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

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

B&P?1 Introduction (c)

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

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

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

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

belfastsculpture

 

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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 (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 (39): Irish Famine women, a challenge or three

IRISH FAMINE WOMEN; a challenge or three+

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

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

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

 

page 1 Irish Famine Women; a challenge or three

a chairde

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Careful as you go. Mind your language.

Trevor McClaughlin 24 August 2013

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (20):British Parliamentary Papers, female orphan emigration returns

British Parliamentary papers:

female orphan emigration returns

These scans of  xerox copies I made in c. 1980 may prove useful to some people. I recently found them among my research notes on Cartesian philosophers!

The first document is from the Select Committee of the House of Lords appointed to inquire into the operation of the Irish Poor Law, and the expediency of making any amendments to its enactments. Sixth Report. Appendix to Minutes of evidence, BPP HC 1849-49, vol 16, No. 507, pp.64-66. It tells us which Irish Poor Law Unions the orphans came from and which ship they traveled on.

You will notice the misinformation regarding the first two vessels. Unfortunately it does not include information about vessels that arrived later, in 1850.

The appendix is online here somewhere but I haven’t been able to find the exact page,

fosplushselords
fosplushselords2.
fosplushselords3.

The next document is from BPP HC 1850 (XXVII) Commissioners for administering Laws for the Relief of the Poor in Ireland. Third Annual Report Appendix B pp.132-34 . You will notice this is where the figure 4114  female orphans  comes from but my Barefoot, vols I and II has slightly more, about 4150, from memory. I assume the number in the database will be closer to the second figure. Please excuse my shonky scanning.

Luckily nowadays one can gain access to these things online. Try

fosbpp1850xxvii592
fosbpp1850xxvii593
fosbpp1850xxvii594

Which reminds me…I’ve been hearing people say things like many of the orphans married more than once or the orphans often married more than once. Both ‘many’ and ‘often’ imply a measure. I was wondering has anyone actually counted or is it just a general impression, even an anecdotal one? Is it one in five, or 100 out of 300, or 400 out of 4000? And what percentage of marriages is each of these?

I’m having a little trouble with my post on the ending of the Earl Grey scheme. Soon come.

Glac bog an saol agus glacfaidh an saol bog tú …which reminds me of Yeats’s “tread softly for you tread …”

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

Government Preparations again

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

(a) Imperial and colonial government preparations

(b) arrival and early days of the young women in Australia

(c) opposition to and the end of the ‘ Earl Grey scheme’

(d) NSW government enquiry of 1858-9.

Maybe start with that.

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

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

“We must work & play and John Jacob Niles

will sing our souls to rest

(in his earlier-78 recordings).

Tomorrow we’ll do our best, our best,

tomorrow we’ll do our best”.

(John Berryman, The Home Ballad.)

——————————————–

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

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

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

Government Planning

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charles Augustus Fitzroy. Governor of New South Wales

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

Gov H Young1850

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

Gov Latrobe engraving

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Orphan Committees

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

The Sydney committee consisted of

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

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

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

The Melbourne committee comprised

  • The Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Melbourne, Charles Perry (Anglican)
  • The Right Reverend Dr Goold (Roman Catholic) http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/goold-james-alipius-3633
  • Edward Carr Esq.
  • The Very Reverend P. B Geoghegan, Vicar General (Roman Catholic)
  • The Reverend Irvine Hetheringon
  • Wm Lonsdale Esq., Sub-Treasurer
  • Dr John Patterson, Immigration Agent (former naval surgeon from Strabane)
  • Robert W Pohlman Esq., Chief Commissioner of Insolvents’ Estates
  • James Hunter Ross Esq.
  • Andrew Russell Esq.
  • James Simpson Esq.,  http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/simpson-james-2665
  • The Reverend A C Thompson

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

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

The Adelaide committee included

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew Moorhouse, South Australia

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

F L S Merewether NSW Immigration Agent until 1851

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

Indenturing orphans

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

South Australia

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

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

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

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

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

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

adelaide hindley1849

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

New South Wales

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

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

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

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

Pitt St1851

Pitt St Sydney 1851 courtesy of the State Library NSW

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anne Smith's apprenticeship indenture

Anne Smith’s apprenticeship indenture

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

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

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

Some of us may need to catch up…

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (12): Maps, Orphans in Victoria

MAPS

In the last post I mentioned a possible use for completed family reconstitutions viz. maps showing the location of the orphans at particular times in their lives. Here’s a couple I used in Barefoot 2–the location of the orphans in Victoria in c.1861. This one is based on the birth records of their children. The second one is the location of the orphans in Victoria at the end of their lives c.1890-1901; this one is based on their death certificates.

Mike Murphy used some of these maps in that magnificent volume, Atlas of the Great Irish Famine, p. 554.  A couple relating to Queensland in particular also appeared in Irish Women in Colonial Australia, pp.112-3. Obviously the more information is gathered about the orphans the more these maps will need redrawing. Nor do you have to stick with the dates I’ve chosen.

Anyways, for your perusal…perhaps you can see the influence of the Victorian gold rushes?

Earl Grey Orphans in Victoria c. 1861

fosvic1861

Earl Grey orphans in Victoria c. 1861

Earl Grey orphans in Victoria c. 1891-1901

fosvic1891a

Earl Grey orphans in Victoria c. 1891-1901

As you can see, family reconstitutions have more than one use. Maybe you can think of others?

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans 7 (c): The Voyage.. with orphan voices

The Voyage (cont.)

I’m going to have a go at this; an historian’s view of the female orphans’ voyage to Australia interspersed with, and in a blue typeface, imaginary voices or snippets of conversation from the young women themselves. I promise not to go ‘overboard’ with this (that’s a terrible pun). There is a great variety of possible ‘voices’-over 4,000 individual ones in fact. The psychological effects of the Famine, the loss of loved ones, their varied workhouse experiences and the different strategies they used to cope with life’s setbacks are all in the mix. So too must be the ebullience of young women setting out for a new life. I’ll do my best to immerse myself in the sources and not just pluck something out of the air. What I put into their mouths may be very different from what readers think they would say. But the benefits, I believe, outweigh the negatives; it helps us see the young women’s voyage differently and it gives them something they haven’t had before; a voice of their own, however inadequate that imaginary voice may be. At least it makes us view and think about the famine orphans from a different perspective.

Some very talented writers have had a go at this already. Kirsty Murray’s Bridie’s Fire, (Allen & Unwin, 2003), Evelyn Conlon’s  Not the Same Sky, (Wakefield Press, 2013) and Jaki McCarrick’s play, Belfast Girls scheduled for Artemisia Theater in Chicago in May 2015, show just how stimulating this approach can be. For example, Jaki McCarrick treats the voyage as a liminal space, a world– between the world they have left– and a world they have yet to see.  http://www.theatreinchicago.com/belfast-girls/7557/

Reflect on this. The long, three to four month, voyage was a transforming experience for the young women; for many it was the first time they had gone outside their small familiar world and met people and cultures other than their own. Friendships and alliances they made on board ship might be short-lived and fluid, or last well into their new Australian home, at least until they married. Virtually all of them lacked the family support that other Irish migrants had; thus their shipboard alliances became crucial to their survival and well being–ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine. (Under the shelter of each other, people survive).

Historians, in their own fashion, have long appreciated the importance of the voyage to Australia. Emigrants generally, “when at last they landed…were by no means the same people who had boarded ship months before” (Charlwood). What occurred was ‘a gradual and complex adjustment’  that sheds light on their subsequent behaviour (Campbell). Maybe they felt remorse at leaving Ireland, some becoming ultra-Irish in Australia, some “deliberately severing bonds with home, wishing to vanish and hear of it no more” (O’Farrell). Unwise of us, then, to dismiss the voyage as being of little significance, don’t you think?

—–

At the end of post number three (3) http://wp.me/p4SlVj-2p I outlined some of the arrangements Guardians of different workhouses made, outfitting and conveying to Plymouth the female orphans in their charge. The outline is clear enough–the clothes, the wooden boxes and other necessities–and the carts, Bianconi coaches, and trains that carried the young women to an Irish Port and thence to Plymouth. But the details often escape us.

Were the orphans’ clothes cut to the same style and shape? Were they of a dull grey and black or dark green colour? Some seamstresses we know used gingham. And at the International Irish Famine seminar in Sydney in 2013 one of the speakers talked of the availability of inexpensive, usually blue-patterned, cloth in mid nineteenth century. Exactly what were the  clothes  the young women wore? Were they tight-fitting, full length, allowing little freedom of movement? Were some of the young women wearing their own fitted shoes for the first time, or even wearing underwear for the first time? How did they wash? What toilet facilities were available to them? Maybe our concerns would not have been their concerns?

The orphans must have been quite a sight moving through the Irish countryside, making their way to a local train station or to a local port where they could catch a steamer to Dublin or Cork. What kind of cart, or coach, or train, did they travel in? How fast did it move? How comfortable were they? What did they do if it rained? “Aw Mr Donovan, Mr Donovan, what’ll happen if it rains?   Be quiet Bridie Ryan, ye’ll do as ye’ve always done, get wet; and dry out as ye’ve always done.” 

I never cease to be amazed at how little I know about these things, and about the private lives of the Earl Grey female orphans. It may be worth thinking about this a bit more, sometime in the future. In Ireland, was their family and their village the focus of their private life? Did communal living in a workhouse afford little time for solitude, or developing self-awareness? Did that  experience make them eager to create a family life for themselves once they arrived in Australia?

——-

Board of Guardian Arrangements

Apart from Edward Senior’s assembling orphans from a number of different workhouses, in Belfast, in May 1848, generally it was left to individual workhouses to arrange transport of ‘their own‘ orphans to Plymouth, the port of embarkation for all Australia bound Famine orphans. Most of them, it would seem, went first to Dublin where they boarded a steamer to take them to Plymouth.

A comprehensive survey of Board of Guardian minute books might tell us how many orphans departed via Cork. Kay Caball, for instance, reports in her Kerry Girls that orphans for the Elgin and John Knox, from Kenmare and Killarney, left from Penrose Quay in Cork. (The thirty-five young women from Killarney for the Elgin went first to Liverpool and thence to Plymouth, poor things). However, the orphans from Listowel and Dingle by the Thomas Arbuthnot and the Tippoo Saib left from Dublin. Síle Murphy, in Coppeen, tells me that orphans from Dunmanway and Skibbereen in West Cork also left from Penrose Quay in Cork. We know, too, from the Clonmel Board of Guardians’ Minute Books, that at least one group of women went to Cork, and others by rail to Dublin. Perhaps it all depended on who was available to examine the young women before they left Ireland.

Longford Board of Guardian Minute Book 29 November 1848

The following orders of the Poor Law Commissioners were laid before the Board and directions given thereon, as follows:

Dublin 24th November 1848 Enclosing a list of the Female emigrants selected by Lieut. Henry and directing that they arrive at Plymouth on the 4th December the day named for the sailing of the Vessel for South Australia and the necessity of their being in Dublin on Saturday 2nd December before 12 o’clock for the Duke of Cornwall steamer to take them to Plymouth.

[Then follows the names of 50 young women, ranging in age from 15 to 18 years.]

Resolved that Mr Doyle the Master do proceed in charge to Dublin and pay the necessary charge and expense…

Rossgrey (Roscrea) Board of Guardian Minute Book (Oct.1848-July 1849)

30 December 1848 A letter was received from Lt Henry, emigration officer, directing the Master to have the 60 girls who had been selected for emigration, in Dublin on the evening of the 9th instant. The Master stated that he would require a person to assist in escorting the emigrants to Dublin and a cheque for expenses. Ordered  and a cheque for expenses to be drawn…

17 February 1849 The Clerk having reported that the cost of the 60 emigrant girls forwarded from this Union was as follows:

Outfit of clothing and necessaries……………………………………..£228.12.2

Master and Assistant’s expenses escorting them ……………………5.0.0

Railway fares……………………………………………………………………………13.3.6

Lodging and board in Dublin…………………………………………………15.15.6

Cords and cards for boxes………………………………………………………..2.3.0

Fares to Plymouth…………………………………………………………………..40.10.0

Total                                                                                                  £305.4.2

Clogheen (Tipperary) Board of Guardian Minute Book

7 July 1849

Resolved that the Clerk be directed to write to the Superintendent of the railroad station at Dublin requesting he will direct that the 3rd class carriage may be attached to the day mail train on Wednesday the 18th instant for the conveyance of the 26 females proposed for emigration to Australia or that he will give direction that they be permitted to travel in a second class carriage at the rate of fare paid for the 3rd class and to request an immediate answer.

Resolved that the Clerk be directed to write to Mr Bianconi requesting he will state on what terms he will provide for the conveyance of 26 females and that the person in charge with 26 boxes 2 feet long, 14 inches high and 14 inches wide from the Clogheen workhouse to the Dundrum Gold’s Cross railroad station on the morning of the 18th instant in time for sufficient for their further conveyance too Dublin by the day mail train…

Resolved that the Clerk be directed to purchase from Mr Hackett, stationer, Clonmel 26 prayer books and 26 Bibles (Douai) for the females proposed for emigration and that he be further directed to purchase any necessary articles which may be required for which provision has not already been made by the Guardians.

————

honorahaydonlapeel

Honora Haydon per Lady Peel

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Bridget Flannigan per Tippoo Saib

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Bridget Flood per Eliza Caroline

My thanks to all the descendants of Famine orphans who sent me photographs to use.

Crossing to Plymouth

Clearly, getting to Plymouth could be a complicated and expensive task. In the late 1840s Ireland’s railway network was limited. There was only about 120 miles of track in 1847 but things were improving so that by 1853 Dublin was connected by rail to Waterford, Limerick, Galway and Belfast (MacDonagh, Pattern, 1961). Still, many an Earl Grey orphan must have risen very early in the morning and travelled by cart, often in the dark, to join the mail train at a station closest to their workhouse. And what of those from remote parts, from Ballyshannon, from Ennistymon, from Listowel and Dingle, for example? Did they travel all the way to Dublin by cart? How good were the roads? Such conditions added hours, even days, to the initial stages of the orphans’ voyage.

One of the advantages of the unholy row concerning the ‘Belfast Girls’ who came by the first ship, the Earl Grey, is that we find detailed information about their voyage to Plymouth in the government enquiries that ensued. (The documents in the first volume of my Barefoot…? are all about that ‘unholy row’). Surprisingly, Edward Senior, Poor Law Inspector for the North-East of Ireland, wrote in defense of his choice of orphans that even “when their friends and relatives were crowding on the pier endeavouring to press into their ship, their conduct was exemplary…”. We sometimes forget the orphans had friends and relatives too. The letters orphans supposedly sent back from Brisbane and Sydney mention sisters and aunties and a step-mother to whom they wished to be remembered, and from whom they’d like a lock of hair: more than just the orphans themselves were affected by the Earl Grey scheme.

One can well imagine the scene when the young women left other workhouses, perhaps ‘keeners’ coming together in Irish speaking areas. Oliver MacDonagh (Pattern, 1961, pp.167-8) writes of ‘the piercing experience of parting’ for many an emigrant at this time: “some of the women would fall fainting when they saw any person going, others would hang out of the car to keep back the departing one; but when it would go, the whole lot, men and women, would raise a cry of grief that would wrest an echo from the peaks”. The young women on board the Thomas Arbuthnot, for example, fell to keening as they rounded the Cape of Good Hope on Christmas Day 1849, mná caointe literally letting their hair down, in small groups, moving rhythmically, perhaps registering their protest and renewal, defining themselves… Their keening was not about ‘mercenary tears’.  According to one witness, “…circle after circle rapidly formed, and the shrieks of grief and woe resounded through the good Thomas Arbuthnot from stem to stern”. (Reid and Mongan, ‘a decent set of girls’, p.123).

S ariú! Agus méliom féin
Dá mbeitheá go moch agam…
Agus och! och! ochón airiú! – gan thú!

(And now I’m on my own,
If I had you at the break of dawn…
Agus och! och! ochón airiú! – without you!)

Or maybe this one farewelled those going to join the Lismoyne in August 1849; it’s called Slán le Máigh. It’s associated with localities near the River Maigue.

Och, ochón, is breoite mise                                                            
gan chuid gan chóir gan chóip gan chiste 
gan sult gan seod gan spórt gan spionnadh 
ó seoladh mé chun uaignis.

(Alas, alas! ’tis sickly I am,
Without possessions or rights, without company or treasure,
Without pleasure or property, without sport or vigour,
Since I was sent into loneliness.)

(my thanks to Tom Power and Síle ní Murphy for this caoineadh)

cathyfoxearlgrey

Cathy Fox per Earl Grey

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Eliza McDermott per Tippoo Saib

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Eliza Greenwood per Earl Grey

 

But back to the Earl Grey orphans: it was more than a week after leaving Belfast before they could board their ship at Plymouth. Their first journey would be long and uncomfortable. On the night of 24 May 1848, the young women from Dungannon, Cooktown, Armagh, Banbridge and other outlying workhouses slept in an auxiliary Belfast workhouse building in Barrack Street where Poor Law Inspector Senior called the roll.

Sarah Arlow         Heer, Sur

Isabella Banks      Here   sir

Susan Barnett        Here, sir

Annie Best           Sur, here

Margaret Best       Sur, here  (This is not the way, me trying to reproduce dialects. I should stop that.)

The next day they joined the orphans from Belfast workhouse and later that day, all 185 of them, made their way through the streets of Belfast to join the steamer Athlone at the docks. It was quite a parade, a long line of young women in the charge of James Caldwell, Ward Master, accompanied by Poor Law Inspector Senior, maybe some other Workhouse officers and members of the Board of Guardians, and ‘friends’ of the orphan emigrants, all of them making their way from Belfast workhouse (now the City Hospital) across town to the pier at the docks. Their boxes would have preceded them and been put on board in the hold before they arrived. Maybe the sun was shining that spring evening or a light drizzle fell on their faces? Maybe there was a lot of crying? Maybe there was laughter and banter? The next morning they arrived in Dublin, 26 May.

Other emigrant families joined this first shipload of female orphans in Dublin. But the orphans had to stay on board while Lieutenant Henry inspected them. Then they waited till the steamer left for Plymouth the following evening, the 27th. It was yet another 42 hours before they arrived at Plymouth Depot, at 2 o’clock on Monday 29 May! The following days were spent in the Depot being checked by representatives of the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners and being organized into messes. James Caldwell later reported to the Otway enquiry (Barefoot…?, vol. 1) that one orphan had lost a shoe in landing and another lacked “two bed gowns and one petticoat that she had not been furnished with; I bought material to make her two bed gowns and one petticoat and gave it to her; the clothes of the Belfast girls were numbered, and a card, with a list of their clothing, nailed on the inside of the box…”.

Crossing by steamer from Dublin or Cork to Plymouth was probably the most uncomfortable part of the orphans’ long voyage. The steamers were known as ‘deckers’, that is, there was little protection from the elements. Our orphans may have slept lying down on the deck in crowded conditions, making do with the meagre supply of food they carried with them. There was plenty of time to be sea-sick, or be drenched by the rain. Ach Jeez Mary Boyle will ye move over and let me lie down? Eliza Carroll’s just been sick. I don’t want to sleep next to her.

The Plymouth Emigrant Depot

In October 1849, Surgeon Charles Strutt, the best Surgeon the orphans could have wished for, saw that orphans intended for the Thomas Arbuthnot were in a miserable, bedraggled, soaking-wet state when they arrived in Plymouth. He organized a bath for over a hundred of them. One can only hope that other surgeons were capable of such kindness. Many an Earl Grey orphan appreciated a good meal and a decent night’s sleep in the Emigration Depot before boarding the vessel that would take her to Australia.

The Emigrant Depot in Plymouth was also the place where well-meaning members of parliament, clergymen and naval officers saw prospective emigrants for the colonies. They were quick to express their opinions and prejudices to the Commissioners. Thus the “girls” by the first two vessels  (the Earl Grey and the Roman Emperor) “did not show any peculiar absence of cleanliness, yet, with some exceptions, they were wanting in that orderly and tidy appearance which characterize many of the female emigrants from Great Britain. Though generally short and not at all well-looking, they did not appear weak or unhealthy; they seemed good-humoured and well-disposed…” (Mr Divett M.P. August 1848).  Or, “I would say that they were better calculated for milking cows and undergoing the drudgery of a farm servant’s life, than to perform the office of a lady’s maid” (Rev. T. Childs, August 1848). Meanwhile, that same month, Lieutenant Carew R.N. commented sympathetically, “In one respect they are very inferior, viz. in personal appearance and physical development, caused, I believe, by a life of poverty, and having from infancy been always ill-fed. Could these girls, however, be seen after having been six months in Australia, after having, during that time, enjoyed the fresh air and plenty of good nourishing food, with a feeling of independence, I believe the change would be so wonderful that it would be difficult to recognize them…”. (from British Parliamentary Papers, 1,000 volume Irish Universities Press edition, Colonies Australia Sessions 1849-50, Despatches from the Right Honourable Earl Grey, Secretary of State, vol.11, pp. 351-2).

The Plymouth Depot was the first and only place, on English soil, that representatives of the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners (CLEC) actually met the orphans. They would examine their papers; check their boxes; see that each had the outfit required; and check they were in a good state of health. That the CLEC paid such meticulous attention to the Earl Grey scheme is the reason the orphans’ death rate was so low; less than 1%! It is worth repeating; the female orphans who arrived in Australia did not experience the tragic death rates of the Irish who went to British North America in 1847-8. Australia did not have a Grosse Isle or a Partridge Island or the grief that extended all along the St. Lawrence River.

Regulations for the Voyage to Australia

Britain’s 1843 Passenger Act and the modified 1847 and 1849 Acts may have imploded under the sheer weight of Irish numbers fleeing to British North America. But they worked well for the Earl Grey female orphans who went to Australia. The Australian scheme was very well organized, which is not to say it didn’t have its problems. The Passenger Acts, like the Earl Grey scheme itself, were a work in progress; it would not be until the 1855 Act that the British government was satisfied they had things the way they wanted.  My impression is that the earlier regulations and charter parties, (i.e. contracts between CLEC and shipping companies or their brokers), focused particularly on ships’ conditions, space for emigrants, their dietary, and prevention of intercourse between female migrants and crew members. It was not until early October 1849 that a detailed regulation of the emigrant’s day was written down and given an official imprimatur.  That’s something worth checking since it implies the orphans who sailed before October 1849 were not subject to the same detailed guidelines as those who sailed after that date.

Extract from Charter Party of Thomas Arbuthnot 18 August 1848

(not carrying orphans this time but it did carry Surgeon Strutt)

Sir,

We hereby tender to Her majesty’s Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners the above Ship, rated A1 at Lloyds, for the conveyance of Passengers to Port Adelaide, Port Phillip or Sydney at the rate of £13-15- Pt Phillip, £13-17-6 Pt Adelaide, £13-7-6 Sydney for each Adult passenger, subject to the stipulations contained in the Charter Party hereto annexed…

4. That the said Ship shall at all times during the continuance of this contract be fitted in the between decks with proper bed places for the accommodation of he passengers, and with a separate Hospital for males and females, fitted up with bed places and two swing cots; and that the said Ship shall also be fitted and furnished with with sufficient water closets, a head pump, a good accommodation ladder for the use of passengers in embarking and disembarking; and, also for the exclusive use of passengers, with such cooking apparatus as may be approved by the said Commissioners…of good coals, wood, and coke; of scrapers, brooms, swabs, sand, and stones for dry rubbing, four to be mounted; together with whatever else the said Commissioners or their Agents, be thought necessary for the cleanliness of the Ship, and the comfort and safety of the passengers in addition to the following mess utensils viz.–For each Mess of six persons.

One mess kit, with handle,

One tin oval dish–About 14 inches long and 4 inches deep,

One mess bread basket–About 14 inches long, 6 1/2 inches deep and 10 wide with handles,

Two three-pint tin pots, with covers and bar hooks, for boiling water,

Two water-breakers of two gallons each, properly slung for use,

One potatoe bag,

One pudding bag, 

with an addition of one-fifth to provide against loss or breakage…

Miscellaneous

19. And it is hereby mutually agreed that the Commissioners have the right to appoint a Surgeon, who shall be entitled to a cabin, to be approved by their Agent, with an allowance of forty cubical feet of space in the hold for luggage, and shall be dieted at the Captain’s table, on condition of his taking the medical charge of of the Officers and Crew of the Ship.

20. That the Master is strictly to forbid and prevent on the part of the Crew or Officers any intercourse whatever with the Female Passengers on board, and also the sale of spirituous or fermented liquors to the Passengers.

Which is not to say such conditions were rigorously adhered to; one of the ‘mistakes’ of the Surgeon (?) of the Earl Grey was to make the messes too large, about twenty five orphans together, instead of a much smaller, more easily controlled, number. He and the Matron would get into a heap of trouble with the ‘Belfast Girls’.

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Margaret Stack per Thomas Arbuthnot with grandchildren

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Honora Shea per New Liverpool

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Ann Nelligan per Pemberton

 

 

Extract from the 1849 Regulations

Appendix 7 to the 10th General Report of the CLEC 6 October 1849

 You can read it at <a title=”Appendix 7″ href=”http://www.dippam.ac.uk/eppi/documents/12723/page/320998“>http://www.dippam.ac.uk/eppi/documents/12723/page/320998&nbsp; Click on the second one.

(You may have to type the reference into your browser and ‘go to’ page 46)

1. Every passenger to rise at 7 a.m. unless otherwise permitted by the surgeon, or, if no surgeon, by the master.

2. Breakfast from 8 to 9 a. m., dinner at 1 p.m., supper at 6 p.m….

8. The passengers, when dressed, to roll up their beds, to sweep the decks (including the space under the bottom  of the  berths), and to throw the dirt overboard…

11. Duties of the sweepers to be to clean the ladders, hospitals, and round houses, to sweep the decks after every meal, and to dry-holystone and scrape them after breakfast…

18. On Sunday the passengers to be mustered at 10 a.m., when they will be expected to appear in clean and decent apparel. The day to be observed as religiously as circumstances will admit…

Additional Regulations…

1. The emigrants are to be divided into messes…

3. The surgeon-superintendent will appoint from among the emigrants a sufficient number of constables for the enforcement of the regulations, and of cleanliness and good order.

4. The constables will attend daily at the serving out of the provisions, to see that each mess receives its proper allowance, and that justice is done…

7. If there be no religious instructor on board, or schoolmaster appointed by the Commissioners, the surgeon-superintendent will select a person to act as teacher to the children.

—————

The Route Taken

 In post 7 (a) there is a picture of the Constance as it made its way to Adelaide. I’ve reproduced it here. Have a look where Kerguelens Land is on the map below, which is from Robin Haines, Doctors at Sea, Palgrave Macmillan, 2005, p. 3, with permission of the author. It’s just above where it says ‘Southern Ocean’.

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Dutton, T. G. & Day and Son. (1853). The Constance 578 tons off Kerguelens Land, 20th Octr. 1849 on her passage from Plymouth to Adelaide in 77 days. From the Nan Kivell collection with permission of the National Library of Australia.

Hainesvoyages

Routes taken by ships from Britain to Australia ‘before 1840’ to 1960

The Captain’s decision to take the recently discovered Great Circle Route meant the Constance arrived in Adelaide in record time, after only 77 days. But she had to sail through the icy waters of the Southern Ocean, dodging pack ice, and endangering her passengers. (There were a number of deaths on board the Constance). The Commissioners were furious but eventually they recommended a modified route for emigrant ships sailing to Australia, according to the time of year. Fortunately, no ship carrying orphans went so far south. The Earl Grey was to take 123 days but somewhere along the way it lost its yardarm and mainmast which slowed its progress considerably. The Thomas Arbuthnot, in contrast, took only 88 days, according to the unidentified witness quoted above (re keening). By my count the figure should be 96 days. According to my calculations, the average length of the voyage between Plymouth and Adelaide for Earl Grey orphan ships was c. 101 days; for Port Phillip, c. 98 days; and for Port Jackson, c. 108 days. No matter which ship the orphans boarded, it was a long time to be at sea.

How did they pass the time?

Regulations such as those above, and Instructions to Surgeons, give us some idea how the orphans’ day was planned; when to rise; when to open and close scuttles and hatches; when to eat; when to sweep and clean; when to knit or sew; when to go to school, or when to go on deck, and when to go to bed. But remember, the Commissioners were not on board to oversee how well their regulations were applied. As I’ve said before, there is often a difference between how things should be and how things are, in practice. There were, in fact, lots of variables involved.

How well did a Surgeon relate to young women, and they to him? Was the Surgeon’s relationship with the ship’s Captain and Officers to their mutual advantage? What if the Captain was uncooperative and irascible?

How strong a personality was the Matron? How caring was she? Could she explain to an orphan having her first period what was happening? Help! Help! There’s blood all over my legs. What’s happening to me?– Shush now, Ellen. Here, come here, my wee pet. Some of the young women on the Roman Emperor began having their first period, only to find the Surgeon unprepared for the eventuality. There were not enough ‘cloths’ on board to go round. The main illness recorded by the Surgeon of the Earl Grey was amenorrhoea. Either ovulation was suppressed by severe physiological hardship and stress, or some young ones were beginning to ovulate in a stop-start sort of way.

What were the dynamics of adolescent interaction between themselves, and towards authority figures; Surgeon, Matron or Sub-Matron, Master of their vessel or First Mate? How did young adolescent women relate to other members of the crew? Mary Madgett, Mary, Look at the young fella with the scarf on his head? Isn’t he lovely? Isn’t he busy? And what happened if unforeseen events occurred– blustery stormy sea-swelling weather when a mainmast broke, and came crashing down–how scary was that for someone who had not been to sea before? What excitement and chatter there was when they stopped at Tenerife or the Cape of Good Hope for ‘wood and water’, saw an albatross or shark, or were invited by King Neptune to join him in Davy Jones’s locker when they ‘crossed the line’.

The Commissioners, however, had a weapon in hand. Surgeons were required to keep a diary and a medical journal. When the ships arrived in Australia an Immigration Agent and his assistants inspected the ship and interviewed the migrants. If anything was remiss, if the conditions of the Charter Party were found to be unfulfilled, then gratuities for the Master and his Officers, and for the Matron and the Surgeon were withheld, and they would never again be employed on an emigrant ship.

On the second vessel to Sydney, the Inchinnan, there was short issue of rations and maltreatment of some of the orphans by the Surgeon, Mr. Ramsay. See http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/page/1512513?zoomLevel=2 The young women on board were gutsy enough to complain about and redress the short issue of rations. They were gutsy, litigious young women prepared to stand up for their rights. Mary Stephens/Stevens from Mayo even took the Captain to court for throwing her on the deck, for kicking her and beating her with a stick.  An account of the case was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald 8 March 1849. You can read about it here, in a report from the Central Criminal Court http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/page/1512481?zoomLevel=1

On the Digby, the orphans were also defrauded of a large portion of their rations. The Immigration Board in Sydney (Merewether, Savage and Browne) submitted a detailed report to the Colonial Secretary based on the Surgeon’s private log. It provided overwhelming evidence that the Captain was “utterly unfit to command an emigrant ship”. “Dr Neville further charged the Master with having ‘permitted the Sailors to be too familiar with the female Emigrants in opposition to the authority on board and clause No 20 of the Charter Party'”. (The reference I have is State Records NSW Reel 2852 4/4699 Reports 1838-49 but it is an old one).

Or again–in November 1849 Francis Merewether, the Immigration Agent, informed the Master of the William and Mary that gratuities to himself and his Officers were being withheld. The Matron was to receive only half of hers and three of the sub-matrons nothing at all. The Captain and his Officers were rude, insulting and interfered with the Surgeon when he tried to perform his duties. And they had not issued the emigrants with their full allowance of rations and medical comforts. Dysentery, diarrhoea and amenorrhoea were the principal diseases on board.

Not that these examples are typical of the whole Earl Grey scheme. But it’s worth searching for such reports, if only for what they tell us about the orphans’ voyage. The Surgeon of the Roman Emperor to Adelaide reported that “to establish discipline, preserve good order and prevent moral evil, I experienced much difficulty…The excitement caused by arrival which naturally prevails, inordinately affects the Irish of the class to which these emigrants belong”. The Inconstant to Adelaide also had its troubles; matrons visiting the Captain’s cabin; the Captain reputedly striking the Surgeon; crew members’ dissatisfaction with their Captain. Becca, Johanna, Did you see that hussy go off with the Captain? Will we tell the others?

For the sake of balance, here are a couple of examples from ships arriving in Hobson’s Bay, Port Phillip: Isabella Browne, acting as a nurse and in charge of the Hospital on the Diadem, arranged nocturnal visits (i.e. at 2 .am.) for occasional crew members. Yet “it appears that the Surgeon Superintendent used much vigilance in endeavouring to prevent communication or intercourse between the girls and crew, seldom retiring from the deck to his Cabin before 12 o’Clock at night, and sometimes 1 or 2 o ‘Clock in the morning”.  To modern eyes, middle class Victorians certainly had a fixation about keeping the sexes apart.

And from the report on the Derwent, “9. The Board cannot conclude without remarking upon the very indifferent success attending the School established on board…” although the greater part of the orphans “attended the school regularly throughout the voyage, very few had learned to spell their own names or the most simple words”. It would appear Northeners were adept at bucking the system.

——–

Let me finish this by comparing two very different voyages, that of the Earl Grey and that of the Thomas Arbuthnot. They  illustrate some of the things I’ve been talking about. But they are like chalk and cheese. The Surgeon of the Earl Grey, Henry Grattan Douglass was a fifty-eight year old member of the Protestant Irish Ascendancy. He had little sympathy for the young women in his charge, especially the ‘Belfast girls’, and even less understanding. They clashed early in the voyage, barely two weeks out. “The first eight or ten days most of the people were sick, and I did not pay much attention to the language used by them, but when they recovered, the difficulty I had with them for the first month was extreme, as they used the most abominable language. and actually fought with each other”. (See my Barefoot…? vol. 1, or Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council of New South Wales 1850, vol. 1 pp.394ff).

On the 16th June Douglass found two orphans fighting, one of them armed with a fork,– maybe Catherine Graham or Catherine McCann? I’ll have your bloody guts with this, ya wee shite. Douglass ordered her to be put on the Poop where she was bound to be reviled, insulted and mocked by the crew. (The Surgeon of the Inchinnan would later be chastised for using such a punishment. Not so Dr Douglass). The Belfast ‘girls’ objected to Douglass’s authoritarianism and rose in revolt demanding Cathy’s release. As you’d expect, there’d be only one winner in such a clash, the one who held most power and who was backed by the Master of the vessel. Maybe they reached an uneasy truce. The women, some of them undoubtedly worldly-wise, street smart, and all too familiar with the school of hard knocks, set down their markers. We’re going to swear as much as we like, ‘borrow’ each others clothes as much as we like, No, I’m not going to mend my bonnet. It’s torn. I’ll wipe my boots with it if I want to, stop anyone else coming into the Belfast ‘mess’, talk with members of the crew when we’re on deck, tell the Matron what we think of her. Helsfuckenbells. Piss off Banbridge. Back to where you came from.

In evidence taken by the Sydney Orphan Committee, in December 1848, the Matron was asked, “32. Was there any improper conduct on the part of any of the crew in connexion with these females?” “I wished to stop all intercourse between the immigrants and the crew, and to prohibit the girls speaking to them, but the Doctor thought this was impossible…”. Maybe the Belfast women won some minor victories after all? Hey Mister. Come and talk with us. What’s that? You have to wait till eight bells. You have eight bells? Woo-hoo

But Douglass was scathing in his criticism of the orphans once he arrived in Sydney. The orphans “were early abandoned to the unrestricted gratification of their desires…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”…”one woman was married, and had run away from her husband…the women frequently charged each other with having had children…they were for the most part addicted to stealing, and to using the most obscene and gross language…” . He was to single out, and name, 56 orphans who were sent to Maitland and Moreton Bay, instead of landing in Sydney.

Hey Gina, Are you gonna give Mr Fancy pants, Mr Smellunderthenose, a dose? Fuckoff Black. Shut yer bake. Where’d ya leave yer wee dick of a husband anyway? Were you and yer Ma on the game, or not? She was a right hoorbeg.

———-

The voyage of the  Thomas Arbuthnot would be very different indeed. The Surgeon, Charles Strutt was a thirty-five year old unmarried Englishman. (He was later to marry Bridget Ryan from Ennis, in Geelong–Reid & Mongan, decent, p.169) His diary has survived, as has that of Arthur Hodgson, politician and Darling Downs squatter who also travelled on the Thomas Arbuthnot at this time. Richard Reid and Cheryl Mongan also reproduce, in their decent set of girls, (pp.115-26) an essay entitled ‘Female Emigration’, author unknown, which is a most useful account of the voyage.

Whereas Douglass knew little about the young women in his charge–he claimed the orphans from Cavan were well-behaved but alas, no Cavan orphans were on his vessel–Strutt would refer to “my people”, and when asked if any would accompany him to Yass, “130 at once expressed their wish to go any place that I might be going to”. Where Douglass had shaky support from an English born Matron, Maria Cooper and her daughter–“if I made a remark to any of them, all I had in return was “Thank goodness, we shall not long have her to bully over us”— Strutt had Mrs Murphy, a 42 year old widow from Dublin, and her daughter, to support his efforts to apply ‘detailed’ regulations. They made school lessons work especially well,  “with patience, kindness and care”.

Strutt empathized with his charge. He was kind; he improved ventilation through the hatches and personally mended lanterns; he arranged salt-water baths in warmer latitudes; issued lime juice and plum pudding, and let ‘his girls’ stay up a little longer on deck.  But he applied discipline; he made his charges work, and he made them work hard. “Friday 7 December My girls have become much more orderly and tidy under the constant steady pressure I keep up against holes, rags, tatters and dirt”. He allowed them their play. Meg, Mary, Bridget, Ann, Let’s give this handsome Walter Davidson a couple of pinches. You first Biddy. See if he can catch us.

Strutt allowed the young women from Galway, Clare, Kerry and Dublin to express themselves in song and dance, taking their turn with their reels, slipjigs and quadrilles, –maybe a South Galway set or step dancing, St Patrick’s Day, The Blackbird and Three Sea Captains–dances the orphans would know–beating out their own rhythm, learning new moves, glad to be alive.

Let me finish with an extract from the essay on “Female Emigration’ mentioned earlier. It is an account of the Arbuthnot voyage seen through rose-tinted glasses but it demonstrates how, in the right circumstances and with the right people, the Commissioners’ regulations could work.

“The berths settled, and duly taken possession of, the next thing was to arrange the messes. Each mess consisted of eight persons, and a card was given, showing the provisions that were to be delivered out each day of the week, with the quantity on each day”.   In addition to their mess kit, “the Commissioners added, for each emigrant, a new mattress, bolster, blankets and counterpane; a large canvass bag, for holding linen and clothes, a knife and fork, two spoons, a metal plate, and a drinking mug—all of which articles they were allowed to retain upon landing…

As the regular routine of the day was now fully established, our readers may be interested in learning its details. By half past seven all the Emigrants who were in good health were expected to be washed, dressed, and in a neat and fitting order to present themselves…When breakfast was ready the cook reported it to the officer of the watch…the ship’s bell was rung, and the breakfast served out in regular rotation, to the respective messes…

Immediately after breakfast the berths, tables, lockers and ‘between decks’ were swept clean; well scraped, and polished with holystones and sand; the ladders were brought on deck, scraped and washed, the mattresses and bedding neatly folded up, and everything made clean, dry and comfortable. In the early days of the voyage there was a lot of dampness until caulking of the leaking timbers was completed. Maggie, Maggie, don’t open that side port. Oh hell we’re soaked.

At half past ten the Surgeon Superintendent, generally accompanied by the master of the carpenter, took his rounds of inspection…a girl with her hair unbrushed, holes in any part of her attire, or dirty hands never escaped reprimand. In general, however, his commendation far exceeded his censures…

At eleven the various classes of the school commenced…The classes succeeded each other throughout the day, when the weather permitted, and the pupils made a regular, and some of them a rapid advance, in reading, writing, and arithmetic. Neither were needle-work and knitting neglected; industry was the order of the day, and it was rare to see any of the girls unemployed, for any length of time…

Whilst the morning classes were going on the Surgeon attended in the Hospital…After this he…investigated grievances, heard complaints on both sides, rebuked quarrelling or negligence, and endeavoured to reconcile differences, when they occurred… Doctor, Harriet Carmody won’t let me brush her hair and she’s taken my comb. Tell her to give it back.

At half past twelve the cook gave the welcome report that dinner was ready; and the officer of the watch having tasted it, and pronounced it to be dressed as it ought to be, the ship’s bell was rung…and immediately served to the messes in due order; one person from each mess attending to receive it, and to take it down to the rest. After dinner the school was resumed till half past five, when the ship’s bell announced that tea was ready, and it was served out with the same regularity as had been observed with respect to breakfast and dinner. Thus regularly and methodically were the wants of two hundred passengers provided for day by day, whilst those of the crew, nearly fifty in number, the captain, mates and fourteen cabin passengers were all attended to with the same punctuality…

We left our large party at tea, but sounds of gaiety are heard, and we find the remainder of the evening is to be passed in singing; dancing, and other innocent amusements…At dusk, lanterns were hung on deck to light the dancers, and equally between decks,  for…those who preferred remaining below. At eight, or a little later, according to the weather, all the girls retired to their quarters, the between decks were swept clean…the Surgeon-Superintendent paid his last visit at half-past nine; all the lamps were extinguished, with the exception of three, and the doors were closed until half-past five the next morning.

…We are now approaching the end of the voyage…’we ranged cables, took a pilot on board, entered the Heads, and cast anchor near Garden Island about dusk…The Health Officer came on board, was much pleased with the condition of the ship…The following morning we came into the Cove, and were inspected by the Colonial Secretary, the Agent for Immigration, the Health Officer of the port, and several other gentlemen. They were highly satisfied with the order and regularity on board, the good health, fatness, and deportment of the girls, the cleanliness of the decks, berths, tables, pots and pans, etc., and to do the poor girls justice, they deserved the praise, for they had exerted themselves to the utmost, and spared no trouble or labour’.

This account is well worth examining. It’s reprinted in full in R. Reid & C. Mongan, ‘a decent set of girls The Irish Famine orphans of the Thomas Arbuthnot 1849-1850, Yass, 1996, pp.115-126. (update: thanks to the great detective work of Karen Semken we know a slightly earlier version appeared in the Daily News, London, Wednesday 6 November 1850, under the heading, ‘Emigration and the Colonies’. It’s looking increasingly likely that it was written by Strutt himself.)

Did an orphan’s voyage experience affect her life in Australia, do you think?

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

http://jakiscloudnine.blogspot.ie/

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine orphans (5): Who were the female orphans? (cont.)

WHO WERE THE FEMALE ORPHANS? (cont.)

In the last post I finished by recommending Peter Higginbotham’s website on Workhouses;  http:www.workhouses.org.uk/Ireland/ It is an essential resource for anyone interested in the female orphans.

And just in case you missed Steve Taylor’s views of the Famine  http://viewsofthefamine.wordpress.com/miscellaneous/cottage-interior-claddagh-galway/

But let me continue with what I started. First a standard account of the workhouse system generally then on to specific information about orphans and the workhouse they came from.

It was not till 1838 that Ireland had its first Poor Law with an Act ‘for the more effective relief of the destitute poor”. The Act divided the country into a number of Poor Law Unions, 130 of them in 1843, based on major towns. Each Union was to have a workhouse run by a Board of Guardians elected by rate payers in the Union. In theory, the money for the building and the running of the workhouses was to come from rates levied in each Union. By 1843, 112 of the workhouses were completed and the remaining eighteen were on their way. The more substantial ones such as those at Belfast and Newcastle West in County Limerick were built according to a standard plan drawn up by Government architect, George Wilkinson. His ground plan was for a workhouse to accommodate 800 people. Such buildings had a commanding  and unwelcome physical presence in the local community where they were built.

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Callan workhouse, Co. Kilkenny

       The thinking behind the Poor Law System was that conditions in the workhouse should be so unattractive that only the truly destitute and desperate would enter. There was some doubt among Poor Law Commissioners that material conditions inside the workhouse would be inferior to that of the poor but they were convinced that the strict regimen and discipline and separation of families would deter people from seeking refuge. Contemporary middle and upper class thinking was aimed at ‘improving’ and ‘controlling’ the lower orders by incarcerating them and subjecting them to close supervision in institutions such as factory and mill, national school, workhouse or if all else failed, prison.

In a workhouse, inmates were subject to minute regulation of their lives. There were strict rules for their admission, first to a probationary ward. There they were ‘thoroughly cleaned’, ‘clothed in workhouse dress’ and examined by a medical officer. They were then classified as belonging in the sick or ‘idiot’ ward, placed in the adult male or female ward or the separate yards for boys and girls or the apartments for children. Families were broken up, wives separated from husbands, brothers from sisters, and children from their parents, although those under two years old could remain with their mothers.

“Buttermilk and urine,

The pantry, the housed beasts, the listening bedroom. We were all together in a foretime…” (Seamus Heaney, Keeping Going)

Also set down in meticulous detail were ‘rules for framing dietaries’–three meals a day for children, two for adults, consisting of such ‘delights’ as bread, Indian meal, oatmeal, buttermilk and soup in what can only have been ‘mouth-watering’ combinations.

Articles 14 to 48 of workhouse regulations dealt with discipline and punishment of ‘paupers’. When they got out of bed, when they were set to work, when they had their meals, when they finished work and when they went to bed were all timed by the ringing of a bell. Prayers were read before breakfast and after supper each day. Roll call took place half an hour after the bell was rung for getting out of bed. No one was allowed any tobacco or ‘spirituous or fermented liquor’ or to play at cards or ‘at any game of chance’.

The grounds on which an inmate could be deemed ‘disorderly’ and ‘refractory’ were also set out in detail as were punishments for such misbehaviour. Anybody who used obscene or profane language or did not ‘duly cleanse his person’, for example, was disorderly. Anyone who repeated one or more of the 12 offences constituting disorderly conduct or who insulted or reviled workhouse officers or who wilfully damaged or attempted to dispose of the property of the Board of Guardians or who climbed over any wall or fence or left the workhouse in an irregular way was deemed refractory. Refractory inmates were put in solitary confinement or were taken before a magistrate. As you can see, the refuge the workhouse offered rested on the twin pillars of discipline and punishment. The intention of the framers of the Poor Law as exemplified in the prison-like conditions of workhouses, their dull work routine and monotonous food and emphasis on strict discipline was designed to deter all but the truly destitute from becoming a burden on the poor rate.

In August 1847 an Irish Poor Law Commission took over from the English one. It now had to contend with the Famine. The number of Poor Law Unions was increased from 130 to 163. Existing workhouse buildings were extended and temporary fever sheds erected or rented in a forlorn attempt to deal with the crisis. By the end of 1847 it was officially estimated 417,000 people were being relieved inside workhouses in Ireland. At the end of 1848 that number had increased to 610,000 and was to increase again to 923,000 in 1849. [These figures do not include the number of people on outdoor relief.] In the midst of crisis the Poor Law system was asked to reorganize itself and deal with catastrophe on a horrendous scale, a scale  for which it was not designed and for which it was ill-prepared.

The extra demands the famine placed on workhouses relegated the aim of disciplining and punishing to a secondary role. In fact discipline became harder to maintain. Rebellion was sometimes a very personal even existential thing. In September and December 1847, James McMahon, Betty Hill, Jane Campbell and Eliza Dawson were thrown out of Newry workhouse, James for refusing to eat his supper, Jane and Eliza for quarrelling and Betty for giving cheek to the Master.  At other times, shortage of food led to full blown riots, many of them led by women, as in William Street Auxiliary workhouse in Limerick in 1849 and one week later, at the Barrack Street workhouse in Nenagh in Tipperary, where the women “broke in the door of the dining hall and threw the tins and other vessels within their reach about the floor, yelling fearfully all the time”.

Overcrowding and epidemics of disease strained even the biggest and best organised workhouses to breaking point. Cashel workhouse rarely had enough space or temporary fever sheds for the victims of dysentery, fever, measles and cholera. In January 1848 the Cashel Medical Officer P. Heffernan reported to the Board “Your Hospital is crowded to excess and the paupers are falling sick in dozens. I cannot admit anymore into the Hospital for want of accommodation”. The Guardians were later dismissed that year.

In Belfast the medical officer complained he could not contain the spread of contagious diseases unless he could treat patients in separate wards. Smallpox patients were put in a small bathroom, those suffering from ‘erisipilas’ went to the straw house but he still lacked a separate ward for dysentery patients. He said “…treating several contagious diseases in the same place is attended with very great risk to the patients”, not to mention workhouse officers. In 1847 the wards master, the schoolmaster and schoolmistress caught ‘famine fever’ and in June of that year Patrick Boyce the workhouse bookkeeper died of typhus. In 1849 the Belfast Board complained “that the practice of waking the bodies of the Dead from cholera prevails to a considerable extent, thereby exposing the people who assemble on such occasions to the risk of disease and causing alarm in the neighbourhood”. They asked  they be allowed to bury bodies with haste, compulsorily if necessary.

There is a rich archive of material relating to Irish workhouses, not yet fully tapped which helps us place female orphans in a specific local context in the period before they left for Australia. What their workhouse was like may be depicted using both Indoor Admission and Discharge Registers and Board of Guardian minutes. For example, here’s a chart I drew some time ago, relating to inmates’ length of stay in 1848 in a selection of workhouses for which evidence was available. Overwhelmingly for most, their ‘length of stay’ was less than three months. There was little time for them to be ‘institutionalised’.  At least 42 % or more of the orphans entered their workhouse on more than one occasion before leaving for Australia. [Please forgive my amateur attempts to insert these charts–I think we may be listing. I’ll not bore you with the statistical tests I used, except to say both the median and mode measures of central tendency lay in the first category i.e. less than three months. I am open to correction.]

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LENGTH OF STAY IN WORKHOUSE IN 1848

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 Or again, a chart showing what percentage of inmates gave “Union at Large” (i.e. Poor Law Union) as their place of residence in 1848. That is, they were homeless, and probably mendicants.

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PLACE OF RESIDENCE IN 1848

 These charts are interesting in light of Dympna McLoughlin’s chapter on “Subsistent Women” in the Atlas of the Great Irish Famine where she draws attention to women living ‘a hand-to-mouth existence, with no secure employment’. They included, Dympna says, “petty traders, tramps, peddlers, petty criminals, dealers, beggars and a high proportion of labourers”. (p.255) These were women who were geographically mobile, who used the workhouse for their own ends, coming in in winter and leaving again in  spring. But they were hard hit by the Famine and being without ‘respectability’ and ‘reputation’ in society had little option other than assisted emigration. I am inclined to give some weight to her argument since I found only a handful of references to female orphans’ families in land records such as Tithe Applotment Books and enumerators’ returns for Griffiths Land Valuation. Only infrequently did they appear in baptismal records. I know too that a number of orphans gave ‘Union at large’ as their place of residence and that many of them entered and left the workhouse on a regular basis.  Most of them certainly belonged to the labouring class. The argument is certainly worth exploring further.  At the very least it helps underscore just how destitute the orphans were and how difficult it was for them  to escape their poverty trap.

Note, however, fewer than 20% of Workhouse inmates gave ‘Union at Large’ as their ‘residence’. They may have been homeless but they still claimed they were from a particular Poor Law Union.

Most of our orphans were from among the unemployed and destitute cottier and agricultural labouring classes. They were from families whose economic strength was extremely fragile at the best of times and who were periodically thrown on the charity of good neighbours when illness, death and the uncertainty of employment destroyed their fragile cohesion. Tragically, the charity of good neighbours, any reluctance they may have felt about joining public works schemes or accepting food hand-outs or entering the workhouse was destroyed by the calamity of the Famine.

INDOOR RELIEF REGISTERS

One of the most important collections of workhouse records that have survived are the Indoor Relief Registers, sometimes known as Admission and Discharge Registers. Thanks to the wisdom and foresight of the former Deputy Keeper of Public Records Northern Ireland Dr Brian Trainor, many of these Registers have survived for Northern Irish Poor Law Unions. It is these and the Registers for North and South Dublin workhouses that I’ve studied, alas, all too briefly. The Registers record a number for each person entering the workhouse, their name, their gender, their age, whether they are single, married or widowed if they have reached adulthood i.e. usually 15 years of age and whether they are orphaned, deserted or a bastard, if they are children. Then follows details about their occupation and religion and more columns headed ‘if disabled, description of the disability’; ‘name of wife or husband’; ‘number of children’; ‘observations on condition of pauper when admitted’; ‘electoral division and townland in which resident’; ‘date when admitted or born in workhouse’; and finally, ‘date when died or left the workhouse’. It’s an amazing piece of recordkeeping.

In practice there existed a wide degree of latitude in the keeping of the Registers. At worst, details are often missing and the information we gain about individual orphans is sparse indeed. Thus, for an orphan who came by the Derwent to Port Phillip in 1849-50 from Ballymena, the record is No. 4115, Betty Hamilton, female, 15 years old, single, no employment or calling, Presbyterian, residing in Ballymena, admitted 14 June 1849, discharged 25 October 1849. At best, the information is extensive, not only about personal and family history but also about occupation. A plainmaker, helper in stable, brush maker, bootbinder, pinmaker, fustian cutter, fringe and tassel maker, ribbon weaver and woollen winder were among those entering South Dublin workhouse in  1848. Their place of origin is recorded in the North Dublin Register; born in Kilkenny county, County Louth, Cavan, Donegal, Derry, native of Dublin, demonstrating the pull of Ireland’s major city at the time of the Famine. And in Enniskillen Register at the beginning of 1848 we read of the condition of ‘paupers’ when admitted; ‘in great want’, ‘in great distress’, ‘orphan, father and mother died on the road’. ‘had to sell the coat off her back for food’, ‘in a starving condition’, ‘lying in the quarry starving’, ‘husband deserted her, to be prosecuted’, ‘beggarman, nearly blind, dirty and sickly’, ‘wandering about from place to place’, ‘beggar girl, deserted by mother’, and the mother of two young orphans, Mary Love, ‘widow disabled from dropsy’, a reminder that these are records of destitute people, victims of the famine who were yet fortunate enough to gain entry to a workhouse.

The one major deficiency is that Indoor Registers have survived for only a small number of workhouses; outside Dublin they are mainly from the North of Ireland. The evidence is thus weighted in that direction. But they allowed me to identify at least some female orphans in their workhouse.

Identifying the female orphans

The key is record linkage, in this case linking Australian shipping lists with Irish workhouse Registers. The names of the orphans who travelled  to Australia as part of the Earl Grey scheme appear in shipping lists held in archives or State records in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. Most information is available from the Board of Immigration shipping lists for arrivals in Port Jackson. Those in Melbourne tend to provide less information about their Irish background but more easily accessible information about their first employer in Australia. Adelaide records I am glad to say now include the shipping list for the first vessel to arrive, the Roman Emperor which had been missing for some time. From British Parliamentary Papers I also knew the names of the  Poor Law Unions providing orphans for each vessel: this was a third link.

In the mid 1980s armed with this information and knowing the date of departure of each vessel I was able to spend some time looking for orphans in Dublin and Northern Irish workhouse Indoor Registers. For example, knowing the first vessel in the scheme the Earl Grey left Plymouth for Port Jackson on the 3rd June 1848, I looked for the names of individual adolescent females who were discharged from their workhouse in Belfast or Antrim or Armagh  et al. on the same day, about a week or ten days before 3rd June. I applied the same method to the two vessels that carried Northern Irish orphans to Port Phillip, the Diadem and the Derwent. They were to leave Plymouth 13 October 1849 and 9th November 1849 respectively. The same method was used for the vessels with Dubliners on board. And voilá, in the massive Dublin Registers,

North Dublin No. 14737 Maria Blundell female 10 yrs old no calling RC delicate after fever native of Dublin returned from fever hospital, North City entered 11 March 1846 left 20 October 1849

North Dublin No. 22543 Mary Dowling female 14 yrs old no calling RC born in Dublin ragged and dirty Union at large entered 9 July 1847 left 20 October 1849 [she was listed alongside her 10 yr old  brother Michael who was later discharged 26 July 1850]

South Dublin No. 1013 Marianne Howe female 16 yrs old no calling Protestant very old clothes South City Kevin St. entered 10 October 1848 left 13 January 1849

South Dublin No. 1079 Mary Bruton female 17 yrs old single servant RC old clothes S. City Engine Alley entered 16 October 1848 left 13 January 1849.

and in Northern Irish Registers. [ In some of these I was able to trace the number of times female orphans entered and left the workhouse, when their mother or father died and what happened to their other siblings, the Devlin and the Littlewood families being two such examples. To describe just one of these, in April 1842 shortly after it opened and three years before the Famine struck, a 39 year old widow Rose Devlin came into Armagh workhouse with three of her children, Margret 9 years old, Patrick, 6, and Bernard, 4.  After four months stay she and her children left, only to  re-enter three months later but this time her fourth child, Sarah Ann, 12, had joined them. On nine different occasions throughout the 1840s this little family group re-entered Armagh workhouse, sometimes for as short a period as a month, at others as long as six or ten months, until two of their number Sarah Ann and Margret left to join the Earl Grey in Plymouth. Ten years later Sarah was to sponsor her brother’s immigration to Australia.  Ideally I would have liked a lot more time to examine different volumes of the Registers and thereby do a more thorough job tracing the workhouse history of Earl Grey female orphan families. Maybe some of you could do so for your orphan ancestor?]

Here is a little family akin to the Devlins in that they were a-typical long-term residents of Armagh workhouse. They appear in the first volume of Armagh’s Registers.

Armagh No. 12 Charlotte Wilcocks female 10 yrs old deserted by father no calling Protestant no disability healthy resides Armagh entered 4 June 1842 left 4 October 1849

No. 13 Jemima Wilcocks female 9 yrs old deserted by father (the rest ‘as above’ when the two sisters left to join the Diadem in Plymouth)

No 14 Edward Wilcocks  male 13 yrs old (as above) totally disabled left the workhouse 17 November 1842.

(Here’s a little appetiser for later posts, should I ever get that far. It’s a family reconstitution for Charlotte in Australia. About 300 of these reconstitutions are the basis of the demographic information I’ve written about elsewhere. Workhouse Register reference numbers that I’d found appear alongside an orphan’s name in Barefoot, information which was later uploaded to the first version of the following website. The new version of the website continues to be improved and developed all the time. www.irishfaminememorial.org  Keep watching there.)

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Magherafelt  No 1900(?) [my research notes are not as legible  as they should be] Cathy Hilferty female 17 yrs old single never in service RC with fever clean Ballymeghan entered 3 April 1846 left 19 May 1846

No. 2080  Cathy was back in again less than a week later, this time described as a servant but ‘out of service’ having entered 22 May 1846 and left 11 June 1846.

She came into the workhouse later that year described as a 16 yrs old labourer who was out of employment but clean from Ballymeghan, entered 13 November 1846 left 4 August 1847.

Then in 1848 she came back in with her widowed mother and siblings. Ellen Hilferty was described as a 50 year old widow mendicant RC healthy 2 children (in fact 4) no means of support Killyfaddy entered 18 November 1848 left 15 August 1849.

Cathy this time was 18 yrs old and her siblings William 15 yrs, Nancy 11 yrs and John 9 yrs. Like Ellen they entered 18 November 1848. William left 4 December 1848, Nancy and John 15 August 1849 with their mother. Cathy left 30 October 1849 en route for Plymouth to join the Derwent.

Enniskillen No 2065 Letitia Connelly 14 yrs old orphan RC Ballyreagh Salry entered 2 February 1848 left 26 October 1849 to join the Derwent. Letitia did very well for herself marrying a store-keeper and astute business man, William Hayes.

Enniskillen  No. 3048(?) Alice Ball 15 yrs old Protestant Enniskillen 4 July 1847 left 1 march 1848

No 3078 Alice Ball  14 yrs old orphan Protestant Enniskillen 30 August 1848 left 3 October 1849 (to join the Diadem). Alice was later to commit suicide in Melbourne.

My hope is that further local studies of workhouses may be realised; there are already good examples–Roscrea, Cork and Lurgan– in the Atlas of the Great Irish Famine as well as excellent local studies for the four provinces of Ireland. Perhaps these might be used as models? National School records might help us understand the local area too.

Post Script

Perhaps someone can help?

Were these vessels part of the female orphan scheme?

  • There are a number of vessels carrying a small number of female orphans which are not officially recognised as being part of the Earl Grey scheme viz. the William Stewart,  Mahomet Shah and the Martin Luther (?) to Port Phillip and the Subraon to Port Jackson.  At least three of them sailed before the scheme was officially underway. Are they easily identified on the shipping lists of these vessels? Were they from Irish workhouses or other charitable institutions and houses of industry? I wonder if  authorities in London and Dublin sent them by subterfuge, as it were, testing the waters for the later female orphan scheme. It certainly didn’t work in the case of the Subraon.

Why did so many come from Enniskillen workhouse?

  • If I might refer you to the map at the beginning of the previous post, have a look at Enniskillen. It is second only to Dublin and Skibbereen in sending the largest number of orphans to Australia. How do we explain this? Was the region particularly hard-hit by the Famine? Did the workhouse accept young women from surrounding areas in Donegal, Tyrone and Leitrim? They aren’t very close and entry to a workhouse was usually only open to inhabitants of the local Poor Law Union. Names of townlands and electoral divisions were painstakingly recorded when entering a workhouse.  Maybe the answer is in the administration of the workhouse itself? Late in 1846 and in March 1847 reports from visiting Poor Law Commissioners castigated Enniskillen workhouse for its ‘miserable state of filth and irregularity’. In 1847 the death rate was 95 per thousand and may have been higher since no books were kept for eight weeks when fever was raging in the house. In 1848 the death rate dropped to approximately 10 per thousand and by 1849 had fallen to 2 per thousand. In March 1848 the elected Board of Guardians of Enniskillen Poor Law Union were dismissed and two professional Vice-Guardians appointed, Messrs John Gowdy of Monaghan and Edward Hill Trevor of County Down at a salary of £250 per annum. Before long the effects of the new broom were in evidence; inefficient officers were dismissed, doctors were appointed as vaccinators for various districts; new arrangements were made to improve the cleanliness of the workhouse; inmates were given a change of bed sheets every fortnight and a clean shirt each week. In the months following the appointment of Vice-Guardians the administration of the Union was put on a sound footing; cooked food was substituted for meal ‘in the several relief districts throughout the Union’; workhouse schools  became part of the National Schools system and £800 was borrowed from the government for a new workhouse building. Was it this that determined so many orphans originating in Enniskillen? Sufficient numbers of the right age, an efficient administration with money for orphans’ clothing and transport to port of embarkation, at just the right time.  All the orphans from Enniskillen left towards the end of 1849. What do you think? Maybe a reader has more information or another explanation?

Just a couple of family reconstitutions to finish, Jane Hogan and Cathy Durkin. There must be a way to improve the quality of my family reconstitutions. These two are ok.

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