The death of Bridget, and more on Thomas

Having located a record for the death of Thomas (b 1873, d 1908), I looked for the record for Bridget. It was not hard to find.

Bridget, from Rockfield, the widow of a labourer, died in the workhouse in March 1909. She was 70, making her date of birth around 1839. She died of bronchitis. This was one of the causes of death for Thomas, almost exactly a year earlier. She ended up in the workhouse because there was no one left to look after her.

This record (and that of the death of Thomas) is significant for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it provides strong evidence that the entire family were simply missed off the 1901 Irish census. It is possible that Patrick was there at that time. He would have been 18.

Secondly, Bridget would have been about 43 years old when Patrick was born. Almost certainly he was youngest child. There is no evidence of any other live births around that time.

Thirdly, it undermines the theory that John’s second wife Bridget (nee Orsmby) died and he married for a third time. The Bridget Stanley who died in the workhouse is the right age to be the second wife. Of itself, this is not conclusive. It might be a big coincidence. Thomas’s death was reported by “Bridget Stanley, mother of deceased”. It is still possible that she was the step mother. But is it likely?

The only record of the death of a Bridget Stanley in Roscommon between 1873 (birth of Thomas) and 1883 (birth of Patrick) was in 1873. The lady was 76. That rules her out. At that time, divorce was only possible for the rich, and unthinkable in deeply catholic rural Ireland.

There is no simple explanation that fits all of the facts. This is my biggest dilemma.

  1. Is Bridget Scott (mother of Patrick, b 1883) the same person as Bridget Orsmby (mother of John (b 1866), Mary (b 1868), Michael (b 1870) and Thomas (b 1873))? The mother’s name is clearly stated on all of the civil records.
  2. There is no record of a marriage between a John Stanley and Bridget Scott in the period concerned. I have also looked at surrounding counties to be on the safe side. Was theirs a ‘common law’ marriage? In other words, they behaved as if they were married but legally speaking they were not married at all.
  3. The informant for Patrick’s birth was John Stanley. I have to assume that he knew his wife’s maiden name. Had he been celebrating the birth rather enthusiastically and temporarily forgotten?
  4. Patrick was baptised as well as being registered with the civil authorities. The same mistake (concerning his mother’s maiden name) would have had to be replicated. Furthermore, his mother would, presumably, have been present at the baptism. Even allowing for strong accents, it is not possible to mix up Ormsby and Scott. Phonetically they are about as far apart as it is possible to get.
  5. Was the name Scott some form of family joke that has been perpetuated in the official records?
  6. Was there a reason why they did not want to acknowledge the Orsmby name by 1883? For example, had there been a family rift?
  7. Was Patrick the illegitimate son of John Stanley and Bridget Scott? This seems highly unlikely. Patrick regarded Mary (later Muldoon) as his sister. She is cited as his next of kin in 1902. He is staying with her in 1911.

I am open to suggestions that may resolve this little difficulty.