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Is there any way of finding out what happened to my maternal great grandmother's (Martha Anne Tennyson) mother and sisters?

Martha, my great grandmother was born in the Dungannon workhouse, Tyrone, as were her sisters Margaret Jane Tennyson b. 8.10.1868 (Margaret died in the workhouse in early 1869), Eliza Jane Tennyson b. 16.1.1872 and Mary Tennyson b. 27.4.1882.

Margaret their mother was incarcerated in Armagh Jail in the early 1890's from Dungannon Board reports in newspapers for disturbances in the workhouse. I do not know what happened to Eliza Jane Tennyson and Mary Tennyson. The last mentioned report from Dungannon Board meetings was of a young child of Margaret Tennyson (I presume to be Mary) was to go to a Mrs Brown of Newmills.

Martha my great grandmother after leaving the workhouse worked as a domestic servant for Ruth (nee Burges) and James Hammond of Farlough cottage, Tullaniskan and then for Ruth's sister Elizabeth Lowe (nee Burges) and husband John Lowe (Superintendant of Dublin Metropolitan Police). Martha then applied for an assisted passage to Western Australia, leaving Ireland in early 1898.

Martha was a very strong and independant woman and a very hard worker. Her husband William Alexander McConnell died when her youngest son Robert was just 3 years old and she steered her 7 (of 9 born) surviving children to a productive adulthood.

Can anyone help me with how to find what happened to Eliza and Mary, Martha's sisters and Martha's mother Margaret?




Sunday 9th May 2021, 05:55AM

Message Board Replies

  • Formal adoption only started in Northern Ireland in 1927. Up till that time adoption/fostering was an informal arrangement with little or no paperwork. Can make people hard to trace.

    Dungannon Workhouse does not appear to have any records pre 1899 so no clues there:

    I had a look in the 1901 census around Newmills. There were 3 Browns living there but none was married. If adopted by that family Mary may have acquired the surname Brown. If just employed as a servant, then she’ll probably have kept the surname Tennyson.

    Farlough townland where James Hammond farmed is part of Newmills, so perhaps the girls were all in the same general area? Here’s James Hammond in 1901:

    There are some marriages in the general area for Eliza Janes and Marys (an example below):

    Unfortunately Irish marriage certificates don’t contain the mother’s name and so there’s no easy way of knowing if it’s the right person. 

    Here’s the death of a Margaret Tennyson from Armagh, spinster, aged 53, who died in July 1901 in Omagh asylum. Don’t know if it’s your lady.

    PRONI might have the patient records, which could tell you a bit more about the person.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Sunday 9th May 2021, 09:52AM
  • Hello Elwyn,

    I have looked at all the records you've suggested earlier. I believe the death of Margaret Tennyson aged 53 years in the Omagh Asylum could very well be my Margaret as her birth date would have been approx 1848 which makes sense that her first born daughter that I have found would have made her about 19 or twenty years old.

    On my great grandmother's (Martha) marriage certificate she stated her father was Joseph Tennyson (a farmer) and her mother Margaret Grimes of county Tyrone. I have been unable to find any record of a marriage of these two and am beginning to believe they may be fictitious or the truth has been stretched. My great grandmother may have been embarrassed of her mother and the circumstances she had found herself in. 

    I also found a record of a Mary Tennyson in the 1911 English Census Records working as a servant who was born in Dungannon who I believe may be the Mary I am looking for. She was working for a person who was a soap manufacturer (can't just remember the name of the family) but have no idea what may have happened to her after that. 

    The trouble is how do I verify all that I have found?

    I feel happier that I may be on the right track after finding that you have come to similar conclusions. 

    Thanks for answering and your interest.


    Saturday 22nd May 2021, 12:58PM