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Florence Sullivan (male) coastguard 1879
captainbligh
Hi all,

An unusual name for a man, I know, but he was my grandmother's father, according to her birth certificate, a member of the coastguard in the year of her birth, 1879.

My grandmother was born in Courtown, Gorey, County Wexford, Ireland. I have recently started to research my ancestors and have a few documents and a number photographs. One of them, I have a feeling, is of him. It was taken in Cork and is of a bearded male wearing a cap and what looks like the sort of clothes worn by a seafaring type.

My grandmother married at Liverpool in 1897, and her marriage certificate describes her father as a Naval Pensioner. Gran was in her eighties when she parted this mortal coil, way back in the swinging sixties. Other than a copy of her birth certificate and my recently acquired copy of her marriage certificate, I can find no trace of her on any census returns for the years since her birth, despite the fact that she told some of her grandchildren that she came over from Ireland, when she was just 3 years old.

I know nothing more about her father other than the few details I have provided. I have managed to establish that there was a Florence Sullivan, age 43 years, serving on HMS Invincible in the year 1881 and he was a marine. It has occured to me that him being Irish, might have ment him keeping his true occupation to himself. Perhaps to his fellow countrymen, being a member of the coastguard was more acceptable than being a marine.

I note on my grandmother's birth certificate that Florence registered her birth in 1879 and was only able to sign his mark. Iwould have thought being a member of the coastguard would have required a man to have some form of literacy even in the 19th century.

If anybody has any useful information to impart Ishould be most grateful.
Thanks.
 
crimea1854
Hi and welcome to the Forum.

A check of the GENUKI coastguard site indicates that there was Florence Sullivan on the 1851 census at Whitehaven, Cumberland. He was born in Ireland in 1831, and his wife's name was Mary, born Ireland 1829. Unfortunately, on quick look, I could not find him at this station in the Estabishment Books.

However, the Index to the ADM 175 series of Coastguard Establishment books has a Florence Sullivan who in 1849 was going to join the CG Service from HMS Vindictive, but he changed his mind and rejoined the navy.

Perhaps he reconsidered this decision, because in 1860 a Florence Sullivan joined the CG from HMS Magicienne, his first posting being to Courtown CG Station.

Perhaps not a definative answer, but it might be somewhere to start!

Regards

Martin
 
captainbligh
Hi Martin,
Thanks for the welcome and your research. I think placing him in courtown helps immensely and makes me think you are on the right track. If his wife was called Mary in 1851, then she most probably died and he remarried. I write that because he must have remarried as my grandmother's mother was named as Ellen Sulivan, nee Walsh on her birth certificate. I doubt that there would be another Florence Sullivan (male) in Courtown. You have given me a lot to go on. Thanks again.

If you are interested I can either pm you the pic for your observations on his attire or I can post it in here. Either way please let me know.
Tony.
 
crimea1854
Tony

I don't know if you have checked the National Archives online records of Seamans Service, but there are six different Florence Sullivans listed. It might be worth downloading a couple of the more likely candidates (@ £3.50 each) to see if you can get a match with information you already have.

I think one of the men has both his service records - 1853 (prefix 139) and 1873 (prefix 188) available - I have a hunch this could be your man. By the way the date next to the record is an approximate year of birth.

http://www.nation...5Fdate+asc

In addition in 1854 there was a Florence Sullivan, Boatman, serving on HMS Majestic during the Crimean War. He was awarded the Baltic Medal, which was sent to Lynn CGS on the 29/5/57. According to the ship's description book he was born in Castletown around 1821.

I think this indicates that Florence was not quite as an unusual first name as you may think!

Martin
Edited by crimea1854 on 08/02/2009 23:05
 
captainbligh
Martin,
You are obviously right. Maybe Florence was a tribute to the famous Florence Nightingale. Hence it is not quite as common as I thought. But I do like the looks of the Courtown posting. Particularly as my grandmother was born there 19 years after Florence Sullivan was first posted there from HMS Magicienne.

Amazingly about 10 years ago, whilst in Ireland for a short break with friends, we stopped off in Courtown for a coffee on our way back to Dublin from Wexford. At that time I had no idea my grandmother was born there It's not a big place and there is only one church I have since been told. Looks like I will have to go back.

Thanks again Martin. It's much appreciated.
Tony.
 
crimea1854
Hi Tony

Since my last post Iíve been trying to trace Sullivanís career through the Establishment Books (EB ) in ADM 175. I have to say he has been the most challenging man to date, and I still cannot say with any confidence what his full CG service career was.

However, the good news is that I did find him in ADM 175/45 (page 271 of 444). This can be downloaded for free from the NA. This confirms that he was at Courtown between 1877 & 1879 (the period covered by this particular EB ). It also notes his place of birth as Berehaven, Cork in 1833, which means that the front-runner in the Service Records noted in my post above is almost certainly him.

Do let us know how you get on Wink.

Regards

Martin
Edited by crimea1854 on 09/02/2009 11:40
 
captainbligh
Martin,
I'm sorry, I should have posted my own findings earlier as a result of your suggestions for me to try the characters as indicated in the National Archives records which you so kindly posted for me. You were SPOT-ON. In fact I downloaded the Florence Sullivan's 2nd and third on your list and they relate to the same guy.

Florence Sullivan was born in Berehaven, Cork, on 20th September 1833. He served for 6 weeks on HMS Terrible in the September 1852, when he was 19. Maybe they gave them a 6 weeks trial. Seems a bit odd as I thought life in the Navy in those days was all or nothing. Three years later he signed on for 10 years, and a further 10 years after that. He served on quite a considerable number of HM warships, including Impregnable, Bellerophon, Terrible, Hogue, Magicienne. On 13 March 1860, he was invalided, and if I have read the records properly he was assigned to the Coastguard and was most certainly serving in Courtown in the 1870s when he fathered my grandmother at the ripe old age of 46 the sly old devil. His character was always good or even better.Wink when he was in service to Her Majesty. Can't possibly say what he was like with his missus, Ellen Sullivan (nee Walsh).

I haven't yet had time to look up the history of all the vessels he sailed in but I will. He seems to have been a boatman during his naval years, and took his pension on 7.05.83. I don't know if any of these coastguard vessels mean anything to you but they include, Vanguard, Topaz, Hercules, Bellisle. The last three all being Courtown.

To find out such a great deal is amazing and it is all thanks to your help, this excellent site, and £7.00 to the NA. Well worth it. I'm just a bit surprised that they never bothered to record landlubber addresses, just in case any of the crew decided to desert, as I am sure many of them did.

At least now I can add some information to the face of the character in the picture I have of him. I feel rather PROUD of him. And I couldn't care less if he took the King's Shilling as they used to say.Smile

Thanks again,
Tony.
 
crimea1854
Tony

Iím delighted that you have managed to find so much out about your ancestor.

On your point about the Navy being all or nothing, prior to 1853 men signed on for the duration of a ships commission. After this date a man COULD sign up for Continuous Service (CS), for which he received an extra 1penny per day. However, if the man wanted the freedom to move between the RN and the Merchant Navy he could still just sign on for the duration of the commission. It wasnít until 1873 that every man had to sign up for CS.

On the names of the Coastguard ships, these were HQ vessels to which each man was assigned. After about 1866 the records in ADM 175 are organised by the name of these ships, but if you were to look at these you would see that within the Ships Establishment Books each individual CG station is identified, together with the men serving there.

You say that he appears to have remained a Boatman for his entire career, but he must have been promoted at some point because in 1877 he was noted as being a Commissioned Boatman.

One final point, it is quite feasible that Ellen came from a CG family. The men were actively discouraged from fraternising with the locals, so intermarriage between CG families appears to have been quite common. It could be worth checking the records of the CG stations Sullivan served at to see if a Walsh was serving at that, or an adjacent CG station, at the same time.

All the very best.

Martin
 
crimea1854
Hi Tony

One final piece of information, and then I promise to leave you in peace!

You mentioned that Sullivan served on a number of ships that I knew took part in the Crimean War. Since he signed on for CS in 1855 I felt it worth checking the medal rolls to see if he was entitled to either the Baltic or Crimea medal.

I duly found him on HMS Houge where he saw service in the Baltic and earned the Baltic Medal, which was sent to HMS Magicienne on 28/4/57.

Martin
 
captainbligh
crimea1854 wrote:
Hi Tony

One final piece of information, and then I promise to leave you in peace!

You mentioned that Sullivan served on a number of ships that I knew took part in the Crimean War. Since he signed on for CS in 1855 I felt it worth checking the medal rolls to see if he was entitled to either the Baltic or Crimea medal.

I duly found him on HMS Houge where he saw service in the Baltic and earned the Baltic Medal, which was sent to HMS Magicienne on 28/4/57.

Martin


Martin,
Please don't leave me in any peace. I am all ears and will take any advice or information, and last but not least any help you can offer me. As regards the medals situation, my pal was only discussing with me this evening that very subject. He reckons that it is possible to order duplicates of any medals he was entitled to. You are very advanced in using the National Archives stuff, me I'm on a very early learning curve.Smile. I had noticed that there is mention of a medal on one of the documents I printed off. I shall look into this, but whatever you do, I am always grateful for any help you or any of your fellow coastguard- enthusiastic chums can offer.

Thanks again.
Tony.
 
crimea1854
Tony

The medal referred too on the service record is almost certainly the RN Long Service & Good Conduct medal. I did a short article on this particular medal that can be read at:

http://www.coastg...cle_id=257

As to ordering duplicates. I'm afraid you are way out of time on that one, you cannot now get WW1 medals.

Regards

Martin
Edited by crimea1854 on 11/02/2009 07:22
 
powera
I live two pennisula's south of Castletownbere (Berehaven) and the name Florence is still around as a man's name. It is alway's abbreviated to Flor. I'm afarid I don't know how it came into use. Perhaps it is the nearest English name to an earlier similar sounding Irish one?
Serving in the British Navy remained common on this pennisula's until at least the second world war. Jobs were scarce and many of the local men would have been skilled boatmen by their teens.
The Berehaven/Bere Island Naval base would have also introduced locals to navy life.

Regards
Aidan
 
captainbligh
powera wrote:
I live two pennisula's south of Castletownbere (Berehaven) and the name Florence is still around as a man's name. It is alway's abbreviated to Flor. I'm afarid I don't know how it came into use. Perhaps it is the nearest English name to an earlier similar sounding Irish one?
Serving in the British Navy remained common on this pennisula's until at least the second world war. Jobs were scarce and many of the local men would have been skilled boatmen by their teens.
The Berehaven/Bere Island Naval base would have also introduced locals to navy life.

Regards
Aidan


Aiden,
Sorry I am late replying. Thank you for that information. I often think that the officer's in those days must have has problems trying to record properly details from the men, as the men in the main were illiterate. Is that it in Bantry Bay? My Atlas has Castletown/ Bearhaven. The first part of his record states Catletown, but later in the records mention is made of Berhaven. I must visit there one day, I really must. I note that the Heritage people in Ireland want 50euros to do a search for a marriage certificate. I wish they would go on line with what they have.
Thanks again,
Tony.
 
powera
In terms of geographical names I am not very familar with those used in the area during the 1850s.
As you will see from any detailed map, south-west Cork has a series of penninsulas. The town of Castletownbere is on the south side of the Beara penninsula. I note though, on the Ordnance Survey map, the town is known as Castletown Bearhaven (not used locally). Bear Island is located to it's south-west, approx 2km away. Between the two lies Bear Haven which was used by the British Navy as a safe anchorage. It's significance as a port is demonstrated by the fact it was retained until 1938 for British Naval use along with two other Irish harbours (the "treaty ports"Wink- Cobh(Queenstown) and Lough Swilly.

The lack of availability of Irish Births/Deaths and Marriages and census records (slowly being made available) is disgraceful.
A good site though is http://griffiths...._start.php. If you know the townland of your ancestor you can use this site.


--
Edited by Philip on 11/05/2009 17:46
 
captainbligh
Thank you Powera, for your helpful information. I agree it is a disgrace how limited on-line services being offered by Ireland really are. I note, however, that there are quite a few organizations willing to undertake ancestry tracing but are far from reasonable in financial terms. You pay even if no result is achieved. Perhaps putting all records on- line would remove a lucrative source of income from such organizations.
Tony.
 
smitha
Hello Tony,

I've spent a good deal of time researching your Florence Sullivan who was married to Ellen Walsh. His oldest son, Thomas, was my husband's grandfather as his youngest daughter (that I know of) was your grandmother. In other words, you and my husband are second cousins. We have traced the eldest two children, Mary (who went to Australia) & Thomas (who was in the Royal Navy and stationed at Portsmouth), and know the names and birthdates of the rest of the family born in Ireland, but we lost track of Florence and the younger children when he retired from the Coastguard in 1883. We've looked for records in the National Archives (I have all his naval records) and in Courtown and in Cobh & Castletownbere, but never thought to look in Liverpool.

Regards, Ann
 
captainbligh
I haven't visited this site for some time now, but I just thought it proper for me to let you all know that the poster smitha and I made contact. Amazingly her husband and I are second cousins. And as a result of this excellent website and our communications , via the web, my cousin and his wife smitha visited us when they came over from Canada in 2011. It turns out that Florence Sullivan brought his family over to Birkenhead following his service as a coastguard. He was still serving in Ireland when my grandmother was born in September 1879. The 1881 census shows them settled in Birkenhead that year. Florence died in 1900. His wife Ellen died in a workhouse some 12 years later. Both are buried in pauper's graves in Flaybrick cemetary, Birkenhead.
Florence must have struggled along on his navy pension. I just wish I could learn more as to why he quit the coastguard and I presume his tied cottage to live in England.
Another cousin, from the UK, has since passed onto me Florence's navy certificate of service. It's written on parchment and details everything (in faded writing) about Florence's years of service. I never knew it existed. So thanks everybody, just sorry I never posted this sooner. Happy New Year and keep up the good work.
 
brownjett
Hi I have just been directed to your site from a moderator on lifeboats 24-7. Yours is a very interesting site. I am the Station Officer with the Largs Coastguard Rescue Team (West of Scotland) I have had a request from a friend of a friend to try and find some information about the following people. Paddy and Chris McCarthy who were auxiliary coastguards around the Cushendall area. They were also members of the sailing club there and used to frequent the Lurig bar. Any help would be appreciated.
brown
 
captainbligh
Hi brownjett,
For help with your enquiry, you will need to start a thread of your own. You have posted on the Florence Sullivan thread. The folks on here will help you once they have properly identified your requirements. Good luck.
 
alex
In early 2013 while researching my wife's 19th century ancestors I came across the website 'Coastguards of Yesteryear'. After having no success with a couple of family names I typed in Thomas Sullivan knowing he himself had no connection with the coastguard service but to my surprise he was mentioned in correspondence with other users along with snippets of information. Florence Sullivan we knew nothing about but after receiving a copy of Thomas Sullivan's marriage certificate it clearly states his father as Florence and furthermore we can now place Thomas at 6 Wilson Street Birkenhead in the middle of the 1890's, the very address where Florence resided at on the 1891 census so I am sure Florence is my wife's great, great, great grandfather and Thomas is my wife's great grandfather. My wife is related to Thomas through his first wife, Margaret McNeill. they married in 1888 in Portsea, Hampshire.
There is a strong Irish link in our family along with the coastguard service in the 19th century. Margaret McNeill's father was James McNeill who was born in Ireland (not known where). He served in the Royal Navy along the Hampshire coast while in the coastguard service in the 1880-1890's. James McNeill married Margaret Harrison in 1857, Portsea, Hampshire and on their marriage certificate it records James's father as John, a farmer and Margaret's father, Richard Harrison a coastguardsman. We do know a little about the McNeills in the Hampshire area but the Harrisons we know nothing about except that we think he may have been in the Royal Navy and he may have been Irish because Richard's wife Margaret states on several census returns that she was born in Ireland. We think that Richard must have died sometime before 1851.
 
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