The Mahagans were of Irish descent. Jeremiah Mahagan was born in Rathcormack in County Cork about 1834. On 5th October 1858 he married Ruth Walker in Thornbury. Click here to read about Jeremiah and Ruth
Henry and Sarah Mahagan – Henry was baptised in Thornbury on 3rd February 1861, the son of Jeremiah and Ruth Mahagan. He was at home with his parents in Rock Street in the 1861 and 1871 censuses. He was not at home in 1881 and we have not yet found him. The 1891 census shows Henry as boarding at 29 Morley Terrace, St Phillips in Bristol. He was a butcher’s assistant.
In July 1891 Henry appeared at the Thornbury Petty Sessional Court, charged with being drunk and disorderly in the highway at Thornbury on 12th July 1891. He was fined one shilling with 8s 6d costs or seven days in prison if he failed to pay.
On 22nd October 1892 at Thornbury, Henry married Sarah Ann Ball. Sarah Ann was born on 13th January 1871, the daughter of Luke Ball, a labourer. They both gave their address as St Phillips in Bristol at the time and it was in Bristol they baptised their first five children: Dennis Henry Luke born on 10th October 1893, Nellie May born on 9th March 1896, Albert Ernest born on 2nd April 1898 (according to his school record), Baden Edward born on 18th November 1900 and Mary Ann Alice born on 28th April 1903. The 1901 census shows the family living at 28 Highgrove Street, Knowle and that Henry was employed as a carter for the Bristol Sanitary Authority.
Henry and Sarah moved to Thornbury in 1903, we know this because their three oldest children transferred to the National School from a school in St Phillips, Bristol. Another four children were born in Thornbury: Miriam Ruth born on 7th November 1905, Amy Doreen baptised on 26th February 1908, Isobel Norah was born 1st June 1912 and Alwyn Louise born on 17th January 1916.
We know that the family moved to live in Crossways when they first came to Thornbury, but by 1904 when Baden started at school they were living at Marlwood Lower Lodge and they were still living here in 1912 when Dennis enlisted in the Army and in 1922 when Alwyn started at the Council Upper School.
In 1916 the South Gloucestershire Chronicle reported the death of Private Edward Curtis of Alveston. The article referred to the fact that Edward had written from the front to Mrs Mahagan, where he had lived for many years. We do not know whether the Mahagans took in lodgers, or whether there was a family connection.
Henry was a labourer. He died on 14th July 1923 aged 62. We have assumed that Lower Lodge, being on the Marlwood Estate would be a tied cottage. This might be the reason why the Mahagans left Thornbury Council School in 1925 and were enrolled in Tytherington School on June 10th 1925.
It is possible that the Mahagans moved to Grovesend to live with other members of the family. Mary Ann Alice Mahagan (Henry and Sarah’s daughter) had married Ernest Cole and they were living in what they described as Itchington in the baptism record of their son Ernest John but could also be described as the Slad at Grovesend.
The Mahagans stayed in this area for a little while. We know this because Henry & Sarah’s grandson, Kenneth who was born 15th May 1922, was also enrolled at Tytherington School on 7th June 1927. Isabel and Alwyn stayed at Tytherington School until they reached the school leaving age of 14 years.
Kenneth left the school in 1931 and the record says “left district”. He was enrolled at Thornbury Council School and his address was Crossways, where his guardian was “Mrs Cole”. The 1931 electoral roll confirms that the Coles were at Crossways. However the same electoral roll suggests that Sarah Ann and her son Henry Dennis were living at Grovesend. We cannot at this stage be sure that they were not still living with the Coles. It might just be a different address for the same house!
In 1935, Sarah Ann, Henry Dennis and Isabel Nora are listed in Outer Back Street (now Rock Street). By 1938 Sarah Ann and Henry Dennis had moved into 19 Horseshoe Lane and they were still there in the 1946 electoral register. Sarah Ann died in November 1946 aged 75. She was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 28th November 1946.
Of Henry and Sarah Ann’s children:
Dennis Henry Luke Mahagan – born in 1893 and sometimes referred to as Dennis, sometimes Henry, Harry and confusingly local people still refer to him as ‘Jerry’. Dennis left the Council School in 1907 to start work. We know that Dennis enlisted in the Gloster Regiment on 29th April 1912. At the time he was working as a tram conductor for Bristol Tramways Company and living at 12 St Leonards Road, Horfield.
On his enlistment papers Dennis was described as being: height 5ft 3 inches, chest 32 inches when expanded with range of expansion of 2 inches, good vision and fair physical development. He served for 1 year and 129 days until discharged on 2nd September 1913. We do not know the reason for his discharge. The records indicate that Dennis re-enlisted as a driver in the Army Service Corps on 8th January 1914. He was admitted to hospital on 9th November 1914, presumably in France, and put on a ambulance ship, St Patrick, back to England on 9th December 1914. The Roll of Honour printed in the Dursley Gazette in 1915 lists both Dennis and Albert Mahagan as serving in the Army so presumably Dennis went back to the fighting after recovering from his injuries. Another report mentions that Dennis re-enlisted into the Royal Engineers and had returned to France for a second time at the time the article was written October 1916.
We know that Dennis, now using the name of Henry D, had moved back to live in Thornbury by 1922 when his name appears in the local newspapers (see below). In 1931 when he was living with his mother at Grovesend. In 1935, Henry was living with his mother and sister, Isobel Nora in Outer Back Street and by 1938 he and his mother had moved to 19 Horseshoe Lane. The register compiled in 1939 in preparation for the war describes Dennis as a quarryman (light work).
We did believe that Dennis was married as he seemed to have a son called Kenneth Cyril born on 15th February 1922. In 1942 when Kenneth was serving in WW2 a newspaper article refers to him as ‘son of Mr D. H. Mahagan and grandson of Mrs S. A. Mahagan of Horseshoe Lane’. However we could find no trace of a marriage, Kenneth’s birth, or any record referring to Dennis’s wife. This might be explained by a newspaper article dated 22nd July 1922 which shows that ‘Henry Mahagan’ was made to pay maintenance of 1s 6d per week for a child born to Lily Smith of Thornbury. Although the various documentary sources refer to Dennis’ son as being ‘Kenneth’, he was also known locally as ‘Jerry’. It seems likely that he had the middle name of Jeremiah taken from his great grandfather.
Dennis continued to live in 19 Horseshoe Lane. He is listed as living there in the 1958 electoral register, but the Town Trust records by May 1958 show that he had moved into a council flat at 11 Buckingham Parade. At that time he applied to the Town Trust to be let one of their almshouses in St Mary Street. He said he had been resident in Thornbury for over 60 years and was unable to work because of ill-health and that he found the flat too large and expensive. His application was refused. When he died in Thornbury Hospital on 20th January 1960 his address was 15 Rock Street. He was aged 66. There was no sign of any other Mahagan in Thornbury in 1961 electoral register.
Albert Ernest Mahagan – the Roll of Honour printed in the Dursley Gazette in 1915 lists both Dennis and Albert Mahagan as serving in the Army. Albert Ernest (shown in the photo on the right) died in France on 9th September 1916. He was serving as a Private with the 1st Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment. His number was 21354. The report of his death in the South Gloucestershire Chronicle on September 29th 1916 has a photograph of Albert and says that he was just 18 when he was killed. (We have been unable to get a copy of this photo yet). He had only served in the army for 12 months, 11 of which had been in France. He was described as the second son of Mr. and Mrs Henry Mahagan and the grandson of Luke Ball of Upper Morton.
Nellie May Mahagan – a marriage certificate shows that on 24th September 1924 Nellie married Alfred James Hunt (otherwise Rugman). Throughout his life ‘Alfred’ used both surnames at difernt times. To make matters worse he also varied his forename and was often referred to as ‘Walter’. Click here to read more
Mary Ann Alice – ‘Alice’ was one of the many Thornburians who were caned at school. The Council School log book shows that in 1914 she was given one stroke of the cane for ‘continued inattention’. In 1921 she married Ernest Cole. In 1931 they were living in Crossways and they continued living there until the late 50’s.
Miriam Ruth – married Hubert T. C. Rugman in 1929 and they had two children: Francis Henry Charles born on 31st March 1929 and Lawrence John Barrie born on 28th February 1936. In August 1942, Miriam died aged 36. She is listed in the burial register as Minnie Ruth Rugman, wife of Hubert Charles Rugman. She died at 29 Eastland Avenue and she was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 20th August 1942. We understand that Francis and Barrie were brought up by their Miriam’s sister, Nellie. Francis worked in Berkeley Power Station and Barrie worked in the quarry before moving to Oldbury Power Station. In 1958 Barrie is living with his uncle and aunt, Walter and Nellie Rugman in 12 Rock Street, and then following Walter’s death in 18 Streamleaze. Barrie died on 27th October 2000.
Isobel Nora – we think Isobel went to school in Tytherington and we’ve been promised a photo of her there. We know she was living with her mother and brother, Dennis, in Outer Back Street in 1935 and shortly after this she married Ronald Glenthorne Bull, the son of Thomas and Emily Bull who lived at Gillingstool Cottage. In 1938 they were living in the High Street, in a flat above Thompson’s Shop. Miss Higgins and others have told us that Isobel was a receptionist at a doctor’s surgery on the corner of High Street and Chapel Street.
Alwyn Louise – Alwyn married Thomas Kerr. They do not appear in the Thornbury electoral registers until 1950 when they were living in 7 Severn View Road.
Amy Doreen – we don’t know much about Amy’s early life. She appears to have ‘married’ Arthur William Whiteman around 1937 although we can’t find any record of the marriage. Arthur was the manager of The Exchange pub and his first wife had died in 1934. Arthur and Amy had a son, Arthur William, who birth was registered in the Bristol area in 1937 under the names of Whiteman and Mahagan. The 1939 register created in preparation for the War shows the family at 39 Cotham Hill, Bristol where Arthur was a licensee. Later in that year they moved to The George in Shirehampton. She died in Bristol Homeopathic Hospital on 19th July 1941.