Irish ancestry, or the lack of it

Earlier this year there was a genealogy idea doing the rounds online, tagged #MyColorfulAncestry. The suggestion, which originated with American genealogist J. Paul Hawthorne (GeneaSpy), was to create a five-generation pedigree/ancestry chart for your ancestors, using a Microsoft Excel template with the cells colour-coded according to each ancestor’s place of birth (U.S. state, or country).1

It’s an interesting way of showing the geographical spread of your ancestors over time. There were some very colourful examples – like this one – shared via social media, showing how people’s ancestors had migrated from many different lands and throughout the U.S.A.2

I joked that my own five-generation chart would not take long – every cell would be the same colour and would just read “England”. I could introduce more variety by labelling and colouring the cells according to the historic county of England in which each ancestor was born (over the last five generations, there would be nine: County DurhamDerbyshire, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Northumberland, Oxfordshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, and Yorkshire).

To reach my first non-English ancestor I would have to extend the chart to six generations so that it displayed my 32 great-great-great grandparents, including cordwainer (master shoe and boot maker) William Grady who was born in County Armagh in about 1830 or ’31.35 I am now fairly certain that William’s son Luke (O’)Grady (1867-????) was the mysterious absentee father of one of my great-grandparents.6 (I still don’t know what happened to Luke O’Grady after his child was born in 1888.)

This makes me about 3% Irish. When I started looking into my family history I had assumed – because of the extent of Irish immigration to Britain, and because my mother’s family name is an Irish surname (see below) – that I was going to find much more Irish ancestry, and more recently than the mid-C19th.

The #MyColorfulAncestry chart below covers seven generations. The top half is my ancestry back to three-greats grandparents; the bottom half shows my wife’s ancestors, who were also all born in England, making my children about 1.6% (1/64) Irish. Any lines that I have traced back further than my children’s four-greats grandparents have been wholly English. There may well be more Irish or other countries of origin in the lines I haven’t yet researched. There are Scottish names (notably Gray) amongst my paternal grandmother’s ancestors, but no proven connection to individuals born in Scotland.

Colour coded pedigree chart

Seven-generation pedigree chart colour-coded by birthplace
From an idea by J. Paul Hawthorne (GeneaSpy) #MyColorfulAncestry
Click on the image for a larger version.

I do not know when William Grady (or O’Grady) came to England. There are hundreds of people of that name in the 1841 + 1851 English censuses, including several Irish-born shoemakers of approximately the right age.7,8 The first definite sighting of William is at his marriage to Jane Spooner on 23 April 1859 at St George’s Church (C of E) in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire.9 According to the entry in the marriage register William was born around 1831 and that his father was James Grady, also a shoemaker. Later censuses (1861-’81) established that William was born in Ireland, in Armagh.35

There’s a good chance William left Ireland during the Great Famine between 1845 and 1852.10,11

St George's Church, Wolverhampton: now a branch of Sainsbury's © Copyright Roger Kidd and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

St George’s Church, Wolverhampton, where William Grady and Jane Spooner were married in 1859, is now a branch of Sainsbury’s. © Copyright Roger Kidd and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The National Library of Ireland has digitised its entire collection of Catholic parish registers and made them available for free, at: registers.nli.ie

I have only found one baptism entry in that collection for a William, son of James Grady or O’Grady in the whole of County Armagh around the right time period. This William was baptised on 3 May 1830 in Armagh City. His mother’s name was Mary Fitzsimmons or -simons. The father’s occupation was not recorded.12

The same James Grady and Mary Fitzsimmons also had a daughter, Jane Grady, baptised in Armagh on 10 January 1829. I cannot find a corresponding marriage for James and Mary.12

The baptism records above may well not relate to the family of ‘my’ William Grady. I have no way of knowing how many potential candidate baptism records have not survived (notoriously, many Irish records have not), or even whether William’s family were Catholic (an even higher proportion of the records of the Anglican Church of Ireland were destroyed – by fire, in 1922).13

Baptism of William Grady

Entry in the register of baptisms for William Grady, 3 May 1830, Armagh.
National Library of Ireland, reproduced under licence.

After William Grady and Jane Spooner were married in 1859 they moved initially to Lock Street in the city of Worcester.3 From 1867 onwards they were living back in Jane’s home town of Wolverhampton, at number 80, Temple Street.4,5,14,15 They had six children:

  • Ellen (b. 1860, Worcester – d. maybe 1900, Birmingham?)
  • Mark (b. 1862, Worcester – d. 1889, Newport, South Wales)
  • Martha (b. 1864, Worcester – d. ????)
  • Luke (b. 1867, Wolverhampton – d. ????)
  • Agnes (b. 1871, Wolverhampton – d. ????)
  • Winifred (b. 1876, Wolverhampton – d. 1930, Newhaven, Sussex)

Jane Grady née Spooner died in Wolverhampton in 1878 – William passed away five years later. He was fifty-three.14

You can see from the number of question marks in the list above that William and Jane’s children have a habit of disappearing without trace…

  • By 1891 Ellen was living in Camberwell, London, with her daughter Kathleen Turner (1887-????) and her sister Winifred (Winnie). I cannot find a marriage of Ellen (O’)Grady to Mr Turner. She may have died in Birmingham in 1900.14,16,17
  • Mark became a railway policeman with the G.W.R. and was posted to London then to Cardiff, Newport, and Crosskeys. He died in South Wales in 1889, aged twenty-seven.5,14,18
  • Martha was living in Lambeth, London in 1881, working as a professional dancer and lodging in the home of Edward Owden, clown(!) – she then disappears.5
  • Luke fathered a child in January 1888 – then disappears.6
  • Agnes was in Lambeth in 1891, working as a general servant. However ten years later she appears in Westminster, occupation: professional dancer (the same as her sister Martha twenty years before) – she then disappears.5,6
  • Winifred (Winnie) was living with her sister Ellen in 1891; six years later she married master grocer Austin James Horsley, settling down in Lambeth. They had a daughter, Elise Mary Horsley (1899-1993). Winifred died in Sussex in 1930.14,16,19,20

I have also traced the ancestry of my mother’s family name, Corr. My great grandfather Frank Corr was born an O’Grady (above)6 but used the name Corr throughout his life, giving it to his eleven children and thirteen of his grandchildren. Corr was the surname of Frank’s mother’s late husband, Edward Corr (1853-1887). Edward was also the first cousin of Frank O’Grady/Corr’s biological father, Luke O’Grady.

Edward was born in Wolverhampton in 1853 and worked as a machinist/turner and fitter in Birmingham before his early death.3,4,5,14 He married (Frank O’Grady/Corr’s mother) Emily Farley on 14 July 1872.21 Edward’s parents were Felix Corr (1834-1874) and Harriet Spooner.22

Harriet Spooner was the elder sister of Jane Spooner the wife of William Grady (above). On 27 December 1852 at St Peter’s Church in Wolverhampton she married file maker Felix Corr.23 Felix was born in about June 1834 in St Neots in Huntingdonshire and had moved to Wolverhampton to be apprenticed to a file maker, Elihu Price. His parents were another Felix Corr (about 1806-1838) and Emma Hancock.3,4,8,22

It’s very likely that Felix Corr, senior, was from Ireland – again, probably from Armagh. The surname Corr (Ir. Ó Corra) is particularly common in Ulster generally and in counties Tyrone and Armagh in particular.24

In Bradshaw’s 1819 Directory for Armagh City there is an entry for Felix Corr, huxter (i.e. hawker), of Castle Street.25

St Mary at Quay, Ipswich

St Mary at Quay, Ipswich, where Felix Corr (senior) and Emma Hancock were married in 1834. Now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust and home to a corporate events and ‘complementary therapies’ centre.
© Copyright Robert Edwards and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

On 1 April 1834 in the church of St Mary at Quay, Ipswich, Suffolk, Felix Corr and Emma Hancock were married. The witnesses were Emma’s sister Sophia Hancock and her future husband Shadrach Chaplin. (Sophia and Shadrach are ancestors of the actor Charlie Chaplin.)2628

Emma and Felix had two sons: Felix junior, and John, who died in infancy.14

Felix Corr, licensed hawker, died in Ipswich aged only thirty-two, of “decline”.29 His widow remarried in 1839; her new husband Peter McDonald was originally from Dundalk, County Louth and was also a hawker.7,8,14 Emma and Peter had a son, Michael McDonald, in 1840.14 The whole family including Emma’s son Felix Corr spent the next decade travelling round East Anglia, presumably engaged in hawking their wares.7,8

Michael McDonald later joined his half-brother Felix in the industrial West Midlands.5,17,19,20 The extended Corr/McDonald family were typical in one sense – huge numbers of Irish people migrated to Wolverhampton and Birmingham in the C19th, and Birmingham still has a large Irish community – but were unusual in coming to the West Midlands via rural East Anglia, which never had a big Irish population, and in their parents having been in England well before the huge wave of immigration from Ireland in the 1840s.30

Hancock sketch family tree

Sketch family tree of the Hancock, Chaplin, Corr, (O’)Grady and Spooner families.
Click on the image for a larger version.

References

  1. Hawthorne, J. Paul, “A Little Thing That Went Viral… #MyColorfulAncestry,” GeneaSpy, 26 March 2016 (http://www.geneaspy.com/ : accessed 3 October 2016).
  2. Last, Jana, “My Five Generation Birthplace Pedigree Chart,” Jana’s Genealogy and Family History Blog, 24 March 2016 (http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.co.uk/ : accessed 3 October 2016).
  3. “1861 England Census,” digital images, Ancestry Library Edition (http://www.ancestrylibrary.com/ : accessed 18 December 2015); The National Archives, Kew.
  4. “1871 England Census,” digital images; The National Archives, Kew.
  5. “1881 England Census,” digital images; The National Archives, Kew.
  6. England and Wales, birth certificate (certified copy); General Register Office, Southport.
  7. “1841 England Census,” digital images; The National Archives, Kew.
  8. “1851 England Census,” digital images; The National Archives, Kew.
  9. St George’s Church (Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England), parish registers; digital images, Findmypast (http://www.findmypast.co.uk/ : accessed 3 December 2014).
  10. Swift, Roger, editor, Irish migrants in Britain, 1815-1914: a documentary history (Cork University Press, 2002).
  11. Neal, Frank, Black ’47: Britain and the Famine Irish (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1998).
  12. St Patrick’s Cathedral (Armagh, County Armagh, Ireland), parish registers; digital images, National Library of Ireland (http://registers.nli.ie/ : accessed 3 December 2014).
  13. “‘All Irish genealogical records were destroyed in the 1922 fire’: Myth or fact?” Irish Genealogy Toolkit (http://www.irish-genealogy-toolkit.com/irish-records-burned.html : 5 October 2016).
  14. “FreeBMD,” digital images, FreeBMD (http://www.freebmd.org.uk/ : accessed 29 March 2016); General Register Office, Southport.
  15. Birmingham Post, 20 July 1880, p. 5.
  16. St Mark’s Church (Kennington, London, England), parish registers; digital images, Ancestry Library Edition (http://www.ancestrylibrary.com/ : accessed 25 April 2016).
  17. “1891 England Census,” digital images; The National Archives, Kew.
  18. “UK, Railway Employment Records, 1833-1956,” digital images, Ancestry Library Edition (http://www.ancestrylibrary.com/ : accessed 26 April 2016); The National Archives, Kew.
  19. “1901 England Census,” digital images; The National Archives, Kew.
  20. “1911 England Census,” digital images; The National Archives, Kew.
  21. All Saints’ Church (Hockley, Warwickshire, England), parish registers; digital images, Ancestry.
  22. St Mary’s Church (Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England), parish registers; digital images, Findmypast.
  23. St Peter’s Church (Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England), parish registers; digital images, Findmypast.
  24. Grenham, John, Irish Ancestors – Irish Surnames (https://www.johngrenham.com/surnames/ : accessed 5 October 2016).
  25. Brown, Sharon Oddie, “Bradshaw’s 1819 Directory for Armagh City,” transcription, 23 June 2008, The Silver Bowl (http://www.thesilverbowl.com/ : 20 March 2015).
  26. Church of St Mary at Quay (Ipswich, Suffolk, England), banns; Suffolk Record Office, Lowestoft.
  27. Church of St Mary at Quay (Ipswich, Suffolk, England), bishop’s transcripts; Suffolk Record Office, Lowestoft.
  28. Suffolk Record Office, research service report, 5 October 2015, ref. 9/1/S/KEM.
  29. England and Wales, death certificate (certified copy); General Register Office, Southport.
  30. Swift, Roger and Gilley, Sheridan, editors, The Irish in Victorian Britain: the local dimension (Four Courts Press, 1999).
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The Hancock family of Oldcot (Staffordshire) and Ipswich, and the Charlie Chaplin connection

I’m piecing together the family of Benjamin Hancock (poss. 1780 – poss. 1814) and his wife Margaret (1782 – 1827) née probably Tunstall, of Oldcot, Wolstanton, Staffordshire, in the early 19th century, and three of their children who all ended up in Ipswich, Suffolk by the 1830s.

Their daughter Sophia is the great grandmother of the actor and filmmaker Charlie Chaplin (as described on the website of William Addams Reitwiesner); their son Thomas married into the same Chaplin family. Another daughter, Emma, ties in to my Corr family.

There are a lot of Hancock families in and around the parish of Wolstanton at this time, including several people called Benjamin Hancock.

The parish registers for this area from 1789-1812, available in Findmypast’s Staffordshire Collection, are pre-printed forms filled in by a single hand; some entries are very sparse and seem to be missing details.

Newchapel parish register

Example of the parish registers for the chapel of St James, Newchapel, on pre-printed forms, available in Findmypast’s Staffordshire Collection.

What I know…

My Hancock couple may have married in 1802, though I have no corroborating evidence that this is definitely their marriage:

  • 20th November 1802 – Benjamin Hancock, collier, mar. Margaret Tunstall at St Giles, Newcastle-under-Lyme – both resident in the parish of Stoke.1

I believe Benjamin and Margaret had at least five children:

  • Abt 1804 – Sophia Hancock born, poss. in Tunstall, Wolstanton, Staffs.2
  • 17th January 1808 – Margaret Anne Hancock, dau. of Benjamin and Margaret, bapt. St James, Newchapel – resident at Old[cot]. She died aged 15.
  • 18th March 1810 – Thos. Tunstall Hancock, son of Benjamin (mother’s name not given), bapt. St James, Newchapel – resident at Oldcot.
  • 24th May 1812 – Theophilus* Hancock, son of Benjamin and Margaret, bapt. St James, Newchapel – resident at Old[cot]. He died aged 4.
  • 22nd May 1814 – Emma Hancock, dau. of Benjamin, collier, and Margaret, bapt. St James, Newchapel – resident at Oldcot.3

(*Thomas Tunstall Hancock later called his first son “Theophilus” after his brother who died in childhood.)

There are also a couple of interesting earlier baptisms which have a different mother’s name:

  • 13th May 1804 – Sophia Hancock, dau. of Benjamin and Mary, bapt. St Lawrence, Biddulph.
  • 6th July 1806 – Margaret Hancock, dau. of Benjamin and Mary, bapt. St James, Newchapel – resident at Old[cot].3

The following burials seem to relate to this family:

  • 30th January 1814 – Benjamin Hancock, aged 34 (born abt 1780), son of John and Esther, bur. St James, Newchapel – resident at Oldcot.
  • 12th November 1816 – Theophilus Hancock, aged 4, son of Benjamin and Margaret, bur. St James, Newchapel – resident at Oldcot.
  • 10th April 1822 – Margaret Anne Hancock, aged 15, dau. of Benjamin and Margaret, bur. St James, Newchapel – resident at Oldcot.
  • 18th March 1827 – Margaret Hancock, aged 45 (born abt 1782), widow of Benjamin, bur. St James, Newchapel – resident at Oldcot.4

By the 1830s, the surviving Hancock children are all living in East Anglia and working as hawkers:

Charlie Chaplin circa 1916

Portrait of Charlie Chaplin as a young man, Hollywood, circa 1916 (public domain image).

  • 1st July 1833 – Thomas Tunstall Hancock mar. Phylorata Chaplin, St Mary-at-the-Quay, Ipswich, Suffolk.5
  • 1st April 1834 – Emma Handcock mar. licensed hawker Felix Corr, St Mary-at-the-Quay, Ipswich. The witnesses were Sophia Handcock and Shadrack Chaplin. Felix Corr died in 1838 of ‘decline’ aged just 32; Emma mar. Peter McDonald in 1839.6,7
  • 29th April 1834 – Sophia Hancock mar. Shadrach Chaplin, St Margaret, Ipswich.5 Shadrach is the great grandfather of Charlie Chaplin and the brother of Phylorata (above).
  • 1841 census – Thomas Hancock, hawker, Cox Lane, Ipswich.
  • 1841 census – Emma McDonald, hawker, Hythe, Maldon, Essex.
  • 1841 census – Sophia Chaplin, hawker’s wife, Gaol Lane, Ipswich.8
  • 1851 census – Thomas T. Hancock, hawker, Bond Street, Ipswich – born Wolstanton, Staffs.
  • 1851 census – Emma McDonald, hawker, Brickendon, Herts – born Goldenhill, Staffs.
  • 1851 census – Sophia Chaplin, brewer’s wife, Carr Street, Ipswich – born Tunstall, Staffs.2
  • 24 July 1868 – Sophia died at 1 Hatton Street, Marylebone, London.9

Research questions:

  1. Are the Benjamin and Margaret who married in Newcastle in 1802 the same Benjamin and Margaret who were the parents of Sophia, Thomas T., and Emma?
  2. Did the father Benjamin die in January 1814? On the baptism record of Emma Hancock in May the same year there is no mention of her father being deceased.
  3. Are the Sophia and Margaret baptised in 1804 and 1806 respectively also the children of Benjamin and Margaret, despite the mother’s name on the register being recorded as Mary, and despite the first baptism taking place in Biddulph rather than Newchapel (or Tunstall where ‘our’ Sophia was apparently born)?
  4. If they were, then what happened to the Margaret baptised in 1806?
  5. Why the mass move from Staffordshire to Ipswich by 1833-34, following their parents’ deaths?

Hancock sketch family tree

Sketch family tree of the Hancock family of Oldcot, Staffordshire and Ipswich.
The chart also includes my great grandfather Frank Corr who is not descended from the Hancocks.
Created using Microsoft Visio software. (Click on the image for a full-size version.)


References

  1. “Staffordshire Marriages” (digital images, Findmypast, http://search.findmypast.co.uk/ : accessed 13 ‎October ‎2015; citing Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Archive Service).
  2. “1851 England Census” (digital images, Ancestry Library Edition, http://www.ancestrylibrary.com/ : accessed 7 ‎July ‎2015; citing Census Returns of England and Wales, 1851, The National Archives, Kew).
  3. “Staffordshire Baptisms” (digital images, Findmypast, http://search.findmypast.co.uk/ : accessed 19 ‎September ‎2015; citing Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Archive Service).
  4. “Staffordshire Burials” (digital images, Findmypast, http://search.findmypast.co.uk/ : accessed 17 ‎October ‎2015; citing Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Archive Service).
  5. “England Marriages, 1538–1973” (database, FamilySearch, https://familysearch.org/ : accessed 14 June 2016; citing FHL microfilm 918,523).
  6. Parish of St Mary at the Quay, Ipswich, banns of marriage, Felix Corr and Emma Handcock, March 1834, p. 9, no. 44; photocopy supplied by Suffolk Record Office, 13 October 2015.
  7. Parish of St Mary at the Key [sic], bishop’s transcripts, Felix Corr and Emma Handcock, 1 [April] 1834, p. 54, no. 160; photocopy supplied by Suffolk Record Office, 13 October 2015.
  8. “1841 England Census” (digital images, Ancestry Library Edition, http://www.ancestrylibrary.com/ : accessed 7 ‎July ‎2015; citing Census Returns of England and Wales, 1841, The National Archives, Kew).
  9. Reitwiesner, William Addams, William Addams Reitwiesner Genealogical Services (http://www.wargs.com/ : accessed 13 October 2015), Wood, Michael J., “Ancestry of Charlie Chaplin”.

Paul Harland Stainthorp (paul@paulstainthorp.com). Version 1.2, updated 15th June 2016.

Family history brick wall: who was Luke O’Grady?

One of my great-grandfathers was Frank Corr a.k.a. Frank O’Grady (1888-1962) of Birmingham and Sheffield. I’m trying to confirm the origins and discover the fate of his biological father Luke O’Grady, my great-great-grandfather. What follows is an outline of the life of Frank O’Grady/Corr, notes on the identity of Luke O’Grady, and my ideas for further research.

Paul Harland Stainthorp (paul@paulstainthorp.com). Version 1.7.3, updated 15th June 2016.

  1. The life of Frank O’Grady/Corr
  2. Who was Luke O’Grady?
  3. Where next? Ideas for further research
  4. References
  5. Note on links to sources

The life of Frank O’Grady/Corr

Back yard, Court 15, Inge Street, Birmingham

Back yard, Court 15, Inge Street, Birmingham
A rare preserved example of the thousands of back-to-back courts that used to provide housing for workers and their families in the years of the 19th and 20th centuries.
© Copyright Brian Robert Marshall and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Frank was born on Sunday, 22nd January 1888, at the back of 135 Brearley Street in the Lozells area of Birmingham.1

His mother was Emily née Farley, born 1854,2 the widow of Edward Corr, a turner & fitter from Wolverhampton.3 Edward’s parents were Felix Corr and Harriet née Spooner.4

Emily and Edward married on 14th July 1872.5 They had seven children together: John Felix (1873-1956), Florence (1876-77), Beatrice (1876-77), Alfred Edward (1877-1900), Emmett (1880-81), Edward (1883-1933), and Harold (1885-1952).2 Three children died in infancy. In 1881 the family lived on Burbury Street, Lozells.3

Edward Corr died in 1887, more than ten months before my great-grandfather’s birth.2

The informant on Frank’s birth certificate was his father Luke O’Grady. Luke gave his occupation as glass embosser (journeyman)—a skilled trade connected to the glassmaking industry common in the English Black Country since the 17th century—and his address as 135 Brearley Street where Frank was born. Frank’s mother is named as Emily O’Grady (sic) formerly Farley.1

This use of the surname O’Grady for or by Emily must have been a common-law arrangement, or else a polite fiction on behalf of Luke O’Grady for the registrar’s benefit: there is no record of a marriage between Emily and anyone named O’Grady, and Emily never used the name again.

It seems that Emily could not read or write;5 perhaps that’s why she didn’t register the birth herself.

In the 1891 census, the three-year-old Frank O’Grady was with his maternal grandmother Emma Farley in Barr Street, Birmingham; his mother Emily was a few streets away at 6 Tower Street working as a machinist, with John, Alfred and Edward, three of her four surviving sons by Edward Corr. (The fourth son, Harold, was also being cared for by relatives locally.) Frank’s father Luke O’Grady is nowhere to be found.6

After this point my great-grandfather Frank used Corr exclusively as his adult surname.

Blaco Road, Attercliffe, Sheffield

Blaco Road, Attercliffe, Sheffield
Blaco Road looking towards the gates of Carbrook Park, showing No. 5. 25th April 1966. Photographer: H. Ainscough.
Found on the Picture Sheffield website
© Copyright David Ainscough – used with permission

By 1901, Frank Corr had left Birmingham and moved to Sheffield with his mother and half-brother Harold, and was working as a labourer in the steel industry at the age of just thirteen. Emily, Harold and Frank lived at 46 Blaco Road, Attercliffe-cum-Darnall, along with ‘boarder’ Charles Tillbrook and two of Charles’s children.7 Emily Corr née Farley married her ‘boarder’ later the same year and became Emily Tillbrook.2

(In 1911, Frank’s mother Emily and her second husband Charles Tillbrook were living at 83 Clifton Street, Sheffield, with Charles’s daughter Elizabeth and Emily’s son Harold Corr – albeit recorded on the census under his stepfather’s surname as “Harold Tillbrook”.8 Emily died in 1919; Charles Tillbrook in 1930.9 Of Frank’s three surviving half-brothers, John Felix stayed in Birmingham and became a brassworker. Edward joined the Army and was stationed at Whittington Barracks near Lichfield in Staffs:8 he served with the 3rd South Staffordshire Regiment in WWI.10 Harold Corr/”Tillbrook” settled in Sheffield and worked as a gas stoker in the steel industry.8)

Photograph of Frank Corr

Frank Corr
Taken at a family wedding in 1946.
From a family photograph, © all rights reserved

Frank stayed in Sheffield for the rest of his life, marrying Lily Bowden on 16th February 1907 at Sheffield Registry Office. To the registrar he gave his father’s name as Luke O’Grady, occupation glass embosser. Frank’s marriage certificate included both names for the record (“Frank O’Grady otherwise Frank Corr“) – this is the last recorded use of the name O’Grady.11 By 1911, Lily and Frank Corr—occupation steel dresser—were living in Carbrook, Sheffield with their first two daughters of an eventual eleven children.8

I have been told by a distant cousin that Frank and Lily’s eldest daughter Emily (born 1907)2 certainly knew of something relating to her father being of Irish decent and that he was probably illegitimate.12

Frank Corr died on 19th January 1962 and was buried with his wife Lily in Tinsley Park Cemetery in Sheffield.9 He didn’t leave a will.

Frank and Lily’s seventh child was my maternal grandfather Harold Corr (1921-1999).1,13 A career soldier, Harold served in WWII, Korea, Hong Kong and Germany before leaving the Army and settling in Lincolnshire in the 1960s. Harold Corr and my grandmother Ruby née Howson had six children and fifteen grandchildren including the author of this document.

Who was Luke O’Grady?

“Wolverhampton Luke”

I now believe that Frank’s father was almost certainly Luke Grady, born 1867 in Wolverhampton.2

Luke was the son of Irish-born cordwainer (i.e. master shoe/bootmaker) William Grady, of Armagh, and Wolverhampton native Jane née Spooner, who married at St George’s church in Wolverhampton on 23rd April 1859.14 Luke Grady had four sisters: Ellen or Helen (born 1860), Martha (1864), Agnes (1871) and Winifred (1876), plus one older brother Mark (1862).2 They lived at 80 Temple Street, Wolverhampton.15

“Wolverhampton Luke” Grady was the first cousin of Edward Corr, the dead husband of Emily Corr née Farley. Their respective mothers (Harriet and Jane Spooner) were sisters, the daughters of shoemaker Edward Spooner and Ann née Highfield.12

Sketch family tree showing the relationship between Edward Corr and Luke O’Grady

Sketch family tree showing the relationship between Edward Corr and Luke O’Grady
Some dates of birth and death are unconfirmed
Image created using Family Echo software (www.familyecho.com)

The patronymic “O'” in Irish surnames was often dropped in the 19th century, at least in England, so “Grady” and “O’Grady” would have been almost interchangeable. The Wolverhampton family appear as plain “Grady” in almost all registration/census records and in an 1880 newspaper report concerning a court case,16 although Luke’s father was recorded as “William O. Grady” on one census.3

Jane Grady died in 1878 and William in 1884,2 so Luke was pretty much alone in the world by the time of Frank O’Grady’s birth in 1888.

There isn’t a single record of “Wolverhampton Luke” Grady in England after 1881: no marriage or death entries and no census or employment records. His proximity and family ties to the Corrs, along with the suspicious timing of his disappearance, all suggest strongly that he is Frank’s father. However I have no positive evidence to connect him with the Black Country glass industry or to place him in Birmingham in 1888. I’ve also been unable to trace the fate of all of Luke’s siblings – what happened to them all after they lost their father in 1884?

(Luke’s brother Mark [O’]Grady became a general clerk for the Great Western Railway in London & Cardiff.17 He died in 1889 in Newport, Monmouthshire, Wales. His youngest sister Winifred married Austin Horsley in 1897, had one daughter, and died in Sussex in 1930. Agnes is recorded working as a domestic servant in London in 1891, but then disappears. Of Ellen and Martha, nothing.)

“Buffalo Bill Luke”

I am not the only person searching for Luke O’Grady. I have been contacted by a descendant of Francis Patrick O’Grady (c.1893-1971): Francis’s father was also called Luke O’Grady, and seems also to have disappeared somewhat mysteriously.12

Francis P. O’Grady was born c. 1st March 1893, possibly in Ireland, although no birth or baptism records have been traced for him. When he married in England in 1925, and again (having been widowed) in 1930, he gave his father’s name as Luke O’Grady, occupation ‘house decorator’.

According to a family story, Francis’s father Luke O’Grady left his wife Mary Ann [maiden name unknown] and their young son, to travel with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, and may have had one or more children with another woman. Francis P. O’Grady apparently grew up in Ireland and England, had an adopted / step-sister called Mona, and a cousin (either paternal or maternal) named Sammy. When Francis’s mother Mary Ann O’Grady died in 1940 she was recorded as being the widow of Luke O’Grady, house decorator (master).

It is possible that the same Luke O’Grady was the father of both Frank O’Grady/Corr and Francis Patrick O’Grady, making them half-brothers. Even if this is not the case, “Buffalo Bill” Luke O’Grady seems to have been just as elusive—both before and after the birth of his son—as ‘my’ Luke O’Grady.

“Holbeach Luke” (Now discounted.)

There was one other Luke Grady alive in England at the time of Frank’s birth (Luke Grady b.1848 in Holbeach, Lincolnshire – d.1891 in Cockermouth, Cumberland)2 but “Holbeach Luke” raised a family in northern England and doesn’t seem to have had any connection to Birmingham or to glassmaking.3

Germanic Luke”

The Germanic, before 1895

The Germanic, before 1895
White Star Line steamship, built 1874 at Belfast by Harland and Wolff, as she appeared before her funnels were lengthened and an extra deck added in 1895.
Courtesy of the Norway Heritage Collection – www.norwayheritage.com
Source: www.heritage-ships.com

On 10th August 1888, eight months after Frank was born, the ship the Germanic docked at New York, late of Liverpool and Queenstown (Cobh). On board was Luke O’Grady, a labourer, aged 35, nationality English. The age and occupation are wrong for “Wolverhampton Luke”, but the timing is suspicious!18

On 20th July 1894 at the Common Pleas Court in New York, Luke became a naturalized American. His address at the time was 419 East 22nd Street, New York City and his sponsor was Timothy Maloney.19

I have been unable to trace “Germanic Luke” O’Grady in England before 1888 or in the USA after naturalization in 1894. He does not appear in any of the US censuses as far as I can tell.

So: did Luke Grady of Wolverhampton emigrate immediately after his son’s birth in 1888? Was he the father of Francis P. O’Grady as well as Frank O’Grady/Corr? Or were these Luke [O’]Gradys two or three different people (in which case: what happened to them all, and to “Wolverhampton” Luke’s remaining siblings?).

Finally, there is the possibility that Luke O’Grady was simply a stock pseudonym used by whomever registered the birth, and that Frank’s real father’s name was something else entirely. (Now discounted.)

Where next? Ideas for further research

These are my ideas for further research to prove the identity, origin and fate of my 2-greats-grandfather:

  • Track down more records from Frank’s own life – there is at least one other descendant of Frank Corr who is researching the family history.
  • Buy birth, marriage and death records as needed for Emily Farley, Edward Corr, Emma Farley, Charles Tillbrook and all of Frank’s half-siblings (est. cost: £150+).
  • Buy copies of “Wolverhampton Luke” Grady’s birth certificate and his parents’ marriage & death certificates (est. cost: £37).
  • Try and determine the fate of “Wolverhampton Luke” Grady’s brother and four sisters.
  • Search the UK censuses for glass embossers in 1891, in the possibility that Luke O’Grady changed his name but continued in the same occupation.
  • Find out who lived at 2 Back 135 Brearley Street, Lozells, Birmingham, immediately before and after Frank’s birth in 1888.
  • Determine the whereabouts of “Holbeach Luke” Grady in 1888, if only to rule him out.
  • Share all information with anyone who is researching the identity of Luke the father of Francis Patrick O’Grady; in particular for possible records of Luke O’Grady living with a wife Mary Ann in Ireland, and/or as an employee of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show in the early 1900s.
  • Trace any living descendants of Emily Farley’s children Frank Corr, John Felix Corr, Alfred Edward Corr, Edward Corr jr and Harold Corr, and those of William Grady of Wolverhampton.
  • Look for records of Luke [O’]Grady in Ireland and Scotland both before and after 1888.
  • Investigate Y-chromosomal DNA testing between a living male-line descendant of Frank Corr (there are four in my immediate family) vs. a proven patrilineal descendant of William Grady if one can be found. There are no such descendants.
  • Contact local family history societies in the Black Country/Birmingham area (e.g. the Birmingham and Midland Society for Genealogy); also surname special interest groups for Grady/O’Grady.
  • Visit the Birmingham ArchivesBlack Country Museum, and Broadfield House Glass Museum in Stourbridge, specifically to look for documents from the Black Country glassmaking industry – are there apprenticeship records for Luke O’Grady or is he otherwise mentioned?
  • Visit New York to try and find out what happened to “Germanic Luke” [O’]Grady who became an American citizen in 1894.
  • Look for evidence of emigration other than to New York in 1888: not necessarily to the USA.

References

  1. England and Wales, birth certificate (certified copy) (General Register Office, Southport).
  2. “FreeBMD” (digital images, FreeBMD, http://www.freebmd.org.uk/ : accessed 29 March 2016; citing General Register Office, Southport).
  3. “1881 England Census” (digital images, Ancestry Library Edition, http://www.ancestrylibrary.com/ : accessed 7 ‎July ‎2015; citing Census Returns of England and Wales, 1881, The National Archives, Kew).
  4. “Staffordshire Baptisms” (digital images, Findmypast, http://search.findmypast.co.uk/ : accessed 19 ‎September ‎2015; citing Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Archive Service).
  5. “Birmingham, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1937” (digital images, Ancestry Library Edition, http://www.ancestrylibrary.com/ : accessed 3 March 2014; citing the Library of Birmingham).
  6. “1891 England Census” (digital images, Ancestry Library Edition, http://www.ancestrylibrary.com/ : accessed 7 ‎July ‎2015; citing Census Returns of England and Wales, 1891, The National Archives, Kew).
  7. “1901 England Census” (digital images, Ancestry Library Edition, http://www.ancestrylibrary.com/ : accessed 7 ‎July ‎2015; citing Census Returns of England and Wales, 1901, The National Archives, Kew).
  8. “1911 England Census” (digital images, Ancestry Library Edition, http://www.ancestrylibrary.com/ : accessed 7 ‎July ‎2015; citing Census Returns of England and Wales, 1911, The National Archives, Kew).
  9. “National Burial Index for England & Wales” (database, Findmypast, http://search.findmypast.co.uk/ : accessed 15 October 2015; citing Federation of Family History Societies).
  10. British Army medal index cards (digital image, The National Archives, http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ : accessed 3 March 2014 citing War Office, Service Medal and Award Rolls Index, First World War, ref. WO 372).
  11. England and Wales, marriage certificate (certified copy) (General Register Office, Southport).
  12. Stainthorp family artefacts (privately held by Paul Harland Stainthorp, 2016, Horncastle, Lincolnshire, England), personal email.
  13. England and Wales, death certificate (certified copy) (General Register Office, Southport).
  14. “Staffordshire Marriages” (digital images, Findmypast, http://search.findmypast.co.uk/ : accessed 13 ‎October ‎2015; citing Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Archive Service).
  15. “1871 England Census” (digital images, Ancestry Library Edition, http://www.ancestrylibrary.com/ : accessed 7 ‎July ‎2015; citing Census Returns of England and Wales, 1871, The National Archives, Kew).
  16. The Birmingham Post (digital images, 19th Century British Newspapers, http://find.galegroup.com/bncn/ : accessed 17 June 2015).
  17. “UK, Railway Employment Records, 1833-1956” (digital images, Ancestry Library Edition, http://www.ancestrylibrary.com/ : accessed 3 March 2014; citing Railway Employment Records, The National Archives, Kew, ref. RAIL 264 and RAIL 397).
  18. “New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957” (digital images, Ancestry Library Edition, http://www.ancestrylibrary.com/ : accessed 3 March 2014; citing Records of the U.S. Customs Service, Record Group 36, National Archives at Washington, D.C.).
  19. “New York, Petitions for Naturalization, 1794-1906” (digital images, Ancestry Library Edition, http://www.ancestrylibrary.com/ : accessed 3 March 2014; citing Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Record Group 85, National Archives at New York City).

Note on links to sources

Hyperlinks in the text of this document point to source documents and catalogues/indexes which contain or illustrate the information referenced. Where possible I have linked to free & open sources (FreeBMD; catalogue/archival records). In other cases where the source is not freely available, I have linked to a record within Ancestry Library Edition: these links will display an error message unless you first establish a session on Ancestry within a subscribing library building (e.g. in Lincolnshire).