Cousin Mary

The third child of Uncle Henry, and another of the composer’s cousins, was Mary Oliphant Nicholson, born in Ontario in 1873 at the time when her father was working as Professor at the University of Toronto. Her birth is recorded HERE. While it is difficult to find much information on Mary, her husband and his family offer more leads. Mary married Leslie Pittenar Shirres (18601928) in 1892 in Aberdeen. Shirres was a student at King’s College, Cambridge before entering the Indian Civil Service in 1879 (the year of Ireland’s birth). Following the marriage the couple lived at first in Bengal, where Shirres became the Financial Under-Secretary to the Government of Bengal and Official Under-Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Finance, retiring in 1910. There were two children, both dying young:

1. Alleyne Leslie Maynard Shirres (1894–1913)

Educated at Rugby. Died of pneumonia.

2. Nancy Christian Shirres (1900–1922)

Wrote ‘A tale of dogs and Rowan Elves’, which was  presented by Baille Shirres, her grandfather, to Aberdeen public library. Died of leukemia.

On his death in 1928 Leslie Shirres left a considerable estate divided between his sister Christian, who was living with him in the Aberdeen home at 15, Bon Accord Crescent, and Harry Oliphant Nicholson, his wife’s brother and the closest of these Nicholsons to John Ireland.image

Christian, the youngest of the Shirres siblings (below), was a remarkable woman with numerous accomplishments: a chess player, musician, keen photographer, captain of her golf club, a fisherwoman and one of the first women in Aberdeen to use a bicycle. Along with her Nicholson relatives she was a gifted linguist who spoke perfect French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian and some Greek. She also travelled widely. In 1888, for example, she visited her brother William in New Zealand, writing an account of this for Charles Dickens’s All the Year Round magazine in 1893. Christian suffered a stroke in 1936 from which she never fully recovered.






One comment on “Cousin Mary

  1. Christian Van Dulst (Blackstock) says:

    Christian Shirres was my Great Great Aunt.

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