Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (53): Skibbereen and beyond

 

More stories

Skibbereen and beyond

 

For this post, I found myself facing something of a dilemma. How could I remind people of the conditions that sent the Famine orphans fleeing from Ireland, and at the same time, how could I draw attention to the commemoration of the Port Phillip orphans held at Williamstown in mid November, 2017? They were two separate  subjects.

I decided to put the Eliza Caroline in my cross-hairs. She was the last Earl Grey orphan vessel to arrive in Port Phillip, filled with young Famine refugees from all over the country, from Tipperary, Sligo, Wexford, Carlow, Waterford, Dublin, Cork, Donegal and Kilkenny. Fittingly, she was one of two vessels carrying young women from an area that symbolizes the Great Irish Famine, the area in west Cork around Skibbereen. The other vessel was the Elgin the last orphan vessel to arrive in Adelaide. Alas, we do not know the names of those on board the Elgin who came from Skibbereen.

Many of you will be familiar with the engravings of James Mahoney and others in the London Illustrated News making its readers aware of the tragedy unfolding in Cork. This one perhaps?

A funeral in Old Chapel Lane Skibbereen

or this one?

boy and girl at Cahera

From London Illustrated News 1847

These two youngsters were scratching the ground with their bare hands looking for potatoes. Cahera is about four miles north of Skibbereen on the road to Dunmanway.

Or perhaps,

 

woman begging Nr Clonakilty

Woman begging for a coffin for her dead child, near Clonakilty

Clonakilty is about twenty miles to the west of Skibbereeen.

Skibbereen has passed into Irish folklore, and into the identity of the ‘Rebel’ county. Try typing the town’s name into your browser and see what you come up with. Here’s a couple of results to sample

http://skibbheritage.com/great-irish-famine/

http://www.skibbereeneagle.ie/uncategorized/skibbereen-witness-to-the-great-famine/

 

Of course it wasn’t only Mahoney’s engravings that made an impact on middle-class sensibilities. It was the accompanying articles as well. Along with the pictures that appeared in February 1847, in the middle of that terrible winter, came the report, “Neither pen nor pencil could ever portray the misery and horror, at this moment, to be witnessed in Skibbereen”.

The reporter quoted from the diary of the resident medical officer, Dr Donovan, describing the Barrett family who had ‘literally entombed themselves in a small watch-house‘ in the cemetery in Skibbereen. “By the side of a hut is a long newly made grave…near the hole that serves as a doorway is the last resting place of two or three children;…in fact the hut is surrounded by a rampart of human bones…and in this horrible den, in the midst of a mass of human putrefaction, six individuals, males and females, labouring under most malignant fever, were huddled together, as closely as were the dead in the graves around”.

The ‘malignant fever’ may have been brought on by any of the Famine diseases, relapsing fever, typhus and dysentery being the most common. In typhus for example, a host scratches and releases bacteria from an infected insect into their own bloodstream. The small blood vessels are attacked causing a spotted rash and delirium. Eyes become bloodshot, muscles twitch and the delirium deepens to stupor. With dysentery, bacteria is transmitted by rotting food, fingers and flies, bacteria that multiply, inflame and ulcerate the intestines, bringing about painful and exhausting straining, violent diarrhoea and the passage of blood. The ground is often marked with blood. In both cases the death rate is high.

Knowing your parents were dead, Bridget Driscoll, you had even watched them become delirious, fall into a stupor and crawl into a corner to die, it’s okay to fear the worst and forever worry about what will become of you. You’d need to have the skin of Tollund man not to be concerned. So many Earl Grey orphans would be affected psychologically by their Famine experience.

Were the orphans from Skibbereen more vulnerable than other orphans because of their unique circumstances and experience? Were they more likely to become casualties in Australia? Or was the experience of other orphans, in other places, you Mary Kearney from Dingle, or you Mary Carrigge from Ennis, equally traumatic?

“I ventured through that parish [Clare Abbey] this day, to ascertain the condition of the inhabitants, and, although a man not easily moved, I confess myself unmanned by the extent and intensity of the suffering I witnessed, more especially amongst the women and little children, crowds of whom were to be seen scattered over the turnip fields, like a flock of famishing crows, devouring the raw turnips, mothers half naked, shivering in the snow and sleet, uttering exclamations of despair, whilst their children were screaming with hunger; I am a match for anything else I may meet with here, but this I cannot stand”. (Letter from Captain Wynne, District Inspector for Clare to the Chairman of the Board of Works 24 December 1846, cited in M. Kelleher, The Feminization of Famine, Cork U.P., 1997, p.27.) Clare Abbey is close to Ennis.

“About a fortnight ago a boy named John Shea of Tullaree died of starvation–such was the verdict of a jury. On yesterday week his sister died, entirely from the same cause: she lay naked and uninterred on what had been the hearth, for four days, during which time she had been gnawed by rats. On Friday evening last a brother of hers died of dysentery, brought on by hunger,and on Saturday the father also fell a victim to this desolating scourge. They had no food for many days…The door was hasped on the outside, and the famishing family abandoned by every relative”. (John Busteed, Surgeon attached to the Castlegregory dispensary, in the Kerry Evening Post, 24 February 1847, cited in Kieran Foley, “The Famine in the Dingle Peninsula”, Atlas of the Great Irish Famine, p. 401).

We haven’t heard of these so much: the contemporary media did not direct our attention there. As today, we’ve heard more about a hurricane in Puerto Rico and Florida, and little about what happened to Barbuda or Antigua or other small Caribbean islands.

Understanding the psychological baggage the orphans brought with them to Australia is not an easy task. Did some ‘friendless’ orphans become more vulnerable than others when they faced the harshness of the Australian environment?

I thought I’d look into this a bit more, first turning to the Irish Famine memorial database for the Eliza Caroline. You can find it here, http://irishfaminememorial.org/orphans/database/

Mary Coghlan again

And lawdy, lawdy what jumped out at me were two names I knew only well, Mary Coghlan and Mary Minahan, both from Skibbereen. I was alerted to Mary Coghlan’s history by her descendant Barbara Borland back in 1990.  I’ve written about Mary before, towards the end of blog post 22 on ‘Cancelled Indentures’. You can read it here, http://wp.me/p4SlVj-vf

Mary was the victim of the most shocking domestic abuse by her husband James Walton. Barbara was descended from the couple’s eldest daughter who had married a Swedish seaman. She wrote that she was “happy her great grandmother had a rewarding marriage and descendants to be proud of which makes Mary Coghlan’s life seem to be of some worth”.

Mary Minahan

Mary Minahan‘s history has been researched by her descendant, Kathleen Newman. Kathleen told me about her in 2000. A synopsis of Mary’s story appears on the Irish Famine memorial database. Only one of Mary’s eight children survived. All the others died young. Was that sad history of childbirth related to her Famine experience, i wonder? Or indeed her history of petty crime?

  • Surname : Minnahan [Minahan]
  • First Name : Mary
  • Age on arrival : 17
  • Native Place : Skibbereen, Cork
  • Parents : Not recorded
  • Religion : Roman Catholic
  • Ship name : Eliza Caroline (Melbourne 1850
  • Workhouse : Cork, Skibbereen
  • Other : shipping: house servant, cannot read or write. Empl. John Hopkins, farmer, Mercer Vale [now Beveridge] 24 miles from Melbourne, ₤8, 6 months; convicted many times (by 1899, 32 previous convictions) for a variety of misdemeanors (assault, vagrancy, being idle and disorderly, soliciting) and under a variety of aliases (Brown, Sorento, Freck, Coutts)’ & sent to Melbourne Gaol. She had 8 children, the first by Henry Wallace, the next 4 by Charles Joseph Pruen, the last to Charles J Brown (the same man?). By 1867 only 1 child, David William Minahan, had survived. Her death not located. kathleennewman[at]optusnet.com.au

Kathleen tells us, her gaol record in 1878 described her as “5 feet 3 inches tall with a fresh complexion, red hair and hazel eyes.”  By the time of her court appearance in 1894, (Richmond Guardian 24 November), she was “a wretched looking old woman…charged with having no lawful means of support”.

Maybe these were  exceptional cases. To check I looked through some of my family reconstitutions which tended to be biased toward stable family histories. Here’s two I have.

Jane Leary

Jane Leary was also from Skibbereen. She married twice, had a family of nine children but lived to the ripe old age of eighty. [Thanks to R.M. Reilley for alerting me to Jane. I’ve gone back to my original forms; that’s were i recorded names of those who sent me information. In some cases I still had access to vital statistics that allowed me to add  precise dates. That precision was necessary for a demographic analysis.]

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Ellen Fitzgerald

Ellen Fitzgerald, likewise from Skibbereen, also married an ‘exile’ per Maitland. Thanks to Jenny Dedman for this one. Ellen and William had all of their eleven children on the Victorian goldfields. It looked to be a stable family. But wait, how did she die? Of malnutrition! How on earth did that happen? What exactly does that mean? Did she not have enough food? Was she suffering from some kind of illness?

 

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This prompted me to look carefully at the other Skibbereen orphans on board the Eliza Caroline. And found Catherine Coughlan, who had numerous convictions for drunkenness and vagrancy, and died in 1869. c. 36 years old: Mary Donovan married well; her husband was later a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Victoria, and she too became a social activist. But she died in 1866, also c. 36 years old. Julia or Judy Driscoll died in Ballarat Hospital, aged about 39. And Mary Hicks‘ husband deserted her and their eleven children in 1866. This was not a particularly happy outcome for these West Cork orphans. Maybe there is some substance to the claim West Cork orphans were especially vulnerable, after all.

Let me continue with this in the next post. I’d advise against making up your mind about this argument just yet.

May I finish by reminding you of the Irish Famine Orphan commemoration in Williamstown on the 19th November? Thankyou Chrissy Fletcher for this.

“SAVE THE DATE
Irish Famine Orphan Girls Commemoration – Melbourne
Sunday 19 November 2017 – 3pm start
Standing Stone Famine Rock, Burgoyne Reserve, The Strand, Cnr Stevedore Street, Williamstown”.

“…She fainted in her anguish, seeing the desolation round
She never rose, but passed away from life to mortal dream
And found a quiet grave, my boy, in dear old Skibbereen”.

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Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (52); photos with tales

Some orphan stories, with photos

 

Catherine Fox from Armagh per Earl Grey

Here is the entry for Catherine Fox on the www.irishfaminememorial.org database. Some of the information came from her descendant Gwen Etherington in the late 1980s, some from my Barefoot, and some improvements were added by Dr Perry McIntyre.

Shipping: nursemaid, reads & writes, no relatives in colony. Armagh PLU PRONI BG2/G/2/ into workhouse 10 May 1847, aged 17 tolerably well clothed from Armagh town, out 7 Jul 1847; in 10 Jul 1847 (1203) thinly clothed, hungry, Union at Large, out 24 May 1848; empl Mr Hutchinson, Sydney, £10, 12 months; married widower Archibald Graham, Sydney in 1852; lived Dapto & Wollongong; sponsored her brother Bernard Fox from Glenmore, on ‘Commodore Perry’ 1856; she raised 6 surviving children her husbands first marriage, 12 of her own & 2 of her stepson’s children; died 1920.

The PRONI BG numbers refer to Armagh workhouse Indoor Admission and Discharge Registers.

You may notice Catherine’s husband was also from Armagh but she and Archie, who was eighteen years her senior, were of a different religion. I seem to remember Gwen telling me there was sectarian tension not just in the marriage (how were the children to be raised?) but also in Dapto and Wollongong, in the Illawarra, where the couple lived from the early 1850s. Catherine was, or became, a staunch defender of her religion against her Protestant neighbours. That Catholic-Protestant sectarian divide was certainly a feature of Australian history that is nowadays often forgotten. The country has moved on.

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Catherine Fox per Earl Grey

Ann Nelligan from Mallow per Pemberton

Ann and her younger sister, 17 year-old Eliza, were part of the Mallow (County Cork) contingent (about fifteen in all) on board the Pemberton. Eliza had been Superintendent of Work in the Union workhouse, something which worked to the sisters’ advantage when they were offered a place in the Earl Grey scheme.

Ann’s husband, John Baker, was a Parkhurst ‘exile’ from Birmingham. Together they had eight children, two boys and six girls. But Ann died relatively young at 39, of chronic nephritis.

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Ann Nelligan per Pemberton

Here is the family reconstitution form for Ann’s sister,  Eliza Nelligan who married Joseph Midolo a sailmaker from Sicily. He was about eighteen years older than Eliza but she too was to die relatively young at 42, like her sister, of nephritis. Nephritis is inflammation or infection of the kidneys. I doubt there was effective medical treatment for Ann and Eliza in the early 1870s. Do correct me if I’m wrong.

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The names of descendants researching the family history of these two orphans have changed considerably between Barefoot volume I and those now on the database. It is testimony to how strongly their families feel connected to their Irish orphan forebears.

Eliza Geoghagen from Athlone, Westmeath per Digby

Here is another example of what is euphemistically called ‘mixed marriage’. I remember Siobhán McHugh doing excellent work on this. See http://www.mchugh.org/radio/marryingOut.html

Eliza and her husband travelled throughout New South Wales. Look where they were living when their twelve children were born; Sydney, Yass, Tumut, Steiglitz, Victoria, Wattle Flat, Sofala, Pipeclay, Tallawang, Slapdash. Imagine carrying your brood all that way in those days.  Both Eliza and John are buried in Gulgong. There are some magnificent photographs of Gulgong in the photograph collections of the State Library of New South Wales.

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Women in Gulgong photo courtesy of the State Library New South Wales

 

Bridget Gaffney from Butlersbridge, Cavan, per Digby

Another example of “Not Before the Altar”.

Sometimes you will notice discrepancies in our record. One of the ones here is my failure to count properly. There are five male children not four that I noted. Even so, two more have appeared on the database. My default position nowadays is the database rather than my early work. Helen Watts supplied information about Bridget and her sister Catherine and updated it for the second volume of Barefoot. Her update would account for the discrepancy.

There is a good report on the Digby voyage in State Records of New South Wales. The reference I have is SRNSW (State Records new South Wales) Microfilm reel 2852 Reports 1838-49, 4/4699. The Digby arrived in Port Jackson 4 April 1849.

Colonial authorities were adamant that the terms and conditions of their charter parties, or contract, with shipping agents were met. The early orphan vessels were particularly subject to their scrutiny. The Surgeon Superintendent of the Digby, Dr William Neville kept a ‘private log’, or secret record, which he forwarded to the Colonial Secretary upon his arrival in Sydney. The consequence was an Immigration Board of Enquiry which found against the Master of the vessel, Captain Taber

  • ‘..he did against the Government Regulations defraud the Emigrants of a large portion of their rations…
  • the provisions and condiments etc. were not of the quality contracted for by the Government or such as ought to have been placed on board for the Emigrants “consumption”…(the Sydney Board comprising Merewether, Savage and Browne even went so far as to sample some of the provisions themselves! If only our present day so-called regulators were as keen).
  • Dr Neville further charged the Master with having “permitted the sailors to be too familiar with the female Emigrants in opposition to the authority on board and clause No 20 in the Charter Party…”

The Board recommended the ship’s officers should not receive their gratuity, and that Captain Taber should never be employed on an Emigrant ship ever again. None of which was much consolation for the orphans who had to accept what they were given every day of their 109 day voyage.

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The following is from the www.irishfaminememorial.org database entry for Bridget.

  • Other : shipping: house servant, cannot read or write, no relatives in colony; sister Catherine also on Digby; Register 10 Nov 1849 complaint; 18 Dec 1849 Sydney, transfer. Appendix J No.128. 17 May 1850 indentures with JB Wathen cancelled, disobedience and neglect of duty; married Nathaniel Lawrence at Bathurst 13 Jan 1851; 13 children; husband a labourer, shepherd and bushman, lived Wallerwaugh, Mudgee, Bathurst & Wellington area; she died 27 Nov 1899, buried Stuart Town cemetery.
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Bridget and her husband Nathaniel

 Honora Shea from Callan, Kilkenny per New Liverpool

Another ‘mixed marriage’. Honora married George Walmsley within a year of her arrival at Port Phillip. George was a Wesleyan and later, Baptist. They had thirteen children, seven boys and six girls. She probably travelled with her older sister Bridget but as neither could read or write they may have parted ways once they were married. Chrissy Fletcher who has a Facebook page for the Port Phillip orphans has asked how many orphans married ‘exiles’. Do visit @portphillipirishorphangirls

Chrissy has created a closed group for the Port Phillip arrivals on Facebook. it is at http://PORT PHILLIP IRISH ORPHAN GIRLS

 We might also ask how many orphans married former convicts; how many married older men; how many married someone of a different religion from their own; how many married Irishmen; how many married Englishmen; how many ‘married’ more than once? These are all interesting questions. Maybe you can think of others?

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Honora Shea per New Liverpool

Rose Sherry from Carrickmacross, Monaghan per John Knox

My choice of orphan stories in this post is determined by the availability of photographs. Not everyone is lucky enough to have them.

Here is the entry for Rose on the www.irishfaminememorial.org database which will take you to her story. http://irishfaminememorial.org/media/Sherry_Rose_story.pdf

  • Surname : Sherry (Cherry)
  • First Name : Rose
  • Age on arrival : 17
  • Native Place : Carrick Cross [Carrickmacross], Monaghan
  • Parents : Patrick & Catherine (both dead)
  • Religion : Roman Catholic
  • Ship name : John Knox (Sydney Apr 1850)
  • Workhouse : Monaghan, Carrickmacross
  • Other : Shipping: laundress, reads only, no relatives in colony; married William Alexander Chamberlain, 29 Oct 1851, St Marys, Sydney; 11 children; died 12 Mar 1899, from injuries caused by a fall, aged 66, lived Clara Terrace, off William St., Double Bay; William, a fisherman, died 6 Nov 1902, aged 73, both buried South Head Cemetery. Margaret: margkenstephens[at]bigpond.com; Kim: k.connor92[at]hotmail.com; Pamela: p.wittingslow[at]gmail.com; Judy: ronjudyhinkley[at]bigpond.com others without email contacts
  • Read Her Story

 

 

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There are plenty of others we might include. Just a taste more. Let me see if I can find one not so well known.

Rebecca Cambridge from Ballyreagh, Fermanagh per Diadem

Here is the entry for Rebecca on the Irish famine memorial database, from my Barefoot vol.II, p. 357. She was in the Enniskillen workhouse records. Enniskillen sent a relatively large number of orphans by the Earl Grey scheme. http://www.workhouses.org.uk/Enniskillen/

  • Surname : Cambridge
  • First Name : Rebecca
  • Age on arrival : 17
  • Native Place : Ballyrag [Ballyreagh], Fermanagh
  • Parents : Not recorded
  • Religion : Church of England
  • Ship name : Diadem (Melbourne Jan 1850)
  • Workhouse : Fermanagh, Enniskillen
  • Other : shipping: house servant, reads & writes; Enniskillen PLU PRONI BG14/G/5 (841) Ballyreagh, entered workhouse 9 Apr 1849, left 3 Oct 1849. Empl. Mr George Moulds, baker, Collingwood, £8, 6 months; married Samuel J Harvey, 11 Oct 1854; 11 children; husband gold digger, labourer & woodman; lived Morang, died 25 Jun 1905, buried Yan Yean. She left 10 acres of land & cottage in Separation, valued £100 & 5 cows & furniture worth £40 

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As you can see, Rebecca married an Englishman, Sam Harvey who was variously, a gold miner, labourer, woodman, and owner of a small farm. Together the couple had eleven children, three boys and eight girls. Two of their girls and one of their boys died in infancy. Sam and Rebecca are buried in Yan Yean cemetery.

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I am constantly uplifted by the high standard of research being done on the Irish Famine orphans, especially by family historians. See for example Aileen Trinder’s work in blog post 48 http://wp.me/p4SlVj-2

which is at http://irishfaminememorial.org/media/Bridget_Quigleys_life_in_NSW_24_Nov_2012.pdf

or Karen Semken’s in blog post 51 http://wp.me/p4SlVj-14R

which is at http://irishfaminememorial.org/media/Catherine_Bracken_Inconstant.pdf

You may wish to view another brilliant effort, about Bridget Donovan per John Knox from Middleton, county Cork. It’s author Rowena has found fascinating new material to add to her WordPress blog. I’m looking forward to reading it there.

https://bridgetdonovansjourney.wordpress.com.

or maybe it is here https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/

Rowena’s energy and engagement with Bridget is a delight. Who knows? She may even encourage you to set down your own orphan story in a WordPress blog.

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (48): some orphan stories based on family reconstitutions

MORE ORPHANS AND THEIR FAMILIES IN AUSTRALIA

Present day celebrations commemorating the coming of the Irish Famine orphans to Australia occur each year at Hyde Park Barracks in Sydney on the last Sunday of August, and at Burgoyne Park in Williamstown usually on the third Sunday in November. (We’ll need to check this closer to time). Maybe someone would be kind enough to tell me if there are any such ‘gatherings’ elsewhere, Adelaide or Perth perhaps?

PORT PHILLIP ARRIVALS

Here are some more potted demographic histories of Port Phillip arrivals. Since the pertinent Victorian shipping lists do not provide parents’ names, it is sometimes hard to believe, Yes! I’ve found an Irish Famine orphan. These ones I’m pretty certain about. But do tell me if I’m wrong. You may wish to tell readers how you established your link to one of the orphans. Please feel free to share.

Cathy Tyrell, from Donegal, per Lady Kennaway, married a young man from Bedford, England in 1854 , five and a half years after she disembarked. She was only sixteen when she arrived. She and her husband lived in North Melbourne and together had seven children, three girls and four boys, one of whom died in infancy.

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Bridget Watson (or was it Watt?) per New Liverpool was also only sixteen when she arrived from Kilkenny. As with other orphans, she was sent by the Raven to Portland where she married her first husband, a Scot, James Gibson, in early 1851. Together they had twelve children in Portland. Her first four daughters died at birth. Bridget was only forty when James died. He left her an estate worth £209, containing a bush hut and land of “very inferior quality”. Bridget married her second husband John McPhee in 1878, not mentioned on the form below. She died in 1907 and is buried in Footscray.

 

Mary Saltry per Lady Kennaway may have travelled with one of her sisters from Sligo, a younger sister called Sarah who died in Melbourne in 1850 only seventeen years of age. Mary married a market gardener of East Brighton, Joseph Thorne, originally from Middlesex, with whom she had seven children. She had twenty four years of widowhood.

 

Margaret Ward per Pemberton is recorded on the shipping list as a fifteen year old from Tipperary but you will notice below that her descendant  says she was from Mallow in Cork. Is there a controversy here? Do we have the correct Margaret Ward? She married William Smedley a former convict from Derbyshire with whom she had sixteen children, all of them born in Kilmore, one of the places in Victoria where many Irish settled. Below is a photograph of Margaret and William at their diamond wedding anniversary in April 1910. Thanks to Louris Loughland who provided the photo.

 

 

The last Port Phillip arrival for now, Catherine Perkison also travelled on board the Pemberton. She was to marry an Englishman, Joseph Nixon, at St Francis’s in Melbourne and went off to search for gold. Joseph a former mariner became a miner in Ballarat and lately a saw sharpener or grinder. He died in 1876 of chronic lead poisoning.

SOME PORT JACKSON ARRIVALS

 Ellen Wade came on the last orphan ship to arrive in Sydney, the Tippoo Saib. She married an Englishman of a different religion from herself. She had seven boys and four girls. Her husband was a stockman in New England. She is buried in Ben Lomond. I was able to add some precise dates for the birth of their children.

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Ellen Tighe per Panama from Creagh, Kilkenny married six months after her arrival. She married an Englishman by the name of Smith but such is the detail of New South Wales Board of Immigration shipping lists, and so good are the birth, death and marriage records, what became of her is not difficult to find. Ellen gave birth to ten children, five boys and five girls. Her husband Arthur worked as a labourer in St Leonard’s, Sydney before the family moved to the Shoalhaven district south of Sydney. Arthur described himself as settler, then overseer and finally farmer when registering the birth of his children.

 

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Sixteen year-old Mary Shanahan per Lismoyne came from Adare in Limerick. Her mother was still alive and living in Rathkeale. When she arrived she went to John Byrne, her uncle at Lachlan river. In Bathurst, five months later, she married Patrick Neville, himself a Limerick man, older than Mary, and now a farmer of Fish River. Together they had twelve children, nine girls and three boys. Three died of diptheria before they reached the age of nine. Mary sponsored her mother and sister to come to Australia in 1856. (We should check that they did come). After her husband died, she remarried to Michael Cashman. She died in 1909 and is buried in Bathurst.

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There is a record of young Teresa Rourke, who arrived by the Digby, in South Dublin workhouse. When she was just ten years old, she came into the workhouse in September 1844 for eight months. Her dad had died and her mum had deserted her. She entered the workhouse again when she was twelve, in October 1847, wearing workhouse clothes when she arrived. She was to marry Henry Quinn in Bathurst in 1853. Together they had twelve children, nine girls and three boys. Henry was a farmer of Rockley, near Bathurst. Teresa predeceased him by eleven years, dying of pythisis , better known as tuberculosis.

(See Patrick Neville’s ’cause of death’ above).

 

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Mary Ann Reilly per Lismoyne was also from Dublin. She had her indentures cancelled in 1850 in the Water Police Office court.  See number 120 in the tables of cancelled indentures in blog post 21. http://wp.me/p4SlVj-vf In 1854 she married Thomas Caton in East Maitland. Thomas was a former convict, horse breaker and gold-digger. They lived in Dugworth, Sugarloaf, Boonoo Boonoo, Tenterfield and Timbarra. Thomas was to die in the Gladesville Hospital for the Insane in 1883. I wasn’t able to find a death record for Maryanne.

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Bridget Quigley arrived on the Tippoo Saib when she was only sixteen. There’s a brilliant family history on the www.irishfaminememorial.org

website written by one of her descendants, Aileen Trinder,  revising much of what appeared in my Barefoot, and fleshing it out in a way that others may wish to emulate. Aileen has done lots of great work for family historians. You can read it at http://irishfaminememorial.org/media/Bridget_Quigleys_life_in_NSW_24_Nov_2012.pdf

Here’s my family reconstitution form…do have a look at the riches Aileen has added in her story above.

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Some Moreton Bay Orphans

 

Obviously Dublin orphans did not have the same experience of the Famine as those from Ennistymon in Clare or Dingle in Kerry. But their destitution was no less real. Cathy Geary would have been aware of this from the stories told her by her shipmates from Galway and Clare and Kerry on board the Thomas Arbuthnot. Cathy was a factory girl living in Grange Gorman Lane in Dublin, close to the women’s prison, when she entered the North Dublin Workhouse, 1 February 1849. She left 30 October 1849 to join the others at Plymouth before embarking. Sent to Moreton Bay in 1850 she married Joseph Russell from Nottingham. Researchers at Queensland BDM records told me they found only four children for the couple. Both Cathy and Joseph are buried at Pine Mountain.

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Jane Kirkwood was literally one of the “Belfast Girls” sent to Moreton Bay. Her husband Harry Skinner from Kent had also came to Australia on board the Earl Grey when it was a vessel transporting convicts, in 1838. They had seven children, four boys and three girls, two of them dying young, when they lived at Kangaroo Point,Tweed River, Brisbane and Ipswich. Harry died in 1862, and Jane remained a widow for nigh on forty six years! She is buried in the Presbyterian section of Toowong cemetery.

 

 

Bridget Cannon per Lady Peel from Carrick on Shannon in Leitrim, like Maryanne Reilly above, had her indentures cancelled at the Water Police Office see number 41 at

http://wp.me/p4SlVj-vf 

Bridget, like other Moreton Bay orphans, knew her legal rights. She took her husband to court for threatening her and her son with a pitchfork and won her case. He was fined and bound over to keep the peace.  See http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/3533256?searchTerm=Bridget%20Smith&searchLimits=l-state=Queensland

It was not Bridget’s first appearance in court. See the Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald…& November 1882 p.3. See http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/123274282?searchTerm=Bridget%20Smith&searchLimits=l-state=Queensland

The digitised newspapers at Trove are a national treasure.

When her husband died in 1896 he left an estate valued  at under £621.

 

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Mary Creagh or Crae per Tippoo Saib from Listowel in County Kerry. (See Kay Caball’s lovely book The Kerry Girls which you can buy on Kindle). Mary married Thomas Taylor in Brisbane in May 1851. Her husband from Tyrone was a sawyer and they lived in Fortitude Valley and Moggill Creek. Their first three children died in infancy. Were they difficult births related to Mary’s Famine experience? They had five more children,two girls and three boys.

 

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Mary Carrigg per Thomas Arbuthnot came from Ennis in County Clare. She married James Winn from Cornwall in 1851 in an Anglican church in Brisbane. They had nine children together before Mary died at a relatively young age. She is buried in the Bible Christain section of Toowong cemetery.

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That’s enough for now. Just a reminder of the ‘gathering’ at Hyde Park Barracks on the 27th August. see http://www.irishfaminememorial.org

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (47):orphan stories from family reconstitutions 

More Family Reconstitutions

Just wetting a line…I hope i haven’t put these up before. The first ones are Earl Grey orphans’ families in Australia, that is, from the first vessel that carried the infamous ‘Belfast Girls’.

Jaki McCarrick’s brilliant play of the same name puts the Belfast girls on board the Inchinnan. Creative artists of Jaki’s stature weave their own magic to use history how they wish. It’s a wonderful play with a great history of its own already, thrilling audiences in London, Chicago, Vancouver, and soon to appear in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and Portland, Oregon.  Have a read of her play if you will, maybe buy your own copy online, or order one for your library, even share with a friend.

 There’s more to discover by examining the detail in these family reconstitution forms.

Some Earl Grey orphans

Jane Beattie from Lisburn died young, of tuberculosis.

Elizabeth McFarlane from Cookstown had nearly twenty seven years of widowhood. She gave birth to fourteen children, five boys and nine girls. She lost one of her twins because of an ‘accidental scalding’.

Charlotte Mackay from Banbridge lost four of her children to scarlet fever.

 

Eliza McLaughlin/McLoughlan from Clonfeakle in Tyrone lived all her life in Sydney but she too lost three of her children in infancy.

 

Sarah Wiley/Wylie from Banbridge married an Irishman of different religion from herself, lived most of her life in Sydney and lost three of her children at an early age. See the left hand side of the page which gives William’s various occupations and place of residence when he registered their children’s birth.

 

 Port Phillip Arrivals, mostly on the Diadem.

There’s a facebook page for these Melbourne arrivals organised by the descendant of Eliza Sharkey per Diadem. It’s at https://www.facebook.com/portphillipirishorphangirls/

Eliza Sharkey (seated left)

Lily Barber from Belfast went to the gold diggings but like most in the gold rush, didn’t strike it rich. She and James had eleven children. She is buried in Ballarat New Cemetery.

 

Eliza Ady from Dungannon or Cookstown in Tyrone married in Melbourne and went looking for gold with her husband. Her ‘treasure’ may have been her nine children. She is buried in Stawell.

 

 Mary Byng from Enniskillen married a Londoner and also went searching for gold. She died of ‘heart weakness and cerebral hemorrhage’ in 1902.

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Her sister Jane had ten children. I’ve left the names of some of their spouses supplied by one of her descendants, Munroe, Patchett, Radnell, Perry, Polglase. Maybe someone will be surprised to find they have a Famine orphan in their family tree?

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The last but one of the Diadem orphans for the moment is Mary McCann from Enniskillen. The form was filled out by one of her descendants. I was able to add little to this one.

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Rebecca Orr from Derry married a young carpenter from Somerset in a Wesleyan chapel in Geelong not long after she arrived. Present were her Diadem shipmate Margaret Love and her husband to be, William Hargrave.

 

A couple more to finish. When Mary Ann McElroy’s descendant returned my form, I had already lost access to Victorian BDM records. She came on that large ship, the Pemberton. Mary lived to the ripe old age of ninety, having given birth to nineteen children.

 

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Finally two forms returned to me by other very cluey descendants. These date from the 1980s.

A new generation of orphan descendants is discovering a link to Earl Grey’s Irish Famine orphans. I’ve recently learned that  Mary Theresa Slattery will be represented at a memorial celebration in Kilkenny this coming November (2017) by a member of her Australian family. She’s been in touch with the author of a fascinating work on Famine Burials in Kilkenny workhouse, Dr Jonny Gerber. (See Dr Gerber’s chapter in the Atlas of the Great Irish Famine, eds., Crowley, Smyth and Murphy, Cork, 2012).

 

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A reminder…the annual gathering at Hyde Park Barracks occurs on the last Sunday of August. See the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/GreatIrishFamineMemorial/

or http://www.irishfaminememorial.org

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (41):Famine rock commemoration, Port Phillip family reconstitions

FAMINE ROCK COMMEMORATION 2016

Famine Rock Memorial

In honour of the Famine orphans who arrived at Port Phillip, and the gathering at Burgoyne Reserve 3 pm 20 November 2016, let me present a few more of my family reconstitutions. It’s been a while since i looked at the demographic results. Maybe i should go back and have another look.  In the meantime, double click or pinch these to make them larger. I’ll try putting them in alphabetical order. I’ve added a couple for the occasion.

Ann Arbuckle per Derwent

Ann Arbuckle per Derwent


Sarah Arbuckle per Derwent

Sarah Arbuckle per Derwent


Margaret Britt per Eliza Caroline

Margaret Britt per Eliza Caroline


Rebecca Cambridge per Diadem

Rebecca Cambridge per Diadem

 

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Helen Corbett  per New Liverpool

fodrumladykEliza Drum per Lady Kennaway
fodunbarpembEllen Dunbar per Pembertonfogalvinpemb

Margaret Galvin  per Pemberton fograydiadAnn Graydon per Diadem

foharrisdiadMarea Harrison per Diadem

folawnladykEllen Lawn per Lady Kennaway

folearyelizacJane Leary per Eliza Caroline

fomccartpembBridget McCarthy per Pemberton

fomulligadiadSarah Mulligan per Diadem

 

Eliza Nelligan per Pemberton

Eliza Nelligan per Pemberton

foryanelizcMargaret Ryan per Eliza Caroline

 

 

fostaffladykJane Stafford per Lady Kennaway

fouptonpembEliza Upton per Pemberton

My very best wishes to everyone at the gathering next Sunday 20th November, Burgoyne Reserve, Williamstown. And a special thank you to Debra Vaughan and Val Noone. Go raibh maith agat.

http://wp.me/p4SlVj-oE

Famine Rock Memorial

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine orphans (35):some notes from PROV Victoria Superintendent letters inwards

A few more snippets

http://prov.vic.gov.au/

Here are some of my research notes. They are barely legible. Please get in touch if you cannot decipher something you want. They were made on one of my research trips to the Victorian Public Records Office when it was out at Altona, i.e. before Spring Street, and before moving to North Melbourne. I can remember taking a train and a bus and a walk before getting there. But it was worth it; the people there were extremely helpful. I cannot thank them enough.

These are notes i took when i perused PROV VPRS 115, 8 boxes, Superintendent Inward Registered correspondence. They’ll be useful for anyone interested in the Port Phillip orphans, I hope. Maybe worth another trip to the archives? You’ll notice I’ve occasionally recorded stuff not directly related to the Earl Grey orphans; remittances, people nominating others for a government-assisted passage, or the death of a baby, as you do. There’s even mention of one of the children who earlier was offered a passage on the Edmund Parry,  and who had refused. “1 March 1850 Catherine Minnihane niece (11 year old) to John O’Keefe from the Parish of Killaloe, townland of Kilcredan, nominated by Thomas Budds Payne“. I wonder did she make it here after all.

What strikes me is the ‘duty of care’ reflected in these letters to Superintendent La Trobe. Sure, there is desire that regulations be administered properly but there is also a very human(e) touch, providing soap for the Pemberton orphans “to enable them to wash all their things and to disembark comfortably” VPRS 115, vol.1, 49/85. Or to help Mary Darcy who had lost use of her limbs from an injury aboard the Pemberton,“the poor girl must be cared for somehow. I must leave the Police Magistrate to suggest in what manner and at what cost” VPRS 115, vol.1, 49/340 .

Anyways have a rummage through these. See what you can find. Note for example, the tenders for an Immigration Barracks; reference to orphan ship reports viz Pemberton, ‘the females were orderly and obedient’ and the ship ‘well fitted out’ ; Diadem, Derwent and New Liverpool, ‘the orphans from Clonmel were refractory, insubordinate and extremely troublesome’; letter from the Police Magistrate, Portland, re what he was doing for the arrival of the orphans by the Brig Raven, and individual cases, Mary Darcy,Margaret Gorman, Eliza Armstrong, Isabella Browne, causing them concern.

PROV. Superintendent correspondence-in 1849 VPRS 115 vol.1

PROV. Superintendent correspondence-in 1849 VPRS 115 vol.1

VPRS115i

VPRS115ii

VPRS115iii

VPRS115iv

VPRS115v

VPRS115vi

VPRS115vii

VPRS115viii

Happy hunting. I don’t think a lot of this made its way into my Barefoot & Pregnant? or on to the website. http://www.irishfaminememorial.org/

Here’s a list of the contents of my blog. Just click on the http address http://wp.me/p4SlVj-oE

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

I’ve found an orphan!

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

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

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

                                                                           “…the line which says woodland and cries hunger

                                                                             and gives out among sweet pine and cypress,

                                                                            and finds no horizon

                                                                            will not be there”. (Eavan Boland) 

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

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

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

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All of which would lead to this,

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

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

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

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

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (25):another sad story, Suzy Taggart

SUEY TAGGART

Given a preference, we like to feel good about what became of the Irish orphans in Australia. Sadly, our human canvas is not always sunshine and pretty flowers. Or cute little children, and young women overcoming the odds. If we take off our rose-tinted glasses and peer into the dark shadows of our canvas, who and what do we see? Mary Littlewood screaming and cursing at her fate? A battered, broken and abused Mary Coghlan? Catherine Toland in her own valley of tears wearing the darkest sackcloth and grief? Ellen Leydon worn out, tired and confused in a mental hospital or benevolent asylum?

Still, often we know these things only because their descendants were brave enough to bring them to light, give them recognition and pay them homage. Thank goodness the history, or rather histories, of the Earl Grey Irish female orphans is a co-operative effort.

Without the work of a family historian, the story of Susan (Suey) (Mc) Taggart would not be told. Thank you Norma Gardner–who told me about Suey, way back in 1987. Suey was the eighth child of Margaret Dempsey and Thomas (Mc) Taggart. Norma suggested Thomas dropped the Mac part of his name because people could not spell his name, or more likely, did not understand his accent.

Margaret Dempsey was one of the Earl Grey orphans who arrived in Port Phillip in August 1849 by the New Liverpool. She was from the Clonmel workhouse in County Tipperary (http://www.workhouses.org.uk/Clonmel/), and listed on the ship’s manifest as an eighteen year old house servant who could neither read nor write. A month later, in September 1849, she was among a group of orphans making their way to Port Fairy on the steamer Raven where she would soon be employed by a Mr Urquhart at a wage rate of £10 per annum. However, by the 10th of March 1850, she was in the Roman Catholic Church at Yangery about 16 miles from Port Fairy, marrying a Scottish Presbyterian, Thomas McTaggart. We’ve been able to put together a family reconstitution of sorts:

fomargdempseynewliver

As you can see, the couple had twelve children, 9 girls and three boys, all of them born in what was then north of Melbourne, Keilor and Epping. In 1856, Thomas bought a small block of land in Epping, and built rooms around the tent the couple were living in, as was the custom. The house and land has passed down the male line and, at the time Norma wrote to me in 1987, a Taggart was still living in the ‘new’ house that had been built on the same block.

Look closely at the family reconstitution, and you will see that ‘Susanna’, our Suey, born in June 1861, was dead by January 1882. What on earth had happened? Norma suggested in her letters to me that “poor Susan had her love affair one hundred years too early; how time changes all things”. Made pregnant by her lover, rejected by her mother and father, and in despair, she took her own life. Here’s the documentary evidence we have. See what you can make of it.

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This is Suey Taggart’s suicide letter. I have taken the diminutive form of her name from her signature. But perhaps it should be Susey. What do you think? Along the right hand side is something illegible in this scan; it reads “don’t look for me for I have drowned myself“. Here is the transcription Norma made; you might like to check it for yourself.

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The letter and the result of the inquest into Susan’s death were reported widely in the press, in January 1882–in The Age, The Ballarat Star, Riverine Herald, The Leader, The Horsham Times and the Mount Alexander Mail. You can read these via Trove https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper Click on Victoria and put “Susan Taggart” into the search box. If you find it hard to decipher any of these, let me know your troubles.

Occasionally a bit more information is reported in the newspapers. For instance, the Riverine Herald 23 January 1882, page 3, has Mrs Pickett stating, “I went in [to Melbourne] after her, and found her at the wood market talking to Bill Heddle, who resides out here.”

Here are the depositions from the inquest.

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The Magistrate at Nillumbik found ‘the cause of death was drowning, evidently caused by the deceased’s self-destruction“.  

Now let me challenge your historical imagination, what do you think happened here? See if you can piece together Suey’s story. Take some fictional liberty if you think it improves your story. Others will be better placed than me to go inside Suey’s head and understand what she was going through. Poor mite.

When she was nineteen Suey had gone to work as a servant at the Diamond Reef Hotel at Nillumbuk, north of Melbourne. Her employers, Margret and Edmund Pickett were good to her. Mrs Pickett was delighted watching the excitement and happiness of young Suey when she fell for a local lad, Bill Heddle, a patron of their hotel. But in that flush of excitement and wonder Suey had fallen pregnant. When she realized her period hadn’t arrived two months in a row, she went home to her parents who lived not far away in Epping. Surely, at Christmas, mum and dad would look after her and help her have her baby. But her dad rejected her, called her a slut who brought shame on them all, and sent her packing. [Norma suggested since Thomas was not even mentioned in Suey’s suicide letter, he must have been a hard man]. Desperate now, Suey followed her Bill to Melbourne pleading with him to take her back. But he too, useless coward that he was, spurned her. ‘What do you think I can do? It’s over. It’s over between us’.

Mrs Pickett who had learned where Suey had gone, travelled all the way to Melbourne, and found them arguing at the wood market. She insisted Suey came back with her to the Diamond Reef Hotel, where at least she would have a roof over her head and food in her belly. Shortly after, at the height of summer, feeling ill and with a splitting headache, Suey had gone to sit with Mrs Pickett and talked with her. What did they say? According to Suey’s letter, Mrs Pickett “‘told her the truth in every way”. ‘That Bill is every bit as responsible as you. You’re not to take all the blame. But you’ll have to raise the bairn on your own’. That same night Suey returned to her room. Feeling abandoned and alone, broken-hearted, and carrying a crushing guilt, she decided to end it all. Desperate for her mother’s forgiveness, she’d do what she’d thought of doing for some time now. She’d had her photograph taken so people would remember her. Poison was her first plan. But the Hotel Water Tank was close by and easy to get to. She’d do it now, tonight, when everyone was in bed.

The next day, 16 January 1882, about 9.30 in the morning, a wood carter, Christian Erikson unceremoniously dragged Suey Taggart’s body from the Water Tank at the end of a meat hook. “I pity the poor girls who are brought to misfortune like I was“.

What’s your view? What do you think happened?

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (12): Maps, Orphans in Victoria

MAPS

In the last post I mentioned a possible use for completed family reconstitutions viz. maps showing the location of the orphans at particular times in their lives. Here’s a couple I used in Barefoot 2–the location of the orphans in Victoria in c.1861. This one is based on the birth records of their children. The second one is the location of the orphans in Victoria at the end of their lives c.1890-1901; this one is based on their death certificates.

Mike Murphy used some of these maps in that magnificent volume, Atlas of the Great Irish Famine, p. 554.  A couple relating to Queensland in particular also appeared in Irish Women in Colonial Australia, pp.112-3. Obviously the more information is gathered about the orphans the more these maps will need redrawing. Nor do you have to stick with the dates I’ve chosen.

Anyways, for your perusal…perhaps you can see the influence of the Victorian gold rushes?

Earl Grey Orphans in Victoria c. 1861

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Earl Grey orphans in Victoria c. 1861

Earl Grey orphans in Victoria c. 1891-1901

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Earl Grey orphans in Victoria c. 1891-1901

As you can see, family reconstitutions have more than one use. Maybe you can think of others?