All roads lead to Kilmurry

At least in my family tree, they do.

Another Brick in the Wall

I have had a longtime brick wall regarding the my 3rd great-grandmother, the nameless spouse of Cornelius Cronin. Her name was not included in her daughter Ellen Cronin’s marriage record. Ellen married Michael Hegarty in Cork City, but parish records from Cork City contained so many Ellen Cronins with fathers named Cornelius that it was impossible to discern which might be mine. This was a blank spot in my tree for years. There have been so many more parish registers released lately that I decided to try again to identify my 3rd great-grandmother.

I started by examining all the baptisms of Ellen Cronin Hegarty’s children, and assuming that every godparent surnamed Cronin was one of her siblings. (I know this may not always hold true, but it’s a hypothesis.) Then I searched for a Cornelius Cronin who had children with matching names and ages. There were still too many potential Corneliuses.

Handwriting hell-pers

Because of all the new parish records, I received an Ancestry hint for Ellen Cronin, a marriage register from St. Finbarr’s South Church in Cork City showing Ellen and her husband Michael Hegarty as witnesses for the marriage of Hanora Corcoran and John Murphy. When I opened the hint and looked at the actual digital scan of the scribbled record, I saw that “Corcoran” was a mistake in the indexing and the bride was Hanora Cronin — Ellen’s sister! Then in another column it said that both the bride’s and the groom’s parents were from Kilmurry — the same village as Michael Hegarty’s parents. People were marrying friends from their hometowns! Back to my list of potential Corneliuses; there was one from Kilmurry married to Ellen Taylor. Ellen Taylor is my 3rd great-grandmother.

Possible problems

This discovery changes Ellen Cronin’s birthplace from Cork City with an unknown mother to Kilmurry with a known mother, and she is born about 5 years later than I thought, which means she marries at 16 instead of 21. The fact that she goes on to have 14 children seems to me to support a younger marriage, though. Also, near the end of her life, in the 1911 census of Ireland, it says she was born in Cork City. I have never been able to find any other actual birth document for her than the one I found for Kilmurry. The 1911 census also says that she’s illiterate, she’s a widow, 9 of her 14 children have died and the other 5 have emigrated or moved away. Did she specify that she was born in Cork City or did she just say she was from there? She had left Kilmurry as an adolescent and worked as a servant in Cork City before she got married and had all her children in Cork City. On balance, I think the parish baptismal records are more reliable than the birthplace column of the 1911 census, but I’ll keep an eye out for more evidence either way. Hopefully I’ll get some kind of Taylor DNA match on Ancestry to help my sense of certainty.

In the meantime, I’ve added Ellen Taylor to my names list on my overview page.