Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (87); Using the search box

Recently someone asked me how to find which workhouse their orphan came from. I provided some suggestions, basically how to do the research themselves. Would you like to have a go? Here are some links you will find helpful. https://earlgreysfamineorphans.wordpress.com/2015/07/24/earl-greys-irish-famine-orphans-20/ Trying to sort out the difficuties that have arisen from the next par below.

The first is to the contents of the blog. It is incomplete but it contains what you need for this exercise. Try clicking on the Contents title below, and then on post number 20, at the HTTP link; it’s the one that begins ‘British Parliamentary Papers’, a fair way down the page. It should tell you the names of workhouses that sent orphans for each ship, the early ships anyway.

And with thanks to Donna Winterton https://www.dippam.ac.uk/eppi/documents/12556/pages/314758?fbclid=IwAR19evZ4zFXEH1b78hv_eoEWDs5M8ZGFxx-HkF8SPYy8Lb0tzxsqZ1f8bYM

A more direct but still quite complex method would be to go to the search box that appears at the end of each post, just after the comments.

Here’s a screenshot. Type what you are looking for into the search box; i typed the words, ‘which workhouse’, and up came a number of places where these two words appear in my blog, posts 62, 64 and 66, for example

Here’s another screenshot showing part of what came up. You need to click on those different links and search for what you are after.

In this case, post 62, scroll down past “Literacy” and “Sydney Legend” and follow my suggestions. Take your time and work through at your own pace. If you you encounter difficulties, I’m sure there is someone at home, or in your orphan Facebook group who will be willing to help. At some stage you will also need ‘Google maps’ and Peter Higginbotham’s great workhouse website. But let’s go slowly.

What you are doing is identifying the workhouses that sent orphans on your orphan’s ship (blog post 20). Then with information about your particular orphan’s native place (see shipping lists, the https://irishfaminememorial.org/ website, or my Barefoot ) go to Peter Higginbotham’s www.workhouses.org and see if you can find the workhouse your orphan most likely came from. Which was closest to her native place? The method is not foolproof. But it is a good start. [You may need to use the search box again to see how to use Peter’s workhouse site].

Best of luck with your quest. Technology can tie us in knots,especially if we aren’t used to it.

I’d be interested in hearing about your experience. Please tell me, and other people by adding a comment at the end of this post.

May i ask if you found any information about your particular orphan when you typed her name into the search box?

What specific words did you use in the search box that directed you to information that was both helpful and interesting? Have you any tips for other searchers? Have you any queries?

Given how close we are to June 16th, it seems appropriate to finish with a quotation from this work,

The gravediggers took up their spades and flung heavy clods of clay in on the coffin. Mr Bloom turned his face. And if he was alive all the time? Whew! By Jingo, that would be awful!

James Joyce, Ulysses.

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (86): Ann Trainer per Derwent

Peter has kindly allowed me to share this version of his orphan ancestor’s story. (see Blogpost 84) Ann was another Port Phillip arrival.

Ann Trainer or Traynor per Derwent

Born c 1833 Ireland. Died 1874 New Zealand

Her story

by great great grandson Peter James Hansen, February 2022.

Ann Trainer, my great great grandmother, was unknown to my family until the early 1990s. My discovery of her was a huge surprise as my parents prided themselves as having no benighted Irish or Roman Catholics in their ancestry. I found an Irish Roman Catholic ancestor on both sides of our family. Both were Irish female famine orphans, each with sad stories to uncover.

This story is about Ann Trainer on my mother’s side.

Born out of wedlock, institutionalised, living much of her youth in a workhouse. Shipped to Australia under a British Govt scheme to provide domestic servants & wives. The Victorian gold rush in Australia from 1851-late 1860s.  Marriage to a sea captain, three children, prostitution, drunkenness & finally an early death in a rip-roaring frontier gold rush town on New Zealand’s wild West Coast.

According to the Magherafelt Workhouse records, Ann Trainer’s mother was Catherine Cassidy b c 1797, single spinster Roman Catholic who had three illegitimate children, Samuel Cassidy b c 1830, Ann Traynor b c 1833 & Patrick Henry b c 1839.

Sam’s father is unknown but Ann & Pat both had surnames acknowledging the putative fathers, Traynor/Trainer & Henry.

The Magherafelt Workhouse records usually name Ann as Ann Traynor but occasionally as Ann Cassidy.

The Magherafelt Workhouse opened in March 1842.

 A few weeks later Catherine Cassidy aged 45 single spinster Roman Catholic, clean, from the Electoral Division of Tobermore townland of Drumreany was admitted 26 March 1842 with two bastard children. Ann Traynor aged 9 & Patrick Henry aged 3. They were discharged on 5 August 1842.

Further transcriptions of the Magherafelt Workhouse records reveal the following

Entering the workhouse 23 August 1842, leaving 16 Sept 1842. Catherine with two children. Ann’s age was recorded as 10.

In 16 Dec 1842 & out 3 April 1843 when Catherine 46 is described as single, a spinner, Roman Catholic woman with 3 bastard children. Ann described as being 9.

In 25 Sept & out 14 Oct 1843. Catherine Cassidy aged 48, single, with children all very wretched. Samuel Cassidy 12, Ann Traynor 10 Pat Henry 4.

In 4 Feb 1845 out 24 March 1845. Catherine Cassidy single mendicant, clean of Tobermore with two children. Ann Traynor 10 & Pat’k Henry 5.

In 12 July 1845 out 28 July 1845. Catherine Cassidy 49 single mendicant having one child clean & healthy of Tobermore. Patrick Henry 7.

(Where were Ann Traynor & Samuel Cassidy?)

Autumn of 1845 saw the first failure of the potato crop.

In 2 Dec 1845 out 26 Jan 1846. Catherine Cassidy 40! Single with 2 children. Clean, of Tobermore.  Samuel Cassidy 15 occupation out of service escaped over wall 25 Jan 1846.  Ann Traynor 12 out of service.

In 15 May 1846 out 24 Aug 1846. Catherine Cassidy labourer,49, unable to support herself and her children. Tobermore townland of Ballinderry, clean. Ann Cassidy (Traynor) 12 & Pat Casidy (Henry) 8.

Autumn of 1846 saw the second failure of the potato crop.

In 26 Sept 1846 out 6 Aug 1847. Catherine Cassidy 48 single labourer unable to support herself and children, clean from Tobermore. Samuel Cassidy 15 escaped over the wall 2 Oct 1846 (for the second time). Ann aged 12.

The winter of 1846/47 was severe and fever was rife.

Patrick Henry aged 8 died 21 April 1847 in the Magherafelt Workhouse.

In 24 Dec 1847 out 7 July 1848. Catherine Cassidy 52, single no means of support mendicant with one child healthy.  Ann bastard child healthy.

In 4 January 1849 out 30 Oct 1849. Anne Cassidy listed on her own aged 16 single destitute. (Where was her mother?)

Nothing more is known of Catherine Cassidy. Had she died by Jan 1849?

What happened to Samuel Cassidy after his second escape over the workhouse wall 2 Oct 1846?

Ann Trainer was selected from the Magherafelt Workhouse to be part of the ‘Earl Grey scheme’.

On 9th Nov 1849 she and 135 other female orphans from northern Ireland left Plymouth in the 365 ton barque ‘Derwent’ for Port Phillip. There was the usual problem of the crew fraternising with these young girls on the long voyage. There is no record of Ann being involved in any incidents on the 78-day trip.

The ‘Derwent’ arrived at Port Phillip Bay on 25 February 1850.

The Derwent’s manifesto names Ann,

No 121 Trainer, Ann, House Servant, age 16, Native Place and County – Maherfelt, Derry, Roman Catholic, Read & Write – both. (Ann only signed with an ‘X’ on her marriage registration)

 On the Disposal list she appears as ‘Trainer, Ann, 16, RC, House Servt., Employer – Andrew Doyle, Carpenter, Collins St. at the rate of £8 per annum for 6 months.

There is no further record of Ann until her marriage in January 1854.

In the meantime, the Victorian goldrushes commenced in 1851 and literally hordes of mostly males seeking their fortunes arrived at Melbourne from the world over and dispersed throughout the diggings in Victoria. Melbourne became deserted as goldrush mania affected many. Crews deserted their ships including that of Ann’s future son-in-law William McKechnie from Dundee, Scotland. It was probably there that he first met Captain Whitford, Ann’s husband and also Richard Seddon, future Prime Minister of New Zealand. They were all ‘mates’.

On 18 January 1854, St James Church Melbourne Ann married George Whitford. The marriage certificate describes George as,

George Whitford, Bachelor, born At Sea, Master Mariner, age 23, residence Russell Street, parents John Whitford, deceased, Master Mariner, Mary Whitford maiden name unknown.

And Ann as, Ann Trainer, spinster, born Belfast, Ireland, occupation ‘Independant’, age 21, residence Russell Street, parents James Trainer, Schoolmaster, Catherine Kessedy maiden name.

They married in the Cathedral Church of St James according to the Rites of the Church of England.

Signed-George Whitford & Ann ‘X’ Trainer

George Whitford was master of the lighter “Allegro” which traded around Port Phillip Bay. Ann went to live with him on the ship and their three children were born on board at nearby Hobsons Bay.

Their first child George Arthur Whitford was born in Hobsons Bay 20 August 1854.

Their second child was born on the lighter ‘Legro’ (the “Allegro”) Hobsons Bay 23 May 1856. She was registered on 24 July 1856 by Ann as Winefred Elizabeth Whitford. Father, George Richard Whitford, 25, Master Mariner, born at sea Malabar Coast (India), mother Ann Whitford formerly Trainer, 22 born Belfast Ireland. Informant-The X mark of Ann Whitford, mother, Hobson’s Bay.

No trace of Winefred Elizabeth exists after this. However, on 15 October 1856 a baptism took place in St James’ Cathedral of a Mary Jane Whitford with the same birth date 23 May 1856, same parents & their abode is given as Yarra Yarra (Melbourne wharves). Baptismal names take precedence over registered names. Mary Jane is my great grandmother.

Their third child James Richard Whitford was born on the ‘Allegro’ 5th May 1858. Ann again signed X Her mark. 

George Whitford then went on to be master of the paddle steamer ‘Lioness’ for seven years. It seems that the Whitford family then moved into a cottage at Port Sandridge near Melbourne.

In Oct 1865 at Hokitika, Westland, New Zealand, Capt George Whitford met his former ship ps ‘Lioness’ to take up duties as a tug master towing sailing ships over the dangerous Hokitika river bar. Hokitika and Greymouth became the centres of a goldrush. There are numerous recorded accounts of Capt Whitford and his superb seamanship.

Ann and the three children followed at a later date & lived in a house Capt Whitford owned near Gibsons Quay in the town.

In 1869 Capt Whitford was appointed as Pilot for the Ports of Westland. However soon afterwards he disappeared. A George Whitford seaman died in a Melbourne infirmary in 1879.

George Whitford, Master Mariner, Ann’s husband.

Family tradition is that Ann and her children were left unsupported and destitute. However, the children appear to have received an education.

Shortly before she died in 1874 Ann featured in a sordid court case held in the Magistrates & then Supreme Court. March & September 1874. It was reported in salacious detail in the West Coast Times.  A sad finale to her life. Ann was acquitted of charges but was a witness to a theft in a brothel where she was staying.  She’s described as being very drunk.

Finally, in the West Coast Times 8 Sept 1874

“In the case of Annie Haines tried yesterday for larceny, a most material witness, a woman named Whitford, was unable to attend, being ill in Hospital……”

Annie Cassidy/Trainer/Whitford died on 8th October 1874, Hokitika Hospital aged 36 (sic) years, actually c 41) married, of Phthsis (Tuberculosis), informant NR Goodrich, Carpenter, Hokitika.

Annie Whitford was interred in Hokitika Cemetery 13 October 1874. The plot in the Roman Catholic section was purchased by her husband’s friend William McKechnie.

Annie’s grave set apart from the row of nuns nearby.

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (85): Julia Keohane from Skibbereen

I’m still on the subject raised in the last few posts, the relationship between family and academic historians. See https://earlgreysfamineorphans.wordpress.com/2022/02/04/earl-greys-irish-famine-orphans-82-hooroo/

If an academic historian writes about your ancestor without consulting you, is that appropriation? Or if a family historian ‘borrows’ something written by a professional historian, say, about the Earl Grey scheme, without acknowledgment, is that plagiarism? There are all sorts of tricky questions to explore, are there not?

Here’s the latest story testing the hypothesis raised in the last post. Thankyou for this loving, sensitive tribute, Bren. This is something special that only a descendant can bring to an orphan story.

Bren’s heartfelt story of her Irish Orphan

One day out of the blue I read an article about the Earl Grey Scheme.

There had been no luck finding my Mum’s maternal side of the family and the joke was they must have swum to Australia, but after reading this story I started researching every Julia that came to Melbourne through this scheme and that’s when I found her.

A 16 year old girl named Julia Keohane.  Taken out of the Skibbereen Workhouse, put onto the ship ‘Eliza Caroline’ in 1849 and literally dumped onto the other side of the world. 

Others might say ’well that sounds a bit dramatic’ but it’s my take on how my GGGGrandmother was treated, it’s personal for me and my family.

An illiterate, RC girl who lived in rags and walked barefoot all her life was given a box full of clothes, two pairs of shoes and the chance to leave the hell hole that was Skibbereen Workhouse.  She didn’t have a clue where she was off to, no concept of distance, gave no thought to how she was to survive, she just wanted to escape the misery of where she was. 

Julia became my obsession.  I could follow most of her tough life through Trove newspapers.  At times she comes across as feisty, cheeky and cocky during her court appearances, but it struck me she was never treated with any empathy or care. 

Julia was a loving Mum and I’m pleased to tell her story, though it’s a sanitised version of her life as a means of offering her some dignity that never came her way during her lifetime. 

This is Julia’s story … a kid from Skibbereen.

Julia Keohane knew only abject poverty growing up.

Then a miracle occurred in her young pubescent life.  Being presented with a box full of new clothes and two pairs of shoes, Julia had never worn shoes before, she was made to feel important and special for the first time in her life.  Most of all she was being given the opportunity to escape from the misery that was the Skibbereen Workhouse.

Her adventure began on New Years Eve 1849 when the ship ‘Eliza Caroline’ sailed out of Plymouth. 

Julia had no concept of where she was being sent, but it was understood that work would be found, even though she had no skills and had never been employed before.  It was also accepted by every girl on that ship that you needed a man to survive in this world, more than employment.

After leaving the Immigration Depot it was the first time in her life that Julia could make decisions on her own.  She was employed with a Mrs Andrews of Spring Street, Melbourne and within weeks had somehow met Thomas Connolly and was pregnant!  With no thought of the consequences this 16 year old naively rushed and put all her faith and trust into an ex-convict from Tasmania who was 10 years her senior

Julia and Thomas were now a couple with a baby on the way.  The summer of 1850/51 has been recorded as long and hot, a new phenomenon for Julia.  For days bushfires raged terrifyingly uncontrolled in the Plenty Ranges north-east of Melbourne and this is where the now 17 year old gave birth to a healthy son, John Thomas Connolly.

S.T. Gill, ‘Canvas Town” Yarra River c.1852-3, Wikimedia Commons

Twelve months on and a large tent city called Canvas Town sprung up on the banks of the Yarra River housing all the new arrivals coming to Melbourne.  For a few shillings a week you could hire a tent to provide shelter from the elements.  This is where the new family settled with Julia starting a small shop from their tent, while Thomas was up to his petty criminal ways.

By 1853 Thomas had a reputation around Canvas Town and had progressed to the more serious crime of robbery and assault.

When Julia heard about the arrest she marched up to the victims tent and tried reasoning with them not to lay charges, but the situation turned ugly with the police now charging Julia with intimidating a witness.  She went to court and pleaded for mercy and because of her circumstances, a young girl with a baby, she was given a warning.  Thomas got 3 years hard labour on the roads.

Barely 19 years of age, after being dumped in a strange country now with no man or family for support, Julia was totally alone.  To make matters worse she was going to lose her home, because the Government had decided to close down Canvas Town which had slowly turned into a slum full of fever and crime.  Her only option was to head to the other side of town where all the outcasts lived and the Chinamen welcomed her to their tribe.

The following years had Thomas in and out of jail which left Julia and baby John struggling on the streets.  Alcohol became her crutch. There are many articles in the newspapers written of her arrests.  She was shown no empathy, given no dignity, and left to endure the hardship of survival on the streets.

In the following ten years Julia did distance herself from Thomas Connolly and left Melbourne moving to another big city, Ballarat.  Her son John now a teenager and independent, was working as a Wood Splitter in the Ballarat area.  After living such a hard, unstable life with alcohol her only comfort and respite Julia was by this time psychologically damaged.

It was in Ballarat that Julia met up with Tom Middleton through their shared bad drinking habits and arrests.

By 1866 they had set up house together.  Tom worked as a fish hawker and was away from home days/weeks at a time.  Julia was fearful being alone and slept with a knife under her pillow.   Depression and drink often left her talking of suicide.

In 1870, Thomas Connolly the father of her son, died in a horse and dray accident.  Two years later Julia’s now partner Tom Middleton lost his younger brother John and buried him in the new Ballarat Cemetery. 

It was around this time Julia’s son John stopped using the surname of Connolly and assumed the name of Middleton.

In 1889, after living together for 20 years, Julia and Tom decided to get married.   They were living behind the kitchens in a room at the Perseverance Hotel, Main Street, Ballarat.

Julia being illiterate needed someone to complete the marriage forms on her behalf and she wanted it acknowledged that she had given birth to 6 children.  Tom Middleton says he had none.  Where are those 5 missing children?  Only Julia knows, but to acknowledge them on her marriage certificate demonstrates that she had not forgotten them.

A year passes and on the day of Julia’s death Tom had been away working.  When he arrived home Julia was across the laneway visiting a neighbour.  Tom asked her to go home and make him some dinner while he checked on the horse and from there an argument erupted and Julia got stabbed.

From the Inquest there is evidence from neighbours describing how as Julia lay dying, after saying her prayers, it was her son John who she was most worried about.

Tom did get arrested, but was it manslaughter, murder or suicide? 

Three times a jury could not come to a verdict, so the Judge had no option but to give him his freedom. 

Tom buried Julia in the Ballarat Cemetery, alongside his younger brother. 

He stayed on in Ballarat alone and died in 1906.

Julia’s son John grew into a hard working man employed as a Line Repairer with the railways.  He married and had 12 children and lived to the grand old age of 89 years.  His first daughter was named after his wife’s mother, his second daughter he named Julia, after his mother.

p.s. The cover image is of Old Chapel Lane, Skibbereen at the time of the Famine, from the London Illustrated News.

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine orphans(84): an orphan’s impact on her descendant

Lately I’ve been thinking about the relationship between academic and family historians. Is it an equal relationship? Do outsiders always bring a helpful perspective, or does their influence weaken the very personal and emotional tie family historians have with their orphan ancestor(s)? If authority is shared in the best possible way then everyone wins. I’m thinking here of David Fitzpatrick’s Oceans of Consolation and Tanya Evans’s Fractured Families. But it may not always be the case.

Let me test my belief that family historians should be given free-rein to write their particular orphan history. Only they can provide a very personal, passionate and lively engagement. Let’s test the hypothesis.

First is an interesting essay by Peter Hansen from New Zealand describing the effect his orphan(s) have had on him. My sincere thanks to Peter for allowing me to publish it.

PETER and his Irish orphan

It’s 30 years since I first came across Ann Trainer per Derwent as one of my ancestors. The initial shock impact of my discoveries has long gone. Information-gathering has been slow, in fits and starts, and very piecemeal. I’ve done most of the research along with three Whitford cousins, all of us descended from the two sons and the daughter of Ann Trainer/Whitford.

It’s astonishing how quickly families forget their recent family histories and ancestors. At least it is in Western societies. Here in New Zealand the indigenous people, the Maori, know their ‘whakapapa’, their genealogy, for 10, 20, 40 generations or more. I have a Syrian friend who could trace his family back to Adam.

In Ann Trainer’s case, was it because her family didn’t want to remember her because of her colourful history in the Victorian culture of that time? Who knows? Or was it because Ann died young at the age of 41 and there were stories untold to her children?

Or perhaps it was because her daughter Mary Jane Whitford/McKechnie died aged 36. My grandfather was 7 when she died and he and his siblings had little memory of their mother. Stories untold and lost. I don’t even know if any of them knew that their grandmother was buried in a nearby town. Or that she was Irish, and Roman Catholic?

But it’s left me with lots of unanswered questions, questions that perhaps haunt me, or have become obsessional.  I have many ancestors I could research but Ann Trainer’s story is the one on which I seem to focus. It’s so out of the ordinary. Reactions from family and friends vary from having a giggle about a prostitute in the family to having a deep empathy for Ann’s life and circumstances.

I worked for many years in social services, chaplaincy and counselling, and am well-acquainted with sad and dismal stories. I was always objective. But that changed when I was affected personally. Subjective, not objective. There was an ancestor in my mother’s respectable family who was a bastard, a prostitute, a drunkard, and frequently in the courts.

It was compounded at the same time when I discovered my father’s Irish famine orphan ancestor in Sydney, NSW, was in and out of the courts and prison, a drunkard and a well-known prostitute. Disfunctional. How much did her earlier tragic life affect her in later years?   All published in the media. It was a relief recently to finally learn through a DNA match that her husband was the actual father of my paternal gran’s mother. I could never tell my elderly parents any of this as they would’ve been too shocked. My siblings and cousins knew though.

My mother’s family, Scottish and Cornish were well-educated, liberal-minded, urbane and involved in politics and community. Her father was a bank manager in a prosperous rural farming district in South Canterbury, New Zealand. Very much the country gentleman and sportsman. His maternal grandmother, as I discovered, was Ann Trainer, born only 50 years earlier than he. What a stark contrast there was in their lives.

I’ve found it distressing reading the descriptions of Ann and her family in the Magherafelt Workhouse records, where the keywords are,

Bastard(s), mendicant, very wretched, destitute, no means of support.

It’s left me with an underlying grief, learning about my two Irish Famine orphans. Life was awful. My father’s orphan ancestor’s parents are likely buried in a mass grave in Athy, Kildare along with 10,000 others. Sobering.

The Famine has become very real and personal to me.

In 2015 I spent a week in Sydney researching my father’s famine ancestor. A highlight was visiting a museum, the former Hyde Park convict barracks used from 1819-1848 to house convicts transported from Britain. It was then used as an immigration barracks for Irish female famine orphans coming to Sydney 1848-1850.  (Ann Trainer went to the Immigrants’ Depot in Melbourne) 

Outside in the yard is a memorial to the Irish famine orphans sent to Australia. It’s stark but very moving and poignant.  A metal table and stool, a bowl and spoon. This Australian Monument to the Great Irish Famine was inspired by Mary Robinson, President of Ireland. 

I sat at that table in the deserted yard and suddenly found myself overwhelmed and weeping, quietly. A grief welling up inside me for what my ancestors had endured.

Their lives still affect me but I’m more objective now in my search for facts. I’ve lots of questions! Who was Cathy Cassidy, mother of Ann Trainer?  Who was her family? Why did she not marry? She had her first child when aged 30. That’s late. Who were these men that she had relationships with?  James Trainer and a Mr Henry who sired two of her children.  Are there secrets in their families?

What made William McKechnie buy the burial plot for a ‘fallen’ Ann Trainer/Whitford whose daughter he married a few months later?  We know that he was a friend of Annie’s husband Captain George Whitford. William McKechnie was a well-known businessman, philanthropist and local politician on the West Coast of New Zealand. He was good friends with Richard ‘Dick’ Seddon, Prime Minister of New Zealand. Roman Catholic Bishop Grimes was a guest at William’s hotel in a goldfields town near Greymouth and Hokitika. My grandfather & his siblings used to tell me stories of these people.

This is the world of people that Annie’s daughter lived in. But there’s nothing about Annie Trainer/Whitford, who’s not far removed from these notables.

Her descendants have done well overall and become good citizens in Australia and New Zealand–in all walks of life including the public realm. Though at times some of us have wondered if inherited characteristics from Annie and her husband have been responsible for some of our families’ misfortunes? Just a thought.

Peter J Hansen ( J = James as in James McKechnie, James Whitford & James Trainer)

Born & raised in New Zealand. Family history was important to me from an early age because I had no first cousins. A sense of loss not having extended family to connect into. Well-travelled in my younger days, living overseas for 11 years in the UK & South Asia. I’ve years of family research desperately needing to be written up, and digitised. Ensuring our stories are not lost to our families & communities. That’s my current goal & project. As C.S. Lewis said “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

Peter’s visit to the Irish Famine Monument at Hyde Park Barracks

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (83): Amanda’s Guide

Amanda Midlam has kindly allowed me to share this with you. I hope you will find it useful. I have made some very minor changes to titles, and the spelling of names, and added a couple of website links.



By Amanda Midlam


This guide came out of a research project I undertook as part of my studies for a Master of Research, Macquarie University, under the supervision of Associate Professor Tanya Evans.   For this project I researched and wrote the stories of Mary Rattigan and Brigid Callery and this guide came out of what I learned along the way.

First of all, I suggest you give this guide a quick read through then keep it as a reference as you research and write your own famine girl stories. 

There is currently more information available about conducting research and where to find records than there is about writing up your research, so I have included writing information. 

I have a Masters in Creative Writing and love passing on writing skills.  The reality is that the research is only half the task.  It is what you do with your research that brings the Irish Famine Orphans to life for other people.   Best of luck.  There are great stories to be found and told.


ACCURACY.  Aim at accuracy but keep in mind that telling the story is more important than nailing down a single fact, a feat which sometimes turns out to be impossible.  Keep an eye on the big picture instead. 

ADDENDUM OR APPENDIX.  This is where you can put information that has some relevance or context but is not part of the story, or else slows the story down.   Not everything you find has to make it into the story.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.  Many people will help you track and trace your famine girl and it is a good idea to keep a list of their names right from the start.  You might want to write an acknowledgement page thanking the people who helped and from courtesy you should send each person a copy of your work when it is completed.  When people hear about these teenage girls travelling to Australia, usually on their own but sometimes with a sister, they almost always become engaged.  Convict ancestors inspire interest, these young female free settlers inspire sympathy and empathy along with interest.

ANCESTRY.COM.  Some people find this a great resource and others doubt the accuracy of family research found on this site.   See Resources – Primary and Secondary.


No.  There is a format that works – born, workhouse, migrated to Australia, worked, married, had children, died – but which parts you focus on and how you ultimately tell the story is up to you.  The way you tell the story does not matter but try to develop the skill to tell it as best you can.

ATTRIBUTIONS.  This is a way of acknowledging, in your writing, the work or ideas of others.  There can be copyright or ethical reasons for this and, I would argue, literary reasons because attributions can make for a better story.   Mary Rattigan’s story was enriched, in my view, by naming contemporary family members and quoting them as this provided a strong link between past and present. 

AUDIENCE.  Think about who are you writing for.  The answer to that will affect the tone of your writing.  For a start, are you telling the story for children or adults?   It can be helpful to imagine a reader while you are writing. This imagined reader may be a partner, a relative, a friend or a version of yourself.  Thinking about your audience will guide you in such things as tone, choices of vocabulary, sentence and paragraph length, and focus of the story.

BAPTISMS and BIRTH CERTIFICATES.  Baptism certificates are more likely to have accurate birth dates than birth certificates as there was a fine for late registrations of births.

BAREFOOT AND PREGNANT?  IRISH FAMINE ORPHANS IN AUSTRALIA, VOLS 1 and 2, by Trevor McClaughlin, are the definitive books about the subject. 

BEGETTING. Avoid begetting, a word no-one seems to use any more.  What I mean is the long list of names that purports to explain who someone is by listing all the ancestors.  Solomon begat Isaiah who begat Shania who begat Kylie…   If you want to list the family line, attach it as an addendum.  A list of names is not part of telling a story. 

BEGINNING.  Where do you begin the research?  You start with what information you have.   The Irish Famine Memorial database gives you barebones information and that is a great start. 

BIBLIOGRAPHY.  It is important to create a bibliography because it acknowledges the work of others, helps you keep track of the information you have read, and is a guide for future researchers.  Generally the bibliography is in alphabetical order but I found it more convenient to divide it into types such as personal contacts, electronic sources and books.  I have included the bibliography for Mary Rattigan as a sample in the addendum.  Some of the sources listed here will be general to all Irish famine girls while others are specific, but you can substitute my local sources for your own local one, for example historical societies.

BLOG.  Trevor McClaughlin’s blog, “Trevo’s Irish Famine Orphans”, at https://earlgreysfamineorphans.wordpress.com/author/trevo1/ is a great resource.  You may find other blogs that are helpful too. Do a search using a key word and the word “blog”.

BOOKS.  In my attached bibliography I have listed many books and you will find more relating to life in Ireland, migration at the time, Australian history and related subjects. 

CHRONOLOGY.  It is best to keep your research in chronological order.  The Earl Grey Scheme ran from 1848 to 1850, so the information you gather falls before or after that.  With the writing you might want to start the story at a dramatic point then backtrack and that is fine.  Keep in mind, if you have doubts about how to tell the story, a chronological telling works and is understood by everyone. 

COPYRIGHT.  Information itself is not subject to copyright but the way it is expressed is. The copyright lies in the words and the ordering of them.  You might find information in a book or on a website that you want to use.  If you copy and paste without permission that is a breach of copyright.  In that case you can either ask for permission to use the material or rewrite the information in your own words.   Sometimes the writing of the material is so beautiful it is worth asking permission to use it.

CREATIVE NONFICTION.  If you want to improve your writing skills look up creative nonfiction.  Life writing – whether it is your life or someone else’s – falls into the category of creative nonfiction and is beyond plain journalism which purports to be objective (although often it isn’t).  Creative nonfiction is writing that is factual but it also has narrative elements.  Think of the true story you are writing as having a setting, a central character and a plot.  Unlike plain journalism you can use descriptive language and metaphors if you like and you can express emotion.

DEATHS.  Death is the end of someone’s life but not necessarily the end of their story.  You might want to end the story with a description of a famine girl’s legacy whether that is descendants, the Irish Famine Memorial, or a reflection on her life.

DATES.  Dates can be rubbery.  One source will give one date and second source gives another.   Accurate dates can help you find specific documents in your research but in story terms what happened is often more important than the exact date, so don’t get too hung up.  Keep working on the story.

DEADLINE. Set a deadline, otherwise you will never finish.  There will always be one more piece of information you are chasing.  Set a date to have a finished version of the story that stands alone.     

DELIVERY. You may want to set a date when you will deliver the goods, whether it is a printed story or a bog post.  This will reinforce the deadline and help you to progress.  Don’t make the delivery date Christmas.  Even if family members are looking forward to reading what you found, Christmas is too busy for everyone, including you.  Maybe make it the date your Irish famine orphan arrived in Australia.  The dates are on the database.

DISTRIBUTION.  Give copies to people and organisations who helped as a thank you and also because it can add to their information base.  Give copies to family networks.  Also send a copy to the Irish Famine Memorial.   You can publish your work as a blog or in print.

ENDING.  While you are researching and writing, keep an eye out for a satisfying end to the story.  It may be information you come across, or it may be original writing that sums it up. Once you have an ending it can be easier to build towards it, to know what should be included and what is extraneous, and the tone to take in telling the tale. 

FACEBOOK.  I found the descendent of one orphan within a day by posting on a community page relevant to the locality where the orphan had lived.  That is how I learned family members still lived there.  I also found Irish community pages on Facebook to be informative and full of insights into the famine and local conditions at the time.  It is a simple matter to look up the name of the county on Facebook and look for local pages then ask to join. There is also an Irish Famine Girl Facebook page for descendants in Australia.

FACT OR NOT FACT?  Sometimes it can be hard to tell if information you find is a fact or untrue.  If you want to include it, you can deal with this by using words “maybe” or “possibly” or “the family believe that…”. That does not confirm nor disprove but leaves it open.

FAMILY LORE.  This can be fertile ground for finding gold.  One woman told me there is a story in her family that when Grannie, with her tribe of kids, arrived in the remote bush setting where she was to live, she sat on a log and cried.  This is a telling detail.  She didn’t just sit down and cry.  She sat on a log and that tells us there was nothing but bush.  Ask family members for any stories they may remember.

FAMILY MEMBERS. Keep a list of family members who help and send them a copy of your finished story.  Keep their names in both your Acknowledgements list and your Bibliography and you have twice the chance of not forgetting anyone.

FAMILY HISTORY.  Previously researched family history may contain furphies.  Or maybe whoever wrote it had access to records that no longer exist.  It can be hard to tell.  All you can do is try the best you can and remember you can write about anything questionable in a way that makes it clear it is a possibility and not rock solid fact.   

FINISHING.  You will never finish, there will always be more information.  You need to reach a point, or points, when you produce a written story that feels complete in the sense of being a satisfying read.

FREEMAN’S JOURNAL. This is a Catholic newspaper published in Sydney from 1850 and is found on Trove. https://trove.nla.gov.au/

FRIENDSHIPS.  One of the frustrating things is that we cannot find much information about friends.  They don’t leave certificates like marriages and births do and they don’t make themselves known in census records.  You can look out for the same names popping up in different records and explore further.  This is one reason why it is good to go back through the records and documents with a fresh eye looking for different information.

GENEALOGICAL SOCIETIES.  Whether you are looking for family members who came before your famine girl or after, genealogical societies have a lot of information and expertise.

HISTORICAL SOCIETIES.  These, and the people who run them, are often worth their weight in gold.  Historical societies may or may not have a presence on the internet.  The nearest library to the locality where your Irish immigrant lived, should be able to direct you to local historical societies.

HOLES.  There will be holes in your story – big gaps and leaps of years you can’t account for.  If you can’t fill these holes, move on.  No-one expects you to find information about every phase of someone’s life. You will find enough information about some phases to tell a great story.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE. Too many pioneer stories ignore indigenous people.  During my current research, I was dismayed to find settler history and Indigenous history to be largely separate instead of shared – even though in the years 1848 to 1850 people of a variety of cultures shared the same spaces, perhaps not fairly but it would be wrong to assume the traditional inhabitants have nothing to do with your immigrant’s story.  Check with the local cultural centre and/or land’s council for information and gain an insight into what the locality was like from an Indigenous perspective at the relevant time.    

IRISH FAMINE MEMORIAL DATABASE. https://irishfaminememorial.org/orphans/database/ This is a great resource that has some information on over 4000 Irish famine girls.  From the data base you can see first name,

surname, native place, age on arrival, names of parents, religion and ship name.  If you

 click on the surname of the girl more details come up. 

IMMIGRATION CORRESPONDENCE.  The details on the Irish Famine girls data base may refer to “im cor” followed by numbers. This refers to Immigration Correspondence which is held on microfiche at the NSW State Library.

INTERPRETATION.  All history is interpreted.  The past happened – and that doesn’t change – but any story we tell about the past is not an exact replica of that past. It is an interpretation.  

INTERVIEWING.  You may need to interview people who have important information.  If the word “interview” is daunting use expressions like “talk to” or “have a chat”. Know what it is you are after and have specific questions ready, so you don’t waste the person’s time while you try to figure out what to ask next.  Two questions I ask that sometimes provide new insights and telling details are, “What interests you most about the famine girls/ the locality at that time/ the treatment of the Irish…”.  And a similar question that sometimes yields surprising and valuable results is, “What surprised you the most about…” 

LIBRARIES – LARGE.  The NSW State Library has lots of information of use to family historians and you can ask librarians for assistance in finding what you want.   You can apply for a library card online or in person.  The National library also has great family history resources and again you can apply for a library card which allows you to access online resources.

LIBRARIES – LOCAL.  You might not be able to join the local library where your famine girl lived if you live out of the area but it is worth visiting.  Let them know you are coming and make an appointment.  Tell them you would like to look at their historical collection and give them information about your particular interest. Your own local library can arrange interlibrary loans if there is material held in other libraries that you’d like to borrow.   Unfortunately this often does not apply to historical collections as often there are materials that are fragile and irreplaceable.

LIFE WRITING.  Life writing means writing from life.  It does not mean writing a whole life.   Do not think you need to show all phases of a famine girl’s life in the same amount of detail and length.  If one phase really fascinates you, you might want to write just about that.

MAPS.  Try to find old maps of where your famine girl came from and where she settled.  There are plenty of maps on line.  It helps to visualise places and gives insights for example on how isolated she may have been.

MUSEUMS.  There are many museums that can help with your research.  Before visiting larger museums do some research to know what it is you want to see in their collections.  Go looking for smaller museums too.  These are varied but can give insights into lives and times.  Some of these museums may be in localities you are interested in but others may be elsewhere but have themes of use such as pioneering.

NEUTRAL TONE.  There is no need to adopt a neutral tone.  Your interests will show up anyway.  You are an individual.  The famine orphan you are writing about was an individual.  If everyone wrote their stories in the same neutral tone, there would be a sameness to their stories and what we want is richness and that comes from a variety of voices.  So be yourself.   

NOTEBOOK.  I am old fashioned and keep a notebook just for this project and I jot down everything from research ideas to contact details.  I like paper and pen and can carry the notebook around with me.  Others may prefer to keep everything on their computer.  

ORGANISING INFORMATION.  Keep your research in chronological order.  It will help you find it and you can see where everything fits in.  With the writing chronological order may not be imaginative but it works and it does not confuse readers.   If you have a better way of organising the material and it works, go ahead, if you don’t stick to chronological order.

PERMISSIONS.  You may need permissions to use items such as photographs.  It is best to ask as you go and keep a record.

PHYSICAL RESEARCH. It is useful to walk in a famine girl’s footsteps.  On a site visit to the Kiah River I discovered how quiet it was.  There was nothing to hear except birdsong and the breeze in the trees.   Mary Rattigan had come from the Parramatta hospital which would have been busy and noisy.  Before that she was on the Digby with 200 other girls.  Before that in an overcrowded workhouse.  Before that in a small community where land holdings were tiny and neighbours were close.  I doubt she had previously ever experienced such quiet.

QUOTES.  Quotes enliven writing.  As you research make notes of great quotes you come across that you would like to use.  A couple of Irish people I found on Facebook gave great quotes about conditions during the Famine in the localities where my famine girls came from.  I asked for and was granted permission to use them.  These quotes were far more colourful and deadly than any description of the Famine that I could have written myself.

RACISM.  The English in Australia looked down upon the Irish and Catholics.  If this aspect interests you will find a lot of information.

READ ALOUD.  It is very important to read your written work aloud before you show it to someone else.  You catch many typos and clumsily expressed phrases this way.  It is far more effective than reading silently.  I rely on the Read Aloud function on Word which is found under the Review tab.

REFERENCING. Do you have to use references?  It depends on the audience for your written work.  Certainly keep up with referencing during the research.  Later on you will want to check something and it is really frustrating when you can’t figure out where you got certain information from.  The easiest way to keep information and details of where you found it together is to put the details in brackets immediately after the info. 

REFLECTIVE WRITING.  Writing about your experience of researching can be revealing.  You can reflect on your thoughts and feelings and it can help you to clarify and focus.  It is up to you if you use reflective writing as a tool or include it, or some of it, in the story you are writing.  See Voice.

RESOURCES – PRIMARY AND SECONDARY.  Primary sources are documents like birth, wedding and death certificates, shipping and census records, and any other records from the time of the life you are writing about.  I would include Trevor McLaughlin’s books and blog as primary resources too.  Secondary sources are what other people have put together from primary sources.  Blogs, family history websites and previously compiled family histories are secondary resources.  If you have a primary and secondary resource with conflicting information, rely on the primary. 

REVIEWING and RE-READING. Along with researching and writing, reviewing is an important task.  Don’t store your records away from sight assuming you know what’s in the documents and images.  You may think you’ve got the information you wanted from a baptism certificate, but it is extraordinary how many details hide that later pop out.   I had that happen when family members and I wondered what help, if any, Mary Rattigan had when giving birth. I looked again at the birth certificate of her son and spotted a squiggle next to the witness’s name.  A magnifying glass showed the squiggle said “Nurse”. 

SCHOLARLY WRITING – Unless you are a scholar or aiming at a scholarly publication, don’t try it.   Scholarly writing is written for scholars, not general readers.  It is tedious and avoids surprises.  The surprising twists and turns of someone’s life are going to be a feature of the story you write and does not suit scholarly writing.

SHIPPING LISTS.  The Irish Famine Site database has information about which ship each girl arrived on.

SKIMMING.  Develop skimming skills for looking through masses of information.  You develop these skills by doing it. For electronic sources you can use the search function but many old records are not digitised.  It was by skimming that I learned the ships surgeons the girls travelled with were not employed by the ship but were hired to look after their health. They were not answerable to the captain. 

SOCIAL MEDIA.  If you have social media skills, use them.  Social media is a great way to network.  I found it helpful to use Facebook to make contact with people living in the Irish communities Mary Rattigan and Brigid Callery came from.  For these people in Ireland, the past and the Famine was still fresh in memory and they gave me insights.  

SOUND LIKE YOURSELF.  Your writing will be stronger if you sound like yourself.  Try not to write the story in the way you imagine a family historian should write.   You want the story to be engaging and fluent.  You don’t have to sound authoritative; sounding interested or passionate about your subject is fine.

SPECULATION.  It is fine to speculate but make it clear that is what you are doing.  To say your orphan was heartbroken at leaving Ireland may make a strong impact but, if you don’t have any evidence for this, you have strayed into fiction.  Some girls actually lied about their age and even their marital status in their eagerness (or maybe desperation) to be accepted in the Earl Grey scheme.  Use words like “maybe”.   “Maybe she was heartbroken, or maybe she was relieved that she was escaping starvation and a hopeless future…”.  In Mary Rattigan’s story, I quote a descendent saying she liked to think Mary had a friend because she could not bear to think of her all alone.  She and I speculated about who such a friend could have been, a couple of possibilities having turned up in the research.   This does not mislead anyone but the speculation raises the important issues of loneliness and friendships. 

STARTING POINT. Start the research with whatever information you have.  The database on the Irish Famine Memorial was the start for my research.  I suggest you start the writing sooner, rather than later.  There are three reasons for this.  The more you write, the more writing skill you develop.  Secondly, as you find more information you can fit it in into the framework of the writing you have already done.  Thirdly, writing is a form of thinking.  Writing forces you to find the words and make sense of what you are learning.

STICKING POINTS.  There will be times when you get stuck either in the research or the writing.  The solution is to work on what you can.  You move on to something else. Later on you can come back to the sticking point and decide what to do with it.  No story is going to contain all details of all phases of someone’s life

STRUCTURE.  Structure in writing is equal to architecture in building.  It is going to work better if you have a plan, even if that plan needs to be re-worked.  Stories have a beginning, a middle and an end.  Readers expect this.  The difference between a list of events and a story is structure.  Develop an idea as soon as you can of where your story begins, where the middle is, and where it ends.  Also look for turning points, places where the story changes direction, for example a move to a new location.   

STORY. Try to have an idea of the story as soon as you can.  That is, not just a list of dates and names and places, but some idea of how her life, or part of it, was shaped.  Remember always that a story has a beginning, a middle and an end.  Look for those beginnings and ends.  

VOICE.  Most stories are written in the first person voice, using pronouns such as “I”, or third person, using pronouns such as “she” and “her”.  The big difference is that in third person, the person telling the story is invisible.  It is up to you if you want to be part of the story, a path that allows you to reflect and explain how you found an important piece of research, or if you prefer to write in third person, in which case you don’t appear in the story at all.  Some people will instinctively know which voice is right for them, other people might like to experiment and write a sample of each to decide.

VOLUNTEERS. Usually historical and genealogical societies are run by volunteers and often they are older people who may be frazzled by technology.   They are incredible sources of information about particular and general research.   Treasure these resources.

WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW – If you are a farmer and your Irish famine orphan was a farm servant, research farming methods at the time.  What did they grow?  How did they sell their produce?  If you love the sea, maybe focus on the voyage.   You don’t have to write what you know but it can be an interesting angle and add breadth. 

WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?  If you are a fan of this show or others like it, keep watching.  If you are not, try viewing some episodes.  They are really good examples of what information is found and where it is found.  Importantly they also use experts to interpret the material.  You can follow this idea by asking historians (from the library or historical society) and genealogists (from a genealogical society) to interpret documents and explain context.  These programs build a strong story about some information, rather than trying to find every single detail.  Also, importantly, they look at the relevance, how what they have found has importance and impact today.

WONDER.  It was wonder that got you interested in the first place and it is wonder that can drive you forward and give you direction to tell a unique story.  You can revive your wonder by writing a list of questions that begin with “I wonder…” Here are some examples.   “I wonder how her diet changed from Ireland to Australia” – you could research this.  “I wonder if she was religious” – church records may provide an answer.  “I wonder if she left siblings behind in Ireland and if so what happened to them” – you could search for the answers. 

Best of luck with finding and telling stories.

All the best,


Amanda Midlam is a freelance writer of Irish descent who has Roscommon ancestors on both her mother and father’s sides.  She is proud to be a member of the same family as John Hubert Plunkett who prosecuted the perpetrators of the Myall Creek massacre.  She has not found any Irish famine orphans in her ancestry.  


Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (82): Hooroo

I did find a couple more orphan stories tucked away in unlikely places on my computer. Before sharing them with you allow me to revisit two issues that have been troubling me lately. (1) How best can we encourage family historians to take up those things ordinary historians do? Things like setting one’s family history in a broader historical context, or even as mundane as referencing something found on the internet.

Here’s a post from May 2016 that will explain further what I’m on about https://wp.me/p4SlVj-Gf

Do click on the link. [I’m also trying to see how many people click on the links i provide, and how many use the search box widget].

Setting your Irish orphan into her historical context may be something you resist. Or you feel you don’t have the skill. I hope you give it a go, nonetheless. Launch yourself into space, a safety-net will appear. Take your time. Work up to it slowly. Maybe start with a blank piece of paper and writing down things you are curious about. It’s your piece of paper. No one but you needs see what you’ve written. Here are a few examples to start you off.

‘How did my orphan end up in a workhouse? That particular workhouse? Why was she in Dunwich Benevolent Asylum, or Aradale Hospital, or Goodna in the last years of her life? Why did relations between the Belfast orphans and the Matron, the Captain and the Surgeon on the Earl Grey turn sour? Where did the orphans who went to the Moreton Bay District after disembarking from the Thomas Arbuthnot get their feistiness from? Why was she still living in a tent in Ballarat in 1862? How did she manage with such a large family? How did they travel all that way to the Darling Downs? What was her family life? Why did she have so many husbands, and so many children? Was she religious? Describe her life on the Victorian goldfields, in Port Fairy/Bendigo/Bathurst/Balmain/Adelaide/the Clare Valley/Wollongong/Toowoomba [insert the place(s) where your orphan lived]? What emotional turmoil did she experience appearing before the Ipswich Petty Sessions court? Or living on a remote sheep station? How do i include First Nations people in my family history? May i suggest not being afraid to use ‘hypotheticals’? “Ed was in Brisbane town that day in January 1855, when Dundalli was executed. He came home physically shaken, and told me all about it. Every time i see a Wonga pigeon i think about it”.’ We may need to cast our net imaginatively to find information that fits into our history. Recognition and truth telling are vital characteristics of every family history.

You’ll think of other questions, peculiar to you, to pursue, I’m sure.

Historians involved in public history, teaching family history courses, or providing expert advice for television programmes such as “Who do you think you are?” will be very much in favour of your placing your orphan ancestors in their appropriate historical context. ‘Am I right, or am i right?’ as my stepdad used to say. Maybe we should ask some of them for tips, Naomi Parry Duncan at the University of Tasmania family history course, Rachel Murphy at Limerick, or Tanya Evans who recently was elected President of the Federation of Public History, for example.

Maybe look for a course you could enrol in. You’ll learn what kinds of questions to ask, what sources are available, and how you can question, and use them. It’s a great way forward.

A student at Macquarie University, Amanda Midlam, has written some tips for writing a Famine orphan ‘girl’s family history. I wonder how you might gain access to this. I believe Trish Power was trying to include it in the latest GIFCC newsletter. Check out the www.irishfaminememorial.org website.

My second issue (2) follows from the first, and concerns ‘ethics and family history’. As Alison Light put it in her Common People,The central moral or ethical questions of historical enquiry are unavoidable and immediate in family history: why does the past matter? How much and what do we owe the dead? “ I have also written about some of these ethical questions elsewhere in my blog.

Let me see if i can find what I’ve said via one of the Search boxes at the bottom of a post, even if it is just to repeat the message. Do any of you use the Search Box? Here’s the link to some questions I posed earlier. Do click on the link, and scroll down https://wp.me/p4SlVj-I0

Scroll down to the very end and read the comments people made. The suggestions from Jenny Coates, Barbara Barclay, Julie Poulter, Janeaology, and others are very helpful. Janeaology recommends that we ‘publish and be damned!’ and refers us to http://genxalogy.blogspot.com/2013/09/ethical-dilemmas-2-geneabloggers-open.html What a delight. You might like to follow her blog, yes?

I even entered the twittersphere and typed ‘ethics and family history’ into the Twitter search box. Jeepers, it really can be helpful. I found blogs, podcasts and even books. A discussion in the History Workshop via Julia Laite’s @julialaite podcast circa September 2021, or Penny Walters’ book, Ethical dilemmas in Genealogy are two to explore further.


Of course, you may be lucky, and never have to confront any kind of ethical dilemma in writing your family history. But it is something many of us will face at one time or another. I’m really interested in your take on this issue; how do you deal with ‘difficult’ stories? Do you exercise self censorship? Keep the ‘scandalous’, ‘unwelcome’, ‘contentious’ information private, for fear of hurting someone? Or do you forge ahead, providing evidence for what you are prepared to say? Let me know your views, please.

Personally, I’m doing a bit of soft shoe shuffle at the moment by letting family historians speak for themselves. The advantage is that descendants are engaged with their orphan ancestor in ways others of us are not. It is a very personal, sometimes passionate engagement. Have a look at the orphan stories that appeared in https://www.tintean.org.au between September 2019 and July 2020 and you’ll see what i mean.

Most of the stories i have remaining on my computer did make their way to the www.Irishfaminememorial.org website

Here’s one by Rebecca Mahoney, about her ancestor “Fanny” Young. Alas I have lost touch with her, and she did send a pic with her story. Ah, found it. What a fine looking couple.

I previously put up Frances’s ‘family reconstitution’ at bogpost 31 see https://wp.me/p4SlVj-Ji

[You may wish to click on the link and have a look at some of the other family reconstitutions that are there, Bridget Fallon, Sarah Hare, Anne Maroney, Ann Nelligan, Sarah O’Brien, Bridget Dowd, for example.]

Frances Young per Tippoo Saib

by Rebecca Mahoney

“Frances Maria Young was 17 when she was selected from the workhouse to be part of the famine orphan scheme in 1850. She was a Protestant, and both her parents had apparently died that year in Mt Nugent, County Cavan. I’m having some difficulty tracing them but having visited famine sites in Ireland. I know that many victims were not officially buried. Some went into unmarked mass graves, and there are accounts of corpses being eaten by dogs etc. In this context, one shouldn’t be surprised that records aren’t easily found, I suppose.

Frances, known as Fanny, was illiterate. She worked, presumably in domestic service, until her marriage in October, 1856. Her husband, William Melbourne (the surname is sometimes transcribed as Millborn when traced back through preceding generations in England) was a free settler from Stebbing, a village in Essex.

According to my grandmother, William owned a property in Parramatta and was a dray driver. She said he was the first man to deliver milk to the Sydney area. After his marriage, he decided to move to Yackandandah, following a friend that he had met on the “Garland” on his passage to Australia in 1851. The lure of the area was gold, according to my grandmother. Although he didn’t make a fortune, both he and his friend bought land there and settled. Fanny apparently didn’t travel overland on the dray as William did, but went by ship to Melbourne first. On this journey, she was robbed of all her possessions. Together, they had ten or eleven children. There is possibly a child born in Sydney in addition to the ten born in Yackandandah. Their second son, Sydney (yes, his name was Sydney Melbourne!!) was my maternal great grandfather. Fanny and William went on to have 73 grandchildren, one of whom was my grandmother.

The above is a combination of documented data and oral history, some of which is contradictory. I found it interesting that in the oral history, there is no mention of the Irish Famine Orphan Scheme. In fact, my grandmother, who was born and raised in Yackandandah, was sure that she had been told that her grandmother Fanny and grandfather William had been married in England prior to coming to Australia. She knew Fanny was Irish, but not the orphan / workhouse part of the story. I’m wondering if Fanny saw this as something embarrassing and not to be discussed? About forty years ago, I had my Nanna write down what she knew about her family’s background and I have kept it. She was as sharp as a tack and had a great memory, so she wouldn’t have forgotten something like the Famine Orphan Scheme if she had ever heard of it”.

Rebecca Mahoney

Eliza Christie from Armagh per Diadem

Allow me to include this one by Di Samter. Di sent it some time ago, about the same time as another friend was having great fun getting in touch with relatives throughout the world by means of her DNA tests. Gerry even had me travel St John’s point in Donegal and take pictures of a Bronze Age burial site near Dunkineely.

Bronze Age tomb at Dunkineely, County Donegal

I haven’t included Di Samster’s family tree but you will detect her enthusiasm for DNA analysis, something family historians are using more and more these days. Have you tried doing a DNA test? What test would you recommend?

Eliza’s Legacy     by Di Samter    

“My family history has, in one leap, taken me back 20,000 years, when recently I had a section (referred to as HVR1) of my maternal DNA analysed. With the more readily available access to DNA analysis, my apprehension gave way to excitement when I decided to give it a go. Having traced my ancestors’ journeys from Europe to Australia for many years, I thought this was a completely different way of gaining information.  As a young child I always wanted to know how, when, from where and why my ancestors had come to Australia. In 1981 my Aunt (my father’s sister) introduced me to family history and from that moment on I was hooked on genealogy. During the mid 1980s another Aunt (my mother’s sister) started tracing my maternal ancestors. On my direct maternal/maternal line Eliza Christy is as far back as we could find. 

It is my understanding that research has shown that most native Europeans have descended from seven ancestral mothers. These mothers have been given fictional names and I wondered – to which “Mother” did I belong?  I used the internet to find a company that provided a DNA analysis service by Googling ‘family tree DNA sequencing’. Having decided which provider to use, I placed my order over the internet.  Two swabs were posted to me to scrape a sample of DNA from the inside of my cheek and then return to them. About two months later I received the results revealing “Helena” to be my ancestral mother. I was able to access this provider’s DNA database and find others who identically matched the mutations of my maternal DNA sub-group (sub-clade). Although “Helena” represents around 41% of native Europeans, those who exactly match my sub-clade appear to be quite small – so far. This small group trace their ancestors back to Ireland, Scotland, England and one from France. Some people did not know the origins of their maternal ancestry.  One such person comes from Australia and has chosen not to be contacted by other users. I am now having a further section of my maternal DNA analysed, referred to as HVR2 – and with hindsight I possibly should have done it all in the first instance. 

With this new information to hand, my next step was to reassess our research back to Eliza Christy(ie). Years ago we had found the marriage of my gg-grandmother, Mary Jane Jones to William Bright in 1872, which gave her parents’ names John Jones and Eliza nee Christy, but we have never found Mary Jane’s birth entry, which would have divulged more clues about her parents’ origins. I knew the Jones family had settled in the Clunes area and I decided it was worth further investigation into the Victorian State Registers of Births, Deaths & Marriages to see if I could discover if Mary Jane had any siblings. I searched for the births and deaths of children with the surname Jones and the father John – the mother Eliza with maiden name Christy (varying the spelling of her maiden name). Being able to search the State registers on-line and have an instant entry downloaded to my computer made the process very easy.  I found and bought a number of downloadable birth and death entries of the siblings of Mary Jane Jones. Mary Jane, born in 1854, is listed on the subsequent birth entries of her siblings and this is where I discovered that Eliza Christy had come from Armagh in Ireland and her husband John (Fras/z/er) Jones from Liverpool. Their ages and date and place of marriage in 1852 in Kilmore, Victoria were stated on the birth registers. The family tree below shows Eliza’s female line descendants coloured in red – these relatives should have the identical comparative DNA sequence to mine. (However, I guess it is possible there has been a mutation from Eliza to myself, but apparently this section of DNA is very stable and doesn’t often mutate). The sons, coloured in pink, should also inherit the identical section of maternal DNA to mine, but it is only mothers who pass it on to their offspring. Eliza and her husband John Jones had 12 children that I know of  – the youngest being George Edwin Jones born on 3.6.1877 in Clunes, and died the 30.8.1916 on a WW1 battlefield in France. 

Eliza’s family had unexpectedly captivated my attention. Through the wonders of the internet, I managed to make contact with Trevor McClaughlin – author of “Barefoot & Pregnant?”- who has written about the orphaned Irish girls who were shipped to Australia following the Irish Famine.  He kindly provided me with more information about my Eliza.  She was described as “thinly dressed” and came from Charlemont, Killalyn, Armagh. She entered the Armagh Workhouse on 9th January 1849 leaving 4th October 1849 for Plymouth to set sail for Australia. Eliza arrived in Port Philip, Victoria on board the Diadem on 10th January 1850, along with other orphaned girls from Ireland.

As time went by, many of Eliza’s children and grandchildren migrated to NSW.  Eliza’s grand-daughter, Mary Ann Oberg (nee Bright), my g-grandmother, went to NSW with her husband, Malcus, in the early 1890s. The large family eventually settled in Inverell, where my grandmother, Tyra, was born. My grandmother was always keen to talk about her Swedish father, but was evasive about her mother’s side of the family. Both my elder sister and I recollect that – when we were quite young – and she was once again telling us about her father – we asked her “where does your mother’s family come from”?  She pensively stated “France” then completely changed the subject. When I mentioned to her, in the 1980s, that her mother was not French and on her mother’s paternal side of the family we have two convict ancestors, her face looked ashen and she was lost for words – it was unprecedented for her to be speechless! I tactfully left the subject alone, as she was clearly upset about these skeletons creeping out of the cupboard. Hence the subject of her mother’s family became taboo and I never managed to talk to her about it again. 

I am still hoping to find out more about Eliza and her husband John Jones.  I did find a death entry for an Eliza Jones (her parents names unknown, lived 53 years in Victoria) who died on 23.10.1902 in Maryborough Hospital, but her age was stated as 10 years older than I expected her to be – the age could of course be an error and this may really be my Eliza, but at present I am uncertain. No records have been found of the death of John (Frazer) Jones, nor do I know when he arrived in Australia, but it was obviously before his marriage to Eliza in 1852. John’s middle name Fraz(s)er was only used occasionally on official documents.  I would be pleased to hear from someone if they are connected to this family, or know of details about the deaths of Eliza (nee Christy) and John Jones. Although my Mother and Grandmother have passed away, their maternal DNA identifies and connects the generations, being passed down through the female line descendants, ensuring the continuity of Eliza’s daughters.

b. ca 1823-8b. ca 1833/4 Charlemont, Parish of Loughgall, Armagh – Presbyterian –  signed her children’s birth registrations    
Liverpool LancashireArmagh Workhouse BG2/G/3 Eliza 16 years old Presb – thinly clothed from Charlemont Killalyn entered workhouse 9.1.1849 left 4.10.1849    
Carter/Diggerm. 1.4.1852 Kilmore Victoria  Australia         
his children’s birth regs  Arrived in Port Philip on 10.1.1850 on the “Diadem” which sailed from Plymouth [Assisted emigrant passengers] Eliza Christie aged 16   
 Upon arrival in Melbourne she was apprenticed to Thomas Scales for a year at 6 pounds      
 ? d. 23.10.1902 Maryborough Hospital- 1 day in hospital- Heart Failure, Injury & neglect- parents & marriage details not known- 53yrs in Victoria – age stated 78 -but believe this could perhaps be my Eliza

Catherine Moriarty

Finally, a family history that Mike Vincent sent to me way back in the noughties. It is the story of Catherine Moriarty from Dingle in county Kerry who travelled with her sister Mary on board the Thomas Arbuthnot under the care of one of the best Surgeon Superintendents in the ‘Earl Grey scheme’, Surgeon Charles Edward Strutt. The Moriarty sisters were to prosper in their new home in what was to become Queensland. {I’ll be keeping an eye out to see if any of you use the search box to look for Catherine Moriarty and her sister Mary elsewhere in my blog}.

My sincere thanks to Mike for allowing me to reproduce his family history here. Parts of it are in Kay Caball’s Kerry Girls, should anyone have a copy. Best wishes Mike for recovery from your operation. The little gym i go to, Active Seniors, has some gentle exercises on YouTube at “Active Seniors exercise online”. There might be something there which helps. I took the liberty of removing your phone number and address from your original family history. I hope that’s okay. Fingers crossed my technologically challenged attempt at formatting holds.

“Catherine Moriarty from Dingle per Thomas Arbuthnot

by Mike Vincent



Catherine Moriarty was born in Dingle, Co. Kerry, Ireland on March 17, 1831 to Maurice Moriarty and Margaret Cahalane(1), who had married at St. Mary’s Church Dingle on February 21, 1827.(2)  A brother John had been born on May 31, 1828(3), a sister Mary April 8, 1833(4) and a brother James on February 28, 1836, all at Dingle.(5)  Nothing has been found about these brothers.

By 1849 the sisters were classified as orphans and were residing in the workhouse in Dingle. They were sent to Australia on the Thomas Arbuthnot, arriving in Sydney on February 3, 1850. At this time Catherine and Mary were actually aged 19 and 17 years respectively, and had been previously employed in Dingle as a house servant and a nursemaid. Catherine could neither read nor write, but Mary was able to read.(6)  After a short stay in Sydney (11 days) they moved to Brisbane, on the steamer Tamar(7), where after 13 days Catherine was employed by John Bruce at North Brisbane.(8)  By the 9th of June 1852 Mary had met and married James (Samuel) Brassington, a resident of Ipswich.  Catherine Moriarty was a witness at this ceremony in St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, Brisbane.(9)  Catherine Moriarty and Thomas Elliott were the sponsors at the baptism at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Ipswich, of Mary’s first child on February 15, 1853.(10)  On June 7, 1853 Thomas and Catherine were married in St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, Brisbane.(11) They returned to live in Ipswich where their first child was born on June 7, 1854, and baptised Thomas James at St. Mary’s Church on June 25.(12)  

Thomas James ELLIOTT

In the June sessions at Westminster assizes, Thomas Elliott, apprentice tailor, aged 15 years, was found guilty of ‘larceny from the person’, as pickpocketing was then known, and was sentenced to imprisonment for four months.(13)  Baptised Thomas James Elliot on August 16, 1818, at St. Clement Danes Church, London, his parents were James Elliot and Mary Ann Whitaker(14). He was caught again for pickpocketing, tried in the Westminster sessions on June 25, 1835, and acquitted for lack of evidence.(15)  However on a third occasion, though calling himself James Elliott, his previous conviction was noted, and he was again found guilty of ‘larceny from the person’ in the Central Criminal Court, Middlesex, on August 15, 1836. Since he had a previous conviction, he was sentenced to 14 years transportation.(16)  He was held in prison until, on March 29, 1837, along with 199 other convicts, he sailed in the 403 ton barque Lloyds from the Downs.(Offshore from the town of Deal, just north of Dover.)(17)

Thomas James arrived at Port Jackson, Australia, on July 17, 1837, where his description was recorded thus – ‘ 5 feet 4 inches tall; brown hair and eyes; brown complexion; missing front tooth in upper and lower jaws; M E inside lower right arm; T J inside lower left arm; able to read; single; trade – tailor.'(18)

   He was then assigned to work for Charles Kelly at Ham Common in the Windsor district of New South Wales.(19)  By 1841 it seems he had left the employ of Kelly (20), and in 1848 was residing in the Parramatta District when granted his first ticket-of-leave, No. 48/181, on May 31st.  This was cancelled in September 1850 for his ‘being absent from the District’, but later that year this was reissued after this absence had been explained. He again had his ticket cancelled then reissued in January 1852 presumably for the Parramatta district.(21)  He must have been somewhat successful in Sydney, probably as a tailor, for by November 1852 he was working as a tailor in the town of Ipswich, to the west of Moreton Bay.  At this time still holding a ticket-of-leave, he was arrested for some unknown minor offence, and sentenced to a month in Brisbane prison, being released on December 18 for ‘good conduct’, after serving three weeks.(22)  He returned to Ipswich where he was soon to meet his future wife, the young Catherine Moriarty.(10)


After their marriage the Elliotts continued in the tailoring trade in Ipswich for more than 20 years, until at least 1874. But they also invested in land, and rented out houses they had built. In may 1855 Thomas purchased an acreage allotment (no. 103) in Williams Street, West Ipswich, for £21(23), and another (no. 85) in the same street in November 1857 for £22-16-9.(24)  These blocks were in a rural area of West Ipswich which did not develop quickly, and have been subdivided for suburban housing in only the last 30 years. (Details of the Elliott properties are shown in Table 1.)  He next purchased a 32 perch town allotment in Ellenborough Street for £27 in 1858, but this was resumed when the railway line came through the town in 1865.(25)

   By 1861 the Elliotts (Details of the Elliott children are shown in Table 2.) were living in Waghorn Street and renting premises for the tailoring business on 16 perches in Bell Street from Mr. F E Bigge.  With the advent of the railway and associated construction of Union Lane, the address of this building in Bell Street was changed to Union Lane by 1865, and later to Union Street.(26) Meanwhile Thomas had also purchased a cottage in Pelican Street, North Ipswich, which he was renting to Walter Male in 1863, as well as a block of land nearby in Canning Street.(27)  By 1865 allotment 85 in the western suburbs had been sold to George Frost, and allotment 103 divided and sold to W Duggan and J Flynn.(28)

   The tailoring business was continued in Union Street until moving to premises in East Street in 1874.(29)  This business must have been successful, for between 1854 and 1874 it was able to support his wife and eight children, and allow him to purchase and improve various properties around the municipality. Founding his business in the very early days of the town must have helped establish his reputation as a tailor, for he did not advertise in the local paper, The Queensland Times, nor anywhere else, so he must have relied on word of mouth and the passing customers for his trade. His tailoring business also provided training for his elder daughters, while his contacts enabled his youngest daughter, Elizabeth, to obtain employment at Cribb and Foot’s dressmaking department, where by 1906 she was supervisor.(30) Tailoring and dressmaking became traditional family skills for which even his grand-daughters were noted.(31)

   About 1865 he sold the cottage in Pelican Street (32), and on the Canning Street property built a wooden house, which was rented in turn over the next two decades to Joseph Harrower, James McGaw and Joseph Halstead.(33)

  Thomas decided to leave the tailoring trade, and to retire to the more comfortable hotel accommodation business. Ipswich had always been a centre for accommodation and hotels, and in 1859 for example, when Brisbane had 18 hotels, Ipswich could boast 26.(34)  To this end in 1874 he obtained an hotel licence and rented large premises on three adjoining allotments, each of 32 perches, in East Street, Ipswich, from George Thorne. These comprised an hotel and other buildings, one of which was used for the tailoring business for a short time. This hotel was The Cottage of Content, which had been occupied by Godfrey O’Rourke since before 1859.(35)  The Elliotts ran The Cottage of Content as an hotel for three years(36), then in 1877 took up the licence of The Carriers’ Arms, which he transferred to The One Mile Hotel, which he had rented from Robert Cribb.  This hotel was at Little Ipswich, now known as West Ipswich, on the corner of Brisbane Street and Moore Lane, now Hooper Street. This old brick building was at a major intersection, diagonally opposite the Ipswich pound, and overlooking the One Mile Bridge across the Bremer River.(37)  This was the area where in the earliest days of Ipswich the bullock wagons halted on their journeys to and from the Darling Downs. There is a One Mile Hotel on the same site, and the pound is still diagonally opposite in June 2000.

   In the period between 1866 and 1875, the family also lived in rented homes in Elizabeth Street opposite St. Mary’s Catholic Church.(38)  During the 1870s they also owned a residential allotment in Pine Street, North Ipswich between Fitzgibbon and Lawrence Streets.(39)

   On September 17, 1874, while renting The Cottage of Content, Thomas had purchased at a crown land auction, a block of land in Brisbane Street, one allotment west of Waghorn Street.  This 32 perch allotment cost £20 pounds, with an additional deed fee of £1, and a survey fee of 12 shillings. The original ledger book recording these details shows the signature of the purchaser as ‘Thos. J. Elliott’, in very shaky handwriting.(40)

   By 1878 with nine unmarried offspring ranging in age from two to 24 years, the family had sufficient experience, confidence and staff to invest in the hotel business. They took out a mortgage for £200, at ten percent interest, with the newly formed Ipswich and West Moreton Permanent Building, Benefit and Investment Society, on the 5th of February, to build a wooden hotel on the Brisbane Street land, purchased four years before.(41)  This must have been a substantial building, for at this time a typical wooden house, including detached kitchen, cost £100 to build.(42)

   This was licensed as The Prince of Wales Hotel, and was located next to James Real’s Ipswich Hotel, which had been built on the corner of Brisbane and Waghorn Streets in 1875.(43)

   One young lad, Bernard Gallagher, had come down from the Bundaberg district to begin work in the Railway Department at Ipswich.  His mother (another Irish orphan?) wrote to Catherine Elliott asking her to look after him while staying at their hotel. His stay was worthwhile, for in 1882 he married the Elliotts’ second eldest daughter Margaret Jane, and his job in the railway became a lifelong career, in which he became Supervisor of Railway Stores in Queensland.(44)  At least three other daughters, Mary, Elizabeth and Catherine also married railway employees, while all three Elliott sons began their careers in the railway as well.(30, 31, 44, 45) 

 It is also of interest that two children married into hotel families. Catherine into the Real family, who had hotels and shops in Ipswich(46), and George into the Lynch family, who at one time held the licence of The Bull’s Head Inn, at Drayton.(47)

   At the end of 1879 the licence of The Prince of Wales was not renewed, and until 1888 the building in Brisbane Street was operated as a boarding-house, no doubt providing useful ’employment’ for some of the seven daughters in the family.(48)  During this period one of the guests announced that he was unable to pay his substantial accommodation bill. Thomas Elliott proceeded to have him thrown into the street, but the quick thinking lodger suggested that the building needed a coat of paint, and that he would apply it in exchange for his accommodation.  An agreement was reached, the guest’s dignity was preserved, and the wooden boarding-house was repainted.(49)  About 1885 the family moved into the Canning Street residence with Margaret and Bernard Gallagher, while the boarding-house was managed by a Mrs. Cook.(50)  With a large family of eight, apparently little income from the renting of the boarding house, and Tom’s failing health, the Elliotts’ financial circumstances declined during the 1880s, and they found it necessary to secure additional mortgages on the Brisbane Street property from the Building Society.(51)  These were as follows:-  in 1879 £40; 1885 £45; 1886 £20; 1887 £20; 1888 £50; and 1889 £60.

    When Tom died of cancer of the jaw at his Canning Street residence in August 1888(52) there were arrears of rates owing on that property (£4-5-3), and the boarding-house (£6-13-9).(53) When his will was proved for probate, leaving all his possessions and property to his wife Catherine, she signed an affidavit stating that at the time of his death he had less than £10 in cash(54)  The mortgage figures and rate arrears indicate that this was probably a fair assessment of his financial situation. Catherine retained possession of the Canning Street home and the boarding-house, which continued to operate.(55) She was now responsible for five daughters and two sons, between the ages of eight and 23 years, and though some of them were employed and she obtained a loan for £60 in 1889, there were still rates of £7-15-7 and £11-18-7 owing on the two properties in 1890.(56)  During the next two decades, daughter Lucy entered the Sacred Heart Convent at Dalby, and the other children were married (see Table 2), most moving away from Ipswich. The Canning Street residence was sold about 1900, and Catherine later moved into a house in Martin Street with her youngest daughter, Elizabeth O’Grady, who had married in 1908.(49)  It was here that Catherine died as a result of a gastric infection in August 1909.(57)  On her death the boarding-house passed into the possession of the Ipswich Building Society, and was run for a year or two by Mary Hammill, before being sold in 1911 to Matilda Rae.(58)  After passing through several owners, the site, along with the corner allotment, was purchased in 1962 by the Caltex Oil Company, who erected a petrol station there.(59)

   The Ipswich daily newspaper, The Queensland Times, carried the following notices in its edition of Tuesday, August 24, 1909.(60)


                                                      ELLIOTT.- On the 23rd August, at

                                                      her residence, Martin-street,  Ips-

                                                      wich, Catherine Elliott, relict  of

                                                      the Late Thomas  James   Elliott,

                                                      aged 76 years.

                                                      FUNERAL.-The Friends of Messrs.

                                                       T.  J.,  G.  P.,   and   J.  A.   EL-

                                                      LIOTT, are respectfully invited to at-

                                                      tend  the Funeral of their   Deceased

                                                      Mother, CATHERINE ELLIOTT (re-

                                                      lict of the late Thos. James Elliott),

                                                      to   move from her late Residence,

                                                      Martin-street, at  3  o’clock, THIS

                                                      TUESDAY   AFTERNOON,  for  the

                                                      Ipswich Cemetery.

                                                               J. W. REED,  Undertaker.

Plate 1  The Elliott family about 1886.

This photograph shows some members of the family taken about 1886 (as estimated by their ages) by George Patrick Elliott. Seated are the parents, Thomas James and Catherine(Moriarty). Standing are some of their children. From left to right they are (most likely) John Alexander, Margaret Jane(Gallagher), Agnes, Thomas James junior, and Catherine. The location is probably the rear of the Canning Street residence.[Copy from original glass negative in possession of Monica Elliott, of Brisbane, grand-daughter of George Patrick Elliott.]

A glimpse of the Elliott family,(though inaccurate in some details and spelling; reproduced exactly as in the newspaper), can be gained from Catherine’s obituary in The Queensland Times. (7)

                                                         THE LATE MRS. ELLIOTT

The late Mrs. Catherine Elliott.. ,.. whose death was recorded in our last issue, arrived in Sydney in the ship Thomas Arbutnott, coming  to  Bris- bane in  the Tamir the same year.       She was married in 1851, her hus-    band predeceasing her by 20 years.     She leaves 10 children-three sons and seven daughters. The sons are Mr. T.J. Elliott ( Childers ),  Mr.  G. P.      Elliott (Brisbane), and Mr.  J.  A.   Elliott (Ipswich);  and  the  daughters   are Mrs. T. J. Hurley, Mrs. B. Gal-lagher, and Mrs. S.Murphy (Brisbane), Mrs. J. Real (Clayfield), Mrs. S. Tur- ner (New Zealand), Mrs A. O’Grady (Ipswich) and Sister Mary Scholastica (Convent of the Sacred Heart, Bowen-ville), besides 42 grand children, and    three great-grand children. The funeral  took place yesterday afternoon, and was largely attended,  amongst those pres-  ent being a considerable  contingent  from the railway workshops at North Ipswich-where Mr. J. A. Elliott is employed-and representatives of the Ipswich  Technical  College  committee of  which  he is a  member.   The  rite   at the graveside was performed by the Rev. P. J. Murphy. Wreaths were forwarded by  Mr. G. Evans  and fam-ily, Mr. And  Mrs. S. Palmer, Miss Ethel Sheppard, Mr. and Mrs. Little-ford. Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Bunnett, carriage, trimming, and saw-mill em-ployees, (Ipswich Railway Workshops), Ipswich and West Moreton Rugby Un-ion, and Goods-Shed employees(Ips- wich railway station). A great many telegrams and messages of sympathy were also received.

    TABLE 1 Details of properties owned and/or occupied by the Elliott family in Ipswich, Queensland

   LOCATION         DESCRIPTION                                                             AREA         USE   TENURE            SOURCES


   Williams St.        West Ipswich Alot. 103                                                  3:8            land   owned 1855 – c. 1864                                                                              2, 13, 15

   Williams St.        West Ipswich Alot. 85                                                  2:2:6           land   owned 1857 – c. 1864                                                                              2, 14, 16

   Ellenborough St.                                                                                       Ipswich Town Por. 4 Alot 20       32                    land                                                                                owned 1858 – c. 1864       2, 17

   Bell/Union St.     Ipswich Town Por. 2 Alot. 12                                         16           cottage, shop   rented c. 1861 – 1873                                                                               2, 11, 3, 5

   Waghorn St.       Ipswich Town Por.? Alot. ?                                             32           house   owned? c. 1861 – 1862                                                                            10

   East St.               Ipswich Town Por. 1 Alot. 10, 11, 13  Cottage of Content          2:16                hotel, shop                       rented 1874 – 1876                                                      2, 12, 6

   Pelican St.          North Ipswich Por. 4 Alot. 20                                        32            cottage   owned c. 1863 – c. 1865                                                                          1, 19

   Canning St.        North Ipswich Por. 9 Alot. 16                                        40            house   owned c. 1863 – c. 1900                                                                          2, 18

   Pine St.               North Ipswich Por. 16 Alot. 9                                       1:32          land   owned c. 1876 – c. 1878                                                                          2, 20

   Brisbane St.       Ipswich Town Por. 28 Alot. 2            Prince of Wales                  32                  hotel   owned 1874 – 1909                                                                                   2, 21

   Brisbane St.       Little Ipswich Alot. 16                     One Mile Hotel 1:0:0           hotel   rented 1877        1, 8

   and Moore Lane

   Elizabeth St.       Ipswich Town Por. 10 Alot. 13                                      32            house   owned c. 1866 – c. 1868                                                                          2, 4, 9

   Elizabeth St.       Ipswich Town Por. 10 Alot. 14                                      32            house   rented c. 1868 – 1875                                                                               2, 7


1 ITM 1875, A 1/16.                    9 IMC RB 1866, B/321 no. 327.                   17 Ibid. p 146.

2 ITM 1876, A 1/16                     10 IMC RB 1861-64, B/318 no. 142.            18 IMC RB 1863/64, B/319 no. 1136; IMC RB 1890, B/344 no. 2311.

3 IMC RB 1868, B/322 p 3.       11 Ibid. no. 456.                                               19 IMC VR 1863, A/27939 no. 959; IMC RB 1865, B/322 no. 1566.

4 Ibid. p 16.                                  12 QPOD 1874, pp 58, 101; QPOD 1876, p 390.                           20 IMC VR 1878, A/27951 no. 1870.

5 QPOD 1868, p 64.                  13 IMC VR 1865, A/27940 nos. 1329, 1330.                                   21 Ibid. no. 904; Sales of Crown Land 1859-1962, LAN/AB 1874,

6 IMC RB 1875, B/329 no. 12. 14 Ibid. no. 1314                                                   Beenleigh-Warwick no. 35/288; Cert. of Title, Qld. Vol. 244 Fol. 136.

7 Ibid. no. 270.                            15 Sales of Crown Land 1842-59, SUR/4, p 108.

8 IMC VR 1877, A/27950 no. 1205.                                                                    16 Ibid. p 234.

  TABLE 2  The children and grandchildren of Thomas James and Catherine (MORIARTY) ELLIOTT

    CHILDREN              BORN         DIED          MARRIED  SPOUSE   #       GRANDCHILDREN                                                         

Thomas James         7- 6-1854   27-11-1913 31- 1-1888  V. Murphy  1, 4  Ida Lillian(nm), Leo Thomas(?), Cecilia Agnes(Lee 4), Vera Clare(Sr. M Loreto),

                                                                                                                                  Eileen Frances(F Parnell, Keyzer), Mildred Mary Mafeking(J Parnell, Forsyth),

                                                                                                                                  Monica Josephine(Mother M Vincent)

Mary Theresa            17- 2-1856  29-12-1941 16- 7-1879  T. J. Hurley 2, 4  Mary Ada(Davis 4), Eileen Kathleen(nm), Josephine Agnes(Kreutzer 0), John Albert(8,3),

                                                                                                                                  Ethel Maud(Aylward 4), Thomas Gerald(3), Beatrice Lucy(Riley 0), Kevin Augustus(2),

                                                                                                                                  Leo Denis(5)

Maurice John            25- 2-1858  6- 3-1858       —                   —                        —-

Margaret Jane          6- 7-1859   27- 2-1926        1882      B. Gallagher       3, 4                                    Olive Margaret(O’Connor 3), James(d), Bernard(4), Mary(nm), Catherine(nm),

                                                                                                                                  Eddie(priest), Genevieve(nm), Adrian(3), Veronica(Peoples 6)

Elizabeth Catherine 4- 8-1861         1863         —                   —            4          —-

George Patrick          9- 7-1864   9- 7-1864       —                   —            4          —-

George Patrick          13-10-1865 12-12-1941 25- 9-1895  S. Lynch    4       Eric Francis(3), Stanley St.Clair(2), Mary Doreen(nm), Margaret Josephine(Clarry 3),

                                                                                                                          Edna May (nm), George Desmond(di), Irene Norma(di), Silvia Marie(di),

                                                                                                                          Bernice Marie(di), Cecilia Beryl(Power 3)

Agnes                         20-11-1867 4- 2-1940    29- 2-1892  J W Smith  4, 5  Agnes(Maynard, George Elliott, Lucy Frances(Adamson), Josephine(Lingard), male(d)

                                                                                    c 1907     S T E Murphy    nc

Catherine                   21- 2-1869        1965      25- 5-1890  J Real         4, 6  Kathleen(Inglis 4), Elsie(Lyon 3), Mabel(Frawley 5), James(1)

                                                                                    c ?            J Riddell              nc

John Alexander        13- 6-1872  3-10-1942         1896      E Evans?   4, 7  Alexander Linscott(1), Lloyd Mervyn(nc)

Lucy Frances            23- 3-1874  20- 9-1959       —               —              4       Sacred Heart Nun, Sr. Mary Scholastica

Clara Alice                 16- 1-1876      c 1960     16- 5-1903  S Turner     4, 8  Alma

Elizabeth Moriarty    25- 6-1880  5-10-1960   18- 5-1908  A T O’Grady        4, 9                                    Veronica(nm), one male(di)

Sources. Personal records and/or birth, death and marriage certificates held by #1 Rolly Burgman #2 Mike Vincent; Josie Gleadhill. #3 Nell Ries #4 Inscriptions in prayer book of Sr. M. Scholastica; Monica Elliott #5 QBDM Marriage 1892/928; Robert Lingard Snr(dec. 1995) #6 QBDM Marriage 1891/B14969; D Frawley; Jim Lyon #7 E Duncombe #8 QBDM Marriage 1903/1042; Obituary C. Elliott 1909 #9 QBDM Marriage 1908/1193; Vonie O’Grady, 1985(dec. 1987). For details contact author. KEY: nm not married; ? nothing known; (Lee 4) married Lee 4 children; d died; di died as infant; nc no children.


 1 Baptismal Cert. Catherine Moriarty, St. Mary’s Parish Dingle, 1831

 2 Marriage Cert. M Moriarty & M Cahalane, St. Mary’s Parish Dingle, 1827

 3 Baptismal Cert. John Moriarty, St. Mary’s Parish Dingle, 1828

 4 Baptismal Cert. Mary Moriarty, St. Mary’s Parish Dingle, 1833

 5 Baptismal Cert. James Moriarty, St Mary’s Parish Dingle, 1836

 6 Immigration Board Inspection Sheet – Thomas Arbuthnot. February 6, 1850. AONSW Reel 2461 p 4/4919.

 7 The Queensland Times, Ipswich, August 25, 1909, p 4.

 8 Reid, R and Mongan, C 1996 ‘a decent set of girls…’, p 108, Yass Heritage Project: Yass.

 9 Marriage Cert. James Brassington & Mary Moriarty, 1852, NSW BDM.

10 Baptismal Cert. S W Brassington, 1853, NSW BDM.

11 QLD BDM Letter addendum to Baptismal Cert. T J Elliott (junior) 1854.

12 Baptismal Cert. T J Elliott(junior) 1854, QLD BDM.

13 Criminal Convictions Middlesex 1833-1836. HO/26 Series 40, p 74, 78.

14 Baptismal Record, no. 2081, T J Elliott 16/8/1818, St. Clement Danes Church, London.

15 Criminal Convictions Middlesex 1835 HO/26 Series 41, alphabetical, Elliott, Thomas.

16 Criminal Convictions Middlesex 1836 HO/26 Series 42, p 71.

17 Bateson, C 1974 The Convict Ships 1787-1868, p 354-355, Reed, Sydney.

18 Printed Convict Indents 1837. ‘Lloyds’, p 113-114

19 NSW Muster 1837, HO/10/33 p 46.

20 NSW Census 1841, AONSW 4/1243A Return 142

21 Ticket of Leave Butts NSW 1847-49, No. 48/181, AONSW Reel 961.

22 Register of Prisoners Admitted and Discharged 1850-1864. Brisbane Prison Records, QSA, PRI 1/25. no. 651.

23 Sales of Crown Land 1842-1859, QSA, SUR/4, p 108; ITM, QSA, A 1/16, 1876

24 Ibid. p 234; ITM, ibid.

25 Ibid. p 146; ITM, ibid.

26 IMC RB 1861-64, QSA B/318 nos. 142, 456; IMC VR 1863, A/27939, no. 411; IMC VR 1865, A/27940, no. 46;

    ITM, ibid.

27 IMC VR 1863, A/27939 nos. 959, 1136.

28 IMC VR 1865, A/27940 nos. 1314, 1329, 1330.

29 QPOD 1868, p 64; QPOD 1874, p 101.

30 Interview with Miss V O’Grady, Red Hill, Brisbane, February 16, 1985.(dec. 1987)

31 Interview with Mrs. E M Vincent, Gordon Park, Brisbane, July 15, 1985.(dec. 1994)

32 IMC RB 1866, QSA B/321 nil.

33 IMC VR 1865, A/29940 no. 1657; IMC VR 1878, A/27951 no. 1796; IMC RB 1880, B/334 no. 223;

    IMC VR 1885, A/27954 no. 2468.

34 Cumbrae-Stewart, F W S, no date, Inns of Queensland, unpublished ms, p 74. QUMS 2/711.

35 IMC VR 1865, A/27940 no. 16; QPOD 1874, pp 58, 101; IMC RB 1875, B/329 no. 12.

36 QPOD 1875, p 372; QPOD 1876, p 390; QGG 1874, p 1618; QGG 1875, p 1515; QGG 1876, p 195.

37 IMC VR 1877, A/27950 no. 1025; PUGH 1877, p 396; QGG 1877, p 303.

38 IMC RB 1866, B/321 no. 327; IMC RB 1875, B/329 no. 270.

39 ITM 1876, A 1/16; IMC VR 1878, A/27951 no. 1870.

40 Sales of Crown Land 1874, QSA LAN/AB, Beenleigh-Warwick, no. 35/288; ITM 1876, A 1/16.

41 Certificate of Title, Queensland, Vol. 244 Fol. 136; IMC VR 1878, A/27951 no. 904.

42 Waterson, D B 1968 Squatter, Selector and Storekeeper, p 149, Sydney University Press, Sydney.

43 Pugh 1875, p 372; Pugh 1878, p 429; Pugh 1879, p 435; QGG 1878, p 234;

44 Interview with Mrs. Nell Ries, Rosalie, Brisbane, December 10, 1984.

45 Interview with Rolly Burgman, Toowong, Brisbane, February 17, 1986. 

46 Interview with Jim Lyon, Gilston, Queensland, May 16, 1985.

47 Interview with Ms Monica Elliott, Mt. Gravatt, Brisbane, July 28, 1984.

48 PUGH, 1879 p 435; 1880 p 459; 1881 p 325; 1882 p 337; 1883 p 348; 1884 p 391;

    QPOD, 1885/6 p 371; 1887 p 489; 1888 p 53a.

49 Interview with Miss V O’Grady, Red Hill, Brisbane, January 26, 1985. (dec. 1987);QBDM, 1908/1193.

50 IMC VR 1885, A/27954 nos. 1382, 2468.

51 Certificate of Title, Queensland, Vol. 244 Fol. 136

52 Death Cert. T J Elliott, 1888, QBDM.

53 IMC RB 1889, B/343 nos. 1222, 2335.

54 Ecclesiastical Files 1888, Supreme Court Southern District, Brisbane, QSA Z148 no. 5269.

55 QPOD 1888, p 53a; PUGH 1889, p 97; PUGH 1890, p 106.

56 IMC RB 1890, B/344 nos. 1219, 2311.

57 Death Cert. Catherine Elliott, 1909, QBDM.

58 ICC VR 1910/11, West Ward A/27991 no. 335.

59 Certificate of Title, Queensland, Vol. 1697 Fol. 175, transferred from Vol. 244 Fol. 136.

60 The Queensland Times, Ipswich, August 24, 1909, p 4.


£               pounds-shillings-pence

Alot.          allotment

A:R:P       acres roods perches (land area)

c.               about

HO            Home Office

ICC VR    Ipswich City Council Valuation Register

IMC RB    Ipswich Municipal Council Rate Book

IMC VR    Ipswich Municipal Council Valuation Register

ITM           Ipswich Town Map

NSW BDM                      New South Wales Births Deaths And Marriages Registrar

Por.          portion

PUGH      Pugh’s Almanac and Queensland Directory

QBDM      Queensland Births Deaths and Marriages Registrar

QGG        Queensland Government Gazette

QPOD      Queensland Post Office Directory

QSA         Queensland State Archives”.

Thanks Mike. Please let us know if there is anything you’d like to correct, or to add.

My very best wishes to everyone about to plunge into the joys and frustrations of researching and writing their family history.

A tweeter asked recently what is the best first line/last line in any book you’ve read? I took ‘line’ to include ‘sentence’ and answered with the last sentence of Flann O’Brien’s At Swim Two Birds.

He went home one evening and drank three cups of tea with three lumps of sugar in each cup, cut his jugular with a razor three times and scrawled with a dying hand on a picture of his wife good-bye, good-bye, good-bye“. A bit grim?

Any ideas? What would you suggest?

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (81): Lost and Found, a few more orphan stories

One of the advantages of growing older is that the urge to go minimalist grows stronger. The other day I was clearing out some cupboards and examining computer files located in different places, some of them with strange, unrecognisable names. And lo, i came across some orphan stories I think, i hope i forwarded to the new people looking after the irishfaminememorial website in about 2009. Most of the stories had come to me when i was responsible for the first version of the website. One disadvantage is that i don’t always have the names, or know how to get in touch with those who sent them to me. Forgive me then if these stories are not new to you, and if the people to whom they belong are not properly recognised. Maybe they will get in touch again.

My other good news is that Barefoot & Pregnant? volume 1 has been digitised as part of a research project at Melbourne Uni https://untapped.org.au You can find it under the Non Fiction category and the date of publication, 1991. It will be available in some libraries and on other platforms from 6 December, I’m told. How i got into such illustrious company, heaven knows.

The stories below, sent to me by orphan descendants in the noughties, are not in any order.

Here’s the first one. I’ll keep searching for more. If any of the authors wants me to remove any of this, please just ask. And please excuse my rubbishy attempt at formatting.

(1) Eliza Caroline orphan; Mary Ann Minahan from Skibbereen by Kathleen Newman

I’m updating the latest information online about the Irish Famine Orphans because an Irish researcher has contacted me through Vol 2 of Barefoot & Pregnant about my great-grandmother, Mary Ann Minihan (Minnahan) p.392. I found your entries on this forum.

After you published Vol 2, I found that Mary Ann died at Yarra Bend Asylum on 10 May 1901 having been taken there from the Melbourne Hospital. After ruling out all other possibilities, I am 99 per cent sure she is the Mary Brown whose Inquest papers are at the Victorian PRO.

She also had 10 children, not just the 8 I had previously found. Through the records of her last child I found my grandfather’s record as a Ward of the State as well. The first of her many convictions appears to coincide with the date of her youngest child being made a State Ward in 1878.

Looking forward to Vol 3?

Kathleen Newman”

Anne Cooney from Antrim per Earl Grey sent to me by ???

It is always fascinating to see how others record their research.


Name: Anne Cooney

DOB: 1828(?)                    POB: Antrim, County Antrim



                   Reads:                 Writes: 

Religion:  RC

Physical Description

      Height:         Hair:         Eyes:          Complexion: 





Belfast Poor Law Union Workhouse

       When Arrived:           Reason for Entry:                          Age:  


       When Left:  May 1848                                                          Reason for Leaving:   Emigration        Age:  20


       Ireland Departure Port:  Belfast                        Ship:   Athlone         Date:   May 1848

       Arrive England:   May 1848

       UK Departure Port:  Plymouth                         Ship:  Earl Grey        Date:  5 June 1848

       Arrive Sydney:  6 Oct 1848     Housed: Aboard Earl Grey

       Depart Sydney:  17 Oct 1848                 Ship:  Ann Mary Arrival Brisbane:  20 Oct 1848

       Housed: Brisbane hospital until indentured    

       Indented To:   George S Le Breton, North Brisbane, £14, 3 months (he was a trustee of the Brisbane Hospital)  

Close Associates/Friends

       Name:                                                        Belfast Girl: 

       Name:                                                        Belfast Girl: 

       Name:                                                        Belfast Girl: 

       Name:                                                        Belfast Girl:

       Name:                                                        Belfast Girl:

Marriage (in Australia)

Annie Cooney

DOM: 1849 (NSW V1849153 96/1849) (QLD 1854/BMA0345) QLD reference is for Annie Cooney and John Ibell            

Where:  Roman Catholic church, Brisbane

Banns/Licence:                                    Celebrant: 


Sign/Made mark:   

Spouse:   John Ibell                              Religion:   


Convict:                     Ex-convict:  Believed to be (Portsea 1838) Free Settler: 

      ToL:    45/811                          CoF:   

      Location at Freedom:   Moreton Bay

Note:  The name Ibell is so unusual that the probability of there being two John Ibells in the Brisbane area in the 1848/49 period is fairly remote and therefore believe that the convict John Ibell is the man who married Anne Cooney.



No QLD or NSW birth or death records have been found for any children born to Anne Cooney and John Ibell

DOD:  Anne seems to have disappeared from the face of the earth.  No QLD or NSW death record has been found for Anne Cooney or Anne Ibell.

A John Ibell married a Mary McGill in Ipswich in 1857 (QLD 1859/C000098) (NSW 1849/1857) and had at least two children by her, both born in Drayton.


Barefoot and Pregnant? Vol 2


Libby Connors’ address to the 2006 ABC Christmas broadcast>>


<<Eliza Icombe per Lady Peel by Roland Webb

My Great Grandmother, Eliza (Elizabeth) Annie Icombe aged 15 at the time, came to Australia on the ship the “Lady Peel” arriving in July 1849.  I believe she could read and write although the marriage licence (No 504) (Index V1853738 39C/1853) indicates differently.  She married a Thomas Francis Regin from Port Jackson in Sydney on the 22 December, 1853.  Witnesses to the wedding were her sister Catherine Icombe of Little George Street who came to Australia on the ship “Kate” in 1851 and James Keem of Port Jackson.

 Eliza and Thomas apparently set out for Ballarat, Victoria in 1854 by oxen and dray despite Thomas having a maritime history.  They first settled in a tent at Burnt Bridge between Ballarat and Geelong and later at Yendon in a hotel near Buninyong.  There first baby Charlotte Regin was born in 1856.  Records after this indicate that Thomas Francis Regin became Thomas Francis Webb.  I am not sure of the reason for this but when Eliza had her first child she was nursed by a Mrs Regan.  The following 8 children were “Webb”s.

 Thomas’s father was a sea captain and died at sea. His mother may have been Mrs Regin the person who nursed their first child.  Perhaps she was initially Mrs Webb and as a result of her husbands death at sea remarried and became Mrs Regin.  Maybe Thomas at first took his mothers remarried name but for legal or other reasons reverted to the name “Webb”.  However, at this stage this is all speculation.

 Eliza Icombe’s sister Catherine who came to Australia on the Ship “Kate” died at Bathurst in 1876.(NSWbdm Reg No 4956/1876).  Eliza had another sister Ethinda Icombe who came to Australia by ship which landed at Geelong, Victoria in 1856/7.

 The marriage of Eliza Icombe in Sydney in 1853 and the travelling from one state to another plus the changing of the family name from Regin to Webb would make it a difficult for any Genealogist (especially from overseas) searching the “Icombe” line.

 My query in “The Female Irish (Potato Famine) Orphans list is under the heading “Other” where it states Eliza’s Employment by a J Hunt from Balmain, 9 Pounds, 3 yrs Appendix J No 139, 28 Jun 1850 Mr J Hunt Balmain, returned to service promising to behave better.    Is this a court record and where could I locate it?

 Roland Webb

10 Hillside Drive

Ballarat Vic 3350.  

Dear Trevor,

The detective work started in 1972 and was initially commenced by my cousin Glenis Rusca (nee Webb) while I tagged along.  Sadly, Glenis passed away after a long illness.  Others have since contributed along the way and I believe may be further advanced than I.

I mentioned that one of Eliza’s sisters was Ethinda and this should be corrected to Ethelinda. Ethelinda came to Australia on the ship Persia which landed at Geelong.  Documentary proof of this was obtained in 1972 from the original books in the State Library of Victoria.  The thermal copy that was taken at the time has deteriorated such that it is difficult to read.  “On line” I have had difficulty finding a copy of the original ships passenger list.

Eliza’s parents were Thomas Icombe and Mary Maria Murray and they lived in Ireland.  Your book “Barefoot and Pregnant? Vol.1″ shows Eliza was from Bartinglass, Wicklow.  Eliza claimed she was from Honiton, Devon and her father was a Major Icombe who had spent some time in Ireland.  Eliza claimed, according to one of her grandchildren, “living in County Wicklow was the highest feather in her cap.”???

The National Archives (England) show that a Thomas Icombe born at Spittalfields, London and Middlesex served in the English 15th Foot Regiment from 1814 to 1835 and was discharged at 39 years of age.  This Regiment I believe spent most of its time in Canada and Ireland during his period of service.  This Thomas is believed to be Eliza’s father.  Research by other members of the family concur with this but I have not yet been able to substantiate the links with documentary evidence.

According to the Church of Latter Day Saints, Brisbane records Eliza was christened Ellisa Hicomb on the 27th September, 1837.  Eliza died on the 16th May,1911 and was buried on the 18th May, 1911 at the Ballarat New Cemetery 2A No. 01.  During her life Eliza  had 7 children, and shared a hotel, grocery and butcher business with her husband Thomas.  At first they lived at Burnt Bridge (before the Ballarat to Geelong railway) and shortly after they moved to Yendon.  The family purchased many blocks of land surrounding Yendon (mostly small) and Eliza lived in the Yendon area all her life.

Trevor, adding a few lines alongside Eliza’s name on your website I hope would be helpful to others. However, I feel you would be more adept than I in formulating the words as I guess you are restricted by how much and what should be written.  If any information I have supplied proves to be incorrect I will inform you and hope that it is easily changed.   In relation to an address I find the internet convenient and hope that most people have access to the internet and therefore please place my internet email address on your website.

Thank you for the information on Volume 2.  I have been to the Ballarat Library to check it out and at some time in the future intend visiting the Mitchell Library in Sydney.  I obtained Volume 1 in 1999 from the National Library in Canberra whilst I was working there.  I copied the pages relevant to Eliza at the time.  While there, I also found on microfiche a copy of Eliza’s Marriage Licence and reference to her sister Catherine in an alphabetical list of “Assisted Passengers” into Sydney or Australia.

Happy hunting

Roland Webb



JOHANNA SMYTH/SMITH per “Elgin” to Adelaide 10 September 1849 by ??? (possibly Heather Sushames?)

Johanna could have come from around Bandon, Cork but I have not found any Workhouse records relating to her. Her traveling box which had been passed down to one of her daughters was always called “The Bandon Box” which her family thought she brought out full of monogrammed linen etc. She told them grand stories of her wealthy background but as she signed her marriage certificate with a cross, she’d obviously had not been educated. No mention was ever made that she had come out as an orphan.

No records have been found as to where Johanna worked after arriving in Adelaide.

She first turned up in a passenger list in the South Australian newspaper as Mrs. Creasey arriving in Adelaide per “Emu” schooner from Port Lincoln on 7 November 1850. A Mr. Creasey was also with her. Perhaps she had been working at Port Lincoln and met George there.

George Creasey and Johanna Smith were married in Kooringa Church of England near Burra, on 15 March 1851. George was probably working in the Burra copper mines. George is thought to have arrived in the Colony as a ships carpenter, but no record can be found. His seaman’s papers at Kew are incomplete and do not show how he signed off from his last voyage, but he probably ‘jumped ship’ and this could be why he altered the spelling of his surname. I haven’t been able to verify any of the stories he told my mother about his English family and feel he, like Johanna, had a vivid imagination.

A George Creasey traveled to Melbourne from Adelaide on the “Fanny” on 12 November 1851 and sometime after that Johanna must have followed as a son George Thomas was baptised at St. James Church, Melbourne on 27 January 1852. Date of birth was shown as 7 January 1852, but doesn’t state where.

George apparently then went to Tasmania – probably working his way over as a crew member of the “City of Melbourne” under George Smith. He returned to Melbourne as George Creasey per “William” on 9 February 1852. The couple may have then gone to Ballarat but on 14 January 1853, the Adelaide Observer lists them as arriving in Adelaide from Melbourne on the “Dreadnought”. It was noted they had a letter from Captain Laurie.

They left for Tasmania sometime in 1854 as the birth of a daughter Maria Jane was registered in Launceston on 12 September 1854 giving a birth date of 7 July 1854, but not stating where. On Maria Jane’s marriage certificate she stated she was born at Ballarat.

The couple settled on a farm in Winkleigh, northern Tasmania and in all had 13 children, all except the eldest who was accidentally killed when he was 11, lived until adulthood.

Johanna died in Launceston Hospital of cancer on 16 May 1896 and was buried in the Catholic Cemetery, Launceston which later became a bowling green. I believe there was a headstone on her grave but they were all destroyed when Patons & Baldwins took over the land many years later. A sad end to a very courageous lady.>>

(5) The following one was originally a PDF file. I haven’t converted it to the standard of Fiona’s original. The footnotes are interleaved with the text, for example. Persist with it. It is a good story well put together.

Mary Jane Magnar (aka Mary McGuire) by Fiona Cole

(Born: c1832 – Died: 1 December 1882)

Mary Jane McGuire (Magnar) was born c.1837 to parents Thomas Magnar and Johanna

Frein, Tipperary, county Tipperary, Ireland. 1

Mary Jane came to Australia on the “Pemberton” as a Female Orphan at the age of 17.

On the register, she is initially listed as Mary McGuire, with the name Magner written

beside the first surname in smaller print. Mary Magnar was received into the Depot on

26 May, 1849 by “A. Cunningham” of “Kinlochewe,” a village just outside of Melbourne

on the old Sydney Road, near Donnybrook in the district of Merriang in the electorate of

Whittlesea. She was licensed out (hired) to the Cunningham’s for a period of six months

on the 31st of May, 1849, at the rate of 10 -0-0. Her usual profession is cited as being a

‘child’s maid.’2

Andrew Cunningham held a freehold in the district of Merriang at the time he enrolled on

the Australian Electoral Roll 1 May, 1849 and on the 1851 roll held a freehold in the

Plenty Ranges in the district of North Bourke. In the Victorian elections of 1856, he is

listed as a freeholder at Merriang, Whittlesea Division. This is believed to the same ‘A.

Cunningham’ who received Mary Jane Magnar from the Port of Melbourne. A

Cunningham is listed in the Banniere’s directory of 1856 as a farmer at Whittelsea3. It is

likely therefore, that Mary Jane was employed as a farm maid and worked on the

property north of Melbourne from 1849 until she left the Cunningham’s employment.

Andrew Cunningham, born around 1811 would have been approximately 38 years of age

when Mary Jane Magnar came to work for him and his wife, Martha (nee McDougall) at

Kinlochewe. Although Andrew and Martha Cunningham had a son (Charles Andrew)

born in 1851 at Merriang (who died in 1860 (aged 10)) it is possible that Mary Jane was

the child’s maid for a period of time, but more likely that she worked on the farm as a


In 1861, the Cunningham’s had another child, Martha Eliza, but by this time, Mary Jane

Magnar had well and truly left their employ.

Sometime before 1856 Mary Jane Magnar left the Whittlesea district and moved to

Beechworth, possibly under the influence of friends she had made while on board the

Pemberton. The 1856 marriage register showing Mary Jane’s marriage to Richard Young

Trotter also shows that the next marriage to be performed was for that of her shipmate,

Mary Collins.4

1 Richard Youngtrotter and Mary Jane Magnar Marriage Certificate –

2 Shipping List – Pemberton, 14 May, 1849, pg 13 (PROV- Microfiche)


4 Marriages solemnized in the District of Beechworth, 1856, nos 73 & 74

The marriages were performed by Rev John C Symons, an evangelical minister who

spent several years ministering on convict ships and throughout the gold fields, trying to

bring God to the lives of the poor.

Mary Jane and Richard Young Trotter lived at Beechworth and had at one child5, Mary

Jane Youngtrotter (who would go on to become Mary Jane Harrison and then Mary Jane


Mary Jane’s husband, Richard worked as a carrier and a teamster during their short

marriage. He died by accidental drowning in the Mitta Mitta River at Morse’s Station on

5 November 1857.6 Surprisingly, there was no inquest into his death, Richard and Mary

Jane Youngtrotter appear to have been living at Yackandandah at this time, but after his

death, Mary Jane appears to have returned to live in Beechworth.

Mary Jane Youngtrotter registered the birth of three children (1858, 1862 and 1865) after

the death of her husband in 1857. None of these children survived more than a few days.

The first of these children, Thomas, was the subject of an inquest and Mary Jane was held

accountable for Manslaughter by Neglect. The charges were dropped and the coroner

found that she had no case to answer. Witnesses were brought before the court both for

and against Mary Jane, for the prosecution, a witness by the name of William Hughes

testifies that Mary Jane was frequently drunk and ‘could not even hold a glass of brandy

without spilling it.’ In her defence, Thomas Conway, apparently the father of the child

and her civil union partner claimed that while Mary Jane was known to drink, she was

not incapable of looking after the child, nor was she drunk the night the child died. He

testified that when he returned home on the night the child died, he found Mary Jane

sitting on a stool, crying. She said to him “Thomas, my child is dying.” at which point,

he left to find the doctor to help the child, but by the time they returned it was too late.7

Mary Jane Youngtrotter appears to have lived a somewhat depraved life after the death of

her third baby, as she was incarcerated from 1865 for larceny (stealing)8 and vagrancy9 (a

term often applied to women of no means, and who often resorted to prostitution). It

appears that Thomas Conway either died or did not stay with her after this point as he

does not feature as a near relative of next of kin on her admittance records to the

Beechworth Asylum.

Mary Jane Youngtrotter’s only surviving daughter (Mary Jane Youngtrotter (Harrison,

Gould) was admitted as of the state to the Industrial School in 1865 and then assigned to

the Browns of Curyo station in 1868.

5 Richard Trotter Death Certificate

6 Ibid

7 Thomas Young Trotter Inquest VPRS30/PO Unit 219 File NCR 2339

8 VPRS 516/P1 Central Register of Female Prisoners, Mary Jane Youngtrotter, Prison Reg. No 573, Vol 1,

pg 573

9 Mary Jane Young Trotter – Industrial School Records VPRS 4527, Vol OS2, pg 147 (No 633)

On 12 August, 1871 Mary Jane Youngtrotter was admitted to the Beechworth Lunatic

Asylum and released a month later on 26 September 1871.10

On Thursday 6 September 1873 Mary Jane Youngtrotter appeared before Judge Bowman

at the Beechworth General Sessions. She was charged with Attempted Suicide. The

prosecutor told the judge that her crime was a misdemeanour and recommended no heavy

penalty. The Judge ordered that she be released to enter into her own recognisance

provided she pay a 20 surety (or as the Wodonga Herald claims, a 90 surety11) and a

50 fine to keep the peace for six months, or in default, one month’s imprisonment.12

It appears that Mary Jane Youngtrotter could not afford the surety or the fine and was

remanded at Beechworth Prison as this is listed on her subsequent admission to the

Beechworth Asylum as her last known place of residence.13

Mary Jane Youngtrotter was admitted to the Beechworth Asylum 2 October, 1873 (a

month after her court appearance before Judge Bowen – the time prescribed by Bowen

that she should serve in default of payment of the surety and fine) and she remained there

until her death 1 December 1882.14

Mary Jane Youngtrotter’s death certificate states that she died aged 45,15 however, her

marriage certificate to Richard Youngtrotter, provides an alternative and more realistic

date of birth, stating her age as 23 in 1856, making her 59 when she died.

Fredrick Western (Medical Superintendant) at Beechworth Asylum noted that Mary Jane

Youngtrotter ‘suffered from delusinal [sic] insanity and delicate bodily health.’ and that

10 months before her death she was ‘somewhat feeble and unable to go about.’16 By the

20 November 1882, Mary Jane Youngtrotter was ‘rather ill and confined to bed on the

23rd she was transferred to the Hospital. She did not improve and got gradually worse and

worse [?] and died and her death was reported to have taken place at 5.30am.’17

There are no case notes for Mary Jane Youngtrotter time incarcerated at Beechworth

Assylum – PROV holds female case books 1878 – 1912.

© Fiona Cole, 2005

10 VPRS 7446 P1 Alphabetical Lists of Patients in Asylums (VA 2863)

11 The Wodonga Herald, Saturday 6 September 1873

12 The Ovens and Murray Advertiser, Friday 5 September 1873

13 VPRS 7446 P1 Alphabetical Lists of Patients in Asylums (VA 2863)

14 Ibid

15 Mary Jane Youngtrotter death certificate – Appendix XX

16 Public Records Office Victoria (VPRS 24/P/0000 – Unit 446, 1882/1373).

17 Ibid.

(6) Finally, here is another interesting one, evidently written by a genealogical expert, that came to me originally as a PDF file. There are two lovely photographs at the end i’m still trying to capture. Fingers crossed. The covering letter that accompanied some of these great stories has disappeared into the aether, alas. I wonder who wrote this one.

“Lady Kennaway”
Arrived to Hobson’s Bay – 6th. December 1848
Ellen EAGAN/EGAN, aged 16 years, from Barney, Louth, Cornwall, departed 11th September
1848 from Plymouth, England on the “Lady Kennaway”, one of the Famine Orphan Girl Ships to
Australia, arriving into Hobson’s Bay, Victoria on 6 December 1848. She was admitted to the depot
in King Street, Melbourne on the 13th. December 1848. I firmly believe Sarah EAGAN/EGAN
aged 19 years, from Ballinasloe, Galway who travelled on the same ship was Ellen’s older sister,
because at a later date family relationships were confirmed. A brother, Patrick EGAN was also
located at Whitehead’s Creek..
(Note: Extracts about Ellen EAGAN/EGAN & Sarah EAGAN/EGAN compiled initially from article by Trevor
McClaughlin, ‘Barefoot and Pregnant’ Female Orphans who emigrated from Irish Workhouses to Australia, 1848-
1850′, in Familia: Ulster Genealogical Review, incorporating Ulster Genealogical & Historical Guild ‘Newsletter’,
Vol.2, No.3, 1987, pp.31-36 and updated from shipping lists in New South Wales and South Australia. Shipping List
:”Lady Kennaway”- Arrived 6 December 1848: Admitted to depot 13 December SRNSW 4/4816 Reel 2144 (with thanks
to Ada Ackerley, Linda Paoloni and to Dr Pauline Rule)

We know little or nothing about Ellen’s life in County Galway, other than the names of her parents:
James EGAN (occupation:Farmer) & Ellen WHITE (Ellen’s Death Certificate), and what has been
recorded about other young women from similar circumstances who survived during the ‘famine’
years. Ellen is recorded as being from Barney, Louth, Cornwall. During those devastating years she
may have been employed in County Louth, and in Cornwall, England while awaiting her departure
on “Lady Kennaway”.
The “Lady Kennaway”, a barque of 585 tons, measuring 38 metres long, 9 metres wide and 5
metres deep, was built of teak timber in Calcutta in 1817. The ship’s Master was – James SANTRY
for a voyage of 89 days, with a total of 256 passengers – 191 female orphans, 25 free settlers and 40
crew members. She carried a cargo of -306 casks of Beer; 12 hogsheads of Beer; 55 cases of Wine;
10 hogsheads of Brandy; 12 quarter casks of Brandy; 10 hogsheads of Rum; 9 trunks of
Merchandise; 5 cases of Merchandise; 11 cases of Printing Material; 7 hogsheads of Tinware; 1
case of Tinware; 18 crates of Earthenware and 4 cases of Books, and enough water and food for 95
days. There was enough clothing for 256 people. ( Contributed by Laurie Thompson (PPPG Member No.
944) http://home.vicnet.net.au/~pioneers/pppg5bg.htm)
The “Lady Kennaway” made three voyages as a convict transport to Hobart in 1835 and 1851 and to
Sydney in 1836. She also made voyages with Government assisted emigrants – to Sydney in 1841,
and to Port Phillip in 1848, 1850 and 1853. www.findboatpics.com/wpct.html

“Lady Kennaway” a barque of 585 tons.
Artist: William Adolphus Knell Date: 1840 Source: http://www.nmm.ac.uk

A Report by The Immigration Board of Inspectors under the chairmanship of Dr John Patterson
on the “Lady Kennaway’s” arrival to Hobson’s Bay (Williamstown) reveals that “on board this
vessel were 7 families, 191 girls, and one child died on the journey. The people arrived in excellent
health and exhibited the appearance of having been on full allowance. Not a single complaint was
made”. Ann KELLY, an orphan from Letterkenny wrote to her family: “I have arrived safely at my
journey’s end after a very good voyage of 3 months. We were all very well treated on board the ship by every person, the doctor, Captain and Matron being all very kind to us”
Apparently girls aged between 14 and 18 years had been selected from several poorhouse unions of
Ireland. Generally they were ‘Roman Catholic, were low in stature, of stout make, had been in
service previously before leaving their native land’, and were healthy enough to endure the rigors of
the harsh sea voyage of three months. ‘Most of them were illiterate, although the authorities issued
them with a Prayer Book and a Testament’.¹ An experienced naval surgeon Dr Henry G BROCK
and 48 year old English matron, Christine ENSOR were appointed by the British Emigration
Commission to supervise the voyage. The girls are described as ‘generally of a stout make, rather
low in stature and endowed with strongly marked Irish features’, anxious to please their employers
and would keep in the paths of virtue.² (Sources:(1)-Female orphans from Donegal Dispatched to Australia
1848 – 1850 – Part 2 By May McClintock) & (2)-‘Perilous Voyages to the New Land’ by Michael Cannon, page 139-140
On her arrival to Melbourne in December 1848, Ellen EAGAN/EGAN was employed by A.
WREIDE, Altona for £14 for 6 months.
Sometime, possibly mid 1849, Ellen was engaged by Thomas WADE, a widower, to care for his
two sons – William aged 6 years & Henry aged 2 years. Family hearsay said that Ellen accompanied
them on a ship to Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania). Although Thomas had been discharged in
Sydney in 1847, as being medically unfit for duties (with the 99th. Regiment of Foot after 22 years
of service), he may have been seconded to temporary duties in Tasmania. On return to Melbourne,
Ellen married Thomas WADE, at St. Peter’s Church of England, Melbourne – 9 December 1850,
and again – at St. Francis’s Catholic Church – 2 February 1853. (Marriage Certificates)
There are two possible explanations for their two marriages to each other. Their first marriage was
by Banns in St Peter’s Church of England in 1850. Thomas was an Anglican, and because he (aged
42 years), was literate and had more life experiences, one could assume Ellen adopted a subordinate
role as an 18 year old inexperienced country girl living in a new land.
Their second marriage at St Francis’s Catholic Church, was 15 days prior the death of their first
child, 8 months old son- Thomas James WADE who was buried 17 Febuary 1853 (Document: New
South Wales Roman Catholic Burials, Parish of St. Francis’s County of Bourke No.45333-1853). The church was
opposite their Boot and Shoe Store in Lonsdale Street (part of the back section of Myer Stores).
Also at this time Sarah EAGAN/EGAN (Ellen’s sister) married Patrick McCARTY/McCARTHY at
St Francis’s Church. It could be said that strong coercive influences from her sister Sarah; and the
Catholic Priest. The priest would have claimed that Ellen’s first marriage to Thomas was not in the
Catholic church, and she was not really married in the eyes of God. One can only speculate as to
their reasons.
Between 1850-1854, they were living at 14 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, Thomas, a Master
Bootmaker in the Army, manufactured Wellington boots and shoes. In 1847, Thomas operated a
Boot and Shoe Shop in Pitt Street, Sydney to raise £18, the amount he was required to pay for the
purchase of his discharge from the Army (Document: 5 years service:Enlisted 25 July 1842-Discharged 31
December 1847). Thomas was granted a Pension for Life as an Out-Pensioner. According to the
Melbourne Rate Books -1853, the shop was a three room brick dwelling Lot 13 near to Elizabeth
Street. It was during this time that their first son – Thomas James WADE (1851-1853) was born,
and she also had the additional care of her two stepsons – William and Henry.
In 1853, a crude water colour drawing of their likenesses was done and signed by a T. HARDY.
This drawing is now in possession of Michael WADE, the last WADE of Thomas & Ellen’s
descendants. It is said to be of Thomas WADE handing Ellen (EGAN) an envelope said to contain
the deeds of some property. It may have been a small allocation of land given to those who had
given long military service (22 years) in the 99th. Regiment of Foot. They were both dressed in
black. Ellen held a red rose, and Thomas wore a cravat and brown floral patterned waistcoat.
Judging by her appearance, Ellen was of slight build and diminutive, probably around 5 feet in
stature because Thomas’s records state he was 5 feet 11 inches tall. (Pension Document -1868).
It could be suggested that during these years, Ellen developed self confidence and a higher level of
social standing in the community. She had the security of her husband’s army pension, and
accumulated a moderate level of comfort.
Some kinfolk who were privy to early family information, said that Ellen was not only able take on
the responsibility for the two sons of her husband’s first marriage, and that of her own seven
children, but also the care of her elderly husband as his health declined following a severe stroke.
All of her other six children – Ellen(1854), Mary(1857) , Sarah(1859), Thomas James (2)(1862),
Patrick (1864), & Michael (1868) were born Kilmore to Broadford.
On part of the 19 acres at Sugarloaf Creek, Ellen was the Licencee of the Sugarloaf Creek Hotel
from 1882. (The hotel was near the three Chain Road – once the main route from Port Phillip to
Sydney). She, with the assistance of her three youngest sons, was able to operate any endeavors
they undertook on this and two other nearby blocks on the Sugarloaf Creek, raising cattle involving
dairying which had developed in the Broadford district. Part of the 19 acres she leased out to Hunt
& Ahern for a Cattle Auction Yards. Another part, was let for a good rental to a Saw Mill
Proprietor. The whole WADE family became fully integrated into this and nearby communities.
Cousins claimed that the WADEs “mixed with the upper class families such as– Turnbulls,
Grimwades, Michaelis Hallensteins, in silks and satins at weekends” It was said that the Turnbulls
were first cousins to the Wades.
After the death of her husband, Ellen continued to operate her enterprises with the assistance of her
children. One interesting Report in the Seymour Newspaper is indicative of the strong, fearless and
assertive person Ellen had become.
“In my thirty years in this colony, this is the first time I have been summoned to the Court by any
man”, was the reply to the Magistrate in the Seymour Court where Ellen appeared over a legal
battle with a neighbour over accusations of broken fences and straying cattle. The diminutive Ellen
was quite indignant about the matter. At another appearance – 3 February 1885 in the Seymour
Court; M. J. McCULLA v Ellen WADE in which £5 was claimed for damage of a bull trespassing
…… was heard with this one. “Ellen WADE deposed: “Occupy a paddock joining Mr McCULLA.
Never asked him to let his bull into paddock.”.. “On 9th. Inst. saw the beast in the yard with some
cows. When Mr McCULLA called for cattle, I demanded £5 damage for the bull. Gave Mr Mc
CULLA a receipt on account showing balance of £5 due. No cattle but his ever got into my
paddock.” A written notice was served on McCULLA to put up a fence but he refused. McCULLA
was laughed out of court because a WADE bull about he lodged a complaint had been dead for over
five years. Incidentally, other neighbours had court battles with the same man over exactly the same
One of Ellen’s grandchildren, Ellen Veronica Wade recalled visiting other EGAN family members
at Whitehead’s Creek. She said that an Uncle James EGAN was the one-armed mail coach driver
referred to in a history of Seymour by Martindale, “A New Crossing Place”. A Patrick EGAN, a
farmer of Seymour was an Executor of the Will of Ellen WADE in 1892.
Although Ellen had operated the Sugarloaf Creek Hotel since 1882, the hotel was auctioned on the
1st June, 1892, to pay creditors of her insolvent deceased estate.
Ellen had to reestablish herself after the death of her husband in 1885, when the income from his
military pension ceased. Because she had initially lived in and was familiar with central Melbourne,
she returned there, and relocated to a tenement residence at- 19 Provost Street, North Melbourne,
with her daughter Sarah & grand daughter Mary WADE, and her grandson John Michael David
MORRISSEY (1880-1945). In 1908, after the death of Ellen’s son Michael aged 40 years, his
widow Sarah Maria, with four young dependent daughters resided in a rental dwelling in Little
Provost Street which backed onto Provost Street.
Ellen died: 19 Provost St. North .Melbourne aged 57yrs-10.2.1892. Cause of Death: Apoplexy
THOMAS James & ELLEN WADE are buried at Dabyminga Cemetery (Tallarook Cemetery)
Photograph of Water Color of Thomas & Ellen (nee EGAN) WADE c1853 signed T. HARDY.

Watercolour c. 1853

Photograph -Ellen (nee EAGAN/EGAN) WADE c. 1890. Melbourne.

Ellen Eagan/Wade c. 1890


I’m looking forward to seeing Matt Rubinstein’s great work in digitising Barefoot 1. Information about individual orphans has been updated more than once since the book was first published by the Genealogical society of Victoria in 1991. And here in this blog I’ve added some “footnotes” relating to the documents about the Earl Grey scandal. But having a digital version of the original available for everyone is a delight.

It is now available on Amazon.com, Apple Books and Kobo books. If there are any royalties, they should go to the charities i was involved setting up with GIFCC members, Tom Power, Marie Tunks and Perry McIntyre at the end of the noughties . See the Irishfaminememorial.org website

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (80): Freeman’s Journal

You may remember a few posts ago (post 76 ‘Re-defining the task’ https://wp.me/p4SlVj-2sJ ), i suggested we look at the Freeman’s Journal to understand the Sydney Irish community’s response to the unfolding scandal about the Irish orphan ‘girls’ in the late 1850s. Why did they take so long to respond to an 1855 Immigration report condemning the Cork women who had recently arrived by the Lady Kennaway? Two of my earlier posts, 26 and 28, about the ensuing 1858-9 NSW Government enquiry had tried to put that enquiry into context, suggesting we do not accept it at face value. See https://wp.me/p4SlVj-BT or/and https://earlgreysfamineorphans.wordpress.com/2016/01/21/earl-greys-irish-famine-orphans-28/

The enquiry had morphed into looking at the ‘Earl Grey Irish Female orphan scheme’.

Did anyone take up my invitation to have a go at using that great resource, https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/? I’ve only just had a quick dash at it. Here’s an article worth following up that throws light on the Irish community’s response. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/115563278

The article shows how long it took for the Blue Books , that is, the published reports of British Parliamentary committees and royal commissions, to reach Sydney. The ‘tyranny of distance’ had struck again. It was not until 1857 that Governor Denison’s and Immigration Agent H.H. Browne’s condemnation of Irish female immigration became widely known. Or is that too simple? Browne’s report on the alleged scandal associated with the young Irish women from Cork Workhouse who arrived in Port Jackson by the Lady Kennaway in 1855 finished with,

Orphan immigration having been so distasteful to the inhabitants of this colony, the Board did not contemplate the arrival of any fresh drafts of that class of immigrants. This feeling against them still exists, and the Board feel that they should ill perform their duty were they not to bring this fact pointedly under the notice of his Excellency the Governor-General, with a recommendation that instruction be given to the Commissioners not to continue this description of emigration, it being most unsuitable to the requirements of the colony, and, at the same time, distasteful to the majority of people.

Freeman’s Journal, 5 December, 1857, p.2.

The Journal continued to print extracts from the Blue Books, the following from Lord John Russell via the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners to Sir William Denison,

We learn from the report…that the conduct of the young women on the voyage was good; that the care with which they had been selected was apparent…We shall act on this expression of opinion (that is, that of H.H. Browne, which was supported by William Denison, asking for an end to this sort of migration) although we may be permitted to observe that the readiness with which the young women in question obtained situtations, and the wages paid them, are scarcely reconcileable with the statement that they are”most unsuitable” to the wants of the colony.

Freeman’s Journal, ibid.

The author goes on to accuse the Governor-General of acting too hastily in support of the Sydney Immigration Board, and to raise the issue of prejudice against Roman Catholics. Sectarianism was never far from the surface of colonial politics, and beyond.

Without accusing the gentlemen constituting this Board, viz., Messrs. H.H. Browne, Gother G. Mann, and Haynes G. Alleyne, of having been influenced by undue motives in coming to their expressed conclusion, yet, when it is remembered that they are all identified with the modern Church of England party in the colony, it is not unfair to conclude that they suffered themselves, maybe unwittingly, to have been betrayed by their prejudices into the commission of this act of injustice towards a defenceless class, adherents of the ancient faith…

We expect, nay we demand–to use the language of the illustrious O’Connell– for the Irish the right to “a clear stage, and no favour”.

Freeman’s Journal, ibid.

We’ll need to do further research on the Journal and its contributors. Was the author of this article the founder of the Journal, Archdeacon McEncroe, himself? or perhaps it was from Daniel Deniehy? There were plenty of willing contributors at the time. And there were plenty ready to push for a parliamentary enquiry. And soon would do so, through the Celtic Association.

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (80): Freeman’s Journal

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine orphans (79): a few fortuitous finds

In the first half of this year a handful of Macquarie University students developed their research skills and wrote up their findings in a number of Irish Famine orphan histories. I haven’t yet seen the results but look forward to doing so when they become available. It was a difficult time for these interns. Working during the coronavirus pandemic, the scandalous betrayal of university teachers, and being restricted to what was available online cannot have been easy. What i have to offer here, alas, is too late for their endeavours. But i hope it will be useful to someone either now, or in the future.

South Australia

My first offering concerns South Australia. The serendipitous ‘finds’ happened when in the 1980s and 90s i was working on the large influx of Irish women who came to Adelaide in the mid 1850s. The South Australia Government Gazette, ‘Ships Papers’ held in the State Archives at GRG 35/48, ‘Immigration Agent, Letters-in’ at GRG35/43, the ‘Irish ‘girls’ at Clare’ GRG 24/6 2431, were especially useful. I’m sure others have used them to good effect since then. Official Government sources generally spoke well of the young women as did those in places of Irish settlement such as Clare.

Government Gazette 22 November 1849 pp.37-8,

The facts mentioned in the Commissioner’s Report shew that the young females sent from Work-houses have hitherto been of an age to render them useful and independent. Indeed the best evidence to that effect is contained in the very favourable accounts which …you have had occasion to give of the conduct of the Irish Orphans, and of the satisfaction they have givem to their employers“.

But there was also plenty of prejudice against them from the Emigration Department, and Surgeons Superintendent. Which only shows how Surgeons could affect the reputation of these young women in their new home. The Surgeon on the Nugget which arrived in July 1854 said of the prospects for the arrivals on board, “Tolerably good for the good, but little for the semi barbarous pauper Irish girls who have never seen the inside of a house and who know nothing”. Contrast this with the Report of the Surgeon per Royal Albert arriving in Port Adelaide in December 1855. He stated “There is a great outcry, at present, in the colony against Irish immigrants. I am happy to state however, that the Irish single females per “Royal Albert” have nearly all obtained employment. This is, in a great measure, owing to the excellent account i was enabled to give of their conduct during the voyage”.

What struck me in reading through my notes was that there is material here for anyone wishing to write about the ‘collective mentalite’ of young Irish immigrant females. I used this idea many moons ago in my teaching. Is it still a thing? You know what i mean, instead of looking at these young women through ‘official’ male eyes, it is a way of studying their ‘basic habits of mind’ about everything…about the voyage, their immigration experience, their attitude to ordinary, everyday things, their upcoming employment as domestic servants, their sexuality, family life, friendship, “the elemental passages of life”. That kind of thing. There is a lovely essay by Patrick Hutton on this subject in History and Theory, vol. 20, no. 3, October 1981, pp.237-59, for anyone interested. The Surgeon on the Oriental suggested one of the reasons for dissatisfaction with the Irish was “ they are obstinate and will not obey orders and likewise that they know nothing of domestic habits“, that is of their prospective colonial masters and mistresses. Would they be ‘broken’ or acculturated by the need for a job or by the demands of married life, or do you think they remained feisty, rebellious, and independent?

The sheer number of letters coming into the the South Australian Immigration Agent’s office shows how strong were their family bonds, mothers enquiring about their daughters, “…if you would be so kind as to let me know did she arrive or die on the voyage …”, this from ‘her distressed friends’ asking about Frances McDowal from Dublin who was in the Destitute Asylum in Adelaide, “considered an imbecile”. Or letters from far afield, from Melbourne, Kiama, and New Zealand, offering to pay their family member’s passage to where they lived, because “she is totally unacquainted in Adelaide”. James Byrnes in 1855 offers ‘when i get an account from them (Honora and Margaret Hogan) I will pay their passage by return of post down to Melburn‘. Or from Theresa Sheehan in Wellington, New Zealand asking about her daughter Mary Ann, “…it is a long time since i left her at home she was only a child” , different family bonds from the ones we readily assume, no? This one is perhaps more familiar, “I take the liberty of writing a few lines to see if you would be so kind as to trouble yourself so much with me as to let me know if i could get any of my brothers or sisters out to me as I should verry much wish to bring them out here to do well…”.

It was merely by chance that i came accross reference to two of the Earl Grey orphans in SAA GRG 35/43 Immigration Agent Letters-in. I’ve mentioned them before, briefly, in blog post 67 https://wp.me/p4SlVj-2e1

Margaret McTagart from Belfast per Roman Emperor

18 May 1857 letter from Arabella McTagart, 3 Patens Lane, Perth Road, Dundee, Scotland.

The girl alluded to is Margaret McTagart from Belfast Workhouse“. In a well written letter Arabella enquires after her sister, “I am very much depressed in mind since i parted with a sister of mine. I understand she arrived to the colony as there had been letters from many who went out in the same ship”. She asks that the Depot “books” be searched to see for her sister ” for emigrants who went out in or about the year 1846…she was not in her native place at the time so “doesn’t know the name of the ship”. I’m presuming, because of the reference to Belfast Workhouse, that Margaret was on board the Roman Emperor, the first ship to Adelaide carrying “Earl Grey” orphans. Dundee was a familiar destination for young women from Ulster, many going there to work in the textile industry.

Bridget Mahony from Fermoy per Elgin

16 July 1855 letter from Margaret Mahony, Cork, asking about her daughter Bridget.

Honble Sir,

I most humbly and respectfully beg leave in the liberty I take of addressing you with these few lines respecting my daughter Bridget Mahony aged 18 years sailed in the Elgin from plymouth to adelaide South Australia at the end of May 1849 and reached the colony in safety on the 11th September following. I your most humble applicant most humbly and respectfully hopes that you will be good enough to take me into your worthy honour’s humane and kind consideration in letting me know when convenient to your worthy honor if my daughter is living or not and also to be pleased to forward to me my daughters address so as to enable me to write to her. Hon Sir , by your complying with your humble applicants most humble request your applicant as in duty bound will pray. Margaret Mahoney widow No.5 Alley Coppingers Lane off Popesquay Cork Ireland.

PS. I, your humble applicant beg leave to acquaint your worthy honor that it was from the Union workhouse of Fermoy in the county of Cork that my daughter was sent from when she was emigrated and I, now resides in my address to your honor.

Margaret’s request was successful in that Matthew Moorhouse replied, 23 October 1855, “Bridget Mahoney was hired from this depot on the 3rd of October 1839 (sic) to Mr Walker shopkeeper Hindmarsh. I know nothing of her since then”.

Mary Healy from Killarney per Elgin and her husband


Buoyed by my find among my notes from the South Australian archives I turned to those I had for Port Phillip. I have not checked to see what is available online. Our archivists do a wonderful job but there is a limit to the hours in a day, and what they can do. I’d need the skills of someone like Kelly Starr to get into the nooks and crannies of whatever is online from the Public Records Office of Victoria. But look, here among my notes I’ve found something about

Bridget Ryan from Drum, Tipperary per Pemberton

There are two letters, one addressed to the Immigration Agent in Port Phillip at VPRS 116/P unit 1 file 51/95. Bridget’s half sister Johanna McGregor is making enquiries about her. It is a beautifully crafted letter from an intelligent woman.

Sydney September 7th 1851

Honorable Sir,

I am directed by the Emigration agent here to write to you concerning my sister. I received a letter a few days ago from my friends at home informing me that my sister arrived here about two years ago but did not mention the name of the ship she sailed out in. I have made all enquiries here for her but can get no intelligence of her, I am greatly disturbed in my mind ever since I received the letter and I hope Sir you will do all in your power to find out has she arrived in your Port. My sisters name is Bridget Ryan or otherwise Conneen. her complexion fair. and her age about 19 or 20 years. We are half sisters and I am not sure which of those two names she may call herself by. The Gentleman of the Emigration Depot wishes that I should hear from you before I Advertise her in the Newspapers. My sister is a native of Ireland County Tipperary Parish of Drum. I cannot answer my mother’s letter until I hear something of my sister as I know it would make her very uneasy to hear that we never met here.

I remain Honorable Sir,

Your Humble servant

Johanna McGregor

that is my husband’s name McGregor.

The other is a Memo communicated to J McGregor 23 September 1851 as follows,

Bridget Ryan arrived at Port Phillip per Ship Pemberton in May 1849.

She was taken out of the Depot by Thomas Hassett, Milkman, living next door to Messrs Bowler & Bennett, Solicitors Collins Street Melbourne. About fourteen months since she married a John Bryan from Carrick O’Loughnane Tipperary and has a son.

Bryan and wife, when last heard of by Hassett, were living with a Mr Fisher Sheepholder of Geelong. A letter addressed to the care of Mr McKern publican of Geelong will find them– or to Thos Hassett, as above, who comes from the same place as the Ryans and Knew them at Home. Bridget Ryan was married from Hassetts house.

Hugh E Childers

Immigration Agent


Sept 19, 1851.

How caring and helpful was that.

Ann Barrow from Mallow was one of Bridget’s shipmates on the Pemberton

I had planned to add a little more, mostly taken from Probate records, obituaries in Trove and the like. But I’ll leave that till another time.

Lockdown might be a good time to relearn some of the poems I used to be able to recite, a lifetime ago

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,

Enwrought with golden and silver light,

The blue and the dim and the dark cloths

Of night and light and the half light

Thank you Mr Yeats.

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (78): my first dip in the water.

I hope this post will be of some interest; it is my first publication about the Famine orphan ‘girls’ that appeared in 1987 in Familia the Journal of what was then the Ulster Historical Foundation. I gather the Foundation still exists. See http://www.ancestryireland.com

There are another sixteen interesting articles in this particular issue including a review of Patrick O’Farrell’s Irish in Australia, Trevor Parkhill on Ulster emigration to Oz, Richard Reid on Irish chain migration, and Desmond Mullan on Father Willie Devine who among many other things was appointed as chaplain to the Australian forces in 1914 by Archbishop Mannix.

You will notice i had already decided on Barefoot and Pregnant? as a title for my work, a title that not everyone has understood. So let me explain once more. Anyone with a passing knowledge of the “Earl Grey Scheme” will know of Surgeon Douglass’s scathing dismissal of the young women in his charge. They were he said “professed public women and barefooted little country beggars”; some of them had had a child, and many were not orphans at all! See my earlier blogposts 43-47, beginning https://earlgreysfamineorphans.wordpress.com/2017/01/21/earl-greys-irish-famine-orphans-43/

So the first element to my title is a question (note the question mark, Barefoot and Pregnant? How many of you noticed it? How many did not?) I’m simply asking, was Surgeon Douglass right in condemning the Earl Grey workhouse orphans as he did?

Another element, though perhaps not so pertinent for everyone nowadays, stemmed from my being a fan of a number of singers, Bob Marley, Sam Cooke, Nina Simone, and Joan Armatrading, for example. Do you remember Joan Armatrading’s “Barefoot and Pregnant”? It had particular moment for all the women who were fed up being kept ‘barefoot and pregnant’, and ‘in the kitchen’.

The third interpretation of my title then, and i was hoping people would think about how the title was phrased, that they would ask for themselves, did these Famine orphans come from a society where their choices and opportunities were limited? Would there be greater choices and opportunities for them in Australia? Or would social structures, lack of economic opportunities, and the weight of cultural mores limit what they could do in Australia also? Could they become literate? What chances did they have of going to a university? Could they buy land on their own? Could they pursue a career of their own? Could they vote? Could they sit in parliament? Or were they sent into another confinement (pun intended) by the patriarchal nature of Australian society?

Alas i think i failed with that title.

What follows is the short piece i was urged to write by the then Deputy Keeper of the Public Records of Northern Ireland (PRONI), Dr Brian Trainor. I had just spent a short period of study-leave among the archives testing out my theories of how to find the Famine orphans among the workhouse records that have survived. It is thanks to Brian Trainor that so many of the Indoor workhouse registers have survived. Without his understanding and agitation many would have ended up in the tip. Sadly, present day politicians and bureaucrats in Australia are allowing our precious records to perish. 21/6/21 Fingers crossed. There may be some last minute funding on the way.

It is a tentative effort, and concerns only the first vessel, the Earl Grey, that arrived in Port Jackson 6 October 1848 . Nowadays thanks to heaps of people, writers, historians, genealogists, family historians, archivists, holders of the public records torch, much more is known about the Irish Famine orphans. One error that struck me in this piece was my inclusion of the Ramillies to Port Adelaide as part of the ‘Earl Grey scheme’. The error carried over to Volume one of my Barefoot. That ship may indeed have carried a number of Irish born workhouse women but they were mostly from Marylebone workhouse in London, not from any Irish workhouse. I remain to be corrected on this.

I hope the reference numbers provided will allow family historians to acquire copies of their ancestor’s stay in the workhouse during that terrible tragedy, the Great Irish Famine. Should they wish to do so. For an up-to-date record of what is known about these young women these days see http://www.irishfaminememorial.org

Bloomsday is upon us.

“…and yes I said yes I will Yes.”