Michael, in 1865. And, even though BMD (birth, marriage, death) registration commenced in Ireland in 1864, no further mention of them was found anywhere, not in Ireland, not abroad. They seem to have just vanished, without leaving any trace!

I may have found another record of Michael Leahy, the father - my would-be third great-grandfather. But, the news is not good. He was admitted and discharged from the South Dublin Union Workhouse – twice - once in 1867 and again in 1868. Then, he too vanished without a trace.

Map of Dublin City 1863, Thom's Directory

Here’s the information gleaned from the Workhouse Admission and Discharge Registers[1]:

Pauper number:
Pauper’s name and surname:
Michael Leahy
Michael Leahy
60 [born c. 1807]
60 [born c. 1807]
Religious denomination:
Electoral division / townland:
Union/123 Francis St.
Union/25 Meath St.
Date admitted:
9 Nov 1867
1 Jan 1868
Date discharged:
16 Dec 1867
19 May 1868

So, if this was my ancestor, his wife Bridget, my third great-grandmother, was already dead by November 1867.

Michael’s stay in the workhouse came not long after his son’s apparent ‘disappearance’. And came just after my relatives married their husbands - Alicia Leahy married John Byrne in January 1867 and moved to Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) in south Co. Dublin. Their son Michael Byrne was born there on 2 December 1867. Mary Leahy married Christopher Radcliffe in May 1866 and moved to Malahide in north Co. Dublin. Was Michael Leahy left alone in the city, leading to his spell in the workhouse?

And what happened to him after he was released the second time? Did he move to Co. Meath, where another source dated 1873 indicates he lived (or once lived)?  No likely death record has yet been found.

This search may be better left until the General Register Office release the rest of the copy BMD registers, for free, online. Those with an inside source suggest they’ll be available ‘in a couple of months’, but I’m not holding my breath.

See previous posts: Homing in on Alicia and More Leahy Family Research.

[1] Accessed on Findmypast.

© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday 18 March 2017

More Leahy family research

This month I was hoping to prove our family connection to the Michael and Bridget Leahy living in Dublin city in the 1830s and 1840s. They christened a daughter Alicia Lehey in the Pro-Cathedral in January 1833, before moving to St Andrew’s parish, where Michael Lahey was christened in January 1835, followed by Timothy Lahy in January 1840 and Mary Leahy in March 1842.

Alicia Leahy was my great-great-granny’s name and she had a known sister, Mary. Their parents were Michael and Bridget Leahy. Mary claimed she was born in Dublin city about 1842.[1] So, on the surface at least, this family looks like a shoo-in.

And, on the plus side, there was only one marriage of an Alicia Leahy found in the online church records for Dublin city, and that was my great-great-grandmother’s marriage to John Byrne in 1867. And, when paired with parents Michael and Bridget, the only marriage of a Mary Leahy found was that of my great-great-grandaunt to Christopher Radcliffe in 1866. Sometimes, what you don’t find is as informative as what you do, and I didn’t find another potential Leahy family in the city.

There was no sign of a subsequent marriage for Timothy christened in 1840, but a one-year-old infant with the same name, and an address in Leeson Lane in St Andrew’s parish, was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery in 1841.[2] Which leaves only Michael to trace forward…

And, a Michael Leahy of 26 Cuffe Street, Dublin, married Ellen Hyland on 6 December 1854, in St Peter’s Church of Ireland. His father was also Michael Leahy. They both worked as servants.  

However, Michael claimed he was ‘of full age’ when he married Ellen, i.e. over twenty-one years old, and the Michael christened in 1835 would have been barely twenty. Still, he could have overstated his age. Minors required parental consent to marry and it might not have been forthcoming. Perhaps his parents were already dead, or maybe they objected to him marrying a Protestant.

It wasn’t uncommon in mixed marriages then for some of the children to be baptised Protestant and others Catholic, and this was the case here. I’m not sure yet quite what to make of the delayed baptism dates.

Birth date
Home Address
23 Mar 1857
27 Mar 1857
27 Cuffe St
St Nicholas, RC
27 Aug 1860
26 Sep 1862
19 Albert Pl
St Andrew, RC
Mary Bridget
1 Feb 1863
16 Feb 1863
35 Erne St
St Andrew, RC
Mary Anne
15 Mar 1862
6 Dec 1863
35 Upper Erne St
St Mark, COI
24 Nov 1865
6 Dec 1865
35 Upper Erne St
St Mark, COI

Nonetheless, their Godparents’ names suggest Michael belonged to my target Leahy family - Maria Leahy sponsored Elisha’s baptism, while Alice Leahy sponsored Mary Bridget’s. If these children were baptised later, after my Alicia and Mary had taken their husband’s surnames, they’d have been easier to claim as my family – or not.

More tellingly, perhaps, my great-great-grandmother was generally called Alicia, pronounced a-LEE-sha – not usually Alice - and not just in church records known to favour a Latinised form. Perhaps Michael and Ellen chose this name for their eldest daughter too, and the priest wrote it as Elisha. Both names sound similar. Plus, it’s doubtful the priest meant it as a Latinised form of Elizabeth, given the next child in that register was named Elizabetha. Maybe this is indicative of a familial relationship.  

Fathers’ occupations are normally recorded in civil marriage registers. But, when Mary married Christopher the information was omitted entirely. He was expressly described as having ‘no trade’ when Alicia married John. And on Mary’s marriage to Michael Power, in Co. Dublin in 1873, he was listed as a clerk. He was never described as a servant, like in Michael’s marriage. Yet, you must admit, my third great-grandfather’s occupation is uncertain. And, my Leahy family worked in domestic service – Alicia’s husband was a butler, and before her marriage, Mary was a servant.[3]

Finally, for now, Michael’s address in Cuffe Street at the time of his marriage creates another ‘coincidence’. The address given for my third-great-grandparents in 1867 was also Cuffe Street, though by 1873, they were supposedly in ‘Co. Meath’.

There are still too many question marks hanging over my Leahy family to offer a conclusion, but I do know, it’s the absence of these ‘little coincidences’ that usually signals the death-knell for my genealogy theories. So, I’ll keep on trucking…

Main source: Church records on IrishGenealogy.ieIreland Roman Catholic Parish Marriages', Findmypast.
[1] 1911 Census of Ireland, National Archives.
[2] Genealogy index, Glasnevin Trust.
[3] Copy marriage registers, General Register Office.

See previous post: Homing in on Alicia

© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday 4 March 2017

Leahy family research ~ Homing in on Alicia

My great-great-granny on Dad’s side was Alicia Leahy. I discovered her name only last year, when the genealogy brick wall around Michael Byrne finally crumbled. Alicia married Michael's father, John Byrne, in St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in Dublin city, on 27 January 1867.  And although I’ve barely started to research the Leahy family, I know quite a bit about them already.

Alicia had a sister, Mary. Mary, coincidentally, is already well-documented in my family tree. You remember, Ma Power, the lady who not only raised Dad’s mother, but was also once married Mam’s great-great-granduncle? It turned out Ma Power, aka Mary (Leahy, Radcliffe) Power, was a blood-relation too – She was Alicia’s sister, my great-grandfather’s aunt

In addition, Alicia’s parents were consistently named as Michael and Bridget Leahy, not only at the time of her marriage to John Byrne, but also in the record of Mary’s marriage to Christopher Radcliffe in 1866, and again when Mary married Michael Power in 1873.  Plus, one record - Mary’s 1866 church marriage register - revealed Bridget’s maiden name was Lynch.

So far, I’ve only found a single estimate of when Alicia was born and that was in the register of her death. She died on 9 January 1869, supposedly aged twenty-nine years, suggesting her birth occurred in or around 1839. Elizabeth Cullen was the informant, but it is not known how well Elizabeth knew Alicia or how accurately she could estimate her age - they may have been merely sharing a house while Alicia’s husband, a servant, resided with his employer.

Mary Power, on the other hand, survived the two extant Irish census returns. In 1901, she claimed she was fifty-four years old and born in Co. Dublin (in about 1847) and in 1911, she said she was sixty-nine years old and narrowed her birthplace down to Dublin city (in about 1842).

So, that’s four people in my Leahy family we can be sure of – my third-great-grandparents, Michael and Bridget Leahy, and their two daughters, Alicia and Mary. Couple that with the indication Alicia and Mary were born in the 1830s and 1840s, perhaps in Dublin city – it makes for a good start.

Especially as there was a Leahy family living in Dublin city around that time who look particularly promising…
  1. Alicia Lehey, the daughter of Michael and Bridget Lehey, was baptised in St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral on 9 January 1833, sponsored by Patrick Hatigan and Honor McAllister.
  2. Michael Lahey, the son of Michael and Bridget Lahey, was baptised in St Andrew’s on 12 January 1835, sponsored by Margaret Reddy.
  3. Timothy Lahy, the son of Michael and Bridget Lahy, was baptised in St Andrew’s on 13 January 1840, sponsored by Patrick Askens and Anne Hyland.
  4. Mary Leahy, the daughter of Michael and Bridget Leahy, was baptised in St Andrew’s on 28 March 1842, sponsored by Anne Levy.
Alicia Lehey, Baptism register, Pro-Cathedral, Dublin, 9 January 1833

Was this the baptism record of my great-great-grandmother Alicia, in 1833? – It would make her six years older than estimated when she died, and eight years older than her husband. She would have been nearly thirty-five when her son Michael was born and thirty-six when baby Thomas came along.  It’s not an unreasonable proposition.

Given Bridget’s maiden name was not provided in the baptism registers, there is a chance these records relate to two (or maybe more) separate families, especially as the Pro-Cathedral and St Andrew's are on opposite sides of the River Liffey.

Still, let’s see what else I can find out.

Continued at More Leahy family research

© Black Raven Genealogy