Eliza Upton

(Updated November 17, 2017)

Elizabeth Upton is the second Mrs. Smith that I am writing about in this blog.  Her baptismal name was Elizabeth but it seems she was always called Eliza.  Unfortunately, I know nothing about Eliza as a person.  However, I know a little bit about her family and the names of some of her ancestors and other relatives.

Eliza is the most Irish ancestor we have in the Smith family tree.  I will explain why I think so in the posting below and in a later posting about Eliza’s mother and her family.

Eliza Upton was the wife of Lancelot Smith of Corballis (see the pages about Lancelot Smith of Corballis 1824-1899 and Lancelot Smith’s Children Corballis in the Family Stories section).   My grandfather William Smith of Blackhall was her second son.  So Eliza is my great-grandmother.

Eliza’s parents were William Upton and Priscilla Kent.  Eliza was born in Cashel, County Tipperary, around 1831, the youngest of four children. She had an older sister Margaret and two older brothers – William and Randal. I believe all three of her siblings died young. Because her father William died in 1836, Eliza must have been brought up by her mother and was probably supported financially by her grandfather William Bayly Upton.

Eliza was baptized in St. John’s Church, the Anglican cathedral church in Cashel.  This is the same church where she was married in 1862 to Lancelot Smith.  Eliza and Lancelot lived near Cashel until about 1871 when they moved to Corballis, County Dublin, and stayed there for the rest of their lives.  Eliza died in 1904 and was buried in the churchyard of St.Patrick’s Anglican church in Donabate, County Dublin.

The gravestone wording reads: “In loving memory of Eliza wife of Lancelot Smith of Corballis who died Jan 20 1904 aged 73 yrs. & of her mother Priscilla wife of W Upton MD and of Margaret Kearney their faithful servant for over 40 years”. from this inscription I assume that Priscilla Kent lived with her daughter Eliza.

We have no photographs of Eliza as a child although we do have a few of her from the time of her marriage and onwards.

Trying to sketch out the life of someone living in Ireland before the 20th century is a challenge due to the lack of genealogical information.  There is no census data from the 1800s for most of County Tipperary, church records for Cashel and elsewhere in Tipperary are difficult to access, and civil registration of births, marriages and deaths did not begin until 1864 – too late to help with most of the people I am interested in here. So, much of what I have learned about the Uptons has had to start from a family tree sketched out by someone in the family – possibly by Eliza herself.


The chart is wonderful to have and one can hope that most of the information it contains is correct (I think some is not) but there is probably no way to corroborate it.  Sadly, the chart lacks dates of any kind so there is no information on when people were born, when they married or when they died.  Not having dates for key life events makes it very difficult to search for people in genealogy databases.  I have been able to locate only a few of the dates so, by and large, I have had to guess when people were born but could be completely wrong – especially when I go back to the generations before Eliza herself.

Some of what I do know has come from a collection of data known as “Griffith’s Valuation” and later updates to the valuation records.  Richard Griffith was given the responsibility of valuing all the land in Ireland so that it could be taxed equitably and he did this work county by county between 1847 and 1864.  As well as mapping the land and assessing its worth as a resource, he also recorded the names of the landlords who were the owners (under the Crown) and the tenants living on the land.  So these records are often used as a substitute – although not a particularly good one – for population censuses.  One problem is that the name of a landlord (the “lessor”) or tenant (the “occupier”) is all that is provided for an entire household.  Usually the person named was the male head of household although widows and other women living alone would be listed if they were the landlord or tenant.  So, for most households, there are no names recorded for the wife, the children or of any servants or other relatives living there as well.  Also, of course, there is no information about anyone on their birth dates, birthplaces, and so on, that one can usually get from census data.

Some of the Griffith’s Valuation data is widely available on the internet and various websites have used the data to try to create some social context for people living in Ireland in the 19th century.  One other website about Irish surnames that I have found useful is sponsored by The Irish Times newspaper and enables the user to find information on surnames and their distribution across Ireland at the time of Griffith’s work.  Have a look at the site and search for surnames you are interested in – including the ones I am going to highlight here.

In addition to the above sources, I have also found small bits of information in genealogy databases and from several research trips to Ireland over the past six years.  There is probably more information to be found in archives and on-line. I am summarizing here what I know so far and what I am guessing about Eliza Upton and her ancestors on her father’s side.  (There is another post about her mother’s family, the Kents, also being updated.)    Please be aware that quite a lot of what I am describing is based on assumptions and guesses.  When I can get more or better information I will add it to this post.

First, here is a simplified version of the Upton family tree focusing on Eliza, her immediate family and her paternal ancestors.

Upton Family tree as of Nov 17, 2017

Eliza’s father William Upton was an apothecary in Cashel.  I know this from the marriage record for Eliza and Lancelot in Cashel in 1862; the record includes the name of the bride’s father and his occupation.  Although he is mentioned on Eliza’s gravestone in Donabate as W Upton MD  – and I was told by older family members that he was a doctor – I am not sure that he was a physician in the way we would understand that word today.  In the middle of the nineteenth century it was quite common for apothecaries to prescribe medicines and treat minor ailments so he could have been called a doctor. He was trained as an apothecary in Dublin. (His father William Bayly Upton was also an apothecary and was also referred to sometimes as a doctor.)

Unfortunately, William Upton died in 1836 when he was only 35 years old. His widow Priscilla had several young children to support and I assume that her father-in-law William Bayly Upton provided that support. Eliza was only about 5 years old when her father died. Her younger brother Randal died in early 1837 as a small child and her other brother William died in 1849 as an adolescent. (I have no idea when the eldest child Margaret died.) It seems likely that Eliza was the only surviving child by the early 1850s.

Eliza’s paternal grandparents William Bayly Upton and Margaret McClure lived in Cashel. There is more information about William Bayly Upton in another post but I will mention here that he and his wife had eight children, born in Cashel. There were five sons and three daughters. Sadly all the sons died young although at least two of them – William and David – had children. (I don’t think Bayly Upton was married.) The three daughters all married and had children, as described below.

The oldest of the three daughters in the William Bayly Upton family (Eliza’s aunts) was Prudence Upton who married Robert Charters (also written as Chartres).  There was a Robert Charters living in Cashel in the 1850s, living a house belonging to William B. Upton.  So it seems possible this was the same Robert Charters.  Robert and Prudence had five children: Jane, Ellen, William, James and Robert.  These children were probably born in the 1830s; they were Eliza’s cousins.

There is no other information in the family tree chart about the two Charters girls although we are told something about the boys: William Charters was a clergyman in Magherafelt, County Derry; James was a doctor who went to America; and Robert was a schoolmaster in England.  Searches in U.S. and English censuses in the 1860s and 1870s were unsuccessful in identifying the right James Charters or Robert Charters in later life.

Eliza’s second aunt, Rebecca Upton, was born around 1809 and married Terence McGrath (also written as Magrath).  There was a man of that name living in Cashel in the 1850s, in a house belonging to a Miss Grace.  Rebecca and Terence had five sons, William, Christopher, Terence, John and James, and two daughters, Rebecca and Margaret.  These children were probably born between 1835 and the early 1850s.  More cousins for Eliza Upton.

We are told on the chart that one of Eliza’s McGrath cousins, Christopher, “enlisted” but the chart writer doesn’t say in what or where he went.  A search of military records produced the information that he joined the Royal Artillery as a gunner in 1858, aged 23, and served 23 years in England before retiring on a pension in 1881.  (His surname in the military records is written as Magrath but I am sure it is the right person.)  He never served overseas and was never wounded in his service career.  Before he joined the Royal Artillery, he had served in a militia in England.  His service record also shows he was married to a girl (she was only 16) called Elizabeth Smith from Rye, Sussex, in 1871.  English census records for 1881 and 1891 give information on their seven children, some born during his military service.  The children were called Terence, Rebecca, Margaret, Jane, William, James and John.  After military service, Christopher lived in Rye and worked as a shoemaker, which was his occupation when he enlisted in 1858.  He died in Rye in 1894.

The family tree chart says that Christopher’s brother Terence McGrath went to California and his brother John went to America (it is interesting that such a distinction between the destinations was made).  Searching in the U.S. census data did not enable me to identify either Terence McGrath or his brother John McGrath there.

The youngest brother James McGrath was married in Limerick to a woman called Margaret and they had two children: Rebecca and Margaret.

Eliza’s youngest aunt Margaret Upton married Thomas Ryall and they had two children: Margaret and William, both born in the 1830s.  These children were also Eliza’s cousins and I think it was her cousin William Ryall who was one of the witnesses at her wedding in 1862.

Margaret Ryall, who was born in 1837, married Sam Ryall (possibly a first or second cousin) in Cashel in October 1858 and they then went to Australia, arriving in Melbourne from Liverpool in December 1858.  They had two children: Margaret and William, both born in Sydney, New South Wales in the late 1860s.  There may have been other children born earlier but I have found no information on them.

William Ryall married Margaret Loney in Cashel in 1867 and they had two sons: William and Thomas.  I believe they stayed in Tipperary.

The lack of any mention on the family tree chart about where most of these people lived  makes me think that they probably stayed in Tipperary, likely in the Cashel area.

Regarding Margaret McClure, Eliza Upton’s paternal grandmother, this name strongly suggests Ulster origins but I don’t know where she was from specifically.  According to the mid-19th century records in Griffith’s Valuation, the name McClure was almost entirely found in the Ulster counties although there were a few in Tipperary.

Unlike the Smiths who were new arrivals in County Tipperary in the early 1850s, I believe the Uptons had been in the county for some time.  Eliza and her siblings were all born in Cashel in the late 1820s or early 1830s and I think her father William and his six brothers and sisters were also born there around the end of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th century.  I do not know if the Uptons were in Tipperary before that or in some other county although I might guess they came from either Limerick or Cork.  In the mid 19th century Uptons were most common in County Limerick and were also to be found in County Cork.  Apparently, Uptons have been associated with Cork since the 17th century.  I assume the Uptons originally came from England at that time.

So, starting from very limited information, I think we can say that Eliza Upton’s paternal grandparents were living in Cashel, Tipperary in the 1790s, probably earlier.  This was over 50 years before the Smiths ever arrived in Ireland.

I hope to be able to improve or add to the information in this posting when the opportunity arises.  I will also add to the genealogy of Eliza Upton in a post about her mother Priscilla Kent and the Kent family tree.

This entry was posted in Cashel, Charters, Corballis, Kent, Magrath, Photographs, Ryall, Smith, Tipperary, Upton and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Eliza Upton

  1. opmartin says:

    What a fascinating amount you have managed to find out. I was particularly interested as, of course, Upton was Dad’s middle name. It is interesting that he was given both names from his father’s side and none from the Anderson side.
    I would have expected William Bayley jnr to have been the second son. I wonder was there an elder second son who died? There is a gap between the first two sons..

    • Jean says:

      Thanks very much for your feedback. I also wondered about the naming of the sons but my guess is that Christopher was named after his Upton grandfather and Samuel was named after the McClure grandfather. Then the parents were free to name the third son as they wished. I don’t know if I will be able to prove or disprove that, given the limited amount of Tipperary records. Access to the church records of that period would help. Another trip to Dublin is required.

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