Monday, June 14, 2010

Francis Ball: 1893-1905: "casemaker's child" lost

In my posting of 7 June I wrote about finding additional information about the lost children of my ancestors. As I explained in that post, the number of children born alive often differs from the the number still living a decade or two later.

Such is the case with the Ball family, the family of origin for my maternal grandfather Patrick Ball. According to the 1911 census my great-grandmother Jane Early Ball gave birth to 5 children, of whom only 3 were alive in 1911. In the 1901 census I was able to uncover the identity of one of the two children unaccounted for in 1911.

Click on image to view larger version.
In 1901 Francis Ball is 7 years old, namesake of his father, and the youngest child in his family, which at this point includes 3 other siblings. His eldest brother Patrick is, at 15, already working with his father as a casemaker. Both sister Mary, aged 14 and called Maisie, and brother Christopher, aged 11 and called Christy, are at school.

Click on image to view larger version.
The Ball family lives at 2.3 Fishamble Street, Wood Quay Dublin. The street lies west of the grand thoroughfare of Sackville Street, which after 1924 will be known as O'Connell Street. The house stands close to the banks of the river Liffey. Categorized as a 1st Class house, it is in good condition. It is tall and relatively spacious with 6 rooms and 6 front windows; however, the Ball family shares this house with 4 other families, with a total of 20 people occupying the space. The family of six lives in one room.

By 1911 both Francis and his father no longer appear on the census. His mother is described as a widow, so his father is dead by 1911, but was Francis aged 17 living elsewhere, perhaps working as an apprentice, or was he also deceased by that time?

Sadly, the answer is Francis was dead. He did not reach his seventeenth summer, not even close. According to the civil registration record Francis died 6 June 1905, at the age of 11, at the Cork Street Fever Hospital, Dublin. The cause of death is noted as 'Meningitis, 17 days, certified'.

Civil Registration of Death for Francis Ball, GRO, Dublin South, Volume 2, page 533.
A further search for information about Francis brought me to the register of graves at Glasnevin Cemetery (see image below). In the Glasnevin record Francis's age is given as 12 and he is listed as an adult, with his rank/profession simply described as 'casemaker's son'. The cause of death is noted as 'gastric fever', rather than 'Meningitis'. Francis is buried in a single casket interred in a mass grave, benignly referred to as the 'Angel Plot', in the St. Patrick's section of the cemetery. He was interred on 9 June 1905. The arrangements were set by his mother Jane Early Ball. It breaks my heart to think of Jane Ball burying her youngest son. Just eight months shy of his 12th, Francis was on the brink of surviving his childhood.

Click on image to view larger version.


Map of Glasnevin: Francis Ball's mother Jane is interred in St. Bridget's Dublin section (1914); the grave of Francis's brother Patrick is in Dublin Section West (1963).

Link to 1901 Ball Family Census documents: http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/pages/1901/Dublin/Wood_Quay/Fishamble_Street/1341416/
Link to 1911 Ball Family Census documents: http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/pages/1911/Dublin/North_City/Stafford_St_/39101/

Copyright©Jennifer Geraghty-Gorman 2010.

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