Author Topic: Travelling to work on the railways? (19thC Northern Ireland)  (Read 1572 times)

Offline M_ONeill

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Travelling to work on the railways? (19thC Northern Ireland)
« on: Saturday 20 March 21 00:22 GMT (UK) »
Hi all,

Perhaps a bit specific, this, but I'm looking for some input from anyone with knowledge on early railways in Northern Ireland.

My 3x great grandfather Michael McChrystal seemed to travel a long way from his family's home base in Annagh, near Desertmartin/Magherafelt, at least based on the baptismal records of his children (those we can find, that is). My theory is that he may have been travelling to work on the railways, and am trying to see if the construction dates of particular lines might shed any clues.

Michael married a Susannah Owens, date and place unknown. There are some baptisms that may give a clue, though. Their two earliest children I can find were both baptised in Tempo, Fermanagh (1853 and 1854 respectively). The name Owens is very common there, as the surname has links to the local church going back many hundreds of years. The two Tempo baptisms also had sponsors of Edward and Ellen Owens, possible relations, making me think it's a good bet that Susannah likely came from the area.

So how did Michael get all the way down there? The next baptism I can find is that of Arthur McChrystal. He was baptised in Lisbellaw, Fermanagh in 1859. Interestingly, the Dundalk and Enniskillen Railway reached Lisbellaw the previous year - though construction was heading west towards Tempo and Enniskillen, not away from them.

The final child we have a baptismal record for is a Thomas Edmund (or 'Redmund') McChrystal. He's baptised in 1865 in Crumlin, Antrim another large jump. Sadly, the record of births is incomplete and I haven't found baptisms for all of the known children - so there isn't a complete picture of the family's movements. They appear in the 1871 census for England, living in Heath Charnock. I think they moved back to Annagh after Michael's father passed away in 1875, when he went to take over the family farm.

The family definitely has later links to the railways; Michael's own son Michael 'Mick' McChrystal (my 2x great grandfather) was listed as a 'Farmer and foreman platelayer' in his 1908 civil death record in Annagh, where the family returned after Mick's grandfather died. This is likely as part of the Draperstown Railway, which ran through Annagh and was built between 1881 and 1883.

So that's what I have. My theory of Michael moving to work on the railways is complicated by the fact that I can't find any line that had gone from the Magherafelt area down to Enniskillen prior to 1853. If anyone can shed any light on the question I'd be incredibly grateful!  :)

Offline iluleah

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Re: Travelling to work on the railways? (19thC Northern Ireland)
« Reply #1 on: Saturday 20 March 21 01:04 GMT (UK) »
It is likely the couple lived near to where he worked and they travelled to baptise their children  in the 'family' church 'back' home.

I guess you have already seen this although I beleive they don't have railmen personel records before 1880ish http://irishrailarchives.ie/resources/links/
Leicestershire:Chamberlain, Dakin, Wilkinson, Moss, Cook, Welland, Dobson, Roper,Palfreman, Squires, Hames, Goddard, Topliss, Twells,Bacon.
Northamps:Sykes, Harris, Rice,Knowles.
Rutland:Clements, Dalby, Osbourne, Durance, Smith,Christian, Royce, Richardson,Oakham, Dewey,Newbold,Cox,Chamberlaine,Brow, Cooper, Bloodworth,Clarke
Durham/Yorks:Woodend, Watson,Parker, Dowser
Suffolk/Norfolk:Groom, Coleman, Kemp, Barnard, Alden,Blomfield,Smith,Howes,Knight,Kett,Fryston
Lincolnshire:Clements, Woodend

Offline M_ONeill

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Re: Travelling to work on the railways? (19thC Northern Ireland)
« Reply #2 on: Saturday 20 March 21 01:21 GMT (UK) »
I hadn't actually seen that site iluleah, so thank you for linking!

I suppose I'm not sure exactly what would count as the 'home' church. Michael McChrystals 'home' church would have most likely been St Mary's Coolcam in Desertmartin.

The church at Tempo seems fairly certain to be Sarah's church though. I think the couple who sponsor their two baptisms there are an Edward Owens married to an Ellen McDonagh. He was a egg merchant according to civil records. All of their children were baptised in Tempo.

I suppose I still can't picture exactly how Michael McChrystal got down there. I'm fairly certain the McChrystal family origins are in county Derry, rather than Fermanagh.

Offline barryd

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Re: Travelling to work on the railways? (19thC Northern Ireland)
« Reply #3 on: Saturday 20 March 21 06:10 GMT (UK) »


The line was built between 1881 and 1883, a short single-track branch line 8 miles (13 km) in length, to connect Magherafelt and Draperstown. The engineer was John Lanyon, and the contractors were J & W Grainger.





From the Internet
From the Internet

It was operated by the Belfast and Northern Counties Railway and taken over by them in July 1895.

Passenger services were withdrawn in 1930 and the line was finally closed in 1950.

Stations
The following stations were on the route:

Magherafelt
Desertmartin
Draperstown


Offline scotmum

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Re: Travelling to work on the railways? (19thC Northern Ireland)
« Reply #4 on: Saturday 20 March 21 09:04 GMT (UK) »
Thomas Edmund McChrystal's 1865 birth registration records his father as a Railway labourer:

https://civilrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/churchrecords/details-civil/3ced8f8067831

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Offline Kiltaglassan

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Re: Travelling to work on the railways? (19thC Northern Ireland)
« Reply #5 on: Saturday 20 March 21 13:32 GMT (UK) »
Thomas Edmund McChrystal's 1865 birth registration records his father as a Railway labourer:

https://civilrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/churchrecords/details-civil/3ced8f8067831

Thomas Edmund born at Ballynadrentagh townland........very close to Belfast International Airport.
https://www.townlands.ie/antrim/killead/ballynadrentagh/ballynadrentagh/
http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/a/aldergrove/index.shtml


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Offline M_ONeill

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Re: Travelling to work on the railways? (19thC Northern Ireland)
« Reply #6 on: Saturday 20 March 21 14:09 GMT (UK) »
Thanks for the responses all! This is all incredibly useful stuff!

I hadn't found that link to the disused station, Kiltaglassan, that's very interesting. So we know Michael McChrystal was working as a railway labourer in 1865. We also know that the Lisburn to Antrim line (including stations at Crumlin and Aldergrove, both near Thomas' birthplace) opened on 13th November 1871.

We happen to know that the family was in Heath Charnock, Lancashire on the night of the 1871 census in England, 2nd of April that same year. So they weren't there for the opening of the line. Perhaps Michael was laid off as the line neared completion? Maybe that's why he had to head across the water to England.

I'm kind of surprised at the distances that a labourer would travel to work on the railways. In this case, is the term 'labourer' underselling the job? How specialised would this kind of work have been?

Offline KGarrad

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Re: Travelling to work on the railways? (19thC Northern Ireland)
« Reply #7 on: Saturday 20 March 21 14:36 GMT (UK) »
He would have been a "navvy" - short for navigator.

There were up to 250,000 Irish navvies employed during the British Railways explosion.
Garrad (Suffolk, Essex, Somerset), Crocker (Somerset), Vanstone (Devon, Jersey), Sims (Wiltshire), Bridger (Kent)

Offline iluleah

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Re: Travelling to work on the railways? (19thC Northern Ireland)
« Reply #8 on: Saturday 20 March 21 15:14 GMT (UK) »
He would have been a "navvy" - short for navigator.

There were up to 250,000 Irish navvies employed during the British Railways explosion.

Following on this might help https://www.railwaymuseum.org.uk/objects-and-stories/navvies-workers-who-built-railways
Leicestershire:Chamberlain, Dakin, Wilkinson, Moss, Cook, Welland, Dobson, Roper,Palfreman, Squires, Hames, Goddard, Topliss, Twells,Bacon.
Northamps:Sykes, Harris, Rice,Knowles.
Rutland:Clements, Dalby, Osbourne, Durance, Smith,Christian, Royce, Richardson,Oakham, Dewey,Newbold,Cox,Chamberlaine,Brow, Cooper, Bloodworth,Clarke
Durham/Yorks:Woodend, Watson,Parker, Dowser
Suffolk/Norfolk:Groom, Coleman, Kemp, Barnard, Alden,Blomfield,Smith,Howes,Knight,Kett,Fryston
Lincolnshire:Clements, Woodend