Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (27): I’ve found an orphan!

I’ve found an orphan!

Let me give you an example of my search for an ‘Earl Grey Irish Famine orphan’ in Australia. My experience was not the same as someone looking for such an orphan in their family tree. I came at the task from the other direction, that is, from the information provided on the Pemberton shipping list and “Disposal List” in the Public Record Office Of Victoria, not backwards, researching the family line. Much of the work with Victorian shipping lists and disposal lists was done by an excellent researcher, Ada Ackerly. To whom we are all eternally grateful.

In the 1980s, I made several trips to Melbourne where I had the privilege of working inside the Victorian Birth, Death and Marriage Records. I think the records were then in Queen Street. Is that correct?

Here is an example of the process involved. I was searching for what became of 16 year old Jane Troy from Roscrea, County Tipperary. (If I was to take this further my first port of call would be the excellent Atlas of the Great Irish Famine, edited by John Crowley, William J Smyth and Mike Murphy, Cork University Press, 2012, where there is among other treasures a chapter on Roscrea workhouse by William J Smyth, pp.128.44).

                                                                           “…the line which says woodland and cries hunger

                                                                             and gives out among sweet pine and cypress,

                                                                            and finds no horizon

                                                                            will not be there”. (Eavan Boland) 

Jane was sent on to Portland not long after she arrived in Australia in May 1849. She appears on the ‘Disposal List’ as being employed by J. Eares of Portland, as a servant, employed at the annual rate of £10. What I did have in common with most family historians, I hope, was the desire to get it right. Maybe you have read Kay Caball’s recent blog post  http://mykerryancestors.com/sharing-your-kerry-ancestors/ ? There’s some good advice there.

I was working then using ‘cards’. The electronic ‘revolution’ of recent times had not hit home to workaday historians. And I had to use pencil. So I hope you can decipher my hieroglyphs. Double click, or finger pinch and stretch the images below, and they should become more readable.

I may have started with early church records (ECR) but it looks as though death certificates provided the confirmation I was after. Jane you can see was George Smith’s second wife. George was 44 when he married 17 year old Jane, and had two surviving adult sons. He’d spent eight years in Tasmania. I wonder if he was a former convict?




All of which would lead to this,


that is, one of the family reconstitutions that inform my work on the orphans’ demography.

I still have the 1859 NSW Parliamentary report in my sights. Soon come.

A link to the contents of my blog again http://wp.me/p4SlVj-oE

May I offer my best wishes for the ‘Gathering’ at the Famine Rock in Williamstown 22 November? See https://tintean.org.au/2015/11/12/irish-ambassador-at-famine-rock-commemoration-2015/

5 thoughts on “Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (27): I’ve found an orphan!

  1. Hi Trevor
    Jane was my great great grandmother, and George was definitely a convict, he was transported to Port Arthur for some sort of Luddite activity we believe. George and Jane had 13 children in total. Thanks for the info re Rosscrea, I’m going to do some research.


  2. Hi Trevor. This is an amazing amount of work – thank you. I think I am related to an orphan “Mary Leonard” who came over on the Eliza Caroline in 1850. I have the following from the Irish Famine Database: Eliza Caroline (Melbourne 1850 Other : shipping: house servant, cannot read or write; empl. James Connell, Collingwood. I was wondering if you have any other information on her? Thanks Tracey.


    • Thanks Tracey. Unfortunately that’s all I have. Most of what I had, I put into Barefoot and then transcribed it to the http://www.irishfaminememorial.org website. Anything that we received after c.2002 was put on to the website and database. Actually that information about Mary (and maybe her older sister is there too??) came from PROV shipping lists and Disposal lists via Ada Ackerley acting as my research assistant. Ada is giving an oration this weekend (22nd) at the Burgoyne Park, Williamstown, commemoration ceremony. Maybe you are attending?
      Best wishes
      P. S. when it says “Cork” only, I’d suggest it means Cork City workhouse.


      • Tracey, do you have her marriage and does it give native place as Cork. I don’t suppose by any chance her sister, Anne, was a witness to the marriage? this might help confirm she is the Eliza Caroline orphan girl. Perry McIntyre


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