The Dagnells (sometimes Dagnalls) of Denaby Main

James Dagnell and Priscilla Bourne were my great-great-grandparents. Priscilla is one of my ‘brick wall’ ancestors, who I haven’t so far found any information on. James came to England from Ireland in the 1840s with his parents & 2 siblings, at the time of the Great Famine. After marrying, James & Priscilla lived for a few years in Whitwick in Leicestershire, before moving to Denaby Main in the mid 1870s, where they stayed until they died.

Denaby Main was historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire, although now it is in South Yorkshire. The Denaby Main Colliery Company was formed in the 1860s, and Denaby Main Colliery Village was built to house workers and their families. The colliery closed in 1968, and all the terraced houses where mine workers like the Dagnells had lived were demolished and replaced by semi-detached houses.

James & Priscilla had at least 13 children, 8 of whom died before they were 18.
John died in Whitwick aged 8 months of pneumonia.
Thomas died in Denaby Main aged 17, run over by a corve. (Corves were the containers used to bring coal out of the pit, hauled by ponies.)
Joseph died in Denaby Main aged 9 of severe burns. Joseph’s clothing was set on fire in the kitchen of his home on a Thursday morning. Although his mother & their lodger succeeded in extinguishing the flames, Joseph died of his injuries on the following Saturday afternoon.
Anne Maria died in Altofts aged 5 of apoplexy.
Eliza, Edward, Ann & Priscilla all died aged under 4 in Denaby Main.
One of their grandchildren, Priscilla, also died of burns. At the inquest into her death, the Coroner made strong remarks about the need for fireguards. In the previous 3 weeks he said, there had been 5 or 6 cases of children dying which could have been prevented by the use of a fireguard.

The five children who survived to adulthood all married and had children, and all died in Yorkshire apart from my great-grandfather George, who moved to Tamworth in Staffordshire.

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The Roman Catholic church of St Alban was built in Denaby Main in 1898. One of the stained glass windows inside the church is dedicated to St James, in memory of James & Priscilla Dagnell. (Thanks to Gerard McLister for alerting me to the window’s existence.)



Nearby in Denaby Cemetery is a memorial to the victims of the Cadeby Main Mining disaster, which left 91 miners dead.
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It is unclear where precisely in Ireland James Dagnell came from, but the best clue is in the 1871 census. The birthplace of James’ father John looks like Leek Glynn.

John Dagnell's birthplace

Could this be Loughglynn, a village in County Roscommon? There seem to have been Dignans in Loughglynn, and Dagnell is probably a corruption of Dignan, so I think this is a definite possibility.

One last thing: there’s a family story that the Dagnells owned a brewery in Ireland. I think this is wishful thinking, but if anyone knows different, please let me know!

Useful links:
Conisbrough and Denaby Main Local History Web Site
The Coal Mining History Resource Centre

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