166 years of Coghlans in Stafford
If you are a Staffordian, chances are you know a Coghlan. The Coghlan’s are an extensive family that arrived in Stafford about 164 years ago. The first recording of Coghlans in Stafford appears to be in 1841. William Coghlan was employed as a servant to an English family in the town centre. Although there is no other record of William, he may have paved the way for other members of his family, as by the early 1850’s three other Coghlan’s are now recorded in Stafford. A John Coghlan who married a Mary Hoylan at St Austins R C church in 1851, by 1871 they were still in Stafford and living at Broad Eye in mean lodgings. It is doubtful that they had any children in that time. There was also a Patrick Coghlan, a peddler. He married Katherine Lee in 1853. Patrick died a ‘Hawker’ in 1874 aged 66 in Stafford Infirmary. Patrick and John could have been brothers or other form of relative to William.
It is Michael who first set down firm roots in Stafford. He and his wife Ann and their first two children Mary Anne and Bridget came to Stafford between 1848 and 1850. It is not known exactly where they came from in Ireland but it maybe Cork, Roscommon or Offaly. He is almost certainly related to the fore mentioned Coghlans and was a famine immigrant. Michael was an agricultural labourer as were many of Stafford’s Irish immigrants. In 1851 he and his family lived in a mean lodging house in New Street. Their final child, John was born in Stafford in 1851. Michael’s wife died in the 1850’s and their daughter Bridget may also have died about the same time. By 1861, widowed Michael was living in Plants Square, a slum court near New Street, with his two surviving children, Mary, a servant and John. Mary is not heard of again.
John Coghlan grew up in Stafford and worked in the shoe trade. He seems to have travelled about for work having lived in Northampton and Birmingham for a while, both being shoe trade towns. He met his future wife Mary Anne Lowett in Northampton. They may have gone in search of work in Birmingham together. They married in 1869 at Marston Church, Stafford and moved to Birmingham for a while. Their first 2 children, Mary Anne born 1871 and John, born 1872 were born in Birmingham; by 1874 they had moved back to Stafford. They went on to have another 10 children. Amelia b. 1874, Frederick b. 1877, Harriet b. 1879, Charles b. 1880, Henry (Harry) b. 1883, Ellen b. 1884, Nellie b. 1885, Arthur b. 1889, James b. 1892 and Stephen b. 1893. These 12 children went on to form an extensive family within the town. Frederick married Alice Lowe and went on to have 22 children. They seemed to be an aspiring couple and are recorded as attending the St Austins Soiree in 1911. Some of the children had youthful scrapes with the law. According to the Stafford Advertiser, 23/07/1904 James Coghlan was fined 5s for theft of apples on 21/01/1905 James was one of 4 who was birched for theft of oranges, he got 12 strokes and on 4/11/1911 Arthur and Stephen were in the papers for causing damage to pasture land playing football.
The Coghlan family had a hard time in the 19th century and were most certainly poor. John’s eldest son, also John moved back to Birmingham and worked as a miner. He died in Birmingham in 1901 aged 28 and was unmarried. In 1905 John and his family were living in Brook Street, Mary Anne died that year aged 53.
Henry Coghlan known to most as Harry was my great great grandfather. He married a lady called Isabelle McGarry; her father was a bandsman with the rifle regiment. Whilst struggling to rear a family he, and it was a struggle, he decided that there must be something that he could do to help his family and fellow sufferers, so he took an active interest in local politics and trade union efforts of the town. In due course he was nominated as candidate for the Council and he was elected in 1936. He served on the council for six years but unfortunately died in harness in 1942. In honour of his memory and his service to the town, the council named a street after him, Coghlan Drive. Horace married Cecelia Mannion (another Irish family). ‘Coggy’ as he was affectionately known worked to become a divisional officer in the fire service. During the war he served with distinction in Coventry, Birmingham and Manchester. Following in his fathers footsteps he was also on the council. After ten years he was elected mayor of the borough between 1955/56 and 1956/57. Many people were helped by him. He was well known for his forthrightness and the work that he did for the elderly and young alike. In a tribute to him made by Councillor Bill Bowen he said’ All in all, Horace Coghlan was a councillor of the highest calibre and although his voice is now stilled, his spirit and influence will linger on for many years to come’. Horace had the honour of welcoming and being presented to Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh when they attended an evening reception in the County Buildings Stafford in November 1955. Horace had 3 sons, Brian, Maurice, and Anthony. Brian also became an officer in the fire service and was known for his forthrightness and also his kindness. Brian married Joyce Lowe, the daughter of a civil servant from Lichfield. They had two daughters, Susan and me, Sandra. I have four boys and all have the name Coghlan included in their name I have been tracing the Coghlans for a couple of years now and thanks to the help of John Herson who wrote an article in the Stafford Newsletter about Victorian Irish in Stafford and who is who is soon to publish a book about it, I have found out much about our family’s history. I have got to know Tania, Fred’s daughter Gladys’s granddaughter, living in Surrey. Another two of Fred’s granddaughters Angela and Anne nee Dale have helped me considerably. Cousins from Leeds to Birmingham to Peterborough who I am in touch with via email are now helping out in the research and there are many more in and around Stafford that I am getting to know and whom are helping out. I am writing this as a proud Coghlan family member and in the hope that there are people reading this that have information that may help complete the family tree. Some of the family names associated with the Coghlans are, Mannion, McGarry, Peach, Parry, Kenney, Cotterill and Walker. If there is anybody that has any photo’s or documents or any other form of information that they think may help in our quest please contact me on 01785 622365 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org
. I would also welcome any pictures of