“I just want young people to embrace
where they come from,
be proud of it,
and share their family’s history.
This country was built on
beautiful stories of heritage,”.
I’ve been fascinated by my Great, Great, Grandfather, John Cornelius O’Connor, from the very first time I heard his name and how he was born at sea. Over the last 25 year of researching my family history, that fascination turned to love, which became my driving force to discover who he really was as a person and his heritage.
John has given me quite the run around over the years, he’s kept me up at night, he’s visited my dreams and become my hardest puzzle to crack.
All these years later, I finally feel, I may have found a few of the missing pieces to his puzzle by soulfully concentrating on his siblings. And even though I’ve managed to piece their puzzles together, it’s opened up so many more questions. But in my heart, I have an overwhelming feeling that I am on the right track, that I’m so close to finding the needle in the haystack. However I feel that there is much more to Johns story and I am determined to find the truth. I can not rest until I do.
Through researching Johns sister Annie, I can now confirm the name of John, Thomas, Annie, and Rosina’s Mum, which is pretty damn fantastic, as she has always been a mystery.
Annie and Rosina have both been an absolute delight to research and they both her won a gigantic piece of my heart, especially Annie who I feel was a kind and caring individual. I feel she deeply loved her sister Rosina, but I will let you build your own picture of her character while reading her life story.
so without further ado, I give you,
The Life Of Annie Dorothy O’Connor
Welcome to the year 1879, England. Queen Victoria was on the throne, Benjamin Disraeli (Conservative) was Prime Minister, it was the 21st Parliament.
The Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, third son of Queen Victoria, married Princess Louise Marguerite of Prussia.
Julia Martha Thomas was murdered at Richmond upon Thames.
It was the wettest summer in England and Wales since records began in 1766, and the equal seventh-coolest since the CET series begins in 1659.
William Denny and Brothers launched the world’s first ocean-going ship to be built of mild steel, the SS Rotomahana, at Dumbarton.
The first female students were admitted to study for degrees at the University of Oxford, at the new Lady Margaret Hall and Somerville Hall and with the Society of Oxford Home-Students.
A lady named Sarah Woolard, fall of the railway platform at Barking Road. Thankfully she escaped lightly with no injuries.
A hardened criminal Mr William Reed pleaded guilty to stealing a beer glass from the Sir George Canning beer house. He was sentenced to two years imprisonment with hard labour.
James Tripp a 30 year old watchman of 25 Shirley Street, Canning Town was charged with unlawful possession of a sack and two sides of bacon in the Victoria Docks. The owner of the bacon decided to not prosecute after hearing the case and James was discharged.
And on on Thursday the 27th of March, 1879, Annie Dorothy O’Connor, was born, at number 6, Shirley Street, Canning Town, Plaistow, West Ham, Essex, England, to John Patrick O’Connor, and Ann O’Connor nee Astee or Aster. (On the birth certificate it looks like Astee but on the birth index, it is given as Aster, I personally think it is Arter.)
Annie’s father John was working as a, Dock Labour at the time of her birth.
Annie’s Mother Ann, registered her birth on, Friday the 2nd of May, 1879.
She registered Annie as Ann O’Connor and gave their residential address as, Number 6, Shirley Street, Canning Town, Plaistow, West Ham, Essex, England
Canning Town is a district in the London Borough of Newham, East London. The district is located to the north of the Royal Victoria Dock, and has been described as the “Child of the Victoria Docks” as the timing and nature of its urbanisation was largely due to the creation of the dock. The area was part of the ancient parish of West Ham, in the hundred of Becontree, and part of the historic county of Essex. It forms part of the London E16 postcode district.
The fastest phase of growth came after the 1880s, in the heyday of the Royal Docks.
The area’s greatest employer was the Thames Iron Works, Victorian shipbuilders to the world and the original home of West Ham football club. Thirty-eight spectators died at the ironworks when the slipway collapsed at the launch of the warship HMS Albion in 1898.
The Royal Docks brought significant immigration to the neighbourhood and Canning Town had the largest black population in London by 1920.
Although officially part of Essex, in reality Canning Town was always an integral part of London — Charles Dickens’ ‘Londoners over the border’. Whether residents worked in the docks or other industries, their employment was directly related to the life of the city. However, their working and living conditions were significantly poorer than those of their metropolitan neighbours. In 1907, more than a thousand local residents emigrated to Australia and Canada to escape unemployment, on the advice of the British Government.
In August and September 1889 local dock workers fought the Dockers’ Tanner strike, demanding to be paid sixpence an hour with two shillings a day minimum pay (10p in decimal currency), and fighting for the abolition of piece work (where dockers were paid separately for each task that they carried out). Although they attracted international support, the dockers failed in their attempts to get regular work, and men continued to have to wait outside the docks by the Connaught Tavern to see if they would be given work each day. A third of all local dockworkers were unsuccessful in obtaining work at any one time, and this created huge poverty.
Jumping forward to the year 1881, Queen Victoria was on the throne, William Ewart Gladstone (Liberal) was Prime Minister, it was the 22nd Parliament.
A bomb explodes at a military barracks in Salford, Lancashire, a young boy is killed.
The Natural History Museum is opened in London.
Charles Stewart Parnell imprisoned for to his part in land agitation in Ireland.
A postman named Mr J B George, found a body of a man at some villas at the outskirts of Epping Forest. He thought the man was sleeping but could not wake him, he than discovered the body had a cut from his mouth to his left ear.
Christmas Crisp of Charlotte Street and Charles Cox of Piplar Street, Canning Town, were charged on remand with having possession a cheese weighing 60lb, valued at £1 10s, in the Victoria Docks, which was supposed stolen. Cox was discharged and Crisp was sentenced to three weeks imprisonment.
An inquest was held into the death of a lady called Hannah Muggeridge and her 12 month old child Jessie Rose, whom were found drowned in a pond at the back of Scott Street, Canning Town. A verdict of Death by drowning was given, even through they believed that Hannah had murdered her child and than committed suicide.
And the 1881 Census was taken on the eve of Sunday the 3rd of April, 1881, It shows Annie, her parents John and Anne and her brothers, John and Thomas, were residing at, Number 77, Scott Street, Canning Town, West Ham, London & Essex, England.
Her father John, was working as a dock labourer and her brother John was a scholar.
Just over three years later, Annie’s mother Anne aka Mary, gave birth to a baby daughter, whom they named, Rosina Margaret O’Connor.
Rosina Margaret O’Connor, was born on Saturday, the 29th of November, 1884.
The 1891 and 1921, census gives her birth location as, Canning Town, Essex, England.
I’m still searching for a birth index. However I have found a birth index for a Rosina Blanch Connor, with the mothers maiden name being Arter. I have ordered this just to ease my curiosity.
You can read all about Rosina’s life here.
I have searched high and low for Annie in the 1891 Census, unfortunately to date I haven’t been able to track her down.
I do believe I have found her Mum, brother John and sister Rosina aka Rose, residing at, number 14, Poplar Street, Canning Town, West Ham, London & Essex, England. Please don’t quote me on this, as it is not confirmed it’s definitely them. It’s just a trail I’m looking into.
On that census, Annie’s Father, John is alive but not with the family. Annies mother is listed as married. However we do know that John died before 1907.
Jumping forward to the year 1907, Annie’s sister, Rosina was 22 years old, she married, 23 year old, bachelor, Walter Wiseman Mason, son of Mr. Walter Mason, and, Elizabeth Humphries, on Sunday, the 19th of May, 1907, at The Parish Church of St Peter, Regent Square, London.
Their witnesses were, Richard Bennett and Annie Dorothy Spencer.
Rosina was working as a Waitress, at the time of their marriage and residing at Number 9, Harrison Street. Walter was residing at, Number 2, Sidmouth Street and working as a, Dentist Assistant.
They gave their fathers names as, Walter Mason, a Bookseller and John Patrick O’Connor, a Carpenter (Deceased).
It wasn’t long until, Annie had met a gentleman and fallen, head over hills in love and on, Tuesday, the 13th of September, 1910, at The Registry Office, West Ham, Essex, Annie Dorothy O’Connors, married bachelor, Mr. James. William. Taylor, a seaman in merchant service, the son of, James Taylor.
Their witnesses were, Ada Etherton, Annie and James landlady, and Annie’s sister, Rose Mason aka Rosina. Ada signed with an X.
Annie and James, were residing at number 21, Dale Road, Canning Town, London, at the time of their marriage.
Their fathers were named as, James Taylor, a Ship wright (deceased) and John Patrick O’Connor, a carpenter (deceased).
The following year, on Sunday the 2nd of April, 1911, the census was taken.
It shows Annie and James, residing at, number 68, Clarkson Street, Canning Town, West Ham, London, England.
They were boarding at the residence of Mr. Charles Etherton and Mrs Ada Etherton, and there 4 children, Emma Hawes (stepdaughter), James Etherton, Joseph Hawes (Stepson) and John Etherton.
Annies husband James, was working as a Seaman and Charles Etherton, was working as a Corn Porter.
Did you notice that Annie’s husband James, was born at Sea. What a strange coincidence, as Annie’s Brother John Cornelius O’Connor, was also born at sea, just like Annie’s Brother, John Cornelius, was born, at sea.
Anyway, let’s get back to it.
On the 9th October, 1916, a baby boy called, Frances Arthur Jones was born, at 129 Mortlake Road, Silvertown, West Ham, Essex, England,to a Mr William Henry Jones and Mrs Emily Jones nee Sewell.
Emily registered his birth on the 20th November 1916.
Frances’s father William was working as a Driver Away Services Corps (Garage Labourer). They were residing at, Number 129 Mortlake Road, Custom Houses, Silvertown, Essex, England.
For reasons that will never be known to us, Frances Arthur Jones was put up for adoption and Annie and James adopted him.
I’m sorry to say I do not know the date of his adoption or any further details.
Was Annie unable to fall pregnant or unable to carry a child or possibly James was unable to father a child. It could also be many, many, other reasons. I think they knew his biological parents, and maybe something happened and they took over the care of Frances.
When I have some spare time, I may try and research, Mr Jones, Mrs Jones/Miss Sewell and see if I can shed some light on their situation or story.
Of course I will update you, if I find anything.
I’m sure no matter the reasons, Annie and James must have been over joyed at welcoming a son into their hearts, lives and home.
Heartbreakingly their joy was short lived, as on Saturday, the 26th of October, 1918, Annie’s husband, James William Taylor, tragically died from, a fracture of the skull, owing to the breaking of a wooden derrick, which caused James to fall. A post-mortem concluded that he died from, accidental death.
He died opposite Shed 5, Royal Albert Docks, East Ham, Essex, England,
The informant was, William Daybell, the deputy coroner for Metropolitan District Essex.
An inquest was held on Tuesday, the 29th of October, 1918.
On the 01st November 1918, the West Ham and South Essex Mail Newspaper covered the inquest.
FATAL ACCIDENT AT THE DOCKS. The lag inquiry concerned an accident through the breaking of a derrick on a Royal ‘Mail steamship at the Royal Albert Do on Saturday, resulting in the death of James William Taylor.
I can’t wrap my head around how awful this is. What an absolute horrific way to die.
And poor Annie, would have never got to say her goodbyes. I only hope that when James had left for work that morning, they kissed goodbye and told each other they loved each other.
It really does make you understand that life is short and can be ripped away from you at any moment.
The timeless saying, “Never go to bed on an argument.” couldn’t ring more true. Thank goodness Annie, had Frances to pour her love into and help her get through her grief.
After searching many hours for a burial for James, I only came across one possibility for a James Taylor, buried at, Highgate Cemetery, Camden, London, England.
I’m not 100% convinced but it’s the best I’ve got at the moment.
Widow, Annie Dorothy Taylor nee O’Connor, found love again and married 45 year old, bachelor, Albert Cranham, son of, Mr Stephen Cranham and Mrs Sarah Cranham, at The Register Office, West Ham, Essex, England on Thursday the 23rd of December 1920 when she was 42 years old. Their witnesses were, Esther Latchfield and Annie’s sister Rosina Williams nee O’Connor.
Both Annie and Albert were residing at, Number 129, Mortlake Road, Custom House, West Ham, Essex. Albert was working as a, General Labourer. They gave their fathers names and occupations as, Stephen Cranham, deceased General Labourer and Patrick O’Connor, deceased Carpenter and Joiner.
He following year the 1921 Census was taken, on Sunday the 19th of April, 1921, which shows, Annie, Albert and Frances, were residing at, Number 129, Mortlake Road, Custom House, West Ham, Essex, England. Albert was working as a Builders Labour for C J Wills & Sons Ltd, at L C C Beacontree Estate, Chadnell Heath, Essex, England. Annie stayed at home doing home duties and looking after 4 year old Frances Arthur.
Frances’s name was given as Frances Arthur Jones, their adoptive son. It also states that his father was still alive.
The 1921 census also gives information about if people were born in the United Kingdom or were a visitor or resident in the county. Annie, Albert and Frances were all British born.
Annie was soon in the family way and on Friday the 4th of January, 1924, at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London City, London, England, Annie gave birth to a baby girl, whom they named, Rose Margaret Cranham.
Her Father Albert was working as a Builders Labourer, at the time of her birth.
Annie, registered Rose’s birth on the 9th January 1924, in London City.
Rose was named after Annie’s sister Rosina.
Unfortunately there is a big gap in the documentation. The next document I have for Annie, is the 1939 register, which was taken on the Eve of Friday, the 29th of September, 1939. It shows Annie, still residing at, Number 129, Mortlake Road, West Ham, Essex, England, with her daughter, Rose M Craham and Francis A Taylor. Her husband is in Hospital.
Annie is working from home carrying out, Unpaid Domestic Duties. Frances is working as a, Plumbers Mate and Rose is working as a, Machinist Tent Making Ship Repairer. Frances was no longer named as Frances Arthur Jones but Frances A Taylor.
Sadly the year 1939 and 1940 brought death to the family as on, Wednesday the 4th of October, 1939, at Number 1, Botley Road, West End, Southampton, Hampshire, England, Annie’s Brother, John Cornelius O’Connor (my Great Great Grandfather), of Number 32, Canute Road, Southampton, Hampshire, a Watchman, passed away, aged 66.
John died from, Bronchitis and Myocardial Degeneration.
His widow, Ethel May O’Connor nee Wheeler, of Number 32, Canute Road, Southampton, Hampshire, registered his death on the same day, Wednesday, the 4th of October, 1939, in Winchester, Hampshire.
John, was laid to rest at, Hollybrook Cemetery, Southampton, Hampshire on Saturday, the 7th of October, 1939.
I’m unsure if, Annie Rosina and Thomas were there, I so hope they were.
I so very much wish, I knew if they had a close family bond. With so many gaps in John and Thomas’s history, I was sincerely hoping that their names would come up in Annie’s or Rosina’s documentation. I’m gutted to say they haven’t.
Heartbreakingly for Annie, her sister, Rosina died on Friday, the 29th of December, 1939, at Whipps Cross Hospital, Leytonstone, Epping Forest, Waltham Forest, London, England, aged 55.
Rosina died from Heart Failure and Myronditis.
Annie, of Number 129, Mortlake Road, Custom House, West Ham, registered Rosina’s death on Saturday, the 30th of December, 1939.
Rosina, was laid to rest at, West Ham Cemetery, Newham, London, England, on Thursday, the 4th of January, 1940, in grave Qg/156752.
She was buried with one other person, a lady called Matilda Walsh, who was buried a day later, on Friday, the 5th of January, 1940.
I am 100% positive that Rosina’s death must have been extremely hard for Annie. They seem to have been extremely close, more like best friends than sisters, (the way it should be.) I’m so very grateful they had each other.
Sadly, Annie’s heart did not have time to heal as on, Monday the 15th of January, 1940, at his home, Number 129 Mortlake Road, Custom House, West Ham, Essex, England, Annie’s Husband, Albert Cranham, died, aged 64 years.
He died from, Carcinoma of the month.
Annie, was present and registered his death on Tuesday the 16th of January 1940.,
Unfortunately I am still searching for his burial information.
Once again there is a massive gap in Annie’s documentation and sorrowfully the next document I have for Annie is her death Index, which shows Annie died in the September quarter of the year 1954, in the Essex South Western district.
Annie Dorothy Cranham, nee Taylor nee O’Connor, died on Monday, the 13th of September, 1954, aged 78 years old, at Whipps Cross Hospital, Leytonstone, Epping Forest, London, England.
Annie died from Cerebral Thrombosis.
Annie was residing with her daughter Rose, prior to her death, at 58 Penge Road, Upton Park, West Ham, Essex, England.
Annie’s daughter, Rose Margaret Watson nee Cranham, registered her death on Tuesday, the 14th of September, 1954.
Sorrowfully Annie’s life story came to an end at, West Ham Cemetery, Newham, London, on the 17th September 1954, when she was laid to rest, in Grave, J/86.
Annie was buried in an open grave, with 11 other people.
Annie Dorothy O’Connor.
I know you can not know a person’s character from dusty documents, but I have an overwhelming feeling that, Annie was a kind, loving person, whom possibly always put others before herself. And that family would have meant the world to her. I can not explain these feelings I have when I think of Annie but they are strong.
Although there are big gaps in Annie’s life story, I feel that she has been the key to discovering so much information about the O’Connor family.
She has confirmed that all the O’Connors were not born in Ireland as we once thought and that has helped a great deal when continuing to research my Great, Great Grandfather John Cornelius O’Connor and their parents, John and Ann O’Connor.
We now have a maiden name for Ann aka Mary.
We know Annie’s father, John O’Connor, was definitely born in Ireland.
We know that he worked as a Dock labour while in London.
We still have unanswered questions about his career as a Master Mariner and carpenter/joiner. Was he a master mariner in Ireland and took any work available while in London to support his family?
Could he have been doing Carpentry at the docks or possibly in his spare time to bring extra money in?
There are still so many unanswered questions but thanks to Annie, we are on the right path and hopefully sooner rather than later we will get to the right destination.
I cannot thank my Great Greataunt Annie, enough for leading the way. I so wish I could thank her in person.
All in all, I’m a tiny step closer to discovering who our O’Connor ancestors really were and, I couldn’t be more happy about it.
If you are a descendant of our Annie O’Connors, or her parents and siblings, please feel free to join our Facebook group, “Descendants Of John O’Connor”. You can find it here. We would love to see and hear from you there.
Until next time,
Too-da-loo for now.
I have brought and paid for all certificates,
Please do not download or use them without my permission.
All you have to do is ask.
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