marriage

Bridget Surdival: From Mayo to Brooklyn

When the White Star Line’s SS Germanic sailed out of Queenstown (now Cobh, Co. Cork), Ireland on 14 April 1898, there were many young Irish men and women aboard, including 19-year-old Bridget Surdival.  The ship was headed for the port of New York, and Bridget was going to join her older sister, Mary, who was living in Brooklyn.

SS_Germanic_c1890-1900 with caption

Bridget was born in 1876 in Balla, Co. Mayo, Ireland, to parents John Surdival and Bridget Reilly. She was the youngest sister of my great-grandfather Patrick Surdival (a.k.a. Patrick Sullivan). Although her name was registered as Biddy, she used the names Bridget, Beatrice, and Beattie.

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Never on a Sunday

Have you ever wondered what day of the week your great-grandparents married on? Did our ancestors, like many of us nowadays, favour June weddings? I was curious, so I decided to take a look at the marriages in the parish of some of my ancestors to see what was popular a hundred years ago.

Baconsthorpe, Norfolk, England is a small parish in rural East Anglia. Between 1811 and 1901 its total population fluctuated between a low of 218 and a high of 333. During the time period from 1 January 1753 to 31 December 1900, there was a total of 272 marriages.

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I wrote in an earlier post about reading through the Guardians’ minutes for the Aylsham Poor Law Union in Norfolk, England. Details of intended marriages were read out at the guardians’ meetings, for marriages which were to take place at either non-conformist churches or registrars’ offices. I have previously posted the intended marriages for 1848, and have now extracted the marriage intentions for 1849-1851. The details are given in the table below.

The marriage intentsions could serve as a useful finding aid – a guide to where to look for a couple’s marriage record. Like marriage banns, though, the reading out of an intended marriage does not necessarily mean that the couple followed through with their marriage, or if they did, it may have taken place somewhere other than the location noted in the guardians’ minutes.

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Did they really marry?

After my great-grandfather, Walter William Rowe, died in 1879, my great-grandmother, Hannah, remarried. Although I’ve searched for years, I have found no record of her second marriage. I suspect that it was a marriage that was never blessed by either church or state.

Hannah was born Hannah Mitchell Howes on 22 December 1853 in West Lynn, Norfolk, England. Howes was her mother’s maiden name, Mitchell the name of her reputed father. When Hannah’s parents eventually married in 1861, Hannah began sometimes using the surname Mitchell; on other occasions she reverted to Howes.

Marriage to Walter William Rowe 1876

Hannah’s first marriage was to Walter William Rowe. The couple married on 31 July 1876 in Willington on Tyne, Northumberland, where they were both living at the time.

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The Guardians’ minutes books make for a fascinating read, and although their primary purpose was to record the business of the poor law union guardians’ meetings, they also capture genealogically useful information as well.

I have been reading the guardians’ minutes books for the Aylsham poor law union in Norfolk, England, and have extracted the details of intended marriages that were read out at the meetings, all of which were to take place at either non-conformist churches or registrars’ offices. These were read out at 3 consecutive meetings in much the same way that banns would be read out in the parish church for Church of England parishioners.

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