Monday, 11 April 2016

Johanna: An unexpected third wife of William Fitz-Henry of Arklow

I was being creative with my search terms in the Find My Past newspaper collection last night, and turned up this entry:

April 1, at Arklow, Johanna, the beloved wife of Mr William FitzHenry, after a long and protracted illness, which she bore with Christian resignation anf fortitude, sincerely and deservedly regretted by all who knew her.

Warder and Dublin Weekly Mail 6 April 1844 page 7

This was unexpected, as the Arklow Fitz-Henry family were a small tight knit group, who were affluent enough to have nice gravestones and regular mentions in the local newspapers. The OCR hadn't originally picked up the surname Fitzhenry, so I found this by querying "Fitz Henry" and "death". Splitting the name helps if the Henry part of the name has been orphaned onto the next line.

So... there was only one candidate for the bereaved husband. He was William Fitz-Henry (1788 - 22 Oct 1859), merchant of Arklow. 

He married his first wife Sibbella (surname unknown) before 1812. They had at least 5 children and she died 21 July 1832, and has her grave in the Old Kilbride cemetery near Arklow. William was buried with her.

Then there was a puzzling 12 year gap, and 56 year old William remarried to the 33 year old widow Mary Jenkinson in May 1845 by who he had another 6 children. Mary and two of their infant children are buried in another grave in Old Kilbride cemetery.

But what of Johanna?
More creative searching  - "Johanna" in the first name box, "Fitz* " in the surname box, and "Arklow" in the keyword section, turned this up:

Yesterday, at St Andrew's church, by the Rev. Mr. Nevin, William Fitzhenry Esq., to Johanna, widow of the late Thomas Smyth Esq, both of Arklow.

17 January 1834 - The Pilot - Dublin

Which nicely fills William's apparently unmarried period 1833-1845. The OCR had made Henry into Henrv, which is why it hadn't been picked up before.

I have no more details about Johanna, her age, maiden name, whether she had any children with William, or indeed where she is buried.

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