This year for Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d take a look at how often Irish people were called Valentine in February.
St Valentine was a 3rd century CE Roman martyred clergyman who is also the patron saint of beekeepers and asthma. I didn’t know illnesses could have saints, but there you go! He has an association with Dublin. He’s buried in Rome but there are some relics of him kept at Whitefriar St Carmelite church. It’s quite close to the National Archives. His feast day is 14th February, the day he was martyred, and has been commemorated for many centuries. In Dublin, some people make a pilgrimage to Whitefriar St on this day in search of true love.
Using IrishGenealogy.ie, we can investigate precise dates of birth for people born in 1900 up to 1921 quite easily, as it’s part of the index reference.
Countrywide, we see 297 births of a person whose first name was Valentine (or in just a single case, Valentina) in that 21 year period. I did note plenty of people born in January and December called Valentine as I scanned through the list, but I focused solely on those February babies.
64 of those 297 births were on 14th February, which is 21.55%. Another 58 were in February. If we take all the February births, it’s actually only 41% of the Valentines, which suggests that plenty of people used that name at other times of the year.
It is a unisex name but there were more boys than girls bestowed with it. My favourite was Ms Valentine Blessing born in Athy in 1908. I also liked Valentine McBride (optimistic) and Valentine Sweetman (likely) both males born in 1918.
Of course, Valentine is also a surname. There are 1619 civil records pertaining to that surname across the whole period accessible on IrishGenealogy.ie (1845-1971). I particularly liked the marriage of Amadeus Valentine (parents a fan of Mozart presumably) and Jane Valentine in 1923.
I couldn’t help wondering if Amadeus and Jane were related. They married in the Church of Ireland, where it is more common for cousins to marry.
Amadeus was easily found in Wicklow on the 1911 census with his mother, whose occupation was charmingly described as a ‘farmeress’ and many siblings. His father was by then dead. Amadeus’s mother was called Sarah Tutty at birth. I discovered this by searching for the birth of one of her children – I couldn’t find Amadeus, but Wilhelmina came to the rescue.
Jane Valentine also lived with her large family in 1911. Using the same technique, I found her mother’s name was Mary Wilson – and you can see one of the witnesses was Georgina Wilson. The marriage of both sets of parents are below, and show that Jane and Amadeus are not first cousins. Their paternal grandfathers were called William and Amadeus. It still seems unlikely to me that they aren’t related. As we’ve seen, Valentine is not that common a name, so maybe they’re second cousins. Perhaps there’s scope for a one-name study?!
So if you’re looking for love this February, drop by Whitefriar St today!