Inherited Craziness
A place to share all the nuts found on my family tree

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Irish Roots: Thomas Jones and Mary Harty

St John the Baptist Church, Cobh (Queenstown) Via: Cobh Heritage Centre

In the last year I've obtained my certificate of entry on the Foreign Births Register, so I'll be celebrating (using the term loosely under the current pandemic) St Patrick's Day for the first time as an Irish Citizen. 

Growing up, I knew my grandmother had lived in Ireland, but her father had always claimed to be Welsh (nope, English) and we had no idea where she was born until I began this research. Having now obtained her Irish birth certificate, I was able to apply, but we still thought that my family were just immigrants in Ireland. However, in a somewhat circular story, the family had settled in Ireland, because we already had Irish roots, through my 2x great-grandmother. 

Having contacted Cobh Parish Office, they were able to tell me that my 2x great-grandparents, Thomas Jones and Mary Harty had married, on 7 January 1844, at St John the Baptist Catholic Church in Cobh (Queenstown). St John the Baptist was the Catholic Church for Cobh from 1810 to 1868, when it was demolished to make way for the bigger St Colman's Cathedral

Thomas Jones, we can be fairly confident was born in 1817 - he gives the same information on the census and his naval record at least. Thomas was a sailor with a long career in the Navy - which I'll cover in detail in later posts because it requires so much more research - and as a Coastguard. As I've previously covered, he was posted to Sutton Bridge in Lincolnshire until 1851

On the 1851 census in England, Thomas is listed as having been born in Swansea, Glamorganshire, but looking for a Jones birth there redefines the meaning of looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. He appears to be consistent and truthful, so I have no reason to disbelieve it, but see no way of either proving or disproving it, nor discovering who his parents were.

(The 1844 parish marriage record is very scant in detail and does not include the names of the bride and groom's parents and there wasn't civil registration in Ireland at that date, so there aren't the usual hints to follow.)

But briefly, having been promoted from Able Seaman to Captain's Guard - presumably, a handy sort of bloke - while on HMS Belleisle (during the First Opium War) in 1842, Thomas transferred back to HMS Caledonia (he was on this ship previously in 1841), also as Captain's Guard, in late 1843 and was still serving on that ship at the time of their marriage. One assumes that it was this promotion that gave Thomas the salary necessary to afford a wife. 

Mary Harty, according to what records there are for her, must have been born around 1821. Although she married in Cobh, I see no reason to assume that she was from there originally. My late cousin in Ireland had said that Mary later went "up country" to where her people were from, so perhaps she may have come to Cobh for work and met Thomas there. What we do know from that 1851 English census is that Mary was born in Ireland and, later from the 1901 Irish census, that she spoke both Irish and English. But I've found no records that tell me where her exact place of birth or original parish was though.

We do know that Mary had a younger sister, Ellen Harty (b. 1825), who was visiting them in Sutton Bridge, England in 1851, but who was also one of the sponsors at Nicholas Jones' baptism, in Rath, Ireland in 1853.

Having married in the January, from 1 Mar 1844, Thomas transferred to HMS America, also as Captain's Guard. Just enough time to start a family: 

  1. Mary Ann Jones, born in Ireland in 1844
  2. Rees Jones, born 25 May 1849 in Long Sutton, Lincolnshire
  3. David Jones, born 10 Jul 1850 in Long Sutton, Lincolnshire
  4. Anna Jones, bap 4 Oct 1851 at Sacred Heart Church, Rath
  5. Nicholas Jones, bap 17 May 1853 at Sacred Heart Church, Rath
  6. Thomas Jones, bap 17 Sep 1854 at Sacred Heart Church, Rath
Rath and The Islands Parish is the Catholic Community of Baltimore, Sherkin Island and Cape Clear Island and surrounding areas. This explains why my late cousin drew a complete blank when she'd gone down to Baltimore to try to find records of the family: she'd been looking in the Church of Ireland.

Of those children, the only mention I've seen for Mary Ann is on the English 1851 census. One month before they moved back to Ireland, both Rees and David were baptised, on 1 May 1851at St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, Kings Lynn, Norfolk. That's the last record I have for Rees. David was my great-grandfather. Anna still lived with her mother in 1901 and later became David's housekeeper. She never married and died in 1934. Nicholas was my cousin's grandfather. The baptism is the first time I heard of son Thomas. 

Nobody in the family ever spoke of Mary Ann, Rees, nor Thomas Jr. David was the one who did things that one would associate with the role of eldest son.

The only other record I've found [so far] for Thomas Jones Jnr is when he was enlisted in the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class on 14 Apr 1871. On it, there's a reference provided by a John Lombard, which states, "Thomas Jones is a Protestant Parishioner of Queenstown, and son of a Naval Pensioner. He is a steady, well conducted lad." One wonders why they were emphasising the Protestant bit. Also attached to the record is a Declaration Before a Magistrate in Thomas Jones (the father's) own handwriting - I recognise his signature from other documents - stating that, "I hereby certify that my son Thomas Jones was born in Baltimore, Cork on May 25th, 1855." Not when he was baptised in 1854, he wasn't! I can understand why a declaration was needed in the absence of a birth certificate - and not wanting to reference a Catholic baptism. But the date wasn't a mistake and can only have been a deliberate falsification, because later on the form, it states that, "Boys for the Navy must be over 15 and not above 16½ years of age ..."  He was 17. The most curious part of this record however, is that his service record is blank. He's not even assigned to a training ship: it's like he didn't even turn up. Was he sussed? Thomas, the father, was ill, so I can understand why he wanted to make sure the boy was taken care of.

Coastguard station and coastguard cottages: Mariner’s Row, the terrace of
coastguard houses on the edge of the Cove in Baltimore, Cork

From Thomas' Pension Record, we know that he'd joined the Coast Guard service as a Boatman on 28 Dec 1847. That may have been when they went to Sutton Bridge. The Coastguard Establishment Books for Ireland (ADM 175/19) at The National Archives at Kew show that Thomas Jones was posted to Baltimore, West Cork on 2 Jun 1851 and I can only guess that this was a request to be posted back to Ireland because Mary wanted to be in her own country and nearer family. Griffith's Valuation of 1853 shows that Thomas rented a house and office in Tullagh civil parish from John Goodchild.

On 14 Feb 1854, Thomas joined HMS Duke of Wellington as Petty Officer First Class and went off to the Crimean War. On 6 May 1856, he re-joined the Coast Guard, where he served until 31 Jan 1868, when he retired. 

Born in the reign of George III near the end of The Regency, Thomas Jones lived through the reigns of George IVWilliam IV and well into that of Queen Victoria. He served in the First Opium War and the Crimean War; unusually emigrated TO Ireland during the Great Famine and lived through the first four Cholera pandemicsThomas Jones died, aged 56, on 8 Jan 1873, at Castle Oliver, Limerick from Morbus Cordis (unspecified heart disease) 4 years certified (which ties in with his date of retirement). Presumably in the surrounding village, rather than Kim and Kanye's honeymoon castle itself. 

Could that be the "up country" area that Mary had originally come from? I can't think of any other reason for them to be there, so far from the sea.

Section S of the Clonmel Old Church Cemetery (Cobh), Cork

Thomas Jones is buried in the Clonmel Old Church Cemetery (Cobh), Cork in section S, row 9, position 76. The inscription on his grave reads, 
Erected by David Jones In memory of his beloved father Thos. Jones Who died Jan. 8th 1873 aged 56 years”.
In 1901, Mary Jones, widow, was living with her daughter, Annie (who claimed to be 30, but was 50) at The Glen, Passage West (Monkstown, Cork). Mary Jones (81), Widow of Thomas Jones a Coastguard Pensioner, died of senile decay on 14 Aug 1903 at The Rock, Queenstown, Cork. 

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