I have been trying to find out who Mrs. Anne Banks was for the project, "The Very Generous Mrs Banks", but it is proving to be extremely difficult. Even though she was a wealthy woman, who left thousands of pounds to charity in Limerick, she was always recorded as just Mrs. Banks. There was mention of where her husband came from in her obituary, though he was long dead, but no reference to who she was other than a wife.

This was an all too common occurrence in Irish record keeping, especially among the Anglicans in pre-1864 Ireland. The birth of a child would be recorded something to thee effect of "Child of John Doe and his wife Jane" or on the birth section of the newspapers "to the wife of John Doe a daughter".

In some cases a wedding would be recorded in the newspapers as, "John Doe to the daughter of James Bloggs." I have even come across death notices for "Mrs. Doe daughter of James Bloggs", but no indication of the woman having a name in her own right.

It is highly frustrating as an historian but also disconcerting as a woman that it was so easy to wipe an entire gender from record. Luckily the civil records of 1864 saw a change in this practice and women slowly became their own independent people. That being said, I did come across an address book from the 1970s where the women were all recorded as their husbands names with a Mrs in front, like "Mrs John Doe". So the practice is not as old as we would assume.

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Tags: Genealogy, Limerick, women


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