The Lyons in Brooklyn

      As I related before, when the children of William Fay of Rathcogue began their migration across the Atlantic they already had a relative waiting for them on this side. Lawrence Lyons was the youngest brother of their mother Elizabeth (b. 1810). When William Fay had married her he had married into a very large clan residing primarily in the Milltown Parish next to Rathcogue.

    Thomas Lyons, the patriarch, died around 1818 and I have identified at least four of his sons – Thomas, James, Patrick and Lawrence. Three of the four named their eldest son and daughter Thomas and Judith after their father and mother. Our present concern, however, is with the descendants of the youngest son – Lawrence Lyons, who was probably born around 1778.

The Family of Lawrence Lyons (1778-1840)
(Click on Image to Enlarge)


     The oldest four children of Lawrence, as far as we know,  all remained in Ireland , while the younger three siblings –  Peter , Catherine and Lawrence –  emigrated to America. There are no Irish baptismal records for Catherine but our best guess is that she was born around 1825. There is an immigration record in 1848 of a Lawrence Lyons (b.1826) and a Catherine Lyons (b.1830) arriving in New York on the ship “Columbia”, but we don’t know if they were our relatives. It is more likely that Lawrence emigrated to Brooklyn in February of 1849, on the ship “Isaac Wright”. After marrying Celia Curry and moving his wheelwright shop to Redhook by 1865, Lawrence played host to many of his Fay and Lyons relatives as they transitioned to their new home. (see the Chapter  – The Fays in Early Brooklyn)

      It remains unclear when his sister Catherine actually arrived in Brooklyn. There were Catherine Lyons of her age in the Brooklyn censuses from 1850 through 1860 but nothing that would  clearly confirm her identity. However both she and Lawrence were godparents at the baptism of Michael Fay’s daughter, Elizabeth, in August of 1867, so she was certainly in the States by then . The only definitive record we have of where she was living  occurred in the Brooklyn Directory of 1873. In that edition a Catherine Lyons was listed as living in Redhook on 4 Richards St. Although her brother Lawrence was living at 338 Van Brunt at the time, his wheelwright shop was located on Richards St. near Rapelye at approximately the same location. Catherine disappeared again until the 1886 Directory, when she showed up on Hicks St., just a few blocks away.

     The 1865 Census revealed that not only were Lawrence and Celia hosting their nephew Thomas Fay, but Celia’s older brother Daniel as well. Danial later married Ann Killcooley, stayed in Brooklyn and had two daughters – Mary and Anna.

      In the 1870 Census we find yet another a new resident– Peter Lyons – living (or visiting) with Lawrence and Cecelia at their house at 75 Court Street.  Peter was Lawrence’s next older brother (b. 1817). Lawrence had sponsored his Naturalization in 1854 (just two weeks after Lawrence had received his own),  meaning Peter must have arrived at least by 1849.  After that, however, he too seems to have vanished completely.

          Lawrence and Celia moved to 109 King St. in 1875 where they resided for the next fifteen years.  Living in the same house for a decade was Dennis Lyons, a watchman by profession. Dennis and his wife Mary were both born in Canada from Irish parents around 1835 and 1845 respectively. They had moved to New York by 1853 and proceeded to have five children .  It is hard to imagine that they weren’t somehow related to Lawrence, yet Dennis’s 1907 death certificate stated that his father was Cornelius Lyons – a name that does not appear in our Westmeath lineage.

109 King St.


     After Dennis moved out of 109 King St., the 1887-88 Directory shows that Lawrence Lyons, wheelwright, moved next door to to 111 King St., and a Laurence Lyons,  “engineer”, then moved into 109 King. This other Laurence Lyons was the second cousin of Lawrence Fay (his father was a cousin of Elizabeth (Lyons) Fay and Lawrence Lyons) who had recently been living at #448 Van Brunt. The “engineer” designation came from his career of building docks. In 1887 he and his wife Mary had just had their fifth child, Rose. Unfortunately in September of 1887 Lawrence passed away and was buried in Holy Cross cemetery.     

     In November of 1888 Lawrence and Celia hosted a wedding party for Celia’s niece , as described in the Brooklyn Eagle . 

     With no children of their own, it seems that the Lyons continually opened their home and their lives to relatives who might need a hand. And, as seen in the above article , they obviously kept in touch with their Fay nephews in Jersey City as well.

    In 1892 Lawrence’s sister Catherine died. According to her death certificate she was living with her brother at the time and was a victim of cholera.

     Lawrence also handled the probate of Catherine’s estate, which amounted to only about $600, according to his filings. In those papers he was required to list any possible beneficiaries of that estate.  They included:

     “…her brother, Lawrence Lyons, your petitioner, who resides in the City of Brooklyn, County of Kings, and State of New York, Michael Fay; Thomas Fay; Patrick Fay; Margaret Fay; children of Elizabeth Fay, a deceased sister; Mary Lyons, of Jersey City and State of New Jersey and Lawrence Lyons and Catherine Lyons, of the city of Brooklyn , all over age and of sound mind, children of Patrick Lyons, a deceased brother. Deceased left no father or mother, nor husband, children, nor descendants of deceased children.”

[Note: the reference to Patrick Fay in Jersey City was a mistake, and should have read Peter Fay.  Patrick Fay was of course living in Manhattan]

    From this document we learn that not only was there a nephew Lawrence in the States, but also two of his sisters – Mary and Catherine (See family tree above).  Lawrence was born in Milltown  Parish in 1837. We have found a L. A. Lyons (b. 1837) arriving in New York in June of 1877 on the  steamer “Germanic” out of Liverpool, but we can’t be sure if that was he.

The Germanic


     His whereabouts after that is difficult to pinpoint. Around the time of Catherine Lyons probate (1892) there was a machinist named Lawrence B. Lyons living in the Stuyvesant Heights area of Brooklyn – but again there is no definitive link. His sister Catherine is equally difficult to locate. In 1895 their sister Mary was living with the family of John Kierle, a painter, on Tuers Avenue in Jersey City – not far from where Michael Fay was residing. Unfortunately I have been unable to conclusively trace any of their lives beyond that point.

     Celia (Curry) Lyons died on November 21, 1901 and was buried in Holy Cross cemetary in the same plot as Catherine Lyons . But Lawrence was to outlive her by another seven years. I believe towards the end he might have moved in with his nephew Peter Fay in Jersey City. At any rate that was where the funeral reception was held on March 11, 1908, followed by a requiem mass at St. Patrick’s, and his eventual interment with Celia and Catherine  at  Holy Cross in Brooklyn. Lawrence was 81 years of age.