Sunday, May 4, 2014

Fredrick Joseph Meagher's Birth Record FOUND... And There's A Twist!

After many years of searching, I have finally located the birth record of my great-great-grandfather Fredrick Joseph Meagher. And there is a reason why I could not find it for so long - turns out he was born Frederick Sullivan.

After posting my earlier blog post regarding Fred in the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists Facebook group earlier today, asking for thoughts and comments, I got several responses, including one from Sally Donaldson-Taylor, who wrote the following.

There is a record of an August 4, 1876 birth of a Frederick Sullivan in Boston- parents Michael and Mary. I see that on his 1897 marriage to Sarah McGinn he is listed as Frederick J.S. Meagher. Theory #1- His full name was Frederick Joseph Sullivan Meagher and his birth was erroneously recorded under the surname of Sullivan. Theory #2- Mother Mary was married to Michael Sullivan, then remarried to Michael Meagher and he adopted the surname Meagher. Theory #3- Mary was not married at the time of his birth, (was her maiden name Sullivan?) and he was registered as Sullivan but then the parents married and he adopted his fathers surname in addition to the Sullivan surname.

After reading that, I remembered back to when I requested a copy of the parish record for Fred's 1897 to his first wife, Sarah J. McGinn. When it came in, I was surprised when it listed Frederick's surname as Sullivan but simply wrote it off as poor record-taking based on prior experience. But after reading Sally's comment, it all started coming together and started to make sense.

The names listed on parish record for Fredrick and Sarah's marriage.

I found the record for myself on FamilySearch and am thoroughly convinced that it is him. The date of birth matches. The place of birth matches. The first names of the parents match too.

But after looking it over, I am still left with questions. For starters, legally, was Fred's name Sullivan or Meagher? If was Sullivan and then Meagher, when and why did he make this change? Why is it I still can't find Fred on the 1880 United States Federal Census? On Fred's death certificate, his father's place of birth was Boston; his mother's Lowell. On his birth record, they're listed as being Ireland and Charlestown. Which is it?

Very happy to have found this record and a big thanks to Sally for helping me!

Copyright © 2013, David J. McRae