Newmains – Ancestry of a Village

On a recent visit to Newbiggin-by-the-Sea in Northumberland I spotted this poster in the Maritime Heritage Centre.

It’s an ambitious project that aims to trace the ancestry of every person who has lived in the village. The Maritime Centre is a great wee museum tells the story of the village and how the people made their living from the sea. There are some great photos of the area as it was and of the people who lived there.

Newmains, the village which features most heavily in my family tree, can’t boast of a coastal location but it does have an interesting history. It became home to many immigrants seeking a better life during and after the Great Famine in Ireland. Many of the descendants of these immigrants are still in the village and local area today and many will be unaware of their Irish roots.

The Irish in my family comes mainly from my mother’s side. Go back a couple of generations and her family were all in Ireland. They came from various counties and I now have a big list of towns and villages in Ireland I would very much like to visit.

The men from these immigrant families found work mainly at the Coltness Ironworks. Their homes were mainly provided by their employers and, even by the standards of the day, they were poor.

The parish of St Brigid in Newmains was founded in 1896 and the records from the early years list the baptisms, marriages and deaths of so many family members. If you click on the link to the parish website you can find the details of these records. You can also find more about the history of the parish.

My grandfather was Hugh Brawley. He was born in Newmains in 1899. He was one of 12 children. His father, Daniel was one of 10 as was his mother, Ellen Keenan.

My granny, Catherine Cosgrove was the only child of Patrick Cosgrove but she grew up with step and half siblings.

Through these families I am linked to so many others in Newmains by blood and by marriage. Here are a few that locals might recognise.

  • Mullervy
  • Cooper
  • Keegan
  • Reynolds
  • Mulvey
  • McAdam
  • Darragh
  • O’Donnell
  • Coyle
  • Bradley
  • Monaghan
  • Brown
  • Higgins
  • Collins
  • Hunstone
  • Hagan
  • Hendry
  • Devlin

A Newmains genealogy project would be a massive undertaking but I would like to know if anyone has any photos or stories of their Newmains Irish immigrant families that they would like to share.


Patrick Mullervy Born 1906

Above is the death record for Patrick Mullervy. His great grandfather was my great great great grandfather, Owen Mullervy. This record makes me really sad. Look at the age at death. He was just two minutes old. And there’s yet another family connection to Furnace Row in Newmains.

The name Mullervy was one I had never even heard of prior to starting my family tree. The Mullervys are my maternal granny’s family. My granny, Catherine Cosgrove lost her father when she was just an infant and her mother remarried soon after so maybe that is why the name had never been mentioned. Although in saying that, most of the names in my family tree were new to me.

I have previously written about my great great granny, Catherine Mullervy and how she and my great great grandfather, Peter Cosgrove came to Scotland from the village of Drumlish in County Longford. Looking at records for Drumlish I can see that there were a lot of Mullervys there so my challenge now is to work out where they fit in to my family tree. Owen Mullervy who is named in baby Patrick’s birth certificate was my great great granny’s nephew but I can’t find any record of his father coming to Scotland. This branch of the family is very much a work in progress

An Epidemic- Patrick COSGROVE 1866-1901

This is the story of my great grandfather, Patrick Cosgrove.  He is my maternal grandmother’s father. He was born in, Killoe County Longford in Ireland in January 1863 to Peter Cosgrove  (1832-1893) and Catherine Mullervy (1939-1910). Patrick was one of at least ten siblings.

  • Anne Born 1867
  • James Born 1869
  • Francis Born 1871
  • Peter Born 1874
  • Catherine Born 1875
  • Michael Born 1876
  • John Born 1878
  • Elizabeth Born 1880
  • Joseph Born 1883

I know that Francis was born in Longford and that Catherine was born in Lanarkshire but I don’t know for sure about Peter so at some point between 1871 and 1875 the family left Ireland and settled in Scotland.  Their family home was at 18 Furnace Row, Newmains, Lanarkshire which is where the five younger children were born.  The town that they left was Ballincurry in the parish of Killoe.

Having left Ireland for a better life, the family faced some horrendous times.  I can find no record of Francis in Scotland so I can only assume that he died very young.  Perhaps it was the circumstances of his death that caused the family to leave Ireland.  This was not, however, the end of the heartache.

Baby Peter died on 20 March 1875.  The cause of death was recorded as measles. Catherine was only a month old at the time.  She died on 21 January 1876 followed closely by Anne on 1 February and James on 5 February.  Three children dead within just over two weeks.  The cause of death is recorded as whooping cough. Catherine would have been pregnant at the time.  Son Michael was born in September 1876 but died less than four years later on 3 June 1880.  The cause of death was scarlet fever.  Joseph died on 2 April 1884 at 13 months old.  The cause of death was gastritis.

So it was amidst all this tragedy and death that Patrick was raised.  The family remained in Furnace Row and in the 1881 census Patrick was working as a coalminer while his father was a labourer.

By 1884 Patrick had left home and was living in Lochee, Angus.  It was there while he was working as a labourer and living at 44 Whorterbank, Lochee that he married my great grandmother, Sarah Helferty on 3 December 1888.  Sarah was born in Glasgow to Irish parents, Arthur Helferty and Mary Wilkinson. She had moved to Lochee to work in the jute mills

I recently visited the Verdant Works Museum in Dundee which is housed in a former jute mill. It gives a real insight into the lives that my great grandparents would have lived, albeit for quite a short time. There was a large community of Irish immigrants in Lochee as they were prepared to work in poor conditions for low pay. Jute was still a thriving industry and there were plenty of jobs to be had. The Irish had a reputation for rowdy, drunken behaviour and the women were very much in charge due to them being, by far, the majority of the workforce. In many households the woman was the breadwinner while the husband stayed at home to look after the children. This was not the case for Sarah and Patrick as at that time they were childless.

By 1891 the couple were back living in Newmains at 27 Furnace Row.  On the census Patrick is again recorded as a labourer.

On 16 July 1900 the couple’s only child was born in Glasgow – a daughter, Catherine.  Sadly, less than 7 months later, on 10 February 1901, Patrick died in Belvidere Hospital, Glasgow during the smallpox epidemic.  His death record shows that he had not been vaccinated against the disease.

At that time vaccination was compulsory only for infants but even that was not strictly enforced. There was some opposition to vaccination but I imagine that my great grandfather didn’t give it much thought. There were some 2500 cases of smallpox in Glasgow between January 1901 and May 1902.

The original admittance register for Belvidere Hospital is available to view at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow. It shows that Patrick was admitted to the hospital from Weaver Street Receiving House which, I have been told, was to help cope with the amount of patients requiring hospital admission. On his arrival at Belvidere on 1 February 1901 Patrick was already very ill.

It’s heartbreaking that my granny never knew her father. I hope that her mother, Sarah, talked about him and told her about happier times.

Catherine Mullervy 1839-1910

My great, great grandmother, Catherine Mullervy was born in Drumlish  in the Parish of Killoe, County Longford, Ireland in January 1835.  She was baptised on the 19th of January that year.  Her sponsors are recorded as Edward and Elizabeth Malervy.  (There are many different spellings of the surname recorded.)  Her parents were Owen Mullervy and Ann Flinn.  I have found records of two siblings; Patrick born 1832 and Cecilia born 1844 but I suspect that there are more and I have information to suggest that she had a brother, Owen.

The family would have undoubtedly been affected by the great famine in Ireland but the mill in Drumlish was a source of employment and food for the local people and as such the community did not suffer as much as other places.

When Catherine was 23 years old she married a local man, Peter Cosgrove.  The marriage took place on 8 January 1862 and their first son, Patrick, was born in January 1863.  Patrick was my great grandfather.  Daughter Anne was born in 1867 followed by James in 1869 and Francis in 1871.

Life in Ireland became too tough for the young family and they left to seek new opportunities in Scotland.  Their departure was some time between 1871 and 1873.  There is no record of Francis in Scotland so I suspect that he died as an infant in Ireland.  In 1873 their son Peter was born but I can’t be sure if he was born in Ireland or Scotland.

The family settled in Newmains, Lanarkshire where Peter found work as a furnace labourer.  This would have been hard, physical labour but the job came with a house and the family were allocated 25 Furnace Row.  It was in this house where baby Peter died on 20th March 1874.  The cause of death was measles.  His father registered the death using an X in lieu of a signature.  Catherine must surely have been distraught but there was more heartache to come.


On February 16 1875 Catherine gave birth to a daughter, Catherine.  No doubt she would have tried her best to care for her children but in the cramped and unsanitary condition of Furnace Row it was only a matter of time before disease struck again.  In less that three weeks, between 21 January and 5 February 1876 Catherine lost three more of her children as baby Catherine, Anne and James succumbed to bronchitis and whooping cough.  I cannot imagine how poor Catherine coped trying to deal with the loss of a child while others were dying.  It would have been harder still as she was pregnant at the time with her another child.  Michael Cosgrove was born on 1 September 1876.  Peter would have been unable to take time off work to support his wife as they would have been totally reliant on his wages to survive.

baby catherine

Ann Cosgrove

James Cosgrove

The remaining family moved to a new home at 18 Furnace Row where son, John was born on 7 May 1878 and daughter, Elizabeth on 12 March 1880.  It was here too that on 3 June 1880 3 year old Michael died of convulsions caused by scarlet fever.

Michael cosgrove

The 1881 census shows Catherine, Peter, Patrick, John and Elizabeth still living at 18 Furnace Row.  Peter is recorded as a general labourer while my grandfather, Patrick had found employment as a coal miner.  For a time they were joined by Catherine’s brother, Patrick Mullervy.  Patrick contracted lardaceous disease and passed away in Catherine’s home on 29 February 1882. He was 50 years old.

On 8 March 1883 Catherine gave birth to Joseph.  On 2 April 1884 Joseph died.  The cause of death is recorded as gastritis.

Patrick left home and Catherine continued to look after her two remaining children, John and Elizabeth while Peter worked to keep a roof over their heads.   They were forced to take in lodgers to help make ends meet.


Peter Cosgrove died of pneumonia on 25 February 1893.  With no income and no way of supporting herself she was forced to apply for poor relief.  Her first application was in March 1893 when she was given 2/- to help support her and her children. This may have tided her over for a short time but a second application in April 1893 resulted in the offer of admission to the Poor House.   In June 1894 Catherine made a further application for poor relief as she had been confined to her bed for four weeks.


The original Poor Law registers can be viewed at North Lanarkshire Heritage Centre.  Catherine is not the first of my ancestors to appear in one of these ledgers.  It is incredibly moving to see the actual record of their hardship as it was written at the time.

In February 1901 she would have received the news that her son, Patrick had died of smallpox.  At the time of his death he was living in Glasgow.

Catherine Mullervy Cosgrove died on 24 February 1910 at 18 Furnace Row, Newmains.  She is buried in a public plot in Cambusnethan Cemetery.

death catherine cosgrove