I was bidding farewell to Dún Laoghaire for a while. For the last few years, my visits to the area have yielded up many interesting secrets and, no doubt, there is much more to be discovered. But, before I finally departed last week, I thought I would take a look at the 1911 census to discover the extent of the Queen’s County representation in that particular year.
Of course, in 1911, the town was still known as Kingstown, in honour of King George IV. And, according to the census, there were four Kingstown electoral districts.
I thought it would be a simple matter of finding out the extent of the Queen’s County residents, picking a cross-section, and thereby show the general picture. I was somewhat surprised, however, to find that my pool of prospective subjects, just in the Kingstown locale, numbered in their hundreds. This left me with a bit of a dilemma as to how I would proceed.
In the end, I came up with a rather unscientific approach. I got out a map of the town, closed my eyes and, using a biro in lieu of a pin, I marked the map. When I opened my eyes, I saw that fate had determined that I would focus my attentions on Northumberland Avenue, which lay in the Kingstown two electoral district.
At No 22, I found Mary Clare Byrne, along with her sister Emily Mary Byrne. Mary Clare, at 57 years of age, was recorded as the head of the household, with an occupation of running a boarding home. Her sister, Emily, who was two years her senior, was shown as retired from property. Both ladies were natives of Queen’s County. At that time, their 21-year-old niece Georgina Byrne, who was born in Limerick city, was visiting her aunts.
Just down the road from the Byrne sisters, at No 28, lived a retired flour merchant. Abraham Hobson, a native of Co Wicklow, resided there with his wife Elizabeth. Elizabeth hailed from the Queen’s County, though her origins proved a little elusive. Ten years earlier, the family resided in Co Antrim. At that time, Abraham is described as a commercial agent. Their three children, who ranged in age from 21 to 18 years in the 1901 census, were all born in Co Louth, which doesn’t advance the quest for their mother’s Queen’s County roots.
In 1901, the eldest girl, Kathleen, was described as a shorthand typist, their son Nathanial was a baker and their youngest daughter Elizabeth was a bookkeeper. By 1911, we find this Elizabeth teaching in a private school. Nathanial is by now a master baker, married with two children and living in Belfast. I may also have found the eldest daughter, Kathleen, living in Co Down and working as a book-keeper in the tea trade, though the age doesn’t quite fit – she is younger by six years, though that may not be unusual.
Just as I was about to give up on establishing who Abraham Hobson’s wife might be, I found a reference which, sadly, may provide a clue. On 10 October 1918, the SS Leinster was torpedoed. One of the casualties of that action was a Lt Nathanial James Fennell Hobson. Taking it that this Nathanial was Abraham and Elizabeth’s son, it was likely that Fennell was his mother’s maiden name. Working on that theory led me to a marriage record, where Abraham Hobson, a widower, had married Elizabeth Fennell on 2 April 1877. It was satisfying to find the surname of this daughter of the Queen’s County.
Ironically, the SS Leinster, operated by the Dublin Steam Packet Company, had just departed Kingstown for Holyhead when she was torpedoed. So, Lt Nathanial Hobson died almost within sight of his parents’ house in Northumberland Avenue.
In another boarding establishment, at No 42, I found James Russell, a 16-year-old Queen’s County native, who was a draper’s assistant. Also in that house and also hailing from the Queen’s County was Ernest Suttrell, who was also 16 years of age. Ernest posed a bit of a problem for me, as I couldn’t immediately connect any family to the Queen’s County. However, after a little bit of searching, I believe that Ernest Suttrell may have been a casualty of the translation of information from the handwritten census form and that he is, in fact, Ernest Luttrell. In support of my theory, I searched the census of 1901 and there I found Ernest Luttrell at six years of age residing at Cappakeel in the home of John and Susan Wilkinson, who were his aunt and uncle.
And that concludes my final ramble around this lovely old town. It never ceases to amaze me the extent of information you can unearth just by spending a little time getting to know a place. In today’s hustle and bustle, we pass by many places, just like Northumberland Avenue, where a chance stab in the dark with a biro has reconnected us with some of the people who left this county over 100 years ago.