Monday, December 04, 2006

Reading your Lines, Loyns or Lyons


My grandfather Cornelius Curley's maternal grandparents were John and Mary Driscoll. In 1901, they were both living in one of the small tennament buildings of Birmingham - Tennant Dr. 6 Court 9 House - in the Emmanuel parish of Birmingham. Their eldest daughter Mary,
Cornelius' mother, was living with them.

From the 1901 census, I found that Mary Driscoll senior was born in approximately 1865 in Birmingham. This rough birthdate and birthplace was confirmed by the 1891 census where Mary Driscoll was a press worker, living at Cardigan St with her husband and daughter, Mary.

An introduction to the Lines family

To find out Mary Driscoll senior's maiden name, I sent off for the birth certificate of Mary Driscoll, my great-grandmother. The certifcate showed that Mary was born on October 23rd 1883 at "Back 44 1/2 Curzon St.", Birmingham - probably another tennament address. The informant of the birth was Mary's mother, Mary Driscoll - formerly Mary Lines.

I then obtained the certificate for the marriage of John Driscoll and Mary Lines, which took place at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, Aston on Christmas Day 1882. Both John Driscoll and Mary Lines were living in Great Lister Street, Duddeston at the time. Mary Lines was 22 years, suggesting that she was born in 1860, and her father was given as Edward Lines - a labourer. Although the registrar originally wrote James Lines, before ammending the certificate. The witnesses to the marriage were Joseph Dignam and Kate Lines. One thing that I find slightly odd about this marriage certificate is that all of the handwriting is in the same hand, yet only Kate Lines has an 'x' next to her name to indicate that she made a mark (signature). I'm not clear why she was asked to do this when it seems as if the other witness and the bride and groom were not.

I have no idea yet who Joseph Dignam may be. At a future date I will try and find out more information about this witness of the marriage between John and Mary. I like the challenge of finding out about the life of people who are initially only a name on a page, but it is also useful to try and find out information about the friends of your ancestors - it may lead to more evidence about the sort of lives that they led.

Edward Lines, Loyns, Lyons...
All of the following information I have pieced together using census records. This is only one piece of evidence, and so I would like to cross-check this with other evidence such as the Roman Catholic church records and vital records.

I was expecting to find the Lines family in 1881 in Gt. Lister St., Duddeston, as this is where Mary Lines was living in 1882. However, I failed to find any Lines there. Searching the index for the 1881 census, I found two Mary Lines who were daughters of Edward Lines, of roughly the right age. One of these lived in a very high class neighbourhood of Birmingham with at least one brother called Percival! Obviously this did not look like the right family. I then found the right family living in a tennament house in John Street, St. Mary's Ward - Edward Lines was a bricklayer's labourer, Mary was of the right age and a press worker, and she had an elder sister Catherine who was unmarried and would make a strong candidate for a witness to Mary's wedding one year later. Like the father of John Driscoll, the parents of Mary Lines also originally came from Ireland.

I initially had some trouble trying to find the Lines family in the 1871 census. This was primarily because I was searching the online indexes for 'Lines', rather than doing what I would have done without the index - searching John St. When I did this, I was able to find the family still living there - though their surname was spelt - 'Lyons'. Edward Lines/Lyons was a labourer, while Mary Lines (my great-great-grandmother) was a 9 year old 'tin worker'.

I also had some difficulties finding the Lines family in the 1861 census. When I did find them, they were still living in St. John street - and there was another spelling of the surname - 'Loyns'. Edward Lines/Lyons/Loyns was a labourer. I have been unable to find him in the 1851 census of England thus far - I know that he must have been in England by 1856 as the eldest child, Catherine, was born in Birmingham. I've also searched the GRO indexes for a possible marriage certificate of Edward with his various surname spellings. There is a marriage of an Edward Loyns in the Dec 1851 quarter which may be a possibility.

I have also been unable to find any references to Edward and Mary Lines later than 1883 (when their daughter Mary Lines was married to John Driscoll). There are some possibilities in the death registers between 1883 and 1891, though none that I can uniquely identify. I think obtaining some extra vital records and Roman Catholic Church registers will be the way to take this research forward. These records will also help to iron out inconsistencies between the data in different censuses - for instance, Mary Lines senior only appears to age 10 years between 1861 and 1881 - assuming that she is the same Mary Lines in every census!

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