Derry City Cemetery records reveal Mary Ann Begley’s parents

I’ve recently decided to renew my subscription for for a month and within hours got so much information! RootsIreland is a website that offers transcriptions of births, marriages and deaths – both civil and church records, as well as gravestone inscriptions, and more! They provide only transcriptions, no actual images, but it has much better search options than some other sites – and my favourite – street addresses are also indexed! Family members often lived together, so for example I can run a search for an address and see who else was born, married or died there – then follow checking if they are related to the family which I’m researching.



For example, these are the results for the gravestone inscriptions  for “46 Bridge” street  in the period 1895-1905. Some of those names I recognise (Sarah and Ellen are the daughters of Patrick and Mary Ann Kavanagh who died as infants), for others I’m not sure yet if they are related.

Browsing the site I also noticed that they list Plot number for Derry City Cemetery, and I found few family members listed in the same plot (0745). Super excited, I emailed the cemetery to check how can I find out more. (I had since then found out that all graves in Derry City Cemetery seem to be indexed with Plot number 0745 on RootsIreland, but at the time I contacted the cemetery I didn’t know that)

The reply from Dublin City Cemetery was very quick, less than a day, and in their email they included the plot numbers of two separate plots, the names of the plot owners, and a total list of eighteen (18!) people who were buried in those two plots. Some of the names were familiar, others I had no idea who they were.

But the very first name broke through a brick wall!


Mary Ann o Kane, 46 Bridge St died 1/8/1893 ages 46yrs – Parents: James and Margaret Begley


I wasn’t sure how the surname O’Kane relates, but the parents I knew – Begley was the maiden name of Mary Ann Begley who was married to Charles Kavanagh.


I wasn’t sure how Mary Ann O’Kane is related to my Mary Ann Begley, but they had the same first/middle name and were similar age – maybe one name was misspelled and they were sisters?

The death record for Mary Ann held the key – the informant was P. Kavanagh, her son, also living at 46 Bridge Street.


I knew Mary Ann’s first husband, Charles, died prior to 1890 as he was listed diseased in their son’s Charles marriage certificate, and looks like she re-married – her second husband was William Kane, shoemaker and they were married in 1875.

I’m still looking for a record of Charles’ death, which I’ve now narrowed down to be sometime between 1864 (birth of last known child) and 1875 (when Mary Ann re-married).

The last really exciting piece of information that first record in the email from the cemetery contained was the names of Mary Ann’s parents – James and Margaret!

I will be working through the rest of the names in those two graves over the next few days, really excited to see what else will come up!


Elizabeth – the 5 times great-grandmother

I wasn’t in a mood to do any proper research tonight, so thought I’d just run a search through the records for a surname and do a browse. Many of the Derry BMD records are digitized on the Irish Genealogy website, but street addresses are not indexed, so sometimes interesting things pop up when you look at the street addresses – family members often lived together.

Well, I found way more than what I exptected – I found the name of my children’s 5 times great-grandmother – it was Elizabeth! She was married to Thomas Cooper, and had a son Thomas and a daughter Annie (their only daughter according to the newspaper announcement for Annie’s marriage); they may have had other sons too who I haven’t found yet. There is at least one other Thomas Cooper in Derry at that time who was a mechanic/engineer (and who I don’t think is related to our family)

It was the daughter Annie who provided the clue. As I was browsing through all Cooper  BMDs for 1880-1900 I came across a death for Elizabeth Cooper, 70 years old in 1891 who died from bronchitis. The informant was the son-in-law David Norrie – which was a familiar name. I had Annie Cooper married to David Norrie already in the tree!


Elizabeth must have been Thomas and Annie’s mother, born about 1821 and died on 14th Feb 1891. Unfortunately Derry Journal is not digitized for the first half of 1891, as I would have liked to see where is she buried. Elizabeth is listed as a widow of a smith, which also fits the occupation listed on his son Thomas’ marriage cert in 1865.

I haven’t been able to find the death record for Elizabeth’s husband yet.

The unusual thing about this family line is that the Coopers were Presbyterian (while all other lines so far were Catholic). Their daughter Annie married in a Presbyterian church, their son Thomas married in a Catholic church and all his children were baptised Catholic, but he still listed himself as Presbyterian on the 1901 and 1911 census.

I had suspected Thomas’ wife is probably called Elizabeth since his son’s oldest daughter was Elizabeth, but it’s nice to have a document to prove it. I can update the family tree now – will draw and upload a nicer diagram over the next few days.

Richard McManus’ will (1907, New York)

A lovely cousin, Anne, sent me a document few days ago, and little did I know when I opened it that I won’t be getting much sleep that night and will be re-reading and researching the unexpected contents of it till all hours!

She had found the last will of Richard McManus in 1907 – in Brooklyn! This is a great example why one should check all locations and not get stuck in assumptions. Richard had lived in Boston, and the family story was he followed his wife (c.1884) back to USA from Derry and died shortly after – so I searched Boston back and forth, death records, cemeteries – nothing! In hindsight – Richard’s sister Margaret (McManus) McDade lived in New York, so I should have checked there too… but I didn’t until I got the will!

Richard died in January 1907 in Brooklyn, age 63, and was buried in the Holly Cross cemetery in Brooklyn.

His probate documents (29 Apr 1907, full document available on ancestry) tell the unexpected story of the last 25 years of his life…

His probate lists the names and addresses of all people entitled to any portion of his estate – his wife Catherine and a child “Charles”, name being fictitious, as well as his three children John, Richard and Catherine living at 14 Fulton Street, Londonderry.


It also goes on explaining:

“… That your petitioner is unable to ascertain whether or not the said deceased left him surviving widow, although your petitioner has made diligent effort to do so.

That your petitioner is informed by Margaret McDade, a sister of deceased, and by Joseph B. Markey, one of the subscribing witnesses to said Will and Codicil and a close friend of deceased before his death,

that Catherine McManus, the wife of deceased, left him about twenty-five years ago while the said deceased was residing in Ireland, in the Kingdom of Great Britain, taking with her a son of said deceased;

that his said wife came to the United States of America, but the deceased had never learned of her whereabouts or those of said son, and has not seen her nor his said son since their separation from him as aforesaid.”


Richard didn’t know the whereabouts of his wife Catherine for 25 years, and the infant son she took with her must have been Patrick Aloyious McManus, born and baptised in Derry on 7th April 1883

(I’m wondering how would he be baptised and his father not know his name? Was it done in secret, or did Richard think Catherine may have changed his name? And why “Charles” – it is not a name that I’ve seen in the family lines before? And finally – the ship manifest for Catherine and her two children Jane and Patrick from Dec 1884 is probably the wrong one, Patrick indicated on his naturalization papers he arrived on 4th May 1883 – which seems more plausable now, he would have been a month old! I’m yet to find that ship manifest)

I will continue looking into this, and feel I may have to go back and re-write some of the previous stories… I still haven’t fully gotten my head around this new twist.



The Bradleys in Boston

The steamer Grayhound took its last journey on 6th November 1865 crashing into the rocks at Nova Scotia.

The Disaster to the Greyhound

BOSTON, Wednesday, Nov. 15

The steamer Greyhound, Capt. NICKERSON, from Boston for Charlottetown, struck on Bird Rock ledges, Nova Scotia, on Monday night last, and, filling with water, sunk in eleven fathoms.

The passengers and crew were saved and landed at Beaver Harbor, N.S.

The Greyhound was insured for $100,000 in Boston and New York offices, and was valued at that sum.”

New York Times, November 16, 1865


(Image source and much more information on the Grayhound at this great blog:

Few weeks before the Grayhound crashed, Mary Ann Bradley and her three children – Patrick (10), Catherine (8), Ellen (6) and Mary (3) had made the trip from Charlottetown to Boston to build a new life for themselves. Mary and her husband John were both Irish-born living in Scotland, all their children born there. He had likely arrived in Boston ahead of them to look for a job.


The family lived in Boston in 1870, the father John was a labourer and his son Patrick, who was 17, was a shoemaker.

1870 census for John and Mary Bradley, and their children, Boston

I had discarded the above family as a wrong one for a long time as they are also listed living together in 1880 census (and one more daughter, Rachel born in 1871) on 5 Foster Street and all children were listed single. I knew Catherine had married Richard McManus in 1873 and was listed living with him in 1880 census together with their two children. She also had a daughter, Catherine, born in Oct 1880. I had put a little note at the daughter’s birth to follow up that there is a child McNulty born the following day at the same address. However, the address of the birth for baby Catherine was different to where her parents lived according to the 1880 census. I had assumed the family had moved between the census date in April and the birth in October.

The address where her daughter was born was 5 Foster Street, and I didn’t spot it’s the same as above until much later!

I did, however, decide to follow up on that other child McNulty that was born in the same house a day later, especially since there were two boarders listed living with the family – Neil McNulty (23, single) and Frank Sullivan (21, single). The little boy was Frank McNulty and his mother was Ellen. A quick search revealed a marriage record between Neil McNulty and Ellen Bradly on 25th Dec 1879 – Ellen’s parents were John and Mary Bradley!

Following on the other boarder revealed a second marriage on the same day between Francis J Sullivan and Mary A Bradley. The two boarders were  the sons-in-law, and the enumerator had obviously made a mistake. Two of the sisters got married together on Christmas day 1879, and then the following year one of them and the other sister Catherine had a baby a day apart!

The 1900 census was equally confusing. John Bradley was enumerated once living with his wife Mary and their grandson Patrick McManus at 280 Marginal Street, and a second time with his daughter and son-in-law Francis and Mary A Sullivan at 633 Bennington Street.

The 1910 census was really unexpected – John Bradley was living at 98 Cowper Street with William P. and Catherine Reid. His youngest daughter Rachel who had married Phillip J Molloy was living next door at 99 Cowper street with their 8 children. So this was the correct family! But who were the Reid family?

I’ve come across (and until now had put ait side before as a coincidental name match) a marriage record for Catherine McManus and William Reid on 25 Jan 1897, Catherine parents were John and Mary Bradley. Catherine had remarried which explains why I couldn’t find a death certificate for her around 1895.


I haven’t found anything more on any of the sisters or Patrick, apart from Rachel but I have found the death notices for both John and Mary Bradley – Mary died 1909, and her husband John – in 1913.

The death certificate for Mary was also a surprise – her parents are listed as Owen Keenan and Ellen Mullen, not names I’ve seen before in the family tree. I haven’t been able to find any death record for John Bradley despite manually going through the record images.

death cert

There are still many gaps, and many people to follow up on. I’m not sure why Mary and John were buried in Malden, and the church mentioned in the newspaper “The Church of The Star of the Sea” is also quite out of the way. I’m not sure why Catherine is listed as having no children in 1900 census, and what happened to her and William after 1900. There is no evidence of her going back to Derry where the rest of her children were, so maybe she had fallen on hard times – I can’t even imagine the pain of having  three of your children grow up in a different country. I haven’t been able to trace her other siblings either after 1910, with the exception of her youngest sister Rachel.

There is a DNA match  between a McManus descentents and  Rachel’s which prompted me to revisit all the documents on the Bradley line last week, and that’s when all this information started unravelling. So that further strenghtens the case that this is indeed Catherine (Bradly) McManus’ family.

There are still so many gaps to fill in, and probably so many stories to be told.

Kavanagh descendants

My one hour of hobby-indulging today produced the following chart of the KAVANAGH descendants in Excel (click for a higher resolution image):


I’m still struggling to find any connection to other BEGLEYs in Derry, as well as death records for lots of people on this branch. I also have no idea what happened to Patrick’s brother – Joseph Kavanagh – it would be pity if the direct male line had ended with the three brothers.

An hour well spent – now back to “real” work 🙂

The importance of original records

… or Why not to trust an index!

Last few days I’ve been gathering some general information on the Hegarty records in Londonderry hoping to find clues as to Jane Hegarty’s family.

There was a  witness listed at Jane’s marriage in 1841 in St Columb’s by the name of Daniel Hegarty, so I was excited to come across a burial record for Daniel Hegarty in 1863 – could this possibly be her brother or a father? The burial record could potentially give more information on his residence, and I could also follow-up with newspaper searches looking for a death announcement.

An index entry from for Burial for Daniel Hegarty, 1863

I was quite surprised when I opened the actual image – after Daniel’s name were listed two sets of names – Charles Hegarty, Mary Bradley, John Hegarty and Jane Bradley. This didn’t look like a death record!

The original image of indexed record

The page had all the right column headings, but instead of age and late residence, there were names of what seemed to be relatives. These looked more like a bunch of baptism records.

Full page of the original image of the record indexed as “Burial”

I started flicking back and forth through the other pages in the collection, and on the previous page you can see the priest scribbling over the headings and writing “Names of parents” and “Sponsors” Looks like he had run out of pages in the book for baptisms, and decided to use the Registry of Deaths instead.

Headings on the previous page

Unfortunately, neither Ancestry, not FindMyPast seem to have noticed that when they indexed the records, so there is a whole bunch of baptisms in St Columb’s, Derry, currently indexed as ‘Burials’.

I will be revisiting those pages manually when I get a chance – hopefully I’ll get a clearer picture on the Hegarty families in Derry. And I’ll be looking into the Bradley surname that keeps popping up in relation to this line (Jane’s son Richard McManus married Catherine Bradley, whose parents I suspect may also be from Derry, but doubt they would be (closely) related for the two of them to marry. Maybe family friends or neighbours?)