Before having a look at what we know of James and Eleanor,
maybe someone out there can help identify this “Mystery Woman”......


Unknown Lady

I would like her to turn out to be Eleanor Gallagher (nee Bent), wife of James Gallagher.

She has been described (in her latter years) as “short and dumpy, with white hair cut short like a boy's”

There are no known pictures of Eleanor and although it came from a source relating to her family line, there is (so far!) no way of knowing if this is her......

The photograph (in the ROCOCO style) was taken by Photographer Rupert Kay, The Strand (Arcade), Sydney. It has been dated as being taken between 1915 and 1920.

Eleanor Gallagher (nee Bent) died in 1908 which implies that the photograph could not be of her

However, according to an expert, there is the possibility of it being an earlier photograph if a copy was done after death (possibly for distribution to relatives).......

If you think you recognise this lady, please, please contact me by e-mail


Eliza Crofton, younger sister of James Gallagher, shown as residing in the home of John Gallagher, born Mountown, Sligo, Ireland...

Weeks of follow-up research may have been unnecessary if only she had been shown as a relative!

However, she wasn't - her entry shows - Eliza Crofton, Boarder - age 63 Widow - Occupation Charwoman (House) (out of work) born Ardwick, Manchester.

Now the story of Eliza is not a happy one - born c1847 in Manchester, Lancashire (London Road area) - she was the 7th child (3rd daughter) of James Gallagher & Amelia Ann nee Walmsley.

In 1851 (census record) she was living at 6 Bain's Place, Walter St., Manchester, UK (with parents & siblings). In 1861, her father having died in 1858 she is to be found at "a" Victoria St., Ardwick, Manchester, UK with her widowed mother Amelia & siblings.

On 13 March 1869, now aged 22, Eliza Jane Gallagher was wed to Frederick Henry Crofton, Commercial Clerk, in Manchester Cathedral, Lancashire, England.

The 1871 UK census shows her to be residing with her husband at 7 Council St., Hulme, Manchester, UK. Does that sound like the beginning of a happy ending..?

Far from it as that is the only time from then on that she is to be seen with her husband, who by 1872 is living as a married man with Charlotte Ann Cottam.

While Frederick & Charlotte never married, they lived together as man & wife until his death in 1902. They had 2 sons, who were variously to be seen using either surname - Crofton or Cottam.

And what of Eliza Jane..?

For whatever reason, whether an incurable illness either mental or physical, or another malady of some kind - she spent the rest of her life in & out of the Chorlton Union Workouse. This establishment also served as a Hospital, so without personal records of her time within the walls her reason for being there is not known.

The official website of BBC History Magazine
Chorlton union workhouse, Lancashire
Where the Nightingale Ward was introduced

On its opening on Nell Lane in 1855, the Chorlton union workhouse could house up to 1,500 inmates and was one of the largest institutions of its kind in the country. As well as being renowned for its size, Chorlton boasted England's first ever 'pavilion plan' workhouse infirmary, comprising five well-spaced ward blocks, linked by a covered way, and each accommodating 96 patients.

Later known as 'Nightingale Wards', the layout was praised by Florence Nightingale herself who commented: "Your hospital plan is a very good one: when completed it will be one of the best, if not the best, in the country, we shall hasten to imitate you; for you will have set up a model for the whole country." The design, of elongated wards with beds and windows alternating down either side, was later adopted as a standard infirmary layout.

Although the infirmary blocks have been demolished, the main workhouse building still stands.

What we do know from the Religious Creed Register of the Chorlton Union Workhouse, are the dates & some Admission & Discharge details for her between the years 1894 & 1926.

On almost all of the dates Eliza appears to have admitted & discharged herself - in 1901 she was "taken" by her mother, & in 1911 she was discharged 25/3/1911 - reason - Broken Liberty - by her sister Ellen Kelly nee Gallagher.

She was taken by Ellen to the home of John Gallagher, born Ireland at 26 Upper Medlock Street, Hulme, Manchester.

This address is also shown as last place of residence on her death certificate when she died 6 November 1926 in the Chorlton Union Workhouse & Hospital, 20 Nell Lane, Withington.

A sad life....

However - seeing the entry for her in the home of John Gallagher, born Ireland, gave me the little hint that here at last might be the link to Northen Ireland my mother's oldest sister Winnie had always insisted upon.

"James Gallagher came from Northern Ireland" she always said.

Thanks to a reply from a fellow Gallagher researcher in New York following my locating the 1911 UK census entry, I feel we are that much closer to finding the connection.

We have proof of Patrick Gallagher & Mary Sweeny, Sligo who were John's parents. We have via word of mouth from a descendant of theirs that their son John went from Ireland to Manchester, & had a son William.

Sligo of course is not in what is now known as Northern Ireland, but it IS in the Northern part of Ireland, right near today's border - that could be all Aunty Win meant by "Northern Ireland". No actual matching lineage has yet been unearthed, but if we were to go by dates alone, a scenario could be -

IF Patrick GALLAGHER b. c1840-ish Sligo, Ireland and James GALLAGHER b. c.1838-ish , Eliza Jane b. 1847 & Ellen b. 1852, all born Manchester, Lancashire, UK JUST HAPPENED TO BE COUSINS.. that would make Patrick's son John their 2nd cousin..?

This of course, is pure supposition - just one possible way our Gallagher family could be connected to the Gallagher family of Sligo, Ireland.

For Eliza Crofton nee Gallagher born Manchester, UK to have lived in the Manchester, UK home of John Gallagher born Sligo, Ireland, & for Eliza's mother Amelia and her sister Ellen to have "taken" her to him - there must be a connection!

And now - click for the history as we know it of James Gallagher and his wife Eleanor nee Bent.


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