The newly-digitized and online Catholic Church Records of Ireland (NLI) have finally solved mysteries surrounding my Sheedy family history on one side of the family tree, but missing records in the collection are confusing primary research on paternal great, great-grandmother Hannah Journeaux and her six sisters of County Cork .
I thought the now online church records of St Peters and St Pauls parish in Cork city would give me new birth data, or confirm baptismal information about some of the Journeaux sisters between the years 1830 – 1860.
Instead only one christening record can be found of three already known, and that for a Journeaux sister I didn’t know existed, and the marriage of the Journeaux parents is also missing is also their deaths, though they lived and worked in this particular parish for over fifty years, and Mr Journeaux was the church secretary for many years.
As I expected the records of St Peters and St Paul’s are not in perfect order, for like many parishes there was more than just one priest performing duties. Priests led busy lives, they were at the beck and call of parishioners and the church hierarchy. They could be moved at will for personal or political reasons.
There was time demands and reporting considerations that had to be met, so priests’ records were often added ad hoc – after their chronological event.
Sometimes priests were shifted from one parish to another, and so their register book may travel with them.
But newly-discovered relative Bryan Corlett recently visited Cork and obtained three baptismal records for our mutual family history on the Journeaux family, so I thought it a simple matter to visit the new online records and confirm the information received.
I have combed every page of the St Peters and St Pauls registers, but it seems entire pages are gone from sequential order, making me wonder if it is simply a matter of pages being overlooked in the ditigization process or are there other explanations why the records are not included.
The Journeaux sisters instance does beg the questions, are there records still existing at Cork’s churches which are not included in the online records of the National Library of Ireland?
The National Library of Ireland website explains that the the permanent preservation of the Catholic Church parish registers began after 1949, taking some twenty years to complete.
The original church registers were collected from a parish church, taken to Dublin for filming and then returned to the relevant church.
In the late 1990’s additional filming took place for a small number of Dublin parishes and altogether the NLI says it holds microfilm copies of over 3500 registers from 1086 parishes in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
In 2010 the decision was made to digitise the parish register microfilms themselves, AEL Data won the contract and covered 550 microfilm reels in some 373,000 digital images, roughly one-two pages each of the original parish records, per digital image (so two church pages might be on one digital page/image).
The NLI Board formally approved in 2010 to make the digitised images available online and their ‘most ambitious project to date’ was carried out by a small team of dedicated workers who developed the parish register website.
So the missing baptismal records of my Journeaux sisters may have been missed in the digitisation process of 2010-2015, or missed in the original microfilming of the 1950s – 1970’s, otherwise Church’s might have held back in the handover for digitisation.
My great, great- grandmother Hannah Elizabeth Journeaux’s christening record obtain recently from Cork shows she was christened on the 2nd of July 1843 at St Peters and St Pauls Roman Catholic Church in Cork, by Father Thomas Barrett. Her godparents were James Murphy and Ellen Connor (no doubt a relative of Mrs Journeaux, whose maiden name was Connor).
However when I go through the baptismal records online at the National Library of Ireland, I cannot find this christening record for Hannah Elizabeth Journeaux or anything similar for that surname spelling.
1843 baptisms start on digital image page 49 of microfilm 04786/04 (Baptisms 15 January 1837 – 30 December 1855), and follows records of christenings performed in 1854 by Father John J Crowe (and which is out of chronological order), but Hannah Journeaux’s record is not among them.
Digital pages 49 and 50 shows christenings performed between January and December 1843 by Father Michael B. O’Shea, parish priest.
Digital pages 50 through to 53 shows christenings performed between 1843 and 1844 by Father Thomas Barrett, who we know performed Hannah Journeaux’s christening.
Page 53 ends with an entry for the 15th of June 1843, but in moving to digital page 54, the next entry starts August 6th 1843, Father Thomas Barrett.
So where are all the records from 18th June till early August in 1843? Why are the not included in this online digital collection?
Another recently obtained christening record direct from Cork is for Jane Ann Journeaux, christened 19th April 1845.
Again however, this record cannot be found in the National Library of Ireland’s online records.
Jane Ann Journeaux was christened by Father John Hurley on the 19th April 1845 and her sponsers were James Hegarty and Elizabeth Buckley.
Digital pages 65 – 66 of online film (04786/03) shows christening records commencing in January 1845 by Reverend M.B O’Shea and then moves on to christenings performed by Father John Hurley.
Digital page 68 begins with a christening on the 8th of April 1845 through to May 1st, and yet the christening of Jane Ann Journeaux on the 19th April does not appear.
I had hoped for an easier journey through the records of St Peters and St Pauls, because the seven sisters’ father, James Journeaux was one time church secretary.
I have even wondered if he preferred the records stayed missing as his daughters hardly stuck to the Victorian-esque script of social expectation for women living in the changing world of the 1830’s and 1840’s.
Margaret Journeaux, the eldest sister is probably the mother of her youngest ‘sister’ as their mother Mary Journeaux (1805-1874) would have been in her 50’s when Lizzie was born.
But I was surprised her baptismal record of 1836 is not contained within the registers – she was firstborn, the family lived in the parish, and her mother was a devout catholic.
Margaret followed in her father’s trade as a bookbinder, grasped the opportunity to travel and sailed as a migrant for Australia in 1857. Instead of the usual ‘servant’ or ‘maid’ type occupations given on Victoria’s migrant shipping records, Margaret declared herself a bookbinder by occupation.
After leaving the ship to work for John. F Atkin at Geelong she commenced a glorious affair with Andrew Davidson Mills, bore two children to him before finally marrying him and settling at Ballarat.
Margaret’s daughter was the famous photographer Alice Mills who married Tom Humphrey of the Heidleberg art school near Melbourne.
Ellen, the second eldest of the Journeaux sisters was accused (but not charged) of the theft of money in 1855 by one Nicholas Tyrell of Cork. Ellen followed her sister out to Ballarat in 1859, and married a man also in the book trade, by the name of Sylvester Navin. After the birth of her son at Ballarat, both Ellen’s husband and son died the following year, leaving her a widow at a very early age.
Ellen later married a Ballarat miner by the name of John Sproule, but it seems they may have lived apart for upon Sproule’s death Ellen was living with her sister Margaret Mills at 14 Wynnstay Street in Armidale. Within a few years Ellen went into the Abbotsford Convent where she died in 1916.
Hannah ‘Ann’ Elizabeth Journeaux, the third sister and my great great grandmother followed her sisters out in 1860, but made herself three years older to do so.
Hannah bore two children as a single parent whilst working and living on the goldfields before marrying Joseph Brayshaw, a widower whose brother was one of the earliest bricklayers in Melbourne’s formative European history, and the couple had some thirteen children between in Ballarat, one daughter marrying Charles Francis Williams of Ballarat, from whom I am descended.
It was only recently when Bryan Corlette of Malta wrote saying his Elizabeth ‘Lizzie Journeaux of New Zealand had the same people named as her parents as the three Journeaux girls who travelled to Australia, that a connection was made with the youngest Journeaux ‘sister’.
But Lizzie settled in New Zealand, though family folklore says she came looking for her sisters.
And Lizzie’s birthdate puts her more likely the daughter of her eldest ‘sister’ than of James and Mary Journeaux of Cork.
Like Ellen, Lizzie was widowed within a year of marriage when her bush carpenter husband Leonard Bushby died, so Lizzie raised her daughter Mary Jane Bushby alone in the Tirinui district of New Zealand.
But Lizzie stayed in touch with Margaret, as photos in her album show photos taken in Ballarat in the 1860’s of Margaret, her husband Andrew Davidson Mills,and two of their daughters.
The rest of the Journeaux girls were only discovered recently when Bryan Corlett travelled especially to Cork to trace his family history.
Bryan Corlette could not find Elizabeth Journeaux’s 1855 baptism record, but he did discover two other girls not previously known and a few more surprises on those we did have.
- Margaret Journeaux born c 1836 no christening record found (married A.D. Mills, Australia)
- Ellen Journeaux born c 1839 no christening record found (married 1. Sylvester Navin 2. John Sproul, Australia).
- Mary Journeaux christened 23 January 1842 (Mary married Charles Jones of Cork in 1874, following the death of her widowed mother Mary Journeaux in 1874)
- Hannah Elizabeth Journeaux christened 2 July 1843 (married Joseph Brayshaw, Australia but Hannah usually called herself ‘Ann’. Hannah’s christening record was obtained directly at Cork by Bryan Corlett, yet the online registers seem to have a gap. Ditigised page 53 covers June 1 – 18, then ditigised page 54 Aug 4 – Sept 25 and then onward in chronological order. So June 18 till the end of July seem missing from the online NLI church records)
- Jane Journeaux christened 19 Apr 1845 nothing else yet known (Jane’s christening record was obtained by Bryan directly from Cork, yet in the online church records, digital page 68 finishes April 15th 1845 and the next digital page #69 which should perhaps have the rest of April christening records instead jumps to late dates in May, so it seems at least one if not two pages of April/May christenings are missing from the NLI online church records.) In 1892 a Jane Journeaux married a William Stanway Booth in Dublin, but this may be one of the James Amyce Journeaux of Dublin (who are probably related anyway).
- Eliza Jane Journeaux christened 15 Jan 1848 nothing else yet known
- Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Journeaux born c 1855 no christening record found (married 1889 Leonard Bushby, New Zealand).
The Journeaux sisters were raised in the commercial and arts centre of Cork, their mother Mary a devout catholic who is possibly the daughter of Cork printer John O’Connor.Mary Journeaux died in 1874 and her death certificate says informant was ‘M. Bessie Journeaux’, which of the seven sisters is not certain: Lizzie, Eliza, Mary and Jane were probably still in Cork.
Westill sesarch for the death of James Journeaux though I was hoping the church records would throw some light on that as well.
He was alive in 1864 when his daughter Ellen married in Australia, and his wife was a widow in 1874, so he has died in that ten year decade.
Having waited over a quarter of decade to be able to access Irish Catholic Church records I am certainly not quibbling with the quality of the project, rather I feel I have died and gone to genealogy heaven.
The digital images are of good quality, easy to enlarge and have a very useful tool on the top of the page which tells you which digital page the researcher is on, and what date frame the researcher is looking at.
The digital image page number doesn’t usually corresponds with a church register page number even if the latter exists: its not possible when digitising to copy every page, front cover, inserts, notes etc in a register.
For the early records of 1700’s and early 1800’s you will need to brush up on your Latin, for its really important to understand what the priest was writing.
But first of all search through the entries, you will see it is easy to pick up surnames of the parties being married, or christened, or sponsors were etc.
If you find the relevant entry you will be able to use the Latin transcriber on the NLI webpage to work out what the priest was saying: was this a marriage of two Catholics, by banns or by register? Was there a conversion to Catholicism by one of the parties? Was the couple being married in a church or a house? Was one of the party’s underage and marrying with permission of a parents?
There are some fun entries – one man was denied being a christening sponsor because he drank to much.
Sometimes, like the Newport (Tipperary) records there was a charming priest who not only recorded baptisms and marriages, but also deaths. And god bless the soul of the priest who kept these records, because after two decades searching I now know exactly when my Sheedy ancestors died..
And the Newport priests often recorded the residences of the person’s named, or in some instances their local, gaelic identifying nicknames, e.g: John ‘Bawn’ Ryan, John ‘Oge’ Ryan, John ‘Beg’ Ryan, or whether a person was a widow, the father of a child born out of wedlock and more.
Sometimes entire years of records were added to a church record in another year (probably when the minister turned over his records to the head parish priest).
Priests didn’t always get on, and some were preferred by certain parishioners. When the Newport parish was to be appointed a new minister, parishioners barred the church door and wouldn’t allow the new priest in, so in response the Catholic Church appointed the entire district to a neighbouring parish for a period of time.
So think laterally when searching the parishes, if you don’t find family in an expected register, move sideways and keep searching.
I will be happy to sacrifice the losses in the Journeaux family history for the gains in the branches of my other family branches that have had me bogged down for over twenty years, but I can’t help wonder why the Journeaux sisters’ records are missing, if it just a case of oversight in the digitization process or the hand of providence.