London Tagneys

The image above is a Family Group Record for Daniel and Bridget and their three children- Daniel, John and Mary

Dan 1892

John 1894

Mary 1896

Grandfather Daniel Tagney 1869

Daniel John Joseph Tagney

According to tradition a true Cockney must be born within earshot of the sound of Bow Bells. Grandad Tagney claimed his heritage as a true Londoner being born at home at 50 Lever Street, St Lukes on Friday 29th July 1892. It was a leap year. It was summer. George V the King while his cousin Nicholas was the Tzar of Russia.

Tower Bridge was still under construction. 1886 to 1894. London was all hustle and bustle. Pedestrians and horse and carriages jostled for space and seriously polluted the streets.

To have any insight into Dan’s story we have to look at his family circumstances. The first time he appears in the Census is 1901. He is nine years old living with his sixty-four year old paternal grandfather at 139 Old Street. There were six people living at this address. His grandfather was a journeyman tailor which meant he was qualified. I believe he was staying with his grandfather while his mother, Bridget, was organising a funeral for his father, Daniel. I think Bridget would have had John who was seven and Mary five with her. Her mother Mary Welch also lived in St Luke and may have had the children I cannot find Bridget Tagney on the 1901 Census. I did find a record for the death of a Daniel Tagney that occurred around the time of the Census. I do not know the circumstances surrounding Daniel’s death but in 1901 the family would have been if a fairly desperate situation.

According to the Census of 1891 Daniel and Bridget were living at 50 Lever Street St Luke, Finsbury East where Grandad was born the following year. He was 24 and she was 21. At the same time there were six other people living at this address among them, Mary Welch 52, a tailor’s cutter and her daughter Jane 18 also a tailor’s cutter along with Jane’s son, Phillip Welch who was just one. Mary Welch was Bridget’s mother. By deduction I assume Bridget also had these skills and would have been able to support herself and her family.


In 1905 Bridget remarried. Arthur Evans was 28 and Bridget 33. Bridget was a tailor’s assistant and Arthur a porter. Daniel was a cabinet maker’s improver. I wonder what inspired him to that profession when many in his family, both sides, were associated with the garment industry?

1911 at the time of the Census, Arthur was a packing case porter, Bridget was working as a tailoress’s coathand, Dan, 18 a cabinet maker’s improver, John, 16 as a leadlight glazier and Mary 14 as a cigar maker.

Dapper Dan

Amongst Grandad’s possessions was a photo which I eventually worked out was of him and sent to him in Australia from a friend, Charles Popham. On the 1911 Census, Charles is listed with his mother and sister living at 6 Mitchell Street. He was a shirt cutter and may have met Daniel through his mother, Bridget. They were both 18 and lived close by. London was a very vibrant city.

Charles Popham, Daniel’s friend.

While the lads were exploring the wonders of the city their home lives and working situations may not have been as wonderful. Living in the London’s East at that time would have been difficult. Britain was divided along class lines and those with the money had the power. Grandad hated the aristocracy with a passion. He lived in an extremely poor area and I am convinced that he saw Australia as an escape from abject poverty.


By 1912 Daniel was investigating a way out of London. I had the idea too that he did not get along with his stepfather. From my research, I believe it was his grandmother who came to his aid. Daniel’s maternal grandmother, Mary Connolly, was born in County Cork, Ireland in 1838. She had been living in London at the time of the 1851 Census and possible escaped the Great Potato Famine of 1845. She would have no love for the English.

Mary’s sister Jane, had married an Irishman, Charles Daly, and moved to Australia. Jane convinced her sister to sponsor Dan to come to Australia and so in March of 1913 he acquired his birth certificate and paid for passage to Australia on board the Roscommon. He described himself as a cabinet maker. He arrived in Townsville on the 3rd September 1913 and began his new life with the family of Jane Daly at Cook St North Ward, Townsville.


John William Tagney

John William was born 1894 in Holborn, London and died aged 62 in 1956 (Vol 52 p 522) He was a gunner, a private, in WW1 in the Royal Field Artillery Regiment no 68029 Reg no 8444.

He married Alice E Bush in 1921 (Vol 1B p.1469) and had three sons- John F Tagney b 1922, Daniel Charles Tagney b 2/1/1923 (Vol 1c p55) and William P Tagney b1937. William P married M Eastbury in Shoreditch in 1963.

(I have made contact with William P Tagney’s children, Amanda and Jackie who both live close to London.)

Daniel Charles married Ivy H Lavers in 1950 (Vol 59 p 0940) and died Enfield 1979. They had one son, b 1957 in Islington. He married Kathleen in Inslington in 1978 and they have two girls – Laura Louise b 1988 and Emily Marie b 1992. They live just outside of London in Hertfordshire.

When we lived in London 2001, I got to meet Ivy and her daughter-in-law and the two girls, Laura and Emily. Ivy died tragically in a gas explosion along with her friend, John Flavell, in Landerone 17 January 2008. They were 84 and 82 respectively and had been building their little French retreat for 21 years. It had very recently been completed. It was such a devastating loss!

Mary Tagney

Mary Tagney was born 1896 in Holborn (Vol 1b p756). She married Benjamin Needham in 1925 (Vol 1b p1216) in Holborn. I think he died 1932 in Shoreditch (Vol 1c p 0070). He was just 40. They had four boys. Benjamin b 1926 (V 1c p17), John A b 1928 ((1c p3), Arthur b 1930 (V 1c p 53) and Sidney b 1931 (V 1c p 26) Ivy new the family and said they were pretty wild as she brought them up on her own.  Ivy also knew Grandad’s mother- Bridget. They lived in the area around Shoreditch and Islington when it was very poor.

Grandfather Dan 1869

It appears that Daniel was the name of the first-born boy in the Tagney household. The first Daniel Tagney I found was in the 1871 Census. He was living with his wife and children at 22 Chiswell St Finsbury, an area completely obliterated over two wars. According to the Census he was born in Whitechapel and was 34 years old. It stated that his occupation was that of a Roman Catholic Priest a claim I found either a joke or a mistake. His wife Annie was 31 from Tipperary. Their children were Daniel b 1866 5 years old, William Bowes (b 1861) their son and a daughter, Ann nine months old. They were married at St Lukes, London in 1860 (1B p 0670). The young Daniel was Granddad’s father.

From the 1891 Census the family had moved to 8 Bath Building, St Luke. Daniel was 54 and a journeyman tailor. His wife Anne was 50 with no described occupation. Catherine 18 was a tailoress and Bridget 13 and William 11 were scholars. William Bowes now 30 was listed as a lodger/labourer. Very curious!

In the same 1891 Census the eldest son Daniel (great grandfather) was a tailor’s cutter and  now living with his wife Bridget Welch at 50 Lever Street. His sister Ann would have been 21 so may have married or there was an Annie Tagney aged two who died in 1873 and by calculations it could have been her.

The 1901 Census requires some speculation. Daniel (granddad’s grandfather) was 64 and living at 139 Old Street Finsbury East. His grandson Dan (grandad) 9 years of age was with him on Census night. Daniel’s wife Ann Tagney died in Holborn 1898 aged 58 (Vol 1b p539). Young Dan’s brother, John, and sister, Mary, were not at the grandfather’s address. I believe they would have been with their mother as she was dealing with the death of her husband. The 1901 Census was taken on the 31 March and her husband died in the 2nd quarter – between April and June. According to the death register (Vol b p0401) he was 34 years old. I do not know the circumstances.

In 1901 too, I discovered that William Joseph Tagney (Granddad’s uncle) married Myra Florence Williams at St Mark Shoreditch Hackney. He was 21 and she was 18. He was a stoker.

William Bowes 1907 died at age 45 in Holborn (Vol 1b p 381)

Dan’s grandfather, Daniel Tagney, died at Hammersmith aged 88 (Vol 1a p 322).