The elusive Grandaunt Eva Maud Clinton

For most of my life, ‘Aunt Eva’ as our mother called her, was depicted as a tragic figure. Invariably described as being very beautiful she was the eldest sibling of our maternal Grandfather, Robert Clinton. Our mother referenced her whenever she heard of a wedding being arranged for the month of May. It was, she declared, an unlucky month to get married and she knew, because didn’t aunt Eva get married in May! I recall having a heated discussion with my mother over the date of my own wedding which had been ‘penciled in’ for the first Saturday in May. So as not to tempt fate, the point was conceded and the date moved back to the last Saturday in April.

So who was this Grandaunt Eva and what became of her?

With the arrival of Irish genealogy records online, it should be easy to unravel the mystery! Unfortunately, that was not the case. In the first place, the marriage of her parents, John and Amelia has not yet been found. The quest continues! (Amelia was from the Church of Ireland while John was Roman Catholic so there are many possibilities.)

In the 1901 census, we have our first sighting of Eva Maud as a fourteen- year- old, living with her parents and four siblings in Cleaghmore, Ballinasloe, Co Galway. See here.

According to the census she was born in Co. Mayo, yet there was no sign of her in birth records. The first birth certificate to be uncovered was that of our grandfather, Robert Clinton in 1889, so Eva Maud as the eldest must have predated this. By sheer fluke, her arrival was discovered – not with the names Eva Maud, but with the given names of Bridget Evaline! Did Amelia quickly learn that only Saints names were allowed in the Catholic Church and did she feel aggrieved that her firstborn daughter could not be named after her own sister Eva Maud Judge, for whom she had stood as witness in her marriage three years earlier? We shall never know!

Civil birth entry Bridget Evaline Clinton (NLI)

1911 Eva was a 22-year-old shop girl in Ballinasloe, boarding in the house of Merchant Daniel Hogan in Society Street. See the census record here. Her birthplace was given as Co Westmeath, and the age does not tally, but there is no doubt that this is the right person.

Society Street Ballinasloe c. 1900 (NLI)

By this time in 1911 her family had moved on Carbury Co Kildare, where her father John was now Stationmaster and she had 6 siblings. She stayed behind in Ballinasloe. I wonder if she often visited the family while they lived in Carbury?

Carbury Station, home of our great grandparents, parents of Eva Maud. (Image thesilvervoice 2017)

Although I have not yet established exactly when the family relocated to Carbury, we do know that our great grandfather John Clinton died there just before Christmas in 1920 after an illness of 11 months. It is highly likely that Eva would have visited him there during his illness.

The next ‘sighting’ we have of Eva Maud was at her marriage on 2 May 1927 in St Fintan’s Church, Howth to Thomas McLoughlin, a shop assistant of St Peters Terrace Howth. Again the name Bridget E. appears on the cert.

The marriage certificate of Eva and Tom.

At the time of the marriage, Eva was living in a big two- storey house, Brackenhurst, Howth probably owned by the Bamford family, drapers in the town, who are likely to have been Eva’s employers.

The interesting thing here, and not something I had ever heard mentioned, was that the groom was a widower. Not only that but he had at least two children by his first marriage, so our Grandaunt Eva became stepmother to two relatively young children.

The little house in St Peter’s Terrace, Howth where Eva and her family lived.

Tom McLaughlin was born in Howth on September 6, 1882, the son of a Fisherman. He married Catherine Ward on January 18,1915, and I have located two children born to them – Joseph born in October 1915 and Philomena born September 1916. (Catherine was a widow at the time of her marriage to Tom as her first husband John Ward, who she had married on December 25, 1911, died of Typhoid Fever in January 1914. Catherine was the daughter of a sailor, her maiden name being Sisk). In any event, Tom and Catherine would not enjoy a long happy marriage as she died in St Vincent’s Hospital on June 15, 1924 only some 9 years later. The cause of her death was Endocarditis.

Death cert of Catherine (NLI)

Death Announcement, Catherine. Irish Independent

So a new life beckoned with the marriage of Eva and Tom, who would also be a mother to the children.

But alas that was not to be. Only 140 days later, Eva would be dead. The official family version of her death had been that she died in childbirth. The death certificate tells a slightly different and very sad story.

The death certificate of Eva Clinton McLaughlin (NLI)

She had been just two months pregnant and had the very serious condition of an ectopic pregnancy. She died in Holles Street Maternity Hospital, not aged 34 as stated, but aged 40, with Peritonitis cited as an additional cause. We can only hope that she did not suffer too much. But my mother was right, May was a very unlucky month for her marriage.

The death announcement from the Irish Independent.

And so Thomas McLoughlin had to bury another young wife. But where? Family lore has it that Eva was buried in the old Abbey in Howth, but no grave has ever been located. Our mother was only 9 years old when her Aunt Eva died, but her death left an indelible mark on the family. It is very disappointing that we have not been able to identify her burial place. The search continues.

Somewhere there is a photo of Eva Maud as I recall seeing it. If any family members can add any information to this post, I would be thrilled to hear from you! For now, we remember the 132nd anniversary of the birth and untimely death of our elusive grandaunt.

NOTE:

Thomas married for a third time on January 7,1929. His wife was Emma J Stephens. Thomas died on March 24, 1956, but I have been unable to establish where he is buried.

There is a headstone in Deans Grange cemetery for an Emma J McLoughlin who died in 1993 and I believe this is possibly Thomas’ widow or possibly their daughter. More research required!

Fingal County Council has an extensive online database of burials but the Old Abbey records begin in the 1960s.

So the hunt for grandaunt Eva Maud or Bridget Evelyn goes on.

I would like to thank the legend that is S.Wilson for the info on Aunt Eva’s residence of Brackenhurst in Howth. His excellent site is at https://www.swilson.info/

UPDATE FEB 8 2019

I have been in contact with family of Thomas McLoughlin who have provided the following information:

Emma Josephine Stevens married a brother of Thomas Mc Loughlin after Thomas died. The headstone above in Dean’s Grange is Thomas’ brother John and his two wives.

While aware that Thomas had been married three times, the identity of Thomas’ second wife, our great aunt Eva was not known to them.

References

NLI BDM Records

Census NLI.ie

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6 Comments

Filed under Family History, Ireland, My Oral History

6 responses to “The elusive Grandaunt Eva Maud Clinton

  1. You are so lucky to have found out so much information about Eva. So many young women died in childbirth or pregnancy.

  2. Love a mystery. Hope you find her final resting place soon, it is always nice to remember those who were a part of our family and enriched our lives, especially when there are no direct descendants to do so.

  3. You have unearthed quite a bit…surely if anyone can find her grave, you will. She certainly didn’t have an easy life, but it wasn’t in vain as she is still fondly remembered. What more can any of us ask for?

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