We know from the 1851 census that Ellen was born in Ireland and that, unfortunately, is all we know of the Foley family although it does appear that other members of the Foley family may have been living in London around the time of Ellen's marriage in 1828 as witnesses to the marriage were [name illegible but one possibility is Michael] Foley and Mary(?) Foley. It is possible that Ellen and her husband, William Hussey, had more children than those listed below.
A Rev. James Foley who died in New Windsor, Berkshire 5 October 1881 may have been related to Ellen as his estate was left to Ellen's son Thomas. We say this because an item in The Globe newspaper of 10 November 1894 invited "next-of-kin or any others with an interest in the personal estate" of James, of "4 Augusta-place, New Windsor...formerly of Newland-terrace, Kensington", to present themselves at the Principal Probate Registry of the Court at Somerset House, London, otherwise "Letters of Administration of the Personal Estate of the said deceased" would be granted to "Thomas Hussey of 14 Church-street, Kensington, Bulder, as a Creditor". The mention of the word "Creditor", however, suggests that Thomas did not have a family connection to James. The granting of probate in James's case was cleaarly not straightforward, taking over 13 years to sort out, with Thomas being left James's estate, worth £297 15s 2d, in 1895.
In case James was in fact related to Thomas's mother, Ellen, here is further information we have found on James:
The 1881 census tells us that James, aged 55 and Irish-born, was living as a lodger at 1 Albert Terrace, Kings Road in New Windsor. There appears to be no sign of James in the 1871 census but the 1861 census appears to show James, aged 39 and Irish-born, living with two servants on Upper Holland St. in Kensington. According to British History Online, St. Mary's Chapel on Holland St. was the principal place of worship at the time for Kensington Catholics but its small size encouraged Rev. James Foley, the priest in charge of St. Mary's to look for a larger site. A more suitable plot was purchased in 1866 and construction of the church of Our Lady of Victories commenced. One part of the church was bounded by the rear of two shops on Newland Terrace, indicating that the James Foley, "formerly of Newland-terrace" who died in 1881 was very likely the Fr. James Foley who oversaw the development of Our Lady of Victories church. British History Online also mentions that the new church was built largely on credit and "As a result Father Foley was soon deep in mortgages", which could explain how Thomas became a creditor, and also the lengthy probate process. The only other information we may have on James comes from the 1851 census which has a 28-year-old Fr. James Foley living on Virginia St., London and serving at Virginia St. Chapel. Was this the James who was at Upper Holland St. 10 years later?
Information from David Boon, whose wife's Foley ancestors were builders in Earl's Court and Kensington in the early 19th century, is also worth noting:
One of David's wife's direct ancestors was James George Foley (also spelled Folley and Folly) who was baptised at St Mary Abbotts, Kensington in 1812. His parents were John and Mary Folley. John was a builder and most of his sons and grandsons went into trades such as bricklaying or plumbing. Unfortunately both John and Mary died in their forties in the 1830s and no further information is available on their background, although the family is believed to have come originally from Ireland. Although we have no proof whatsoever, it is a possibility that David's wife's family could be connected to our Foley family.
Getting back to Ellen and her husband, William, we know that they and their children were living at 29 New St. in Kensington at the time of the birth of their daughter Ellen in 1838. By 1851 they were living at 13 Campden St., St. Mary Abbots, Kensington. There seems to be no trace of Ellen in the 1861 census, although her husband, William, appears in the return for the household of their daughter Mary. Ellen died at 1 Birds Cottages, Kensington. According to her death certificate, she died of "infirmities of age" aged 70. The informant was a Jane Browning of 6 Dukes Lane, Kensington, who was present at the death.
Ellen is buried with nine members of her family in St. Mary's Cemetery, Kensal Green, London, all of whom lie in grave number 3282, located by a pathway and near a large tree in the SN section of the cemetery. In the same plot are her husband, William (died 1870), her son Thomas (died 1919) and Thomas's wife Agnes (died 1913), her daughter Mary Wright (died (1871), her granddaughter Agnes Hussey (died 1860), grandsons William, Alfred and Jack Hussey (died 1866, 1899 and 1922 respectively) and brother-in-law Rev. James Hussey (died 1896). Although not buried here, Ellen's grandson Harry Hussey, who was killed in action at Ypres in 1917, is remembered on the headstone.
Note: The Foley surname comes from the Irish surname 'Ó Foghladha', from 'foghlaidh' meaning 'pirate' or 'marauder'. The name originated in Co. Waterford and from there spread to counties Cork and Kerry. The name is most common now in these three counties, although it is numerous generally throughout the southern half of the country. Given the strong presence of the Foley name in Co. Kerry and seeing that Ellen married a man from Kerry, could our Foley family have hailed from Kerry?
Only one record of a marriage between a William Hussey and an Ellen Foley around this time was found in the Westminster Archives. This marriage took place on 12 May 1828 in the parish of St. James in Westminster (now St. James's, Piccadilly). The date fits in nicely in that William and Ellen's eldest child - or the child we believe to have been their eldest - was born in February 1829. However, St. James's in Westminster was an Anglican parish which doesn't tie in with the Catholic beliefs of our William and Ellen. If the St. James's record does indeed relate to our William and Ellen, their Anglican marriage can be explained by Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act of 1753 which, in an attempt to regularise English marriages, had made marriages outside the Anglican Church illegal (although Quakers and Jews were exempt). From 1753 until 1837, when Civil Registration was introduced, many Catholics complied with Hardwicke’s Marriage Act and married in Anglican churches to ensure that their marriage was valid under English law, although it was common practice for Catholic couples to also have a marriage ceremony in their local Catholic church. It was not until the introduction of Civil Registration in 1837 that all "non-conformist" churches could be licensed for marriages.
Assuming the above record relates to our William and Ellen, witnesses to their marriage were [name illegible but one possibility is Michael] Foley and Mary(?) Foley. Both Ellen and Mary(?) signed with an 'X'. Note that before Civil Registration was introduced, information on age, occupation, address or fathers' names did not appear on marriage records.