About

trevor mcclaughlin – Australia | LinkedIn
https://au.linkedin.com/pub/trevor-mcclaughlin/26/431/135

Since the late 1970s, among other things, I’ve been working on the Earl Grey Irish famine orphans. Some might say it is my misguided attempt to take history outside the Academy. As one of my old Professors, R.B.McDowell, said, history has to be about more than professional historians sitting in a locked room talking to one another.

In the 1980s, with help from Macquarie University and the Australian Research Grants Scheme (ARGS) I was able to gain access to Birth, Death and Marriage records in New South Wales and Victoria and pay someone to research the vital statistics of orphans who went to Queensland. This work, research in Ireland whilst on sabbatical, and information from family historians, was the basis of my 2 volumes, Barefoot & Pregnant?, published in 1991 and 2001/2.

The orphans’ ‘story’ has always attracted the media. In 1987 I did a BBC Northern Ireland programme with the great Pat Loughrey, and another for BBC’s “Women’s Hour” in 1994. In 2001 I had the privilege of appearing in Siobhan McHugh’s excellent Radio National programme which was broadcast again on ‘Hindsight’, 11 August 2013. You may need to download it from the ABC Radio National website:  http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/hindsight/the-famine-girls/4857904 The SBS Television series, “The Irish Empire”, also had room for the orphans, in Episode three, I think it was.

More recently, in 2013, Barrie Dowdall’s very successful film series for the Irish Language channel, TG4, “Mná Díbeartha” gave an important place to the young famine orphan ‘girls’. It had a successful ‘repeat’ on www.tg4.ie in May 2015.
See http://www.convictwomenandorphangirls.com…where you can buy a DVD of the series.

On Christmas day 2016 Radio Kerry devoted an hour long programme on Kay Caball’s “Kerry Girls”, produced by J.J. O’Shea’. Soon, it will be available on podcast at http://mykerryancestors.com/kerry-girls-christmas-2016/

Writers, too, are fascinated by the orphan girls’ story. In the early 1990s, J. P. Rooney’s play, “Permanent Deadweight” had a successful run with the Charabanc Theatre Company. Prize winning author Kirsty Murray put an orphan girl as the principal character in her Bridie’s Fire, the first in her Children of the Wind series.

 Jaki McCarrick’s play, “Belfast Girls“,  had a great run in London in 2012. In May-June 2015 it played to rave reviews at the Artemisia theatre in Chicago. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0p4pNJFrsTE Let’s hope plans to develop the play into a film will go ahead. The Canadian premiere of the play will happen in British Columbia in 2017. We wish it every success.

The inimitable writer, Evelyn Conlon, published Not the Same Sky (Wakefield Press) about the young women which was launched in 2013 at the International Famine gathering in Sydney. In May 2015 it had another successful ‘launch’ in Dublin and London, to great acclaim.

Other outstanding events celebrating the young women include the re-enactment of the arrival of the Thomas Arbuthnot orphans at Hyde Park Barracks by Richard Reid, Cheryl Mongan and the Yass Historical Society in 1996. That same year Richard and Cheryl published their ground-breaking ‘a decent set of girls…’ The Irish Famine orphans of the Thomas Arbuthnot. Richard’s book, “Farewell my Children” (2011)  puts the story in a larger context. This year, in 2015, Kay Caball’s Kerry Girls and Barbara Barclay’s website  www.mayoorphangirls.weebly.com are showing the way forward for local studies which  i would argue is the best way to go.

Gary Crockett of Sydney Living Museums curated a long running, highly successful exhibition at Hyde Park Barracks; see http://sydneylivingmuseums.com.au/stories/irish-orphan-girls-hyde-park-barracks .
A new exhibition, opened in 2014, at the same place, curated by Fiona Starr on “Emigrant women at Hyde Park Barracks” was a great success; it had one of the boxes which an orphan brought with her from Ireland over 160 years ago.

Through the ‘noughties’ I had the privilege of working closely with ‘Living Treasure’, Tom Power, and the Great Irish Famine Commemoration Committee. The Irish Famine Monument in Sydney became a reality in the late 1990s because of Tom and his committee. With the technical expertise of Jennifer Bainbridge I was able to set up the first version of www.irishfaminememorial.org website in 2007. The Committee and website continue to flourish and expand in the capable hands of Patricia Strong and her team. Patricia took over the baton from Perry McIntyre in 2015. Perry continues to research the Earl Grey orphans and make sure the website has the most up-to-date information on the orphan database.

In  Port Phillip there is an annual gathering at the Famine Rock, Burgoyne Park, Williamstown, the penultimate Sunday of November, commemorating the 1600+ orphans who arrived there. For 2016, see https://tintean.org.au/2016/11/16/famine-rock-memorial/

With so many young people emigrating from Ireland in recent times, the Famine orphans are striking a  chord in the collective psyche once more.

This blog is my attempt to set down what I know about Earl Grey’s Famine orphan scheme. You are not compelled to take my word on anything.

35 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi Trevor, I’m a documentary producer and would like to enquire about getting permissions to use an image which is on your website. I would be most grateful if you could email me directly. Many thanks, Laura

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  2. Hi Trevor,
    I am researching my family history and i have discovered an irish orphan named Mary Kelly, who came on the New Liverpool ship. You mention you think she married a John Dykes at Warnambool and they had 4 or so children in the Port Fairy area. Just wondering if you had anymore info on John Dykes or the children. I am wondering if my great grandmother Mary Ann Dykes may be one of her daughters. Thanks .

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Trevor,
    My ancestor is (probably} Mary Hynes who arrived from the Ennis Workhouse on the Beulah in 1851. After being discharged to an employer in Hobart in September that year, I have her getting married in Melbourne in December the same year, then later joining up wit other Hynes members in time for the Eureka stockade. I wonder if you have any information about the Mary of the Beulah to see if I am barking up the wrong tree?
    Regards
    Michael Lowe

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    • Hi MIchael,
      Unfortunately only what i put in Barefoot vol. 2 page 407 where she reportedly was first employed by MR P Haynes of Battery Point.
      Do you know Joyce Purtscher? I’m not sure if she is still with us; her email is/was jpurtsch[at]southcom.com.au.
      It may be worth asking the people on the facebook page “Ireland Reaching Out’. If i remember correctly there was someone there, maybe a couple of years ago, very interested in the Beulah
      best wishes
      trevor
      p.s.
      Michael, The two people who expressed an interest in the Beulah in the comments were Ian Beard (not sure if this is his real name) email ianb[at]westnet.com.au
      and the other Rowenacurtin[at]outlook.com It may be worth approaching them-yes?

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  4. Hi Trevor, I think in the multiplicity of docs I have on Ann I have become confused. Page 175 refers to both girls, but only Catherine has Moreton Bay noted. I made contact with Ray from Feisty Colleens who says Ann went to Moreton Bay & he said his information came from your books that Ann was sent to Moreton Bay. So maybe we are all confused. It is rather important to me as I have traced her life based on the starting point of her marriage to Batholomew Cullen in 1849 in Ipswich. Can you send me an email address so that I can send you a table I have done summarizing my research on her so far and also her fascinating death certificate? By the way I have a full timeline for Catherine (my husband’s gr gr grandma) & extensive information on her life. Thanks for getting back to me. Carolyn.

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    • Hi Carolyn & Terry,
      Barefoot vol 2 page 140 has a key to abbreviations used. “Register” for example applies to ‘Register and applications for orphans‘ held in the State Records of New South Wales at 4/4715-4717. So for Ann H what’s written in Barefoot is”Register Number (No) 685 14 July 1849″ and for Catherine “Register 2 Number 6 5 Jan 1850 Moreton Bay”. You just need to find the appropriate volume at the archives. For Ann it’s probably 4/4715 and for Cath it’s probably 4/4716 near the beginning. I’m sure someone at the desk will help you find the appropriate volume if you want to see the record for yourself.
      The way to write the reference would be SRNSW 4/4716, Register and application for orphans, 6/5 January 1850.

      Perry asked me a short while ago about something similar and I directed her to the key to abbreviations. An application for permission to marry, maybe because of an orphan’s age, via her employer or because the man involved was a Ticket-of-leave holder, didn’t always lead to the orphan marrying the person named.

      Let’s wait till you hear back from Perry where the information about Catherine came from and we can establish the one who married Benjamin Cullen is indeed the Digby orphan.
      Whoever put that on the website will be able to tell us.

      Otherwise it is a question of finding a post 1856 birth registration for one or more of her children, preferably where she is the informant (the husband sometimes got things wrong), and one where her name, age, religion, birthplace and parents’ names all align. The parents’ names and her birthplace I’d consider v. important. You have something like that already perhaps?
      best wishes
      trevor

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  5. Hi Trevor, We’ve noted with interest in your book your reference to our two ‘girls’ Catherine & Ann Hegarty. We know Catherine went to Ipswich as her ship was on the Permission to Marry when she married. However, we are wondering how you know for sure the Ann Hegarty who married Bartholomew Cullen was the Ann Haggerty from the Digby? Many thanks, Carol and Terry

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    • Hello Carolyn and Terry,
      Can you tell me where the reference is please? I don’t see it in Barefoot & pregnant? Somewhere else perhaps?

      Found the reference on the http://www.irishfaminememorial.org webpage. That information was entered after i ceased being responsible for the website. May I suggest you write to Perry via the ‘Contact us’ link on that website? She should be able to tell you where it came from. Sounds a bit like another descendant, tho maybe not. Hope it gets resolved.
      best wishes,
      trevor

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  6. Hi Trevor – In the latest Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (34) a list of potential orphan sponsors, in particular the 1851 list. My great great grandmother was Aimie (‘Jane’) Casey (nee Stewart), who arrived on 6 October on the Earl Grey. After spending the requisite period at Hyde Park Barracks, she was indentured to James Stewart (no relation, we believe) an equine surgeon (and strong advocate of Sir Henry Parkes) based in Sydney. Her indentures were cancelled on 7 Sept 1849, and she was paid 18 pounds severance. There have been numerous suppositions surrounding the reason for her leaving. Aimie married Matthew Casey in Feb 1850 at Bong Bong. In 1852 Stewart relocated to Keira Vale near Shoalhaven. I would therefore assume then his 1851 request was for another orphan girl to replace Aimie.

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  7. Hi Trevor, I was in touch with you quite a few years ago after reading Barefoot & Pregnant. I discovered an ancestor Ann Trainer who arrived in Melbourne on ship Derwent 1850. I have lots more information to add. More recently I’ve discovered another ancestor Eliza Fitzpatrick who arrived in Sydney on ship Lady Peel in 1849. Her ongoing story is a bit of a shocker. Sad really & would reinforce the low opinions of those opposed to Irish immigration. I’d like to update you on these two women. I was in Sydney recently on my own family history quest there. Visiting the Irish Famine Memorial at Hyde Park Barracks became an extremely emotional visit. Can you contact me privately? Many thanks. Peter Hansen, Christchurch, NZ.

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  8. Hi Trevor I just came across you work and find it fascinating. I am a descendant of an Irish Orphan and was wondering how I could find out more of her circumstances. I know she arrived on the “Lady Kennaway” from Plymouth as Rosey Rourke (although she used the name O’Rourke) aged 16 and arrived at Geelong 13/12/1848. She was listed as a housemaid, R/C, not literate from Tuaue Galway. (Her marriage certificate states she was born in County Sligo. ) She was employed by Maria Smith, saddler’s wife, Melbourne £8, 6 months. She married William Whittaker (son of convicts) in 1853 and had 6 children. She died in 1900.

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    • Hi Sandi,
      Just a quick reply. May I suggest you get in touch with http://www.irishfaminememorial.org. There’s also a fb group Ireland reaching out. Perhaps you already belong? Perhaps Rosey was in a workhouse in Tuam but was born in Sligo? There’s also a Melbourne orphan regathering in Williamstown every November. Debra Vaughan has been organising that. I think I have her email address somewhere best wishes

      Trevor

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  9. Hi Trevor,
    I work as a Media Researcher and am researching images on behalf of a new museum in Ireland who are opening an exhibition based on the Irish diaspora. With this in mind, they would like to include images of the Earl Grey Famine Orphans in Australia. Is there a more direct way that I am able to contact you to give you more information without it being public please?
    Thanks and best wishes,
    Tasha

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  10. Hi Trevor, I’ve been in touch with you previously about my great grandmother, Mary Martin, who came to Adelaide on the Roman Emperor. Now I’ve discovered that my great, great, great grandmother on another branch of the tree, Mary Ann Byrnes, came to Port Phillip on the William Stewart! I hadn’t realised that was an ‘unofficial’ Earl Grey ship. The passenger list is hard to read but I think it says “Cork (Foundling)”. But the Victorian BMD certificates for her children record her place of birth as (variously) Co Louth, Drogheda and Dunleer.

    I have 3 questions that I’d really value your help with.
    1. Is it likely that an orphan from Co Louth would end up in the Cork Foundling Hospital? And
    2. Is there any way to get a better transcription of the ship’s record?
    3. Are there any online records that I could check for information regarding her employment?

    Thanks for any direction you can give me. And you might think this is odd but for my last birthday I asked for (and received) a copy of The Atlas of The Great Irish Famine!

    Thanks for any help you can give.

    Fiona

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Fiona,
      That must have been a while back. Did you search through what the Public records Office of Victoria(PROV) has online? http://prov.vic.gov.au/ I’ll put your email address as an invite to join ‘Ireland Reaching out’ facebook page and maybe someone there can help. At the back of my mind i have an unconfirmed suspicion that there was a Dublin Foundling Hospital in Cork Street in Dublin. It is always possible that someone from the places you mention did end up in Cork but if that was the case it would make it more plausible,–no?. Dun Laoghaire is pronounced Dun Leery. Were the other orphans on the Wm Stewart from Cork or Dublin do you know? Joseph Robins’ “Lost Children” Dublin, 1980 could tell us. Byrnes though would be a fairly common name and subject to many spellings. Can you put up a pic of what you have of the ships record? Gotta dash off. will come back later best wishes trevor

      not the best of experiences http://digital.ucd.ie/view/ivrla:3137
      I may have got it wrong. It looks like the Dublin one was in St James’ St and the Cork one in Leitrim St.

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      • Hi Trevor,
        I can confirm there was a ‘Foundling’ Home at 52 Cork Street, Dublin. I am a descendant of Ann Brennan who came out from that same Foundling home is 1848 on board the ‘Subraon’. I was at the National Archives today researching exactly that information . The request for the first girls was received on 21st September 1847 (and acted upon 24 September 1847). The Subraon arrived in Moreton Bay on 12 April 1848. I have yet to access the board of Inquiry information you refer to in your book (but intend to). I have taken photos of the information in relation to the Foundling Home, (as listed in 1847).

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      • I was wondering if you have a copy of the Inquiry m I am in Dublin as we speak for another day, going through the National Archives trying to find info on the initial request and selection process for the first girls who came out on the Subraon. i have the index entries dated 21 September 1847. A request to the Foundling Institution for 19 healthy girls for emigration. If you could provide me with a copy poste haste via email I could use it as reference for further searching . Debbiejhorrocks[at]gmail.com
        Many thanks

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      • Sorry Deb, The report is a long one and my copy is fragile. It’s hard copy with small print on a dark background. It was probably a negative copy from a nsw archival record. Who made th e request? Irish poor law commissioners? Earl Grey? If you have specific things

        in mind…

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      • Are you able to photograph the pages? I can send you a pic of the index entries. Archives said there was not correspondence in the 1847 box. I am thinking maybe they moved all correspondence on the subject of the request, costings and selection , onto the following year, given the loss of young Dorcas. I ran out of time yesterday, but one of the Archivists is doing her utmost today to see if they may have received some correspondence re the Inquiry into Dorcas Newman’s death… and bumped the file forward. Do you have an email? . I can send you pics of entries thus far .

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      • The request was one made to Dublin Castle (Government). Its a difficult system referencing system to negotiate. The years 1847 – 48 are badly indexed , in that there were so many requests for help made to the Dublin Castle. I imagine it would have originated from Australia. I shall try to learn more on the subject today. I have been advised very little exists on the Dublin Foundling Hospital in Cork Street. It does not appear to be Prostestant only children. The shipping manifest for the Subraon indicates some of the girls coming from this institution in the response to the request for “19 young healthy females for emigration”, are also Roman Catholic. There is also a notable difference in the girls education, albeit they came from the same place. it would indicate not much attention was given to thier education. I am hoping the missing documents from the 1847 archives box held at the National Archives Dublin, may have been moved to 1848, given the furtherance of the matter due to the Enquiry in the death of young Dorcas Newman. The Archive staff are looking into the matter for me and I am reattending the Archives today for further research.

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      • DEb,
        A few extracts from the Subraon Report which is about 60 foolscap pages of fine print.
        They were accompanied to Plymouth by Mr Chaunt the Commissioners clerk, presumably Irish Poor LAw Commissioners but maybe someone from Colonial LAnd and Emigration Commissioners.

        page 11 Mr Acret (Surgeon Superintendent) says about Augusta Cooper “I was not aware that Augusta Cooper was servant to the second and third mates, but i concluded she was from her being frequently in their cabin”.

        p 15 still with Acret’s cross examination , “Mr Hill (first Officer or First MAte) told me one evening that he had had connection with Anne Brennan, Ellen Busby, Augusta Cooper, Martha McGhee and Alicia Ashbridge;I never imagined any of these girls was in the family way when they left the ship”.

        p.24 MArtha McGHee’s statement. “Augusta Cooper was never a servant in the second or third mate’s cabin. I never saw he but once n it, and that was when she was removing my box from it.Ellen Busby was never in the cabin, neither was Anne Brenan.”

        p.35 Anne Brenan makes Dorcas Newman’s bed.

        There was someone in contact with me a while back from the Guildhall in London researching
        the Captain of the ship, James Mills, who he said already had a poor reputation.
        I’ll put this here in case he gets in touch again.

        Congratulations on your great research.

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  11. Hi Trevor,

    I am researching the Earl Grey Famine Orphan scheme for a new museum in Ireland and looking for particular images. Is there a way I can contact you to go into further detail please?

    Many thanks,

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    • Hi Tasha,
      Can you tell me a bit more about what you are doing please? I’ve been receiving some ‘strange’ requests lately and when i enquire further it’s freelancers wanting to make a buck. I have to remind them that copyright laws do apply to the internet too.
      best wishes
      trevor

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  12. Hi Trevor,
    i have a lot of information on my great, great grandmother, Sarah O’Malley, who arrived on the Pemberton, which i am happy to share with you and your blog followers.
    Regards
    Helen

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you Trevor for posting your research on your blog and taking history outside the Academy. I have an honours degree in Australian History and probably due to the scarcity of information about my Irish ancestors, I ended up researching their historical context and sniffing around where they lived. While I have been researching my family for over 30 years starting out with my Dad and grandmother as a 12 year old, we really knew very little about their lives and until recent times when Trove and Google provided access to old newspapers and other resources online. Trove started filling in some gaps and answers lead to more questions and pushing deeper into the past traveling back and forwards between Ireland and Australia.It was during a random Google search that I found out that I am descended from one of the Irish orphan girls and I am surprised just how much difference that genetic connection makes as I read through your research. I feel myself walking in her shoes and for the first time due to your research and the work of the Irish Famine Memorial committee, that I actually have a building in Ireland that we were from… albeit Midleton Workhouse. It’s not Buckingham Palace but I am proud of my battler origins. These girls were survivors. They got knocked down but they got up again! They are a true inspiration!
    Best wishes & Many thanks,
    Rowena

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