Mary Anne Lyster A life
Mary Anne is listed in the book Memorials of an ancient house: a history of the family of Lister or Lyster, but with no other information than the names of her parents and the fact that she married Thomas Merrick. Her ancestry can be traced right back with the aid of this book, but I have not undertaken a check of its veracity as yet.
From a census record I found it would seem that she was born around 1835, the daughter of Charles Frederick Lyster and Elizabeth Hoare. As yet I have found no record of her birth or baptism and so I do not know exactly when she was born. The family lived near the village of Glanmire just north east of the city of Cork, on the river. The rather lovely engraving at right, shows a view of the river from the Glanmire Road. Initially they lived in a house called Sarsfield Court, which no longer seems to exist, although the name lingers on in an industrial estate. But in 1834 they moved to Riverstown House, shown below - it is a listed property and is now open to the public. Apparently the interior is pretty elaborate.
So Mary Anne seems to have been born somewhere around Glanmire and she must have been the last or almost last child of the marriage, for her parents were married in 1814. By 1834 her mother must have been nearing the end of her childbearing years. Memorials of an Ancient House, lists seven children, one of whom, Charlotte, has no date of birth, but there were probably more. As the baby of a wealthy family she would have surely been indulged. Her mother was apparently a beauty in her youth, so it would be nice to think she enjoyed an idyllic childhood like the one in James Tissot’s beautiful portrait at the top of the page. Somewhat romantic perhaps, and also of a later age, with a mother somewhat younger than hers would have been. I couldn’t resist the picture though. Her father was originally a soldier - well a Royal Marine, but by the time that Mary Anne was born may have been a merchant of some kind, maybe a wine merchant, maybe just a general merchant. One assumes he was pretty successful, or else that he inherited great wealth, considering the size of Riverstown House.
On 1st December, 1855, at the age of about twenty, Mary Anne married Thomas Merrick a local solicitor at the church of St. Nicholas in Cork City. Thomas was eight years older than she. Did people in their situation marry for love, or was it a suitable marriage? We shall probably never know. Either at that time or shortly thereafter the couple moved to Dublin. I suspect that Thomas may have already been living there and that she moved there to be with him. They lived in the Rathmines, Ranelagh sort of area to the south of the city, and seem to have finally settled in Palmerston Road in a house pretty much like the one shown below I think. They had at least eleven children together, pretty much every two years and nine of them were boys, mostly with elaborate names that included surnames as second names and are probably in deference to ancestors or colleagues. The sons followed worthy professions in the church, medicine and the law on the whole which would mean expensive educations for them all. Some of them migrated to England and even to America. The family portrait at right, generously provided by Tom Merrick, shows Mary Anne and Thomas with one of the daughters.
So far, so probably very standard for the times. The only slightly curious fact I have come across is, that in 1901, Thomas was living in Dublin with three of the children and Mary Anne was living in Bournemouth, Dorset in England with her son Robert, as the Head of the Household and living on her own means. Robert was a doctor, and I think in partnership with his brother Ferdinand at the time. Ferdinand and his new family were living in nearby Portsmouth at the time. Henry Maidment painted the picture of Bournemouth at right in 1896, just a little before she was there.. Was she separated from Thomas? If so when did this happen? Or is she merely temporarily living in England looking after Robert, who was still single, or simply visiting. The house is actually divided into three small households, so it is entirely possible that she is only there temporarily. The photograph below is not of Mary Anne but it depicts very well the kind of relationship that a woman such as she might have had with her adult son.
Her life would have been comfortable - there would have been at least one or two servants. But eleven children! It would surely take its toll on your health and your sanity. But then again, maybe they had sufficient household help not to be bothered much with the children - other than actually having them that is. I suspect that there was at least one infant mortality - the IGI has a baptism of an unnamed male child. Impossible to tell really what kind of life she led, was she happy, was she desperately unhappy, was she clever, was she stupid, was she loving or a tyrant? Impossible to tell. So if you know anything more about her we would love to hear from you. Send us an email.
I do not know when or where she died, although there is a death of a Mary Merrick in Dublin in 1910 of about the right age. So maybe she went back home and there died. I think her oldest child (and daughter), Elizabeth may well have died shortly before this. Maybe her death had been the cause of her return to Ireland.