Monday, 28 September 2009

Anastasia Welch - the "She was Irish" theory


Bear with me on this one, as I have nothing but a big heap of circumstantial evidence about this theory, but I think it is more likely that she was Irish than English.

The only census that Anastasia featured on was the 1841 census. The options for stating your place of birth on this census were tick boxes for "in this County", "not in this County", and a "born abroad" box in which the enumerator entered S for Scotland, I for Ireland and F for "Foreign Parts".
In this census, Anastasia and her husband Michael Fitzhenry are living in Silver Street, Bloomsbury, London with their four children. They are entered as being born "not in this County" (which for that part of London was Middlesex) rather than Ireland.
By the 1851 census, Anastasia had already died and Michael is living with his son John. Here Michael is registered as being born in Ireland. So as Michael had his place of birth wrongly entered in the 1841 census, this may have happened to Anastasia too.

The second piece of evidence is the Catholic link.
Looking at the date for Michael and Anastasia's wedding (Nov 1825) and the birth of first son Patrick (April 1826 - from his baptism record), they "had" to get married.
In the early 1800s, the only religions allowed to sanction their own marriages apart from the Anglicans were Quakers or Jews. Catholic marriages were not legally recognised and it was not until the mid 19th century that Catholics were allowed to build their own churches. Hence Michael and Anastasia were married in the Anglican church of St Marys Lambeth, but all of their children were baptised in the Catholic chapel of St Mary Westminster.

Here's a note I had against the baptism of their second son Michael
From the Catholic Family History Society Library, Lancing Street London
Westminster St Mary's Baptisms
Vol 78 1809-1838
Page 83
Three seemingly related baptisms on 23 March 1828

David Sullivan to David and Ann (nee Welch)
Sponsors Michael and Anastasia Fitzhenry
Born 25 January 1828

Michael Fitzhenry to Michael and Anastasia (nee Welch)
Sponsors David and Ann Sullivan
Born 17 February 1828

Patric Regan to Michael and Ellen (nee Sullivan)
Sponsors John Sullivan and Catherine Welch
Born 17 March 1828

I think that Ann Sullivan (nee Welch) is Anastasia's sister - and she's Irish.

The Sullivans are still in Lambeth in the 1841 census - David senior is a plasterer. David junior has the right birth year. Here's the census entry
SULLIVAN, David M 35 1806 Ireland
SULLIVAN, Anne F 35 1806 Ireland
SULLIVAN, Joseph M 15 1826 Surrey
SULLIVAN, David M 13 1828 Surrey
SULLIVAN, Ann F 10 1831 Surrey
SULLIVAN, John M 6 1835 Surrey
SULLIVAN, Dominick M 4 1837 Surrey
SULLIVAN, Catherine F 2 1839 Surrey
Princes Road, St Mary Lambeth, Surrey

Unfortunately I haven't found the Sullivans in either the 1851 or the 1861 censi yet, but when they do turn up they may give us a clue to whereabouts in Ireland the Welches (and maybe Michael Fitzhenry) hailed from.

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1 comment:


  1. plasterer surrey
    Since discovering that I lived in the middle of the site of an historic artistic community, I have been on a fascinating journey following the trail of the Haslemere peasant arts. A story that needs to be told!

    ReplyDelete