Finding Michael Sinnott

I have asked my sister to write the following article about her great detective work in finding out what happened to Michael Sinnott, who was said to have changed his name to avoid the law.

“Rediscovering someone who’d changed his name.

In 2007 I decided to put my research on my Sinnott ancestry into book form.

One of the members of this tree was Michael Sinnott who was born in 1880 at Yambuk, the son of Michael and Catherine Sinnott.

I knew from another genealogist relative that Michael had committed a crime, changed his name and ended up in Batlow, New South Wales.  I had previously made random searches for Michael (also Michael Clifford) – with no luck, but as I was about to do a book I was determined to find out more about him.

So I recontacted my relative “S” to find out what she knew about Michael and she sent me an email with some more information that her cousin “K” had given her.

“K’s” uncle was a solicitor and had tracked down Michael as part of settling an old will.  So I now had Michael’s alias of Jack Clifford, plus another name, that of Mrs. Cobden and an address in Wagga Wagga.

To find out more about how the names Cobden and Clifford were connected I searched electoral roll records on Ancestry (at this stage only the years 1930 and 1936/7 were available in NSW).  I found both the Clifford family and Mrs Cobden at the address I was given and also noted a previous address for them.  I searched the New South Wales online marriage indexes and found a Pearl Clifford marrying a Cobden so I ordered this certificate.

Then it was about a 2 week wait for the certificate to arrive in the post.  Pearl’s birthplace was given as Goyura, Victoria and her parent’s names were included on the marriage certificate.

With this information I was able to do a search of my Victorian Birth, Death and Marriages indexes, which turned up a marriage for John Clifford and his wife and also births for their seven children.

I purchased the Victorian marriage certificate online and downloaded it.  I found that John had given false names for his parents as well as an incorrect birthplace and incorrect age.  Going by the marriage certificate alone was not going to confirm that John and Michael were the same person.

At a later date “K” sent me a copy of the Indenture from 1941, that had Jack Clifford signing his name as Michael Sinnott and admitting he was a son of Michael and Catherine Sinnott of Yambuk.

I started searching for living descendants of John Clifford, I gathered information from electoral rolls, BDM indexes and certificates and cross referenced telephone number listings to get names to write letters to.  After this I sent off several letters which included a picture of a young Michael Sinnott and the facts that led me to the conclusion that Michael Sinnott and Jack Clifford were the same person.

I was grateful to receive a phone call from the wife of one of Jack’s grandsons and further communications ensued.  The family was surprised to learn about Jack’s real identity and wondered if they were still Cliffords? or should they now be Sinnotts?

With the further sharing of information I was then able to fill in a fuller picture of the life of Jack Clifford/Michael Sinnott.  Family descendants were able to learn Jack’s real ancestry where previously they’d only found a dead end. ”  Copyright.


About BeesKnees2013

Interested in family history research.
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2 Responses to Finding Michael Sinnott

  1. gpcox says:

    Your post certainly caught my eye, being that one of my followers is named Michael Sinnot and I know of another one living in New Jersey. Interesting.

  2. Sinnott is my mother’s maiden name. My Sinnott ancestors were from Enniscorthy in County Wexford, Ireland – as a lot of Sinnott were from Co Wexford. However, since my great great grandfather did not have a death certificate there is no way to trace his parents or connect to other relatives in Ireland.

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