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The Frosts of County Clare, Ireland by Janet Frost


Tom Frost was born in India in 1916, the son of an army officer, Dr. Austin Frost. As a small boy he remembered visiting his Frost grandparents in western Ireland, but he knew little about his father’s family. As he had been sent to school in England, he sometimes stayed with family or friends in the holidays. One of these families was the cousin of his mother, Lola Flanagan, wife of a Liverpool doctor. Tom’s mother, Adele Dillon, born in USA, had been brought up with Lola’s family in Dublin, before marrying Tom’s father. The Dillon family was from Dublin. That was all Tom knew about his mother’s background!

Two letters arrived at different times in the years after Tom had married Janet Godfrey. Janet had a very English background as all her family were from Yorkshire or Derbyshire. The first of these letters was from Lola and mentioned Tom’s aunt in USA, the sister of his mother. Tom was surprised to hear that his mother had a sister, as his mother had never mentioned her! It appeared this aunt had three daughters, all in the USA, so Tom had three cousins he knew nothing about. He never discovered their married names or whereabouts, apart from being told that in 1950 they had lived in Philadelphia.

The second letter was from Sheila Lamb, Tom’s cousin on the Frost side. He had met her when they were both children, but had not known her married name. Sheila had been trying to find him for years and eventually tracked him down by referring to the architects’ register. Tom was by then an architect. They met up at her home in London and Tom was delighted to find that he still had an aunt alive, Aunt Kit, the youngest sister of his father, and that he had two more Frost cousins in New Zealand, Graeme and Kathleen Hamilton, the children of his Aunt Lolo and her husband Gavin Hamilton.

These two letters aroused his interest in his ancestry and so the search began. The starting point, as with all family history is to talk to the living relatives. Tom went to see his Aunt Kit, who was a nun in a convent in Ilford. She was in her seventies. This delightful old lady was thrilled to see her nephew whom she had last seen in Ireland when he was a small boy. Her convent name was Sister Bernadette. The convent was an Ursuline convent attached to a girls’ Catholic school where Aunt Kit had been both a pupil and a teacher. The Ursulines are a teaching order. She was able to record the names of all her many siblings and some of her aunts and uncles, and give a little information about all those who had survived infancy.

Lola Flanagan was able to provide additional information about the Dillon family. There was now an excellent reason to revisit Ireland, both Dublin for the Dillons, and Co Clare where the Frosts came from. The search has been challenging, but fascinating, and still continues. The Frost family for generations lived in the same part of Co Clare, Ireland, and almost all used the same names for their large families. Frosts also often married Frosts adding to the difficulties in knowing whether the correct connections have been made. It is therefore possible that there are errors in this history!

The initial search was in the local library to look at the genealogy section.

In the book The Surnames of Ireland the Frost entry reads as follows:-

Frost The name of a family prominent in East Clare since 1700. It occurs occasionally elsewhere in mediaeval records.

This suggested that there was only a small place to search and therefore the search would not be too difficult. This was a mistaken impression! In the Troubles of 1922 the Public Record Office in Dublin was destroyed and many parish records and wills were lost. The civil registration of births, marriages and deaths did not start until 1864, almost 30 years later than in England. Even then people seemed to forget to register these events. Parish registers where priests recorded baptisms, marriages and burials also started much later than in England. Despite the difficulties, an interesting family has been traced. The Frosts are still very much alive.

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