Meghan Markle's Irish Ancestal Journey

"Her great-great-great-grandmother Mary Smith emigrated to London from Ireland and married a British soldier named Thomas Bird sometime in the mid-1800s.
Her Irish family apparently disowned her, likely because she married a  member of the imperial army." (Irish Central, December 2, 2017)

Unfortunately, we have had a lot of these statement replicated over the last ten days through the world press. This article also states that Mary Smith granddaughter was born in the Isle of Malta. However, it must be her daughter as otherwise, Thomas BIRD on the birth certificate for Mary BIRD is the father and he would be Grandfather and father to this issue.

It may be highly unlikely that Mary Smith, if Protestant and she may well be as her daughter married within the baptist church, would have been disowned for marrying someone in the army in the nineteenth century. We now know that Mary is in fact a McCAGUE and are exploring where she came from exactly in Ireland. 

If Mary Smith  BIRD. was Catholic, would it be likely that she would be working in Windsor. Why does she continue working after marriage? Is this usual for those in service in the nineteenth century? Most female servants had to quit  once they got married. 

In Genealogy we need to start with the following, "What we know". In some cases we have to test historical fact and sometime we have to be wary of family stories or at least explore them in detail.

1. We know that Meghan's ancestry on her paternal side includes a Mary (Bird) a.k.a Byrd born in May in Malta to Thomas BIRD, (Soldier) Mary BIRD in 1862. Mary's mother was reported to have been a maid in one of the Royal Palaces and born in Ireland. We have accounts of her maiden name being SMITH but in some case, this is unverified. Our accounts of her are that after her husband''s death, Thomas Bird, she took her daughters to Canada, New Brunswick. Thomas may have been killed while in service to the Crown as a soldier.  Yet, Mary Merrill's death record shows his occupation was that of Shoemaker. Questions to ask (a) Was he in the forces while stationed in Malta (b) Did he become a shoemaker after leaving the services (c) Can we find him on a census in England as a shoe maker

2. Mary (this was Mary and Thomas Bird's daughter) was a member of Freewill Baptist Church, Meredith, NH. Emigration: 1881, New Brunswick, Canada.  Mary Bird and George Merrill were married on February 25, 1883, by Justus Erskin of Meredith, Minister of the Gospel in Meredith, NH, reported at Center Harbor, NH.  (This is a source we can verify)

3. Genealogy as usual is a puzzle and fascinating but we must always remember to verify and contextualise. We can discount the following report cited:
a. Thomas was stationed in Malta during the Napoleonic War, this would be before Thomas was born as these occurred from 1798-1815. (we can discount this, it would make him too old on Mary's birth in 1862.
b. Check our available sources of Census records, soldier's wills, births overseas and we can use Findmypast and Ancestry for this. 

What we find on the way, How do we know Mary BIRD, Meghan Markle's great-great-great Grandmother was Irish

Evidence of Mary Bird (Born in Ireland)


1. Death - New Hampshire Death and Disinterment Records 1754 -1947 show Mary MERRILL, Mary and Thomas Bird's daughter died in 1925, aged 63 years on Ancestry. We can see that Mary's father Thomas Bird was born in England and her mother, Mary was born in Ireland. No location in either country is given.
2. Her Father's occupation is showing "Shoemaker". This is at odds with reports of her father being killed in service as he may have been in service at her birth but would have been obliged to leave on m
arriage and gone into shoe-making. This is an area where we can and should explore further.
3. Mary MERRILL (nee Bird) was born on the Island of Malta in 1862. 



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