Thomas Smith, Civil Engineer

Thomas Smith was one of the younger brothers of my grandfather William Smith.  Thomas, known as Tom, was born in 1870 in County Tipperary and moved with his family when he was only an infant to live on a farm at Corballis in County Dublin.  I don’t know where he attended school but I assume it was somewhere in Dublin.  From personal  acquaintance with my great-uncle Tom when he was in his late 80s, I knew that he had graduated from Trinity College, University of Dublin, and had worked as an engineer for various railway companies in Ireland, his main job being the design of new railway lines.  Sad to say, Tom lived long enough to witness the gradual reduction in railway travel and the dismantlement of many of the lines he had helped to design and build.  Tom Smith died in 1962 in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh.  You can find more about Tom and the Smith family he was born into by going to the page on Lancelot Smith’s Children Corballis.

Knowing from family stories that Tom Smith was a railway engineer and having evidence of that are two different things.  Recently I came across some on-line records of the U.K. Civil Engineer Membership Forms from 1820 to 1930 that enabled me to get more information about Thomas Smith as a Civil Engineer.

According to the information that Thomas Smith provided in the application form for election as an Associate Member to The Institution of Civil Engineers (I.C.E.) that was completed on November 1896:

“he obtained the degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Engineering in Trinity College Dublin in 1890 at which latter exam he was awarded a special certificate for superior merit in Mining, Chemistry, Geology and Mineralogy.  He was afterwards engaged by Mr S.G. Fraser, M. Inst. C.E., for a few months on the setting out of the Collooney & Claremorris Railway and on the plans in connection with this and other lines.  And from July 91 – July 92 as a pupil of Mr G. Chatterton, M. Inst. C.E., he was engaged on the construction of the Rhondda Valley Sewer in South Wales, which consisted of a large Main Outfall Sewer of brick, concrete and cast iron nearly 18 miles long, including many tunnels, river and railway crossings, and tidal outfall.  And for the last two and half years he has been engaged in the office of Mr W.H. Mills, M Inst. C.E., Engineer in Chief of the Great Northern Railway Co Ireland, as a draughtsman in connection with the general maintenance of the line and construction of new works and still holds that position.”

Thomas Smith became an Associate Member of I.C.E. on the 30th of January 1897.

Being employed as a civil engineer on various railway design and building projects could explain why in the March 1901 Census of Ireland Thomas Smith was living as a lodger in Portadown, County Armagh, while his wife Elizabeth (Lulie) was living with her aunt and uncle-by-marriage Nell and Lancelot Smith of Beaverstown, County Dublin.  (Somewhat confusingly, Lulie was also their sister-in-law since she was married to Lancelot Smith’s brother.)  Portadown is a major railway junction in what was then the Great Northern Railway system so it would be a likely place for Thomas Smith to be working.

In the 1911 Census of Ireland, Thomas and Elizabeth Smith are both listed as living in Belfast, with their nephew Lancelot Westgarth Smith, aged 14.  Lancelot Westgarth Smith, the son of Lancelot Smith of Beaverstown, was usually known as Garth.  From this census record of his residence in Belfast, I am guessing that Garth was attending school there at the time.  Thomas Smith listed his occupation in 1911 as civil engineer.

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The Melmerby Smiths after 1821

This is a brief summary of the Smiths who lived and farmed in Melmerby, in the Eden Valley of Cumberland, after 1821.  They stayed in Melmerby after my great-great-grandfather Lancelot Smith and most of his children went to farm in Ireland in the early 1850s.

These Smiths are not ancestors of my grandfather William Smith – and therefore not of mine either – although they are distant relatives.

You might think of these Smiths as the ones who stayed at home.  You can get an idea of their lineage from the Smith family tree showing the lines diverging between those who went to Ireland and those who continued on in Melmerby.

After my great-great-great-grandfather John Smith died in 1821, his son William inherited all his Melmerby property.  (As a much younger son, my great-great-grandfather Lancelot Smith did not inherit any land in Melmerby from his father.  Instead, he farmed a small property in Gamblesby; he had moved to Gamblesby before his father died.  He did inherit some freehold land in Melmerby from his uncle Thomas in 1827.)

William Smith of Melmerby, born in 1781, married Mary Longrigg from Kirkoswald in 1812, and they had 11 children.  I believe that William and Mary were living and farming in Hesket when they were first married; while they were there, they had three children.  When William inherited the Smith family’s freehold property in Melmerby in 1821, the family moved to the farm in Melmerby where William and Mary had eight more children.  Two of the children died at about 7 years of age and a third died as an infant.  Their oldest daughter Hannah died at the age of about 25.  A younger son William married Elizabeth Harrison from Gamblesby and they lived in Gamblesby, close to where Lancelot Smith lived.  I know nothing about the other children besides when they born.  William Smith died in 1857 and his wife Mary died in 1868.

John Smith, William’s eldest son, was the next owner of the Melmerby property.  (This John Smith was a first cousin of Lancelot Smith of Corballis.)  John was born in 1815 in Hesket and he married Mary Hardy of Park Head, which is near Kirkoswald.  They had eight children.  (The Hardys of Park Head are an interesting family and I may write a separate page about them later on.)  John and Mary Smith had four sons and four daughters.  Their oldest son William died in July 1884, at the age of 35 – just a few months after his father died.  So the son next in line, George Hardy Smith, inherited the Melmerby property.  Two younger sons, John and Christopher, became farmers in Park Head, where their Hardy grandfather and uncles had lived.  One of the four daughters, Eleanor, died as an infant.  The other three daughters never married and later in life they lived together in Penrith.  The Misses Smith of Penrith are interesting too, mainly because they all made wills and mentioned numerous younger relatives in their wills.  The oldest daughter, Mary Ann, lived most of her life with the Hardys in Park Head and then with her aunt Eleanor Hardy in Gamblesby before going to live in Penrith.  John Smith died in 1884 and his wife Mary died in 1898.

George Hardy Smith – John’s oldest surviving son – was the next owner of the Melmerby property.  (George Hardy Smith was a second cousin of my grandfather William Smith of Blackhall.)  George was born in 1852 in Gamblesby and was married twice.  His first wife Mary Jackson was from Brougham, Cumberland and they had two daughters and one son.  Their daughters were: Eleanor, who married James Beaty, and Sarah Agnes, who married John William Dodd.  Their son, John William Smith, was born in October 1882 in Stainmore, Westmoreland, and I believe his mother died shortly after his birth.  Mary (Jackson) Smith was buried in Melmerby on October 21, 1882; she was only 26 years old.  Later, George Hardy Smith married again, to Catherine Brunskill.  They had no children.  George Hardy Smith died in 1928 and his wife Catherine died in 1937.

John William Smith (called William) was George Hardy Smith’s only son so he was the inheritor of the Melmerby property.  I have no information about him other than his birth in October 1882 and his death in December 1951.  I do not know if he ever married or if he had any descendants.

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Hannah Huddart of Gamblesby

Hannah Huddart was one of my great-great-great-grandmothers.  She was born in Gamblesby, in the County of Cumberland, in late 1753 or early 1754 and was baptised at Addingham Parish Church in Glassonby on 3 February 1754.  The Huddart family lived in Gamblesby where Hannah’s father was a farmer and Hannah lived there until she married John Smith from Melmerby in June 1777.  It is through her marriage to John Smith that she became one of the Mrs Smiths in my family tree.  Also due to her marriage, she moved from Gamblesby to Melmerby, a distance of about 1.5 miles (or 2.5 km).

Hannah had nine children, of whom seven survived to full adulthood.  Her second youngest son Joseph died at the age of  thirty in 1822.  The oldest surviving son William became the heir to the property of both his parents.  Her third-oldest surviving son was my great-great-grandfather Lancelot Smith of Gamblesby.

Aside from knowing who she married and how many children she had, I know one other thing about Hannah Huddart: according to her great-grand-daughter Agnes Nicholson,  Hannah was converted to Methodism during a visit of John Wesley to Gamblesby.  I believe that would have been around 1772, when Hannah was about 18 years old.  Despite Hannah’s conversion, and presumably raising her children later on to become good Methodists, all of her children were baptized in the Anglican Church in Melmerby and some of them were buried in the churchyard there as well.  The Methodists did not separate from the Anglican Church until after 1784.  By 1795, the Methodists were legally able to conduct marriages and perform religious sacraments.  The chapels were then authorized by the Methodist movement to start conducting communion services, marriages, burials and baptisms.  These changes would only have happened gradually with the agreement of local chapel leaders and probably did not take effect in more remote places like the Cumberland Fells until well after 1800.  As far as I know there was no Methodist chapel ever built in Melmerby.  Methodists in that community would probably have gone to Gamblesby to attend chapel services.

It is not clear how much Hannah’s husband John Smith was devoted to the Wesleyan Methodist cause because it seems that his heir William Smith and William’s descendants were regular members of the Anglican Church in Melmerby.  (However, having key life events recorded in the Anglican Church has made finding information on the Smiths of Cumberland a great deal easier for me than looking for Methodist circuit records.)

After 1808, the Methodist movement split between Wesleyan Methodists and Primitive Methodists on several issues of religious practice.  The chapel in Gamblesby remained Wesleyan Methodist.

Hannah’s son Lancelot Smith of Gamblesby was a Wesleyan Methodist and raised his children in that religion (although they too were baptised in the Anglican church).  Hannah’s grandson Lancelot Smith of Corballis was also a staunch Wesleyan Methodist but, by the time his children had grown up in County Dublin, the next generation had moved back to being members of the Anglican Church.

Methodism was strongly established in the Fells in later years of John Wesley’s long life and stayed strong there for many years after he died in 1791.  The village of Gamblesby had its first Methodist chapel built in 1784.  This was more than 80 years before it had a small Anglican church which was built in 1868 – perhaps partly to compete with the local Methodist chapel.  This church was what is called a chapel-of-ease, which was subsidiary to the parish church for Addingham Parish in Glassonby, a few miles away.  (The Anglican chapel-of-ease was decommissioned and converted into a private house in 2011.)

The original Methodist chapel was replaced by a new chapel in 1864 and it still stands today.

Wesleyan Methodist chapel Gamblesby

Looking back to Hannah’s ancestry, it has not been possible to find out much about that.  From the records of Addingham Parish I found that Hannah’s father was William Huddart from Gamblesby and his father may have been called Joseph Huddart, also from Gamblesby.   William Huddart was a farmer and it seems that he bequeathed at least some of his property to Hannah when he died in 1785, aged 71.  I have not found any parish records for children other than Hannah whose father was William Huddart so it is possible that Hannah was his only child.

Hannah died on 12 September 1831, aged 77, and she was buried in Melmerby Churchyard.

In her will probated in 1832, Hannah gave all her land in Gamblesby to her oldest son William.  He also got her oak kitchen table and a crook (which I take to be a shepherd’s crook).  Her younger children got money: £120 each to her younger sons Thomas and Lancelot and £100 each to her three daughters.  Her daughters were also given her household effects – furniture, linen and clothes.  A bequest of £120 at that time would be worth about £87,500 today in terms of income.

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The Mounseys of Clashnevin

I have mentioned the Mounsey family several times when writing pages about Lancelot Smith of Corballis and his children in the Family Stories section of this blog.

As I described in those pages, Lancelot Smith lived near Cashel in County Tipperary from about 1852 until 1871, at which time he moved with his young family to a farm in the townland of Corballis, near Donabate in County Dublin.  Over twenty years later, when Lancelot’s children were getting married, it is very interesting that three of his five sons chose to marry members of the Mounsey family, who lived in Clashnevin, in the northern part of County Tipperary.

  • Eldest son Lancelot Smith married Eleanor (Nell) Mounsey.
  • Fourth son Thomas (Tom) Smith married Elizabeth (Lulie) Hodgins, whose mother Mary Mounsey was the oldest sister of Nell Mounsey.
  • Youngest son Joseph Randal (Joe) Smith married Isabella (Belle) Mounsey, the youngest sister of Nell and Mary.

I cannot explain what was the reason for this close marital connection between the Smiths and the Mounseys.  The Smith men, living and growing up near Dublin, would have met many other people so it wasn’t lack of choice in finding wives.  I assume the two families kept in close touch over many years and they must have found much in common in their social values and ways of living.  Both Lancelot Smith and John Mounsey were farmers from northern England, were about the same age and had moved to Tipperary around the same time.

What do I know about the Mounsey family of Clashnevin?  Until about six months ago, I would have had to say “not very much”.  However, since then I have been fortunate in receiving very useful information from a modern-day Mounsey descendant living in England.  I now know that the Mounseys came from Westmorland to settle in County Tipperary in the second half of the 1850s – probably only a few years after the Smiths moved from Cumberland to the same county.

John Mounsey and his wife Mary Branthwaite were from Westmorland in the parish of Askham, which is only about 5.5 miles (9 km) south of Penrith.  The Smiths came from Gamblesby, about 8 miles (13 km) north-east of Penrith, so they could have known each other before they both went to Ireland.

John’s father Stephen Mounsey was a farmer, sometimes described as a yeoman, in Setterah Park, Bampton, which is now inside the boundaries of the Lake District National Park.  Stephen Mounsey was born at Setterah Park in June 1800.  (His father, another John Mounsey, was also from Setterah Park.)

Stephen Mounsey and his first wife Mary (her maiden name may have been Parkinson) had six children, of which John Mounsey – later of Clashnevin – was the eldest.   One daughter Anne died as a child.  Stephen’s wife Mary died and Stephen married again, this time to Mary Tinkler, on April 8 1854.  At that time, Stephen was 53 years old and his second wife was 57.

It may have been due to their mother’s death or their father’s second marriage that three of his children – Robert, Stephen and Mary – emigrated to New Zealand in the late 1850s or early 1860s.  Eldest son John moved to Ireland in the late 1850s.  Only one son – Thomas – stayed in England but did not live in Westmoreland until his later years.

Mary Branthwaite’s family was also long-established in Askham, in the civil parish of Helton.  Mary was one of at least eleven children born to John Branthwaite, a yeoman farmer, and his wife Elizabeth.

John Mounsey was born in October 1826 in Setterah Park, Westmoreland, and his wife Mary Branthwaite was born in 1829 in Helton, half a mile away.  They were married, probably in the parish of Askham, on 30 October 1852 and had two daughters while they were living in Setterah Park where John was a farmer.

The Mounseys moved to Ireland after the birth of their second daughter in 1855.  When exactly they moved to Ireland – and when they arrived in Clashnevin, County Tipperary – remain unanswered questions.  The earliest mention of John Mounsey in Ireland that I have found is in the vestry minute books of the Parish of Ballymackey.  In April 1861, John Mounsey was listed as present at the vestry meeting; this suggests that he arrived in the parish during the previous year.  In April 1862, John Mounsey was assigned a seat in the church and listed as “Jno. Mounsey, Clashnevin”.  If the Mounseys moved to Ireland in 1856, I cannot be sure they were in Clashnevin before 1861.  Maybe John had another farm when he first arrived in Ireland.

Another interesting sidelight on the Mounseys’ connection to the Anglican parish church in Ballymackey is that John Mounsey is not mentioned in the vestry minutes after 1870 although several Mounsey weddings took place in the church after 1870 and a number of Mounseys have been buried in the church graveyard up to the year 2001.  The church building has been abandoned and is now roofless.

Ballymackey Parish Church 2011

John Mounsey died in March 1916, possibly at Ballygibbon, County Tipperary.  His wife Mary had died before him, in October 1903.  Both were buried in the Ballymackey churchyard.

Finding information on children born in Ireland before 1864 (the start of civil registration) is problematic so the complete list of the children in the Mounsey family is still tentative but I believe that John and Mary Mounsey had eleven children, two of which died as infants:

  • Mary (1853)
  • Elizabeth (1855)
  • Stephen (1858?)
  • John (1859)
  • Anne (Annie) (1861)
  • Stephen (1864)
  • Eleanor (Nell) (1866)
  • Infant (1868?)
  • Margaret (1870)
  • Thomas (1871)
  • Isabella (Belle) (1874)

Mary and Elizabeth Mounsey were definitely born in Westmorland.  The most tentative part of this list is the first Stephen, supposedly born and died in 1858.  It would be the usual practice of the time to name the eldest son Stephen because that was the name of the child’s paternal grandfather.  It would also explain why there was a later son also called Stephen if the first one died as an infant.

Aside from not having any record of the first Stephen’s birth, the key question is where was he born.  If it was in Ireland, as some on-line family trees say, then the Mounseys had moved to Ireland between 1855 and 1858.  The next son, John, was definitely born in County Tipperary in 1859, possibly at Clashnevin.  I know he was born in County Tipperary from the census records of 1901 and 1911.  So I believe the Mounseys were in Tipperary at least by 1859.

One thing I have learned from my helpful contact in the Mounsey family and from a couple of on-line family trees is that John Mounsey’s eldest daughter Mary was married three times.  Previously, I had no idea about this.  All that I knew was that she had married Robert Hodgins in the Ballymackey parish church on 13 October 1873, when she was under age, and she had a daughter Elizabeth (known as Lulie), who married my great-uncle Tom Smith.  Robert Hodgins was a grocer living on Castle Street in Nenagh.  His father Richard Hodgins was a farmer in the Ballymackey area so that is probably how Mary and Robert first met.

From on-line sources, including census records, I have learned that Mary had five surviving children in her first marriage to Robert Hodgins.  Elizabeth was born in 1874 and Robert, Mary, John and Stephanie followed her, probably in that order.  Most of the children were born in Nenagh, County Tipperary, although census records show that Stephanie was born in County Clare, probably in 1882.

I do not know when Robert Hodgins died but it was possibly soon after 1882 because in 1885 Mary Mounsey married for a second time to John Cody from County Clare.  They had one daughter Kathleen, who was born in County Clare, probably in 1886.

Mary’s third marriage was in 1893 to Robert Francis Mulligan, who was from County Cavan.  They had no children.  Robert Mulligan was about 10 years younger than Mary, who was 40 at the time of this marriage.

We can see a little bit about Mary’s later life in the available Irish census records. In 1901, Mary Mulligan was visiting some friends in Westmoreland while her husband was running a grocery store in on Peter Street in Nenagh.  His occupation was given as grocer and general merchant.

In 1911, Mary Mulligan was back on Castle Street in Nenagh, listed as the head of household, with her son John Hodgins and several employees. By this time, John Hodgins was the grocer.  He could have been running the same grocery business that had belonged to his father on Castle Street.  Meantime, Robert Mulligan was not living in Nenagh at all but was back in County Cavan, living with his older unmarried brother and two unmarried sisters.  His job in the census records was given as “cycle agent”.

Mary Mounsey Hodgins Cody Mulligan died in 1923 in Hatch End, Middlesex, aged 70.  When the 1921 census records are available, that could help to show who Mary was living with at that time.

Elizabeth Mounsey, the second daughter after Mary, was also born in England but I do not know anything about her other than that she was born in 1855.

Following Elizabeth was Stephen, possibly born in 1858 in Ireland but who must have died as a child because there was a second Stephen later on.

The eldest surviving son was John Mounsey who was born in 1859 in Tipperary, as already mentioned.  Like his father of the same name, John was a farmer.  In 1893, John married Georgina Stanley at Ballymackey church.  They went to live at Riverlawn, which was the property of the Stanley family.  Georgina’s father Samuel Stanley is listed as “gentleman” in the marriage record at Ballymackey.  John and Georgina had six children:

  • John Stanley (1895)
  • Mary (1896)
  • Sarah (1898)
  • Caroline Ann (Annie) (1902)
  • Robert Samuel (1905)
  • Georgina Stanley (1907)

The Mounsey household at Riverlawn also seems to have included an older unmarried sister of Georgina’s called Annie Stanley.  John Mounsey died in January 1937 at Riverlawn while his wife Georgina continued living until December 1962, aged 93.  Both were buried at Ballymackey.

Anne (Annie) Mounsey followed her brother John in the Mounsey family.  She was born in 1861. Annie married John Hegarty who was a travelling salesman.  They had at least one child, a daughter also called Annie.

Stephen Mounsey was next, born at Clashnevin in 1864.  Stephen married Elizabeth Mary McCarthy in 1898 in Dublin.  They had three children, one of whom died young.  The two surviving children were born in Tipperary: Thomas Branthwaite Mounsey (1899) and Elizabeth Mary Mounsey (1901).  At that time, Stephen was a farmer at Knockahunna townland, in the Ballymackey area.  He died in November 1929 at Beech Hill near Tullamore, County Offaly, and was buried at Ballymackey.

Eleanor (Nell) Mounsey followed Stephen.  She was born in September 1866, probably at Clashnevin.  In 1894 Nell married Lancelot Smith of Beaverstown, County Dublin.  What I know about Nell has been included in the page about the children of Lancelot Smith of Corballis so I won’t repeat it here.

Margaret Mounsey is the next one in the family that I know anything about (she followed an unnamed infant who died).  Margaret was born in 1870, probably at Clashnevin and remained at home until she married Frederick William Evans in 1912.  They had no children.  I believe that Fred W. Evans was a farmer in the townland of Ballyluskey. The Evans family was in Tipperary from the early 1850s farming in the townland of Ballyrickard at that time.  Margaret was buried at Ballymackey in January 1923.

Thomas Mounsey was the tenth child and youngest son of the Mounsey family; he was born in 1871, probably at Clashnevin.  Thomas may have married twice; I have no information on whether he had any children.   Thomas was a farmer living at Ballygibbon, Tipperary.  In 1901, Thomas was living with his parents and other siblings at Ballygibbon so I assume the Mounsey farm at Clashnevin had been given up before then.  Thomas’s father John was still living with him at Ballygibbon in 1911.  By that time, Thomas was married.

Isabella (Belle) Mounsey was the youngest of the family and she was born in 1874 – the same year that her eldest sister gave birth to Elizabeth Hodgins.  Belle married Joseph Randal Smith, who was known as Joe, and what I know about them is also described in the page on the children of Lancelot Smith of Corballis.

The information I have gathered about the Mounsey family is fragmentary and has come from a variety of sources.  I have made some assumptions based on what I have learned but there could be errors and there are probably omissions.  I would be pleased to make changes in this post if any of my readers can help.  I am sure there is more information that could be found or will become available in the next few years.

While the Mounsey story is interesting, it is not central to the focus of my blog about the Smiths so I invite others to search for more information about John Mounsey of Clashnevin and his family.

Posted in Corballis, Families, Mounsey, Nenagh, Photographs, Smith, Tipperary | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Elizabeth Westgarth

This post is about Elizabeth Westgarth and the family to which she belonged in Gamblesby in Cumberland (now Cumbria) in north-west England.  Elizabeth was my grandfather William Smith’s paternal grandmother.  So she was my great-great-grandmother.

Elizabeth Westgarth was born in Gamblesby on April 6, 1797; she was the oldest of three daughters born to John Westgarth and Ann Falder.  Elizabeth’s younger sisters were Mary (born 1802) and Ann (born 1804).  Ann Westgarth died when she was 4 years old so Elizabeth had only one surviving sister.  She had no brothers.

Elizabeth married Lancelot Smith in 1817 and lived much of her life in Gamblesby.  They had ten children while living there.  This is a recent photograph of the house where they lived.

Smith family home Gamblesby

A big change in Elizabeth’s life took place, around 1852, when she, her husband Lancelot Smith and most of their children moved to Ireland to start farming in County Tipperary.  The stories of Lancelot Smith of Gamblesby  and his children are  told in two pages in the Family Stories section of this blog

Elizabeth Westgarth died in Ireland on August 22, 1859, and was buried in the churchyard of the Anglican Church of St. John the Baptist in Cashel, County Tipperary.

This is the only photograph I have of Elizabeth Westgarth; the picture was probably taken in the early- to mid-1850s – maybe around the time when she moved to Ireland with her family.

Elizabeth Westgarth portrait c1852

Elizabeth’s father John Westgarth was a cordwainer, which is to say a shoemaker (this occupation was different than a cobbler who simply mended old shoes).

Elizabeth’s mother Ann Falder was from Unthank, which is a very small community close to Gamblesby.  In historical records from the nineteenth century, it is described as a hamlet within Gamblesby township.  Ann’s father John Falder was a farmer.

John Westgarth was about 37 when he married Ann Falder in December 1795 in the Addingham Parish Church in Glassonby.  He died in 1821 in Gamblesby, aged about 63.  John’s wife Ann died in Gamblesby in 1833.  Both were buried at Addingham Parish Church.

In 1829, Elizabeth’s sister Mary married Thomas Salkeld a yeoman farmer in Gamblesby.  Thomas was considerably older than Mary and he died in 1846, leaving her with two young sons Joseph and Benjamin.  Joseph was apparently not interested in farming and eventually he became a designer of machinery for woollen mills in Yorkshire.  So Benjamin inherited the farming property from his father.  In 1851, he was living with his cousin Lancelot Smith in Gamblesby and with Lancelot’s sister Hannah and brother William.  In the 1851 census, Benjamin was described as a “landed proprietor under trustees”.  He was 17 at the time.

Benjamin continued to live in Gamblesby until he died in 1888 at the age of 55.  In his will, he made bequests to the oldest son and youngest daughter of his cousin Lancelot Smith of Corballis.  To Lancelot Smith of Beaverstown, he bequeathed his gold watch.  And to Sarah Ann (Sally) Smith, he bequeathed the sum of £50; that would be worth about £21,100 in income today.  It seems that Benjamin kept in touch with his Smith cousins after they went to Ireland.

Benjamin’s older brother Joseph was the heir to the Salkeld land in 1888 but I do not know what happened to his inheritance.  Strangely enough, Joseph died in Donabate, County Dublin, in 1898.  I assume he was visiting his cousins the Smiths in Corballis at the time.  Joseph was 67 when he died.  I wonder if he was buried in Donabate.

Neither Joseph nor Benjamin Salkeld was ever married.

To complicate matters, Joseph Salkeld made no will and his estate became the subject of legal action in a case called Varty v. Cowen.  I am hoping some time to discover the details of this case.  I think the Varty in the case could have been Henry Varty (who was related to the Westgarths) and the Cowen could have been Sarah Cowen, Lancelot Smith’s sister who returned to live in Gamblesby after living in Ireland for almost 20 years.

Although Elizabeth Westgarth had only two nephews from her sister’s marriage to a Salkeld, she had numerous relatives through her father John Westgarth.

John was born in 1758 in Gamblesby.  He was the second son of five children born to John Westgarth senior and Sarah Sander.  John Westgarth senior was a yeoman farmer.  Their surviving children were three boys and one girl (another boy called Anthony died as an infant):

  • Thomas (born around 1755)
  • John (born 1758)
  • Anthony (born 1761)
  • Sara (born 1765)

John Westgarth senior’s wife Sarah died in March 1765, shortly after her daughter was born, and he married again in June 1767, this time to Ann Cook.  In his second marriage John Westgarth senior had another eight children, four boys and four girls:

  • William (born 1768)
  • Ann (born 1770)
  • Joseph (born around 1772)
  • Margaret (born 1774)
  • Elizabeth (born 1776)
  • Frances (born around 1779)
  • George (born 1782)
  • Isaac (born 1785)

Thanks to her grandfather’s large family (assuming all the children survived to adulthood), Elizabeth Westgarth had six uncles and five aunts.  By my count from parish records, Elizabeth had 19 Westgarth cousins plus an unknown number of cousins who were children of her Westgarth aunts.

There were so many Westgarths in the community of Gamblesby in the late eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth century that I had some difficulty in sorting out which family was which when looking at church records, censuses and local directories.  For example, when Elizabeth was born in April 1797 there were two girl cousins also born around the same time.  All three Westgarth girls were baptised on the same day in April 1797 at the Addingham Parish Church at Glassonby.  Another complication was the fact that the same forenames were used time and again – and no one had a second forename.  So there were lots of Westgarth girls called Elizabeth, Sarah, Mary and Ann.  The Westgarth boys were usually called Thomas, John, Anthony, and William.

The cordwainer John Westgarth had two full brothers, Thomas, the oldest son, and Anthony, the third son.  Between them they had nine children, eight of them girls.  The sole boy, Thomas died at the age of six.

John’s four half-brothers had 13 children, eight of them boys.  As far as I can tell, several of John’s brothers and nephews continued to farm in Gamblesby or nearby communities.  In 1829, there were three Westgarths who were yeomen in Gamblesby: Thomas, William and George.  I believe Thomas Westgarth was John’s older brother and the other two yeomen were his younger half-brothers.

In an 1847 county directory, there was only one yeoman listed in Gamblesby for the Westgarths: Thomas Westgarth.  Most likely, he was the son of William Westgarth and, therefore, one of Elizabeth’s cousins.  John’s youngest half-brother Isaac Westgarth was a cordwainer and shopkeeper by that time.  Other Westgarths could have been farming in the Gamblesby area but it is difficult to be sure about that.

Tracing the Westgarths further back using church records, John Westgarth senior was born in 1724 and died in 1794 in Gamblesby.  John senior’s father was Thomas Westgarth and he also was from Gamblesby.  Thomas was born around 1686 but I do not know when he died.  Thomas’s father may have been another John Westgarth.  It seems the Westgarths were living in Gamblesby as far back as one can trace in church records.

Looking at the family of Elizabeth Westgarth’s mother, the Falders, they too were living in the Gamblesby area – specifically in Unthank – for a long time.

Elizabeth’s mother Ann Falder was born in Unthank in 1760 and she was the youngest child of John Falder and Elizabeth Watson.  John Falder was born in 1719 in Unthank.  John and Elizabeth were married in the Addingham Parish Church in Glassonby in 1746 and they had five children.

John Falder’s father was also called John Falder, from Unthank.

Following is a pedigree chart for Elizabeth Westgarth that shows what I have learned so far about her ancestors in Gamblesby and Unthank, Cumberland.

Elizabeth Westgarth pedigree

Posted in Falder, Families, Gamblesby, Photographs, Salkeld, Smith, Tipperary, Westgarth | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Upcoming Topics – September 2012

In April of this year I posted a list of topics I hoped to cover in the following weeks.  It actually took me almost six months to cover SOME of the topics on that list!

This is an updated list of the upcoming topics to keep you aware of where I am going with this blog.  My intention is to publish as much as possible of the information I have and then to continue searching for more and better information.  Most of the posts have been about the Smiths in Ireland; I am gradually coming to the end of that aspect of the family tree.  Most of the upcoming topics will be about the Smiths before they moved from Cumberland to Ireland and about the Smiths who stayed in Cumberland.

If you have looked at the blog’s layout, you will have realized that I am using the top menu as a means to provide a lot of information that should not change much (unless I have got it all wrong).  So I have created a number of static pages in the sections called “Family Stories” and “Family Trees”.  I consider these pages as providing basic information about the Smith family, focusing on the male line as far back as we can go at present.  There is no doubt much more I can learn about the Smiths from doing additional archival research.  But this is what I know or believe now.  I will update the pages and add new pages as I need to and will post a message to let you know what was changed.

Posts are usually shorter than pages and they cover topics that will probably change over time and will include different perspectives in response to your comments.  All the posts are found at

Comments are always welcome because they will help me to improve the information on the blog.  They will also help me to focus on the topics that are of interest to you.  I have my own ideas of what is interesting but that doesn’t mean you will agree.  Maybe there is a topic you are longing to know about and I haven’t mentioned it yet.  Please let me know what it is!

Meantime, to give you an idea of what else will be on the blog soon, here is my current list of the topics to be covered in new posts (not necessarily in this order):

  • Miss Going of Monaquill
  • The Mounseys of Tipperary
  • Elizabeth Westgarth and her family in Gamblesby
  • Hannah Huddart, Methodism and her Gamblesby roots
  • The Smiths of Cumberland after 1850
  • The Hardys of Park Head
  • The Mortons of Gamblesby and Melmerby

I will update this list periodically in response to your suggestions and in light of new information I come across.

Posted in Families, Gamblesby, Melmerby, Tipperary, Topics | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Thomas Brindley and the Smiths

This blog is, of course, about the Smiths who moved to Ireland in the early 1850s from Cumberland.  But – of course – there are numerous other families that link into the Smiths in Ireland and England.

One of the more interesting connections I have found recently is with the Brindleys from Cheshire.

I need to start with Thomas Brindley who owned a farm in Poynton, on the edge of a coal-mining area close to the border with Derbyshire.  Thomas was born in 1799 in the parish of Marple, Cheshire.  By 1841, Thomas and his second wife Hannah Smith (no relation to our Smiths) were living on the farm in Poynton with nine children.

These photographs of Hannah and Thomas Brindley were taken around 1870.

In 1850, Thomas took the tenancy of a farm of 300 acres in Ballysheehan townland, County Tipperary, about 5 miles northeast of Cashel.  I assume the whole family came with him because there are no Brindleys recorded in the 1851 census in Poynton.  Thomas continued to have electoral rights in Cheshire because of his land ownership there.

Mary Ann Brindley was the second daughter in the family and she has some significance for the Smiths (eventually).  Mary Ann married John Nicholson in Cashel in 1856.  The Nicholsons had at least three children: William born in 1857, George born in 1860 and Alexander born in 1862.  I don’t know where the two elder boys were born but Alexander was born at Ballysheehan – where his grandfather was farming.

Caroline Brindley was the second youngest daughter and she also has significance for the Smiths.  In 1864, Caroline married William Smith who was living in London working at HM Customs but presumably visiting his family in Rathcoun, County Tipperary, where they had settled in the early 1850s.  There is no doubt in my mind that the Brindleys and Smiths were well known to each other before 1864.  (Thomas Brindley was one of the witnesses at the marriage of Hannah Smith and Joseph Backhouse in Cashel in 1859.)

Caroline moved to London after her marriage to William Smith.  Caroline and William had one son, Hubert William Smith.  Some time after 1864, Thomas Brindley, with his wife and probably several of his unmarried children, moved back to Cheshire.

In 1870, Eliza Brindley, the youngest daughter was married in the Macclesfield area to Cyrus Slater, who was from Cheshire.  So some of the Brindleys moved back to Cheshire probably no later than 1869.

In 1871, Thomas was living in Cheshire on a rented farm in Gawsworth with his wife Hannah, son Francis and three Tipperary-born grandchildren: Annie Brindley, Thomas Brindley and William Nicholson.  Thomas Brindley (the grandfather) died in Gawsworth in 1875.  His son Francis and his descendants continued to farm in the Gawsworth area.

In 1881, Alexander Nicholson was living in Banbury, Oxfordshire, working as a mechanical engineer’s draughtsman.  Ten years later, in 1891, Alexander (known as Alex) married Agnes Hannah Smith in Donabate, County Dublin.  Although the family of Lancelot Smith had moved in 1871 from Rathcoun, County Tipperary, to Corballis, County Dublin, the links with the families they had known in Tipperary were obviously still very strong.

In 1895, Alexander John Nicholson (known as Jack) was born at Blackhall while his father was in Australia selling farm machinery.  His mother Agnes Hannah was staying with her brother William Smith at Blackhall.  I assume her older son Ernest was with her there during her stay.  (Jack’s older brother Ernest and his two younger sisters were all born in England.)

In the 1911 census, Mary Ann Nicholson, then aged 82 and listing herself as a Methodist, was living with her son George and his family at Ballysheehan.  So it seems to me the Ballysheehan property was transferred from Thomas Brindley to the Nicholsons when Thomas returned to Cheshire some time in the mid to late 1860s.  It also seems to me the Brindleys – and maybe also the Nicholsons – were Methodists.  The next generation listed themselves as Church of Ireland, as happened also in the Smith family.

In 1913, Cyrus Slater died in Bramhall, Cheshire, where he and his wife Eliza had lived since their marriage.  They had no children, as far as I know.  Cyrus was a corn dealer and obviously did extremely well because his estate was worth over £90,000.  One of his executors was William Thomas Nicholson, cashier.

So, although Thomas Brindley was in Ireland for less than 20 years, his decision to move there in 1850 had an effect on the future lives of the Smiths, through two marriages:

In 1864, William Smith of HM Customs married Caroline Brindley (Thomas Brindley’s daughter) in Ballysheehan parish church.

In 1891, Agnes Hannah Smith (William’s niece) married Alexander Nicholson (Caroline’s nephew and Thomas Brindley’s grandson) in Donabate parish church.

Both Agnes Hannah Smith and Alexander Nicholson were cousins of Hubert William Smith – although not cousins to each other.

Following is a chart showing the relationships between Brindleys, Smiths and Nicholsons that I have been describing in this post.

Posted in Brindley, Cashel, Corballis, Nicholson, Photographs, Smith | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Thomas Brindley and the Smiths

Priscilla Kent

This post is about Priscilla Kent, who was the mother of Elizabeth (Eliza) Upton and the maternal grandmother of William Smith of Blackhall.  Therefore, she is my great-great-grandmother (2x great-grandmother).

I am adding this post to my blog even though Priscilla was not a Smith at any stage of her life.  Looking into the Kent family tree has given me a better idea about the depth of our family’s roots in Tipperary.  In doing the research I have had to locate a lot of unfamiliar townland and parish names and become aware of where the baronies of Upper and Lower Ormond are (in the north-west of the county, near Lough Derg).  Relying almost entirely on sources available on the internet is not satisfactory.  To search all sources will require more visits to Ireland to look at the records there – although the searches I have done so far have not been very productive.

Priscilla Kent died in 1874 so I have no direct knowledge of her life – let alone knowing anything about her personally.  I have no photographs of her either.  Despite that, I want to post an item about the Kent family and what I know about Priscilla’s ancestors in Ireland because they are also Eliza Upton’s ancestors – and, therefore, mine as well.

As I explained in my post about Eliza Upton, 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 the Tipperary parishes that are of interest are difficult to access or not available, and civil registration of births, marriages and deaths did not begin until 1864 – far too late to help with most of the people I am interested in here.

I don’t know much about the Kents.  Much of what I have learned about them has come from a family tree sketched out by someone in the family – possibly by Eliza Upton, Priscilla’s daughter.  Starting from that chart, I have found some more information but the picture is still very incomplete.

This chart is wonderful to have and one can hope that most of the information it contains is correct but there is probably no way to corroborate a lot of it.  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 dates so, by and large, I have had to guess when people were born but could be completely wrong.  Dates of death are even harder to estimate.

Some of the people in the family tree chart are identified as having emigrated.   The lack of any mention on the chart about where most of the people lived suggests to me that they probably stayed in Ireland.

Some of what I know about the Kents 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 male although widows and other women living alone would be listed if they were the landlord or primary tenant.  However, for most households, only one person was named.  So 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 on birthdates, 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.  Another 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.

A third type of source that has been somewhat helpful is the national directory.  There were two directories published in the 1800s that I have used: the 1824 Pigot’s Directory and the 1856 Slater’s Directory.  Both of them include some information about Tipperary.  The directories list prominent people of the time, usually focused on gentry, clergy and tradesmen in the towns but also could include landowners and farmers in the counties.  Sometimes you can be lucky enough to find a reference to one of the people in your family tree.  The later the date of a directory, the wider is its inclusion of people from  different classes.

A fourth source that I have used is the list of freeholders in Tipperary in 1776.  This list was required at the time to determine who could vote in elections but it can also be useful for genealogical research – up to a point.  The list is good for identifying landlords, usually showing where they lived and where they owned property (often different places).  But there is no listing for tenant farmers or tradesmen who did not own property.

In addition to the above sources, I have also found small bits of information in on-line genealogy databases.  There is probably more information to be found that way.

Despite these difficulties of information-gathering, the summary below is what I know so far and what I am guessing about Priscilla Kent, her siblings and her paternal ancestors.

Below is a simplified version of the Kent family tree, starting from Eliza Upton at the bottom and going backwards in time to Eliza’s great-grandfather Thomas Kent of Millbrook, my 4x great-grandfather.

Priscilla Kent was the mother of Eliza Upton, the second of her four children.  Her husband, William Upton, was an apothecary in Cashel who died when he was only in his mid-30s.

From civil registration records, I know that Priscilla Kent died in 1874 in Balrothery (i.e., Donabate), County Dublin at the age of 73.  Therefore she was born around 1801.  Priscilla was probably living with her daughter Eliza in Corballis, County Dublin, at the time of her death.  She is listed on the same gravestone as that for Eliza Smith in the Donabate Anglican church graveyard.

Priscilla Kent was one of 12 or 13 children born to Randal Kent and Eliza Sharp.  Priscilla was one of the younger children in the large family.  I don’t have any information on where she was born or where she lived before she was married.  A couple of her siblings had wonderful first names: Aquila (also written as Aquilla) and Loveday.  Unusual forenames are useful to the family history researcher because the people who have them are easier to find in the archival records.

The list of children in the family is given in the chart as: Thomas, Aquila, Phoebe, Margaret, Anne, Eliza, Susan, Mary Jane (I am not sure if this is one daughter or two), Priscilla, Hannah, Loveday and Randal.  They are probably listed in birth order although that cannot be confirmed.  I am fairly sure at least one child – Hannah – is out of place.  Based on the birth dates I could find, I think the children were born between 1783 and 1807.  That is assuming no other children died young and that there were about two years between each birth – two big assumptions.

In looking at the names of the older children, I am not sure if the parents followed the traditional naming pattern.  They probably named their oldest son Thomas after his paternal grandfather Thomas Kent of Millbrook.  However, the second son Aquila on the chart should have been named after his maternal grandfather but I do not think that was the case.  Maybe he was named for an older brother of his father’s (not on the original chart).  It is possible that Aquila was the third son and the second son died as an infant.

If the Kents had followed the traditional naming pattern, then the third child Phoebe was probably named after her maternal grandmother, who is not identified on the chart at all.  The fourth child, Margaret, could have been named for her paternal grandmother who is only identified on the chart as “Miss Going”.  My guess is her name was Margaret Going but I have no evidence for this yet.  (I will be adding a separate post about Miss Going and her family later on.)

Although I have the names of the Kent children, the family tree chart does not say anything about the four oldest.  There is some information about the next four or five daughters but I could not confirm any of it.  Anne Kent was one of three Kent children who emigrated to Pittsburg with their families.   Anne and her husband Henry Durban had two children: Henry and Margaret.  I have not found them in any U.S. Census and I don’t know when they emigrated or where exactly they settled.  Pittsburg was a popular destination for Irish emigrants because of the industrial development in that area gave them plenty of economic opportunities.

The next daughter Eliza was obviously named after her mother Eliza Sharp (and I think Eliza Upton was also named after Eliza Sharp, who was her grandmother).  Eliza Kent married a William Ryal (or possibly Ryall) and had two children, John and Elizabeth.  I don’t know where they lived.

The fifth daughter Susan is listed as marrying a man called Hamilton and that is all we are told.

The sixth daughter may have been called Mary Jane or possibly that is two different daughters.  At any rate, Mary, Jane or Mary Jane married a William Smith and had six children.  The name Aquila appears again in this family.  Aquila Smith emigrated to Australia.  One would think that having a name like Aquila Smith would make it easy to find him but I have not been able to do so yet in the Australian records.

Skipping over Priscilla, we come to Hannah Kent, who married Pilkington Commins of King’s County (now Offaly).  Hannah was born around 1807 and her husband around 1808.  I think Hannah was actually the youngest in her family.  Hannah and Pilkington had at least 5 children: Eliza, Pilkington, Henry, Daniel and Rebecca.  Hannah and Pilkington were probably married in the late 1830s; their children’s birth years – when known – are from the 1840s.  In the 1854 Griffith’s Valuation records for King’s County, there is a Pilkington Commins who was renting about 80 acres from the Earl of Digby in the Parish of Gleashill, Cappancur townland.  There were other Commins in the area as well.  Cappancur is near Tullamore, in which town Pilkington was also renting and owning property on Charles Street.  One daughter, Elizabeth Pilkington Commins, emigrated to the State of Victoria, Australia, where she was married in 1864 to Thomas George Odlum.  Interestingly, there were Odlums in Cappancur in 1854 so one could assume this Odlum or his family was known to the Commins family.

According to the chart, three of the Priscilla’s siblings emigrated to Pittsburg with their families – Anne, Loveday and Randal.  I have already mentioned Anne so here is what I know about the other two emigrants.

Loveday Kent and her husband John Petty had 12 children, according to the family tree chart.  Loveday was born around 1803 in Ireland; John Petty was born around 1809, also in Ireland.  They were married in Ireland in 1830 and had two children there: Margaret and Thomas.  John Petty travelled by ship to New York in 1836; his wife and children must have come soon afterwards.  The family was living in Hartford, Connecticut in the 1840 U.S. census, which also showed there were three more children born there: Mary, George and Loveday.  The family then moved to Pittsburgh where they had three more children before 1850: Robert, John and Emma.  In the U.S. Census of 1850, John Petty, his wife Loveday and 8 children were living in Alleghany County, Pennsylvania, where he was employed as a rope-maker.  In 1860, the family was still living in Allegheny County, PA, now with two additional children (giving a total of 10).  By this time, father John Petty was recorded as being employed as a clerk.  Although the Kent family tree shows that the Pettys had 12 children altogether, possibly two of them died young so they did not appear in the U.S. censuses.  I did not find the Petty family in the 1870 U.S. Census.

The third member of the Kent family that emigrated to Pittsburgh was Randal Kent who was born around 1805 in Ireland.  He was the youngest son in the family and was presumably named after his father.  His wife Elizabeth (surname unknown) was also born in Ireland around 1815.  Their eldest child Anna Kent was born around 1834 so I assume her parents were married in 1833 or earlier.  There were five children born in Ireland and then two more children born in Pittsburgh after 1845.  One could assume this family emigrated at the start of the Great Famine years.  In 1850, Randal Kent and his family were recorded in the U.S. Census as living in Alleghany County, Pennsylvania, where Randal was a clerk.  Several other families in the same street were also from Ireland.  By 1860, the family was still in Alleghany County and Randal was then employed as a bookkeeper.  The family tree chart states that Randal and his wife had 12 children.  I don’t know that from the U.S. Census data; they certainly had seven children.

It is clear from these descriptions that the Kents who emigrated were not well-off or highly educated although they did manage to get non-manual jobs over time.

Going back another generation to Priscilla’s parents, I don’t know when Randal Kent was born although I am guessing it was around 1760.  I also don’t know where he lived or how he earned his living.  The only on-line records that might have helped are from 1776 (the freeholders list), 1824 (Pigot’s Directory) and the early 1850s (Griffith).  Randal Kent does not appear in the 1776 list (he would have been too young).  I did not find his name in the 1824 Pigot’s Directory for Tipperary although he could have been living in a neighbouring county.  And he does not appear in Griffith’s Valuation; if I have his birth year roughly right, he would be unlikely to be still alive at that time.  Church records may be the only hope and, even then, I would need to know the parish where his parents were living when he was born and where he was living when he was married.

The Griffith’s Valuation records were not a complete loss for the Kents, however.  Also, there are Poor Relief records for 1842 that are useful.  In the 1842 Poor Relief records, I found a Thomas Kent, owner and occupier of land at Carrownaglogh, which is near Terryglass in Lower Ormond.  In the 1852 Griffith’s Valuation records, I found Thomas Kent, tenant farmer, in Lower Ormond in the townlands of Carrownaglogh and Ballyhaugh, both in Lower Ormond.  Could this have been Priscilla’s oldest brother?  Or was this the son of Priscilla’s uncle Thomas?  It is impossible to tell without church records to help to establish who were his parents.  My guess is that Priscilla’s brother Thomas was born in 1783 so he could still have been farming in 1852.

Whoever Thomas Kent the farmer was, I believe it was some of his descendants who were still living in Carrownaglogh near Terryglass in 1901 and 1911, according to those censuses.  In the census years, the farmer was George F. Kent.

The family tree chart says that Randal Kent had an older brother called Thomas.  He may have had other brothers (and sisters) but we are not told about them.  As I mentioned earlier, I think Randal may have had an older brother called Aquila.  There is no indication of where the forename of Randal came from.  (It was carried on in later generations; my grandfather’s youngest brother was named Joseph Randal Smith.)

I don’t have any information on Randal Kent’s wife Eliza Sharp.  I don’t know where she was born or who her parents were.  We are told that the surname was most common in County Cavan in the mid-19th century.  The name was more common in Ulster counties than in the rest of the country.

The family tree chart tells us that Randal Kent’s parents were Thomas Kent of Millbrook and a Miss Going of Monaquill.  Having the place names is extremely useful.  Both these places are townlands about 6 miles (10 km) south east of Nenagh, County Tipperary.  In fact, the townlands are very close together – about 1.5 miles (2.5 km) apart – in the Parish of Kilnaneave, Upper Ormond.

Estimating that Randal Kent was born around 1760 as the second or third son, I am guessing that his father Thomas Kent was married to Miss Going a few years before that, possibly 1755.  On the basis of that latter date, I have estimated that Thomas Kent senior was born around 1733 and Miss Going around 1734.  I don’t know where this Thomas Kent was born.  Nor do I know how he earned his living.  He is not listed in the 1776 freeholders list so I am guessing he was a tenant farmer.  Again, only church records could help to identify who he was and, possibly, where his parents were from – if I knew which parish to search in and if the parish records are accessible.

There were two Kents listed in the 1776 freeholders list for Tipperary so some Kents were identifiable as landowners at that time.  The Kent freeholders were:

  • Aquila Kent, living at Killaloe with property in Inchigrina West (possibly Ballylina West?); and
  • William Kent, living at Lisduff with property in Ballyhough (Ballyhaugh).

Here is the name Aquila Kent again.  It is such an unusual name that I feel he must be connected to the Kents in our family tree who were also given that forename.  But I don’t know what the connection is.  The location of his property is a little difficult to determine since I could not find any townland called Inchigrina West.  If the right name is Ballylina West, that is a townland a few miles east of Borrisokane in the Parish of Uskane.   William Kent had his property at Ballyhaugh, in the Parish of Aglishclohane, about 4 km (less than 3 miles) north of Aquila Kent’s property.  Were these two men related?  Both properties are in Lower Ormond.  That is the area where Thomas Kent could be found as a farmer in the 1840s and 1850s and is also the area where George Kent was living as a land-owner and tenant farmer in the early 1900s.  I think all these Kents are connected.  It would be nice to be able to prove that.

However, none of the information above helps to explain what Thomas Kent senior was doing in the 1750s when he lived at Millbrook townland.  That is in the Parish of Kilnaneave in Upper Ormond.

There are still a lot of questions around Thomas Kent of Millbrook and his son Randal Kent and about how they earned their living.  I don’t think they were landowners and they don’t seem to have been townspeople either.  They were probably tenant farmers.

Kents were numerous in Ireland in the 19th century, particularly in the counties of Wexford, Tipperary and Cork.  The name can be traced back to the 13th century in County Meath.

The Kents in our family tree were in Tipperary from at least the middle of the 18th century, probably earlier.

So, on the basis of rather limited information so far, we can say that some of Priscilla Kent’s ancestors were living in Tipperary in the 1750s.  This was about 100 years before our Smith ancestors arrived in Ireland.

Posted in Cashel, Going, Kent, Nenagh, Tipperary, Upton | Tagged , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

William Bayly Upton

(Updated November 17, 2017)

William Bayly Upton was the paternal grandfather of Eliza Upton, who was my great-grandmother. So William Bayly Upton was my 3X great-grandfather. I do not know where he was born but, as far as I can tell, he lived for most of his life in Cashel, County Tipperary.

William Bayly Upton and his wife Margaret McClure had eight children, of whom William Upton was in the middle.  There were five boys and three girls.

This is a hand-written chart of the Upton family, probably prepared by Eliza Upton and handed on to her Smith descendants:

And here is a chart that I have put together based on the above and on what I have been able to find during my researches:

Upton Family tree as of Nov 17, 2017

I have no firm information on the two oldest sons, Christopher and Samuel, although William Henry Upton, author of a very interesting book about Upton family history, says they were “officers in  Col. McGregor’s regiment, raised in England to serve against the Spaniards in the Peruvian war for independence, and were both killed in that war about 1820-2.” The book was published in 1893.

The third son William Upton married Priscilla Kent and had four children, of whom the second daughter Eliza Upton married Lancelot Smith. I do not know anything about the lives of Eliza’s two brothers William and Randal or about her sister Margaret; I believe they all died young. William Upton died in 1836 at the age of about 35, leaving his widow Priscilla to bring up four young children. Again I have no confirmation of this but I assume that William Bayly Upton supported this family after his son’s death.

William’s younger brother David Upton married Mary Gilbert and they had three children: William Bayly, Matthew Gilbert and Fanny (probably Frances).  David died suddenly in 1846 at the age of about 40. His widow Mary emigrated to America with two of her three children: Fanny and Matthew. Later, in America, David’s son Matthew Gilbert Upton became a newspaper editor in San Francisco and had a son called William Bayly Upton (1856-1916). He in turn had a son called William Bayly Upton Jr. (1892-1971)  and on to the next generation of William Bayly Upton III (1929-1984) but the male line has ended there because the last of these had no children as far as I know.

The youngest son Bayly Upton, born in 1807, is still a mystery. I believe he was unmarried. He died in 1852.

All three of William Bayly Upton’s daughters married in Cashel and had children. The information I have about them is in the post about Eliza Upton.

I don’t know what significance there was in the continued use of Bayly as a second name (and even a first name in one instance) for Upton sons.  The name of Bayly is not common in Ireland – there were only 57 mentions of “Bayley”  or “Bayly” in Griffith’s Valuation compared to 428 mentions of “Bailey”.  The Bayleys were not concentrated in any particular region or county; the biggest numbers were in counties Down, Dublin and Tipperary.  Possibly the mother or grandmother of William Bayly Upton was a Bayly.

The Baylys in Tipperary had significant land holdings at the time of Griffith’s Valuation in that county in 1849.  They seem to have lived in the Nenagh area but owned property there and elsewhere.  I find it interesting that one of the Baylys – John Bayly Esq. – owned the land, houses and other buildings in the townland of Rathcoun, where the Smiths went to live a few years later.  The same John Bayly also owned farmland in Shanballyduff townland in 1849 where Lancelot Smith later rented a second farm.  John Bayly sold those properties to Charles Thiebault in 1857 after the Smiths had arrived.

William Bayly Upton was, among other things, an apothecary.  In Pigot’s Directory of Ireland published in 1824, there is a listing in Cashel for “Upton, Wm Bayly, Main St., Apothecaries & Chemist & Druggist”.  Listings in old directories give the person’s name (surname first), where they lived or worked, and their occupational category or social status.  Only people of some prominence are listed in the earliest directories like this one.

Looking at Pigot’s Directory for other 1824 listings in Tipperary, this was an entry I found for Clonmel:
“Upton, Wm. Bayly, Johnston-st, Printers (general & proprietor of the Clonmel Herald, published on Wednesdays and Saturdays)”

This is the same William Bayly Upton.

The Clonmel Herald was published from 1813 to 1841. I don’t know if William Bayly Upton was the proprietor for that entire time but believe so. The newspaper was regarded as the mouthpiece for very Conservative political views; the Tipperary Free Press referred to it as “one the most ultra organs of Conservatism ever published in this country”.

In Slater’s Directory of Ireland for 1856, there are two William Bayly Uptons listed in Cashel: “Upton, William Bailey, 95 Main st, Apothecaries” and “Upton, William Bailey, Esq., Friar st, Nobility, Gentry & Clergy”.  From this information, I do not conclude that Mr Upton was suddenly elevated to the peerage but that he had retired.  If my estimate of his birthdate is right, he would have been almost 80 years old in 1855 when the information was collected for the Directory.  Both entries in the Directory refer to the same person; one was his business and the other gives his home address.

From searching in Griffith’s Valuation records, it is clear that my 3X great-grandfather William Bayly Upton owned many houses and plots of land in the town of Cashel in the 1850s.  Since this was just after the Great Famine, the ownership of many of the properties may have been more of a burden than a passport to wealth and it appears from Griffith’s Valuation and later valuation records that many of the houses the Uptons owned in the town were derelict or close to uninhabitable. However, William Bayly Upton seems to have had other sources of wealth. Family historian W.H. Upton described him in this way (on page 368 of his book):

“He was a physician, but in later years did not practice his profession. He owned much town property in Cashel, and was proprietor and editor of the Clonmel ‘Herald’, published apparently for recreation. He is described as a man of profound learning, interested in Biblical studies, master of seventeen languages, and possessed of a library which cost £10,000.”

William Bayly Upton died in January 1863 in Cashel aged 86. His death notice was published in the Cork Examiner and other local newspapers of the time. His wife Margaret had already died in April 1850 in Cashel at the age of 74.

William Bayly Upton sounds like a really interesting person. It must have been sad for him that all five of his sons died before he and his wife Margaret had died.

Another question that I would like to answer is who were William Bayly Upton’s parents. If the naming pattern of his children is any guide (and it is not always reliable), his father’s name may have been Christopher Upton – the name given to his eldest son. Possibly his mother’s name was Rebecca.


Posted in Cashel, Cork, Tipperary, Upton | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on William Bayly Upton

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.

Posted in Cashel, Charters, Corballis, Kent, Magrath, Photographs, Ryall, Smith, Tipperary, Upton | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Agnes McSymon Anderson

In writing this blog about the family history of my Smith ancestors I do not want to neglect the various “Mrs. Smiths” that married into the family.  Of course, the farther back in time that I look, the less I know about the Mrs. Smiths of earlier generations.  Nevertheless, they contributed to the gene pool that the descendants of William Smith of Blackhall all share so they deserve some attention.

In the Smith family, as far as I can tell, most of my ancestors were English or of English origin.  Before 1860, the Smiths were 100% English, specifically from the Cumberland Fells.  It was only after my line of the Smiths moved to Ireland in the 1850s that anything changed, although not a lot at first.  When the Smiths started to marry in Ireland, they selected spouses who were also English, such as Backhouse and Brindley, or had English forebears, such as Upton.  In my grandfather’s generation, the Smiths married people called Mounsey, Nicholson and Hodgins – all born in Ireland but of English origin, I believe.  My grandfather William Smith’s wife came from a different country.

Agnes McSymon Anderson was 100% Scottish – and proud of it.  All her life she retained her Scottish accent although it was not particularly pronounced.  She was always Scottish – never Scotch, which was too closely tied to whisky in her mind and she disapproved of alcohol.She was fond of wearing jewellery made of Scottish gemstones and I remember she had at one time a pair of grey leather gloves lined with the Anderson tartan.  I thought that was very smart (I was probably about 6 years old at the time).

Agnes married William Smith of Blackhall in April 1905 (see the page for “William Smith 1867-1946” in the Family Stories section.)  I believe she is the most “exotic” person in our particular Smith family tree.

This is my grandmother as an old lady, much as I remember her from my childhood.  I do remember her quite well from her visits to my family home and our visits to see her after my grandfather died.  I think all her grandchildren were old enough to have memories of her as well.  I would appreciate them pointing out any errors of recollection  that I have made in this post.

Agnes was born in May 1878 in the Royal Burgh of Dumbarton, which is on the northern bank of the River Clyde, downriver from Glasgow in Scotland.  Dumbarton is a very old town, strategically placed on the Clyde to control the area, and was a Royal Burgh from the 13th century until 1975.  The population in Dumbarton in 1881 was about 14,000.  At that time, Dumbarton had several shipyards, foundries and related industries although those industries died out after the Second World War and were replaced by whisky distilleries.  Grandma would not have approved.

I have been told that Agnes was known as Ada for much of her life.  She was the only surviving daughter of William Duncan Anderson and Margaret Livingston Roy.  Her father was a schoolmaster who taught writing and music in his early teaching career and later on was the headmaster of a large school in Dumbarton.

The Anderson family lived at 112 High Street in Dumbarton for many years.  Ada had two older brothers: James Wilson Anderson (born in 1873) and Robert Proudfoot Roy Anderson (born in 1875).  Ada also had a younger sister Elizabeth (Bessie) who was born in 1880 but who died at the age of 8 from a fall.  There were other children born in the family but none of them survived infancy.

This is a picture of a school class in which Ada is seated in the middle of the group.  She had straight dark hair, cut very short.  Apparently this kind of hairstyle was quite common for young girls in the 1880s.  Ada’s head is marked with a circle.

The photograph above on the left is a formal portrait of Ada as a girl of about 8 or 9 years of age.  I am not quite sure what was done to her hair but it looks as though they tried to make it curly on the top.

Above on the right is a formal portrait of Ada’s mother Margaret Livingston Roy Anderson, probably taken around 1885.  I don’t have an equivalent picture of Ada’s father.

For some reason, the Anderson family spent summer holidays on the island of Gigha (pronounced “Ghee-a”) on the Southern Hebrides.  I don’t know why the Andersons picked this place to visit because – as far as I know – neither of Ada’s parents had any family connection with Gigha.  At that time, the island would have been even more isolated than it is now although the population  – largely Gaelic-speaking – would have been somewhat larger than today.  I think it was while staying on Gigha that Ada developed an interest in Scottish Gaelic culture.  She did learn some Scottish Gaelic language.

Ada was musical, probably inheriting this talent from her father, who encouraged her to develop her interests in the arts.  She played the piano and enjoyed the social life of a smallish town as she grew up, at a time when Dumbarton was quite separate from Glasgow, the nearest city.

Both of Ada’s brothers became ministers in the Free Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) and I believe they both joined the United Free Church of Scotland as soon as that was formed in 1900.  Around that date, Ada’s brother James was appointed as the minister of the United Free Church of Scotland in Kilchattan Bay, on the Isle of Bute.  For several years, Ada lived with him there as his housekeeper and took an active part in the small social circle available to her as well as in the church.  Meantime her brother Robert (known as Roy for much of his life) was living in Brechin, in the County of Angus.  I don’t know if he was appointed as a minister there or was still an assistant minister.  (By 1911, Robert was a minister in the United Free Church of Scotland in Muthill, Perthshire, and he remained for at least 10 years.  After that, although I don’t know the date, he became the minister in charge of a Church of Scotland mission to seamen in Italy, where he lived with his family near Rome.)

This interesting photograph – a little bit murky but viewable – was in a photograph album that had belonged to Ada and which she brought with her to Ireland.  When I first saw this picture I had very little idea of who were the people in it although I thought Ada was there.  Further thought and some discussions with cousins have enabled me to be (fairly) sure of the identity of the people shown and their relationship to Ada Anderson.  I don’t know where the picture was taken but I think it was in Dumbarton, probably in the garden of the Anderson family’s home.  I think the date was around 1901.

In the back row from left to right are: Robert Anderson (brother), James Anderson (brother), William Anderson (father), Margaret Anderson (mother), Robert Roy (uncle), William Strang (cousin’s husband).  Standing in front of Robert and James Anderson are two of the sons of William and Agnes Strang; the older boy on the left is Ian Strang.

The four women seated in the middle row, from left to right are: Rita Roy (cousin), Ada Anderson, Agnes Strang, nee Rogerson (cousin) and Margaret Roy (uncle’s wife).

The three children seated on the ground are also the children of William and Agnes Strang.  The girl on the left is Nancy Strang.

The Strang family lived in London where William Strang was a well-known and successful artist.  So I think the reason for the photograph was probably because of the Strang family’s visit to Dumbarton combined with the presence of all the Anderson family together and the family of Robert Roy visiting from Falkirk (his son Bertie is not in the picture so I am guessing he is the person who took the photograph).  Both William Strang and his wife were from Dumbarton and probably visited there fairly often.  Their daughter Nancy was born in Dumbarton although all her older brothers were born in London.

In 1903, Ada went on a visit to stay with her McCulloch cousins in Dublin.  (These were second cousins, related to her through her grandmother Nancy McSymon Roy.)  While there, she met other McCulloch cousins in Gerrardstown, County Dublin, who were good friends of William Smith of Blackhall.  Within a few weeks of meeting, they became engaged.  Ada’s mother was quite upset to find out her only daughter had decided to marry an Irishman.  But she was mollified when she met William and thought he was wonderful.  And the rest is (family) history. ….

Ada and William Smith were married in Dumbarton United Free Church in April 1905.  Ada’s younger cousin and Margaret (Rita) Roy was her bridesmaid.  Rita was the daughter of Ada’s uncle Robert Roy.  Rita Roy and William’s brother John Smith were the witnesses at the wedding.

Not to digress too far from the story of Ada’s life, I would like to give you some information about her parents and her grandparents.

Ada’s father William Duncan Anderson was born in Linlithgow in West Lothian in June 1845.  His family moved about two miles north to Bo’ness, West Lothian, on the Firth of Forth when William was a small child.  He was the youngest of six children of James Anderson and Elizabeth Wilson.  By the age of 15, he was working as a pupil teacher in Bo’ness.  William received his teacher training for two years at Edinburgh Free Church Training College, where he completed his studies in December 1865.  By 1867 he was teaching writing and music at the Dumbarton Burgh Academy.  He stayed there until 1875.

The above picture was taken in 1875 while William Anderson was still teaching at the Burgh Academy.  He is the bearded man in the back row.

In September 1875 William Anderson started teaching at the West Bridgend Academy, a board school to which he was appointed first as senior teacher, then as headmaster.  The school was a very large elementary school with about 700 pupils.  He continued teaching at the Bridgend school until he retired.  He died in November 1918.

Ada’s mother Margaret Livingston Roy was the younger daughter of Robert Roy, a baker in Dumbarton for many years.  I have been told he became a burgh councillor.  Robert Roy was born in Renton, a village about a mile north of Dumbarton, in May 1818 and died in Dumbarton in June 1909.

In the 1841 census, Robert was working as baker and living in the household of Archibald McSymon in the High Street in Dumbarton.  By 1851, Robert had taken over the business – and married the baker’s youngest sister Agnes McSymon, who was known as Nancy.

This is a studio photograph of Nancy McSymon Roy as an old lady.  The photograph was probably taken around 1875.  She died in 1877.  I have no other photographs of her.

Robert and Nancy had three children: Mary, Margaret and Robert (sometimes known as Robert Jr. to distinguish him from his father).  Mary Roy married David Rogerson and their daughter Agnes married William Strang.  Robert Roy Jr. was an engineer and worked as a ship’s engineer for the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company in Burma when he was a young man.  Later he worked for many years as an engineer in the Carron Ironworks near Falkirk.

Bringing the story back to Ada now, this is a formal photograph of four generations – apparently this type of photograph was quite popular in the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century.  This portrait was taken in Scotland in May or June of 1906, a bit more than a year after Ada was married.  Portrayed are, from left to right, Ada Smith, Robert Roy (standing), and Margaret Anderson with her eldest grandchild, Nancy Roy Smith, on her lap.  Robert Roy was the baby’s great-grandfather.

When Ada married William Smith, she made a huge change in her life.  Instead of living in the middle of a town, she went to live in what was then the depths of the country and had to learn how to be a farmer’s wife.  She had to learn how to manage a much bigger household than she was used to, how to make butter and many other things that she would have previously bought in a shop (she never did master the task of gutting a chicken!).  She also had to get used to living far removed from the circle of friends and family she had known all her life.  I admire her courage.

While she was learning her new role as farmer’s wife, Ada had four children.  She had three children in rapid succession: Nancy (1906), Lancelot (1907) and William (1908), then a short pause before she had her fourth child, Ian, in 1911.  (See the page on “William Smith’s Children” in the Family Stories section.)

In 1912, Ada’s daughter Nancy was sent to stay with her Anderson grandparents for a year.  Nancy attended school in Dumbarton and got to know her grandparents and her uncles very well although she must have missed her family back in Ireland.  Ada’s oldest son Lancelot spent at least a year with his Anderson relatives in Scotland when he was about 12 years old.  I believe he lived with his uncle James who at that time was the minister of a United Free Church in Port Glasgow near Dumbarton.  The two younger Smith sons also visited their Scottish relatives but I don’t think they stayed in Scotland for long.  I believe Ada did her best to enable her children to know their Anderson relatives and to know something about Scotland.

Ada kept up her connections with Scotland through correspondence and occasional visits to her family and friends.  She also kept in touch with her church through attendance at the Ormond Quay and Scots Church in Dublin when travel into the city became easier and her children were older.  On Sunday mornings, Ada attended the local Anglican church of Ballymaglasson with William and their children; I believe she played the organ for the services.

While living at Blackhall as her children grew older, Ada did what she could to enable them to meet new people.  She loved having young people to visit and was happy to encourage her children to bring school friends and others to widen the social circle for the Smiths.  Having grown up in a town herself, I think she was very aware of how isolated the Smiths could have been, living in the countryside where there very few other Protestant families.  As roads and car travel improved, this became less of an issue, especially for her sons.

Ada lived at Blackhall for many years until William retired from farming and handed over the farm to his second son William Anderson Smith.  In 1943, Ada and William Smith moved to a suburban house in Sandycove near Dun Laoghaire, south of the city of Dublin.  I am not sure why they moved so far from Blackhall but I suspect they moved to Sandycove because it was what Ada wanted: town life with the amenities that go with it.  Maybe William did not care where he lived if he wasn’t living on a farm.

After William died in 1946, Ada stayed on in Sandycove for about five years.  She visited her married children with their families periodically, and had frequent visits from family members, but living alone probably did not suit her very well.  After her son Ian married Nancy Hogg in 1949, it was decided that she would go and live with Ian and Nancy in Leicester and help them to buy a house there.  The house in Sandycove was sold in 1951.  Ada lived with Ian and his family (they had one daughter, born in 1952) until she died in 1959.  She was buried in the same gravesite as her husband William in the churchyard of Donabate Parish Church, County Dublin.


Thanks mainly to information gathered by my great-uncle James Wilson Anderson and one of his grandsons, I have had a great starting point for doing the research on the family tree of Agnes McSymon Anderson.  I have more information than I could fit comfortably into a single post.  Of course, there is a lot more I would also like to know about the various families in Scotland that appear in Agnes’s family tree.  In addition to the Andersons, the Roys and the McSymons, there are other families that I know are linked into this tree: Baillie, Brodie, Brockie, Denholm, Glasgow, Johnston, Livingston, Proudfoot, Rankin, Williamson, Wilson, and Yellowlees.  And there are probably others if we could trace back the generations of each family far enough. However, that would be a separate family history project.  Maybe someone else will take on this challenge!

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Blackhall Livestock Trading in the 1860s

This is the fourth of four posts based on the account book from Blackhall that covered the years 1863 and 1864 with a few months of 1865 at the end.  This post is focused on the trading in livestock and other farm products that Thomas Smith engaged in soon after he moved to Blackhall in early April 1863.

Remember that the prices paid for commodities, including livestock, in today’s world are estimated to be about 75 times the prices paid in the early 1860s.   So, for example, a bullock that cost Thomas £4 to buy in 1863 would cost him today about £300.  Of course, these conversions to today’s value are only approximate but I hope they will give you some idea of the scale of livestock trading that Thomas Smith undertook in his first couple of years at Blackhall.


The Blackhall account book describes all the livestock (cattle, sheep, a few pigs and a few horses) that were bought.  From 26 March to 8 November 1863, £912 16s 9d (about £68,500 today) was spent on buying the livestock.  For the full year of 1864, the livestock bought cost £1,892 10s 7d (about £142,000 today).

Most of the livestock that Thomas Smith bought in 1863 was cattle – cows, heifers and bullocks.  From the frequent pattern of the purchases – up to ten in the same day – I am guessing that Thomas was going to towns that had livestock sales in what were called “fair days” and buying one or more animals from different sellers, then having the animals transported to his farm in County Meath.  Judging by the cost of transporting (“carriage”) livestock on or close to the same date as a number of livestock purchases, I think much of the buying was done away from County Meath and I believe most of that was done in County Tipperary, especially at the beginning.

On the first page of the entries, even before he had possession of Blackhall, Thomas bought a number of cows and one heifer.  One of the sellers is interesting: Joseph Backhouse, who was married to Thomas Smith’s sister Hannah and lived in Tipperary.  So I assume that all the purchases on 26 and 30 of March were made in Tipperary, probably in the town of Cashel.  The cost of transporting the animals was paid on 9 April.  They would probably be the first livestock brought to the farm by Thomas.

On 21 April, Thomas bought 7 bullocks from “Launcelot Smith”, who was his brother – then living near Cashel.  He also bought more animals from Joseph Backhouse on the same day so those two purchases were made in or near Cashel.

On 11 May, Thomas bought 50 sheep and had them transported, presumably to Blackhall.

Thomas continued to buy livestock quite actively until 9 June, after which there were only a few purchases, written out of date order at the end of the year.

One purchase on 8 November was of a horse from Thomas Brindley, who was living in Tipperary near Cashel. Thomas Brindley was the father of Caroline Brindley who married Thomas Smith’s younger brother William in 1864.  Another purchase was on 7 December of two heifers from Colonel Gaysford, who was a prominent landowner and farmer in County Meath and was known to Thomas Smith because they were both members of the same Anglican parish of Ballymaglasson.

It is odd that no livestock was bought between 9 June and 8 November in 1863.  Maybe Thomas had enough livestock on hand and wanted to sell some of those before buying any more.  Or there could have been other reasons, such as: lack of cash, lack of enough suitable pasturage at the farm, or a poor market for livestock in Dublin that year.

In 1864, Thomas Smith was buying livestock throughout the year at double the volume of the previous year.  As well as cows, heifers and bullocks, he also bought 422 sheep (ewes, wethers, hoggets and rams), 2 pigs and 2 horses.

Besides listing what animals were bought, the entries in the account book also give the seller’s name in most cases.  Some sellers only have an initial before the surname, some get the full first name and a few get Mr., Captain or some other title.  Even in such a simple listing, it seems social standing had to be noted.

Again, as in 1863, there were a number of purchases of livestock made on the same day and there were transportation costs associated with them so I assume they were made away from the Blackhall area at the “fair days”.


The accounts also list all the livestock and other farm products sold in 1863 starting on 30 May and going to 10 December.  This section took only two pages in the book.

Livestock sold that year was mainly cattle but also included some wool, sheep, butter and cow grass.  This section of the accounts also included (as income) some interest received from a bank.  The total in the “sold” section for 1863 was £831 15s 6d (about £62,400 today).  Sales took place at Smithfield (in Dublin), Dublin New Market, Dunboyne and Summerhill (both near Blackhall), and Liverpool.

In 1864, the livestock sold was worth £2,584 1s 8½d (£194,000 today), more than three times the volume of 1863.

Thomas had other things to sell in 1864, in addition to cattle.  There were a few odd items like 3 pounds of butter, a cow hide, a bullock hide and some horse grass.  He also sold quite a few barrels of wheat and oats, much of it in small quantities to his employees, among others.  He sold cattle in small numbers both in Summerhill and in Dublin.  A number of the cattle he sold individually were sick.

Wool was a significant item for sale.  W & R Fields and Whelan & O’Brien were the purchasers of more than 1,600 pounds of wool in May 1864.

In August 1864 a new pattern of selling was established; sheep and cattle were mostly sold in groups with the notation “less com”, meaning less commission.  I assume this meant he was using an auctioneer in Dublin to sell his animals for him.  Most sales of animals in or after August were of this type although he still sold a few animals himself in Summerhill and Dublin.  I wonder was it in 1864 or soon after when the Smith, Griffin company was established to deal in cattle sales and wool factoring?

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Blackhall Labour Costs in the 1860s

This is the third of four posts about the farm accounts from Blackhall that covered the first couple of years of Thomas Smith’s occupancy of the house and farm.

The costs for farm labourers in 1863 were written in a separate section in Thomas Smith’s accounts book.  Labour costs included the weekly wages for the men working regularly on the farm as well as occasional wages for others, including a few boys and girls (unnamed) and some men to cut hay, do carpentry and so forth.

Starting on 11 April 1863 and going to the end of December, the labour costs were £76 15s 8d.  There was no separate account for labour costs in 1864 but we could assume they were roughly the same per month for a total cost to Thomas Smith of about £100 for the year.

The typical pay rate for one of the men regularly employed on the farm was 8 shillings a week, which seems pitifully small.  This is where a different way of translating the value of the money needs to be used.  To understand what would be the value of labour in the past I think it is best to use income value (or economic status) as a way of finding an equivalent in earning power.

I have used the website measuring worth to identify the equivalent in income value today.  For every £1 paid to a farm labourer in 1863, the income value has been calculated as being equal to about £771 today.  Using that method of calculation, the total income value for the farm workers in 1863 was equal to £60,000 today.  Similarly, a weekly wage of 8 shillings would be equal to about £300 now.  That is still not a princely sum but it would be possible to live on it, especially in the country where people would be growing most of their own food.  The children employed for half or less than half of the men’s wages would probably be working only part-time but they would be helping to increase their family’s income.

The names shown at the beginning of this section of the accounts recur over and over again throughout the year in 1863: Christopher Gorey, Patrick Ganor, Billy Ganor (who was paid half of what the other two got either because he was a boy or he worked only half-time on the farm).  Later, there is mention of James Ganor, James Monaghan and Mary Monaghan, and Biddy Fields.  There are also a few mentions of other names: W. Arab and A. Arabb, paid at very low rates.  Possibly these were children of the man who hired out horses to Thomas.

There were a couple of men with higher skill levels: T. Murray, carpenter, and Patrick Manging (no occupation given).  Both these men were paid £1 or more each time they were employed.  There was also one occasion where “Farley & Co” were employed to cut over 4 acres of hay at 14 shillings per acre.  Sometimes “2 girls” or “2 boys” are listed without names and paid a lower rate than the regular men.

As you might expect, more people were employed on the farm in summer than at the beginning of the year.  July was a particularly busy month, as was September.

Looking at the dates shown for the payment of the farm workers, they have a regular weekly pattern most of the time.  The dates that are listed for paying the workers each week were Saturdays, according to the perpetual calendars I consulted.

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Blackhall Household Expenses in the 1860s

This is the second of four posts about the farm accounts from Blackhall that covered the years 1863 to 1865.  This post is about the household expenses for Thomas Smith at Blackhall when he started to lease the house and farmland in April 1863.  I found it very interesting to get a glimpse of how Thomas Smith lived in the first couple of years of his tenancy at Blackhall: what kinds of furniture he bought for the house, what foods he ate, what kinds of clothing he bought and what kinds of equipment, animal feed and other products he bought for the farm.

In 1863, starting on March 14 and going to the end of December, the household expenses at Blackhall totaled £465 9s 10d.  These expenses included everything from furniture to food and clothing as well as the cost of hay and farm implements.  His household expenses could be expected to be higher in the first year as he had to acquire furniture and other goods needed for the house that would not be bought every year.  The equivalent expenses for the full year in 1864 were £419 15s 0½d so that was much lower per month.  As explained in the first post on this topic, the current value of these expenditures in today’s money is about 75 times as high.  So, for example, the 1864 expenses were about £31,500 in today’s terms.

I have found it interesting to see what entries were made in the household accounts and how the items for the house were mixed in with items for the farm operations.  It is quite usual to see, for example, an entry for two loads of gravel, followed by groceries, some velvet, a pipe of wine and 21 pounds of beef. Sometimes items that should have been in the livestock section (the cost of carriage for cattle that had been bought) or in the farm labour section (hiring of a ploughman) were listed in the household accounts.  Periodically, throughout the household expenses sections, there are entries of “sundries” and “expenses”, some of which are marked as related to traveling to Dublin.  I assume most of these expenses were related to travelling to and from livestock sales.  On 4 October 1864, the entry was for “expenses Ballinasloe” so Thomas was traveling farther afield to Galway by then.  The Ballinasloe horse fair always takes place in October so that was probably where he was going.

Following are a few excerpts from the household accounts to give you some idea of what was bought in 1863 and 1864.


On 14 March 1863 (even before he had moved in to Blackhall), Thomas started to acquire some basic furniture.  The expenses began with basic necessities of blankets and sheeting, a kettle, some cutlery, cups and pans, and a bedstead and mattress.  The cost of having some furniture delivered was also included.  The purchase of 6 stone (84 lbs.) of bacon looks like a good start for many a breakfast.

On 16 April, Thomas bought some more furniture at an auction at Blackhall (presumably the household effects of the previous tenant).  On 17 April, he started hiring a horse from W. Arabb (also written as William Arab in later entries) and continued doing this occasionally over the two years recorded.  Looking at the livestock bought listings, there were two horses bought on April 7 – a mare named Peg and a horse named Harper.  On 16 April, he bought two sets of harness.

Also on 16 April, there is a substantial payment to Messrs Paul & Vincent of £36 9s 7d.  This is a firm of livestock feed merchants that still exists today.  There were a number of payments to Paul & Vincent in the accounts.

On 28 April, he bought a straw paliase (mattress), a looking glass, and a wardrobe.  On 7 May, an American stove was bought and more furniture on 11 May.  I think we can probably tie in these purchases to the arrival of Thomas’s sister Mary to keep house for him.  (On a separate page at the back of the book there is a short list headed “Mary Smith” with a payment of £26 to her in May 1863.  I am not sure what this money was for but it was probably for her housekeeping expenses.  However, she received only £2 10s in June of the following year.  Maybe she was a very economical housekeeper.)

On 30 May, the cost of getting the lease was paid: £13. Also on 30 May, more household goods were bought: a couch, carpet and blinds, a smoothing iron, a fender and fire irons, a bucket and 3 kitchen chairs, all for £4 11s 3d.

In June, there were purchases of a number of hay rakes and some tumblers and wines as well as spirits and porter.   I don’t know what an “American rake” was but it was significantly more expensive than the regular hay rakes. I was a bit surprised at the various purchases of alcohol since Thomas was the son of a staunch Methodist family.  These purchases are listed along with entries about groceries, hardware, collars and a neck tie.

Thomas was still buying household furniture on 19 June when he bought a hall stand, a dressing table and stand, two towel rails, an iron bedstead and a mattress.  On 9 July, Thomas bought a butter bowl and a washtub; on 16 July he bought a saddle and bridle.  For a cost of one shilling, he had the chimney swept on 25 July.

On 1 November, Thomas bought 13 ducks from Mrs. Ganor for 10 shillings.  On 17 November, he bought a gig from Mrs. Galagher for £5 and on 3 December he bought a rug for the gig.

On 18 November 1863,  a carpet and rug were acquired.  Also on the same date, Thomas paid a half-year’s rent to William Murphy’s agent, John Smyth.  (Thomas wrote “Smith” but the rent receipts that we have clearly show that the agent’s surname was spelled “Smyth”)

Again on the same date, Thomas paid John Smyth £12 for the wheat that was growing at Blackhall – presumably this had been sown by the previous tenant.


On 21 January, Thomas was quite busy: he bought a pair of trousers, a writing desk and 6 chairs and a coal scuttle as well as paying his income tax (£3 11s 10d).  On 9 February, he paid the County Rate.  That was £7 12s 4d – more than double the income tax rate.

On 11 February and again on 5 March, Thomas bought  “Coke ½ chaldron”.  Coke referred to fuel for a stove of some kind; but I was mystified by what a chaldron was.  I have since learned it is an obsolete measure formerly used to measure the weight of a load of coal or coke.  There was no standard weight equivalent for a chaldron – that is probably why it stopped being used.

On 27 February, Thomas bought 17½ barrels of oats from “L Smith” – almost certainly his brother Lancelot.  His sister Mary Smith was given £1; the entry does not say what this was for.

On 8 April, Thomas bought “pay sheets”, which I assume he used to record his payments to the farm labourers.  There is nothing in the accounts book about the farm labour expenses for 1864 although a few months of 1865 are covered.

On 16 June 1864, another half-year’s rent was paid to William Murphy’s agent, John Smyth.  The other half of the annual rent for 1864 is not recorded in the accounts so one wonders how complete they are.  Also on 16 June, Thomas paid the County Rate of £7 12s 4d.  On 9 July he paid the Poor Rate of £8 5s 3d.

On the same date, Dixon & Hogg were paid £5 1s 3d; I don’t know who they were but later in the year Thomas bought some sheep nets from the same company.  Two farm gates were bought, also on 9 July, for 4 shillings each.  Then there was another large bill from the feed merchants, Paul & Vincent.

Thomas seems to have had a lot of trouble with his watch: on 16 June, the mainspring was replaced; on 5 September, he bought a watch guard; and on 29 September he had the watch repaired again.

On 28 October, Thomas bought an umbrella and 11 chickens.   I assume the chickens were for egg production, not for immediate eating.  He was still buying meat (beef and mutton) from other people although the farm probably supplied some of its own meat to the household.

On 10 November he paid R. Bowels for a “Howard’s Plow”.  As explained below, I do not think he bought such a plough, especially not for such a small amount of money.  I was curious as to what this plough was.  Apparently, this was a steam-driven ploughing machine with a single engine and two winding drums with about 550 yards (or 500 metres) of wire rope attached.  The plough was attached to the wire rope and pulled back and forth across the field.  No horses were required to pull the plough.  From what I have read on the internet, this particular ploughing machine was invented in England in the 1850s by J & F Howard of Bedford.  Again according to what I have read, the ploughing machine required 4 or 5 men and a boy to operate it so I think Thomas rented the use of the machine and its crew from a steam ploughing contractor for maybe one or two days.  I wonder if he tried the same method of ploughing in later years.

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Blackhall Farm Accounts in the 1860s

The earliest financial accounts we have for the Smiths at Blackhall are found in an account book covering the years 1863 to 1865.  I assume it was Thomas Smith who wrote the book’s entries, starting on 14 March 1863.  This would have been about two and a half weeks before Thomas Smith took possession of Blackhall house and lands under a new lease signed on 2 April with the landlord James Murphy.

The accounts book is interesting to read, providing a glimpse into the social history of people living about 150 years ago in rural Ireland.  The lives of the Smiths are interesting to me, especially those who lived at Blackhall starting with Thomas Smith (see also the post about “Thomas Smith at Blackhall”).

Thomas Smith tracked several types of items in this one account book: what he spent on the household and the farm; what he paid his farm labourers and who he paid; what he bought in livestock and other farm products (such as oats, wheat and so on) and who he bought them from; and what he sold in livestock and other farm products, what he received in payment and where the sales took place.  The accounts are very detailed in 1863, and still detailed in 1864 (although the farm labour costs are omitted) but only part of 1865 is covered.  I assume he kept track of his farm accounts some other way after about March 1865.  (The latest entry I could find was in September 1865 and it related to money he apparently gave to his sister Mary Smith.)  The book is interesting to read and I hope to convey some of this interesting information in this post and in several following posts.

Before getting into the details of the accounts I think I need to explain something about comparing the value of money then and now.  To explain it, I am relying on a useful website on measuring worth that provides different ways of measuring and comparing worth in English £s between the past and today.  I am assuming that £s in Ireland were worth the same as in England then and now (which may not be true).  One other thing to be aware of is the change to decimal currency in Britain in the 1970s.  The old currency used the pound (£), shilling (s), and penny (d).  There were 20 shillings in a pound and 12 pence in a shilling (therefore 240 pennies in a pound).  The newer English currency has 100 pennies in a pound and is written as – for example – £1.50, meaning £1 and 50 pence.

There is actually no simple way to translate the worth (price, cost or value) of something between two widely different years.  It depends on whether you are looking at what a commodity cost (e.g., a chair, a horse), what someone was paid in wages (which can be related to the standard of living) or what someone had in capital assets (what is the equivalent in economic power).   For example, the value of £1 spent on a commodity in 1863 has been calculated to be equal in 2010 to:

  • Real price – £74.60
  • Labour value – £588
  • Income value – £771

For commodities, I will use the most conservative equivalents in my post – in this case, the real price.  When you see the prices that Thomas Smith paid for furniture and other household goods as well as for livestock, bear in mind you should multiply the price paid by about 75 times to be able to understand the price in today’s terms.

For labour, it is better to use income value (or economic status) as a way of understanding what might be the equivalent in earning power today.  So, for every £1 paid to a farm labourer in 1863, the value has been calculated as equal to about £771 in today’s terms.

For those of my readers who don’t use English £s as your usual currency, you may want to do a second conversion from current £s into dollars, euros, etc.


In 1863, starting on March 14 and going to the end of December, Thomas Smith’s household expenses totaled £465 9s 10d (about £35,000 today).  These expenses included everything from furniture to food and clothing as well as the cost of hay and farm implements.  His household expenses could be expected to be higher in the first year as he had to acquire furniture and other goods needed for the house and farm that would not be bought every year.

The equivalent expenses for the full year in 1864 were £419 15s 0½d (£31,500 today) so that was a much lower rate of spending per month.


The costs for farm labourers in 1863 were written in a separate section and, starting on April 11 and going to the end of December, the costs were £76 15s 8d (about £60,000 in income value today).  Farm labour included the weekly wages for the men working regularly on the farm as well as a few boys and girls (unnamed); there were also a few men employed occasionally to cut hay, do carpentry and so forth.  There is no separate account for labour costs in 1864 but we could assume they were roughly the same per month for a total of about £100.


The third section in the accounts describes all the livestock (mostly cattle, some sheep, a few horses) that were bought and who were the sellers.  From March 26 to November 8, 1863, £912 16s 9d (roughly £68,500 today) was spent on buying the livestock. In the full year of 1864, the livestock bought cost £1,892 10s 7d ( about £142,000 today) – a considerable expansion over the previous year.


The fourth section in the accounts lists all the livestock and other farm products sold starting on May 30, 1863.  Livestock was mainly cattle and sheep, with other products such as oats, grass and butter sold occasionally.  The 1863 total in the “sold” section was £831 15s 6d (about £62,400 today).  The 1864 total sold was more than about three times as high: £2,584 1s 8½d.  Sales of livestock took place at Smithfield (in Dublin), Dublin New Market, Dunboyne and Summerhill (both near Blackhall), and – perhaps surprisingly – Liverpool.

In summary, the total expenses for 1863 were £1,455 2s 3d while the income from selling livestock was only £831 15s 6d.  So Thomas Smith’s first year (actually 9 months) at Blackhall was not a financial success but he was obviously going to do better as he settled in.  He could expect to buy and sell more livestock in 1864 when he had a full year in which to do that.

Happily, in 1864 the livestock bought was in the value of £1,892 10s 7d while livestock sold was worth £2,584 1s 8½d for a net profit of almost £700 (that would be about £52,500 in today’s currency).  The profit would have easily covered the separate household and labour costs.

There will be several more posts following this one, on the subject of Thomas Smith’s farm accounts.

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