KERR FAMILY CHRONICLES

© Christopher Earls Brennen

CHAPTER FOUR

THE CHILDREN OF WILLIAM AND MARY KERR


The William Robert Kerr family about 1920. Back row: Robert, Herbert, George, Joseph and Samuel.
Seated: Cecil, Sarah, Mary, William Robert and Isobel. Front: Elizabeth, William, June and Mary.

  1. Cecil William Kerr (1903-1989) was born in Lurgan, County Armagh, where his father was learning the tailoring trade from his elder brother, Thomas Kerr. He is listed in the 1911 Census as a 7-year-old schoolboy living with his parents in Georges Street, Dungannon. Cecil was educated at the Royal School, Dungannon, and became a quantity surveyor in Dungannon. He was Churchwarden of the Moygashel Church Hall in 1957. He married Sara V.Williamson and they had three children, Elizabeth, Frances and William. Sara died on Sep.30, 1983, and Cecil on Dec.11, 1989; they are buried in Coolhill Cemetery, Dungannon.

  2. William George Kerr (1905-1971), known as George, was born about 1905. He is listed in the 1911 Census as a 5-year-old schoolboy living with his parents in Georges Street, Dungannon. George was educated at the Royal School, Dungannon, and became a tailor in Castlederg and Lisburn. He finished his working life in the Moygashel linen factory. He married Minnie Williamson and they had four children, June, Robert, Samuel and Mary.

  3. Herbert Victor Kerr (1907-1979) was born about 1907. He is listed in the 1911 Census as a 3-year-old schoolboy living with his parents in Georges Street, Dungannon. Herbert was educated at the Royal School, Dungannon and became a tailor in Armagh. He married Emily Cardwell from Ballinakelly who bore him four children, Jack, Barbara, Pamela and Pauline. After Herbert suffered a debilitating stroke they moved back to Dungannon. Herbert died on Jun.10, 1979, and Emily on Feb.11, 1989, at the age of 79; they are buried in Coolhill cemetery, Dungannon.

  4. Joseph Kerr (1909-1974) was born in 1909 and is listed in the 1911 Census as a 1-year-old living with his parents in Georges Street, Dungannon. Joe was educated at the Royal School, Dungannon, and emigrated to Toronto, Canada, where he made contact with his uncle James Andrew Kerr and his family. He may also have been assisted by members of the Brown family who had emigrated to Toronto. Joe owned a ladies beauty salon called the ``Bo-Peep'' located at 1346 Danforth Avenue in east Toronto. Joe lived in an apartment over the store. After his death the new owners converted the business to a shoe store. Joe fought in the Canadian Army in World War II and, at least for a time, was stationed in Holland. He was injured in the head. After the war he returned to his business in Toronto but regularly revisited Dungannon. I recall one such visit in 1960. Joe remained a bachelor until his death in Missisauga, Canada on Mar.28, 1974. His cremated remains were returned to Dungannon and interred in Coolhill Cemetary.

  5. Elizabeth Kerr died in infancy.

  6. Isobel Kerr was born on May 19, 1913. After elementary school she went to work in her father's tailoring shop. On Aug.6, 1937, she married Robert George Hamill (Senior) in St.Anne's Parish Church, Dungannon. Born on Feb.15, 1910, Bob became a director in the Moygashel linen factory. Early on they lived on Castle Hill, Dungannon, but later moved to the Killyman Road, Dungannon. After their retirement Isobel and Bob moved to Portstewart where they lived near Colin and Diane Brennen. Bob died on Jun.5, 1992. Isobel currently (1995) lives in Flat No.10, Agherton Grange, Mill Road, Portstewart. Bob and Isobel had four children, Robert George (Jr.), Joan, Isobel and Gordon.

  7. Robert Elliot Kerr (1914-1982) was educated at the Royal School, Dungannon. He became a tailor in his father's business in George's Street, Dungannon. After his father's death he took over the business in partnership with his brother, Samuel Edward Kerr. Robert married Wilhemina Ferguson (known as ``Curly'') and they had two children, Olive and David. Robert died on Jan.22, 1982, and is buried in Coolhill Cemetary, Dungannon.

  8. Mary Kerr, the youngest child married Clarence Hastings Irons. They lived in Canterbury, England and had seven children, Bronwyn, Geraldine, Marilyn, Martyn, Rosalind and Joanne. Clarence died on Mar.22, 1971, at the age of 48; he is buried in Coolhill cemetery, Dungannon, alongside his father Joseph Graham Irons.

           
    Samuel and Sadie Kerr at Samuel and Sadie Kerr with their Doreen, Sam, Christine, Sadie,
    their marriage in 1940. daughter Doreen in 1946. and Jaqui outside Georges Street.

  9. Samuel Edward Kerr, the second youngest child, was born in George's Street, Dungannon, County Tyrone on August 31, 1918. He worked in the family business until May 1, 1940. He met Sarah (Sadie) MacDonald at a dance in Coalisland in September of 1938. Shortly after the outbreak of World War II he joined the Royal Army Service Corps and left for Mansfield, England on May 1, 1940. Sadie and he were married during one of his leaves, on that occasion from Burford near Oxford, England. They were married on July 26, 1940 in the Brackaville Parish Church in Coalisland. He left for England within a week; another week-long leave occurred in October, 1940. Their first child, Margaret Elizabeth, was born on Dec.8, 1940. Born with a deficient heart, Margaret died on Jan.2, 1941 and was buried in the Brackaville churchyard. After a period of mourning Sadie got a job looking after a boy, Charles Jury, while Sam returned on leave about every 3 months. He came home on leave from Motherwell in Scotland on Dec.8, 1942 for 10 days hoping that their second child would be born during that time. Unfortunately he had to leave at 5.45pm on Dec.18, 1942 before the baby was born. Katharine Doreen Kerr was born at 12.45pm on Dec.19, 1942. Every attempt was made to contact Sam to tell him the good news but to no avail. The next word was that the ship carrying Sam to the North African theater had been torpedoed in the Mediteranean. The ship limped into a deserted bay of the North African coast where it had to hide for several weeks. Sam recalled with horror the stench and the bodies floating out of the hole in the hull from that compartment which had been sealed to prevent the ship from sinking but thereby trapping a large number of men. Sam eventually learnt of Doreen's birth through a letter from his brother Robert. At home another brother Joseph, on leave from the Canadian Army became Doreen's godfather. Sam fought in North Africa, up through Italy and into Austria. He was hospitalized with rheumatic fever in Klagenfurt, Austria remaining there after the war was over. He also received a commendation for bravery which reads:
    ``By the King's order the name of Serjeant (acting) S.E.Kerr, Royal Army Service Corps, was published in the London Gazette on 23 May, 1946 as mentioned in a dispatch for distinguished service.''
    Sam is included on the Roll of Honour engraved on the 1939-1945 War Memorial tablet on the oak table in the main porch of the Church of St. Anne, Dungannon.
    At home Sadie managed to find a cottage for them to live in: the Green Cottage on the estate of Lord Charlemont at Drumcairne near Stewartstown. When Sam returned in 1946 he met his daughter, Doreen, for the first time and they lived in this cottage. He returned to work in his father's tailor shop in Dungannon. A second daughter, Elizabeth Jacqueline MacDonald Kerr was born on May 5, 1947 and just before Christmas of that year they moved to Fairmount Park in Dungannon. A third daughter, Christine Flora Louise Kerr was born in Dungannon on June 24, 1957. In 1961 the family moved to 15 Park Road, Dungannon. All three daughters went to the Dungannon High School for girls and went on to be married and have children. Sam suffered several heart attacks and died from one on Sep.22, 1981. He was buried in Coolhill cemetary just outside Dungannon on Sept.25, 1981.

Last updated 9/9/99.


Christopher E. Brennen