Ill Treatment of Child!

Shocking Limavady Case – Parents Smartly Punished…

Once again I found myself scouring the British Newspaper Archives, this time for Sophia Park (nee Love).  This Sophia Love, as opposed to one of my many other Sophia Loves, is my 1st cousin 4x removed.  To date I have been unable to find her death record, burial record or an obituary and I was hoping that today would be the day – it wasn’t.  I did, however, discover another Sophia – Sophia Park…

After further investigation I realized that this Sophia was also one of mine!  Agnes Sophia Park (known as Sophia) was born on 22 Apr 1911 in Drumrammer, Drumachose and is the daughter of John Park, son of Sophia Love Park who I was initially researching, and Mary Jane Harbison.  She is also my 3rd cousin 2x removed.

Number 1

Next, as I always do, I checked for a death record – sadly, I found one all too quickly!  On 2 Apr 1917, just a few short days before her sixth birthday, Samuel Collins, the Occupier of the Limavady Workhouse, reported her death.  The Cause of Death of Sophia Park from Drumrammer read: ‘Pneumonia, 5 days.  Heart Failure Certified.’  I had discovered her birth and death in less than fifteen minutes.  Due to her cause of death and the fact that she died in the workhouse I returned to the British Newspaper Archives to see if a report of an Inquest had been published on her death.

An article from the Derry Journal, published 20 Jun 1917, read:  ‘At Limavady Petty Sessions yesterday, before Mr. J.D. Boyd, presiding, Mr. Sparrow, R.M., Messrs. Samuel Cassidy, Robert Guthrie, Robert Douglas, Thomas Oakey, John M’Laughlin, Henry Connell, a case was investigated in which the N.S.P.C.C., by Inspector A. Houston, summoned John Parke, a carpenter and farmer, of Drumrammer, and Mary Park, his wife, for neglect and ill-treatment of Sophia Park, the seven-year-old daughter of the male defendant.  Mr. Daniel MacLaughlin, solicitor, Coleraine, appeared for the N.S.P.C.C., and Mr. Wm. Horner, Limavady defended.  Mr. MacLaughlin said the case was a particularly flagrant one, and as a result of the neglect and lack of medical treatment, the little child had died…’

Number 2

‘…The little girl’s mother, he said, had died about 4 ½ years ago, and the female defendant was the girl’s stepmother.  The child’s mother had left a sum of £50, and of this £40 had been deposited in the savings bank in the name of the child.  Dr. John C. Lynd, Limavady, deposed to seeing the child undressed, shivering on its step-mother’s knee at the fireside.  When admitted to the Limavady Infirmary the child had two blackened eyes, and was verminous.  It died a few days later from pneumonia.  He never saw a child before so thin and yet living.  James Sweeny, school teacher, Drumrammer, said his sister had sometimes fed the child when it was attending his school.  It would eat weeds and other green vegetable growths.  James M’Ginnis said he had been ten weeks in Parke’s employment.  The girl, Sophia, didn’t get the same food as the others in the house.  It got teach without milk, and bread without butter.  Maurice M’Keague, for the defence, said he never saw the child ill-treated; and David Smiley said the child had a habit of eating weeds.  The defendants denied that they had ill-treated or neglected the child.  The Bench imposed a fine of £10 on Mrs. Parke, and committed John Parke to jail for two months, with hard labour.  Notice of appeal was lodged.’

No further information was to be found in the newspaper archives regarding an appeal.  However, upon searching the 1911 census records I discovered the family living at 12 Drumrammer, Keady, Londonderry.  The record revealed that Sophia’s mother was Mary Jane, who at twenty eight years of age was sixteen years younger than her husband John.  Sophia did not appear on the record as she was born a few short weeks after it was taken – I also discovered she had an older brother, one year old Stewart Harbinson Park.

At the Balteagh Church of Ireland on 14 Jan 1909, in the presence of Agnes Harbison and Henry James Love, John Park, a carpenter of Drumachose, was united in Marriage with Mary Jane Harbison of Terrydoo at the Balteagh Church of Ireland.

Number 3

On 22 Aug 1909 Stewart Harbison Park was born at Drumrammer, Drumachose – he is my 3rd cousin 2x removed.  As with his sister, and as I always do, I searched for a death record.  Again, within minutes I discovered that on 31 Dec 1912 3 year old Stewart Harbison Park, son of a carpenter, died from “Scalds, 15 hours shock – Certified”.  His father was the informant of his death.

Sad Accident Near Limavady…

‘On Monday the four-year-old son of Mr. John Park, carpenter, Drumrammer, Limavady, met with a sad accident, as the result of which he died yesterday morning.  The little boy was playing about in the kitchen where a bucket of hot water had been placed on the floor, and, walking backwards, he fell into the water and was severely scalded about the legs and lower part of the body.  The housekeeper, who was present, had the child lifted from the bucket, and Dr. Lynd was immediately sent for.  Death took place as stated yesterday morning.  The fact that the little one’s mother died only a few weeks ago makes the circumstances peculiarly sad, and much sympathy is felt by all in the district with Mr. Park at his double bereavement.’

Number 4

I have not yet unearthed the death record of Mary Jane Harbison Park or her cause of death.  There are many more Twisted Limbs to follow in this particular Branch of my family tree – hopefully they aren’t as tragic as these.

Come fairies, take me off this dull world for I would ride with you upon the wind and dance up the mountains.  – W.B. Yeats

Posted in Co. Londonderry, Family History, Geneaology, Ireland | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Hero of The First of July Attack!

Diver, Thomas Wilson, M.M., L.-Corpl., 2nd Battn. (108th Foot) The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers…

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.

I discovered Thomas after unearthing Short Service Record No. 8211 of 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.  When the 1911 census was recorded Thomas was still living with the family who were then residing in 21 Carrowreagh.  At that point in time his name was recorded as Thomas Wilson – he was listed as a boarder and scholar.  In 1901 and 1911 his parents and siblings were living in Londonderry.  It is unclear why Thomas was living in Burt and not with the rest of his family.  I was driven to find out more …RocketLife doc 1In researching further I very quickly discovered much more than anticipated!

Derrymen’s Daring Deeds.  No Surrender Spirit at Thiepval.  Stories of Conspicuous Gallantry.  Heroes of the First of July Attack.”

 An article published in the Londonderry Sentinel on 10 May 1917 stated (in part):

“…There have just arrived in Londonderry from the front twenty-two of the Ulster Division certificates awarded to N.C.O.’s and men of the 10th (Service) Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (Derry Volunteers) who belong to the Maiden City and district for conspicuous gallantry on the 1st July last year, when the Ulster Division won undying fame.  The Derry Volunteers had the honour of leading the attack on that glorious day, and they added fresh luster to the great history of the Maiden City.  In spite of the fiercest opposition of overwhelming numbers they proved a living manifestation of the No Surrender spirit which animated their ancestors in days gone by, and though they paid a heavy sacrifice in killed and wounded they maintained the splendid traditions of the grand old city.

Certificates have been awarded to the following: …”

“15459 Private Thomas Wilson Diver.  On the 1st July, 1916, in the Thiepval sector, he showed great courage and ability in handling his Lewis gun in the German ‘C’ line.

Private Diver resided with his aunt, Mrs. Wilson, 24, Creggan-road.  Although he escaped unscathed on the 1st July, he was later wounded and gassed, but is at present at the front.  He joined the Ulster Division on its formation although not sixteen years of age.  He is now a Lance-corporal.” RocketLife doc 2Not eighteen months later and once again, published in the Londonderry Sentinel on 17 Oct 1918, an article read:

“Mrs. Wilson, 24, Creggan-road, Londonderry, has received intimation that her nephew, L.-Corp. Thomas Wilson Diver, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (Derry Volunteers), has been killed in action.  Deceased, who was only twenty years of age, was the holder of the Military Medal and Ulster Division Certificate for bravery in the field.  He joined up on the outbreak of the war.  Rev. J.G. Paton, writing to inform Mrs. Wilson, says – ‘I have known deceased for a long time, and can tell you he was a good boy and a keen soldier, who always did his duty cheerfully.  He never did better than on the day on which he was killed – it was in an attack on the enemy, and he did good work.”RocketLife doc 3The UK Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects confirmed that this was indeed my Thomas Wilson Diver.  George William Diver was listed as his father and a War Gratuity of £23 10 Shillings for his war service was paid.  The Grave Registration Report noted: “DIVER, Lce. Cpl. Thomas, 15459, M.M. “A” Coy. 2nd Bn.  Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. 29th Sep 1918. Age 20, son of George William and Elizabeth Diver of 5 North Street, Rosemount, Londonderry.” 

The UK De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour (1914 -1919) read “Diver, Thomas Wilson, M.M., L.-Corpl., 2nd Battn. (108th Foot) The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers; b. Londonderry, 10 March 1898; edu. Burt National School, Burt, co. Donegal; joined the 10th Inniskillings 12 Oct. 1914; served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders; was wounded and invalided home 28 Aug. 1916; returned to France in Jan. 1917; transferred to the 2nd Inniskillings in March, 1918; was present at the German offensive that month, and was killed in action 2 Oct. following.  He was awarded a Parchment Certificate after the fighting at Thiepval, on the Somme, 1 July, 1916, and the Military Medal for gallant and distinguished service in the field…”RocketLife doc 4Lance Corporal Thomas Wilson Diver’s name is recorded on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, West Vlaanderen, Belgium and Commemorated in Perpetuity by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.  His name is also among those listed on the Diamond War Memorial in Londonderry.

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

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.”

My young Hero – Thomas Wilson Diver will always be remembered by me!  He has found a little place in my heart!

Posted in Co. Donegal, Co. Donegal, Co. Londonderry, Family History, Geneaology, Hubei | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments

2nd Bn Highland Light Infantry!

9140 – Sergeant Alexander Murdock…

“Intimation has been received by Mr. Alexander Murdock, Union Street, Ballymoney, that his son, Private Alexander Murdock, Highland Light Infantry, was wounded in action in France, and is now in hospital in England, suffering from shrapnel wounds to the head, arm, and body.”  Belfast Newsletter – Tuesday, December 21, 1915.

Alexander was born on 18 May 1883 in Ballyboyland, Ballymoney, Co. Antrim.  Ballymoney is a small town in Co. Antrim, a short distance away from the Causeway Coast and the Glens of Antrim.  Alexander, who was known as Alex, is my 1st cousin 3x removed – his father is my 3rd great uncle and brother to my 2nd great grandfather, William. RocketLife doc 1He was the fourth child and 3rd son of Alexander and Jane Holmes.  His parents married in the Ballymoney Reformed Presbyterian Church on 7 Jun 1877.  His older sister Annie was born in 1878, Alexander (the first) in 1879, who didn’t survive childhood, and Archie in 1881.  Sadly, just before Alex’s sixth birthday, on 15 Mar 1885, his mother passed away at the very young age of thirty.  She left behind her husband and her three children who where all under the age of eight.

Six years later, in the 1901 Scottish Census I discovered Alex living at 46 Hutcheson Street, Mayhill, Lanarkshire, Scotland, working as a general labourer.  He and his brother Archie were living with their aunt, Sarah Jayne Burkhill (nee Murdock), and family.  It is unclear when he and Archie made the trek to Scotland.  Annie remained in Ballymoney – marrying in 1896 while she was still a minor.

I was unable to find any trace of Alex until ten years later – in the 1911 Census Return of all Commissioned Officers, Warrant Officers, Non-Commission Officers, Trumpeters, Drummers and Rank, Alex was listed as a Lance Corporal with the Highland Light Infantry.  It seems while living in Glasgow he had enlisted at Hamilton, Lanarkshire.RocketLife doc 2An excerpt from “Ballymoney Heros” by Robert Thompson stated:  “In January 1916 Alex was in hospital suffering from injuries but was improving and looking forward to ten days leave.  I have been unable to trace the family of Alex Murdock but he was with his battalion north of the River Ancre in October 1916.

The first week of November saw a change in the weather, with some prospects of a lasting improvement.  The weather had been very wet and the terrible condition of the water-logged trenches, many of which, including important communication ways, were little better than treacherous quagmires, while others were filled with water to a depth of three or four feet.  The attack, however, was set for the 13th, zero hour being 5:45 a.m.

On the 11th the battalion occupied their trenches for the last time and after the huge amount of repair work which had been done on them they were so deep that it was almost impossible to get out of them and a great number of ladders had to be used to overcome the difficulty.  So impetuous were the leading waves of the attack that they entered the enemy front line at the same time as the British barrage, and undoubtedly suffered many casualties from their own shell fire.  Within six minutes the line was captured and many German prisoners taken.  It was during this attack that Alex Murdock was killed…”RocketLife doc 39140 Serjeant Alexander Murdock, 2nd Bn Highland Light Infantry who was Killed in Action 13 Nov 1916 is remembered in “Ireland’s Memorial Records – Soldiers Who Died in the Great War” – he is Remembered with Honour and Commemorated in Perpetuity in Thiepval Memorial, Pier 15 C.

Like so many others Alex didn’t come home.

“They never fail who die in a great cause.” Lord Byron

Posted in Co. Antrim, Family History, Geneaology, Glasgow, Ireland, Scotland, World War 1 | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Twisted Limbs & Crooked Branches!

“When Great Trees Fall” …

The north of Ireland was battered by heavy rains as violent storms caused flooding.  The downpours swept in from the Atlantic, hitting Co Donegal before moving across Northern Ireland during Tuesday evening.  Bridges collapsed, roads were washed out and people had to be rescued after being trapped in their cars and homes.

On 23 August 2017 I awoke to a Facebook post by Martin Parke … sadly “My Tree” with Twisted Limbs & Crooked Branches was another ‘victim’ of the storm.

When great trees fall,
rocks on dis
tant hills shudder,
lions hunker down

in tall grasses,

and even elephants

lumber after safety.

 When great trees fall
in forests,

small things recoil into silence,

their senses

eroded beyond fear. …’

Twisted Limbs & Crooked Branches at the Derry City Cemetery 2

In July of 2012, shortly before my trip “back home”, I decided to rename my family tree as it was simply named the Murdoch/ Wilson/ Berry/ Love Family.  Original, I know!  As I follow all of my family lines, not only my direct ancestors, I have discovered first cousins who married first cousins and their children married their first cousins – which seem to have been common practice in the very early 1800’s.  I often joke that the ‘gene pool’ was getting rather shallow; and maybe I should be grateful that no ‘webbed feet’ had turned up yet!  ‘Twisted Limbs & Crooked Branches’, in my opinion, was a fitting name.

Two weeks later we, my little family and I, were in Londonderry to visit with ‘living family’ and of course, to visit the Derry City Cemetery the resting place of many of my ancestors.  The Cemetery is old, however not as old as some you will find in Ireland, where graves date back to the 1400’s.  The first reported burial in the Cemetery was of a ten month old child named Robert McClelland.  Robert, who resided on Orchard Street, died on December 10, 1853.

‘When great souls die,
the air around us becomes

, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,

see with

a hurtful clarity.

Our memory, suddenly sharpened,


gnaws on kind words


promised walks

never taken

Twisted Limbs & Crooked Branches at the Derry City Cemetery

Arriving at the Cemetery and joined by my aunt, map in hand, I was in awe of the number, size and diversity of headstones.  I was immediately drawn to the trees scattered throughout the Cemetery – and to one tree in particular.  My aunt thought I was just a little crazy… to her, they just looked dead!

After a few hours, and great success, one grave remained elusive.  We continually returned to the same area where the grave obviously should have been, but there was no headstone or marker at the site.  We checked with the Cemetery staff who indicated we were in the right location.  We left the Cemetery only to return with our husbands – handed them the map with a ‘please go find this particular grave’.  They ended up in exactly the same location that we had…

‘Great souls die and
reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.

Our souls,

dependent upon their


now shrink, wizened.

Our minds, formed

and informed by their

fall away.
We are not so much maddened

as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
dark, co

Twisted Limbs & Crooked Branches at the Derry City Cemetery 1

There is no headstone on the grave, it must have eroded or was vandalized.  However, the grave does have a VERY significant marker… the plot is to the left of the tree that I had been drawn to when initially entering the Cemetery.  The tree with Twisted Limbs & Crooked Branches!

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

Maya Angelou

Twisted Limbs & Crooked Branches at the Derry City Cemetery 4

“My Tree” with Twisted Limbs & Crooked Branches was a monument, and will continue to be, to my family who are interred beside it and the name of my family tree before I ever knew of its existence. A strange coincidence… I think not!

Posted in Burial Records, Co. Londonderry, Derry City Cemetery, Family History, Geneaology, Ireland, Misc. | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

Roll of Honour!

Derry Pilot Officer’s Death – Tribute by Rev. J.A. Donaldson, B.A. …

“At the morning service of Great James Street Presbyterian Church, Londonderry, on Sunday, Rev. J.A. Donaldson, B.A., recalled that on Remembrance Sunday Mr. S. Morrison, accompanied by Captain Sir James Wilton, M.C., had laid the wreath on the War Memorial of the congregation.  We were unaware then” he said. ‘that just a few hours before that very moment his son, Pilot Officer Cecil Morrison, had given his life on service in the Middle East. …”

Samuel Cecil Morrison, known as Cecil, was the first son of Samuel Morrison and Charlotte Rebecca Wilson (Cissy) and the eldest of six children.   He was born on 22 Jun 1920 on Creggan Road in Londonderry, and was baptized in Great James Street Presbyterian Church where his family worshipped and his father Samuel was a Scout Leader.

Roll of Honour!  Derry Pilot Officer’s Death – Tribute by Rev. J.A. Donaldson, B.A. …

During the Second World War, Cecil joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve circa 1940 when he traveled to California, USA to start training for the Royal Air Force.  On May 27, 1942 records reveal that he was joined in Holy Matrimony to Margaret (Betty) Elizabeth Barclay at Runcorn, Cheshire, England.  Known as Betty, she too was serving her country during World War II.

“… A few hours afterwards official communication came that Cecil Morrison had been killed.  On Sunday that first communication was confirmed when the Chaplain at Malta wrote to his young wife, telling her how the last offices were performed in a little cemetery there.

Roll of Honour!  Derry Pilot Officer’s Death – Tribute by Rev. J.A. Donaldson, B.A. …

‘We wish this morning to express our sympathy to his young wife, to his father and mother, and to the members of the family,” said Rev. Mr. Donaldson, who added that he knew Cecil Morrison for almost two years after he came to Great James Street Church.  He was a member of their Christian Endeavour Society, a teacher in the school, and a young fellow who promised well as far as the Church and the Kingdom of God was concerned.’

That day they as a congregation sorrowed.  Although they had been in the fourth year of war and although they had 70 and 80 members on active service, that was the first son of that congregation to fall in this war.  They remembered Cecil Morrison with gratitude to God for his interest in the work of that Church as a young man growing up in the midst of them.  On entering the Service, he speedily won promotions and just before he was killed it was intimated that further promotion was shortly to be given to him.  ‘He has now been promoted to a place of honour and to higher service,’ Mr. Donaldson concluded.”

Roll of Honour!  Derry Pilot Officer’s Death – Tribute by Rev. J.A. Donaldson, B.A. …

The congregation bowed in silent prayer for a short period.”

An excerpt from the Morrison/Wilson Family Bible penned by his mother, and my great aunt, Cissy read “F/O. S.C. Morrison died on Active Service 1942.  Laid to rest in Malta 11th 1942. God makes no mistakes, He knew the way others would have to tread; and took him in his manhood to be with him forever.  Safe from this worlds mire.”

May He Rest In Peace!

Posted in Co. Londonderry, Family History, Ireland | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Crushed By Auto!

Young Man Said to Have Been Victim of a Joy Ride…

The Alexandria Gazette was a succession of newspapers based in Alexandria, Virginia, USA. The newspaper was established on February 5, 1784 by George Richard & Company as the Virginia Journal.  A publication in the Alexandria Gazette on May 17, 1915 stated:

“Crushed By Auto – Young Man Said to Have Been Victim of a Joy Ride…

Wilmington, Del., May 17 – Edward Scott, aged 21, stableman on the country estate of Henry B. Thompson at Greenville, died yesterday as the result of injuries sustained yesterday afternoon when an automobile he was driving turned over and rolled into Red Clay Creek below Ashland.  Charles Peoples, aged 26, gardener on the Thompson estate, who was with Scott, is at his home suffering with serious injuries to the chest and head.

The young men are said to have taken their employer’s automobile in the absence of the family.  They were speeding down the hill below Ashland and when they failed to slow up at the turn near the bridge spanning the creek the machine upset.  They managed to extricate themselves from the wreckage and crawl to the shore of the creek, where Edward Clark, of Wilmington, who was passing in another automobile, found them and brought them to their homes.  Scott had several broken ribs which punctured the lungs and he died yesterday morning.”

RocketLife doc 1

Edward was born on 18 Nov 1893 at Ballycollin, Derriaghy, Co. Antrim; Mary J. Straton was present at his birth.  He was one of eleven children born to Richard J. Scott and Sarah Crowe.  He was the 2nd child and first son born to the couple who resided at Lagmore, Derriaghy.  Records from Christ Church Derriaghy revealed he was baptized on 14 Jan 1894 – a Church that many of my Scott family attended, where they were baptized and married.  Many of my Scott’s, and connected families, are also interred in the Church Yard.  Edward is my 2nd cousin 2x removed.

The 1901 Census of Ireland shows Edward, a scholar, and his family residing at 2 Lagmore, “Derraghy’.  By the time the 1911 Census was taken they were living in 18 Lagmore and Edward, now seventeen, was farming with his father.

RocketLife doc 2

The S.S. Merion’s Ships Manifest was the next record I unearthed – dated 10 Apr 1913 the manifest showed Edward of “Legmore“ traveling with David McCourt of White Mountain and William Crowe of “Legmore” – Edward was traveling with his cousins.  The young men left Liverpool, England and after a thirteen day voyage across the Atlantic arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA on 23 Apr 1913.

RocketLife doc 3

Two short years after his arrival in Philadelphia, a Death Certificate issued by The State of Delaware Bureau of Vital Statistics, dated 17 May 1915, recorded that Edward Scott of Greenville, Delaware and formerly of Ireland had died in an “automobile accident” and an “inquest was pending”.  The record confirmed that he was in the employ of H.B. Thompson and the son of Richard Scott of Ireland.

RocketLife doc 4

Edward is interred at the Silverbrook Cemetery in Wilmington, Delware and is memorialized on the family burial ground at the Christ Church Derriaghy.

“Erected by Richard Scott


In memory of his son

Edward who died on the 17th May 1915

As the result of an accident

And was interred

In Silverbrook Cemetery, USA.”

Sadly, his death date inscribed on the headstone is incorrect.

In the summer of 2014 while photographing and documenting the graves at Christ Church Derriaghy – I did not realize that Edward was one of “mine”.  He has connected me to another Twisted Limb in my ever expanding family tree.

“Step Softly, A Dream Lies Buried Here” – Yates

Posted in Co. Antrim, Family History, Geneaology, Ireland | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

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.

RocketLife doc 1.jpg

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!

RocketLife doc 2.jpg

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.

RocketLife doc 3.jpg

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.”

RocketLife doc 5.jpg

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 , , , , , | 17 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.

RocketLife doc

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 | 18 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 , , , , , , , , | 15 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