Finding more prison references to Dublin great-great granny

Thanks to breaking through the Irish brickwall in my family tree this summer I know that my Irish great-great granny was Mary Fegan who married John Tate in 1877. Thanks to the Dublin prison registers at I also know she was in prison a lot, often recorded under both her married and maiden names, which helped spot references to her.

I thought I’d found all the references to her prison spells when I searched a few weeks ago. I was wrong. There are more I’ve just found tonight. Quite a few have both her maiden and married names recorded in the prison register, others look as though her maiden name was misheard or miscopied, and a few more have her just as Mary Tate (or Tait, or Taite depending on the record). I’m sure they all refer to the same lady though, because the physical description (height in feet and inches, eye colour and hair colour) matches every time, as does her age, street where born in Dublin, and her current address looks good.

I’ve lost count now of how many times she was in prison. I found another six tonight, and that was in addition to a fair number found previously. Generally she was in prison for being drunk and disorderly or using profane language. And tonight I seem to have found a reference to her begging. 1886 was a particularly prison-intensive year for her, with her imprisoned three times between July and September 1886.

About vivdunstan

Academic historian, genealogist, former computer scientist, and Doctor Who fan.
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3 Responses to Finding more prison references to Dublin great-great granny

  1. Catherine Tate says:

    Viv, I may be following the same Irish family line. My husband’s grandfather was a George Tate born in Sampson’s Lane, Dublin in 1900 to John and Elizabeth Tate ( or Tait) as in the 1901 census records for Sampson’s Lane. Is this the same John Tait that you refer to, as the prison reference for John Tate who released his ass on a public road has his address as Sampson’s Lane?

    • vivdunstan says:

      Oh fab! Drop me an email at and we can exchange information. The birth details I have already for George come from his baptism in the parish register. They give his date of birth as 24 July 1900, address 16 Sampsons Lane, and parents John Tait and Elizabeth Graham [the surname spelling varied a lot in official registers]. This was his father’s second marriage. I descend from John Tate’s eldest known daughter Annie, born 1879.

    • vivdunstan says:

      And yes I think this is all the same family. I’ve been piecing it together since mid/late last year, after I finally cracked finding Annie’s birth. Ironically I’d recently come back from a trip to Dublin, to an academic conference at Trinity College. It was only after then that I finally cracked this long-standing brick wall in my family tree.

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