Mary Ann Still a Mystery

A couple of weeks ago, in A Passage to India?, I expressed doubt that “Mary”, daughter of Edward HEMINGTON and Mary Ann EAST,  had married Daniel McCarthy and borne a child in Poona.


I messaged a contributor who I thought might help, and on Tuesday received a welcome reply. Mary, though still without a family name, has been unlinked from the Hemingtons. (You can see her current status here.)

This departure left a space in the Hemington household to be filled by Mary Ann.


Placing Mary Ann with her birth family has been straightforward. I found she had two IDs that I had previously missed. I also discovered that her youngest sister Emily, missing from the list above, was also represented on the Shared Tree.

Mary Ann’s marriage to Frederick George O’Brien on 23 March 1863 in Lambeth looks solid. (Edward Hemington is named as her father.)

The bride was either very heavily pregnant at her wedding or had already given birth to Emily Bertha. This child’s birth was also registered in the March Quarter of 1863 – and her death aged 2 in 1865, around the time that second child Sophia Mary Ann was born. Sophia fared better, living long enough to marry and have three children, but dying in 1902 aged 36. Frederick and Mary Ann’s third daughter, Martha Margaret, didn’t quite make it to her second birthday.

Uncertainty surrounds Mary Ann’s death. The 1881 census enumerator found only Frederick George and his 15-year-old daughter Sophia at home in Sumner Street, Southwark, and the Find My Past transcription describes him as a widower. From the birth of her last child to the spring of 1881, I couldn’t find a death registration that was a close time and space fit for Mary Ann. In the final quarter of 1883, a Mary Ann O’Brien died in Lambeth aged 45, giving a calculated birth year of 1838. I couldn’t find any newspaper reports of this Mary’s passing and forking out for a speculative death certificate isn’t an option. Before giving up, I had a look at the 1881 CEB page image. For Frederick’s status, the enumerator had written “Mar Widower”.  It is possible that the couple had separated, with Sophia choosing to stay with her father. Frederick may have taken up with another woman – and he married her as soon as he was free to do so. His marriage to Jessie McKAY was registered in the same quarter as best-fit Mary Ann’s death.

Perhaps a close reading of local newspapers not yet available online would solve the mystery. Find Mary Ann on the Shared Tree but more work has to be done to connect her to the Skipsea/Filey Colleys.

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