|I first began to research
my family tree when I was about sixteen years old. My grandmother
was by then housebound and when I called in to visit we would talk over
a cup of tea. She told me that her grandfather's name was
Conkey. This was a name which no one in the family had ever heard
of and some people even assumed he must have been Jewish becasue the
name suggested a big nose !
I decided to look for a "proper" explanation. My first "breakthrough" in those days was to look the name up and find out that in was a well known Irish surname. The book of surnames which I found it in suggested that Conkey (or Conchie) was derived from Connochie, O'Connochie and McConnochie.
Finally I discovered that the MacConnochies of Scotland were a branch of the Clan Campbell, who betrayed the McGregors at the massacre of Glencoe. This was too much to bear and I put away my family tree for another 35 years.
|The real Conkeys !
|William John Conkey was
born in Ireland
married Sarah Jane
Stewart (born 1854) He was a member
Orange Lodge, which may narrow down the field of parish records to be
searched. It would certainly have pleased my father if he had
known. Like many others of their generation William and Sarah
sought to escape poverty and starvation in Ireland by leaving
home. They went first to Scotland where their first child was
born and then moved on to Houghton Le Spring in County Durham in
William worked at a coke works, hard work in hot dusty conditions.
|William and Sarah had eight
Margaret Conkey: born Scotland or Ireland 1878
Robert John Conkey born Houghton 1880
Jane Isobella Conkey born 1882
Sarah Jane Conkey 1884
Ethel Conkey born 1885 died 1913
Sarah Anne Conkey – born Houghton 1887 died 1906
John Conkey 1889
Mary Conkey born 1892
|Margaret Conkey married George Turner in 1897 (I have her wedding certificate)|
|Ethel Conkey 1886-1913 married Joseph Alderson in Houghton 1910|
|Jane Isobella Conkey
married Arthur Rayner
in Sunderland on
November 4th 1906 10a 988 . Their children were
The family moved to Leeds in 1909/1910 where Arthur Rayner ran a stall in the market selling bottled sweets - possibly from the Wheatleys factory.
Jane Isobella Conkey, my Great Grandmother and the little Rayners Margaret, Arthur, John and Jenny - around 1914
Jenny, on the right was my Grandmother, John, the baby here, was our "Little Uncle John"
Arthur Rayner died in1918 and Jane moved back to Seaham where she brought up the children alone. It seems that the Wheatley side of the family offered to set her up with a sweet shop, but she was too proud to accept. When I look at her delicate features it's sad to think of her struggling to bring up her children, widowed and ill