Category Archives: Flack Family History

“A Burnley Worthy” – William Henry Douglas Flack, J.P.

William Henry Douglas Flack

There is no doubt that by the time William Henry Douglas Flack died on 10 March 1936 in Burnley, Lancashire, he had achieved a great deal more that might have been expected of the son of an immigrant Irish soldier in late Victorian England.

Perhaps the best evidence of his rapid rise in Burnley society can be gained from the obituaries that appeared in the Burnley newspapers.

WHD Death Notice

WHDF funeral notice2

WHDF Funeral Notice3

William HD Flack had spent all of his working life working in the bank, rising to the rank of Branch Manager of the Manchester & County Bank before his retirement in 1922. The letter from the Bank granting him his pension is reproduced below.


Following an enquiry with the Hospital authorities In 1980, the senior administrator of Victoria Hospital wrote, proving a summary of the service given by WHD to the hospital between 1909 and 1933. The letter particularly mentions Mr Flack “being responsible for raising and managing voluntary contributions for the hospital”. The letter is reproduced below.


William Henry Douglas Flack JP also served on the Magistrates bench from 1913 to the date of his death and a formal resolution of thanks for his service dated 11th March 1936 was presented to the family. A copy appears below.


A life not without sadness and estrangement.

From all the evidence presented so far, it could be concluded that William HD Flack had a successful and prosperous life, but the full story may be somewhat different.

A search of the Burnley Cemetery Records (located at Rossendale Road, Burnley) reveal that in 1889 William Flack (Quarter Master) of Rose Terrace Accrington Rd Burnley, (William HD Flack’s father) purchased burial plot 9267 for the internment of his son Frederick William Flack, (William HD Flack’s brother) who was buried on 21 February 1889, aged 30 years.

Grave 3614 Burnley Cemetry

Grave 3614 Burnley Cemetery

Just a few years later, on 23 May 1900, William HD Flack (Bank Manger) purchased a nearby double plot grave 9233 and 9234 to bury his wife Eliza Alice Flack (nee Parker) who was buried the same day aged 46 years.

The year 1900 was a sad year for the Flack family. On 17 March 1900, John Moore, the husband of William HD Flack’s sister, Mary Anne Moore (nee Flack) was buried in grave 9267, aged 57 years.

But his sadness was to compounded in the years that followed by the loss of his son Bertram, who, having survived active service as a Naval surgeon in the First World War, was struck down by the Flu Epidemic in 1919 at the age of just 37.

Grave No. 4230 Burnley Cemetery

Grave No. 4230 Burnley Cemetery

The 1911 Census shows William HD Flack, Bank Manager, living alone with his daughter, Lucy and a live-in cook, at Brookside Burnley, Burnley, Lancashire, England.


Or could this “William Flack” be my GGGreat grandfather?

7th Dragoon Guards Uniform

7th Dragoons Badge

In my blog entitled “Is Corporal William Flack of the Wexford Militia my William Flack’s Father?“, I asked the question, the answer to which remains, “He could be, but we can’t be sure”. So what other alternatives are there?

In May 2014, the Irish Military historian, Mal Murray, located and brought to my attention the military records (see below) of a William Flack, of 7th (Princess Royal’s) Dragoons dated 1797 which records that Number 17, Trooper William Flack aged 20 was a member of Captain Francis Dunnis Troop of the 7th (Princess Royal’s) Dragoons. The record states that William Flack, a weaver, was born in County Cavan, Parish of Killincare and was enlisted on 11 March 1793 at Kells by Sgt Dillon(?).

William Flack of 7th or Princess Royal's Royal Irish Dragoons

William Flack of 7th or Princess Royal’s Royal Irish Dragoons

William Flack 7th Dragoons Page 2

An examination of the history of the 7th (Princess Royal’s) Dragoons shows that the 7th remained in Ireland throughout 1793 and it was not until April 1794 that a “composite service brigade” made up of the seven cavalry regiments in Ireland were embarked in Dublin for England in anticipation for active service against the French in the Netherlands. It is not clear whether Capt Dunnis’s Troop were part of the “composite brigade”, but in any event, the deployment to the Netherlands did not proceed and the composite parts were returned to their units in Ireland in April 1795.

At the outbreak of the Irish Rebellion in 1796, the records show that the Regimental Headquarters and five Troops of the 7th were located at Tullamore (Offaly) and another four Troops at nearby Phillipstown. The Regimental History records that the 7th were involved in the battles of Rathangan, Kilbeggan and Vinegar Hill. By October 1798, the 7th was back at its Tullamore Depot.

From August 1799 to 1805 the Regiment served in England and Scotland, where the 7th was stationed in Northampton, Edinburgh, Manchester and Birmingham. After a further 4 years back in Ireland, the Regiment was again posted to the Midlands where they played a part in the suppression of the industrial unrest that broke out in the cotton manufacturing and coal mining districts of the North.

The 7th Dragoons did not serve either in the Peninsular War or in the final campaign to defeat Napoleon and remained on garrison duties and “in defence of the civil authority” throughout the Napoleonic Wars.


Is it possible that this William Flack is my William “Billy” Flack’s father? The following points need to be considered:

  • This William Flack would have been about 33 years old in 1810 when Billy Flack was born – so that’s possible;
  • This William Flack was born in Killencare which is about 4 miles SW of Bailieborough, where Billy Flack was born – suggesting there may have been a family connection in the area;
  • This William Flack served in the Army which would “fit” with the occupation of Billy Flack’s father, recorded in Billy Flack’s mother’s death certificate.
  • It seems likely that the 7th (Princess Royal’s) Dragoons would have used either the main Dublin – Cavan Road in its deployments around Ireland, or it may have taken the more direct route from Kells to Tullamore where it was frequently based. It is therefore feasible that this William Flack could have been recruited during an overnight stop-over along the Dublin Road and then signed up officially in Kells;
  • There is some indications that there were elements of extremism amongst the officers and men of the 7th Dragoons. At least one Trooper, James Weldon was executed for supporting the “Defenders” and others transported, whilst some officers and men belonged to the Orange Society. This background could “fit” with the Presbyterian family loyalties of Billy Flack.

Commentary on the historical context.

It was noted by the Regimental historian J.M. Brereton, writing in 1982,  “The dreadful atrocities committed by Catholic and Protestant and – more shamefully – by the forces of the Crown, left a festering sore which has not healed to this day.” “As for our two regiments, whether or not they were involved in the barbaric reprisals and outrages, they performed their duty loyally in the most trying of circumstances a soldier can be called upon to face: a civil war against his own countrymen.” “Out of the 76,000 government troops involved in the Rebellion, only about one fifth [ or 15,000] were English.” The great majority were Irishmen.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to locate Tpr William Flack’s enlistment papers, service record or any pension papers.

The search continues.

They served in the Great War

My grandfather’s generation served in the armed forces during the First World War.


Capt F.H.D. Flack RAMC

Grandfather Dr Frederick Henry Douglas Flack served in the Royal Army Medical Corps. The family oral history suggests that he served in Salonica but I have not been able to confirm this from official records.

My Grandfather’s younger brother, Dr Bertram Flack served in the Royal Navy as a naval surgeon. I have not been able to locate a photograph of him. He served in several ships and survived despite several of the ships on which has served having been sunk by enemy action.

The saddest possible story for his family is that this talented young man who was the apple of his parents’ eye, survived the horrors of war only to died in the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1919 aged just 32 years old.

Bertram Flack WW1

Lt Surgeon Bertram Flack RNR

On my Grandmother’s (Alice Flack nee Cockshutt) side of the family, her brother Captain Edmund Meredith Cockshutt, served in the East Lancashire Regiment. He was wounded in Gallipoli and lost a leg. He was fitted with an artificial leg and continued to serve until the end of the war.

Capt Edmund Cockshutt (1.35)

Capt Edmund Meredith Cockshutt

On my mother’s side of the family, her father, Warrant Officer Class 1 Ernest Hayward served in the Royal Engineers with distinction.

Enest Hayward in WW1 v2

WO1 Ernest Hayward

Comment:  It is difficult for us in the 21st century to understand the military tactics of the early years of the First World War. It is perhaps shocking to remind ourselves that the military hierarchy of the British Army still believed in forming up the infantry shoulder to shoulder for the advance and in the use of cavalry using lances and swords for the charge.

The terrible casualties in the period 1914 to 1915 soon brought about changes in tactics, but to get some idea of the mindset, this early film of the training of the Manchester Regiment is useful. CLICK HERE

Did William “Billy” Flack belong to the Lurganbawn/Lurganbane Flacks?

In my post entitled “Flack Surname Study – Ireland” it was found that the most promising lead generated by that surname study,  that might help in establishing who were William “Billy” Flack’s family, was the records of several Flack families living in “Lurganbane” and “Luganbawn”, town-lands, 2.4 km or half an hour’s walk south of Bailieborough. The map reproduced below shows the locations referred to.

Lurganbane Townlands

The earliest record of Flack families living in these two town-lands located so far is the Flacks listed in the Tithe Applotment Books which were compiled between 1823 and 1837 which list Hugh, John and Robert Flack of Lurganbane.

The Griffith’s Land Valuation which was completed in County Cavan some 20 years later in 1857, listed a John and a Robert Flack of Lurganbane. Hugh Flack was not listed.

Although there are several references to Flacks in other records, these are the only historical sources that specifically refer to Flacks living in either Lurganbane or Lurganbawn.

The following grave transcripts from Corglass Presbyterian Church refer to members of the Flack families from Lurganbawn and Lurganbane. It will be noted that Corglass Church is about 4.8km north, or about an hour’s walk from Lurganbane/Lurganbawn.

“In Memory of Robert Flack, Lurganbawn, died 21st October 1913, aged 80 years. Also his wife Jane Flack who died December 23rd 1921, aged 78 years. Also their only son John who died 1st January 1945 aged 75 years”

and from Lurganbane:

In Loving Memory of John Flack, Lurganbane who died 10th April 1895 aged 66 years. And of his son Robert, died 4th August 1911, aged 23 years. “Home to Jesus home to glory all their pain and toil is ore. Home to rest with Christ for ever on that peaceful happy shore” Erected by the Family.”

Photographs of the grave stones and church yard are reproduced below.

Lurganbawn (small) Lurganbane (small) Corglass Church Cemetry (small)

Enquiries continue to determine whether a link can be established between these Lurganbane/Lurganbawn families and William “Billy” Flack.

Flack Surname Study – Ireland

The following tables contain all the references to persons with the surname Flack that I have found who were likely living in Ireland prior to 1850. These records are a composite from a number of different sources (indicated in the table). The first table is sorted on the Estimated date of Birth to facilitate locating persons with known or estimated dates of birth.  The estimated has been calculated using the reported date of the record, minus the stated age of the person listed and could therefore be inaccurate by +or- 2 years.

Following the All Ireland tables, are three additional sets of tables in which the tables have been sorted by County, Parish/Barony and by Townland in the hope that this will reveal family groups in each of Cavan, Monaghan, Armagh and Fermanagh.

Flack Surname Study – All Ireland pre 1850

Flack Surname Study Page 1

Flack Surname Study Page 2

Flack Surname Study Page 3

Flack Surname Study – Cavan pre 1850

Flack Surname Study - Cavan Page 1

Flack Surname Study - Cavan Page 2

Flack Surname Study – Monaghan pre 1850

Flack Surname Study - Monaghan Page 1

Flack Surname Study – Armagh pre 1850

Flack Surname Study - Armagh Page 1

Flack Surname Study – Fermanagh pre 1850

Flack Surname Study - Fermanagh Page 1

Is Corporal William Flack of the Wexford Militia my William Flack’s father?

This blog records the results of my research looking for the parents of Captain William “Billy” Flack. (see also my summary on the Ireland Reaching Out website at

A search of the available birth, marriage and death records in FindMyPast databases for a William Flack, a soldier who married an Elizabeth in the period 1770-1795 failed to reveal any obvious candidates.

Among historical records available on-line, two documents which feature a Corporal William Flack are of interest in this search, however there is only circumstantial evidence to support the view that he is the “William Flack, a soldier” I am looking for. Copies of those records are reproduced below.

Cpl William Flack Discharge Dublin Journal 12 July 1808

Corporal William Flack, of the Wexford Militia, born 1772 in Bailieborough is a possible candidate, but little is known of him. We know from his discharge papers that he was discharged unfit for further service in April 1808 and granted a pension from Kilmainham Hospital (the Irish Army equivalent to a Chelsea Pension) due to a serious injury sustained to his left hand in a skirmish whilst he was on duty with the Wexford Militia in Carlow on 12 November 1807.

His military papers indicate that he was recruited into the Wexford Militia in 1794, whilst the Wexford Militia was stationed in County Cavan to quell disturbances caused by the “Defenders”. It is not known exactly on what date William Flack was recruited but it is possibly no coincidence that the Wexford Militia was recruiting since it is known that the Regiment had lost significant numbers of men to desertion, following riots in May 1794 between Defenders and “Scotsman” (probably Presbyterian sections of the community) in which 32 Defenders had been killed.

Two opportunities for further research arise from the association with the Wexford Militia. First, history of the Wexford Militia reveals that the Regiment (unlike most Irish Militia Regiments) was deployed outside of Ireland to serve in the Channel Islands. Is it possible that passenger lists exist which might reveal details of other members of his family?

Research in Jersey Archives and in the National Archives in London revealed that when the Wexford Regiment returned from Jersey on 4 July 1800 they were 655 rank-and-file strong, and had 232 wives, and 236 children with them. Unfortunately records of the redeployment do not contain the names of accompanying family members.  (NA HO/100/91/134).

Second, a search of the Muster Rolls of the Wexford Militia for the period 1800 to 1807 revealed that during 1807-08, many rank-and-file of the Wexford Militia transferred to the regular British Army and in particular to the 63rd Regiment of Foot prior to that Regiment’s deployment to the West Indies in 1808. The Time Line below provides an insight into the movements of the 63rd Regiment in relation to the deployments of the Wexford Militia

Wexford Milia to 63rd Regt

It is not unreasonable to speculate that there were family connections between Cpl William Flack of the Wexford Militia and the William Flack who enlisted in the 63rd Regiment of Foot in 1832.

Who was Lucy Flack nee Turner, “Billy” Flack’s wife?

We know that Colour Sergeant William (“Billy”) Flack married Lucy Moran nee Turner in Bellary, India on 17 January 1844. Their Marriage Registration appears below.

William Flack Marriage Lucy Turner

Who was Lucy Moran, 24 year old widow, daughter of John Turner, and what was she doing in Bellary in 1844?

It will be noted that the marriage was solemnised by Henry Taylor the regimental Chaplain and witnessed by “P.A.Turner”, “I.Stewart” and “S.Stewart”.

The first piece of evidence as to where she was born comes from the 1861 Census for 3 West Gate Road, Habergham Eaves, Lancashire which includes a listing for a Lucy Flack, wife aged 41,  “out P. of Chelsea”, born in Leicestershire. A copy of the listing appears below.

The Census record of the Habergham Eaves Flack family in 1861

The Census record of the Habergham Eaves Flack family in 1861

A search of the Birth records available from FindMyPast database and from FamilySearch revealed large numbers of persons by the name Lucy Turner born c. 1820, in Leicestershire – too many possibilities to be useful without other information to narrow down the search.

A search of the Overseas Marriage and Death registrations and Army Marriage and Death registrations during the period 1835 to 1844 for a person named Moran who could be Lucy’s deceased husband revealed

A search of the graveyard records for Bellary revealed the following relevant memorials:

“Church of England Cemetery

1844 – 3 September. – Peter Augustus Turner, late Leader of the Band, HM’s 63rd Regt., aged 29 years and 5 months.”

1845 – 23 May. – Francis Henry Moran, aged 2 years and 9 months. Nephew of P.A. Turner, Band, 63rd Regt.

1845 – 19 June. – Elizabeth Catherine Flack, aged 1 month and 12 days. Niece of P.A. Turner

Roman Catholic Cemetery

1845 – 27th May. – Catherine, aged 56 years, wife of John Turner, formerly Drum Major, H.M 63rd Regt., who died at Thomar in Portugal on 23 July 1827, leaving 4 sons and 2 daughters.”

A search of the British Library’s website in relation to india family history revealed a record of the birth of Lucy Catherine Moran, born 31 October 1840 at Dinapore, Bengal, father Francis Henry Moran, Sgt HM 21st Fusiliers, mother Lucy and a baptism on 18th November 1840 containing the same particulars (N/1/56f.a58). A further baptism for Francis Henry Moran, baptised 10 October 1842 at Dinapore, born 27 September 1842 is also confirmed.

A search of the “England Births and Christenings 1538-1975” records available from Family Search revealed  that a Lucy Turner, daughter of John Turner and Katherine Turner was christened on 15 September 1819 at St Margaret’s Church, Leicester, Leicestershire, England. (Batch No. C04321-0, GS Film No. 592557).

From these findings,  it appears that Lucy Flack, formerly Moran nee Turner born c. September 1819 at Leicester, was was a member of the Turner family travelling with the 63rd Regiment after her 1st husband, Francis Henry Moran had died and that she was traveling with her mother, Katherine Turner and with at least one of her four brothers, Peter Turner.

A Draft family tree can therefore be constructed to describe the family relationships as follows:

Lucy Turner's Family Draft

Further searches are under way tofind out more about Lucy Flack, formerly Moran, nee Turner’s first husband and other members of the Turner family.

Other searches revealed the Birth Registration of Elizabeth Catherine Flack (Army Returns – Births – 1796-1880 at Madras 1844-46 Page 343) and the military records of 390 Drummer John Turner of 63rd Regt born c.1811 at Witwick, Leicestershire who served from 24 February 1824 until 25 October 1849 (extracts WO 97/770/118 are reproduced below).


Further enquiries are under way to identify John Turner, formerly Drum Major, H.M 63rd Regt., who died at Thomar in Portugal on 23 July 1827, but it would appear that he is identical with the John Turner, husband of Katherine and father of Lucy, Peter and George, all baptised in St Margaret’s, Leicester between 1815 and 1819.

Who was Elizabeth Flack, born c.1790, died 26 May 1863, “widow of William Flack a soldier”?

WCF Grave enhansed Flack Family Grave in Burnley Cemetery

In the Burnley Cemetery there are two “family graves” in which are buried several members of the family of William (Charles) Flack. The Burnley Cemetery records indicate that Grave No. 9268C was purchased by William Flack, Quarter Master resident of Rose Terrace, Accrington Rd on 25 January 1863.

Burnley Cemetery Report

It states that Elizabeth Flack was interred on 29th May 1865, aged 73. It will be noted that the Death Certificate certifies that the death occurred in 1863.

William (Charles) Flack's mother

William (Charles) Flack’s mother

It appears that the Cemetery record has been incorrectly transcribed.

In the 1861 Census, Elizabeth Flack, is not recorded with the rest of the family living at West Gate Habergham Eaves:

1861 Census William Flack

The Census record of the Habergham Eaves Flack family in 1861

A search of the 1861 Census for Elizabeth Flack failed to reveal a person living in England who could be William Flack’s mother.


The death registration and burial of Elizabeth Flack are the only references to William Flack’s mother in England.

Is it possible that she lived in Ireland and traveled to Burnley only when she was terminally ill?

Where did she live in Ireland? A search of all available publicly available databases of Irish Flacks failed to reveal a person who could reasonably be identical with the Elizabeth Flack we are looking for.

Is it possible that Elizabeth was her second name?

Is it possible she was not Irish by birth? We know that the Wexford Militia served in the Channel Islands in 1800 – perhaps William married a local girl?

Serving with the 63rd Regiment of Foot (West Suffolks) in Australia

As a 56 year resident of Australia and a recipient of traditional view of Australian history, the findings from my research in the 1980s into the service of Private William Flack of the 63rd Regiment of Foot in Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania) in the 1830s provided many surprises.

Australian history, quite naturally, is written from the point of view of the convicts and settlers and there was very little written about the role of the British Army in the first 100 years of our history. What my research did was to remind me that in many ways the Australian colonies were governed by the military. The Governors were military men (and many still are although now in ceremonial roles only) and the public services were often managed by the officers of the Regiment.

The Australian Dictionary of Biography lists the following members of the 63rd Regiment who played important roles in colonial Australia. Many others settled here and did not leave with the Regiment for India in 1834.

I have now completed the Second Edition of “The 63rd Regiment of Foot (West Suffolk) in Australia 1829-1833) which is available to down-load (here).

Your comments and suggestions are welcome

Episode 2. In search of the parents of Capt “Billy” William Flack. b.1810 in Bailieborough, Cavan, Ireland

In my first post, I outlined possible “lines of enquiry” (LOE) for the search for the parents of my GGGrandfather, Captain William Flack whose military records indicate that he was born April 1810 in the Parish of Killan, near the town of “Balyburrow” (Bailieborough), in the County of Cavan, Ireland.

No. 782 Sergeant Major William Flack of the 63rd Regiment of Foot was honorably discharged from the regular army on 20th September 1852 in Dublin.

We know that his mother, Elizabeth Flack, was born in Ireland in about 1790 and according to her Death Certificate, died at Accrington Road, Habergham Eaves, Lancashire, England on 26 May 1863, aged 73. The Death Certificate (information supplied by the informant, “W. Flack” (presumably William Flack her son) indicated that she was the “Widow of William Flack, a soldier”.

There is no record of Elizabeth living with the family in the 1861 Census.

Who was William Flack, a soldier, married to Elizabeth Flack, who were the parents of William Flack born 1810 in Cavan?

A search of the available birth, marriage and death records in FindMyPast databases for a William Flack, a soldier who married an Elizabeth in the period 1770-1795 failed to reveal any obvious candidates.

What more can be done to track down details of the father of William Flack?