Thursday, 30 July 2009

15: Comerford of Dundalk

Waterford Cathedral (Roman Catholic), where Edward Comerford from Dundalk was the organist. He died in Waterford in 1894. (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2007)

Patrick Comerford

Another family of Comerfords is found in counties Longford, Monaghan and Louth, where the name is often a variant of Comiskey. However, some descendants of the Comerfords of Kilkenny and Bunclody [see Chapter 8: Comerford of Bunclody and Dublin] moved to Drogheda, Co Louth, in the 18th and 19th centuries, and this family may be related to these two families in Dundalk, Co Louth:


PETER COMERFORD (? born ca 1767, or ca 1795) married Mary McIntee or McEntee. They were the parents of at least four children, two daughters and two sons:

1, Michael Joseph Comerford (1797-1892), of whom next.
2, Susan (ca 1813- ). She was born ca 1813. She married Owen Rice Ireland. They emigrated to North Brookfield, Massachusetts.
3, Philip Comerford (ca 1825- ). He was born ca 1825. He married Mary Taggart in Chester, England. They later emigrated to Los Angeles, California, in the 1860s.
4, Mary (ca 1830- ). She was born ca 1830. She married Patrick Kelley in Ireland. They later emigrated to North Brookfield, Massachusetts.

Michael Joseph Comerford (1797-1892) from Dundalk, Co Louth … ancestor of an interesting Comerford family in California

An interesting Comerford family in California is descended from Michael Joseph Comerford (1797-1892) from Dundalk, Co Louth:

MICHAEL JOSEPH COMERFORD (1797-1892) was born on 28 September 1797 in Co Louth. He is said to have been educated in landscape architecture. According to Barney Comerford, he was thought by his family to have been a native of Co Louth, and was born ca 1797. According to Timothy Holl, he was born ca 1815.[1]

He emigrated from Dundalk first to England in the early 1840s, and then to Sydney in Australia, where he lived from around 1844 or 1845 until 1851 or 1852. He then moved to California, where he lived in San Francisco before buying a large 154 acre ranch at Laguna Alta in San Mateo County, California, in 1869. The house was known to as Salada Beach and was the Comerford family home until at least the late 1930s.

He seems to have been related to some Comerfords who worked in the mines of Virginia City, Nevada.[2]

Michael Comerford was married three times, and was the father and grandfather of a large family.

He married (1), Sarah Jane Jordan (1826-1869) or Jourdan, from Dundalk, in January 1840 in Co Louth. Sarah was born in January 1826 in Dundalk, Co Louth. She died on 18 November 1869, probably at the family ranch, Salada Beach. They were the parents of 11 children, four sons and seven daughters:

1, Peter Comerford, born Dundalk, Co Louth.

2, Margaret (1843-1924), born 8 January 1843 in England, although there is a possibility that she was born in Dundalk. She married (1) Louis Richard de la Hautiere at Mission Dolores in San Francisco on 8 January 1861, and they were the parents of a daughter, (Dr) Rosalie Sarah de la Hautiere (1861-1944). Richard died in San Francisco in 1864, and Margaret married (2) in San Francisco George C Chandler (1832-1896) from London. They were the parents of a son, George Louis Chandler (1868-1941). Margaret died aged 81 on 13 March 1924 in San Francisco.

3, Sarah Jane (1845-1886), born 20 March 1845 in Sydney, New South Wales. She married John James Michael Carroll (1822-1914) from Ireland, in January 1862 at Mission Dolores, San Francisco, and they were the parents of 13 children, nine sons and four daughters.

4, Catherine Agnes (1847-1912). She was born 7 May 1847 in Sydney, New South Wales. She married William Sylvester Chandler (1829-1898), originally from London, chief steward on the SS City of Tokio and the SS City of Peking with the Pacific Mail Steamship Company. They lived on Duncan Street, San Francisco, and were the parents of five children, three sons and two daughters. She died aged 65 on 18 December 1912 in San Francisco.

5, Mary Scholastica (1849-1929), born 5 March 1849 in Parramatta, Sydney, New South Wales. She married as his second wife Joseph Johnson Hill (1828-1884), from Co Antrim, previously married to Ellen Mary Stott (1833-1868). Mary and Joseph lived on Duncan Street, San Francisco, and were the parents of a son and a daughter.

6, Joseph Mauries (sometimes Morris) Michael Comerford (1851-1899), born 15 January 1851 in Parramatta, Sydney, New South Wales. He married on 1 December 1874 in San Francisco Elizabeth C (‘Eliza’) Kellet, daughter of Charles Kellet and Ellen F (née Quinlan). They lived on Folsom Street, San Francisco. Joseph died on 11 March 1899, aged 48, and the widowed Eliza married (2) Frank Herbert. Joseph and Eliza Comerford were the parents of 13 children:

• 1a, Sarah (‘Marie’) A (1876-1879), born in San Francisco 1876, died 4 November 1879.
• 2a, Emmet Robert (sometimes Robert Emmet) Comerford (1877-1925), born in San Francisco 11 September 1877, died at Salada Beach, San Mateo County, 28 May 1925.
• 3a, CA Comerford (1879-1879, gender and full name unknown), born in San Francisco in January 1879, died 25 May 1879, aged 3-4 months, San Francisco.
• 4a, Joseph Howard Comerford (1880-1912), born in San Francisco 13 December 1880, died aged 31 on 6 September 1912 in Santa Cruz, California.
• 5a, Mary A (1882-ca1937), twin, born 29 April 1882 in San Francisco; unmarried; died aged 55.
• 6a, May J (1882-1882), twin, born 29 April 1882 in San Francisco, died 2 August 1882.
• 7a, Elizabeth Lydia (1883-1972), born 28 May 1883, Colma, San Mateo; she married William P Fahey (1881-1914), and they were the parents of one son, William P Fahey (1914-1927); she died 9 July 1972, aged 89, in Alameda, California.
• 8a, Jeanette (‘Nettie’) Therese (1885-1982), born 3 January 1885 in San Francisco; she married Herman HalstedDutchPierson (1885-1972) ca 1916 in California; she died on 30 May 1982, aged 97, in Alameda, California.
• 9a, Alice Agnes (1886-1926), born 3 January 1886 in San Francisco. She married … Taylor after 1910, and they were divorced before 1920; she died 26 January 1926, aged 39, in San Mateo.
• 10a, Francis Comerford (1888-1888), born 4 March 1888 in San Francisco; died 16 March 1888 in San Francisco.
• 11a, Ethel (1891-1986), born May 1891 in San Francisco; died 15 October 1891 in San Francisco.
• 12a, Irene (1892-1986), born 13 July 1892 in San Francisco. She married in Saint Michael’s Cathedral, San Francisco, on 14 Jul 1917 Ernest (‘Ernie’) Joseph Bracchi (1896-1957). They were the parents of one son, Ernest Comerford Bracchi (1929-2020), a teacher, of Stockton, California. Irene (Comerford) Bracchi died 18 February 1986 in Capitola, California.
• 13a, Raymond (‘Ray’) Joseph Comerford (1895-1913), born May 1895 in San Francisco; he died aged 18 in a road accident on 31 December 1913.

7, Elizabeth (‘Lizzie’) Gertrude (1853-1914), born 18 April 1853 in San Francisco. She married Amadeo J Fava in 1874 in San Francisco, and they were the parents of two daughters and a son. She died on 17 March 1914 in Oakland, Alameda.

8, Agnes (1854-1868), born 30 December 1854 in San Francisco, died 21 February 1868, aged 13, in San Francisco.

9, Scipio Comerford (1858- ), born in California in 1868, may have died in childhood.

10, Charlotte Louise (1860-1918), born 4 November 1860 in San Francisco, she married … Moffat, and died in San Francisco, 30 July 1918, aged 57. She was the mother of a son and a daughter.

11, John Joseph Comerford (1865-1956), born San Francisco 9 February 1865, died 1 August 1956, aged 91.

Michael Joseph Comerford married (2), Alice English (ca 1817-1877), on 12 November 1870 in San Mateo County, California. Alice was born ca 1817 in Co Waterford, and she died at the family ranch, Salada Beach, in Laguna Alta, San Mateo County, California, on 4 February 1877.

Michael Joseph Comerford married (3), Catherine (Kate) Mulvey on 27 September 1878 in San Mateo County, California. Kate was born in Ireland ca 1849-1853.

Michael Joseph Comerford died aged 95 on 17 December 1892 in his daughter’s the home his daughter, Mary Scholastica (Comerford) Hill on Duncan Street, San Francisco. He was buried in Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery, Colma, San Mateo County.


PATRICK COMERFORD (ca 1812?-1870), was living in Francis Street, Dundalk, Co Louth, in 1837, and later lived at Church Street, Dundalk (ca 1852-1853), and at Seatown, Dundalk. In 1844 he joined the ranks of the Dissenters to O’Connell, and when the Young Ireland Party became a living force in Dundalk, he was among their ranks.

The Louth County Library Service has its origins in the Dundalk Free Library established by the Town Commissioners in 1856 under the Public Libraries Act 1853. It was the first such library to be established in Ireland, and was the achievement of the cross-community activities of four men, the Young Irelander Patrick Comerford; the Church of Ireland Vicar of Dundalk, the Rev Elias Thackeray (1771-1854), a former Fellow of King’s College Cambridge, uncle of the writer William Makepeace Thackeray; an English-born medical doctor, Dr John Browne; and the MP for Co Louth, Chichester Fortescue, who was responsible for the adoption of the Libraries Act 1853 in Ireland. [3]

On the establishment of the library in Dundalk, he became Honorary Librarian, a post which passed through no less than five members of the family. He was Collector of Municipal Taxes for a number of years. He died on 1 April 1870 and was buried in Faughart, Co Louth. He married Sarah McArdle, who died 30 August 1891, aged 77, when she was described as a ‘lady’ and widowed. She was buried with her husband in Faughart. Their children included at least four sons and four daughters:

1, Mary, baptised on 30 September 1834.
2, Sarah (1837-1911), born 18 May 1837, she trained as a housemaid and cook and emigrated to Hobart, Tasmania on the ship Kingston, in 1854. Initially, she worked as a maid and cook at a manor in Davey Street, Hobart. She married Richard Wallace in 1862. He was born in Mumbai (Bombay), India, and was descended from the Wallace linen weaver family from Kilmichael in County Cork. He was a grocery porter and a dray driver, a leader of the Orange Order in Hobart and chairman of Loyal Orange Lodge 100, ‘Hearts of Oak’ in Hobart. Sarah died on 2 July 1911 from apoplexy. Some of their children trained as drapers and went on to found the clothing stores Wallace Bros and Hightone in Hobart from ca 1912 to the 1930s. Their daughter Evelyn married Joseph Holland Williams, a grocer’s assistant born in North Wales. Their grandson, Max Wallace, ran the Melrose Cinema in Glenorchy, Tasmania, in the 1950s.
3, John Comerford (1845-1873), of whom next.
4, Catherine Comerford (ca 1846-1917), of Clanbrassil Street, Dundalk. She was born ca 1846. The 1901 census show Catherine Comerford, shopkeeper and delph merchant, aged 55 and single, living at 40 Clanbrassil Street, Dundalk, with her two unmarried nieces, Sarah Comerford, librarian, aged 21, born in Salford, England; and Teresa Comerford, aged 20, shop assistant, born in England. She died on 7 December 1917 at 37 Clanbrassil Street, Dundalk.
5, Teresa (1852-1898), baptised on 15 February 1852, she died at Clanbrassil Street, Dundalk, on 13 August 1898, when her age was given as 45.
6, Francis Comerford (1853-1885), horse dealer, of Church Street,Dundalk. Baptised on 24 December 1853. He married Mary Browne. He died on 5 September 1885, aged 32, widowed, was buried in Faughart with his parents. They were the parents of:
● 1a, Kathleen Comerford, born 19 October 1895, at New Street, Dundalk.
7, Mathew Comerford (ca 1857/1860-1934), of Jenkinstown, Co Louth, Clanbrassil Street and Jocelyn Street, Dundalk, Co Louth. He was born ca 1857, and was aged 54 in 1911. He was Town Clerk of Dundalk, and one of the subscribers to Saint Christian’s New Church, Tullyallen, near Mellifont, Co Louth.[4] In 1901, he was living in Jenkinstown, Co Louth, aged 41; in 1911, he was living at 38 Jocelyn Street, Dundalk, aged 57. He died in 1934, aged 77. He married Anna Kathleen McPoland (ca 1877-1941). Anna was born in Liverpool ca 1875/1877 and died in Dundalk in 1941, aged 66. They had at least six children, three daughters and three sons:
● 1a, Mary Catherine Comerford (1898-post 1911), born 28 April 1898, aged 12 in 1911.
● 2a, Eileen Theresa Comerford (1901-post 1911), born 11 October 1901, aged 9 in 1911.
● 3a, John Gerard Comerford (1906-post 1911), born 15 February 1906, aged 5 in 1911.
● 4a, Mathew Comerford (1908- ), born on 30 September 1908.
● 5a, Bernard Comerford (1911- ), born on 11 June 1911.
● 6a, Elizabeth Comerford (1916- ), born on 4 June 1916.
8, Edward Comerford (18??-1894), an accredited musician and skilled organist of Waterford Cathedral, where he died in 1894.
9, Joseph Comerford (ca 1862-1887), horse dealer, died on 25 February 1887, aged 25, and was buried in Faughart, Co Louth, with his parents.

The first named son:

JOHN COMERFORD (1845-1873), of Dundalk, Co Louth. He was baptised in Dundalk on 1 February 1845. He joined the Irish Brigade under Major Myles O’Reilly in 1866 to fight in the Papal army against Garibaldi in the Italian War of Unification. He died on 7 March 1873 and was buried with his parents in Faughart, Co Louth.

SARAH ELIZABETH COMERFORD (ca 1879-1966) was still a librarian and living in Dundalk in 1933. She died died unmarried in 1966, aged 87.

© Patrick Comerford, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2020, 2023..

Sources and Footnotes:

[1] See Barney Comerford, pp 117, 228, 368; Email from Timothy Holl, dated 12 June 2011.
[2] See Barney Comerford, pp 384 and 483; Email from Timothy Holl, dated 12 June 2011.
[3]Harold O’Sullivan, Gerry Clarke, Dundalk and North Louth: Paintings and Stories from Cuchulainn’s Country (Dundurn Press Ltd., 1997), p. 38.
[4] Dundalk Democrat, 18 November 1898.

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Last updated: 17 December 2007, 15 and 17 August 2009; 9 August 2010; 14 June 2011; 11 April 2013; 16 July 2014; 4 November 2015; 27 July, 2020; 30 April 2023.


Tim Holl said...

Hello Patrick,
Just a short note to note the source's my information regarding Michael Comerford's year of birth.
1841 census of Great Boughton, near Chester, England he lists his age as 25; bc 1816.
1843 Emigration Papers to Australia, age listed as 28; bc 1815.
1852 census of California he lists his age as 40; bc 1812.
1860 US census of California he lists his age as 45; bc 1815.
in 1870 US census of California he gives his age as 72; bc 1798 and in the 1880 US census of California he lists 88 as his age; bc 1792.
Because of these firsthand sources from his early life, I believe 1815 is closest to his actual year of birth.
Tim Holl

Michael said...

Hi Patrick
I remember two Comerford sisters living in St. Mary's Dundalk in a very nice small Georgian house in a small terrace between the Marist Church and a Meeting hall of some sort (it's still there). They were quite elderly during the 60's and I seem to remember someone telling me that they were daughters of a Town Clerk.