The end of the line?

It is sad that Barnard and Jane Hart’s son, Samuel died so young. His death was registered by his mother and she is recorded as being present at his death in their home in Gateshead, Durham. Samuel was two years old and died of pneumonia. It paints such a vivid picture in my mind, so emotive. The living conditions must have been horrible, no sanitation, no running water and extremely cramped conditions. Jane must have watched helplessly as her toddler son died, most likely in her arms. This was years before the invention of antibiotics and the national health service. It was expensive to call for the services of a doctor so the decision to call for one would have been a last resort. It’s just as well we no longer hear people talk about ‘the good old days’.  Good for some maybe but not for all.

Was Samuel their only son, I wonder? There is a five year gap between Martha and Samuel so there is a possibility of children who did not survive.  Jane and Barnard had, up until Martha in 1844, produced a child every other year. Samuel was the seventh child. If Samuel was Barnard’s only son then it is possible that this was also his father’s name. Jane’s father was John so it is improbable that the name comes from her side. Interestingly I have recently found a Samuel Hart living in Gateshead, a few streets away from Barnard and Jane but they only appear on one census and then are gone. But it gets me thinking.  Ah…. onward and upward, as they say.

What’s in a name?

Barnard was the father-in-law of Patrick McEvoy.  He was born somewhere in Ireland around 1801. He married Jane and by the census of 1841 was living in Gateshead with three children. The family grew and by the census of 1851, he and Jane had seven children, six girls and a boy. Sadly their boy died of pneumonia in 1851 aged two.

I still haven’t found the marriage record of Barnard and Jane, in fact it wasn’t until 2008 that I managed to find Jane’s maiden name. Fortunately on one of the census returns, her birth place was recorded as Gretna North so I at least had some idea that she was from Scotland.  I was foxed by the Gretna North though. I tried for ages to find Gretna North only to realise that the North was something the enumerator must have added. Gretna is simply Gretna. http://www.british-genealogy.com/census-sources/british-censuses.html

The only way I would find Jane Hart’s maiden name would be to obtain a birth certificate of one of her children as it would be recorded there. Two of the children were born before the statutory registering of births in 1837 so I set about looking for the births of those born after this date.

Oh my, this was difficult. I could only find two births recorded, so I sent for one only to be informed that it didn’t match my criteria, the mother and father were not Barnard and Jane. So there must have been two Dorothy Harts in Gateshead born around the same time.

Apparently many people believed that if their children were baptised it was the same thing as registering.  I have yet to examine the baptism records but it’s on my list.

I had better luck when I sent for Martha’s birth certificate.  Martha was born on the 29th of March 1844 and her birth registered by her mother, Jane on the 8th May. There was Jane’s illusive maiden name written in  very scrawly handwriting, not by her I might add.  Jane couldn’t write her name as the signature box on the certificate states ‘the mark of Jane Hart, Mother’.

It was difficult to decipher. The first letter of her name was so sqiggly but  Monelly was what I went with.  However I could find no Jane Monelly in my further searches.  Was it a M? or what else could it be? I asked my family to look at the birth certificate and tell me what they thought. Then one day B was suggested, could she be Jane Bonelly?

I put this name into “family search’ (IGI) and Bingo! there she was Jane Bonelly Christened 26th May 1808, Graitney, Dumfies, Scotland.  Graitney is better known today as Gretna. Father, George Bonelly, Mother, Jane Gordon. I was so excited, well I expect you know the feeling.

This led me to finding a record of her baptism on Scotland’s People.  The baptism record gave even more information, it informed me that George Bonelly was a native of Fife-shire and Jane Gordon a native of Bof. shire….  Bof. shire where’s Bof. shire?  Again the squiggly handwriting. I think the B might be a R and it’s Renfrewshire.  The full stop being a indication of a shortening of the name.

Jane Gordon was born and baptised in Greenoch in 1793, traced via Scotland’s People.  Her father was John Gordon and her mother, Agnes Brown. Greenoch, by the way is in Renfrewshire. More about them later.

A few ays ago I had another stab of searching for a record of Barnard and Jane’s marriage in Scotland. I didn’t find it but I did find a record of their daughter, Jane’s baptism. Scotland’s People must have been working hard as it wasn’t there a few months ago.

Jane Hart was baptised on the 17th August in 1834 in Greenoch. She was baptised at St Mary’s, a Catholic church and I now have the name of her sponsors (god-parents) or I will have, once I’ve deciphered the record, it is like a negative – black background and white writing! Interestingley her mother’s name was written Bonelli. Another example of the spoken word written in many forms.

So I now know that Barnard and Jane must have been living in Scotland before they moved to Gateshead in Durham.  I have made some progress.

The catholic register unlike the church of Scotland did not record the birthplace of the parents.  I was a tad disappointed as you can imagine as I had hoped to be a step nearer in finding from whereabouts in Ireland came Barnard.

When Patrick met Jane?

It is good to jot down ideas and hunches that come to mind whilst searching your family tree.  All too often those exciting thoughts follow the majority of our everyday musings into the ether unless recorded in a detailed fashion. I can’t count the many occasions that I’ve come across a scribbled note in my box of jottings, confidently written in a way that I would easily recall. Hmm, how wrong could I be?  So here’s hoping my blog will keep me on track.

I would dearly love to know how Patrick met Jane.  I daydream how they met and fell in love.  They were married in 1854 at a Roman Catholic chapel on Pilgrim Street, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. Patrick was 26 and Jane 20. Bearing in mind that clues can be misleading and turn out not to be clues at all I find a huge one in their marriage certificate. Both Patrick and Jane’s father, Barnard, were quarrymen. Had Barnard and Patrick worked together I wonder? Had Barnard invited the young Patrick to share a meal with his large family in his rented terraced house in Gateshead? It must have been difficult; a family of nine in a two up and two down. There are photos of Leonard’s Court taken in the 1930s before it was demolished.




Barnard’ family lived at number 144.

Tram stop number 4 shows Leonard’s Court. If you move your mouse over the map you can see Leonard’s Court.  Click on number 4 to see more photographs. http://www.asaplive.com/tram/tramroute/interactive/index.html

A neighbouring street was Nun’s Lane which still exists.  By 1861 Barnard and Jane had moved to neighbouring Swan Street number 17.


Or perhaps Patrick had met Jane at church or at a church function both being Roman Catholics? Did they have church functions in the 1850s? But Patrick lodged in Newcastle upon Tyne and that’s a fair journey across the river in the 1850s. Even the horse drawn trams didn’t operate until 1883.  I believe there was a ferry to cross the Tyne Gorge from Gateshead to Newcastle. Stephenson’s two tier high level railway and road bridge was opened in 1849 but a toll had to be paid so I’m not sure they could afford to use it. http://www.newcastle-arts-centre.co.uk/high-%20level.htm

The old Georgian bridge was probably their option.  This was a low level stone bridge demolished in 1868 to be replaced by the the Swing bridge that still stands.

Today another penny drops.  Why I hadn’t made the connection before?  I examine Patrick and Jane’s marriage certificate again for the umpteenth time. Had I missed something? Then there it was, another clue staring me in the face. Patrick and Jane were married in Newcastle upon Tyne, why not in the bride’s parish?

I Google Catholic church, Gateshead, and find that the first purpose built Catholic church wasn’t built until 1859.


There were Catholic missions with a priest in attendance in makeshift chapels. Some were over public houses or in private homes owned by rich catholics. Many people made the journey over the river to Newcastle for mass on a Sunday. So it appears that I might have been on the right track after all.

In the beginning

I am told that genealogy comes second in the most searched for websites,  the number one  being ….. well, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that.  I am also led to believe that most people researching their family tree are hoping to discover links to the landed gentry or at the very least to someone who has been recorded in history for a deed, good or bad.  For me it wasn’t like that at all.  Upon learning that we had an ancestor from Cork with the name Patrick McEvoy I felt a sudden swell of pride.  ‘We have Irish blood’ I told anyone who made the mistake of lingering in my presence. ‘I’m going to find him and when I do, I’m off to Ireland’. Quite what I had in mind I’m not sure.

I’ve been to Ireland, well Dublin to be exact but that was before I knew about Patrick. I  had hopes of retracing Patrick’s steps (not literally) and finding his home town or village but it’s still work in progress. Cork is a huge county and I still don’t know where Patrick comes from. I only know that he came from Ireland to England in the late 1840’s or early 50’s.

All the information about tracing your family tree tells us to firstly ask the elders in the family what they know.  My mother had no information about the Irish link and at that time I was focussed on that alone. She’s gone now and I really regret not asking her about all the other rellies, I realise now just how important they are when building up the bigger picture. My Aunty Frances, Patrick’s informant so to speak, had no other details other than he came from Cork. At the time I thought, right, I’ll go there then not realising that Cork is like Yorkshire, a huge county.  Much later I spoke to my father about my endeavours and he volunteered ‘Lizzie Jane told me that her family came from Northern Ireland.’  Lizzie Jane was my Great Grandmother née Elizabeth Jane McEvoy, Patrick’s granddaughter. He didn’t know from where in Northern Ireland and had no further information. By then it was too late to return to Aunty Frances and query this news as she had  passed away.

I bought books and joined both Ancestry and Genes-Reunited. Before long I found Patrick via the Census forms online. I was able to build a family tree linking Patrick to my mother. Sadly from his first appearance in the 1851 Census, I can’t trace him back any further….. yet!