I was fascinated this past week by a comment left on an older blog post (May 2011) by Patricia. The blog post detailed the ‘disappearance’ of my great great grandfather William Mitchell sometime in 1890’s, essentially his abandonment of his family.
Patricia shared through her comment that my great great grandmother, Agnes (nee Sweeney) Mitchell Branchfield, had taken in her grandmother Mary Lafferty and raised her as her own. According to Patricia’s comment, Mary referred to Agnes as her mother and to Agnes’ children as her siblings. Clearly signs of very close relationships and most understandable given what must have been the circumstances.
Unfortunately, the 1911 Scottish Census, the most recent made public, does not show Mary Lafferty living with Agnes and her family. In 1911, Agnes was residing at 3 Harvie Lane in Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland with her second husband Joseph Branchfield and their five children and two children from Agnes’ first marriage (listed as step-sons to Joseph). On the census record, 3 Harvie Lane is listed as a “Common Lodging House,” containing 13 rooms with windows and providing a home to 36 people. The most likely Mary Lafferty that I have found in 1911 Greenock was born around 1908 and whom might have become orphaned around 1918.
Common lodging houses were not the abode for the rich and famous and were often of significant concern for health and criminal activity issues in the 19th century United Kingdom. So my great great grandmother did not lead a life of luxury but more likely faced a daily struggle to make ends meet and keep her family intact. Joseph, her husband, at least worked, like most men in the area, at the nearby shipyards where he was employed as a labourer.
Unfortunately, it does not appear that 3 Harvie Lane exists any longer, likely having given way to some form of Greenock modernization. So Patricia, if you are reading this post, please contact me with more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.