A Less Than Perfect Ancestor

There are times when it is hard not to feel a bit disappointed in your ancestors. I have written about my great grandfather Patrick Cosgrove before. He died when my granny was just a baby so she never got to know him and so none of the family ever knew much about him. I’ve learned through my research that he had a very tough upbringing. He left Ireland as a boy in the 1870s. He was the eldest son of Peter Cosgrove and Catherine Mullervy. You can read more about the family here. I’ve always felt really sorry for Patrick.

I’ve previously found a couple of newspaper reports relating to minor offences of disorder but finding out he was responsible for a serious assault does make me rethink my impressions of him. The incident reported took place in 1886 shortly before he left Newmains for Dundee where he met and married my great grandmother Sarah Helferty. They married in 1888 but it wasn’t until 1900 that my granny Catherine Cosgrove was born.

Patrick died in 1901 and the following year Sarah remarried. Her second was none other than Patrick’s co-accused, Edward Cooper.

Stealing bread is something I can sort of understand. It’s obviously not right but if they were hungry and struggling then maybe it would be more forgivable. This story, however, is about an act of violence. Patrick had a job at the time and no dependants. It’s hard to see what he was thinking.

You can’t change history and since I did set out to find out as much as possible about my ancestors I have to take the good with the bad.

9 thoughts on “A Less Than Perfect Ancestor

    • It’s true that he may not have been the one who committed the assault but if not he didn’t do anything to stop it. Our ancestors were human so we have to accept they had their faults. Some more than others. But it’s why I love researching old. newspapers.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Great piece of investigation as always Paula. The Brawleys / Cosgroves were in my opinion quite up for a scrap, quick with their hands and maybe occasionally on a “hit first then ask why” basis.
    You’ve also answered the long standing question I’d asked about the Cooper-Brawler connection. My mate Davie Cooper from yester decade used to refer to me as cuz and I could never understand why.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We slowly form impressions of our ancestors from the research we do, and a less than perfect event shakes more than the branches. I notice it says they all have previous convictions…I wonder what that was about? Life could be more violent/rough then than now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think because he died fairly young when his only child was just a baby I have thought of Patrick as a tragic figure. Other newspapers reports show court appearances for minor offences. Newspapers are such a great way to add detail.


  3. Pingback: My Granny’s Other Dad – Edward Cooper 1862-1939 | Shaking The Branches

  4. Pingback: Breach of the Peace | Shaking The Branches

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