Sunday, 15 July 2012

A personal puzzle solved, perhaps ...

My great-grandfather Joseph CONDRAN's origins are unclear. His marriage certificate in 1884 gives his likely birth date as 1844 and states that his father is Charles CONDRAN (deceased), a provision merchant. (I think a provision merchant could be a grocer.) I have found Joseph in only two censuses, the 1881 UK census which suggests his birth date as 1841 and gives his birth place as Manchester, Lancashire, England, and the 1891 UK census which suggests his birth date as 1844 and gives his birth place as Cardiff, Wales. Family lore has Joseph CONDRAN as Irish.

In spite of years of searching, I have found no trace of a Charles CONDRAN, provision merchant, either in Ireland or on the UK mainland. I was therefore very interested a few weeks ago to find a marriage record for January, 1884, on the Lancashire Online Parish Clerk project ( of an Eliza CONDRON in Lytham, Lancashire: Eliza is aged 43 and gives her father as Charles CONDRON, grocer. Could Joseph and Eliza CONDR*N, born within a few years of one another in the same county, and giving the same father's name and occupation, be brother and sister?

I sent away for the birth certificate of the only likely Eliza: an Eliza CONDREN born in Manchester in 1840. When a copy of Eliza CONDREN's birth certificate arrived,  it named her mother as Catharine CONDREN but left the father's name blank, suggesting that Eliza was illegitimate.

Quite a number of the 1851 census returns for Manchester were not indexed until recently, because the original census books had been damaged in a flood, but heroic efforts in recent years have meant that many of the missing Manchester census returns have been restored as best they can be and have been indexed. Thus it was that I was able to find Catharine (now recorded as Catherine) CONDRON (aged 43, general servant) and her daughter Eliza CONDRON (aged 10) in the 1851 census for Manchester, in the household of ... Charles CORNER (aged 60), provision dealer. After that I found Catherine and her infant daughter in the 1841 census for Manchester, also in the household of Charles CORNER (aged 50, at that time a baker). In both censuses, both Charles CORNER and Catherine are recorded as having been born in Ireland.

So it's probable that Catherine told her daughter Eliza that her father was called Charles and was a provision dealer / grocer. Subsequently, either through misinterpretation or a deliberate attempt to hide her illegitimacy, Eliza, when she got married in 1884, gave her father as Charles CONDRON, grocer. The father could be Charles CORNER, or possibly his son (also Charles) who was aged 20 in the 1841 census.

Which brings me back to my great-grandfather. The evidence is circumstantial - I have not yet found a record which firmly ties him as a son of Catherine CONDRON. But given the lack of any evidence whatsoever for a Charles CONDRON who was a provision merchant, the coincidence of two people (Joseph and Eliza) of similar age and possibly both from Manchester giving their father as Charles CONDR*N with an occupation of provision merchant or grocer, I think it quite likely that Joseph and Eliza are brother and sister, illegitimate offspring of Catherine CONDR*N who was an Irish-born domestic servant in Manchester, and that their father was not Charles CONDR*N but her employer Charles CORNER who was also born in Ireland.

So perhaps my great-grandfather Joseph wasn't born in Ireland but in England, albeit of two Irish parents. Whether that means I'm still an eighth Irish, as I had always been told, or only one-sixteenth, I haven't yet worked out.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Kilkenny CONDR*Ns

County Kilkenny lies in the Irish province of Leinster. It is bordered on the north by Co. Laois or Leix (Queens County), on the east by Co. Carlow and Co. Wexford, on the south by Co. Waterford and on the west by Co. Tipperary.
CONDR*Ns are uncommon in Co. Kilkenny, but historically there are some living there: between 1864 (when universal civil registration of births, marriages and deaths began in Ireland) and 1910, a span of 46 years, there were 23 CONDR*N births registered, 13 marriages and 18 deaths. Fifty of these life events were recorded in the Castlecomer registration district, which covers the north-east corner of the county, and the remaining 4 events in the Kilkenny registration district which covers a band from west to east across the northern half of the county. This geographical restriction to the northern part of the county lends support to the idea that the Kilkenny CONDR*Ns perhaps migrated from Queens County. The most common variant of CONDR*N to be found in Co. Kilkenny is CONDREN.

Although I have not yet fitted all nineteenth-century Kilkenny CONDR*Ns into family trees, those found there in the 1901 and 1911 censuses are mostly accounted for. In each of 1901 and 1911, there are five households in the county containing CONDR*Ns, in addition to one nun in 1901 and two nuns in 1911 who were living in religious houses in the county but were born in Co. Wicklow. Apart from a widow Margaret CONDRON who is living in Clogh in both 1901 and 1911, and a widower Martin CONDRON living in Greenshill in 1901, all households in the censuses are related to just two married couples. Although they are variously spelt CONDREN and CONDRON in the censuses, in what follows I use the spelling CONDREN throughout.

The first couple is Brian (sometimes recorded as Bernard) CONDREN, who married Mary COLLINS in the Roman Catholic parish of Muckalee, Co. Kilkenny, in 1861. I believe that the following 14 children are theirs: Bridget (1861), Ellen (1863), Mary (1865), Margaret (1866), Edward (1868), Anne (1870), Michael (1871), Martin (1873), Bernard (1876), Margaret (1878), Bernard or Brian (1880), Thomas (1882), James (1884) and Patrick James (1887). Brian CONDREN senior died before 1901, but his widow Mary is found in the 1901 census with her daughter Mary and sons Michael, Martin and Bernard. Mary CONDREN senior died in 1904. In 1911, son Michael is living with his wife Mary (nee HARDING), whom he married in Clogh in 1907, and their three children. Martin, who is recorded as a widow (he may have married a Bridget HARDING - Mary's sister, perhaps? - in 1908, in which case she probably died in 1910), is living with his brothers Bernard and Thomas. All these households are living in the townland of Chatsworth, near Clogh. Another son, Edward, is living with his wife Mary (nee BROPHY), whom he married in Castlecomer in 1901, in the townland of Croghtenclogh with their three children. All these places are less than a mile from the border with Queens County.

The second couple is also - confusingly - Brian (sometimes recorded as Bernard) CONDREN, who married Bridget FOGARTY in 1873. I believe they had two children: John (1876) and Thomas (1878). By 1901, Brian has died and his widow Bridget and son John are living in the townland of Uskerty, together with Brian's sister Eliza. By 1911, Eliza has died but Mary and her son John are still living in Uskerty. Two years later, in 1913, John married a Julia BANIM in Coon, Co. Kilkenny, and their descendants now live in Ireland, England and Australia. I am grateful to correspondent Kathy Clare who has given me information about this CONDREN line.

As always, I would welcome any corrections or additional information about the topic of this post: email condran [AT] .