Off in the Wrong Direction

According to Patrick’s marriage certificate he was born in 1884. Calculating back from his death certificate suggests 1883. Family folklore has a story that a birth certificate was obtained in order to prove his entitlement to a state pension. This proved that he was older than he thought. He was already past retirement age. Sadly, this document went missing.

I asked the Irish General Records Office in Roscommon to re-establish the requisite information. They produced a certificate that showed Patrick Stanley was born on 22nd March 1884. His father’s name was John. His mother was Jane, nee Keogh. He was born in Clongorey, Newbridge, County Kildare. The father’s name is correct. The year looks right, as does the month. It is a few days out on the day. However, this assumes that Patrick’s memory was accurate. It is an official record, so I accepted it as being correct.

Using the information from the birth certificate, I commissioned some research from the County Kildare history and family research centre ( ). They produced a comprehensive report. Patrick was one of ten children. The youngest was Laurence (born 1896). Laurence had a daughter, and her son was still living locally. The Centre offered to put me in contact with him as long as both parties were willing. I responded immediately in the affirmative. A few days later I called the number that I had been given. I asked for more information on Patrick’s early life. At this point things started to go wrong.

I was told that Patrick fought in the Great War. He was wounded (which I already knew). So far, so good. I was told that Patrick lost a leg as a result of his injuries. After the war, he went to London. He became a Detective. Eventually he returned to Ireland. He never married. He was tall, as were other members of the family. My grandfather had both legs. He was short and stocky. His literacy level was poor, so he is unlikely to have joined the police. Certainly he would not have become a detective. He lived out the remainder of his life in Brighton. He married, otherwise I wouldn’t be here! I realised that I had been given incorrect information. Before ending the call, we established that there is no great wealth on either side. Any hopes of a sizeable inheritance were dashed.

It was only the telephone conversation that revealed the flaw in the research. Lesson: treat all information with care. For me, it was back to square one!

Photos: BBC (Still taken from The Frost Report originally broadcast in the 1960s.)

Footnote: there is another clue in the name of this blog!