Friday, 6 January 2012

The well travelled cooper

Having identified my Gt Gt Grandfather as one Hugh Niland, a Dublin cooper who worked at Guinness, I found I was having no luck finding out anything about him.

A few years back, I then somehow stumbled upon a Hugh Niland mentioned in an online record at the British Library with regards India. Sent off for a copy of the document and duly found that this was my Hugh, He'd enlisted in 1854 into the 2nd Bombay Regiment of European Infantry, part of the Honourable East India Company (HEIC), and gone across to India. The Indian Mutiny took place while he was there but he didn't seem to be involved in this. Ditto the Anglo-Persian war took place and some Bombay troops were sent to this but not Hugh. With the transfer of the HEIC regiments to the British Army, Hugh appears to have decided to leave and is discharged in November 1859 and makes his way back to Dublin.

Back in Dublin he marries Ellen Hawkins and has a child. Then disappears again.

Late in 2011 I had a look at the records and there's a new record for a Hugh Niland, a cooper from Ireland enlisting in the US Navy. A website called then appears to have a record for the widow of a Hugh Niland. Upon signing up for the free trial it turns out that this is my Hugh Niland once again and the fold3 document is his widows application for a pension following his death in Dublin in 1895. He appears to have taken a chance to emigrate to Canada (this tallies with an entry in the Coopers Guild records at UCD), gone across to New York and enlisted in the US Navy for one year. He then re-enlisted for another year and serves on a ship off the coast of Florida intercepting British ships trying to break the Union blockade of the southern states.

Having travelled from Ireland to India, back to Ireland, over to Canada and the USA before going back to Ireland, Hugh is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery in an unmarked grave. There is a possibility that he is entitled to a US Veterans gravestone.

On his death certificate, Hugh is initially recorded as Hyland. His date of death is originally given as December 1894 and then corrected to December 1895.The incorrect recording of surnames seems to be a regular issue with this family. Ditto incorrect dates.

Hugh was baptised in the Pro-Cathedral (a church linked to the Coopers Guild) in January 1836 and is recorded as Hugh of Joseph and Bridget Niland.

Of the children of Hugh and Ellen, John (1864-1913), Hugh (1869-1913) and Joseph (1872 - 1917) all became coopers.Only Joseph undertook any form of military service (killed in 1917 while serving with 179 Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers).

Edit 5th March 2019
I am indebted to Damian Shiels for an excellent article re the Niland family, adding information re the Niland family and their time in the workhouse in Dublin :

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