Winston Lennon was born in Liverpool Maternity Hospital on the 9th October
1940. He was named John after his grandfather and Winston after the
great war-time leader, Winston Churchill. His father, Alfred Lennon,
a ship’s steward and son of John Lennon, a freight clerk, was
born at 27 Copperfield Street, Toxteth Park, on 14th December 1912.
Alfred was living at 57 Copperfield Street when he married John’s
mother Julia at Liverpool Register Office on the 3rd December 1938.
John Lennon senior may well have been the son of a ship’s cook,
also named Lennon, and his wife Elizabeth (Morris) of 65 Mulberry Street,
John’s mother was born on the 12th March
1914, the daughter of George Ernest Stanley, a sailor in the merchant
navy. She was a cinema attendant before she married. Her parents were
married at Liverpool parish church on 19th November 1906. Her mother
was Anne, daughter of John Millward, (Clk In Law Off) b.1838 Wales.
George Ernest Stanley, her father, was the son of William Henry Stanley,
a musician of Cornwallis Street, Liverpool. He was born at 120 Salisbury
Street, Everton, on the 22nd August 1874; at that time his father was
bookkeeping in a local office.
His mother was Eliza Jane Gildea b.1849 Omagh
Co. Tyrone, daughter of a clerk named Charles Gildea. William Henry
Stanley, b.1848 B’ham, whose own father was also a clerk and called
William Henry, b.1814 London, married Eliza Jane Gildea at Walton on
the Hill parish church on the 14th October 1868, when they were both
just twenty-one years old - so they said.
And that is where the Lennon ancestry begins to
meet with some difficulties which only a great deal more expenditure
and time on research could solve. But even if we cannot look further
back at this stage, we can glance at some of the fascinating names which
hang on this tree.
Being estranged from his father since the age of 5, John Lennon never
knew either of his Irish grandparents or anything of his Irish roots,
as his mother’s family raised him, the Stanley’s, who were
of Welsh extraction. In later years he became increasingly interested
in his Irish heritage.
However, Dublin was the birthplace in 1858 of
John's grandfather, James Lennon who, like many men of his time, immigrated
to Liverpool to seek better prospects of employment. Their James married
Irishwoman Mary Anne 'Polly' Maguire in 1915, and the two started their
family. Among their children was John's father, Alfred.
Alfred’s mother who died around 1949/50,
was Mary Maguire. John senior died aged sixty-six of a disease of the
liver, 3rd August 1921.
James Lennon was not the only one from his family
to go to England; James had a brother a priest who was educated at Maynooth
and was eventually assigned in Wallasey, Cheshire. While serving in
England, Father Lennon was defrocked and the reasons for his expulsion
from the Church were never made public. Jack Lennon earned his living,
for the most part, as a minstrel singer, taking after his own father
who was a known singer in Ireland. Jack's son Alfred, John's father,
earned extra money singing as a young man also.
The Lennon family tradition of crooning, which
started back in Ireland, continued, of course, with Jack's world famous
grandson John, and later with John's own son Julian, who surprised the
music world with his highly acclaimed 1984 debut album Valotte, which
spawned three hit singles.
Lennon is as Irish as they come and the father
of John Lennon senior probably came over from the Emerald Isle as did
so many in the mid-nineteenth century to seek new opportunities in industrialised
England. Anglicised to Lennon, 0 Leannain is the family name of an ancient
sept in Cork, Fermanagh and Galway.
Stanley, of course, is a name well-known as the family name of earls
of Derby and the kings of the Isle of Man. It comes from an Old English
phrase meaning stony meadow.
Millward is another combination of Old English words meaning a miller.
It is most common as a surname in the southern counties but is found
in the name of John le Milleward in a list of landowners in Huntingdonshire
as early as 1279.
Gildea is another Irish name and our John’s
great-great-grandfather. Charles Gildea was possibly an immigrant from
Ireland. The name is taken from the Gaelic words meaning servant of
God and gave rise to families of wealthy landowners, soldiers, priests
and statesmen. One of the most famous of the name was Sir James Gildea
(1838-1920), a co-founder of the St. John Ambulance Association.
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