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The only 3 time Best Actor Oscar winner, Daniel Day-Lewis has always been proud of his Irish roots. Indeed, he holds both British and Irish citizenship and spends much of his time in Ireland. So, where exactly did his Irish ancestors come from and who were they?
The Day-Lewis family has always had strong links with both Ireland and England. Over the generations the family has moved back and forth across the Irish Sea. Tracing the family back from Daniel’s father poet laureate Cecil Day Lewis, you can find both the maternal and paternal lines from the 1840s, where the Irish and English strands of the family came together.
Paternal Day-Lewis Line
On the paternal line the Day-Lewis family tree immediately offered an intriguing puzzle. It concerns the very name Day-Lewis. There seems to be no evidence of the double-barrelled name before Daniel’s great grandfather Frank Edward Day-Lewis (b.1846) adopted the name sometime in the 1860s.
Frank Edward married under the name Day-Lewis in Dublin in 1868, but records his father’s name as ‘George Day’. Delving into Findmypast’s British records to search for clues about the name change, you’ll discover the family living in Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire, in the 1851 census.
Frank Edward is four years old and lives with his parents George and Esther (née Pott) and four siblings. All of the children have double names: George Wilson, William Marston, Alice Maria and Sophia Mary. A later census reveals a sibling named Charles Lewis. Unfortunately the records give no indication of how the family chose the names. Frank’s father is described as a ‘railway clerk’ in the 1851 census, and a ‘railway agent’ in the 1861 census. At his marriage in 1868 Frank describes his father as a ‘gentleman’ giving the impression that he is a man of independent means. You will find a George Day (c.1816), grocer, in the 1871 census and it is very likely that this is Frank Edward’s father.
There is no indication in the records where Frank Edward went to school, he is at home on census night and therefore doesn’t appear to have gone to boarding school. There’s also no clues as to how he made his living before he arrived in Ireland. He is described on his marriage certificate, at the age of 22, as a merchant and he can be found in Slater’s Royal National Commercial Directory of Ireland 1881 as a cigar and wine merchant. It appears he did well in his trade as the family lived in Rathgar, and not above the shop at Fleet Street. His wife, Elizabeth Mary Butler (c.1846-1880), was the daughter of the architect John Butler.
Maternal Squires Line
On the maternal line, you’ll discover that the Day-Lewis family have ties to an organisation at the heart of family history research: William Alfred Squires (1843-1913), Daniel’s Great Grandfather worked in the General Registrar’s Office in the 1890s.
William Alfred’s wife, Annie Victoria Goldsmith (1837-1891), Daniel’s great grandmother, came from a merchant family. Her father is listed in Pettigrew and Oulton, The Dublin Almanac and General Register of Ireland, 1835, with his brother as a grocers and wine merchants on Stephen’s Green North.
Daniel-Day Lewis’s family tree is quite complex - in each of the three Day-Lewis generations there are second marriages, and in two cases very young boys were left without a mother. William Alfred Squires also married a second time and it was the death of his daughter Daniel’s grandmother Kathleen Blake Squires, just six years after her marriage, that prompted the Rev. Cecil Day Lewis (c.1878-1937) to move with his young son to England. His sister-in-law accompanied him to help raise his son, Daniel’s father Cecil Day Lewis (1904-1972), who was just four when his mother died.
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