Monday, January 01, 2007
Thomas Curley and Jane Hennigan
The father of my grandfather Cornelius Curley was called Thomas Curley, a polisher of brass (in 1904 on his marriage certificate to Mary Driscoll) and bicycles (in 1909 on birth certificate of his daughter Doris Mary). Information from relatives had told me that Thomas Curley's parents were called Thomas Curley and Jane Hennigan, who both came from Birmingham. The family tree above has been constructed from this family information. However, actually confirming the family tree in the records has not been easy or successful just yet.
Searching for Thomas Curley's parents in the records
a) The marriage record of Thomas Curley jnr
Thomas' father was confirmed as Thomas Curley, from his marriage certificate. He was married on 26th Decemeber at St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church, Birmingham: age - 20 years, occupation - brass polisher, address - 3 Holiday Street, father - Thomas Curley, father's occupation - metal polisher. The witnesses at the marriage were Lillian Turner and John Hennigan. From a marriage certicicate, there is obviously no more information about the mother of Thomas Curley, though from what I know from the family John Hennigan may be a relative.
b) Finding a record to the marriage of the parents of Thomas Curley
One of the first things I tried to do was to find the marriage of Thomas Curley and Jane Hennigan, as these were the names I was given for Cornelius Curley's grandparents. It took me a long time for two reasons. The main reason was because I was searching for the marriage up to 1884 (as Thomas Curley jnr was married aged 20 in 1904, giving him a birthdate of 1884). The other reason was because foolishly I did not anticipate the number of ways in which one could spell Hennigan. I have finally found what I think is the GRO index to their marriage.
Thomas Curley & Jane Hanigan Birmingham 6d 237 March 1888
The only problem here is that the marriage appears to be registered four years after the birth of Thomas Curley. There could be a few reasons for this including: 1) The marriage was late in being registered, which seems unlikely, 2) Jane was not the first wife of Thomas, and Thomas jnr may be the son of a different wife. I have not yet got the marriage certificate, but I'm hoping that it may clear up these questions. Also, I have still not had chance to visit the Roman Catholic records in Birmingham. They would likely provide many answers.
A third possibility is that Thomas and Jane lived together but did not marry for some time. This would seem to be very unusual in Roman Catholic families, but it is not entirely impossible, especially as I have been told by relatives that Jane may have had an eldest son, Bernard Hennigan, out of wedlock prior to her marriage to Thomas Curley. (update here).
c) Finding a birth record for Thomas Curley jnr
Finding the birth certificate of Thomas Curley jnr (born c1884) would also give information about the mother and father of Thomas. However, I have yet to find anywhere in the GRO index a reference to the birth of a Thomas Curley in Birmingham (or thereabouts) in the 1880s. A family member told me that they thought that Thomas Curley was born on 23rd April 1887, but until I find the birth record in either the GRO or Roman Catholic Church Records, then there is no way to be sure.
d) Any assistance from the census?
From the marriage certificate of Thomas Curley we know that he was born in about 1884 and that his father was called Thomas Curley. We also know that they were living at 3 Holiday Street and that both Thomas' worked as polishers. Searching the 1891 and the 1901 censuses, the picture becomes even murkier.
Here is what I believe to be the family in 1901, living in Hackers Building, Holiday Street. Thomas is listed as a jeweller's polisher. Many of the children's names match with those given to me by relatives. However, Thomas junior is not there - Indeed, I cannot find him anywhere in the 1901 census - I have tried numerous name combinations without success.
In the 1891 census, I have the reverse problem! I can find a son Thomas Curley with a mother Jane. But here, the father is called William. However, I think this may be an error - the occupation of this William is a spoon polisher like Thomas' should be. Also both William and Jane's birthdates are the same as those from the 1901 census. Finally, one of the children - Maragaret has the same birthdate. I am not too worried that not all of the children's names match, as according to relatives they had at least 13 children - so it would not be too unusual for not all of the children to be living in the one room under one roof on census night. In this census, they are living in one of the rooms in a house in St. Martin's Street, Birmingham. Again, I cannot find a Thomas Curley snr anywhere in the 1891 census. Significantly, a William Curley of this age does not appear on any other census, and so could be Thomas though this is yet to be proved. Finally, a Jane Curley from Birmingham only appears indexed once in both the 1891 and 1901 censuses - each of those being the above entries.
Overall, the census has proved to be very confusing and has not provided any concrete evidence. I am still trying to put this information together and to think of new leads (any suggestions welcome). I think it is important for me to get the marriage certificate of Thomas Curley and Jane Hennigan in 1888. It would also be good for me to get hold of the baptismal, marriage and death records in the Birmingham Roman Catholic Churches, but I've not had the time for this yet.
e) Any other solutions?
Another solution may be to try and follow some of the extra lines. For instance, following the Hennigans - such as Bernard Hennigan (the supposed illegitimate son of Jane) or John Hennigan, the witness at the marriage of Thomas Curley and Jane Hennigan. I'll talk more about these in later posts - see here for example.