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.

A Passage to India?

Alan, great-grandson of George Toyn COLLEY and generous supplier of family information and photographs to LaFREDUX, has a second great-grandaunt on his mother’s side called Mary Ann HEMINGTON. She is a mixed-up lady, through no fault of her own. She married Frederick George O’BRIEN in Lambeth on 23 March 1863, almost three years after she supposedly gave birth to a daughter in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. That child, Mary Ann Conway McCarthy, married John Henry SUBRITZKY, bore him eleven children and died in New Zealand in 1932.


Mary on the Shared Tree doesn’t have a family name, though you would reasonably expect her to be a Hemington. Perhaps she was born a CONWAY? She has seven duplicate IDs. One HENNESSEY, one WELTON, three RYANs, one RAGAN and one QUESTIONMARK.

In the first quarter of 1859, Mary Ryan married a Daniel McCarthy in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Just Mary has three sources attached to her record on FamilySearch. One is the 1861 England & Wales Census, placing her in London, aged 22 and single, with her parents and six siblings. It doesn’t make sense to have shipped her out to India.

Sources neatly fit marriage to Frederick George in Lambeth, the birth of a daughter, Sophia Mary Ann in 1865, and death aged 45 towards the end of 1883.

A very different life to the one currently portrayed on the Shared Tree.