The Marks Family Connections


There would have been a lot of contact between Ireland and continental Europe before and after the Cromwellian invasion. This would have been mainly through the southern ports where Waterford was the second most important city in Ireland at the time. This contact would have been mainly, but not exclusively, through the merchant princes, military personnel and the clergy. It is believed that the Marks family came to Ireland from France with a Mr. Galwey of the Ormonde Castle in Carrick-on-Suir.

The first member of the family that I can currently trace is William who may have been a land agent for the Marquis of Waterford in Curraghmore. He was married to Catherine Donnelly and had three children, Mary, Anthony and James. Anthony lived in Bridge St. Carrick-on-Suir and had a bakery business in the city of Waterford. He was married a lady named Anne McGrath who was the recipient or author of the letters transcribed below. They had seven children, Margaret, John?, Thomas, William, James, Mary and Catherine. All emigrated to North America with the exception of two girls, Margaret and Catherine (Kate).

James went to Jackson, Tennessee, prior to the famine where he worked as a house painter according to the 1860 census. He married Margaret C. Russell on June 19th, 1845 in Madison, Tennessee. They had seven children, Annie, James D, R. D. (male), William, Martha, Kate and Mary.

William and John? went to New York while Thomas enlisted in the British Army in 1840. The regiment left Ireland for the Ionian Islands in January 1841 where he spent six years. This was followed by a year and a half in Malta before arriving in Halifax, Nova Scotia in July 1948. He died in 1855 following war wounds. It appears that Thomas was also pharmacist and possibly an alcoholic according to his mother’s letter. Mary emigrated to Newfoundland, but we don’t know if she married John Hegarty before or after leaving Ireland. She is buried in Roscrea. The occupation of the remaing children is unclear. The letters from James would suggest that they were all very well educated.

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Grave of Mary Hegarty (nee Marks) in Roscrea

Only two children remained in Ireland and these were Margaret and Catherine (Kate). Should these two ladies have emigrated the history of many of the families of the south east of Ireland would be very much different to-day. The importance of the Marks family is that they provide the link between the Clearys of Bridge St., Carrick-on-Suir, the Hickeys of Waterford and Dublin, the Kellys of Waterford and Dublin, the Rowes of Dublin,  the Quirks of Carrick-on-Suir and the Dowleys of Castlane and Tybroughney. They also provide for additional relationship within the Tinvane Dowleys. Of significant interest is the large number of male descendants that attended St. Vincents College, Castleknock, Co. Dublin

Descendents of Margaret Marks

Margaret Marks married Richard Whitty of Carrick-on-Suir who seems to have taken over the bakery business in Waterford. The Whitteys had eight children, Patrick, Bridget, Anthony, Martin, Thomas, John, Michael and Mary. Bridget married Thomas Cleary to create the link with the Clearys of Bridge Street.

Patrick’s daughter Margaret married Andrew Quirk to create the link with Quirks of Carrick who were connected to the Tinvane Dowleys through marriage.

Descendents of Catherine (Kate) Marks

Catherine Marks married William Kelly of Waterford in 1849. The Kellys ran a very successful drapery business in Waterford city and William was to become Mayor of Waterford in 1883. The business was established in 1847 and was one of Waterford City’s leading ladies fashions stores. They stocked a wide selection of ladies fashions as well as jewellery, handbags, china and glass. Kelly’s Ltd. were located at 75/76 the Quay, Waterford while Kelly Brothers Drapers was at 47, Merchants’ Quay, Waterford. William and Catherine had seven children, Mary Josephine, Margaret, William, Ann, James, Mary and Thomas.


Kellys Shop on the quay Waterford (Photo 2014) then closed

Thomas and possibly William remained in Waterford to carry on the family drapery business which was in existence on the Quay until it finally closed in 2013. It since may have been reopened under different ownership but retaining the Kelly name. James moved to Dublin where in 1901 he was living with his widowed sister Margaret Rowe (nee Kelly) in Weston Terrace, North Circular Rd. and his occupation was given as a master draper. As Margaret’s husband, Michael Rowe, had also been in the drapery business it is reasonable to assume that James Kelly and Michael Rowe had some business connection.

Mary Josephine Kelly married William Hickey, a merchant draper in Dublin whose family was originally from Waterford. The Hickeys had a number of businesses in North Earl St., Cathedral St., Marlborough St. and Thomas’s Lane. Apart from the drapery trade they were also involved in furniture  manufacture and warehousing. Over time it seems the Rowes and Kellys were absorbed by the Hickeys and some of these family members remained on the board of Hickeys.

Mary and William lived in Castle Avenue, Clontarf. Their daughter Kathleen married Joseph Dowley of Castlane (Director of Edward Dowley & Sons) to form the first link between the Kellys and the Tinvane Dowleys.

Margaret Kelly married Michael Rowe another Dublin draper (may have been her second marriage, first to Michael O’Brien). They lived in Weston Terrace on the North Circular Rd. Michael died before the 1901 census but not before he fathered two children, John and Kattie. John became an army doctor and died in Chester in 1959. Kattie married Louis Dowley who was a farmer at Tybroughney Castle and a brother of Joe  above. This was the second link between the Kellys and the Tinvane Dowleys. As Kattie Rowe and Kathleen Hickey were 1st cousins and married to two brothers it meant that their offspring were both 1st and 2nd cousins.

The Cleary-Dowley Connection

The above relationships confirms that Dick Cleary of Bridge St., was a second cousin of Joe Dowley’s wife Kathleen (nee Hickey) and Louis Dowley’s wife Kathy (nee Rowe).

Leslie J. Dowley


The letters below were preserved by Dorothy (Dot) Kelly (nee Dowley of Tybroughney)



June 8th 1852

My very dear Thomas,

Yours of the 19th of April did not come to hand until the 11th of May. I was then in Waterford with your sister Kate who was confined on 5th. A daughter, both doing well on 18th of May. I had an answer from William, his wife was mother of a son born 15th of March called Anthony Patrick, receiving Williams on the 18th of May, yours only a week earlier I could not let you have an answers at the time you required 20th to write to you until I heard from William relative to Tom he says if Tom was here and to be sober attentive to business of good moral conduct he need not be one week out of employment as there are advetisments every week in the papers for persons of his profession wanted in druggist stores the salary is small but would improve on trial what he has only the support of his family he earned hard but were you there and be all that God requires possessing and practicing the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance with strict attention to your duty to God you would have much the advantage by your profession of your poor brothers who can never handle £1 but by earning at hard labour. I am happy to hear you have complied with your Easter duties and that your mind is so far at ease. My dear Tom keep ??? to take a mothers advice go to your duty the first Sunday of every month, do not say that being a soldier will prevent you. St. Francis of Sales says devotion is compatible with every state of life there has been saints on the throne and in the wars as well as in cells and convents. What life so exemplary as a religious soldier. Begin and read good books as nothing can conduce more to a holy life. By frequent confession you will be in the state of grace and always prepared to die.

I hope by this time or at least before you receive this you will be after hearing from William as he said in his last to me he would write to you and let you know all he says for me to write to Mary to remit you £2 if not too late for you to receive your discharge. When you receive this enclose this to Mary. She will have it sooner than she could have one from me. I am not surprised she would not wish to see you a private soldier.  It is to know she is in a respectable business there a stranger her family not known. Who would think it was through his own fault her brother that might be by education and profession very respectable was in the army so many years and still a poor private be. If you have William’s promised letter when you receive this and that you can then obtain your discharge. It is my wish that Mary will remit you £2. If not and that you are required to remain for 4 months longer all perhaps for the better in that you can for the time take all as coming from the hand of God in every occurrence may his holy will be done. Strange that I have not a single line from Mary since the month of December our  papers frequently I see in them she has changed her residence to Gower in back of old ?. I have news you will be glad to hear also it is a letter from our poor James directed to William he is in the same place Jackson, State of Tennessee never changed he wrote several letters since he got our last in August ’48. He thinks the family he left are all here. I am not ? or I would not neglect to ?. We never had a line from nor a word to say since April ’46 the answer to that he says he lost his letter to William. He has now four children, the oldest a daughter Anne, Robert, James and William the youngest. He says nothing of how he is circumstances. His letter would not reach us write to me ? this I will long to know if you have hearing if you can obtain discharge your answer. I’ve no more until I hear from you but remain.

Mother Anne




U.S. America,

July, 19th 1852

My Dear Mother,

I received your letter of the 16th of June on yesterday, and words alone would give you a poor idea of the soul felt happiness I enjoyed in its perusal. Happy to learn that God in his mercy continues you a dweller on earth, and that while Death has made such fearful havoc amongst my friends, acquaintances and relations, those of my blood & kindred nearest & dearest to me are still among the living. To you, the deaths that you acquaint me with, seem not out of the ordinary course of things, occurring from time to time; to me it seems, my native town is desolate or peopled with strangers; and were I to revisit it I would be a stranger amongst them. Great God! Is it possible that a lapse of ten short years could have wrought such changes?. It is well, occasionally to reflect on the mutability of human affairs & the uncertainty of life, it impresses me with a sense of their own insignificance, and the necessity of an entire reliance on a Superintending Providence. All but Margaret  have left you. Think you should realise that for some time now, to me all things seemed exactly as I left them, now how changed! Mary in Newfoundland, Tom in Nova Scotia, Wm & In? In New York. I am still almost incredulous. There is hope I may yet see some of them. Mother! Shall I ever again see you on the earth?

My Dear Mother,

You ask me if I have any means of support for my family independent of my hard labour. None whatsoever. When I first came to this place I was altogether penniless. I had but little employment and necessarily got into debt, as this is a country where the Credit System prevails to an almost ruinous extent, up to this time I never been entirely out of debt, but I hope to liquidate all this year and perhaps have a small surplus. Here, I never need anything. My credit is limitless, my character blameless and I possess the esteem and confidence of all. My father-in-law purchased a farm some fourteen miles from town and is now engaged in the cultivation of cotton. I conduct the painting by myself with the assistance of a brother of my wife. You have little idea of the expense of the support of my family I pay $80 a year house rent, say £16, and it requires in addition at least $400 to support and clothe my family yearly. My wife attends to her children, does the cooking for the family and renders me all the assistance she can. I am thank God, comparatively happy. You wish to know if there is a Church or priest here. There is neither. When I came here there were several Catholics here. Now there is but one. There is no Chapel nearer than Memphis on the Mississippi river, a distance of about 90 miles. You ask how I live without hearing Mass. Very well! As I have grown used to it not having heard Mass in seven years. I believe I informed you before that my wife is a Presbyterian, attends her church regularly and is much attached to it. My children are all unbaptised, I being unwilling to have them baptised by a protestant clergyman. I kissed all my little ones for you except Anne she is at her grand-father’s at present, but I will not fail to

Do so when she returns. When you write next inform me about some of my acquaintances of whom you have said nothing. What has become of Mick Donnelly & Robin, James Laurkeen, Pat Gauls daughters, the Misses Cahill, Kitty & Peggy Rielly & Tom Kennedy sister, the Hayes family and uncle Dick.

In conclusion mother, be pleased to give assurances of my continued love to sisters Kate & Margaret & their loving lords & babies, as also to my aunt Mary and cousin Andy / tell him I’ll write to him before the dog days are over / if he will call his next son James Marks Barry & also to aunt Kitty & Mrs Collins, Mrs Lenihan & cousin Harriet. Remember me affectionately to my old friends Pato White & Pato Deady, Maurice Reilly & family and the misses Kelly & all my former friends & associates who are now in your vicinity. When you next write, inform me what determination Tom has come to and if he be in Halifax I will write to him as I will also to all my brothers and sisters in due time. Let me know Kate’s address and I will write to her soon as I receive it, tho in the mean time I see no cause why she should not write to me. I expect soon to receive a letter from Wm, soon as I do I will write to Mary and try and keep a regular correspondence with all. My wife and little ones send their love to you and all the family, and Anne often wishes to see her grandmamma Marks. Would to God she could be gratified.

Believe me Dearest mother now as ever,

Your loving son,

James A. Marks


My Sister Margaret,

Tho’ at a great distance from you Mags I’ve never ceased to remember your loving kindness, and uncomplaining drudgery for the comfort of all. Let me congratulate you on your marriage and wish you all the happiness you so well deserve. Give my love to your husband and request him to write to me as I will always be pleased to learn all that may concern you, and in return I will give you an unabridged history of my affairs. I forgot to say to mother that I had an offer lately to take chargeof a newspaper as editor by which I might make a better support than I do now. I declined it from a want of confidence in my own capacity to conduct it properly. My friends here give me credit for more information than I possess. As at present situated I have every necessary of life in abundance with an occasional luxury. You must know that I live in one of the most prolific states of the Union and in a climate suited to the products of all the States and rich in every variety of fruits.

Your Brother,

J.A. Marks

St. Vincent’s College,


My Dear Mama,

I hope you are quite well and so am I too thank God but I do not like this place at all and please Mama send me my winter cloths. I am in the fourth sums class and in the fourth english class. I was not on the retreat because I did not make my first communion.

I will conclude joined by James and the Kellys and Whittys. In fond love to you all at home.

I remain your fond child,

William Kelly


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