Among the small number of records to survive from the nineteenth century are numerous references to the families of William Moxham and James Moxham, both living in Dublin but both originally from County Longford. These extensive records are all the more curious considering that no trace of either family can be found after 1920, their many descendants having apparently completely disappeared. Though the two men were about the same age, both members of the Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) and lived close by in south County Dublin, their exact relationship to each other is unclear – presumably either brothers or cousins – but they certainly knew each other, as William’s granddaughter married James’ grandson in 1891. From sources including DMP service records, parish records, Thom’s and other city directories, census returns, newspaper archives, civil records and headstones, it’s possible to put together a pretty clear picture of their adult lives.
William Moxham joined the DMP as a Constable in March 1838, with a recommendation from a Captain Pollock. He was 5’ 8” in height and 21 years old (born around 1817), from the parish of Tashinny and Abbeyshrule, County Longford. He had a good service record and was promoted a number of times during his career, becoming a Sergeant in 1843. In June 1840 he married Elizabeth ‘Eliza’ Gethings (whose surname goes through every conceivable variation in the parish records) in Crumlin, County Dublin, and they had many children, including:
- Richard, baptised in Crumlin in April 1842
- Susan, baptised in Crumlin in February 1844
- Anna Eliza, born at No. 2 Campbell Place, Dublin, in March 1847 and baptised in St. George’s Church in April
- Margaret, born at No. 5 Mt. Joy Square South, Dublin, in October 1850 and baptised in St. George’s the same month
- William, born at No. 4 Mt. Joy Square South, Dublin, in February 1852 and baptised in St. George’s in March
- Robert Henry, born at 17 Gt. Charles Street, Dublin, in March 1854 and baptised in St. George’s in April
As can be seen, the family moved address a number of times during this period, though the 1851 census confirmed William Moxham living at No. 5 Mount Joy Square South, St. George’s Parish, Dublin. In quick succession, William was awarded Good Service Pay for 15 years service in November 1855, promoted to Acting Inspector in December 1855, but discharged on pension the following July. I would be interested to know whether this was a typical career path or if it hints at other circumstances – William was still only in his late 30s at his retirement but doesn’t appear to have worked again, did his brief final promotion allow him a sufficient pension to sustain him and his family for the next forty-five years? Within weeks, another child, Mary Jane, was born at 26 Synnot Place, Dublin, and baptised in St. George’s in August, followed much later by Henry Pope Moxham, born in Monkstown in July 1866.
William Moxham was listed at either Monkstown Avenue or Monkstown Church in directories during the early 1870s, but from 1877 to 1900 his address was generally given as Longford House, Monkstown Avenue, and he was the verger of Monkstown Church until his retirement in 1895. I can find no reference in directories either to William Moxham living on Monkstown Avenue before 1870 nor to Longford House before 1877. Rather than imagining some grand mansion named by William in honour of his birthplace, however, it seems much more likely that – like a number of nearby streets – Longford House was probably named after Lord Longford, who coincidentally owned a considerable amount of property in the area.
In the March 1901 census William Moxham was 86, born in County Longford (around 1815) and formerly of the Dublin Police. With him were his wife Elizabeth, a pensioner born in Kings County (Offaly) around 1820, and their lodgers Eliza Mulhall (a widow and charwoman born around 1842) and John Mulhall (a day labourer born around 1872). William Moxham died at Longford House, The Farm, Monkstown, in October 1901, aged 87. He left an estate valued at £55 and is buried in Mount Jerome cemetery without a headstone (A24 402 – Marker No. 11239). I have not found any records for the death of Eliza, his wife. Near William’s grave in Mount Jerome is another burial plot with a headstone reading: “Erected by William Moxham of Monkstown in memory of 4 of his children, Margaret, Robert H., Richard and Elizabeth, who departed this life in their youth. Them also which sleep in Jesus will Christ bring with him.” Elizabeth does not appear in birth or baptismal records. Additionally, there is a death certificate for John Joseph Moxham, William’s 16-year-old son who died of kidney failure in July 1877. Nothing can be said for certain about William Moxham junior, who vanishes from the records (although an Irish-born William Moxham of the same age turns up in Essex during the 1881 census with his English wife Ellen), but this leaves at least four children surviving to adulthood about whom something is known.
In January 1869 Susan married 42-year-old widower and Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) officer James Coghlan in Mealiffe, Thurles, County Tipperary, and their children were: Elizabeth Frances Isabella (Lill, or Fanny) Coghlan, born February 1870 in Dublin; Susanna Harriet Coghlan, born September 1870 in Kingstown, Dublin; Charles Joseph Coghlan, born February 1874 in Thurles; Annie Louisa Coghlan, born March 1879 in Dublin; and Georgia Lucy Coghlan, born September 1880 in Kingstown, Dublin. James Coghlan had died by 1891.
In April 1871 Anna Eliza married Henry White from County Cavan at Monkstown, and their children were: Elizabeth Margaret White, born May 1872 in Kingstown, Dublin; William Henry White, born July 1875 in Kingstown, Dublin; and Sarah Anne Whyte, born July 1879 in Dublin.
In March 1878 Mary Jane married Kingstown baker Thomas Britton at Monkstown.
In October 1895 Henry Pope Moxham, a commercial clerk of Heytesbury Street, Dublin, married Hannah Taylor from Clonliffe Road, Dublin, at St. George’s, Dublin, and their children were: Ida Mabel Moxham, born July 1896 in Clontarf and baptised September 1896 in Clontarf, Dublin; Ethel Maud Moxham, born July 1897 in Fairview, Clontarf, and baptised June 1898 in North Strand, Dublin; and Hilda Pope Moxham, born July 1901 in Clonliffe Road, Dublin. Hannah Moxham died in early 1903 in Dublin, aged just 36.
In September 1902 Henry Pope Moxham granted Longford House, held under a deed dated May 1850, to his brother-in-law Thomas Britton, with rents to benefit Henry’s mother Eliza in accordance with the will of his father William. My investigations have failed to locate Longford House today but, as much of Monkstown Avenue was redeveloped during the twentieth century, it probably no longer exists. Indeed Thom’s Directory continues to list the house (given a monetary value quite low by the standards of Monkstown Avenue) passing through occupants such as McLoughlin, Stewart and Rowland, to a Nicholas Lawrence between the 1940s and 1960s, during part of which time it was occupied by solicitor Eric C. Erskine, before it finally vanishes in 1965.
Henry Pope Moxham, now a widowed accountant, was a boarder at a house in Haddington Road, Dublin, in 1911, together with his youngest daughter Hilda, and in February 1920 he was an executor of the will of his late sister Mary Jane Britton, a widow late of Tivoli Terrace North, Kingstown. Beyond these references the family seems to have disappeared. In what may simply be a red herring, the headstone of William’s young children in Mount Jerome also has a small stand-alone tablet leaning against it which reads: “In Memory of Mary Osborne, died 18th April 1963. P.P.P.”, but whether this person was actually connected to the family or if her memorial was simply placed there for convenience is unclear.
Turning to the other family, James Moxham joined the DMP as a Constable in December 1840, two-and-a-half years after William. He was 5’ 9” in height and 20 years old (born around 1820), a labourer, from the parish of Tashinny and Abbeyshrule, County Longford. He had a mixed service record with both promotions and demotions. In March 1845 he married Jane Robinson of Mount Merrion in Booterstown, County Dublin, but he resigned from the DMP the following October and was a letter-carrier just two months later. Their children included:
- Mary, baptised in December 1845
- William, baptised in 1853
- Jane, baptised in 1855
- Adelaide, baptised in 1858
- Mary Catherine, baptised in 1860
- Ellen Matilda, baptised in July 1861
In 1849 James Moxham was living at No. 15 Booterstown Avenue, and from 1851 to 1910 at a house called ‘Surrey Lodge’, later identified as No. 39 Booterstown Avenue, which was held under a lease dated October 1847 for the term of 61 years. He was successively described as a postman, a post office clerk and a retired postmaster. His wife Jane died in Booterstown in January 1880, aged 61. Some details are recorded about their children.
In May 1866 Mary married DMP officer Robert Young at Rathdown, Dublin, and their children were: James Robert Young, born February 1867 in Dublin; William Young, born May 1869 in Dublin North City (later a machinist and a railway labourer in Dublin, by 1911 he had a wife and 2-year-old daughter, both named Christina); Robert Young, born February 1872 in Dublin North City (later a labourer in a cooperage/brewers in Dublin); John Henry Young, born December 1876 in Dublin; Georgina Young, born December 1878 in Dublin; and George Joseph Young, born March 1880 in Fountain Place Cottages, Dublin (later a postman in Dublin like his grandfather, by 1911 he was married to Mary Annie with children 3-year-old Robert John and 1-year-old Kathleen). Robert Young senior had retired by 1891, and by 1901 Mary was a widow living at Arran Quay, Dublin. In 1911 Mary was living at Merchant’s Quay, Dublin, with her unmarried son Robert junior and her 15-year-old grandson James Young (son of James Robert).
In October 1877 William married Hester Louisa Hunter at a Presbyterian meeting house in Sligo. William was then a salesman living in Eden Terrace, Dublin, and days later he and his father James began leasing out a house in Charlemont Street, Dublin City. From 1880 William was a commercial agent with premises at No. 62 William Street, and later at No. 53 and No. 61 William Street, Dublin, and was a representative of the Manchester textile manufacturer J. & N. Philips & Co. He then lived in Park Avenue, Sandymount, Dublin, and by the mid-1890s he owned ‘Coolbawn’, a luxurious town house on Ailesbury Road, Dublin. It seems very probable that he is also the ‘Brother William Moxham’ who was an active member of the Dublin Freemasons Lodge 666 from around 1885. William died in March 1900 aged just 46, leaving an estate of over £4,000, and was buried in Deansgrange cemetery, Dublin. As in interesting aside, Coolbawn hit the headlines in 2013 when €200,000 in cash was found after a more recent owner – an IRA convict turned ‘Communist Republican’ turned disgraced millionaire property developer – had sold the house.
In July 1880 Jane junior died in Rathdown, aged 24 and just months after her mother’s death.
In December 1885 Adelaide married merchant George Frederick Hawker in Booterstown, and their son Frederick Arthur was born in 1893.
In November 1882 Ellen (or ‘Helena’) married corn merchant Edward James Fitzgerald in Sandymount Roman Catholic church, a day after her father James had given her a house at Williamstown, County Dublin. The four surviving of their eight children were: Edward (born around 1884), Charles (born around 1886), Herbert (born around 1887) and Joseph John (born around 1895). Ellen died around 1896, and Edward senior continued to live in Sandymount with their children.
James Moxham’s later years were very eventful, as he outlived his wife and at least three of his adult children. In April 1893 he married again in St. Peter’s Church, Aungier Street, to widow Emily Boardman, who was born Emily Orme in England and was about 40 years his junior. Emily also had a number of children from her first marriage. Apparently something of a property investor, in November 1896 James gave No. 39 (Surrey Lodge) and No. 41 Booterstown Avenue (held under a lease dated October 1847) to his son William (who had mortgaged Coolbawn earlier that year). On William’s death in 1900, James and Hester (William’s widow) came to the agreement that James could continue to live in his home for the remainder of his life and in return he would not make any claim on the assets of his deceased son. However, by April 1904 the two had fallen out and James secured a court order nullifying his agreement with his daughter-in-law. Two months later this decision was reversed on appeal. Hester was visiting the home of Jessie Hunter during the 1911 census and was living at Ardagh House, County Sligo, prior to her death on New Year’s Eve 1931. She was buried with her husband beneath an ornate tombstone in Deansgrange, right next to the grave of her father-in-law James, who died in March 1910.
James’ second wife Emily continued to live at Surrey Lodge, No. 39 Booterstown Avenue, though a reorganisation soon saw the house number changed to No. 43. In 1911 No. 43 and No. 45 (formerly No. 39 and No. 41) were leased to James Thomas Carroll, but in March 1912 ‘Mrs. Moxham’ was still using the address to advertise “artistically hand-painted dresses, blouses, scarfs, table centres; white wood articles stained, painted, polished; would work for shops; moderate; will call with samples”. The house was vacant by 1915, but it was later occupied by people with such names as Dooley, Timbs, Harlowe, Carroll and Branigan, and No. 43 is still named ‘Surrey Lodge’ as of 2014. Emily Moxham died in late 1920 in north Dublin, aged 61.
As mentioned earlier, it seems implausible that William and James were not closely related, as they were born in the same parish within a few years of each other and one followed the other into the DMP. The only concrete connection I have found is that in February 1891 William’s eldest grandchild, Elizabeth Frances Isabella Coghlan, married James’ eldest grandchild, James Robert Young, at St. Peter’s Church, Aungier Street, Dublin. The couple lived at Arran Quay, Dublin, where James Robert worked as a letter-carrier and a labourer, and they had at least seven children together: Susanna M. (born around 1893), Robert Charles (born around 1895), James (born around 1897), George Edward (born around 1899), Mary Adelaide (born around 1900), Elizabeth (born around 1903) and Margaret (born around 1909).
As to their ancestry, William giving the middle name ‘Pope’ to his son would strongly suggest a connection to William Moxham and Susannah Pope, who were married in Ardagh, County Longford, in July 1809, and could therefore very likely be William’s parents. Indeed, there were at least two more Henry Pope Moxhams in Australia who were definitely descended from that Moxham/Pope marriage. However, on the certificate for his second marriage in 1893, James Moxham listed his father as James Moxham, gentleman, which, if we take it as fact, seems to rule out William and James being brothers, though close cousins would still be a probability. Another complication is that on the 1901 census James lists his birthplace as County Roscommon, though this does not necessarily contradict his DMP service record.
Given the large families involved, it seems a fair bet that there are descendants of William Moxham or of James Moxham, or of both, surviving today in Ireland or elsewhere, and any further light that can be shed on this branch of the family would be very gratefully received.