M.C. Moran

Blog Break

Slow blogging these days as real life intervenes. I’m still checking email, but response may be a bit slower than usual.

Back to (semi-)regular blogging in a few weeks, I hope. In the meanwhile, I recommend Lumbering Songs from the Ontario Shanties, put out by Smithsonian Folkways. The clips of O.J. Abbott are especially worth listening to. More on O.J. Abbott in a later entry —

John Joseph McCarthy, James McCarthy, and two unidentified

Courtesy of Ryan McCarthy (a descendant of Eugene McCarthy and his first wife Catherine Traynor), here’s a really nice studio portrait from about 1915 (taken at Perth, Lanark Co., Ontario):

Left to right: Unidentified (John Joseph McCarthy Sen.?); James Francis McCarthy; John Joseph McCarthy Jun.; Unidentified.

Only two of the four subjects (the two in the middle) can be positively identified. The two people in the middle are half-brothers: the young child is James Francis McCarthy (born 1912), son of John Joseph McCarthy (1869-1923) and his second wife Annie Powell; and the young man who is holding the child is John Joseph McCarthy (born 1893), son of John Joseph McCarthy and his first wife Catherine O’Dea. The man on the far left is probably John Joseph McCarthy Senior. The man on the far right is unidentified, though a notation on the back of the photograph suggests he might be an O’Dea.

Free Online Archives (and hair brushing by steam engine)

Advertisement from The Town Crier: or, Jacob's Belles Lettres, Birmingham, Nov 1866

In Birmingham, England, circa 1866, there was a “Professor Steele, Practical Hair Cutter,” who offered a yearly subscription to men’s hair care services.  “All Subscribers,” advertised Professor Steele (see advert, left), “will receive immediate attention from himself and Eleven first-class Men, and may have their HAIR CUT, CLEANED, SHAMPOO’D, AND BRUSHED BY STEAM, As often as they like, all the year round, in the largest, handsomest, and best-fitted saloon in the three Kingdoms.”1 Subscription price: One Guinea.2

Their hair brushed by steam? And just how did that  work?

Well, it worked by means of a Camp’s Rotary Hair Brush, of course, which was “propelled by a pretty bright Steam Engine, which performs its revolutions in a glass case, in a perfectly noiseless manner.” I have to admit, I cannot form a clear image of this device in my mind, not even after having read the accompanying paean to the THE ROTARY HAIR BRUSH in rhyming verse (“It rolls with soft mechanic power/Around the head with ease/And thousands who have tried it say/It cannot fail to please.”).

  1. The three kingdoms = England, Scotland and Ireland.
  2. 1 Guinea = 21 shillings, or one pound and one shilling

Census Returns: Access versus Privacy (with Poll)

Of course, I’d love to see full details, with all personally identifying information, for every Canadian census ever taken, up to and including the day before yesterday. But: I also realize there are genuine privacy concerns relating to the public release of personally identifying information.

The fact is, you can learn a lot from the recorded facts of the census, if you pay attention to the details. “Illegitimate” births; unofficial (and perhaps unacknowledged in the adoptee’s lifetime) adoptions (including, e.g., British Home Children whose birth names were erased/subsumed under the surnames of their adopters, or, perhaps, employers); “widows” who were not actually widowed; bigamy … look, I don’t mean to suggest that the census is just a big scandal sheet in tabular form, but I’ve seen examples of all of the situations just mentioned, and more, in currently publicly available Canadian census returns.

About a month and a half ago, when the US federal census of 1940 was first released, people were posting pages from the 1940 on facebook: ‘Here’s my grandmother in Detroit, Michigan!’; ‘Hey, Dad! Here you are, just five years old!’ Needless to say, I felt a pang of, well, envy, I suppose: under current rules and regulations, it won’t be until 2033 that we see the public release of the 1941 Canadian census, after all, and even the release of the 1921 Canadian census is a year away. At the same time, though, I couldn’t help thinking that 1940 is awfully recent (in historical terms, it is almost the day before yesterday): still well within living memory, and, indeed, a date that many people now living have actually lived through.

On the other hand, I have very little patience with the idea that the census returns should be destroyed just as soon as the data has been extracted and compiled into socio-economic profiles of the aggregate. I want to see the details; I think we should all have access to the details, once a certain amount of time (72 years? 92 years?) has elapsed. My perspective here has admittedly been coloured by the loss of the 19th-century Irish census (which, sob! I’m still not over…): a great loss not only to Irish genealogy and family history, but also to Irish social history and demography (but see Fiona Fitzsimons on Griffith’s Valuation as a census substitute).

Is the American 72-year rule too lax? is Canada’s 92-year rule too strict? What is a reasonable middle ground between access and privacy?

UPDATE (7 June 2013): Poll removed due to technical issues (basically, the poll plugin was slowing down the site).

Best general guide to Scottish genealogy? to English genealogy?

If I had to name just one reference guide to Irish genealogy, I would not hesitate to say John Grenham’s Tracing Your Irish Ancestors. As a general, all-purpose guide, there’s no question that this is the book: it is very well-written and very well-organized; both comprehensive and comprehensible; and also just smart and insightful, which makes it a pleasure to use.

Is there a comparable ‘the best general guide’ to Scottish genealogy? to English genealogy? and I suppose I should also add, to Welsh genealogy? (and why is Wales so frequently overlooked?)

A marriage certificate (John Delaney and Emma Dean)

As noted in the previous entry, John Delaney and Emma Dean were married at Salford, England on 16 January 1886; a year and a half later, their Protestant marriage was blessed by a Catholic priest at Notre Dame de Grâce, Hull (Ottawa County, Québec, Canada).

From the GRO (General Register Office), here is a copy of the civil registration of their marriage, which was solemnized at an Anglican church: St. Bartholomew’s, Salford:

Marriage of John Delaney and Sarah Emma Dean, 16 Jan 1886

Obituary for (Michael) John Delaney, Ottawa Citizen, 22 December 1931

Note that John Delaney’s address is given as “Salford Barracks,” and his occupation as “Musician 80th Foot.” This is the same regiment (80th Foot) in which his father Michael Delaney had served, though Michael Delaney was an army pensioner by 1881, and by 1883 he and his wife Mary Ashbury had emigrated to Canada (John Delaney, with his wife Emma Dean, would follow his parents to Canada by the summer of 1887).

John Delaney’s military career began at a (by today’s standards) shockingly early age. His obituary (Ottawa Citizen, 22 Dec 1931) records that he was a drummer in the [Anglo-]Zulu War. He would have been about 13 years old at the time1: a drummer boy. He appears to have fudged his birth year by a couple of years for his Salford marriage (where he is listed as age 21, when he was in fact 19 years of age: perhaps he had already added a couple of years to his age in order to serve in the 80th Foot Regiment in 1880? he should have been 14 years old in 1880 in order to serve, but given his birth date, he clearly wasn’t), but in August 1887 Rev. Father M.E. Harnois of Notre Dame de Grâce accurately listed John Delaney as fils mineur (minor son, i.e., not yet 21 years of age) of Michael Delaney and Mary Ashberry [Ashbury].

It is highly unusual to have a civil registration of an Anglican marriage in England followed by a Catholic blessing of said marriage in the province of Quebec, Canada. My guess (pure speculation here, admittedly) is that John Delaney’s Irish Catholic parents (and probably especially his mother) were in fits that their son had placed his immortal soul in peril, and somebody (again, probably his mother) had lobbied the local parish priest to fix things, to put the fix in.

  1. John (Michael John) Delaney was born 12 August 1867 at Port Louis, Mauritius; the Anglo-Zulu War began 22 January 1879. According to his obituary, John Delaney served as a drummer in 1880.