Mary Jane was born 4 Nov 1875 in Rathdrum, Wicklow to Roscommon born blacksmith Thomas and his wife Brigid Farrell. She was baptised two days after her birth and sponsored by two relatives, Patrick O'Finn and Emily Cody. She was the eldest of five children, herself, Ellen, Timothy, Catherine and Thomas. She was named after her paternal grandmother, Mary Jane Kelly of Elphin, Roscommon. She was the first in her family to learn to read and write. 

The Maxwells were evicted from their home two weeks after her mother gave birth to baby Thomas. They were fined for not leaving when ordered to two days before he was born. They may have spent some time in the workhouse, where baby Thomas died of croup in 1883.

Mary Jane's mother was admitted to a lunatic asylum in Dublin between 1881 and 1884, and likely never saw her family again (she died there in 1888). The Maxwells fell into poverty. Mary Jane and Ellen took to begging for money around the town. On 3 April 1884, they begged off John Nolan outside the church in Rathdrum. He took the two girls aged nine and seven immediately to the Rathdrum Petty Sessions Court. The judge decided to send them to St Michael's Industrial School in Wexford, an institution for "orphaned, abandoned and neglected children", ran by the Sisters of Mercy. Here the sisters would have been split up and rarely allowed to see their father, if at all.

Mary Jane and Ellen were trained as domestic servants. Mary Jane left the industrial school circa 1890-1893 and began working for Eliza and Ida Halpin. She left them between 1901-1904 and moved to Roscommon, to live with her dying father, who had moved back there in 1891. He left his new house in Grange, Tulsk and money to her in his will. He also included in his will that he wished for her to marry James Flanagan who worked for him in his forge. Mary Jane may have been pregnant at the time.

Mary Jane married James on the 11th of April 1904, witnessed by Katie Dooley and John Flanagan. Her father died a few weeks later.

Children of James and Mary Jane

Thomas  1 Jan 1905

Patrick  10 Mar 1906

Mary Anne  15 Jun 1907

Bridget  25 Sep 1910

Michael John  1 Dec 1911


Mary Jane died a horrific death as her nightdress caught fire and gave her terible burns across her body. She died from her wounds later in Rscommon Hospital on 1 Jun 1928

Additional Information
Date of Birth 1st Nov 1875 VIEW SOURCE
Date of Death 1st Jun 1928 VIEW SOURCE
Father (First Name/s and Surname) Thomas Maxwell
Mother (First Name/s and Maiden) Brigid Farrell
Townland born Rathdrum, Co Wicklow
Names of Siblings Ellen Maxwell Tracey, Timothy Maxwell, Catherine Maxwell and Thomas Maxwell
Spouse (First Name/s and Maiden/Surname) James Flanagan VIEW SOURCE
Place & Date of Marriage 11 April 1904, Tulsk, Co Roscommon
Occupation Domestic Servant
Place of Death Tulsk, Roscommon
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