Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (57): Another orphan history…herstory

Most readers will know of the recent death of Tom Power a man who played such a crucial role in the creation of the monument to the Great Irish Famine at Hyde Park Barracks in Sydney http://www.irishfaminememorial.org/ This wonderfully evocative artwork was a commemoration and a memorial to all the Irish people who fled the Famine and came to Australia. Its symbolism gave it universal significance. It became a tribute to everyone fleeing famine and catastrophe anywhere in the world. Tom knew that public monuments die by neglect. His hope was that this one, ‘his’ one, would be a living monument, life breathed into it by the descendants of orphan girls memorialized on the glass panels in Hossein and Angela Valamanesh’s beautiful sculpture.

This can happen in a myriad of ways,

on an Irish Language television channel, TG4, with Barrie Dowdall and Siobhán Lynam’s TG4 series, “Mná Díbeartha/ Banished Women” http://www.convictwomenandorphangirls.com/Convict_Women/Home.html

in the creative imagination of an artist.  Jaki McCarrick’s “Belfast Girls” will be shown for the first time to an Australian audience, later this year 2018, in the middle of May. http://htg.org.au/htg-presents-belfast-girls-an-australian-premiere/

in cyberspace with the Keeper of the Orphan database, the inimitable Perry McIntyre, http://irishfaminememorial.org/orphans/database/

There’s a host of other ways. Maybe readers would mention them in a comment to this blogpost?

In homage to Tom Power I’d like to present another brief ‘herstory’. It is based on information provided by a descendant, Alan Buttenshaw. Alan provided me with a file of information relating to Winifred Tiernan and her husband, David Masters when I met him in 2003.

My starting point for up-to-date information on the Earl Grey orphans is always www.irishfaminememorial.org/orphans/database

So for

WINIFRED TIERNAN/TIERNEY FROM ROSCOMMON per TIPPOO SAIB

there is the following,

  • Surname : Tiernan (Tierney)
  • First Name : Winifred
  • Age on arrival : 16
  • Native Place : Ardcarney [Ardcarn], Roscommon
  • Parents : James & Margaret (both dead)
  • Religion : Roman Catholic
  • Ship name : Tippoo Saib (Sydney Jul 1850)
  • Workhouse : Roscommon, Boyle
  • Other : Shipping: house servant, reads, no relatives in colony. 1858-9 Report, appendix J No.150, 29 Nov 1850 indentures cancelled with Mr J Caruthers, South Head Rd, for insolence & neglect of duty, sent up the country, WPO; Im Cor 50/917, 16 Dec 1850 Maitland; mar David Masters 7 Jun 1853, St James, Morpeth; then to Mitchell’s Island nr Taree, farming husband’s property; 15 ch; she died 12 May 1909. Photo p.289 Barefoot & Pregnant, vol.2. Heather Peterson: cadie[at]ace-net.com.au; Alan Buttenshaw: abuttens[at]bigpond.com.au; Darlene McGrath, email bounced, please contact us

Further down this post you will see the family reconstitution form I constructed after meeting with Alan. Alas, I never developed her history as either of us had hoped. Here is a brief version of ‘herstory’ anyway. It may assist other family historians writing her story if they haven’t done so already. It appears there were fourteen, not fifteen children born to the couple. Both were residing in Bolwarra Parish at the time of their wedding in St James Anglican church in Morpeth in 1853. I can’t help noting how long a child-bearing life Winifred had.

Some of the information in Alan’s file had been passed to him by other family members, including the transcript of a tape by Winifred’s granddaughter. It was a tape recording what Winifred had told her granddaughter about the Famine and the death of her parents. According to this, Winifred’s mum, Margaret Conlon died in 1846, followed by her dad and brother James the year after, in 1847.

Let me quote from the transcript,

At the end of 1846 Great Grandmother Margaret, took ill. Her husband tookCatherine [Winifred’s younger sister who came to Australia in 1856] and James with him and slept in the hayloft above the cowshed. Each morning he took the milk and whatever else could be found in the way of food and left it on the kitchen doorstep. But he never went inside the house. The mother died, the two girls laid her out. … At the end of 1847, this time the father and the son James were stricken. A cart came to pick up any dead, and a neighbour told the men to call on the way back. The father was already dead, and by the time they returned the son would be also. There weren’t any records kept of who had died they were all buried in a large hole. This left the three girls orphans, Mary 15 yrs, Winifred, 12 and Catherine 9″.

One of the fascinating things about the transcript is the way we humans construct our memories to suit ourselves. In the transcript there is no mention of Winifred ever having been a workhouse and no mention of her indentures being cancelled or being sent up the country to Maitland.

See entry number 150 of the table relating to cancelled indentures in  blog post 22.

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On the contrary, the tape gives a sanitized version of Winifred’s coming to Australia.

…Grandma wanted to emigrate-the fare was only £1, but she had to wait until early 1850 when she would be 15, in the May of that year. She even had her birthday while on the ship. Her uncle (Owen Conlon) allowed her to leave then because of Bridgett Quigley her cousin.

Bridgett Quigley came with her, Grandma was a pretty girl, and Bridgett was charged with the the responsibility of looking after her. They sailed in the Tippoo Saib…Winifred went into Catherine Chisholm’s Camp and a position was found for her as a nursemaid for the children of a Mr and Mrs Morcom, school teachers at Bolwarra, Morpeth”.

There was no Caroline Chisholm ‘camp’ for Winifred to go to in 1850. And to be eligible for the Earl Grey scheme she had to be in a workhouse, for however short a period of time. Uncle Owen Conlon may well have had influence with Boyle Workhouse Guardians and officers, enough to get Winifred into the workhouse and on to the list of those chosen to go. People in Ireland were aware the scheme was coming to an end which added to their sense of urgency. But all that is merely hypothesis. We have no independent verification of any of it.

Nonetheless it does seem Winifred was related to Bridget Quigley.

On Bridget Quigley see http://irishfaminememorial.org/media/Bridget_Quigleys_life_in_NSW_24_Nov_2012.pdf

The account of Winifred’s emigration to Australia in the transcript was more personally acceptable than the reality of her having spent time in a workhouse or being sent up country after cancellation of her indenture for ‘insolence’. People often hid the fact they had spent time in a workhouse. It was a badge of undeserved shame. I’d suggest we may need help separating what the grandmother said, and what the granddaughter added to that transcript.

All this raises a question about the reliability of oral evidence, and how we go about appreciating its value. It is worth exploring. Simply type ‘Oral HistoryAssociation of Australia‘ into your search engine and you will find some helpful links. For the enthusiast who would like to take this further, there are some brilliant essays in The Oral History Reader edited by Robert Perks and Alistair Thomson, Routledge, 1998.

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Winifred Tierney/Tiernan and David Masters

Winifred married Sussex born David Masters in an Anglican church in Morpeth in 1853. David had come to Australia with his parents and siblings in 1838 on board the Maitland, a voyage which saw 35 deaths, 29 of them children, mostly from scarlet fever. None of David’s family died.

The Masters family settled in the Hunter Valley, and it was in the same area that Winifred and David’s first two children were born. Sadly, their first child, Mary, died in infancy. According to ‘our’ transcript and the barely legible notes of my conversation with Alan, the family, sick of being flooded out so frequently, moved north to the Lower Manning Valley. There, too, their first farm on Jones’s Island was subject to flooding, forcing a move to higher ground on Mitchell’s Island. It was here the rest of their children were born. Winifred was surrounded by, and absorbed into families from Sussex. David inherited a farm of thirty acres to which he added a purchase of another forty-four acres.

Here’s is Alan’s map showing where they lived. Their children were born, lived, married and buried in the same area, in Ghinni Ghinni, Wingham and Taree, most of them returning to Mitchell’s Island to be buried.

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Alan and I talked about the importance of putting Winifred and her family into context, into a ‘place’. And finding local histories and local historians who might help with that. Luckily the area is well served for anyone wanting to develop the story further. I managed to note down the following, W. G. Birrell, The Manning Valley, Landscape and settlement 1824-1900, Jacaranda Press, 1907(?); Helen Hannah, Voices a Folk History of the Manning Valley, Newcastle, 1988, and importantly, the excellent local history, John Ramsland, The Struggle against Isolation A History of the Manning Valley, Library of Australian History in association with Greater Taree City Council, 1987. In the early days of white settlement, the Manning was a cedar getting area and later one of dairy-farming. Most of those who settled here, says John Ramsland, were not people of capital.

John Ramsland’s work tells us how in the period Winifred and her family settled in the Manning Valley, the main urban centres were beginning  to take shape. ‘The first shelters in Taree (where many of Winifred’s children were to live) were temporary huts made of locally collected bark or tents made of calico. These were soon replaced by split slab huts with bark roofs and dirt floors. And soon after sawn slab huts made their appearance with shingle roofs, and wooden floors and glazed windows‘ (p.49).

It wasn’t till the twentieth century that Winifred and David’s family went further afield. Alan’s own impression was of nutritionally good stews, kitchen and pantry built together, refrigeration coming late, of spartan and relatively ‘isolated’ living.

According to John Ramsland the lower Manning Valley was  a very Protestant area. The Masters had a strong Methodist connection but by way of ‘compromise’, our transcript tells us, David and Winifred’s children were baptised in an Anglican Church. Winifred,  a young Irish Catholic lass, was absorbed into mainly Protestant Sussex families who had migrated together on the Maitland and the Argyle. Nonetheless she kept a link with Ireland through her younger sister Catherine. Catherine arrived by the Cressy in 1856.

“Catherine often visited the farm on the Manning River. If one of the girls was being married, she would arrive with all the materials and know-how to help with the trousseau. If it was one of the boys then her present was £50 towards his own farm. In 1894 Catherine and her husband (William Hillas) went for a trip to England and Ireland. While she was there she visited the site of the old home. She went by cab, and took a cut lunch. Only the fireplace, front and back doorsteps and the stone grating in the kitchen floor remained. She could remember which flag had to be lifted so her father could get into the cellar where he made his corn liquor…”.

Not a third-class or fourth class dwelling then, to use the terminology of Ireland’s census takers. I wonder in what ways this trip of Catherine’s may have influenced Winifred’s own memory of things, and what appears in the transcript.

Unfortunately I have been unable to make contact with Alan again. He has rich pickings for a good extended family history, one that that would do Alison Light proud. [Type Alison Light into the search box that appears after the comments to this blogpost to see what I’m on about ].

For me, Winifred’s story is another little life breath demonstrating how adaptable and resilient an orphan ‘girl’ could be. Our orphan histories are as diverse as the human condition itself. Maybe we should think of adding some more. That Hyde Park Barracks  monument should be kept alive.

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Post Script.

I’m currently reading a powerful, poetic, tragic, brilliant work of fiction about a young girl during the Famine, which I heartily recommend, Paul Lynch’s Grace, Otherworld, 2017.

She looks around the table, sees the way the youngers stare at her, sees what is in …the whites of all their eyes and the who they are behind that white and what lies dangerous to the who of them, this danger she has feared, how it has finally been spoken, how it has been allowed to enter the room and sit grinning among them” (p.14).

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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.

News of the Famine around 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/

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/disturbing-remains-a-story-of-black-47-1.3365683

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? Clare Abbey

“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.

Dingle

“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 too 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 are 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. https://wp.me/p4SlVj-1G0 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”.

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (39): Irish Famine women, a challenge or three

IRISH FAMINE WOMEN; a challenge or three+

Some people may have read the centre-piece of this post already. It is the talk I gave at the International Irish Famine commemoration in Sydney in 2013. Tinteán published an edited version sometime later.

Today, I want to ask other labourers in the vineyard if they would take up some of my ‘challenges’. Is it true that Van Diemen’s Land bore the brunt of Ireland’s Famine misery? What do we know about the 4-5,000 single Irish women who arrived in South Australia c. 1855-56? Who were they? Where in Ireland did they come from? What happened to them? Over fifty years ago Cherry Parkin included them in her Honours thesis. As far as I know little has been done since.

There are no pretty or informative illustrations in this post. I’ve omitted them because i wanted to emphasize the importance of ‘words’. I hope you will ponder them. Note, too, there is one more example added to the end of my talk. I hope it tells you why i think this is important.

 

page 1 Irish Famine Women; a challenge or three

a chairde

Sul a gcuirfidh mé tús leis an léach seo, ba maith liom a chur in iúl an meas mór atá agam ar muintir na Cadigal don náisiún Eora, agus na shinsear a thánaig rompu a bhí i bhfeighil an dúthaigh seo. (Thank you Tom and Sinead and Síle)

One of the most striking achievements in Irish scholarship during the last eighteen years or so is the sheer range and depth of works on the Great Irish Famine. After years of relative neglect the sesquicentenary of that tragic event seems to have opened the scholarly floodgates. Yet surprisingly, there seems to be no major study of women during the famine. It’s as if a big piece of the jigsaw is missing. There are a number of excellent small pieces but no comprehensive study of Irish Famine women. An exemplary work, the closest yet to what I have in mind, is in fact a work in comparative literature; Margaret Kelleher’s The Feminization of Famine: Expressions of the inexpressible.(1997)

Professor Kelleher claims that “where the individual spectacle of a hungry body is created, this occurs predominantly (tho’ not exclusively) through images of women” [8]. [or Lysaght, 99] Think about that for a moment. If I say “Famine” to you, what mental image comes to mind?…..

For me, it’s an image of Sudanese and Somali women who appeared on our television screens last year. Victims of famine and drought, those women decided to take their hungry and sick children and walk for miles and miles in search of help.

It is an image that is echoed in the very moving stream of consciousness essay by Connell Foley at the end of that brilliant Atlas of the Great Irish Famine, [Cork Up, 2012, p. 678]

…and if you are a woman subsistence farmer in a remote part of the congo

or niger and you have five extra mouths to feed because your brother died

2 of hiv and you are looking at the sky and you are looking at your land

and you are calculating if there will be too little rain too late or too much

so that your basic crop will be ruined and you do not know how you will feed

your children or pay for some medicines but you get up every day

and you do what you can… [Beckett] You must go on…I can’t go on…I’ll go on.

And for the Irish Famine, it’s James Mahony’s London Illustrated News images of women. You probably know “A Woman Begging at Clonakilty”, for money to bury her dead child (Feb ’47), or “Bridget O’Donnell and her children” recently evicted from their holding near Kilrush. (Dec. ’49).

Yet looking thru/over my own research notes, what struck me is not women’s victimisation –but their agency, their stoicism and determination in the face of catastrophe –and the variety of their coping strategies. Women were the leaders in workhouse riots and protests in Cork, Limerick and Tipperary [BGMB records] asserting their entitlement to better treatment and better food. In 1848, 600 women rose en masse in Cork workhouse and attacked the visiting Poor Law Inspector, “having armed themselves with stones, tins and bottles”. In Nenagh, women were the leading characters…dashing saucepans, tins and pints of stirabout to the ground and smashing windows”. In Limerick, [in April 1849,] there was a riot of women screaming and throwing pints of ale at workhouse officers. These women were probably in the second of Professor Lawrence Geary ‘s three famine phases, the protracted period of “resistance’ which came after the initial “Alarm” phase and before the final phase he calls “Exhaustion”. The second phase, according to Professor Geary, saw the slow disappearance of community generosity and focus shifting away from ‘family’ to personal survival.[Mike Murphy lecture]

Women have always been given due/proper attention by historical demographers. Women’s age at marriage, their marital fertility rate and their mortality rate are crucial to any study of famine demography.

Of particular interest here is that more men than women perished during the famine. Women had what Kate McIntyre calls “a female mortality advantage”. An interesting twist to this is David Fitzpatrick’s suggestion, that –since women were in effect the principal guardians of comfort and succour, the primary suppliers of care and affection, they became the holders of the only entitlement, love, that may have been inflated by famine [67]. The mere thought of trying to examine the history of affection during the famine will no doubt be the stuff of nightmares for traditional historians.

If the evidence collected by the Irish Folklore Commission is to be valued,— [there is some debate about the reliability of that evidence, since it was collected long after the event itself. However, it’s too easy to dismiss/Nonetheless, I think we should learn to appreciate the skills of oral historians and the sophisticated ways they assess their source material. Such evidence can tell us something of what it was like to have been there. [O’Grada, Black ’47](Why were women in the oral tradition perceived as suffering the worst of consequences?) ] If the folklore evidence is to believed, women during the famine had a good reputation as providers of charity. The renowned Peig Sayers recounted to the Commissioners the story of a Kerry woman, Bridie Shehan, who tied her dead daughter to her back with ropes, and carried her to the local graveyard where two men helped her bury her daughter. When Bridie made her way back home, her neighbour, Nora Landers, called her in and gave her seven of her own precious seed potatoes. [ O’Grada’s Black ’47, 200-01]

A female outsider, an American visitor, Asenath Nicholson, a widow, who wrote about her travels through Ireland, also has a well deserved reputation for charitable good works. It is from her that we learn of an Irish Famine woman’s task of closing the door on her family’s grave. If I may quote from her work, (Annals of the Famine in Ireland)

A cabin was seen closed one day…when a man had the curiosity

to open it, and in a dark corner he found a family of the father, mother

4 and two children, lying in close compact. The father was considerably

decomposed; the mother, it appeared, had died last, and probably

fastened the door, which was always the custom when all hope

was extinguished, to get in to the darkest corner and die, where passers- by could not see them.

Such family scenes were quite common, and the cabin was generally pulled down upon them for a grave.[ Kelleher, 85]

Clearly then women were very much present in famine times. They were there in the workhouse [in Limerick, Cork, Nenagh (or wherever,)] rioting against their treatment and poor quality food. They were there inside the cottier’s cottage, their domestic domain, when the pile of potatoes on the table grew smaller and smaller and decisions had to be taken as to who got what, and how much. They were there around the family hearth when the decision was made to send their sons and daughters abroad, or to decide if the whole family should emigrate. And women were most likely there, at the very end when they could still close the door to their cottage, their family grave.

This then is our first challenge: a full blown study of Irish women’s role during the famine.

What part did women play in Irish society and economy? What work did they do in the fields, at sowing or at harvest time? Did they help dig ditches, gather sticks, dig turf, feed cattle, pigs and poultry or groom horses by lantern, late on a winter’s night? Was their work confined to a kitchen garden, washing, weaving, cooking, sweeping the yard and cleaning the house? How did all this differ from class to class or region to region before, during and after the Famine?

What exactly was women’s role in family life? Were women the chief providers of affection? What was their sense of moral value? Were they protectors and promoters of religious belief? Did they act as guardians of oral tradition and transmitters of language and culture? Did the Famine overturn traditional family structures and throw traditional mores into disarray? Did women have to find and procure food for themselves and their desperately hungry children by whatever means, travelling miles, begging, and stealing if needs be. [These are some of the questions that spring to my mind. I’m sure you will think of others.]

Without an understanding of women’s role, may I suggest to you, our knowledge of the famine will always remain incomplete?

Our second challenge then is a full-scale, comprehensive study of Irish-Australian Famine women. The important thing, as before, is that we view these women through the lens of the Famine.

When I was preparing Barefoot & Pregnant? in the 1980s I was concerned about identifying people who knew an driochsheal, people who had first hand experience of the ‘bad life’, the ‘bitter time’ of the Famine. The young women who came here as part of the Earl Grey scheme were exactly what I was looking for. These young women obviously are essential to any study of Irish-Australian famine women.

But I think it is now time to cast the net more widely –to include, perhaps, some of the landlord assisted immigrants from the Monteagle estates in Limerick or the Shirley estate in Monaghan, for example– Or at least, the young women who came from workhouses in Clare and Cork to Hobart on the Beulah and Calcutta in 1851 –Or to Sydney, on the Lady Kennaway from Cork workhouses in 1854. These last, I’m sure you know, were the occasion of a fascinating political brouhaha here in NSW from the mid to late 1850s.

6

Let me give three examples to show what can be done—first, Irish female convicts transported to Tasmania, second, government assisted family migrants to NSW and Victoria, and thirdly, the immigration of c. 4-5000 Single females to South Australia in the 1850s.

At the beginning of the 1840s, about 1,000 Irish convicts were transported to Van Diemen’s Land each year. By the famine years, the annual intake had risen to 3,000. The transportation of female convicts, unlike that of males, did not stop during those years. “Tasmania thus bore the brunt of Irish famine misery ”, says Professor Richard Davis [9]. Not everyone would agree. Rena Lohan, a postgraduate student, in her study of Grangegorman, the women’s prison in Dublin, for example, found that most of the prisoners were already hardened criminals. Any link between Irish female convicts and the famine is tenuous, she argued. As always, the issue is complex and open to debate.

Were Irish judges more lenient in their sentencing during the famine? Knowing the difficult circumstances people were in, were they more prepared to accept as a defense, that crimes were committed “on grounds of want”? One such was the Exchequer Baron, John Richards who was willing to send convicts to Tasmania especially when he learned they had nowhere to go and would be without support when their prison term expired. Needless to say, not all judges and juries agreed on this matter. There was no consistent policy.

Did more women commit more crimes in order to be transported? Can we establish a strong link between the famine and the types of crimes they committed? Among the crimes recorded against the names of Irish women arriving in 1849 and 1850, for example, we note, “stealing a turkey’, ‘stealing a sheep’, ‘stealing a cow’, ‘stealing fowls’, ‘killed her child by a bandage, a little girl one month old’, ‘house burning’, which in itself carried a life sentence. Do we really need to distinguish between 7’intention’ and crimes born of desperation? Yet what of those women with criminal records stretching before the famine years?

Assuming we can identify female Famine convicts, what became of them in Tasmania? Were they different from other convicts? Were they less likely to re-offend? Were they less likely to be rebellious or to ‘resist’ the convict system, more likely to be ‘accommodationist’, and willing to accept their lot? Or did Australian conditions rather than their Irish famine background determine what became of them? The issues are complex are they not? Yet Tasmanian convict records are so rich it should be possible to answer many of these questions.

A second category of Irish-Australian famine women might include those who came here as part of their family’s emigration strategy. Richard Reid’s excellent work, Farewell my Children [Anchor, 2011], draws attention to the quite elaborate ways families in Ireland used Government assisted schemes to come to Australia during the famine years and the years immediately after. Manoeuvering the intricacies of bureaucratic regulations, filling out forms, collecting the required references from householders, from their local priest or magistrate or doctor, waiting for notification and arranging to join a ship in England, required skill, patience and detailed planning. Working the system, bending the rules, required a different kind of skill.

As family members discussed their emigration prospects around the hearth, in the domestic sphere, I am sure Irish women made their voice heard. One can surmise how influential women’s strength and determination and emotional clout was, in deciding how the family’s emigration strategy would be played out. Strikingly, Irish emigration to Australia in the 19th century was to achieve a gender balance. But in the famine, and years immediately following, many more women than men arrived as government assisted immigrants.

Dr Reid emphasises that it is a mistake to think of these young women, or the young 8sons and daughters in a family, being thrust into the unknown. They were often supported by an extensive and intricate network of family, friends and neighbours, sometimes stretching back to earlier convict days or bounty emigration schemes, sometimes needing a network to be established anew, set-up from scratch. We might ask did daughters play as important a role as sons in establishing these networks, not just for their own nuclear family but for their extended family and other members of their local community as well? Or were they less likely than men to nominate family and friends or manipulate Remittance regulations to their own advantage?

If I might illustrate the complications of this family emigration planning further, with an example form the work of an excellent family historian in Victoria, Anne Tosolini. I’ve used this example before in an article published in Descent in September 1999, [137].

Siblings and cousins (sons and daughters) of the Frehan and Gorman families came here from the parish of Lorrha in Tipperary between 1849 and 1854, some of them to Port Jackson and some to Port Phillip. They were to regroup in Melbourne during those years, the men renting and purchasing properties in neighbouring streets in Richmond, close to people who had been their neighbours in Lorrha. The women, however, settled some distance away, in Geelong. When they married, and their husbands later selected land, they were scattered throughout different parts of Victoria, –their strong bonds of kinship thus becoming slowly and perhaps more easily weakened. Was there a ‘gendered’ difference in the colonial experience of the first generation of migrants? Did the women adapt more readily? Were women more willingly acculturated? Were they more independent in their choice of marriage partners? Was the regrouping of their family more likely to be ‘transitional’ than that of Irish men? These are questions about women’s role in their family emigration strategy that can, and still need to be addressed.

My third example of Irish-Australian Famine women is the circa 4-5 thousand young women who sailed into Port Adelaide in 1854, 1855 and 1856. Boatload after 9boatload of young single Irish females—by the Europa, the Grand Trianon, the Nashwauk, Aliquis and Admiral Boxer, for example,—came to South Australia in the mid 1850s as part of what I would call ‘ their flight from famine and its aftermath’. The Famine had opened the floodgates. Like the Earl Grey female orphans, they too might be considered famine refugees.

So many came in such a short time, so many were allegedly ill-suited to the work required of them, so many demanded food and accommodation in immigrant depots, and so many had been sent to Adelaide under false pretences (they had been told in London they could easily walk to Melbourne and Sydney) that South Australian government authorities established a government enquiry into what they called “Excessive Female Immigration”. Lucky for us they did so. In the minutes of evidence to their report we hear the voice of some of the young women themselves. The women called before the enquiry were asked why they came here. Their answers were what we would expect;–ambitious, independent, hopeful, banal.

[“February 15th 1855 Frances McDowell called in and examined, 32]

What induced you to come out here?—I do not know.

Had you received letters from friends? –I have no friends in Australia.

Did you think you would benefit yourself by coming to this Colony?–I was induced by the published statements to think that I might do well here.”

Some of these women were part of a network already here, and soon left South Australia to join their family and friends in Sydney and Melbourne. But my general impression is that the majority did not belong to such a network. ..Still, until there is an in-depth and thorough study of these women, our conclusions should remain tentative. This surely is a tempting research project for someone living in Adelaide.

Some excellent work has already been done on aspects of this so-called “Excessive” female immigration, –by Cherry Parkin, Eric Richards,Ann Herraman, Stephanie James, Marie Steiner to name a few. After acknowledging the initial troubles these young women had, –some walking 16 miles in the heat of the day, barefoot, to go to a situation, others returning to depot sunburnt, blistered, overworked and cast out after harvest was finished, some found crying, disappointed, despondent and depressed at their prospects—the view of most Australian writers is that these Irish women were generally well cared for and absorbed successfully into South Australian society. Areas of thickest Irish settlement …such as Paddy Gleeson’s Clare Valley were the first to accept and absorb them. The Seven Hills marriage registers demonstrate just how quickly they were accepted.

Other writers, outside Australia, are less upbeat. To quote from two, “The young women settled in badly and most left as soon as they could”. “Those sent into the outback as agricultural labourers barely survived”. (Akenson)

Who exactly were these young women? Which parts of Ireland did they come from? Where did their confidence, –or desperation, come from? What became of them? Were they being realistic in their expectations? Were they disillusioned? In fact, the same sort of questions may be asked of all of our Irish-Australian famine women, whether family emigrants, workhouse women, foundling orphans, convicts or convict families.

Is it possible to view them through the lens of their famine experience? Or at least try to view them from their own perspective? Look at their history through their own eyes, follow in their footsteps? This is my third challenge.

It’s not an easy thing to do. Finding out about the famine in our subject’s locality and even surmising the impact it might have had on our subject’s psyche, and subsequent life, are approaches we may need to take. It especially means our not accepting official sources at face value. They provide only a limited and slanted view of things –which is not that of the women themselves. Dig deeper. Read the sources “against the grain” [perhaps in the same manner as postcolonial Indian historians of the 1980s.] If necessary, rearrange the mental furniture we normally use in studying the past.

In the end, our sources may never allow us to get ‘inside the head’ of individual women. We may never get close enough to know them ‘in the round’–except perhaps through intelligent creative fiction. Which is why I’m very much looking forward to reading Evelyn Conlon’s Not the same sky [Wakefield Press, 2013]which is being launched later this afternoon.

Finally, our challenge is also about taking care with the language we use. Language is a loaded gun. If I may explain this by means of a few phrases, [–‘the Atlantic slave trade‘, the ‘Holocaust‘ and ‘pauper immigration‘.]

My first full-paid university appointment in the 1960s was in the West Indies. For me, a phrase such as “the Atlantic Slave trade” is a Pandora’s box, full of memories and meanings. But at its core is the 12 million people bought and sold like chattel, bought and sold like pieces of farm machinery or livestock, people denied their humanity.

One of the last courses I taught at Macquarie University before I retired included the Holocaust, the industrial mass murder of 6 million Jewish people. It was a subject that troubled me greatly. I found myself insisting upon saying Jewish people as a means of recognising the victims’ humanity. Without that recognition of our common humanity, it can happen again and again, as it did in Cambodia, in Rwanda and in the former Yugoslavia.

Even a seemingly innocuous/straightforward phrase such as “pauper immigration”, [still current in some quarters when writing about the Earl Grey famine orphans,] –has different layers of meaning. It carries a class interpretation. It implies that some immigrants are of less value than others, and hence, as human beings. Many of the young famine orphan girls who came here were bilingual, especially those from the west of Ireland. They spoke both Irish and English. The Irish word “bochtán” –‘poor person’– contains within it recognition of the poor person’s humanity in a way that the phrase, “pauper immigration” [Madgwick, chpt.X] does not. As those young women accommodated themselves to their new Australian circumstances they lost that language, and that world view; they lost that way of looking at the world. [There is a v. interesting essay, on this very subject by Mairead Nic Craith, Legacy and Loss, towards the end of that brilliant work, Atlas of the Great Irish Famine. p.580]

Today, I wish to add a third phrase, “the Irish potato famine” which is gaining currency these days. It is a phrase which many Irish people find insulting. Why is that? What’s wrong with those words?

Sure, failure of the potato crop is a very important part of what happened but as I said in post no.4 http://wp.me/p4SlVj-3I

famine is always about more than shortage of food and starvation. In that post I mentioned the work of Amartya Sen. Do search for him on google and for his colleague with whom he wrote about famine and poverty, Jean Drèze. I see one can even download the whole of Sen’s Poverty and Famines: an essay on entitlements and deprivation from more than one place. Even if you do not agree with his theory of entitlements applied to the Irish case you will realize how complex famines are. Poverty, over-crowding, a vicious land system, poor housing, underemployment, hoarding, thieving, price gouging, gombeen men, ‘culpable’ neglect on the part of government, the quarter acre clause, betrayal of one’s neighbours, and the unstoppable march of disease, are all in the mix. A phrase such as ‘the Irish potato famine’ misdirects our attention and fails to understand the complexities involved. “The Irish Potato Famine”–no; “The Great Irish Famine”–yes.

Let me put this another way. I’ll use the final words of David Nally in his Human Encumbrances.

“How are catastrophic famines to be prevented? One possible answer is provided by those who resisted famine policies in the 1840s: stop creating them”. (231)

Do please think about the words you want to use  before uttering them.

Is minic a ghearr teanga  duine a scornach (it’s often a person’s tongue/language cuts his throat)
My thanks to Tom Power, and  Tom and Sinead McCloughlin for this saying.

Careful as you go. Mind your language.

Trevor McClaughlin 24 August 2013

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (38):some useful websites and links

USEFUL WEBSITES and links

Whilst I make up my mind whether to continue with this, revise what I have with a view to publication in hard-copy, or just abandon it, I thought you might like to play with some of these web links. It’s only in the last fifteen years or so that the internet has become a useful research tool for most of us in Australia. One day we may have internet access as reliable as people in South Korea and Japan. (Tell him he’s dreamin’).

As I’m sure everyone is aware, what’s available on the web is still only a tiny fraction of what exists in archives.  For instance I don’t think all the Reports of Immigrant ships into Port Jackson are digitised yet. State Records New South Wales (SRNSW) has 4/2823 (Lady Peel); 4/2907 (John Knox); 4/2914A (Tippoo Saib). Am I right or am I right? The encouraging news is how many more records are becoming available minute by minute, day by day. What I find most impressive is how easily and how quickly we can communicate with one another. There’s a downside too but we’ll not worry about that just now.

I’ve put together a selection of links I hope you’ll explore. Most of them appear somewhere on my blog. One or two do not. They are in no particular order, except that two and three tell you about the ‘Gatherings’ in Sydney and Melbourne that celebrate the Earl Grey orphans each year. Most are both educational and informative. And lots are merely entry points for you to do your own research. Happy surfing! Hope you’re waving, not drowning.

http://wp.me/p4SlVj-oE

http://www.irishfaminememorial.org

https://tintean.org.au/2015/11/12/irish-ambassador-at-famine-rock-commemoration-2015/

http://mykerryancestors.com/sharing-your-kerry-ancestors

http://mayoorphangirls.weebly.com

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/hindsight/the-famine-girls/4857904

https://vimeo.com/75656628

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrOWw_qZ0sY

https://viewsofthefamine.wordpress.com/

http://www.dippam.ac.uk/eppi/

http://trove.nla.gov.au

http://registers.nli.ie

http://www.workhouses.org.uk/Ireland/

http://www.convictwomenandorphangirls.com/Convict_Women/Home.html

http://www.irelandsgreathunger.com/about.html

http://ighm.org/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0p4pNJFrsTE

http://sydneylivingmuseums.com.au/stories/irish-orphan-girls-hyde-park-barracks

http://www.slideshare.net/GeobitsLtd/mapping-the-great-irish-famine-mike-murphy

http://tobinfamilyhistoryaus.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/stephen-tobin-ch9-sister-ellen-tobin.html

http://jakiscloudnine.blogspot.ie/2015/02/the-genesis-of-belfastgirls-at.html?m=1

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine orphans (31):family reconstitutions-family histories 

Family reconstitutions-family histories

Just to complete my previous post, here are some more family reconstitutions for your perusal.

(See  http://wp.me/p4SlVj-zv for more information about this ‘revolutionary’ demographic technique. Scroll down the link to the “Introduction” of Professor Wrigley’s book).

Some Port Phillip arrivals; double click or ‘pinch’ to make larger

fofallon

Bridget Fallon per Pemberton 1849

foharenewliver

Sarah Hare per New Liverpool 1849

 

fomaroney

Ann(e) Marony per Eliza Caroline 1850

 

fonelligan

Ann Nelligan per Pemberton 1849

foenelligan

Eliza Nelligan per Pemberton 1849

 

foobrienpemb

Sarah O’Brien per Pemberton

Fanny Young per Tippoo Saib

Fanny Young per Tippoo Saib

Some who went to the Moreton Bay district

 

fodowdqld

Bridget Dowd per Thomas Arbuthot 1850

 

 

fofitzgibbonqld

Mary Fitzgibbon per Thomas Arbuthnot 1850

 

fokingqld

Bridget King per Panama 1850

fomcgarryqld

Jane McGarry per Earl Grey 1848

 

 

blogmoriarty1

Catherine Moriarty with husband Tom Elliott and other family members c. 1886. Thanks to Mike Vincent.

fomoriarty

Catherine Moriarty per Thomas Arbuthnot 1850

foweatherallqld

Mary Anne Weatherall per Lady Peel 1849

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (19):Telling Orphan stories, authenticating photos

 ANOTHER ASIDE;

some orphan pics and stories

Some years ago I jotted down notes for an essay provisionally entitled, “Telling Stories: Irish Famine orphans in Australia”. Here’s a small extract: I was jotting down things at random.

It soon became apparent there were a number of interesting historiographical issues to confront.

  • How should we fill in the silences and the gaps in our orphans’ stories?
  • What do we know about these family photographs? Are they authentic?
  • How can we test and verify oral testimony, family stories and the like?
  • Were these women ‘pioneers’ or is this word too value-laden, too triumphalist? Perhaps ‘female white settler’ is a better, more ‘neutral’ description.
  • What was these women’s relationship with Aboriginal people, one of the most common gaps or silences in family histories? Fiction it may be, but Kate Grenville’s Secret River at least addresses this shortcoming.
  • How exactly should we flesh out the historical context of the orphans’ lives in Australia? How might we take account of changing historical circumstances during the nineteenth century and beyond?
  • How did they cope with illness? What was their material life–their dress, their dwelling, their work and their economic condition?
  • How are we to ‘situate’ them in a particular place?
  • What do we know about their emotional makeup, their relationship with their spouses, their children and their grandchildren, and their friends and neighbours?
  • And if we have no direct evidence of any of this, should we make a guess? And how then, should we decide whether that guess was an informed guess, a starry-eyed guess or pure fiction?

I did set the project aside, thinking, ‘Get a grip’,  that’s far too serious; it will  discourage anyone thinking of writing their orphan history.

You can imagine how pleased I was to see two recent books that addressed some of these concerns. The first is by Libby Connors. Her Warrior was launched a month or two ago. It’s about a great Aboriginal leader, Dundalli (Wonga Pigeon). I’m very much an admirer of Libby’s sense of justice, and her extraordinary ability to see things from both an Aboriginal and European perspective.  The second is by Tanya Evans. Her Fractured Families was launched last week (June 2015). Focussing on the Benevolent Society of New South Wales, Tanya has worked closely with family historians. I’m really looking forward to reading it. I suspect she’ll make me reconsider what I said in an earlier post about orphans’ ‘success’ and whether coming to Australia was the best thing they could have done. If you go to www.amazon.com you can sample excerpts from both books. Just  go to ‘Books’ and type in the author’s name and click on their book. May I  suggest you ask your local library to acquire a copy or two? Good historians need all the encouragement they can get.

Some orphan photographs

Let me upload some orphan photographs descendants kindly sent me some time in the past; a new generation of descendants may be interested to have them. I’ve accepted these at face value, knowing how difficult it can be to authenticate and describe the provenance of every family photograph in one’s possession. I recently inherited a collection of photos from family members, myself, only to realize I have no idea who most of the subjects are. There are sites such as www.myheritage.com/old-family-photos  that may help. But I’ve never used any of them.

I do understand that family historians are very creative when it comes to pursuing their history. The very long view provided by DNA analysis looks fascinating. I’ve even had a Canadian friend find distant relatives by studying photographs and identifying common physical features. So, if someone wants to look at orphan photographs and see profound sadness in their eyes, or put words into their mouths, I have seen things I’ll never forget, and will never tell you, it’s not for me to say, you can’t do that.

The first photographs are of Bridget Hartigan (1834-1914), originally from Newmarket in County Clare. I received them from Roy Dunstan many moons ago. They tell a story in themselves.  Bridget was one of the Thomas Arbuthnot orphans who travelled overland with Surgeon Strutt and was hired out at Yass. She had the gumption to complain about her treatment at the hands of her employer, and to marry twice. She is pictured here with her second husband William Hine, a miner at Vaughan, and later a successful newspaper owner.

Bridget Hartigan/Downey/Hine and daughter Caroline c. 1862

Bridget Hartigan/Downey/Hine and daughter Caroline c. 1862

Bridget Hartigan in the early 1880s taken in Melbourne

Bridget Hartigan in the early 1880s taken in Melbourne

Bridget Hartigan aged 77 photo c. 1911

Bridget Hartigan aged 77 photo c. 1911

I must confess this middle one looks like it’s been extracted from the one below.

fobhartiganthoarb4gens

Bridget Hartigan with d.Caroline, granddaughter Ruby and gt.granddaughter Carrie. Photo taken 1912

This next is of Catherine Kean also from County Clare and also by the Thomas Arbuthnot. Sometimes details of where the photograph was taken can help authenticate it and tell us more about its provenance. Catherine married Michael Featherston whose brother Luke also married a Famine orphan, Maria McDermot per Lady Peel.

focathykeanthoarb

fomarycasserly1885

Mary Casserly or Cassidy from Longford with her daughter Rosanna c. 1885. Mary daughter of Patrick Cassidy and Ann Skelly came from Newtowncashel, in Longford. She was baptised 4 February 1833 and died near Reefton on the South Island of New Zealand in 1895. Her name is on the Irish Famine Monument in Sydney as Mary Casserly.

foMargtdriscoll jhnknox

Painting of Margaret Driscoll from Cork per John Knox. She married Henry Hill in Berrima in 1862 and died in Newtown, Sydney aged 74. Large numbers attended the funeral for this “prominent Catholic woman”.

 

fomarykennylismoyne

Mary Kenny from Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny per Lismoyne. Mary Kenny’s photograph was sent to me for volume one of Barefoot way back in the late 1980s. Mary married Henry Johnson a sailmaker, later a lighthouse keeper at South Head in Sydney.

And finally, one of Mary Anne McMaster from Rich Hill, Co. Armagh. She died at Deep Creek, Wynard, Tasmania, 28 December 1914. For more information see the Irishfaminememorial.org website http://irishfaminememorial.org/orphans/database/?surName=mcmaster&firstName=&age=0&nativePlace=&parents=&religion=0&ship=7

fomaryannMcmastrdiadem

Mary Anne McMaster per Diadem

I do have some more pics but I’ll keep them for another time. If anyone does have a photograph they would like me to upload, please feel free to send a copy.

That should be enough for now. Let me get back to wrestling with the reasons for the Earl Grey scheme coming to an end. It looks simple enough; a clamouring opposition in colonial Australia and embarrassing questions in the House of Commons in England was enough to finish it off. But I suspect there is more to it than this.

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (18):blog contents (incomplete)

Blog Contents

This list will should make it easier to navigate the blog. Some of the bits and pieces, photographs, maps, graphs and family reconstitutions et al., are meant to illustrate what I’m saying in other posts. Clicking on the http:// link should take you directly to that post.
At the end of each post, after the ‘Comments’ there is a SEARCH BOX. Type in what you wish to search for and you will see if I’ve said anything about what you are looking for
  1. Origins of the Earl Grey Scheme http://wp.me/p4SlVj-3

  2. Organization of the scheme http://wp.me/p4SlVj-Z

  3. Organization of the scheme (continued) http://wp.me/p4SlVj-2p

  4. Who were the female orphans? http://wp.me/p4SlVj-3I

  5. Who were the female orphans? (cont.)http://wp.me/p4SlVj-4X

  6. Hiatus: Graphs and family reconstitutions http://wp.me/p4SlVj-6Z

  7. The Voyage  http://wp.me/p4SlVj-7z and http://wp.me/p4SlVj-8Cand  N.B. 7c http://wp.me/p4SlVj-7X

    1. Some Fotos and Family Reconstitutions http://wp.me/p4SlVj-cs 

  8. No Rose-Tinted spectacles http://wp.me/p4SlVj-dQ

  9. Some Pics (Oz online Libraries)http://wp.me/p4SlVj-fE

  10. Family Reconstitutions http://wp.me/p4SlVj-gbMaps (orphans in Victoria)http://wp.me/p4SlVj-gJ

  11. Government preparations again http://wp.me/p4SlVj-g4

  12. Some more Pics http://wp.me/p4SlVj-jt

  13. “Belfast Girls”http://wp.me/p4SlVj-k0

  14. Arrival and Early Days http://wp.me/p4SlVj-h8

  15. Orphans “Scattering” (maps and graphs and photos)http://wp.me/p4SlVj-nv

  16. Blog contents http://wp.me/p4SlVj-oE

  17.      Another Aside:orphan pics and stories http://wp.me/p4SlVj-p7

  18. British Parliamentary Papers: orphan emigration returns http://wp.me/p4SlVj-rc

  19. Why did the earl Grey scheme come to an end? http://wp.me/p4SlVj-q8

  20.                                Cancelled Indentures http://wp.me/p4SlVj-vf

  21.                  Orphans and their families in Australia http://wp.me/p4SlVj-yU

  22.                   Some more orphan family reconstitutions http://wp.me/p4SlVj-zv

  23.                                     Suey Taggart http://wp.me/p4SlVj-AB

  24.                        NSW Parliamentary Enquiry 1859 http://wp.me/p4SlVj-BT

  25.                 I’ve found an orphan (Jane Troyhttp://wp.me/p4SlVj-Di

  26.                      H.H. Browne and VPLA NSW 1859 Report http://wp.me/p4SlVj-D6

  27.                  Where to from here? http://wp.me/p4SlVj-Gf

  28.                           Implications http://wp.me/p4SlVj-I0

  29.                  Family reconstitutions http://wp.me/p4SlVj-Ji

  30.                Unfinished stories (1) Mary McConnell http://wp.me/p4SlVj-JQ

  31. Unfinished stories (2) Mary McConnell http://wp.me/p4SlVj-LL

  32.                      Another Aside; Register of applications for orphans http://wp.me/p4SlVj-OI

  33.       More snippets; notes from VPRS115 Superintendent in corresp. http://wp.me/p4SlVj-P4

  34.            Unfinished Stories (3); Bridget McMahon http://wp.me/p4SlVj-PV

  35.          Digital Maps? http://wp.me/p4SlVj-Sw
  36.                                     Useful websites and links http://wp.me/p4SlVj-TK
  37.           Irish Famine women : a challenge or three+ http://wp.me/p4SlVj-Ut
  38. Addendum (South Australia) http://wp.me/p4SlVj-V4
  39. Famine Rock 2016 http://wp.me/p4SlVj-XE

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (17): Orphans ‘scattering’, some graphs and photos 

ORPHANS ‘SCATTERING’

&

some more graphs and some more  photo-graphs

These maps were drawn in the mid 1990s and thus need updating with material that has come to light since then. I’m putting them up because i know they are accurate and they still give a good idea how widely the orphans were ‘scattered’ throughout Eastern Australia in the second half of the 19th century.

Another reason is that mapping the orphans’ movements is a useful tool for discovering more about their history. Barbara Barclay has made excellent use of maps in her study of Famine orphans from County Mayo. There is no reason this cannot be done on a larger scale. I’ve already mapped the origin of the orphans based on the workhouses they were from (see blogpost 4). Could maps be drawn which show their more precise origins in Ireland, as well as their place of first employment in Australia, as indeed Barbara does for those from County Mayo, on her website www.mayoorphangirls.weebly.com ?

Is there not a computer programme that would allow us to map their movements over time? We could follow them between places of employment, and through marriage, birth and death records for much of their life. We’d need to find out more about such a programme. Does it exist already? There may be a lot of work involved?

The other maps I drew for Barefoot vol.2 were frozen at specific points in time, 1848-50; 1861; and c.1890-1900. They are still useful I hope. I’ve run the 1861 ones together for the map below, as indeed Mike Murphy did, in the Atlas of the Great Irish Famine. The colonies of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland were ‘separated’ from one another by that date.

Location of the orphans in c.1861 from their childrens' birth registrations

Location of the orphans in c.1861 from their childrens’ birth registrations

I’ll add a couple more which might allow a closer look. The first is of Queensland in c. 1861.

Orphans in Queensland c. 1861

Orphans in Queensland c. 1861

The next is of New South Wales in c. 1861.Orphans in NSW c. 1861

And this one shows the location of Earl Grey Famine orphans in New South Wales at the time of their death in c. 1900.

Orphan locations from death certificates

 See post 12 for maps showing the location of orphans in Victoria.

WORKHOUSE GRAPHS

Here are some more graphs illustrating workhouse conditions, a bit of a throwback to earlier posts. You may wish to compare these with the ones in post 6.

Armagh workhouse in 1848

Enniskillen workhouse in 1848

Enniskillen Workhouse in 1848

South Dublin Workhouse in 1848

South Dublin Workhouse in 1848

ORPHAN PHOTOGRAPHS

 Now for some more orphan photographs and once again, my heartfelt thanks to the descendants who kindly sent me these to use.

Catherine Grady per New Liverpool

Catherine Grady per New Liverpool

Maria Maher per Thomas Arbuthnot and her graddaughter

Maria Maher per Thomas Arbuthnot and her granddaughter

Oh dear,  I still haven’t made much progress in mastering WordPress. I’ll try uploading some more and see what happens.

Rose Sherry per John Knox

Rose Sherry per John Knox

Mary Healy per Elgin and her husband

Mary Healy per Elgin and her husband

Mary Doherty per Eliza Caroline

Mary Doherty per Eliza Caroline  

Eliza McDermott per Tippoo Saib

Eliza McDermott per Tippoo Saib

Catherine Moriarty per Thomas Arbuthnot

Catherine Moriarty per Thomas Arbuthnot

Honora Haydon per Lady Peel

Honora Haydon per Lady Peel

 

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (13): Government preparations for their arrival

Government Preparations again

I’m not sure how best to proceed. Here’s one possible plan.

  • Imperial and colonial government preparations
  • arrival and early days of the young women in Australia
  • opposition to and the end of the ‘ Earl Grey scheme’
  • NSW government enquiry of 1858-9.

Maybe start with that.

And after that, what? I have a few ideas–maybe life stories of a number of the orphans, maybe inter-generational family histories of some of them, or an examination of orphans in different regions–the Illawarra and Hunter valley in New South Wales, the gold fields and Western Victoria, the Moreton Bay district, town compared with country, or perhaps something on the orphans in South Australia, about which I know very little. We shall see, what we shall see. Such is life, as one or two Irish-Australians once put it.

It is important that I take this one small bite at a time.

“We must work & play and John Jacob Niles

will sing our souls to rest

(in his earlier-78 recordings).

Tomorrow we’ll do our best, our best,

tomorrow we’ll do our best”.

(John Berryman, The Home Ballad.)

——————————————–

Depending on the sources used, the Earl Grey female orphan scheme will appear in a very different light. Here, I want to look at government’s point of view using British Parliamentary Papers, especially those available in hard copy. (I’ve used the thousand volume Irish Universities Press version, especially the volumes entitled Colonies. Australia, volumes 11 and 12. Sometimes I much prefer holding a book in my hand to reading a digitised text online). Adventurers, though, might want to explore,

http://www.dippam.ac.uk/eppi/documents/12245/page/294969

Viewing the Earl Grey female orphan scheme from a government position is a very different perspective from that of its opponents in Australia, and different again from the young women themselves, or that of present-day family historians.

Government Planning

First then, a government perspective: its interest was to present the scheme as positively as it could. [e.g. Governor H.E.F. Young’s report on the Roman Emperor, 9th General report of Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners (CLEC) Appendix 18, HC 1849[1082]22 1– “the first twenty who entered into service conducted themselves so creditably as to create a feeling as much in favour of the emigrants as it had been before adverse“.]

The British Imperial government was very thorough. Its plan, instigated with the approval of its representatives in the Australian colonies, and despite a long communications turn-around time of six months or more, is testimony to its forward planning skills. Yet no matter how good the forward planning, in practice, the scheme was always a work in progress; who should choose teachers or religious instructors for orphans on board ship? should surgeons on board orphan ships be paid more? where do we get a supply of Douay Bibles? These things were all arranged in piecemeal fashion, as the scheme progressed. How well things worked out in practice, however, would not always be in control of the government.

Grey did not intend ‘imposing’ Irish workhouse orphans on the Australian colonies. His government’s representatives in Australia told him the colonies would welcome an influx of marriageable female labour. His major concern was to meet colonial demands for labour by renewing large-scale government-assisted emigration. The female orphan scheme was but a part of this. In their covering letter to the under secretary for the Colonial Department, 17 February 1848, the Colonial land and Emigration Commissioners CLEC) emphasized, re- the orphans, that “Lord Grey is well aware of the necessity which exists for preserving the proportions of the sexes in any large emigration to a new country. Single men willing to emigrate are to be found in abundance”. This too was a major concern.

Let me further illustrate just how meticulous and detailed Grey’s plan was by returning to two of my earlier posts, posts 2 and 3 in particular, where I outlined the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners’ proposal, dated 17 February 1848. (See the Eppi link above).

Some similarities and some differences between New South Wales and South Australian colonial government arrangements

Remember the colony of Victoria, as it later became, was still part of New South Wales between 1848 and 1850, i. e. during the female orphan scheme; Victoria did not ‘separate’ from New South Wales until 1851. Remember, too, that South Australia was different again: that colony had a different Governor, different laws and different ways of doing things. Grey was obliged to ‘communicate’ separately with them both.

Charles Augustus Fitzroy. Governor of New South Wales

Charles Augustus Fitzroy. Governor of New South Wales in 1855. Courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales.

Gov H Young1850

Henry Fox Young, Governor of South Australia from in 1850. Courtesy of the State Library of South Australia

Gov Latrobe engraving

Superintendent Charles J La Trobe, later Governor of Victoria. Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

 

 

Here is the extract from the CLEC proposal mentioned above that I posted last August. Allow me to develop these. They are worth a careful reading.

6. The Governor will be directed on the arrival of these Emigrants in the Colony to make such arrangements in regard to their employment as may be most to their benefit, according to their age and circumstances.

7. Every pains will be taken to find the Emigrants respectable Employers– when their age and circumstances render it fitting, they will be bound Apprentices, under Laws which are in force in the Colonies. It will be stipulated that fair wages shall be paid by the Employers, according to the current rate prevailing in the district; and after deducting such portion as may be required to pay for clothes, and other current expenses, the remainder of their wages will be reserved, to be given to them at the expiration of the Contract, or…at their marriage, provided it be approved by the Government, or by the Committee appointed to act on its behalf. A power will be retained of forfeiting the reserved wages of any of the Children who may abscond, or whose indentures may be cancelled for misconduct. 

8. The Governors of New South Wales and South Australia, will be directed to appoint a Committee in each Colony, at which they will request the cooperation of the Bishop of Australia and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, and in South Australia, of the Bishop of Adelaide and the Roman Catholic Bishop, to see that these stipulations are duly observed by the Employers… This might appear to be wishful thinking i.e. giving such Committees  powers which  in practice they could never police to the full. How could they, once the young women went into the hinterland? But they nonetheless went to great lengths to make it work. In a Despatch (Earl Grey to Sir C. A. Fitzroy, Governor of New South Wales, 28 February 1848, even before the Irish Government approved the scheme) Grey expressed his hope that not only prelates of the Anglican and Catholic churches would consent to serve on the Committee “but also some of the leading clergymen of the other denominations”. In addition, he suggested the Committee ask for applications for servants from “the most respectable persons in different parts of the colony”, things which did indeed occur. (I’ll let this earlier comment of mine remain).

Fitzroy reported to Grey in a Despatch of 1 December 1848 that he “lost no time in forming a Committee in Sydney, and desiring Mr La Trobe to form one in Melbourne, composed as nearly as possible upon the principle and for the purpose suggested by the Commissioners”. (BPP Colonies Australia Sessions 1849-50, vol 11, p. 29).

Things were similar in South Australia. Lieutenant-Governor H. E. F. Young forwarded a South Australian Government Gazette to Earl Grey in a Despatch dated 10 September 1848 naming the members of the Irish Orphan Emigration Committee in Adelaide…”in pursuance of the instructions conveyed to me in your Lordship’s despatch No 28 of the 28th February last“. (BPP ibid., p. 330/208). Young was quick to emphasize “the emigration of orphans to South Australia…should include a due proportion of English and Scotch orphans.”  Enquiries were later made in Britain about this but the suggestion was rejected as impractical, for a variety of reasons. 

Things were not totally the same in South Australia. The day before, 9 September, Young told Grey that, on the suggestion of the Orphan Committee and the advice of the Executive Council, he had provisionally appointed Captain Brewer as Emigration Agent for South  Australia. The Executive Council drew up specific instructions for the Emigration Agent that included, “You will consider yourself the guardian of the immigrants; and it will be your duty to advise and assist them in finding suitable employment, taking care, more especially, as far as lies in your power, that the young females do not make any agreements with those who may be known to you as persons of bad character. 

Single unmarried females, without natural protectors on board, and without offers of employment can be provided with lodgings and rations for a short time at the Native Location, where they will be under the care of the matron…”.  Captain Brewer was not a member of the Adelaide Orphan Committee. Note, however, he was told he should consider himself guardian of the immigrants.

10. This Emigration will be watched with the utmost interest by all who are concerned in the Colonies to which it is to be directed; and upon the manner in which it is conducted will depend the power of the Government to encourage its continuance.

The Colonists are desirous of adding to their body, not the idle and worthless, but those whose education and moral and religious training afford a reasonable guarantee that they will become active and useful members of a Society which is in a state of healthy progress; and it will therefore be imperative on the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners to select those young persons whose education has been attended to, and of whose conduct they receive a satisfactory report from the competent authorities. This is a clear statement of the social engineering in which the Imperial authorities were engaged.

Orphan Committees

Let me describe the composition of Orphan Committees in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide; it is basically the same as suggested by Earl Grey and the CLEC. The committees were made up of lay and clerical dignitaries who had a wealth of experience in political, religious, legal, police and immigration matters.

The Sydney committee consisted of

  • George Allen, Solicitor and Member of the Legislative Council and Honorary secretary to the Benevolent Asylum in Sydney
  • Reverend Robert Allwood, incumbent of St James Anglican Church in Sydney
  • Hutchinson Hothersall Browne, Water Police Magistrate and from 1851 Immigration Agent
  • Alfred Cheeke Esq., Barrister and Commissioner of the Court of Requests
  • William Harvie Christie, Agent for Church and School Estates and Secretary to the Denominational School Board
  • The Very Reverend Henry Gregory Gregory, Roman Catholic Vicar General
  • George P. F Gregory Esq., Prothonotary and Registrar of the Supreme Court
  • Joseph Long Innes Esq., Superintendent of Police
  • The Very Reverend John McGarvie D. D., Minister of the Scots Church of St Andrew in Sydney
  • Francis L S Merewether Esq., Immigration Agent
  • Charles Nicholson Esq., Speaker of the Legislative Council
  • Arthur Savage Esq., R. N.,  Health Officer for Port Jackson

If anyone is so inclined, the Australian Dictionary of Biography, will provide more information about some of  these gentlemen. It is available online. It is a great research tool.  Not everyone on the Committee will appear. See for example, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/gregory-henry-gregory-2122  and http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/merewether-francis-lewis-shaw-4189 Some of these probably also need updating.

Another great research tool is http://dictionaryofsydney.org/browse/people

The Melbourne committee comprised

  • The Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Melbourne, Charles Perry (Anglican)
  • The Right Reverend Dr Goold (Roman Catholic) http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/goold-james-alipius-3633
  • Edward Carr Esq.
  • The Very Reverend P. B Geoghegan, Vicar General (Roman Catholic)
  • The Reverend Irvine Hetheringon
  • Wm Lonsdale Esq., Sub-Treasurer
  • Dr John Patterson, Immigration Agent (former naval surgeon from Strabane)
  • Robert W Pohlman Esq., Chief Commissioner of Insolvents’ Estates
  • James Hunter Ross Esq.
  • Andrew Russell Esq.
  • James Simpson Esq.,  http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/simpson-james-2665
  • The Reverend A C Thompson
Collins St, Melbourne, S T Gill C. 1853  State Library of New South Wales colletions

Collins St, Melbourne, S T Gill C. 1853 State Library of New South Wales collections

 

The Adelaide committee included

  • The Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Adelaide, Augustus Short (Anglican) http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/short-augustus-4577
  • The Right Reverend Dr Murphy, Roman Catholic Bishop
  • The Reverend Mr Haining, Presbyterian Minister
  • The Reverend Mr Draper, Methodist Minister
  • The Honourable the Advocate General, Member of the Legislative Council
  • Hon Jacob Hagen Member of the Legislative Council( MLC), merchant, landowner, and member of the Society of Friends
  • Hon Captain Bagot MLC, retired Military officer, landowner, member of the league for the preservation of religious freedom
  • Samuel Davenport Esq., Congregationalist, landowner, supporter of civil and religious liberties
  • William Giles Esq., manager of S.A. Company and treasurer of the League for the preservation of religious freedom
  • Wm Younghusband Esq., Anglican,
  • Matthew Moorhouse Esq., Fellow of Royal College of Surgeons,Congregationalsist, Secretary to the Children’s Apprenticeship Board , ‘protector’ of Aborigines, Adelaide Native School http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/moorhouse-matthew-4239

Any three of whom will be a quorum to transact business.

There is a very good chapter (chapt. 6) in Richard Reid’s book, Farewell my Friends, Anchor Books, 2011, describing the function of these committees. Dr Reid (pp.144-6) concentrates on the Sydney Committee and says it “had wide powers relating to employment, wages, discipline and general moral guardianship over the orphans”. The Sydney Committee took its duties seriously, vetting prospective employers, overseeing orphans’ indentures, providing protection if they went into the country, approving their marriage, protecting them from ill-usage, disciplining them by confining them to ‘pick oakum’ in a special room in Hyde Park Barracks, or  banishing them to work in the hinterland.

My own impression is that there is something ‘pro forma’ or ‘legalistic’ about the Imperial government’s bureaucratic aims. Its concern with establishing an appropriate legal structure for the Earl Grey female orphan scheme was paramount. This is apparent in its directives for establishing local Orphan Committees and in ensuring colonial government Master-Servant legislation was appropriately modified for orphan apprenticeships.

I very much agree with Dr Reid when he claims the day to day running of things devolved upon local colonial government officers; F.L.S. Merewether in Sydney, John Patterson in Melbourne, and Matthew Moorhouse in Adelaide, in particular. No Orphan Committee minute books have survived, to the best of my knowledge. What does survive is a large archive of Francis Merewether’s correspondence as Immigration Agent: it is a tribute to his diligence and his ‘sympathy’ for those in his charge. Readers may have noticed in the case of the Adelaide Committee, any three members formed a quorum. It looks as if this also applied elsewhere.

Matthew Moorhouse, South Australia

Matthew Moorhouse, South Australia Courtesy of State Library of South Australia

F L S Merewether NSW Immigration Agent until 1851

F L S Merewether NSW Immigration Agent until 1851 Courtesy of State Library of NSW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indenturing orphans

Let me fasten down this interpretation  by looking at the arrangements for indenturing the orphans.

South Australia

The South Australian government took to heart clause 7 (see above) of the CLEC proposal of 17 February 1848  “…they will be bound Apprentices, under Laws which are in force in the Colonies…”, Governor Young issuing an Ordinance ‘with the advice and consent of the Legislative Council’  “to provide by Apprenticeship for the Protection, Guardianship and advancement in Life of Emigrant Orphan Children…”. It is interesting they used the word ‘children’; the Earl Grey orphans all travelled as adults, they being over 14 years of age.

The Ordinance gave the Children’s Apprenticeship Board (three members of which constituted a quorum) power to bind “poor children” in apprenticeships until they reached nineteen years of age, or until they married. It specified in detail what masters and mistresses should provide for their servant–food, lodging, bedding, clothing, medicines–allowing them to attend church service, and depositing a proportion of their wages in the South Australia Savings Bank after two years of service. It permitted servants to be transferred “to any other fit and proper person” with the consent of the Board. If there was no such consent, the master or mistress could be fined £10.  One or more Justices of the Peace could hear complaints from either master, or servant apprentice, and was given the power to fine masters £10 or  send any misbehaving apprentice to a gaol or House of Correction, “there to be kept in confinement on Bread and Water for any time not exceeding Fourteen Days”. The Ordinance made the Children’s Apprenticeship Board the legal guardian of the orphans, with the ‘same power as any guardian lawfully appointed in England’. It is a detailed and comprehensive document covering all the eventualities they could foresee. Appended to it was the “Schedule” or form the apprenticeship should take. (The Ordinance was printed in the South Australian Government Gazette, 24 August, 1848 No.8. It is also available in BPP. Colonies Australia, vol.11, pp. 333-36/211-14).

Máire, Máire Healy, Eliza Roe, céard a dhéanfá? What would ye do?  Holy Mother of God, what does this mean?

“In consideration whereof, the said…executors and administrators, doth by these presents, covenant, promise and agree to and with the said Board and every of them, and their and every of their successors for the time being, and their assigns…”.

Would ye listen to that? Do they not even speak English, Eliza Lynch?

You have to take the job Biddy Kelly. You’re not allowed, you aren’t allowed to say no.

adelaide hindley1849

Adelaide West end Hindley St 1849 courtesy State Library of New South Wales

 

New South Wales

17 August 1848, the CLEC advised Grey that some adjustment to the New South Wales Apprenticing Act may be necessary. They suggested amendments such as the following,

  • that two Justices of the Peace be required to give their consent to any apprenticeship and at least notifying his or her guardian(s)
  • that some money taken from the apprentice’s wage be placed in a Savings Bank on her behalf
  • and that some provision be made should the master die or become incapacitated.

The Commissioners politely added that these were merely suggestions and they, of course, would defer to colonial authorities, whose ‘ability and local knowledge’ would allow them to do what is best.

29 August 1848, Grey forwarded the CLEC suggestions to Governor Fitzroy and inquired if the existing NSW Apprenticeship Act needed improving, now that so many juveniles were soon to arrive. (BPP Colonies Australia vol 11 pp. 72-3/194-5)

Pitt St1851

Pitt St Sydney 1851 courtesy of he State Library NSW

New South Wales circumstances were more complicated than South Australia. Here, there was a long legal history relating to apprenticing orphans and regulating disputes between masters and servants: Acts of 1828, 1834, 1840, 1844, 1845, ’47,’50, ’52 and ’54 were on the statute books until 20 Vic 28 appeared in 1857, an Act which lasted until 1902. Changes to the legislation had occurred as required, and to correct the mistakes and carelessness of earlier drafting of the laws.

In 1845, for instance, the NSW Legislative Assembly printed the Report of its Select Committee on the Masters’ and Servants’ Act, with minutes of evidence. The sort of thing they focused on included breaches of contract–servants’ “absenting themselves without reasonable cause”, servants’ being “guilty of disobedience or other misconduct” which covered “insolence“, servants’ ‘wilfully damaging property‘. Breaches by employers were also covered; non-payment of wages, failure to provide proper rations, failure to provide a certificate of discharge, for example. But the dice, i believe, was loaded in favour of Masters.

Servants would have been justified in questioning the impartiality of the courts appointed to resolve disputes. Magistrates who sat in judgement were employers themselves and too easily identified with fellow employers. Women proved something of a problem for them. At least they recognized that a female servant might be provoked into being insolent. And generally, law makers were loathe to punish female servants with imprisonment.

The special provisions for the Earl Grey orphans suggested by the CLEC came into force via the Orphan Committees or the members delegated to apply them–have prospective employees apply for a servant beforehand, and their applications vetted; if an employee was out of town then two Justices of the Peace  should oversee her assignment; put part of the servants’ wages in a Savings Bank– for as the CLEC had suggested “the accumulated payment would operate as a great inducement to work out” her “period of service faithfully“.  On the other hand, whether wages paid to the orphans were as fair as originally intended (see clause 7 again) is debatable.

Still, both Imperial and Colonial governments did their utmost to provide a legal framework for the guardianship and employment of the orphans.

Here is an example of an indenture between Anne Smith per Digby and her employer. Take a close look if you can.  [I hope that by clicking on the image it will become larger for you. You may be able to make it even larger by clicking again. If you are using a phone, clicking on the image opens it. You can then pinch zoom to make it larger. Thanks Siobhán.] There is also another original apprenticeship agreement between Anne Deely per Thomas Arbuthnot and Frederick Hudson of Ipswich, in the Moreton Bay District, in State Records of New South Wales (SRNSW) 9/6173. I tried finding an original in South Australia State Records in 1995 without success. Considering there were three copies, one for the orphan, one for the employer and one for the government, I’d hoped for a better result. Maybe one has come to light since then? But see what i have to say in post 16.

Anne Smith's apprenticeship indenture

Anne Smith’s apprenticeship indenture

The interesting thing is the orphans accommodated themselves to work within this system and to work the system to their own advantage. (Here’s an interesting research project for someone: ‘Irish Famine orphans and the Law’. There would certainly be enough material for an Honour’s or Master’s thesis, should anyone be looking for a topic).

In Barefoot 1 (pp.16-18) I suggested that both master and servant were able to ‘work the system’. Masters knew it was a government-run project and thought they could return unruly servants to the Immigration Depot willy-nilly. The young women, learning of better conditions elsewhere–higher wages, a kinder master or mistress, being closer to a male friend–understood that marriage, backchat, or neglect of their duties were a ‘legal’ means of ending their apprenticeship agreement. They might even try to arrange a ‘transfer’. Or, aware that cancellation of their indenture would mean a return to the Depot and the likelihood of their being sent ‘up country’, away from the town, they were still willing to take the risk, anything being preferable to their current position. But more of this further down the line.

More than twenty years ago, Libby Connors said, “perhaps it is time…to take the debate beyond the ‘victim’ stage…We need to start acknowledging and analyzing the extraordinary success of the Irish at thwarting racist migration policies and their achievements in British and colonial politics, whether in the realm of the masculine public world of official policy, or at the personal level of young Irish women defending themselves in their personal relationships”. (Papers at 7th Irish-Australian Conference 1993,  ed. Rebecca Pelan, p.179).

Some of us may need to catch up…

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

fosvic1861

Earl Grey orphans in Victoria c. 1861

Earl Grey orphans in Victoria c. 1891-1901

fosvic1891a

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?