The Noones of Killacorraun: Patrick Noone (c. 1845-1890) and the Accident Near Placerville, California

In my first post about the Noone family I mentioned that my husband’s ancestors Peter  and Catherine (Mulherin) Noone arrived in New York City 11 Apr 1863 on the ship Thornton with their two small daughters Bridget and Winifred, and that Peter’s younger, single brothers James and Patrick were also aboard.  Like many others from Crossmolina parish in County Mayo, these Noones settled in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where their older brother Daniel had already made his home.

NYM237_227-0043 (1)

Passenger manifest for the Thornton found on

Early ship manifests provide very little information, and the list for this voyage tells us only that “Patt” is a male laborer, age 18, coming from Ireland to America in steerage, and that he did not die in the crossing.  Though Catholic baptisms for Crossmolina survive from 1831, there is a gap in the records between 1841 and 1845, and I have not found Patrick’s baptism, but I think he was born about 1845 as the manifest indicates.

By the 1870 census some of the Noones and a related Mulherin family were living on Railroad Avenue, filling up more than half of a page for Scranton’s Sixth Ward.  The Sixth Ward was a small section of the city, conveniently sandwiched between the Oxford (coal) Mine where most of the Noones then worked, and the yards of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad, which would employ several of them later.

Near the top of this census page are a couple I believe to be the parents of the nine Noone siblings I know of:  Peter and Bridget (Hopkins) Noone, ages 70 and 64 respectively, living with their youngest son Michael, age 20.  (Their eldest son Andrew remained in Ireland on the farm in Killacorraun.)  Next door are Patrick and his wife Bridget Jordan, who must have married about 1867 because they have a son Peter born in 1868, as well as a son John born in 1869, the first of their eventual 11 children.  Also on this page are Patrick’s brother and shipmate James, and his sister Catherine (Noone) Rowan/Ruane.

Patrick is listed as a laborer, and was possibly learning stonemasonry, as this was his occupation according to an 1873 Scranton directory as well as the 1880 census.  By 1880 he and Bridget have had four more children, and their two eldest, now ages 12 and 10, are already “Laboring.”


Southern Pacific Viaduct over Weber Creek near the area where Patrick Noone died.  Photo by Mark Yashinsky licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

For years I could not find anything about Patrick’s death, though I saw that Bridget was listed as his widow in Scranton directories after 1890.  Eventually I found an 1891 newspaper notice mentioning that Patrick was killed on the Southern Pacific in California, and that Bridget had received compensation from the railroad.  Looking for articles about his death outside Pennsylvania I found several about the tragic accident that occurred 13 Feb 1890.

Noone, Patrick 1891 Estate Scranton Republican 28 Nov

Notice from the Scranton Republican 28 Nov 1891 found on

Patrick had been part of a crew repairing storm-damaged railbeds on the line between Sacramento and Placerville, California.  The construction train he worked from was composed of an engine, a tender, several gravel cars and a caboose.  The engine and tender were uncoupled from the other cars in order to take the workers to lunch in Placerville.  Unfortunately the brakes failed on the return trip, and the engine ploughed into the caboose sitting on the track, killing Patrick and two other men who were riding on the cow-catcher.

Noone, Patrick 1890 Obit (2)

Article from the Huntington, Indiana Daily Democrat 13 Feb 1890 found on

After an inquest the other two men were buried locally, but Patrick’s body was shipped to Scranton for burial at Cathedral Cemetery.  Bridget died in 1903, and the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the local Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen attended her funeral.





DNA Match Leads to “New” Maybury Descendants in Dublin, Ireland

DNA matches can confirm (or invalidate) our paper trail, and can help us solve brick walls.  And sometimes they turn up branches of our family we did not know we were missing.  This must be particularly common with research in difficult areas like Ireland, where the paucity of census records means you rarely have a good “snapshot” of an entire family in the 19th century, and where the civil registration of births began so late, in 1864.  It is very easy to miss children born before that date, especially in the absence of baptismal records.

Looking at my Dad’s AncestryDNA matches a few weeks ago, I noticed that he had a “high confidence” match to a woman living in Dublin, Ireland at the fourth to sixth cousin level.  To my knowledge at the time nearly all of his Irish relatives had emigrated before 1900, and the few who stayed did not have children who survived and had children.

Looking at this woman’s tree I noticed she had a great-grandmother named Annie Tennant Dagge without any parents listed.  Knowing that my Dad’s direct ancestors James Maybury (c. 1799-1870) and Maria Shaw (c. 1812-1888) of Killarney, County Kerry had had a daughter Isabella who married a James Dagge, I guessed that this was the connection.

I knew James and Isabella had had six children between 1864 and 1878, as well as a daughter born about 1862, and that three of these children had moved to Montreal, Quebec, Canada as did Isabella in her widowhood, while the remaining four either died young or do not appear in any records after their births that I can find.  However since they married in 1853, it seems likely that James and Isabella had other children between then and 1864, and also possible that one or more of these remained in Ireland and had children.

Dagge-McConnell 1905 Marriage

The DNA match did not provide a birthdate for Annie Tennant Dagge, only an approximate death date (1972) and a spouse, John McConnell, said to have died about 1941.  Since Dagge is a much less common surname than McConnell, I searched for the marriage of an Annie Dagge in the civil records on the free website  The first record that came up was the marriage of a John George McConnell and Annie Tennant Dagge on 19 April 1905 in the Church of Ireland parish of St. George in Dublin.  The groom was of major age and a schoolteacher, the bride was a minor and the daughter of James Dagge, a Superintendent at Dublin’s General Post Office or G.P.O.

Dagge, Annie Tennant 1884 Birth (2)

Dagge, Annie Tennant 1884 BaptismI was then able to find both the birth and baptism of Annie Tennant Dagge in Dublin in 1884 on the same website, her parents being James and Elizabeth (Tennant) Dagge, which explained her middle name.  Using I also found her living with her parents in the 1901 census, and with her husband in 1911, as well as her exact date and place of death from the National Probate Calendar of England and Wales.

Dagge, Annie Tennant 1972 Probate

Turning to Annie’s father James Dagge, I was not able to find a baptism, but this did not surprise me as I would probably already have known of his existence if one were now available online.  I was able to find records of his marriage to Elizabeth Tennant on 14 Jan 1880, as well as a second marriage as a widower in 1929, and his death 2 Sep 1944.  Using the Irish newspapers searchable at, I also found an article on his retirement from the Post Office in 1918.  This means he was employed there during the Easter Rising in 1916, when the G.P.O. became the headquarters of the revolutionary forces, so I wonder what he experienced at that time.

Dagge, James 1918 Retirement Weekly Irish Times 2 Nov

Article on James Dagge, Jr.’s retirement from the Weekly Irish Times of 2 Nov 1918, found on

James Dagge’s death record gives his age as 88, placing his birth about 1856, squarely between his likely parents’ marriage and the beginning of civil registration in Ireland in 1864.  Both of his marriage records list his father as James Dagge, the earlier one giving his father’s occupation as “Clerk” and the second as “Superintendent Railway”.  Because the births and baptisms of the known children of James Dagge Sr. and Isabella Maybury list his occupation as “Railway Clerk” and “Railway Porter” among other things, I am fairly certain the younger James Dagge was their son.  The taker of the DNA test would then be my father’s third cousin twice removed, a relationship that would jibe with the fourth to sixth cousin relationship level suggested by AncestryDNA.


Larkin monument in O’Connell street, outside the GPO, General Post Office, Dublin.



“Soupers” in Kerry, Ireland: New McCarthy Discoveries

This weekend I made new discoveries regarding the family of Robert McCarthy and Elizabeth Neil, including finding a formerly unknown daughter of theirs who married and had a large family!  I would have found this child earlier if I had kept a more open mind about this family:  As far as I knew they were Protestants, so I rarely looked for them in Catholic records.  Frankly the number of Catholic McCarthys in Kerry makes searching for the right ones somewhat daunting.

What lead to my breakthrough was a find in the National Folklore Collection on the website of Dublin City University.  The collection includes scanned images of many Irish schoolchildren’s papers from 1937-1938 regarding the social history of their local area.  Though these papers are of a late date, children were encouraged to get information from their oldest relatives, and they captured a goldmine of 19th century data along with fascinating glimpses into local lore and customs.  Also most of the handwriting is extremely neat, and many of the papers are easily searchable having been transcribed.  Most are in English but some are in Irish.

Apparently as late as the 1930s some in the older generations recalled who had been a “souper” or “taken the soup,” who had abjured Catholicism in order to obtain food from Protestant Bible Society proselytizers during the potato famine.  For years I have looked for possible earlier McCarthy ancestors in the Convert Rolls of the 18th or early 19th centuries, but it turns out it was Robert himself who converted, probably in order to keep his young family fed in the late 1840s.  Twice in her paper on Blennerville Kathleen O’Brien mentions that McCarthy the Harbour Master was a souper.  She obtained this valuable information from her grandfather, then over 80 years old.

McCarthy, Robert 1847 Souper Blennerville 1930 2 (1)

This find gave me the idea to look for the baptisms of Robert and Elizabeth’s earliest children in the Catholic records for Kerry available at  I did not find any but I did find the 1879 adult baptism of an Ellen McCarthy, born in 1855 with parents named Robert McCarthy and Elizabeth Neil!  The only other document I have found showing Elizabeth’s maiden name is the 1888 marriage of this couple’s daughter Harriet in Ontario, Canada, so I was very glad to have another piece of evidence for that.  (My Dad’s autosomal DNA is also matching many Neil and O’Neill descendants from the Tralee area.)

Moriarty-McCarthy 1879 MarriageI guessed that Ellen probably converted in order to marry a Catholic, and sure enough on the same day that she was baptized she married Michael Moriarty, a shopkeeper in Tralee.   The marriage record lists her father as “Robert McCarthy / Dead / Harbour Master”.

Michael and Ellen (McCarthy) Moriarty went on to have 11 children and I was able to find all of their civil birth records and Catholic baptisms on, using the 1901 census as a guide to most of the children’s names.  Though no child Robert appears in the census, I looked at the record for a Robert Moriarty born 1882, thinking they would likely name a son for Ellen’s father, and it turned out to be another son, who must have died before 1901.

I will now be able to follow up new leads, including Ellen’s address at marriage, Tullivadeen, which does not appear on any lists of townlands so I’m not sure yet where it was.  (I know someone else is looking for it from a genealogy message board, though it is discouraging that another person replied “No such feckin place.”) I will of course follow all of the children’s lives through, which will probably explain more of my Dad’s DNA matches.  It may also lead to information or contacts that will give me what I really want:  Just one more generation back on both Robert and Elizabeth.  Just one.





Death by Opiate: Duncan Clerk Winter (1829-1874)

Researching hundreds or thousands of direct ancestors and collateral relatives, one expects to find some alcoholics or problem drinkers.  They often show up in the newspapers getting into accidents or getting arrested.  Sometimes their death records make it clear that alcohol caused or accelerated their demise even if their obituary does not.  One of the saddest death notices I have read was for Joel Wilkins, the husband of my 5th great aunt Elizabeth Haseltine West.  She had left him a few years before he was found in December of 1891, “frozen stiff” in a shed in Danvers, Massachusetts.  His death record indicates he died of “alcohol and exposure.”

Wilkins, Joel 1891 Obit Boston Journal 19 Dec (2)

From the Boston Journal of 19 Dec 1891, found on

Though alcohol has been the most common drug of abuse throughout European and American history, I have a British relative who died from an overdose of laudanum, an  alcoholic extract of opium.

A typical bottle of laudanum would be 25-60% alcohol and about 10% opium by weight.  In the 19th century it was prescribed to people of all ages for everything from coughs and menstrual cramps to heart disease and yellow fever.  It was also used in many home remedies and in the patent medicines whose makers guaranteed that their product would solve all of one’s problems.  As a result many people became laudanum addicts, including Mary Todd Lincoln and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Duncan Clerk Winter was born 16 May 1829 in Martock, Somerset, the son of glove manufacturer John Winter and his wife Mary Presgrave.  The 1841 census captures him in Kent, living at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School at Sevenoaks, where the headmaster was Duncan’s uncle, the Rev. William Presgrave.

By 1851 Duncan was boarding in Leeds, Yorkshire and working as a commercial traveler or traveling salesman, selling shoe lastings, a trade he would follow the rest of his life.  In 1858 at Bradford, Yorkshire, he married Sophia Vincent Whitworth, the daughter of my ancestor Robert Whitworth, a wine merchant in Wakefield, Yorkshire.  Duncan and Sophia had five children between 1858 and 1867, though one died in infancy.


Bradford St. Peter, where Duncan and Sophia were married.  By Merete25 via Wikimedia Commons.

At some point about two years before his death, Duncan became very ill and had difficulty sleeping.  The opium and alcohol in laudanum do promote sleep, and he seems to have become addicted to the substance in the last months of his life.  The inquest after his death determined the cause to be an overdose.  Sadly Sophia died the next year, leaving their four living children orphaned.  The youngest, James Presgrave Winter, was only eight years old.

Winter, Duncan Clark 1874 Inquest Edinburgh Evening News 16 Jun

From the Edinburgh Evening News 16 Jun 1874 found on

(More) Rare Given Names from Aurilla to Zelotes

Here are some more rare and interesting names I have encountered in my research:

Aurilla:  Meaning “golden” and sometimes spelled (or misspelled) Orilla.  Aurilla Yates (1816-1904) of Quebec and Burlington, Vt. married my relative Albert Fuller.

Drusilla:  Via Latin from the Greek drosos meaning “dew.”  Drusilla the daughter of Herod Agrippa appears in Acts of the Apostles, and died in the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 C.E.  This name has never been very popular in America, but was favored by descendants of Drusilla (Hicks) Thurber (1771-1857) of the Eastern Townships of Quebec.  One relative bearing this name used the nickname Dilly.

Job:  Before I began researching, it never occurred to me that anyone would name their child after someone who suffered as many trials as Job, though you do see it once in a while.  The only Jobs in our tree are three members of the Peace family in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Lubbert:  This masculine name and its feminine form Lubbertje are not uncommon among my Dutch ancestors in New York and New Jersey.  It is composed of Germanic roots meaning “bright tribe,” with “bright” suggesting famous or renowned.

Mathurin:  A boys’ name after a French saint who died about 300 C.E. Because he was supposed to have been good at driving out demons, people called for St. Mathurin’s help in cases of mental illness.  He is also the patron saint of jesters and clowns.  Mathurin Chalifour was the father of Paul Chalifour, who had arrived in Quebec by 1647.


By Hans Vollebregt via Wikimedia Commons.

Meribah:  A girls’ name from a place mentioned twice in Exodus.  Meribah Everest was born in 1875 in Clinton County, New York.

Narcissa:  A flower name referring to the daffodil family, and probably not used much anymore because of the association with narcissism.  I have only seen it among my Cornell relatives.

Novella:  I have only seen this Italian girls’ name meaning “new” in 19th century Yorkshire.  Since one of the girls with this name was actually named “Clara Novella,” I wonder if the name became popular in England because of acclaimed London-born soprano, Clara Novello (1818-1908).

Persis:  A girls’ name meaning “of Persia,” I have only come across this name among the Anglo-Protestants of Quebec.

Quirinus:  Quirinus was a god of the Roman state whose name may derive from the Sabine word for spear, and several saints have borne the name.  The only Quirinus in our tree is my ancestor Quirinus Bertholf, the father of Dutch Reformed minister Guilliam Bertholf  (1656-1726) of Sluis, Zeeland, Netherlands and Hackensack, New Jersey.

Rezinah:  This name and its nickname Ziney were popular among my relatives in the Eastern Townships of Quebec.  I had assumed it must be the name of a Biblical woman, but it seems to be from the Latin word for “queen” (regina) as spelled in some versions of the Gospel of Matthew.

Sealed:  I assume this name has a Christian theological meaning, perhaps “sealed by the Holy Spirit”.  The only one in our tree is Sealed Landers (1752-1777) of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

Sirrildia / Rildia:  My mother-in-law’s second cousin Rildia Bee O’Bryan was the mother of pianist Van Cliburn, and her mother was named Sirrildia Early McClain.  I am not sure of the origin–perhaps creativity?


Van Cliburn and his mother Rildia.  From the Dutch National Archives via Wikimedia Commons.

Sukie / Sukey:  A nickname for Susan or Susannah that is not heard much anymore, though many are familiar with the old song that goes “Polly put the kettle on, Sukey take it off again.”

Tavernier:  I believe my francophile ancestor John Kipp Vermilyea named his son Tavernier, born in 1836, after a French notable of this name.  Possibilities include the politician Jean André Tavernier (1777-1850) or the explorer and trader Jean-Baptiste Tavernier (1605-1689).

Thankful:  One of the more adorable Puritan girls’ names, I have two direct ancestors named Thankful.

Wiley:  Originally a Scottish nickname for William, I see this name most often among my mother-in-law’s relatives in the American South.

Zelotes:  Referring to Jesus’ apostle, Simon the Zealot.  The only one in our tree is my relative Zelotes Lear Fowler (1825-1902) of Quebec.

Margaret (Tillman) Willis (1930-2018) and her DNA

My wonderful mother-in-law Margaret “Bitsy” (Tillman) Willis passed away last month, two days before her 88th birthday, and I have been thinking of her and also focusing on her ancestors lately.

Tillman, Margaret 5

Even though my husband and two of his sisters had already taken the AncestryDNA test, I was glad that Bitsy took it recently as well, knowing that she was one generation closer to her ancestors–including her brick walls–than her children.  It is also nice to have a test that does not have my late father-in-law’s DNA mixed in, and I should eventually be able to reconstruct much of his DNA using the children’s results and subtracting out Bitsy’s.

Tillman, Margaret 4 (2)

There was nothing surprising about the ethnicity results.  The “high confidence” groups Ancestry suggests are what I would expect for a person of English, Scottish, Scots-Irish and Irish ancestry with a few Huguenot refugees thrown in:  36% Great Britain; 28% Ireland/Scotland/Wales; 16% Scandinavia; and 13% Europe West.


The data also place her in two migration groups that make sense: North Alabama Settlers (this group includes settlers of North Mississippi) and Western North Carolina Settlers.  Bitsy was born in Texas and her ancestors include early settlers of Virginia whose descendants migrated to Mississippi, some via the Carolinas and some via Georgia, as well as Highland Scots who immigrated to the Cape Fear River area of North Carolina in the 1730s and quickly headed west.

Tillman, Alvin Young I and Clark, Margaret Latimer

Bitsy’s parents, Alvin Young and Margaret Latimer (Clark) Tillman.

I am just beginning to work with her results, and I am not an expert in DNA research, but I do hope they will shed light on some brick walls.  The two most recent ones, like many problem ancestors, have very common names:  William Young was born about 1795 somewhere in Virginia and died 1838 in Green County, Kentucky; John Harris was born about 1800 somewhere in South Carolina and died in 1882 in Copiah County, Mississippi.  Ideally DNA matches will help me figure out which Young and Harris families these men came from, and exactly where they were born.

Tillman, Margaret 6

Bitsy and my late father-in-law Bernard John Willis in 1950.

Not surprisingly, many of her closer matches are other descendants of Baptist minister Pleasant Barnett Chandler (1816-1904) and his wife Mary E. O’Kelley (1817-1886) who had 13 children, most of whom lived to adulthood.


Ancestry has placed Bitsy in 42 DNA Circles™,  groups of individuals “who all have the same ancestor in their family trees [within six generations], and where each member shares DNA with at least one other individual in the circle.”  (For comparison, my mother has been placed in only eight circles and my father in six.)  Many factors contribute to a person’s winding up in a large number of DNA Circles™, and they do not prove descent from these ancestors, but it is reassuring that Bitsy does seem to be genetically related to many of the people she should be related to based on the paper trail.



The Tragic Death of Leonidas Prather Tillman (1881-1905)

I have come across quite a few sudden and tragic deaths resulting from accidents on the job in my research.  My husband’s Scranton Irish relatives include men crushed in the anthracite coal mines and a teenaged girl killed when she jumped from her burning workplace, the Imperial Underwear Factory.  Other branches of the tree include a man killed in a grist mill accident, another at a quarry by an out-of-control gravity railroad car, and of course mariners lost at sea.

My husband’s 2nd great uncle Leonidas “Daredevil” Tillman also died while working, though in a more unusual accident.  Leonidas was an aeronaut, part of a traveling circus known as the Great Alamo Shows, boasting six large tents and “high-class exhibitions” including glass blowers.  According to one newspaper, the Alamo Shows were “unusually free from objectional features.”  Besides a 60 foot high Ferris wheel and a minstrel troupe, the circus featured Tillman’s act, which consisted of ascending in a balloon and then parachuting to the ground from the balloon.

Tillman, Leonidas Haden Family Group Sheet

Family group sheet my mother-in-law gave me, with Leonidas at the bottom and the note “Was accidentally k[illed].

 The last jump he had made before the fatal one was at Cherokee, Kansas, and all went well except that the balloon landed on a barbed wire fence and was severely damaged.  Newspaper reports indicate that Tillman worked all night at the next stop, Galena, Kansas, to make a new balloon.  For some reason the new balloon did not ascend high enough for his jump at the next show in Horton, Kansas.  He jumped anyway, and his parachute caught on the steeple of the local high school, causing him to be thrown against the building and then down to the ground, at some point breaking his neck.  He was only 23.

Tillman, Leonidas Prather 1905 Death Galena Evening Times 10 Aug (2)

Account of the accident from the Galena Evening Times 10 Aug 1905 found on



The Importance of Childless Relatives’ Wills: Martha Whitworth (1794-1829) of Ossett, Yorkshire, England

If I were to give ancestors awards for their wills, Most Boring would go to Samuel Linley (1752-1808) of the parish of Wakefield in Yorkshire, who mentions 15 times that he intends to make his children’s shares as equal as possible.  (The person who drew up the will may have been paid by the word in this time period.)  Most Interesting Items Conveyed would have to go to David Hamlin of Dutchess County, New York, who mentioned two portraits attributed to Ammi Phillips that came up for auction in 2009.

I am not sure who would get Most Useful and Informative, but it would definitely go to an unmarried sibling of an ancestor rather than a direct one.  This is because childless people tend to name other relatives, usually siblings and/or nieces and nephews.  This can sometimes provide a “snapshot” of a complete extended family at the time the will was made, confirming formerly uncertain relationships or pointing to previously undiscovered ones.  It may also provide the dwelling places of these family members.  People who seemed to have dropped off the face of the earth are sometimes found in an unexpected place or under a new married name.

For sheer number of relatives mentioned, the award would go to a 5th great uncle, successful London leather merchant Isaac Hemsworth (1787-1853).  His five sisters provided him with 40 nieces and nephews, and all who were living when he drew up his lengthy will were both named and placed.

Blossom at Dewsbury Minster where Martha is buried.  Photo by stuart Hartley via Wikimedia Commons.

The very useful will of Martha Whitworth of Ossett in the parish of Dewsbury, Yorkshire is much shorter, and a quarter of it is taken up with a run-on sentence expressing her relatively confident religious thoughts:  “I Martha Whitworth feeling myself of late much indisposed through bodily affliction & not knowing how soon it may please the Almighty to call me out of time into Eternity but I trust I shall be supported by the gracious influences of the Holy Spirit which alone can afford consolation in a dying hour & when I enter the dark valley of the shadow of death it will be illumined with the bright beams of the Son of Righteousness who I trust is my only hope and Saviour…”

Whitworth, Martha 1829 Will

Will of Martha Whitworth proved 30 Dec 1829.

Before I obtained Martha’s will I was not sure that my ancestor Robert Whitworth, a wine merchant in Wakefield, was her brother.  Because Martha’s will mentions him and all of his then living children, it proved the two were siblings.






Stanley Peace (1879-1960) and Alice Houghton (1879-1960) of London, England

My Dad and his sister say that their grandfather Vernon Linley Peace (1873-1947) never spoke much about his family or childhood in England, so that they knew very little about his siblings who never lived in or visited the United States.  Vernon’s sister Isabel (1877-1947) did move to the U.S., and his sister Kate Elizabeth (1871-1950) visited Vermont in 1948, but the rest of his siblings remained somewhat of a mystery.

In researching his parents Henry Horton Peace and Sarah Elizabeth Linley, I found that they  had four children besides Vernon, Isabel and Kate:  Hemsworth (1875-1884) and Norman (1881-1884) who died of scarlet fever within a day of one another;  Norma (1886-1934) who became a schoolmistress in Northamptonshire; and Stanley (1879-1960) who spent his adult life in Greater London.

Like all of his siblings, Stanley was baptized at Cumberworth St. Nicholas in Yorkshire.  At some point in the early 1890s he was apprenticed to a draper named Henry Harris Pumphrey in Bromyard, Herefordshire.  A draper was chiefly a fabric merchant but often sold clothing as well, and Mr. Pumphrey offered yard goods, undergarments and dressmaking services.

Pumphrey, Henry Harris 1889 Draper Bromyard News 28 Mar

Advertisement for the draper’s shop of Henry Harris Pumphrey.  From the Bromyard News of 28 Mar 1889 found on

By 1 Feb 1901 Stanley had moved to London, where he enlisted in the 81st Company of the 21st Battalion of the Imperial Yeomanry, a cavalry regiment of sharpshooters.   He served in the Second Boer War (1899-1902) in which the British fought the South African Republic and the Orange Free State for control of South Africa and its resources.  He received the Queen’s South Africa Medal with five clasps:  Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal, South Africa 1901 and South Africa 1902.


British cavalry unit fording a river in South Africa during the Boer War.

Stanley returned to London after completing his service.  The 1911 census shows him still single, boarding in Streatham in south London, and working as a “Commercial Traveller” selling “Drapery,” what we would probably call a fabric wholesaler.

On 14 Mar 1914 he married Alice Houghton at Willesden St. Andrew in northwest London.  Alice was a draper’s daughter born in Nantwich, Cheshire, but she had been living on her own in London for well over a decade.  The 1911 census finds her living and working at Frederick Gorringe Ltd., a large and fashionable department store on Buckingham Palace Road.  Alice was one of 13 women employed in the millinery department.


Willesden St. Andrew’s.

A British headcount taken in preparation for World War II and known as the 1939 Register shows Stanley and Alice living in Hendon, northwest of London and now considered part of Greater London.  Stanley is still a commercial traveller, but Alice has gone into business and is a partner in a “gown shop.”

Stanley and Alice had no children, and his will mentions only his “dear Wife” with mainly charities as secondary beneficiaries.  These include the Home for Incurables (now the Royal Hospital for Neuro-Disability) in memory of his sister Norma, who died there of multiple sclerosis in 1934, and the London Commercial Travellers’ Benevolent Society.  Stanley died in September of 1960, and Alice died the following month.

I hope to find out the name of Alice’s shop and what sort of dresses they sold.


Denby Dale, the Pie Village

If you research families in Denby Dale, Yorkshire, England you will eventually learn about the village’s tradition of making enormous meat pies to celebrate important events.  To date there have been ten pies, and local historian Chris Heath has devoted an entire book to the subject:  The Denby Dale Pies: Ten Giants 1788-2000.

Commemorative plates from the 1928, 1964 and 1988 pies are listed for sale on eBay as of this writing.  I purchased the 1964 plate below several years ago for about $10.


One of the 2000 souvenir plates sold at the 1964 pie celebration.

The first pie celebrated King George III’s (temporary) return to sanity in 1788.  It consisted mainly of game animals and was baked at the White Hart Inn, which may have been the inn formerly run by my ancestor John Peace (1727-1772).

The second was baked in honor of Wellington’s victory at Waterloo in 1815.  Ingredients included meat from two sheep and twenty fowls.

The third pie marked the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846.  These laws had imposed high tariffs and other restrictions on imported grain, inflating food prices for British consumers.  Unfortunately the stage on which the pie was placed for serving gave way, the pie slid forward into the crowd and what must have been a somewhat disgusting free-for-all ensued.  Stories about the event made even the London papers.


Pie dish used in 1887 and 1896, just before being donated to the war effort in 1940.  Picture from the Huddersfield Daily Examiner.

The fourth and fifth pies were baked in August and September of 1887 for Queen Victoria’s jubilee.  Unfortunately the August effort went rancid and was given its own “funeral” procession and buried.  The second attempt in September was a success dubbed the  “Resurrection Pie,” and included beef, mutton, veal, lamb and pork as well as meat from  rabbits, hares, fowls, pigeons, grouse, ducks, plovers and “small birds.”  The pie was served on the grounds of my second great-grandfather Henry Horton Peace’s wool-weaving factory, Inkerman Mill.

The sixth pie in 1896 marked the 50th anniversary of the repeal of the Corn Laws, and was again distributed from Inkerman Mill.

The seventh pie in 1928 was a fundraiser for the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.


The 1964 pie dish has been made into a flower bed.  Photo by SMJ via Wikimedia Commons.

The eighth pie celebrated the four royal births which took place in 1964:  Queen Elizabeth’s cousin Princess Alexandra and her husband Angus Ogilvy had a son James on the 29th of February; Prince Edward was born on the 10th of March; The Duke and Duchess of Kent had a daughter Helen on the 28th of April; and Princess Margaret and her husband Antony Armstrong-Jones had a daughter Sarah on the 1st of May.  (In the 1980s gossip columnists would refer to these cousins as the “Queenyboppers.”)


The Swinging Blue Jeans.  Photo by Imperial Records via Wikimedia Commons.

A new baking dish was fabricated for the 1964 event, which now serves as a flower bed in Denby Dale.   Proceeds from the celebration funded the building of a community center known as the Denby Dale Pie Hall.  Attendees enjoyed a performance by the Swinging Blue Jeans, who had recently charted in both the U.S. and U.K. with covers of “Hippy Hippy Shake,” “Good Golly Miss Molly,” and “You’re No Good.”

Crowd awaiting the 1988 pie.  Photo by Gerald England via Wikimedia Commons.

The ninth pie, baked in 1988, commemorated the bicentennial of the first pie.  The last pie weighed 13 tons and was baked in 2000 for the millennium.  If you live in the United Kingdom and don’t want to wait for the next giant pie, you can now buy frozen Denby Dale Yorkshire Pies at your grocery store.  The ingredients include beef and potatoes, but no mutton, rabbit or small birds.


Logo for Denby Dale Yorkshire Pies by WSLeafe via Wikimedia Commons.