Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mathew Leonard from The Burrow

Mathew Leonard (1821-1904) was my 3rd great grandfather, the eldest child to Patrick Leonard (a tenant farmer in the Burrow Townland of Portrane, County Dublin) and his wife Lizzie Horish.  Mathew grew up in the Leonard Homestead (which had been leased by the family since the late 1700s), also known as the Portrane Cottages.  Mathew's grandfather, Thomas, and his father, Patrick, each died in 1865, leaving Mathew with the lease until his death in 1904.  The land and cottages would eventually all be Leonard owned by the 1940s (thanks to the Wyndham Land Purchase Act). 

Around 1850, at the end of the Famine, Mathew married Anna O'Brien (aka Anne Brien), of nearby Blanchardstown, and had eleven children, some of whom migrated to Portland Maine:

-Mary Leonard (1850-bef 1939) was baptised 8 Nov 1850 (the record states that her parents were "Michael" Leonard and Anne Brien of Donabate).  No further information.  She must have died before 1939, since her brother Matt's obituary doesn't list her as a sibling.

-Patrick J. Leonard (1852-1853) died as an infant.

-Mathew John Leonard (1854-1939) "Old Matt" was my paternal 2nd great grandfather, who emigrated to Portland Maine in 1881.

-Elizabeth Leonard (1857-1894) emigrated to Portland and married a railroad fireman named John H. Devine (1858-1894).  Elizabeth's godfather was old family friend Patrick Wade, who also emigrated to Portland Maine.

-Francis Leonard (1859-1945) sailed to Maine with his brother Mathew John in 1881, but only lived there for about three years, and returned to the Burrow.  He has many descendants, some who still live in the Burrow today.

-Ellen Theresa Leonard (1861-1893) (aka "Nellie").  She arrived with her brothers in 1881.  In 1888 in Portland, she married James Joseph Smart (who born in the Burrow to Charles Smart & Jane Dockrell).  James had recently arrived from living with his grandparents in Lancashire England and had been working in a copper mill lab.  James got a job in Portland as a telephone worker for NET&T.  They lived on 24 High Street, 5 Stevens Place, then later 2 Martyr Street (with other Smarts).   Both Ellen & James died young of pulmonary tuberculosis in Portland, and are buried in Calvary Cemetery, South Portland Maine.  James' cousin Charles, also from the Burrow, lived on 16 Briggs Street with his wife, Nellie Curran, and Nellie's parents, James and Rose Curran.  This was one of the row of houses on Briggs Street owned by Nellie Leonard's uncle Prod.  Ellen is the only child of Mathew's for which I cannot find a baptismal record, so I wonder if she might actually be Alice or Agnes below.

-Annie T. Leonard (1863-1948) was baptised in Donabate Parish, just like her siblings. At age 21, she married William Quinlan at Old Donabate Parish, but divorced him and migrated to Portland in 1913 upon hearing that Prod had left her money from his will. She remarried soon after arrival in the US, to a Willard Harland Batchelder. When her brother Mathew John was suffering from dementia in the mid 1930's, Annie took the opportunity to get his will changed so that she received his entire estate, minus $1.00 apiece for his sons Matthew Jr. and Thomas Matthew (so they couldn't contest the will). There was much ill will toward Annie after that family drama, and to this day the mention of Aunt Annie to any Leonard descendant produces a furled lip. She was a live-in housekeeper for the church for the remainder of her life. Not sure what she did with the money.

-Alice Leonard (1865-1898).  Alice was a spinster, living in the family house in the Burrow until her death at age 33 of tuberculosis.

-Agnes Leonard (1867-1870).  No further information.  She must have died before 1939, since her brother's obituary doesn't list her as a sibling.  A death record from 1870 is available at the General Register Office, and it might likely be her (given that the age was 3 years old).

-John Leonard (1870-1897).  John died in January 1897, of peritonitis.  His death certificate said he was married.

Back Row: Patricia Leonard, "Charles," Grace Mary Liversage
Front Row: Anneleina Leonard, Patrick Leonard, Mary Elizabeth Roberts-Leonard, Christine Leonard
(About 1940, England)
Photo Courtesy of Diane Rollins

-Patrick J. Leonard (15 Feb 1872-after 1948) (named after his deceased infant brother (and his grandfather) Patrick) was nicknamed "Patsy".  Patsy married once when he was young, to Bridget Davis, who died in 1903.  In 1909, he moved to Portland Maine to live and work near his brothers, around the time he was named a successor executor to his uncle Prod's estate.  He married Mary Elizabeth Roberts-Liversage there in Portland, July 1910.  Mary was a widow from Brighton, England, with two daughters (Ruth & Grace Liversage).  Patsy didn't enjoy America, and missed his home.  By March of 1911 he had brought Mary & her daughter Grace back with him to live in The Burrow, and lived in the house next door to his elder brother Francis.  Mary's daughter, Ruth Liversage-Davis, had remained in Portland with her new husband (and apparently one of Mary's brothers - Joseph Roberts - was living in Portland at the time as well).

In February 1913, Patrick was cited for failure to pay the Poor Rate Collector, and forced to pay one pound, six shillings, seven pence.

In January and also May of 1915, the School Committee got after Mary for her daughter Grace failing to go to school.  Mary had to pay fines, and Grace was forced to attend school until the age of 14.

Apparently Mary and Francis didn't get along, because court records of June, 1915 show that Frank grabbed her by the neck and threw her against the hedge, and she hit him on the side of the face with a shovel.  In In the 1910s in the Burrow, Patrick and Mary had three daughters of their own:  Anneleina, Mary Christina (Crissie) and Bertha (Patricia).

In March of 1915, his two younger daughters, Crissie and Patricia (somehow listed as Utreshia) had never been vaccinated (likely for pertussis), since 1912, and the Poor Law Union fined Patrick and imprisoned him at Mountjoy, forced to serve hard labor for a week.

Oral tradition has it that Patrick likely later moved the whole family to England (possibly Brighton), where all three girls married Englishmen.  According to Mary's brother's obituary in 1951, Mary was alive and well and living in England, but English Probate Records show Mary to have already died in 1943.  *** I did find a Dublin-born Patrick Leonard of the right age working as a gunner for the Royal Artillery in Lancashire England, 1891 (coincidentally where his brother-in-law James Smart lived in 1881).  It's entirely possible that Patsy met Mary in Lancashire initially, then moved with her to Maine temporarily, back to Dublin, then to Brighton or Lancashire, England.

Friendship with the Riley Family of Donabate
  • In a baptismal record from September 17, 1843, Mathew appears as godfather to Nicholas Riley, son to John and Ellen Riley.
  • In a baptismal record from December 6, 1846, Mathew appears as godfather to Margaret Riley, daughter to Patrick and Sarah Riley.
  • In Mathew's son Patrick's 1872 baptismal record from Donabate Parish - his godparents were Richard and Margaret Reilly.

Dog License Registers

Below are some dog license applications of Mathew for his many male dogs over the years.

Apparently he owned a black and white terrier in 1875, a red shepherd in 1876, a white bull in 1878, a white terrier from 1879-1881, a white bull in 1882, a black and tan terrier in 1887, a grey terrier in 1888, and a brown terrier in 1893, 1895 and 1899, and two brown terriers in 1903 (just before he died) and typically paid £2 and six shillings per license:

Court Cases

On May 27, 1876, James McQuaid complained about Mathew having a dog without a license, and Mathew had to go and get a license.

On April 30, 1887, Constable William Walsh filed a complaint against Mathew's wife, Anne Leonard, for carrying an unlicensed dog in the Burrow, and was charged 5 shillings, plus 1 shilling admin fees.

On July 23, 1887, Mathew filed a complaint against his own sister, Elizabeth Harrison, for allowing twenty fowl to trespass on his property.  On the same day, Mathew also filed a complaint against his neighbor, James Wade, for the charge of seven fowl trespassing on his cropped land.

On May 18, 1895, Mathew filed a complaint against Terence Dougherty, also of Portrane, on a charge related to goods sold.  The case was dismissed:

Census Records

The 1901 Census of The Burrow has Mathew & Anna Leonard living at Burrow House #5, with Patrick and Francis.  They had a chicken coop, horse stable, and cow house.  By then, Francis was already a widower, and had yet to marry Margaret Byrne.  Not sure yet where the others were living who stayed in Ireland (Annie, John, Mary, Alice).  (All images can be enlarged by clicking on them.)

The 1911 Census of The Burrow has Francis and Patrick with their own families, living at Burrow House #15 and #16.  According to the Farm House exhibit, Francis & Patrick had a farm with two cow houses, one chicken coop, and a horse stable.

Mathew died in 1904 at home, of cardiac failure, after three weeks of illness.  Anna passed a few years later, in 1907, at Portrane Asylum (later known as St. Ita's).  Given that Mathew's son, Frank, signed (with his mark, meaning he couldn't read or write) as informant on the death certificate of Mathew, I'm inclined to believe that Anna was already institutionalized at the Asylum during Mathew's death, or else she would have been the most likely informant.  It's troubling to me that the decision was made to place her there, but this was a common practice, if any kind of illness or senility was occurring, not just mental illness, they were placed in the local sanitarium.

Old Donabate Parish Cemetery, has a burial list online (managed by Fingal County Council), but it is limited to what gravestones have been easily identified and transcribed (pursuant to Memorials of the Dead publications).  There are many green patches with no stones on this burial ground, so I can't help but wonder who else is buried there.  

When I was in Ireland in October 2019, I did some research, and learned that unfortunately Donabate Parish didn't keep burial records at all, and that they rely upon the Council, who only relies upon the published book mentioned above.  I spoke with the Parish undertaker (Michael Rocks of Swords), and he said that they have their own burial records only going back to 1924, and that prior to that, the Parish would simply provide a pine box for the family, and let them go ahead and conduct the burial themselves - the church would simply not get more involved than that.  Therefore, given Mathew and Anna's deaths in 1904 and 1907, I have no hope of identifying the burial locations.  However, one particularly large patch of grass at the cemetery contains one small limestone gravesite immediately to the left of Mathew's son Frank's gravestone, and that may in fact be where Mathew and other Leonards are buried.  That's the best I can guess at this time.



  • Donabate and Portrane, a History, by Peadar Bates
  • 1901 Census of Ireland
  • 1911 Census of Ireland
  • Baptisms, Parish Registers, Donabate
  • Civil Birth Records, Balrothery, Dublin
  • Civil Marriage Records, Balrothery, Dublin
  • Civil Death Records, Balrothery, Dublin
  • Petty Sessions Small Claims Court
  • Petty Sessions Dog Licenses

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post with lots of fascinating tidbits. Loved how you "fleshed out" their stories!