Michael's Lane, Dublin (between 1880-1900)

Photo: Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

Case Study John Purcell

JOHN PURCELL was born in Dublin on May 29, 1902. That civil birth index entry tells us that his mother's maiden name was Kent, so we can immediately search for any Purcell/Kent marriages in the Dublin church records on IrishGenealogy.ie. Only one record looks likely, the marriage of a Thomas Purcell to Ellen Kent in June 1901 in the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin.

How do we confirm that this is the right couple? Good evidence would be to find a John aged 9, the son of Thomas and Ellen in the 1911 census. There are six Johns around the right age in Dublin in 1911. Only one has parents Thomas and Ellen. His family is one of eight living in a tenement in Lower Gardiner Street. This is certainly the right family.

The 1911 return tells us a great deal about the family. John's father, Thomas, was born in Kerry. His mother Ellen was born in India. His younger sister Jane was born in Patricroft, Manchester in 1904/05 and his younger brother Michael was born in Liverpool in 1907/08. Clearly the family were moving around, almost certainly so that Thomas could find work. He was a "General Labourer", and so undoubtedly poor.

Another sister, Mary, was born just a month after the census was taken.