The Mystery Of Hannah Whitston

Friday, May 10, 2013

A couple of years ago, I discovered my grandfather’s WWI journal, which he wrote in from the day he left home in November 1916 until the day he arrived back in May 1919. I wrote a day-by-day blog publishing his journal, which was a wonderful exercise in family history.

During his time in Europe, he took leave in Dublin a couple of times, and appears to have struck up a friendship (or maybe more) with a woman named Hannah, and referred several times while he was in Dublin to visiting Pembroke Cottages for evenings of dancing. I looked up the address entries in the back of his diary and found a page that is almost certainly Hannah’s address at the time, based on various references:

Misses K. & H. Whitston
29 Pembroke Cottages
Donnybrook, Dublin

He wrote about her often in his diary, apparently they traded letters quite regularly, and one entry noted that it was her 22nd birthday on April 6, 1919, which means that she was born in 1897.

So here’s what I have about Hannah Whitston:

  • Born April 6, 1897 (probably in/near Dublin) – may have been 1896, as per census records (see comments below).
  • Had a sister (probably, although could have been a cousin), first initial K.
  • As of 1919, living with her sister at 29 Pembroke Cottages, Donnybrook area in Dublin.

I would love to find out more about Hannah, especially if there are any journals or letters that she may have written or received mentioning my grandfather, Frank Kemsley.

Anyone have any ideas?

6 Comments

  1. A possible clue: baptism record for Kathleen Mary Whitston from 1899, parents John Whitston and Mary Garvan lived at 7 Belmount Court, which is only a few blocks away from Pembroke Cottages: http://churchrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/churchrecords/details/aa42020078553

    Born two years after Hannah in the same area, this could be the sister “K.”

  2. A sibling of Kathleen born 1901, Mary Josephine: http://churchrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/churchrecords/details/6c16df0078713

    Interestingly, her surname (and her father’s, although obviously the same person as in the previous record) is spelled “Whitson” rather than “Whitston”, so the name may appear either way in records.

  3. Also searched 1911 census records, found two families named Whitston: http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/search/results.jsp?census_year=1911&surname=whitston&exact=&firstname=&county=&townland=&ded=&age=&sex=&relationToHead=&religion=&education=&occupation=&marriageStatus=&marriageYears=&childrenBorn=&childrenLiving=&birthplace=&language=&deafdumb=&search=Search&sort=townlandSort&pageSize=50

    One had a daughter Hannah, although she was only 9 (hence 17 in 1919) and the family lived in southwestern Ireland, quite a distance from Dublin. Possibly our Hannah’s family immigrated to Ireland after 1911?

  4. Well,

    http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/pages/1901/Dublin/Pembroke_West/Belmont_Court_Belmont_Avenue/1286869/ has another Hannah for us, of almost the right age, but with a sister Kathleen who is 26 years older:

    Whitston Hannah 5 Female Daughter
    Whitston Kathleen 31 Female Daughter
    Whitston John 41 Male Head of Family
    Whitston John 8 Male Son
    Whitston Joseph 3 Male Son
    Whitston Michael 14 Male Son
    Whitston Mary 38 Female Wife

    No results for the census 1911 though, although they have a Hannah in Kerry, of the exact right age this time, but without a sister called K.: http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/pages/1911/Kerry/Ballyseedy/Lissardboola/280990/

    Have you tried http://homepages.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~lennan/len003.htm – it looks like a thorough eye-witness report of the early 1900’s in Donnybrook

    Cheers,

    Martijn

    1. Brilliant, I missed that one on the census pages! When I look at the original scanned page, it appears that Kathleen’s age is a transcription error (also logical, since her mother is only 38, and since she is the last in a list of children in descending order of age on the form): it more likely states 2 for her age. That matches with the baptism record from 1899 for Kathleen. Hannah’s age of 5 at that time matches well enough, it’s possible that Frank was wrong about her age by a year.

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