Category Archives: People

Planning a trip oop North ~ Sorting Saturday

Part of my summer holiday this year will be spent “oop North”, more specifically West Yorkshire.  The Nunns and Cockerhams on the maternal side of my family all come from around the Rothwell area (that I’ve discovered so far in my research), so it makes it easy to base myself in one spot nearby.


View West Riding of Yorkshire in a larger map

I’d done almost no work on this side of the family (my great grandmother’s parents), as there are a few family members already doing research, so I’d left it a bit and concentrated on other lines.  So when I came to actually compiling a list of addresses, churches, graveyards etc, I realised I had very little!  Back to the censuses I went, and it has taken me quite a while to document it all, and I’m still not finished.  I’m also ordering certificates that I haven’t got already, so it’s a slow enough process.

My great grandmother Elsie Nunns is the only great grandparent that I knew – I was in my late teens when she died. She came out as a child with her parents Sam and Alice Nunns from England to New Zealand around 1902.  Sam and Alice went on to have another seven children, and there have been several reunions of their descendents (though I haven’t been able to attend one yet!).


Sorting Saturday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Postcard to a brother

Yesterday I posted a photo of my half great great aunt, Mary (Mollie) Freeth, dressed up in Japanese costume. She sent this postcard to her (half) brother, Alexander Wright, my great grandfather, who was with the Royal Irish Fusiliers at the time.  This is what she wrote on the back:

Postcard from Mary Freeth to Alexander Wright

Postcard from Mary Freeth to Alexander Wright, date possibly around 1910

Alec Wright
10207 D Company
Royal Irish Fusiliers
Salamanca Bks
Inf???
Aldershot

Here’s luck for the 17th of ould Ireland

Here is a copy of Will’s snapshot of me – it is not so good as his is it. How are you getting on? also Hilda I hope she is well – give her my love. Have you seen Rose Godfrey lately? Give her my love. I must write to her soon. Am very busy just now – with fond love from your big fat Japanese sister Mollie.

As far as I know (from family legend), Alexander deserted from the army and somehow turned up in New Zealand. I need to do some digging and find out more about his time with the Fusiliers, and also how he managed to get passage to New Zealand.

Actually, I was originally told he’d deserted from the navy, because of this photo:

(Ephraim) George Wright

(Ephraim) George Wright

On the reverse is inscribed the name “Alexander”:

(Ephraim) George Wright - reverse

(Ephraim) George Wright - reverse

Family members concluded that Alexander had been in the Royal Navy, and had jumped ship. I’ve since identified the mystery sailor as Alexander’s brother, (Ephraim) George Wright, and that it is his handwriting on the back. He obviously wrote on the photograph to whom he was sending it!

Mollie, my “Japanese” aunt ~ Wordless Wednesday

Mary (Mollie) Freeth, my half great great aunt

Mary (Mollie) Freeth, my half great great aunt

Wordless Wednesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Mollie? Or Pollie? ~ Wordless Wednesday

 

Mary (Mollie) Freeth?

Mary (Mollie) Freeth?

Wordless Wednesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Mary Jane gets hitched

I’ve been searching for my great great grandmother Mary Jane Clarke‘s first marriage on and off for some time. I’m not sure why I’d never thought to search the Irish Civil Registration Indexes on FamilySearch before now.  Possibly because I didn’t know they were there!

I’d done a search on Ancestry, which hadn’t brought up anything, and I’d searched on FreeBMD as well, thinking it would have been registered in England.  Nada. Mary Jane’s birth was before civil registration started in Ireland, so I was hoping that if I could find the marriage certificate for her first marriage, it might tell me a little bit more about her and her father. By the time of her second marriage, to my great great grandfather Ephraim Wright in 1882, her father was deceased.

The one place I hadn’t looked for a marriage was in perhaps the most obvious place – where their first child had been born! Mary (Mollie) Freeth gave her birthplace as Co Meath in the 1891 England census, when she was living with her mother, stepfather Ephraim, and half-siblings. Her birthyear was around 1877.1 Her brother Percy had been born the following year in 1878 in Aldershot, Hampshire, and it was his birth certificate that had given me Mary Jane’s first husband’s full name – James Freeth.2

On the Friday before I was heading off to Dublin, I was compiling some notes for the trip and getting together some research goals. I re-read some of Donna Moughty’s blog posts on Irish research, which prompted me to look at FamilySearch’s Irish Civil Registration indexes. I found a marriage for a James Freeth in Navan, Co Meath, in 1877. I then searched on my great great grandmother’s maiden name, Mary Jane Clarke, and found a similar marriage record for her – and the volume and page numbers matched! Eureka!3

So, I had all the information I needed to order a photocopy of the marriage record from the General Register Office’s research facility in Dublin.  You can do searches of the indexes there, at a cost.  Much handier to do your searching online for free.

When I received the photocopied record, I was excited to see lots of information I didn’t have.  The marriage took place at the Roman Catholic Chapel of Navan on 05 February 1877.  Mary Jane was 22 years of age, living in Railway Street in Navan, and worked as a servant.  Her father John Clarke’s occupation was listed as ‘Soldier’ – a fantastic lead to follow up.  James was 23 and also a soldier – a sergeant with the 94th Regiment, living in Navan Barracks.  Witnesses were Wm. Smith, Corporal 94th Regiment and Franny Carroll.4

  1. “1891 England Census, Ephraim Wright (age 30) household, St Paul Deptford, London,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.co.uk/, accessed 01 Oct 2010), citing PRO RG12/494, folio 67, p 63, GSU roll: 6095604, Greenwich registration district, St Paul Deptford sub-registration district, ED 2, household 323, 05 Apr 1891.
  2. England, birth certificate for Percy Freeth; 31 Aug 1878, Farnham; citing Sep 1878 [quarter] 2a [vol] 111 [page], General Register Office, Stockport.
  3. “Ireland, Civil Registration Indexes 1845-1958,” index, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org : accessed 27 May 2011), from General Register Office.
  4. Ireland, marriage certificate for James Freeth and Mary Jane Clarke; 05 Feb 1877, Navan, Co Meath; citing No. 25, vol 2, p 960, General Register Office, Ireland.

This is the Face of Genealogy

Mary Jane Carroll (previously Wright, previously Freeth, formerly Clarke)

Mary Jane Carroll (previously Wright, previously Freeth, formerly Clarke)

This is my great great grandmother.  If it hadn’t been for genealogy, I would never have known about this wonderful woman, and my life would be all the poorer for that.

This post is in response to a recent article published by LAWeekly.

The Filing Mountain ~ Sorting Saturday

I’ve been filing!  I haven’t done much else, just placed documents, notes, booklets, etc into clear plastic pockets and filed them in the relevant folder.  I still need to process a lot of it, but at least it’s filed away.

And it was interesting to come across a few things I’d completely forgotten about.  Like a photocopy of an old photograph, with some names inscribed.  I posted the photograph for a Wordless Wednesday post a while back, but didn’t know who most of the people were.   On my trip to New Zealand in February, my father gave me the photocopy of it with the names, and I’d squirrelled it away rather than filing it properly.

Michael Gaffaney & Family, "Belper", Arowhenua, South Canterbury, New Zealand

Michael Gaffaney & Family, "Belper", Arowhenua, South Canterbury, New Zealand

Left to right, standing on lawn:  Minnie Gaffaney, Annie Gaffaney, Francis B. Early (Michael & Margaret’s son-in-law), Annie Fitzgerald (friend), Leo Gaffaney, Michael Gaffaney (father), Lucy Gaffaney, Susan Gaffaney.

Left to right, standing on verandah: unknown, Margaret Gaffaney (mother), unknown, Annie Brosnahan (Margaret’s sister).

And then I found this photo my father had copied for me – same family, same house (possibly an earlier date?)

Michael Gaffaney & family, "Belper", Arowhenua, South Canterbury, NZ

Michael Gaffaney & family, "Belper", Arowhenua, South Canterbury, NZ

What I noticed about the photos, is that my great great grandfather Michael is being poured a drink (of what?) in both!  Was it some kind of family tradition or long-running joke, or maybe just pure coincidence?


Sorting Saturday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Oh, look who I found!

There were a number of things I meant to do today, including following up my post from yesterday and writing more about what my research uncovered in Dublin.  Some filing would have been good, too.  Instead, I went and found four great great great great grandparents.  As you do, on a summery Friday afternoon.

I have a copy of a Burke family tree, which my father passed on to me.   It outlines one line of descendents of Michael Burke from Co Mayo, Ireland, and includes my grandmother, his great grandchild.  According to the tree, Michael and his wife Brigid Flynn moved to Scotland around 1843 with their son Martin.  It was Martin who later immigrated to New Zealand with his wife Ann Philp and their daughter Mary, and subsequently had two more children.

Anyway, I’ve checked a lot of the dates given in the tree, and found them to be a little inaccurate, so I’ve been verifying them slowly.  The one thing I’d really love to know, is where exactly in Mayo was Martin born?  Where did he and his parents emigrate from?

So, I had this thought today (I’ve had it on and off, to be honest, it’s just today it was a bit more niggley) – why not check the Scotland censuses?  Maybe they gave their parish or townland to the enumerator? I had an approximate year of birth for Martin, and the names of his siblings (John, Thomas, Mary) and parents, so I figured I had a reasonable chance of finding them.

I find ScotlandsPeople a fantastic resource, but it can feel a bit like pot luck at times – I never really know if I’ve found the right person or not, and BAM, there go your credits to see if you’re right.  Having said that, you pays yer money, and you get the real deal – images of birth, death and marriage records, as well as the censuses.

I knew from Martin and Ann’s marriage record that Martin was living in Perth in 1861, so I started there – and found the family living at 134 High Street, in the parish of Middle Church, Perth1:

  • Michael Burke  – head – 52 – Labourer Ag.
  • Bridget Burke – wife – 49
  • Martin Burke – son – 19 – Ploughman
  • Thomas Burke – son – 20 – do.
  • John Burke – son – 16 – CabinetMaker Ap.
  • Mary Burke – dau – 9

All are listed as being born in Ireland, except Mary who was born in Perth. So that gives a clue to the timing of their move to Scotland. And Martin is listed as married, but where is his wife?  They married in February that year, so it may be possible she was visiting her parents..?

I searched on Michael Burke in the 1871 census and couldn’t find him.  Perhaps he’d died?  Upon checking the death records, there he was (as Bourke) in 1868… along with the names of his parents!  Eulick Bourke, Labourer, and Mary Flinn. (The “Eulick” is more likely to be Ulick, and the “Flinn” is probably Flynn.)2

So, searching the 1871 census again, but this time on Bridget Burke, and I found the family, still living in High Street but at a different number (129?)3:

  • Bridget Burke – head – 58 – no occupation
  • Thomas Burke – son – 30 – Ship Carpenter
  • John Burke – son – 26 – Labourer
  • Mary Burke – daur – 19 – do.
  • Michael Burke – nephew – 11 – Scholar

When I looked for Bridget in the 1881 census, I couldn’t find her, so I immediately checked the death records… and there she was in 1874… along with the names of her parents!  Patrick Flynn, Labourer and Mary [can't work it out, something like Dbueisk]4.

So, I still don’t know exactly where they’re from.  I  tried out the Irish Ancestors Research Wizard and apparently there are 48 Mayo parishes in which the Flynn and Burke surnames coincide.  That’s a lot of parish records to check out.

I think my next task is to try and follow Martin’s siblings in the censuses, and see what more I can find out.  There’s also their cousin Michael, who turns up in the 1871 census.  He was born in Perth, but it could be worthwhile finding his parents.

  1. 1861 Scotland Census, Perthshire, Perth Burgh, ED 17, page 5, line 5, Michael Burke household (age 52); digital image, ScotlandsPeople, 1861 Census, (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/ : accessed 03 Jun 2011); citing General Register Office of Scotland 1861 387/01 017/00 005.
  2. Scotland, Perth County, Perth, Register of Deaths, 1868: entry 250, Michael Bourke, 26 May; digital image, ScotlandsPeople (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/ : accessed 03 Jun 2011); citing Statutory Deaths no. 387/00 0250.
  3. 1871 Scotland Census, Perthshire, Perth Burgh, ED 38, page 10, line 19, Bridget Burke household (age 58); digital image, ScotlandsPeople, 1871 Census, (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/ : accessed 03 Jun 2011); citing General Register Office of Scotland 1871 387/00 038/00 010.
  4. Scotland, Perth County, Perth, Register of Deaths, 1874: entry 58, Bridget Burke, 07 May; digital image, ScotlandsPeople (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/ : accessed 03 Jun 2011); citing Statutory Deaths no. 387/00 0058

Another Gaffaney Plot ~ Tombstone Tuesday

Peter Dominic & Margaret Gaffaney, gravestone, Bromley Cemetery, Christchurch, NZ1

Peter Dominic & Margaret Gaffaney, gravestone, Bromley Cemetery, Christchurch, NZ

In Loving Memory of
Margaret
Beloved Wife of
Peter Gaffaney
Died 16th Nov 1931
Also her Loved Husband
Peter Gaffaney
Died 4th July 1954

R.I.P.

Michael Dominic & Agnes Gaffaney, gravestone, Bromley Cemetery, Christchurch, NZ1

Michael Dominic & Agnes Gaffaney, gravestone, Bromley Cemetery, Christchurch, NZ

Also Their Loved Son
Michael Dominic
Gaffaney
Died 5th Sept 1990 Aged 80
Dearly Loved Husband of
Agnes
Died 25th Sept 1995 Aged 81

My great grandmother Margaret (O’Rourke) Gaffaney is buried in Bromley Cemetery, Christchurch, New Zealand, along with her husband Peter Dominic Gaffaney, their son Michael Dominic and his wife Agnes (Burke).

The monumental masons managed to bodge both gravestones – getting the date of death wrong for my great grandfather, and again for his son.

Many thanks to the kind Trade Me genealogy forum member who located and photographed the gravestone for me.

  1. Bromley Cemetery (Linwood Avenue, Bromley, Christchurch, New Zealand), Peter Gaffaney & family gravestones, Block 24, Plot 64; photograph supplied by [NAME FOR PRIVATE USE], April 2011.

Tombstone Tuesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Percy Luxton, Merchant Seaman ~ Maritime Monday

Poor Percy, I have seriously neglected finishing his tale. Though to be honest, I know only a little of his life.

Last time we met Percy, he had worked his passage over to Bermuda and was living there with his parents and two sisters. From captions on some photos, I’ve deduced he was a merchant seaman. Since he’s the only one I’ve found in my family tree so far, I’m kind of excited! I need to get myself off to the National Archives and check out their Fourth Register of Merchant Seaman’s Service, which covers the years 1913 -1940.

So that’s my tenuous maritime link. What happened to Percy after Bermuda? Well, he must have turned up back in England, because he married Daphne Wills in 1934 and the marriage was registered at Dartford. I found a photograph of them, and I wonder if it is a wedding photo?

Percy and Daphne Luxton

Percy and Daphne Luxton

His mother Lavinia (bless her green pen!) wrote on the back of the photo, and obviously sent the photo to her brother Alex (my great grandfather) in New Zealand.

She also sent this photo of Daphne and her son “Terry John”

Daphne Luxton and son Terry John

Daphne Luxton and son Terry John

According to my cousin Lally, Percy and Daphne had three sons: Terry, Paddy and Sean, and Percy worked “on the railway”.

Percy and his wife Daphne came out to New Zealand for a visit, probably in the 1960s – it was after my mother had left home, and she was living in Auckland, as she didn’t meet them. My great grandfather Alex, Percy’s uncle, had died in 1956, but they visited family in Gisborne, and also stayed for a couple of weeks with Percy’s cousin George and his wife Jean in Taranaki, my grandparents. Apparently, they drove my grandmother a little “round the bend”, says Mum, as they didn’t want to go anywhere, just happy to sit around, chat and drink cups of tea!

Jean Wright and Daphne Luxton

Jean Wright and Daphne Luxton

Daphne looks like she’s enjoying herself nonetheless!

I don’t know what happened to Percy and Daphne – hopefully I can find out one day.