Another episode in a series of blog posts as part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge for 2019. I’m using this to write about some of the thousands of Heenans I’ve found in my researches.
Today I’m featuring one of the most famous of all Heenans.
John Carmel Heenan
Cardinal, Archbishop of Westminster
John Carmel Heenan was a man who apparently wanted only to be a priest. But his career took him through the ranks of the Catholic church to become the senior figure of the church in England and Wales.
The details of his career are well documented in this biography on Wikipedia so I see little point in repeating that information.
Instead I’ll talk about his family.
Although born in Ilford, Essex, John Carmel Heenan came from an Irish family. His father James Carmel Heenan, a farmer’s son, and his mother Anne Pilkington both came from Seirkeiran (St Kyran), in Kings County, Eire. They married in Parsonstown in 1898. By 1900 James was working as a civil servant in Fulham, near London.
The 1901 census shows the family living at 82, Hazlebury Road, Fulham, London. James (Senior) is working as an attendant at the Patent Office. They have two sons:
- James J Heenan, son, aged 1 born Fulham, Middlesex,
- Francis K Heenan, son, aged less than 1 year, born Fulham, Middlesex
The family then moved to Ilford in Essex where the 1911 census finds them living at 33 Ripley Road.
James is still occupied at the Patent Office, they have two more children:
Mary C Heenan, aged 8, born Fulham, London
John C Heenan, aged 6 born Ilford, Essex
James and Anne never returned to Ireland but continued to live in Ilford until their deaths. James died in 1947 and Anne in 1949.
The most interesting fact I’ve discovered through my research into John Carmel Heenan was that he was connected to a soldier whose death in World War 1 I researched in the weeks before the 100th anniversary of the Armistice. John Carmel Heenan, was according to a letter written by his father to a newspaper in Ireland, the cousin of Timothy Heenan, a young shoeing smith, who died when the mail boat RMS Leinster was torpedoed in Oct 1918. Timothy was apparently a regular visitor to the Heenan household in Ilford, Essex.