Perhaps the easiest way to navigate through all the information that’s posted on the blog is to understand some of the main family groupings, and the other families they are linked with. So in no particular order.

The Purssell children marry into the Winstanley, Kuypers, Edwardes, Parker, Bellord, and O’Bryen families in the 1880’s and 1890’s.

The O’Bryen’s part of the story is explained at its easiest with Mary O’Bryen [(neé Roche) 1780 – 1852] whose father John Roche provided the family with a great deal of money. Her mother was a Verling, and her uncle and aunt John and Ellen [neé Roche] Verling were her mother and father’s brother and sister respectively. Mary’s daughter Jane O’Bryen married her [Jane’s] cousin William Roche making their daughter Pauline, John and Mary Roche[neé Verling]‘s great granddaughter, and great great niece at the same time.

Mary O’Bryen’s husband Henry Hewitt O’Bryen [1780-1836] provides a link to the Hewitt family through his mother, and a further four Henry Hewitt O’Bryens occur in the C19th. Their children marry into, in no particular order, the Hargrave, Sudlow, Hoare, and Hewson families, and their eldest son John Roche O’Bryen [1810-1870] married twice, fathering ten children from his first marriage, and a further six from his second. Two of Mary O’Bryen’s granddaughters Pauline Roche, and Mary Isabel Emily O’Bryen were both orphaned very early, and they bring links to the Barry, and Fetherstonhaugh, and Blood families.

Pauline Roche’s husband William Barry brings links to the Barry, Barrymore, Smith-Barry families, and both the Earls of Barrymore, and more recently Lord Barrymore.

John Roche O’Bryen’s eldest son is Mgr.Henry Hewitt O’Bryen [1835-1895] who spends most of his career in Rome, and is the reason for most of the Rome posts. Henry’s brother Basil marries into the Burke family and Basil’s nephew Henry Grant Edwardes [the son of Alfred Edwardes and Elizabeth Burke, his (Basil’s) sister-in-law] married Lucy Purssell, and his half-brother Ernest [17 years his junior]  married her sister Gertrude.

John Roche O’Bryen’s second wife Celia [neé Grehan] introduces us to the Grehans, Leschers, Meechams, Hodsons, and Moores amongst others. The Grehans were highly successful Irish merchants who branched into banking amongst other things, and had over time married into the Roche family [not John Roche’s family], along with the Gallways, Dalys, Lombard, Meades, and were loosely related to Daniel O’Connell, as were the Verlings [see above] Celia O’Bryen was a direct descendent of Rory O’More [Ruairí Óg Ó Mórdha,] the last King of Laois through the Moore family, and her uncle Owen O’Conor Don was a direct descendent of Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair [c. 1115–1198] the last King of Connacht and the last High King of Ireland before the Norman invasion.

Celia O’Bryen’s step-mother Harriet was a Lescher, and Celia’s niece Mary Grehan married her step-mother’s nephew Frank Harwood Lescher. Two Lescher brothers emigrated from France by 1778; the family were minor French nobility in Alsace. They made a great deal of money as starch manufacturers; by 1851, the family estate at Boyles Court in Essex, included 10 assorted servants including a governess, page, and footman. In 1885, Joseph Francis Lescher, Celia O’Bryen’s first cousin once removed, was High Sheriff of Essex, and a J.P., and Deputy Lieutenant for the county. He was created a hereditary Papal Count, the 1st Count Lescher, by Pope Pius X.

The next grouping should probably be around John Roper-Parkington [1843-1924]. His origins are fairly obscure. But Marie Louise Roper-Parkington [neé Silvester] is easier. Her family originate in Staffordshire, and move to London by 1871.  The Roper-Parkington daughters marry into the Bidwell, Cary-Elwes, and Sherston-Baker families in the 1890’s and early 1900’s, and the Bidwells in turn bring us back to the O’Bryens.

Our next anchor-point will be John Gray III [1819-1893]. He holds the distinction of being the oldest of the great grandparents in a span that covers sixty-four years from oldest to youngest [the Rickmans, both born in the 1880’s]. I still find it fairly staggering to have a great grandfather who will be 200 years old in January 2019. He, and his father John Gray II [1798-1868] are a fairly fecund pair. John Gray II had fourteen children, and John Gray III had thirteen, nine of whom survived to adulthood. The elder John also managed to be a teenage father, having married his pregnant girlfriend on Christmas Day 1816. Neither of the Johns managed to produce the most children in the story, that was probably achieved by Richard Peters Rickman [1745 – 1801] who may have had as many as seventeen.

Both John Grays link things back to London – both were born in the City itself, and also to a much less grand strand than some of the Irish grandees above. They are also definitely much more working class Londoners. John Gray III introduces the Foreman family to the tale [ his second wife was a Foreman ] and he had the distinction of being fourteen years older than John Laverton Foreman, his father-in-law. The Grays also seem to bring the only real strand of criminality to the tale. By the time John Gray III’s youngest son marries in 1915, bringing new links to the Penn, Herbert, and Miles families, along with his links to the Foremans, and the Hopkins family, there are a number of convicts on both sides. Grandma has a [minor] convict grandfather [eight days in prison for stealing a cod fish], and a great grandfather who was transported to Australia in 1818. Grandpa’s convict is a slightly looser connection – his father’s father-in-law, so a step-grandfather; but he was also transported, later -1847, and may well have been more of a career criminal. Either that, or a lot of Regency criminals were all called George Hopkins. Maybe it was a bit like Italian anarchists and Luther Blissett.

Richard Peters Rickman [1745 – 1801] mentioned above as possibly the most fecund of the direct great grandparents [in his case G G/Fx5],  with possibly seventeen children, though challenged quite closely by John Roche O’Bryen [16 children],John Gray II [14 children], John Gray III [13 children] , and a number of grandfathers with nine or ten, and then slightly more obscure relations, where Edward Hoare of Factory Hill [1751 -1831] is another challenger with nineteen children – though ” most died young “,  RPR brings us a whole new collection of families. The Rickmans have quite deep Quaker roots, and introduce us to the Binns, Walmsley, Williams, and Russell families. In particular, they bring in Sir Joshua Walmsley [1794 -1871]  who is probably one of the great patriarchs in the story. He was amongst other things a Radical (Liberal) M.P., and a friend and investor with George Stephenson.

A later Rickman marriage brings us the Haighs, Crowthers, and Shaws, some of whom also have Quaker roots. All the families are involved in the textile trade, and progress through the C19th to becoming very successful  woollen manufacturers and mill owners.

Both halves of the nineteenth century takes the story to the other side of the world, principally India and Australia. The first half of the nineteenth century is transported convicts to Australia, and soldiers to India. Most of the soldiers are fairly peripheral relations – mostly cousins of more direct relations; more direct relations seem to be in the Navy, which is understandable when a lot of them are in Cork, in Ireland. Australia from about 1850 onwards seems to be migrating for a better life. Three Elworthys, Mary, William, and John emigrate in the early 1860’s. Joe Purssell migrated in 1850, followed by his brother John Roger in 1860, followed by all four of John Roger’s adult sons. James Purssell [1821-1887] had moved his family to New York City in 1856, and various other members of the wider family had gone to the USA, notably Joseph Ignatius Grehan [1838 -1909] who rather splendidly worked for both sides during the Civil War.

Finally, to show just how complicated, and inter-related everyone is. John Roche – Mary O’Bryen[(neé Roche) 1780 – 1852] ‘s father built himself a grand Georgian house on the edge of Cork harbour in 1808. For various reasons he left it to Roche nephews rather than direct [O’Bryen] grandsons, presumably to try to maintain an estate in the Roche family name. By July 1853, the house and land were sold to Major General Sir Joseph Lucas Thackwell in 1853, and remained in the Thackwell family until at least 1911. Was/is he a relation?

Sir Joseph Thackwell (1781 – 1859) was the husband of Maria Audriah Roche (1806 – 1874) [no relation of John Roche]. Her sister-in-law Anna Matilda Austin (1811 – )was Charles Cooper Penrose-Fitzgerald (1841 – 1921)’s aunt. Charles Cooper Penrose-Fitzgerald’s wife was a Hewson, which made her a 2nd cousin of Mary Isabel Hewson (1840 – 1867). Mary Hewson is a 3rd great-aunt, she was married to Stephen Hewitt O’Bryen (1816 – 1872), one of John Roche’s grandsons, and one of John Roche O’Bryen’s younger brothers. They, in turn were the parents of Mary Isabel Emily O’Bryen (1867–1947) who became an orphan aged five, on Gibraltar, and died in Kent in 1947. MIEOB is actually a 1st cousin 3x removed.

Sir Joe – probably a kissing cousin.


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