The James and Ann Duffy Family of Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England: An Analysis of their Migration from County Sligo and County Mayo, Ireland to Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England, New Jersey and Illinois U.S.A.

Like the Brennans and the Corcorans who are featured in this website, my ancestors, the Duffy family, traveled from Ireland to Huddersfield, England and for some of them, onward to America. And like the Brennan and Corcoran families, their Irish roots have been the most difficult to investigate. The scant references to exact places of origin, other than the ubiquitous 'Ireland' in the census and documentary records, means that my great great grandfather's county and town of birth in Ireland still remains elusive. The only sure fact I have to go on is my grandmother's certainty that our family came from a place along the Sligo/Mayo border, the truth of which is made more likely by the fact that, as this website shows, a high percentage of Irish in the Northern English towns and cities were from the Connacht region. The Tithe Applotment Books 1823 to 1837 show a handful of James Duffys living in Sligo between 1824 and 1835. Only one is close to the Mayo border in Achronry Parish. To feature in the Applotment records a person had to be farming at least one acre of land. In the 1851 England census James is listed as an agricultural labourer, as are his two elder sons Patrick and Anthony, so it is possible the family had left a tenancy of more than one acre. Unfortunately so far I have not found any corresponding church records going far enough back to the period in which the Duffys were still in Ireland.

My Duffy family appear to be the last Duffys to arrive in Huddersfield around the time of the Great Famine, sometime between the birth of their youngest child, Ann in 1843 and the 1851 England Census on which they first appear. At that time there were more than ten other Duffy families already settled in Huddersfield, many of which are documented in the 1841 census, the rest arriving during the 1840s according to the St Patrick's Church records, which are full of their baptisms and marriages. It seems very likely that my family would travel to a town in which they already knew people and/or had relatives. On this premise I have researched all these other Duffy families, but only one - Thomas Duffy b. 1813- gives his place of origin in a census record- Swinford, County Mayo.

My ancestors initially lodged at Outcote Bank, according to the 1851 census. They were listed as James Duffy (b. 1801), his wife Ann Duffy (b. 1804) and their children Patrick (b. 1830), Anthony (b. 1832), Mary (b. 1836), James (b. 1838), Thomas (b. 1842) and Ann (b. 1843). Their landlords were another Duffy family - James Duffy (b. 1813) and his wife Bridget (b 1811 ne'e Kinsley) and their two children, 14 year old John and 10 year old Mary Ann. James and Bridget had been living in Huddersfield since at least 1832 when their son Thomas was born and baptized in July that year at the newly built St Patrick's RC Church. Other sons followed; John in 1835, Michael in 1839 and James in 1845, as well as their daughter Mary Ann in 1841. Sadly, only John and Mary Ann seem to have survived childhood. In 1841 five year old John is living with Bridget's relatives, the Kinsleys, in Upperhead Row, whilst his younger brother Michael is with his parents, who are both hawkers, across the way in Duke Street, along with James' 65 year old mother Hannah Duffy and lodger Mary Conlan. By the 1861 census, James had died, leaving widow Bridget and daughter Mary Ann in Upperhead Row, with Hudderfield born lodger Mary Manney and her young son, James and Irish-born Mary J Livingstone. Mary Ann Duffy married a John Bolland in 1866, according to the St Patrick's records and had two children, James in 1867 and Clara in 1868. Her mother Bridget Duffy died in 1885.

As for my own family, by 1853 James and Ann had moved to Water Lane and from there they went to live in Upperhead Row by 1861, both places in which many Irish-born were living. These are the addresses given for James Duffy on the St Patrick's entries for his sons Patrick and Thomas' marriages in those years. Curiously and frustratingly none of the family, bar Patrick, are listed in the 1861 Census, yet they are clearly very much alive as their names appear in the Church records at this time as bridegrooms, brides, godparents and parents.

Two of James and Ann's children emigrated to America; first to leave was their second son, Anthony in 1859 with his wife Margaret Sherlock whom he married in 1856 in Northwich, Cheshire, following the death of her first husband William Carroll in 1854. Here I have made an educated guess that this Anthony is my ancestor, based on Anthony's father's name and occupation on his marriage record (James Duffy, labourer), Anthony's age corresponding with his age on the 1851 census record where he is still living with his family in Huddersfield, my research into and then the elimination of all the other Anthony Duffys recorded in England at that time, and on the fact that the names he gave his children are the same as his siblings. This latter reason I have found to be a valid and indicative one, as the long tradition of giving children the same first names as the previous generations (mostly the paternal line) seems to have been consistent up until the turn of the century, in both Ireland and in the UK. In fact all the Duffy families I have researched have their own collection of beloved first names, which has been very useful in identifying the different families and in placing individuals with the same surname.

Anthony and Margaret settled in Macoupin County in Illinois with her son, Thomas Carroll and their first son Anthony Junior, and there followed a host of more sons - Patrick, James, John Francis and Martin and one daughter, Mary. Two of Margaret Sherlock's brothers Mathew and Patrick are also recorded in the same county and the family is likely to have emigrated together. Both Anthony and Margaret are buried in Gillespie Town Cemetery, Illinois.

Anthony's youngest sister Ann married John Mannion from Galway at St Patrick's in 1866. They had two daughters Julia Ann and Maggie, both baptized in Huddersfield and then set off for New Jersey. They settled in Chester, Burlington, New Jersey, where John's sisters were already living, and had at least four more children until Ann's early death aged 38 years from childbirth fever. Both Ann and John Mannion are buried in Mount Carmel Cemetery, Burlington County, New Jersey.

Thomas Duffy, my great great grandfather, married a local barmaid from Kirkheaton, Huddersfield, called Mary Amelia Inman in 1861 and settled in Blacklion Yard where they had six children. The eldest two, Henrietta and James both died in 1871, possibly from the smallpox epidemic which killed 19,000 poor souls that year.

Thomas' eldest brother, Patrick Duffy, had married Ann Crow in 1853. They were childless in the 1861 census, lodging with a number of others in a house in Barker's Yard, Upperhead Row run by a Mary Lundy. I have found no baptismal records suggesting they had any children and after 1861, they disappear from the UK census records. The Crow family seems to have been close to the Duffys. Two other Crow women married into or had connections with other Duffy families, Honor Crow married Patrick Duffy in about 1853, Mary Crow (from County Clare) married Bryan Scanlan in 1857, with Mary Duffy as a witness. Margaret Crow married John McDermott and Simeon Duffy was godfather to their baby Bridget in 1867. Simeon Duffy was also godfather to my great grandfather, Anthony Duffy in 1864. Whether the Crows were all related, I cannot establish.

As for the remaining siblings, James Duffy and Mary Duffy, they appear in St Patrick's Church records as godparents to many of their nephews and nieces, and are witnesses at their brother and sister's marriages throughout the 1850's and 1860's. James, a cloth dresser, died in Blacklion Yard aged 33 yrs from consumption in 1873, shortly before his father James Senior in July 1873. Ann outlived her husband by ten years and died, like him of chronic bronchitis, in July 1883. Her age at death is recorded as 69 years, although if her age on the 1851 census is accurate, she was nearer 79 years old, which given the times and the hardships she must have lived through, is a quite remarkable age. Before then, James and Ann appear on the 1871 census well into their 60's living in Swallow Street with two Irish Lodgers. Mary, their other daughter, may have also died relatively young. There is a death record for a Mary Duffy in Huddersfield in 1865.

From the bare few presences of my ancestors in the 19th century records and those of the other Duffy families in Huddersfield, and through the process of painstaking elimination, I have built up a picture of lives of my famine struck family who made their way across the Irish sea to the Industrial Pennine town and some beyond to the golden opportunities in America. Their starting point in Ireland is still a mystery, and one, which is probably a life's work to solve. I would love to hear from anyone tracing the origins of Duffy families who settled in Huddersfield and the immediate surrounding area.

I am deeply grateful to the help afforded to me by the information and research aids of this website, and for the opportunity to add to the record of the human history of the Irish in Huddersfield.