A Kiwi in search of her ancestral tribes

Where o where?

Where did my lovely Mary Jane come from?

I can’t seem to find her on any census until she turns up in 1891 in Deptford, Kent, when she’s married to my great great grandfather, Ephraim Wright. Her birthplace is given as “Ireland – Monaghan”.1

In the 1901 census, now a widow and living with two of her sons, her birthplace is listed as “Fermanagh, Ireland”.2 Hmmm… these counties are right next to each other, though Fermanagh is (now) in Northern Ireland and part of the United Kingdom, and Monaghan is in the Republic of Ireland.

According to the newspaper clipping I have, she was “born of Irish parents in Belfast”.3 That’s a wee way away from either Fermanagh or Monaghan! Perhaps there was some creative licence used by the article’s author…?

And my cousin Lally says she was “born and raised in Armagh”.4 So, that’s another county! I’d like to trust Lally’s information because she knew Mary Jane personally, but it doesn’t seem to tie in with anything else. I guess Mary Jane could have been born in one place, and then raised in Armagh?

I had been trying to find her in the 1911 census under her married name of Carroll, but not having a subscription to Find My Past meant it would be an expensive credit-chewing exercise checking all the Carrolls in the area. Last night I decided to bite the bullet and sign up – and I found her!

At 37 Prince Street, Deptford, on census night in 19115 were:

  • John Carroll – Head – 62 – General Labourer
  • Mary Carroll – wife – 55 – Household work
  • Joseph Wright – son – 24 – Telegraph Clerk
  • George Archer – Boarder – 27 – Foundry Labourer
  • Hilda Cavender – Boarder – 17 –  Tea Factory
  • Bridget Carroll – Visitor – 30 – Nurse St Pancras Infirmary
  • Cecelia Stokes – Visitor – 26 – Nurse Children’s Infirmary

(I wonder if Bridget is perhaps a niece of John’s? edited to add: Bridget’s granddaughter got in contact to confirm that Bridget was John’s daughter.)

Anyway, back to the task at hand.  Mary Jane’s birthplace in the 1911 census is…. “Roslea Monaghan Ireland”.  At last a townland!!  Doing a search using Google maps I found a Roslea/Rosslea in Fermanagh, just near the border of Monaghan, so that makes a lot of sense.  I guess the next step is to find out the actual parish, and then go about hunting down a birth or baptism record.

View Roslea, Co Fermanagh in a larger map

I’d love to know where Mary Jane was brought up, where she lived until she turns up in Deptford in the 1891 census.   On her second husband’s (Ephraim Wright, my great great grandfather) death certificate, the informant was Joseph Sullivan “brother-in-law”.6 Now, I’ve only ever found a brother for Ephraim, so I wasn’t sure it would have been a sister’s husband.  I figured it was more likely that it was a husband of a sister of Mary Jane’s.  But, you never know, it could have meant a lot of things back then!  So, I searched around and came across a marriage record for a Joseph Sullivan and an Annie Clarke.7 Bingo!  (Well, not gold-plated proof, but I’m an optimist at heart.)  And then last week I listened to my taped interview with my cousin Lalli (after 20 years) and she talked about a Great Aunt Annie, sister of her grandmother Mary Jane, who married an “Irishman”, Joseph.  So, what’s the point of all this rambling?  In the 1901 census, Annie is living with her husband Joseph (Blacksmith, born Sheerness, Kent)  and nephew Joseph Wright (so I know I have the right family), and her birthplace is “Scotland”. 8 Looking back at the 1891 census, I found Annie living with husband Joseph (Smith [and?] Farrier, born Sheerness, Kent), and her birthplace is listed as “Scotland. Edinburgh”.9

So Mary Jane is born around 1856 in Roslea, and by around 1859 the Clark(e)s are in Edinburgh for Annie’s birth.  Somehow Mary Jane is back in Ireland (Co Meath) for her daughter Mary’s birth1, and then in Aldershot for son Percy’s birth10.  Sometimes I wish my ancestors would just STAY PUT in one village for a few centuries.  I guess travel is in the genes.

Now, if I can just pin down Annie’s birth in Scotland, I may find Mary Jane’s mother’s name. O Scottish records, how I do love thee!

  1. “1891 England Census, Ephraim Wright (age 30) household, St Paul Deptford, London,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.co.uk/, accessed 01 Oct 2010), citing PRO RG12/494, folio 67, p 63, GSU roll: 6095604, Greenwich registration district, St Paul Deptford sub-registration district, ED 2, household 323, 05 Apr 1891.
  2. “1901 England Census, Mary Clark Wright (age 45) household, St Nicholas Deptford, London,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.co.uk/, accessed 2010), citing PRO RG13/526, folio 118, p 60, Greenwich registration district, North Deptford sub-registration district, ED 18, household 300, 31 Mar 1901.
  3. “An Imperial Service Family”, undated clipping from unidentified newspaper; digital image, scanned May 2009 from original held by [NAME AND ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE]; inherited from Audrey Dearness, Gisborne, NZ.
  4. Alice (Lally) Coppinger (Lomita, California), interviewed Dec 1991; audiotape privately held by author. Coppinger, now deceased, was granddaughter of Mary Jane.
  5. “1911 England Census, John Carroll (age 62) household, St Nicholas Deptford, London,” findmypast, (http://www.findmypast.co.uk/, accessed 14 Apr 1911), citing PRO RG14/2640, Greenwich registration district,  Deptford East sub-registration district, ED 17, household 300, 02 Apr 1911.
  6. England, death certificate for Ephraim Wright; 26 Nov 1894, Greenwich; citing Dec 1894 [quarter] 01d [vol] 552 [page], General Register Office, Stockport.
  7. “England & Wales, FreeBMD Index: 1837-1983,” database, FreeBMD (http://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/search.pl : accessed 2010), marriage entry for Joseph Patrick Sullivan and Annie Clarke; citing Sep 1883 [quarter] Greenwich 1d [vol] 1487 [page].
  8. “1901 England Census, Joseph Sullivan (age 39) household, Bermondsey, London,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.co.uk/, accessed 2010), citing PRO RG13/395  folio 105, p 2, St Olave Southwark registration district, Bermondsey sub-registration district, ED 52, household 12, 31 Mar 1901.
  9. “1891 England Census, Joseph Sullivan (age 29) household, Camberwell, London,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.co.uk/, accessed 2011), citing PRO RG12/492, folio 62, p 48, Camberwell registration district, St George sub-registration district, ED 26b, household 678, GSU roll: 6095602, 05 Apr 1891.
  10. England, birth certificate for Percy Freeth; 31 Aug 1878, Farnham; citing Sep 1878 [quarter] 2a [vol] 111 [page], General Register Office, Stockport.


My Mary Jane


Stuff and censuses ~ Sorting Saturday


  1. Hi Maggie,
    Have you considered that the Clarke’s may be a military family – part of a regiment or associated trades following the regiment? If so, have a look at this book: Kitzmiller, John M.,”In Search of the ‘Forlorn Hope’: A Comprehensive Guide to Locating British Regiments and their Records (1640-WWI)”, Salt Lake City, Utah, Manuscript Pub. Foundation, c1988.
    Making Connections Genealogy

    • Maggie

      Hi Maureen, Yes I had wondered about that, but wasn’t sure how best to go searching. Thanks for the book recommendation!

  2. seamus carroll

    Hi, Roslea is a village in county fermanagh, in northern ireland, beside the border. Monaghan is 9 miles away. I have a Mary Jane Carroll in my family but i think she was born around 1870s which is too late, So links which may be useful.




    • Maggie

      Thanks Seamus! I had discovered the second link and spent a good while looking through all the information, very interesting. The other links are much appreciated. Hope your Mary Jane Carroll is less elusive that mine.

  3. St.John Freeth-Wright

    Dear Maggie

    My grandfather was Joseph William Wright, a telegraph clerk, and his son, Denys Justin Wright (my father, also born in Deptford) often talked about his cousin Lally and somewhere I have some photos of Doyle, Lally and their children in Lomita. When I was 14, my father decided to change our name to Freeth-Wright to honour his favourite aunt (who I thought was Molly, but is clearly Mary). I also have a small book from the Carroll side of his family.

    It looks like we’re related! I would love to hear from you!

    St.John Freeth-Wright

    • Maggie

      Hi St.John, or should I say Cousin!!
      Every reference to Mary has been as Mollie, except for on the censuses, so definitely always known as Mollie. And I realise I’ve been spelling Lally’s name wrong, oops. I think I may have a photo of your father as a little baby with lots of family – perhaps you have the same photo? Fantastic to hear from you, will email tonight!

    • Richard Jesson

      Hello St. John;
      I believe we are 2nd. cousins once removed through your Stewart connection, your grandmother, Selina Mary E. Stewart, who married Joseph Wright. Her father and my grandfather were siblings.

      If this reaches you, and if you are interested, please contact me at this email address; r.jess@3web.net I know little if anything about your grandmother Stewart and would be most interested in hearing about your recollections of her..


  4. seamus carroll


    I don’t know if you have made any progress on your missing Mary Jane. I think its unlikely that you are not related to my family. There have been historically very few Carrolls around Roslea. I could send you what I have, if it would be of any use. Not sure how I would do it though, without an email address. Let me know what you think.


    • Maggie

      Mary Jane’s maiden name was Clark(e) – her third husband was John Carroll, born in Rattoo(? from what I can decipher in the 1911 England census), Co Kerry, around 1849. Feel free to email me though – blog@iwikiwi.com

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