Sextons descended from Patrick Sexton c.1805-1899 (Toehead)

Patrick Sexton (G3) c.1805-1899

Patrick Sexton (G3, c.1805-1899) lived on the other half of Lot 11 at Toehead and lived beside his older brother, Cornelius (G3, 1800-1876). He lived in one of the cottages that now stands in ruins looking out over the boggy expanse of the Móin Rua and the Stags Rocks, a couple of kilometers offshore.

Between them (Cornelius and Patrick), they had just less than sixteen acres of land, leased from Thomas Somerville (and later from Philip J. Attridge, a middleman). Of the sixteen acres, just over nine were regular land with the other seven acres made up of a share of the poor quality Lot 16 commonage. As we noted previously, the houses that stand in a very derelict condition today appear very old but, in fact, date from the post-famine era as they do not appear on the first OS maps which were drawn in the early 1840s. Prior to the building of these houses, we must presume that Cornelius (G3) and all the other Toehead Sextons lived in the clachan of houses that was located a few hundred metres over the hill immediately to the north (in the vicinity of the house in which John Sexton (G6) lives today). 

Patrick was married to Bridget West who it is presumed was a member of the family of that name who lived in the clachan of Toehead. Despite apparently having Patrick married late in life and the tiny size of their farm, they had a large family: Timothy (c.1849-1860, named after his paternal grandfather), Bartholemew (1851-?), Patrick (1854-?), John (1856-1940), Cornelius (1859-?), Timothy (1862-?) and Bridget (1865-1957) – all G4. While it might seem unusual today to have named two sons Timothy, this is easily explained by the fact that the elder Timothy died in 1860 at just 11 years of age and when another son was born less than two years later, it made perfect sense to name him after both his deceased brother and his paternal grandfather to ensure that the traditional naming pattern was carried on. We know that Bridget married Jeremiah Sheehy of Bawnishall but we know nothing of what became of any of the sons with the exception of John (see below). It is possible that Bartholemew, Patrick, Cornelius and Timothy either died young or emigrated.

John Sexton G4 (1856-1940)

John (G4) was married to Kate Barry and inherited his father’s half of Lot 11. John and Mary had five children: Patrick (1891-1941), Mary Ann (1893-1978), Ellie (1895-?), Annie (1901-?) and John (known as Johnny Seán Bán, 1902-1976). Patrick (G5), the eldest son remained unmarried but inherited Lot 12 at Toehead from his mother’s family, the Barrys.

Mary Ann Sexton (G5, Toehead 1893-1978)
Memorial Card for Mary Ann Sexton (G5, Toehead)

Johnny Seán Bán Sexton G5, (1902-1976)

As Patrick, his elder and only brother, had remained a bachelor and had inherited land from his mother’s people, Johnny Seán Bán (G5) – the next son in line – inherited his father’s land (his half of Lot 11). At some stage, perhaps in the 1930’s, Johnny abandoned the house built after the famine by his grandfather and moved to a new two storey house built in a more sheltered position on the northern side of the hill (presumably on the former Barry landholding) looking down towards Lickowen and Toehead strand.

John Sexton G6 (1951- still living)

John inherited his father’s landholding together with the ruins of his grandfather’s house along with the new house in which he was born on his father’s death in 1976. John is unmarried and holds the unique position of being the only surviving Sexton in the townlands of Toehead, Scobaun, Gortacrossig, Dooneen and Glasheenalainn – and almost certainly the only Sexton left in the parish of Castlehaven. Out of hundreds of Sextons who were born and raised in these townlands (the great majority of whom were born in just two of them – Scobbaun and Toehead) over the last 250 years, John is quite literally the last man standing. The rest are scattered in their hundreds elsewhere in Cork, Dublin, Wales, England, the US, Australia and quite probably many other places throughout the world.