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
- “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.
- England, birth certificate for Percy Freeth; 31 Aug 1878, Farnham; citing Sep 1878 [quarter] 2a [vol] 111 [page], General Register Office, Stockport.
- “Ireland, Civil Registration Indexes 1845-1958,” index, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org : accessed 27 May 2011), from General Register Office.
- 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.