What happened to great grand aunt Sarah?


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At long last, I’ve started working on a Gallagher family book. After years of researching my paternal family, I figured it was time to create something that could be shared with my siblings and cousins.

We can’t go back very far on this line. The first of our ancestors, Joseph Farrell Gallagher (1821-1873) arrived in Canada from Ireland at some point before 1850. For a number of reasons, Irish records are sparse. According to the National Archives of Ireland: “The original census returns for 1861 and 1871 were destroyed shortly after the censuses were taken. Those for 1881 and 1891 were pulped during the First World War, probably because of the paper shortage. The returns for 1821, 1831, 1841 and 1851 were, apart from a few survivals, notably for a few counties for 1821 and 1831, destroyed in 1922 in the fire at the Public Record Office at the beginning of the Civil War.”

Quite a bit is known, however, about the Gallagher family in Canada. While detailing the records I have been able to find, I realized that there was very little information about my great grand aunt Sarah Gallagher. She was the youngest of the first five Canadian Gallaghers who were all born in Toronto, Ontario to my 2x great grandparents, Joseph Farrell and Mary (Judge) Gallagher.

Sarah Gallagher was baptised on Sep 9, 1860 at St Paul’s Church.

Sarah baptism snip

St Paul’s parish records, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

She appeared on the 1861 Canada census with her parents and siblings.

1861 census

On Jul 1, 1883, she married Thomas Prindible (whose last name is also noted as ‘Prendiville’ and ‘Prendible’) at St Michael’s Cathedral.

Sarah first marriage snip

St Michael’s Cathedral records, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Thomas Prindible died from ‘congestion of the lungs’ in Toronto on Feb 4, 1887. At that point, Sarah disappeared …. or so I had thought until I came across another marriage record.

James and Sarah marriage snip

St Michael’s Cathedral records, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Great grand aunt Sarah was married for a second time to James MacBean (also noted as ‘McBean’ and ‘McBain’) on Jul 27, 1891 at St Michael’s Cathedral.

There is some confusing information in this document. The widowed Sarah’s name appears as ‘Sarah Gallagher’ with a priest’s notation that her maiden name was ‘Prendible’. It was actually the other way around! It also states that her parents names were ‘Joseph and Sarah Prendible’ which is not accurate. Sarah’s age is noted as 27 but she was actually 31 years old at the time. Her second husband was only 21 years old.

I’ve had a few conversations with a trusted genealogical friend about these findings regarding Sarah. She agrees that this is most likely great grand aunt Sarah’s second marriage. Based on a number of newspaper articles I have found regarding the Prindible/Prendible family in Toronto, she and I think that alcohol must have been involved on that 27th of July 1891, leading to incorrect information being provided to the priest!

at police court

Toronto Daily Mail, Mar 26, 1892

This article mentions Sarah’s brother-in-law from her first marriage, Maurice Prendible, his future wife, Margaret (nee McGuire) Dorsey and his sister, Mary. Research has shown that the Prendibles lived on Duchess St which is where our Gallagher family settled and lived until the early 1900s. Based on other newspaper articles I’ve found from the time, this street was notorious for drunkenness, gun fights and other Irish shenanigans. Life was tough in Toronto for Irish immigrants who had managed to escape the potato famine.

Unfortunately, Sarah disappeared again following her second marriage. I’ve been unable to find out what happened to her after she married James in 1891.


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