Origins of the Stoker family

Bram Stoker was descended from a protestant Dublin artisan family of humble origins. Between the 1780s and 1840s, over two generations the Stokers pulled themselves up by their boot-straps, to establish themselves as professional middle-class. View Bram Stoker’s family tree.

The earliest proven Stoker ancestor that we can document is Bram’s grandfather, William Coates Stoker. 1780 was a defining year in the life of William Coates Stoker.  It was the year he married Frances Smyth, reputedly an orphaned cousin.

Marriage Licence Bond of William Coates Stoker and Frances Smyth. Findmypast.ie

The same year he joined the Tailors’ Guild, earning the right by first completing a seven-year apprenticeship as a corset-maker.  Also in 1780 William Coates Stoker became a Freeman of the City of Dublin.

Freemen of Dublin City 1774-1824, Findmypast.ie

Freeman status meant that he could

-       open his own business, factory or shop in Dublin City, vote in the Council and Parliamentary elections for Dublin,

-       and if elected himself could represent his guild in Dublin City Council.

William Coates Stoker and his wife appear to have had a sizeable family.  Tragically the burial records in St. Paul’s CoI Dublin indicate that at least two and possibly as many as four of their children died as infants.  We know that four sons survived, and two daughters:

  • Richard & Peter Stoker born prior to 1783, possibly twins.
  • William Stoker born ca. 1788, died 1833:
  • Frances Stoker born after 1790, married Dec. 1816 William Dyas.
  • Marion Stoker, born ca. 1797/98 (1821 Census)
  • Abraham Stoker born 1799, died 1876.

Although a stay-maker by trade, changing fashions meant that by the late 1790s the bottom fell out of the stay-market.Stoker appears to have continually searched for other ways to earn an income to support his growing family:

  • In August 1805 he was appointed Keeper of the Bridewell in Smithfield.  He kept this post until June 1820 (CSO/RP/1822/3417).
  • In December 1809 he was appointed Keeper of the Adult Female Penitentiary Dublin.
Treble Almanac 1812, Findmypast.ie

On 25th December 1827 William Coates Stoker died in Lower Sackville Street [now O'Connell Street] aged 72 years.  He was buried in St. Paul’s CoI.

St. Paul’s CoI interior

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