My Aldworth family certainly came from Ireland in the early 19th century but their origin before this is clouded in mystery. Richard Aldworth, my great, great, great grandfather, was reportedly born in Tipperary Town in 1809 and baptised there on 13th May; it's suggested that he had been born on the same day and his parents were apparently Joseph Aldworth and Honora Noonan. Efforts to trace Joseph and Honora in other records have so far failed, however.

Family lore says that Richard was in some way connected to the Aldworth family of Newmarket, County Cork, and through them to Elizabeth St Leger, the 'Lady Freemason' but no real evidence has yet been found. The Newmarket Aldworths were a family of rich and titled landowners, who trace their ancestry back to early Tudor England. Several members achieved prominent positions during the reign of Elizabeth I and were still important figures in Ireland at the time of Richard's birth in 1809 and well after. The supposed connection to Elizabeth St Leger goes back to her marriage to Sir Richard Aldworth in 1713; Elizabeth was the daughter of Arthur St Leger, 1st Viscount Doneraile, while Richard was to be High Sherrif of County Cork (in 1724) and also MP for Lismore. Elizabeth had, by the time of her marriage, already been involved in the incident which earned her her soubriquet, having been caught eavesdropping on a lodge meeting at Doneraile when only 18 or 19; the members present apparently decided that the best way to preserve the secrets of their order was to initiate her into the Lodge, which they did. Elizabeth seems to have remained an interested member until her death, and the secrets which she had learned remained so.

While it would be exciting to be able to prove a connection with this illustious potential ancestry, the evidence is lacking. Richard (born in 1809) appears to have been convinced that he had a connection as there is a small amount of correspondence that suggests he was actively researching his own ancestry as long ago as 1842; his yongest son, Thomas, also pursued this belief and passed it on to his children but, again, without finding any certain evidence. At this time, it seems that we simply have to see this as an interesting avenue to pursue, as and when time permits.


As stated initially, Richard is believed to have been baptised in Tipperary Town on 13th May 1809; his parents were Joseph Aldworth and Honora Noonan and his sponsors David Barry and Honora Hayes. This detail was confirmed by the parish priest, James Howbig, on 12th December 1842 in response to a letter presumably sent by Richard. A further certification of the baptism was forwarded, probably to Richard's son Thomas, on 17th August 1927, and giving the same details except that Honora's surname was then spelled as Nunan.

Further evidence shows that Richard was married to Margaret Griffin, who was from Limerick City, in Rathmines, Dublin, in 1832. Again, Richard seems to have made efforts to confirm his origins by writing to the parish priest of St Mary, Rathmines, Dublin; the priest, Brian Stafford, replied on 22nd January 1840, confirming the marriage date as being 13th May 1832, and also naming the witnesses as John Griffin and John Sullivan.

The couple had 2 children, Joseph and Michael, who were baptised in Dublin in 1833 and 1834 respectively, before moving to London. In 1837, their first daughter, Honora, was born and she was followed by another boy, John, in December 1839. Richard worked as a blacksmith, and must have moved around to find work as his next appearance in the records is in 1841 when he was living and working in Bristol, where the couples' next child, Mary Ann, was born in 1842. After this, the family moved to Stamford in Lincolnshire where the last 3 known children, William, Richard and Thomas, were all born between 1845 and 1849. How long the family remained in Stamford is unknown, however, it is certain that at least some members had returned to London by the first half of the 1860's; Joseph gave his address as 'St James, Piccadilly" when he married in 1862, and Michael married in London in the same year. Honora and John both married in London in 1864 and Richard, himself, died of phthisis in St James Westminster in 1866. Despite all of this activity in London, the family does not seem to appear in the 1861 census, though if they were then living in the Piccadilly area, this part of the census has been lost.

*to be continued*

Find Richard Aldworth in my family tree

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