Throughout my family research, so many of my ancestors have kept me on my toes, they’ve loved to play a good old game of hide and seek. The Kirby family especially like to play. I have big gaps in their history and a family rumour to clarify.
My Nan Doreen Townsend nee Willats, was told that her Kirby ancestors are related to Harry Champion, aka William Henry Crump.
Harry Champion, definitely has Kirby ancestry, so hopefully one day I will find the missing piece of the puzzle. Wouldn’t it be great if he was, especially as we already have links to the Music Hall, with Harry Herbert Willats, Eleanor Willats nee Kirby and their son, Harry Willats, devoting their lives to entertaining.
It’s Eleanor’s Father who I’m going to tell you all about this week.
It’s believed that he also has ties to the Music Hall as a Tenor. I haven’t been able to find anything on his Music Hall career unfortunately. It’s believed he used the stage name “Tom Kirby.” The hunt continues.
Alfred Kirby is my 3rd Great-Grandfather on my maternal line. As you may have read in his wife, Susan’s post, Alfred’s death isn’t 100% confirmed but I will give you all information to the best of my knowledge.
Alfred Kirby was born June the 4th 1860, at his parents home, 3 Dorset Street, Islington, Middlesex, England, to Thomas Kirby and Ellen Kirby nee Tilley.
Thomas Kirby was working as an Omnibus Coachman at the time of Alfred’s birth.
Ellen Kirby nee Tilley, registered Alfred’s birth on the 11th July 1860. She signed with an X. You can read more about his Mother’s history here.
1861 was the year of the census, which was taken on the 7th of April 1861. It shows Alfred living at number Number 3, Dover Street, Islington, Middlesex, England with his Father Thomas, Mother Ellen, his two Brothers, Thomas and William and a lodger Mary A Hutchin.
Thomas was working as an Ominous Coachman.
The next census taken on April the 2nd 1871, shows Alfred, his parents Thomas and Ellen and one of his brothers Henry residing at Number 15, Dunford Road, East, Islington, Middlesex, England.
Thomas was working as a Bus Driver and Henry was an Errands Boy.
The next record I found for Alfred, was his marriage to Susan Lagden, daughter of William Lagden and Elizabeth Lagden nee Prime.
Alfred and Susan married at the Parish Church of Islington St. Mary’s, on the 16th May 1880.
Susan used her middle name Mary and was of full age, as was Alfred.
Alfred was working as a Carman. His father Thomas Kirby, was a Coachman and Susan’s Father, William, was a Builder. Alfred’s residents was, 71 Mayton Street.
Susan was residing at 604 Ford Terrace.
Their witnesses were, T Jacob and Lizzie Foyley.
You can read more about Susan Mary Lagden here.
On January the 6th 1881, Alfred and Susan had their first child, a girl, my Great, Great-Grandmother, Eleanor Mary Kirby.
She was born at, Number 89, Devonshire Road, Islington, Middlesex, EnglandNumber 89, Devonshire Road, Islington, Middlesex, England.
Alfred was working as a Carman.
Susan registered her birth on the 15th February 1881.
Alfred and Susan, who was known as Mary, baptised Eleanor Mary on the 6th February 1881, at Tollington Park Street, St Mark’s, England.
Just a short while after, on the 3rd April 1881, the census was taken, which shows Alfred, Mary aka Susan and Eleanor still residing at number 89, Devonshire Road, Upper Holloway, Islington, England.
Alfred was working as a Fishmongers Carman.
July the 26th 1886, Alfred’s Wife, Susan Mary, gave birth to their second daughter, Alice Maud Olive Kirby. She was born at, Number 2, Bovay Street, Highbury, Islington, Middlesex, England.
Alfred was working as a Laundry Carman.
Susan Mary, registered Alice’s birth on the 9th July 1886.
Alfred and Susan baptised Alice, on the 13th July 1886 at Emmanuel Holloway, 145 Hornsey Road, London, England. Their Abode was given as 2 Bovay Street. Alfred’s profession was a Carman.
4 months later at, Number 2, Bovey Street, Islington, Middlesex, England.
Four month old, Alice Maud Olive Kirby, died on November the 8th 1886. She died at home, Number 2, Bovay Street.
Alice died from Meningitis.
Susan Mary, registered her death on the 10th November.
Alfred’s occupation is given as an Under Carman at a Stream Laundry.
Alfred, Susan and Eleanor, laid Alice Maud Olive Kirby, to rest on the 12th November 1886, at Finchley burial ground, Islington cemetery, Islington, Middlesex, England.
Plot reference – S/3/11956.
She was buried with 16 other people.
How incredibly hard that must have been. The heart-break, tears and devastation must have been unbearable. I count my lucky stars, that I never had to bury a child. We are extremely lucky that medical science has moved forward and we no longer have the child death rate of history.
A little joy followed when Alfred’s Wife, Susan Mary, gave birth to a baby boy, their first Son, Richard Arthur Kirby, on the 13th October 1887, at their home, Number 2, Bovay Street, Highbury, Islington, Middlesex, England.
Alfred’s occupation was listed as, a Carman.
He registered the birth on the 15th December 1887.
Richard Arthur was baptised on the 7th February 1888 at Emmanuel Holloway, 145 Hornsey Road, London, England.
I assumed he was named after Susan’s brother, Richard Arthur Lagden.
Heartbreak once again followed, whilst Alfred, Susan and Eleanor, were still residing at Number 2, Bovey Street, Islington.
Richard Arthur Kirby died November the 15th 1888.
His cause of death was Bronchitis, 9 days, convulsions.
Alfred registered his death on the 16th November 1888.
Alfred’s rank or profession was listed as a Carman.
Richard Arthur Kirby, was laid to rest at Finchley burial ground, Islington cemetery, Islington, Middlesex, England, on the 22nd November 1888.
6 months later I believe, Alfred’s life came to an end at, Number 240a, Seven Sisters Road, Highbury, Islington, Middlesex, England, on the 25th May 1889.
His cause of death was from Sudden Syncope, Heart Disease and Rheumatic Fever.
An inquest was held on the 27th May 1889.
Alfred was buried at Islington Cemetery, Islington, Middlesex, England, on the 30th May 1889.
I’m 99% sure this is the correct death for him, I could be wrong as there is always that 1% of uncertainty.
If not where did he go? Why isn’t there any trace of him after this time?
And if I’m right about his death, I wonder how Susan and Eleanor coped after his death. Eleanor was so young, she had lived through so much death already.
Was it the memory of her father that drove her to the Music Hall? Did she wish to follow in her fathers footsteps?
What became of Susan? How would she have been able to live a normal happy life, after losing two of her children and her husband?
Why is there no trace of her in the census’s after the 1881 census?
Did she get to see her daughter grow up, marry and have children?
Was she cheering Eleanor on, as she performed as Nellie Montague?
Was she there, to comfort Eleanor, when she lost her daughter Doris? I really hope so. I hope they had a strong bond, an unbreakable one.
There are so many unanswered questions, especially about Alfred’s Musical life as “Tom Kirby” a Tenor.
I very much hope that one day, I will be able discover more about his musical life, be able to confirm 100% that he died when I and other members of Ancestry believe he did. In a way I’m hoping I’m wrong, that Eleanor got to grow up at her dad’s side, that they made wonderful memories together.
Every child deserves to have their father in their life, to have their father at their wedding and to have their Father walk them down the aisle. To be able to see the love and pride in their eyes when their grandchildren are born, and to be able to spoil them rotten as they grow.
I for one missed out on those special, Father and Daughter moments, as did my Nan, Alfred’s Great Granddaughter.
Please trust me when I say, “The pain is unbearable”. To not have your Father there with you for the moments in life that matter most, breaks your heart into a trillion pieces, those pieces never heal properly, leaving you with an overwhelming emptiness and longing. I really wouldn’t wish that pain on anyone not ever my worst enemy.
I hope that throughout Alfred’s short life, he made happy memories, that he loved wholeheartedly and that through the heartbreak, he became a stronger, not just in mind but in heart.
Even though his story is far from complete, I’m sure as sure can be, that he is remembered and loved but his descendants, after all he’s part of us, he’s part of me, he’s our family and family isn’t just important, it’s everything.
R.I.P. Great, Great, Great-Grandad
1860 – 1889
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