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Hi, I am trying to trace my family tree and have the name of James Grace (born in 1840) in Tipperary, Ireland. He migrated with his wife, Mary (possible maiden name - Meehan)  to Grahamstown in South Africa This is the only information we have. He went on to have 4 children - Eliza, Edward, William and John - all born in South Africa.

I would be grateful if anyone has information, can't find anything online.



Wednesday 19th May 2021, 09:50PM

Message Board Replies

  • Hello Pam,

    I found the marriage transcription for a James Grace and Mary Meehan at the Find My Past (FMP) website, which shows they were married in the Thomastown Catholic Church, Thomastown, County Kilkenny, on 23 February 1846. The transcription further shows that both James and Mary were living in Thomastown at the time of the marriage.

    You can access the transcription, after you register with Find My Past. Registration is free. To download the transcription after registering with FMP, go to the following link:

    County Kilkenny borders County Tipperary on the east.

    I did not find the baptism transcriptions at the FMP website for any children of James Grace and Mary Meehan after their marriage in 1846.

    Attached to this reply is an Ordnance Survey Map of Thomastown in color from the 1837 to 1842 time period, showing the location of the R.C. Chapel toward the upper right of the map, just north of the River Nore. Today, this church is called the Church of the Assumption, but would not have been the actual church structure where James and Mary had been married.

    According to the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage/Buildings of Ireland website, construction of the present-day church began in 1859. This church would have been built on the same spot, or close to the same spot of the church where James and Mary were actually married.

    For more information and a slide show of the Church of the Assumption, go to the Buildings of Ireland link at:

    To view the Church of the Assumption in Thomastown on a modern Google Map, see:

    For a Google Street View of the church on Chapel Lane, go to:

    If you think the 1846 FMP marriage transcription refers to your James Grace, please let me know and I’ll locate a copy of their original Thomastown Catholic Church marriage record for you from the National Library of Ireland.

    James and Mary were married in the second year of the Great Irish Famine, also known as the Great Hunger. In the Irish language the famine is known as, “an Gorta Mór.”

    With Best Wishes,

    Dave Boylan


    Thursday 20th May 2021, 03:52AM
  • Hi there,  this link below....when you open it if it asks for a name enter james grace and tick the box.

    5465983.pdf (

    The area Doon is on the Limerick Tipperary border. The address is where they were at the time of the marriage, not where they were originally from.
    Mary has her address as Dromsally
    James has his addess as Doon Glebe.


    Friday 21st May 2021, 09:04AM
  • @Dave Boylan. Thanks for the post, I am so confused now. I have the records of a James Grace (born around 1840) married to a Mary Meehan that took place in Doon, Limerick, Ireland on 5 Jan 1858. What are the chances of another James Grace marrying a Mary Meehan on 23 February 1846, or is this a common occurence? I tend to think it may be the records I have already (marriage in 1858)  because we have the death certificate of my great grandfather, Edward, which we already knew his cause of death so working backwards he would have been born in about 1863. If your James married in 1846, he would have been born around 1826 or so, making him around 37 when he had Edward. Not too old I guess to have a child. 

    Now I don't know which record is the actual relative and even though my great grandfather Edward had 13 children, the history passed on to the living relatives now are very vague. I guess it would help to get the official transcript of your 1846 record which will show parents names and then take it from there. I would rather get the correct relatives than think he had those siblings per the James's death certificate that I have. I guess the only way of knowing is if we find a birth or baptism certificate of an Edward Joseph Grace born around 1863 in Kilkenny. I really struggle to find these things but will plug away once I know who the parents were of your James Grace.

    Thanks for your help. Much appreciated.

    Saturday 22nd May 2021, 08:51PM
  • Hello Pam, Of the two marriage records, I would consider the one kindly provided by Margot. The marriage Margot submitted is a civil registration marriage rather than a church marriage, even though the record does show that James and Mary were married in Parish Church at Doon, County Limerick, according to the Rights and Ceremonies of the United Church of England and Ireland. This refers to the Church of England and the Church of Ireland. Both are Anglican Protestant.

    Do you know if James and his wife Mary Meehan belonged to the Protestant Church of Ireland, rather than the Catholic Church? I accessed a copy of the original 1846 Thomastown, Kilkenny Catholic marriage record for James and Mary at the National Library of Ireland website, but it does not give the names of their parents. Most Catholic marriages from this time period do not provide the names of the parents of the groom and bride. In any event the 1846 Catholic marriage I submitted, would have been much too soon to pertain to your James Grace and Mary Meehan, being as they would have been too young at the time, and so I would just disregard it. It is just a coincidence that the 1846 James and Mary had the same first and last names as the James and Mary you are looking for. Margot was astute enough to pick up on this from the beginning.

    In the 1858 Protestant marriage, James is 20, which means he would have been born in 1838. That is close to the 1840 date of birth you have for him. Mary, at age 18 at the time of marriage, would have been born in 1840.

    If James and Mary were not Protestant, but Catholic, they may have been married in a Catholic church with registers that do not go back to the year of their marriage.

    Based on your information I looked for an Edward Grace baptized in County Kilkenny in 1863, but did not find it. This search was done at the Find My Past website, but this site only has transcriptions of Catholic Church baptisms, not birth records. If Edward was born before 1864 there will not be a birth record for him. Births were not recorded by the Irish government until 1864. Do you know if Edward was Catholic or Protestant?

    If Edward had been Protestant, you can write another query to Ireland Reaching Out volunteers, asking if someone would kindly see if there is a Protestant baptism transcription for an Edward Grace at the RootsIreland subscription website, explaining that you believe Edward was born in county Kilkenny circa 1863. I do not have a subscription to RootsIreland.

    From personal experience with my own Irish ancestors, not knowing the names of the parents of your James Grace and Mary, whose maiden name was possibly Meehan, the chances of finding James and Mary's baptism records are greatly diminished. In my case, I've been searching for over 30 years for the baptism of my great grandfather John , whose father's name was Patrick Boylan. I only have the first name of John's mother, Mary, but not her maiden name. Without Mary's maiden name I can't hope to conclusively identify a baptism record for my great grandfather John, who was born in County Cavan. The first names of his parents, Patrick and Mary, are very common first names in County Cavan and in the other 31 counties in Ireland as well.

    Please send any new information you may uncover.

    I hope I didn’t confuse you too much with the 1846 marriage record for James Grace and Mary Meehan. If I did, I sincerely apologize.

    With Kind Regards,



    Sunday 23rd May 2021, 02:05PM
  • Hi Dave, thanks for your lengthy reply. Trying to find ancestors can be very challenging and overwhelming. The records that Margot found seem to tie up with the dates if I work back from my great grandfather, Edward. The confusing part is that Edward was married in a Catholic church twice, with his first wife in Kimberley, South Africa and when she died, a Catholic church in Johannesburg. All of his 13 children, were also baptised in the Catholic church and the records I have found for the children, all got married in Catholic churches. The records Margot found, James & Mary's first child, Eliza was also baptised in the Catholic church in Grahamstown, South Africa so it is a little confusing why they would get married in an Anglican Protestant church. I guess I will have to do a little more digging. Thanks for trying anyway. If only we had had the insight when we were young to ask more questions. Going forward, I have instilled in my children the importance of keeping records for future generations.

    Regards, Pam

    Sunday 23rd May 2021, 05:05PM
  • Attached Files

    Hello Pam,

    Thank you for the additional information that the Grace children were baptized in the Catholic Church in South Africa. This information seems to preclude the possibility that James and Mary were married in the Doon, County Limerick Church of Ireland in 1858. But you never know, as in the past I’ve found records of couples in Ireland who married in a Protestant Church, but had their children baptized in a Catholic Church, though I haven’t found very many of these. In the case of James Grace and Mary Meehan, I don’t know what the circumstances would have been for them to do that, however.

    I have a few of questions:

    What records do you have from South Africa that tell you that James and Mary were married in Ireland? Do you think it’s possible they were married in South Africa?

    In your first message to Ireland Reaching Out, you stated that James Grace was born in County Tipperary in 1840. What record in South Africa tells you that James was born in County Tipperary?

    During the last few days I spent some time seeing if I could locate information about James and Mary Grace and any of their four children in South Africa. I was successful to a point in that I found what I believe to be the Death Notice for James and Mary’s son John, who died in Grahamstown in 1930 at the age of 67. At this period in South Africa history in 1930, I believe Grahamstown was in what was known as the Transvaal Province.

    The death notice was uncovered at the free FamilySearch website.

    The death notice shows that John’s parents were James Grace and Mary Grace, from “Ireland.” To the right of the word “Ireland” in the death notice, you’ll see a word that looks like “Dood,” or “Doad,” followed by a bracket, that is, “Dood ].”

    Because the handwriting on the death notice isn’t the best, I suspect what looks like the word Dood or Doad, may actually the word, “Dead,” meaning John’s parents James and Mary were deceased at the time John died.

    The death notice also includes the names of nine of John’s children, the oldest being James, and the three youngest children being minors, or under the age of 21.

    Pam, I suspect you already have this death notice, but in case you do not, it is attached to this reply.

    I am hoping you will be able to find more records generated in South Africa that may tell you who the parents of James Grace and Mary Meehan were. With these names, especially their mother’s maiden names, there will be a greater chance of finding the county towns or parishes in Ireland where James and Mary were born and baptized.

    Don’t hesitate to write if you find any additional information or if there are any records you’d like to look for in Ireland, such as Catholic Church baptism and marriage records.

    With Best Wishes,



    Tuesday 25th May 2021, 03:06AM
  • Hi Dave, thanks for your digging. I really appreciate your time and effort.

     I had uncovered the death notice of John too. Grahamstown is in the Cape Province which is where he was born but if you look at the bottom of the death notice, it was signed in Johannesburg which is in Transvaal (now called Gauteng). You are right, "Dood" is the Afrikaans name for "Dead" I also have his marriage certificate which took place in Johannesburg at the parish on the goldmines. I have James and Mary Grace's death certificates as well. On James's certificate, it names the 3 sons, Edward, William and John with their ages so I assume Eliza either was married at the time or deceased as I cannot find any further records of hers other than her baptism record in Grahamstown Catholic Cathedral. I have looked through St George's Cathedral records for baptism records for the 3 boys and have not been successful. On John's death certificate it says Grahamstown PC Parish so I'm wondering if the boys were baptised in the Presbyterian church. I looked on Family Search and they say these records are only on microfilm at a Family Library. Access is limited in BC during Covid so eventually I hope to find them to get a difinitive date of birth for at least Edward (my great grandfather). The family always believed that he was born in Ireland but then it clearly states on his marriage certificate that he was born in Grahamstown in the Cape. We already knew who his 1st wife was so this just confirmed that we had the right people. All the dates line up with all the other documentation that we have found so I am sure the James and Mary from Tipperary are the correct family tree. On James's death certificate on 2 June 1879 in Kimberley in the Northern Cape, It gives his father's name as Gerald Grace and his mother as Eliza Alwerd? (terrible writing) and Margot found his land holdings in Tipperary too. I'm not too bothered to go any further back than them and am very pleased to have found so much information already with the help of you kind folks in Ireland. James's marriage certificate also mentions Gerald and Mary's dad John Meehan but no mention of her mom and neither were mentioned on her death certificate or on any other documents found. I am satisfied I have enough info for now. Margot was going to lead me in the right direction to find the details of their shipping journey to South Africa in 1959.  

    Kind regards,


    Tuesday 25th May 2021, 05:43AM
  • Hi Pam,

    Based on the information you provided, I found what may be the baptism records for your Edward Grace and four of his siblings, John, Joseph, William, and Joannes, which is the Latin for John. This second John Grace means the first-born child named John had died.

    In the baptism records, their father is Gerald, or Gerardo Grace and their mother Elizabeth/Elizabeta Aldworth, which is close to the spelling of James’s mother’s maiden name of “Alwerd” recorded on James’s 1879 death cert.

    The children were either baptized in the Hospital, County Limerick Catholic Parish, or in the Pallasgreen and Templebredin Catholic Parish. The Pallasgreen and Templebredin Catholic Parish spans the counties of Limerick and Tipperary.

    The record for Edward shows he was baptized in the Hospital County Limerick Catholic Parish on 14 January 1821, and as noted above, his parents are Gerald Grace and Elizabeth Aldworth. No town of residence is listed for the family however.

    I also uncovered the Pallasgreen and Templebredin Catholic Parish marriage transcription for “Geraldus” Grace and “Elizabetha” Aldworth at the FMP website, and will send the transcription to you as well as a copy of their original church marriage record from the National Library of Ireland, if you would like them.

    Many thanks for your reply Pam,



    Tuesday 25th May 2021, 07:54PM
  • Hi Dave, that's amazing that you've uncovered these facts. However, I think we are probably talking about James's (Edward's father) siblings being John, Joseph and & William and not Edward his son. The name Joannes could have meant James perhaps? That being said, James Grace's death certificate did mention his children's names as Edward, William and John so who knows if he named them after his siblings? James Grace, according to his marriage and death certificate (both mention Gerald as his father - I have attached both documents below) was born around 1838 or 1840 so I'm confused about the 14 Jan 1821 for Edward? This date doesn't tie up with any of Edward's Marriages or death certificate (also attached). These are correct documents of facts that we knew about Edward. Based on these, he was born around 1863. It also said Edward was born in Grahamstown, South Africa on his marriage certificates (married twice, first wife died) and on John's (Edward's brother) death certificate that we both found it mentions his parents as James and Mary Grace.

    I would like you to send me the transcription of the marriage of Geraldus and Elizabetha as I am sure this will be the parents of James Grace. The land papers that Margot sent me shows that Gerald owned property in Templebredin.

    If you have a photo that shows the baptism records of the 4 boys that you found, that would be great too as we don't have definite dates yet.

    Thanks again

    Wednesday 26th May 2021, 06:58AM
  • Hello Pam,

    Thank you for sending those four attachments. Their much appreciated.

    I'm compiling the Grace/Aldworth marriage and baptism records as we speak and should have everything to you by this weekend, and if not this weekend, by early next week. There are some records, in addition to marriage and baptism records, that I'd like to explore before sending the next post, unless I have a question or questions for you beforehand.

    By the way, I don't think I received your latest post until a day or two after you sent it. There seems to be some lag time before the recipient receives a post submitted through Ireland Reaching Out. In some cases, I haven't received posts at all, but only found them later on after looking for them in the message boards. There may be some type of glitch in the system

    Thanks Pam,



    Friday 28th May 2021, 10:57PM
  • Thank you Dave, that's very kind of you. Hoping we can prove that Edward was born around 1862/3 and that his parents were James Grace and Mary Meehan but I really think those birth/baptism records are in South Africa somewhere and I haven't been able to locate them yet.

    Have a good weekend.



    Saturday 29th May 2021, 05:32AM
  • Hello Pam,

    Geraldus Grace and Elizabetha Allworth were married in the Pallasgreen & Templebredin Catholic Parish, County Limerick, on 17 February 1813. Their marriage has been digitized by the National Library of Ireland and can be accessed at the following link:

    You’ll see two facing pages of the marriage register. The marriage for Geraldus and Elizabetha is the first entry on the right-hand register page. You can enlarge the registers pages by means of round icons in the upper center/ right of the screen. The icons are white with green backgrounds. You can also access the full-screen function by clicking on the last icon on the right with the two arrows pointing northeast and southwest.

    The marriage record further shows that the witnesses to the marriage were Josephus (Joseph) Allworth and Jacobus (James) Ryan. Joseph Allworth was likely Elizabeth’s brother.

    Unfortunately, the marriage record doesn’t tell where Gerald and Elizabeth were living at the time of the marriage in 1813.


    The first-born child that I could locate was John Grace. John was baptized in the Hospital & Herbertstown Catholic Parish on 4 February 1816. John’s name is not in the Latin form in the baptism record, nor are the names of his parents, Gerald Grace and Elizabeth Aldworth. John’s baptism is on the left-hand register page to the right of the Number 1160 in the margin of the page:

    There is no godfather recorded. John’s sponsor, or godmother is Judith Browne.


    Josephus Grace was baptized in the Pallasgreen & Templebredin Catholic Parish, County Limerick, on 5 February 1819. His father is Gerardo Grace and mother Elizabeta Aldworth. The godparents are Gulielumus (William) Aldworth and Elena Aldworth. Joseph’s baptism is the 2nd entry down from the top of the right-hand page at:

    Joseph was likely named after the Joseph Allworth who was a witness at the 1816 Pallasgreen & Templebredin marriage for Gerald Grace and Elizabeth Allworth.


    Edward was baptized in the Hospital & Herbertstown Catholic Parish on 14 January 1821. His parents are Gerald Grace and Elizabeth Aldworth. His baptism is on the left-hand page, 4th entry down from the top at:

    The first name of Edward’s godfather is Patk for Patrick. His last name is one I haven’t seen very much before. It is Cronican. The godmother is Honora Lavery.


    William’s baptism took place in the Hospital & Herbertstown Catholic Parish on 29 December 1823. His father is Gerald Grace and his mother Elizabeth Aldworth. The godparents are Michl (Michael) Davison and Alicia, whose last name is very difficult to decipher. William’s baptism is located in just about in the middle of the right-hand register page at:

    William’s baptism was a challenge to find in the register because the abbreviation of his first name “Wm,” is difficult to locate on the page. It took a couple of tries before I spotted it.


    The last baptism record is for Joannes (John) Grace. This would be the second son named John, meaning the John Grace baptized in 1816 had died. The second born John Grace was baptized in the Pallasgreen & Templebredin Catholic Parish on 29 December 1826. His parents are Gerardo Grace and Elizabeta Aldworth. His baptism is the 3rd entry down the left-hand register page at:

    John’s godparents are Joannes Brien and Margarita Lonergan.

    On the Google Map at the following link, you can see the area of County Limerick where Hospital, Herbertstown, Pallasgreen, and Templebredin are situated. All are southeast of Limerick City:

    With Best Wishes,



    Saturday 29th May 2021, 06:21PM
  • Hi Dave


    Thank you so much for all this information, it really all ties up. However, in order for the South African dates to make sense, Gerald and Elizabeth must of continued to have children so I am going to look at the records for both the Parish of Hospital & Herbertstown as well as Pallasgreen & Templebredon to see if I can find James who was born between 1838 (per marriage) and 1840 (per death). That'll be the cherry on top to continue the family story. 

    I will let you know what I find. Thank you so much again for your time and effort you put in to help me, it is greatly appreciated.

    Kind regards,


    Sunday 30th May 2021, 05:05PM
  • Hi Dave

    I have looked through the entire Parish registers for Pallasgreen & Templebredon as well as Hospital & Herbertstown to find a James Grace born around 1838 with Gerald and Elizabeth as his parents and cannot find anything. I am just going to accept that he was a younger brother of the other 4 (and there might have been others in between) as the South African dates all tie back to James Grace  & Mary Meehan married in 1858. They might have moved to another Parish as there is about a 12 year age difference between Joannes and James (1826-1838)



    Monday 31st May 2021, 07:32AM
  • Hello Pam,

    Like you I also went back to look for the circa 1838 baptism for James Grace in the Hospital & Herbertstown and Pallasgreen & Templebredin Catholic registers, but without success. I also looked for his baptism transcription at the Find My Past website, which covers all of Ireland, but with no luck. This search took place on both this past Saturday and Sunday. One good thing did come out of revisiting the baptism records however, in that I found that Gerald and Elizabeth had a child baptized before the first-born Joannes in 1816. This is for the baptism of their son, “Jerardus” Grace, who was baptized in the Pallasgreen & Templebredin Catholic Parish on 27 February 1814. His parents are Jerardus Grace and “Elizaba Alworth.”

    The reason I had missed this baptism is that I wasn’t looking for any children whose father’s first name was spelled Jerardus in the baptism records. Jerardus the younger was born a year and 10 days after his parents’ marriage on 17 February 1813.

    The baptism register entry for Jerardus is the 6th entry up from the bottom of the right-hand baptism register page at:

    The godparents are Malachium Dwyer and Maria Slattery.

    Below is a revised index of the 6 Grace children that Gerald and Elizabeth had from the time of their marriage in 1813 to the baptism of Joannes in 1826.

    The index includes the name of the child, year of baptism, and Catholic Parish where the baptism was performed:

    Jerardus Grace, 1814, Pallasgreen & Templebredin
    John Grace, 1816, Hospital & Herbertstown
    Josephus Grace, 1819, Pallasgreen & Templebredin
    Edward Grace, 1821, Hospital & Herbertstown
    William Grace, 1823, Hospital & Herbertstown
    Joannes Grace, 1826, Pallasgreen & Templebredin

    You can see that the Grace children were born and baptized every two to three years following the baptism of Jerardus in 1814, with three children baptized in the Pallasgreen & Templebredin Parish, and three children baptized in the Hospital & Herbertstown Parish.

    Pam, please let me know if you find anything new about James Grace’s birth in Ireland.

    Best of Luck,



    Tuesday 1st Jun 2021, 05:56PM
  • Hi Dave

    This makes sense to me now. The first born son Jeradus born in 1814 must have been the father of James Grace in order for the dates to match up with my great grandfather born in 1863 in South Africa. So if Jeradus got married around 1836/7, then James could of been born in 1838 according to his marriage certificate in 1858. I think it is just coincidental that his mom is also an Eliza. Looking at the death certificate of James, if you look at the handwriting where the person has written mother and father, the t crosses right over the h to give the th which leads me to believe that the name after Eliza is not Allworth but Al?erd. If you look at the rd in Ireland and Edward, I'm sure the name ends in rd. I truly believe you found the correct parents of the 6 children, one of them being Jeradus (Gerald) who would be the father of James. I am going to investigate tomorrow to see if I can find a marriage certificate for Jeradus born in 1814 and married around 1836/7 to an Eliza as well..

    Will let you know what I find. 



    Wednesday 2nd Jun 2021, 06:21AM
  • You're welcome Pam. I am hoping you'll find information that will break open your brick wall concerning James Grace.

    Please keep in touch.



    Wednesday 2nd Jun 2021, 01:51PM

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