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


  1. I can see how "park ranger" might have morphed into "gardener" in someone's memory. But "rat catcher" demands a story of its own. It sounds like the lowliest of lowly jobs, but I imagine everyone was grateful for the person willing to rid the town of rats. I am grateful to the men willing to crawl under my house to treat for bugs.

  2. Yes, doesn't it sound so Victorian, Wendy! John probably thought he had it made though. There were few opportunities for permanent and pensionable jobs in Ireland then, and any job with Dublin Corporation was likely the envy of all his friends.


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