Earl Grey’s Irish Famine orphans (69): some bibs and bobs, and Irish roots.

A Chance Encounter

Memory is a funny thing. I just knew i had collated some of my early findings in Workhouse Indoor Registers on a file for the journal Familia, and whilst searching for that, i came across these pics. They were from Paula V., whose Dutch surname i cannot spell. There was an accompanying letter too. Now where is that? Did i give it to Marie and Perry back in the day with my other 800 or so letters from orphan descendants? Nah. I’m sure i saw it later than that. But where on earth can it be? Do i have to rely on my memory for its contents? Let’s hope my memory is reliable.

Paula even mentioned she had sought assurance from a former colleague and good friend of mine, David Bollen, in Goulburn. Yes, David said, she was on the right track. Her orphan descendant, Eliza Mahon from Carlow had arrived by the Lady Peel in 1849. Paula and her husband even went to Ireland, and visited Carlow in search of Eliza.

Eliza Mahon from Carlow
Paula and her husband at the site of Carlow Workhouse which was demolished in 1960

Now the thing is…

Eliza Mahon is also the Irish Famine orphan ancestor of two well-known Australians, Mike and Julia Baird. Here’s the link to the Irish Echo article reporting the work of Perry McIntyre confirming this. https://ie2015.irishecho.com.au/2014/08/29/nsw-premiers-irish-orphan-girl-ancestry-revealed/32568

The ancestral link is along the female line. Can you see any resemblance between Eliza Mahon above, and Dr Julia Baird? The eyes? The forehead? The cheekbones? Or, to quote “The Castle”, should I “tell him he’s dreamin'”?

Paula’s letter, if i remember correctly, told me she employed a researcher in Ireland. But he found no records of Eliza in Church of Ireland (Anglican) records, and suggested she may have ‘converted’ during the Famine in order to receive some food. Yet there’s no trace of Eliza’s baptism in Catholic records for Carlow either.

When she arrived in Sydney in July 1849, according to the Lady Peel shipping list, Eliza was only fifteen years old, from Carlow, the daughter of James and Catherine Mahon, and a member of the Established church (Anglican).

Taking up the suggestion of Paula’s researcher, I looked for Eliza in the Catholic baptismal records for the parish of Carlow and Grague https://registers.nli.ie/parishes/0697 and found 5 January 1830, Mary Mahon daughter of James and Ann Mahon, and 5 December 1836, John son of John and Catherine Mahon of Pollardstown Road. Neither one had the appropriate pair of parent’s names.

Does anyone have access to the baptismal records of St Mary’s Anglican church in Carlow? Can we check again to see if there’s any trace of Eliza?

Or should we be looking elsewhere? Does anyone have access to things like ‘Find my Past’?

Irish workhouse indoor registers

Here, from my 1987 Familia article, are a few more examples of Earl Grey orphans from extant workhouse Indoor Registers mostly in the north of Ireland. One of the things i value most about these workhouse registers is that they bring us close to the orphans themselves, for a moment. And they allow us to review the question, “who were the female orphans”?

Jane Bing or Byng per Diadem from Enniskillen

Have a Go

I can almost feel the quickening of your pulse when you discover something new about your orphan ancestor. It can be a wonderfully inspiring feeling. But before you view the examples i’ve provided below, may i ask you to try something challenging? That is, take off the blinkers you wear when you are chasing your own particular orphan ‘girl’. Look around. Use your peripheral vision. Let’s see if we can set aside the saccharine formulae, and imposition of present-day values on the past that are part and parcel of genealogical service providers, and television programmes. Set aside the sugar coating and feelgood elements we all prefer to find. Try putting ourselves in the shoes of the “others”.

‘Your’ orphan was one of the Famine survivors, after all. Unlike Paul Lynch’s Colly, the young brother of Grace, the subject of his moving 2017 novel. The four jet-black pages towards the end of the novel are preceded by four or five pages of young Colly dying of hunger.

…gagsmell — that was a rat are the rats not all eaten–don’t sick all over yourself the smell—there it is now bring to mouth–

…listen listen listen listen listen–why can’t I hear me–why can’t you hear me…mister don’t lift me..don’t lift don’t lift not into this cart…

Paul Lynch, Grace, pp.293-4.

Or if you are feeling ambitious, put yourself in the shoes of Garry Disher’s Her in country Victoria in the first years of the twentieth century. “Her”, she has no name, sold for a pittance, a young life tied together with pieces of foraged string. Novelists often bring us closer to the emotional life of the past, than do historians, do they not?

Varied circumstances; what did the orphans bring with them?

What we find in these Workhouse Indoor Registers is not just an understanding of how many– large numbers of– people lived at or below the poverty line. They show the variety of circumstances ‘our orphans’ emerged from as well.

Some ‘orphans’, not many, were in the workhouse from their early childhood, almost as soon as the workhouse opened its doors, confined by its walls, imprisoned by its regulations. What did that experience do to your soul, your outlook on life, your mental state?

Other young women, as Dympna McLoughlin suggests, lived a life on the begging road, only seasonally entering the workhouse, out of the cold at winter-time, leaving when they were ready, or seeking the emigrant’s escape if it was offered.

See Dympna’s chapter on ‘Subsistent Women’ in the Atlas of the Great Irish Famine or my blogpost at https://wp.me/p4SlVj-4X

about half way down.

Or there, look, that is a little family isolated or abandoned by other family members, battered by illness, or unemployment, or infirmity, getting up, knocked down again, and again, and again, and again, until ground into the dirt, swallowed by the poverty trap.

The orphans did not start out with the same ‘mentality’, or the same outlook on life. And what of those who left behind a young brother who had ‘gone over the wall’, their mother and sickly sister still in the workhouse? Inside their ‘luggage’, that 6″ X 12″ X 18″ wooden box, was their ‘outfit’ and Douay Bible. But hidden inside there was also a parcel of guilt, and bereavement.

And after viewing the examples below, you may be inspired to ask if the impact of the Famine on these northern Irish orphans was very different from that experienced by other orphans, from Galway, or Mayo, or Cork, or Tipperary, for example. There are lots of things you can explore to help you place your individual Irish orphan in her appropriate historical context

Anne Lawler per Lady Kennaway from Galway

Let me show you these examples from my file. (Some people may not have access to that 1987 Familia article of mine). At last! i hear you say. Not all the examples are connected to a present-day descendant. Nor is this one,

Mother and Daughter: Catherine Tomnay from Armagh per Earl Grey

Catherine appears in PRONI record BG2/G/1 as Catherine Tomaney. At entry 456 she is described as the child of entry 322, Elenor Tomaney, a 59 year old RC widow, no calling, healthy, Armagh, coming in to the workhouse 1 February 1842 and leaving 14 October that year. Catherine was 16 but left the house earlier than her mother, on 15 August.

Yet soon after, at entry number 1166, Catherine re-enters the workhouse 1 September, and this time is described as ‘destitute’. She and her mother are regular ‘visitors’ to the workhouse throughout the 1840s until Catherine leaves 25 May 1848 to join other Earl Grey orphans on their way to Australia.

Having entered 1 September 1842, Catherine leaves again with her mum on 14 October. Then at entry numbers 1474 and 1475, 12 January 1843, Ellen is described as being ‘delicate’, and Catherine ‘unhealthy’. This time, the mother leaves 10 April 1843, Catherine not until 8 April 1844.

Once more at entry 3899, Elenor re-enters the workhouse 29 November 1845. This time she is described as a 62 year old widow who is “tolerably well”, from Armagh City. She leaves 16 March 1846.

Independently of her mother, (3967) Catherine comes back into the workhouse 13 December 1845 and is described as a 19 year old single Roman Catholic without calling who is thinly clothed and dirty, from Armagh City. This time, once again, she leaves with her mother 16 March 1846.

Finally, at entry 4536, Catherine is registered as Catherine Tamoney a Roman Catholic single female 19 years old who is thinly clothed and hungry, from Armagh City, entering the workhouse 7 March 1846, and leaving 25 May 1848. [Note the discrepancy re her surname and her date of entry].

My early findings, with a few annotations

I did find the file i was looking for. So here at last are some more examples of young female orphans inside their Ulster workhouse. They originally appeared in my 1987 Familia article. Since then, independently too, some of them were researched by their descendants. Some were not and still are not. Maybe more descendants will emerge as new generations are bitten by the family history bug.

The examples here are all Port Phillip arrivals, coming by the Derwent, and a few by the Diadem. They are from Indoor workhouse records for Armagh, Ballymoney, Downpatrick, Enniskillen and Magherafelt held in PRONI which is nowadays in the Titanic Centre in Belfast, should anyone wish to view the original records for themselves. Let me know if you have trouble reading them. My annotations are pretty scrawly.

It would be well worth checking out Peter Higginbotham’s great website for more information about each of these workhouses. See http://www.workhouses.org.uk/Ireland/UnionsIreland.shtml

Armagh: thinly clothed, hungry.

Ballymoney: ragged and dirty

Downpatrick: homeless

Enniskillen: deserted

Enniskillen cont.

Magherafelt: a medicant life

Orphans in Workhouse Indoor Registers

Happy hunting! Tóg go bog é agus lean ar aghaidh.

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Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (66); More Irish Sources

May I invite readers to have a look at Kay Caball’s ‘Comment’ to my blog post (64)? Kay outlines her method for tracing the “Kerry Girls”, the subject of her book, and stresses how important it is to get in touch with someone local who can help find your particular Earl Grey orphan in Ireland.

Let me return to what I’ve been trying to do in the last couple of blog posts viz. place an orphan in the workhouse where she lived before coming to Australia. I know full well I’ll repeat some things I’ve said before, or to put it more politely, reinforce what I’ve said before.

For instance, for this post which intends focusing on workhouse Indoor Admission and Discharge records, you may wish to review my https://wp.me/p4SlVj-4X

Towards the bottom of that one you will see how i found some of the Earl Grey orphans in Indoor Workhouse Registers. There’s a brief mention of Letitia Connelly and Alice Ball from Enniskillen, Maria Blundell and Mary Dowling from North Dublin, Marianne Howe and Mary Bruton from South Dublin, Sarah and Margaret Devlin, and Charlotte and Jemima Willcocks from Armagh, and Cathy Hilferty from Magherafelt. The orphans can be elusive. They are sometimes difficult to find. [Karen S. tells me she has found some Lady Peel orphans in the Cashel Registers].

Should you intend retracing your orphan’s steps in Ireland, it is very important to do all the homework you can before you leave for the Emerald Isle. Exactly which workhouse did she come from? What records have survived for that workhouse? Can I get access to them? Do i need to apply for a reader’s ticket? Can I find her baptism in church records? Is any member of her family mentioned in Tithe Applotment Books or in Griffith’s Valuation? Even send an email to a local history society. That kind of thing. Nowadays there is an ever increasing number of records being put online which will help you do this.

My aim in this post is to introduce you to information found in Workhouse Indoor Admission and Discharge Registers. Whet your appetite if you will. Let me pull together some of the things I’ve suggested recently. I’ll start by using the third example from a couple of posts ago.

Margaret Love from Enniskillen per Diadem 

Margaret married in July 1851, shortly after arriving in Port Phillip. She would have been about 17 years old or so. {Thanks Perry}.She married William Hargrave, a blacksmith from Leeds, England, a man of different religion from her own, and six years older. They had twelve children, six boys and six girls. But their first five girls and one boy died in infancy. That is a high infant death rate.

“The night your sister was born in the living-room

you lay on your bed, upstairs, unwaking,

Cryptsporidium frothing and flourishing

through the ransacked terraces of your small intestine...”

Sinead Morrissey, Home Birth

First settling in Geelong, the couple tried their hand at the gold diggings in Ballarat. Most likely with little success since William took up smithy work again in Moomambel, Mosquito and Maryborough. Margaret herself died in Maryborough Hospital of tertiary syphilis at the end of April 1877 when she was about 43 years of age. Margaret did not have an easy life.

Let’s see if we can turn her life clock back and locate her in Irish workhouse records. Try typing “Church Hill Fermanagh” into your search engine. (You’ll need to skip Winston Churchill’s relationship with Fermanagh). And lo, there is a place spelled both Churchill and Church Hill in the parish of Inishmacsaint. Unfortunately its baptismal records do not cover the period we want. Churchill is some distance from Enniskillen workhouse where I found Margaret and her siblings, Sarah and Thomas, and Mary their dropsy afflicted mother. More of that in a moment.

Margaret Love

and from the database,

  • Surname : Love
  • First Name : Margaret
  • Age on arrival : 16
  • Native Place : Churchill, Fermanagh
  • Parents : Mary
  • Religion : Roman Catholic
  • Ship name : Diadem (Melbourne Jan 1850)
  • Workhouse : Fermanagh, Enniskillen
  • Other : shipping: house servant, reads; PRONI Enniskillen PLU BG14/G/4 (3251) Union at large, sister of Sarah (also on Diadem) and Thomas, daughter of Mary who was disabled from dropsy. Empl. John Buckland, Geelong, £8, 12 months; apprentice; married William Hargrave in Geelong 1 Jul 1857, husband a blacksmith and miner; 12 children; lived Geelong, Ballarat; admitted Maryborough Hospital 27 Feb 1877, died 30 Apr 1877.

Margaret’s sister Sarah

  • Surname : Love
  • First Name : Sarah
  • Age on arrival : 15
  • Native Place : Fermanagh
  • Parents : Mary [PLU records for sister Margaret]
  • Religion : Roman Catholic
  • Ship name : Diadem (Melbourne Jan 1850)
  • Workhouse : Fermanagh, Enniskillen
  • Other : shipping: nursemaid, reads; Enniskillen PLU PRONI BG14/G/5 (2238) servant out of place, Union at large (see sister Margaret also on Diadem) brother Thomas entered workhouse 3 Aug 1849, left 3 Oct 1849. Empl. John O’Loughlin, Point Henry, £7, 1 year, apprentice; married James Barry, Geelong, 2 Jun 1851.

Enniskillen workhouse

For some ‘recent’ news about the workhouse see https://www.irishnews.com/news/2017/11/21/news/enniskillen-workhouse-to-be-brought-to-life-with-lottery-funding-1192436/

There are a number of other Irish workhouses being restored, refurbished and turned into heritage sites. I know of at least two; Carrickmacross in County Monaghan and Portumna in County Galway. Readers may know of others?

Enniskillen workhouse is well served with surviving records . To find out more about its history try the following two links. Or type ‘Enniskillen workhouse’ into the search box at the end of this post to see what i have said about it already.

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

https://ideas.repec.org/p/ucn/wpaper/200315.html

In this second link Cormac O’Grada , Timothy Guinnane and Desmond McCabe provide information on ‘Agency and Relief’ in Enniskillen, stressing how a ‘careless, incompetent, penny pinching‘ administration of the workhouse exacerbated the Famine throughout the Poor Law Union, and led to the dissolution of the Board of Guardians in March 1848. That was a lucky strike for Margaret and Sarah Love who were to leave in late 1849, by which time administration of the workhouse was in the hands of ‘professional’ Vice-Guardians, Gowdy and Trevor. Do have a look at that working paper. It may help you understand why so many Earl Grey orphans went to Australia from Enniskillen.

In the Board of Guardian Minute Books, 17 November 1846 [BG/XIV/A/2 page 490] and 16 March 1847 [p.572] we read that a Visiting Committee reported on the abysmal state of the workhouse. They found the house “in a miserable state of filth and irregularity” and complained “it must eventually result in fever and other diseases“. By March 1848 signs of the new reforming broom were being felt: “Resolved…that a pair of sheets be used in each bed, instead of one as at present; that a pauper be appointed to place a clean pair on each bed every fortnight and a clean shirt or chemise every week.

Resolved that the Schools of the Enniskillen workhouse Union be placed under the National Board of Education…” 

New buildings, better financial management, and administrative reform not only reduced the number of fever cases but prepared the way for Enniskillen workhouse being a major source of Earl Grey orphans going to Australia.

Indoor Registers : Enniskillen

To repeat what i said in blogpost 5, these are large heavy volumes containing plenty of information about inmates. They have space to record by number, the name and surname of each ‘pauper’, their sex, age, whether married or single, if child whether orphan, deserted or bastard,

widower or widow;

their employment or calling; their religious denomination,

if disabled, the description of their disability,

the name of their wife or husband, number of children,

observations on the condition of the ‘pauper’ when admitted,

the electoral division and townland where they lived,

the date when admitted or when born in the workhouse, and the date when they died or left the workhouse.

Potentially a goldmine of information, they are certainly worth ‘mining all within’. Yet such was the crushing day-to-day pressure of the Famine, not all registers were so meticulously kept, and relatively few have survived, most of them in the North of Ireland, and held in PRONI in the Titanic Centre in Belfast.

My own research notes written on cards in pencil are not as legible as i would like. I was determined to catch as many Earl Grey orphans as possible. I certainly did not research each orphan in detail. Tracing their whole workhouse history was not always possible. But those descendants who wish to visit Ireland and walk in the same space as their orphan ancestor, or breathe the same air, surely will have more time to comb these records, should they have survived. May i wish you every success?

What do i have for Margaret and Sarah Love in my notes?

My search in volumes BG14/G/4 and 5 in the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) was principally for those Earl Grey orphans who left Enniskillen workhouse on 3 October 1849 en route to Plymouth to join the Diadem, and those who would leave on the 26th of the same month to join the Derwent.

At BG14/G/4 No. 3249 Mary Love entered the workhouse on the 15 June 1848 with her children, Thomas (14 year old) and Margaret and Sarah who were described as twins and as being 16 years old. Note the discrepancy with Port Phillip shipping records. Their place of residence was Union at large, that is, they were homeless.

Mary was a 59 year old widow, Roman Catholic, who was disabled from dropsy, all of her family living from hand to mouth. Most likely they had survived by begging. And whilst Mary was recorded as being from the Union at large, alongside that entry appears the name of a townland which in my spidery handwriting looks to be Coldrum. We’ll need to check the names of townlands. Here’s a possibility https://www.townlands.ie/fermanagh/magheraboy/inishmacsaint/caldrum-glebe/

Mother Mary left the workhouse 12 October 1848, leaving her children still in the workhouse. Young Margaret stayed there until 3 October 1849. Sarah left 4 July 1849 but (at BG14/G/5 no. 2238) re-entered a couple of weeks later, 3 August ’49, before leaving with her sister on the 3rd October to join the Diadem.

There is another record at BG14/G/5 no. 1238 for a 65 year old Mary Love, Roman Catholic, no calling, aged and infirm, who entered the workhouse 1 May 1849 and left 30 July. She can hardly be the mother of our sixteen year old twins but as Kay Caball suggests, ages were not reliable. If we believe the entry we have above at no. 3249, our Mother Mary would have been about 45 years old when she gave birth to her son Thomas! More conundrums to resolve.

at Ulster Folk Museum, Cultra.

Here are a few more examples from Irish workhouse Indoor admission and discharge records relating to orphans who came to Australia per Diadem, Derwent and Earl Grey .

McManus families in Enniskillen workhouse

My first example is one that demands another visit to the archives. I’ve misplaced some of my notes, and the remaining ones are in a state of disarray. There was evidently more than one McManus family in Enniskillen workhouse. My surviving notes however do underline how desperate these families were. The McManus females were not long term residents of the workhouse but they frequented it on numerous occasions during the Famine years. {I’ll highlight the dates of their entry and leaving to help you trace that frequency}. They came in when they needed to, or when they were desperate enough. Using a bit of historical license, one might even imagine the emotions involved in their family breaking apart. But I’d be careful about ascribing my own emotions to people in the past.

Here, from my surviving notes, are references to them as they appeared in Indoor Registers BG14/G/4 and 5. {I’ll also highlight their place of residence. Remember what i said in an earlier post about the importance of geography. Type the townland name along with County Fermanagh into google or your alternative search engine and you will find exactly where the townland is}.

  • No. 210 Mary McManus and 211 (?) Margaret McManus 15 yo single RC Laragh entered 4/7/1847 left 30/08/47
  • 470 Mary McManus 18 yo RC 4/7/47 to 27/7/1847
  • 947 Ann McManus 15 RC Letterbreen in 4/7/1847 out 18/09/47. She had entered along with her 9 yo, 5 yo and 3 yo siblings.
  • 1185 Margaret McManus 16 s deserted by mother RC clean Laragh entered 3/09/1847 along with Mary 12 yo and Thomas 7 yo
  • 1441 Mary McManus 14 yo entered with her 30(?) yo mother Mary(?) and her siblings Margaret 12, Eliza 8, Pat 5, Thomas 2 and Redmond 2 mths. Husband in Scotland. Laragh Cleenish Island entered 12/10/47 left 7/04/1848. Two members of this family were to come to Australia by the Derwent.
  • 1474 Margaret McManus 12 yo orphan RC mother in house Ballycassidy Twy.
  • 1797 Anne McManus 20yo paralyzed
  • 2315 a Mary McManus (mother?) left the workhouse in 1850.
  • 2362 & 2615 Mary McManus
  • 2648 Ann McManus
  • 2728 Mary McManus 12 yo daughter of 38 yo Ellen RC Florencecourt
  • in 25/04/48 out 25 May 48
  • 4060 Margaret McManus 16yo single RC Rahalton Derrygonnelly in 24/10/48 out 26/10/49 the date other orphans left Enniskillen to join the Derwent at Plymouth
  • and 4064 as part of the same family group Mary 14 yo who entered on this occasion 24/10/48 and went out 9/11/48. This is looks to be Margaret’s sister who was also to join the Derwent.
  • and just to confuse matters further in BG14/G/5 number 15 Margaret MacManus 17 yo s. RC Union at large Drumbeg, in 23/1/49 out 3/10/49 which is the date others left to join the Diadem. But there was no Margaret McManus on the Diadem.

One would need some time in the archives to find which of these McManus women and children belonged to whom. Notice how they moved around from townland to townland during the Famine years. {Remember how far the young hero traveled during the Famine in Paul Lynch’s brilliant novel, Grace}. It would appear that Margaret and Mary McManus per Derwent were sisters. Ann McManus may have belonged to a different family.

Ellen and Mary Fitzsimmons

Just a couple more for the Diadem, at BG14/G/4 nos 464 and 465, as part of a family, with mother Grace a 45 yo widow, Established Church, and a 15 yo brother Robert, Ellen Fitzsimmons 14 yo and Roseanne 12 yo entered 4 July 1847 and left 16 February 1848 ; nos 3592-5 Grace Fitzsimmons 45 yo widow no employment Aghnaglack in 10/08/1848 entering with Mary 17 yo no employment, along with Ellen 11 and Rose Ann 9, all of them leaving four days later on the 14th August. Then in BG14/G/5 at nos. 254-5 Ellen Fitzsimmons 18yo Protestant Carn Blacknett and Mary Fitzsimmons 16 yo Protestant entered the workhouse 26 January 1849 and left 3 October 1849, the same date as other orphans leaving to join the Diadem at Plymouth.

Armagh Indoor Registers BG2/G/1 and 2. Mary Littlewood

Let me finish with a couple more from Armagh Indoor Register where you can find many more Earl Grey orphans. The first relates to Mary Littlewood whose story i recounted in blogpost 9 https://wp.me/p4SlVj-dQ

I included a synopsis of her stay in the workhouse there. Here are further details that i hope help us understand young Mary a bit more. {I’ll continue highlighting the family’s dates of entry and leaving, and the townland where they resided}.

BG2/G/1 Unfortunately I didn’t always note down the numbers and there seems to be some duplication of entries in the second volume BG2/G/2.

BG2/G/1 nos. 5440-44 Mary Littlewood 54 yo married, husband Samuel, Protestant, enters with her four children from Rich Hill Ragged and dirty 1/11/1846 leaves 28/12/46; Mary, 15 yo thinly clothed and hungry 29 Nov. ’46 to 28 /12/46; Thomas William 13 yo leaves 1/12/46; John 11 yo and Ann Eliza 9 yo who leave 28/12/46. {Incidentally Richhill and Ballybreagh are not too far from Portadown, the birthplace of that great poet i quoted earlier, Sinead Morrissey}.

No 6159 Samuel married to Mary 57 yo Established Church from Rich Hill enters the workhouse with one of his children 13 yo Thomas William 12/12/46 leaves with his wife and the rest of the family 28 December 1846. The family all left on the same date. I wonder did they not like being separated from each other in the workhouse.

Nos. 7532-36 Mary Littlewood married no calling Protestant delicate husband Samuel Rich Hill Ballybreagh enters 16/2/47 leaves 14/08/47. No.7533 is 11 yo John followed by Ann Eliza 9years old, Samuel 57 yo married weaver very ill died 25 February 1847, and finally Mary 15 yo single leaves 10/08/1847.

Then in the next volume BG/G/2 nos. 1469 et seq. Mary Littlewood 54 yo married Established Church, thinly clothed and quite destitute, from the Union at Large (now she has nowhere to live) re-enters the same day 14/08/47 along with 11 yo John and 9 yo Ann Eliza. They all leave a few weeks later on 6/09/47. The family is only staying in the workhouse for very short periods.

We see the remainder of the family again at No. 2076 et seq. Mother Mary is described as a 52 year old widow a member of the Established Church (Church of Ireland or Anglican) from Rich Hill Ballybreagh coming in to the workhouse 5 October 1847. But she dies on the 10 March 1848. Shortly after, her eldest daughter Mary 15 yo leaves the workhouse 24 May 1848 en route to Plymouth to join the Earl Grey. She leaves behind her siblings, all of them described as thinly clothed and destitute, thirteen year old Thomas who absconds from the house 11 July ’48, 11 yo John who leaves 10 September 1850 and Ann Eliza 9 years old who leaves 18 July 1851. Bit by bit the family falls apart. I wonder what became of them. Mary Littlewood’s story, Earl Grey orphan, is recounted at https://wp.me/p4SlVj-dQ

Mary Anne Kelly per Earl Grey

Finally, the ubiquitous Mary Kelly. This one is Mary Anne Kelly who also came on the Earl Grey with her sister Rose. I did have some loose sheets with specific references to entries in the Indoor Registers that i used for the second volume of Barefoot & Pregnant? But they’ve gone missing. Here are the references from Barefoot; BG2/G/1 3119, BG2/G/2 439, 1417and for Rose BG2/G/2 439, 1418, 1819.

From my early numberless notes, BG2/G/2

Mary Anne Kelly single female 19 yo. Established Church, Thinly clothed and hungry, resides Middletown, entered 30 April 1847, left 6 May 1847. She had come in with her mother 40 yo Rose Kelly along with her siblings, sister Rose 15 yo and two brothers Patrick and Michael, all of them described as thinly clothed and hungry.

Three months later Mary Anne re-enters the workhouse but this time is described as a single female 19 yo Roman Catholic, recovering from fever thinly clothed and hungry, residing Middletown. She enters along with her younger sister Rose who is 15 years old. She too is recovering from fever. They enter 7 August 1847. Rose leaves 13 September 1847, Mary the 8th November.

But Rose comes back one day later, 14 September 1847, along with her two brothers 12 yo Patrick and 10 yo Michael. Rose is described as s f 15 reduced to 14 years old, Fatherless RC thinly clothed etc. Middletown. Rose will leave the workhouse on 24 May 1848 the same date other Armagh orphans leave to join the first orphan vessel, the Earl Grey. Patrick and Michael will leave the workhouse 26 September 1849.

Finally, Mary Anne Kelly single female 19 yo RC thinly clothed and destitute residing Middletown comes back to the workhouse 28 December 1847 and she too will leave 24 May 1848 en route to Port Jackson. The shipping record in Sydney will state her parents are called James and Rose, her mother being still alive and living in Middletown.

——————————————————————————————————————–

I can think of more things we might do. For example, see what we can discover about Armagh during the Famine. Or about the changes happening to the weaving industry in this densely populated county. Or about the workhouse itself.

Obviously the content of this post will be of particular interest to the descendants of Margaret and Sarah Love or Margaret and Mary McManus, and the others. Nonetheless i hope it encourages you to research ‘your’ own particular orphan inside the workhouse, in Downpatrick, Magherafelt, Ballymena, Dublin, Cashel or wherever. Be warned though, if Indoor Registers have survived, you may discover only a brief reference to your orphan. Yet nothing ventured, nothing…

…discover by your grave cloths a replica of yourself

in turquoise faience, fashioned with a basket.

Here, it says. I’ll do it. Take me“.

from The House of Osiris in the field of reeds in Sinead Morrissey’s Parallax

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (64): some Irish sources.

Before returning to sources for researching the Irish background of the Famine ‘girls’, I’d like to draw readers’ attention to a reference provided by Shona Dewar (see comments to post 63). It concerns a question raised in the previous post, why family history is so popular. Here’s the link from Shona . It’s an essay by psychiatrist Chris Walsh. https://www.mbsc.net.au/genealogy-and-family-constellations/

Let me know what you think.

WORKHOUSE RECORDS

Here is something else from my old research notes. I’m assuming the classification is much the same nowadays for records both in Northern Ireland and the Republic. Best not to get too excited. These records may not exist for the workhouse in which you are interested.

AJ Dispensary Minute Books

BC Letters from Poor Law Commissioners

BGMB Board of Guardian Minute Books

BGG Indoor Admission and Discharge Registers

EG Relieving Officer’s Diary

F Workhouse Master’s Diary

HD Medical Report Books

It is the Board of Guardian Minute Books and the Indoor admission and discharge registers that I’ve used most of all. Australians descended from the Earl Grey Famine orphans who visit Ireland will want to see these for themselves. But it is best to do plenty of homework before going to Ireland, finding exactly where the records are located, and what you need to do in order to gain access to them, for example. Some records may even be available online, though not always for the time you want. These links may take a while to download. https://www.irishgenealogynews.com/2018/12/more-workhouse-registers-online-at.html

Let me return to one of the cases mentioned in my previous post to illustrate further some of the problems associated with researching Port Phillip arrivals. I hope it will suggest ways of researching the background of the orphan that interests you, and help you prepare for a holiday-family history visit to Ireland.

Killybegs, Donegal
Killybegs, Donegal

CATHY TYRELL from Donegal per Lady Kennaway

In 1854 just over five years after arriving in Melbourne, Cathy Tyrell married a young bricklayer who was originally from Bedford, England. They settled in Carlton, North Melbourne where together they had seven children, three girls and four boys. Sadly in 1860 they lost a son Frederick when he was only six months old. When her husband died aged 58 in 1887, Cathy had thirteen years of widowhood ahead of her.

…I know nothing of my country. I write things down. I build a life & tear it apart & the sun keeps shining“. (from Daily Bread by Ocean Vuong)

HELP PLEASE

May i ask readers for their help? Let me set out the problem. How do we find out more about Cathy’s Irish background? She supposedly came from a workhouse in Donegal but if we look at the following record we’ll see that on board the Lady Kennaway were orphans from four different Donegal Poor Law Unions; Donegal, Dunfanaghy, Letterkenny and Milford. And very rarely are these names specified alongside an orphan’s name on shipping records.

https://wp.me/p4SlVj-rc

To complicate matters even further, Castleblackney also appears alongside Cathy’s name. Surely this isn’t Castleblakeney not far from Mountbellew in County Galway? Or maybe it is.

and from the database,

  • Surname : Tyrel (Tyrrell)
  • First Name : Catherine (Katherine)
  • Age on arrival : 16
  • Native Place : Donegal [Castleblackney]
  • Parents : Not recorded
  • Religion : Roman Catholic
  • Ship name : Lady Kennaway (Melbourne1848)
  • Other : shipping: housemaid, reads & writes; empl. Edward Pope, Melbourne £10, 6 months; married Frederick Elmore Taylor, a bricklayer, in Melbourne May 1854; 7 children; died 19 Apr 1900.

What should we do?

Donegal fields

Check out the Board of Guardian minute books that have survived for the four Donegal workhouses mentioned above? Where are they held?

Peter Higginbotham’s great website may give us some clues. http://www.workhouses.org.uk/Donegal/

which takes us to http://www.donegalcoco.ie/culture/archives/countyarchivescollection/

http://www.donegalcoco.ie/culture/archives/countyarchivescollection/poorlawunionboardsofguardians1840-1923/

Before going any further, we’d need to confirm the Archives centre at Three Rivers in Lifford holds Poor Law records for the period we’re interested in. There are in fact Board of Guardian Minute books for all of the Donegal workhouses except the one that sent most of the Donegal orphans on board the Lady Kennaway, Donegal itself! Lawdy, lawdy. And if a visitor wanted to see any of these records she or he would be advised to write to the Lifford Archives centre beforehand to arrange a viewing.

Most of these workhouse records are now held in county record offices and libraries in the Republic of Ireland. But for the six counties of Northern Ireland they are held in the Public Records Office in the Titanic Centre in Belfast. One is a decentralised system, the other is centralised.

Now perhaps you noticed from https://wp.me/p4SlVj-rc

there were some orphans on board the Lady Kennaway from Ballinasloe workhouse in Galway. That’s not far from Castleblakeney the place name associated with Cathy. I wonder if there is an error in the shipping record. Or maybe Cathy was born in Castleblakeney but somehow ended up in Donegal workhouse before leaving for Australia.

What records have survived for Ballinasloe? The wonderful thing is that more and more of these records are appearing online. Check out this link below by clicking on the plus sign alongside Ballinasloe.

http://www.galway.ie/en/services/more/archives/digital/

It is also probably worth searching the baptismal records for the Parish of Ballinasloe to see if Cathy appears there, https://registers.nli.ie/parishes/0324

Baptismal records have survived for the dates we want but they aren’t easy to read. They are a bit of an eyestrain. We’d need to take things very slowly and carefully. I suppose it comes down to how desperate we are.

Maybe all of this is to draw too long a bow, and we’d be better off checking http://www.findmypast.com.au, www.myheritage.com, www.irelandxo.com, www.ancestry.com, and the like.

Could someone help us here, please? I’m not a member of any of these. See if you can find anything about the young famine orphan, Cathy Tyrell?

(Have a look at the comments section below. Kay Caball has found her).

Recapitulation

To recap, what i’m trying to do is demonstrate what might be done for each and every orphan. Have a look again at what i said a couple of posts ago when i asked ‘which workhouse?’ It is more than half way down the post. https://earlgreysfamineorphans.wordpress.com/2018/08/10/earl-greys-irish-famine-orphans-62-stories-revisions-and-research-tips/

Once you have found ‘your’ orphan’s workhouse you’ll need to find what records have survived. Again Peter’s http://http://www.workhouses.org.uk/

will be the place to start. There will be disappointments. No records may have survived for the period you want. But you may find Board of Guardian minute books that take you into the world where your orphan lived before she left for Australia. Most likely you will not find her name in these minute books but you will discover other fascinating details about her workhouse surroundings.

“…and my dead father’s voice,

which I’d forgotten I’d loved,

just singing a foolish song”.

(from Birthday video by Penelope Layland)

Board of Guardian Minute Books

May i suggest you don’t carry preconceived notions of workhouse life with you into the archives. You know the kind of thing i mean, most of it imprinted on the common memory by the works of Charles Dickens. Most of these young Irish Famine women were but short term residents of recently built institutions, institutions that were bursting at the seams, and severely strained by the crisis of the Great Irish Famine.

Here’s an earlier post with examples relating to arrangements for sending young orphans to Australia, http://earl-greys-irish-famine-orphans-3

The Board of Guardian minute books vary considerably from workhouse to workhouse. Guardians were legally required to keep a weekly record of the state of the workhouse: how many people received relief, both Outdoor relief and indoor relief, how many died in the workhouse, and what rates were collected and how much was not collected. Their minute books tell us what illnesses there were and how they were being treated; how discipline was maintained in the house and what punishment was meted out; what food there was for inmates, what bedding, and were teachers available for children. We see how well they coped with the shocking tragedy of the Famine, and how well they did not.

Let me give a few more examples of the kind of thing you might find, beginning with Belfast workhouse.

Belfast Workhouse

Belfast was one of the better-off and better organized workhouses. In early 1847, the Irish Poor Law Commission refused the Guardians’ request for more money to extend its fever wards, on the grounds “the town of Belfast is so wealthy and its inhabitants so enterprising, and the funds and credit of the Union is in such excellent condition that if assistance was given to the Belfast Board from the public purse by way of loan, it would be impossible to refuse a similar application from any Union in Ireland“. (BG7/A/5)

On the first of March 1848 (BG7/A/7, p.27) the diet for able-bodied inmates was changed to,

two days a week there would be

  • Breakfast consisting of 6 oz meal and one third of a quart of buttermilk
  • Dinner would be one quart of soup and 9 oz bread

three days a week there would be

  • Breakfast 6 oz meal and a third of a quart of buttermilk
  • Dinner would be 6 oz rice and an eighth of a quart of sweetmilk
  • Supper 4 ox meal and one fifth of a quart of buttermilk

and two days a week able-bodied inmates would receive

  • Breakfast 6 oz meal and a third of a quart of buttermilk
  • Dinner 8 oz meal and a third of a quart of buttermilk
  • Supper 4 oz meal and one third of a quart of buttermilk

Indian and oatmeal were to be used in equal proportions.

As you can see, it was not a nutritious diet.

Belfast did have its own problems: it was ‘peculiarly pressed by paupers from other places’. In 1847, authorities in Scotland, facing famine of their own, deported the Irish-born poor in their parish to the nearest Irish port which was usually Belfast. Those from Edinburgh, Paisley and Dundee were given bread and cheese for their voyage and day of landing. Those from Glasgow were given nothing. Such an influx of extra people put an enormous strain on Belfast’s local charities and public works programmes. In turn, many of the new arrivals were moved on, out of town.

Disease

In the workhouse itself the Medical Officer complained that “treating several contagious diseases in the same place is attended with very great risk to the patients”. He treated smallpox patients in a small bathroom, those suffering from erisipilas (a bacterial skin disease) in the straw house, and asked for another place for dysentery patients. In August 1847 there were 337 patients in the fever ward.

In May 1848 just before the first contingent of Earl Grey orphans left the workhouse for Plymouth a number of syphilis cases were admitted (BG7/A/7, p.153) . In November there were 30 cases still under treatment. And then, in December of the same year, the Medical Officers had their first scare of cholera, a disease that would add many more to the Famine death toll.

Belfast workhouse would be an important ‘staging post’ for Earl Grey orphans setting out to join ships that would take them to Australia, the Earl Grey, the Roman Emperor, the Diadem and the Derwent.

Cashel workhouse, Tipperary

At the other end of the country, Cashel workhouse guardians were to buckle under the pressure of the Famine in 1847 and 1848. At the end of 1847 the Matron of the workhouse wrote a damning report. “I again beg to call your attention to the state of the House. It is in such disorder and confusion that it is impossible to stand it… The pints and quarts are taken away and in consequence the children are not getting their rights. Several sheets and other articles were lately stolen. The bad characters in the House are at liberty to go out and return when they please…”.

And on the first of January 1848, the Medical Officer was equally distraught, “your Hospital is crowded to excess and the paupers are falling sick in dozens. I cannot admit anyone into the hospital for want of accommodation”.

There was such distress in the area there was an immense shortfall in the rates being collected, (Week ending 15 January 1848 Collected  401 pounds and seven pence, 401.0.7, Uncollected ten thousand eight hundred and ninety four pounds fifteen shillings and two pence, 10,894.15.2). The situation was not helped by the likes of Michael Lyons, Collector for Clonoulty and Kilpatrick, collecting some of the arrears, and absconding.

11 October 1848, the Guardians were dismissed. The Board was dissolved and semi professional bureaucrats, or Vice-Guardians, took over running the workhouse–fortunately for the female orphans who would set out for Australia the following year. To give you an idea of the scale of demands, provisions for the workhouse in the last week of October 1848 included,

  • 6,000 lbs bread
  • 300 lbs meat
  • 5,200 gallons milk
  • 224 lbs salt,
  • 2 lbs tea,
  • 14 lbs sugar
  • 40 lbs sugar surrup…
  • 7 lbs candles
  • 1 1/4 cwt soap
  • 6 lbs starch
  • 21 lbs washing soda

Re the female orphan emigration itself in 1849, such was the work, and such a large amount of monies required for

sending the female orphans to Plymouth,

with wooden boxes,

properly clothed, (3 Feb. 1849 Resolved that the tender of John O’Brien be accepted for the supply of 100 pairs of women’s shoes of the required sizes equal in quality and workmanship to the sample lodged with the Clerk of the Union at 4 shillings a pair”…
Resolved…that advertisements be issued for other articles viz, twilled calico, twilled linen, whalebone, cheap quilts, cheap bonnets, printed calico for wrappers and gowns, wool plaid for gowns and cl0aks, neck handkerchiefs of various qualities, pocket handkerchiefs, gingham for aprons and boxes)

and equipped with Bibles, Prayer books and other religious books,

that the local economy must have benefited. Yet this benefit may not have outweighed the burden imposed on the workhouse itself. It could ill afford the expense of sending the orphans, given its other commitments. I wonder did some of the young women feel guilty about their emigration?

Some online workhouse records

Why not have a go yourself? Here is a backpack, a compass, and a toasted vegemite and cheese sandwich to help you with your ‘virtual’ exploration of some Irish workhouse records.

http://tipperarystudies.ie/poor-law-union-records/

https://www.limerick.ie/discover/explore/historical-resources/limerick-archives/archive-collections/limerick-union-board

This next one contains something from Ennistymon, Killarney, and Kilrush BGMB (Board of Guardian Minute Books). It may take a while to download any of these.

http://www.digitalbookindex.org/_search/search010hstirelandworkhousea.asp

And this one repeats a couple of the links above. It has Indoor Registers for Cashel and Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

http://tipperarystudies.ie/workhouse-registers/?fbclid=IwAR2r9dTVP1ir7UGK-d63gMZhSGU0hdiAsLokGUhFJuWVE9KqJUm4WOmdxU0

Go well.

“What a strange thing,

to be thus alive

beneath the cherry blossoms”. (Kobayashi Issa)

I’ll say something about Admission and Discharge Registers next time.

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (63): a couple of questions

E

a dog’s breakfast

I’m afraid this is just bits and pieces, some more junky than others. I intend posing some questions,

Why is there such an interest in family history in [Australia]? Enter whatever term you wish instead of “Australia”.

What are some of the problems in identifying the Earl Grey orphans who arrived in Port Phillip?

And for those wanting more on their orphan’s Irish background, what’s available for researchers?

FAMILY HISTORIES

Over twenty years ago when researching my chapter in Irish Women in Colonial Australia, I visited the Kingston Centre in Melbourne. I was looking for records of the Melbourne Benevolent Asylum. Sadly, few records have survived. Yet the keeper of the records, Sandy Forster, told me how much family history helped with the rehabilitation and palliative care of those in the Centre. It was wonderful to hear that. I hope it still helps patients in the Hospital. That’s one good reason for encouraging family history.

For background to the Kingston Centre, see http://localhistory.kingston.vic.gov.au/htm/article/302.htm

Why do so many people become hooked on the family history line? Is the following a major reason? A member of my own family told the story of a relative from overseas standing in the middle of a road and saying, “so this is where I come from”.  That is, the perennial search for “roots”.

What is the attraction of family history or genealogy? Not everyone is so smitten, me being a case in point. Maybe readers would share the reasons for their own interest? Or try giving an answer to the first question above? Or explain the appeal of the Irish Famine orphans?

I’ve made suggestions about writing orphans’ stories throughout this blog. You may like to refresh your memory of some of them. See the post titled ‘Where to from here?’ https://wp.me/p4SlVj-Gf

Or for some specific examples, the refulgent history of Bridget McMahon from Rathkeale, Co. Limerick, https://wp.me/p4SlVj-PV

or the story of ‘Belfast Girl’ Mary McConnell, https://wp.me/p4SlVj-LL

Maybe you can find something there to act as template for your own orphan ‘girl’?

Port Phillip arrivals: some problems

Some of the excellent research done on the Port Phillip orphans since my efforts last century can be viewed at http://wiki.prov.vic.gov.au/i,ndex.php/Irish_Famine_Orphan_Immigration

Was this the work of Christine O’Donnell at the Public Records Office of Victoria?

What’s been achieved since my own and Ada Ackerley’s efforts in the 1980s and 1990s is now on the database at http://www.irishfaminememorial.org/orphans/database/

But let me take you back to some of the issues i had when i began. Most of them are still relevant.

Without an orphan’s parents’ names, how did i know i had identified an Earl Grey orphan correctly?  When i first used Victorian birth, death and marriage records, for example, i began with what i thought were ‘distinctive ‘names; Sarah Totten, Susan Sprouls, Mary Birmingham, Arabella Kelly, Dorinda Saltry, for example. Maybe i was influenced by my own name. It’s much easier searching for trevor mcclaughlin, with the extra ‘c’, than it is for trevor mclaughlin.

Obviously other things were involved in identifying Port Phillip orphans. I looked at their place of origin, their age, the address of their employer, if their shipmates witnessed their wedding and the birth of their children, that kind of thing. How many of these could i line up? Did i have enough evidence to say i had ‘found’ one of the “lost children” or was there an act of faith involved? These are questions still worth posing, i believe, especially for anyone ‘discovering’ a famine orphan in their family tree.

Here are a couple of my research cards when i was working with Victorian vital statistics. You can imagine the ‘fun’ i had. I still believe i achieved a high degree of accuracy for the Victorian orphans especially in the first volume of Barefoot and Pregnant?

Presumably in working back through your own family history the level of certainty increases. A direct ancestral line may convince you that is all you need. But does that mean you should have no doubts at all? The sheer number of Irish women arriving in Port Phillip as assisted immigrants during the 1850s may be problematic.

Common names

Look at how many ‘Mary Howes’ or ‘Mary McGraths’ arrived in Port Phillip shortly after the orphans arrived, for example. https://prov.vic.gov.au/explore-collection/explore-topic/passenger-records-and-immigration/assisted-passenger-lists

That particular example may not apply to you personally but it surely does to many, to the Kellys, Egans, Connells, Reillys, McNamaras, Murphys, Byrnes, Ryans and Dunns to name a few?

Ages

Especially when we remember how iffy an orphan’s age could be. Kay Caball explains it in one of her blogposts https://mykerryancestors.com/kerry-19th-century/

“Very few Irish people knew (or even cared about) their exact year/date of birth. Even when they wrote down a definite date, that was just a guess.  They weren’t trying to fool anyone or be evasive, it was just never of any importance at home and only on emigration did it become necessary in the new country for identification purposes.”

Other tripwires

What if your orphan’s ‘native place’ recorded on a shipping list differs more than once from that recorded at the birth of her children (as in the Margaret Sheedy example below)? What if she marries more than once, or takes the name of her ‘de facto’ husband? Or constructs a new identity for herself? Or adopts an alias to escape from the law?

Now our orphan has become more elusive, raising questions and leaving us with more and more room for error. She is slipping through our fingers. We all should be willing to check the evidence we have, question ourselves, identify when we have made ‘a leap of faith’ because we want such and such to be true, or desire an Irish Orphan in our family tree. Sometimes we just do not have the certainty or evidence we would like. In the end, it is up to us to be honest with ourselves.

 

Irish sources

There are still an number of things keeping me close to the Famine orphans; a historian’s interest in the subject, naturally, a desire to help Australians find more about their Earl Grey orphan ancestors, and stronger than ever, an interest in helping refugees through the outreach programme associated with  http://www.irishfaminememorial.org

“Concern and fear are clear in the eyes of the young Rohingya boy. He looks around the group with his dark eyes, looks around with his almond-shaped eyes, searching for potential sanctuary in the faces of strangers”. (from Behrouz Boochani, No Friend but the Mountains, Picador, 2018, p. 87.)

Lately a number of people have approached me for help finding out more about the Irish background of their orphan. So here is a bit more of that dog’s breakfast. I’ll use examples from my research cards above. And I’ll be going back over some of the things said previously .

Here’s the first case, Margaret Sheedy from Clonmel per New Liverpool.

Margaret was to marry fellow Irishman Daniel Corbett shortly after arriving, and together they had ten children. She lived her short life as a farmer’s wife in Kilmore. She died aged 36 or 37, a month after the birth of her last child, a little boy called Thomas.

From the family reconstitution form below Margaret is listed as having come from Limerick–Tipperary, reflecting what was stated at the registration of the birth of some of her children. In the excerpt from the database, and indeed on the New Liverpool shipping list, her place of origin is Clonmel, Tipperary. If we want to know more about Margaret’s Irish background that would be a good place to start.

  • Surname : Sheedy
  • First Name : Margaret
  • Age on arrival : 15 or 16
  • Native Place : Clonmel, Tipperary
  • Parents : Not recorded
  • Religion : Roman Catholic
  • Ship name : New Liverpool (Melbourne 1849)
  • Workhouse : Tipperary, Clonmel
    Other : shipping: house servant, cannot read or write; probably sister of Ellen; Clonmel PLU 14 Apr 1849, BG67/A/9 p.257 list of 28 orphan girls about to leave the workhouse, includes Margaret Sheedy, aged 18, left workhouse on 18 Apr 1849; Empl. Henry H Nash, Stephen St., £8, 6 months; married Daniel Corbett, 23 May 1851, Melbourne; husband a farmer; 10 children; lived Kilmore; she died 12 Sep 1870, one month after the birth of her last child.

Note the reference to Clonmel Board of Guardian records. This is one of the many workhouse records held in Irish repositories. As per my last post, post 62, my first port of call is Peter Higginbotham’s great website. See http://www.workhouses.org.uk/Clonmel/

Even if Peter no longer gives details of what sources have survived, his site is still a mine of information. Click on the “Tipperary Studies” link at the bottom of that page, and may i wish you good luck with your hunting and exploring? If you are thinking of making a trip to Ireland one day, make sure you find where the records are stored, and write to the relevant library beforehand.

Clonmel Board of Guardian Minute books are exceptional in that they include the names of famine orphans who came to Australia. That is rarely the case elsewhere. Yet they will always take you into the world ‘your’ orphan occupied in the days before she left Ireland.

Here is what appears on that page (257) in the Clonmel workhouse Board of Guardian Minute Books,

“Names of twenty-eight females who have emigrated from this Union on the 18th April 1849,

Ellen Sheedy 16 years, Katherine Dunne, 16, Margaret Walsh, 16, Margaret Greene, 17, Margaret Sheedy, 18, Mary Ann Butler, 17, Bridget Gearon, 18, Mary Goggin*, 18, Catherine Ryan, 18, Catherine Hickey, 19, Bridget Flynn*, 18, Margaret Purcell, 18, Mary Murphy*, 19, Margaret Dyer, 18, Ellen Preston*, 18, Anne Gillard, 19, Ellen Nugent, 17, Mary Ryan, 16, Mary Noonan, 17, Margaret Dempsey, 19, Katherine Castell*, 16, Margaret Hughes, 17, Bridget McDermott, 16, Mary Grady*, 18, Honora Farrell, 16, Ellen Fraher, 17.

NB. Number 28 on this list Ellen Fraher is the person to make up the twenty-eighth emigrant to go. Her certificate has already been sent amongst the thirty two. I now send a certificate for Mary Murphy to replace that of Mary Farrell the latter having declined to go and Mary Murphy being now sent in her place. The general certificate of health will be taken tomorrow by the Ward Master in charge.

The six marked with an asterisk had smallpox. The rest were vaccinated. Thomas Scully, Medical Officer.

Names of female emigrants approved of to go from Clonmel Union workhouse by the next opportunity: Bridget Farrell, age, 18, Alice Crotty, 15, Judith Crotty, 17, Margaret Long, 19, Mary Crimmin, 17, Katherine Ryan, 17, (Mary Ann Willis*), 15, Judith Shugrue, 18.

There are several other females in the workhouse eligible and wiling to go, and for whom the guardians are satisfied to defray the expenses of outfit etc when sanctioned by the Commissioners”.

What I’d do next is have a look for Margaret’s baptism in parish records. Maybe she was born in Clonmel St. Mary’s https://registers.nli.ie/parishes/1102

or in Clonmel Ss Peter and Paul. But alas the baptismal records that survived for this parish begin in 1836.

Or try contacting a local historical society to see if anyone might help. They’d be only too willing I’m sure and would be a great help in finding out more about the Famine in Clonmel and surrounds. That workhouse.org website mentioned above will direct us to the excellent Tipperary Historical Society for example.

That is enough for now. I’m tempted to put this in the rubbish bin. I’ll continue another time.

Btw, The featured image of this post is the cover of The Great Famine. Irish Perspectives, edited by John Gibney, Pen & Sword History, 2018, isbn 9781526736635. They’ve given me a promotion.

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (62); Stories, revisions, and research tips.

SOME MORE STORIES, and a bit extra

I wonder should i continue posting orphan stories, limited as they are in their information and reach. But i notice some readers are unaware of the meaning of abbreviations in my Barefoot and on the www.irishfaminememorial.org database, BG., Im. Cor., Register 1, 2, 3., etc.  See below. I’ll try explaining what they refer to, and direct you to where you can find them at the Archives. If i may, I’ll use a few orphan examples to clarify things a bit further. But first, a few introductory comments.

PRIMARY SOURCES

I have often urged people to state clearly the origin of the information they use. It is not just a matter of being honest and acknowledging someone else’s work; it also helps distinguish between primary and secondary sources. For example, something stated by Trevor McClaughlin, Richard Reid, Perry McIntyre, or Ancestry, or on a website, in a book, or on a facebook page, is a secondary source. Inadvertently they only may be spreading an error, merely sharing ignorance. In that ‘native place’ column on that shipping list, does it say Draghin or Drynagh, or is it Inagh? It is always important to go back to the primary source yourself. Hence my plea at the end of the first paragraph in the Sydney Legend below.

When in the late 1970s I consulted the NSW State Records (NSWSR) Board of Immigration shipping list for the Earl Grey, the  first orphan vessel to arrive in Sydney, i found to my distress there were some missing pages. To locate the missing orphan names I went to the Immigration Agent’s shipping list, the list with less information about each orphan girl. There was no mention of parents’ names, for example. It was only much later the missing pages of the Board’s list were found.

I subsequently updated the record on the early version of the irishfaminememorial.org website, and added Lionel Fowler’s discovery of information contained in ‘enclosures’ to the NSW Governor’s Despatches. (See the second par. of my Legend below. CY690 etc. are the numbers for the relevant microfilm in the Mitchell Library in Sydney. I’m trusting this is still correct). These ‘enclosed’ lists told us who had employed the young women, and at what rate of pay. I know for a fact that a good many people, Aileen Trinder and others, searched high and low for similar enclosures for other orphan vessels. But without success. Nonetheless, all this is one more reason for returning to the primary sources. Look what additional information has been discovered since my 1991 Barefoot. More primary source material is coming to light all the time.

hpb2
Monument Hyde Park Barracks Sydney. Thank you Bryan Rose. This may be your photograph.

LITERACY

Another thing i’d like to draw your attention to, is my failure to include information about the orphans’ literacy. It is not recorded in my Barefoot but Perry McIntyre has added it to the database. The information about their literacy was recorded on the Board of Immigration shipping lists. That is a great research topic for a university student, don’t you think, the literacy of the Irish orphan ‘girls’ compared with others? I fondly remember studying the spread of literacy among early modern Europeans with my students. There were some brilliant studies that could provide inspiration for our hypothetical student…by Elizabeth Eisenstein, David Cressy, Roger Chartier, Harvey Graff, Rab Houston, Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie et al. Clearly, neither the invention of the printing press nor the advent of the Protestant Reformation had led to mass literacy. Mass literacy did not come to Western Europe till the late nineteenth century with the spread of compulsory education. But why did these historians accept an ability to sign one’s name as evidence of basic literacy? Were there instances of women being able to sign their name but refusing to do so on their marriage certificate? Why was that? Were Protestants more literate than Catholics, townsfolk more literate than country dwellers, men more literate than women? Why did so many people think there was no pressing need to become literate? What exactly do we mean by literacy anyway? It is a fascinating subject generally, and would be no less fascinating in the case of the Earl Grey Famine orphans.

Let me introduce you to some of the work i did on this back in the days. In 1979 and 1980 using punch cards and with the help of computer student John Breen, information was fed into a Macquarie university computer to compare the orphans’ literacy with that of other female government assisted migrants. When they arrived, immigrants were asked could they read, read and write, or do neither. This data does not tell us much about the standard of literacy or the nature of literacy of our immigrants. But it does provide a basic, if crude, measure. The computer allowed us to cross tabulate a range of things, literacy by age, by occupation, by religion, by gender, by county of origin, for example. Not all of the results were particularly useful. You may however be interested in these next results. The data relates to the Port Jackson arrivals.

Orphans’ literacy compared with that of other Irish female assisted immigrants

In the period 1848-1851,

  • 22% of all Irish government assisted females, excluding the orphans, were non-literate. (Non-literate is a less pejorative term than illiterate). They could neither read nor write. Presumably the government clerk and the migrant herself understood the question to ask, can you read and write English?
  • 34% of female assisted immigrants could read,
  • and a remarkable 45% claimed they could both read and write (percentages are rounded).

Orphans

  • By contrast, 41% of the orphans were non-literate,
  • 33% could read
  • and only 26% could both read and write. (Hence my figure, in post 2 https://wp.me/p4SlVj-Z , where i said 59% could read, and where one could read she could read to others. I was recognizing the young women’s agency).

Age Groups

If we hone in on age groups, some interesting differences emerge.

  • Of the 10-14 age group
  • 22% of orphans were non-literate,
  • 31% could read
  • and 48% could both read and write.
  • Of the other Irish government assisted female migrants in the same age group, 24% were non-literate,
  • 38% could read
  • and 38% could both read and write.
  • Our youngest orphans were the most literate.

In the 15-19 or 15-20 age group the differences are also striking.

  • Both had a 22% non-literacy rate, but of the other assisted females,
  • 26% could read only
  • and a further 53% could both read and write.
  • By contrast 58% of the orphans claimed they could read only and
  • 20% that they were able to both read and write. The orphans were not quite so literate as their government assisted immigrant sisters.

Other results may warrant further examination;

Regional differences

Mayo orphans, for example, were 66% non-literate,

Clare had only 23% in this category,

and Kerry sat between these two at 58%.

Dublin immigrants were only 11% non-literate.

The spread of the early National Education system in Ireland played a decisive role in all of this, may I suggest ?

Irish National School System

There is an amazing record of the National School system in Irish archives that would allow us to put this to the test. Let’s look at County Clare, for instance. There were 204 schools set up in County Clare between 1835 and 1849. Not all of them got off the ground, some were struck off, and the Famine threw the whole system into disarray. Still, one can surmise how the system impacted upon a young girl’s literacy in English in the years before she sought refuge in a workhouse. Look at the growth in the number of schools, and the increase in attendance. For example, at Carahan school in the parish of Clonlea, there were 70 girls on the books in May 1841 and 74 in December, 153 in May 1842 and 90 in December. [Note the seasonal attendance]. But in 1848 the school was closed. In the north-west of the county, more than 300 pupils on average regularly attended Ennistimon monastery school in Deerpark townland in the 1830s, and just under half that number were girls. At Kilrush female school in 1842, in a room measuring 62 feet by 22, there were 158 girls in attendance in May 1842, and 187 in December. And at SixMileBridge in Kilfinaghty parish in a female school that measured 46 feet by 16, in 1841 there were 110 young girls attending in May and 125 in December. The next year in 1842 the numbers attending were 109 and 144. But in 1846 the teacher Jane Quigley resigned. She planned to emigrate. Before she left, she sold the furniture, the stock and maps of the school.

None of this broaches the questions related to the cultural influence of an gaeilge: living and learning in a culture based in the Irish language, or even one that was increasingly bilingual. That cultural world view would be challenged and threatened, even obliterated over time in the emigrant’s new home. Yet the language question reminds us how inadequate is the measure of whether or not an Irish emigrant could read and write in English. It is not a reliable indicator of how knowledgeable or educated he or she was.  Nor is it of the Irish Famine orphan girls. But it was an oral culture and very rarely a written one.

Máiréad Nic Craith’s chapter in Atlas of the Great Irish Famine will help anyone interested in looking at this. I imagine Aidan Doyle’s chapter on Language and Literacy in the Cambridge History of Ireland, vol. 3 would help too but i haven’t seen this one yet. {Thankyou Aidan for telling me how little the Irish language was written down. Aidan says, “with some very few exceptions, literacy in Ireland, of any kind, was literacy in English”}. Professor Máiréad Nic Craith suggests the 1851 Census of Ireland underestimates the number of Irish speakers: “…the language question…was entirely in English. A monoglot Irish-speaker would not have understood the question and would have been utterly reliant on the enumerator (who did not necessarily have Irish) to draw his attention to this element in the form” (p.583) . She does however provide Census details of those able to speak both Irish and English. Mayo’s percentage  of those ‘with Irish’, including those who could speak English as well, was 65.60, Clare’s 59.78, Kerry’s 61.49 and Dublin’s 1.33. There must have been a large number of the Earl Grey orphans, especially those from the West of Ireland, who were bilingual, yet not able to write in Irish.

SYDNEY LEGEND

But enough of this already. Here is the extract from my Barefoot. It’s now more than 18 years old and some of the references are now out-of-date. I’ll attempt to direct you to their new classification at State Records New South Wales when appropriate.  The map at the end marks the residence of orphans when they registered the birth of their children in 1861. Note too the ordering of the arrival of orphan ships is incorrect. The Tippoo Saib was the last vessel to arrive as part of this Earl Grey scheme. I’ll use the brief histories that follow to explain the abbreviations, and to draw your attention to what Perry McIntyre’s good work adds to the database.

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blogfosydneykey1

These next examples are based on my family reconstitutions. Double click or pinch the image to make it larger. The examples are selected from my ‘alphabetical pile’.

Which workhouse?

Among the many beneficial additions Perry has made to the database is one that will interest many readers; she has suggested which workhouse an orphan comes from. In Jane Adderley’s case, Perry names Edenderry workhouse.

You might like to try this exercise for yourself. You can do it online. Type a place name, one that is alongside an orphan’s name on a shipping list, into google maps or google earth, or a similar search engine. Locate where exactly is the place you’re searching for. So, if we type “Clenmore, Kings County” (see below) into a search engine we’ll be told ‘do you mean Clonmore, Offaly’? May i encourage everyone to engage more with geography?

Once you have located your place on a map, you should go to Peter Higginbotham’s magnificent website http://www.workhouses.org.uk/   In the left hand column of that webpage, click on ‘workhouse locations‘, then on ‘Irish Poor Law Unions‘. Choose the county you are after and click on that, in this case Offaly. You may need to trawl through each workhouse Poor Law Union before you find the appropriate workhouse. Luckily in this case Clonmore is named as belonging to the Edenderry Poor Law Union. Just a word of warning, i suspect this may not work in every case.

JANE ADDERLEY from Clonmore, Kings County, per William and Mary

After the William and Mary shipping list, Jane next appears in the New South Wales Immigration Agent’s correspondence. See the ‘Legend’ above from my Barefoot 2.  Im. Cor. refers to State Records Of New South Wales SRNSW 4/4635-4/4641. You will need to go to https://www.records.nsw.gov.au/ to find where these records are now located. I had most success by typing “Francis Merewether Immigration Agent” into  their search box. That took me to Series NRS 5247 ‘Copies of letters sent to miscellaneous persons’. They are now available at microfilm SR Reel 3111. The microfilm of these volumes covers the years 1844 to 1852.

For most of this period F. L. S.  Merewether was the NSW Immigration Agent.  You will need to search for letters sent in March 1851 when Jane went to Bathurst.  Merewether was succeeded by H. H. H. Browne as Immigration Agent in 1851. You may like to compare the correspondence each has left behind. One is from a devoted, hard working and empathetic public servant. The other from a minimalist bureaucrat who was no friend of the orphans. See https://wp.me/p4SlVj-BT

Jane would appear to have married well, to a cabinet-maker born in Birmingham, England. Jane and Francis Beilby were married in Bathurst in 1855. Francis was the brother of her first employer in Woolloomooloo. Together Jane and Francis had six children, three boys and three girls, the couple spacing their births, maybe as a form of family planning(?) Waiting six years before marrying and spacing the births of her children makes Jane very different from  most of the other orphans. Yet her geographical mobility, moving from Sydney to Bathurst, to Wellington, to Orange, to Guyong, to Wagga Wagga, brings her back to the same fold as other orphans. Sadly, before she died in 1908 her youngest son, Frederick Charles had also died,  most likely in a Mental Asylum.

And from the database, http://www.irishfaminememorial.org/orphans/database/

  • Surname : Adderley
  • First Name : Jane [aka Jane Theresa]
  • Age on arrival : 17
  • Native Place : Clenmore [Clonmore], Kings [Offaly]
  • Parents : Thomas & Eliza (both dead)
  • Religion : Church of England
  • Ship name : William & Mary (Sydney 1849)
  • Workhouse : Kings [Offaly], Edenderry
  • Other : shipping: farm servant, reads only, no relatives in colony; with sister on William & Mary; empl. Edwin Beilby, Woolloomooloo, £8 a year; Im Cor Bathurst 1 Mar 1851, employed by J Jardine, Fitzgerald Swamp at £8 pa; married Francis E Beilby (brother of Edwin) at Bathurst, 1855; husband cabinet maker & carpenter, lived Alloway near Bathurst, then to Wellington, Orange & Guyong; 6 children; husband died 1892; Jane died 1908, Experimental Farm, Wagga Wagga.
scan0045

ISABELLA BANKS from Belfast per Earl Grey

It is worth doing the same geographic exercise for Isabella too. She was from the townland of Ballylesson, County Down. See if you can find it on a map. It will help you understand how close her native place was to Belfast workhouse. (You will find more about Belfast workhouse on Peter Higginbotham’s site http://www.workhouses.org.uk/ but under Antrim Poor Law Union. Follow the steps outlined in the paragraph above just before Jane Adderly).

Young Isabella was first employed by Mr Ross of Newtown for two years at a rate of £9 per annum. She would have been subject to the indenture agreement that was legally part of the Earl Grey scheme. It is reproduced at my blogposts 13 and 16. Here’s the link to post 16. https://wp.me/p4SlVj-h8  The female indenture agreement is about half way through the post.

Isabella was not one of the notorious ‘Belfast Girls’ sent directly to Maitland and Moreton Bay instead of disembarking in Sydney. Yet Isabella did live most of her life in the same area as those sent to the Hunter valley. I wonder if any of the Belfasters met each other later in life. Would they have recognized one another? [Mary McConnell, for example, was visiting her daughter in Newcastle in 1892 when she fell down the stairs and broke her neck. See the very end of the post about Mary https://wp.me/p4SlVj-LL ].

Isabella married William Snipe in Maitland (registered in Newcastle?) in March 1854. They had ten children, four boys and six girls, all of them born in the Newcastle area. When registering their birth they were required to state where they resided; Hunter Street, Newcastle, Pitt Town, Newcastle, Australian Agricultural Company’s paddock, Newcastle, Pitt Row, Newcastle, Borehole, Newcastle and finally, William was ‘Banksman’ and then ‘Groom’ living at Lambton, Newcastle when their last two children, Sarah and Margaret were born. Sadly, like so many other young children in New South Wales in the 1860s, three of their daughters succumbed to childhood illnesses. Rachel, Margaret and Isabella all died before they reached the age of two.

blogfoibanksearlgrey

And from the database, http://www.irishfaminememorial.org/orphans/database/

  • Surname : Banks
  • First Name : Isabella
  • Age on arrival : 16
  • Native Place : Ballillassin [Ballyvaston or Ballyvaston?], Down
  • Parents : William and Sarah (both dead)
  • Religion : Church of England
  • Ship name : Earl Grey (Sydney 6 Oct 1848)
  • Other : shipping: farm servant, reads only, no relatives in colony. Empl. Mr Ross, Newtown, £9, 2 years; married William Snipe, labourer, both of Newcastle, in 1854 at Independent Chapel, Maitland; 10 children, lived Newcastle, died 1897.
ulsterfolk
Ulster Folk Museum Cultra

ANNIE JANE BEST from Sherrigrim, Tyrone per Earl Grey

Which Workhouse?

Once again, let us do our exercise in geography. If you type “Sherrigrim, Tyrone” into a search engine you will discover it is a townland in Tyrone on the western side of Lough Neagh. Find it on a map and have a look around. If you follow our suggestion  for Jane Adderly and Isabella Banks, which workhouse do you think Annie Jane and Margaret Best came from? You’d be forgiven for thinking either Cookstown or Dungannon. There were indeed some orphans from these two workhouses on board the Earl Grey, see https://wp.me/p4SlVj-rc

But

in my Barefoot I’ve named Antrim instead of either Dungannon or Cookstown. Why is that? I could be wrong of course. Best is not an uncommon name in the North of Ireland. Belfast City airport is named after a ‘Best’ is it not?

WORKHOUSE INDOOR REGISTERS

You will find how i traced the Earl Grey orphans in Workhouse Indoor Registers in this post http://wp.me/p4SlVj-4X Scroll down till you reach the section “Indoor Relief Registers”. Scroll down a bit further until you reach “Identifying the orphans”. Basically I looked for a group of adolescent young women leaving a workhouse at exactly the same time, about a week or ten days before their ship left Portsmouth bound for Australia. Come to think of it, perhaps this is a way of finding some of the ‘lost’ orphans who arrived in Adelaide by the Roman Emperor. Drawing a long bow perhaps? More information about these orphans has been discovered since i was last in PRONI. Knowing this ship left Portsmouth 27 July 1848 we’d be looking for groups leaving their workhouse say 17-22 July. Anyone going to Ireland?

There is just a brief entry for the Best sisters in the Antrim workhouse Indoor Register at BG/ 1/ GA/ 1 . [See paragraph 5 in the ‘Legend’ above describing BG numbers. They are the prefix to Irish archives relating to workhouses, such as Indoor admission and discharge registers, regrettably in short supply, and Board of Guardian Minute Books which have survived in much greater number. They are the reference numbers I recorded when i visited the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (hereafter PRONI) some years ago. https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/proni I’m having trouble finding my reference on the PRONI ecatalogue. But archivists at the PRONI Titanic Centre have kindly helped me find what I’m looking for. It’s at   https://apps.proni.gov.uk/eCatNI_IE/SearchResults.aspx

The reference I wrote down should be BG/1/GA/1. I had too many spaces in that earlier reference. You may have to copy that and put it into the PRONI search box in the link above].

Beside one another, in that Antrim Workhouse Indoor Admission and Discharge Register, at number 3942 ‘Margaret Best 17 single Established Church dirty’

and at number 3943, ‘Ann Jane Best 15 single Established Church Craigarogan also dirty, having entered 6 January 1848’.

Both of them left Antrim workhouse on the 26th May 1848, the same date as Sarah Burt, another Earl Grey orphan (see below).

I’m still convinced this is the Best sisters who travelled on the Earl Grey. Antrim is not so far away from Sherrigrim.

It is a reminder about how easy it is to make errors in our linking diverse records.  You will notice I made a mistake with the Australian family details of Margaret Best in my Barefoot, marrying her to someone in Brisbane instead of Thomas Jackman.

The two Best sisters married not long after arriving in Sydney. Annie Jane married William Burtenshaw in April 1849 and together they had had nine children, three boys and nine girls. Annie died in Inverell in 1883 strangled by an umbilical hernia. Her husband witnessed the second marriage of her older sibling Margaret to John Keating/Keaton in 1863. Margaret died at Glen Innes in 1873. It seems likely the two sisters remained in touch with one another for most of their lives.

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And from the database http://www.irishfaminememorial.org/orphans/database/

  • Surname : Best
  • First Name : Ann [Annie] Jane
  • Age on arrival : 17
  • Native Place : Sherrigrim [Sherrigrim], Tyrone
  • Parents : John & Jane (both dead)
  • Religion : Church of England
  • Ship name : Earl Grey (Sydney 6 Oct 1848)
  • Workhouse : Tyrone, Cookstown
  • Other : Shipping: house servant, read only, no relatives in colony, sister Margaret also on Earl Grey; PRONI BG/1/GA/1 (3943) Craigarogan, dirty; employed by Mr Andreas, Sydney £10, 1 year; married William Perks Burtenshaw, Sydney in 1849; lived Glen Innes, Wellingrove 30 miles east of Inverell; 9 children, 77 grandchildren; Ann died 1883; husband died 1908; she buried Inverell, he at Gilgai, NSW. Also see Margaret Best, her sister, also per ‘Earl Grey’.

ANNIE’S SISTER MARGARET BEST

  • Surname : Best
  • First Name : Margaret
  • Age on arrival : 19
  • Native Place : Sherrigrim [Sherrigrim],Tyrone
  • Parents : John & Jane (both dead)
  • Religion : Church of England
  • Ship name : Earl Grey (Sydney 6 Oct 1848)
  • Workhouse : Tyrone, Cookstown
  • Other : Shipping: house servant, reads only, no relatives in the colony, sister Ann Jane also on ‘Earl Grey’. Antrim PLU BG/1/GA/1 (3942), Craigarogan, dirty; empl. Mr J Steenson, Pitt St South, Sydney, £10, 12 months; Im Cor Register 6 Jan 1849 complaint, left employer; married 1) ex-convict Thomas Jackman in 1849 Sydney, moved to Glen Innes, 3 children; married 2) John Keating (Keaton etc) 1863, witnessed by sister & fellow shipmate’s husband WF Burtenshaw; 3 children; John died at Armidale 1885; Margaret died Glen Innes 1873.

REGISTERS

Registers,1,2,3 in the Legend above refers to the Registers and indexes of applications for orphans at State Records New South Wales. Their reference is (SRNSW) 4/4715-4717 which is available at  Microfilm SR Reel 3111.

APPENDIX

For Appendix J or K or L  in the Legend see http://wp.me/p4SlVj-BT

NANCY BOOTH from Portglenone, Antrim per Earl Grey

Checking a map will show how close Portglenone is to Ballymena workhouse which is where I found Nancy. She was registered as a single 20 year old Roman Catholic residing in Ballymena when she entered the workhouse 10 April 1848. She was discharged 24 May 1848. She was on her way to join the Earl Grey. https://apps.proni.gov.uk/eCatNI_IE/SearchResults.aspx

see PRONI BG/4/G/2 No. 2002

Nancy married a fellow Irishman Brien Molloy in November 1849 at St. Patrick’s Parramatta. Brien/Brian/Bryan was about eighteen years her senior. Together they farmed land at Baulkham Hills where Nancy gave birth to nine children, four boys and three girls. Nancy died in 1884 of pneumonia, her husband just a year later of heart disease.

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And from the database http://www.irishfaminememorial.org/orphans/database/

  • Surname : Booth
  • First Name : Nancy
  • Age on arrival : 19
  • Native Place : Portglenone [Portglenone], Antrim
  • Parents : James & Susan (both dead)
  • Religion : Roman Catholic
  • Ship name : Earl Grey (Sydney 6 Oct 1848)
  • Workhouse : Antrim, Ballymena
  • Other : Shipping: house servant, reads, no relatives in colony. PRONI BG/4/G/2 No. 2002 Ballymena. Empl. J Acres, Parramatta, £10, 1 year. Im Cor Register, 23 Jul 1849 left service of mistress in Parramatta; 24 Jul 1849 Hyde Park Barracks Daily Report, servant to Mrs Acre of Heywood Lane to depot at 6pm to lodge complaint against her mistress, was permitted to remain on account of distance from employer’s residence and late hour of the day; married Bryan/Brian Molloy, settler & farmer, Parramatta, 1849; 9 children; lived Baulkham Hills; died 1884.

For Nancy’s appearance in the Register 23 July 1849 see SRNSW Microfilm SR Reel 3111.

ANNE BOYLE from Belfast per Earl Grey

Anne Boyle was another ‘Belfast girl’ not banished to Maitland or Moreton Bay. About a year after arriving she married a Welsh born soldier, Thomas James, a private in the 11th Regiment stationed at Victoria Barracks in Sydney. Thomas worked as a soldier, labourer and coal miner at Mt. Keira and Newcastle. The couple had ten children, six boys and four girls, two of them dying before reaching the age of two. Thomas died in 1870, Anne seventeen years later in 1887.

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And from the database http://www.irishfaminememorial.org/orphans/database/

  • Surname : Boyle
  • First Name : Anne
  • Age on arrival : 19
  • Native Place : Belfast, Antrim
  • Parents : James & Anne (both dead)
  • Religion : Roman Catholic
  • Ship name : Earl Grey (Sydney 6 Oct 1848)
  • Workhouse : Antrim, Belfast
  • Other : Shipping: farm servant, cannot read or write, no relatives in colony. Empl. Mr Drewe, Sydney £10, 1 year. Im Cor Register 22 Mar 1849, letter from JL Drewe, master, refused to pay full wages, said he owed her nothing; married Thomas James, 1849 at Scots Church, Pitt St, Sydney; husband a soldier, labourer & miner; 10 children; lived Sydney, Newcastle & Mt Keira, died 1887.

For Anne’s appearance in the Register 22 March 1849 see SRNSW Microfilm SR Reel 3111.

SARAH BURT from Glenavy, Antrim per Earl Grey

Sarah married Sussex born John Stanford at Appin in March 1851. John was more than twenty years her senior. Together they had nine children, three boys and six girls, one of whom may have been born to Sarah out of wedlock. (yet to be confirmed) John was variously a farmer, gardener and labourer all in the Appin district south of Sydney, County Cumberland.

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The BG number BG/1/GA/1  4276 refers to Sarah’s appearance in the Antrim workhouse Indoor Admissions and discharge register where she is described as female single 16 year old Established Church dirty residing in Crumlin. One can check on a map where Crumlin is in relation to Antrim workhouse. Sarah entered the workhouse 23 March 1848 and left 26 May 1848, the same date as Annie and Margaret Best.

And from the database http://www.irishfaminememorial.org/orphans/database/

Details of Sarah’s death at Bellambi in 1906 were from Sarah’s descendant Marj. Jackel.

  • Surname : Burt
  • First Name : Sarah
  • Age on arrival : 16
  • Native Place : Glennevis [Glenavy], Antrim
  • Parents : William & Sarah (both dead)
  • Religion : Church of England
  • Ship name : Earl Grey (Sydney 6 Oct 1848)
  • Workhouse : Antrim, Antrim
  • Other : Shipping: farm servant, reads, no relatives in colony. PRONI Antrim BG/1/GA/1 (4276) Crumlin, dirty. Empl. Mary Hill, Park St., Sydney £9, 2 years. Im Cor Register 6 Nov 1848, letter from Mary Hill requesting cancellation of indenture on various grounds; 19 Nov 1848 Im Cor transfer allowed to Mr John Duross of Campbelltown; married John Stanford at Appin, 1851; 9 children by 1868; died at Bellambi 1906; buried RC cemetery, Corrimal.

For Sarah’s appearance in the Register 6 and 19 November 1848 see SRNSW Microfilm SR Reel 3111. It explains how she came to be residing at Campbelltown at the time of her marriage.

Meenagarragh Cottier's house? for widow?
Meenagarragh cottier’s house for widow? Ulster Folk Museum, Cultra

ELIZA CONN from Armagh per Earl Grey

On the recommendation of Surgeon Henry Grattan Douglass Eliza was one of the orphans prevented from disembarking at Port Jackson. She was sent directly to Maitland.

“Sent to Maitland” appears beside her name on the shipping list. She also appears with her surname misspelled as ‘Comm’ in the enclosures of a letter from Merewether to the Colonial Secretary, 8 February 1849, ‘List of the forty-seven Female Orphans…whose removal to the country was recommended…by the Surgeon Superintendent…’. The forty-seven names appear in British Parliamentary Papers, Colonies, Australia, IUP edition, vol.11, p.532 and in my Barefoot, vol.1, pp.132-3. As far as we know Eliza didn’t get into trouble ever again.

My family reconstitution form was filled out for me by one of Elizabeth’s descendants in the 1980s, Mrs A. Dreiser. There’s a wealth of information there. Elizabeth married Alfred Horder, a butcher, in West Maitland in 1851 and together they had thirteen children, the last one stillborn when Elizabeth was about 45 years old. She died in 1883, her husband Alfred in 1896. Both of them are buried at Maitland.

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And from the database http://www.irishfaminememorial.org/orphans/database/

  • Surname : Conn
  • First Name : Elizabeth
  • Age on arrival : 17
  • Native Place : Armagh
  • Parents : James & Margaret (both dead)
  • Religion : Church of England
  • Ship name : Earl Grey (Sydney 6 Oct 1848)
  • Other : Shipping: house servant, reads, no relatives in the colony. Armagh PLU PRONI BG/2/G/2 (2309) Ballinahone; empl. by Mr Dickson, West Maitland £10, 6 months; married Alfred Horder, an English-born butcher, West Maitland, c.1851; Horder family arrived free on ‘Coromandel’ 1838; 13 children; Alfred Nov 1896; Elizabeth Dec 1883, Wexford St., Sydney.

For the Armagh workhouse Indoor Register in PRONI see https://apps.proni.gov.uk/eCatNI_IE/ResultDetails.aspx

Let me finish by reminding you of the ‘Annual Gathering’ on the 26th August 2018 at Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney. It will be the first ‘Gathering’ without the late Tom Power, former Chair of the Great Irish Famine Commemoration Committee, unstoppable force behind the creation of a beautiful monument to the Great Irish Famine at Hyde Park Barracks. Vale Tom Power. Ar dheis Dé go raibh anam

You will find more about the ‘Gathering’ on the GIFCC facebook page Great Irish Famine Commemoration Memorial

or by clicking on the following link

2018 Final Annual Gathering Invite

“The hardest thing of all is to see what is really there.” (J.A.Baker, The Peregrine)

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Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (49): a few Queensland orphan stories?

THREE, OR MAYBE FOUR, MORE FOR QUEENSLAND

This post needs your help. Are these families, orphan families? What do you think? Like some other orphans who went to Queensland, they did quite well for themselves. Readers, i hope, appreciate how much the reconstruction of the orphans’ lives, both in Australia and Ireland, is a cooperative effort. These examples draw attention to some of the pitfalls involved.

I had hoped to include details about Margaret Hardgrave nee Blair per Earl Grey. But I seem to have lost the documentation that would confirm this particular individual was an Irish Famine orphan. My entry for her in Barefoot, and on the website, was that she was a sixteen year old Presbyterian from Ballymena, County Antrim who married a shoemaker, John Hardgrave in Brisbane, 29 July 1850. She died 1 August 1924 at the age of  92! I suppose that is possible. If this is correct, Margaret was one of the most materially better off orphans. Her husband’s estate was valued at £9450 at the beginning of the twentieth century, much of it suburban real estate in the West End of Brisbane. When she died at home in Petrie Terrace, the “Hardgrave Estate” was “situated on a fine rise of land, with a 260 foot frontage to the tramline at West End” and “comprises three substantial residences and two splendid building sites”.

Here is an extract from John’s will and codicil, ‘signed sealed and delivered by Margaret Lydia Hardgrave in 1908’. Could someone please put my mind at rest; was she an Earl Grey Orphan? This Margaret Hardgrave was born in Antrim too. She spent one year in New South Wales and seventy-five in Queensland, at the time of her death. Her estate was valued at £2107.05.07.

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Bridget Muldoon

Here is another example that needs verifying, Bridget Muldoon per John Knox.

Kerryn Townsend wrote to me from Ipswich in January 1994 but her letter and its enclosures did not come to me until much later. How I managed to neglect her interesting carefully researched material I just do not know. She even offered to send me a photograph of Bridget and her husband, an offer I obviously failed to take up. Is this one an Earl Grey orphan? Her death certificate says she was born in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh but the John Knox shipping list has her as coming from Drumkilla townland in County Cavan. The two are not so far from one another. Bridget was 91 when she died, but again that is not impossible. Kerryn was convinced she was an Irish orphan. Here is what she told me.

Bridget’s husband, native born John Ingram had an Aboriginal mother called Maria. John was described as Aboriginal when he was baptised as a twenty year old in West Maitland, 15 October 1851. The couple had sixteen children, ten sons and six daughters (one not on the form below) three of them lost at a very young age.

Like many of the orphans, Bridget and her family were geographically mobile. You may wish to use google earth to follow in their footsteps. They gradually moved north from the Hunter Valley in New South Wales via Myall Creek where John their third child was born, to St Clair, Falbrook, still in New South Wales, where Mary Anne was born. About 1863, Bridget and John and their six children moved to the Maryborough District of Queensland where they were to stay for the next fifteen years. Then about 1878, taking the younger children with them, they moved to Yeulba in the fertile Western Darling Downs where they were to remain for the rest of their lives. John died in 1892 and Bridget in 1925, aged 91 or 92, another long-lived orphan!

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Kerryn , are you out there somewhere? Did you confirm the names of Bridget Ingram’s parents were Patrick and Betty? What do readers think? Is this an Earl Grey orphan? Thankyou for replying Kerryn. Please see Kerryn’s comment at the bottom of this post.

Here’s an illustration of how little time some of the orphans actually spent in an Irish Workhouse. Note that less than twenty percent of inmates gave “Union at Large” as their place of residence. Bridget was very specific about her place of residence.

 

These next two I’m fairly certain are Earl Grey orphans.

CHRISTIANA WYNNE per Digby

Among my family reconstitution forms I found another well-written letter from D. R. Mercer in Clayfield, Brisbane, dated 19 September 1988. It concerned a young nineteen year old Dubliner, Christiana Wynne. The letter writer supplied me with information I entered alongside Christiana’s name in the first volume of Barefoot (p.48). Alas, there was no response to my request to enter their name in the second volume of Barefoot, ten years later. Christiana may have travelled to Brisbane on the Eagle on that infamous voyage described by cuddy-boy James Porter (John Oxley Library Manuscripts Mss OM 68-18). She already had something of a reputation for in June 1849 she charged her master with assault. See case number 11 in the list of cancelled indentures at the Sydney Water Police Court http://wp.me/p4SlVj-vf

But she married well, to William Darling in Brisbane, 20 May 1850. William was a canny Scot originally from Fifeshire. The family owned a farm on the banks of the Brisbane River, possibly employing Kanak labour. When she died in 1892 she left an estate valued at £3313.00. Here is part of her will which shows the names of some of her children and how careful she was with her money.

blogfocwynnedigby Note the names of some of her married daughters, Margaret McGuire, Christiana McWhiney, Annie Tandevine(?), Cecilia Hockings, and Jessie Mercer.

 

CATHERINE MADDEN per Tippoo Saib

Information about Catherine Madden also came to me through correspondence with one of her descendants, in May 1991. Unfortunately I only have her first name, Jacqui. She was living in Windsor, Brisbane at the time.

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My Barefoot had Catherine as a sixteen year old from Glascoreen (Glasscarn townland?) County Westmeath. Jacqui told me she was born and baptised in Mullingar in February 1834, the daughter of James Madden and Catherine McLoughlin. I wonder if we can confirm this on the National Library Of Ireland website ? There is a great collection of parish records for Mullingar: whoa, there she is http://registers.nli.ie/registers/vtls000639815#page/59/mode/1up

Catherine, first employed in Sydney by a Captain Gilbert, had her indentures cancelled at the WPO (Water Police Office Court) for absconding. See number 238, 14 March 1851 in the tables in this blog post https://earlgreysfamineorphans.wordpress.com/2015/08/20/earl-greys-irish-famine-orphans-22/

According to Immigration Correspondence in the State Records of NSW, she was sent to Moreton Bay, 2 September 1851.

Two years later she married native born James O’Donnell in Ipswich (23 September 1853). James, son of a convict, worked on a property called Rosenthal near Warwick. It was there that most of their twelve children were born. Jacqui’s research showed there was often a gap of several months between the children’s date of birth and their baptism. Later in life Catherine bought land, and was licensee of a hotel in Warwick called Rose Inn. In her will she is described as a Boarding House keeper. Perhaps this is how she managed after her husband died? Catherine herself died 4 April 1898 of ‘Dengue fever, Cerebral Haemorrhage and convulsions’. Her son, twenty two year old, George, the sole beneficiary of her will, was the informant. He thought his mother was only 56.

I’ll stop here for now.

“Let us go then you and I,

When the evening is spread out against the sky

Like a patient etherized upon a table;” (T.S Eliot)

 

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (46): B&P?, (d), vol.1, Introduction, pp.18-23

B&P?1 Introduction (d)

Thought I’d post the last of my 1991 Introduction tout suite. May you find it tout sweet. My thanks to the wonderful Pat Loughrey for the uplifting ending. He’ll recognize it from the BBC Northern Ireland Radio programme on the Famine orphans he did with me in 1987. He may even remember that hot day we went to interview a descendant of the Devlin girls, Mrs Merrilyn Minter. My sincere and heartfelt thanks to her for sharing her family history.

As before, I’ll add some notes and references a bit later. Meantime I’ll add a couple of pics and a verse of poetry for your be/a-musement.

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Part of the Monument to the Great Irish Famine at Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney (Angela and Hussein Valamanesh)

Is anyone having trouble making the text larger?

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From a poem by one of Ireland’s foremost poets writing in Irish, Louis de Paor.

The poem is Dán Grá/Love Poem in a collection called Aimsir Bhreicneach/Freckled weather, Leros Press, Canberra, 1993

...Chomh sámh. Chomh

naofa. Foc na

comharsain. Bimis

ag bruíon gan stad./So unburdened.

So serene.

Fuck the neighbours.

Let’s fight all the time.

Anyone interested in Irish poetry may wish to follow Doireann Ní Ghríofa

too.

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Parramatta 1847 courtesy State Library NSW

Parramatta 1847
courtesy State Library NSW “Sketches of New South Wales, Tasmania and Victoria”, by Lempriere and others, ca. 1830-1869.  Call number: DL PXX 39

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Notes for page 18

My post on ‘Cancelled Indentures’ is at http://wp.me/p4SlVj-vf

For what I have to say about the Parliamentary enquiry involving Immigration Agent H.H. Browne http://wp.me/p4SlVj-BT

and http://wp.me/p4SlVj-D6

Page 19

One quick way of searching if an orphan nominated another family member for passage to Australia is via the Remittance Records and Immigration Deposits Journals held in State Record and Archives New South Wales. I remember Pastkeys produced microfiche of these records in 1988. Maybe your local library in Australia has a copy. Here’s a link to the copy in the National Library,  http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/618359

After 1857, SRNSW 4/4579, the Immigration Deposits Journals not only give the name of the depositor but also a full description of the person(s) for whose benefit remittance is being made.

One even finds Remittance certificates among general Immigration Correspondence in the NSW State Archives, for example,  SRNSW 9/6197, 4 August 1852, 16 year old Cathy Morgan of Enmore, per John Knox, deposited £8, nominating 39 year old Rose and 12 year old Jane Morgan presently in Kilkeel workhouse, County Down. This orphan was eager to bring her mother and sister to Australia! One would have to check shipping records to see if they actually came to Australia.

It would be good to know if descendants of the orphans had searched these records; it would test the accuracy of my claim that these were exceptional cases.

page 21

For an early map of the orphans’ scattering throughout Eastern Australia see http://wp.me/p4SlVj-Sw

pages 20-23

There is more information about the ‘gems’ a demographic study of the orphans uncovers in my introduction to volume two of Barefoot…? (2001/2). Here’s one extract. “Our ‘typical’ famine orphan, if such a person ever existed, was a teenage servant from Munster who was Roman Catholic and able to read. Both her parents were dead (almost a quarter of those who came to New South Wales had one parent still alive). She married when she was nineteen, within two and a half years of disembarking in the colony (two thirds of those traced, married in less than three years of their arrival) most likely to an Englishman, ten or eleven years her senior, and of different religion from her own…If she was lucky enough to escape the hazardous years of childbirth, her completed family size was nine children. The famine orphans had a higher age-specific marital fertility rate than other Irish-born migrant women. In New South Wales and Victoria our ‘typical’ orphan could expect to live another forty years, and in Queensland another fifty years after she arrived”. pp.3-4.

Some readers may wish to measure their own orphan against this ‘typical’ one. Lots of other questions are worth asking; why did the orphans who went to Queensland live longer? Queensland orphans also appeared to have fared better, in the sense they had the highest proportion of estates valued at more than £1000. How many of the orphans married former convicts or ‘exiles’? Did any of them suffer domestic abuse? How many ended their final days in an institution of one kind or another? I’ve suggested the orphans life experience was as complex as the human condition itself. We need to be careful with the generalizations we make.

Have a look at my final sentence in the introduction to Barefoot vol.1 above.

May I finish by drawing attention to the annual ‘gathering’ of orphan descendants, and others, at Hyde Park Barracks in Sydney on the final Sunday in August? The Melbourne ‘mob’ meet in November in Williamstown, details later.

see  http://irishfaminememorial.org/www.irishfaminememorial.org

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (45): B&P?, vol one, Introduction (c), pp. 12-17

B&P?1 Introduction (c)

“A way a lone a last a loved a long the” (James Joyce, Finnegan’s Wake)

Next instalment, this time of pages twelve to seventeen. I’ve used some of this material in my blog, and some has remained untouched for twenty-six or so years. Readers may have noticed I’m getting my jollies by adding missing references and notes. I do have heaps of stuff that could be added–i do love a substantive footnote–but I’ll give myself  ‘a restraining order’.

As before, more notes will be added a bit later. I hope you liked the ones in my previous post.

Click on the introduction text a couple of times, or pinch and widen, and the image will be larger.

belfastsculpture

 

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digging for potatoes

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Some notes

As mentioned in the notes to the previous post, most of the extant Irish Workhouse Indoor Admission and Discharge Registers are held in the Public Record Office in Northern Ireland. That they survived at all was thanks to the foresight and skill of a former Deputy Director, Dr Brian Trainor. We are all deeply indebted to him.

As far as I’m aware, outside of Northern Irish Poor Law Unions, and apart from North and South Dublin and Rathdrum (?) in County Wicklow, no others have survived for the years we want. Even then, not all of the Northern Ireland ones have survived. But fortunately Armagh Workhouse Registers do.

So, top of page 12

Cathy Fox PRONI Armagh Indoor Register BG2/G/2 entry 1203

I explained my method of searching for the orphans in these records, in post 5 http://wp.me/p4SlVj-4X

Have a close look there, if you will.

Anne and Jane Hunter PRONI BG2/G/1 entry numbers 3827 and 3828

The Devlin family entries are numerous. For Margaret PRONI BG2/G/1 entry numbers, 608, 1324, 2396, 3700, 5660. BG2/G/2 1507. All of these references should be on the website at www.irishfaminememorial.org

Catherine Tomnay or Tamoney PRONI BG2/G/1 456,1166, 1475, 3967, 4356.

One of the advantages of these records is that they provide information about other family members, about their age, their religion, their occupation, their place of residence, and their condition when they entered the workhouse, and the date they left.

Thus for example, Sarah Ann Devlin was a 15 year old Roman Catholic single female, thinly clothed and hungry when she entered Armagh workhouse 24 April 1847. She left three months later 29 July 1847. But she reentered 16 November the same year, this time the townland of Rathcarby being noted as her place of residence. Six months later, 24 May 1848, she left the workhouse  with her sister Margaret on her way to Belfast to join the other orphans per ship Earl Grey.

page 13   par 2,  I hope this clarifies the use of the word orphan as applied to these young women. They were “to use a modern term, wards of the State”. In the vast majority of cases both parents were dead which is the more commonly held view of ‘orphan’.

page 14 For membership of the Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide Orphan Committees see my blog post 13 http://wp.me/p4SlVj-g4

pages 15-6 Towards the end of that same blog post there is  a copy of an apprenticeship agreement for 15 year-old Anne Smith of the Digby which details the obligations of both apprentice and employer, or Master and Servant. There is another example in SRNSW 9/6193 Particulars of Orphans’ monies No.6 , Apprenticeship Agreement between Ann Deely per Thomas Arbuthnot, “now about the age of fifteen years”, and Frederick Hudson of Ipswich/Moreton Bay, dated 24 April 1850.

page 17 Details of young Margaret Devlin‘s seduction by William Small can be found in Immigration Agent F.L.S Merewether’s  correspondence. [I am unsure if the numbering system at the Archives is still the same. Their staff will be all too willing to help]. See SRNSW 4/4637, 49/672, 17 Oct. 1849, pp.294-5. And 4/4638, 50/178, 14 Feb. 1850, p.66. And 50/190, 50/469,50/762, 50/764 and 50/901, with corresponding pages, pp.76-8 (re seduction), 182, 289-90 (letter to Thomas Small re his son William), 291-2, 331-2. There is more at 4/4639, 51/6, pp.6-7, and 51/225 ‘Would Mr Small make a lump sum of £50?‘, pp.66-7. For information about Mrs Small’s (sic) child at the Protestant Orphan institution, SRNSW 4/4639, 51/354, 10 September 1851, p.104.

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 (36):an uplifting story, Bridget McMahon from Limerick 

Unfinished Stories (3)

(The featured image at the head of this post is of Marjorie Collins in the laboratory at Adelaide University. It is reproduced courtesy of the University of Adelaide Archives).

Bridget McMahon per Maria (1850)

Let me tell you an uplifting story. It’s the story of a famine orphan, Bridget McMahon, from Rathkeale workhouse in County Limerick.

I’m very grateful to Bridget’s descendant, Dr Eleanor Dawson, for sharing the information she has about Bridget’s history. People may know Eleanor from episode four of Barrie and Síobhán’s docudrama, Mná Díbeartha. Eleanor was interviewed early in 2009(?) if my memory is correct. She and I have some things in common. Obviously, an interest in the Famine orphans. We also share a profound belief in the value of education. And coincidentally, we share a medical history. My father died of tuberculosis when he was 31 years old; Eleanor contracted tuberculosis at 16 in her last year(s) of school. She was sent home to bed within the hour of her first ever X-ray, after 3 months of productive cough and lethargy. With home tutors, including her mother, she came out top of the New South Wales Leaving Certificate examination in 1944. Her uncle Archie, a medical man, saved her life, she says. In the days before antibiotics, from 1943 to 1947, he regularly inserted, under local anaesthetic, a cannula between the left lung and thoracic wall, creating an artificial pneumothorax collapsing the worse affected lung and its apical cavity, thereby promoting rest and healing. (Thank you Eleanor for information about the procedure. Eleanor too is a medical graduate; also a researcher, and a retired psychiatrist).

There are some differences between us too. I’m a trained historian who is concerned with historical context; what was the Famine like in Limerick, for instance. I would encourage would-be orphan family historians not to neglect the Irish context of their orphan. And to look for those things that help make ‘our’ family members more than ‘singular’ and unique but representative of something larger. For the advice Alison Light gives in her Common People, see http://wp.me/p4SlVj-Gf

 Eleanor has a closer relationship with a particular orphan, Bridget McMahon, her great-grandmother, than I could ever have. With her training in medicine and psychiatry, she is inclined towards her family’s medical history, and towards a professional understanding of the emotional and psychological dimension of such a family history.

Still, if we were preparing a television programme such as Who do you think you are? we’d tell you we intend focusing on Bridget’s distaff line; from Bridget to her daughter Annie Marie Long (later Collins), to granddaughter, Marjorie Collins (later Shiels), all the way to her great-granddaughter, Eleanor Shiels (later Dawson). How appropriate is that? It is Bridget’s mitochondrial line, mtydna. And if you allow me some licence, I’d say there is much of Bridget in Eleanor Dawson. She is quiet and unassuming, not given to blowing her own trumpet, highly intelligent, resilient, resourceful and a character as strong as tempered steel.

I’m telling you all this because it is important we examine where we are coming from. We, all of us, should be aware, and wary of, the ways our beliefs and values influence how we interpret the past. Self reflection is important.

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Let us begin with Bridget herself. Eleanor tells us, according to the New South Wales Board of Immigration shipping record of the Maria (the penultimate Earl Grey orphan vessel to arrive in Sydney, at the end of June 1850) Bridget could read but not write. She was a dressmaker, Roman Catholic by religion, and of good health, strength and possible usefulness. When she went from Ireland to join the shipload of ‘sister-orphans’ in Plymouth, her father John McMahon was dead, and her mother, Penelope ní Carroll, was living in Rathkeale, County Limerick, possibly in that very workhouse Bridget had left.

On Rathkeale workhouse, see Peter Higginbotham’s great website, http://workhouses.org.uk/Rathkeale/

Something of a mystery

There is a discrepancy between Bridget’s age (19) recorded on the Maria shipping list and the age she gave (22) at the time of her marriage to Samuel Long in 1858. We have searched Limerick Catholic parish records high and low for Bridget’s baptismal record and the marriage record of her parents, John McMahon and Penelope Carrol(l), without success.

[What a valuable resource is the National Library of Ireland’s online record of Catholic parish records. See http://registers.nli.ie Happy hunting and may your eyes be strong!]

What we did find was Penelope’s baptism, 6 January 1815, ‘Penelope of John Fitzgerald Fmr and Naby(?) Carrol, townland of Caherelly, parish of Ballybricken and Bohermore, sponsor, Mary Soolivan’. This link should take you there. Click on the plus sign at the top of the page to make the image larger.

http://registers.nli.ie/registers/vtls000632644#page/38/mode/1up

Penelope is such a distinctive name. This is the only Penelope we found in Limerick parish records. Our priestly authority, Tom Power, suggests the local priest may not have been happy with the name, it not being ‘Christian’ enough. But Penelope definitely retained it. She is recorded as Penelope Carroll at the birth of Bridget’s sister Mary, in Rathkeale parish, 2 October 1836, and as a sponsor at the baptism of James Quin in the same parish, 22 January 1839. I wonder where the name originated. Perhaps Naby or John learned of it at a Hedge school. Had they heard of Homer’s Odysseus? Maybe Penelope’s determination to keep the name, Penelope ní Carroll, was not so uncommon. Or perhaps she had a rebellious nature, or at least, an independent spirit.

We searched for Bridget’s baptism and her parents’ marriage, especially in  Ballybricken and Rathkeale, and in the parishes in between. We assume both events occurred in parishes where appropriate records have not survived, maybe in Cappagh, Banogue, or Croagh.

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And what of the Famine in Limerick?  It certainly threw Bridget into Rathkeale workhouse. Her father may have been a famine death. Limerick had high rates of people being evicted from their holdings during the Famine, and large numbers of people being employed on public works, breaking stones and making roads. Its port exported tonnes of grain during the Famine years, and imported tonnes of maize or Indian corn, making large profits for corn factors and millers. That corn may have helped save Bridget’s life.

The Famine in Limerick, especially around Rathkeale, is something worth researching further. I have to hand notes I made from a local newspaper, The Limerick Reporter. [Which reminds me, Macquarie University Library has microfilm copies of some Irish newspapers at the time of the orphans’ emigration. From memory, The Galway Vindicator and Connaught Advertiser, The Clare Journal, The Fermanagh Mail and Enniskillen Chronicle, and The Armagh Guardian].

Bridget and her mother surely knew what was happening around them: of the women rioting in the William Street Auxiliary workhouse in Limerick, 13 April 1849? Or of the women rioting in Nenagh workhouse in Barrack street in the same month? Or of John Sheehan P.P. telling of the frightful destitution in Ennistymon, County Clare, “The meal depots are more crowded than our chapels, but these must appear, to have their poverty paraded, with their spectral shapes, and skeleton forms, half-naked and in rags, eaten alive with filth and squalor and vermin…”, Limerick Reporter, April and May 1849.

The following report may have reached them too. It is from the Reporter’s Milltown Malbay correspondent, printed 26 October 1849.

“I was witness to an interesting exhibition at the Ennistymon workhouse, viz. the emigration of twenty-three female paupers selected by the active Vice-Guardians Messrs. Naish and Ward for the sunny clime of Australia. Under the careful superintendence of Miss Griffith, the Matron, these fortunate creatures appeared to excellent advantage in their tasteful costumes, cottage bonnets and green veils, bidding an eternal farewell to the unfortunate land of their birth, while their ruddy health and contented mien, contrasted painfully with the squalid wretchedness of 500 miserable beings at the gates, claimants for admission.”

Did some of the orphans carry guilt in their psychological baggage when they left for Australia?

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Out of Ireland

Unfortunately we do not know who employed Bridget in Australia. There is a family story she was seamstress to the Blaxlands  at Bathurst and Ryde. It may only be one of those stories that families create. We have not been able to confirm it.  Yet the story can be traced to someone who knew Bridget when she was still alive, so we shall not dismiss it out of hand. What we do know is that she married Samuel Long,  a Protestant, from County Tyrone, in 1858, nearly eight years after she arrived. She wasn’t having any of that ‘daggers drawn fighting on a narrow ground’ (Walter Scott). She was prepared to marry across the religious divide.

In 2005, Eleanor asked if I would take a short detour from my trip to Donegal and look for Samuel’s place of origin in the parish of Ardstraw, townland of Ballyfolliard, County Tyrone. No worries. It is now a rich and fertile dairy farming area, not jam-packed with people as in the 1850s.

ardstrawfolliard

 

“And we call that crossroads Tobair Vree. And why do we call it Tobair Vree. I’ll tell you why. Tobair means a well. But what does Vree mean? It’s a corruption of Brian… an erosion of Tobair Bhriain. Because a hundred and fifty years ago there used to be well there…And an old man called Brian …drowned in that well… What do we do with a name like that? Do we scrap Tobair Vree altogether and call it what?–The Cross? Crossroads? Or do we keep piety with a man long dead…?” (Brian Friel, Translations, Act two, scene one).

Samuel Long, Eleanor informed me, was one of six sons of a tenant farmer of the Duke of Abercorn. He was literate, had been in the Irish Constabulary and arrived in the Vocalist, in Port Jackson, in October 1856, with two of his brothers. An uncle by marriage, established for some years as a farmer in Wollongong, had paid for them under Remittance Regulations. Aged 26, 24, and 22, they were designated as farm labourers but all were soon absorbed into the Colonial Service. Samuel became a labourer, then a senior attendant and then the storekeeper at the Tarban Creek Lunatic Asylum. In 1869, Tarban Creek Asylum became Hospital for the Insane, Gladesville. 

Building, Hospital for the Insane, Gladesville, c.1883

Building, Hospital for the Insane, Gladesville, c.1883. Courtesy State Records New South Wales

Samuel and Bridget had a long association with such institutions. Samuel later became institutional storekeeper at the Newcastle Asylum for Imbeciles and Idiots, as it was named, 1871-1914. After the loss of her eighth and last Gladesville-born child as a premature baby, Bridget acted as de facto gatekeeper in Newcastle, for a time.

Both of them must have had some sort of relationship with other members of staff and some of the patients, we would suggest. The institutional records that have survived will allow us to put their lives into historical context. It is a task for another time. It will not be for the faint-hearted.

Later in life Samuel became senior attendant at the Australian Museum in College Street, Sydney. Bridget Ann Long (nee McMahon) and Samuel Long each died in the care of their childless son Robert and his wife Rebecca at their Waverley home in November 1913 and February 1914. Their unpretentious headstone overlooks the Pacific ocean at Waverley cemetery.

Ann Maria Collins (1863-1921)

Around the same time the New South Wales government introduced plans to ‘improve’ Gladesville Mental Hospital, it sought to reform public education. A new Education Act or Public Instruction Act was passed in 1880 making education compulsory for all 6 to 14 year olds. As a result, there would be an enormous increase in the number of schools in New South Wales. State Aid was withdrawn from denominational schools and three new types of schools were created, Superior Public, High, and Evening Public schools. See http://www.governmentschools.det.nsw.edu.au/story/instruction_act.shtm

Ann Maria Long was to marry James Patrick Collins, a Limerick man who had arrived via Canada to take up a post with the new Department of Public Instruction. The couple would move around New South Wales as James moved from post to post. He first taught at Swan Bay and Woodford Leigh before moving to Lismore Public. This last was to become a Superior Public school during James’s time. It prepared some students for matriculation to the University of Sydney. After their home was flooded and one of their children had died of diphtheria and Annie about to be confined with baby Archie Collins, James’s request for a transfer was accepted. The family moved to Richmond where the couple’s last three children were born. In 1897 James was appointed to Manly school and the family lived in the schoolmaster’s residence in Darley Road (now demolished).

Sadly, James died aged 42, leaving behind 34 year old Annie with six surviving children. Annie herself would die when she was only 57. Somewhere in that gene pool lies a seemingly random family ‘time-bomb’? Annie was able to manage after James’s early death…by teaching. She and her eldest son, Clarence Richard, worked as pupil teacher and work mistress, moving from one rented accommodation to another. With the help of bursaries Annie put four children through Sydney University, at a time when the number of people going to University was very small. As Sydney University says, it was ‘a brilliant family’… Clarence Richard Collins, B. A., Archibald John Collins M.B. Ch.B, Rosalie Helena Collins, B. A. and…

Near the outbreak of the First World War, in 1913, Archie completed his medical studies. He was to graduate with first class honours and awarded the Walter and Eliza Hall traveling scholarship for medical research in London. Instead, he served with distinction in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in France, being awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and Military Cross (MC) for gallantry in charge of a casualty clearing station. He was later knighted for services to medicine and served the University of Sydney as a Senator for many years. What a tale Eleanor’s family has to tell of Archie.

The fourth graduate was Eleanor’s mother, Marjorie Collins, B.Sc. and M.Sc.

Marjorie Shiels (1895-1970)

Marjorie Collins. Courtesy of the University of Sydney Archives G3/224/1415

Marjorie Collins. Courtesy of the University of Sydney Archives G3/224/1415

Marjorie Collins was also a brilliant scholar. Like her brother Archie and her younger sister, she was Dux of Fort Street School. For a synopsis of her academic career see http://sydney.edu.au/arms/archives/history/students_early_women_Collins.shtml

She graduated with first class honours in Botany from Sydney University in 1916. She was a pioneer botanical ecologist who was awarded the first Master of Science (M.Sc.) degree at Sydney University in 1924.

 In 1917, Marjorie’s outstanding undergraduate career led to a position as lecturer and demonstrator at Adelaide University working with Professor T.G.B.Osborn.

Here is the featured photograph again with Marjorie acting as demonstrator in one of Professor Osborn’s classes. Our thanks to the University of Adelaide Archives.

Marjorie Collins in the laboratory

Marjorie Collins in the laboratory

Marjorie’s biographer, Dr Claire Hooker, tells us that Marjorie’s stay at Adelaide inspired her to examine some of the big questions about the effects of climate “on vegetation and on the ecology of semi-arid regions”, what today we would describe as environmentalist concerns. She loved the land she studied and developed early ideas about conservation.

At the end of 1919 she returned to Sydney to take up a Linnaean Macleay fellowship. She was the first botany candidate to win such a fellowship, a fellowship “that required extensive, rough fieldwork”. Undaunted, Marjorie held Linnaean Macleay fellowships until 1924 and in that year, she won a Sydney University Medal for her M.Sc. examination in Botany, and graduated with first class honours. But as Dr Hooker opines, Marjorie “was to find being a pioneer painful and difficult, both as a woman scientist and as an ecologist”. In 1925 she left academia.

After marrying, Marjorie taught in schools for long periods, wrote natural history articles, and co-authored widely used Honours Leaving Certificate school textbooks on Biology and Practical Biology.  She inspired many school-students with her enthusiasm and warmth, not least her daughter, Eleanor, who was also to carve out her own distinguished career as doctor, researcher and psychiatrist.

Eleanor Dawson

Here is a photograph of Eleanor Shiels when she graduated from Sydney University, in 1951. She was already four months into junior residency at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and one month married to Edward Dawson. A compromise would soon be arranged with the Hospital Board.

Eleanor Shiels at Graduation MB BS 1951

Eleanor Shiels at Graduation MB BS 1951

Eleanor’s career spanned medicine and psychiatry. Her CV, she says, is on her bucket-list. But at least I know after she retired she continued her good work writing about, and making submissions to professional bodies and to parliament on the ethics of psychiatrist-patient relations. Now in her twilight years she is still learning, this time, how to care for her life-partner and soul-mate, Edward Dawson.

Let me finish by sharing with you a poem she wrote just over a year ago; it sheds light on the very personal nature of family history. I’ll call it “Eleanor’s poem”. Eleanor may prefer another title.

Eleanor’s poem

At fifty-seven my mother’s mother suddenly died

in the twenty-fourth year of her widowhood.

Epidemic losses from her married years had numbered three;

diphtheria and typhoid, and then pneumonic flu.

Two sons had come back safe from Flanders’ fields,

from Passchendale and Zonnebecke,

the elder wounded, the younger decorated,

eventually even knighted and stated by his ultimate valedictorian

to have forged his soul in the crucible of battle.

But in that family didn’t they all?

Alone my teacher grandmother had raised the six survivors of her seven children

to lives of study, sacrifice and service.

Aided by bursaries, two of her daughters and two sons alike

graduated with honours from her ever-moving suburb-to-suburb household,

fine paradigm of need and equal opportunity.

Then came cancer and post-operative embolism.

At fifty-seven she suddenly died, never having seen or held a grandchild.

At fifty-seven her only married daughter did become a grandmother.

That daughter stood beside me, raptly looking down upon my snugly cotted offspring;

sharing my delight, warmly encouraging yet gently warning me

about the scant-envisaged future years she labelled ‘work and thrall’.

She’d reminisced then how Camilla Wedgwood,

doyenne of 1920s Sydney academic scene,

had viewed me years before in that same cot, tut-tutting, ‘what a waste!’

And with that memory, my mother, a humorously self-styled bluestocking

conspired with me to recognize that even clever women in high places

do not know everything.

Years later, at fifty-seven, now long years ago, I myself was pondering the past;

coming to realize ever so slowly, that I’d not need and must not want a grandchild,

if that child had to be a cold-store embryo or else a long-day child-care baby.

Time would tell.

For at twenty-one my eldest grandchild told me of his dream-

a dream of living with his soul-mate in a tree house

and taking babies for picnics in a forest.

with an email chuckle-sign he asked for help-

help to work out how to make his dream come true.

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on,

and our little life is rounded with a sleep”.

(Eleanor Dawson 13/02/2015)

Eleanor has long been a supporter of the Irish Famine Monument at Hyde Park Barracks in Sydney. Here she is with the Irish Ambassador Declan Kelly  at a wreath-laying ceremony at the the Monument in 2002.

Dr Eleanor Dawson and Ambassador Kelly

Dr Eleanor Dawson and Ambassador Kelly

[A gathering at the Irish Famine Monument takes place each year on the last Sunday of August. This year, 2016, the guest speaker will be Tim Costello. See http://www.irishfaminememorial.org for details].

Eleanor understands and is proud of her connection to her Irish Famine orphan, Bridget McMahon, from County Limerick. Let me remind you of her wonderful lineage: Penelope Carroll–Bridget McMahon–Ann Maria Collins–Marjorie Shiels–Eleanor Dawson. Or as Jaki McCarrick puts it in her play, “you…are a great gift to Australia, and don’t ya forget it”.

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