Sunday 18 February 2018

DNA Diary: The Jacksons

Happily, I’ve now identified two more lovely cousins among my top-ten DNA matches at Mary and Tom are brother and sister and a match on my mother’s side.

They are my third cousins once removed.[1] Luckily, they both had a small family tree online, and although it only contained the names of their parents and grandparents, their relationship was immediately clear. Their paternal grandparents were Thomas Jackson and Mary Josephine Flynn, from Dublin city, and the ‘Jackson’ surname had cropped up in my research previously. 

Last summer, during my quest to identify all the grandchildren of Miles McGrane and Margaret Doyle, I discovered their daughter Maryanne McGrane married Benjamin Jackson, in Dublin, in 1883. Mary Anne was the younger sister of my great-great-grandmother, Margaret (McGrane) Byrne.

Benjamin and Mary Anne had thirteen known children, seven girls and six boys, all first cousins of my mother’s grandfather, James Byrne. So far, I’ve only followed the fortunes of the three eldest boys - Thomas, Benjamin and Miles Jackson. 

Miles Jackson was born at 63 Belview Buildings, Dublin, on 3 January 1892. He was only five years old when he died on 14 March 1897. He suffered from asphyxia, having bourn a bad bout of laryngitis for six days. Even though he received medical attention, without modern-day antibiotics, they were unable to save his young life.

Benjamin Jackson was born at 63 Belview Buildings on 30 October 1890. Sometime after he left school, he got a job as a liftman with Jacob’s Biscuit factory, one of the largest employers in Dublin. He never married. Unfortunately, Benjamin died in a horrendous accident at work, when he was only twenty-one years old. On 20 February 1912, he fell three stories, about fifty feet, to the bottom of the lift shaft at Jacob’s factory and died of shock, having fractured his pelvis in four places. The inquest into his death was reported in the newspapers.

Benjamin Jackson, Accidental death, 1912, Jacob's Biscuit factory, Dublin,
Irish Times, 23 February 1912, p. 3

How sad was that!

Thomas Jackson, Benjamin and Mary Anne’s eldest son, was born in Meath Street, Dublin, on 21 August 1885. Like for his brothers, Mary Anne signed the birth register with her mark, indicating she could not write.

When Thomas was fourteen years old he got a job as a labourer in the cooperage department of St James’s Gate Brewery, a.k.a. the Guinness Brewery. In time, he became the foreman there.

He married Mary Josephine Flynn on 10 October 1910, in St Catherine’s Church, Meath Street. They had five children together. Mary Josephine died in Dublin on 24 December 1937, and Thomas on 1 February 1953. My new DNA matches, Mary and Tom, are their grandchildren.

Relationship with the Jackson cousins

[1] One sharing 48 centimorgans across 3 DNA segments, and one sharing 42 centimorgans, across 3 DNA segments, falling within the range of third to fourth cousins on

Sources include: Copy birth, marriage and death registers, General Register Office, accessed on Irishgenalogy.ieThomas Jackson (1885-1953), Genealogy, Archives, Guinness Storehouse

© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday 10 February 2018

James Mahon, a £10 freeholder

As discussed last week, James Mahon, potentially my GGGG-grandfather,  participated at a Special Vestry in Malahide, Co. Dublin, in 1823. The vestry sought to introduce tithes, a form of taxation payable to the (Protestant) Church of Ireland. I'm hoping to find out more about this James Mahon, but surviving records are thin on the ground.

The tithe records for the neighbouring parish of Kinsealy show James Mahon had over ten acres of land in the townland of Drynam (aka Drinan), paying one pound, seventeen shillings and eleven pence in tithes. Dynam shared a border with the townland of Yellow Walls, in Malahide, where my Mahon family lived. But was it the same James Mahon, or another sharing his name?

Tithes, 1824, Townland of Drynam, County of Dublin

This question was answered by a newspaper article, published in 1830, which confirmed the James Mahon, with land in Drynam, lived in Yellow Walls. The article contained a list of men registering their freehold interest in properties valued at more than £10. 

Excerpt: Dublin Evening Packet and Correspondent, 26 June 1830, p. 1

Why did they register their properties? - you might ask yourself. I did.

Following Catholic Emancipation in 1829, Irish Catholics were granted the right to sit in Parliament. However, a more restrictive county franchise was immediately introduced, whereby voters in subsequent elections were required to have a freehold interest in property worth at least £10. This was a five-fold increase on the previous 40 shilling (£2) franchise, and five times the requirement still applying in the rest of the United Kingdom. Few Irish Catholics met the new voting qualification, thus ensuring no real change to the status quo. Still, the freehold interest of those who did meet the requirements had to be registered, and a list of the registered freeholders published.[1] 

So, James Mahon made the newspaper when he registered his £10 holding in Drynam. John Gaffney, one of James Mahon’s colleagues at the Special Vestry, also registered his property in Malahide. This might explain why they both, being Catholic, were deemed eligible to participate in the Special Vestry in the first place, which settles last week's query over their participation there. 

But, as usual in genealogy research, when one question is answered, several more always take its place- 

Until now, everything I've found indicated the Mahons of Yellow Walls were tenants at will, meaning they were subject to eviction at any time, without notice. Now, we see James Mahon owned this land outright. What a surprise! But, it’s puzzling. As far as I was aware, the Drynam estate belonged to the Cruise (de Cruys) family for many generations, i.e. from around the time of the Norman invasion in the twelfth century.  How on earth did James Mahon get his hands on some of it?

And, if he did at some point own the land, what happened to it? There's no indication in the probate records of it being passed down to the next generation. By 1845, James Mahon, the same man, or maybe a descendant, can be seen leasing land in Drynam, at £4 an acre, from Robert Cruise, Esq.

House Book, 22 Aug 1845, Townland of Drinan, Barony of Coolock

It's getting curiouser and curiouser! Except, there's nowhere to go for more answers.

[1] 10 George IV. Cap 8, An Act to amend certain Acts of the Parliament of Ireland, relative to the election of members..., 1829, in William Finnelly, The Law and Practice of Elections in England, Scotland, and Ireland… (London,1830), accessed Google Books.

© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday 3 February 2018

James Mahon in the Tithe records, 1823

By now, we can conclude, most of the Mahon families living in Swords parish, in the early decades of the nineteenth century, were near-neighbours of my GGG-grandfather, Patrick Mahon, of Yellow Walls, Malahide. And, chances are, some of them, if not all, were his siblings. And, James Mahon was the name chosen for most of their eldest sons.

So, if traditional naming practices were followed, James Mahon was quite probably the progenitor of most of the Malahide Mahons, and maybe even my GGGG-grandfather. Proving this theory has always been the problem, not least helped by the gap in the parish registers spanning the period June 1777 to June 1802.

This brings us back, full circle, to two earlier families mentioned in the Swords parish registers, that I discussed previously:
Patrick Mahon and Mary Cugan, who married in 1772, baptised two daughters, both called Mary, one in 1773 and another in 1776.
James Mahon and Elizabeth Owens married in 1774 and had a son John in 1776, before moving to the nearby Baldoyle parish, where they baptised Mathew in 1785, Mary in 1789, and Michael in 1791. 
But now, there is an even greater leaning towards James and Elizabeth being our progenitors. And, it's easy to conclude Patrick was James' brother, also living in Yellow Walls. In fact, the Tenure Book confirm a property occupied by the ‘Repts. John Mahon’ in 1845 was ‘John Cuggan’s holding’.

Further records for this period that might help are hard come by. The Tithe Applotment Books of the 1820s should provide additional clues. These records supposedly list everyone with more than an acre of agricultural land, along with the amount they owed in tithes (taxes) to the 'Protestant' Church of Ireland. But, unfortunately, the records are seemingly not available for Malahide. 
All that remain are the minutes of the Church of Ireland (COI) parish meetings held in 1823, introducing tithes in the district.

Taxes are never popular, but in a predominantly Catholic country, tithes payable to a ‘rival’ church were particularly reviled. Still, it appears Catholics were represented at the COI meetings, and even formed part of the ‘implementation committee’. Surprisingly, the signatories to minutes of the initial meeting held in Malahide included James Mahon:

Francis Chambly, Incumbent,
John Espine Batty, Chairman
James Reck
Charles Sadlier
Robert McEntire
John Gafney
Thomas Wogan
James Mahon

Excerpt from minutes, Special Vestry, Malahide, 13 October 1823

Prior experience of the Swords parish registers tells me Gafney, Wogan and Mahon were Catholic families.

At least, this proves there was a James Mahon living in Malahide, in 1823, but whether he was my GGGG-grandfather, his son, his brother, nephew or even his cousin, remains to be seen.

If this man was my GGGG-grandfather, he was likely in his seventies by 1823, but then again, longevity ran in the Mahon family; Patrick Mahon was in his eighties when he died in 1865.

© Black Raven Genealogy