Sunday 5 September 2021

Carroll sisters - a tale of betrayal (cont'd)

When my mother was a little girl, she was eavesdropping on her parents and overheard them whispering about her father's Aunt Annie. Mam thought they said Annie had married her sister’s husband, with whom she’d been having an affair. Mam had got the wrong end of the stick. Annie was innocent. I told this story before - Annie Carroll – a tale of betrayal. However, back then, perhaps I told the wrong truth.

Like I unwittingly hinted then, there was more to Annie's story, and maybe it did involve her little sister, Margaret Mary Carroll.

Margaret Mary Carroll
Margaret was born on 23 September 1893, the youngest child of Maurice Carroll and Anne Radcliffe.[1] In the weeks before Margaret's first birthday, her sister Annie married William Smith Singleton, then a butcher, from Kirkham, England.[2] In 1911, Margaret was seventeen and still living at home in Dublin, while Annie and William were seemingly already living apart, with Annie in Newcastle, mysteriously calling herself 'Annie Smith' and William nowhere to be found.[3]

We know Margaret married Christopher Penrose in Gateshead, England in 1923. We know Christopher died in 1934. We now know Margaret went on to marry Martin Penrose in Essex, England in 1943.[4] And we know she didn't have any children with either Christopher or Martin. But she did have a child. We know, because we (my aunt, her first cousin, my first cousin and I) share second and third cousin DNA matches with her great-granddaughter.

Margaret's son Maurice
Margaret's son was born on 6 April 1915, in Gateshead, England. On his birth certificate, he was named Maurice Ernest Jones, the son of William Jones, a master butcher, and Margaret Jones, formerly Carroll.[5]

Maurice Ernest Jones, GRO Reference: 1915, J Quarter, Gateshead, vol. 10A, p. 2070

Who was William Jones? There is no sign of a marriage between him and Margaret Carroll between 1911 and 1915. Did Margaret fib when she registered the birth and claim her surname was Jones, to hide the fact her son was 'illegitimate'?

Maurice Singleton (1915-1998)

Margaret's great-granddaughters heard rumours growing up that their grandfather's birth surname was Jones, yet they knew he hated any association with that name. He only ever used the surname Singleton. And it is certainly true, Maurice Ernest Singleton shared the exact same birthday as Maurice Ernest Jones - 6 April 1915.[6]

Death, Maurice Ernest Singleton, 1998, GRO index,

A new theory
Was William Jones Maurice's father? Or was his father actually a man called Singleton?

Remember, Annie Carroll's husband's name was Singleton. Could William Smith Singleton have been Maurice's father? He was also a William, and a butcher, like Maurice's father on the birth register. And, there was a rumour in the Singleton family too that his father was the husband of his mother's sister. Perhaps we are finally getting to the bottom of the Carroll family scandal.

So, if our theory is correct, Margaret had an affair with her sister Annie's husband, and even had a child with him. William was 24 years older than Margaret. They never married. Legally they never could. By the time Annie died in 1926, Margaret was married to Christopher, and William died in 1932, two years before Christopher died. But maybe at some point, Margaret and William lived together as husband and wife.

Perhaps it was Margaret who placed this memorial notice in the newspaper, on the first anniversary of William's death.[7] No marriage was registered in England for William Smith Singleton after Annie's death. And Margaret was seemingly prone to the odd little white lie.

Lancashire Evening Post, 6 February 1933, p. 2

The 1921 census of England and Wales, due to be published early next year, may shed more light on this.

And we also need to see if any clues can be found in my cousins DNA results.

[1] Birth Margaret Carroll, Dublin North, 1893, Group Registration ID: 9809957,
[2] Marriage Anne Carroll, Dublin South, 1894, Group Registration ID: 2187735,
[3] Maggie Carroll, Gloucester Place North, Mountjoy, 1911 Census of Ireland, National Archives of Ireland; Annie Smith, Ethel Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1911 Census For England & Wales, Findmypast.
[4] 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; Marriage Margaret Penrose (Parsons), GRO reference: 1943, J Quarter, Romford, vol. 4a, p. 1289.
[5] Maurice Ernest Jones, GRO Reference: 1915, J Quarter, Gateshead, vol. 10A, p. 2070.
[6] Death, Maurice Ernest Singleton, 1998, GRO index,
[7] Lancashire Evening Post, 6 February 1933, p. 2.


  1. Keeping my fingers crossed that the 1921 census will be the key to solving this. Isn't DNA amazing?!

    1. I love DNA, brings a whole new research avenue especially for Irish genealogy, given, for the most part, records run out early in the 19th century.

  2. Can't wait for the 1921 Census! It will help solve a number of genealogical mysteries. Enjoyed your story.

  3. Finger's crossed, Marian, looking forward to checking up on some family members. For Ireland, we have to wait for the 1926 census, sadly.

  4. Are there street directories for Liverpool in 1920-1930's?

    1. Absolutely, named Kelly's / Gore's Directory of Liverpool - though I'm not sure if they are published online for 1920-30s.

  5. Wow Dara! Great detective work. I often think how horrified our ancestors would be with all we can discover about their pasts with DNA. :)

    1. Thank you Ellie, I agree, all the things they thought were buried forever are now coming to light again (sorry about the delay responding - I need to figure out why I nolonger get notification of comments).


I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!