Thomas (c.1844-1918) and Bridget Shannon (nee Farrell, c.1847-1916)

Having searched the marriage records I found a Thomas Shannon who married Bridget Farrall on 8th August 1868; I acquired a copy of the marriage certificate which states they were married at the Roman Catholic Church Facit according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Church of Our Immaculate Mother and St Anselm Facit in Rochdale. The church is in John Street in Whitworth.

The marriage certificate has Thomas as 22 years and Bridget as 21 years. They lived at Hadfield Place, Whitworth. Thomas' father is Michael (deceased, who was a farm labourer) and Bridget's father was James, who is also deceased and was a farmer. Their witnesses are Patrick and Mary Sheridan. Thomas is a labourer and Bridget a cotton operative.

I'm not too worried about the spelling of Farrall/Farrell as it is usually spelt Farrell but sometimes Farrall. For example, on Michael's birth certificate (see below) it says Farrall.

There are various reasons why I think this is my great grandparents: the first is that on the 1911 census, Thomas and Bridget Shannon are down as having been married for 44 years, which ties in with the Rochdale wedding.

The second is that in the 1861 census there is a Catherine Farl (with an Irish accent, Farrell would sound like Farl) living in Millgate, Spotland; she is a widow, aged 40, born in Ireland and is living with her two daughters, Ann, aged 21 who is a cotton rover and Bridget aged 17 who is a cotton drawer; both were born in Ireland. Millgate is less than one mile from Facit which is where Bridget Farrell and Thomas Shannon were married. This seems too much of a coincidence. Catherine's older daughter, Mary, was married in 1856 and would probably have lived in Blackburn.

The third reason, by a very circuitous route, is that his father's name is Michael. My cousin Barry has a photograph of his mother, aunty Kit, with her cousin Lucy Shannon. It is via this connection that I have come up with our great grand-father's name being Michael.

Lucy Jane Shannon is the daughter of Thomas Shannon and Harriet Melia; she was born on 8th October 1896 at 3 Briggs Court, Darwen. Her two other siblings, John and William were also born in Darwen. Thomas was born in Halifax and Harriet in Darwen.

Thomas is one of eight children that we know of that was born to Bartholomew Shannon and his wife Bridget (nee Walsh). We know that Bridget's maiden name was Walsh because her two brothers are living with the family in the 1881 census.

The results of a search for the marriage of Bartholomew Shannon and Bridget Walsh came back with 6th April 1871 in the Roman Catholic Chapel of Achonry, Tobercurry, Sligo, in the presence of Pat Barrow and Mary Keenane. Bartholomew's father is called Michael and is deceased but was a land holder; Bridget's father is Pat and is also a land holder. Bartholomew is a widower. Bartholomew is living in Leitrim: there are several places called Leitrim in Ireland, but it seems likely it will be Leitrim Village which is 22 miles from Dohern which is where Bridget is living at the time of their marriage.

Assuming it is our Bartholomew, then it gives us his father's name, Michael. Given Lucy Jane was aunty Kit's cousin, I am assuming that Bartholomew (Bartholomew born in Ireland c. 1841) was my great grand-father's (Thomas, born Ireland, c. 1844) brother.

On the 1911 census, my Thomas and Bridget Shannon are living at 2 Edward Street in Darwen, Thomas is a retired scavenger for the council (road sweeper), he was aged 69 years whilst Bridget was 64. Thomas came from Sligo and Bridget from Mayo (these had been added by the enumerator in pencil). The census tells us that Thomas and Bridget had five children, but only three were alive: Mary Ann (Polly, born 1878), Catherine Alice (Kate, born 1882) and Bridget (born 1884).

Having searched the births and deaths I have found one other child born to Thomas and Bridget Shannon, and his name was Michael (born 1875). Michael is there with his parents in the 1881 census and is aged 5 years; Mary Ann is 3 years old and Bridget's mother, Catherine Farrell, aged 60 years who is a widow and works as a domestic is also living with them.

The birth certificate gives Michael as being born on 28th August 1875 at 14 Livesey Place, Over Darwen. His death certificate shows that he died on 5th March 1882, aged 6 years, at 120 Moor Street, Blackburn. Michael had measles for 18 days and pneumonia for two days.

It was usual practise to name children after their grand parents. Hence our Thomas had a son called Michael, as did Bartholomew (Michael Shannon, 1876-1914).

It is also worth noting that Bartholomew and Bridget had a son called Patrick (Bridget's father on the marriage certificate is Patrick); they also had a daughter called Mary Ann and Thomas and Bridget had a Mary Ann; it therefore seems likely that Thomas and Bartholomew's mother was called Mary Ann.

Thomas Shannon, then, was born in Sligo around 1844. We cannot be sure of the date because his age changes in each census!

He probably got married to Bridget Farrell in 1868 in Whitworth. They had five children, one of whom I have so far been unable to trace.

On 28th August 1875 they were living at 14 Livesey Place, Over Darwen, as this is where their son, Michael , was born.

By 1878 they had moved to Halifax, West Yorkshire as their daughter, Mary Ann was born on 7th June at 4 Walkers Court, Haley Hill, Northowram. Thomas is a mason's labourer.

Local historian David Glover tells me that Walker's Court led off the main road between 23 and 25 Haley Hill. It was certainly in existence in 1871 and maybe long before; and still existed in 1936. It was to the south of the road, probably overlooking North Bridge, somewhere opposite where the car showroom is today, at the foot of Range Lane. Here is a map showing the area in about 1912; it may be that Walker's Court was one of the lanes immediately above the old North Bridge Railway station.

By 1881, the family have moved back to Lancashire and are living at 1 Haworth Court, Blackburn. Thomas is aged 38 and is a labourer in a furnace, he was born in Ireland; Bridget, his wife, is aged 30, and was also born in Ireland; their son Michael, is 5 years old and was born in Darwen; Mary Ann is 3 and was born in Halifax, West Yorkshire and his mother-in-law Catherine Farrell, is living with them; she is 60, a widow, was born in Ireland and works as a domestic.

On 5th March 1882 they were living at 120 Moor Street, Blackburn, Lancashire, as this is where they lived when their son, Michael (on the death certificate Joseph had been added) died at the age of six years having had measles for 18 days followed by pneumonia for two days. His death was certified by G.A. Nelson.

A month later, on 3rd April 1882, their daughter Catherine Alice (aunt Kate) was born at the same address. What a traumatic time this must have been for them.

By 18th August 1884 they had moved again, this time to 55 Bottom Gate, Blackburn, as this is where Bridget was born.

In 1891 they are still living in Blackburn but at 10 Shackleton Street. Thomas is 40 and a labourer, Bridget is 36 and a cotton weaver. Mary Ann is 14, Catherine 9 and Bridget 6. They are living with Michael and Harriet Banks. Michael is a painter. The census has all the adults down as coming from Meath in Ireland, Mary from Liverpool, Catherine and Bridget from Blackburn. It also suggests that Thomas and Bridget are boarders whilst the three girls are the grand-daughters of Michael and Harriet. I have wracked my brain for many years trying to resolve this conundrum but have been unable to answer it. I don't think Thomas and Bridget are related to Michael and Harriet, nor are their three daughters.

By 19th July 1897 they are living at 14 Livesey Place, Darwen, as this is where their daughter, Mary Ann, got married from.

Thomas and Bridget are still living at 14 Livesey Place, Darwen in the 1901 census. Thomas is 56 years old and works for the corporation as a scavenger; Bridget is 52, Catherine 18 and is a cotton cardroom hand, as is my grandma, Bridget who is 16 years old.

When my grandma, Bridget, gets married to Joseph Ward on 24th March 1906, the Shannons are living at 76 Crown Street, Darwen and Thomas is still working for the corporation as a scavenger.

By 1911 Thomas and Bridget have moved again and now they are living at 2 Edward Street, Darwen. Edward Street has since been pulled down, it was off Peabody Street. Thomas is 69 years old and instead of being called a scavenger working for the corporation he is now called a road sweeper. We know from this census that Thomas was born in Sligo. Bridget is 64 years old and was born in Mayo. They have been married for 44 years and have had five children, only three of whom are still living, Mary Ann, Kate and Bridget.

We know that Michael was their fourth child but I have been unable to find out who the fifth one was.

Thomas died on 22nd November 1918 age 74 years, he outlived Bridget by two years. He was living at 12 Orchard Street, so must have moved after his wife's death. He died of arterio slerosis; cerebral anaemia; convulsions; and sudden death (seizure). His death was certified by E.A. Field and was registered by his daughter, Mary Ann Harwood of 3 Essex Street, Darwen.

Bridget died on 21st June 1916 and was living at 6 Back Duckworth Street (not too far from Edward Street).

Image from Darwen Days

Bridget was 65 years old and died of acute bronchitis and exhaustion. She was certified as dead by Geo. A. Thompson and the death was registered by her daughter, Mary A. Harwood who lived at 11 Essex Street, Darwen. God, how sad!

Mary Ann (1878-1961), or aunty Polly as she was known by, married Michael Harwood at St John's, Darwen. Here is a photograph (1940's) of Mary Ann with Bridget at the top of Kay Street where aunt Polly lived (about three quarters way down on the left hand side - I remember visiting her as a child. In fact, I recall that her house appeared dark and smelt of gas - this is because she still had gas lighting).

Mary Ann's first child, John Thomas Shannon, was born in 1896 at 14 Clarke Street, Heywood, Lancashire. There is no father's name on the birth certificate. It would seem likely that when she got pregnant Mary Ann was shipped off to Heywood to have the baby - the informant of the birth is a Thomas Shannon. It is possible this is a relative. It also, perhaps, adds to the likelihood of the marriage of Bridget Farrall and Thomas Shannon in Rochdale as being our Bridget and Thomas if Thomas had family already living in Rochdale (Heywood is midway between Bury and Rochdale).

Mary Ann and Michael went on to have six children, Betsey Alice (b. 1899); Mary (b. 1904); Jane Ellen (b. 1906); James (b. 1910), William Henry (b.1911) and Kathleen (b. 1917). But the 1911 census says that two of their children had died so I can only assume these were Jane Ellen and William Henry, although I cannot find them in the Lancashire BDMs.

Here is a photograph of my grandma Bridget Shannon when she is about 44 years old: grandma is at the back, left; aunty May, her daughter, is at the back, right. In front of grandma is Bessie Richardson, who is Betsey Alice's daughter; then my mum, Bessie Ward; then Betsey Alice Richardson (my grandma's sister Polly's daughter) with my cousin Tommy on her knee.

Catherine Alice (1882-1950) Catherine married Christopher Holden in 1904. In 1911 they were living at 2 Charles Street, Darwen. Christopher was a blacksmith's striker working for the corporation and Catherine a cotton winder. According to the census they had been married six years and had six children born alive but four of which were dead. I have been able to find Catherine Alice who was born in 1904 but cannot find a death for her; Mary Ann was born in 1905 and died the following year; Thomas was born in 1910 and died the same year; and Doris was born in 1911 and according to the records was registered as having died the following year but given what it says in the census it seems likely she died in 1911.

The census tells us that Henry Holden was born in Dover, Kent, in 1902 and we know that Christopher was in Dover in 1901 but Catherine Alice did not marry Christopher Holden until 1904. I cannot find a Henry Shannon. So this is a bit of a mystery. Their daughter, Louisa, was born in Darwen in 1907 and was 4 years old in the 1911 census.

According to Lancashire BDMs, Catherine died in Darwen in 1950, she was 68 years.