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I've been researching my family history for several years and have been up against the brick wall that is my great-great-great grandparents for a long time. They are George Browne and Bridget Blake. I've heard them described as the son of an English Protestant "lord" who fell in love with and married the Irish Catholic maid or nanny. Also, as a doctor who got a local girl pregnant and was forced to marry her. And the stories continue. Another element is that we are related to the famous Grace O'Malley through one of them (guessing Browne, but not positive).

Here are the facts I have:

George Browne & Bridget Blake married in Burriscarra on April 25, 1844 (found that record in Irish Catholic parish registers!). Witnessed by Margaret Blake and [illegible] Browne.

They had 6+ children including John Browne, 2nd son, in 1849 (have his birth record). John Browne married Mary Ansbro in 1877 (having trouble finding that record) and I am descended from them. John & Mary are buried at Burriscarra Abbey.

I have death records for George (22 NOV 1873, age 63, so birth approx. 1810) and Bridget (16 OCT 1875​, age 53, so birth approx. 1822). I cannot find burial places for them though.

Their families disowned them but eventually her family relented somewhat and gave them a plot of land. The family home in Burriscarra has since been torn down but my grandmother visited before that happened and we have photos and location. During my trip over in 2009, we visited the homestead, then owned by the Lally family. It appears to have been on the grounds of the Tower Hill estate, and is situated between the Tower Hill house and a school that the Blakes built for local children in the 1850s. The school is on the Lally property as of 2009. Griffiths Valuation has a record for a George Browne in Carrownagreggaun (Carnacon) with lessor of Valentine O'c Blake. 

I need help figuring out who George and Bridget's familes are. My task is not helped by the fact that the Marquess of Sligo, also George Browne, also born 1810, is in the same area at the same time.

I've contacted the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland and can find no record of training or practice for a George Browne in that time/place. I didn't get anywhere with the same group in England. I also checked the poor houses in the area and can't find any record of a George Browne as a physician there.

I looked up the baptismal records for George & Bridget's children and looked at the sponsors names - no luck.​ Same with the Peerage.

I've checked birth records for George & Bridget's names/dates in England and Ireland but can't find any combination of records that seems to match all the way and include any of the sponsors names.

Does anyone have any ideas where to try next?

Thanks so much in advance!


Friday 9th March 2018, 01:46AM

Message Board Replies

  • Erica:

    Welcome to Ireland Reaching Out!

    I located on Roots Ireland the 1877 church marriage record for John and Mary in Mayo Abbey. See below. There was no related civil marriage record. You likely are aware that the RC records for Burriscarra start in 1839 and for Mayo Abbey 1841.

    Roger McDonnell

    Date of Marriage:20-Sep-1877
    Parish / District:Mayo Abbey RC parish
    County:Co. Mayo
    Husband  JohnBrown
    Wife MaryAnsboro

    Denomination:Roman Catholic

    Castlemore Roscommon

    Friday 9th March 2018, 11:40PM
  • Thank you, Roger.

    Any ideas on where else to look for George & Bridget's parents?


    Saturday 10th March 2018, 01:22AM
  • Erica:

    I looked at the 1833 Tithe listings and there is a Major Blake listed for Tower Hill and a Dominick Browne who has large holdings in Castlecarra. I would also check out the Mayo library and see if they can assist in any way.


    Castlemore Roscommon

    Saturday 10th March 2018, 02:33PM
  • Erica - my great-great grandparents were George Browne and Bridget Blake, and given that the dates I have for them are the same as yours, they must be the same people you are researching. They had a daughter Margaret (dob 11/05/1847 - 26/10/1926) who married my great grandfather - one of their children was my mother's mother. Like you, I heard stories about "gran" - Margaret, my mothers grandmother, and I remember my mother and her sisters discussing her in hushed tones. Gran, Margaret, was, they said, a very refined person with 'beautiful manners'. There was talk about 'the wrong side of the blanket' - meaning she was born out of wedlock, and there was always lots of mention of the Blakes of Tower Hill. One story was that her mother had been a nanny who had become pregnant perhaps by one of the Blakes but who had been looked after by 'the family' in the big house. There was some talk of her being sent to their relatives in Galway, and the child being reared in the Blake house. The Brownes were also, as you say, one of the big landowners in the area, and were related to Altamont Browne who owned Westport House and several other Brownes. My mother commissioned some research but did not solve the mystery. My great-grandmother, Margaret Browne, was a teacher who married another teacher, George Garvey. He taught Irish to the boys from Moore Hall one of whom, George Moore, wrote several books including a series, Hail and Farewell, where he mentions my great grandfather. The Browne and Blake families were friends and in some cases intermarried with the Moores. The Brownes of Westport House, claimed descent from Grainne O Maile, the so called pirate queen.  I would be very interested in hearing of any further progress you may have made in this area. Ann.





    Monday 1st April 2019, 12:14AM
  • Hi Ann, unfortunately I have not made any progress. I recently met a first cousin of my grandmother and he promised to send me some info he had researched, however, still haven’t heard back. I had not considered the possibility that George and/or Bridget was born out of wedlock. Perhaps that’s why they aren’t showing up in official records before their marriage? If your ancestor Margaret was born in 1847, she would have been born well after George & Bridget were married in 1844.

    One piece of missing info that has bothered me was that I haven’t been able to find their burial place and I’ve wondered if that might give us a clue to their births. Do you have info on that? I know it’s a possibility that they are buried at Burriscarra Abbey cemetery in the same plot as John & Mary, just not recorded on the current tombstone. John’s brother Henry is also buried there and I found a record stating that two other male Brownes are buried in that grave (in addition to Henry’s wife Ellen) and when I looked closer I realized that Henry’s stone is new placed on an old base.

    I have a photo supposedly of Bridget Blake — it’s a iPhone photograph of a photocopy so terrible quality but has a studio mark that might be recognizable to someone. I will try to post.

    My mother did the Ancestry DNA test, and it does show a Mary Browne as a 1st or 2nd cousin  but there is no attached tree, so hard to tell what the connection is. One of my aunts did the 23 and me DNA but I haven’t seen her results.

    Thank you for contacting me — will let you know if I receive any more info.




    Wednesday 3rd April 2019, 01:07AM
  • Here is the photo I have of Bridget Browne. I believe the iphone photo I took was of a velox copy of the original. I can't figure out the studio name, and have searched for multiple variations of Thosart/Titosart/Tiosart/Lhosart, etc. Studio and haven't found anything helpful so far.


    Wednesday 3rd April 2019, 12:27PM

    Attached Files



    Hi Erica

    I now realise that you are Bernadette Millers daughter. I have photos of both John Browne &

    And his wife Bridget which I shall try to upload when I get a chance. I’m not very

    Techy. Guess they were taken at time of marriage as photography was not the norm


    your photo looks like an Indian squw

    Mary Browne




    Wednesday 18th September 2019, 06:26PM
  • I've been doing some more work on this today and the only Browne listed in the region is George Browne and a Rev James Browne who is attached to the school established by the Blakes. The only links I can suggest are the following: 

    Major Maurice Blake of TowerHill, (1771 - 7/5/1847) who married Maria O’Connor only daughter of Valentine O’Connor in 1803) had a son, Valentine O’Connor Blake, August 1808 - 1879), a daughter Margaret M Blake (1816-07/1869). I don't know what other children they had and assume that this Margaret was a daughter because she is buried in, or at least listed on the family valut in Carnacon.

    Could Bridget (1822 - 1875) have been a daughter also? One of the witnesses at her marriage was a Margaret Blake and godmother to my great grandmother, Margaret.

    Talk of her being born or reared in Galway could in some way be a reference to Bunowne Castle, Galway the Blake’s summer residence.

    The name Margaret also appears in the next generation with Margaret Mary, a grand daughter of Major Blake dying in 1938.

    The address of Margaret Browne (my great grand mother) on her marriage certificate in 1872 was given as Tower Hill.

    According to Griffith’s Valuation of tenements for the Parish of Touaghty (1847-1864), the only occupier of Towerhill Demense was Valentine O’Connor Blake.

    The only Blake listed is an Edward Blake with land, a kiln, office, cornmill and offices from Valentine O’Connor Blake at Clooneencarra according to Griffith’s Valuation. Could this be a relative of Bridget? But if so, why the rumours of her having behaved in a way not expected of her?

    There is no Browne listed in the Parish of Touaghty at this time.

    George Browne is listed as having two parcels of land rented from Valentine O’Connor Blake in Carrownagreggaun in the townland of Burriscarra.

    The only other Browne is the priest, Rev James Browne, associated with the school (established by the Blakes).


    Hello Mary Browne -(and Erica) my great-great grandmother was Bridget Blake who married George Browne in Burriscarra in April 1844. They had seven children - Michael, Margaret, John, George, Andrew, Henry, Mary. Margaret married George Garvey and one of their daughters, Ellen, had my mother Carmel Caulfied. George Browne died in 1873, 22 November, aged 63 years and Bridget died on 16 October 1875, aged 53.  At the moment I cannot say where they were buried - I have various notes from my research and this is unclear! I'm trying to put together that side of the family tree on the MacFamilyTree programme at the moment. I'll add a snapshot of the relevant page below. I would love to have a copy of any photographs you have - and more information please! The photograph you have of George and Bridget - perhaps if you photo it with you mobile phone you could email it to me on My mum, Carmel Caulfield Cahill, tried to research the Browne/Blake side about 15 years ago but without much success. She died in 2011, the last of her family, and of course so much has disappeared with her. Best wishes. Ann.



    Saturday 21st September 2019, 10:20PM

    Attached Files

  • Hi Ann,

    I emailed you at the address above, but haven't heard back -- just want to make sure you received. I have more info and photos to send once I know I have the right info. Mine is erothwell @ sbcglobal. net.

    I am definitely interested in the school run by the Blakes -- I remember seeing a photocopy of an article about it, but haven't been able to find it again. I've done a lot of searching but haven't found anything online about it either. I am particularly interested b/c I think the family homestead was on what was the grounds of the Towerhill estate -- between the big house and the school.

    Hi Mary,

    I agree, Bridget does look like an Indian squaw! A photocopy of  the photo of Bridget was sent to my grandmother Georgine Hoey Schiller, by her first cousin, Bernard Browne. There wasn't any more info included.




    Saturday 19th October 2019, 07:45PM
  • Hello Mary Browne. I would be very interested to talk to you please. I was in Burriscarra/Carnacon the other week but didn't find any Browne's living there now! I would love to talk to you or contact by email. My email address is  Best wishes. Ann.   (Cahill; Caulfield; Garvey; Browne.)


    Thursday 28th November 2019, 09:03PM