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I have just enjoyed the Twitter tour of Lucan’s medieval graveyard created by the Society for Old Lucan (SOL). It reminded me of my first visit to this graveyard, in September 2011, on one of Joe Byrne’s very enjoyable Lucan Festival walking tours. On that visit, I noticed that one of the most legible headstones was erected by Mrs Lily Spadaccini , widow of Christopher of Dublin, in memory of her father Thomas Cromer, who died in April 1897, and her mother Catherine Cromer, who died in January 1905. At the time, Lily’s married name was enough for me to explore what family history records might be online – and I had some success. Yesterday, I decided to revisit what I had found and it served to confirm the wealth of material that is now available online for family historians.
I had found Lily’s parents’ marriage record – they married on 21 June 1858 in St. Peter’s Church in the city centre. Lily’s paternal grandfather, another Thomas Cromer, was a house painter and her maternal grandfather, Edward Rourke, was a shopkeeper. There were Cromer families in Lucan in Griffith’s Valuation (printed May 1851 when Mrs Amelia Vesey was a major landowner in the town) and they were listed in 19th century commercial directories (such as Slaters and Porters). Thomas and Catherine had at least two children. According to the records of the Catholic parish of Clondalkin (which included St. Mary’s church in Lucan), Margaret Cromer was born on 16 April 1859 while Elizabeth Mary Comer was baptised on 10 February 1861. This was the ‘Lily’ who erected the headstone. In 1901, according to her census return from House 26 Lucan, Catherine Cromer, a widow, ran a lodging house, leased from C C Vesey. Two of her O’Rourke nephews were living with her.
Thomas Cromer died on 11 April 1897 and Catherine died on 1 January 1905. Copies of their death records are now available to view and download from www.irishgenealogy.ie
Lily Cromer married Christopher Spadaccini, son of Christopher and Esther (picked up in another source), on 2 August 1877 in St. Mary’s Lucan – this is their civil marriage record. Christopher was a popular christian name for the men of this family, who were involved in the hotel business. They were in Dublin from at least the early 1800s, when the first of the name in Irish records, Christopher, and his wife Mary had a number of their children baptised in Westland Row. The Irish Historic Towns Atlas mentions that there was a Spadaccini’s hotel in College Green, on the site of the former General Post Office, in 1822 and that when it moved to new premises, it was replaced by the Royal Arcade Hotel, later burned in a major fire in 1837. There are newspaper reports of Christopher opening his new hotel at 36 Sackville Street, with the entrance from 1 Princes Street (beside the GPO), in April 1824. This Christopher would have been the grandfather of the 1877 groom. The hotel was a popular venue for meetings, according to newspaper notices, and it catered for families as well as businessmen. The family was involved in the catering for the massive Crimean War Banquet (in what is now CHQ on the Docks) for over 3,600 soldiers in 1856. It had its ups and downs in terms of how their business fared, all covered in the newspapers, and a number of premature deaths among the men. I believe the last Christopher to manage the Royal Arcade Hotel on Suffolk Street (which I think was where the Ulster Bank building is now) died in 1862, this was the groom’s father.
I could not locate any Irish birth records for children of Lily and Christopher but they had a daughter, Kathleen Spadaccini, who was born around 1882. They may have emigrated to Australia soon after their marriage because, by 1879, Christopher was applying for a new publicans licence (he already held a transferred one) for a 10 roomed house, known as the Royal Hotel in Sandridge (now Port Melbourne). Only six years into their marriage Christopher died, aged 28 years, on 4 October 1883 in the University Hotel, Carlton in Melbourne.
Lily’s older sister, Maggie, went to Australia also. An ‘In memory notice’ of Margaret Cromer who died in Melbourne on 21 April 1888, aged 28 years and 4 days, ‘was inserted by her sister Lily Snowy and niece Kathleen Spadaccini’. Maggie’s death notice stated that she, too, was ‘late of the University Hotel, Carlton’.
I found Kathleen in 1897 shipping records, aged 15 and with her mother, bound for Albany in Western Australia. The ship, called the Ormuz, left London on 14 May 1897, some six weeks after Thomas Cromer had died in Lucan.
The Kalgoolie Miner newspaper of 11 July 1901 carried a notice of Kathleen marriage to William Symons of the Cosmopolitan Bakery, Perth, in the Catholic Church in Kalgoolie. Kathleen family tree is included in the notice! She is described as ‘the daughter of Lily Mary and the late Christy Ignatius Spadaccini, salesmaster, Smithfield, Dublin, granddaughter of Christopher Spadaccini, Royal Arcade Hotel, College Green, Dublin and Venice, Italy, granddaughter of Thomas Cromer, Royal Arms Hotel, Lucan, Dublin, Ireland.’
Sad to report but Kathleen (known as Kitty) died on 7 July 1904, when she was only 23 years of age, leaving behind her husband William and her son, Chris Symons. Lily herself survived her daughter by almost fifty years. She died on 3 February 1951, just days short of her 90th birthday, in a suburb of Perth called Glendalough. Her death notice, in The West Australian, described her as ‘dearly beloved mother of Kathleen (Mrs Symons, deceased), loving grandmother of Chris …, loving great-grandmother of Paul and Theo’ [Symons]. Her son-in-law, William, died in 1930.
Readers may be looking for a new project to fill their many hours at home and I would suggest doing a bit of family history! Start out by discussing and writing down what you know about parents, grandparents and great grandparents. Hopefully this will take you back to the time of the 1901/1911 census returns, which are free to view on http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/. Then, to look for birth, marriage and death records, check out www.irishgenealogy.ie. This is another free website with loads of advice to get you started and with many useful links. The free Australian newspapers’ archives, at https://trove.nla.gov.au/, will keep you entertained for weeks!
7 April 2020