Anthony Toomey and Martha Cross: A Love Story – Finding the Proof

The place to start would be the family story itself so here is the story that has been passed through the generations about Anthony Toomey and Martha Cross.

“Anthony Toomey who filled the Office of Physician General at Bombay in the East India Company Service, a native of the County Kerry married about the year 1780, Martha Cross, daughter of George Cross Esquire of Rathconnell in the County Kildare, she being a Protestant and he a Roman Catholic.

By the influence of the said Anthony Toomey’s sister, who held a high position in the Convent Tralee, County Kerry, he got a position in the East India Company’s Service and left for India. His wife, being with child, did not go with him but in time she was safely delivered of a boy whom she got christened Mark Toomey and brought him up in her own religion, a Protestant.

Shortly after the birth of her child she got what purported to be an official account of her husband’s death in Bombay of yellow fever, and from what transpired afterwards, he (Anthony Toomey) must have got a similar official notice of not only her death in childbirth but also the death of her child.

Without a husband (as she thought) and estranged from her family by her marrying a Roman Catholic, she was obliged to earn her bread as best she could, and took the position of Housekeeper to a Mr. Purcell of Athy, County Kildare, a wealthy man who ran a number of mail coaches in Ireland at that time that were well known as “Purcells Coaches”

The town of Athy had a Military Barracks and Mr. Purcell always called on the Colonel and Officers of every new Regiment stationed there and invited them to dinner. He being a self made man, felt highly honoured at having them at his house, and the story goes that the young Officers used to laugh amongst themselves at the expense he went to to entertain them with the finest of wines, etc. – indeed it is more than surmise to say that the reason he employed Martha Toomey was to assist him in such entertainments which of course he did not quite understand.

A new Regiment came from India and was stationed at Athy Barracks and Mr. Purcell as usual invited them to dinner and after dinner, as was fashionable then, there was general wine taking all round and the host, Mr. Purcell said “May I have the pleasure of a glass of wine with you Mrs. Toomey”. On hearing the name of Toomey one young Officer said to the other “That reminds you of the name of our old friend the General”, whereupon Mrs. Toomey enquired who the General was and was told he was Physician General in the East India Company Service at Bombay to which she exclaimed, “My husband”, but the Officer said “Oh! Pardon me Madam, General Toomey’s wife and child died in Ireland soon after he arrived in Bombay. He got official notice of the fact.” She asked did they know what his name was and they told her “Anthony”, and she said “It is my husband and I got official notice that he was dead”. It was quite clear to all present that a swindle had been perpetrated on both of them and Mr. Purcell set about the next day to try and solve the mystery.

This must have been many years after the General left Ireland for his only son, born after he left (Mark Toomey of Eagle Hill) was at the time bound to a shoemaker to learn a trade as his Mother of course had not means to leave him or give him a profession.

The mode of communication between Ireland and India at the time was much slower than now, and it was many months before the General was communicated with, but when he was quite satisfied in his mind of the truth of the statement he sold off and prepared to leave Bombay and return home, but unfortunately he died a month exactly before he should have started home.

Martha Toomey received after his death some few personal effects of his and over 20,000 Pounds in cash, so I need not tell you that Mark Toomey gave up the shoemaking trade and lived a private gentleman all the rest of his life.”

It is believed that my Great Great Grandfather Mark Anthony Toomey (1844-1916) wrote this story. He was the Great Grandson of Anthony Toomey. The story could have been written between 1890 and 1916.

So here I am presented with this family story and what to do next. First step is to check out the East India Company records to see if Anthony Toomey can be found. A book called “Roll of the Indian Medical Service, 1615-1930” by D.G. Crawford was checked and Anthony Toomey was in the East India Company Medical Service in Bombay. He was born in 1746 and was an Assistant Surgeon as of 18 April 1771. Anthony was involved in the Second Mainsur war 1781-82 and became a Physician General on 13 January 1790. He died in Bombay on 16 January 1797.

Another useful book was “History of the Indian Medical Service 1600-1913” by D.G. Crawford. In this book I found more detailed information of Anthony’s time in India and a monument inscription that was on his tomb and where he is buried in Bombay. This also explained the sketch I have of Anthony’s tomb in Bombay.

This information does call into question the date of marriage of about the year 1780 but I continued.

If he did leave 20,000 Pounds to his wife and son then there must be a probate record of this fact. The National Archives of England has Documents Online and there is an index of Prerogative Court of Canterbury probate records. There is a notation for Anthony Toomey of Dublin so I purchased a copy for 3.50 GBP. This was the gold mine that connected the two sides.

The will which was written on 5 January 1796 states that he divides his estates in half, one of which goes to his wife Martha and the other to his son Mark Toomey. If one or either dies then the other gets the entire estate. If Mark had married or had children it would be divided up equally amongst them. The cash value of the estate was not mentioned. If the estate was worth 20,000 Pounds then in today’s money the estate would be worth 643,400.00 Pounds. I found this out by using the Currency Converter on the National Archives website.

So Anthony Toomey of the East India Company Bombay did have a wife Martha and son Mark. When the will was written Martha and Mark were living in County Dublin.

A Catholic in Ireland at this time had a hard life. Catholic emancipation did not happen until 1829 and even then it was still difficult. They were excluded from parliament, holding a profession and not many actually owned land. If Anthony had a medical education he probably had to go to Scotland or the continent to receive it. Martha had strength of her convictions and a true love of the man to marry Anthony and be estranged from her family.

A quick Google search provided proof that “Purcell’s Coaches” did exist and were based out of Dublin.

The decedents of Mark Toomey were from County Kildare and could be found in the Ballyshannon and Fontstown area of the county.

As mentioned in the above story, news did not travel quickly between Ireland and India at that time so who knows how long it took for the news to reach Anthony, for him to be sure it was true and be able to arrange to get home. We know that he knew about his wife and child when he wrote the will on 5 January 1796 and that he died in Bombay India on 16 January 1797.

This story was written about 75 years or more after the event. It had gone through several generations to get to my Great Great Grandfather. If he wrote it when he was older then he may have remembered things differently. Whether the events in the story are true is not known. Either way it is a great story to have and some evidence has been found to corroborate the story. Finding information for this early a time period in Ireland is difficult but I keep looking as you never know what else may appear around the corner.

©2010 – Blair Archival Research

Online Education with the National Institute for Genealogical Studies

Have you ever considered taking genealogy courses to help you with your research, to expand your knowledge base or to begin your preparation to become a professional? I was looking for all of these when I found the National Institute for Genealogical Studies in October of 1999.

I had read an article about the program in Maclean’s magazine and was very excited to find a program on offer in Canada. I had been researching different programs to see what would best suit my finances and what I wanted from this type of education. My post secondary education already included two diplomas from Sheridan College for Research Techniques and General Arts and Science.

To be honest I had all but given up taking genealogy courses to expand my experience. They were very expensive and if they were available by correspondence I would still have to go to the educational institution to do my final exam. Since most of the institutions offering these programs were in the United States this was out of my budget range.

So you can imagine my excitement in reading about the online courses that were going to be offered by the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. The article in Maclean’s said they were affiliated with the University of Toronto. I was at the “Word on the Street” festival in Toronto and the University had a booth. The people manning the booth had not heard about the program, it was that new. While at a one day genealogy conference I found a flyer on a table about the program and grabbed it up. This was a Saturday and I had to wait until Monday to call.

First thing Monday morning I called and they had just started their very first course so I had to wait until the beginning of November to start my course and then I was off! I have completed my Professional Learning Certificate in Genealogical Studies (PLCGS) for Canada, England, Ireland and Methodology and was in the first graduation class for each program.

The NIGS offers a variety courses. You can take a single course or you can take a full certificate course. Do you have ancestors in Canada, England, Ireland, Germany, United States or Scotland? Are you a Librarian who would like to take genealogy courses so you can better serve the patrons coming into your facility? The National Institute can help.

You not only take your courses online but you upload your assignments and do your exams online as well. They also offer chats with instructors that are audio and video. You will see the instructor but if you do not have a webcam that is not a problem. Everyone is welcome and it is a chance for students and instructors to meet. If students have questions, need clarification or just want to connect with their classmates this is the place to do it.

There is the choice of printing out the reading material on your own printer or ordering the material already printed and getting a binder to store it in. If you get the pre printed material it comes all at once. If you do it yourself you have to wait for each week to be released before it can be printed.

You can basically custom make this program to suit you, your schedule and your price points.

Want to do one course on how to research your Slovak, Scandinavian or Polish ancestry? How about a course that tests your analysis and skills for each level of the program you are taking? The National Institute can help you with that as well.

I have risen through the ranks at the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. I started as a student and then became an author and instructor. Are you planning a genealogical research trip to Ireland? Consider taking my course “Planning a Research Trip to Ireland”. I also moderate the chat sessions for the Irish program.

You can start slowly with a single course and then build upon that baseline. Or you can jump in and take a full certificate course. One thing I can say is that I am very glad that this program was on offer when I was looking to improve my genealogical knowledge base.

Check out their website or give them a call and have a chat. You will be glad you did.

©2010 – Blair Archival Research

Irish Research and the fight for Independence

Recently I came across a new blog called “On a flesh and bone foundation: Irish History” and found it very interesting. Jennifer Geraghty-Gorman is researching her Grandmother and her family who lived in Dublin at the start of the 20th century. The Magee family was also involved in the Irish War of Independence.

Jennifer’s blog provides a good description of how family and history come together. She shows the effects of the Irish War of Independence on the family and how the death of a beloved son affected them.

Jennifer shares her trials and tribulations of doing research in Ireland as well as the joys and sorrows of seeing the places that played a big role in her family’s lives.

I would suggest that you visit the blog and have a great read.

©2010 – Blair Archival Research

Have you ever tried the Scotland’s People website?

Have you ever tried the Scotland’s People website? This website is run by the Government of Scotland and overseen by Brightsolid who also own “Find My Past” and may soon own “Genes Reunited”.

This is a genealogist’s dream website as it has the complete civil registration and census records online. They are indexed and there are digital images available. You can also find copies of probate records as well as Old Parish Registers for baptisms, marriage banns and burials. The burial records are not complete so please check the reference to OPR burials on the website that tells you what years and places are available.

There is a fee involved and it is 6 GBP which at the current rate of exchange is approximately 9.30 CDN. You get 30 credits for this price. Theoretically to view the index page and one image would cost you 1.86 CDN.

To view an index page of 25 entries will cost 1 credit. A search may come up with more than twenty five entries but they tell you how many search results there are. You then have the option of narrowing down the search before opening the index page.

Once in the index page if you find the correct entry you click on view image. This will cost you 5 credits per image viewed. If you decide to search to either side of the original image remember that will also cost you 5 credits per image. They clearly make note of this on the website.

The search process is the same for all the documents available except for the Wills and Testaments. You can search the index and see the results of the search for free. If you find a document it will cost you 5 GBP (7.75 CDN) to view the entire file. The file could be one, two or eleven pages the price would be the same.

Scotland’s People also have several places that can help you with your research. If you are having difficulty reading the handwriting there is a section to help you with this problem. Check under Help & Resources to see what other reference materials they have that can help you with your research.

In my experience if I have ever had a problem with the images it has been rectified very quickly. Once I clicked on an index entry that was supposed to be for my ancestor in the census. When the page came up they were not there and no one with the same surname was on the page. I emailed Scotland’s People to let them know and a couple of days later I got a response and the credits were put back into my account. Once I even got a few extra credits as an apology which was very nice indeed.

One thing you must do with Scotland’s People is read the directions and descriptions on the website very carefully.

The Registers of Corrected Entries for example. These show up if the page you have downloaded has one attached to it. There is a little red box at the top and it costs you 2 credits to view this entry. The only problem is that it can be for any of the people listed on the birth, marriage or death entry. Read the entry carefully as you should find a reference to the RCE in the right hand margin of the entry page. This will tell you if the RCE relates to your ancestor.

Educate yourself on the counties and parishes of Scotland to help you better identify your ancestors in the indexes.

Remember that the Old Parish Registers deal only with the established church in Scotland. Scotland’s church history is too complicated to cover here but you can find a good reference to it in “Tracing Your Scottish Ancestry” by Kathleen B. Cory, Third Edition, Revised and Updated by Leslie Hodgson, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc. 2004. In the Illustrations section, figure 7, is a copy of “Burleigh’s Chart of Scottish Churches” which outlines the complicated history. If you do a Google search for “Burleigh’s Chart of Scottish Churches” you can find it in Google Books.

You can let the purchasing of credits and searching get away from you if you are not careful. Too save a little money you can always search the Scottish Civil Registration Indexes on microfilm at some Mormon Family History Centres. I know my local one has a complete set but yours might not so check it out.

Ancestry also has indexes to the Scottish census records but no images. Check these census indexes to help narrow down your search on Scotland’s People.

You will still have to view the index page to get to the image at Scotland’s People but you will know what you are looking for and may not have to view as many index pages.

My Scottish blood insists that I find the best way to save a penny no matter what I am purchasing!

©2010 – Blair Archival Research

Podcasts and Genealogists

Do you listen to podcasts online or on your IPod/MP3 Player? They are free and very useful to the genealogist. In fact podcasts are all I listen to on my IPod! I subscribe to many different types of podcasts through ITunes.

The big one for me is The National Archives of England. They put new podcasts out regularly. They are recordings of slide presentations that are given at The National Archives in Kew. My only regret is that I am unable to see the slides and therefore the documents that they reference in the seminar.

I subscribe so every time my IPod is attached to my computer it is being updated. I have learned about World War 1 records, land and estate records, Irish and Scottish genealogy just to name a few. All this was done while riding the bus to the Ontario Archives.

Others that I listen to are “Digging up your Roots”, “Family History Expos Genealogy Podcast” and the “Genealogy Gems Podcast”. I also listen to other podcasts that can help with my genealogy such as “Oxford Biographies”, “Documentary One on RTE” (Irish Radio), “English Heritage” and “Great Lives”. These all provide me with background information.

One little gem I found for writing my family history was an Open University program which is found under ITunesU. Open University is a program on British television where people can take a university course by correspondence or just for interest. Open University has been around for a long time. There are seven episodes to help you write your family history.

These are just the ones I listen to; there are many others that cover a wide spectrum of genealogy. When you go in do a general search for both genealogy and family history. Some will come up under both searches but you will find others that can only be found in one search field. You may even find podcasts that do not relate to family history but to family. Go through the list to see what is there as you never know what you may find.

You do not have to subscribe to the general podcast. If there is one particular entry you are interested in you can download that specific podcast. You may discover that after a while the podcasts are not relating to your requirements so you can delete the subscription and try another one.

Unfortunately sometimes there are only a few podcasts to be found under certain titles. The last podcast may have been put up 2 or 3 years ago and then they stopped. Check these out anyway as you may find something of interest. Occasionally you will find a video podcast which adds another dimension.

Your local library may also allow for downloads of books that could relate to your family history or a book you may have wanted to check out. These can be downloaded from your public library website but you will only be able to use the files until the check out time has expired.

There are a wide variety of topics available in a format that is easily portable.

The one thing to remember is that all of these are free to download. Have fun!

©2010 – Blair Archival Research

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