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What’s the biggest skeleton in the closet you’ve discovered?

  • #1
    Registered Users Posts: 5,664 ✭✭✭ OU812


    There’s been a couple in my tree regarding paternity which surprised the hell out of me, also a couple of people in prison and the cause of death of one (murdered). All within the last 120 years


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Comments



  • I’m a Genealogist and I have come across some mighty stuff. Wrote a family history report for a neighbour and hid his paternal great grandfather was a Parish Priest and the mother was his housekeeper. His grandfather is in the Parochial House in the 1901 census as a Priests Boy.




  • Also, incest was very common in the Ireland of the nineteenth century.




  • his paternal great grandfather was a Parish Priest and the mother was his housekeeper. His grandfather is in the Parochial House in the 1901 census as a Priests Boy.

    Technically true ðŸ˜




  • I'm almost certain a reputed father for four siblings (across three pregnancies) doesn't exist and is cover for illegitimacy.

    Mother is on the 1911 census as 'widowed' with the surname she gives as the apparent father - the births are later that decade - it is not her maiden name. There is no marriage record for her marrying anyone let alone two people with that surname.

    One of the daughters gives a different maiden name as an "or" at her wedding which has thrown me, and not been any use so far in tracing anything.

    Everyone who'd know is dead.




  • My paternal grandmother apparently lived near me as I was a young child, but I have no recollection of meeting her. She was apparently a young woman of a large, well to do family of daughters who ran away with the gardener and ended up living in a council house in a pretty grim bit of a northern (England) mining village. That would have been in the early 1900s. Their eldest daughter (my aunt) was, apparently, illegitimate, again I never met her. My dad had nothing to do with his older siblings, though I did know three of his younger brothers. I hadn't a clue about any of this till the last couple of decades.


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  • Based on DNA matches, the man who fathered my grandmother had children with at least three other woman (excluding his wife).




  • My great grandfather was the illegitimate child of the local British landlord, who seemingly 'had his way' with the servant girls in his house on a regular basis. He was raised by a local family whose surname he was given.

    I had a granduncle who emigrated to New York in the 1920s, reportedly became a part of the Irish organised crime mob there, and met his end badly, at the hands of the rival Italian mafia. To hide the shame of his criminality, it was stated that he died from 'the drink'.




  • Yes quite a few skeletons, problem is do you 'air' them or let them rest? Some are corroborated by records and other are just stories handed down generations that explain some odd circumstances.




  • I’m a Genealogist and I have come across some mighty stuff. Wrote a family history report for a neighbour and hid his paternal great grandfather was a Parish Priest and the mother was his housekeeper. His grandfather is in the Parochial House in the 1901 census as a Priests Boy.

    You withheld information from your client? :confused:

    Genealogy Forum Mod





  • 8valve wrote: »
    I had a granduncle who emigrated to New York in the 1920s, reportedly became a part of the Irish organised crime mob there, and met his end badly, at the hands of the rival Italian mafia. To hide the shame of his criminality, it was stated that he died from 'the drink'.

    In my wife's family, it was the reverse - they'd emigrated to New York, and there was a family story was that he'd died at the hands of the mafia - but when I got the death cert it was just 'the drink'.

    There was also a direct ancestor of hers who was dragged from his bed and murdered by a mob during the Land Wars - I think he was collecting rents, unfortunately.

    In my own, there was a (non-direct, thankfully) ancestor who seems to have been jailed for taking advantage of a neighbouring young lady.

    Plus, my and my mother's DNA tests have shown a shockingly high percentage of Eastern European DNA, instead of the expected 100% Irish, so I suspect a travelling circus or something visited the area about 100 years ago...this story remains to be discovered.


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  • I would give some credit to family lore about mafia, the 'drink' might have been a convenient cause of death. I had a gr gran uncle who emigrated to USA and family were told he was murdered on a train. I was never able to pin down a record to fit but there was a lot of gang rivalry on the trains of the day, or it could simply have been a robbery. My grandfather wrote about his father getting told and correspondence ensuing. They were told he left no effects and just enough money to bury him. In the same family the story was they had to flee Wexford when implicated in a fatal incident with landlord's agent!




  • Family lore has it that my great great grand father was sent to Van Diemens land for non payment of tithes and that he fathered my great grand father on his return. However, i could find no evidence.




  • Great great grandfather jailed for stealing two pairs of boots in the 1806s - that was a come down as he started with his own business, having a shop at one stage ... I think the drink done him in.
    One of his sons working as a jeweller, drank cyanide & died, and made a big splash in the newspapers.
    One of his daughters married a clerk in the Freeman's journal, had 16 children, ended up in prison a couple of times for assault and drunkenness, her two youngest children were taken away from her and sent off to Canada; she fell down stairs and fractured her skull & died, again making a splash in the papers & again drink was involved.
    My great grandmother was fined for not sending her children to school.
    Various ancestors were fined for allowing their pigs/horses/goats/dogs to wander on the king/queen's highway
    My da was fined for having defective lights on his Ford Prefect. He was never allowed to live it down!




  • Not really a skeleton, I didn't discover it, my ma told me but going back over a hundred years ago my great-great-grandfather give or take a generation or two came from a landed protestant house in Kilkenny. He married a catholic, which was frowned upon by the family. The next bit is sketchy, his father was shot in a hunting accident and while on his deathbed the local vicar did up a new will making sure my great-great-grandfather was omitted from any inheritance.

    What I think I may have found online is that the split may in fact have come about from the marriage of my female ancestor from another county, to a divorcee from the locality here who later died, and then she married my big house ancestor. She may have been divorced herself also.

    By today's standard it's pretty mundane.




  • Also, incest was very common in the Ireland of the nineteenth century.


    Where did you get that from? Source?
    I have never come across a source that shows incest to have been common in the 19thC; quite the reverse actually, with most foreigners commenting on the chastity and modesty of Irish girls (e.g. Prince von Puckler-Muskau
    "The natural grace of the Irish peasant-women, who are often truly beautiful, is as surprising as their dress, or rather their want of dress; ……but you would fall into a great error if you inferred from that, any levity or looseness of conduct. The women of this class in Ireland are, almost universally, extremely chaste, and still more disinterested."




  • Not really a skeleton, I didn't discover it, my ma told me but going back over a hundred years ago my great-great-grandfather give or take a generation or two came from a landed protestant house in Kilkenny. He married a catholic, which was frowned upon by the family. The next bit is sketchy, his father was shot in a hunting accident and while on his deathbed the local vicar did up a new will making sure my great-great-grandfather was omitted from any inheritance.

    What I think I may have found online is that the split may in fact have come about from the marriage of my female ancestor from another county, to a divorcee from the locality here who later died, and then she married my big house ancestor. She may have been divorced herself also.

    By today's standard it's pretty mundane.


    People in the 1800’s did not get divorced. Up until the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857 it took an Act of Parliament to obtain one, which precluded almost everyone. After that date proceedings transferred from Parliament to a Court of law, allowing commoners to divorce, but it still was extremely expensive, beyond the reach of most, socially unacceptable and as a result extremely uncommon.


    If he married a Catholic, the will would have been changed almost immediately; why chance waiting for the deathbed when life expectancy was so short in the 1800's?




  • pinkypinky wrote: »
    You withheld information from your client? :confused:
    I'd be amazed if that poster were a genealogist!




  • crossman47 wrote: »
    Family lore has it that my great great grand father was sent to Van Diemens land for non payment of tithes and that he fathered my great grand father on his return. However, i could find no evidence.
    Nobody ever was transported for nonpayment of tithes. (Goods were distrained and sold, hence the Tithe Wars.) The last ship to reach Van Dieman’s land was in 1853, the records (including offence) are there, so if true you will find your ancestor and his crime. Very few had the cash or inclination for a return voyage, it often took the best part of six months.




  • Probably the biggest confirmed skeleton is a previously unknown second cousin of my dad's. Not completely confirmed but it appears that my great grandmother's wealthy brother had a child outside his marriage. He never had any children with his own wife. I haven't confirmed this one and I probably never will but a great uncle or a cousin of my dad had a child who we never knew of. The child had believed incorrectly through rumours that the father was a priest. All through DNA tests.

    I found out that my great grandparents only married two months before the birth of their first child. I found ancestors in the petty court records but mostly for stuff that isn't very dramatic like animals trespassing, animals killed by dogs, unpaid dog licence, not paying money owed, inefficient windscreen wipers, no light on vehicle, etc. Assault, threatening language and abuse sounds dramatic but there are no details surrounding it for most. My 3x great grandfather had his leg broken in an assault. My 2x great grandfather spent 14 days of hard labour in prison for assault. Not a skeleton in the closet but my 2x great grandfather was assaulted and robbed. His father brought a man to court for burying a corpse in his private burial ground (there's the skeleton!). My 1st cousin 3x removed was summoned to court for dangerous driving in an uninsured car. I learned that my great uncle died of strychnine poisoning. My great grandfather was sued for possession of someone's money but it was dismissed. My great grandfather's sister was left most of a millionaire's fortune without his knowledge that she was secretly married. I learned that my great grandmother's brother-in-law died aged 53 in a mental hospital from melancholic exhaustion which was sad to read. They gave him a lovely obituary.

    My great grandfather sued a neighbour for the trespass of sheep and assault. He confronted the family and they told him to clear away to hell, called him a bloody w---- from the bogs, etc. and two men struck him with sticks and was hit on the side of the head according to his wife. He was originally from an area around a half hour drive away. One of the brothers was fined for trespass, assault and expenses. In another case, relating to my great grandfather getting back £50 he lent to his cousin, it was mentioned that the sister of the defendant used to go to my great grandfather's house occasionaly. She met him one night and, being under the influence, he struck her when advising him to go home so they were not friendly. She often did washing for his dad since there was no woman in the house since his mother died when he was 6. His sister died when he was 12 and 7/8 of his brothers had died by the time he was 11 with the last brother also dying young. I don't think that I'll ever tell my mum about that since my mum never knew him and he died in an accident when my granny was 16. My mum only ever heard good things about him and, even then, it wasn't much since granny got upset when talking about her parents since both died in accidents.

    My 3x great grandmother and 3 of her children were evicted from their home under an order made in an equity suit instituted against her son by the Ulster Bank. They were arrested for taking forcible possession of their home. The farm was purchased at public auction held by order of the Court. The solicitor for the family set up a question of title to the lands on behalf of the mother and claimed to have a right to the lands. The Judge charged the jury, telling them that the rights of the parties were ascertained by the court and that the prisoners had no right to take forcible possession and that the orders of the Court must be obeyed. The jury found them not guilty after half an hour consideration. A newspaper in the US noted my 3x great grandmother's son's connection and services in the cause of Irish Nationality. Her son was sent to prison for conspiracy to defraud in 1898, threatening language in 1899, obtaining money under false pretences in 1899.

    My grandfather's brother was at court for false pretences with intent to defraud obtain a cow by means of a worthless cheque. My great grandfather's brother was brought to court for having 5 people in his pub at 12:35am. He had 2 men on his premises another time, 4 another time, 6 another time. Another time, whiskey was sent to the public analyst and there was an excess of eight point three seven of water. He wasn't accused of tampering the whiskey but put it down to moisture of utensils being the cause and he claimed that he did not notice on the bottle was written in Irish that the spirit was 30 underproof. A girl was paid £7 in damages for being poisoned by a pork pie. However, the Justice said that he would like it clearly understood that there was no reflection on the pub owner who had exercised all reasonable care and had not been guilty of negligence. My 3x great grandfather was charged for selling drink after 21:00.

    My grandfather's first cousin was on hunger strike in Newbridge and was reported to be in a dying condition in 1923. He was a First Lieutenant of the IRB. He drilled, raided for arms, took part in the burning of 3 barracks, an attack on a dispensary and the burning of a courthouse. He was trained in the use of a machine gun. He attended training camps and learned to make bombs. He mined a barracks. He emigrated to the US. His brother was also an officer in the IRB. Their father had taken part in the Fenian Rising, was excommunicated and on the run for 3 years according to the family.




  • I found out my great grandfather assaulted a constable in Fermanagh, spent time in Sligo prison and then moved to Cork after release, slightly changing the spelling of his surname.

    I'd love to know the full story there.


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  • I found out my great grandfather assaulted a constable in Fermanagh, spent time in Sligo prison and then moved to Cork after release, slightly changing the spelling of his surname.

    I'd love to know the full story there.

    I'm the same with those cases. I'd love to know the context. Did he have a reason for his anger or was he just under the influence, etc.? It would definitely be interesting to know more in those cases.




  • Mick Tator wrote: »
    Where did you get that from? Source?
    I have never come across a source that shows incest to have been common in the 19thC; quite the reverse actually, with most foreigners commenting on the chastity and modesty of Irish girls (e.g. Prince von Puckler-Muskau
    "The natural grace of the Irish peasant-women, who are often truly beautiful, is as surprising as their dress, or rather their want of dress; ……but you would fall into a great error if you inferred from that, any levity or looseness of conduct. The women of this class in Ireland are, almost universally, extremely chaste, and still more disinterested."

    I suppose that it depends what's considered incest by the poster. It could be just referring to people who were 3rd cousins, etc.




  • Great Uncle is a half brother of my granny.




  • pinkypinky wrote: »
    You withheld information from your client? :confused:

    No, I gave him all of the info. I found




  • 8valve wrote: »
    My great grandfather was the illegitimate child of the local British landlord, who seemingly 'had his way' with the servant girls in his house on a regular basis. He was raised by a local family whose surname he was given.

    I had a uncle who emigrated to New York in the 1920s, reportedly became a part of the Irish organised crime mob there, and met his end badly, at the hands of the rival Italian mafia. To hide the shame of his criminality, it was stated that he died from 'the drink'.

    Is that you dev? :p

    A great grand uncle whose father owned a number of public houses left for the US the early 1900's. Got on well and became a US citizen and married, worked for the US Navy and returned to Ireland after his father had died and his brother lost the vinters licences due to ill feeling with a local RIC Sargent. Shortly after his mother tragically fell to her death from a window. His brother left for England leaving his wife and young children behind, never to return. The brother who had returned from the US - took over the running of the business but sadly died within a few short years - leaving his widow to return to the US alone. Found all this out by checking records, newspaper reports and finding some distant relatives on the Internet!




  • No, I gave him all of the info. I found

    In your first post you said you hid the info? If was a typo,you can edit your post.

    Genealogy Forum Mod





  • srmf5 wrote: »
    I suppose that it depends what's considered incest by the poster. It could be just referring to people who were 3rd cousins, etc.
    I somehow doubt that. Cousins at that remove are very distant for the word ‘incest’ to be used. Second cousins share about 3% of DNA, it drops to less than 1% for third and about 0.25% for fourth cousins.

    edit
    What is the point of a a skeleton in the closet? Those stories often have an element of truth. Surely any half-serious genealogist would try to ascertain the facts? What is the point of perpetuating a myth?
    If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton you may as well make it dance. (GBShaw)




  • Mick Tator wrote: »
    People in the 1800’s did not get divorced. Up until the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857 it took an Act of Parliament to obtain one, which precluded almost everyone. After that date proceedings transferred from Parliament to a Court of law, allowing commoners to divorce, but it still was extremely expensive, beyond the reach of most, socially unacceptable and as a result extremely uncommon.


    If he married a Catholic, the will would have been changed almost immediately; why chance waiting for the deathbed when life expectancy was so short in the 1800's?

    No idea, it was my mum who told me this story, it's obviously been told down to her. I was reading on the history of the smaller house (which is now a B&B) where my great-grandmother came from that it belonged to a local family. My ancestor (not from the big house) married into that family to a divorcee and later married my other ancestor (from the big house).




  • Mick Tator wrote: »
    What is the point of a a skeleton in the closet? Those stories often have an element of truth. Surely any half-serious genealogist would try to ascertain the facts? What is the point of perpetuating a myth?
    If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton you may as well make it dance. (GBShaw)

    I suppose for some people researching a family tree is a sentimental journey and the more one indulges in sentiment the less one is inclined to allow the facts get in the way of that journey.

    As I get older I have less and less time for sentiment and especially so in genealogy. There are no heroes and villains in my tree - just lots and lots of dead people who are complete strangers to me despite their apparent familiarity.

    However, I do think there is great merit in shining light on these so-called skeletons in the closet, either dispelling a myth or confirming a story that's been handed down.

    As to my own research I have no significant skeletons to speak of, though in the case of one relative whom I had always been told had died young due to cancer, her death record gives cause of death as abortion which I'm not sure what to make of.

    And while I write this it has just occurred to me that I myself, being an adoptee, am somebody else's skeleton in the closet!


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  • Mick Tator wrote: »
    I somehow doubt that. Cousins at that remove are very distant for the word ‘incest’ to be used. Second cousins share about 3% of DNA, it drops to less than 1% for third and about 0.25% for fourth cousins.

    edit
    What is the point of a a skeleton in the closet? Those stories often have an element of truth. Surely any half-serious genealogist would try to ascertain the facts? What is the point of perpetuating a myth?
    If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton you may as well make it dance. (GBShaw)

    You'd be surprised how disgusted people can get by finding out that a couple are/were third cousins, etc. Some people tend to use the term inbred quite loosely, particularly younger people. My own great grandparents were 2nd cousins and my aunt married her third cousin. I remember telling a friend that my great grandparents were 2nd cousins and she called me inbred. It wasn't in a malicious way but it also wasn't completely in a joking manner. I learned to keep it to myself after that. I personally wouldn't marry a known cousin but I wouldn't be judgemental about it either. However, it could easily happen that I'd unknowingly marry a distant relative if I married someone from the area where I was born. I've seen so many familiar names among matches who I had never known I was related to. I was actually surprised that Mum and Dad didn't end up matching each other when I got their DNA results.


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