General information on the Duffys

Surprisingly, with a few exceptions that I’ll address below, I found only one Duffy family, our great-grandmother Maggie’s, whose births, marriages, and deaths were registered in Runcorn between 1860 and 1910.  The 1861 census lists Thomas Duffy, age 26, as an agricultural laborer living with his wife Winifred, age 25 and their children John 4, James 2, and Margaret 5 months (our great-grandmother Maggie, b. 1860) at 24 Back Mersey Street, Runcorn.  All the family members were born in Ireland except baby Maggie, whose parents say she was born in Austin Heath, Lancashire.  (In the 1891 census, however, Maggie herself says she was born in Runcorn, and indeed her birth is registered in Runcorn in Oct-Nov-Dec 1860.)

Sharing the same dwelling are Patrick Duffy (likely Thomas’ brother or cousin), age 30, a general laborer, his wife Margaret age 24, and their children Luke 2 and Winifred 2 months.  All the members of this family were born in Ireland except baby Winifred, who was born in Northwich (then a parliamentary district of Runcorn about 12 miles southeast of town).  The BMD Index shows that little Winifred died in infancy in Runcorn in 1861.

The places and dates of the Duffy children’s births as reported in the 1861 census strongly suggest that our great-grandmother’s family moved to Runcorn from Ireland in late 1859 or early 1860.

Maggie’s father Thomas Duffy (our great-great-grandfather) was born in Ireland about 1836 and died in Runcorn at age 50 in 1886.  After Maggie’s birth and before Thomas’ death, Thomas and his wife Winifred apparently had several more children, three of whose births are registered in Runcorn: Bernard 1865, Patrick 1868, and Mary 1876.  As indicated below, there were apparently other children in this family whose births were not registered in Runcorn.  Apart from these references in the BMD Index, I found no data on the Duffys between 1861 and 1891; they do not appear in any of the UK censuses (for England, Scotland, and Wales) in 1871 or 1881, at least not in any recognizable family grouping.  The Duffys may have been moving around to find work as agricultural or industrial laborers, which was common among the Irish and other poor people in the 19th century.

The 1891 census lists Winifred Duffy, Maggie’s mother, as a widow and head of household in Runcorn, living with her children James 31, Bernard 24, Patrick 22, and Mary 14.   The family link is indicated by the fact that James was born in Ireland; his age correlates with that of Maggie’s older brother James, mentioned in the 1861 census.  Winifred Duffy’s age is given as 48, whereas Maggie’s mother would have been 55, based on her age as indicated in the 1861 census.  However, both women and men often misrepresent their age on the census.

Patrick Duffy (likely Maggie Duffy Frain’s paternal uncle) died in Runcorn in 1906, and Winifred Duffy, Maggie’s mother, died in Northwich in 1910.  I don’t know why Winifred Duffy’s death was registered in Northwich rather than in Runcorn, but there seems to be a family connection to Northwich: baby Winifred Duffy (Patrick and Margaret’s daughter) was born there in 1861, and Margaret Duffy (baby Winifred’s mother) died there in 1863.  As well, there is another Duffy family living in Northwich in the period 1860-1910, who may be relatives.

The Duffys mentioned above do not appear in the 1901 census.  An important factor here may be that several of Thomas and Winifred Duffy’s children (Maggie Duffy Frain’s younger siblings), including two who did not appear in the UK data bases for Runcorn (Thomas and Annie), moved from England to Pennsylvania in 1897 and settled in Kline Township, PA.  Ann Frain, Maggie’s oldest daughter, may well have accompanied or followed the Duffys to Northeastern PA and met Michael Haggerty there.

The England & Wales BMD Index mentions some Duffys I cannot place.  One is John Duffy, born about 1885 in Runcorn and lodging (according to the 1901 census) with a Runcorn family headed by William Clutton.  Another is Mary Ann Duffy, married in Runcorn in 1893.  There are also two people who turn up in the death index: “Male Duffy,” who died in infancy in Runcorn in 1887 and James Duffy, who was born about 1875 and died in Runcorn in 1886.  They may be siblings, cousins, or nephews of Maggie Duffy Frain, or they may be unrelated to our family.

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