Friday, February 15, 2013


George GILLESPIE, born about 1851 in Newton, Tyrone, Northern Ireland, is my paternal greatgrandfather.  He gave this year and birthplace on the 1911 UK Census in Barrow in Furness, Lancashire, England, which will help me, I hope, to find his birth registration or baptism, plus marriage registration.  Eventually.

The entire family - George, his wife and two small children, his 2 brothers, 1 sister, and his parents - all emigrated from Northern Ireland in approximately 1879, settling in Barrow where there was a significant increase in ship-building and related industry.

Here is a badly-damaged photo of George, taken in the 1930s; he died in February 1941 in Barrow, at the age of 90, apparently still going for a walk every day with his dog (Judy), according to Mary, his only daughter, with whom he lived:

Grgrandfather George was the eldest of 4 children of James GILLESPIE b. abt 1821 Ireland, and Eliza (Elizabeth) MORRISON, b. abt 1823 Ireland.   James & Eliza married approximately 1850, possibly in the Belfast area, according to several distant cousins.  They had at least 4 children that I have been able to track (to date); these four are listed on the 1881 UK Census for Barrow, and every member in the family is born in Ireland (no place given):
- George (my line) b. abt 1851
- Andrew b. abt 1858
- Robert b. abt 1861
- Margaret b. abt 1863

As you can see, there is a gap of about 7 years between George and his next brother, Andrew, which makes me wonder if there might be another daughter or two, or another son, who decided to stay in Northern Ireland.  Of course they may have lost one or two children at young ages.  There is still much research to do in this family.

George married Catherine ARMSTRONG in about 1875 in Parish Clogher, Tyrone, Northern Ireland, and they had 4 children, the eldest two born in Tyrone, Northern Ireland, the younger two born in Barrow, Lancashire, in England:
- William John "Jack" b. 23 Aug 1876 (my line) b. 23 Aug 1876 ?Augher, Tyrone
- James Robert "Jim" b. 7 Apr 1878 (Parish Beagh?) Armagh or Omagh, Tyrone
- Mary Elizabeth  b. 19 Apr 1883  Barrow in Furness, Lancashire, England
- George Armstrong  b. 1886  Barrow in Furness, Lancashire (d. 8 Aug 1916 at Battle of the Somme, France, WWI)

George & Catherine lived in Barrow for the rest of their lives.  George is listed on the various censuses in Barrow as an Iron Founders Labourer, and an Engine Fitter's Labourer.  The first Census I find the family in is the 1881 UK Census, where all 9 are living in the Walney Ward of Barrow in Furness, at "#262 Brick Cottages".  About 300 brick cottages were built for labourers for the burgeoning steel and ship-building industries.

The two eldest sons emigrated to Canada before the beginning of WWI, and the youngest son, his namesake, died in the Battle of the Somme in 1916.  By the time the war ended, his daughter was the only child still in England.  Mary (b. 1883) married later in life, in September 1930, widowed by 1948. The couple lived with her father until his death in Feb 1941.

Here is an excerpt from a letter Mary wrote to two first cousins of mine when they were young:

"Your greatgranddad is very well considering his 91 years.  He is always doing something.  Yesterday he was chopping wood.  Just now he is putting the potatoes on for the midday meal.  But the wireless is his pet hobby.  I don't think any scholar enjoys the broadcast for Schools, more than he does.  I tell him he ought by now, to be perfect in German & French.  But I really think the Church services are the broadcasts he likes best." 

If you know any information on the above GILLESPIE names and families, do please contact me at calewis at telus dot com.


Leita said...

These posts are so interesting, Celia. You put a lot of work into the research. They also bring back a lot of memories. Is this the same Aunt Mary that visited when we were were preteen? I remember cousin Bev, I believe, corresponding with her. Hope you can get some more info on the Gillespie line. :)

Celia Lewis said...

She came a couple of years after her husband died (1948), I think it was 1952, and I think she came once or twice more after that to visit both brothers in Canada. I wonder if she gave any of her genealogy research to the local society? since Grandma threw Grandpa's version into the stove!

Jill Ball said...

How I wish our Gillespies werd related Celia. Thanks for another super post.

Celia Lewis said...

I know, Jill! I'd love to be related - what a bonus that would be! Oh well. I appreciate the thoughts :)

Joanne Gillespie said...

Celia, it's your far away 2nd cousin from Toronto just catching up on your research. How marvelous the information you have found. Joanne Gillespie


Family, friends, and others - I hope you enjoy these pages about our ancestors and their lives. Genealogy has become somewhat of an obsession, more than a hobby, and definitely a wonderful mystery to dig into and discover. Enjoy my writing, and contact me at celia.winky at gmail dot com if you have anything to add to the stories. ... Celia Lewis