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

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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.

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Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (58): a few more little breaths

Anáil a tharraingt; a few more ‘monumental’ breaths

Following what was said at the beginning of the last post, here are a few more brief orphan stories for your delectation, and i hope delight.

But first a reminder of the SEARCH facility that appears after the comments to each post.  I noticed, was it on the ‘Ireland Reaching Out The Earl Grey Female Orphans Australia’  facebook page that someone was interested in Rebecca Orr? So I typed Rebecca’s name into the search box and hit ‘search’.

Four different posts supposedly mention her somewhere. I tried the first and fourth item. The last one was a lengthy piece but I could not find any mention of her there. My eyesight? Or perhaps the system is not foolproof. It doesn’t seem to pick up everything that’s in picture form. The first item was a very different matter. It contained Rebecca’s family reconstitution form.

The search facility works haltingly for other subjects too. At best, it serves as an embryonic index. You might, for instance, look for ‘domestic violence’, or ‘Thomas Arbuthnot‘ or ‘Belfast Girls’ or…. I suppose like any index one gets most from it by being flexible, creative, and willing to explore. Try ‘Mary Coghlan’ after ‘domestic violence’, for example, or make sure you click on ‘older posts’ if you search for ‘Thomas Arbuthnot’. [Had a little trouble with that screenshot so have removed it.]

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Let me return to our ‘monumental’ breaths, and please, allow me to try something different this time, viz. include in this post some of the stories sent to me by orphan descendants when pre-2010 I and Jennifer Bainbridge were looking after the first version of www.irishfaminememorial.org

You may need to revisit this post, and just take one of these ‘histories’ at a time.

I’ve recently ‘recovered’ some stories on my computer, mislaid because of my cheapskate system of storing files.

My motive in uploading them now is to help keep Tom Power’s vision alive, and to allow readers to update, revise, improve, challenge, question the accuracy of, ask questions about, what is presented. Don’t be afraid to participate. I’ve often wondered how easy it is to establish a link to the young women who went to Victoria and South Australia, for instance. My own first question is usually “how do you know that? What is the evidence?” Regrettably I have lost touch with some of the people who sent me their story. Others I have not. Let’s see how this goes.  Much of what is here made its way to the database in an abbreviated form www.irishfaminememorial.org

You may like to check there yourself. What do you think are the problems related to adding something to the database? It would be wise to err on the side of caution, would it not? Maybe Perry would be willing to tell us what yardstick she uses to add, or adjust entries to the database?

The first  orphan story comes from Margaret Kirby in Victoria. Here was someone very excited by her discovery of maybe having an Irish famine orphan in her family. Can you identify with that? Alas, I do not know what became of the photographs she mentions. Maybe they are still buried somewhere in my computer. Here is Margaret’s email.

MARY McCREEDY from Galway per Derwent

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I am much amazed. This is why.  What Mary McCreedy told her children and grandchildren was that her father William McCreedy, a bootmaker from a town somewhere in Tipperary County (the family thought Nenagh) died. Her mother Elizabeth (nee Seymour) married a man that Mary McCreedy disliked intensely. It was decided- it was reported to her descendants- that Mary should go to America and marry a nice Irish boy who they knew who had already emigrated there. Mary then went to the docks, so the story goes, to get on the boat to sail to America. But when she got there she ran into some lovely friends who were going to Australia, so she got on the boat to Australia instead. At 15. With no further plans. We all understood that our ancestress was a formidable fire-breathing super-heroine. And that’s all we knew about her pre-antipodean life.

This is what happened today. I found the Immigration record for Mary McCreedy on Ancestry.com arriving on the Derwent in February 1850. Out of curiosity I thought I would find out who else was on the boat hoping to find some clues about her “friends”. I found out that every passenger was a girl aged between about 14 and 19 years old. “There’s got to be a tale in this”, I thought. So I googled Derwent 1850 Geelong, girls 14-19 and this web-site came up Irish Famine Memorial web-site. And there in the passenger lists was my Mary McCreedy, 15, Roman Catholic- so far so good- but from Newtonstuart, Galway?! Obviously somehow Mary McCreedy found herself in a poor house in Galway. How? Was she ever from Tipperary at all?  Was her father a bootmaker- was her name even Mary McCreedy? If not she kept up that charade through two marriages in which she stated her father was William McCreedy bootmaker and her mother Elizabeth Seymour and that she came from County Tipperary.

I thought, “Maybe this is not my Mary?” But everything else sort of fits. Mary McCreedy married Henry Archer Baker in 1855 at St James in Melbourne which was both Catholic and Anglican in the one church, even though they lived in Castlemaine. She had been a housemaid. He had just lost his wife in childbirth. Maybe Mary had even helped his wife Sarah with the birth. Maybe Mary was pregnant. Maybe it was an alliance brought on by his grief and her loneliness. Anyway they married, moved from Castlemaine to Ballarat and about four years later he abandoned her with two small children Elizabeth and William.

So, we never knew exactly what year she arrived, nor did we know how she ended up in Castlemaine with Henry Archer Baker.  It seems I can now account for at least two of the intervening years. According to this web-site Mary was employed by one William Ashby in Little Londsdale St. Paid 6 pounds for two years apprenticeship. Apprenticeship in what though? I found 2 William Ashbys in a 1847 list one who was a “dealer” and one who was a “carter” . Neither of these were in Little Londsdale. We do know that in her later life Mary ran a shop in Ballarat. Don’t know what kind of shop- but perhaps she ended up putting that apprenticeship to good use. Photos of her daughters, my grandmother and great aunt show them dressed in very expensive looking clothes.

By about 1861 Mary McCreedy had taken up with Henry Outridge, my great grandfather. Henry was born in Tasmania, the son of a free settling Blacksmith, John Alfred Outridge and a convict called Jane Phillips. Henry and Mary had 6 children. Alfred died in less than a year. Henry Joseph, Ellen Mary Clarice, Jane Josephine, Mary Clarence and Margaret Josephine. Henry Joseph married Hannah Rutherford and had four children before moving to the WA goldfields in Kalgoorlie where they had another. One son, Tom, was the first winner of the Sandover medal- the most prestigious WA football honour. He was named in the team of the century (20th). Henry his dad managed mines and seems to have been pretty successful. Ellen (Nell) married a Mr Baird but had no children. Jane married James Ryan and had 6 children. Mary Clarice married Daniel Jamouneau and had two girls. Margaret the youngest was my grandmother. She was born in 1878.  A year later Henry Outridge married Mary McCreedy. For her whole life my grandmother lied about her date of birth. This covered the fact that she was technically born a bastard. Henry Archer Baker must have been unheard of for the requisite 7 years, so that the marriage could be declared null and void and therefore she was free to marry Henry.

But after all those years together, married life for Mary and Henry didn’t work out. The story goes that she threw Henry out of her house, cursed him to a terrible life, told him never to come back, and refused to hear his name again for the rest of her life. We think he died in the Ballarat hospital about 1896. Mary McCreedy lived in Ballarat for most of her life except for a period after my grandparents married and started having children. She was living with them- Margaret Outridge and John Joseph Kirby in Carlton in Melbourne when my grandmother was pregnant with my father in 1923. Mary McCreedy died only weeks before my father was born. She must have been living with them for some time because apparently she used to talk with my uncle Jack in Gaelic- and he could speak childish Gaelic fluently. My aunt the last surviving member of my dad’s family who could remember Mary McCreedy only died in 2007. Mary McCreedy was buried in Ballarat “new” cemetery in a grave with her mother in law Jane Phillips, a sister in law and many young family members who did not reach adulthood including her first child Alfred.

Undoubtedly, when she arrived at first in Castlemaine and then Ballarat, at the very heat of the goldrush, she would have lived in tent cities, with few if any niceties of life. But Mary McCreedy was evidently a survivor, a force to be reckoned with, undauntable. I was already proud to say her blood flowed through my veins.

Today, I have made a series of discoveries that have shed a whole new light upon this woman who clearly hid a grand chunk of her own story. It seems like many of the orphans experienced shame, or were judged harshly. Perhaps something of this lies at the heart of Henry Archer Baker’s abandonment. But then, from all the bits about her it is clear that this was not a woman to be crossed, least of all by a man, and doubtlessly few men of the times would take kindly to such a single minded soul. It’s all speculation. But now I have a bit of research to do. Galway? Workhouses?

I would love to know how this web-site has the information regarding the apprenticeships etc… What else can I find out? Is there more detailed information available about the workhouses? Were records kept in them of the girls’ origins and families? Who do I need to contact for the next step in this dramatic new line of enquiry?

Thank you thank you thank you for this web-site and the collation of all the material. I was in Sydney not so long ago and I saw that memorial! I had no idea what it was about but I liked a lot about it. The evocative objects, the tables, the photographs, the names. I did not realize that I was directly and deeply connected with this same story. The story of the Irish Famine and the orphan girls.

Wow.

The photos I have attached; The single Photo is of Mary McCreedy, clearly in alter life. The photo of the group is of Henry Outridge junior with family members at the mine he was managing in Ballarat shortly before his departure to WA. My granmother is the woman in white on the far right looking elegant. I suspect Mary McCreedy is the short woman in the photo holding the folded up white parasol. She is standing next to Henry on his left.

 Thank you again, with great heart and real amazement,

Margaret Kirby>>

Here’s a very useful link from the Public Record Office Victoria especially for the Port Phillip arrivals. Happy hunting.

http://wiki.prov.vic.gov.au/index.php/Irish_Famine_Orphan_Immigration

Readers may also wish to visit Chris Goopy’s wonderful  http://irishgraves.blogspot.com.au/

 I took this pic c. 1991 when i visited the cemetery in Gordon in Victoria. I bet Chris has it somewhere on her blogspot.

scan0011 (2)

a striking memorial at Gordon cemetery, near Ballarat

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This next little ‘breath’ is from an orphan descendant who returned to Ireland to live. I wonder is she still in West Cork.

JOHANNA (HANNAH) MAHONEY from Cork per Maria

http://www.millstreet.ie/blog/about-2

<th March arriving in Sydney 1st August 1850 under the Earl Grey Scheme for Irish Famine Orphans.

The next record of Hannah is the birth of her son John Mahoney 28th July 1856 at Ballarat, illegitimate, mother unmarried (registration no.8388) Hannah Mahoney of Millstreet, Cork, Ireland.

Victoria Pioneer Index lists a daughter Hannah born in Ballarat West in 1859.

In 1861 on 28th August a daughter Charlotte Mahoney (my greatgrandmother) illegitimate, mother unmarried (ref.20053).

According to her death certificate Hannah spent four years in Victoria and forty-eight years in New South Wales.

A daughter Dinah (later recorded as Clara.D) was born about 1864 but no record of the birth.

New South Wales Births Deaths and Marriages then records:

12866/1867 Mary Williams

15011/1869 David Williams

14812/1872 George Williams

In 1874 Hannah and John Williams marry on 3rd June at Newcastle Roman Catholic Guild Hall

(N.S.W ref.1874/003273). Witnesses B.P.Stokes and Bridget Bourke. No details on the certificate other than names, occupation, conjugal status and usual place of residence as Waratah. Further enquiry with City Region catholic Centre in Newcastle provided the following information:

John Williams a miner age 57, born in Carmathenshire, South Wales, his parents were David Williams, a labourer and Mary Davis.

Hannah Mahoney was a housekeeper, age 40, born Millstreet, Cork, Ireland. Her parents were Daniel Mahoney, a shoemaker, and Catherine Sheehan.

Officiating Priest was Father James Ryan at St Mary’s Parish, Newcastle, N.S.W.

John Williams died of Influenza, Acute Pneumonia on 21st July 1894 at Gipp Street, Carrington age 72 years, parents unknown. Informant George Williams his youngest son. Children of the marriage:

John 38

Hannah 36

Charlotte 34 (my greatgrandmother)

Dinah 30

Mary 27

David 25

George 22

One male deceased

Hannah Williams died of Cerebral Haemorrhage having been in a coma for four days,on 21st July 1905 at Laman Street, Newcastle, age 73 years. Informant George, her son of Laman Street. Her parents stated as John Mahoney, bootmaker mother unknown. Birthplace Cork. States they were married in Ballarat 21 years ago. (Possibly an earlier non catholic marriage ceremony)

Children of the marriage:

John 50

Hannah 48

Clara.D 40

Mary 38

David 36

George 34

Living

1 male, 1 female deceased

Both Hannah and John were buried in Sandgate Cemetery (Church of England). The headstone is no longer there but the name Williams is inscribed on the concrete kerbing.

I was born and raised in New Zealand but have lived in West Cork, Ireland since 1993, about 30 miles from Millstreet where my great great grandmother left in 1850. I like to think a little bit of Hannah has come home

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This next ‘herstory’ was sent by Fiona Cole. If I remember correctly Fiona discovered another member of her family arrived by the William Stewart. That vessel along with the Mahomet Shah and the Subraon brought a small number of ‘orphans’ as a sleight- of-hand trial for the larger official Earl Grey scheme. Nope, that turned out to be not the same Fiona.

Mary Jane Magnar (aka Mary McGuire) from Tipperary per Pemberton

<<(Born: c1832 – Died: 1 December 1882)

Mary Jane McGuire (Magnar) was born c.1837 to parents Thomas Magnar and Johanna Frein, Tipperary, county Tipperary, Ireland.1Mary Jane came to Australia on the “Pemberton” as a Female Orphan at the age of 17. On the register, she is initially listed as Mary McGuire, with the name Magner written beside the first surname in smaller print. Mary Magnar was received into the Depot on 26 May, 1849 by “A. Cunningham” of “Kinlochewe,” a village just outside of Melbourne on the old Sydney Road, near Donnybrook in the district of Merriang in the electorate of Whittlesea. She was licensed out (hired) to the Cunningham’s for a period of six months on the 31st of May, 1849, at the rate of ₤10 -0-0. Her usual profession is cited as being a ‘child’s maid.’2Andrew Cunningham held a freehold in the district of Merriang at the time he enrolled on the Australian Electoral Roll 1 May, 1849 and on the 1851 roll held a freehold in the Plenty Ranges in the district of North Bourke. In the Victorian elections of 1856, he is listed as a freeholder at Merriang, Whittlesea Division. This is believed to the same ‘A. Cunningham’ who received Mary Jane Magnar from the Port of Melbourne. A Cunningham is listed in the Banniere’s directory of 1856 as a farmer at Whittelsea3. It is likely therefore, that Mary Jane was employed as a farm maid and worked on the property north of Melbourne from 1849 until she left the Cunningham’s employment.

Andrew Cunningham, born around 1811 would have been approximately 38 years of age when Mary Jane Magnar came to work for him and his wife, Martha (nee McDougall) at Kinlochewe. Although Andrew and Martha Cunningham had a son (Charles Andrew) born in 1851 at Merriang (who died in 1860 (aged 10)) it is possible that Mary Jane was the child’s maid for a period of time, but it seems more likely that she worked on the farm as a domestic.

In 1861, the Cunningham’s had another child, Martha Eliza, but by this time, Mary Jane Magnar had well and truly left their employ.

By 1856 Mary Jane Magnar left the Whittlesea district and moved to Beechworth, possibly in the company of friends made while on board the Pemberton. The 1856 marriage register showing Mary Jane’s marriage to Richard Young Trotter also shows that the next marriage to be performed was for that of her shipmate, Mary Collins.4The marriages were performed by Rev John C Symons, an evangelical minister who spent several years ministering on convict ships and throughout the gold fields, trying to bring God to the lives of the poor.

Mary Jane and Richard Young Trotter lived at Beechworth and had at one child5, Mary Jane Youngtrotter (who would go on to become Mary Jane Harrison and then Mary Jane Gould).

Mary Jane’s husband, Richard worked as a carrier and a teamster during their short marriage. He died by accidental drowning in the Mitta Mitta River at Morse’s Station on 5 November 1857.6 Surprisingly, there was no inquest into his death, Richard and Mary Jane Youngtrotter appear to have been living at Yackandandah at this time, but after his death, Mary Jane appears to have returned to live in Beechworth.

Mary Jane Youngtrotter registered the birth of three children (1858, 1862 and 1865) after the death of her husband in 1857. None of these children survived more than a few days. The first of these children, Thomas, was the subject of an inquest and Mary Jane was held accountable for Manslaughter by Neglect. The charges were dropped and the coroner found that she had no case to answer. Witnesses were brought before the court both for and against Mary Jane.

For the prosecution, a witness by the name of William Hughes testifies that Mary Jane was frequently drunk and ‘could not even hold a glass of brandy without spilling it.’7In her defence, Thomas Conway, apparently the father of the child and her civil union partner claimed that while Mary Jane was known to drink, she was not incapable of looking after the child, nor was she drunk the night the child died.8 Furthermore, he testified that when he returned home on the night the child died, he found Mary Jane sitting on a stool, crying. He claims that she said to him “Thomas, my child is dying.” at which point, he left to find the doctor to help the child, but by the time they returned it was too late.9Mary Jane Youngtrotter appears to have lived a somewhat sad life after the death of her third baby, as she was incarcerated from 1865 for larceny10 and vagrancy11. It appears that Thomas Conway either died or did not stay with her after this point as he does not feature as a near relative or next of kin on her admittance records to the Beechworth Asylum.

Mary Jane Youngtrotter’s only surviving child (Mary Jane Youngtrotter (later Harrison and then Gould) was admitted as of the state to the Industrial School in 1865 and then assigned to the Brown family of Curyo Station in 1868.

On 12 August, 1871 Mary Jane Youngtrotter was admitted to the Beechworth Lunatic Asylum and released a month later on 26 September 1871.12On Thursday 6 September 1873 Mary Jane Youngtrotter appeared before Judge Bowman at the Beechworth General Sessions. She was charged with Attempted Suicide. The prosecutor told the judge that her crime was a misdemeanour and recommended no heavy penalty. The Judge ordered that she be released to enter into her own recognisance provided she pay a ₤20 surety (or as the Wodonga Herald claims, a ₤90 surety13) and a ₤50 fine to keep the peace for six months, or in default, one month’s imprisonment.14It appears that Mary Jane Youngtrotter could not afford the surety or the fine and was remanded at Beechworth Prison as this is listed on her subsequent admission to the Beechworth Asylum as her last known place of residence.15Mary Jane Youngtrotter was admitted to the Beechworth Asylum 2 October, 1873 (a month after her court appearance before Judge Bowen – the time prescribed by Bowen that she should serve in default of payment of the surety and fine) and she remained there until her death 1 December 1882.16Mary Jane Youngtrotter’s death certificate states that she died aged 45,17 however, her marriage certificate to Richard Youngtrotter, provides an alternative and more realistic date of birth, stating her age as 23 in 1856, making her 59 when she died.

Fredrick Western (Medical Superintendant) at Beechworth Asylum noted that Mary Jane Youngtrotter ‘suffered from delusinal [sic] insanity and delicate bodily health.’ and that 10 months before her death she was ‘somewhat feeble and unable to go about.’18 By the 20 November 1882, Mary Jane Youngtrotter was ‘rather ill and confined to bed.” By the 23 November she was transferred to the Hospital. She did not improve and gradually her health worsened until she died. Her death was reported to have taken place at 5.30am.19There are no case notes for Mary Jane Youngtrotter’s time while incarcerated at Beechworth Asylum – PROV holds female case books 1878 – 1912.

© Fiona Cole, 2005

1 Richard Youngtrotter and Mary Jane Magnar Marriage Certificate –

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

3PROV XXXXX

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

5 Richard Trotter Death Certificate

6 Ibid

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

8Ibid

9Thomas Young Trotter Inquest VPRS30/PO Unit 219 File NCR 2339

10VPRS 516/P1 Central Register of Female Prisoners, Mary Jane Youngtrotter, Prison Reg. No 573, Vol 1, pg 573

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

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

13The Wodonga Herald, Saturday 6 September 1873

14The Ovens and Murray Advertiser, Friday 5 September 1873

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

16 Ibid

17Mary Jane Youngtrotter death certificate – Apppendix XX

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

19Ibid

https://www.prov.vic.gov.au/search_journey/select?keywords=Beechworth%20Asylum

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This next story is about one of the first arrivals. This one is from Neville Casey I believe.

 Ann Jane Stewart from Tyrone per Earl Grey

<<Patrick CASEY (originally spelt ‘Keasey’, probably by an English clerk who was tone deaf!) arrived in Australia in 1829 as a 30 year old convict from on the vessel ‘Sophia’, having been sentenced to ‘life’ for stealing a fish which was drying on the window sill of a house in Naas, County Kildare. Little did he know that the house was that of the local magistrate – Ah, the luck of the Irish! He was sentenced at the assizes in Naas, County Kildare, on 24 March, 1828 before the Right Honourable Justice Lord Plunkett.

By 1838 his wife Eliza (nee TREVERS), with their son Mathias (Matthew – aged 12) had arrived on the ship ‘Diana’, as part of the scheme to reunify families of transported convicts. Patrick had applied for this around 1836 by writing to the Colonial Home Secretary. He was given a Conditional Pardon in 1844, and lived in the area known as Cooley’s Creek close to Morpeth, outside Maitland. Eliza and Patrick died on the 2nd January and 8th July in 1867 respectively, and both are buried at East Maitland cemetery.

My great-great grandmother Ann Jane (‘Aimie’) STEWART arrived on the ‘Earl Grey’ on the 6th October, 1848. Ann was born in County Tyrone, in 1831 to William STEWART, a carpenter, and Ann Catherine STEWART (nee MARGUS), both of whom died in the years just prior to coming to Australia as one of the original Irish famine orphans aged 16 years. Upon her arrival, she stayed at the Hyde Park Barracks briefly, before setting out to work for her employer in early 1849.

She was indentured to John STEWART, a veterinary surgeon of York St., and paid £10 for the first year. It remains unclear as to whether Mr. Stewart was related, but he was trained in Scotland, and was a well known equine veterinary surgeon, politician and supporter of Sir Henry Parkes’ position on many social issues. John Stewart moved his family to Keira Vale, near Wollongong, where he raised horses. He combined a horse bazaar with his work until 1852, when he relocated to Kiera Vale, near Wollongong, to provide a country upbringing for his young children. Active in local public life, he was a magistrate for a time, chairman of the Central Illawarra Municipal Council in 1860, a leader-writer for the Illawarra Mercury and a promoter of various social activities and charities. However, on 7 September 1849 Ann Stewart’s indentures were cancelled, she was paid out a sum of 18 shillings as the balance of her wages, and moved to the area of Bong Bong, a small town near Moss Vale, in the Southern Highlands of NSW.

She consequently met and married Matthew CASEY, the only son of Patrick and Eliza, at Berrima. The marriage took place in Berrima, and was performed by Father William McGinty in February 1850. Clearly, Matthew had moved from Morpeth to Bong Bong, although it remains unclear as to the reason. They moved from Bong Bong to the Shoalhaven district, where their daughter Elizabeth was born in Dunmore in November 1850, and Matthew worked as a farmer. In 1852 their second daughter Annie was born. In 1855 their first son Patrick was born, however no district for the birth was recorded.

Anne Jane Stewart Screenshot (7)

They again moved north to the Manning River area near Wingham on their way to Port MacQuarie between 1856 and 1858, where their second son Christopher was born in 1858, followed by Mathew in 1860. In 1863 they moved to Redbank, near Wauchope, inland from Port MacQuarie where their fourth son, Edward (my great grandfather), was born. In 1866 and 1868, Mary and Daniel were born. In 1867 Matthew went bankrupt, but Patrick had left his farm to his granddaughter Elizabeth, who had to wait until she was 21 years of age in 1871 to receive her inheritance. She was coerced by her family into selling the property to settle the bankruptcy debt. Matthew worked as a farmer, with his sons working as farmers and sawyers.

To add to their woes, in 1872 Matthew was arrested for cutting and wounding Mr. Gavin Miller in a knife fight by Snr. Constable Ryan of Port MacQuarie Police. He appeared in the Quarter Sessions of the Magistrates Court, on 19th March 1873, and was sentenced to 6 months gaol. Their youngest son, John, was born in 1875.

In total, they had 10 children, 9 of whom survived to adulthood, and had 73 grandchildren in total. Many remained in the area around Port MacQuarie and the Northern Rivers of NSW. Three of their sons, and their families, later moved to Queensland to work in the timber industry.

In their later years, Matthew and Ann moved to Gladstone, NSW, where they lived their later years. Ann died in Gladstone NSW on 20 March 1898 aged 62, and was buried at Frederickton cemetery on the following day. In early 1908 Matthew caught a steamer from Newcastle to Brisbane, to visit his grandson Patrick, but became ill with pneumonia and died in the Brisbane General Hospital on 15th July, 1908 and was buried in Toowong cemetery on 17th July 1908.

There exists very extensive family history and database to date, their being some 300-400 direct descendants still living, mostly in the SE Qld. and NSW Northern Rivers area; with over 1700+ family members known to date.>>


JULIA LOFTUS from Ballynare, County Mayo, per Panama

Here’s the story of Julia that appears on the West Australian Genealogical website below. Julia’s story is included here with the permission of her descendant Chris Loudon. Thanks heaps Chris. Fingers crossed that the links provided by Chris work for you.

http://membership.wags.org.au/membership-mainmenu-44/members-only/wags-tales/470-an

< Email Chris This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

The Irish Famine had a devastating effect on the population of Ireland in the period 1845-1850. Approximately 1.5 million men, women and children died of starvation or disease in this period, and more that 2 million others fled from Ireland to avoid death by starvation.

Of those who departed, there were approximately 4,000 Orphan Girls given assisted passage to Australia between October 1848 to August 1850, under what was known as the Earl Grey Scheme. This article is about one of these Irish Orphan Girls.


Sydney was hot and sultry in the early hours of the morning on Saturday 12 January 1850, with dark clouds, lightening and heavy rain. At 8:30am the temperature was 64° F (18° C) and by 2:30pm had reached 76° F (24.5° C), the sky clearing in the afternoon with quite pleasant sea breezes.

The Panama, a barque of 458 tons under the command of Captain Thomas, dropped anchor at Sydney Cove on this Saturday having sailed from Plymouth on October 6 1849, and spent 97 days at sea without calling at any other port[1].

The passengers on the Panama consisted of … nine married couples, two children and 165 Irish Orphan girls.[2] They have been very fortunate during the voyage, not having had a single case of sickness of any contagious description[3] … They were no doubt looking forward to disembarking after their long sea voyage.

The Panama also carried an interesting mix of cargo, focused on tools for the land, tools for the homes of settlers, their drinking habits being well catered for, and news from London that a cholera epidemic appeared to be waning.

Francis L.J. MEREWETHER, the agent for immigration at Sydney, in a letter addressed to the Secretary General Earl GREY in London, dated 7 July, 1850 commented that:

…The Panama besides being a vessel of smaller tonnage than it is desirable to employ for the conveyance of Emigrants to this Colony, is, like most North American built ships, ill suited for the service, her tween decks being dank, dark and very imperfectly ventilated. She was a new ship but leaked through the voyage. On examination here, the leak, I understand proved to have been caused by two open boltholes, into which bolts had not been driven.

The tween decks were in a cleanly state on arrival and the arrangement made for the presentation of good order as well as for the health and comfort of the Emigrants, appear to have been satisfactorily carried out.

The Immigrants were in good health on their arrival and when individuals questioned in accordance with the practice of the Board of Inspection here, said they had no complaints to make regarding their treatment in any respect.

The Surgeon Superintendent, Mr. A. Wiseman performed his duties in an efficient manner. He reported that he received all requisite assistance from the Master and the Officers of the ship.

The Matron appeared to have performed her duties satisfactorily. The principal diseases reported by the Surgeon Superintendent were Tympanitis[4] and bowel complaints[5]

Great Great Grandmother Julia LOFTUS remained on board the ship at anchorage for a further 6 days after the ship arrived along with numerous other Orphan Girls. She then spent an additional 3 days at the Sydney Orphans Depot.[6]Julia is recorded on the immigration records as Judith LOFTUS.[7] She was …a native of Ballynare[8], Castlebar Co. Mayo, parents Edward and Bridget Loftus both dead[9], R.C., neither read or write. State of bodily health, strength or usefulness; Poor. No relations in Colony. No Complaints….

The majority of the girls, who arrived on the Panama as part of the Earl Grey Migration scheme, were orphaned due to the conditions in Ireland during the Potato Famine.[10] Whatever the cause of being in the “Irish Poor Workhouses”, it was a massive move for these young girls. There was no doubt a sense of adventure mixed with trepidation in coming to start a new life full of uncertainty.

The Irish Orphan Girls were not always welcomed into the community with open arms, and the colonies were in uproar at the behavior of some of the girls. They were variously sent to indenture in the interior of the colony, some were taken advantage of, others turned to prostitution just to stay alive. The majority kept a low profile and had success in their new country, despite the hue and cry from the press of the day.

The Panama Orphan Girls were dispersed to their respective assignees; 92 girls engaged in Sydney, 67 sent to Wollongong, 11 to Maitland, 10 to Moreton Bay, and 2 to Bathurst.[11]We know from the records that Julia was one of those who went to the Wollongong Depot, and was engaged as a house servant at a wage of £8 for 12 months with board and lodging by one W. TURKINGTON of Dapto. Julia may have spent the next two years at Dapto, but was in Sydney some time prior to her marriage to John QUINN in May 1852.

Julia LOFTUS married John QUINN, a free settler, at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church at Campbelltown, NSW , on 17 May 1852.[12] Julia was 21yrs of age and John was 34yrs. Father John Paul ROCHE, the parish priest, celebrated the marriage.

We can only imagine the tears and joy, which Julia would have felt with all of the things happening in her life. Orphaned and probably lucky to be alive herself as a result of the Potato Famine in Ireland, shipped to New South Wales at age 19 to an unknown future, indentured to a farmer as a servant, and now married at age 21 to a man apx. 9 years her senior, all within a time frame of just over two years.

No doubt other influences led to Julia and John being together, one of which would have been their Roman Catholic Irish descendancy. Julia gave birth to their first child, Bridget, on 19 April 1853.

During the next 46 years, Julia experienced a lot more happiness and no doubt considerable pain also. She was to give birth to 13 children between 1852 and 1871, depending on which records are correct.[13]The death certificates for both Julia and John show that 9 children – Michael, Edward, John, Bridget, Anthony, Ellen, Julia, Thomas Patrick, and James Hugh, survived them, plus 4 males and 3 females deceased (no names shown). This gives us a total of 16 children, and complicates matters somewhat, as we have only 13 recorded births.

Julia QUINN/LOFTUS was no doubt one tough lady. We can only imagine the heartache associated with a harsh life on the land for a woman in the 1850-1870’s, not to mention the multiple deaths of infant children.

A lot of questions arise, few if any which we can answer, however it appears that Julia and John made a good go of their life together, remaining together until Julia’s death.

On February 17, 1899, the day before Julia QUINN died, a handwritten will was made out for her, apparently by one of her sons, as under:

Jamisontown, 17th Feb 1899. I Julia Quinn of Jamisontown Penrith in the Colony of New South Wales do hereby bequeath all my properties at Jamisontown with cottage furniture and effects to my son Edward Quinn.

Signed this day in the presence of the following witnesses.

T. Quinn. Julia Quinn.
J. Quinn. X. her mark.
A. Quinn. 17th Feb 1899.
Edward Quinn X. his mark.
Executor to the above will.

The three witnesses to the will were her sons, Thomas then 31 years of age, John 40, and Anthony 34, Edward was 42 at the time.

Julia QUINN (nee LOFTUS) passed away at Jamisontown NSW on February 18, 1899 at the age of 68, and an Obituary notice was printed in the Nepean Times soon after. She predeceased her husband by about three years. A similar notice appeared for John QUINN after his death.[14] Julia is buried at Jamisontown Cemetery near Penrith.

Letters of administration of the estate of Julia QUINN were granted to Edward QUINN, the sole beneficiary of the will on July 5, 1900.[15]This is a little perplexing as John QUINN, Julia’s husband, was still living at the time, although 81 years of age. However, this is explained by the cause of death shown on John’s death certificate as being senile decay; in all probability he would have been incapable of attending to the administration of Julia’s estate.

Edward was married to Elizabeth O’CARROLL in 1895. Edward died at Penrith in 1931 and Elizabeth in 1933 they had no children.

Photo of Julia Loftus with husband John Quinn, ca. 1870

Photo of John and Julia QUINN taken circa 1870.
(Copy supplied to the author by Pat Curry; original held by Dr. Peter Quinn)

As can be seen from the photograph, neither Julia nor John appear to be particularly tall, and that Julia appears to be pregnant, as she would have been almost perpetually over the 20 years 1852 – 1871.

There were a number of sad incidents in Julia & John QUINN’s life, all in and around the farming area of Camden, Mulgoie Forest, Penrith and Jamisontown in NSW where Julia and John lived:

1858 – At age 27, two of her children were to die young and within days of each other, Bridget aged 5 years and John aged 22 months, both of “scarlatina” (scarlet fever)

1860-61 – age 29, another of her children died at a very young age, Anthony, aged 6-12 months.

1886 – Julia was to see her son Michael suffer with the loss of his first wife, Hannah (nee STAGGS) died on September 17, 1886, soon after the birth of their daughter Hannah, who also died 3 days later, there were 3 other children still living.

1886 – George and Mary STAGGS (apparently living at Penrith NSW, in 1886), the parents of Michael QUINN’s wife Hannah, raised all of Michael’s and their daughter Hannah’s remaining children; George John (6yrs), Michael James (4yrs) & Mary Jane QUINN (2yrs). Julia and John QUINN may have been unable to care for them, or the perhaps the best solution was for them to go to the STAGGS.

1891 – Julia QUINN nursed her daughter Mary Jane (married to William WILKINSON), after Mary Jane had given birth to son Anthony (b March 7, 1891), only to lose her to ‘Pleural Fever’ on March 17, 1891, 11 days after the birth.

1891 – After his mother’s death, Anthony WILKINSON was raised by his uncle and aunt, Anthony Joseph QUINN and wife Bridget (nee McMAHON) at their farm and orchard at Kurrajong NSW. Anthony QUINN was Mary Jane WILKINSON’s younger brother.

1899 – Julia QUINN was to lose another of her grandchildren through a tragic accidental drowning on February 10, shortly before her own death. This was William James WILKINSON (aged 19 or 20), the son of her daughter Mary Jane and William WILKINSON. William James was living with his brother John and sisters Julia and Mary Jane, all being cared for by Julia Jane and Esdras GIDDY at the time. This tragedy happened on “York Estate” (Penrith), owned by Mr A. JUDGE and was reported in the Nepean Times.

One of the people, who attended the accident scene and lent a hand in recovering the body of William James WILKINSON, was a Mr. E QUINN. This was no doubt Edward QUINN, Julia & John QUINN’s son, Mary Jane WILKINSON’s brother and an uncle of young William. Edward was obviously nearby, perhaps also staying with his sister Julia Jane and her husband Esdras GIDDY, or with his mother Julia QUINN. Edward was in the area attending to his sick mother Julia QUINN who was to pass away on February 18, 1899, only 8 days after the death of William James WILKINSON. Julia’s cause of death was a cerebral haemorrhage, which she had suffered 5 days before, and just 3 days after William’s tragic death.

The young girl who made the discovery of William WILKINSON’s drowning was Julia WILKINSON (b 1885), his younger sister, and daughter of Mary Jane WILKINSON, she was the granddaughter of Julia QUINN.

Julia QUINN (nee LOFTUS) made the best of her life in Australia, and contributed to the growth of her adopted country. She left the legacy of a large family of descendants all of whom are grateful to her having arrived in 1850.

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Notes & Sources

General Notes

Information contained herein has been sourced from primary and secondary sources, including certificates, as well as through material supplied by numerous descendants of Julia and John, in particular Julia Haggerty who has been generous with details of her research.

Descendant family members with additional information, or corrections, are encouraged to contact the author. In particular we would love to receive copies of any photographs of Julia and John, and their children, to share with the wider family, with permission of course.


Sources

[1]  The Sydney Herald, Saturday, January 12, 1850
See NLA Newspapers site for articles on the arrival of the PANAMA

[2]  SRO NSW Reel 2461 Ref 4/4919 records 157 Female Orphans

[3]  The Sydney Herald, Saturday, January 12, 1850

[4]  Inflammation of the ear drum

[5]  McClaughlin, Trevor – ‘Barefoot and Pregnant’ – Irish famine orphans in Australia’, Pub. The Genealogical Society of Victoria Inc. Trevor McClaughlin now has a wonderful blog presence (since 2014), go here for Trevo’s Irish Famine Orphans

[6] Originally Hyde Park Convict Barracks, now The Barracks Museum, Macquarie Street Sydney NSW – Julia LOFTUS’s name can be seen engraved on the (glass) Irish Famine Orphans Memorial Wall at the Barracks Museum . This memorial was part of the Gift to the Nation from the Irish Government to the Australian People in celebration of the Bi-Centennial of Federation. Two of our immediate family members (sisters Elsie and Norma), great granddaughters of Julia’s, attended the unveiling of the wall on 2nd September 1998 as guests of the Irish President Mary Mcaleese. There were also other extend family members attending this celebration.

[7]  SRO NSW Reel 2461 Ref No 91 – see also ‘Barefoot and Pregnant’ – Register section pp88

[8]  Probably Ballina (or possibly Ballinrobe) Mayo, as we can find no references to Ballynare in Mayo, and given the broad Irish accent it was possibly recorded incorrectly – See detail on the Ballina, Co.Mayo Workhouse here – On the birth certificate of Julia’s son James (1871), John Quinn (informant) states that Julia came from Crossmolina, near Ballina in County Mayo.

[9]  Nothing is currently known of the circumstances of their lives or deaths; however the timing would suggest they were victims of the Potato Famine/s – See detail on the Great Famine in Mayo here

[10]  Source: ‘Barefoot and Pregnant’ – For lists of orphan passengers on Panama, and other vessels under the “Earl Grey” scheme. Digitised copies of Immigrant Passenger Lists, for ships between 1838-1896 i.e. Immigrant Passenger Lists, including famine orphan ships, is now available online “Persons on Bounty Ships”  at the State Records office of NSW website. Click here for the “Panama passenger list” , including Female Famine Orphans.

[11]  SRO NSW ref 4/1149-1, reel no 2461 – Ship Surgeon Generals report on dispersal of the Panama passengers, and other records

[12]  Marriage reference – SRO NSW Reel no 5039 BDM Vol 98 Fol 310 May 17, 1852

[13]  SRO NSW microfiche Records and BDM records (var. refs), show births for 12 children and 3 deaths

[14] The Nepean Times, January 12, 1901 – Now available through the NLA Trove website – See Trove the “Nepean Times” – Copies of the newspaper are available at the Penrith City Library, NSW

[15]  Probate Office of NSW – reference Will No 206 44/4, 5th July 1900 – Administration to Edward QUINN – sole beneficiary>>

Interested readers may like to visit Barbara Barclay’s website http://mayoorphangirls.weebly.com/

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CATHERINE HART from Galway per Thomas Arbuthnot

Finally, the fascinating story of a Galway orphan based on the admirable work of Rex Kerrison and Anthea Bilson. You may know them from Barrie Dowdall and Síobhán Lynam’s television series Mná Díbeartha. What appears below is based on their well- researched and beautifully produced family history, Catherine and Cornelius Kerrison. Two Lives 1830’s-1903, Launceston, 2010 (isbn 978-0-9806788-2-6)

Have a close look at the family reconstitution chart I’ve compiled from Rex and Anthea’s book. Is there anything that strikes you as irregular?

There are a couple of things in particular; on the right hand side you will notice her first husband was a W. Pollard. She didn’t marry Cornelius until May 1883.

blogfotochartthoarb (2)

From Rex and Anthea’s family history page 36

As always, check the database.

  • <Hart
  • First Name : Catherine
  • Age on arrival : 17
  • Native Place : Galway
  • Parents : Mark & Ellen (both dead)
  • Religion : Roman Catholic
  • Ship name : Thomas Arbuthnot (Sydney 1850)
  • Other : shipping: house servant, cannot read or write, no relatives in colony, sister Mary also on Thomas Arbuthnot; Empl as house servant by Samuel Hill, Gundagai, £7-8, 2 years. Im.Cor. 50/747 Yass; married 1) William Pollard, RC Gundagai 1851; marriage short-lived as she bore a son to Cornelius Kerrison in Bendigo in 1854; she had 11 children with Kerrison [free with family to VDL on Charles Kerr 1835] & married him in Launceston in 1883 witnessed by her sister, Mary Baker, nee Hart; visited Ireland alone in 1899; she died Beaconsfield, Tas, 1903, buried St Canice RC Glengarry, Tas; headstone with shamrocks & celtic cross.>>

Catherine and her younger sister Mary travelled with Surgeon Strutt and a hundred other young orphans from Sydney to Gundagai. Strutt’s diary recounting that journey is reproduced in C. Mongan and R. Reid’s ‘a decent set of girls’ The Irish Famine orphans of the Thomas Arbuthnot, Yass, 1996. (Perhaps your library has a copy? It’s well worth reading. Did the State Library of Victoria publish a copy, does anyone know?)

Catherine married William Pollard in October 1851 nineteen months after arriving in Gundagai. Was she there during the terrible flood of 1852? Or had she already fled with Cornelius Kerrison to the Victorian Goldfields? All that is known is that she and Cornelius had a son Stephen born in 1854 at Sailor’s Gully near Bendigo. (Kerrison and Bilson, p.15)

Anthea and Rex and their co-researchers unravelled the puzzle of Catherine’s life with great skill. Surprisingly, Catherine and Cornelius returned to Gundagai in 1857. Did Catherine wish to see her sister again, or seek a divorce from William Pollard? Whilst there she gave birth to Ellen, her third child. Ellen was registered as ‘illegitimate’, and registered three times, as Ellen Hart, Ellen Kerrison and Ellen Pollard. Sadly Ellen was to die just eight months later (p.18).

Shortly after, Catherine and Cornelius and their young family went to Tasmania, to Supply River, an area where Cornelius’s father, Stephen, was well-known and respected. There they prospered acquiring land at Winkleigh, Beaconsfield, and a small house in Launceston. Catherine gave birth to another eight children. Eight of their eleven children were to survive to adulthood. And in 1883, presumably after William Pollard’s death, the couple were able to legitimize their union by getting married in St John’s Church in Launceston. (p.25)

In 1892, Cornelius and Catherine began making monetary donations to the Sisters of Charity in County Mayo. That generosity was the foundation of a lifelong correspondence and friendship. It was  reciprocated by the nuns when Catherine visited them in Ireland in 1899. On her trip Catherine visited quite a few places, Mayo, Galway, Cork and the Lakes of Killarney, Westminster Abbey, the Albert Hall and St Paul’s Cathedral and was delighted at seeing Queen Victoria at Windsor. She also reestablished connections with family members in Galway including her cousin, Mark Hart. Some lady, she was, much admired by all who met her, including Sister Greham, one of the the Ballaghderin nuns, who wrote they were all inspired by her story and they would do as much as they could for the orphans in their care. (pp.36-7)

Rex and Anthea still have family heirlooms celebrating their association with their Irish Famine orphan. If i remember correctly, when they appeared in Barrie and Síobhán’s Mná Díbeartha, they were holding a green felt bag where Catherine stored her letters, and a cloth bookmark inscribed with ‘Erin go Bragh’.


That’s quite a selection to be going on with. They are rich in their diversity, are they not?

I’d planned to finish by saying something about the value of going beyond the lifetime of a particular orphan, maybe even remind you of some of the issues I’d raised in previous posts–how to evaluate sources, urge you to write Aboriginal people in to your family history, set your orphan in a local historical context, always acknowledge your sources–that kind of thing. But enough.

Just one more drum beat, from Connell Foley again, “In the End”, Atlas of the Great Irish Famine, p.678

“…when we talk about political will being required to change this embedded inequity we talk about a tiny percentage of political will when what is needed is a large dose of committed leadership across the world and the ability to work to a common cause which has only been hinted at in the state-centred constituency feeding politics that dominates us and we each as individuals feels helpless to shape or change so in the end we come to the conclusion that this is really what is required to deliver the full realisation of human rights as they were written and agreed not just some civil and political freedoms half way up maslow’s hierarchy but those most basic needs required by every individual to at least live a life of dignity…”

and what do you think they are?

 

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

More stories

Skibbereen and beyond

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

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

News of the Famine around Skibbereen

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

A funeral in Old Chapel Lane Skibbereen

or this one?

boy and girl at Cahera

From London Illustrated News 1847

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

Or perhaps,

woman begging Nr Clonakilty

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

Clonakilty is about twenty miles to the west of Skibbereeen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dingle

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

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

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

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

Mary Coghlan again

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

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

Mary Minahan

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

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

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

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

Jane Leary

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

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Ellen Fitzgerald

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

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

Let me continue with this in the next post. https://wp.me/p4SlVj-1G0 I’d advise against making up your mind about this argument just yet.

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

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

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

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (51) : just a few from South Australia

A FEW MORE ORPHAN STORIES

One of the advantages of this blogging business is that you can lay your cards on the table however you like. Some of what I’ve done already is all of a jumble, set down and put out as I came across material in my filing cabinets. The beauty of it is, nothing is set in stone. My intention is to revisit some of my more substantive posts when I get the chance. Post 16 http://wp.me/p4SlVj-h8 looks as though it could do with some reworking, for example.

In the meanwhile, here are a couple more stories I hope you will like. South Australian Irish Famine orphans are relatively neglected. It may be because there weren’t so many of them or maybe they are just hard to trace. Let me suggest some avenues of research which I hope may have wider application. I’m just casting a net and hoping when I drag it to shore I’ll have an interesting catch.

Mary Taafe from Dublin per Inconstant to Adelaide

Mary was to live a long life with her convict husband, Samuel Dunn from Nottingham. After marrying, the couple moved quickly to Victoria where Mary was to give birth to fourteen children, nine boys and five girls, three of them dying in infancy or childhood. She herself lived till she was ninety.

It must have been Dawn Barbary who sent me this. Thankyou Dawn. Dawn supplied the names of her and Samuel’s childrens’ spouses, Hanns Wanned, Niels Jorgens, Nellie Plunkett, W. Renison, Tom Lucas, and Maud Tr…. Maybe their descendants have yet to discover they have an Irish Famine orphan in their family.

Our starting point, as always, must be the Irish Famine Memorial database for it has the most up to date information. There in synopsis is what is known about Mary. I wonder if Eliza was Mary’s older sister. That would mean she had a younger sister called Ellen and a mother called Mary. What kind of proof would we need for that?

http://irishfaminememorial.org/orphans/database/?surName=Taafe&firstName=&age=0&nativePlace=&parents=&religion=0&ship=13

I remember working with those North and South Dublin workhouse Registers in 1987. They were large, heavy registers closely packed with names which were sometimes difficult to read. Nowadays you can gain access to these Dublin registers online if you subscribe to findmypast.ie

In the North Dublin Register (National Archives of Ireland [NAI] BG 78/G/6 number 30984) Mary was described as being ‘in good health‘ and from Jervis Street in the city. Jervis Street runs directly north from the Ha’penny Bridge, not far from the city centre. Not that Mary would recognise it today.  In Mary’s case, the Workhouse Register explicitly states, “sent to Australia“, as indeed it did for some others, Bridget Fay (28228), Eliza Harricks (29777), Mary Ann Newman (BG78/G/5 No.20650) and  in G4, no.14640, Rebecca Thompson. Mostly, however, one has to use the method I described  in blog post number five, http://wp.me/p4SlVj-4X See about a third of the way down under “Identifying the female orphans”.

The next step is to Peter Higginbotham’s brilliant work on workhouses to find out more about the workhouse Mary was in. See http://workhouses.org.uk/DublinNorth/

 That is one excellent website, worth the many hours I’ve spent exploring it.

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Casting the net a second time, I dragged ashore an article by Flinders University academic, Mark Staniforth, that treats the orphans who came to Adelaide on the Inconstant. Do have a look for yourself

https://ehlt.flinders.edu.au/archaeology/department/publications/staniforth/2002e.pdf

Dr Staniforth also offers information about individual orphans, some of it originating with family historians. Mary Taafe is one such, where the claim is made that Eliza was indeed her sister. But no proof of that is offered there. I believe it is important to always ask, how do you know that, what evidence do you have, and how reliable is your evidence? Is your claim based on hard fact or have you taken imaginative license or a leap of faith? Just so long as you state clearly what the position is.

Catherine Bracken from Parsonstown

And to emphasise how treacherous this ‘telling orphan stories’ can be, compare Dr Staniforth’s brief biography of Catherine Bracken with Karen Semken’s that appears on the Irish Famine memorial website at http://irishfaminememorial.org/media/Catherine_Bracken_Inconstant.pdf These two accounts show us how easy it is to become ensnared in the tangled webs we weave.

One is a straightforward account of Catherine from Parsonstown (Birr) workhouse marrying William Robinson at Mount Barker in 1851, their having at least three children, and Catherine dying aged 52 in the Clare Valley. (Staniforth, p. 37, after the endnotes).

The other is a thoroughly researched and beautifully illustrated tale of ‘murder and mayhem’. Catherine’s first husband had his throat slit in 1856, and her second was executed in 1862 for the murder of their servant Jane McNanamin at Salt Creek. Catherine married yet again, for a third time, to George Ingham in 1871. According to Karen, she died in 1915 and is buried in West Terrace Cemetery, Adelaide. Karen mentions that one of Catherine’s descendants Dawn Ralfe was writing a book about Catherine. Does anyone have any news about this?

I see Dawne Ralfe has published her book. It’s called  Murders and Mayhem: the true secrets, Inspiring publishers, 2014.

Karen has a facebook page devoted to the orphans. There are some great photographs there. https://www.facebook.com/EarlGreyIrishOrphans/ On the 5th April 2015 for example, she posted a pic of Matthew Moorhouse’s residence, next door to the Native School that acted as an Immigration Depot for the orphans. The same pic appears in her account of Catherine’s history at page three of the link above.

Karen’s revision of Catherine Bracken’s history raises a larger, interesting question: how many of the orphans had a criminal history in Australia, however minor their crimes or misdemeanours might have been? Those that did were found guilty of minor crimes, being drunk and disorderly, obscene language, petty theft, or ‘vagrancy’, a charge which the police often used instead of ‘prostitution’.

Margaret Dehee (or Duhy)

Dr Staniforth also draws our attention to a South Australian government report that lists sixteen Inconstant orphans who were prostitutes, including Margaret Dehee (various spellings) from Donohill in Tipperary. Dr Staniforth argues convincingly her surname was Duhy.

The information on this next family reconstitution form was from an excellent genealogist, Wendy Baker, sent to me in 1986. I hope Wendy is still with us. Margaret Dea(n)(e)/Duhy had five female children by her first husband Robert Strickland and another, Lucy, by her second, Charles Lindrea. Like Mary Taafe she left South Australia and sought her fortune in Victoria.

blogfomargtdeheeincons

The Government report Dr Staniforth refers to can be found in British Parliamentary Papers. I’ve used the hard copy 1,000 volume Irish University press edition.

On the second of November, 1850, Governor Sir H.E. F. Young wrote to Earl Grey,

My Lord,

I have the honour of forwarding a report by the Children’s apprenticeship Board, on 621 female orphans introduced into the colony during the last two years.

2. Thirty two cases of crime or misconduct were brought before the police magistrate; six are mothers of illegitimate children, and required relief as destitute persons at their lying-in.

Six more are living in the country in adultery.

Forty three have fallen into the condition of common prostitutes; although all had been placed by the Board in respectable situations…”.

(In all, less than fifteen percent of orphans, my comment).

Sixty-six circulars had been sent to Police Magistrates throughout the colony asking about ‘the conduct and respectability’ of the orphans in their district. Only thirty Magistrates had replied. (British Parliamentary Papers, Irish Universities Press edition, Colonies Australia, vol.13, Sessions 1851-52, Papers relative to Emigration, p.292). [I only wish our own present-day pollsters explained to us the methods they use, and on what their results are based].

————————————————————————————————————————————

Incarcerated orphans

I wonder if asking how many of the orphans were incarcerated in Melbourne Women’s prison or in Darlinghurst gaol, or in Yarra Bend mental hospital, or Wollston Park, in Liverpool Lying-in hospital, or Dunwich Benevolent Asylum, or any similar institution, is the question I want to ask. A minority of the orphans (and how substantial a minority is moot) i believe were bound to spend part of their life in such institutions.

More than twenty years ago I asked, retouching what I said just a bit, ‘did Irish immigrants (to Australia) agree with other immigrants on …”the big issues”? Did they accept ‘capitalism and the modernizing, anglophone, world’ (D. Akenson), or were the casualties among them those would not or could not adapt to this new world? … And among those Irish immigrants were ‘friendless’, single, Irish Famine orphans the most vulnerable of all because of their ethnicity, because of their sex, because of their class, because of their lack of independence, because of their lack of kin support, and because of their dependence on males? The questions are easier to pose than to answer’.

Some have even suggested the trauma of the Famine made the Irish more susceptible to mental illness. I remain unconvinced. As I’ve said elsewhere, to suggest our orphans were transmitters of some workhouse dumping ground mentality, or biologically prone to some sort of “Celtic Melancholy”, or psychologically predisposed to mental illness, ‘borders on bigotry'(Akenson?).

Unlike most assisted Irish immigrants, the Earl Grey orphans were not part of a safety network. They did not have a network of ‘friends’,– friends in the usual sense of people from the same village or locality with whom they had a close, long-established relationship, and friends in the Irish sense of family members, once, twice and even thrice removed–friends they could turn to in times of need. They did not have a complex safety-net, woven with threads of kinship. That  is what made them vulnerable to alienation in their new Australian world.

Orphan stratagems

The question we may prefer to ask is what stratagems did the orphans use to deal with whatever life threw at them? What legal rights did they have? When they were young, did they get married in order to escape a burdensome master-servant contract? And if their husband was legally allowed to beat them with a stick, how did they withstand domestic abuse? Did they adopt the drinking habits of their husband? Fit in, or flee? Ellen Leydon from Ennistymon in County Clare who arrived by the Thomas Arbuthnot, ‘married’ six times, using(?) males as her ‘shelter’, her way of coping. See her story towards the bottom of http://wp.me/p4SlVj-dQ And when old, if your husband has died and you do not meet the requirements for entry to a Benevolent Asylum, do you deny your children, say you have lost touch with them, say you have no money, and no means of support. Then you will meet requirements. Do as needs must. Did the orphans contest the historical role colonial society imposed upon them? Did they negotiate a place for themselves? Or is that being too optimistic?

(I’ve just started reading Garry Disher’s Her. That will cure any desire to return to the ‘good old days’).

May I ask if anyone knows a good general history of women in Australia that would help  answer the questions asked in the last part of this blog? Which historians can we turn to? Shurlee Swain? Christine Twomey? Tanya Evans? Diane Kirkby? All suggestions gratefully received.

For those who  didn’t get to hear Dr Kildea’s oration at Hyde Park Barracks on the 27th August 2017, Tinteán have kindly put it online at https://tintean.org.au/2017/09/06/only-nineteen/

Thank you Jeff for a brilliant, poignant speech.

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.

blogwillhardgrave

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 (48): some orphan stories based on family reconstitutions

MORE ORPHANS AND THEIR FAMILIES IN AUSTRALIA

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

PORT PHILLIP ARRIVALS

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

SOME PORT JACKSON ARRIVALS

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

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

 

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

blogfomshanahanlismoyne

 

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

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

 

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

blogfomaReillylismoyne

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

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

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

BlogfoBquigleytipsaib

 

Some Moreton Bay Orphans

 

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

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

 

 

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

http://wp.me/p4SlVj-vf 

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

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

The digitised newspapers at Trove are a national treasure.

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

 

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

 

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

blogfomcarriggthoarb

 

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

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

More Family Reconstitutions

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

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

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

Some Earl Grey orphans

Jane Beattie from Lisburn died young, of tuberculosis.

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 Port Phillip Arrivals, mostly on the Diadem.

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

Eliza Sharkey (seated left)

 

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

 

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

 

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

blogfombyngdiad

 

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

blogfojbyngdiad

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

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

 

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

 

blogfomcelroypemb

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

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

 

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

or http://www.irishfaminememorial.org

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (37):can we create interactive digital maps?

DIGITAL MAPS?

I’ve long had an interest in historical geography and historical atlases in particular. I remember well the impact a good map had upon my uni students in Jamaica. A map of the Atlantic Slave Trade and one showing the spread of Jesuit colleges in Europe during the Counter/Catholic Reformation were two of my favourites. Maybe that’s why I admire the work of cartographer, Mike Murphy, in the Atlas of the Great Irish Famine, Cork, 2012.

These days, living in a ‘Computer Age’, the creative possibilities are exciting. The map below shows the location of some of the Irish Famine orphans in 1861, that is, according to the birth registration of their children.

Irish Famine orphans in Eastern Australia in 1861

Irish Famine orphans in Eastern Australia in 1861

I wonder how difficult it would be to create an interactive map? If we were really ambitious we should try something like the projects at Stanford University, http://web.stanford.edu/group/spatialhistory/cgi-bin/site/projects.php

But maybe that’s too ambitious for the uninitiated. Could we do something simpler instead, such as clicking on the dots in the map above to bring up all the information we have about the orphan who resided there at that particular time?

We may be lucky enough to have a photograph.

Rose Sherry per John Knox

Rose Sherry per John Knox

Rose was living in Clare Terrace, off William Street, in Double Bay, Sydney, in 1861.

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Or a record of her marriage. This is Jane Troy‘s, in Portland,

Jane Troy marries George Smith, Portland, Victoria

Jane Troy marries George Smith, Portland, Victoria

You may remember Jane from an earlier post http://wp.me/p4SlVj-Di

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Maybe there are some probate records. I wonder how common it was for an orphan or her husband to make a will. I’d be surprised if even 30% of them did so. Here are a couple of examples, extracts only I’m afraid. I’m unsure about permission to reproduce such things. These are from Victorian records.

Re the family of an orphan from Leitrim

Re the family of an orphan from Leitrim

That was a sad story. The orphan, Jane Liddy, from Leitrim, married well but she and her husband died at a young age. Their considerable estate vanished in the maintenance and medical care of their nine children.

Another one,

Interesting effects

Interesting effects

The man knew his livestock, even by name, Boxer and Diamond and Fagan and Dandy.

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Let me demonstrate how this map business might work. Here is a map of the orphans in Queensland c. 1861. I’ve entered a few numbers. If we had an interactive map, what might appear if we clicked on numbers 1 and 2, at Ipswich?

blogqldorp61

It may only be a family reconstitution, no other material being available. If you click on the images you can make them larger.

So, number 1 is for Cicely Moran per Thomas Arbuthnot,

Cicely Moran from Galway

Cicely Moran from Galway

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Number 2 is for Mary Casey per Digby

Mary Casey from Longford

Mary Casey from Longford

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Can you find numbers 3 & 4 on the map?

Number 3 is for Bridget Murray per Lady Peel who was in Brisbane in 1861.

Bridget Murray from Roscommon

Bridget Murray from Roscommon

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Number 4 is for Jane Duff per Earl Grey

blogjdu

Jane is from Newtownards and is at Condamine in 1861.

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Number 5 is for Celia Dempsey per Digby(?)

Celia Dempsey from Dublin (Kingstown later Dun Laoghaire)

Celia Dempsey from Dublin (Kingstown later Dun Laoghaire). She is in Dalby.

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Number 6 is Margaret Plunkett per John Knox

Margaret Plunkett from Armagh/Newry

Margaret Plunkett from Armagh/Newry

The Armagh/Newry contradiction appears on the John Knox  shipping list. She was in Cadargo in 1861.

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Now where is number 7? It’s for Bridget McQueeney(ie) per Lady Peel

Bridget McQueenie from Leitrim

Bridget McQueenie from Leitrim

Bridget was in Laidley in 1861

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Number 8 is for someone we’ve met already, the spirited Margaret Stack from Ennistymon per Thomas Arbuthnot.

See the section ‘Moreton Bay District’ towards the bottom of  http://wp.me/p4SlVj-vf 

Here is a photograph of that feisty 14 year-old later in life, as formidable as ever.

Margaret Smith nee Stack from Ennistymon Co. Clare

Margaret Smith nee Stack from Ennistymon Co. Clare

 blogmstackIt looks as though she was at Baramba Station in 1861? My thanks to her ancestor who sent me this information.

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Number 9 is for Mary Ann Prendergast, once again per Thomas Arbuthnot

Mary Ann Prendergast from Galway

Mary Ann Prendergast from Galway

Mary was at Toowoomba in 1861.

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I’m sure it would be possible to create interactive maps such as these. But we’d need a website and a number of helpers. I wonder what resources the Great Irish Famine Commemoration Committee has these days. Probably nowhere near as much as they would like. Imagine tracing how far the orphans travelled in Queensland (and elsewhere). Maybe one could invent an app. to allow people to map the geographic movement of their orphan ancestor? —-for a fee of course, or a contribution to one of the GIFCC Outreach programmes, http://irishfaminememorial.org/media/filer_private/2012/08/09/brochurenew_detailsprint.pdf

I suppose it’s a case of “tell him he’s dreamin”. (Hope you’ve seen the Australian film,’The Castle‘).

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May I remind readers of the annual gathering at Hyde Park Barracks on the last Sunday in August, the 28th this year? See http://irishfaminememorial.org/

Scroll down that page for information. The Guest speaker is Tim Costello, a brilliant choice.

The featured image is ‘Bullock Dray Melbourne 1851’, courtesy of the Dixson Library, Sydney.

And for a link to the contents of my blog see http://wp.me/p4SlVj-oE

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine orphans (30): what’s involved in writing orphan stories

IMPLICATIONS

 

St Stephen's Green, Dublin: Famine sculpture detail

St Stephen’s Green, Dublin: Famine sculpture detail

 

 

I wonder why we need to assess the contribution of the orphans to Australia. Is it just something historians do, deluded fools that we are? There have been a number of attempts already. The orphans were workhouse refuse/deadwood tipped out on poor unsuspecting colonists by British imperialists. Or were they ‘mothers to the Australian character’ whose ‘descendants enjoyed opportunities unheard of in Ireland’? There’s a great array of views about the orphans’ history on the Irish Famine memorial website that are worth pondering, at http://www.irishfaminememorial.org/en/events/  I wonder if speeches made at the Melbourne annual gathering in November are also available. Does anyone know?

I’ve even dabbled a little myself in the past, in the introduction to Barefoot and Pregnant?, volume one, in the magazine, History Ireland in 2000, and in the description of the Earl Grey scheme on the Irish Famine memorial website. See for example the penultimate paragraph at http://www.irishfaminememorial.org/en/history/earl-grey-scheme  I’d probably still hold to these views. Elsewhere, I’ve suggested we be wary of too sentimental a treatment of the orphans’ lives.

As Tanya Evans reminded me, I even posed one of those intractable questions a long time ago; ‘were the orphans disproportionately represented among the criminal classes, in suicide records, or among the inmates of destitute and mental asylums’? One might surmise that since the orphans lacked the same family support networks as other immigrants, they were more at risk of falling on hard times. Their demographic history, too,–many of them married older men and had long years of widowhood–may have increased their chance of ending up in an institution, later in life.

On one of my research trips to Melbourne, financed by Macquarie University, i searched for orphans among prison records. In the Public Record Office of Victoria there was a Central Register of Female prisoners at VPRS 516 and a Prisoner’s Personal Description Register at VPRS 521. They were in a very fragile condition and soon became only available on microfiche, thank goodness. Here’s the sort of thing I noted down,

PROV VPRS 521 vol 1  No 7 Catherine Ellis Lady Kennaway 1848 b. 1835 5’1″slender fair complexion dark brown hair grey eyes received into gaol 1 January-14 January 1851

ditto No 129 Amelia Nott New Liverpool 1849 b. 1827 Free three convictions drunk slender fresh complexion dark brown hair grey eyes neither read nor write two small scars on bridge of nose b Jersey RC married servant 20 October 1854 For medical treatment

ditto No 133 Susan Stewart Pemberton 1850 b. 1834 two previous drunk stout fair brown hair hazel eyes reads and writes imperfectly 5′ 2½” scar upper lip and right hand Ireland Catholic single idle and disorderly 1 calendar month 15/2-15/3/1856

ditto No 833 Mary Ann Tyrell Roman Emperor 1848 1835 once before 4″8½” Ireland Catholic married

You will appreciate the kind of problem this poses. Did some orphans deliberately provide false information or genuinely forget details of their arrival? What if we find no record of their marriage? Can we be sure this really is an Earl Grey orphan? Some of the examples above would appear to be so. But how many overall went to gaol? What percentage of the total? Were they in gaol only for a short period of their lives, or often, over the years?

If we go looking for orphans in institutions, in prisons, benevolent asylums, mental hospitals and the like, of course we will find them. But what we do here, and I think I’ve mentioned this before, is add the bias of expectation to the bias of the sources we use. We distort our view of things by focussing one-eyed on this aspect of the orphans’ history.

Still, it is important that we get an idea of how many orphans experienced such a life. I encourage anyone working in this area to continue doing so. If i remember correctly, Julie Poulter is researching orphans who went to Darlinghurst gaol in Sydney, in a thesis she is doing at the University of New England. Maybe people looking at these things will be willing to share their findings? I could include what you want to say in these blog posts. At least I think that is possible. I’m not sure how many people actually read the comments at the end of each post.

FAMILY HISTORIES

A similar caveat applies to my own painstaking family reconstitutions. They are weighted towards the orphans who generally lived in stable, life-long relationships here in Australia. That too may be a distortion of how we perceive the orphans’ contribution to Australian society. Nonetheless I shall continue using them. I intend appending more to this post. They are an important means of helping us write orphan family histories. And the more family histories we have, the greater the empirical data we have to assess what happened to the Earl Grey orphans in Australia. They will ‘thicken’ our description, an anthropologist might say.

SOME ETHICAL ISSUES

The common ground between family historians, professional genealogists and academic historians is sometimes a tricky one to negotiate. I particularly admire those who treat each other with tact and sensitivity. And worry that my own steel-capped boots will damage too many metaphorical shins. Yet for Earl Grey orphan histories to flourish, may I suggest cooperation is essential? Tanya Evans treats some of the issues I have in mind in her recent Fractured Families and resolves them with what she calls ‘shared authority’. Her book is well worth a read.

Let me outline some of my own concerns.

  1. What’s the best way to ask family historians how they confirmed there is an Irish female orphan in their family? There was, after all, an enormous number of young Irish females arriving in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia in the early 1850s. Are you sure ‘your’ Mary Kelly, Cathy Kennedy or Mary Ryan  is the one who came to Port Phillip in 1849 on the Pemberton and you’re not just making a leap of faith?

And to extend this a bit further, how do we know that this second or third or fourth marriage is our orphan’s? Can we be sure that this is her changing her name more than once? Reading orphan descendants write about frequent remarriages and name changes has really interesting implications. Did women at the exposed and vulnerable end of Australian society in the nineteenth century have to use these survival strategies, or life strategies, in order to get by? What kind of life must they have led? My not having read much about this sort of thing before may simply be a fault of my own. Has much/anything been written about it already, does anyone know?

    2. What if I discover something a family historian may not like to hear, that that orphan descendant beat his wife relentlessly, that that one molested children or that daughter was locked away in a mental institution for more than forty years? What other disturbing factor could there be…that she was constantly drunk and abandoned her children to an Industrial school?…that she committed infanticide? Maybe you can accept and acknowledge these things. As Alison Light put it, we don’t have to like our ancestors. But what if one person in the family objects to such things being publicized in their family history? Or perhaps there is disagreement over an interpretation you’ve made. Does that mean it should be censored or even shelved? I’d love to hear your view.

  3. Or what if it is as simple as someone objecting, “You can’t say that. No ancestor of mine was ever in a workhouse.” It has happened before.  It may even be an objection to something you include about the Famine. “The charge of culpable neglect of the consequences of policies leading to mass starvation is also indisputable.” (Peter Gray quoted in  D. P. Nally’s Human Encumbrances, p 226). Should one therefore cut that bit from the family history?

‘On you go now! Run, son, like the devil

And tell your mother to try

To find me a bubble for the spirit level

And a new knot for this tie.’  

(Seamus Heaney, The Errand in The Spirit Level)

I saved some material on my computer sent to me by orphan descendants some years ago. I must try getting in touch again, if they are still with us, D.G., as my friend Tom Power would say. I could begin by putting together a draft of a family history, ask for their input, and  show them the draft. If they gave their consent, I could then put it into the blog. I have a sense of these orphan family histories as more of a beginning than an end.

In the meantime I’ll put up some more FAMILY RECONSTITUTIONS. I’d like to return to them at a later date to suggest ways they can be used in a family history. I’ve made a selection of orphans who went to South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. And in order to emphasize the need for cooperation, I’ve gone back to some originals where orphan descendants filled out one of my forms as best they could, and I was able to add a bit more information.

First some family reconstitutions from New South Wales and South Australia. More to follow. Double click or pinch to make these larger.

fotierney

foboyleearlg

fobanks

fomarymcconnellearl grey

fobooth

foburt

fomdevlin

fobellromanemp

fohellenelgin

fotaafeinconst

To be continued…

key to blogs is at http://wp.me/p4SlVj-oE

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (15): “Belfast Girls”

“BELFAST GIRLS”

This is just a short post in honour of Jaki McCarrick’s play, Belfast Girls, which opens this/next week (May 2015) at the Artemisia Theater in Chicago.

See the facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/1409959125987645/permalink/1429293680720856/

Volume two of Ray Debnam’s 3-CD set of The Feisty Colleens is a must for anyone interested in the history of these young women. Ray has researched the ‘Belfast girls’ per Earl Grey who were banished to Moreton Bay in 1848. He has done so with imagination and admirable thoroughness. See  http://thefeistycolleens.com/author.html 

Many of the orphans married former convicts which is hardly surprising given the history of the Moreton Bay settlement. Ray ‘s work however, shows much more than that. I was particularly interested in the support the young women gave each other, often turning up to each other’s marriages, as well as the differences between them. It is well worth a look. Ray has a good sense of historical context.

After Surgeon Henry Grattan Douglas’s scathing report on the ‘Belfast Girls’ —they were, in his words, ‘barefooted little country beggars, swept from the streets into the workhouse, and thence to New South Wales…notoriously bad in every sense of the word‘--thirty-four (34) of them were sent straight to Moreton Bay and seventeen (17) to Maitland without setting foot in Sydney.

In the John Oxley Library (Mss OM 68-18), in the James Porter Papers, there is an account of the Eagle steamer carrying orphans to Brisbane, towards “the latter end of 1849”. Obviously it’s not about our ‘Belfast girls’. In it, Porter claimed “about twenty of these girls were put on board as steerage passengers for Moreton Bay and although the lower classes in those days did not follow Paris fashions so slavish as now the girls to me presented a remarkable contrast. There (sic) hair had been cut short and the black fellow when he saw them for the first time in Brisbane called them “short grass” consequently they were afterwards called “short grasses”. Their dress consisted of  a plain blue cotton cotton gown with white spots which hung loose from the neck to the feet. These were covered with heavy hobnail shoes”.

I wonder if the ‘Belfast girls’ also had their hair cropped? It was a well-known form of punishment and humiliation for women in convict days. Perhaps the same attempt to control the Famine orphans was used by authorities?

Let me post a couple of photographs and a few family reconstitutions relating to the ‘Belfast girls”. I”ll put them up in alphabetical order. The first one is of Jane Clarke, allegedly a married woman. We’ve met her before. Unfortunately I haven’t come across many photographs of the ‘Belfasters’. Ray has Jane marrying Richard Bushnell, a former convict, with whom she has nine children. The couple lived on the Darling Downs, Warwick and near Gayndah. Jane died in Bundaberg in 1902.

Jane Clarke

fojaneclarkea

fojaneclarke

Eliza Frazer

The next is a family reconstitution of someone with a famous name in Australian history, Eliza Frazer.

foelizafrazerearl greyThere are another two probable children to the marriage.

In July 1850 Eliza was a witness at the trial of John Brown charged with an assault on a young servant, Mary Maddox. Another witness, Mary Sparkes, describes Eliza’s part in the affair, “… I know the little girl–and I know the prisoner he lodges at Humbys–Last night I was filling the kettle and I heard someone screeching–I listened and knew it was the voice of Humby‘s girl–the man was not naked but his trousers were unbuttoned–he said to the girl Hush! Hush! and I’ll give you five or six shillings…felt hurt and called to Mrs Dwyer  who came up and threatened to burst the door if he didn’t open it.–I remained at the back door–and Mrs Dwyer went to Mrs Humby and told her to be down quick for the girl was not being acted right by…” .
One of the ‘feisty colleens’ indeed,  as Ray calls them.

Eliza Greenwood

The next example is Eliza Greenwood. Note how far she travels during her lifetime.

foeliza greenwooda

foeliza greenwood

foelizagreenwoodearl grey

 Mary McConnell

Not all the ‘Belfast girls’ were banished to Moreton Bay. Some went to Maitland in the Hunter Valley. Here is one example, Mary McConnell, also alleged to be a married woman before she left Ireland. Mary never married her partner in Australia, William Ashton. All her children were registered by her as “illegitimate”. Yet they lived their lives and were married as “Ashtons”. As always, my thanks go to descendants who gave me information and sent me photographs. In Mary’s case, my sincere  thanks to Pat Evans and Brian Andrews. Maybe I can return to Mary’s family history at a later date?

fomarymcconnellearl greyTheresa Short

Finally, a family reconstitution for Theresa Short. Ray has discovered a possible fourteenth child.

fotheresashortearl greyNot all the ‘Belfast girls’ had such large families and apparently stable relationships. Some such as Georgina Mulholland or Mary Black appear fleetingly on the historical stage but they are given another fictional life, this time in Jaki McCarrick’s play.

https://twitter.com/artemisia4vr/status/591048220349964288

May it be a scintillating success and play to packed houses.