Friday, 20 March 2015

Friday's Faces from the Past ~ Uncle Artie and Aunt Winnie

My granduncle, Arthur O'Neill, died on 7 January 1965, in London, having moved there soon after the war. Dad was just a boy when he left, yet, he still has fond memories of his 'Uncle Artie.' Although my father knew very little about his maternal ancestry, his recollections of Uncle Artie have enabled me to piece together the highlights and the lowlights of Artie's life.

Artie was born into a family of nine children, in Dublin city, the fourth and youngest son of Charles O'Neill and Mary Agnes Donovan. Around his tenth birthday, his father died suddenly, catapulting the family into crisis. Although his mother remarried in 1896, within a year of his father’s death, she was unable to take her dependent children with her to her new home with Thomas Augustus Ellis and they ended up in care.


Arthur O'Neill, (c.1885 - 1965)
Arthur O'Neill, 1901 Census, Industrial School, Limerick
Click on image to enlarge

At the time of the 1901 census, when my grandmother and her sister Johanna were found in foster care, the only potential sighting of young Artie, was in a boys’ industrial school, run by the Christian Brothers, in Limerick city. Many miles from home and without the company of his elder brothers (who were, by then, working and living with their mother and Mr. Ellis in Dublin), life in the industrial school was most likely not fun. It was certainly not fun, if the unspeakable abuse allegations, which have since come to light, are anything to go on. But, Artie survived this ordeal, and by 1911, he was back in Dublin, working as a hairdresser, and living with his mother.

In April 1917, Artie married Winifred (Winnie) O'Connor, nĂ© Earley, in the church at Sandymount, Dublin. Winnie was the widow of Bartholomew O'Connor, who died in January 1913, leaving her with three children, Brendan, aged five, Ellen, aged four and Winifred, barely two years old. When Bartholomew died, Winnie was pregnant with their fourth child, Bart, born eight months later.  

Winnie's situation obviously reminded Artie of his own experience, following his father's untimely death and undoubtedly his heart went out to the children. He was perhaps determined to keep them all together, and that, he did. Artie and Winnie went on to have four more children, Mary (May), Charlie, Art and Tom and when they were still young, the O'Neills and the O'Connors, all moved to Kiltimagh, in county Mayo, on the west coast of Ireland, where Artie worked as a barber.


Arthur O'Neill & Winifred (Earley, O'Connor) O'Neill (Dublin & Kiltimagh)
Arthur and Winifred O'Neill, c. 1919

This photo, probably taken about 1919, is believed to be of the young Arthur O'Neill, with his wife Winifred and one of their children. 

Some thirty years into their marriage, Winnie became very ill. Knowing she was going to die, the couple came back to Dublin, and stayed with my grandparents, in Malahide. As they had come of age, many of Winnie's children had migrated to England, in search of work, and settled there. 'Black Raven', the name of our house in Malahide, is situated conveniently close to Dublin Airport. So, not only was my grandmother able to care for Winnie in her final days, but the move back to the east coast also made it easier for her children to visit. It was during this time that Dad came to better know and like his Uncle Artie. Winnie died at ‘Black Raven’ on 8 October 1948 and was laid to rest at Glasnevin Cemetery, next to her first husband, Bartholomew O'Connor.

Arthur O'Neill & Winifred (Earley. O'Connor) O'Neill (Dublin & Kiltimagh)
“1947, Art O’Neill & Winnie”

This photograph was taken in 1947, not long before Winnie’s death. Do you see a resemblance between them here and the young couple in the earlier photograph above? I believe I do.

Shortly after Winnie died, Artie went to England to live with his daughter, May. He was listed in the London Electoral Registers in 1949, at 44 Victoria House, on the South Lambeth Road, living with his children May and Tom O'Neill. After May and Tom had both moved on and gone their separate ways, Artie continued to live in the same flat in Victoria House, with his step-son, Bart O'Connor. Bart was the child born after his own father's passing. He married Teresa Byrne in 1953, and Artie remained with the newly-weds in Victoria House, until they all moved together, to Chatsworth Way, in South East London, in 1960. This was still their home when Artie died, in 1965, at the age of seventy-nine years. 


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© 2015 Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Of times past ~ Maurice Carroll

Coachman

The very earliest written record found, relating to my great-great-grandfather, Maurice Carroll, was apparently dated 1857. In this transcript, he was named as the father of David Carroll, a child born on 26 December, at Bow Bridge, and baptised in the parish of St James, in Dublin city. David’s mother was named as Mary Anne Frayer.[1]

Little David would surely have been a welcome Christmas addition in any family, except, in this case, his birth may have been a mixed blessing. In 1857, his parents were not married. It was thirteen months later, on 9 February 1859, when Maurice Carroll married Mary Anne Frazer. Maurice’s parents, my third-great-grandparents, were recorded in the register as David Carroll and Catherine Cummins. So, the baby boy was seemingly named after his paternal grandfather.[1]

The deferral of Maurice and Mary Anne’s marriage is curious, not that pre-marital conception was rare in Catholic Ireland, but couples were normally compelled to marry prior to their child’s birth, if they were going to marry at all. Public condemnation by the priest, the families and the community at large generally saw to that. The reason for the delay is therefore intriguing, but, the exact circumstances of Maurice and Mary Anne’s courtship are probably now lost forever.

By the time their second son Robert was born in July 1860, Maurice and Mary Anne had moved out of the city, and set up home in Balheary, a rural district near Swords, in north county Dublin.[2]  Neither Maurice nor Mary Anne had any apparent ties to the area. Maurice was supposedly born in county Tipperary.[3] According to their 1859 marriage register, his parents had an address in Limerick and Mary Anne’s parents hailed from Clonmel in county Tipperary. So, Maurice probably only moved to Balheary for work. He was seemingly employed by the Baker family at Balheary House, initially as a domestic servant and later as their coachman.

Balheary House was then owned by Henry and Belinda Baker. Although it no longer survives today, at that time, the house and demesne had probably changed little since 1837, when it was described as: 
‘a large square structure with several apartments of ample dimensions; in the saloon and dining-rooms are some fine pieces of tapestry, formerly the property of the Earl of Ormonde: the surrounding demesne, through which flow the small rivers of Fieldstown and Knocksedan, is well laid out, and commands a fine view of Howth and the Dublin mountains, with the town and environs of Swords, which, with its church, round tower, ruins of the monastery, and other interesting objects, presents a varied and picturesque scene in the foreground. [Swords,  Samuel Lewis, A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837]

Swords, from Robert Walsh, Fingal and its Churches, Dublin, 1888

It sounds like the family lived in beautiful surroundings. Their subsequent children were baptised in the parish of Donabate, close to Balheary: Catherine Carroll in May 1862; Thomas Carroll in December 1863 and James Carroll in November 1865.[2]

Then, in March 1868, tragedy struck the young family and Mary Anne died of phthisis (tuberculosis), leaving Maurice a widower. James was only two years of age.[4]

Old Mr. Baker died on 31 December 1876, a widower, with no surviving children. His estate went to his nephew in England and Maurice’s sixteen-year employment at Balheary came to an abrupt end.  By this time, he had married Anne Radcliffe, my great-great-grandmother and my great-grandaunts, Mary and Annie Carroll were born.[5]

Throughout the following decade, Maurice and Anne appeared to have moved all over Dublin, in search of work.  In 1878, when their son John Carroll was born, Maurice worked as a coachman in Ballybrack. Ballybrack is situated to the very south of county Dublin. In 1882, he was still a coachman, but back living in north county Dublin, at the Baskin, in Cloghran, near Swords, and their son Maurice Carroll was born there. They were  living nearby at Middleton, in Cloghran, in 1884, when their son Peter Carroll came along. By 1888, when my great-grandmother, Teresa Carroll, was born, the family had moved back to Dublin city.[2] [4]

In the mid-1890s, Maurice and Anne were thought to have purchased, or at least acted as the (slum) landlord for, a property at 20 North Gloucester Place, Mountjoy. Here, they both saw out their days. The house was in 'tenements' in 1901, when the Carrolls shared it with two other families, and they were the 'rated occupiers' there in 1909.[6][7]  The majority of my ancestors did not own their homes at the end of the nineteenth century, so, it would be interesting to find out the truth of this. There is probably more information available in the Valuation Office in Dublin – a mission for another day.
  
[1] Church registers on IrishGenealogy.ie. 
[2] Church registers on RootsIreland.ie.
[3] Household Return (Form A), 1901 Census, National Archives of Ireland.
[4] Copy BMD registers, General Register Office.
[5] Will and Grant of Henry Baker, 1887, Ms. T1612, National Archives of Ireland.
[6] House and Building Return (Form B), 1901 Census.
[7] Dublin City Electoral List 1909, Dublinheritage.ie.

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© 2015 Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday, 7 March 2015

The Radcliffe Insolvency Saga

Sandridge from Hobsons Bay, 1863

Life was good for John Radcliffe, a thirty-four year old plasterer, turned building contractor, living in Sandridge (Port Melbourne), in 1861. Being in the right place, at the right time, he was awarded many lucrative government contracts and accumulated such wealth and property as would have been barely imaginable to a man of his social standing back home in Ireland.  That year, he married Bridget Flanagan and maybe tried to forget the tragic death of his first wife, Mary. Presumably, he still thought of their twelve year old daughter, Anne, my great-great-grandmother, left behind with his family, more than 10,000 miles away, in Dublin. 

In 1864, John built a substantial home, a mansion by some accounts, on Bay Street, Sandridge. He bought the site for £150 in 1863 and spent £1,000 on building costs. There, he resided with his new wife and set about making a life for himself. Sadly, his second chance of happiness was short-lived, and soon thereafter, John succumbed to ill-health. 

The following year, they converted their new home into the ‘President Lincoln Hotel’ and John applied for a publican's licence. The property included two sitting-rooms and two bedrooms, in addition to their private accommodation. Perhaps, with his illness, John was struggling to earn a living as a builder. Or, maybe he worried for his wife's livelihood, should the unthinkable happen, and decided to set her up in a profitable business she could manage on her own. Either way, the hotel did not spell the end of John's financial woes and, six months later, citing heavy losses on contracts and ill-health, he was declared insolvent. A man named Henry Shaw was appointed as the official assignee. Shaw immediately commenced the sale of John's assets, with a view to distributing the proceeds amongst his creditors. 

Town, and Melbourne & Hobson's Bay Railway Piers, Sandridge, 1862

John Radcliffe did not include the hotel in his original schedule of assets (£439) and liabilities (£1,495). He was presumably desperate to keep it for himself and his wife, especially as his failing health now seriously jeopardised his income as a builder. When questioned about this omission in the creditors' court, John claimed the hotel was mortgaged to a Mr. Gatehouse for over £600 and he had already transferred its ownership to his father-in-law, Patrick Flanagan, in settlement of a £300 debt for unpaid wages. The court did not accept this account and the official assignee took possession of the hotel. It sold for £850 at an auction held in August 1866. However, the following month, Mr. Shaw applied to transfer the publican's licence to Patrick Flanagan, and John and Bridget continued living there until their deaths. It would seem the family somehow came up with the money to keep the business and their home. 

This was, perhaps, not John's only attempt at circumventing the insolvency proceedings. He also gave two pieces of land, one in Sandridge and one in Melbourne, to his brother-in-law, Robert Flanagan, claiming it was in settlement of a debt. However, in March 1867, long after John Radcliffe was dead and buried, Henry Shaw sued Bridget for possession of the property, by then returned to her by her brother. The judge believed the Radcliffe's story was improbable and, quoting an English judge, declared ‘there was no woman who could not be either kicked or kissed out of her jointure.’ He returned the property to Henry Shaw. 

Seemingly, Thomas Radcliffe, John's younger brother, also wanted a piece of the action and, much to John's dispute, claimed he was owed £204 for goods sold, work done and money lent. To back up his claim, Thomas produced a scrap of paper, covered in figures in childlike handwriting, and claimed it was an I.O.U., signed by John. Thomas worked as a foreman in John's building business, and, if deemed to have been a partner, even a junior partner, he would have been entitled to a share of the profits, if any, not wages. The commissioner ruled the evidence produced by Thomas was suspicious and the so-called I.O.U. absurd. He concluded Thomas could not have been working as a servant, so was not entitled to claim wages, given he had allowed them to accumulate for years, while at the same time hiring and paying the other workers. Thomas's claim was unsuccessful, though it surely destroyed the brothers' relationship with each other, in the final days of John's life.

Sandridge, 1866

It was on 30 October 1866, the very day of John Radcliffe's death, that he finally got the better of Henry Shaw. In July 1865, he had taken out a £600 life insurance, for his wife's benefit. When he later became insolvent, the policy passed to the official assignee and was listed in the schedule of assets with a value of £20. In September 1866, the Radcliffe's attorney, Mr. Sterling, offered £10 for the policy, but this offer was refused and it took some time for them to raise the full purchase price. Possibly, every last penny had gone to securing their home at the auction. On the morning of 30 October, Mr. Sterling paid over the £20 asking price and the policy was returned to Bridget Radcliffe. Her husband died later that day. 

Mr. Shaw then issued proceedings against Mr. Sterling and Bridget Radcliffe, arguing they knew John was dying and, having suppressed this material fact, the policy should be returned to him. Mr. Sterling denied knowledge of his client's impending death, answering that Mr. Shaw had equal opportunity to ascertain the insolvent's state of health, being in possession of his premises. The judge agreed and dismissed the case, with costs. Bridget got the benefit of the insurance policy.

Unless meningitis had rendered John Radcliffe unconscious on the morning of his passing, he presumably died happy in the knowledge that his wife would have a roof over her head and a business to provide an income. So, after a long and painful illness, he could finally rest in peace.

My grandfather's Radcliffe Pedigree 


Source: The Argus, Melbourne, 1861-67, accessed on Trove, digitised newspapers, National Library of Australia.  

Image credits:  Town, and Melbourne & Hobson's Bay Railway Piers, Sandridge, by Arthur Willmore (1814-1888), engraver, Victoria illustrated, 1862; Sandridge, 1866, by Henry Gritten (1818-1873); Sandridge from Hobsons Bay, 1863, by Charles Troedel (1836-1906), printer, all courtesy of  the State Library of Victoria.


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© 2015 Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday, 28 February 2015

An Unexpected Prisoner

This week, as we were watching the mid-week movie on television, I was also entering the names of my Wynne ancestors, one by one, into the search field of the genealogy website, FindMyPast. I was doodling really, only half paying attention, just to see if anything new turned up. 

Well, you are never going to believe who I found in their Irish prison registers! 

I started with Grandad Kevin, born in 1909, but found only a few BMD (birth, marriage and death) indexes and a census index, all readily available elsewhere. Next, I entered the name of Kevin's father, Patrick Wynne, remembered as being a bit of a Fenian, so it would not have come as a major surprise to find him mentioned in the prison registers. However, Patrick migrated to England about 1915, before getting into trouble, and his name only appeared as next-of-kin to his elder brother Joseph, discussed previously here

It seemed opportune to search, yet again, for Kevin's grandfather, my elusive ‘brick-wall’ ancestor, John Wynne, born about 1820, but I found nothing new. I entered the name of John's wife, Bridget Wynne, certainly not expecting to find anything on her – after all, married women were notoriously absent from the official records of the nineteenth century. At least, most married women were.  Yet, the prison registers are full of women - prostitutes and drunkards and vagrants - all signs of the widespread destitution of the era. 


I stumbled upon a record for a Bridget Wynne, aged fifty. She was imprisoned for ten days, in Grangegorman Female Prison, on 27 March 1884 - the charge was ‘Abusive and threatening language.’ I was merely going through the motions, not expecting it to be my ancestor, so you can imagine my surprise when it transpired this Bridget lived at ‘4 Christ C. Place’. My great-great-grandmother, of the same name, resided at 4 Christ Church Place at the time of her death in 1895. Her daughter Mary Wynne lived there too, when she married Michael Finnegan in 1885.

This was hardly a coincidence.

What did we already know about our Bridget? She was said to have been born Bridget Hynes, from Co. Limerick. She was remembered as having been a midwife, though no proof of this has been found. Her marriage to John Wynne, in 1849, was listed in the register for St Catherine’s Parish, Meath Street.  She was named as the mother of ten Wynne children, all born in the Liberties area of Dublin, between 1850 and 1877. Her father was John Hynes, with an address in Limerick City, named when her sister Catherine married James Tucker, in 1857. Her mother, Margaret Hynes, died on 20 November 1884, the widow of a carpenter and shared Catherine’s grave in Glasnevin Cemetery. When Bridget died from phthisis in 1895, her youngest daughter Agnes Wynne registered her death and estimated Bridget’s birth as having been about 1831. Her baptism record has not so far been identified. 

So, now we also know Bridget was no shrinking violet!
The prison records provide, previously unknown, details about her physical appearance: In 1884, in her fifties, she was 5 feet, 2 inches tall, with black hair, grey eyes and a sallow complexion. Is this where our typical ‘Wynne-look’ comes from? 
Her birthplace was confirmed as Limerick.

This was not Bridget's only brush with the law.  She also served two short prison sentences in 1889. It was undoubtedly the same woman, although by 1889 her hair was described as being dark grey. Her weight was given as 106 Ibs. She still resided at 4 Christ Church Place, just across from the Cathedral, in the heart of what was once medieval Dublin. On the second offence her address was listed as ‘4 Church St.’, most probably in error. On 6 November 1889, Bridget was committed to serve seven days for being drunk. The following month, on 27 December, she was again sentenced to four days, for the same offence.

It's sad - poor Bridget - her life was obviously no picnic.


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© 2015 Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Grandad and the Metropolitan School of Art

As a genealogist, I just love finding my ancestors in new (to me) record sets!

National Library and Metropolitan School of Art, Dublin 

Since my request, a couple of weeks ago, for those ‘in the know’ to tell me more about my maternal grandfather, I've not been disappointed. Many new snippets of information, mostly about his paintings, have come to light, but one little titbit stands out - maybe because I have already found the independent documentary evidence to prove it. Kevin Wynne attended the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art, deemed to have been Ireland’s premiere art college (thank you, Anne, for letting me know). While, I was well aware of his artistic leanings, this I did not know (or, perhaps, had forgotten). 

Granted, the supporting evidence has long been available online, but I hadn't come across it before. In 2005, the National Irish Visual Arts Library indexed and digitised copy images of the student registers of the Metropolitan School of Art. These date from 1877 to 1936. In 1936, the School became the National College of Art and Design and the registers, for its first fifty years to 1986, were also published online. I easily found my grandfather's name in their database. He was mentioned in twelve separate documents, providing such information as to his age, address, occupation and his semi-annual fee payments.


Students of a life class at work in the Metropolitan School of Art, Dublin

In October 1927, Kevin Wynne, then with an address at 21 Upper Rutland Street, enrolled for a drawing or a figure drawing class at the Metropolitan School of Art, where he paid 6s/6d to attend three evenings a week. He signed up again for the academic year 1931-32. The College was situated in Kildare Street, between the National Library and Leinster House (now the seat of the Irish parliament).

Not that I'm name dropping, but William Orpen, Harry Clarke and Kevin's friend Evie Hone, all attended the school at various points over the decades - as well as about 25,000 other budding artists. Even the renowned Irish poet William Butler Yeats, having spent a term or two studying at the school, is listed amongst its alumni.

Kevin Wynne, Student 562, Register 1938, National College of Ireland, NIVAL

In October 1938, two years after his marriage to my grandmother, my grandfather returned to pursue his studies at the school. By then, it had been designated the National College of Art and Design. Painting, sculpture and design classes had been added to the curriculum and, in the previous year, Sean Keating was named the Professor of Painting. Maurice MacGonigal was appointed as his assistant. These accomplished Irish artists became my grandfather's teachers. 

While living at 3 Buckingham Cottages, Kevin attended the college three or four evenings a week, for four years. He started in October 1938 for three years, took a break for the year 1941-42 and returned for a final year commencing in October 1942. I wonder why he took the year off. Perhaps he had not the heart to enroll in 1941, following the death of his two-month old son, Kevin, in April that year.

Image sources:

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© 2015 Black Raven Genealogy