Sunday 28 July 2019

What happened to Maurice Carroll?

This post continues the series tracing the children of my great-great-grandfather, Maurice Carroll. He had five children with his first wife, Mary Anne Frazer, and ten children with my great-great-grandmother, Anne Radcliffe. Many of his children seemingly vanished in adulthood, but of them all, Maurice Carroll junior remains the most puzzling.

Maurice was probably the youngest surviving son of my great-great-grandparents. He was born at the Baskin, near Malahide, in north county Dublin. According to his father, he was born on 20 June 1882, but his birth wasn't registered until 13 July, so the date may not be completely accurate. His baptism record is not available online. Maurice and Anne had an earlier son called Maurice, born in May 1877, but that child died shortly after his birth, and they used the name again.

In the 1901 census, Maurice Carroll, stated age seventeen years (actual age nineteen years), was living with his parents and some of his siblings at 20 North Gloucester Place, in Dublin city. He was unmarried and working as a solicitor's general clerk. By the time of the 1911 census, or on census night at least, he wasn't living at home with his mother and siblings. His father had passed away in 1906.

So where was he?

The Dublin electoral registers, online for the years 1908 to 1915, show Maurice Carroll as the 'rated occupier' at 20 North Gloucester Place, in 1909. His mother Anne replaced him as the 'occupier' at the address from 1911 to 1913. And, Thoms Directory shows Maurice lived at 20 North Gloucester Place in 1910, but not in 1911. So, Maurice may have left home about 1910.

A Maurice Carroll, born in Dublin on 22 June 1882 (two days after our Maurice's recorded birthday), declared the intention to apply for US citizenship, in Philadelphia, in May 1911. He had arrived in New York, via Calcutta, India, on 7 May 1911. Was this my great-granduncle?

It's hard to be sure. But it could offer one explanation why he wasn't at home on census night that year. The timing seems right, although what he was doing in Calcutta is anyone's guess. Still, there was only one child with his name registered as born in all Ireland, in 1882 - my great-granduncle. So, it may well have been him.

This chap worked as a groom, not a law clerk, but that's not necessarily a show-stopper. Our Maurice's father was a coachman and his elder half-brother Robert worked as both a coachman and a groom. Our Maurice grew up around horses. The guy in Philly had brown hair, and brown eyes, and was 5 foot, nine inches tall, and my family were typically a few inches shorter, with blue eyes, but who knows. His father was from Co. Tipperary and countrymen tended to be taller than Dubs.

If this was my great-granduncle in Philadelphia in 1911, he came home to Ireland shortly thereafter. I'm fairly certain it was our man who joined Guinness Brewery in Dublin, in 1912, where he worked as a labourer in the cooperage department. The Guinness Archives show Maurice Carroll, born on 20 June 1882, joined the company on 2 October 1912. The Archives suggest he was unmarried at this time. He left their employment, having served just short of seven years, aged thirty-seven years, on 27 August 1919. To go where... I don't know.

If you have any idea, or know anything else about him, I'd love to hear from you:- Blackraven.genealogy[at]gmail[dot]com.

Sunday 14 July 2019

Annie Carroll – a tale of betrayal

When my mother was young, she was eavesdropping on adult conversation and overheard her parents discussing a truly scandalous story. She believed they were talking about her Dad’s grandmother, Anne Carroll. Supposedly, Anne had married her sister’s husband, with whom she’d been having an affair, before her sister died. Shocking, right?

Except further research revealed my great-great grandmother, Anne (Ratcliffe) Carroll, was an only child. Her mother died when she was an infant and her father emigrated to Australia, without her. It’s true, when they married, Maurice Carroll was a widower. But Anne was not related to his first wife. She was only eighteen years old when the lady died. No sister! No ongoing affair!

So, I wondered, what exactly my mother might have overheard?

Sometime later, I met another family researcher online. She was attempting to prove her relationship to the Singleton family, of Kirkham, England. Her great-grandmother Annie Whittle, aged five years, was ‘boarding’ with the Singletons, in 1881.

Poor Annie Whittle was born out of wedlock in 1875. At the time, the Singletons had two boys, Thomas, aged ten years, and William aged six. It’s not clear why Annie ended up with them, but it seems she was raised as one of their own. Often, people described as 'boarders' in a census return were related somehow to someone in the household. Annie's maternal grandfather was a policeman, same as Mr. Singleton, and they may have worked together, so perhaps that was the long and the short of it.

Roll on 1894, and the Singleton's son, William Smith Singleton, converted to Catholicism and married Anne Carroll’s daughter, my great-grandaunt, Annie Carroll.

In 1897, Annie Whittle had a baby boy. She wasn’t married. She named her son William Smith Singleton Whittle. Why would she do that? Whatever about naming her son after a favourite ‘brother’, why would she include his surname as well? Unless she thought he was entitled to it!

There is no sign of William Smith Singleton, his wife Annie (Carroll) Singleton, or indeed Annie Whittle, in the 1901 census, but little William Whittle, aged three years, was ‘boarding’ with the Singletons.

Late in 1901, Annie Whittle had a second son, Robert Singleton Whittle.

Tragically, by 1907, the ill-fated Annie Whittle had had enough. She was found drowned in a pond near where she worked. The newspaper cryptically reported her employer as stating, Annie ‘had never threatened suicide owing to her condition’. But sadly, seemingly it was a suicide, poor woman.

Source: Lancashire Evening Post, 03 July 1907

In 1911, my great-grandaunt, Annie (Carroll) Singleton, was the head of her household, at 3 Ethel Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, 150 miles from her home in Kirkham. There was no sign of her husband, and Annie was mysteriously using the name ‘Annie Smith’ - as if she wanted nothing to do with the Singleton name.

Meanwhile, back in Kirkham, little William and Robert Whittle had ditched their birth surname, in favour of Singleton, and the Singletons claimed both of them as their grandsons. My great-grandaunt had dropped the Singleton surname, and the boys had taken it as their own.

And, then there was my great-grandaunt’s curious last will and testament. Annie (Carroll) Singleton had no children. When she died in 1926, she left the bulk of her estate to her sister Mary, with a proviso that her husband be paid £2 a week, until he died. It was as if Annie didn’t want someone getting their unentitled hands on her life savings!

Singleton family lore suggests William Smith Singleton fathered William and Robert Whittle. Maybe there was an issue with William Smith Singleton and Annie Whittle being together, given they were raised as siblings. But, perhaps William loved Annie Whittle. Perhaps he betrayed his wife, my great-grandaunt Annie Carroll, and continued an affair with her, his ‘sister’, even after he was married.

Annie Carroll - an affair - the sister! This could have been the scenario my mother overheard her parents discussing. Except, William obviously did not marry Annie Whittle after his wife died.

There was certainly enough heartbreak to go around in this family. My poor great-grandaunt seemingly had a sham marriage, Annie Whittle killed herself, and the two boys undoubtedly experienced quite an amount of undeserved shame regarding their circumstance of birth. As for William Smith Singleton, it seems he may have found love in the end. His ‘wife and son’, who as yet have not been identified, published a newspaper notice in his memory, on the first anniversary of his death.

Source: Lancashire Evening Post, 6 February 1933, p.2

Of course, I still need to find out what became of Annie (Carroll) Singleton's youngest sister, Margaret (Carroll) Penrose, to make sure she didn't play a part in this story. Unlike Annie's sisters Mary and Teresa, Annie did not mention her sister Margaret in her will.

5 September 2021: More on Annie and Margaret's story here.