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!

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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 , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 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!

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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:

first insert

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.

2nd insert

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.” 

3r insert

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.

4th insert

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!

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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.

Ying 1

“… 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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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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“Something About Mary”!

Born in Londonderry to parents from Stranorlar and Lough Eske, Donegal…

A  Birth Notice published in the Derry Journal on 15 Mar 1876 stated; “Elvin – March 12, at the Middle-road, Derry, the wife of Mr. William Elvin of a daughter.”  Mary Jane Elvin is my 1st cousin 3x removed, eldest daughter and one of seven; born to Jane Johnston of Ardnableask and William Elvin of Cashelnavean, Donegal.  Mary Jane’s mother and my second great grandmother, Catherine Johnston Chambers; were siblings.

Mary was baptized on 25 Apr 1876 in Christ Church Londonderry.  The record reveals her father William was a labourer and the family was living in the Lower Road, Londonderry.  In finding the 1881 Scottish Census Record it was discovered that Mary was living with her parents and siblings in 49 Close, Old Monkland, Lanarkshire; it would seem her father had moved the family there for work opportunities.  Two of her siblings, Isabella and Joseph, were born in Old Monkland.  By the birth of her next sibling, Margaret, confirmed by the Baptism Record from St. Columb’s Cathedral; the family had once again returned to Londonderry and was living on Nailor’s Row.

Sadly, Mary’s father, William Elvin; died at the young age of forty two when the family was living at 113 William Street.  The 1901 Census finds Mary, working as a “Machinist”; along with her mother and siblings living in 15 Argyle Terrace – this particular Twisted Limb of my family seemed to move often.

On 9 Sept 1901 Mary Jane was moving once again.  The Ship’s Manifest for the Moravian from London, England to Sydney, New South Wales discovers Mary traveling to Australia to live with her paternal uncle, Samuel Elvin; and his wife Jemima.  The Australian Electoral Rolls in 1908 show Mary, a dressmaker; living on Juliette Street, Coorparoo, Oxley, Queensland.

On 14 Mar 1910 Mary was again making an ocean voyage on board the S.S. Pericles making a trip “back home”.  The Pericles had stops in both Sydney and Melbourne enroute to Freemantle; however, it never made it!

“Just after noon on 31 March 1910, five days after leaving Melbourne, the Pericles passed White Topped Rocks, with the coast about five miles to starboard. At 3.32 p.m., in clear weather and with good visibility, the steamer travelling at 14 knots struck an uncharted rock near St Alouarn Islet, 6.5 km south-east of Cape Leeuwin.  It passed over the rock, but the damage to the forward plates was so great that within three minutes there were 5 m of water in the forward hold. The chief engineer, W.L. Robertson, and his crew worked waist deep in water attempting to shore up bulkheads and keep the pumps going.

The steamer Strathfillan was steaming southwards to the west of the Pericles at the time but, despite turning his vessel broadside on to the Strathfillan and blowing the whistle and flying distress signals, Captain Simpson could not attract its attention.  He therefore ordered the passengers and crew to abandon ship, which was carried out in an orderly manner within 25 minutes.”

Passengers were helped into lifejackets and then into fourteen lifeboats, which were rowed towards the shore where fires had been lit by the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse staff to guide them to the best landing place in Sarge Bay.  An officer could not be put in command of each boat, as that would have left none to look after the launching of later boats. Several of the officers who had stayed behind and only boarded the last boat therefore jumped overboard and swam to those boats which were without a responsible person in charge. All passengers and crew were saved, but the one-eyed ship’s cat, Nelson, was drowned.  The ship drifted with the swell and south-east wind for a short while before going down by the bow, canting to starboard at the same time. All the boats landed during daylight except the last, that containing the captain, who had stayed behind close to his ship until it had sunk.  This boat did not reach shore until 7.00 p.m.

The steamship Monaro took most of the passengers to Fremantle the day after the wrecking, embarking them from the Flinders Bay Jetty during rough weather in what was described as a fine example of seamanship.  Some thirty or so passengers elected to make their way overland to Fremantle. (http://museum.wa.gov.au)

On 14 May 1910 the Ship’s Manifest for the Orsova shows Mary arriving in London, England making her way back to Ireland.  In the 1911 Census of Ireland she was working as a “Ladies Maid” to Sarah Edith Williams of 1 Derry More, Bessbrook, Co. Armagh.  In Feb 1913, and the birth of her son; Mary is working as a dressmaker; and is living in 166 Falkner Street, Liverpool, England.  Mary had moved once again.

From the late 1920’s to 1940, and her retirement; Mary was employed as a “Ladies Companion” to Miss Margaret Riddel Duffin of “Ardna Valley House”, Shawsbridge.  Mary was obviously not afraid to travel by sea after her experience on the Pericles; the ships manifest for the City of Calcutta revealed that once again Mary was traveling.  On 23 Dec 1920, as a companion to Miss Duffin; Mary was enroute to Bombay, Karachi, India.  The Manifest recorded that the “Country of Intended Future Permanent Residence” was India.  It’s not clear why or when Mary returned to Ireland as I have yet to unearth the Manifest for her return trip.

At the age of seventy nine, on 17 Aug 1955 from “Cerebral Thrombosis”, Mary Elvin an “Old Age Pensioner” of Killybready, Limavady passed away at the Roe Valley Hospital; M.H. Graham was present at her death.  Based on oral family history; after her retirement, Mary had been living with her niece Pearl in Limavady.

Mary’s life appeared to have been interesting, one which included much international travel.  I still wonder – was it everything she hoped it would be?  Mary is another family member who has claimed a little piece of my heart!

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

The Johnston’s of Ardnableask & the Elvin’s of Cashelnavean, Co. Donegal!

Jane Johnston – My 2nd Great Aunt or… Is She?

A daughter, sister, wife and mother – Jane Johnston was born about 1854 in Lough Eske, Co. Donegal.  Jane is one of six children born to John Johnston and Isabella Smyth – OR is she!  Her older “sister” Catherine is my 2nd great grandmother.

Parish records reveal that Jane Johnston of Ardnableask married William Elvin of Castlenavean, Stranrolar on 16 Mar 1875 in the Donegal Church of Ireland.   The Marriage Record shows that John Beattie and George, whose name is illegible; witnessed the couples union.  William’s father was recorded as James Elvin; however, Jane’s father was recorded as “Johnston” his first name was not given!

The Johnston’s of Ardnableask & the Elvin’s of Cashelnavean, Co. Donegal!

Jane and William’s married life began in Donegal, by 12 Mar 1876, and the birth of their first daughter, Mary Jane; they were living on the Lower Road in Londonderry.  Records indicate they were living at the home of Jane’s sister and brother in law; John and Catherine Chambers.  In 1879 and the birth of their second and third children (Elizabeth and John James) the family still resided on Lower Road; records confirming that the “occupier” was still John Chambers.

Sometime between the birth of their son, John James, on 24 Dec1879 and his death on 29 Jun 1881 the couple and their small family had moved to Scotland.  John James, their third child was born in Londonderry and sadly passed away in the small town of Calder, Scotland.  “Calder can be found in West Lothian, Scotland, and is located four miles west of Livingston.  In the 19th and 20th Centuries it was an important centre for the oil shale economy.”

The Johnston’s of Ardnableask & the Elvin’s of Cashelnavean, Co. Donegal!

It would seem, as many had during that period in time; the family had moved to Scotland in order for William to secure work.  The 1881 Census of Scotland disclosed the family was living at 41 Close in the village of Calder, and William was working as a labourer in the iron works.

In October of 1881, a few short months after the death of John James, Jane gave birth to their fourth daughter Isabella.  Their family continued to grow with the birth of their second son, and fifth child; Joseph in June 1884.  Once again the family suffered another death – sadly, Joseph too died in infancy in March 1886.

Baptismal Records from St. Columb’s Cathedral, for their sixth child and fourth daughter – Margaret, dated 11 Nov 1888; confirm that once again the family had returned to Londonderry.  At this point in time the family was living on Nailors Row with William working as a labourer.  The family was complete in 1891 with the birth of their last child – another daughter named Catherine; she too was baptized at St. Columb’s Cathedral.

The Johnston’s of Ardnableask & the Elvin’s of Cashelnavean, Co. Donegal!

On 27 Apr 1892 tragedy struck the Elvin family once again.  William passed away at 113 William Street, Londonderry in the presence of his brother in law, John Chambers; with whom the family was still living.  His death record indicates his cause of death was “disease of kidneys & albuminuria”.  It would seem that the males in the particular line of the Elvin were not destined to live long lives.

At the time the 1901 Census of Ireland was taken Jane and her daughters were living in 15 Argyle Terrace.  An article in the Derry journal, published on 27 Mar 1903; entitled “Sales of House Property in the City” stated “Three new houses of six apartments each and scullery, situate Nos. 28, 30, and 32, Argyle-terrace, were purchased by Mrs. Jane Elvin, Mrs. Sherrard and Mr. Patrick Woods respectively at £200 each.”  28 Argyle Terrace is that home that Jane remained in until her death.

The Johnston’s of Ardnableask & the Elvin’s of Cashelnavean, Co. Donegal!

On 15 Jun 1940 Jane passed away in her home on Argyle Terrace; her nephew Alexander Love (my great grandfather) of 47 Abercorn Road was present.  Her death record noted her death was due to “a cerebral haemorrhage due to arterio sclerosis due to senility”.  Jane, along with her husband William and daughter Isabella; is interred in the Derry City Cemetery.

The Johnston’s of Ardnableask & the Elvin’s of Cashelnavean, Co. Donegal!

Some mystery surrounds Jane.  Although I, and several distant cousins; have searched for her Birth and Baptism Records … none are to be found.  Approximately fourteen years separate her assumed birth year and that of her closest sibling.  Her father’s Christian name is not on her Marriage Record – which may or may not be relevant.  Although I have acquired a lot of information on Jane, much more remains to be found on this particular Twisted Limb.

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

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