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One of our volunteers, Frank Lockley, has been trying to find out a bit more about J. Duffy, featured in our blog post yesterday. What he has found helps to answer some questions, but raises others!

The 1911 census has a John Duffy age 12 living at 25 Herbert Street. This is the address that was given by the depositor. He is with his sister Kate (16) but his mother is a Mary McDermott (age 38) and there is an Annie McDermott (age 1). There is no husband/father listed. This would make John just old enough to enlist, and presumably his mother, Mary, had re-married at some point.

The 1901 census sees a Mary Duffy (who was born in 1873) living with her parents Thomas and Catherine at 9 Faulkland Street, Wolverhampton. Mary has 5 other siblings, along with two children listed as Thomas’s grandchildren, who are Kate (5) and John (3). Although the ages are slightly different, they are probably the same Kate and John as in the 1911 census. However, their surname is given as Malie, and Mary is shown as single. This entry in full:

Surname First name Relationship to head Marital status Sex Age Occupation
DUFFY Thomas head m m 50 Builders labourer
DUFFY Catherine wife m f 49  
DUFFY Mary dau u f 28 Hawker
DUFFY James son u m 19 (Feeble minded)
DUFFY Catherine dau u f 16 Japanners assistant
DUFFY David son u m 13  
DUFFY Ann dau u f 10  
DUFFY Winifred dau u f 4  
MALIE Kate grndau u f 5  
MALIE John grnson u m 3  

There is a John Maley in the BMD index, born March quarter 1898, Wolverhampton. However there is also a John David Duffy born in the March quarter 1898, and a Catherine Duffy born in June quarter 1895, so it seems likely that this might be John and Kate, and that they were possibly using their father’s name for the purposes of the 1901 census. Frank has not been able to find a marriage for Mary before this, so the children may have been born out of wedlock. However there is a marriage for a Mary Duffy in September quarter 1909, Wolverhampton to a Thomas James McDermott. Frank speculates that this may be the Tom that Duffy’s letter refers to, i.e. his stepfather. 

As Mary clearly has a few sisters, any one of these may be the aunt that John wrote to. The 1911 census tells us that Mary had a total of 6 children, only three of which survived to 1911, and the length of marriage is given as 5 years (although this contradicts the evidence of the indexes). The plot thickens…