An Epidemic- Patrick COSGROVE 1866-1901

This is the story of my great grandfather, Patrick Cosgrove.  He is my maternal grandmother’s father. He was born in, Killoe County Longford in Ireland in January 1863 to Peter Cosgrove  (1832-1893) and Catherine Mullervy (1939-1910). Patrick was one of at least ten siblings.

  • Anne Born 1867
  • James Born 1869
  • Francis Born 1871
  • Peter Born 1874
  • Catherine Born 1875
  • Michael Born 1876
  • John Born 1878
  • Elizabeth Born 1880
  • Joseph Born 1883

I know that Francis was born in Longford and that Catherine was born in Lanarkshire but I don’t know for sure about Peter so at some point between 1871 and 1875 the family left Ireland and settled in Scotland.  Their family home was at 18 Furnace Row, Newmains, Lanarkshire which is where the five younger children were born.  The town that they left was Ballincurry in the parish of Killoe.

Having left Ireland for a better life, the family faced some horrendous times.  I can find no record of Francis in Scotland so I can only assume that he died very young.  Perhaps it was the circumstances of his death that caused the family to leave Ireland.  This was not, however, the end of the heartache.

Baby Peter died on 20 March 1875.  The cause of death was recorded as measles. Catherine was only a month old at the time.  She died on 21 January 1876 followed closely by Anne on 1 February and James on 5 February.  Three children dead within just over two weeks.  The cause of death is recorded as whooping cough. Catherine would have been pregnant at the time.  Son Michael was born in September 1876 but died less than four years later on 3 June 1880.  The cause of death was scarlet fever.  Joseph died on 2 April 1884 at 13 months old.  The cause of death was gastritis.

So it was amidst all this tragedy and death that Patrick was raised.  The family remained in Furnace Row and in the 1881 census Patrick was working as a coalminer while his father was a labourer.

By 1884 Patrick had left home and was living in Lochee, Angus.  It was there while he was working as a labourer and living at 44 Whorterbank, Lochee that he married my great grandmother, Sarah Helferty on 3 December 1888.  Sarah was born in Glasgow to Irish parents, Arthur Helferty and Mary Wilkinson. She had moved to Lochee to work in the jute mills

I recently visited the Verdant Works Museum in Dundee which is housed in a former jute mill. It gives a real insight into the lives that my great grandparents would have lived, albeit for quite a short time. There was a large community of Irish immigrants in Lochee as they were prepared to work in poor conditions for low pay. Jute was still a thriving industry and there were plenty of jobs to be had. The Irish had a reputation for rowdy, drunken behaviour and the women were very much in charge due to them being, by far, the majority of the workforce. In many households the woman was the breadwinner while the husband stayed at home to look after the children. This was not the case for Sarah and Patrick as at that time they were childless.

By 1891 the couple were back living in Newmains at 27 Furnace Row.  On the census Patrick is again recorded as a labourer.

On 16 July 1900 the couple’s only child was born in Glasgow – a daughter, Catherine.  Sadly, less than 7 months later, on 10 February 1901, Patrick died in Belvidere Hospital, Glasgow during the smallpox epidemic.  His death record shows that he had not been vaccinated against the disease.

At that time vaccination was compulsory only for infants but even that was not strictly enforced. There was some opposition to vaccination but I imagine that my great grandfather didn’t give it much thought. There were some 2500 cases of smallpox in Glasgow between January 1901 and May 1902.

The original admittance register for Belvidere Hospital is available to view at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow. It shows that Patrick was admitted to the hospital from Weaver Street Receiving House which, I have been told, was to help cope with the amount of patients requiring hospital admission. On his arrival at Belvidere on 1 February 1901 Patrick was already very ill.

It’s heartbreaking that my granny never knew her father. I hope that her mother, Sarah, talked about him and told her about happier times.

12 thoughts on “An Epidemic- Patrick COSGROVE 1866-1901

  1. I believe Elizabeth born 1880 was my paternal grandmother , my father Bernard O’Donnell was born in the furnace Row and spoke about it often. Elizabeth married John O’Donnell and my father was the youngest son.

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    • Hi Mary. Thanks for getting in touch. I have Elizabeth and John’s youngest child as B O’Donnell but don’t have any details. If my great great granny is your granny I’m not exactly sure what that makes us. Definitely cousins of some description! Are you in Scotland?

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      • No I live in Hertfordshire England. My father had a younger sister Mary and another two sisters Elizabeth and Kate , he had brothers Manus, John,Paddy, Ned and Michael. The family moved from the furnished row to Stewart Crescent in Newman’s where my brother and sisters spent many happy summers with my grandfather. Unfortunately I never met my grandmother Elizabeth as she died I believe in 1945 . I suppose we are cousins.

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      • I know Stewart Crescent well as I grew up just round the corner. 1st cousins 2x removed I think! Do you know Kelsey O’Donnell? She made contact through a family history site. Elizabeth O’Donnell was her great great grandmother and she has done a lot of research on the O’Donnell family.

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  2. I did see something on Facebook but couldn’t find it again. I believe her great grandfather was my uncle Paddy my father’s brother who was a long distance lorry driver . He used to stay with us in Saville Road in Chiswick when we were children.

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    • I’ve messaged Kelsey. Feel free to post a comment on the Facebook page as I’m sure she’ll want to know more about your connection.
      I’ve also posted about Elizabeth’s mother Catherine Mullervy. A very hard life.

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