It only takes a minute, one little comment made by a relative to set you on a path you would not otherwise have taken – ‘Yes,’ Aunt Agnes said ‘he [Father John] organised the Pope’s visit back in 1982′ and away you go.
It was the above comment that set me to find Fr. Allen or Monsignor as he is now. I found him because I googled the Pope’s visit and after a few emails in which I started to feel like his personal stalker I eventually found a link which he was able to relate to and we started upon a quest to find the Williams with Allen family connection. Not an easy task, well these things never are.
Firstly, I revisited my link with my 4 x great grandmother Jane Williams, who I had traced back to the 1871 census living with her father and mother at 14 Cable Street, Salford. Unfortunately for me, she and her parents were born in Ireland. What? The whole of Ireland!? The link to whereabouts in Ireland comes in the 1881 – Kildare, Ireland.
Jumping forward in time, in the 1901 census Jane has living with her three nieces – Mary J; Nellie and Agnis [sic] Williams. I know that at this point Ellen (her daughter has married Frank Sutcliffe) and her second daughter, Bridget has died. I can confidently say that this Jane is mine mainly because of her surname. Conley was not a common name (at least it wasn’t in Hebden Bridge). The Irish link (although this time it says she was born in Dublin, however as it turns out Celbridge is only a few miles from Dublin) and the Williams surname of her nieces.
This is as far as I had got until a little earlier this year, when Irene said the above immortal words. It seems that she had inadvertently found the key to the mystery – hopefully the right key.
Through the marriage of Monsignor Allen’s grandparents, Mary Williams and Edward Allen, I found that, as well as Mary’s father also being James Williams the address she lived at at the time of her marriage was Cable Street, Salford. OK perhaps a coincidence after all Williams is very common name. Well it was surprisingly, not that common a name in Salford around that time.
Yes, if I was researching Williams in Wales then the family would be almost impossible to trace, but as it was I wasn’t and with the Irish connection I was fairly sure that I was on to a winner.
The next piece of the jigsaw I felt was to trace Mary and her family through the census returns – obvious next step.
Oh what luck, in the 1881 census there are three brothers-in-law living with the Allen family – Thomas, James and Henry. Two of these brothers (James and Henry) were living with my Jane in the 1871 census with their parents – hurray another connection.
This then set me thinking. Was one of these brothers the father of the three girls living with my Jane in the 1901 census and if so, why weren’t his daughters living with him?
Off I go again looking for the census returns of the three brothers – I started with Thomas and found him in the 1891 census married to Mary and with three daughters Mary Jane, Ellen and Agnes – oh my heavens we have the link. It turns out that Mary died early in her life and at the time of the 1901 census he was living and working Rochdale.
I then looked at James in the 1911 census. I cannot believe my luck! Living with James and his family is his sister, Mary Allen!
The links couldn’t really be better but of course to be on the safe side I have purchased certificates for verification purposes.
But there is just a little bit of me that still needs to verify that Mary, Thomas, Jane, James and Henry were all born in the Kildare area of Ireland and that they all had the same parents so that I can definately link them all together at one point in time in one place.
It is well known that most of the 19th century Irish records were destroyed and that many of the church records have not yet been transcribed, so it can be virtually impossible to do anything on-line – but, I’m not an intrepid detective for nothing you know.
Through the use of various chat rooms and the following of links I found a way to search the records that are on-line and I’m eventually led to the town of Celbridge and there is an email address. So off I went again hounding the Irish clergy this time.
To be honest, I did not know what kind a response I would get, after all priests are very busy people and I imagine that they have very little time for genealogy. But just imagine my surprise when, this morning, I’m greeted with a lovely email from Jim Tancred who had been passed my request and done some research for me.
Not only did he send the details of my Jane’s baptism he has arranged for one of his colleagues to send me further baptismal details – I’m waiting with baited breath for these to arrive…
I’m so hoping that these records finally give me the evidence I need to be fully confident that I’ve traced the right family and I can finally let Mgr Allen know of my finds.
The question I have is this – Irene thought they were visiting Fr. Allen in Shaw, but it seems not, so who the heck were they visiting?