Sunday 29 August 2021

What happened to Margaret Mary Carroll? - Answered

I do love killing off the ancestors and finding where the bodies are buried. Don't you?

A couple of years ago, I wrote about my search for Margaret Carroll, the youngest daughter of my great-great-grandparents, Maurice Carroll and Anne Radcliffe. I'd found her marriage to Christopher Penrose in Gateshead, England, in 1923, and evidence of Christopher's death in 1934. And, that’s where the trail went cold.[1]

There was a Margaret Penrose listed in the 1939 National Register of England and Wales. She was a widow, living alone in Hornchurch, Essex, where she worked as the manageress in an off-licence. She was born on 24 Sep 1893, just one day after our Margaret's registered birthday. She later married Martin Parsons in Romford, near Hornchurch, during the second quarter of 1943.[2]

Source: Findmypast, 1939 Register, Margaret M. Penrose, Hornchurch U.D.

I suspected this was my great-grandaunt, but was led astray...

A note beside Margaret's name in her baptism register supposedly contained details of her second marriage. She was said to have remarried in Hornsea, Yorkshire on 15 November 1949 - not Hornchurch, Essex in 1943. However, her new husband’s name was not given in the baptism register and no record of the likely marriage could be found.[3]

Source:, baptism register, 1893, Pro-Cathedral

So, I put the research aside until something new turned up. This is a perfectly valid research strategy, I'll have you know! 😏

The note on Margaret's baptism register is still baffling, but a new DNA match on Ancestry recently showed a way forward. I share 47cM of DNA with this lady, my cousin Aileen shares a whopping 175cM, Aunty Anne shares 101cM and her cousin Larry shares 170cM. This places us squarely in the 2nd-3rd cousin bracket. She also matches descendants of great-great-granduncle Thomas O'Carroll, so must realistically be a match on the Carroll line.

Our newfound cousin knows her great-grandmother was born Margaret Carroll and recognised the name Parsons, making it a safer bet to order the Parsons-Penrose marriage certificate. It arrived in the post during the week. And eureka!

GRO reference: 1943, J Quarter, Romford, vol. 4a, p. 1289

Margaret Mary Penrose, the daughter of Maurice Carroll, a schoolmaster (pardon?) married Martin Edmund Parsons at the Registry Office in Romford, Essex, on 14 April 1943.[4] My great-great-grandfather, Maurice Carroll, was a coachman, working for a big-house, not a schoolmaster. He was a talented man, for sure. It's said he played the trombone (or some such) in the Theatre Royal in Dublin. He was good with his hands too, and made a dolls house for his daughter Teresa, out of an orange box. The dolls house still survives in the family today. But, a schoolmaster! I don't think so. Yet, I do think this was our Margaret, and maybe a little white lie.

Margaret was 80 years of age when she died, surviving Martin by 15 years. She died of cancer at East Riding General Hospital, Birdlington Road, Driffield, East Yorkshire on 3 July 1974.[5] She was buried with her husband Martin at Driffield Cemetery. Click to see a picture of their headstone, here.[6] The inscription is faded, but can still be made out as:
'In loving memory of Martin Edmund Parsons, died 22 May 1959, aged 75, And of his dear wife, Margaret Mary Parsons, died 3 July 1974, aged 82.'

Margaret's great-granddaughters, Maria and Lisa

But there is so much more to Margaret's story. It's sad. And a little shocking. And, it must once have caused a huge rift in the Carroll family. But more about this next week.

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[1] Marriage Margaret M. Carroll (Penrose), GRO Reference: 1923, J Quarter, Gateshead, vol. 10A, p. 1754; Death Christopher Penrose (age 55), GRO reference: 1934, M Quarter, Gateshead, vol. 10b, p. 113.
[2] Margaret M. Penrose, Hornchurch U.D., Essex, England in the 1939 Register, Findmypast; Marriage Margaret Penrose (Parsons), GRO reference: 1943, J Quarter, Romford, vol. 4a, p. 1289.
[3] Baptism register, St Mary's Pro-Cathedral, 1893, Margaret Mary Carroll,
[4] Marriage Margaret Penrose (Parsons), GRO reference: 1943, J Quarter, Romford, vol. 4a, p. 1289.
[5] Death Margaret Mary Parsons, GRO reference: 1974, S Quarter, Bridlington, vol. 7, p. 225.
[6] GENUKI: Driffield Cemetery gravestones.