Luck of the Irish

The majority of my ancestors are from England, but one branch comes from Ireland. When first identified, it seemed there would be no way of finding out who they were and from where in Ireland they came, but in recent years, as Irish records have become available online, some ancestors have been traced to their villages, including Kilkenny via Dublin.

Considering my Father’s ancestry is centred on Sheffield, and my mothers in Middlesex, both areas of high immigration, especially during the 1800’s, so far we have only encountered one branch of Irish immigrants.

The only others I have discovered were the Flanaghan family who built my Grandparents house late 1880’s in Sheffield, 50/52 Harrison Road

The trail back to the Irish ancestry, begins with my Great Grandmother, Alice Darlow, although when we started, we had no thought of finding Irish ancestors.

Ireland 1848

Looking back, it is hard to recall in which order, we uncovered the pieces of the history of this branch of the family.

Difficulties arose, as none of the ‘official’ information tallied up. It later emerged that this could have been for two reasons. A branch of the Darlow family, were involved in money lending, with extortion and violence. They were often cited in the local papers, and imprisoned. (A distant relative has done much research into this branch of the family). The Darlow’s were brickmakers from Northamptonshire, with possible gypsy links. Perhaps even links with the ‘Peaky Blinders

As such, it is likely that our branch of Darlows at that time in Sheffield would want to distance themselves from the family.

Irish immigrants were not particularly popular either. They were considered to be lacking in intelligence, dirty, taking local jobs, and driving down wages.

So we appear to have a family trying to hide from both their ‘Darlow’ connections, and Irish connections.

At this stage in our research, there was very little online information and research had to be done at the local archives. However, we did have a copy of the 1881 census produced by the LDS.

Alice Darlow was born 26th November 1888, to Ellen and George Darlow in Sheffield. She was the thirteenth of fifteen children. Five of these siblings had died before her birth, including oldest brother Thomas, killed in an accident at work in 1885 aged 14. This accident could not be satisfactorily explained by an inquest (extended newspaper reports at the bottom of this page).

Both of her younger siblings, died as young children.

My Grandma (Esme Gillott), was sixteen when her grandmother, who she knew to be called Ellen, died aged 87. She remembered her as a little lady in a bonnet, but rather stern.

Alice Darlow 1888 – 1970

The first document to search for the family of Alice, was the 1891 census, to show her as a two year old. Although this seemed like a simple piece of information to locate, we were wrong. Eventually we discovered it over two pages. The only way to confirm that this was the correct family, was, by the children’s names and address of ‘5 and 6 Infirmary Road’, which were recognised by Grandma, Esme, as the right address and names of her aunts.

1891 census page 1
1891 census page 2

Entered, were Charles Sneyde (in actual fact, it was George Darlow) aged 44, a Brickmaker. Also, wife Ellen (maiden name Sneyde), aged 42, employed as a file cutter. Both said they were born in Sheffield. With them, children, William 17 a mill hand, Nelly 15, Eli 10, Polly 7, Lena 4, Alice 2 years and Rosetta 8 months. All said to be born in Sheffield. This family of nine, were living in four rooms. File cutting was an occupation carried out by both men and women. Women could carry out piece work at home, adding to the family budget, whilst also caring for the family.

Ten years earlier in 1881, at 20 Clun Street, Brightside, Sheffield. George Darlow aged 34, and wife Ellen 32, with children, Thomas 10, Eliza 8, William 6, Ellen 5, and Eli 9 months were living together. George a Brickmaker born Long Buckby Northamptonshire, Ellen born Manchester, and all children born in Sheffield.

1881 census entry George and Ellen Darlow.

The marriage of Ellen Sneyde and George Darlow was registered in Sheffield in the September quarter 1869.

George Darlow was from a family of brickmakers. I also have brickmakers in my maternal London ancestry, and they were renown as rough, tough, and heavy drinkers. This no doubt applied to brick makers the country over. It is likely that although our Darlow’s tried to distance themselves from the rougher members of their family, some of the influence must have rubbed off. ‘Auntie Rita’ who was born many years after George Darlow’s death, reported that he was a heavy drinker, and ‘not a very nice man’, presumably this must have come from Alice or one of her siblings. We can imagine that Ellen may have had a difficult married life.

1871 Census entry Thomas Darlow
1871 Census Ellen Sneyde.( Darlow).

However the 1871 census throws up questions. George Darlow 24, was not with Ellen, but living with his parents, Thomas and Mary Ann in Sheffield. Ellen aged 24, was living with her parents Thomas aged 58, a furnaceman, and Margaret aged 54, at Portland Street, Nether Hallam, Sheffield. Both Thomas and Margaret born Dublin, Ireland. Ellen’s parents were entered with the surname ‘Rowley’. Ellen’s surname was mistranscribed at Warlow. She was employed as a file cutter, and had two sons, George aged 2 and Thomas 3 months. Also in the house were Ellen’s sisters, Margaret aged 21, born in Manchester, Mary aged 16, and brother Charles aged 13 born Sheffield.

With information gleaned from the censuses, we were able to apply for Ellen’s birth certificate which details that she was born 16 February 1849, Albion Square, Newton Heath, Manchester, to Thomas Sneyde and Margaret McCardle.

Ellen Sneyde birth certificate 1849

Although this is not a common surname, trying to locate the family was difficult as there are many variants on the spelling of the name, such as Sneyd(e)/ Sna(y)d(e)/ Snead(e) / Snaid(e), and details given in the various censuses did not tally. Although it sounded an Irish name, there were clusters of ‘Sneydes’ in places such as Staffordshire.

Things were further complicated, when a family group of -Thomas Sneade born Ellesmere Port 1820, and wife Margaret 1824, who were living in Wales, was confused for some time with our Thomas and Margaret Sneyde. This family, was first discovered in the 1881 census, and then well documented back to the 1851 census. Things didn’t seem quite seem right. Once we discovered our family in the censuses of 1851 in Manchester, and 1861 in Sheffield, we realised our mistake.

1881 census entry Thomas Sneyde (alias Rowley).

Although we had our own, easily searchable copy of the 1881 census, we just couldn’t find Ellen’s parents, no matter which search filters we used, so we tried looking for various other family members. Eventually we discovered Ellen’s oldest son George Darlow born c1869, living with Thomas and Margaret Rowley as their grandson. At last, we had identified them, and with them, some of their other children to help confirm the family. This enabled us to find them in the 1871 census, again with surname Rowley. We do not know why they chose this name.

Taking a step, back to the 1861 census, it identified that Ellen’s parents were both born in Ireland. Thomas aged 49, (born 1818), and Margaret aged 42, (born 1825), their children were; George 17, James 14, Margaret 11, and Mary 9, born in Manchester. Charles 6 and Ellen aged 2, born in Sheffield. They were living at 4 Matthew Street, in the St. Philips area of Sheffield, Thomas was a steel refiner.

1861 Census for Sneyd family.

However these details don’t add up, as we know that Ellen was actually 12 years old in 1861, and born in Manchester. Perhaps the enumerator got muddled, as the family with an Irish accent explained the family dynamics.

1851 census entry. Thomas Darlow

In 1851, George Darlow, his parents and siblings were living in Aston, Birmingham. The census entry for the Sneyde family is extremely damaged, but it is just about possible to make out the entry.

Living in the All Saints District of Manchester, at (?) Lane, were (illegible), aged 42, a Steel Melter, (illegible aged 32?), Ann a daughter aged 14, all born in Ireland, and George 8, Julius? (James) 5, Ellen (age unclear) and Margaret 6 months, all born in Newton Lancashire. Visiting, were Patrick McArdle (age illegible), a farmer and Catherine Orr aged 44 a laundress, both born in Ireland.

By checking the previous and following pages of the census entry, and refering back to the original on ancestry, it is just about possible to make out the address as Albion Square.

Patrick it would appear, was aged 64 (born c1787) and perhaps Margaret’s father.

1851 Census entry Sneyde family

As yet an entry for the family in 1841 Census, has not emerged, perhaps the records have been damaged, or are completely illegible, or perhaps the family were still living in Ireland.

As new Irish records became available online, a search revealed the marriage of Thomas Sneyde to Margaret McCardle at Rathmines, Dublin 28th July 1836.

Marriage of Thomas Sneyde and Margaret McCardle 1836

Amazingly, for a family history researcher, an ancestry search for the birth of Thomas Sneyde (1820+/- 10 years) revealed only two matches, apparently both for ‘my’ Thomas. One for his baptism in Ireland, the other his death reference in Sheffield.

In the Catholic baptism records for Freshford, Kilkenny, Ireland, on 18th January 1821, Thomas Sneyde was baptised to George Sneyde and his wife, Ketty Healy. It appears that these Irish Catholic baptisms helpfully, included the mothers maiden name. Also two Godparents, in this case James Fogarty and Peggy (Glenman?). Living at ‘Three Castles’.

Baptism record, Thomas Sneyde 18 January 1821

In 1826, Tithe Applotment records show George Sneyde living at Three Castles, in the parish of Odagh, Kilkenny.

Irish Geneaology Research

Thomas Sneyde died 3rd May 1885 aged 67 at Ct. 15 Pertland Street, Sheffield. He was a steel melter and cause of death cystitis (3 months) and exhaustion. His son, George Sneyde of Oxford Street, Nether Hallam, was present at the death.

Death Thomas Sneyde 1885.

Margaret Sneyde died 3rd February 1889 aged 66, at Court 15 Portland Street. Present at her death was daughter Ann (married Walter Wrigglesworth 1855), of Court 23 Portland Street. She had been born in Dublin 1837. Margaret died of Cerebral Haemorrhage 3 days, and chronic Bronchitis 4 years.

Death Margaret Sneyde 1889.

Census information Thomas & Margaret Sneyde

YearNameAgeDOBPlace of birth
1885Thomas Sneyde Death671822Sheffield
1889Ellen Sneyde

Children of Thomas & Margaret Sneyde

Date of BirthNamePlace of BirthComments
1837AnnIreland Baptism record Ireland, married Walter Wigglesworth 1855. Present at death of mother 1889. Died 1914.
1843George Newton, ManchesterPresent at death of father 1885.
09.07.1843MichaelOldham Road, Newton, ManchesterGRO
02.04.1845ThomasRyders Row, Manchester Died 1846 Manchester GRO
1846Julius/ JamesManchester Newton
16.02.1849EllenManchester Newton
1850MargaretManchester Newton
28.10.1852Emily Jane4 Court Andrew Street, Brightside Bierlow, SheffieldDied 1853 GRO
Children of Thomas and Margaret Sneyde.

Thomas Darlow, son of George Darlow

        Sheffield & Rotherham Independent   Friday July 8th 1881

Sheffield Town Hall
Two boys named Thomas Foster, No 1 house, No 5 Court Kirk Street and Thomas Darlow, 20 Clun Street, were charged with stealing a pair of boots of the value of 4s, the property of Richard Thomas Derran No 6 Co-operative Street Rawmarsh. The prisoners were further charged with stealing a pair of boots the property of Stephen Thomas Hogan, Tinsley Park Road, Attercliffe. The prosecutors who are boys about 16 years of age went to Attercliffe Baths on Saturday. When they got out of the water and were about to get dressed they missed their boots. Information was given to the police and Derran’s boots were found in Foster’s house, and Hogan’s boots in Darlow’s house.
The mothers of the prisoners were present and they said that they did not know that the boots were in their houses. Oliver Dawson, manager of the Baths said that recently there had been 5 pairs of boots, towels, soap and other articles stolen from the baths and some people had had money taken from their trouser pockets while they were bathing.

Foster was ordered to receive twelve strokes of the birch and Darlow to receive six.


Mr D Wightman held an inquest yesterday at the Mortuary on the body of Thomas Darlow, a youth, who lived with his parents in a court off Infirmary road, and who was killed on Saturday by being caught in some machinery at the timber works of Messrs. Robert White and Co., Nursery street. – Commander Hamilton Smith, R.N., her Majesty’s inspector, was present during the inquiry; and Mr W.E Clegg watched the evidence on behalf of the relatives of the deceased. – Ellen Darlow, wife of George Darlow, labourer, deposed that she was the mother of the deceased, who up to his death was employed at the works of Messrs. Robert White and Co. as an errand boy. It was also part of his duty to put sawdust into bags. He went to work on Saturday morning, and witness did not hear anything more of him until she was informed of his death. A little more than a year ago an engine tenter at the works sent the deceased to do something at the engine, and one of his fingers was then taken off. The engine tenter was dismissed, and Mr White and his manager issued orders that the lad should not be told to do anything at the engine. She, however believed that the engine tenter or someone else had given him orders to go and oil the machinery, as, after his death, his right hand was found to be covered with grease. – Robert Hodgson, engine tenter, said it was part of the deceased’s duty to help him in filling bags of sawdust in a cellar. In this cellar were the pulleys of two shafts connected by a driving band, but this machinery was some yards away from where witness and the deceased worked. About seven o’clock on Saturday morning he wanted the deceased for something, and he and a sawyer named Jackson went to look for him. They found him lying in the cellar, near the drum of the driving band, severely injured. He died soon after. The engine had been oiled in the morning, and the witness had no idea what the deceased was doing near where he was found. He had not told him to go there. During the deceased’s absence he did not observe any jerk or vibration in the machinery. – Richard Jackson, sawyer, said about seven o’clock Hodgson came to him in an excited state, and asked him to come into the cellar. He went with him, and there they found the deceased lying near the drum, badly injured. A lamp which he had borrowed from the witness a short time before was lying beside him. When Hodgson came to him he did not say what he wanted him for.- Hodgson was then recalled, and said when he went to Jackson he did not know the deceased was injured. He did not ask Jackson to come with him. The latter went of his own accord to look for his lamp which the deceased had taken. The coroner said the evidence was very unsatisfactory, and he advised the jury to adjourn the inquest. In the meantime the Government inspector might make further inquiries, the result of which he could then lay before them.
Commander Smith he had made an examination of the premises, and he did not think that if the inquiry were adjourned he could give the jury any further information.-
The jury expressed considerable dissatisfaction at the way in which the evidence had been given and returned an open verdict.


A third enquiry was held by Mr. Dossey Wightman at the Mortuary on the body of Thos. Darlow, aged 14, who was killed at the works of Messrs. Robt. White and Company, timber merchants, Nursery Street, on Saturday morning last. – Commander Smith R.N., Inspector of Factories, was present, and Mr W. E Clegg appeared on behalf of the parents of the deceased. – The mother of the deceased, wife of a labourer at the gas works, stated that the lad had been for two years at the works employed as errand boy and to fill bags of sawdust.

About fourteen months ago he had a finger taken off by the machinery which he was interfering with by order of one of the men. On that occasion orders were given to the men that he should not be allowed to meddle with the machinery. – George Hodgson, engine-tenter, denied that there was any foundation for an impression formed by the mother that the deceased had been told to oil the machinery when he met with the accident which caused his death. On Saturday morning deceased went to work soon after six o’clock, and was helping witness for some time, in removing some ashes. At a few minutes past seven when witness again wanted him, he was not to be found. A search was made for him, and he was discovered lying face downwards near a revolving shaft in the cellar. The place where the sawdust was filled was also in the cellar, but several yards from the machinery. Deceased had no right to go near the shaft, and had never been told to go there to oil machinery.

The shaft was boxed in. Deceased clothes were much torn, and he appeared to have been caught by the belting of a pulley. – George Jackson, sawyer, said that on Saturday morning, about ten minutes before the accident happened, the deceased came to where he was working, and asked for a lamp. Witness did not say he might have one, nor did he refuse it, but deceased took it. The next he saw of deceased was when he was lying in the cellar as described by Hodgson. He (witness) went into the cellar with Hodgson without knowing what they were going for. Hodgson merely asked him to go down and he went. Deceased was not dead when he was found and lived for perhaps five or ten minutes afterwards. –

In cross-examination, witness said Hodgson was rather excited when he called him to go into the cellar. After the deceased was found Hodgson ran out of the cellar and stopped the engine. – Hodgson was recalled, and denied asking Jackson to go into the cellar. – The coroner’s advice was to adjourn the enquiry, for he was far from satisfied with Hodgson’s evidence, and in the meantime Captain Smith might have some additional information to give. – Captain Smith said he had gone thoroughly into the matter, and had no hope of being able to throw more light upon the case. On a visit he paid to the place on April 7, he was assured that no person was allowed to go near the shaft except the engine tenter, but not withstanding this assurance he pointed out to Mr. White that a naked shaft must be dangerous. Upon that the shaft was fenced in, and there was a safe passage for a man to go behind the shaft without going near the belting. When that was done all was done that he could recommend. – Several of the jury expressed themselves much dissatisfied with the statements made by Hodgson, but as there appeared to be no probability of further evidence being obtained, they returned a verdict of “Accidental Death”.