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

E

a dog’s breakfast

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

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

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

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

FAMILY HISTORIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Port Phillip arrivals: some problems

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Common names

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

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

Ages

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

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

Other tripwires

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

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

 

Irish sources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (59): Miss D. Meanors

Misdemeanors

This is a brief codicil or supplement to an earlier post called “Skibbereen and Beyondhttps://wp.me/p4SlVj-1Aq

If you remember I’d asked a couple of questions,

had an orphan’s Famine experience damaged her, and made her especially vulnerable in Australia?

What were the circumstances and experiences in Australia that contributed to her difficulties, thrusting her into a life of petty crime, or alcoholism, or to the doors of a Benevolent Asylum or Mental Hospital?

In that particular post i suggested some things we could  examine, for example,

  • the vulnerability of a lonely female immigrant who lacked a support network from ‘home’
  • sexual and domestic abuse
  • criminal misdemeanours
  • alcoholism
  • mental illness, and other maladies
  • poverty and hardship
  • desertion, illness and death of her husband

and said a few words about those who suffered sexual and domestic abuse, sought refuge in a Benevolent Asylum especially in old age, or became a patient in a mental hospital.

In this post I’d like to add a little about ‘criminal misdemeanors’. But first a couple of caveats. The ‘crimes’ I’ll be talking about are mostly public order crimes, drunkenness, obscene language, causing a nuisance, vagrancy, prostitution and the like, many of them no longer on the statute book. Imagine if today you could be thrown into gaol for swearing or being drunk in a public place.

As Dr Kildea informed us in his oration at Hyde Park Barracks in August 2017 public intoxication was only decriminalised in New South Wales in 1979. He suggested “in mid-Victorian New South Wales with its colonial imitation of Dickensian England, the law was used as a blunt instrument to defeat anti-social behaviour, with punishment rather than intervention the preferred antidote“. Still, these petty offences were ‘crimes’ in mid nineteenth century Australia, and if you did the crime, you did the time, or paid the fine.

The other thing I’d like to stress is that I’ve separated poverty and destitution from alcoholism and abuse and mental illness and the others as a means of examining each in turn. But clearly they should not be separated. The orphan who became a casualty in Australia would experience a mixture of these different things in different measure and in different intensity at different times in her life. One would have to look at each individual case on merit.

South Australia

Let me start with South Australia. Many of our South Australian orphans are still elusive. South Australian State Records may now have a different numbering system from the one I’ve given below. These cases are taken from the Adelaide Police Court Minute Books, SRSA GRG 65/1/1 +. Those who were Earl Grey female orphans were often but not always described as such. They are from research notes I made in the dim and distant past. I had a limited time available to me.

Mary Murray per Roman Emperor September 3 1849 Prostitute behaving indecently in Hindley Street 2 September, 14 days hard labour P.C. Dyke No 266. See the AJCP (Australian Joint copying Project) for Colonial Office (CO) 13/70 Return of Adelaide Prostitutes 30 September 1850. The microfilm will be in your State Library. I’ll put CO 13/70 beside the names of those who appear in this Government Report.

Mary appeared regularly in the Adelaide Police Court, 12 December 1849 violent behaviour at Police Station, 11 March 1850 along with Margaret Kenny another female orphan and Ellen Nugent, common prostitutes behaving in a riotous manner in Hindley Street, 19 July 1850, 6 February 1851 obscene language in Light Square, fined 40 shillings and 10 shillings costs, 7 November 1851 drunk on the racecourse discharged with a caution. I wonder is this the Mary Clark nee Murray per Roman Emperor who entered Dunwich Benevolent Asylum in Queensland in  1897. Given what we know about the geographic mobility of some orphans that is not beyond the bounds of credibility. That Dunwich Mary Murray per Roman Emperor married William Campbell at Armadale (sic) New South Wales when she was 26. Her second husband was John Edward Clark whom she married when she was 34.

Catherine Duffy per Roman Emperor (CO 13/70) 23 March 1850. charged along with  Susannah Griffiths with ‘feloniously receiving’ two rings stolen by Joseph Cooper. The prisoners were committed for trial on the 26th and allowed bail 2 sureties each of £25. ‘Bail was procured by Cooper and Griffiths, but no one coming forward to answer for the appearance of Duffy, she was taken to gaol’. See South Australian, 29 March 1850, p.3, col. 2. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/71625931/6252341

Young Catherine was to have a long criminal career. 6 January 1851 disorderly prostitute in Light Square discharged, 13 February, 1 March 1851 Prostitute disorderly in Hindley St. fined 40 shillings paid, 28 March using obscene language Morpeth St. discharged, 9 May 1851 drunk and disorderly pleads guilty, 10 July drunk,  4 October, drunk and disorderly fined 20 sh., 16 October, 24 October drunk fined 5 sh., 18 November drunk, 19 January 1852 drunk in Currie St., 5 April 1852, drunk, 27 July drunk in Rosina st., 24 August driving on footway in Currie st., fined 5 sh. 15 November drunk in Hindley st. fined 10sh. 1 March 1854 Drunk in Hindley st. But there is no sign of her in the first six months of 1857. I wonder what became of her.

Ann Curran per Inconstant (CO 13/70) Monday 8 April 1850 drunk and using obscene language in Hindley St. fined 10 shillings paid. Ann Curran and June Rogers charged with wilfully breaking eight panes of glass belonging to Catharine Duffy at Light Square, complainant declined to prosecute. 31 July 1851 to answer complaint of Mary Tilly for using obscene language to her near the Theatre, fined 5 sh.

Margaret Kenny per Inconstant (?) There was a Mary Kenny according to the S. A. Register. See Mary Murray above. 15 July 1850 charged with Sarah Hannon, Fanny Clarke and Sarah Cobbe disorderly prostitutes fined 20 sh., 28 august 1850  Margaret Kenny Irish orphan charged with stealing 14 shillings from John Iris at Adelaide imprisoned for three calendar months as a rogue and vagabond. 13 March 1852 obscene language.

Mary Kelly per Inconstant 24 February 1851 indecent behaviour in Light Sq. discharged with a caution, 13 June 1851 Emma Baker and Mary Kelly prostitutes fighting in Gilles Arcade fined 5 sh., 17 June Margaret Kelly drunk and using obscene language, 24 July drunk, 14 August 1852 Margaret Kelly obscene language 10 shillings fine.

Catherine Ryan Irish Orphan per Elgin CO13/70  There was another Catherine Ryan fined for her hog sty nuisance 2 March 1849. Obviously not the one by the Elgin which didn’t arrive until 12 September that year. 17 August 1850 stealing in the dwelling house of August Fischer at Adelaide one gold brooch and one gold locket, remanded,  24 August 1850 remanded last Saturday for stealing a brooch and a locket. Committed for trial. 27 September 1851 theft committed for trial. 9 March 1854 Larceny.

Bridget Cotter per Elgin CO 13/70  23 September 1850 with three others including Catherine McDonald per Elgin CO 13/70 prostitutes with using indecent language in Hindley St. Cotter and two others 40 sh. each plus 20 sh. costs in default one month hard labour. McDonald discharged.

Mary Ann Dorgan per Inconstant CO 13/70 12 October 1850 using obscene language in Currie St. fined 40 sh. plus 20 sh. costs or one month hard labour. A  Margaret Doran per Inconstant appears 10 march 1851, 26 November 1851 and 29 July 1852, possibly the same person(?)

Jane Robinson Irish orphan per Roman Emperor CO 13/70 17 august 1850 using obscene language in Light Square fined 40 sh. and 20 sh. costs paid. 23 September 1851 obscene language discharged. 4 December drunk in Currie St. fined 5 sh. 27 January 1852 theft of one silver watch prosecuted  discharged.

Catherine Reardon Irish orphan per Inconstant CO 13/70 13 August 1850 obscene language in Hindley St. 40 sh. plus 10 sh. costs paid.

Elizabeth Quinlan per Elgin CO 13/70 12 August 1850 drunk and using obscene language in Hindley St. 40 sh. paid.

Mary Maher per Inconstant CO 13/70 4 July 1850 drunk and disorderly in Currie St. fined 20 sh. or 14 days in prison

Sarah Johnston per Roman Emperor CO 13/70 5 August 1850 disorderly and obscene Hindley St. 10 sh. or one month in gaol.

Rose McShane per Roman Emperor CO 13/70  22 January 1851 drunk Rundle St. 5 sh.

Sarah McEwen per Roman Emperor CO13/70 30 June 1851 indecent, 26 November 1851 obscene language discharged, 4 February 1852 abusive language.

Clearly there is a lot more work to be done on this subject. I’m far from satisfied with the hurried nature of my research in the Archives. How do we trace those who changed their name with marriage or by adopting an alias? What are the limitations of the sources available to us? What explanation should we give for the petty criminal behaviour of these particular orphans? Poverty and hardship? A desire to be independent? Alcohol? Lack of extended family support? Domestic abuse? Psychological or other medical problems? Pizzazz? And what of those who fell on hard times later in life? How do we find those? Fortunately this last question is taken up in the next section.

New South Wales

I am indebted to Julie Poulter for the information contained in this next section. The cases below are taken from Julie’s careful research and pursuit of ‘Earl Grey orphans on the streets of Sydney’. It is work she did for her studies at the University of New England. Most of her information has made its way to the database http://www.irishfaminememorial.org/orphans/database/

The first five cases from Julie’s work are Sarah Packham née Arlow, Jane Lansdowne née Kelly, Mary Ann Lankenon née Hanbury, Cecilia Day née  Maguire and Margaret Hanlon née Burke.

Old Darlinghurst Gaol
OLd Darlinghurst Gaol. Bird’s eye view from Sydney Illustrated News 16 November 1866

These women who fell on hard times and were imprisoned in Darlinghurst Gaol in Sydney led tragic lives. They suffered domestic abuse, desertion, habitual intemperance, grinding poverty and illness. They lived in the dirtiest, most insalubrious parts of the city and sold their bodies for sex, and neglected their children in their desperate struggle for survival.

Julie argues it was not so much  their Famine experience as their experience in New South Wales that tipped them into the quagmire of petty criminality. Unlike the Adelaide cases above, it would be a long time, on average more than fourteen years in the colony, before they committed any crime.

Sarah Arlow from Banbridge, Co. Down per Earl Grey

Sarah was one of the ‘good’ girls on board the notorious Earl Grey, according to the Matron Maria Cooper. Deserted by her husband on the goldfields of Turon River, she and her two children went to the Benevolent Asylum. (On the Asylum see Tanya Evans, Fractured Families, UNSW Press, 2015). Sarah’s first crime was committed eight years after her arrival. In 1862-5 she was sent to gaol for her indecent behaviour, being idle, drunk and disorderly, and as a vagrant. She was found in a laneway in a drunken stupor and died in 1865 aged 36. Here is her database entry.

  • Surname : Arlow
  • First Name : Sarah
  • Age on arrival : 19
  • Native Place : Banbridge, Down
  • Parents : William & Eliza (both dead)
  • Religion : Church of England
  • Ship name : Earl Grey (Sydney 6 Oct 1848)
  • Workhouse : Down, Banbridge
  • Other : shipping: house servant, reads only, no relatives in colony. Empl. Mr O’Brien, Sydney, £10, 1 year; married Alfred Packham in 1850 at St Andrews, Sydney; Aug 1855 Alfred Peckham (alias John Harris) charged with deserting wife & children, ordered to pay 20s a week for 2 years; Sarah & children went to Benevolent Asylum; Sarah drunk and disorderly in 1856 & 1862; Sarah Packham (aka Davis) died at the Infirmary.

Mary Hanbury from Boyle Roscommon per Digby

See Julie’s account of Mary’s life on the database link below. Mary’s first crime was committed seventeen years after her arrival in the colony. Between 1866 and 1872 she had thirteen convictions for  drunkenness, assault and robbery, prostitution and vagrancy.  (see Sydney Morning Herald 23 January 1872, p.3 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/13251153/1455990). She too sought refuge in the Sydney Benevolent Asylum.

  • Surname : Hanbury
  • First Name : Mary (Mary Ann)
  • Age on arrival : 16
  • Native Place : Boyle, Roscommon
  • Parents : Terry & Kitty (father living in Manchester)
  • Religion : Roman Catholic
  • Ship name : Digby (Sydney 4 Apr 1849)
  • Workhouse : Roscommon, Boyle
  • Other : shipping: house servant, reads & writes, no relatives in colony; with her two sisters, Bridget & Catherine; Register No.584 request for her, in Sydney, to be with sister; No.724 30 Jul 1849, request for her & 26 Sep 1849 indentures cancelled; de facto husband, Johannes Lankenon whose illness in 1866 apparently began their life of crime; Nov 1866 Mary admitted 2 children to Benevolent Asylum & Johannes numerous criminal convictions 1866-71; Mary had 12 convictions: drunk & disorderly, assault & robbery and charges of prostitution; 12 months hard labour Parramatta Gaol 1867; dau Charlotte Maria’s birth 1862 confirmed her mother was Mary Ann Hanbury; 3 children died (1863, 1867 & 1868). See attached story
  • Read Her Story

http://www.irishfaminememorial.org/media/Hanbury_from_Julie_Poulter.pdf

Jane Kelly from Athlone, Co. Westmeath per Digby

Jane’s first crime was committed fifteen years after her arrival on the Digby. In 1856 whilst she was pregnant her husband assaulted her so severely she needed surgery and a long stay in hospital. She said he tied her to triangles and cut her clothes off. While she was undressed he struck her back with a whip. He accused her of infidelity and associating with prostitutes. (see, Goulburn Herald, 30 December 1857, p.2 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/118246611 and 2 January 1858, p.3 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/118244726/10143494). She fled and found work  with a local Reverend Sowerby. As Julie put it (Jane is one of Julie’s ancestors, her great great great grandmother) ,”she took up with another man {William Garner} who by 1862 had deserted her, and facing starvation Jane endured a 200 kilometre walk during summer, whilst pregnant and with three small children, in order to reach help at the Benevolent Asylum”. By 1863-4 she  was living in Sussex Street and associating with her shipmate Bridget Higney. Both were living in the worst of Sydney slums. She was first jailed for vagrancy, and then, by 1866, three other times for indecent and riotous behaviour. She died of tuberculosis in 1872. From memory, Jane’s story also appears in Tanya Evans’s Fractured Families.

Below is Jane’s database entry.

  • Surname : Kelly
  • First Name : Jane
  • Age on arrival : 19
  • Native Place : Athlone, Westmeath
  • Parents : Patrick & Isabella (both dead)
  • Religion : Church of England
  • Ship name : Digby (Sydney 4 Apr 1849)
  • Workhouse : Westmeath, Athlone
  • Other : shipping: houseservant, reads & writes; Jan 1850 working for James W Chisholm at ‘Kippelaw’, Mummel nr Goulburn, indentures cancelled after absconded; married Thomas Lansdowne (alias Digby) at Yass 4 Nov 1850; 6 chi; marriage broke down, he assaulted her, case in Goulburn Court Dec 1857/Jan 1858, 5 children remain with Thomas; Jane awarded maintenance, began work for William Garner whose wife had died in Nov 1857; 1858-1863 5 children with Garner who deserted her in 1863; she walked to Sydney Benevolent Asylum; Garner charged with desertion & ordered to pay 7s6d weekly; 1864-1866 Jane Lansdowne (alias Digby) gaoled for vagrancy in Sydney, sometimes with friend & fellow Digby shipmate Bridget Higney; two of Jane’s daughters sent to the Randwick Asylum for Destitute Children; 12 Jul 1872 Jane Digby died of tuberculosis in St Vincent’s Hospital, Darlinghurst. No trace of her sister Isabella also arrived on the Digby

Celia Maguire from Castlebar, Co. Mayo per Panama

There isn’t a lot of information about Celia or Cecilia Maguire either on the irishfaminememorial database or on Barbara’s brilliant website http://mayoorphangirls.weebly.com/

Both will be grateful to Julie for her research. Celia’s first crime was committed seven years after her arrival in Sydney. In 1852 she married Edwin Day of the 11th Regiment but in 1856 Edwin struck an officer and was sent to prison, leaving Cecilia to fend for herself and her four year old daughter. She did so by working in a brothel.  In 1857 she was found guilty of larceny and sent to Darlinghurst Gaol for twelve months. Shortly afterwards, in May 1858, a Coronial Inquest found that she died of “disease brought on by intemperance“.  See The Illawara Mercury 6 May 1862, p. 2, https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/136441137

Here is the database entry.

  • Surname : Maguire
  • First Name : Celia
  • Age on arrival : 18
  • Native Place : Castlebar, Mayo
  • Parents : Michael & Sarah (both dead)
  • Religion : Roman Catholic
  • Ship name : Panama (Sydney 12 Jan 1850)
  • Workhouse : Mayo, Castlebar
  • Other : shipping: house servant, cannot read or write, no relatives in colony, sister Jane also on Panama; Empl. E Cherry, Fort Street, Sydney, £8, 1 year

Margaret Burke from Portarlington, Co. Laois per Tippoo Saib

Only fourteen when she arrived, it would be thirteen years before Margaret Hanlon née Burke was convicted of any crime. It was the first and only time she was convicted  for theft. She then embarked on a twenty-five year period of petty crime. In the 1870s she was hardly out of gaol. By 1873, Julie tells us, she was well-known to police as a habitual drunkard. See Empire 17 June 1873 p.2. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/63231600/5662874

In all, she was convicted more than 122 times, mostly for drunkenness and vagrancy but also for assault, riotous conduct, obscene and indecent language, being disorderly, and in 1883, when she was 47, as a prostitute. What set her on this life of crime is unknown. She may even have used the vagrancy laws and the police watch house as a means and source of shelter and food. What became of her is unknown. She disappears from the record after 1886.

Here is the current  database entry.

  • Surname : Burke
  • First Name : Margaret
  • Age on arrival : 14
  • Native Place : Port Addington [Portarlington], Queens [Laois]
  • Parents : John & Mary (both dead)
  • Religion : Roman Catholic
  • Ship name : Tippoo Saib (Sydney Jul 1850)
  • Workhouse : Queens [Laois], Mountmellick
  • Other : shipping: nursemaid, reads & writes, no relatives in colony. Mary also per Tippoo Saib with same parents is probable sister.

Finally, for now anyway, an orphan Julie has begun work on. She has yet to confirm all that she has suggested here. So please take this as work in progress.

Mary O’Brien from Ballina, Co. Mayo, per Inchinnan

What Barbara has on her website would suggest that Julie may be on the right track. See

http://mayoorphangirls.weebly.com/mary-obrien.html

where Mary was threatened with being sent into the interior for breaking her indenture.

Julie suggests this is the same Mary who married John Reily (Riley, Reilly, etc) in Sydney in 1852. Her first (next?) conviction is in 1856 eight years after her arrival. But then she is gaoled 26 times between 1856 and 1871 for being idle and disorderly, using indecent language and found guilty of riotous conduct, prostitution and theft.

Her husband John died in Liverpool Asylum in 1872.  Mary in 1873 then married John Coy, a West Indian known as “Black Jack”. He had been given a twelve month sentence in 1864 for ‘keeping a bawdy house’. Mary was not to survive much longer. She died after  a fight with Julia Mahoney alias Jane Mathews in Sussex Street in 1874.  We shall await further news from Julie on this one.

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Julie has very kindly offered to answer any enquiries via email . Her email address is juliepoulter19[at]hotmail.com. I’d be most grateful if you would also put your queries in the comments section at the end of this post. Thankyou in advance. And thank you Julie for your research.

To be continued

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.

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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.]

blogfojlearyecaroline

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?

blogfoefitzgeraldecaroline

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 (46): B&P?, (d), vol.1, Introduction, pp.18-23

B&P?1 Introduction (d)

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

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

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

Is anyone having trouble making the text larger?

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

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

...Chomh sámh. Chomh

naofa. Foc na

comharsain. Bimis

ag bruíon gan stad./So unburdened.

So serene.

Fuck the neighbours.

Let’s fight all the time.

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

too.

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Parramatta 1847 courtesy State Library NSW

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

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Notes for page 18

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

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

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

Page 19

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

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

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

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

page 21

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

pages 20-23

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

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

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

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

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

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

B&P?1 Introduction (c)

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

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

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

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

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Some notes

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

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

So, top of page 12

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

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

Have a close look there, if you will.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (44): Barefoot & Pregnant? vol.one, introduction (b) pp.6-11

B&P?1 Introduction (b)

Here is the next installment of the 1991 introduction to my Barefoot & Pregnant? volume 1. It’s pages 6-11 this time.

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I’ll use the occasion to ‘dip my lid’ to the brilliant Jaki McCarrick. Her play “Belfast Girls” is soon to have its Canadian premiere in Vancouver in March this year, having had a wonderful run in London and Chicago already. There is a bit about it on the ‘Peninsula Productions’ facebook page, should you want to find out more.

As with the last couple of posts, I’ll try adding endnotes missing from the original a bit later, once i find the correct reference.

You can make the photographic image larger by clicking a couple of times or ‘pinching’.

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“…you’ll hear

parakeets and lorikeets

flutter round your head,

ancient tribes of the air

speaking a language your wild

colonial heart cannot comprehend” (Louis de Paor, Didjeridu)

SOME NOTES

Page six

The scandal surrounding the Subraon is not well known. However, if you take the trouble to read the very thorough enquiry of the Sydney Immigration Board you will understand more clearly how they would react to the furore associated with arrival of the first official Orphan vessel, the Earl Grey. Have a look at the extracts below.

The Minutes of the Sydney Immigration Board…re the irregularities aboard the Subraon, printed for the use of the Government only in 1848, comprises sixty pages, 75-80 lines per page, of small print. The Board consisted of Francis L.S. Merewether Esq., Agent for Immigration, A Savage Esq, RN Health Officer, and H.H. Browne Esq, Water Police Magistrate, names many readers of my blog will know. We even meet Thomas MaGrath, an immigrant who was schoolmaster on board the Subraon, (pp.15-17). We meet him again re Earl Grey orphan Mary Littlewood in my blog post 9 http://wp.me/p4SlVj-dQ

Page 2 of  the enquiry,

Charges affecting the First Mate

  1. That a young female named Dorcas Newman, who had been sent out from a Foundling Institution in Dublin, and who died on the third day after her arrival here, (whether of fever or excessive haemorrhage consequently on a miscarriage is doubtful,) was constantly in his cabin, and that, even if positive proof be wanting, there is no moral doubt of her having been seduced by him.”

page 20, 5 June 1848

Statement of Patrick Ferry

The girls who acted as servants to the officers spent the most of their time in the cabins of the Captain and Mates, from about seven o’clock in the morning to about eight or nine o’clock at night….Emma Smith was servant to the Captain, Dorcas Newman was servant to the Chief Mate, and Alicia Ashbridge to the second and Third Mates. Alicia Ashbridge was more frequently drunk than any of the girls.Dorcas Newman was improperly intimate withe Mate. I saw him on one occasion sitting with her on a chair kissing her, and putting his hand through the opening in the back of her clothes, and feeling her wherever he pleased…

page 35, 10 June 1848

Statement of Emma Smith,

I was an Immigrant by the ship Subraon. I was one of the twelve girls who came from the Orphan Institution, in Cork Street, in Dublin.”

page 39 10 June 1848

Mr Acret‘s further statement. (Acret was the Surgeon-Superintendent on the  Subraon) .

From the evidence which I have in the course of this enquiry respecting it, I am satisfied that Dorcas Newman had a miscarriage; had I been aware that such was the fact I should have treated her illness differently from what I have done…”.

Later that year, 26 October, the Subraon was wrecked at the entrance to Wellington Harbour. The Sydney authorities had successfully kept a lid on the scandal surrounding the vessel’s voyage to Port Jackson. Both ship’s officers and the Surgeon were in no position to object. It would be a very different matter when the Earl Grey and Surgeon Douglass arrived early in October 1858.

Page 9 There is a history of one of the “Belfast Girls’, Mary McConnell, at my blog posts 32 and 33. Here’s a link to post 33 which seems underused. http://wp.me/p4SlVj-LL

Notes pages 7 to 9

The major source for the documents surrounding the Earl Grey furore is the Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council of New South Wales (hereafter VPLCNSW) 1850, volume 1, pp.394-436. (Incidentally, information on the Subraon follows at pp.437-45).

The material in British Parliamentary Papers (BPP), Irish Universities edition, Colonies Australia, vol 11 Sessions 1849-50, pp.417-20 and pp. 510-40, will also provide the names of the ‘Belfast girls’ Douglass accused of bad behaviour. Pages 417-18  reprints Douglass’s letter of 7 October 1848.

I  provided the wrong date for the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) editorial defending Douglass, and the neighbouring column mentioning his appeal to have land restored to him. It should be August 1850 not April 1850. See SMH 16 August 1850, page 2. http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/12920275?searchTerm=sydney%20morning%20herald%20orphan%20girls&searchLimits=dateFrom=1850-01-01|||dateTo=1850-12-31

Dr Douglass continued to petition the New South Wales Parliament for restoration of his land. See  SMH 7 September and 19 September 1852, page 2 in both instances.

Page 10

Many of the Workhouse Board of Guardian Minute Books have survived for the period we are interested in viz 1847-51. At present, they are held in the local Archives of each county. So, for instance,  if one wishes to view Donegal Board of Guardian Minute Books, a trip to the County Archives Office in Lifford is required. It is best always to get in touch beforehand and tell the archivist your particular interest. You have to arrange a prior appointment here. http://www.donegalcoco.ie/services/donegalarchives/maincolumncontent/researchroomservices/

Sadly very few of the Workhouse Indoor Admission and Discharge Registers have done so. Most of them are in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) which is now housed in the Titanic Centre in Belfast. Unfortunately Belfast Workhouse Indoor Admission and Discharge Registers have not survived. Again, may I suggest getting in touch before you visit. https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/proni

If in doubt about what records have survived, your first call should be the wonderful website of Peter Higginbotham, www.workhouses.org

RE Mary Campbell Belfast Board of Guardian Minute Book B.G.7/A/7, p.159.


The Minute Books help us put the orphans into historical context. In this same volume, for example, page 27, 1 March 1848, we learn of the diet for able-bodied inmates.

“Breakfast 6 oz meal. One third of a quart of buttermilk

Dinner 1 quart soup 9 oz bread

three days in the week

Breakfast 6 oz meal a third of a quart of buttermilk

Dinner 6 oz rice one eighth quart buttermilk

Supper 4 oz meal one fifth qrt buttermilk

two days in the week

B’fast 6 oz meal one third qrt buttermilk

Dinner 8 oz meal one third qrt buttermilk

Supper 4 oz meal one third qrt buttermilk.

Indian and oat meal used in equal proportions.”  And this was one of the better off workhouses!

Re Sarah Butler, Magherafelt Board of Guardian Minute Book B. G. XXIII/A/2, page 370,
Sarah Butler one of the candidates for emigration to Australia has been rejected by Mr Senior on account of her being affected with itch‘.

Coleraine BG Minute Books B.G.X/A/6, p.165. The Medical Officer, Dr Babington was also asked to provide the emigrants with a medical certificate stating they were healthy. The same page also gives the names of twelve young women from Coleraine workhouse who would travel on the Roman Emperor to South Australia. It is always worth looking at the original sources.

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (43): Barefoot & Pregnant? volume one, Introduction (a), pp.1-5

B&P?1 Introduction (a)

I’m still not convinced that this is the best thing to do. But Barefoot volume one is long out of print and for some people, difficult to find. Putting my introduction into the blog also gives me the opportunity to add some references, ‘virtual’ endnotes, as it were. Please remember the introduction was written some time ago and mainly addressed the documents which preceded the Register of Irish female orphans. Not exclusively so, I might add, although my major concern was to ask readers if they agreed with my suggesting the first boatload of Earl Grey orphans “were wrongly condemned from the outset”? It is still worth debating.

Richard Reid, Cheryl Mongan and Kay Caball, among others, have rightly drawn attention to the more positive side of the orphans’ story. I’ve tried to take their work into account in a number of places in my blog. See for example post 7(c)  on The Voyage http://wp.me/p4SlVj-7X

or where i talk about the independent spirit of the orphans, in post 22 on Cancelled Indentures, particularly the section towards the end entitled “Moreton Bay District”. See http://wp.me/p4SlVj-vf

My own favourite ‘success’ story is of Bridget McMahon from Limerick. See http://wp.me/p4SlVj-PV

 Given the different backgrounds of the young women, that there were more than 4,000 of them, and that over time, they were scattered the length and breadth of rapidly changing societies in Eastern Australia, we should not be surprised to find their history is a mixed one. It is as complex as the human condition itself.

I’ll insert my 1991 introduction in stages. It will give the reader time to absorb what it says and i hope, respond to my interpretation.

Some may think I’m treating Surgeon Douglass too harshly, for example. Don’t be afraid to say your piece. You may wish to do some research on Surgeon Douglass yourself. He had both an illustrious and not so illustrious career. A google search may be the place to start. Here’s a link to an entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/douglass-henry-grattan-1987

But google won’t alert you to the latest reference I’ve found; Douglass’s xenophobic rant in the New South Wales Legislative Council in 1851. It’s reprinted in Mark Tedeschi’s Murder at Myall Creek, Simon & Schuster, 2016, pp.229-30. It first appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, 26 November 1851, p.2. See http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/12932367?searchTerm=sydney%20morning%20herald%20Douglass&searchLimits=dateFrom=1851-11-01|||dateTo=1851-11-30

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Keats and Chapman were conversing one day on the street…there passed a certain character who was renowned far and wide for his piety, and was reputed to have already made his own coffin, erected it on trestles, and slept in it every night.

‘Did you see our friend?’ Keats said.

‘Yes’ said Chapman, wondering what was coming,

‘A terrible man for his bier’, the poet said“. (The Best of Myles, Myles na Gopaleen, Picador, 1977, p.187.)

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That will do to start with. If you double click or pinch the pages above, they should become larger and easier to read. I’ll have a look for some references.

Tóg go bog é

Some references.

Page 0ne,

Dunmore Lang’s “dupes of an artful female Jesuit” appears in his letter to Earl Grey printed in the British Banner, 21 November 1849. The link appears in my post 21 towards the end http://wp.me/p4SlVj-q8

see page 34 of the link below

https://ia902606.us.archive.org/25/items/LettersOfDr.JohnDumoreLangInBritishBanner/Letters_of_Dr_John_Dunmore_Lang_in_British_Banner_1953.PDF

Page two,

The best printed record of the various reports concerning the Earl Grey scandal is found in Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council of New South Wales, 1850, volume 1, pp. 394-436. Included there (pp. 407-28) is the report  from Irish Poor Law Commissioner C. G Otway, defending the selection process of the orphans. See also British Parliamentary Papers, 1000 volume Irish University Press edition, Colonies Australia, volume 11, Sessions 1849-50, pp. 510ff. which provides the names of the young women only identified by their initials in the Otway Report. SRNSW (State Records New South Wales) 9/6190 Immigration Correspondence, 12 October 1848, has the minutes of evidence of the Sydney Immigration Board re the Earl Grey. I’m unsure if the same numbering system is still in use.

Page two

R. B. Madgwick, Immigration into Eastern Australia 1788-1851, second impression, Sydney University Press, 1969, Chapter X;

Miriam Dixson, The Real Matilda Women and Identity in Australia 1788 to 1975, Penguin, 1976;

Oliver Mac Donagh, “Emigration during the Famine” in The Great Famine, eds., R.D. Edwards & T. D. Williams, Dublin, 1962, p.357.

Disagreement among practitioners is the ‘stuff’ of history. What I was intimating here is even good historians sometimes get it wrong.

Page Five

British Parliamentary Papers, IUP edition, Colonies Australiavolume 11, Sessions 1849-50, Papers Relative to Emigration, New South Wales, Fitzroy to Earl Grey, 16 May 1848, Enclosure 1, pp.131-3. In May 1848, Merewether reported on the Hyderabad (arrived 19 February) the Surgeon was ‘unequal to the office and should not be again employed in this service’; ‘the immigrants as a body failed to give satisfaction to the public’; ‘the single females…proved to be utterly ignorant of the business undertaken by them’; ‘several…did not go into service..or very shortly left…for the purpose of going upon the streets’ (p.131).

Re the Fairlie (arrived 7 August) ibid., pp.145-7, ‘a third of the female immigrants arrived in an advanced stage of pregnancy’ (p.145); ‘filthy songs‘ (p.147).

Re the Subraon (arrived 12 April), ibid, pp.147-51.  I have a copy of the Minutes and Proceedings of the Immigration Board at Sydney respecting certain irregularities which occurred on board the ship “Subraon” Printed for the use of the Government only, 1848. The Board met between May and July 1848. It is a ‘negative’ copy i.e. white text on a dark background which makes me think it was printed from a microfilm. My unreliable memory tells me i got it from what was then the Archives Office of NSW. But for the life of me I cannot find the exact reference. Was it at AONSW 9/6197, pp. 147-61? we’ll need to check.

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (42):Barefoot and pregnant? Volume one, Preface

B&P preface

I was wondering if i should scan my preface and introduction to volume one of Barefoot and Pregnant?

They first appeared in 1991, and again in 1999. The publisher’s interest was to keep costs down. Understandably, that is one reason there are no footnotes. I know I could, or should have provided references at the time. Whether I can do so now is another matter. But if anyone wants a particular reference, I promise to have a go at providing it.

Likewise, I wonder if nowadays I would still hold all the views i gave voice to then. It’s a moot point.

Anyway here’s the preface. Let me know if you think i should scan the intro too.

“Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy” (W.B. Yeats)

T. McClaughlin,

T. McClaughlin, “Barefoot & Pregnant?…” Melbourne, 1991, preface

Just click on the image to make it larger.

“Barefoot & Pregnant?”, Melbourne, 1991, preface continued

I thought I’d have a quick look to see if i can find a reference or two which might be considered as endnotes.

On page one, the orphans to South Australia are  called ‘filthy and indelicate’. See British Parliamentary Papers Irish Universities 1000 volume edition, Colonies Australia, volume 13, Sessions 1851-52, Despatch from Governor Young to Earl Grey 8 March 1850, Enclosure 1 in Number 10 from M. Moorhouse at the Children’s Apprenticeship Board, p.255.

On the second page, George Hall was questioned at the South Australian parliamentary enquiry into excessive female immigration, 11 February 1856. Report of the Select Committee of the Legislative Council of South Australia into Excessive Female immigration  Minutes of Evidence, Adelaide, 1856, p.17, q.267. He was an opponent of the orphan scheme, having made known his views to Stephen Walcott, Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioner, in April 1854, when he visited England.

I’ll see if i can put together some other ‘endnotes’.

I’ve mislaid the exact references to Catherine Duffy‘s appearances in the Adelaide Police Court. She appears often in SRSA (State Records South Australia) GRG 65/1 the Adelaide Court Minute Book, should anyone have easy access. Otherwise a search online via Trove is always possible. See, for example,  http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/result?l-state=South+Australia&q=Catherine+Duffy&l-title=41

Susan Stewart per Pemberton is in PROV (Public Record Office of Victoria) VPRS 521 vol.1, 1853-57, Female Prisoners’ Personal Description Registers. Susan appears, for example, 13 November 1855 at entry number 1043 and in early 1856 at number 133. Some of this material may be searched online, I understand.   VPRS 516 is the Central Register of Female Prisoners in Melbourne gaol.

Despite what i say in the paragraph above, it would be good to know how many of the orphans made court appearances, and for what reasons.  Elsewhere in my blog I’ve mentioned some of the problems associated with this.

Here are a few names extracted from PROV VPRS 521; entry 129, October 1854, Amelia Nott who claimed to have arrived by the New Liverpool in 1849; entry 833, Mary Ann Tyrell per Roman Emperor, 1848; Mary Ann Seville (?) per Eliza Caroline, 1850, 1856, entry number 30. A number of entries in the Register name the ships that carried orphans but  not always providing the correct date of arrival. One would have to check the other dates when those ships arrived in Port Phillip.

And in Melbourne gaol records, PROV VPRS 516, we find Jane McGuire per Diadem, Catherine Ellis per Lady Kennaway, Mary McGill per Derwent, Ellen Brennan (Ellen Stewart) per Diadem, Margaret Baker per Eliza Caroline, Elizabeth Dunn per Lady Kennaway. Were these really Earl Grey orphans? What of those who assumed an alias or had taken their husband’s name? It’s not a research subject for the faint-hearted. But what an interesting comparison might be made of orphans in Melbourne gaol and those Julie Poulter has studied in Darlinghurst gaol in Sydney.

It would be interesting to extend this project to include Earl Grey orphans who died in Asylums or other institutions. Here are a few examples; Mary Kelly per Maria who died in Newington Asylum in 1904; Mary A. Weatherall per Lady Peel buried at Dunwich 1914; Margaret Geraghty per Panama died Rockhampton of chronic alcoholism and neglect, 1891; Emma Kelly per Earl Grey died Woogaroo, 1879; Ellen Brodie per Pemberton died Ararat 1883; Eliza Martin per Roman Emperor died Adelaide Destitute Asylum, 1905; Ellen Fitzgerald from Skibbereen per Eliza Caroline died of malnutrition in Waterloo 1881.  I know of others but it is sometimes difficult to confirm an inmate’s orphan status in these institutions.

Not that this changes anything I’ve said in my preface.

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (32):a “Belfast girl” Mary McConnell

Some Unfinished histories (1)

Mary McConnell

I’m not sure how this will go. I’ll try getting in touch with some of the orphans’ descendants who sent me material in the past. Maybe together we can give an outline of a family history that may be of interest to others, even if it’s just to suggest possible lines of enquiry. I’ll attempt some of the things I’ve suggested earlier, such as make our own presence felt, find something about the orphan’s Irish background, as well as what happened to her in Australia. And I hope, put her in some kind of historical context. I’m sure you know all this already. You are welcome to make a suggestion about the things we ought to include. 

This time, I’ve chosen to write something about one of the infamous ‘Belfast Girls’, Mary McConnell. I’ve been in touch with one of Mary’s descendants, Mrs Pat Evans, for more than twenty-five years; she herself has been working on Mary for more than thirty. Tricia has provided lots of information about Mary’s history. She tells me that she is emotionally close to her orphan descendant. After all, she is her great-great grandmother. It took her a while to reconcile herself to some aspects of Mary’s life but she understands her, and admires her resilience. Tricia says, ” I am able to accept that my Mary was not what we would call a good girl today and at the same time extremely thankful of what she did to survive in the harshness of the day”.

We both are very grateful to a renowned local historian, Brian Andrews, who helped us put Mary’s life into context, in the Hunter Valley of  New South Wales. Unfortunately I lost contact with Brian some years ago. But I see, via the web, he was awarded an OAM for his work as a local historian. Congratulations and well-deserved, Brian. Brilliant work.

I’d like to keep this post in an unfinished form to emphasize that orphans’ family histories are constantly being revised. The ‘facts’ can change so quickly.

Tricia rightly suggests that if she was writing Mary’s history outside and independent of this blog, she’d provide a summary of the Earl Grey scheme, something like this,

“Lord Earl Grey, the British Secretary of State, thought he had the magic answer for several problems facing the English Parliament. He could rid the Irish workhouses of the orphaned paupers by supplying the Colonies with female labour and females to correct the imbalance of the sexes, which were both needed in great numbers in the Colony of New South Wales. This scheme was called the ‘Earl Grey Scheme’ and was to remove about 4,000 female Irish orphans from the disgusting workhouses throughout Ireland. The scheme was to survive for only two years.

See http://www.workhouses.org.uk/Belfast/

 
From the Belfast Workhouse, Mary, with the other ‘Belfast Orphans’, left Belfast traveling to Plymouth by the Steamer ‘Athlone’ under the supervision of wardmaster James Caldwell. The ‘Belfast Girls’ and many others then left Plymouth on the 3rd June 1848 per ‘Earl Grey’ to Sydney Australia where they arrived after 122 days at sea on 6 October 1848.
 
Whilst on this voyage each girl was given daily rations of ½ lb meat, ¼ lb flour, raisins, peas, rice, tea, sugar, butter and biscuits. Each girl was also outfitted with 6 shifts, 6 pairs of stockings – two worsted & 4 cotton, 2 pair of shoes, 2 gowns – one of woolen plaid, 2 short wrappers, 2 night wrappers, 2 flannel petticoats, 2 cotton petticoats, 1 stout worsted shawl & a cloak, 2 neck and 3 pocket handkerchiefs, 2 linen collars, 2 aprons, 1 pair of stays, 1 pair of sheets, 1 pair of mitts, 1 bonnet, day & night caps, 2 towels, 2lb of soap, combs & brushes, needles, threads, tape & whatever other little articles (such as a few yards of cotton or calico) the Matron may know young females to require. They were also given a Bible and Prayer Book suitable for their respective religions. Then they were given one box – length 2 feet, width 14 inches, deep 14 inches, with lock and key, to be painted, & the Emigrant’s name painted on the front, & a catalogue of the contents pasted on the inside of the lid. The box was ordered to be strongly made, so as to bear a long voyage & besides being locked they should be strongly corded.
The first ship to arrive in The Colony was ‘Earl Grey’ on the 6th October 1848 into the harbour of Port Jackson. The last ship carrying it’s live cargo entered Port Phillip, Melbourne on 31st March 1850 and she was the ‘Eliza Caroline’.  There is also known to be four ships that sailed into the Port of Adelaide in South Australia.
 
The ‘Belfast Girls’, per ‘Earl Grey’, as they were referred to, were classified as refractory. One of the girls (I must admit was not one of the good girls)  was my Mary McConnell”.
In her family history, Tricia would also say more about the voyage itself, and about Surgeon Grattan Douglass’s condemnation of the ‘Belfast girls’, and the subsequent enquiries that followed his report.
I’m not going to do that here, for my purpose throughout my blog, is to give a more detailed picture of the scheme and of the Irish Famine orphans themselves, than is usually the case. Tricia’s comments have prompted me to ask how many Earl Grey descendants have read the report of C. G. Otway, the Irish Poor Law Commissioner? It’s in my Barefoot & Pregnant? volume 1, which should be available in your local library. Why do you think it has had such little impact?
May I invite anyone writing their orphan family history, especially if he or she wants to delve deeper, to think about what I’ve said in these thirty-odd blog posts; about the origins of the scheme; about how the plan may belong more to the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners than Earl Grey himself; about how Irish Poor Law Commissioners and Boards of Workhouse Guardians arranged things at the Irish end; about Charter Parties and the regulations that applied to every government assisted voyage; about the orphans’ arrival and early days in Australia, and above all, about the ways we might try to put ourselves in an orphan’s shoes and view things through her eyes?
Here’s a link to what my blog contains, http://wp.me/p4SlVj-oE  If you wish to use any of it in a fuller family history of your own, please feel free. But also please acknowledge your debt in the conventional academic way. I believe that goes something like this,  my name, name of the blog post and the date you accessed the site. My thanks in advance.
Mary McConnell
At last, to Mary.
A recently posted family reconstitution form gives us a brief synopsis of Mary’s life. And already our ‘facts’ have changed; we find the form needs revising. There is a big question mark over the names of Mary’s parents. James and Fanny are the names Mary gave to Belfast workhouse. So I’ll call them James and Fanny McConnell. 

Tricia recently informed me that William Ashton‘s details are also incorrect. He was not a Bounty migrant who came by the Brothers in 1841. Rather, he was a convict found guilty of highway robbery at Liverpool Quarter Sessions in July 1838. He arrived in New South Wales on board the Theresa in 1839. Tricia discovered this through Maitland gaol records and the Maitland Mercury which linked William and Mary’s name together. We should also remove William’s parents’ names and his birthplace and date from the form, and change his occupations to ‘brickmaker, sawyer, labourer, and bushman’.  The other details are correct.

fomarymcconnellearl grey

 

 

Among descendants of the Famine orphans, the story of the “Belfast Girls” is relatively well-known. Surgeon Douglass described the ‘Belfast girls’ as “notoriously bad in every sense of the word“.  “The professed public woman and barefooted little country beggar have been alike sought after as fit persons to pass through the purification of the workhouse, ere they were sent as a valuable addition to the Colonists of New South Wales”. It was a stain that’s been very difficult to remove.

A detailed enquiry by Irish Poor Law Commissioner C. G Otway rebutted Douglass’s claims –as might be expected– and was supported by the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners in London–as also might be expected– but it was never enough to restore the good name of the rebellious ‘millies’ (Mill workers) and “gurriers” from Belfast. As far as the Surgeon, Captain, and Matron of the Earl Grey were concerned, Mary McConnell was “a professed public woman”. She, and the other ‘Belfast girls’, should not be allowed to land in Sydney. “Considering that the landing of the Belfast girls in Sydney, would assuredly lead to their final ruin, and being also impressed with the importance of separating them from the remainder of the Orphans, the Committee [the Sydney Orphan Committee] acceded to the proposal of Dr Douglass, that they should be at once forwarded into the Country” .

Let me mention in passing, how much I enjoyed Jaki McCarrick’s recent award winning play, Belfast Girls“, not as a nitpicking historian but for its dramatic sensibility, its contemporary relevance, and above all, Jaki’s sympathetic treatment of the young women.

Ellen (with renewed resolve) …Remember, this is what you’re to be wed ta. Your books. Your learnin’. For Molly’s sake — let none of us waste this journey an’ all we’ve learned. You — in here (points to her head) are a great gift to Australia, an’ don’t ya  forget it. We all are an’ must none of us forget it.

(Belfast Girls by Jaki McCarrick © Samuel French Ltd. London. All rights reserved

Reprinted by permission of Samuel French Ltd. on behalf of Jaki McCarrick)

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We are lucky the Otway Report has survived: it has specific information about Mary McConnell. (For more details, see Disc 2 of Ray Debnam’s CD set, Feisty Colleens).

In the report, two Belfast Detective Police Constables, DC John Cane and DC Stewart McWilliams testified that none of the Belfast girls accused of prostitution by Surgeon Douglass was known to them as such.

Stewart McWilliams,  Police Constable sworn:

I am one of the detective police;…I have been so employed for the last eighteen years; from the nature of my duties, I have a knowledge of all the houses of ill-fame, and the persons frequenting them in Belfast; all of the prostitutes I mean. I do not think there is a prostitute in the town I do not know…

From my knowledge of young persons working in mills and manufactories, I know they are generally unguarded in their language and mode of expression, and use unchaste language, though they may not be unchaste in person, or prostitutes.

I have read over the names on the list of the females sent in the first vessel from Belfast, and there is not the name of a single person that I ever knew or heard of as being a prostitute amongst them.

Look at the name whose initials correspond with Mary McCann, No. 45 I had no knowledge of her as a prostitute or person of bad character, and she could not have been well known in Belfast as a prostitute without my knowing it.

Look at Mary McConnell, No.55 I give the same answer… (Barefoot vol. 1, pp. 106-7.)

Given the circumstances, theirs is the kind of evidence we might expect? I leave you to decide for yourself. My view is that people today are not so quick to adopt the high moral ground; they understand how someone may depend upon prostitution to survive and others might use it for their own empowerment and material security. Maybe Surgeon Douglass too quickly accepted as truth the insults and obscene language the Belfast orphans hurled at one another.

More interesting than the Constables’ evidence is the testimony of Catherine McKevey who lived with her husband, a Pattern Maker, in Laggan Village. She had known Mary personally for the six years before she left for Australia.

Catherine McKevey sworn statement to C. G. Otway

Catherine McKevey sworn statement to C. G. Otway (Barefoot, 1, p.123)

This has an authentic ring to it, does it not? Mary’s parents were ‘decent, hard-working people‘. Mary had lived and worked with Mrs McKevey for about a year when she 14 or 15 years of age, as ‘a thorough servant‘ (i.e. doing everything). Her dad had died three years ago (in c. 1845-6) and her mum two (in c. 1846-7); ‘she was an orphan‘. ‘I heard (gossip) she was in the penitentiary and had not behaved herself as she ought‘. After Mrs McKevey’s, Mary had gone first into service, and then to work in Mr Montgomery’s mill. ‘I…advised her as to conducting herself well where she was going…‘.

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Good-bye your hens running in and out of the white house

Your absent-minded goats along the road, your black cows

Your greyhounds and your hunters beautifully bred

Your drums and your dolled-up Virgins and your ignorant

dead

(Louis MacNeice, Valediction)

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Sometimes family historians need to make an educated guess about what happened to a descendant. We’ve done that in some of what follows.

Mary was born in Tyrone, the daughter of James and Fanny McConnell, and baptised a Presbyterian. Surely she had siblings? Maybe a brother or sister died before she and her young parents went to Belfast, in the early 1840s. ‘Jummie’ McConnell, a weaver, part of the declining domestic-putting-out system in Tyrone, and like an ever increasing number of others, was told there’d be a job and hope in Belfast. It was a city built on mud flats, and already growing into Ireland’s major manufacturing city.  But in the 1840s, it was a mere fledgling of what it was to become later in the nineteenth century.

The young family went across Queen’s bridge to Laggan Village, down near the Short Strand and the bottom of Ravenhill Road, in County Down.  It was part of Ballymacarrat, a largely working-class and Protestant area, with its Iron Works, Vitriol Works, Rope Works and Textile Mills.  Tricia was informed by a Senior Research Fellow at Queen’s University that Laggan Village was on the South Bank of the Lagan River, a Protestant working-class area that included Ballarat Street, Dungevan Street and Bendigo and Carrington Streets. The map Tricia has is a fairly modern one; it includes Albertbridge, one of the bridges crossing the Lagan but that bridge was not finished until 1890.  In the recent ‘Troubles’, the area was a ‘narrow ground’, a battleground for sectarian conflict. It has since been rebuilt. I doubt if Mary would recognize it, if she returned today.

 “I never saw a richer country, or, to speak my mind, a finer people; the worst of them is the bitter and envenomed dislike which they have to each other. Their factions have been so long envenomed, and they have such narrow ground to do their battle in, that they are like people fighting with daggers in a hogshead” (Walter Scott 1825)

Mary appears not have carried any of that ‘venom’ with her. Her common-law husband, William Ashton, was a Roman Catholic and her children were baptised in the Church of England.

Her parents, Jimmy McConnell and his wife, Fanny, were ‘hard-working, decent people’. But Belfast would be no earthly paradise, and Laggan village would be their deathbed. 

Tricia, I’ve tried to find out a bit more about Belfast during the Famine years. I haven’t bought this book, just seen bits of it via Google; Christine Kinealy and Gerard Mac Atasney, The Hidden Famine. Hunger, Poverty and Sectarianism in Belfast, 1840-50, Pluto Press, 2000. (The authors also have a chapter in the Atlas of the Great Irish Famine). They explain Belfast did not escape ‘the devastation triggered by’ the Famine which is something not widely recognized by historians. Nearly 1500 people died in Belfast workhouse during 1847 (Mary would have seen many of them die). In the three months between late December 1846 and March 1847, during a very bad winter, nearly 280 thousand quarts of soup and 775 cwt of bread was given to the hungry through Belfast’s soup kitchens. “By the end of March, over 1,000 “wretched-looking beings” each day were receiving free rations of bread and soup at the old House of Correction“. The Belfast Relief Committee knew that more than food was needed.”There are to be found a vast number of families…who have neither bed nor bedding of any description–whose only couch is a heap of filthy straw, in the corner of a wretched apartment”. 

Now imagine you are 17-18 year-old Mary McConnell in late 1846, early 1847. Your dad died a year ago and you and your mum have survived, only just. In that desperately cold winter, your mum died too. You lost your job in the Flax Mill. What would you do? What do you think Mary did? Fight tooth and nail, as a street kid? Become a prostitute, at seventeen years of age? (that is still uncertain). Develop an obscenely sharp and cutting tongue to protect herself from rivals and predators? “That’s my fucken crust of bread, wee lad. Touch it and I’ll cut yer balls off”. Use soup kitchens; there was one in Ballymacarrat. Get into the workhouse when the cold months came. She was in Belfast workhouse “16 months previous to her emigration“, that is since early 1847 (Barefoot, 1, p.71).   But then she learned of the Earl Grey scheme, and with other street-wise young inmates, decided Australia was the place to go. Some of her shipmates, the Hall sisters, Rose McLarnon and Eliza Mulholland also had an association with Ballymacarrat.

 None of Douglass’s ‘troublemakers’ was allowed to disembark at Port Jackson. All of the orphans had to stay on board whilst the Sydney Orphan Committee called Surgeon, Matron, and Ship’s Master before them. They decided the feisty, rebellious, pilfering, potty-mouthed Belfasters should be kept separate from the others and sent immediately into the hinterland. Mary would be sent by steamer to Maitland, with eleven others, Ellen Rooney, Eliza Conn, Mary Black, Anne McGuire et al. Another thirty seven would be sent to Moreton Bay. Did Mary ever meet any of the others again? Would she have recognized them if she had passed them on the streets of Maitland in the 1880s?
One wonders too if the recalcitrant Belfasters suffered the same punishment as those observed by James Porter when he travelled to Moreton Bay as cuddy-boy on board the Eagle towards the end of 1849. “There (sic) hair had been cut short…consequently they were afterwards called ‘short grasses’. Their dress consisted of a plain cotton gown with white spots which hung loose from the neck to the feet. They were covered with heavy hob-nailed shoes. Each girl if she had any idea of adornment had no means of carrying it out”. It was a common punishment for convict women.
To be continued
We’ll take up the story of Mary’s life in the Hunter Valley, next time.