Person:Mary Sweeney (28)

Mary Jane Sweeney
m. 2 Jun 1879
  1. Mary Jane Sweeney1882 - 1957
  2. Margaret Sweeney1887 - 1960
  3. Stephen Michael Sweeney1889 - 1966
  4. Catherine Eliza Sweeney1891 - 1894
m. 27 Jul 1922
Facts and Events
Name Mary Jane Sweeney
Gender Female
Birth[1] 11 Jul 1882 Lambeth, Surrey, England114 Mayall Road, Brixton
Census[2] 5 Apr 1891 Paddington, Middlesex, England2 Alfred Road
Census[3] 31 Mar 1901 Paddington, Middlesex, England6 Howley Place
Census[4] 2 Apr 1911 Paddington, Middlesex, England87 Sutherland Avenue
Marriage 27 Jul 1922 Paddington, London, EnglandOur Lady of Lourdes & St Vincent de Paul Catholic Church
to Michael John Reid
Census[5] 29 Sep 1939 Urchfont, Wiltshire, EnglandThe Lamb Inn
Death[6] 19 Jun 1957 Willesden, Middlesex, England
Burial[7] 21 Jun 1957 Ealing, Middlesex, EnglandGreenford Park Cemetery


Mary Jane Sweeney was born on 11th July 1882 at 114 Mayall Road, Brixton, in the southern suburbs of London, although at that time it was still administratively part of the parish of Lambeth in Surrey. She was the daughter of Margaret Sweeney, formerly Rice, and her husband Stephen Sweeney, a carpenter. Mary's parents had both been born in south-west Scotland and had moved to London relatively recently. When Mary was born, all four of her grandparents were still alive back in Wigtownshire. All four of her grandparents had been born in Ireland but had moved to Scotland by the early 1850s, suggesting they moved around the time of the Potato Famine.

Mary around her first birthday, with black armband signifying mourning for her grandfather.
Mary around her first birthday, with black armband signifying mourning for her grandfather.
Mary's paternal grandfather died in Scotland in 1883, a couple of weeks before Mary's first birthday. A childhood photograph survives showing Mary wearing a black armband for mourning.

Some time between 1882 and 1885 Mary and her parents left Brixton and moved to Paddington in the western suburbs of London. From at least 1885 to 1890 they lived in two rooms at 34 Hampden Street. Whilst living there Mary's parents had two more children: Margaret (known as Daisy) in 1887 and Stephen in 1889. Back in Scotland, both Mary's grandmothers died within a year of each other in 1889 and 1890.

By the time of the 1891 census Mary and her parents and siblings had moved again and were living at 2 Alfred Road, where they appear to have been relatively comfortably housed, having five or more rooms. Whilst living at Alfred Road, Mary's youngest sister, Catherine Eliza, was born. Sadly Catherine died when she was only three years old in 1894.

In 1895 Mary's father died, aged only 41, having been suffering with phthisis (tuberculosis) for nine months. Mary's mother was left with three surviving children aged from thirteen down to six years old. Mary's surviving grandfather, James Rice, moved down from Scotland to live with the family. The 1901 census finds Mary's mother, grandfather and sister living at 19 Amberley Road in Paddington. Mary by this time was working as a housemaid for a retired colonel nearby at 6 Howley Place. Her grandfather later returned to Scotland, where he died in 1907.


By 1910 Mary's mother Margaret had moved to 87 Sutherland Avenue, a large town house. Family tradition says that Margaret received assistance from her father's employer, the Marquis of Bute, although this cannot be proven. However, Mary's brother Stephen was sent to the Cathedral School in Oban (he appears there in the 1901 census), which may plausibly have been due to a benefactor's help. Mary's mother ran 87 Sutherland Avenue as a boarding house. The family appears there in the electoral rolls from 1910 to 1915. In the 1911 census there were three boarders in the ten-roomed house, as well as Mary, her mother, both her siblings, and her mother's sister, Mary Phippen. One of the boarders, Dora Higgins, would later marry Mary's brother, Stephen. Some time between 1915 and 1918, during the First World War, the family left 87 Sutherland Avenue and moved to 5 Peploe Road in the Kensal Rise area of Willesden.[8]

Mary and Michael shortly after they married, at their allotment in Kilburn.
Mary and Michael shortly after they married, at their allotment in Kilburn.
On 27th July 1922, a couple of weeks after her fortieth birthday, Mary married a teacher from Ireland named Michael Reid. After their marriage they continued living with Mary's mother at 5 Peploe Road. They had a daughter in 1925 who sadly died when only nine days old, followed by a daughter in 1927 who would be their only child to survive infancy. Mary was 45 by the time her surviving daughter was born.

Between 1928 and 1929 Mary and Michael, their daughter and Mary's mother Margaret Sweeney left 5 Peploe Road and moved out to 73 Cecil Avenue in Wembley. They would be joined there at different times by several of Michael's relatives. Mary's mother died in 1933.

When the Second World War broke out Michael's school was evacuated. By this time he was the headmaster, and so he was evacuated with the school and was allowed to take his wife and daughter with him. They were evacuated initially to Urchfont in Wiltshire, then Paignton in Devon. The house at 73 Cecil Avenue was let out whilst they were gone. Apparently a bomb fell in its back garden but did not explode.

Towards the end of the war the family returned to London. Unable to regain possession of 73 Cecil Avenue from their tenants at first, they had to live with Michael's cousin James Doyle, who ran a sweet shop at 160 Tollington Park Road in the Finsbury Park area and had a flat above the shop. They later returned to 73 Cecil Avenue.

Mary's daughter married in 1953, and shortly afterwards left the London area, moving out to Luton, where all Mary's four grandchildren were born. However, Mary only lived to see first two grandchildren: she died in 1957, aged 74. She was buried at Greenford Park Cemetery in Ealing. Michael survived her by sixteen years.

  1. Birth certificate, in General Register Office. England and Wales Civil Registration. (London: General Register Office).

    Registration District: Lambeth
    Sub-district: Brixton
    No. 67
    When and where born: 114 Mayall Road
    Name: Mary Jane
    Sex: girl
    Father: Stephen Sweeney, carpenter
    Mother: Margaret Sweeney formerly Rice
    Informant: M. Sweeney, mother, 114 Mayall Road

  2. General Register Office. The National Archives (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO) RG 12 General Register Office: 1891 Census Schedules, Class RG12; Piece 1; Folio 48; Page 20, 5 Apr 1891.

    Address: 2 Alfred Road, Paddington, London
    5 or more rooms occupied
    Stephen Sweeney, head, married, male, 36 [1854/5], Joiner, employed, b. Scotland
    Margaret Sweeney, wife, married, female, 38 [1852/3], b. Scotland
    Mary J. Sweeney, daughter, female, 8 [1882/3], b. Brixton, London
    Margaret Sweeney, daughter, female, 3 [1887/8], b. Paddington, London
    Stephen Sweeney, son, male, 1 [1889/90], b. Paddington, London

  3. General Register Office. The National Archives (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO) RG 13 General Register Office: 1901 Census Schedules, Class RG13; Piece 2; Folio 51; Page 18, 31 Mar 1901.

    Address: 6 Howley Place, Paddington, London
    5 or more rooms occupied
    Robert John Watson, head, married, male, 61 [1839/40], Colonel Late Worc. Regt., b. Scotland
    Rebecca Elizabeth Watson, wife, married, female, 50 [1850/1], b. Jersey (Channel Islands)
    Helen Roberta Watson, daughter, single, male, 32 [1868/9], b. Canada
    Phyllis Joan Watson, daughter, single, female, 13 [1887/8], b. Pembroke Dock, Wales
    Vesey Clayhills Watson, son, male, 11 [1889/90], b. Marylebone, London
    Thomas Hovendon Watson, son, male, 8 [1892/3], b. Marylebone, London
    Jane Rought, servant, single, female, 27 [1873/4], Cook (Domestic), b. Aylsham, Norfolk
    Mary Sweeney, servant, single, female, 18 [1882/3], Housemaid (Domestic), b. Brixton, London
    Alice Bardon, servant, single, female, 21 [1879/80], Nurse (Domestic), b. France (French Subject)

  4. General Register Office. The National Archives (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO) RG 14 General Register Office: 1911 Census Schedules, Class RG14; Piece 36; Schedule 87, 2 Apr 1911.

    Class RG14; Piece 36; Schedule 87
    Address: 87 Sutherland Avenue, Paddington, London
    Ten rooms occupied
    Margaret Sweeney, head, female, 58 [1852/3], widow, Boarding house keeper, employer, b. Whithorn, Wigtownshire
    Mary Sweeney, daughter, female, 28 [1882/3], single, Assistant to above, b. Brixton, London
    Margaret Sweeney, daughter, female, 23 [1887/8], single, Assistant to above, b. Paddington, London
    Stephen Sweeney, son, male, 21 [1889/90], single, Railway clerk, worker, b. Paddington, London
    Bride Connolly, boarder, female, 30 [1880/1], single, Elementary school teacher - L.C.C., worker, b. Moher, Roscommon
    Dora Higgins, boarder, female, 22 [1888/9], single, Elementary school teacher - L.C.C., worker, b. Walthamstow, London
    Bryan G. O'Donnell, boarder, male, 21 [1889/90], single, Insurance clerk, worker, b. Kilmallock, Limerick
    Mary Phippen, visitor, female, 50 [1860/1], widow, Housekeeper (domestic), b. Whithorn, Wigtownshire

  5. General Register Office. 1939 Register, Devizes Rural District, 29 Sep 1939.

    The Lamb Inn, Urchfont, Wiltshire
    Giddings, Samuel / male/ 4 Mar 1879 / married / (Timekeeper Reitred) Innkeeper
    Giddings, Clara J. / female / 12 Nov 1887 / married / Unpaid domestic duties
    Reid, Michael John / male / 22 May 1886 / married / Schoolmaster (elementary)
    Reid, Mary / female / 11 Jul 1885 / married / Unpaid domestic duties
    [one record closed]

  6. Deaths index, in General Register Office. England and Wales Civil Registration. (London: General Register Office).

    d. Mary REID, June Quarter 1957, Willesden Registration District, Vol. 5f, page 276, aged 72 [1884/5]

    Exact date of death from family recollection.

  7. England & Scotland, Select Cemetery Registers, 1800-2016, London Borough of Ealing Council: Ealing Council Burial Records.

    bur. 21 Jun 1957, Greenford Park Cemetery, Ealing [then in Middlesex]: Mary Reid, 72 [1884/5], Cemetery Section s22, Grave Number 34331

  8. When Mary's brother Stephen married on 17 Sep 1918 he gave 5 Peploe Road as his address.