Bryan Duffy

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Feb 8, 2019
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There is a pretty reliable story in my family that my Grandfather's first wife was one of the unfortunate passengers that perished in the Empress of Ireland sinking.

The passenger's name (3rd Class) is listed as "Mrs. James Duffy", but in other information I have seen it says "nee. Mary Ann Speake". My late Grandfather married a "Polly Speake" in Toronto, York County, Canada in 1911. The age on the wedding license matches the passenger's age.I have a digital copy of the wedding license.

The story in my family is that my Grandfather sent his wife back to Ireland for a visit on what turned out to be the ship's final trip with a 1st Class ticket. The story goes on that she sold the ticket in Quebec City in exchange for more travel money and a 3rd Class ticket that she then used. After the sinking my grandfather and his sister traveled to identify the recovered body.

I am looking to confirm (or dismiss) this family story. I would like to know the origin of the Mary Ann Speake in the passenger list and if there would be any way to trace and confirm that it was my late grandfather's first wife - aka Polly Speake. The age matches the marriage license. There were no children from the marriage that we know of.

I am not sure if the death certificates are available and if they listed the next of kin that identified the body (which would be great proof).

Thanks,
Bryan
 

Ange Speake

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Mar 14, 2020
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South Wales, United Kingdom
Polly Speake was my Great Great Aunt. She’s buried in Trealaw Cemetary, Rhondda, South Wales. She was buried Mary Ann Speake, as according to my Nan, she committed bigamy with James Duffy in Canada. Her husband in Rhondda had no idea she had remarried in Toronto. Both husbands were at her funeral carriage procession through the streets of Rhondda to the Cemetery. I have researched the Duffy side and thought they had a son James Patrick Duffy together in Canada.
 

Bryan Duffy

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Feb 8, 2019
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I am definitely interested in learning more history about your Great Great Aunt, Mrs. Speake. Do you know why she was sailing to the UK alone? My Grandfather was not on board. I am James Duffy's grandson, so would be interested in knowing of any descendants through his first wife, if you have any more information about her son (birthyear/birthplace).
 

Ange Speake

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Mar 14, 2020
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South Wales, United Kingdom
Mary Anne (Polly) Speake
1879–1915
2nd great-aunt
Mary Anne (Polly) Speake was born in October 1879 in Llangattock, Breconshire, Wales, to Roseanna Edwards, age 21, and William Samson Speake, age 27.
Mary Anne (Polly) Speake lived in Llangattock, Breconshire, Wales, in 1881.

Birth of Son Patrick J Duffy(1904–)
1904 • Canada
Birth of Son John James Duffy(1906–)
abt 1906
Birth of Son Francis Duffy(1908–)
abt 1908
Birth of Son Thomas Duffy(1909–)
abt 1909
Birth of Daughter Mary Gertrude Duffy(1911–)
1911 • Enniskillen, Ireland
Residence
2 April 1911 • Rahalton, Fermanagh, Ireland
Relation to Head of House: Wife
Marriage
5 Jul 1911 • York, Ontario, Canada
to James J. Duffy b. 1883
Death
Sep 1915 • Monaghan, Ireland

1 Source
 

Bryan Duffy

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Feb 8, 2019
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Thank you for the reply and interesting information. Are you sure you have the correct James Duffy? I bring this up, because my grandfather, the James Duffy, on the marriage license to Polly Speake, was originally "James Daffy" from County Clare, Ireland, that changed his name to "Duffy" only upon entering Canada.
I did not know of the other husband in Wales. Also, the children appear to be named "Duffy", but were born in Ireland before the 1911 marriage to my Grandfather in Toronto. Why would they not have the other husband's name?
 

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