What's in a name?

James Pitts’ mother Mary McCue/McHugh or Mary-Ann?


On Ancestry.com many relatives of the Pitts family of Blackburn have recorded that James Pitts’ mother was Mary Ann and her parents Michael and Ellen McHugh. 

But this is wrong. This should have been apparent from the fact that there are no Pitts children named Michael or Ellen. 

Mary’s marriage certificate says she is the daughter of John McHugh, a general hawker. The wedding took place at St Ann’s Roman Catholic Church on 2 December 1871. Her name is recorded as Mary.  

The witnesses were Margaret McAlister (formerly Timoney) Patrick’s first cousin and her husband Edward. 

Mary McGue (sic) was baptised at St Mary of the Assumptionin Burnley, Lancashire, the child of John McGue (sic) and Catherine (formerly Anderson) on 12 December 1852. She was born on the 1 November 1852. However, I cannot find her on Lancashire BMD. 

Both John and Michael McHugh were from Sligo in Ireland and were probably brothers. They were all lodging together in 1851 at 8 LeylandStreet. Michael McHugh had a daughter Mary Ann, born 12 January 1854. She was living at No. 34 John Street, single at the age of 46, with her two sisters Elizabeth Molyneux and Johannah McHugh according to the 1901 census. 

The 1881 England Census (wrongly transcribed as Potts) says Mary was born in Blackburn as does the 1891 census and 1901 Census. The 1911 census says she was born in Burnley. Only the 1871 census says Mary McCue (sic)  of 17 Pearson Street  was born in Ireland, although her younger sister, Catherine was born in Blackburn in 1859. (Lancashire Births MarriagesDeath B/81/14 mother Anderson.) She also had two brothers John (Lancashire BMDB/7/37 mother Anderson) and Matthew (B41/100 mother Anderson – surname written as McKeogh.) 

Her daughter, Mary (who changed her name to Marion in Canada) gave her mother’s name as Mary McCue on her marriage certificate in Ontario and on her death certificate in Vancouver. 

Mary’s father John McCue (sic) died on 6 September 1889 and he was buried with his two grandchildren John Thomas Pitts and Margaret Mary Pitts in Blackburn Cemetery. Da/R/2077. He left his estate to Patrick’s sister, Margaret Pitts. 

His wife, Catherine, who died on 19 August 1884 aged 52, is buried with him. 

Mary died on 27 June 1929 at the age of 76. She is buried with her husband Patrick and three children, William, Jane and Matthew in D/R/6140 in Blackburn Cemetery. 

So, despite her surname being documented as McCue, McHugh,McGue and McKeogh, none of the documents refer to her as Mary Ann.