14 February 2017

A Marriage of Convenience? - Bernard McCartney & Rosie Boyle

Sometimes while trudging through a seemingly endless volume of records or parish registers, every now and then you find a record that sheds a rather interesting light on a certain individual, couple, or even an entire family. One of the more memorable occasions this happened to me was when I was looking into the marriage of my great-great-great grandparents, Bernard McCartney and Rose Ann Boyle.

Rose Ann Boyle, or Rosie, was born in 1839 in Johnstone, near Paisley in Renfrewshire, Scotland. She was the youngest daughter of coal miner John Boyle and his wife, who confusingly, had the same surname as the man her daughter would grow up to marry - McCartney.

Rose Ann Boyle's baptism in Paisley's Roman Catholic Parish records, 1839.
When Rosie married Bernard McCartney in 1857, he was a widower with a daughter - Mary Ann. Rosie was aged 19 and a domestic servant. But following research into trying to find their subsequent children, there was only one I couldn't find who appeared on the 1861 census - a son John who was born close to this marriage.

I started to wonder whether or not Bernard and Rosie had had John before they married but I was only half right. Eventually when I stumbled across his birth entry (under John Boyle), I found it contained some rather revealing information about Bernard and Rosie in the 'Mother's Name' column on the certificate itself, which reads,


'Rose Ann McArtney, maiden name Boyle. (Husband's name) Bernard McArtney.
The parties were married only 4 1/2 months before the birth of child and the first time they saw each other was a fortnight previous to marriage.'


Most birth certificates for illegitimate children I have seen do not tend to give such information, and this entry makes it clear that Bernard certainly wasn't John's biological father. So it gives a fascinating insight into their marriage. Was it love at first sight, or did they marry out of convenience of Bernard needing a mother to help raise his daughter, and Rosie needing a father figure for her son and a stable financial household?

An interesting question to ponder on Valentine's Day!