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

I’ve found an orphan!

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

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

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

                                                                           “…the line which says woodland and cries hunger

                                                                             and gives out among sweet pine and cypress,

                                                                            and finds no horizon

                                                                            will not be there”. (Eavan Boland) 

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

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

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




All of which would lead to this,


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

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

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

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

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (6): Hiatus- charts and family forms


(some things from the cupboard while I decide what i should do next)

Religion of inmates in 1848, South Dublin, Enniskillen and Armagh workhouses


I’ll add a couple more things from my filing cabinet  for your perusal.


South Dublin workhouse in 1848 by age and gender

Dublin, Enniskillen and Armagh workhouse populations were both bottom heavy and top heavy i.e. the largest age groups were the elderly and the young.


These were the foundation for my measure of orphans’ family size, age at marriage, age at death, marriage partners et al.

Sometimes  my family reconstitution forms proved difficult to understand. Here Allan Smith was very close to getting it exactly right.


Margaret Stack family

Sometimes I had my doubts I’d recaptured an Irish female orphan. I had doubts about this next one so did not use her in my calculations.


Charlotte Willis Family–not an orphan?

Sometimes I was fortunate enough to go back into civil registration records to check on things; I found family historians often underestimated the size of their orphan’s Australian family. Having to purchase every registration that was made was just too expensive. Here’s one that got it exactly right.






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

You may need to type ‘mapping the Great Irish Famine Mike Murphy ‘ into the box that appears