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

Showing posts with label Naval Pensioner. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Naval Pensioner. Show all posts

Saturday 17 February 2024

David Jones and Laura Elizabeth White

Christ Church Rushbrooke Cobh

My great-grandparents, David Jones, son of Thomas Jones and Mary Harty, and Laura Elizabeth White, 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 the Anglican Christ Church. But this was not David's first marriage, so we have to rewind for the story that led to this point: 

David was born at Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire on 10 Jul 1850 and baptised, on 1 May 1851, at St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, Kings Lynn, Norfolk. That last detail certainly wasn't ever common knowledge.

After being pensioned off from the Navy, at 16, in 1866, 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 place David at Castle Oliver in 1874 to 1877 too and, from 1878 onwards, man and dog were at Rushbrooke.

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".

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. 

From the records in the church, I was able to ascertain that David and Hannah had five children, all baptised at Christ Church, Rushbrooke: 
  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.)
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's no record of Marion's burial, but I imagine she'll have been buried with her mother.

The kitchen at Fota House

And so it was, on 17 Feb 1892 - one day less than a year after Johannah's death - that 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 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. Ellen Jones (Nell) b. 23 Apr 1894, bap. 13 May 1894
  3. Laura Mary Jones (Queenie) b. 2 Aug 1896, bap 28 Aug 1896 [2]
  4. David Jones (Young Dave) b. 10 Nov 1898, bap. 9 Dec 1898
  5. Alice Jones b. 26 Jul 1903, bap. 14 Aug 1903 [3]
  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? 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.

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

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.

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 a couple of times, because she was there when this happened 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 is also Catherine Jones (Kitty), who was 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 read 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.

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

[3] 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.

More about David Jones: