Dalton Magna, Dalton Parva,

Dalton Brook.

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John Doxey.

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By Carolyn


I have been told that my grandparents, and possibly later on, my father and his siblings, lived in Dalton Brook around 1900 - 1930. Their name was O'Neill.

I am unable to find them on the 1901 census.

The grandparents were said to be originally from County Cork and may have still been in Ireland when the census was taken. It is possible that my grandfather was a publican in the area.


They were a Catholic family and the children were as follows:-


Joe Joseph O’Neill      b*
James 'Jim' O’Neill     b*
Louisa O’Neill            b 1911
Gerald Peter O’Neill   b 1913
Mary O’Neill             b 1926


I do not know the Christian names of either of the grandparents  - only the names of their children, of which my father, Gerald Peter O’Neill [ pictured left ] was one of three sons.


There should be some burial records or gravestones if I can just find out which church they attended.


Some people may remember my father for his rugby fame.


Around 1995 a newspaper in the north of England published an article and photographs of the Wigan Rugby players. My Aunt Mary just happened to pick up the paper when she was in a waiting room and was shocked to see a photo of my Dad! Serendipity.


I don’t know which newspaper it was in - probably a Blackpool one, both aunts lived in the Preston/ Blackpool/ Lytham St Anne’s area. The reporter was Tom Maher. I looked him up on British Telstra and there is no record there.


My O’Neill’s have double “ll” in the surname, unless of course the writer of the records spelled the names incorrectly.


My father was Gerald Peter O’Neill born in 1913. He played professional rugby for Wigan - presumably when he was 18-20 so around 1931. He was variously known as Gerald O’Neill, Gerry O’Neill and Peter O’Neill!


According to his Army records he was in the Coldstream Guards from 1932-1945.  Apparently he was called also Peggy after the popular song at the time - Sweet Peggy O’Neill. He was over 6 foot tall, a professional rugby player as well as a boxer. He wanted to call me Peggy and registered me as Margaret Carolyn though my mother had told him to register me as Carolyn Margaret. Thankfully she refused to call me Peggy and I grew up as Carol or Carolyn.


He was a member of the British Legion all his life. My father served in Africa (definitely) and was at Dunkirk (I think)

 He died from coronary thrombosis in December 1961 aged 49.


He had two brothers one definitely called Joe O’Neill and another I think was called Jim O’Neill, both died before they were 50 from heart problems - so all 3 men died before 50!

Both of these brothers married and had families but I don't know where they would have lived. It would be amazing if they were still in the area.


So the James shown on one record is a possibility:-

"James O’Neill ? age14 living at 17 Norwood St Dalton signed on as a pony driver in February 1919 he had previously worked on the surface at the mine.”


However it would mean that their mother had several children over a very long period of time from 1905 to 1926 - though of course they did in those days.

My father’s sister, Louisa O’Neill, was born in 1911, and she is the one who apparently intended to be a nun and may have already been in a convent as a postulant. 

(I think girls would have entered a convent around age 15-17 in those days – I will try to find out more re this)

If she was already in the convent she would have had to leave because she went to court to obtain custody of the youngest child Mary O’Neill, born August 1926. Mary said her parents died when she was about 4 (around 1930) I expect there will be a court record of the application for custody/adoption somewhere.
Louisa brought her up from then on and Mary regretted never asking her any questions – what a reticent lot they all seem to be.


Louisa was employed in Anston Hall, Sheffield and that is apparently where my dad went to visit her on his leave, during his army days. It may well have been the address he gave for his army records. According to the site Anston Hall was sold in 1947.
It seems strange that they (my grandparents) both died around the same time- unless the father was already dead (early, from heart disease like the sons) and when the mother died Mary then became an orphan. Unless they were killed together in an accident - strange if that was the case that no one ever mentioned it! My father almost never spoke of his childhood and my mother said, from the few things he did say in passing to her, his father had been in the Indian Army.


My maternal aunt is the one who said she thought my grandfather was a publican. The only other comment from my father was that he had been an altar boy and he was forced to go to mass - sometimes several times on a Sunday - as an altar boy and that as soon as he left home he never went again except for marriages and christenings.

I quizzed my mother on and off for years for more information and said I couldn’t believe anyone could be married to someone and not know anything about them! But she didn’t. She lived into her 90's - over 40 years longer than my father.

The Dalton Brook information comes from the baby of the family, Mary, who has also passed away. 


I was surprised to see from the photos on the net, and on your site, that Dalton Brooks is a pretty place (now anyway) I always envisioned my father growing up in deepest Yorkshire in a dirty, black mining town with thousands and thousands of terraced houses– all very bleak. On the way to Liverpool years ago the coach broke down in Warrington - a dreadful place in those days, probably all done up now. Then it had cobbled streets and grimy buildings - the sort of place I thought my father had come from.

My father did say he had been to Paris and I have photos that look as if they might be taken there.

 I am working on getting hold of his Army records too.

 How wonderful if someone remembers the family via his playing for Wigan - that may be something that sticks in people's memory in a small place like Dalton.

As I said I always thought he had grown up in a big Yorkshire town amongst faceless thousands of others - so to think they may have come from such a small place where people would know everyone else is wonderful and may make things much easier to find out more - exciting stuff!


I could have cousins still living in the area.


Once again many thanks, John, for all the information and links you have given to me - what a lovely surprise this all is.


    © 2008 Carolyn  (now living in Australia) scribernow@hotmail.com



Carolyn would love to hear from anyone who knew or knew of the above O'Neill family.


Many thanks Carolyn for sharing your family here.





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