In 19th Century Canada, there were rules for reporting events such as births, marriages, and deaths. The father of a child was required to register that child’s birth within 30 days. If the father was unable to, the mother was then required. Well, that didn’t always happen…as anyone who is doing Canadian genealogy can tell you.
In the case of great-aunt KATHLEEN CALHOUN, her parents registered some of her siblings births, but not all. And they didn’t register hers at the time. For whatever reason, Kathleen must have needed a record of her birth and her mother, ELIZA ANN PARKE, filled out the necessary form. Here it is:
Well, maybe Eliza wasn’t quite telling the whole truth when she signed this document. She listed the date of her marriage as 8 February 1871. That wasn’t quite right. She was, in fact, married on 8 February 1872. Was this just a mistake? Probably not. Eliza was heavily pregnant with Kathleen’s brother, Charlie, at the time of her marriage. He was, in fact, born a mere 3 weeks later.
Here’s the record of their marriage in Dublin.
Poor Eliza was probably still worried what her children would think of her if she told the whole truth about the marriage and the move to Canada. I find this sad, but very much of the time. I just found it fascinating that Eliza was willing to lie in a government document, though what would they have done to her…really?
Robert Charles Colhoun married Elizabeth Ann Parke in Dublin on the 8th of February 1872. This is the story of their marriage and their family.
We don’t have any pictures of Robert in his youth, but since he was a good looking man well into his older age, he must have been quite a handsome young man. Eliza was a lovely young woman with brown hair and brown eyes.
Robert was a teacher at the Church of Ireland school in Ballinamore, County Leitrim, Ireland and 7 years Eliza’s senior. According to a note written by her son, Alex, the school is where they met. Given that it was very unusual for someone 16 (the age that Eliza was when she met Robert), she may well have been a teacher’s assistant.
There was some sort of romance between the two, and Eliza found herself pregnant. It appears that Robert had left Ballinamore around this time, and was teaching in Ballyshannon, County Donegal. How frightened Eliza must have been to find herself pregnant and unmarried. According to A Social History of Ireland, 1870-1970:
Within the farming community, the plight of an unmarried girl who became pregnant was critical. With the emphasis on agreed or ‘matched’ marriages amongst those with land in post-Famine Ireland, the increased importance of female virtue was stressed, as ‘an unvirtuous daughter could be the ruination of an otherwise thrifty and farseeing man.’
Frequently girls were cast out by their families and forced to become vagrants, many resorting to the workhouse or prostitution. Women for whom a marriage partner could be found never fully redeemed the disgrace caused to themselves or their families.
We don’t know if Robert knew that Eliza was pregnant when he left Ballinamore, nor do we know when he came to find out. All we know is that at the time of her marriage, Eliza was listed as living in Dublin at 44 Lower Ormond Quay…which at the time was Glynn’s Hotel. Had her parents put her there to remove her from the eyes of the small village they lived in? Probably.
Robert was listed on his wedding documents as living on Church Avenue, Ballyshannon, County Donegal. The only thing on the tiny spur of a road that is Church Avenue is the Church of Ireland church and the accompanying C of I school.
Eliza was said to have a very sweet, accommodating personality. She was the eldest of 3 sisters. Her father, William Parke (age 55), was a prosperous farmer. Her mother, Elizabeth (also called Eliza) Taylor Parke, was about 37 when her 17-year-old daughter got pregnant and then married the schoolteacher, Robert Charles Colhoun.
No matter what he thought of the marriage, or of his daughter and Robert Colhoun, William Parke went to Dublin and witnessed their marriage. He was one of the two witnesses on their marriage document. The other was Sarah Haddock. We don’t know who she was. It is possible that she was the companion to Eliza. She needed some sort of chaperone in Dublin.
Robert was 24 and Eliza was 17 at the time of the wedding. Robert was listed as a Bachelor of ‘full age’; Eliza was listed as a Spinster and a Minor.
Did Eliza’s mother or sisters attend her wedding? We don’t know. What we do know is that Eliza never saw her family again. Either did Robert. They seem to have set sail for Canada immediately after the wedding. Their son, Charles Kingsley Calhoun, was born 16 days after their wedding, on 23 February 1872. He may have been born on the ship or he may have been born when they reached Canada. I have yet to find a record of his birth.
When I went to Ireland last month, I was really excited to spend some time at the National Archives in Dublin. One of the things I wanted to do was find a certain Constable (who had married a great-great-aunt). I had read that one could find RIC (Royal Irish Constabulary) records there, records that would tell where a constable was posted and when, their record of advancement, and when (and if) they were pensioned.
ROBERT HANLEY had married CATHERINE COLHOUN in Gortin, County Tyrone, 30 April 1867. He was listed as Constable on the marriage record…lucky for me because it gave me a place to look. I wanted to know how long Robert had lived in Gortin, how long he lived there after his marriage, where he might have moved, if he stayed with the RIC…all these things I hoped would help me to find out if they had children. These children might have had children and I was hoping there might actually be living descendants.
I did find Robert Hanley’s service records and there were some surprises. First off, Robert was a LOT older than Catherine. He was originally appointed to the Constabulary on 9 May 1848 when he was 23 years old. That means he was born in 1825 and was 42 at the time of his marriage. Catherine would have been 24 at the time of their marriage.
According to the record, Robert’s native county was Meath.
Robert’s first posting in 1848 was in County Clare. He was there until 20 Feb 1855, when he went into the Reserve Force. From what I understand, the Reserve Force was formed to help the Constabulary in any part of the country, fighting rebellion. That meant that Robert, as a young man, would have traveled a bit around Ireland…sounds like he had a pretty tough job. By 1 Aug 1857, Robert began doing Revenue Duty. He was made an A.C., Assistant Constable on 1 Aug 1859. He was moved to County Tyrone on 8 May 1856. He rose to the rank of Constable on 1 Sept 1860.
When Robert married Catherine, it provoked a relocation. The Irish Constabulary (which became the Royal Irish Constabulary in that same year, 1867, in recognition of its help in the suppression of the Fenian Rising in that year) had a rule that a man could not serve in his home county, that of his wife, or in any where he or his wife had relatives. So, on 1 Sept 1867, he was transferred to County Monaghan. He began receiving extra pay on 1 Oct 1871.
The record shows that after 31 years and 1 month, on 16 June 1879, Robert retired and started receiving his pension of 75 pounds.
That was a lot of information to find. I know a lot more than I did. I haven’t found any children for Robert and Catherine yet, but I will keep digging.