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The stranger in the grave

Glasnevin cemetery claims to have 2 million people buried within its walls, and a substantial portion of my Dublin ancestors are there.

John Long

I got the full details of a grave for a family of Longs, who were related to my great-grandmother, Mary Agnes Long. John Long, a butcher, his wife, Mary Teresa Long née Waters and their son, David Long were all known to me and members of her immediate family. David Long was an electrician and he never married, which explains why he was buried in a grave with his parents. However, it was the fourth person who intrigued me. Mary Anne Long, aged 44 died in 1915. She was a butcher’s wife living at 36 Bride St. I have research my own Long family extensively and her name was not familiar to me. She was chronologically the first person in the grave too. I found her death record on Civil Registers

Unfortunately, she died in the Richmond Hospital and they registered her death, so there’s no helpful family member name but the 1911 Census came to the rescue. This showed her husband was a Myles Long, a butcher, and they were the parents of a large family of then 8 but later 9 children before her untimely death in 1915. Her birth name was Mary Anne Moran.

Myles’ father was also a Myles and he had a brother called Mathew. These brothers were butchers, living on Patrick St. Their families used the same church as mine, St Nicholas de Myra, on Francis St. I suspect that Myles Long, Mary Anne’s husband, was a cousin of John Long.
However, a definitive link, beyond the fact that Mary Anne was buried in their grave, eludes me. John Long’s father, David, does not appear as a godparent or witness in the other family. There’s no death record for him, and only 2 confirmed children – perhaps he died young. John Long does appear as witness and godparent, but it’s a common name.

None of these 3 couples, who are roughly contemporary, all butchers, called Long, living in or around Patrick St, have their parents’ names recorded on their marriages.

I spoke to Lynn Brady, the excellent resident genealogist in Glasnevin and confirmed that John Long purchased the grave in 1908 for the princely sum of £3. There was also a relationship policy in Glasnevin. People buried in the same plot had to be spouses, children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren. Mary Anne Long was listed as John Long’s wife! However, my John Long was married in 1868 and pre-deceased his wife, who is also buried with him. It seems more likely that he fudged the relationship to get Mary Anne buried, especially given the alternative: a bigamous marriage with a woman 30 years his junior, who had 9 children with another man! The fact that this happened underlines the connection between the two families.  One branch was older, more financially secure and prepared for the future.  Mary Anne died unexpectedly and her husband was perhaps in a more precarious position.  Sadly, Myles Long died himself only 5 years after his wife. I don’t know what happened to their children when they lost both parents so young.

Further research produced a tree of some 80 people related to Myles Long, which I’ve now put up on Ancestry in the hopes of making contact with some descendants of this family. There are some partial trees created by people working on this family and I’ve sent messages to all of them. If one or more of them has taken a DNA test, we might be able to prove my hypothesis.

DNA helps solve a family mystery

My ancestor Thomas Henry Guerins had a younger brother called Joseph Francis. Here is the family on the 1911 census in Limerick city. He disappeared at some stage in the late 1910s and was never seen again.

Using a combination of traditional genealogical research methods and DNA testing, I’m thrilled to say that I found out what happened to him. My research is detailed in an article in this months Irish Roots magazine, which is now available in all good newsagents or you can buy a digital edition on their website.

Ancestors in surprising places

I’ve written extensively about my MP ancestor, Michael Joyce before but I had never identified his parents’ marriage. Richard Joyce and Bridget Tubbs‘ oldest recorded child was born in 1847, so there was a likely marriage date of 1-2 years before that but nothing showed up in the various Limerick city church registers. There was some suggestion from a distant cousin that Bridget might have come from Bruff and it would be usual to marry in the bride’s parish, but those records also yielded nothing.

Like many genealogists, I use Ancestry. They have a first-rate hint system which searches your uploaded family tree, then suggests records and user-inputted material that might match your people. In its early days, it was hit and miss but these days is rarely wrong.

So it was a great surprise when it suggested a hint for Richard and Bridget’s marriage on Thursday night, when I was up doing genealogy late into the night after a disappointing evening on another front.

The marriage it suggested was in Quebec in 1846. Luckily for me, I still remember my school French as the transcription only gives the bride and groom’s names.

I already knew that Richard’s parents were John Joyce and Joan/Joanna McGrath, and given that there were 2 sons called Cornelius and a daughter called Margaret, I felt this record was spot on.

But why they got married in Quebec remains a mystery for now. Richard Joyce got a river pilot’s licence in 1847 but perhaps he, like his sons Michael and James, had a career on the sea. Why Bridget was also in Canada is a puzzle. This is of course the Famine decade and there was much early emigration to Canada. However, Bridget & Richard came back to Ireland almost immediately because their first son was born here, approximately 9 months later.

It’s not every day you get 2 new great-great-great-great (4!) grandparents but I’d like to welcome Cornelius Tubbs and Margaret Fogarty to the family memory once again. Having their names brings that generation to a total of 9/64 – it’s a particularly tough generation to work on, as Catholic records are really only getting going in this period. By comparison, the next generation of 3 x grandparents is much easier and I know names and details for 29/32 of them. These earlier people would have been born around the turn of the 19th century. Going back to the Bruff link, I can see that they had most of their children there but Bridget, my direct ancestor, eluded me. Years ago I had seen a birth in Dublin of someone with that name but I had discounted it because nothing suggested to me that she ever left Limerick. But I saw something in the records in Bruff that made me think again.

Cornelius Tubbs had an illegitimate son called Edmond with a woman, Mary Hartigan in 1823. That sounds like a pretty good reason to skip town, right?

Take a look at this marriage from October 1824 in St Andrew’s church in Dublin. Connor Tubbs & Margaret Fogarty. Con is the usual short form of Cornelius* and Connor is considered a variant.

And further more, here’s the record I had found years ago and discounted.

It seems a pretty good working theory that Cornelius, or Con, hightailed it out of Bruff after getting a local woman pregnant, came to Dublin, where he met and married Margaret Fogarty a mere 13 months later. They had Bridget here, a respectable 10 months after, and they then returned to Bruff, where they went on to have 7 more children.

*Ó’Corráin, Donnchadh & Maguire, Fidelma, Irish Names, Lilliput Press, Dublin 1990

New Term in Malahide Community School starts in Autumn

Booking is now open for the new term of my beginner’s genealogy class in Malahide Community School. Classes will start on Tuesday 26th September and run for 10 weeks.

Researching your family tree is a growing hobby.  This class teaches you where to begin with Irish sources like the census, birth, death and marriage certificates, then progresses to parish registers, newspapers, wills, land records and the military. No prior knowledge is required but ability to use a computer & the internet is essential, as many genealogy records are now online.

Mystery Man

mystery manWho is this man? I found this photo, and another copy of it in my grandmother’s photos. There’s no name or any writing on the back and he doesn’t look like any known member of the family. She has photos of other family members in this bundle but most date from the 1920s/1930s. This man’s clothes look more Edwardian in style. The family lived on New Bride St in Dublin.

I’m just putting this online in case someone comes across it and can shed some light.

Church Records lecture

Lecture on Irish Church Records as part of the London AGM of the IGRS on 7th May at the City of Westminister Archives.  More details and booking information here.