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My direct ancestor, Francis Hill, remarried at St. Mark’s in 1849. I am trying to see if the witness, Edward Fox, is related … perhaps by marriage to a sibling. When I search, I see an Edward Fox is a serial witness, and often for the wife. Marriages include other folk residing on George’s Quay and Townsend Street which are the addresses for Francis and his new wife respectively.

What might be going on here? Can I concluded he’s a red herring?


Thursday 9th Jun 2022, 11:17PM

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  • It's not unusual - witnesses could have been anyone handy living nearby, I've seen the same in other Catholic and Church of Ireland parishes. Sometimes these can be traced as people living nearby, and possibly helped out in the church. btw the witness are not necessarily specifically for the husband and wife in any particular order - they could both be friends, neighbours, relations or work colleagues of either the bride or groom, or could be unrelated.

    Shane Wilson, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Friday 10th Jun 2022, 08:53AM
  • The 1851 Dublin City census extract shows an Edward Fox at Westland row - not far from St. Mark's Church of Ireland on Great Brunswick street, and also in St. Mark's parish.

    Shane Wilson, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Friday 10th Jun 2022, 09:16AM
  • Thank you, Shane!


    Friday 10th Jun 2022, 11:24PM
  • Given that the first witness was related to his new wife, and that it seems that Edward Fox is neither friend nor relative, I could perhaps conclude that Francis had no siblings nearby and perhaps none at all ... or he would surely have chosen a sibling?

    I'm also wondering whether I can rely on the marriage record of that time to have recorded whether his father, Charles, was deceased. What do you think?


    Friday 10th Jun 2022, 11:31PM
  • Serial Witnesses do occur. I have a few examples. I can only speculate that it may be a 'patriarch' or 'matriarch' - a kind of self styled head or someone very helpful or someone particularly revered amongst the community? On a negative side it may well be someone who makes themselves more important than was wanted.

    The original link may be way back too but the 'habit' of including relatives, however distant, was important and socailly difficult if you leave someone out - especially in isolated rural communities.

    I never saw the status of anyone written in records but in one case the family name dominated local marriages and may have had more sway economically and therefore politically. My landlady at present is well known in her community and at 82 a regular guest at weddings despite not being related. She is always present at church and such a kind and generous soul that I would think she is invited as a talisman - but this is conjecture on my part :) However, it does convey a concept.


    Seamus Crowe, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Sunday 3rd Jul 2022, 01:33PM

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