A Falling Out?

I’ve recently renewed my subscription to the British Newspaper Archive and today I discovered this article from the Hamilton Herald and Lanarkshire Weekly News dated Friday 20 February 1891.

Patrick Cosgrove was my great grandfather. His daughter, Catherine, was my maternal granny. He and Edward Cooper were both born in Ireland but were raised in Newmains, Lanarkshire. Both men left Newmains in the 1880s to work in the jute industry in Dundee. They both got married in Dundee within a year of each other. Patrick married my great granny, Sarah Helferty and Edward married Agnes Sweeney. By 1891 both men were back in Newmains. I’d sort of assumed they might be friends. So what caused Edward to beat up his neighbour? And smash those windows? He was certainly upset about something.

I don’t know if Patrick held a grudge but Sarah certainly didn’t. She married Edward Cooper ten years later!


Newmains to New York – Mary Brawley 1903-1986

There are many people on my family tree that I would love to have met. I’d need a time machine to be able to spend time with them and ask them about their lives and the stories that the official documents don’t tell me. One person I could have met, but never did, was my cousin (twice removed) Mary Brawley. She lived until 1986 and at that time she was only a few miles away from me but I didn’t even know she existed. When I did find out about her through my family history research I heard some stories. One story is that she worked as a nanny for Spencer Tracy’s son. Another is that she was a beautiful singer and sang at Carnegie Hall in New York. I’ve tried my best to put together her story and this is what I know so far…

Mary was born on 24 December 1903 at 9 Coltness Cottages in Mossend, Lanarkshire. Her parents were Patrick Brawley and Mary O’Neil.

Her birth record shows that she was illegitimate. I don’t know the significance of the Mossend address. Both parents lived in Newmains. Patrick was prepared to sign the record and accept paternity but when Mary was baptised her name was recorded as Mary O’Neil.

Patrick was clearly not ready for fatherhood and in 1907 he left Scotland for America. I don’t know what happened to Mary O’Neil but I believe I have found her on a census in England.

Mary was raised by Patrick’s brother, Matthew Brawley and his wife, Mary Hagan. The couple went on to adopt two more children, siblings Matthew and Edith Cran who were born in 1915 and 1917 respectively.

In the 1911 census Mary was living at Cambus Cottages in Newmains. She would have attended St Brigid’s School in the village alongside a number of cousins including my grandfather, Hugh Brawley who was born in 1899.

The next record I have for Mary is a passenger list from 1926 showing that she travelled from Glasgow to New York.


In 1931 she sailed back to Scotland on the same ship. On this occasion her occupation is recorded as a nurse. She was in Scotland for three months before returning to New York. On the return record her occupation was nursemaid.

In 1937 her father Matthew died so Mary returned to Scotland for a short period. She is now recorded as a children’s nurse. The occupation information from her travel records shows that she was a nanny but unfortunately I don’t have any employment records.

On her previous trips to Scotland Mary stayed with her family in Newmains but on a trip in 1838 her destination address was Yester House in Gifford. I checked this address and found this photograph. A far cry from her home in Newmains.


Travelling with Mary on this trip were teacher, Winifred Barry and maid, Margaret Seahill. In first class and also heading for Yester House were sisters, Harriet Van Ingen and Edith McClane and their children. Harriet and Edith were the daughters of Herbert L Pratt who, it would seem, was a very rich man. So, Mary was a nanny to the rich and famous but still no Spencer’s Tracy connection.

Mary travelled back and forth between New York and Newmains on a further number of occasions in 1962 she also visited Paris. Look at her address on these arrival documents between 1958 and 1962.

Mary was living at Carnegie Hall, New York! And who else was known to have a studio at Carnegie Hall?  Mr Spencer Tracy.

So that is the story of Mary Brawley as far as I know it.  I’d love to ask her about her life in New York.  She never married. Her biological father was also in New York but I don’t know if they spent time together.  I heard from a family member that she left America for good after ‘something bad’ happened to her.  I don’t know about that.  I do know that she died on 13 March 1986. She is buried with her adoptive parents and sister in Cambusnethan Cemetery.




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.

Daniel Brawley 1888-1948

Daniel Brawley was my cousin twice removed. His father was my great great uncle John Brawley Daniel was born on 26 September 1888 in Newmains, Lanarkshire. He was the 3rd child of John and his wife Roseanne McGuinness.

I have previously told the story of how John was killed in an accident at work. At the time Daniel was just 3 years old. With 4 children to support Roseanne would have struggled greatly and, as was quite common at the time, she remarried fairly quickly. Roseanne and her second husband, James Farrell went on to have 4 more children although, sadly, 2 of them died as children. I know that James had at least one child from a previous relationship, a son who was born around 1878. His name was Thomas Farrell. The 1911 census shows them living together n Furnace Row, Newmains.

So Daniel grew up with his mother and stepfather. I don’t know if his relationship with James Farrell was a happy one but I do know that at that time in Newmains there were plenty of Brawleys in Newmains to keep an eye on what was happening.

After leaving school Daniel found work as a blacksmith striker at the Coltness Ironworks but by 1914 Britain was at war and Daniel joined the Royal Field Artillery. His military record shows that he signed up on 2 September 1914 in Wishaw. He served until 1919 and the record below gives some details of his service.

During his time in the army Daniel married Ellen Mullen and the couple had a daughter, Mary in 1915. Mary died in 1921. Daughter Winifred was born in 1922 followed by Patricia in 1925.

Perhaps his time fighting overseas had given him a sense of adventure and Daniel and Ellen decided to leave Scotland for America. Daniel arrived in New York on 17 October 1927. After securing work and a place to live he returned to Scotland for his family and together sailed into Boston on 15 October 1928. Their daughter, Elizabeth was born in Brooklyn in 1929 and Joan was born in the Bronx in 1932.

Also living in New York at that time was Daniel’s uncle, Patrick Brawley. There was only an age difference of 4 years between the two and I was pleased to find a link between them in the city. At one point they were both employed by Refined Syrups and Sugars in Yonkers, New York. It may be that Patrick encouraged Daniel to go to America in the first place.

Daniel remained in New York until his death in 1948. Helen lived a long life, dying in 1982 at the age of 91. In 1962 she applied for naturalisation.

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

James Keenan 1832-1889

James Keenan was the brother of my great, great grandfather, Patrick Keenan. Patrick’s daughter, Ellen Keenan, was my mother’s paternal grandmother.

James was born in County Down, Ireland about 1932. He was one of at least 8 children of Hugh Keenan and Hannah McCarten. I’ve found records for siblings born in Clonallon so it may be that James was born there. He certainly spent time there.

On 1 August 1852 James married Elizabeth Cunningham. Having survived the great famine and remained in Ireland throughout, the couple made what must have been a difficult decision to leave Ireland and seek new opportunities in Scotland. Perhaps it was the birth of their daughter Hannah in 1853 that prompted their decision. I can’t be sure when they came to Scotland, but by 1855 they were living in Lanarkshire. I know this to be the case from Hannah’s death records. She died on 1 December 1855.

A son, Hugh was born in 1856, followed by Catherine in 1857, Thomas in 1859 and Elizabeth in 1862. Son James was born in April 1864 but died of bronchitis in December that same year. Elizabeth would have been pregnant at the time and when their son was born in March 1866 they named him James too. Tragically, just a couple of weeks before his second birthday, James died within the family home at 18 Furnace Row in Newmains. A few months later, in August 1868, Mary was born. Followed by twins Bridget and Margaret in June 1871. In December of 1873 James and Elizabeth lost two more children when scarlet fever took both Mary and Margaret.

In March 1874 another Margaret was born and in 1877 their 12th and last child was born. They named him Daniel.

Life would not have been easy for Irish immigrants and James would have worked long hours in harsh conditions as a furnaceman. There would have been no time off to mourn the loss of his children or support his wife. Feeding his family meant working every day.

There came a point, however, when James could work no longer. In 1887 due to “bronchitis and debility” he was forced to seek poor relief. By that time he had been off work for 18 months and I imagine he must have received support from family in that time.

His initial application was in February 1887 and he was given relief of 3/- per week. The register (which is available to view at the Heritage Centre in Motherwell) states that at that time he was “unable for work and could not be moved without injury to health”. By April he was able for light work and “could be moved to Motherwell Combination Poorhouse”. It is unclear from the record if he was ever admitted to the poorhouse or remained at home.

There is so much information to be found in the poorhouse records. James’ record shows the details of all dependant children and children no longer living at home. I discovered that Catherine, Thomas and Elizabeth were married and that Catherine had left Scotland for America.

James died aged 57 on 12 May 1889 at the family home at Woodhall, Cambusnethan. The 1891 census shows Elizabeth residing with youngest child, Daniel. Elizabeth died in 1898.

James Brawley 1891-1956

James Brawley was one of my maternal grandfather’s seven brothers. He was the second child of Daniel Brawley and Ellen Keenan. He was born on 31 January 1891 at 12 Furnace Row, Newmains.


James grew up as part of a large family. By the 1911 census they were living in Main Street, Newmains. James and two of his brothers were steel workers. He continued in this line of work until WW1. Conscription began in 1916 and it was in April of that year that James joined the Navy. The Royal Navy Register provides us with a description of James who, at that time was 5″6 1/2″, with dark brown hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion. The record also lists the ships on which he served. My mother recalls a photo of James in his naval uniform having pride of place at her grandparents’ house.

James remained in the navy until 1919 when, not content to return to life in Newmains, he decided on a new life in Canada arriving there in April 1920. The record below gives James’s religion as Protestant. I don’t know if that’s an error or if he deliberately tried to hide the fact he was Catholic.

His decision to leave Scotland clearly had something to do with a certain young lady. It was on 3 July 1920, in the parish of St Ignatius of Loyola in Montreal, that he married Elizabeth Sandford. The Sandford family were from Wishaw. There is a record of Elizabeth working in Canada as early as 1916. Elizabeth’s brother, Matthew Sandford had married James’ sister, Sarah in 1916 in Newmains.

James and Elizabeth had a daughter, Mary, on 7 April 1921. The family remained in Canada. James died in Scarborough, Ontario on 6 July 1956.

Philomena Brawley Born 1925

Philomena Brawley was my 2nd cousin once removed. Her parents were Hugh Brawley and Bridget Darragh. Hugh was the first cousin of my maternal grandfather who was also called Hugh Brawley. Philomena was born on 31 October 1925 within the family home at 39 Hope Street, Newmains, Lanarkshire. Her parents had been married in January that year and with Bridget already 26 years old they would have been keen to start a family. There was a big family of Brawleys in Newmains at that time and a lot of children. My aunt, Catherine Brawley was also born in 1925.

Philomena was born early and lived for just 3 days. She died just after 6am on 3 November. The cause of death is recorded as “prematurely born and convulsions”. It was Hugh who had the task of registering the death which he did later that same day.

Philomena Brawley is buried in Cambusnethan Cemetery. The plot is unmarked. Her grandfather Peter Brawley (1871-1940) and uncle James Brawley (1896-1917) are also buried in plot E3217.

Bridget and Hugh went on to have a daughter, Catherine, who was born in 1927.

Married On This Day – Hugh Brawley & Catherine Cosgrove

My maternal grandparents were married in St Brigid’s Church, Newmains on 6 August 1920. Hugh was 21 years old and a labourer at the local iron foundry. Catherine was 20 and a pottery worker. I don’t have a photo of their wedding day. I’m not sure that one exists. The best man was Hugh’s brother, Peter and Catherine’s bridesmaid was her cousin, Sarah Duffy.

Sadly my grandparents died a long time ago. I never met my grandfather and was very young when my grandmother died. I would love to know what she wore and what kind of celebration they had. I know it would not have been a lavish affair but I’d like to think it was special for them.

Daniel & John Brawley 1913-1913

Daniel and John Brawley were born on 8 March 1913. Their father was Daniel Brawley, my maternal grandfather’s eldest brother. The twins’ mother was Mary Berry. This was Mary’s second pregnancy; their daughter Margaret having been born the previous year.

The boys were born in the family home at 16 Hope Street, Newmains. More info on Newmains housing at that time can be found here. It’s possible they were delivered by Daniel’s aunt, Mary Hagan, who was the local midwife. The babies were premature and sadly neither survived the day.

I would never have known of their existence but for the cemetery records held at the North Lanarkshire Heritage Centre. While looking for other Brawley family I found the record of these two babies who are buried in the same coffin in a public plot at Cambusnethan Cemetery.

Even though it’s over a hundred years ago I feel sad when I see these documents and read the time of birth and death. I’m surprised to see that Daniel left Mary to go and register these events the following day. I suppose that must have been procedure but it would have been so hard for both of them. Different times.