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:-
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.
The date shown is of the first evidence we have of the family’s arrival in Stafford.
Shows the province of Ireland in which the family or key individuals originated:-
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.
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.
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.
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