52 Ancestors: Family Photo

Amongst all the family photographs I’ve been given is the 1906 wedding photo of my great-grandparents Robert John CLARKE (1881-1957) and Margaret BUTLER (1883-1953).

Robert & Margaret Clarke (Butler) Wedding

The couple was married in St Werburgh’s Church, Dublin on St Stephen’s Day (26 Dec), 1906. Margaret’s family was from Dublin, but Robert grew up in Co. Fermanagh, spending time in Dublin when he was training to be a teacher. From the address on the marriage register, it appears that by the time of the marriage he was already the schoolmaster at Trillick National School, Co. Tyrone, where he would remain for the rest of his teaching career (oddly, the bride’s address is that of the church). Continue reading


52 Ancestors: Love

Of all the ’52 Ancestors’ topics so far, I have found ‘Love’ the trickiest to write about for this blog. ‘Love’ does not show up in genealogy; it is firmly in the world of family history. Love exists in family stories, letters, diaries and keepsakes. Love is strictly hand-me-down.

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There is a quiet little love story in my family history. I don’t know that much about the protagonists; they don’t show up in that many sources and I don’t know anyone who knew them. I have no photographs of them.

What I do have, however, is a small newspaper cutting. Continue reading

52 Ancestors: Surprise

There are records that fill in the major gaps in your family tree, and others that just add a bit of depth and colour. When you have something in front of you that looks like the latter, it’s all too easy to skip over a useful detail if you aren’t expecting to find anything much there.

Last year, when the British Newspaper Archive added the Mid-Ulster Mail to its collection, I found a lot of C20th marriage, death and funeral notices for several of my family lines. I had most of the information already, but it was nice to have it in a more personal format. I was particularly pleased to find a short obituary for a Mrs James HENDERSON – my 2xg-grandmother Mary Jane HENDERSON (nee RODGERs and formerly SEATON). Continue reading

52 Ancestors: I’d Like To Meet…

I think I’d like to meet all my direct ancestors. I’m curious to know more about them, and to get to know them a little as real people rather than names and dates on a page. I’d love to ask some of them the questions my research hasn’t been able to answer, and to find out the little details of their lives that never make it into an official record.

If I had to pick just one, however, I think the ancestor I’d most like to meet is the one who intrigues me most, my 3xg-grandfather, Bartholomew HOGAN. Continue reading

A puzzle in the 1871 Census


Researching theatrical ancestors has its pros and cons. On the plus side, they often get a lot of newspaper coverage during their careers, and if you’re lucky, you might find some promotional photographs. On the down side, they tend to move around a lot so can be hard to find, and also use a variety of names, including on official documents. Continue reading