Michael Sinnott[1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

Male 1803 - 1896  (92 years)

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  • Name Michael Sinnott 
    Born 8 May 1803  Carne, County Wexford, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location  [5, 6, 7
    Gender Male 
    _UID 6ACF2DC0057E4B57A7DCC42519D7136E28A4 
    Died 7 Jan 1896  Stratton-on-the-Fosse, Somerset, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [5, 6
    Downside Abbey 
    Buried Stratton-on-the-Fosse, Somerset, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [5
    Downside Abbey 
    Person ID I2437  Treefive
    Last Modified 19 Mar 2019 

    Father Michael Sinnot,   b. 1761, Carne, County Wexford, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 8 Sep 1832  (Age 71 years) 
    Mother Mary Murphy,   b. 1782, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 8 Sep 1832  (Age 50 years) 
    Married 30 Jul 1795  Carne, County Wexford, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location  [8
    Family ID F751  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    00124 Headstone - Dom Placid Sinnott (Michael Sinnott)
    00124 Headstone - Dom Placid Sinnott (Michael Sinnott)
    Downside Abbey, England

  • Notes 

    • This biography is based largely on the sources noted at the end, plus family letters and 1861, 1871 and 1881 UK census returns.

      Michael Sinnott was born at Bonarge, in the parish of Carne, in the county of Wexford, Ireland, in the year 1803, in the month of May; as his baptismal name was Michael he always claimed the 8th of May, the feast of St Michael, as his birthday. He was baptised at a “station,” and in those days, still under the shadow of rebellion, few or no registers were kept.

      He studied humanities at St Peter’s College, Wexford, with the intention of becoming a priest, and in that town he met a student named William Cleary from Downside Abbey in Stratton-on-the-Fosse, Radstock, Bath. William’s father lived in Wexford, and he had an uncle living in Bristol. From William he heard of Downside, and was advised to apply to be received. He did so, and was accepted.

      He arrived at Downside 15 December 1825, at the age of 22. He had to cross from Wexford to Bristol in a sailing vessel, and was becalmed all Sunday in Cardigan Bay, and he greatly astonished a Scotchman who was on board by saying his prayers to sanctify the day. When he arrived at Bristol he called on Mr. Cleary, slept there that night, and on the following day he walked from Bristol to Downside. He and young Cleary received the habit from the Prior, Dom Bernard Barber, at St Gregory’s, Downside, on 29 January 1826. Cleary, however, resigned the habit and returned home, where he died a year later. Brother Placid (as Michael was known) was professed on 15 February 1827 by Prior Barber; he was ordained in minor orders and Sub-deacon at Downside by Bishop (afterwards Cardinal) Weld on 19 October 1828.

      The Return of Jesuit and Other Religious Communities at 31 Oct 1829 showed Michael Sinnott, born at Carne, Wexford, Ireland, as an English Benedictine, age 26, at Downside near Bath, Somerset. His immediate superior was Thomas Brown.

      He was ordained Deacon at Prior Park, by Bishop Baines on 18 September 1830.

      In the spring of 1831 he and the then Brother Bernard Ullathorne (afterwards Archbishop) went to St Laurence’s, Ampleforth, via Abbot's Salford, a community of Benedictine nuns. They assisted the community at Ampleforth in the difficulties caused by so many of their leading members following Dr. Baines to Prior Park. On 24 September 1831, he and Brother Bernard Ullathorne were ordained priests at Ushaw by Bishop Penswick, and he remained at Ampleforth, except for a short period, till the General Chapter[1] of 1834.

      Dom Placid’s missionary life may be said to have begun on 24 December 1835, when he went to Little Malvern to supply for Dom Bernard Short, and it continued till 1 February 1890, when he retired to Downside from the mission of Chipping Sodbury, where he had been stationed for twenty years.

      A chronology

      Dom Placid was sent on the Mission in South Province to Little Malvern, 1835-1838.

      He was then at St Peter’s, Seel Street, Liverpool, 1833-39, and Colwich, 1839-40.

      In a letter dated 31 July 1840 from Michael Sinnott to his brother Robert, Michael's address was given as St Benedict's Abbey, Gt Heywood, nr Stafford, England. Michael talks of his sister Catherine's poor health, and how it may affect her life as a nun. Michael’s letter includes a transcription of a letter from Catherine, which itself has a transcription of a letter to Catherine from their brother William which included brief references to other brothers Edmund and John.

      Dom Placid mentions saying Mass for Mrs Murphy of Shilmore, and for Father Ennis. He sends (to Robert) best and sympathetic regards to Father Walsh, kind and sympathetic remembrance to John Murphy, he asks how is our good friend John Murphy of the Chour. He mentions Robert's father-in-law Nicholas Meylor, affectionate remembrance to John, Mary, Ellen (probably their brother John and Robert’s wife Mary – but unclear who Ellen was), and best blessing to the 5 little ones (Robert's children).

      Dom Placid was at Weobly, 1841-48. In 1841 he was living at the Chapel House, Meadow Street. Also at that address were 2 servants – Mary Farrell and Jane Kiplin.
      He was at St Osbergs, Coventry, 1848-50 and at Bungay, Suffolk 1850-54. In 1851 he was living at 63 Olland Street, Bungay, and a servant, Mary Cuddon, was at the same address.
      He was at Chidiock, 8 Nov 1854-1857; Dowlais, 1857-58; and Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorganshire, 1859-65.

      Dom Placid wrote to his brother Robert on 31 Oct 1860 from Merthyr Tydvil. He was pleased to hear that the boys (presumably Robert’s) were doing well with their studies, and were showing signs of a vocation in the priesthood. Dom Placid enclosed a Post Office Order to pay for their schooling. He sent affectionate remembrance to Mary (possibly Robert's wife), all the children and all friends. He signed the letter M.P. Sinnott O.S.B.

      The 1861 census recorded Michael "Sinnet" (age 57), a Roman Catholic Priest, at 5 Bethel Street, Merthyr Tydfil. At the same address was Margaret Dalton (45) described as a boarder, and a housekeeper. While Dom Placid was at Merthyr Tydfil in Glamorganshire he built a church there.

      On 29 Jan 1865 he performed the marriage ceremony for Mary Sinnott and John Doyle at Merthyr Tydfil, Wales.

      He was chaplain at a small chapel in the grounds of Stanbrook Abbey (but outside the enclosure) for local people, 1865-66; Rhymney, 1866-67; Stratford-on-Avon, 1867-68; Stanbrook, 1868-69; and Chipping Sodbury, 1869-90.

      On 3 Aug 1875, he purchased "Lindley Murray's English Grammar" (1859) for 3d at Bath - he wrote the details in the book. Also written in the book is Alice Murphy's signature dated 13 Dec 1904 - perhaps Dom Placid bequeathed the book to her.

      Michael appeared in the 1871 UK census at the Broad Street Catholic Chapel House in Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire. His nephew William and nieces Mary and Eliza were also there on census night, 2 April 1871.

      Dom Placid wrote to his niece Eliza (Robert’s daughter) on 11 May 1871 from Bonarge, Churchtown, Carne, Wexford. He mentioned leaving for Chipping Sodbury (Avon, England). Eliza was about to put on the religious habit and be called Sister Mary Francis. Dom Placid gave general advice. He also said that John (Eliza’s brother) drove him up to Kilmore to spend the day with Margaret, husband and children. He said that little Robert (Margaret’s son Robert Rossiter) and John Thos Benedict Doyle (son of Margaret’s sister Mary) were very alike. Michael had a long walk with Eliza's godson (John Thos Doyle) to the Borough, St Vaux, the Kay of Nethertown, and home. He said that all at Bonarge, her parents and brothers and sisters, were well. Dom Placid said that yesterday's long letter arrived from Mary, and that William and herself are quite well (it is unclear who they are - Mary is possibly Robert's wife or daughter or another sibling of Robert and Dom Placid).

      In 1881, Dom placid was still at Chipping Sodbury, at the Roman catholic chapel at 72 Broad Street. His nephew Nicholas, a Divinity Student, was with him on census night.

      His obituary[2] noted that:
      “Dom Placid possessed those qualifications of quiet, steady, plodding habits of attention to and performance of the essentials of missionary life which are generally associated with the missioners of a past generation, and which may be regarded as the necessary outcome of the circumstances of their time.”
      “During his missionary career, his mode of life towards himself was severe, according to modern notions; but his constitution was so good that it did not suffer from it. Although he had lived so long in England he was a strong politician in all matters connected with Ireland, and to the last he was a keen advocate for Home Rule.”

      Towards the end of his life, his eyesight failed, and he became much weaker in late December 1895. Dom Placid died at Downside on 7 January 1896 in the 93rd year of his age, the 70th of his religious life, and the 66th of his priesthood, and for the last few weeks of his life he was the patriarch of the whole Benedictine Order. On Friday 10 January 1896 his body was laid to rest in the monastic cemetery by the side of Dom Jerome Digby, who was the first to be interred there - in 1825, the same year in which Dom Placid came to Downside.

      [1] The term "general chapter" designates a monastic general assembly, usually of representatives from all of the monasteries of an order or congregation. (Wikipedia 17 Jul 2013)

      [2] see Source 2


      1. Biography in: "Collections, Illustrating the History of the Catholic Religion in the Counties of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Wilts, and Gloucester" (Very Rev. George Oliver, D.D. (1857) at pages 418, 419)

      2. Obituary in “… Review” vol XV at pages 108, 109 [pages faxed to Karel Saint by Downside Abbey 23 May 2001]

      3. Obituary in: Obit Book of the English Benedictines from 1600-1912 page 188 (Dom Norbert Birt) [page faxed to Karel Saint by Downside Abbey 23 May 2001]

  • Sources 
    1. [S224] SIN004 Letter Sinnott, Michael to Sinnott, Robert (31 Jul 1840), SIN004.

    2. [S226] Letter Sinnott, Michael to Sinnott, Robert (31 Oct 1860).

    3. [S227] Letter Sinnott, Michael to niece Eliza (11 May 1871).

    4. [S247] Biography Sinnott, Michael (Dom Placid).
      See BIO045 for a transcription of the biography

    5. [S802] TRE099 Family tree (gedcom) - Ward database 17 May 2013 (Karel Saint), TRE099.

    6. [S989] FreeBMD England & Wales, FreeBMD Death Index, 1837-1915.

    7. [S3113] Findmypast 1841 England, Wales & Scotland Census Transcription, Midsomer Norton, Somerset: Michael Sinnot (age 87, born Ireland) et al.

    8. [S3921] findmypast Ireland Roman Catholic Parish Marriages, Lady's Island, 30 Jul 1795: Michael Synnot and Mary Murphy.