Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The original Curley


In three previous posts - here, here, and here - I have discussed my Birmingham Irish ancestry along my Curley and Hennigan lines. To recap, my grandfather was Cornelius Curley, whose father was Thomas Curley, whose father was also called Thomas Curley. This Thomas Curley was married (according to family sources and some documentary evidence) to Jane Hennigan.
It has not been easy to piece together the lives of either Thomas Curley or Jane Hennigan. One piece of evidence which until now had evaded my grasp was the marriage certificate of Thomas and Jane - well today I was delighted to receive through the post the following:

  • 14th February 1888, at St. Catherine's Roman Catholic Church, Birmingham
  • Thomas Curley, 28 years, batchelor, spoon polisher, of 9 Beak Street, father Michael Curley, labourer.
  • Jane Hanigan, 25 years, spinster, of 9 Beak Street, father Michael Hanigan (deceased), labourer.
  • Witnesses - William Curley & Annie Underhill

How does this help?

1. Michael Hanigan is confirmed as the father of Jane Hanigan. As posted earlier, Michael Hennigan was born in Ireland in 1832 and died in Birmingham in 1885. He was a bricklayer's labourer and the latter part of his life was spent in the workhouse. He is confirmed as deceased on this marriage certificate.

2. One of the witnesses is Annie Underhill (a French polisher), who in 1881 was living as a boarder in the house of Jane's mother Catharine. This is good confirmation that I have the correct Hennigan family. Further confirmation is that Jane Hanigan's address is given as Beak Street where she and her family had been living in the 1881 census.

3. Jane Hanigan is named a spinster. This is important as it shows that she was not previously married and widowed. Therefore the children that she may have had before she married Thomas Curley will have been illigetimate. The added fact from the certificate that both Jane and Thomas lived at the same address - 9 Beak Street - suggests that Thomas and Jane had been living together and having children before they married. I have no idea currently why they delayed in getting married.

4. Thomas Curley's father is given as Michael Curley, which is new information to me! William Curley is another of the witnesses - he may be a brother, uncle or cousin to Thomas.

Michael Curley - the first 'English' Curley
Knowing Thomas' father's name I have been able to find out further information about the Curleys in the census. In the 1871 census I found Michael Curley with his wife Margaret and children Thomas, Mary Ann, Jane and William. They were living in a room in a house at 100 1/2 Bath Row, Birmingham, in the next house to the 'Trees Inn' public house. The licensed victualler in 1871 was William Hicken who was born in Shustoke. The pub is pictured (available online at digital Ladywood) - it survived until the mid 1960s before it was demolished. Wheeleys Lane runs off to the left in this picture. I believe that Michael Curley and family would have lived behind and to the right of the pub.

Michael and Margaret were born in Ireland, but all their children were born in Birmingham. I have yet to find a reference to when they came from Ireland, but it must have been prior to 1859 when Thomas was born. Soon after they arrived, in 1861, they are living in the heavily Irish area - Greens Village. Michael is working as a castor and Margaret is working as a nail cutter. In addition to Thomas, they also have a son called John. They may have had several other children who died in infancy - I would have to look at the Roman Catholic Church records to find this out.

It appears as if Michael Curley died at some point between 1873 and 1881. In the 1881 census, Margaret Curley is living at Myrtles Row in Birmingham and is said to be a widow. Her youngest child is John Curley who was born in 1873, therefore it is likely that Michael Curley died between these dates. According to the GRO index, there are two possible matches for the death certificate which I shall obtain in time.

In 1891, the widowed Margaret is now living at Suffolk St. 6 Court House 2 with her youngest sons William, Michael and John, as well as a grand-daughter Mary Ann Curley and a boarder Mary Caston and her child. I cannot find Margaret Curley in the 1901 census, so she may have re-married or passed away.

I have therefore managed to get back my Curley ancestry to the Curley who came over from Ireland. Michael Curley was born in 1837 in Ireland and came to live in Birmingham. I do not know if he came by himself or with his parents. Nevertheless, he is, in my family, the original Curley - I am therfore a sixth generation English Curley! Unfortunately I do not have any idea whereabouts in Ireland he came from. The Curley name is most common on the West coast of Ireland in Galway and Roscommon, but until I can find some other records I will not know for sure.


Marcus g58 said...


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Content aside, I'm particularly interested in your body text coding. Your introduction is widely spaced and your numbered list and conclusion are less so. Please acquaint me with how you did this. It looks great, by the way.

P.S. Glad to hear from you that Frances is back safely. I just received email confirmation from Canada Post that the keys I sent back to her were received. It was such a great trip -- and so nice to have a bit more time than the October visit. I'm fondly looking over my photos, and I hope to upload even more of them to my site.


:) said...

LOve to see the family history l aid out like this, I myself have a link in there with my GGrandad being John Hennigan / Curley born out of wedlock to Thomas and Jane :) I have found some great photos from other people which I will gladly share with you ..

James said...

Hi :) - sorry for being so slow to respond, I have not been on my blog in a long time. I'd love to hear more about your and my shared family history. I'm best contacted by email at jc3181 AT columbia DOT edu