The Great Escape!!!

From Stoneyford to Belfast and Back...

Mary Agnes Scott was born on 21 Jan 1867 in Knocknadona, Magheragall Parish, Co. Antrim.  She was the third child of ten born to Mary Agnes Hendren and Richard James Scott.  She is my paternal great grandmother.  Family history indicated, and records have since confirmed, that Richard was a long-established, wealthy and well respected farmer in the area.

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My grandmother Lizzie told the story of Mary “running off to Belfast to avoid marrying a neighbouring farmer” – something that was apparently done “back in the day” in order to increase the size of the family farm holdings.  Wedding plans were well underway; the wedding dress had already been purchased when Mary left for Belfast.  At this point in time I have been unable to discover to whom she was betrothed – chances are I will never know!

Family whispers also suggested that Mary was written out of her father’s Will.  Again something I was able to validate with the discovery of Richard James Will – apparently “R.J.” wasn’t a very forgiving man!

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I decided very early on that this was a lady with a will and mind of her own, a lady whom I definitely admired and could relate to.  It must have taken considerable courage, especially in the late 1800’s, to leave her family and country living for the “big city” of Belfast!  After her “great escape” I discovered Mary living on Westmoreland Street working as a mid wife for a Belfast Doctor.

On 25 Feb 1893 and “according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Church of Ireland, after licence by John G. Hopkins in a Marriage solemnized at Willowfield Church in the Parish of Willowfield in the Diocese of Down” and in the presence of James Stewart and Annie McIlwaine, Mary Scott of 44 Westmoreland Street, Belfast was United in Marriage with James Berry, a labourer, of 41 Moore Street, Belfast.

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The couple resided on Tyne Street at the beginning of their marriage and spent the remainder of their lives on Cherryville Street, Belfast.  They seem to have led a full and happy life, unfortunately, not without the sadness and tragedy that often follows any family. Together they had eight children – five daughters and three sons – two of their daughters died as infants.  Family lore confirms that Mary continued her work as a midwife until much later in her life.  While James, a plumber, had his own business and worked on the Titanic at one point in time, along with several of his employees.


On 12 Aug 1939 at 41 Cherryville Street Belfast Mary passed away.  “Widow of James Berry, a Plumber; Died from Diabetes Mellitus, 6 months, certified, William Berry, Son, present at death at 41 Cherryville Street, Belfast, Co. Down, Northern Ireland.  Registered 14 Aug 1939.”

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In reading some of her obituaries I have the sense that my great granny, Mary Agnes Scott Berry, was loved by many.

“BERRY – August 12, 1939 at her residence, 41 Cherryville Street, Mary Agnes, dearly beloved mother of Mary A. (Minnie) Rae. “A voice is from our household gone, A face we loved is still; A place is vacant in our home, Which never can be filled.  Deeply regretted by her sorrowing Daughter and Son-in-law.  Minnie and Robert Rae, and grandchildren.”

“BERRY – August 12, 1939, at her residence, 41 Cherryville Street, Mary Agnes dearly beloved mother of Frances Whaley. “Dearest mother how I’ll miss you, Life will never be the same. Tear of earth will never wake thee, But through Christ we’ll meet again.  Deeply regretted by her sorrowing Daughter and Son-in-law.  Frances and James Whaley.”

BERRY – August 12, 1939, at her residence, 41 Cherryville Street, Belfast. Mary Agnes Berry, dearly beloved sister of Frances Geddis. “Love in death can let us see, What love in life should always be.  Deeply regretted by her sorrowing Sister, Brother-in-law, and Family.  Frances and Robert G. Geddis.”

“BERRY – August 12, 1939 at her residence 41 Cherryville Street Belfast, Mary Agnes widow of James Berry and dearly beloved daughter of the late Richard James and Mary Agnes Scott, Stoneyford.  Funeral from above address, to-morrow (Tuesday) at 11 a.m. to the family burying-ground, Stoneyford Churchyard.  Friends will please accept this intimation.  ‘Absent from the body, present with the Lord’.  Deeply regretted by her sorrowing family.”

Mary Agnes finally returned “home” to the place where it all began – May she Rest in Peace!

Posted in Belfast, Co. Antrim, Family History, Ireland | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

A First Ballymoney Presbyterian!

Interred at the Western Necropolis in Maryhill, Glasgow…

She was a daughter, sister, wife, mother and aunt – she is my third great aunt and sister to my 2nd great grandfather William.  She was the third child and first daughter of six children born to John Murdock and Sarah MacMillan.

Sarah Jayne Murdoch was born on 12 May 1857 in my paternal home town of Ballymoney Co. Antrim.  Like many of my family before and after her, she was baptized in the First Ballymoney Presbyterian Church.  The Church is said to be the oldest building in the Borough having opened in 1777 – it is still in use today.

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On 1 May 1883 at the Agherton Church of Ireland in Portstewart, Co. Londonderry in the presence of Samuel Gilmore and James McCurdy, Sarah Jayne Murdoch of Flowerfield, Portstewart was wed in Holy Matrimony to John Henry Burkhill, a labourer of Cappagh, Portstewart.  The Church Marriage Record confirmed her father was John Murdock, a labourer, as was John’s father William.  Sadly, Sarah Jayne’s mother had passed away before seeing her daughter marry.

Prior to her marriage, Sarah Jayne worked as a cook to Colonel, Lord and Lady Knox and Major and Mrs. Molyneux William Shuldham of Ballymulvey, Co. Longford.  Molyneux William Shuldham at the time held the office of Justice of the Peace and the office of Deputy Lieutenant.  Upon leaving their employ to marry, she pledged to call her first son Molyneux William Shuldham in memory of the couple’s son of the same name who died at a very young age.

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Molyneaux William Shuldham Burkhill was born on 10 Feb 1884 in Burnside, Port Stewart and baptized in the Agherton Church of Ireland on 4 May 1884.  At some point between Molyneux’s birth and the birth of Herbert, their second son, the couple had relocated to England.  The 1891 Scottish Census revealed the family had grown once again; the couple had two daughters – Henrietta and Walterina.  The ever expanding family was now living at 64 Montgomerie Lane, Ardrossan, Ayrshire – an ancient town which can be found in a map of Scotland as early as the thirteenth century.

The 1901 Scottish Census disclosed that, yet again, the family had relocated and were now living at 46 Hutcheson Street, Maryhill, Lanarkshire.  They had another addition to their family – a daughter named Lillias.  Census records are a wealth of information and verified that two of Sarah Jayne’s nephews, Alexander and Archibald Murdock (the sons of her brother Alexander) were living with the family.  In 1911 the census documented Sarah Jayne and John living at 246 Main Street, Maryhill with their two youngest daughters along with Elizabeth McCafferty, a 14 year old domestic servant.

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Described as a “strong and hearty man” John was a Steam Manager and Engine Man who was required to travel extensively throughout the British Isles due to his career.  Initially he worked for Lawson & Sons and later MacAlpine & Sons Contractors.

The 1903 Slater’s Royal National Directory of Scotland revealed another clue about Sarah Jayne and the life she led.  It stated: “Burkhill, Mrs. Sarah, refreshment rooms, 154 Wyndford Street, Maryhill.”  It is my understanding that the restaurant was funded solely by compensation received by John Henry after an accident at work where he lost both an arm and an eye.  This is a Twisted Limb that I will continue to follow to gain more clarification and verification.

Sadly, Sarah Jayne met with a violent and untimely demise.  A True Copy of Declaration made by The Reverend H. Otley Mayne, Vicar of St. John the Evangelist Church, stated (in part):  “After spending most of her life at Maryhill, Glasgow, Scotland she was knocked down by a motorcycle and her skull was smashed on the 7 Nov 1926.  She was unconscious until she died the following morning.”  On 9 Nov 1926 a death notice published in the Lancashire Evening Post clarified her death and simply stated: “Sarah Murdoch, or Burkhill (69), who was knocked down by a motor cycle in Maryhill-road, Glasgow, died yesterday.”

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My third great aunt Sarah Jayne Murdoch Burkhill is interred at the Western Necropolis in Maryhill, Glasgow.  In her remembrance, one day I hope to lay flowers on her grave.  May She Rest In Peace!

Note:  The two different spellings of Murdoch/Murdock are completely intentional.  To this day my various family lines spell it both ways!

Posted in Family History | 17 Comments

A Death Notice and a Sign!

“Result of Accidental Burning…”

Once again I found myself exploring the British Newspaper Archives, specifically for Leah Love, when I came across a publication which, to me, was like a gift from the universe.

A death notice published in the Derry Journal on Wednesday 22 February 1882 stated: “LOVE – February 19, at her father’s residence, Rosemount, Derry, Sophia, the dearly beloved daughter of John and Leah Love, aged 7 years”.

She was a daughter, sister, niece and granddaughter – she is also my 2nd great aunt.  Her parents John Love and Leah McLaughlin married on 3 May 1865 at the Killowen Church of Ireland in Coleraine.  The couple was joined in matrimony in the presence of John Gray and Richard Crossley.  Prior to finding the death notice of their daughter Sophia, I never knew she existed.  She is the eighth child and fifth daughter of eleven children, a sibling of my great grandfather Johnston Alexander Love.

Although her death notice indicated Sophia was seven at the time of her death, her death and burial records revealed that she was only six.  Thomas Lindsay, Coroner for Londonderry, noted that her death was the “result of an accidental burning”.  This little nugget of information sent me back to the British Newspaper Archives to search for a publication regarding an inquest.  I was not disappointed!

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“An inquest was held by Mr. Lindsay on Monday on the body of a little girl named Sophia Love, daughter of John Love, of Rosemount, Derry, who met her death by burning.  Deceased’s mother was examined, and stated that between eight and nine o’clock on Saturday morning she left the little girl standing in front of the fire in her night-dress while she went to the front door.  Her attention was immediately afterwards attracted by the child’s screams, and on going back she found her night dress on fire.  She believed a spark or coal cinder must have come in contact with the dress and set it on fire.

Dr. M’Laughlin deposed that, acting for Dr. Corbett, he was called in to see the deceased on Saturday morning.  On visiting her he found her suffering from extensive burns, extending over right side of body and abdomen as far as the neck.  The right arm was also burned.  Deceased was suffering very much from the shock to the system at the time he saw her.  In his opinion death resulted from the shock to the system caused by the burns received.  Having heard all the evidence, the jury returned a verdict to the effect that Sophia Love died at Rosemount on the 19th February, from the result of an accidental burning on the 18th instant, and added that no blame was attached to any person.”

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Sophia’s short life met with a tragic end – sorrowfully, she was not my only ancestor who died from an accidental burning at a very young age.

One hundred and thirty four years after her untimely death my 2nd great aunt Sophia left me a sign!  For several years I have been trying to confirm that Sophia Love who died on 15 Feb 1826 in Drumachose, Co. Londonderry, the birth place of my 2nd great grandfather, is my 4th great grandmother.  There were many clues which led me to believe that Sophia of Drumachose was “mine” – I just needed a little more validation in my direct family line.  All of my 4th great aunts and uncles have Christian names that have recurred through my family for decades– the name Sophia had only, to my knowledge, ever occurred once – she was the daughter of my 4th great uncle Johnston Love.  Now the name has appeared in my direct line validating my belief!

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Sophia, like her cousin,  was named after her great grandmother.  Thanks to her I have many more Twisted Limbs and Crooked Branches to follow.  Once again, the British Newspaper Archive has been a wealth of information, allowing me to find, cite and source my 5419th ancestor!

Like so many others – Sophia Love of 20 Lower Road, Londonderry is interred at the Derry City Cemetery.  Sadly, she is buried in “pauper’s ground”.

May She Rest In Peace!

Posted in Co. Londonderry, Family History, Geneaology, Ireland | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Sudden Death In The City!

Mr. John Chambers, William Street, Derry…

An article published in the Derry Journal – Monday 19 November 1906 stated:   “On Friday Mr. John Chambers, William Street, Derry, died under painfully sudden circumstances.  He and some other men were standing at the junction of Fountain Street and Hawkin Street waiting to attend the funeral of Mr. John Alexander, Fountain Street, when his companions noticed him staggering, and he would have fallen had he not been caught by a man named George Laverty.  Robert Archibald, James Jackson, and M’Intyre, who also lent assistance, had him carried into the Fire Brigade Station.  Drs. M’Curdy and Brown were quickly summoned, but on arrival they pronounced life to be extinct.  The police then had the remains conveyed in the ambulance to the deceased’s residence.  Deceased was employed in Mr. Lynn’s coach-building factory in Great James Street for many years, where he was well-respected among his fellow employees as a decent, obliging man.”  


John was born in Glasgow, Scotland about 1840; his father was Daniel Chambers a printer.  On 19 May 1848 in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal Daniel, a widower and resident of Letterkenny, was united in a civil marriage with Mary Kelly of Letterkenny in the presence of Robert Strain & John Carson.  It would seem that John’s mother, whose name remains unknown to me, had died shortly after his birth.  John is my 2nd great grandfather.


On 13 September 1870 John Chambers and Catherine Johnston were joined in marriage.  Their marriage was solemnized at St. Columb’s Cathedral, in the Parish of Templemore in Co. Londonderry; John Barr and Alicia Doherty witnessed their union.  The marriage certificate revealed that the couple resided in the City.  Their first daughter, and my great grandmother, Isabella was born on 26 Dec 1871 in Arnableask, Lough Eske, Co. Donegal.  It would seem that Catherine chose to go back to her birth place to give birth to her daughter.  By 1871 Isabella’s “Certificate of Successful Vaccination” divulged that the family was living at 9 Lower Road, Londonderry and John was a “Driver of Her Majesties Mail.”


As most families do, John and Catherine’s family grew.  Twin daughters, Catherine and Mary Ann, were born on 15 March 1874 in the Lower Road.  Family history indicates that John and Catherine had a son whom they adopted – another member of my family waiting to be found.

The 1901 Census of Ireland finds the family living at 64 William Street.  By then their daughter Catherine was married and living in Milltown, Tawnawully with her husband, Adam Bustard, and their young daughter Mary Jane.  On 5 October 1903, from their family home at 113 William Street, their eldest daughter and my great grandmother, Isabella married Johnston Alexander Love in the “Wee Church on the Walls” – St. Augustine’s.  Records confirm that John was working for Mr. Lynn’s Coach-building Factory in Great James Street in the City.


John’s death record disclosed that he “died from heart disease” and stated that “he died on the street at New Gate”.  It also revealed that his son in law, Mary Ann’s husband, “William Walker, was present at his death”.

“Chambers – November 16, suddenly, John Chambers, William Street, for over thirty years in the employment of Lynn & Co., coachbuilders.  Interment in the City Cemetery to-day (Monday), the 19th inst, at half-past two o’clock.  Friends will please accept this the only intimation.”  Published in the Derry Journal – Monday 19 November 1906.

My 2nd great grandfather leaves me with many questions – which currently remain unanswered!  My research on this particular Twisted Limb continues!

“In the end, we all become stories” – Margaret Attwood.

Posted in Co. Donegal, Co. Donegal, Co. Londonderry, Family History, Geneaology, Glasgow, Ireland, Scotland | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Sad Burning Fatality at the Waterside!

Starrett of Derryview Terrace…

“On Friday a very sad burning fatality occurred at the Waterside, resulting in the death of a little girl eight years old, daughter of Samuel and Ellen Starrett, of Derryview-terrace, Waterside, lately of Rosemount…”

Born in Marlborough Park, Londonderry in January of 1886 she is second daughter and third child of nine born to Samuel Starrett and Ellen Beattie.  Her name is May Louisa Starrett and she is my 1st cousin 2x removed; her mother and my great grandmother were siblings.

“…Mr. Starrett is employed as a machinist in the Journal Office, which necessitates him being at work all night.  After he had gone to bed on Friday morning his wife had occasion to go to Rosemount to see some friends, and left the children downstairs in the kitchen, where there was a fire burning in the range.  The little girl, it appears (who was in her night-dress), reached forward either to close or open the damper of the range, when the nigh-dress caught on fire.  The screams of the child awoke the father, who hurried downstairs, and with all haste extinguished the flames, getting very badly burned himself about the arms and face in his efforts.”

On 23 Aug 1882 in Christ Church Church of Ireland Londonderry Samuel Starrett and Ellen Beattie were joined in wedlock by Rev. Francis Lewis Riggs.  Their union was witnessed by Joseph Edward Woods and Mary Anne Beattie, the bride’s sister.


“The child had an inside flannel wrapper on at the time, and this becoming ignited as well as the night-dress the poor child was horribly burned from the toes to the head.  Dr. M’Caul was sent for, and did all he could to alleviate the child’s sufferings, but the injury was of such a serious nature that it gradually sank, and died in great agony a couple or three hours after the accident.  Great sympathy is felt for the parents, who are naturally much distressed about the accident, and are very highly respected in the neighbourhood.”

After their marriage Samuel and Ellen initially lived in Marlborough Terrace where their first six children were born.  By 1895 and the birth of their seventh child the family was living in Derryview Terrace.


The Inquest…

“On Saturday morning an inquest was held at Derryview-terrace, the residence of the deceased’s father, before Mr. Thomas Lindsay, Coroner, and the following jury: –

James Irwin (foreman), Denis Bradley, Robert M’Cullagh, Henry Doherty, Edward Logue, John Archibald, Patrick Brolly, Joseph Gormley, Patrick Harkin, Samuel C. Donnell, John Donnell, and Thomas Watts.

Head-Constable Funston and Sergeant O’Hagan were also present.

Ellen Starrett, mother of the deceased, May Louisa Starrett, said about a quarter to eight the previous morning she went to Rosemount.  She left three of the children in the kitchen all right and the eldest, Daisy, in bed with her father.  The deceased was in the kitchen with Samuel, the oldest boy, and the baby.  When she came back at ten minutes to nine o’clock the deceased was burned black.  She was not dead then.  Witness had been in Derry four times before she died.  Dr. M’Caul had been sent for and was present when the deceased died.  Her little brother tried to get assistance, but could not get the passage door open.  Deceased’s nails were burned off her fingers she was so long burning.  When witness came home her husband met her at the door and told her what had occurred.  He was burned about the face and arms.”

Deceased’s father was too ill to be examined.


Samuel Starrett jun., a very intelligent boy, who was in the kitchen at the time of the unfortunate occurrence, was not sworn, but stated the deceased was in the kitchen, and in reaching over to pull out the damper in the range her nigh-dress took fire.  Witness made to run upstairs to tell his father but could not get the passage door open.  When he did manage to get the door open and call to his father the deceased was in flames.  His father on coming down caught the deceased in his arms and put out the flames.  Witness brought down some blankets, which were put round the deceased.

Mrs. M’Closkey, a neighbor, deposed to being called in and finding the deceased badly burned.  Witness applied lard to the burns but the child expired about two o’clock.

Dr. M’Caul, who was called into see deceased, said about ten o’clock the previous day he saw her.  He found her hands, and almost the entire body, badly burned.  It took him nearly two hours to dress the burns.  The deceased died about two o’clock, the cause of death being shock to the nervous system, consequent on severe burns.

The jury returned a verdict accordingly.”  Published in the Derry Journal 22 Jan 1894

Three days before her eighth birthday, May Louisa died from a fatal burn in the kitchen of her family home in the presence of her father and brother Samuel.

Sadly, many of Samuel & Ellen’s children did not live into adult hood; those however, are stories for another day.

“Deaths:  Starrett – January 19, at her father’s residence, 1, Derryview-terrace, Waterside, Londonderry, May Louise, second daughter of Samuel Starrett, aged 8 years.  Her remains will be removed for interment in Glendermott Burying ground this (Monday) evening, 22nd inst., at half-past two o’clock.”

May She Rest In Peace!

Posted in Co. Londonderry, Family History, Geneaology, Ireland | Tagged , , , , , | 15 Comments

A Derry Cabinetmaker!

President of the Amalgamated Union of Cabinetmakers…

On 5 June 1875 at the Second Derry (Strand) Presbyterian Church, in the presence of Margaret Wilson and Thomas Cooper, David Norrie and Annie Short (nee Cooper, a widow) were united in Marriage.  David, a “cabinetmaker” is one of six children that I am currently aware of, born to Robert Norry and Mary MacFarland – he is also my 3rd great uncle.  At this point in time I have been unable to locate David’s birth record, so his year of birth remains a mystery.  Judging by his siblings birthdates I would make an educated guess that he was born circa 1845.  Unfortunately, the dates on the documents that I have discovered for my 3rd great uncle are contradictory at best.

On 3 April 1876 at Bridge Street, Derry City their first son and seemingly only child David was born.  Information is rather sparse on David senior until 28 June 1897 – on Monday 28 June 1897 the Derry Journal reported:

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Inquest At The Memorial Hall.

An inquest was held on Friday by Mr. Thomas Lindsay, coroner, in the Memorial Hall, Derry, on the body of Annie Norry, wife of David Norry, the caretaker, who had been found dead in bed the previous evening.  Sergeant Dobson represented the constabulary, and from the evidence it appeared that Mrs. Norry had been in her usual health on Thursday, but complained of fatigue in the afternoon.  At two o’clock she was helped to bed by Mrs. Peoples, who was assisting to clean the Hall after the Jublilee celebration.  From this until six o’clock, when her son, David Henry Norry, returned from his work, she was not seen, and on young Mr. Norry going upstairs to inquire as to the condition of his mother’s health he found her lying in bed apparently dead.  He immediately ran out for his father, and subsequently Dr. Thos. MacLaughlin was sent for, but his services were of no avail, as he found life extinct.  Mrs. Norry had been in weak health for some time past, the result of a severe attack of influenza, and from the appearance the body presented Dr. MacLaughlin formed the opinion that the woman had died from convulsions.  The jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical testimony.”

On 25 June 1897 T. Lindsay, Esq., Coroner for Londonderry filed Annie’s death record indicating her cause of death was from “Convulsions – Instantaneous”.  Annie a resident of Society Street is interred at the Derry City Cemetery.

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It would seem that I was destined to find out much about David’s life by reading the archives of the Derry Journal.  On the 13 September 1897 the Derry Journal reported:  “The Amalgamated Union of Cabinetmakers recently held their annual excursion to Termone. Leaving Derry at seven a.m. in waggonettes supplied by the Imperial Hotel, the long drive passed pleasantly, and on their arrival at Termone the members enjoyed a plunge and then a ramble over the rocks along the shore.  Dinner was served in Mr. James Elkin’s in capital style.  After dinner Mr. David Norrie, president of the branch, gave the toasts of “Success to the branch” and ‘Prosperity to the trade in Derry.”  The toasts were responded to by Mr. George Murray and Mr. Jas. Howatson, representing respective local firms.  A programme of sports, including football match, tug of-war, flat races, &c., was carried out on the warren, at the conclusion of which tea was served, and the home journey commenced.  Under the management of Messrs. D. Norrie, S. Anderson, G. Forman, G. Murray, J. Godfrey, T. Colhoun, J. Craig, and R.  Kerr, the outing went through most successfully.” 

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A Marriage announcement published in the Derry Journal on 8 December 1897 revealed:  “Norrie & Boarland – December 2, at St. Augustine’s Church, Londonderry, by Rev. William Cowan, David Norrie, Londonderry, to Isabella (Bella), eldest daughter of Daniel Boarland, Ballybegley, Newtowncunningham.”  Further research disclosed – on 2 December 1897 David Norry (Widow) was united in Marriage with Isabella Boreland at St. Augustine’s Church of Ireland.  Thomas Wilson, David’s brother in law and my 2nd great grandfather; along with Mary J. Boreland, the bride’s sister, witness their union at St. Augustine’s Church of Ireland, the Wee Church on the Walls.  David had remarried just six short months after Annie’s death.

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David and Isabella had three children together between the years 1899 and 1902 – sadly their second daughter died a few short weeks after her birth.  Tragedy seemed to follow this particular line of my family as on 18 Oct 1904 Isabella Norrie of the “Memorial Hall, Society Street” passed away at the young age of forty two.  She, like David’s first wife Annie, is interred at the Derry City Cemetery.  Her headstone reads: “Erected by her daughters”. 

David a cabinet maker of the Memorial Hall, Society Street, Londonderry died on 23 May 1913 at home from “Bronchitis and Heart Failure, 2 days certified”.  His son David Henry Norrie was present at his death.  Like his wives and daughter my 3rd great uncle David is buried at the Derry City Cemetery.  May They Rest In Peace!

Posted in Co. Londonderry, Family History, Geneaology, Ireland | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Seventeen Years Ago Today!

It’s now seventeen years later and they’ve been the best seventeen years of my life! Love you Peanut!❤


My Tiger Child…

“A Tiger Child could be a bundle of joy and a holy terror at the same time.  A little live wire who dashes about sparkling with activity, the Tigress will throw herself into the thick of things.  Even a very quiet one will know exactly where the action is and make a bee line for it.”

Li Qi Ying was born in 1998 in the city of Qichun, Hubei Province, in the People’s Republic of China.  Qichun is the birthplace of famous herbalist Li Shizhen, who was born and lived in Qizhou town, on the southern edge of the county alongside the Yangtze River.  It is known in China as the “County of Scholars” as more professors and doctors were born there than in any other county in China.

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“… She is charming, bright and a self confident chatterbox, and there will be no holding her back.  Her insatiable curiosity and…

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Posted in Family History | 5 Comments

Derry Man Missing!

Mr. Alfred Beattie of Lewis Street, Derry…

“Mr. Alfred Beattie (59) of Lewis Street, Derry has been missing from his home since Wednesday last and considerable anxiety prevails as to his whereabouts. Mr. Beattie, who is unmarried, lived with his sister, Mrs. Wilson, and is a well known Derryman. He was last seen about six o’clock on Wednesday evening last. The matter has been reported to the police, who are making inquiries with the object of trying to ascertain his whereabouts, but up to the present there has been no news of him.” Published in the Derry Journal on 6 February 1929.

Alfred was born in Fountain Place on 17 Jul 1868 in the City of Londonderry; he was the fifth son and eight child of ten born to James Beattie and Rebecca McCadden. He is my great grand uncle and a brother to Charlotte Wilson (nee Beattie), my great grandmother.

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Little is known of Alfred until 1893 when I discovered the death record for his sister Rebecca. Her death registration revealed that Alfred was with her at time of death; at their parents’ residence at 81 Marlborough Park.

The 1901 Census record finds Alfred, a Cooper; living at 52 Creggan Road with his widowed mother, two of his brothers and his niece Millie. By the time the 1911 Census was taken Alfred, who never married; was still living with his brothers and mother – still in Creggan Road, but now at number 81.

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Alfred disappeared off the radar once again until 8 Feb 1915 when I unearthed a Short Service Attestation. “Oath To Be Taken By Recruit on Attestation” – “Alfred Beattie, swears by Almighty God, that I will be faithful and bear true Allegiance to His Majesty King George the Fifth, His Heirs, and Successors, and that I will as in duty bound, honestly and faithfully defend His Majesty, His Heirs and Successors, in Person, Crown, and Dignity against all enemies, and will observe and obey all orders of His Majesty, His Heirs, and Successors, and of the Generals and Officers set over me. So help me God.” Interestingly the record shows that Alfred was thirty three years of age at the time he enlisted… in fact, he was forty six!

In a document entitled “Certificate of Trade Proficiency” it confirmed that Alfred was a Cooper. Details from an examination by a “Civilian Tradesman” stated, “I certify that I have tested the Recruit Alfred Beattie and find him to be Very Good Cooper.” The same document disclosed that “he had been seventeen years employed as a Cooper with Messrs. D. Watt Distillers, Ltd. in Londonderry.”

His Military Medical History revealed “Sapper Alfred Beattie of the Royal Engineers, Regimental No. 64259 was five feet six inches in height and weighed nine stone. On 18 Mar 1915 another Medical record divulged that he was “unfit for General Service, RE Depot.” The documentation also demonstrated that Alfred had been enlisted before. Although I have not found any other Military Records for him; his Attestation Record has given me a clue – two previous Regimental Numbers! It would seem much more information remains to be discovered about Alfred’s Military history.

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By 9 Jan 1918 and after numerous assessments and internal memos between Alfred and the Ministry of Pensions; I uncovered that he was receiving a weekly pension of 27/6 shillings for four weeks. The amount was then reduced to 16/6 shillings which was to be reviewed after an additional 26 weeks. Disability notation on the record stated: “Injury to fingers”. After further research more details were uncovered which validated that Alfred’s injury was incurred while on leave as he was disembarking from a tram car! It’s unclear if Alfred worked again as a Cooper after his Military Medical Discharge.

Alfred, a bachelor; who lived with his sister Charlotte was reported missing on 30 Jan 1929. A subsequent article published in the Derry Journal on 8 Mar 1929 entitled, “Derry Panic, Alarm About Water Following Reservoir Discovery, Citizen Trek to Springs” declared, “Something in the nature of a panic has been caused among householders in several parts of the city by news of the discovery of the dead body of a man in one of the reservoirs at Creggan. The man, Alfred Beatty, aged 59, of Lewis Street, was missing since 30th January. On Wednesday his body was found by Wm. Hutchinson, caretaker at the reservoir. It was floating a few yards from the edge of the basin.”

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An Inquest was held on 6 Mar 1929 by John Tracy Esq., Coroner for Derry City; stating that Alfred had drowned in the Creggan Reservoir. I will never know for sure his actual date of death; he had been missing for over a month.

Such a sad and lonely way to die – not all stories have happy endings! Like so many others, my 2nd great uncle Alfred is someone I will never forget.

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A Life Cut Short!


A  Diver of Londonderry & Donegal…

Born on 7 Feb 1898 in 21 Lewis Street in the City of Londonderry, Thomas Wilson Diver was the second child and eldest son of eight born to George William Diver and, my great grand aunt; Elizabeth Wilson.

A Life Cut Short

I discovered Thomas just recently after unearthing Short Service Record No. 8211 belonging to Robert Norry Wilson, his uncle and my great grand uncle; which led me to Burt, Co. Donegal and another Crooked Branch of my family tree.

The 1901 census revealed that three year old Thomas was “visiting” his maternal great aunt, Eliza Jane Doherty (nee Wilson); in 28 Carrowreagh, Burt, Co. Donegal.  By the time the 1911 census was recorded Thomas was shown as “living” with the family, who were now residing in 21 Carrowreagh.  At this point in time his name was recorded as Thomas Wilson and he was listed as a boarder and…

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“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old…”

From Duke Street to Kammel, Belgium and Back…

Born on 18 Mar 1895 he was the fourth son and seventh child of nine born to Samuel Starrett and Ellen Neely Beattie.  William, most commonly known as Willie; is my 1st cousin 2x removed.  His mother, Ellen, is my great grand aunt and sister to my great grandmother Charlotte.

Willie was born, and spent the first years of his life; at 1 Derry View Terrace where the family resided.  Sometime between Dec 1898, the birth of his brother Edward; and the 1901 Census being recorded the family had moved to 25 Spencer Road; where they still lived in 1911.  On 28 Sep 1912, and the signing of the Ulster Covenant, I discovered Willie, a printer; had noted his address as 34 Spencer Road.  This little tidbit of information I found quite interesting; and upon researching the 1911 Census Record for 34 Spencer Road found a Hunter family!  It would seem I had discovered another Twisted Limb of my Hunter/Wilson family line!

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old…”

After unearthing a Military Record, entitled “Proceedings on Discharge”, I discovered Willie, at the young age of nineteen; had enlisted with the 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers on 8 Sep 1914.  These records confirmed that he was a printer by trade and once again showed his home address as 25 Duke Street.

An article published in the Londonderry Journal on 22 Sep 1916 stated: “Mr. Samuel Starritt, 25, Duke Street, has been notified that his son, Private William Starritt, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, has arrived at an English hospital from France.  Private Starritt enlisted shortly after the outbreak of the war.”

A “Medical Report on an Invalid”, from the Ontario Military Hospital, Kent, England; dated 3 Aug 1917 revealed that on 29 Apr 1917 in Kammel, Belgium Willie was injured.  “Patient stated that a piece of shrapnel struck his left hand, causing much damage to his ring and little fingers.  At the same time he received a GSW to his upper lip which is now healed completely.  He was taken at once to the 53rd Field Ambulance where his wounds were dressed and the ring and little fingers amputated above the metacarpo-phalanged joint.”  The noted “opinion as to the causation of the disability” indicated “G.S.W. Left Hand” caused by “active service in presence of the enemy”.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old…”

The record also revealed that Willie had several ailments.  His respiratory system and expansion of his lungs was somewhat “deficient”; he also suffered from chronic bronchitis.  The record goes on to state: “Ring and middle fingers of left hand missing.  Middle finger partially flexed and bound down by contracted scar tissue.  Wound on ulna border of hand almost healed. Slight discharge from small area on surface.  Patients condition not likely to improve appreciably”.

Accounts show that Willie was of “Very Good Military Character – A very good man who served his country well and was wounded in its defenses”.  He was of “fresh complexion”, 5’ 10 ½” tall with grey eyes and light brown hair.  On 22 Aug 1917 and only 21 years of age Willie received a medical discharge.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old…”

Willie’s life, like many of his siblings; was not to be a long one.  At 25 Duke Street on 3 Mar 1919 and in the presence of his brother Samuel, Willie passed away.  His Death Record revealed that he suffered from chronic pleurisy for two years and six months and septic pneumonia for nine days.

Private William Starrett of the 9th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers is interred at the Glendermott Church of Ireland Graveyard.  He is Remembered with Honour and Commemorated in Perpetuity by the Commonwealth War Grave Commission.  He is also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial located in the Diamond in Londonderry.

A Memorial published by his family on the first anniversary of his death read:

“One year ago to-day the voice we loved was stilled
And in our hearts remain a place
That never can be filled
Someday we’ll hear that voice again
Someday we’ll see his smile
If only we wait in patience here
For just a little while”

Willie is another member of my family whom I have never met – one I will never forget – one who has stolen a little piece of my heart.

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