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

Showing posts with label Limerick. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Limerick. Show all posts

Saturday 17 February 2024

David Jones and Laura Elizabeth White

Christ Church Rushbrooke Cobh

My great-grandparents, David Jones (b. 10 Jul 1850 at Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire), son of Thomas Jones and Mary Harty, and Laura Elizabeth White (b. 15 Oct 1870 in Thorpe St Andrew, Norwich, Norfolk), daughter of Walter White and Hannah Blazey, married at Christ Church, Church of IrelandRushbrooke, Cobh (Queenstown, as it was then), Ireland on 17 Feb 1892. David Jones was then Sexton of this Anglican Christ Church. But this was not David's first marriage, so we have to rewind for the full story: 

David was baptised, on 1 May 1851, at St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, Kings Lynn, Norfolk and brought up in Baltimore, West Cork. He enlisted in the Royal Navy as a Boy Second Class, on 7 July 1865, just shy of his 15th birthday. His father, Thomas Jones, and mother, Mary, co-signed the papers. David was then 4ft 8½in tall, with a sallow complexion, dark brown hair and hazel eyes. Once he reached 18, his period of engagement was to last a further ten years, obviously intending to follow in his father's footsteps. At 14 he was assigned to HMS Implacable, which had become the Royal Navy's first training ship at Devonport in 1855. But instead of continuing his service as planned, David was discharged on 17 Oct 1866, when he will have been just 16. Under the Cause of Discharge, is the abbreviation for Invalided.

Because David always claimed to come from Wales, I almost missed his naval record. In fact, I'd dismissed it twice, because, although many other details seemed close enough, the boy was born in Lincolnshire, which didn't seem relevant. Then I found his father's posting to Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire and David's birth there and the pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place.

You gotta love a family story. There's always a grain of truth in them, but inevitably some embellishment. Family tradition was that David had "lost a hand in battle". We searched high and low for a naval battle in the right era and came up with nothing. "In battle" sounds more heroic, clearly. Maybe it also proved handy (pun intended) in attracting him two wives! My late cousin in Ireland recounted that her older sister had remembered visiting the family in Rushbrooke and seeing David's 'Sunday Best' gloved hand hanging up in the kitchen (such a creepy image) and continued that, apparently, he had a fork attachment for everyday - from which we may deduce that it was his left hand he lost - that attached to a metal pin that was inserted at his wrist. 

There not being more detail, nor medical records we can access, we have to surmise the rest of story. That he lost a hand is not in question. He was still in training, so there was no 'battle'. But, taking into consideration that this was 1866 - general anesthesia was still very much in experimental infancy - my feeling is that the only place that such a procedure as inserting a metal pin into his wrist was likely to be carried out was in a military hospital and at that time there was the the former Royal Naval Hospital, Stonehouse. That they did this and sent him off with a pension at the tender age of 16, suggests that the Navy was at fault and, my cousin's sister had recalled that this was as a result of an exploding gun, which also seems to confirm this theory.

After being pensioned off from the Navy, David Jones was next recorded at Castle Oliver in Limerick at the time of his father's death in 1873. Records of his Dog Licences then placed David at Castle Oliver in 1874 to 1877 too and, from 1878 onwards, man and dog were at Rushbrooke. Following the Dogs Act of 1865, every dog owner in Ireland had to go to the court and pay 2s 6d - to have the breed and colour of dogs written down in a ledger. It was hardly an exact science, because the same dog was described differently each year. Most of David's dogs were terriers, retrievers and spaniels, so I'm pretty sure he was using them to hunt. Nevertheless, we learned from these listings girl dogs were called 'Slut'. As if bitch wasn't bad enough!

On 5 Oct 1880, David Jones married Johannah Anne O'Callaghan at the Parish Church in Inchigeelagh, Cork, By Licence. Johannah's father, Cornelius O'Callaghan was a Schools Inspector and on a later census return pedantically listed himself as Church of Ireland, and a member of the 'Irish Truth Society - Protestant'. Interesting choice of father-in-law for "a nice Catholic boy".

David and Hannah had five children, all baptised at Christ Church: 
  1. Thomas Jones b. 19 Oct 1881, bap. 19 Nov 1881. (Died 8 Jan 1891.)
  2. Marcella Jones b. 10 May 1883, bap. 2 Jun 1883
  3. Helena Jones b. 4 Mar 1885, bap. 14 Mar 1885 [1]
  4. Anna Jones b. 14 Feb 1887, bap. 19 Mar 1887. (Died in 1902.)
  5. Marion Jones b. 27 Aug 1889, bap. 21 Sep 1889 (Died 8 Mar 1891.)
By the time of the baptism of David and Hannah's first child in 1881, David was listed as "Sexton of Church". Rushbrooke had docks, a tradition of ship building and the Irish Naval Service nearby, so I don't suppose it hurt that he was a Naval Pensioner, but the timing and the fact that the pedantically detailed school records were held in the church, lead me to believe that his father-in-law's contacts may have secured David this position. 

David appeared before the Petty Sessions Court on 17 Oct 1884 and was fined three shillings, plus one shilling and sixpence costs, for trespass. This time the cause of the complaint reads, "Trespass: Defendant's goat trespassed on complainant's pasture land at Ringmeen, Queenstown on 15 Oct 1884." From this we can probably safely deduce that David kept a goat. 

And so things might have continued, but Johannah Jones (35), wife of David Jones a Naval Pensioner, died of Typhoid fever, on 18 Feb 1891. Johannah was buried, on 20 Feb 1891 in the same plot as David's father, Thomas Jones (Section S, Row 9, Position 76), at the Old Church Cemetery (Cobh), where her son Thomas (9) had been buried little more than a month earlier, on 10 Jan 1891. One assumes from the same cause. Youngest daughter, Marion (2), also died on 8 Mar 1891. There was no record in the church of Marion's burial, but I imagine she'll have been buried with her mother.

The kitchen at Fota House

So, on 17 Feb 1892 - 'scandalously' one day less than a year after Johannah's death - David Jones married Laura Elizabeth White. Witnesses were Ellen Jones (David's brother Nicholas' wife) and Annie Jones, David's sister. On the marriage certificate, Laura's address is given just as 'Fota', the island in Cork Harbour, just north of Great Island and Fota House & Gardens was (and is) probably all there was there, so perhaps Laura was employed at Fota House, which makes sense, because my gran had talked about them baking cakes for "the big house". We also know that the family from Fota House attended the Anglican Christ Church, which is obviously where David and Laura met.

David and Laura added yet another six children: 
  1. Cornelius Walter Jones (Con) b. 2 Jan 1893, bap. 22 Jan 1893 [2]
  2. Ellen Jones (Nell) b. 23 Apr 1894, bap. 13 May 1894
  3. Laura Mary Jones (Queenie) b. 2 Aug 1896, bap 28 Aug 1896 [3]
  4. David Jones (Young Dave) b. 10 Nov 1898, bap. 9 Dec 1898
  5. Alice Jones b. 26 Jul 1903, bap. 14 Aug 1903 [4]
  6. Agnes Jones (Daisy) b. 27 Feb 1907, bap. 15 Mar 1907
Here I should mention that prior to going to Cobh in 2014, I'd only known that my grandmother had lived in Ireland growing up: we didn't know when or where she was born. There'd been some mention of her father marrying twice and I'd known of a younger sister. Getting to the church and being let loose with all the original records was a huge surprise: finding record after record until I had various marriages, all eleven children, every relevant baptism, school record and, where appropriate, burial, was quite a shock.

It's interesting that the first son by the 2nd wife is named after the 1st wife's father first and the 2nd wife's father second. (Irish logic?) David appears to be - less strictly with the girls - following the traditional naming pattern that was often used by Irish parents until the later 19th century, but it's clear that this is in the order of the father's 1st, 2nd, etc., child irrespective of which wife produced it. Did wives not matter? Yeah, that's probably rhetorical.

In 1901, David Jones (50), Laura (30), Helena (16), Cornelius (8), Ellen (6), Laura (4) and David (2) were living at Queenstown Urban, Cork. Marcella had already left home and was working as a servant in the household of Edward Gibbings, Rector of Kinsale, at Rampart's Lane (Kinsale Urban, Cork), while Anna (or Annie) (13), was staying with her grandfather O'Callaghan.

At the Cork Petty Sessions on Monday 9th September 1901: "Defendant was found unlawfully on the premises of one Zachariah Fox licenced for the sale of intoxicating liquor by retail during a period during which said premises are required by law to be closed on Sunday the 1st September 1901."

Then on 13 Apr 1902, Annie Jones (14), Daughter of a Naval Pensioner, died from Tuberculous meningitis. Her grandfather was present when she died.

On Monday 13th May 1907: "Defendant was found unlawfully on the premises of one John Luddy licenced for the sale of intoxicating liquors by retail at Newtown during a period during which said premises were required by law to be closed to wit at the hour of 10.20 of PM on Tuesday 7th of May 1907." On this second occasion David was convicted and fined 1/- plus costs of 1/-, with the threat of 7 days imprisonment if he failed to pay up. 

In 1911, the household, still at Rushbrooke, included David (58), Laura (40), Cornelius (18), Ellen (16), Laura (14), David (12), Alice (7) and Agnes (4). 

On both census returns, David listed his birthplace - wrongly - as Wales, but I think we can all imagine reasons why being Welsh in Ireland was far more desirable than being English and with a name like Jones and his father supposedly born in Swansea, this was a perfectly believable fib.

Once more, David Jones was back before the courts, this time for the heinous crime of failing to obtain a dog licence. Friday 12th April 1912: "Defendant had in his possession at Queenstown on the 12th April 1912 one dog for which he omitted to take out a licence on or before the 31 March 1912."
He was ordered to take out a licence forthwith. (Records show he did.)

Laura Jones, wife of David Jones a Naval Pensioner, died, aged 46, on 17 Jan 1917 from Splenic Leucocythemia (or Leukemia) and Influenza. Laura was buried, on 19 Jan 1917 at the Old Church Cemetery (Cobh), in Section D, Row 6, Position 50. So David was widowed again. Daughter Ellen (Nell), then 23, (resentfully) looked after the house and younger children until she married, after which David's sister, Annie, took over as housekeeper. 

From the The Weekly Freeman on Saturday, January 18, 1919: Raid at Queenstown: "The sexton's lodge at Rushbrooke Church, near Queenstown, has been raided for arms, and a fowling-piece belonging to the sexton, David Jones, was taken away by the three men with their faces muffled, who presented revolvers." This was just days before the start of the Irish War of Independence. My grandmother had also told me this story, because she was there when the raid took place and specified the raiders were Sinn Féin.

On 7 Aug 1935, David Jones, widower, 79, Sexton of Church, died at Church Lodge from Hemiplegia 2 years (from which I'm reading that he'd probably had a stroke in 1933) and Cardiac failure. David was buried, on 10 Aug 1935, at the Old Church Cemetery (Cobh), in Section D, Row 6, Position 50, along with second wife, Laura, and their son Cornelius, who had died in 1926.

The Jones Family Church Lodge Rushbrooke at Rest, Section D, Row 6, Position 50
Old Church Cemetery (Cobh). Resting place of David Jones (1850-1935), Laura Elizabeth Jones (1870-1917), Cornelius Walter Jones (1893-1926) and David Jones (1898-1966).

Researching documents and discovering online records that go towards telling an ancestor's story is fascinating. Visiting the places where they were born, baptised, married, lived or worked really helps put those things into context, but there is something very emotive about finding a grave with a headstone to feel properly connected to family members, knowing a physical part of them is right there beneath your feet. But with cremation being the norm in the most recent generations and the majority being too poor for headstones, such moments are very rare and special. There are no graves for my parents nor grandparents, so the first would be for my great-grandparents. 

Old Church Cemetery, Cobh, Cork, Ireland

In 2014, we went to Cobh (formerly Queenstown), Cork, Ireland where my paternal grandmother had been born and brought up. While there, we were met by the late Jack Gilmartin, who used to provide free guided tours of the Old Church Cemetery, where there are a number of famous burials, particularly many of the victims of the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915. I don't know what I was expecting, but Jack took me totally by surprise, when he said, "I'll take you to your family's grave." It sent a shiver down my spine and completely took my breath away. And it still does.

With an inscription on the cross-shaped headstone reading, "The Jones Family, Church Lodge, Rushbrooke, At Rest", this is the final resting place of my great-grandfather, David Jones (1850-1935), my great grandmother, his second wife, Laura White (1870-1917) and their two sons, Cornelius Jones (1893-1926) and David Jones (1898-1966) (Young Dave.)

What I didn't fully appreciate until later is there's also an earlier family grave in this cemetery, where the inscription reads, "Erected by David Jones In memory of his beloved father Thos. Jones Who died Jan. 8th 1873 aged 56 years Also his beloved son Thomas Who died Jan. 8th 1891 Aged 9 years and 3 months And his beloved wife Johanna Who died Feb 18th 1891 Aged 35 years."

There also is the grave of Catherine Jones (Kitty), wife of Young Dave

And I wouldn't have known about any of those, had it not been for Jack giving me a pair of A4 sheets, listing all the Jones' burials there. It was so sad to read about Jack's death less than a year after we'd met him, but lovely to know that he has been buried in the Old Church Cemetery. You can listen to Jack talking about the cemetery and some of the stories of his co-occupants here.

[1] The last record I have that mentions Helena Jones is where she was witness to the marriage of her sister, Marcella to Edward John Bicknell, in Portsmouth, in 1906, so we know she was in England then. There are also records of voyages to America for a Helena Jones of the right age.

10.11.1917 EGYPT

[2] We've never been able to find a military record for Cornelius Walter Jones, but know he enlisted in the Army and served during World War I. His first cousin's husband, who was in Queenstown with the US Navy, kept a detailed diary and had written that Cornelius (Con) was leaving for Egypt in 1917

The image above, which I admit I downloaded some years ago (the page no longer exists), is dated 10.11.1917 EGYPT. The taller man (that makes perfect sense too as his grandfather, Thomas Jones, had been 5' 9½", which was tall for his time), second from right, back row, is so much like my father it's literally like looking straight into his eyes. His stance, his eyes, ears, nose, mouth, brow line and, above all, hair, are utterly identical. It's so close a resemblance that it's eerie and uncanny and, unless someone can prove otherwise, I feel sure this has to be my great-uncle, Cornelius Jones.

Though our cousin had thought that Con didn't return from the war, I now know he did, probably suffering shell-shock, for which his sister Agnes had described him as "daft" - such was the lack of understanding. So not expecting to find him there in Ireland, we were quite shocked when we read the listing of his burial at the Old Church Cemetery (Cobh). His death certificate tells us Cornelius Jones, late of Rushbrooke, Cork, died on 21 Apr 1926 at the Cork District Hospital (now St. Finbarr's Hospital, with its origins in the Cork Union Workhouse and Infirmary). He was a bachelor, previously employed as a labourer. The record says 30, but he was 33 and died from Pneumonic Phthisis (tuberculosis, also known as consumption), after 8 months in hospital. The informant was Helena Lynch, "Inmate" Cork Union. Cornelius Walter Jones was buried on 24 Apr 1926, in the family plot at Old Church Cemetery (Cobh), along with his mother.

The file name of the image above, b4croad3 matches the file name of the now defunct page at the former Royal Munster Fusiliers website at (also mentioned here) appertaining to a Private Frederick R Croad, 2nd R. Munster Fus, who I believe is also in the image. We have no record of what unit Cornelius joined or when, however, two Extra Reserve Battalions of the Royal Munster Fusiliers were mobilised at Queenstown (Cobh). The 6th (Service) Battalion certainly sailed on 9 Sep 1917 from Salonika for Alexandria in Egypt.

[3] Laura Mary (Queenie) Jones was alive and unmarried in 1942, when she and her sister Alice were both witnesses at their brother Dave's wedding.

[4] As with her sister, Laura Mary, I've found no records that I can definitely attribute to Alice Jones beyond 1942. My belief is she stayed in Ireland, as when I was a child, my gran used to have shamrocks sent to her for St. Patrick's Day and I'm sure I remember them coming from an Alice, in Ireland. Family stories - we know how reliable those are - alleged that Laura and Alice had been thrown out of the family home and sent to the workhouse as they both had children out of wedlock. We were unable to find records of them entering the Cork workhouse. My late cousin had said they had lived at the Cork County Hospital for years and visited them there in 1946. Unfortunately, without an admission date, the Health Service in Ireland couldn't (wouldn't) make a search of the records for me to be able to confirm.