Solving the mystery of my maternal Irish heritage (or trying to)

Discussion in 'Ask The Experts' started by Aspiring Posho, Oct 6, 2018.

  1. Aspiring Posho

    Aspiring Posho Member

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    My 5-times-great-uncles Charles and John Howes were living with their sister's family (my direct ancestors) in 1851. Ellen, Charles and John were all born in Cork, the latter two in 1834 and 1836 - Ellen's birthyear is a matter of confusion because of inconsistent census records. On a death record for "Ellen Mullings" in 1891 it says she was 75, so 1816 might be likely even though that's a misspelling of 'Mullins'. On the 1851 census and Ellen's marriage in September 1835, Howes is mistaken as 'House', but one of her kids' baptisms says her maiden name was definitely Howes. I searched for John and Charles' births and I MIGHT have found John - baptised 29/6/1836 in Middleton, a Martin Howes being listed as father. But that would have made him 14 on the census. Charles and John were said to be lawyers, which makes me think the Howes family might have been moneyed - lawyer doesn't sound like a typical young immigrant's profession in the 1850s, especially since Ellen's husband was a brick-layer. But that's wishful speculation.
  2. arthurk

    arthurk Well-Known Member

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    Cheshire, England
    I'm afraid I'm going to start by bursting a bubble. The 1851 census (St Luke's Finsbury - HO107/1522 f82 p12-13) shows Charles and John as Sawyers, not Lawyers. It's a mistake most of us have made at some stage, but if you look closely, the first letter here is different to the one in Luke, Lab[ourer] etc. See also Fenwick Mullins, Scholar, in the same household. And the ages given, 17 and 15, are rather young to be lawyers.

    The next thing is that spellings weren't always given as accurately as you'd expect now, and names were often spelled phonetically. Add in an Irish accent, and Mullins/Mullings and Howes/House are the kind of variants you are likely to come across.

    Ages too can be a bit approximate. Then as now people might have wanted to conceal their true age - assuming they knew exactly what it was. In fact with John, a baptism in June 1836 could be consistent with age 15 in the 1851 census. That was taken on the night of 30/31 March, so if he was born before 30 March 1836 (but not baptised until 29 June), age 15 would be correct. In any case, 15 would be a close approximation.

    Ellen's age in 1851 was given as 32, making a 17 year gap between her and John. That's quite long, but far from unknown. 20 years (based on the death record) is a bit less likely, but that age at death might also be approximate, and the best guess of someone else who didn't know or couldn't remember her exact age.

    So I don't see any major inconsistencies in what you've found so far, though it would be a good idea to keep checking things out and looking for possible alternatives to make sure you're on the right lines.

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