Category Archives: Places

West Yorkshire research trip Part 2

Holy Trinity Church, Rothwell, Yorkshire, August 2011

Holy Trinity Church, Rothwell, Yorkshire, August 2011

Rothwell’s parish church was built around 1130AD, though it’s thought to be the third such building on the site.  It was in this church that my great grandmother, Elsie Nunns, was baptised on December 27th, 1896, exactly one month after she was born.  Many of her family were baptised and married in the church, and buried in the churchyard.

The main ‘front’ of the church that faces Church Street and centre of Rothwell is well kept, but around the back, many of the gravestones are covered over with weeds and surrounded by stinging nettles.  I didn’t know if any of my ancestors had gravestones here, so it was really a case of having a look around and seeing what we could find.   (There is currently a project underway to map all the gravestones in the graveyard.)  We managed to find a couple of Nunns and a Hirst, but I’ll need to do a little more investigation to see if they’re family or not. The graveyard is huge, and many of the stones are illegible, if not unaccessible.  You can see further exterior photos in a previous post.

The church appeared closed, but my son had noticed someone entering by a back door, so we wandered up and knocked.  A young curate opened the door and allowed us to have a look around inside, warning that there was a funeral commencing in 40 minutes.  The interior was beautiful, and my hurried photos could not do it justice.

Holy Trinity, Rothwell - interior, August 2011

Holy Trinity, Rothwell - interior, August 2011

I was excited to see the baptismal font, imagining my Elsie being baptised there. (You may be able to glimpse it in this rubbish photo!)

Holy Trinity, Rothwell - baptismal font, August 2011

Holy Trinity, Rothwell - baptismal font, August 2011

You might like to read West Yorkshire research trip Part 1.

National Coal Mining Museum, Yorkshire ~ Follow Friday

My 3 x great grandfather, Henry Nunns, was a coal miner, and his father and brothers worked in the mines as well. One of the highlights of my recent Yorkshire trip was visiting the National Coal Mining Museum near Wakefield, to find out what Henry’s working life might have been like.  If your ancestors had any connection with coal mining, this is a fantastic place to visit.  What’s more, it’s free!

I’d recently watched a documentary on child labour, The Children Who Built Victorian Britain, so I had a small idea of what coal mining was about, but I really wanted to find out more – and especially, to go down a coal mine.

Get kitted out with your miner’s helmet and battery lamp then step into the cage and descend 140m underground to discover the amazing sotry of mining through the ages.  Led by ex-miners, these hugely popular tours will give you a vivid insight into the dangers and hardships faced by the men, women and children who toiled deep below the ground.
– National Coal Mining Museum brochure

Now, I’m quite claustrophobic, and I was very nervous about going underground, so I managed to convince my seven year old son to go with me.  (I bribed him with the carrot of getting an awesome ‘Extreme Reading’ photo opportunity for a school competition when we were down in the mine.  Unfortunately, I hadn’t realised that cameras and phones were banned.  Ummm, sorry kid!)  I checked beforehand to see if there were any parts of the tour that involved crawling and the like, and I was assured that any crawling bits were optional and “for the kids”.   In any event, I was fine, and the tour was fantastic!  We were first shown an area of the pit from the 1820s, and then were slowly taken down all manner of tunnels and ‘roadways’.  Our guide, an ex-miner, gave an illuminating picture of what life was like for miners over the last two centuries.

The tour takes 90 minutes, and thankfully there was enough above ground to keep my hubby and the two younger kids amused while #1 son and I took the tour.  (Children under five aren’t permitted on the tour.)  It’s a good idea to wear decent walking shoes, and a jacket or jumper, as it gets a little chilly underground.

Young miner, extreme reader

Young miner, not so extreme reader

Unfortunately I didn’t get much time to check out everything above ground, but there are historic colliery buildings, collections detailing mining history, displays of mining memorabilia, a library, nature trail, retired pit ponies, plus a shop, small children’s indoor playroom, cafe and picnic area.

I did get to buy a book which our guide had recommended, and to which I also give a big thumbs up – Victoria’s Children of the Dark by Alan Gallop.  It tells the story of the children who worked in the mines in the early 19th century, and recreates the events surrounding the 1838 Husker Pit disaster at Silkstone, Yorkshire.  Definitely a fascinating read after being down a mine and seeing the actual working conditions.

National Coal Mining Museum for England
Caphouse Colliery, New Road, Overton
Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF4 4RH
tel: +44 1924 848806
www: www.ncm.org.uk

Follow Friday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Holy Trinity Church, Rothwell, Yorkshire ~ Wordless Wednesday

Holy Trinity Church, Rothwell, Yorkshire, August 2011

Holy Trinity Church, Rothwell, Yorkshire, August 2011

Holy Trinity Church, Rothwell, Yorkshire, August 2011

Holy Trinity Church, Rothwell, Yorkshire, August 2011

Graveyard, Holy Trinity Church, Rothwell, Yorkshire, August 2011

Graveyard, Holy Trinity Church, Rothwell, Yorkshire, August 2011

Graveyard, Holy Trinity Church, Rothwell, Yorkshire, August 2011

Graveyard, Holy Trinity Church, Rothwell, Yorkshire, August 2011

Wordless Wednesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

West Yorkshire research trip Part 1

I have spent the last four days in West Yorkshire, visiting places that are connected with my great grandmother, Elsie Nunns. She was born in 1896, in Rothwell, which is where I began my search.

At this point in the post, I was hoping to wax lyrical about the marvellous folk at the Rothwell Arts and Heritage Centre, of how helpful and friendly they were. In fact, they may well be all those things – I just didnt meet them. I had found the Centres details via Google, carefully noting down the address and opening hours from the website. When I arrived in Rothwell on Monday morning, I tried plugging in the Centres address into my satnav, but it couldnt find it. Well, not in Rothwell, West Yorkshire. But if I fancied a two hour drive, I would find it in Rothwell, Kettering.

Not the best start to my trip! Luckily I found the local library, with some very helpful staff members, and I managed to get photocopies of some old Ordnance Survey maps of the area, which I needed in order to find some of the addresses my ancestors had lived at. With my three research assistants tagging along, I had little time to sit and pore over old maps, so it was a quick copy job and I was out of there. I had enough information to get by with for the next few days.

My Heritage Pie ~ SNGF

Every Saturday night Randy Seaver sends out a Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge at Genea-Musings.  Usually I miss out because of the time difference, but this week I thought I’d just post a day late!

Our mission was to list our 16 great great grandparents, along with their birth, marriage and death dates. Then, determine their birthplaces, and (for extra credit) create a pie chart showing their countries of origin.

My magic 16 are:

Michael GAFFANEY. Born on 31 Oct 1836 in Belper, Derbyshire, England. Michael died in Arowhenua, South Canterbury, New Zealand, on 11 Jul 1911; he was 74. Buried on 13 Jul 1911 in Temuka Cemetery, Temuka, New Zealand. Occupation: Farmer

On 26 Dec 1863 when Michael was 27, he married Margaret BROSNAHAN in the Catholic Chapel, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Margaret BROSNAHAN. Born on 8 Dec 1844 in Co Kerry, Ireland. Margaret died at Belper Farm, Main South Road,Temuka, New Zealand, on 16 Aug 1927; she was 82. Buried on 18 Aug 1927 in Temuka Cemetery, Temuka, New Zealand.

Bartholomew O’ROURKE. Born abt 1844 in Co Kerry, Ireland. Bartholomew died in Station Street, Napier, New Zealand, on 13 Nov 1923; he was 79. Buried on 15 Nov 1923 in Old Napier Cemetery, New Zealand. Occupation: Carter, Miner.

On 2 Sep 1869 when Bartholomew was 25, he married Bridget POWER in the Roman Catholic Church, Charleston, West Coast, New Zealand.

Bridget POWER. Born in 1846 in Clonmel, Tipperary, Ireland. Bridget died in Napier, New Zealand, on 18 Jul 1914; she was 68. Buried on 19 Jul 1914 in Old Napier Cemetery, Napier, New Zealand.

Martin BURKE. Born in 1840 in Co Mayo, Ireland. Martin died in Nazareth House, Sydenham, NZ, on 27 Nov 1918; he was 78. Buried on 28 Nov 1918 in Sydenham Cemetery, Christchurch, New Zealand. Occupation: Farmer.

On 2 Feb 1861 when Martin was 21, he married Ann PHILP in St John’s Catholic Church, Perth, Scotland.

Ann PHILP. Born in 1840 in Ceres, Fife, Scotland. Ann died in Burnham, NZ on 13 Mar 1895; she was 55. Buried on 15 Mar 1895 in Darfield Churchyard, Canterbury, New Zealand.

John BURTON. Born abt 1826 in Co Tipperary, Ireland. John died in Redwoodtown, Blenheim, New Zealand, on 29 Jun 1897; he was 71. Buried on 30 Jun 1897 in Omaka Cemetery, Marlborough, New Zealand. Occupation: Carter, Labourer.

On 17 Jan 1859 when John was 33, he married Bridget MAHONEY in Galbally, Co Limerick, Ireland.

Bridget MAHONEY. Born abt 1843 in Galbally, Co Limerick, Ireland. Bridget died in Blenheim, New Zealand, on 22 Nov 1900; she was 57. Buried on 24 Nov 1900 in Omaka Cemetery, Marlborough, New Zealand.

Ephraim WRIGHT. Born on 8 Jan 1860 in Polstead, Suffolk, England. Ephraim died in South Eastern Hospital, Deptford, Kent, on 26 Nov 1894; he was 34. Occupation: Labourer, Engine-Fitter.

On 13 Mar 1882 when Ephraim was 22, he married Mary Jane CLARK in St Stephen, Lewisham, Kent, England.

Mary Jane CLARK. Born abt 1856 in Co Monaghan, Ireland. Mary Jane died in Greenwich, Kent, England, on 12 Feb 1932; she was 76. Occupation: Laundress.

Sam NUNNS. Born on 8 Feb 1874 in Rothwell, Yorkshire, England. Sam died in Auckland, New Zealand, on 5 Apr 1945; he was 71. Buried on 4 Oct 1945 in Taruheru Cemetery, Gisborne, New Zealand. Occupation: Borough Employee, Stone Mason (journeyman).

On 11 Jan 1896 when Sam was 21, he married Alice COCKERHAM in Oulton Church, Oulton, Yorkshire, England.

Alice COCKERHAM. Born on 9 Mar 1878 in Oulton, Yorkshire, England. Alice died in Gisborne, New Zealand, on 17 Jul 1954; she was 76. Buried on 19 Jul 1954 in Taruheru Cemetery, Gisborne, New Zealand.

Michael McGONNELL. Born abt 1840 in Newry, Co Down, Northern Ireland. Michael died in Waiongana, Taranaki, New Zealand, on 5 May 1929; he was 89. Buried on 7 May 1929 in Te Henui Cemetery, New Plymouth, New Zealand. Occupation: Signalman, Farmer, Boatman.

On 28 May 1888 when Michael was 48, he married Louisa TUNNECLIFFE in New Plymouth, New Zealand.

Louisa TUNNECLIFFE. Born abt 1858 in New Plymouth, New Zealand. Louisa died in Waiongana, Taranaki, on 26 Jun 1926; she was 68. Buried on 29 Jun 1926 in Te Henui Cemetery, New Plymouth, New Zealand.

Henry John Forrest FLOREY. Born on 1 Oct 1862 in Pembroke Place, Chatham, Kent, England. Henry John Forrest died in Te Araroa, East Cape, New Zealand, on 5 Oct 1913; he was 51. Buried on 6 Oct 1913 in Te Araroa, East Cape, New Zealand. Occupation: Cook, Tobacconist, Billard Maker.

On 10 Mar 1885 when Henry John Forrest was 22, he married Ann Elizabeth (Annie) HORNE in Auckland, New Zealand.

Ann Elizabeth (Annie) HORNE. Born abt 1864 in Cape Town, South Africa. Annie died in Newton Road, Auckland, on 9 Mar 1907; she was 43. Buried on 12 Mar 1907 in Remuera, Auckland, New Zealand.

Country of origin
Ireland: 8
England: 5
Scotland: 1
South Africa: 1
New Zealand: 1

My great great grandparents' birthplaces

And as an added bonus for readers, here’s a pie chart showing final resting places.

My great great grandparents' resting places

Note: Source citations available on request.

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.

A Day in Dublin

I was in Dublin visiting friends over the weekend, and because of the Bank Holiday in the UK, had decided to stay until the Monday and grab some precious research time – and my first foray into records there.

I had an early start, as I was driving into Dublin from Co Wicklow, but traffic was definitely not as bad as it was a few years ago.  First task was parking the car, and I’d chosen the parking building off Trinity Street, despite it being horrendously expensive, as it was near to my last stop of the day.

And so, onto Lombard Street and Joyce House, where I hoped to pick up the marriage certificate of Mary Jane Clark and her first husband.  After a short wait, I was told at the counter that they only dealt with certificates for marriages after 1920, and directed me to Navan (where the marriage took place) and the GRO in Roscommon.  Neither place was on my itinerary for that day!  I hurried over the river to the Irish Life Centre in Lower Abbey Street and the GRO Research facility there, where I filled out the appropriate form, paid €4 and waited.  I was warned it would take approximately 20 minutes, and I was thinking I should have brought a book with me, but in the end it was probably only ten minutes and then I was on my way.

Just across the courtyard, in Block 2 of the Irish Life Centre, is the Valuation Office.  It was very quiet in there, no waiting at all, and after giving a staff member the name of the townland I was interested in, relevant Revision books (or ‘Cancelled Land Books’) then came out.  After Griffith’s Valuation,  the revision books show the change in ownership and occupancy, as well as size and value, of a piece of land over the years.  Changes were recorded in different coloured ink, depending on the year, which makes it more useful to view the original books in colour, rather than in black and white on microfilm at an LDS centre.  The books themselves go from around 1859, essentially a copy of the Valuation, up until 1977.  (Thanks to Donna Moughty and her blog post that alerted me to this valuable resource!) Self-service full-colour A3 copying is available, at a cost of €1 a sheet, and it took almost no time to copy the fifteen pages I wanted.

Next stop: the National Library in Kildare Street.  I stowed my bag and coat in a free locker, and set off upstairs to the Main Reading Room to get a reader’s card.  To view the church records I wanted, it didn’t look like I needed one, but they’re valid for three years, so it was good to get it for later research.  I had brought along some passport-size photos, but they weren’t required as they take your photo there.  Once I’d been issued with my card, I headed back downstairs to the Genealogical Service room with a helpful staff member, who showed me where the church records on microfilm were kept and set me up with a microfilm reader in a separate room.  Once I found a record, I had to take the film back to the Genealogical Service room to wait for a reader connected to a scanner.  I also had to buy a printer card (€1) from the shop to pay for any copies I wanted. Unfortunately, when I came to print the first record I had found, the scanner machine failed to work.  Which meant a 20 minute wait for the only other machine in the room.  (I felt sorry for the main staff member in the room – very overworked, and running around doing an amazing job trying to help everyone as quickly as she could.)  After finally being able to print the record, my time was up – I had just enough time to grab a very quick cuppa with a friend before heading off to the airport.

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig!

I always knew I had Irish ancestors, but was never quite sure who they were and exactly where they were from.

In the 1990s I spent several years living in Ireland. Oh, when I think of all the research I could have done! But, I was busy studying and working and having fun. Back then, it seemed like every day was St Patrick’s Day, full of craic and lots of Guinness.

I took my family to Ireland for a two week holiday in the summer of 2009. You’d think after living in the place I would have remembered that you don’t go to Ireland for the weather, especially in the summer. The lovely lady at the holiday home company assured me that a heatwave was forecast that year. (Ah, the optimism!) It rained. Well, mostly. Occasionally we saw the sun. One place we visited during a sunny spell was Muckross House, near Killarney in Co. Kerry – with three young kids we declined the 45 minute guided tour around the grand house, and opted to see the Traditional Farms instead, with “three separate working farms (small , medium and large), each complete with animals, poultry and horse drawn farm machinery” as they would have been back in the 1930s and 1940, “a period before the widespread use of electricity”.

Dwelling house, medium-sized farm at Muckross

Dwelling house, medium-sized farm at Muckross Traditional Farms

Scones baking on the fire, Muckross

Scones baking on the fire, Muckross Traditional Farms

Living area of house, Muckross

Living area of house, Muckross Traditional Farms

Since that trip, I’ve not only discovered the names of my Irish forebears and the counties they hailed from, I’ve also recently found a great great great grandfather’s farm in Co. Kerry. Perhaps it was a little like the one we saw at Muckross?

To the Gaffaneys, the O’Rourkes, the Burkes, the Brosnahans, the Burtons, the Powers, and the McGonnells, to you who journeyed across the seas to make new homes in New Zealand, I raise my glass on this day, and thank you for your pioneering spirit and courage.

The auld sod in 1911

So how are my Rourkes doing on census night in 1911? (See previous two instalments here and here)

Well, everyone’s a little older!  And there’s a couple of grandkids thrown into the mix.1

Bridget Rourke Head of Family 63 Farmer Widow
Michael Rourke Son 37 Farmer’s Son Single
John Rourke Son 35 Farmer’s Son Single
Julia Rourke Daughter 25 Farmer’s Daughter Single
Hannah Hogan Granddaughter 9 Scholar Single
Jeremiah Hogan Grandson 5 Single

Timothy has left, but the other two sons Michael and John, along with daughter Julia, are still at home with their mammy. Hannah and Jeremiah are probably the children of Bridget’s daughter Catherine, who married a Hogan, according to the family tree I have. Catherine’s death date on the tree is given as 1912 – I wonder if it might have been earlier, and the children and are now permanently living with their grandmother?

The house has been upgraded a bit since the last census – its roof is now “Slate, Iron, or Tiles”, there are five rooms instead of three, and five windows at the front of the house (up from three). In the outbuildings stakes, not much change, down 1 cow house and up 1 fowl house. Hopefully the house improvements are a sign the farm is doing well.

I want to follow the Rourke family (roll on the 1926 census!) and also find out where the other family members went to, see if I can verify all the information on this family tree I have.  My knowledge of Irish genealogical sources is a bit lacking at the moment, and I need to spend some time finding out what’s available and where it is.

And I’d love to do more research on the way of life in 19th century Ireland, and into the early 20th century. Would be fascinating to compare the O’Rourke farm in Ballymacdonnell, and the Gaffaney farm in Arowhenua, New Zealand.

  1. Census of Ireland 1911, Kerry, Kilfelim, Ballymacdonnell, House no 3, Bridget Rourke; digital image, The National Archives of Ireland, Census of Ireland 1901/1911 (http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/ : accessed 07 Mar 2011).

The auld sod ~ continued

Following up from yesterday’s post about my great great great grandfather Michael Rourke’s farm in Ballymacdonnell, I’m now looking at the Rourkes who are living there at the time of the 1901 Irish census.

These are the family members listed on the census return1:

Bridget Rourke Head of Family 53 Farmer Widow
Michael Rourke Son 27 Farmer’s Son Not Married
John Rourke Son 24 Farmer’s Son Not Married
Timothy Rourke Son 18 Farmer’s Son Not Married
Julia Rourke Daughter 16 Farmer’s Daughter Not Married

Trying to read the scan of the family tree I have, I can make out a Jeremiah, brother of my Bartholomew, both of whom were Michael Rourke’s sons. Jeremiah married Bridget O’Loughlin, and their children were:

  • Michael b.1873
  • John (Jack) b. 1874
  • Timothy b. 1876
  • Bartholomew b. 1878
  • Catherine b. 1884
  • Julia b.1886

Going back to the baptism records2, I found the following children listed for Jeremiah Rourke and Bridget Loughlin (with their approximate age in 1901, given a birth date a month or two previous to baptism):

  • Michael – 29 Oct 1873 (27) – mother: Margaret Loughlin
  • John – 31 Dec 1875 (25)
  • Bartholomew – 16 Jan 1878 (23)
  • Catherine – 30 May 1880 (20) – mother: Bridget Loughten
  • Timothy – 28 Sep 1882 (18)
  • Julia – 15 Jun 1885 (15)
  • Jeremiah – 23 Jan 1888 (13)

Hurrah! This looks like the same family. Not sure where Bartholomew is on census night, and Catherine may be married by this time. Doesn’t look good for poor young Jeremiah – hopefully he’s having a sleepover at a friend’s place. But he’s also missing on the family tree…

So, were they living in the same house? It’s hard to be certain, without visiting Ballymacdonnell and asking the locals (which I’d love to do at some point!). In 1901 there were three houses inhabited in Ballymacdonnell, and from the census return (Form B1 – House and Building return), all three look to be similar in size and state, being classed as “2nd class”, with Bridget’s being perhaps a little smaller.

What was the house like that Bridget and her family were in? The walls were “stone, brick or concrete”, the roof was “thatch, wood or perishable material”, and there were three windows at the front of the house. The family of five were living in three rooms. Also on their property were eight outbuildings, detailed in Form B2 – Return of Out-Offices and Farm-Steadings: 1 stable, 2 cow houses, 1 calf house, 1 dairy, 1 piggery, 1 barn, and 1 shed.

When I came to recheck the map of Ballymacdonnell from Griffith’s Valuation today, I discovered something I had completely missed before! It is laid over the modern map, and using a slider widget at the top right hand side, you can switch between the old and modern maps. How cool is that!!??

Ballymacdonnell - Primary Valuation map3

Ballymacdonnell - Primary Valuation map

Ballymacdonnell - Primary Valuation map and Google maps satellite image

Ballymacdonnell - Primary Valuation map and Google maps satellite image

Ballymacdonnell -  Google maps satellite image4

Ballymacdonnell - Google maps satellite image

There are still buildings there, maybe even the original house.  Next task is to check the household in the 1911 census.

Griffith’s Valuation material (digital images and index) is Copyright of (c)2003 OMS Services Ltd, Eneclann Ltd and the National Library of Ireland

  1. Census of Ireland 1901, Kerry, Kilfelim, Ballymacdonnell, House no 3, Bridget Rourke; digital image, The National Archives of Ireland, Census of Ireland 1901/1911 (http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/ : accessed 05 Mar 2011).
  2. Dept of Tourism, Culture & Sport. “Search Church Records”. Database of transcriptions, church records for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kerry. Irish Genealogy. (http://www.irishgenealogy.ie/ : accessed 05 Mar 2011).
  3. Griffith, Richard. General Valuation of Rateable Property in Ireland… County of Kerry (Dublin: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1861), for Michael Rourke, occupier, Lot 3, Ballymacdonnell (townland), Killeentierna (parish), Trughanacmy (barony); “Griffith’s Valuation,” digital images, Ask About Ireland (http://www.askaboutireland.ie/griffith-valuation/index.xml : accessed 06 Mar 2011).
  4. Google Maps, Ballymacdonnell, satellite image; digital image, Ask About Ireland (http://www.askaboutireland.ie/griffith-valuation/index.xml : accessed 06 Mar 2011).