Are you descended from Stafford’s Victorian Irish families?

ARE YOUR ANCESTORS HERE?

I estimate that around 4,000 Irish people stopped in Stafford during the nineteenth century.  Some only stayed a short time in the town before moving elsewhere. Others lived there for a few years but then they also left.  All the time, however, a residue of people and families from this mass of migrants stayed on in Stafford, and they are the families who appear in this blog.

I have identified 206 ‘families’ who stayed in Stafford for at least ten years – in other words, they appeared in at least two Censuses or there is other evidence that they were here for that length of time.  These ‘families’ ranged from lone individuals through nuclear units with partners and children to complex families with a large number of related individuals and sub-groups. The pdf table below lists these 206 families and gives basic information about them.

Do you think you might be descended from one of these families? Many descendants have already been in contact with me but I’m always keen to hear from new people who might have information and thoughts to offer about their Irish ancestors. In return I can offer you more information about these families’ genealogies and their experiences in Victorian Stafford.

The pdf table gives the following information:-

FAMILY NAME

Where two surnames are shown one of the names will be the maiden name of an Irish woman in an ethnically mixed marriage or partnership.

DATE

The date shown is of the first evidence we have of the family’s arrival in Stafford.

PROVINCE

Shows the province of Ireland in which the family or key individuals originated:-

Known places of origin of Stafford's Irish families

Known places of origin of Stafford’s Irish families

Connacht: the biggest proportion of Stafford’s Irish came from Connacht, Ireland’s poorest province in the west of the country. Many originated in an area of Counties Roscommon, Galway and Mayo that surrounds the small town of Castlerea.

Leinster: the province in the east of Ireland that surrounds the capital, Dublin. A significant minority of Stafford’s immigrants came from here

Ulster: the nine counties in the north of Ireland that include the main industrial city, Belfast. Stafford received a small number of Ulster immigrants, both Protestant and Catholic.

Munster: the province in the south west of Ireland where the main cities were Cork and Limerick. The least important source of Stafford’s Irish.

FAMILY TYPE

This gives basic information on what sort of family it was and its shows that the family situations of Irish migrants were more complex than is often thought. I have identified five different types of ‘Irish’ family, namely:-

Irish family: a family that was formed in Ireland and moved to Stafford as an existing unit with children who were born in Ireland. Later children may have been born in Stafford.

Irish adults: a family that was formed in Stafford from Irish people who met in the town after their arrival. All their children were born in Stafford.

Mixed-M: a mixed ethnicity family where an Irish-born man was partnered with a British-born woman.

Mixed-F: a mixed ethnicity family where an Irish-born woman was partnered with a British born man.

British: there were a small number of families where British people had lived in Ireland and had children there. These children therefore appear in the records as Irish-born and some may, indeed, have had some identity with their Irish childhood.

RELIGION

In most cases it is possible to identify whether families were Catholic or Protestant. The majority of Irish immigrants were Catholic, as you would expect, but there was a significant Protestant minority too.

FATE

The research looks at the long-term history of each family – in other words, what happened to them? In broad terms they went in one of three directions:-

Long-term transient: these families stayed in Stafford for at least ten years but ultimately the immigrants and/or their children or grandchildren left the town and the family disappeared. Many emigrated from Britain as part of the wave of emigrants to the New World in the later 19th century.

Terminal: these individuals and families settled in Stafford but failed to intermarry either with Irish or local people. They literally just died out.

Integrating: these families intermarried with local people and put down deep roots in Stafford. They survived into the 20th century and in many cases their descendants are still in the town today.

It’s important to stress that, at the margins, some families showed evidence of more than one ‘fate’ and were difficult to categorise. Family life is complex!

STAFFORD’S IRISH FAMILIES

Open the list of Irish families HERE

 

22 thoughts on “Are you descended from Stafford’s Victorian Irish families?”

  1. Emma Richey said:

    Hi John, do you know any more about the Dolans? especially Darby Dolan?
    Thanks
    Emma

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    • Emma, thanks for your comment. I do know a certain amount about the Dolan family – in fact it’s one of the families I’d like to put on the blog at some time. I’ll have a look at what I currently have and send you a fuller reply by e-mail. With best wishes, John

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  2. keith salt said:

    Hi john have just across your site my surname is salt i have done some family tree history . during this i found one of my relatives was traced as being born in templemore in 1849 he lived at 8 broad eye in stafford have you any information on the salts in stafford

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Keith, I know a certain amount the Salt family. In the context of my study Thomas was what I call ‘accidentally Irish’. His father was in the army and Thomas was born in Templemore, Co. Tipperary, when he and his wife Mary Ann were on a posting in Ireland. The Salts were back in Stafford in 1851, so Thomas junior can have had no memories of Ireland, but it is interesting that he nevertheless consistently gave Ireland as his place of birth on Census returns. The basic picture is that the Salts were a Staffordshire family, as you doubtless know, and I haven’t pursued their history any farther than producing an outline family tree. I’ll send a copy of this to your e-mail address. Many thanks for getting in touch. John

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  3. Catherine Turner said:

    Fascinating blog. My mother came over 1946. I think her relatives went to the Midlands long before her. She came over to do her nursing as there was no jobs where she was. She was a Beirne from Elphin. Co Roscommon. Looks like a lot came from that area

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    • Dear Catherine, Many thanks for getting in touch. Yes, you are right that many Irish in the English midlands came from the Roscommon/Galway/Mayo area. Before the Famine the link was established by thousands of seasonal migrant harvest workers who came to Staffordshire, Cheshire and Lancashire because these were the nearest places in England to work after they’d landed at Liverpool after walking across Ireland to ports like Dublin and Drogheda. Galway, Mayo and Roscommon were areas of great rural poverty and stress even before the Famine – that’s why these workers needed money from harvest work in England. When the Famine struck many people forced to emigrate from these three counties came to places they already knew, hence the reason many Famine immigrants turned up in Stafford and many other places in this part of England. Roscommon lost a greater proportion of its population through death and emigration than any other Irish county during the Famine. It’s significant that you think members of your mother’s family went to the Midlands long before her. It shows the persistence of emigrant connections over long periods of time and I’d be interested to know what else you know about your family’s connections. Best wishes, John

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  4. Margaret Gannon said:

    Dear John
    I came across your website yesterday evening and have thoroughly enjoyed reading its contents. I have found your observations/comments so helpful. My paternal line ‘Kenny’ originated from Ballaghaderreen which used to be in Mayo but, after a change of boundaries, is now in Roscommon.
    My great great grandfather had two brothers, according to the Griffiths Valuation, both of whom disappeared in the mid to late 1880’s. I finally found one in Bradford and later found evidence of the other brother, Andrew Kenny, linking to Burslem. It seems that in 1916 Andrew’s son, Thomas, is wanting to claim his pension. An Agent from St Joseph’s, Hall Street, Burslem writes off for information about the Kenny’s in the Irish 1851 Census. Irish Genealogy confirms their presence in the Census. Andrew Kenny, born circa 1810, married a Mary Casey and Thomas is one of their children.
    Would you have any ideas how I might fast forward through subsequent generations? With me not having any Christian names, other than Thomas, I am unable to prove links with other Kenny’s in the area.
    Many thanks, Margaret

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    • Dear Margaret, many thanks for your comments and information. There was a Kenny family in Stafford but from what you’ve told me it seems unlikely there’s any connection with your family except incredibly remotely. Over your question, I gather you are clear that Thomas Kenny was the son of Andrew Kenny and Mary Casey but that you are uncertain ow Thomas fits into your own ancestry. As you know about your own great great grandfather, have you tried to glean basic information about your other ancestors from any of your own relatives – parents, grand parents, aunts, uncles etc? If that isn’t possible, then you really need access to Ancestry or one of the other genealogical sites. You need to find out if and when Thomas married and whether it was in Ireland before he left or in the Potteries after he had come to England. The late-19th century English census returns should tell you whether he had any children and you then need to trace their marriages through the earlier 20th century, looking again at the Census (especially 1911) to see where those children were and whether any had by then married. After 1911 the process becomes trickier because no Census returns are available. You should be able to trace marriages and children born subsequently, but the basic genealogical information will not be enough to easily link registered births to specific parents unless you actually send for the birth (and marriage) certificates which could end up being costly. If you are definite about where the Kennys lived you might be able to use sources such as electoral registers and street directories but they, of course, don’t have children in unless (in some cases) they are adults and living at home. It’s all an exercise in detective work but I can’t guarantee success! The Ancestry site has many supposed family trees that owe more to wild speculation than provable genealogy! John

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  5. Rosaleen Fergus said:

    Hi John,

    I have just seen this website and looked on the list of Irish Families and found the surname I am researching which is “Fergus”. My Father was John Fergus born in Cloontumper, Bekan, Mayo. His Great Grandfather was William Fergus and he is shown in the Griffiths Valuation (1856-1857) as living in Cloontumper, Annagh, Mayo. William’s brother John Fergus is shown in the Griffiths Valuation as living in Eden (Eden Park), Knock.

    William Fergus married Bridget McGrath (McGrah) and they had four children: Margaret (b.approx 1848 – Ireland – not sure where), Bridget (b.1851), Martin (b.1854) and Mary (b.1857) – the latter three were born in Bekan, Mayo.

    I know that William and Bridget’s son Martin emigrated to Hoboken, NJ in 1880, married Mary Quinn who unfortunately died shortly after the birth of their second son. Martin brought his two sons back to live on the family farm in Cloontumper and is shown on the 1901 census but not on the 1911 census. I did eventually find out that he died in Manchester approx.1929. His sisters Margaret and Mary stayed on the family farm until their deaths (between 1925-1930). Martin’s other sister married a Michael Flannery from Rhanagard, Claremorris and had several children, their daughter Bridget married a James Rabbit from Woodstock, Carrowconnor, Claremorris and they were the Grandparents of Pat Rabbitte the Former Teachta Dála.

    I am not sure whether William and Bridget after their marriage came over to Staffordshire and if you are able to shed any light on this it would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.

    Rosaleen

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    • Dear Rosaleen, many thanks for your information. The Fergus family in Stafford arrived during the Famine, probably in 1849. They were Dennis Fergus and his wife Bridget Egan and James Fergus and his wife Mary Egan. There was also a lone immigrant, John Fergus and a Mary Fergus married a Patrick Evans in Stafford in 1853. I suspected they came from Co. Mayo but had no definite information. However, I think it is quite likely that the Stafford Fergus families were related to your ancestors from the districts in Co. Mayo that you know about, and that is very helpful to me. Fergus is not a common Irish surname, so the chances they were all related are quite high. The Fergus families in Stafford proved to be ‘long-term transients’ and left the town in the 1850s and 1860s. I have not traced where they went to but it is quite likely they emigrated, perhaps to America as you have found with some of your line. So I don’t think your ancestors came to Stafford town itself. A Peter Fergus lived in Newcastle-under-Lyme in 1881 and there was another Fergus in Stockport.

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  6. Carol Forsberg said:

    Hi, I am researching the Mayo family from Tipton, Staffs, for a friend. The family legend has it that there is an Irish connection. Have you come across this name amongst the Irish families in Staffordshire. I note that it is not on your list, but thought you may have some information?

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    • Hello Carol. The name Mayo isn’t on my list because I’ve no record of any Irish person with that name living in Stafford during the 19th century. That’s not to say someone with that name might not have passed through and left no record. My list only covers the town of Stafford, however, not the whole county of Staffordshire. As you already know, the surname is particularly found in the Black Country but I suspect the Irish connection, if any, is rather lost in the mists of history since many people with that surname were born in Staffordshire as early as the late eighteenth century, maybe earlier. I suspect the family legend may be false, although it’s of course quite possible one of the Black Country Mayos married an Irish immigrant at some time. I think you’ll need to take your researches back into the 18th century to find the origin of the family and its name.

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  7. Hi there – great book and website (my aunt is Sally Harrison, making me a descendent of Bartholomew C, my father was grandson of William Westhead, albeit born a year after he and Mary died so no memories of them). I must make it to Stafford and Connacht

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    • Dear Jeremy, how good to hear from you. I met with members of your family back in the early 2000s and received a lot of help from them as you can see in the book and blog. Let me know if there’s any more help I could try to give you about the Corcoran and Westhead families.

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    • Dave O'Meara said:

      Hi Jeremy
      A quick check of my family tree makes you a 4th cousin once-removed. My g.g.g. grandmother Bridget Follows (nee Corcoran) was Batholomew’s sister. We are both descended from their parents, Patrick and Catherine Corcoran.
      Cheers
      Dave

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This site is disseminating valuable info to people who are most concerned of the following issues being targeted by this site. Many certainly will keep coming back to check out updated posts.

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  9. Marie Thomson said:

    My maternal grandfather was John Raftery son of John and Jane Raftety (nee Burton)

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  10. My name is Rosalie, my mother is a (de) Stafford -Langan. I dont know if thats any help. My great grandfather was John Alexis Stafford (Langan)? and his mother was Juliet de Tonei / Toeni. I think her parents were from Longford.

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    • Coincidentally there were some Stafford families in CO Roscommon, as you say, but I have no record of any of them settling in their namesake town of Stafford. They came from the east of Roscommon whereas most of Stafford’s Roscommon Irish came from the north west of the county. Many thanks for getting in touch.

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  11. Sorry again – yeah, they were Staffords of Roscommon I think!

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