Vousdens in Ireland

My starting points for looking at Vousdens in Ireland were a few diverse records:

Map of Ireland: the 32 counties, after 1922.
Map courtesy of the Irish Genealogy Toolkit web site.
  • two mentions in The Times (of London) in December 1824 of a Mr Vousden, a newspaper reporter, regarding the trial of Daniel O'Connell;
  • an 1860 copy birth certificate of Mary Ann born to Valentine Vousden and Mary Ann Vousden formerly Burgess in Stourbridge Registration District - far from the Vousden heartland in Kent;
  • the Irish entertainer William McNevin whose stage name was Val Valentine, a name he adopted from the earlier Irish artist of the same name; and
  • a land surveyor and plantation owner in South Carolina, North America from the 1780s to about 1812, named William Vousdan, said to be Irish.

More recently I received a brief message via the Contact page of this web site that said: "My mother's maiden name was Vousden. ... Her family lived in Waterford Ireland, and were able to trace the name back to the Vikings. There is no dispute about this at all. You need to look further."

So here I am, looking further...

Early Vousdens in Ireland

Quaker Marriage: American, 1842.

The earliest reference that I have found to Vousdens in Ireland is in a biography of Anthony Sharp, "Dublin's Merchant-Quaker", by Richard L Greaves. Sharp was an English Quaker business man in the woollen trade who settled in Dublin in 1699. The book includes reference to a discussion in the Dublin meeting of the Society of Friends about Quaker youth who were marrying too early. They were troubled by a 1701 case in which Peter Vousden and Rebecca Lloyd were asked to postpone their wedding because they were "very young and childish" and because of their relationship's brevity. Notwithstanding this disapproval, Peter and Rebecca were married less than a week later.

Later in the eighteenth century a Richard Vousden opened a coaching inn on the turnpike west of Dublin. The story is told in History Ireland magazine (Volume 15, Issue 5) in a feature article called Ireland's time-space revolution: improvements to pre-Famine travel by Arnold Horner. The building of the turnpike roads, and the consequent need for travellers to have somewhere to eat and rest, and, just as importantly, for horses to be refreshed and changed, led to the early development of Inns along all the main roads out of Dublin.

Horner notes that as coaches improved (steel springs were being advertised as state-of-the-art in the 1770s), intervals between staging posts for both men and horses lengthened, and Maynooth could become an alternative first stage out of Dublin. He refers to contemporary newspaper advertisements:

A good example is that for the Leinster Arms, the new inn opened at Maynooth in 1777 (Dublin Journal, 29 Nov.-2 Dec., also 27 Feb.-1 March). Richard Vousden, the proprietor, promised the public 'good four post beds and bedding, constantly well aired', as well as the best wines and 'the best meats the markets can afford'. But he also gave prominence to the location of his inn and its wider context on the road west:

'He has got stables at the New Inn, where he means constantly to keep chaises and horses, which will enable him to drive that long stage between Maynooth and Kinnegad with more expedition, without advancing the expense to the travellers. He hopes the impartial public will consider he was the first that set up chaises on that road. Post chaises, as usual, in Maynooth, and also at the New Inn, which is mid-way between Maynooth and Kinnegad. Post chaise and pair at thirteen pence a mile, four horses at nineteen pence halfpenny. Gentlemen may be accommodated with horses to their own carriages at the above price.'

The 'New Inn' referred to here was at what was then 'Nineteen-mile-house', now Enfield.

We learn from the above that Richard Vousden opened an inn called the Leinster Arms in Maynooth in 1777, and had stables at the New Inn in what is now Enfield, mid-way between Maynooth and Kinnegad. This was an important new road out of Dublin and may have been a very profitable operation for Richard Vousden.

Another early Vousden in Dublin was Samuel Vousden, a publisher based in Hendrick Street. He was a witness to the Will of Elizabeth Pountney of the city of Dublin, parish of St. Paul's, spinster. The Will was sealed on 15 July 1783 and is given as an example on the Wills & Deeds Explanation page of the From Ireland genealogy and family history web site.

Elsewhere, in an Index To Births, Marriages, & Deaths recorded in the short-lived periodical ANTHOLOGIA HIBERNICA 1793-1794 we learn of the death of Arthur Gardiner of Portson, co. Roscommon, at Vousden's Hotel, Dublin in July 1794, and we wonder if the proprietor may have been the same Richard Vousden.

International Genealogical Index

Map of Ireland: the 4 provinces and 32 counties, with the Chapman Codes identifying administrative divisions and historical divisions as created by Dr Colin Chapman. They are widely used in genealogy.

The International Genealogical Index on the LDS Family Search web site has ten Vousdens in Ireland, falling into three (or possibly four) family groups.

The largest of these families is that of Valentine Vousden and Mary Ann Burgess, with the births of five children between 1865 and 1872, all in Dublin: Arthur Burgess, Elizabeth Esther, Mary Emily Burgess, Agnes Margaret and Peter. This is the same Valentine and Mary Ann (née Burgess) Vousden whose child Mary Ann was born in Stourbridge, Worcestershire, England in 1860, when Valentine described himself as a commericial traveller.

The second family is that of James Vousden and Julia Delaney, comprising the births of three children: Mary in Mountrath, Laoghis in 1871; Charles in Laoghis in 1874; and a second Mary, born in 1875, also in Laoghis.

The third family is that of Peter Vousden, firstly of son Patrick in Abbeyleix, Laoghis in 1864, whose mother was Jane Coffey; and of son John in 1867, also in Abbeyleix, whose mother was Jane Murphy.

Valentine Vousden (1819-1906) - "whom all old Dubliners will remember"

Sheet music cover of Man Know Thyself: written, composed and performed by Valentine Vousden.

Valentine Vousden was born in 1819, and in 1844 he married Sarah Ann Hawthorn in the English Potteries (Stoke on Trent), Staffordshire. Both were of full age and both were resident at the time in Stanley, a small village some 5 miles from Stoke. Valentine described himself as an "Artist", and gave his father's name and profession as Peter Vousden, Reporter.

Sarah Ann was the daughter of Thomas Hawthorn, clock maker. The 1841 census has two Thomas Hawthorns living in Stoke who were clock makers, one at Slack Lane, Hanley, the other at Bleak Hill, Burslem. Living in the same house as the latter was Sarah Hawthorn, 20 years of age, an inn-keeper, and I think she is the future Mrs. Vousden.

We presume that Valentine was widowed and re-married, although we do not have details of either event. However, between 1860 to 1872 Mary Ann Burgess was the mother of six of his children.

Valentine Vousden was one of Ireland's most well-known and best loved public entertainers, perfoming in vaudeville and music halls throughout the land, and in England, New Zealand and the United States.

His career went up and down in roller-coaster style. He enjoyed tremendous popularity in his lifetime. He was a singer, song-writer, actor, story-teller, comedian, mimic, ventriloquist, variety artist and occasional commercial traveller.

He died at Bexhill on Sea, England on 31 October 1906.

The Irish entertainer of Carlow, William McNevin, later adopted the stage name Val Valentine.

Ships to the United Sates and Canada

On 26 July 1893 a Peter Vousden arrived in New York, having set off from Queenstown, Ireland. His arrival on the Teutonic at the Ellis Island Federal immigration station records that he was a 30 years old Provisions Dealer and that his intended destination was Boston.

Seventeen years later another Peter Vousden, or perhaps the same one, arrived in the Quebec Ports of Canada on 18 September 1910. He had embarked on the Ionian at Queenstown with just one piece of baggage and stated that his stay would be permanent. He gave his age as 40 and his country of birth as Ireland.

Online Irish Genealogy Databases

The Online Genealogy Databases for Ireland is part of the Irish Genealogical Online Record Search System (ORS), an all Ireland initiative organised by the Irish Family History Foundation, the co-ordinating body for a network of government approved genealogical research centres in the Republic of Ireland (Eire) and in Northern Ireland which have computerised almost 40 million Irish Ancestral records, primarily baptisms, marriages and deaths.

Currently (2010) it records 7 genealogical records for the Vousden surname:

Source Name Year County
Church Baptism Roseanne Vousden 1833 Co. Meath
Church Marriage John Vousden 1820 Co. Dublin
Civil Marriage Elizabeth Vousden 1847 Co. Galway
Civil Marriage Eleanor Vousden 1859 Co. Galway
Civil Marriage Ellen Vousden 1877 Co. Mayo
Civil Death John Vousden 1885 Co. Mayo
Source Name Townland Parish/County
Griffiths* John Vousden Ballyshingadan Kilmolara, Co. Mayo
* The Primary Valuation of Tenements 1848-1864, also known as Griffith's Valuation, was undertaken to establish the value of land and buildings in Ireland as a basis for levying a local system of taxation under the Irish Poor Law Act of 1838.

Censuses in Ireland

The returns of the Census of Ireland from 1821-51 were destroyed in the Public Record Office of Ireland, part of the Four Courts complex which was the location of major fighting during the Civil War in June 1922. The destruction of the original Census Returns of 1861 and 1871 was authorized by the Irish Government in 1918.

The 1901 and 1911 censuses are the only surviving full censuses of Ireland open to the public. Both censuses cover the island of Ireland. The 1901 census was taken on 31st March 1901. The 1911 census was taken on 2 April 1911.

In 1901 Vousdens in Ireland were enumerated as follows (this is a summary of the census information):

Surname Forename Age Sex Relation to Head + Occupation Religion Townland or Street DED County
Vousden Peter 79 Male Head of Family
RC Scotchrath Clash Queen's Co.
Vousden Jane 70 Female Wife RC Scotchrath Clash Queen's Co.
Vousden Pat 38 Male Son
RC Scotchrath Clash Queen's Co.
Vousden Anne 36 Female Daughter
RC Scotchrath Clash Queen's Co.
Vousden Margret 30 Female Daughter
RC Scotchrath Clash Queen's Co.
Vousden John - Male Head of Family
General Labourer
RC Old Borris Castletown Queen's Co.
Vousden Margret 50 Female Sister
House Keeper
RC Old Borris Castletown Queen's Co.
Vousden Julia 55 Female Head of Family
Agricultural Labourer
RC Coote Street Mountrath Queen's Co.
Vousden John 31 Male Son
Agricultural Labourer
RC Coote Street Mountrath Queen's Co.
Vousden Jeremiah 23 Male Son
Agricultural Labourer
RC Coote Street Mountrath Queen's Co.

In 1911 Vousdens in Ireland were enumerated as follows: (this is a summary of the census information)

Surname Forename Age Sex Relation to Head + Occupation Religion Townland or Street DED County
Vousden W 23 Male - C of E Military Barracks Dundalk Urban No. 4 Louth
Vousden G 21 Female Male C of E Military Barracks Dundalk Urban No. 4 Louth
Vousden Patrick 40 Male Head of Family
RC Scotchrath Clash Queen's Co.
Vousden Ann 45 Female Sister RC Scotchrath Clash Queen's Co.
Vousden Margret 37 Female Sister RC Scotchrath Clash Queen's Co.
Vousden Julia 73 Female Head of Family
House Keeper
RC Coote Street Mountrath Queen's Co.
Vousden John 41 Male Son
Agricultural Labourer
RC Coote Street Mountrath Queen's Co.
Vousden Jeremiah 34 Male Son
Agricultural Labourer
RC Coote Street Mountrath Queen's Co.
Vousden Bride 3 Female Niece* RC Tullyroe Abbeyleix Queen's Co.
* Bride was living in the house of Jane Mackey (50), widow, and her daughters Annie (19) and Mary (16).

Census Analysis

Grave of James Vousden: Anatrim Old Graveyard, Coolrain, Co. Laois. [Photograph courtesy of Jane L. Lyons, who has been photographing and transcribing gravestones mainly in the County Laois or Queen's County area since about 1998.]

Firstly, assuming that the censuses properly enumerated all Vousdens in Ireland in 1901 and 1911, they all lived in the former "Queen's County" (not counting the two Vousdens in the 30th Royal Field Artillery Brigade, in the Barracks in Dundalk, County Louth in 1911).

This is County Laois in the province of Leinster. Shired in 1556 by Queen Mary as Queen's County, Laois was re-named in 1922 following the War of Independence. Laois was also sometimes spelt "Leix".

However, this concentration in one county is at odds with what the Online Irish Genealogy Databases of baptism, marriage and death records tells us and with other knowledge that I have. Whilst the Online Record Search System makes clear that County Laois records are not yet available (but will be soon), the Databases also show that Vousden baptisms and marriages took place in at least four other counties between 1820 and 1885. I have yet to reconcile these two indications of geographical distribution of the Vousden surname in Ireland.

The two censuses show continuity of two families between 1901 and 1911 (notwithstanding some considerable discrepancies in ages), and it remains to be seen if they are closely related, or if some Vousdens are missing from the census, or wrongly recorded, or mis-transcribed.

The widow Julia (née Delany) shares a grave with her husband husband James who pre-deceased her and their son John - see image by Jane L. Lyons above left. The inscription appears to read: Sacred Heart of Jesus / Have Mercy on Us / In / Memory of / James Vousden. Died / 3 - 4 - 1897 aged 60 yrs / His wife Julia died / 2 - 10 -18 aged 82 years / Son John died 18 - 2 - 36 / Aged 65 years / RIP / Erected by their loving son / Jeremiah Vousden / Mountrath

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