Cassidy - the Descendants of Patrick Cassidy in Dundee

Cassidy and Connolly: Irish immigrants in Dundee.

This family's story, as far as I have been able to piece it together, sheds some light on the 'Dundee Irish', the many people who came to Dundee as immigrants, during the 19th century, and became part of the Dundee population, working in the weaving factories and spinning mills, or in the many trades relating to Dundee's weaving community. This story was made possible by the publishing of Roman Catholic birth records, where they exist in Scotland, on the Scotland's People website. I was so very pleased to have - as I thought - some clue to these families (and as they pointed me to a family interesting in its own right, and also gave a possible clue to the Lynch family, I will express my profound gratitude to all those who have made these records available). For the Cassidys, an initial entry in the Dundee Roman Catholic (St Andrew's Cathedral) records led to a whole slew of census, marriage and other material, indeed up to the 20th century through war records and newspaper entries.

The death record of my great-grandmother Margaret Cassidy, on 21st Feb 1879, shows her to be aged 38, and gives her father's name as Michael Cassidy, occupation 'Railway Lighterman' (implying an unloader or labourer) the mother's name not being recorded there. But no Michael Cassidy seemed to fit the bill; the name 'Patrick Cassidy' emerged, a railway labourer according to the 1851 census, with other reference to him as a mason's labourer. The birth date I found for Margaret daughter of Patrick placed her one year older than the age reported by her partner, Thomas Lynch, 39 not 38 at her death from 'exhaustion after childbirth'. 

On 16 Feb 1838 a marriage was recorded between Mary Connoly and Patrick Cassidy, in Dundee. While their marriage is in the Parochial Records, the births of children are in Roman Catholic records: both parents were born in Ireland and this seems to be a Catholic family. Their children were:

Margaret born 8 June 1839

James 25 July 1841

Mary 9 July 1843

Elizabeth 6 August 1848.

Margaret's baptism sponsors were Peter Connoly and Katherine Cant. It is quite possible that Peter was a brother of her mother, Mary Connoly. Siblings James and Mary were, like Margaret, born and baptised in Dundee - all in the RC records of St Andrew's Cathedral. Elizabeth was born in August 1848 and not baptised until October - the birth being (probably) in Balmerino, though Balmullo and Balmeilo are given as transcriptions of later census records, and the baptism was recorded at Dunfermline, presumably when the family was on the move to the borders in association with Patrick's work on the railway.

In the 1841 census a Peter and Mary Cassiday are living at 69 Princes Street in Dundee. The records appear confused. The following is taken from the FreeCen transcription:

CASIDAY Peter M 35 Lab Ireland

CASIDAY Mary F 30 Ireland

TOWERS Mary F 20 Mill Ireland

CONLEY Margaret F 2 Ireland

If this is the family of Patrick, Mary and their child Margaret, the names are confused and Margaret's birthplace wrongly attributed. It may be another family and the names be coincidence.

In 1851 the family are in the borders, at St Boswell's in Roxburgh. Patrick (Peter in this census) is a railway labourer, and the birthplaces of children clearly indicated. The address is Mainhill Hutts, St Boswell's.

Peter Cassidy 32 b. Ireland, Rail Labourer

Mary Cassidy 39 b. Ireland, Labourer's wife

Margaret Cassidy 11 b. Dundee, scholar

James Cassidy 9 b. Dundee, scholar

Mary Cassidy 7 b. Dundee

Elizabeth Cassidy 2 b. Balmerino, Fife

There is an obvious discrepancy of ages for Patrick, between the two censuses. Which is incorrect can't be known. Patrick is in no further census records, and it is likely he died before 1855, as I have found no death record.

The households of Mary Connoly and her daughter Elizabeth

Mary and her three younger children are in the 1861 census, having returned to Dundee, living at 183 Seagait. James, 19, has become a mason, Mary and Elizabeth are mill workers. Margaret is not in the household, but I’d thought there was a possible census entry for her in Lochee, where a Margaret Cassidy aged 21, mill worker reeler, birthplace Dundee, is a boarder in the household of James and Mary Docharty. (The Docharty's birthplaces are all given as County Leitrim, Ireland. Unfortunately the census record for Mary Connoly or Cassidy gives only 'Ireland’.) This may well be my ‘actual’ Margaret Cassidy; the one I spent so long chasing, the daughter of Patrick Cassidy and Mary Connoly, had died in 1860.

In 1871 Mary's address is transcribed (by Ancestry) as 48 & 50 King Street, and her daughter Elizabeth is still in the household, aged 22 and now a factory operative. There are two boarders, transcribed as Betsy Berry and Mary McGourty, women in their 40s, both millworkers, both born in Ireland. There is no further census record for Mary Connoly or Cassidy. 

Mary died in Dundee, in 1879, January 12th, from bronchitis. Her age was given as 56, which is clearly far wrong, but the death was reported by her daughter-in-law Ann McIntosh or Cassidy, who either did not know her mother- in- law's age or birthdate or possibly she (or the clerk) was not good at arithmetic. Mary must have been around 67. Her approximate year of birth is recorded via several censuses where she, as head of household, had not obscured it. She died at 13 Crescent Lane, a narrow street connecting Princes Street to Victoria Street, and may have been in the household of one of her sons on her death, or possibly of another relative.

The death record gives her father as John Connoly, mason's labourer, her mother as Margaret Connoly m.s. 'Cranley' - the image and writing are diifficult to read and it may instead be 'Cronley'. There are many Connollys in the 1841 census in Dundee: some, including Patrick (Peter) and a John aged 30, are possibly brothers of Mary. Her birth in Ireland makes it hard to find antecedents, as records are sparse. Mary is described in this record as widow of Patrick Cassidy, his occupation given not as railway labourer, but as mason's labourer - possibly the last labouring job that he held, and possibly a connection that enabled his son to become an apprentice and then a mason.

Cronley or Cranley, though, is a less common name. There are no Cronleys in the 1841 census in Angus. However the records of the Howff graveyard in Dundee include an entry for Margaret Cronley, wife of John Conolly labourer, in 1836, dying of a 'decline' at age 50, thus putting her birth around 1785 or so. And it gives a location for her birth - 'King's County' in Ireland, which is County Offaly. This possible derivation for Margaret and her husband John Conolly is discussed further below.

Mary's daughter Margaret left at some point for Glasgow, but her other children, Elizabeth and James, remained in Dundee. Their stories, so far as I have been able to piece them together, are interesting.

In 1881 Elizabeth Cassidy is at 54 King Street, a tenement building which also houses the family of her brother James. Elizabeth, millworker aged 32, is head of a household of three boarders, Mary Corcoran born in Ireland, Alice Conlin from Inverkeithing and Jane McDonald from Montrose, all millworkers, ages given as 50, 23 and 16. 

The records of these women, and of the preceding generation show the growth of Dundee as a mill town, attracting the poor of Scotland and Ireland into the mills and factories. By the 1891 census, though, Elizabeth's life has taken another turn, as she appears aged 42 as a domestic servant in the household of Mathew McKenna, a grocer and spirit dealer in the Forfar Road, aged 39, a widower with three young children, initially from Arbroath. There is another, young, servant in the household, and, interestingly, also a visitor at the time of the census, a Thomas Ogilvy, newspaper reporter aged 37.

In the 1901 census there is no entry directly named for Elizabeth Cassidy. However, Mathew McKenna has remarried - his wife is named Elizabeth, age 52 born in 'Balmullo', the most common of all the spellings of the birthplace of the youngest daughter of Patrick Cassidy and Mary Connoly. Mathew McKenna has married his housekeeper Elizabeth, and the Scotland's People website holds the record for the marriage in 1891.

For Elizabeth Cassidy, therefore, there was an eventual way out of the mill, to become mistress of a small household with at least one servant.

I have not found pointers to the story of Mary, the second daughter of the Cassidy family. She may have married, died or gone elsewhere, but the 1861 entry is the last I have.

The households of James Cassidy, brother of Margaret, and his children

James was married to Ann McIntosh on 20 April 1863, daughter of James McIntosh, a seaman, and his wife Elizabeth. In the 1871 census they are in the household of Ann's parents, in St Clement's parish at 9 St Margaret's Close, with three children, James (6), Peter (4) and Elizabeth (2). By 1881 James (described as a mason) and Ann are at 54 King Street with the two boys, James and Peter, and Ann's nephew James Tosh (or McIntosh), who at 17 is an apprentice bricklayer, young James and Peter Cassidy at 16 and 14 being described still as 'scholar'.

In 1891 James (now 49, bricklayer) and Ann are still at 54 King Street, with Peter, now aged 24, who is also a bricklayer. In this year it's shown that the younger James has married, and is at 184 Hilltown, following his father's trade as a bricklayer, with his wife Margaret and young children, Patrick aged only a year and the new baby James who is a month old. His brother-in-law John McConnell, a joiner aged 24, is in the household. His wife Margaret's birth name is likely, therefore, to have been McConnell.

The 1901 census shows Peter, bricklayer, now 35, with his wife Elizabeth and two children, James aged 5 and Mary Ann aged 3, at 7 Clark Street in Dundee. Young James, bricklayer, aged 37, is at 27 Ogilvie Road, with his wife Margaret, and four children, Patrick aged 11, Ann, 8, Susan, 6 and Margaret, 5; there is no sign of the James who was an infant in 1891. 

James and his children, though, have moved on from the status of Patrick Cassidy, sometime railway labourer or mason's labourer. The early Irish immigrants to Dundee, whatever their backgrounds in Ireland may have been, were the poorest of poor in the Dundee of the early 19th century, living often in what we would now consider ghettos, enclaves of poverty in a town struggling out of poverty, providing the armies of labourers and unskilled mill workers to fuel the growing industrialisation of the town. But by the end of that century, they have trades and crafts, connections and demonstrated abilities. They have become part of Dundee. 

I found it strange to reflect that when my mother came to Dundee, in the late 1920s, there might have been Cassidy relatives in the city of whom she had no knowledge; descendants of the Irish immigrants of the early and mid 19th century, now become part of the people of Dundee and indeed, as masons and bricklayers, literally part of the shaping of its fabric. The changes in Dundee from the 1830s to the mid 20th century were vast; the construction of commerce paralleled by that of the commercial buildings of the city streets, the demonstration of Dundee's 19th century boom-time, and extending to the building of streets and housing estates sprawling outwards into the Angus countryside. Further changes in the latter 20th century would render much of the City unrecognisable to James Cassidy and his sisters Elizabeth and Margaret. Indeed, the changes to Princes Street, King Street and the Seagate, even since I left the city, have resulted in a very different landscape.

I have tracked the descendants of James further, through finding a newspaper account of a young James dying in the First World War, and written a short article which is available by request - email me if this interests you please. 

Margaret Cronley and John Conolly - immigrants from County Offaly

Evidence for Margaret Cronley and John Conolly comes from the burial records of The Howff in Dundee, transcribed by Friends of Dundee City archives and the Tay Valley Family History Society, and made available online at Having found Margaret Cronley - the only Cronley present - I was then able to find John Conolly and possibly some others of his family.

Margaret Cronley, wife of John Conolly, labourer, dying of a 'decline' at age 50, was buried on 7th March 1836 in 1836, thus putting her birth around 1785 or so. Her birthplace is given as 'King's County' in Ireland, which is County Offaly. 

John Conly, labourer, died aged 72m from cholera; his residence was in Croll's Pend, in the Cowgate. His birth county is likewise King's County. 

Various other Conly or Connoly (etc.) individuals also come from King's County and may be related. There is a Terence Conally, buried in 1853 aged 66, hence born around 1787, his wife Rose Whielon who died in 1835 aged 45, and several children also born in King's County. These families can be mapped, with the help of Dundee census records and, for some children who are later-born, birth records.

Both John and Terence may have married twice. After the death of Rose, there is a marriage in Dundee of Terence Connoly and Catherine Winter, on 6th February 1837. Their household in the 1841 census gives the age for 'Terrance Cannally' as only 40 (ie. 40-45, when he should have been described as 50[4]), but the household includes a child William, aged 9, born in Ireland and hence from an earlier marriage. The death of this child is given in the Howff records, from an accident when he fell into a well, aged 13. His family's address was both then and in the census Peddie's Close, in the Overgate.

John appears in the 1841 census described as age 50 (which should have been 60). He is in a household in Crescent Street with Ann Park Conley, and a child, Kathren, aged 1, baptised in Dundee as Catherine Connolly on 29th March 1840 (from the Catholic records); other children were David, born in 1843 and dying in 1846 aged two (the Howff record gave the information that his father was John Conolly, labourer) and James, born in 1847. I have not found a marriage record of John Conolly and Ann Park, but the birth record of David lists him only as 'son' rather than 'lawful son', possibly showing that the parents had not registered a formal marriage. 

Finally, there are other households with 'John Connoly's in the 1841 census, and one of these, a household in Crescent Lane, is that of John Connoly, labourer born in Ireland, and Maria likewise born there. There is a marriage in 1837 of a John Connoly and Mary Shaughnessy, with children William and James suiting the two children appearing in this census record. While it is hard to define relationships between the Connoly families, it is quite possible that this John, aged 27 in the census (the age therefore not rounded) may be the sibling of Mary and the son of John and of Margaret Cronley. This household also includes a Margaret Connoly aged 18 - possibly a younger sibling. The 1851 census again shows the family this John and Mary, and gives birth information of 'King's County' for both; children include William, 13, James, 10, Margaret, 7, John, 5, and Helen, 21 months. A son, John, was born in 1855, and the birth record, repeating the 'King's County' information, shows that this family had five boys and two girls, one child having died (who must be the earlier John). I have not found a death record for John Connoly, although the birth of John in 1855 shows him as living then; and I have not found a census record for any of the family for 1861.

It may be possible, as with the Cassidys, to trace these Connolys through Dundee records, up to the 20th century at least, but I have not as yet attempted this. Such information as I have found seems to indicate a scattering of Connoly children in the 1861 and later censuses. While the Cassidys moved out of the poorest classes, there is as yet no evidence that the Connolys did so. But Connoly became a frequent name in Dundee - through continued immigration fueled by the later potato crisis and collapse of Irish farming - and there would remain much work to do, to find the particular ones who were descendants of John Connoly and Margaret Cronley of County Offaly.


If anyone related to these Cassidys or Connolys would like to get in touch, I'd be very glad to share with them what I have, which includes rather more on the family of James Cassidy. I've a short article, written just before I found that Margaret, daughter of Patrick Cassily and Mary Connoly, had died as a young woman in 1860, the death being reported by her brother James. These Cassidys and Connolys therefore have no connection with me, and my own Margaret Cassidy remains to be discovered - or not, as the records may not exist. 

So I am back to Margaret Cassidy, my great-grandmother, with once again very little to go on. She was born in Dundee, so says the one census I have for a certainty for her (1871), her birth was around 1840, and she took up with Thomas Lynch and they had three children in Glasgow, the last dying as his mother did, at his birth in 1879. There is a wee lass Margaret Cassidy in the 1851 census, a servant in Barry, Angus, said to be born in Dundee around 1838, and there is Margaret Cassidy in 1861, in Dundee, a boarder in the household of James Docherty and his family, whose description then as born around 1840 and being a Mill Reeler fits with the death record of my Margaret, as formerly a cotton factory reeler. But even if these are she, how did she come to meet Thomas Lynch? Did he return to Dundee? So many questions remain.

My mother’s family

Linlithgow and Linlithgow Bridge

  1. The Fishers, McCullochs and Stewarts (with other files linked)
  2. The Whytes and others in Linlithgow Bridge and Linlithgow

The Lanarkshire weavers

  1. The Browns, a Glasgow weaving family
  2. Pendlebury, from Lancashire to Lanarkshire (to follow)

Thomas Lynch and Margaret Cassidy

  1. The Cassidys and the Lynch family: Dundee and Glasgow – with Irish connections still to be explored.

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