Sunday, October 20, 2019

Francis Leonard (1859-1945)

Francis Leonard (1859-1945) was baptized in April of 1859 at Donabate Parish.  He was son to Mathew Leonard and Anne Brien, of the Portrane Cottages, Burrow Road, Portrane, Donabate, Dublin.

Frank (known by his loved ones as Fransheen), was a great believer in Irish fairy culture, according to old Paddy Lynders who lived in the Burrow near Frank.

As mentioned in his father's blog post, the Leonards were hit hard enough by the Famine to seek employment elsewhere.  Thomas D. Leonard was the first to leave the Burrow of Portrane, in 1850, and started a successful florist business in Portland Maine.  After a couple decades there, Thomas had purchased an entire block of the West End of Portland (Briggs Street), built houses there, and summoned his family over.  His nieces and nephews heeded the call, and Frank sailed to Maine with his brother Mathew John in 1881, along with other siblings.  Frank lived in Portland for three years, having worked at JB Brown's sugar mill in Portland.  But, he missed Dublin, and moved back in 1884, living at the old family homestead at House 15 in the Burrow, eventually taking over the lease upon the death of his father Mathew in 1904.

According to Paedar Bates' Donabate and Portrane, a History, Frank was a member of the Gaelic Football Club of Donabate at some point.

Frank first married to a Catherine Kent of Rush, in 1898, and she died in Portrane of tuberculosis at age 27, in 1901.  They had no children.

(courtesy of Peadar Bates)

On August 11, 1904, he married 17 year old Margaret Byrne (1887-1961), by pastor Anthony Murphy, at the newly erected St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church in Donabate (which had replaced the older and smaller one just across the street).  Margaret was born in Dublin, daughter of Joseph Byrne and Margaret Reilly of Balcunnin.

Frank and Margaret had eight children:

1.  Thomas Leonard (1905-1993) married Alice Cowley of Swords, and had three children, and at least 16 grandchildren.

(ABT 1980)

2.  Maria (1907-1909), died as a toddler.

3.  Margaret May Leonard (1910-2001), who married a Michael Hoey (1900-1986) from Meath.  They had two daughters.  Margaret and her family moved into the Rose Cottage owned by the Leonards.

4.  Elizabeth Agnes Leonard (1911-___), likely died young.

5.  Ellen (Nelly) Leonard (1914-____), who married Edward Willett.  Ellen is pictured above, second row, last girl on the right in this 1927 picture.

6.  Catharine (Kathleen) Leonard (1914-_____), never married.  She was a twin to Nelly.  Kathleen is pictured above, front row, first girl on the left in this 1927 picture.

7.  Agnes Leonard (1916-____),  who married a Daniel O'Rourke, and had two sons

8.  Alice Leonard (1917-abt 2002) (named after Frank's sister).  She married William McLoughlin in 1939, and had a daughter Ann.  She made a visit in 1964 to the Portland family, and she hosted her brother Mathew's and Elizabeth's children when they visited her in Donabate, Dublin.

Petty Court

On December 15, 1877, when he was 18, Frank filed a complaint against Charles Teeling, for failure to pay him his due wages (£13).

On March 1, 1913, the School Committee brought Frank to court because his son Tommy failed to attend school.

On June 19, 1915, Frank brought his sister-in-law (and neighbor) Mary into court because she hit him in the face with a shovel.  But she also brought a counterclaim against him for grabbing her by the back of the neck and throwing her violently against the hedge.  The case was adjourned until August, where neither of them appeared in court.

On November 4, 1916, neighbor Margaret Kelly assaulted Frank's wife Margaret, by pulling her by the hair across the floor.  Mrs. Kelly failed to appear in court.

On June 15, 1918, Frank brought his neighbor, Joseph Fulham, into court for hitting his son Tommy (aged 12).

Dog Licenses

Frank applied at least twice for dog licenses, in 1896 and 1898.  He owned red terriers (his father Mathew owned terriers as well, so Frank had grown up with them).

Based on the fact that Frank had marked "X" as informant of his father's death certificate (1904), his marriage license (1904), and also on his son Thomas' birth certificate (1905), it stands to reason he wasn't able to write - either during that time period, or permanently.

Frank farmed the land for most of his adult life.  At some point, the land was deemed unsuitable, though, and his son Thomas had to find other work.

In 1922, Frank and his family likely celebrated the liberation of the Irish Free State from the United Kingdom.  In the 1940s, about a year or two before he died, Frank acquired title to the Portrane Cottage that had been so long in the hands of the Estate of George Evans.  Upon his death in 1945, the fee land passed to his son Tommie, and is still in the hands of this family today.

Frank and Margaret are both buried at Old Donabate Parish Cemetery, next to an old limestone gravesite that may in fact be where his father Mathew is buried, and surrounded by grass (also potential other Leonard burial sites).


  • 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
  • Memorials of the Dead, by Brian Cantwell
  • Petty Sessions Dog Licenses

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