trevor mcclaughlin – Australia | LinkedIn


Since the late 1970s 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 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 leave, and information from family historians was the basis of my 2 volumes, Barefoot & Pregnant?, published in 1991 and 2001/2. Note the question mark.

The orphans’ ‘story’ has often attracted the media. In 1987 I participated in a BBC Northern Ireland programme on the orphan girls with the great Pat Loughrey, and in another, for BBC’s “Women’s Hour” in 1994. In 2001 I also had the privilege of appearing in Siobhan McHugh’s excellent Radio National programme. It was broadcast again on ‘Hindsight’, 11 August 2013. To hear it, you may need to download it from the ABC Radio National website:


The SBS Television series, “The Irish Empire”, c.2000 also had a small place for the orphans, in Episode three. As did the ABC Compass programme, ‘An Aussie Irish Christmas’ 25 December 2006.

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’. It soon became 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, has already achieved international renown. It 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 Plans are afoot to develop the play into a film; Jaki has now finished the screenplay. The Canadian premiere of the play occurred in British Columbia in 2017.

During the Northern fall (autumn, 2017) it was interpreted by actors in Portland, Oregon, and Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.  In 2018 and 2019 Belfast Girls ‘came home’ to Australia, to Mittagong and Queanbeyan, where it was performed to great acclaim. Its premiere in Sweden is scheduled for November 2019.

The inimitable writer, Aosdana member Evelyn Conlon, published Not the Same Sky (Wakefield Press) about the orphan girls which was launched in 2013 at the International Famine gathering in Sydney. In May 2015 it had another very successful ‘launch’ in both Dublin and London.

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. In 2015, Kay Caball’s Kerry Girls and Barbara Barclay’s

website www.mayoorphangirls.weebly.com

Both show the way forward for local studies which is a very good way to go.

For future development of the subject may i suggest using public or applied history? Here is a diagram from the Institute of Historical Research that illustrates perfectly what i mean.


But back to events, 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

Another exhibition opened in 2014 at the same place, curated by Fiona Starr, on “Emigrant women at Hyde Park Barracks”; it displayed 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 the late, great 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. There is a ‘gathering’ at the Hyde Park Barracks monument each year on the last Sunday of August.

With the technical expertise of Jennifer Bainbridge I was able to set up the first version of www.irishfaminememorial.org website in 2007. The Great Irish Famine Commemoration Committee, and website continue to flourish and expand in the capable hands of Patricia Strong and her team. Patricia succeeded Perry McIntyre in 2015, and returned the leadership to her in 2019. Perry continued her research on the Earl Grey orphans, and made sure the website had the most up-to-date information on the orphan database. In 2020 the reins were taken over by Trish Power who has new and interesting ideas to pursue. Please help in whatever way you can.

Melbourne has an annual celebration at the Famine Rock, Burgoyne Park, Williamstown, in November each year, commemorating the c.1600 orphans who arrived in Port Phillip. For 2019, the Irish Famine Orphan Girls Commemoration will take place on Sunday 17 November from 2.30pm, Famine Rock, Burgoyne Reserve, The Strand, Williamstown, Melbourne.

From September 2019 the online Irish- Australian magazine Tinteán is presenting a series of Earl Grey Orphan Girl histories. Written by their ancestors, the stories tell what became of the the young women in Australia.

See https://tintean.org.au

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

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.

86 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi Trevor,
    I am a History and Anthropology final year student at a college in the USA. After studying abroad in Cork, Ireland last year, I heard about the Earl Grey Scheme and became more and more interested. I am now writing my senior thesis exploring the Earl Grey Scheme and the Irish orphan girls involved. I’m focusing on analyzing how their Irish identities impacted the way in which they were received in Australia (the discrimination/opposition they faced) and the extent to which they were able to assimilate/“succeed” in this new society (looking at their marriages, work, ancestors, etc.). I have found your blog and article “Lost Children? Irish Famine Orphans in Australia” as wonderful resources, and truly appreciate the thorough research you have already done on the subject. Unfortunately, I’m unable to gain access to your Barefoot & pregnant? Irish famine orphans in Australia novel through libraries or stores in the United States. I believe this would be a very valuable source for my research, and was wondering if you knew of any way I could gain access to it? Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you!
    All the best,


      • Hi Trevor I am seeking any further information or guidance in learning about my Great Great Grandmother Jane Harton who left the Ballymoney Workhouse as part of the Earl Grey Orphans program on board the Diadem arriving Port Philip January 1850. I understand from Perry that her name is mentioned on page 360 of Barefoot and Pregnant Vol2 as (1127) Jane Harton/Hartin, from Ballymoney Union, Benvardin (in civil parish of Dunluce), entered 23 Oct 1846, left out 4 Oct 1849
        but I cannot locate a copy of your book to buy. I have found a library that seem to have a copy and I will eventually get a chance to go there one day and read at least some of it. I note that you have posted a number of pages of your book elsewhere in this wonderfully encyclopedic blog and was hoping that you might consider posting that page(s) or otherwise just advising if there is any further mention or information re Jane.

        Further from Perry she advised me of the following
        “The minutes of the Ballymoney workhouse, 25 August 1849, list names of ten girls but two extra, Eliza Laverty and Jane Hartin, show that the doctor did not sign their consent forms. I’m not sure what this is about as she did seem to go by the time the Diadem sailed from Plymouth on 13 October 1849 but I didn’t find any subsequent mention of her.
        There are usually no parents’ names indicated in the Indoor Register unless a parent was in there with her and I didnt find Jane Harton/Hartin/Horton/Herton in my search at PRONI for the indoor register of Ballymoney.

        I was able to look at those records online for myself and discovered that one of the chosen ten girls did indeed not show up on any of the passenger lists for the Diadem and so for whatever reason it would seem that Jane was able to take that girl’s place in the ten girls group and make a life for herself here in Australia. This small fact is not lost on me in that I and my family as we are, would not even exist today if it were not for that unexplained stroke of good fortune way back in 1849.

        I have been able to track her history, marriage to Joseph Morgan and children in Australia all the way to her death on 27th February 1918 in Preston Victoria and have obtained a copy of her Victorian Death Certificate in the name of Jane Morgan. This certificate only mentions “Heartin” as the name of her father and only Ireland as her birth place.

        I have been unable to locate any mention of her parents at all in Ireland and given that she was an orphan this is very understandable BUT she did have a mother and a father at some time and I have been trying my best to find any records of them with no success thus far. Jane is noted on the ships passenger list for Native Place and County Origin as Ballymoney but on the NSW Assisted Immigrant Passenger Lists 1828-1896 it shows Omargh, County Tyrone which maybe was her birthplace and the reference to Ballymoney was just referencing the Workhouse?
        So Trevor from your obvious vast experience in this subject do you have any helpful advice or guidance where I might further direct my efforts in hopefully locating her parents or indeed any other information that could assist in learning more about her?
        Thank you for all your considerable research and involvement in the Irish Famine Orphans as well as creating and maintaining this blog over a long period of time, with passion I detect.
        I and others are indebted to you. Thank you so much.


      • Wayne, Just a very quick reply. She is listed as being Presbyterian so maybe try putting ‘Presbyterian church records county Antrim’ into google or some search engine. John Grenham’s site may suggest somethings. Usually the records are later than the date you require but sometimes Presbyterian births or marriages were recorded in Anglican/ Church of Ireland Registers. It’s a very long shot, i know. There were a number of confusing entries on shipping lists re the VIc orphans’ place of origin. Your hypothesis that Omagh , Tyrone was Jane’s birthplace is certainly a possibility. My gut feeling is that is just an error. But ..There isn’t much else on p.360 of Barefoot? Except she was first employed by Wm. Hassey of South Yarra at the rate of £7 per annum which I’m sure you know already. I think JOhn Grenham’s site will direct you to references to Hortons or Hartons et al in Griffiths valuation which is made after the date of JAne’s departure but will tell you about others of the same name in the same area. Hope this is of some small help, and many thanks for your kind comments. Much appreciated. Best wishes


      • Trevor just following on from my earlier post re Jane Harton arriving on the Diadem. In your vast research did you ever come across a photo or painting of the Diadem built in 1840. I have found a few images that are captioned as Diadem but I am not so sure without some sort of confirmation?
        Thank you


      • Hi Trevo
        Apologies if this is the wrong place to ask a question but I couldn’t work out any other way to get in contact with you.
        I’m trying to find out more about my ggg grandmother, Jane Hutchinson, arr. ‘Derwent’, Feb 1850.
        I’ve read her record in the Irish Famine Memorial, and see a couple of research notes on her in your blog.
        Much appreciated if you could let me know of anything that you have about her. (Including any confirmation that the Thomas Buckler she married was the one who arrived as an Exile on ‘Maitland’ June 1846 – as intimated in the Memorial record).


      • HI John,
        Sorry to be of little help. Maybe ask the Famine memorial through their contact link what convinced them Jane married Thomas Buckler per Mailtand. There is also a person at the Public Record Office in Melbourne who did some sterling work on the Port Phillip arrivals. Maybe she could answer that question. There is a webpage somewhere. In the early days of trying to trace some of the orphans i erred on the side of too much caution. Another possibility is to ask the question of those on the POrt Phillip Irish Orphans FB page. You may be a member already? People are generally very helpful and keen to share their knowledge freely which is a great thing to see. Jane being in the Magherafelt workhouse even though born in Derry might be worth following up too, if only by exploring how that might be explained. best wishes for your researches. trevor


      • Hi Trevor
        Many thanks for your prompt reply.

        I found a Christine O’Donnell at the PRO Victoria and was wondering whether this was the person you were thinking of – two links are:



        I had contacted the Memorial but fear that I hit the festive season.

        I follow th FB page Irish Famine Orphan Girls Commemoration but haven’t asked the question yet so will follow your suggestion.

        This morning, at your suggestion, I have been looking into a Desertmartin, Derry and the Magherafelt workhouse connection – so far I can’t find any BDM records for possible years (although I did find some for the 1860s).

        Again, many thanks for your help.



      • John, There is a Port Phillip Orphans FB page which may help. Chrissie Fletcher looks after it. I’ll try adding your name. It will tell me if you are already there. That might be the place to ask some questions.


      • Trevor,
        A couple more questions on Jane Hutchison’s record, if I may:

        1. “empl. by Michael Madden at Merri Creek, £9, 6 months”
        Q1. Was this the “terms” of the contract ie the contract was only for 6 months or was it the rate of payment (£9 per 6 months) and the contract would normally be extended for another 6 months.
        Q.2 If her contract ended did she have to go back to the ‘Depot’ or was she free to choose her next employment.
        2. ” married Thomas Buckler on 25 Oct 1852″
        Q3. Would either Jane or Thomas (as an Exile) need ‘permission’ from anybody? If so, from whom and where would the record be kept?


      • John, It’s a little while since i looked at the details. From memory, the wages terms of employment were usually per annum .Therefore her rate was £9 per 12 months.
        The other questions would need put into a time frame.. Also, whilst regulations existed they could always be ‘broken’ or glossed over, the authorities being pleased that she didn’t return to the Immigration Depot or that she found employment for herself. In theory the younger orphans required closer attention and looking after. But there is always a difference between theory and reality. The same applies to the permission to marry. Was Thomas not a Tassie convict who had served out his sentence? And hence no permission was required unless Jane was very young. IN the case of NSW I remember finding reference to the permissions to marry in among the Immigration Agent’s correspondence. Not sure if a separate collection relating to applications for marriage exists, or ever existed for Victoria. Best to ask PROVIC. I had a quick look at the orphan database on the website, and it may be they were sent information by another of Jane’s descendants. It may be worth asking them again. They should be able to reply electronically.


  2. Hi Trevor,

    I’ve been working on a piece of historical fiction centring around a famine orphan. I rely on your book ‘barefoot and pregnant’ to actively portray the journey. Now with COVID-19, I can’t get into a library to consult the book! If only it weren’t out of print! You wouldn’t happen to be aware of anywhere selling the book (other than a google search), or perhaps be willing to answer some questions for me? Thanks for any help!
    – Erica.


    • Erica,
      It probably wouldn’t help that much anyway, so i wouldn’t worry. I’ve never seen it for sale anywhere recently. You’d get more out of the blog. The posts around 7 talk about the voyage. But fire away. I may not be able to answer. I’m out this afternoon at the docs. But I’ll do my best.


  3. Hi Trevor my 4th great grandmother was also an Irish Orphan under the Grey Scheme and the irony isn’t lost on me that I ended up marrying a Grey whose family are distantly related to the Earl 😉
    Elizabeth Bridget Muldoon was born in 1835 in Drumhillagh, Cavan, Ireland and in April 1850 aged just 15 she arrived in Sydney N.S.W. on the John Knox as an Irish Orphan. She was indentured as a house servant in the Bathurst district. She married John Hoad in 1851 in Carcoar, New South Wales, Australia. They had 11 children in 34 years. She died on May 18, 1898, in Marrangulla New South Wales, at the age of 63 and is buried in Lyndhurst cemetery.
    She was well respected in the community and for a time acted as the communities mid wife. I’m lucky enough to have a photo of her as well.
    I’m very proud of her and all the women in my family who came after her.


  4. Hi Trevor my ggg grandmother’s name was Margaret Nagle and was wondering whether there is any more information regarding the Margaret Nagle who arrived on the Elgin. My Margaret’s year of birth was 1833 which made her 16 in 1849. Her marriage certificate in Victoria states place of birth as Ennistymon and her death certificate states County Clare.
    Regards Nicole


      • Trevor I was hoping you could help – Ellen Gilligan arrived July 1850 aboard the Tippoo Siab from Boyle, Roscommon.I have heard her parents – Peter & Katherine Gilligan (says she is living in Boyle) and would her father have to have been deceased to travel on the T.S? Are there records of indentures – not jsut the cancelled indentures.She married John Huey in 1852 Scots Presbyterian Church Pitt St Sydney.


      • Jill,
        She would have been eligible for the scheme because she was in a workhouse and her parents were no longer able to care for her. Most had both parents dead, about 25% of NSW arrivals had one parent still alive. Very few of the indentures seem to have survived. There is an example of one somewhere on my blog. Use the search box at the end of any post and you will be taken there. That will be the kind of arrangement Ellen may have had with her employer. Try the search box using a variety of terms, ‘Indenture”, Apprenticeship” “master-servant laws’. Best of luck with it.


  5. Hello Trevor. My Great, Great Grandmother was an Irish Famine Girl who along with her two cousins were taken from a workhouse and sent to Australia under the Earl Grey Scheme. Her name was Ellen Dooley and her cousins were Catherine and Eliza Dooley. Ellen’s family went into the workhouse at Birr and it is believed her parents died the same year. Ellen married a John Joseph Murray ( a former convict ) who she met whilst working on Rimbanda Station in the New England after the indentures of all three girls had expired and they moved north. Eliza married a John Reuben Blanch and Catherine a Thomas Cleary. Some years after she married Ellen’s husband John sponsored two of her brothers ( Patrick and John ) to come to Australia however I can only find one record showing the arrival of Patrick. A deposit of 5 pounds was paid by John Murray for the passage of John Dooley aged 26 on the “Peerless ” dated 3.9.1862 but I cannot find a record of his arrival. John also paid the deposit for Patrick aged 16 dated 31.5.1860. He arrived and later married and died at the age of 80 ( although I believe he may have been 82 ) in 1926 in Armidale NSW. Can you please tell me where I might be able to purchase one or two of your books as I am extremely proud of these young women who for the most went on to lead successful lives far from the deprivations they would have suffered in Ireland. I class these women as Australian Royalty as I do my Convict forebears.

    Many thanks in advance

    Bob Vial


    • Hello Bob, Alas they are out of print. But serendipity, I’ve just received a message from someone else who is descended from the three you mention. perhaps you know her, Lis Hannelly? she put a comment at the end of post 42. let me see if i can put you both in the same email. best wishes


      • G,Day Trevor. In relation to Liz, I do not believe I know her but I would be most appreciative if you could forward my contact details to her. It would appear that there is some controversy over Ellen as there were two girls with the same name in Morpeth at the same time with one arriving just 2 months prior on the “John Knox “. She married in Dapto but for some reason gave the “Tipoo Saib” as the ship she arrived on. My E Mail is popeye6@tpg.com.au


  6. Dear Trevor.
    I am a descendant of Rose Farrell who arrived on the Digby. There are many discrepancies relating to her entry in the ship’s manifest and I have done a detailed analysis to try and make some sense of the entry and indeed Rose’s life prior to departure. It throws up some interesting conclusions and I would be interested in your comments if you have the time. Rather than clog up your blog site can I send my analysis to you separately?
    John Dennett


  7. Hi Trevor. I am doing a research paper for a university course on the Earl Grey Assisted emigration scheme with a particular focus on the young women that were sent from County Wexford workhouses. I am trying to get a copy of your book ‘Barefoot and Pregnant’ but to no avail, it appears that it is out of print. Is it possible to get an ebook version anywhere?


    • Sorry Deirdre. There are no ebook versions. Some libraries have copies. Not sure where you are. For example, the National Library of Ireland has some. The http://www.irishfaminememorial.org database will take you to the Wexford orphans who came to Australia (per New Liverpool and Eliza Caroline to Port Phillip). But not to those who went to South Africa. Good luck with your paper. trevor


      • Hi Trevor, and Deirdre,
        I’m also in Wexford (town) and looking at this topic; I’ve been transcribing the Gorey Union minute books in relation to the girls from that part of the county. With restrictions due to C.19, getting hard copy books is proving difficult so thank you Trevor for this amazing source of information. Deirdre, perhaps we could discuss this sometime? Thanks again,


  8. Hello Trevor what can you tell me about Mary Salmon aged 14 who came out on the Tippoo Saib. I can’t find much about her and was also hoping that there may be a photo of her like so many others who came out.


    • Nothing more than what’s on the website Heather She appears on the list of cancelled indentures (see post 22) and in Immigration correspondence. Let’s leave your query here (tho maybe not the best place) in case someone else knows something.


      • Thanks for getting back to me. I was wondering is it possible to obtain a copy of the cancelled indentures as well as any correspondence related to Mary?


      • Heather,
        It is just her name on the list of cancelled indentures which the Immigration Agent H h Browne submitted to the NSW Legislative Council in 1858. She appears at number 245 on the list. Go to my Blog post number 22 entitled Cancelled indentures for a copy. https://earlgreysfamineorphans.wordpress.com/2015/08/20/earl-greys-irish-famine-orphans-22

        Way back in August 18 i was corresponding with Penny Gordon about Mary on a facebook page called Ireland Reaching out. I didn’t have your email address to recommend your joining. But perhaps you are a member already? Or maybe you know Penny? I recently deleted all my emails with Penny and Helen Biggs, an SBS researcher.Is any of that the correspondence you meant? It’s all i know of. trev


      • Hi Trevor

        Yes I’ll check your blog for this info. No I’m not a member of Ireland Reaching Out so I’m definitely going to accept your invite, thanks for that.

        Yes I’ve been in touch with Penny Gordon on many occasions and we’ve helped each other a few times, but I haven’t been in in touch with her for a while and must do that. I think it’s great that we researchers can share our findings, it all helps. I’m more than happy to do it, it’s sort of like paying it forward!! As for Helen Biggs, she got in touch with me a few months ago because she currently doing research for a celebrity who is going to be on ‘Who do you Think you are’ and she wanted to know what I knew about Mary, but more so of Edward because this celebrity’s main line is on the Elliott side which is mine. She I sent her quite a bit of information on Mary which I found during my research that she went by another name such as Jemima Austin. Anyway Helen hasn’t been in touch with me for a while, so maybe she doesn’t need anymore help. Thanks again for all you help and if it’s ok I’ll send you a chat every now and then just to keep touch.

        Take care


        Heather 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Trevor
    What a fantastic site thank you for creating it, my gggGrandmother Mary Ann WARD is my biggest brick wall and the reason I started researching my family history unfortunately to date I’ve never been able to find proof just hearsay and assumptions that she was indeed a orphan ive bought ever certificate available but nothing ever adds up, do you know anything about her? If you have any clues id love to hear from you.
    Cheers Chrissy


    • HI Chrissy,
      I probably didn’t look for her in the Dublin workhouse Indoor Registers as there was some issue with her name. Is she the one who came under the name Mary Ann Dwyer? per Digby? Maybe Perry can tell us if the Dublin Indoor registers are easily available online. I think you have to pay. She may even have continued to use the name Dwyer but i’m assuming you’ve tried all that. Post 1856 certificates have great details as I’m sure you know. Parents’ names, age, birthplace would need to match as much as possible.Sometimes too the info varies greatly depending who provided it to the Registrar of BDM.
      best of luck


  10. Hi Trevor,

    What an amazing site. You’ve done a great job collaborating all of this information and it has helped us immensely. The Highlands Theatre Group in the Southern Highlands of NSW have acquired the rights to produce Jaki McCarrick’s Belfast Girls in May this year for the first time ever in Australia. Our auditions are this Sunday. I would love to touch base about any expert advice you may have in bringing life to this wonderful piece. I will be directing. My e-mail address is president@htg.org.au if you would like to get in touch and talk more about the play and the history behind it.

    Steven Clancy


  11. Hi Trevor
    Congratulations on the great work you’ve done in relation to the Earl Grey scheme. I tripped over your research as I was doing my own digging into the history of the Carrickmacross workhouse. This is part of a Tourism Ireland project I’m working on to write and design new signs for historical sites all over the east of the country. We’re planning to incorporate the story and picture of Rose Sherry into the workhouse sign; however, the picture you’ve included on the the PDF and website is quite low resolution. Is there any chance you have a higher-res version available – or could perhaps direct me to where one might be found?

    On a more nostalgic note, I liked your reference to RB McDowell who I also remember from TCD, albeit a few years after your stint. I’m guessing that Prof Otway-Ruthven probably also ruled the roost during your time there?

    Anyway, any help you can give regarding the photo of Rose would be much appreciated. My email is desc@isaydublin.com

    Best regards

    Des Columb


  12. Hi Trevor,
    Sorry to hear you’re unwell and I wish you a speedy recovery.
    I wanted to get back in touch with you because I’ve significantly updated my research on Bridget Donovan from the John Knox. Bridget is my 3rd or 4th Great Grandmother. It’s a bit too much to add her and I’d like to run it by you offline first.
    I noticed on the database it mentions Register 2 No.878, 5 Jul 1850, Mary Ann O’Connell requires cancellation of indentures
    I was wondering if you knew any further details about Mary Ann O’Connell please and where she lived?
    After getting married in Sydney, George and Bridget moved to Avisford near Mudgee on the Meroo gold field. Moved to Morpeth and Tamworth and then South to Burrowa. I have been unable to find the death of George or Bridget.
    Could you please email me at rowenanewton at outlook.com and I’ll forward my updates.
    Best wishes,


  13. Hi Trevor,
    I’m currently working on a piece of historical fiction that follows a famine orphan in Melbourne after her arrival. Your work has been a huge help in writing the story! I’m trying to locate more information about what Melbourne itself and surrounding farmlands were like in the 1840’s-50’s. I wonder if you can point me in the right direction? I am hoping to find information about the typical employment of the girls upon arrival, what their duties where, what life was like, where they lived, what the streets of Melbourne was like, what buildings stood, where farms were located and sheep farming practices of the era and things like that. I’ve been doing some research but haven’t quite found what I’m after! Do you know where I might be able to find answers to these questions?


  14. 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


  15. 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

  16. 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?
    Michael Lowe


    • 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
      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?


  17. 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.


    • 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


  18. 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


    • 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,


  19. 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.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. 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.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. 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.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 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



  22. 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,


  23. 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.


    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.


      • 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).

        Liked by 1 person

      • 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


      • 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…


      • 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 .

        Liked by 1 person

      • 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.

        Liked by 1 person

      • 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.


  24. 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,


    • 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


  25. 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.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. 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,

    Liked by 1 person

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