Saturday 26 August 2017

The gardener, in the Phoenix Park

When I first started ‘doing’ genealogy, my mother mentioned her father had a cousin who worked as a gardener in the Phoenix Park, in Dublin. She didn’t know his name, and hitherto, I’ve been unable to identify him. Well, I love mysteries, so I kept looking, and now, I think I may have finally found him. He was Robert Leo Lockwood, the husband of my grandfather’s first cousin, Mary Bridget Vaughan. Here is their story. 

Mary Bridget was born on 6 January 1880, in High Street, in Dublin city. She was the eldest of two children born to John Vaughan and Margaret Wynne. Margaret Wynne was my grandfather’s aunt, his father’s eldest sister. John and Margaret’s second child was born in March 1882 and they named him John Joseph. But, within a year, in January 1883, Margaret died of rheumatic fever, leaving her husband alone with the two young children.
John Vaughan remarried in August 1885. His second wife was Hannah McArdle, a farmer’s daughter from Co. Wicklow. They had one son, James Augustin Vaughan, born in August 1887. In those years, John Vaughan worked as a brush-maker in Dublin, but in later life, he joined Dublin Corporation, where he was employed as a sanitary officer. This may be in keeping with another of my mother’s recollections - that the Vaughans were rat-catchers in Dublin.

Mary Bridget Vaughan grew up and married a British soldier by the name of Robert Leo Lockwood. Robert was born in Liverpool, England. After their marriage in May 1906, the newly-weds moved to Ballincollig, Co. Cork, where Robert was stationed with the army. Their eldest daughter Margaret Mary was born in Ballincollig, in August 1907, but sadly she didn’t survive. Robert was then transferred to Mhow, in Bengal, in India, where he worked as a farrier in the cavalry unit. Mary Bridget went with him and their second daughter, Nora Cathleen, was born in Mhow, in October 1909. 

Many years later, in 1937, Nora married Patrick Lawlor in Augrim Street Church, in Dublin city. Her home address at the time was given as the ‘Spa Lodge’, in the Phoenix Park. She had no occupation and by then, her father had left the army and was employed as a ‘park ranger’.

From the copy marriage register of Patrick Lawlor and Nora Lockwood, 1937

So, was Robert Leo Lockwood the cousin, remembered as having worked as a gardener in the Phoenix Park? He certainly lived there, as a park ranger. Perhaps he was. 

Sources: Copy birth, marriage and death registers, General Register Office,; 1901 and 1911 Census of Ireland, National Archives; 1911 Census of England and Wales, overseas military,; ‘India Births and Baptisms, 1786-1947’, FamilySearch.

© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday 19 August 2017

Third great-grandparents, confirmed with DNA

Just last April, I mentioned the new approach I was taking to our genetic genealogy research. I started to trace forward the descendants of known ancestral relatives, hoping to discover the names of their children and grandchildren, such that they might become more recognisable among our lists of DNA matches. 

Many of our matches, who for the most part live in the U.S. or Australia, have not managed to trace their origins back to a specific place in Ireland, making it next to impossible to connect our family trees. So, I also hoped this new tactic might help bridge that gap too. 

Beginning with Andrew Byrne - my second great-granduncle, born in Athgarvan, Co. Kildare in 1855 - I followed him and his family to Chicago, Illinois, in the late 1880s. There, I located the marriage of his daughter, Anna Mae Byrne, to James Ellsworth Coughlin, in 1909, and then the marriage of their daughter, Luella Coughlin, in 1933. I wrote about the family here

Astonishingly, my new approach has worked already. I’m now in contact with a descendant of Andrew Byrne, in America. How’s that for instant success!

Last month, Anna Mae’s great-granddaughter found my blog about her family and got in touch. Happily, I could introduce her to the names of her third great-grandparents, in Ireland. And, identify where exactly they once lived. They were Andrew Byrne and Anne Clinch, from Athgarvan, in Co. Kildare, and my third great-grandparents too.

My new-found cousin mentioned she’d tested her DNA with several testing companies, bar the one we had used – Murphy’s law! But, I took the opportunity to upload Dad’s DNA results to MyHeritage, one of the companies she had tested with, to see if we matched. And, it was confirmed, our match was well within the expected parameters for third cousins, once removed.

Our lineage back to Andrew and Anne (Clinch) Byrne has been established once again, this time in blood. And, I’ve gained a new fourth cousin in the process. It doesn’t get better than that! 

Hopefully, that's just the start of our genetic genealogy success. 

January 2018: DNA helps solve another small genealogy mystery, and I pick up the trail of Andrew Burn’s sister, Anne Rogers, who also made her home in Chicago, here.

© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday 12 August 2017

Dad’s ethnicity – according to MyHeritage DNA

Dad is Irish, born and bred.  His ancestors were Irish too, at least as far back as I’ve managed to trace. Granted, I’ve not gone back far – barely into the eighteenth century on most lines, if even. But, his known surnames are mainly of Irish origin – Byrne, O’Neill, Mahon, Donovan, Leahy, McDonnell, Lynch, Clinch, Cavanagh, Flood, Coyle, Corcoran – okay, Clinch was definitely English, though well-known in Leinster since the early fourteenth century.

FamilyTree DNA, the company who tested Dad’s DNA, wholeheartedly concurred - 100% British Isles they said - no surprises there. They have not tried to break it down between Ireland and Britain, yet. 

But, according to MyHeritage DNA, where I’ve uploaded Dad’s test results, we’re a mixed bag from all over Europe – only 69% ‘Irish, Scottish, and Welsh’, 12% Scandinavian, 9% Italian, and 9% East European, with no ‘English’. Okay, I don’t know the maiden name of one of Dad’s maternal great-grandmothers yet, but 31% DNA is equivalent to at least two great-grandparents. I’m not saying there were no foreigners in Ireland then, Mam’s grandaunt Isabella married the son of a French tailor, in Dublin, in 1892, but Ireland was no melting pot. Not at that time. And, with 31% ‘exotic’, I just don’t believe it! 

So beware! If your ancestors left Europe in the last few centuries, and you genuinely have no clue where to start the search, these Ethnicity Estimates could lead you astray.

Still, for me, it was worth uploading our DNA results to MyHeritage. Dad has only 83 cousin matches there, and one of them happens to be my fourth cousin. I’ve proven it with conventional genealogy. More on that soon...

MyHeritage's DNA offering is relatively new, and to help grow their database, they are currently accepting DNA results from other companies, FOR FREE. If you’ve already tested your autosomal DNA elsewhere, you might want to consider it. 

And, if you're in the market for a DNA test, many of the testing companies have a sale on at the moment. For example, FTDNA are offering their Family Finder test for US$69. 
© Black Raven Genealogy