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Beatles Irish Heritage


John Lennon


Johnohn 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, Liverpool.

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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