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

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

Let me know what you think.

WORKHOUSE RECORDS

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

AJ Dispensary Minute Books

BC Letters from Poor Law Commissioners

BGMB Board of Guardian Minute Books

BGG Indoor Admission and Discharge Registers

EG Relieving Officer’s Diary

F Workhouse Master’s Diary

HD Medical Report Books

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

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

Killybegs, Donegal
Killybegs, Donegal

CATHY TYRELL from Donegal per Lady Kennaway

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

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

HELP PLEASE

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

https://wp.me/p4SlVj-rc

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

and from the database,

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

What should we do?

Donegal fields

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recapitulation

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

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

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

“…and my dead father’s voice,

which I’d forgotten I’d loved,

just singing a foolish song”.

(from Birthday video by Penelope Layland)

Board of Guardian Minute Books

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

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

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

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

Belfast Workhouse

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

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

two days a week there would be

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

three days a week there would be

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

and two days a week able-bodied inmates would receive

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

Indian and oatmeal were to be used in equal proportions.

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

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

Disease

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

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

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

Cashel workhouse, Tipperary

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

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

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

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

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

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

sending the female orphans to Plymouth,

with wooden boxes,

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

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

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

Some online workhouse records

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go well.

“What a strange thing,

to be thus alive

beneath the cherry blossoms”. (Kobayashi Issa)

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

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Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (60): More Court cases

Some more orphans in Court

Let me pick up where I left off last time with more from Julie Poulter’s “Earl Grey Orphans in the streets of Sydney”. My sincere thanks to Julie for sharing her work with us. I hope I haven’t done it an injustice.

Later I’ll have a quick look at Melbourne Women’s prison. There are always doubts about whether we have the right person but nowadays with so much available online, we have more opportunities to correct our errors…however laborious that may be. I’ll alert readers to some of the pitfalls when chasing Victorian orphans in prison.

Let me begin with Julie’s research. The next five cases who went to Darlinghurst Gaol in Sydney are Anne Wallis née Walsh, Mary Ann Pightling née Egan, Bridget Higney, Margaret Driver née Higgins and Ellen Farrell née Maguire.

New South Wales (cont.)

Ann Walsh from Kilcolman, Co. Offaly per Tippoo Saib

It was seventeen years after her arrival that Ann Walsh committed her first crime. In 1859, she married a violent mariner, John Henry Wallis who made her life hell. 6 April  1864, page 2, column 4, Water Police Court,  the Empire reported the domestic violence Anne lived with. Her drunken husband chased Ann “to the lane, beat, kicked her and tore the dress from her back”. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/page/5692787

Later, in 1872, John Wallis was charged again and found guilty of assaulting his wife. She in effect stayed with her violent husband for thirteen years, Julie tells us. But in the meantime, she too was arrested three times and put in Darlinghurst gaol for drunkenness, obscene language and once for assault. Her children were put in the Randwick Asylum, and in 1873 Louisa the youngest stated her father was dead and her mother was in Darlinghurst gaol. What happened to her mother is unknown.

Mary Ann Egan from Templeoran, Co. Westmeath per Tippoo Saib

Here’s Mary’s entry on the database.

    • Surname : Egan
    • First Name : Mary Ann
    • Age on arrival : 17
    • Native Place : Templetown? [Templeoran], Westmeath
    • Parents : William & Catherine (both dead)
    • Religion : Roman Catholic
    • Ship name : Tippoo Saib (Sydney Jul 1850)
    • Workhouse : Westmeath, Mullingar
  • Other : Shipping: house servant, reads, no relatives in colony; entered in ‘Barefoot & Pregnant’ as ‘Eagan’; married Norwich-born George Pightling 22 Aug 1853, St James CofE, Sydney; 7 children born Sydney 1854-1867; died 6 Sep 1902 St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney pneumonia following injuries from a tram accident on Oxford Street & was noted as an old-age pensioner from Paddington

Mary’s first conviction for drunkenness was in 1890, forty years after she arrived on the Tippoo Saib. Fifteen more convictions for drunkenness would follow in the next eleven years, seven them in 1894. Julie suggests her ‘downfall’ was related to her troubles with her children, Mary’s son Henry Pightling having more than one run in with the law. See the Evening News, 23 June 1891, p.6, col.3 under “Invited Home”. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/113883268/12052102 He and his sister Maria Gage were committed for trial at the Quarter Sessions. Mary Pightling was literally ‘drowning her sorrows’.

Bridget Higney from Boyle, Co. Roscommon per Digby

Julie has researched Bridget carefully. Her first conviction was sixteen years after her arrival on the Digby. Bridget Higney, like her shipmate Jane Kelly, was forced to live in Sydney’s backslums near Darling Harbour. They were sex workers (?) and drinking companions who sought refuge in the Sydney Benevolent Asylum. Bridget was refused admission to the Asylum in 1863 even though her baby girl, Ada, was born there. She had turned up drunk. In desperation Bridget abandoned her daughter on the doorstep of Dr Renwick in Pitt Street. Ada later died in the Asylum. She had secondary syphillis.

Both of Bridget’s de facto relationships the first with George Jarman, the second with Michael Barry, ended badly for her. In 1866-7 she was convicted seven times for damaging property, assault, using threatening language, larceny, and riotous behaviour. Probably suffering from mental problems associated with sexually transmitted disease, Bridget died in Darlinghurst Gaol in 1866, just thirty three years old. Here is her entry in the database.

    • Surname : Higney
    • First Name : Bridget
    • Age on arrival : 16
    • Native Place : Boyle, Roscommmon
    • Parents : Michael and Ellen (both dead)
    • Religion : Roman Catholic
    • Ship name : Digby (Sydney 4 Apr 1849)
    • Workhouse : Roscommon, Boyle
  • Other : Shipping: house servant, reads only, no relatives in colony. Appendix J No.99, 16 Mar 1850 indentures with Mr WT Boyce, pilot, cancelled WPO; Register 2 No.631, 16 May 1850 satisfactory conduct; her daughter, Mary Ellen Jarman(e) entered the Randwick Asylum for Destitute Children in 1863, aged 4, noted as RC and the illegitimate child of Bridget Higney. In 1865 Bridget was convicted of assault with intent to rob and was sentenced to two months in Darlinghurst Gaol. In 1866 Bridget died in Darlinghurst Gaol, an inquest indicating it was due to an epileptic fit. Her daughter, Ellen, left Randwick Asylum in Jun 1872, aged 13, apprenticed to Mr George Coombe, Pitt Street, Redfern.

Margaret Higgins from Athlone, Co. Westmeath per Tippoo Saib

Margaret married William Driver two years after she arrived when she was only 16 years of age. She was dead by the time she was 37. She and William lived in desperately poor, cramped, unhealthy areas of The Rocks, a neighbourhood that encouraged conflict. Her first conviction occurred six years after she arrived. In 1856 she was fined for assaulting Catherine Molloy. See the Sydney Morning Herald 11 April 1856, p.5, column 1.https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/12980412/1499635 Over the next seventeen years she was convicted eleven times for insulting language, riotous behaviour, thrice for assault and six times for drunkenness. In 1862 she spent a month in gaol for stabbing a lodger who owed her money. She had abused her lodger, thrown a basin at him, stabbed him with a sheath knife and even gave him a pound not to appear in court. See Sydney Morning Herald 25 January 1862, p.5, col.4. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/13223796

In 1873 upon release from Darlinghurst Margaret staggered drunk into the street and was killed by a horse drawn van.

Here is her database entry.

    • Surname : Higgins
    • First Name : Margaret
    • Age on arrival : 14
    • Native Place : Athlone, Westmeath
    • Parents : Timothy & Margaret (both dead)
    • Religion : Roman Catholic
    • Ship name : Tippoo Saib (Sydney Jul 1850)
    • Workhouse : Westmeath, Athlone
  • Other : Shipping: nursemaid, reads, no relatives in colony, sister Mary [Maria] also on Tippoo Saib. Register 3 No.309, 26 Mar 1851 in employ of John Rayner, Emu Plains, Penrith; married William Driver 21 Aug 1852 St Andrews Presbyterian church witnessed by her sister Maria Higgins; by 1862 Margaret and William were living in Jarvisfield, same area as Maria and her husband John Mathews. Margaret & William were both known to the Police & bought before Court numerous times for assault or bad language; back in Sydney by 1870 Margaret before court numerous times; died 26 Nov 1873 after being struck by a cab, buried Rookwood CofE. Anne Mathews: pamat47[at]hotmail.com

Ellen Maguire/McGuire from Loughlinnan, Co. Cavan per Digby

Ellen Farrell had a short criminal career. She married James Farrell in 1853 and in 1857 was working as a barmaid in Pitt Street when she stole from a patron and sent to gaol for six months. Her first crime committed eight years after arriving. In 1858 once again and perhaps for the last time she was sent to gaol for twenty four hours for drunkenness.  See the Sydney Morning Herald,  24 November 1858, p. 3, column 2 Water Police Court https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/28630107/1491920

Thereafter she no longer appears in the criminal records. Her database entry reads

  • Surname : Maguire (McGuire)
  • First Name : Ellen
  • Age on arrival : 15
  • Native Place : Lough Loughlin [Loughlinnan], Cavan
  • Parents : Charles & Jane (both dead)
  • Religion : Roman Catholic
  • Ship name : Digby (Sydney 4 Apr 1849)
  • Workhouse : Cavan, Cavan
  • Other : shipping: housemaid, reads & writes, relative in colony: an uncle Pat McGuire supposed to living in Sydney, complaint on board: her hair was cut for taking another girl’s part. Also an annotation against Catherine Horrigan [who]: ‘complains that the Master struck her and beat her head against the bed and then blackened the eye of Ellen McGuire who came to take her part’.
 Please see the previous post for information about how to get in touch with Julie.

Some Victorian examples

VPRS521

The Public Record Office of Victoria is to be congratulated for making so much material available to the public, lots of it online. Time will fly by as you become enmeshed in what they have made available. For Victorian women prisoners, for example,

https://prov.vic.gov.au/search_journey/select?keywords=Prisoners%20personal%20description%20register

 https://prov.vic.gov.au/node/1445

or for assisted passenger lists. This one below I used to check for dates of ship arrivals  in Port Phillip.

https://prov.vic.gov.au/explore-collection/explore-topic/passenger-records-and-immigration/assisted-passenger-lists

One of my problems at the moment is that I cannot find the names I noted down when I
worked in the Public Record Office of Victoria in the 1980s and 1990s. I was using PROV VPRS 521 and described it in my notes as ‘Prisoners’ personal description Register‘. That certainly exists  via the link above. But my names are not appearing. I wonder what I’m doing wrong. I had used, presumably on microfiche, Unit 1A March 1850-March 1853, and another 1A (?) March 1850-March 1852, Unit 1, 1852-1857 and Unit 2, 1854.  The scan of the 6″x4″ card at the beginning of this section is made from my notes. Yet i cannot find either Ann Lewis or Polly Tyrell on the digital links PROV provides, never mind a host of others.
Here are some women prisoners,  from my notes,
No. 36 Ann Hall per Derwent, 1850,
No 207 Jane McGuire per Diadem 1848,
209 Maria Walker per Diadem 1848,
328 Margaret Beatty per Derwent 1850,
Catherine Ellis per Lady Kennaway 1848,
382 Mary McGill per Derwent 1850,
261 Mary Smith per Derwent 1851,
325 Ann Beaty per Derwent 1850,
366 Ellen Brenan (Ellen Stewart) per Diadem 1851,
559 Margaret Baker per Eliza Caroline 1850,
667 Anne Hubbard per Diadem 1849,
755 Eliza Nelligan per Derwent 1849.
VPRS 521 Unit 2 Catherine Day per Lady Kennaway 1849
and from VPRS 521 Unit 1A No. 13 Susan McCullock per Lady Kennaway 1848,
235 Elizabeth Dunn per Lady Kennaway 1848
and 459 Maria Walker per Diadem 1848.
And from a separate set of notes from VPRS 521 vol.1 1853-57
No 129 October 1854 Amelia Nott per New Liverpool 1849, also 291 Feb 1855, 334, 472, 511, 597, 601, 883, 916, 1009 9 previous drunk one calendar month, 1125, 1856 644, 919, now saying she came on the Lysander in 1849,1857 26, 112 New Liverpool again,
Dec. 1854 151 Eliza Fitzgerald per Eliza Caroline 1849,
321Julia Johnstone per Pemberton 1848, 462 as Susan Gafney
355 Margaret Walker per Lady Kennaway 1845,
402 Julia Driscoll per Eliza Caroline 1848, 412,
Bridget McCarthy Lady Kennaway 1847,
470 Mary Ann Wallace Eliza Caroline 1848,
and this one ,
655 Alice Butler Eliza Caroline 1849 born 1835 5’3 1/2″ stout fresh complexion dark brown hair grey eyes reads imperfectly large mole left cheek Ireland RC single obscene language 14 days in prison.
826 Julia Connelly Eliza Caroline 1849 married no means of support,
833 Mary Ann Tyrell Roman Emperor 1848 married,
982 Jane Pindar or Pinder Diadem 1849 married b.1832 4′ 11 3/4″ reads imperfectly scan on forehead Ireland Protestant married imprisoned drunk 24 hours,
984 Mary Ann Forrester Inconstant 1846 no means of support,
1043 13 Nov 1855 Susan Stewart Pemberton 1848 1 previous drunk 5′ 2″ stout fresh hazel eyes reads imperfectly scar left back of left hand Ireland Catholic single medical enquiry unsound mind remanded to Police Court, 1856 133, 15 Feb  idle and disorderly Pemberton 1850
1856 68 Margaret Halcup(?) Roman Emperor 1847 2 previous widow,
22 Polly Tyrell now listed as arriving by Covenanter in 1848 which raises the question how many were from Van Diemen’s Land,
266 Margaret Walker per Lady Kennaway 1849 3 previous married, 400, 442 habitual drunkard 9 previous, 541, 608, 694, 746 821, 1857 169, 195 17 previous, 325, 395, 483, 20 previous,
606 Mary Ann Hawks Lady Canneway 1847 b. 1827 1 previous lunatic Ireland Catholic Married Remanded assault to Police Court 15 August 1856.
VPRS 516 Central Register of female prisoners is also available online. I noted from the first volume, Mary Ann Bourke, Mary Farrell, Eliza Turner, Eliza Tyrell, Mary Tyrell per Roman Empress to Adelaide 1848
and Mary Ann Yatton and Mary Ann Forrester per Inconstant to Adelaide 1846, quite a few claiming to be on orphan ships.
And that is only a selection.
But you can see some of the problems. How many of these were Earl Grey orphans? Susan Stewart and Alice Butler maybe.  But note how common are the errors regarding the date of arrival of ships. Note too that most of these names do not correspond with the names of female orphans on board those ships. Many of the prisoners said they were married.  I only spent a morning looking at Early Church Records without having any success establishing that some of the married ones were in fact Earl Grey orphans. Perhaps they meant common law marriage.  Then again how many do you think were Van Diemonians using the names of orphan ships to hide their origins? Nor did I chase any of them in newspapers. There’s a research project here for someone based in Melbourne, is there not?
The featured image to this post is of an 1832 painting by Daniel Maclise of a Hallowe’en party in County Cork. It appears on the cover of Fintan Vallely’s Companion to Irish TraditionalMusic, Cork U.P., 2011. My thanks to Fintan Vallely.

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.

——————————————————————-

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

To be continued

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (54): Skibbereen and beyond (cont.)

 Skibbereen and beyond (cont.)

The poster above contains essential information about the November commemorative ‘Gathering’ in Williamstown this year. Wouldn’t it be good to see an Outreach programme associated with this Standing Rock in memory of the young Irish Famine women who arrived in Port Phillip? Organisers and descendants could choose the kind of outreach they would like. What do you think? I’m sure Dr Noone would encourage any proposal.

To return to some of the issues raised in my last post. Most of us will agree that the Earl Grey orphans had psychological baggage when they came to Australia. Some of them from places such as Skibbereen or Dingle or Kilrush may have been damaged more than others, making it hard for them to cope with the troubles they met in their new home.

If I may quote from Dr Kildea’s poignant oration, ‘Only Nineteen ‘ delivered at Hyde Park Barracks in Sydney at the end of August 2017,

To be uprooted from your home country by force of circumstance, whether it be persecution or the prospect of starvation, and transported to a strange and foreign land can be a deeply traumatic experience. The fact that the refugee is thereby enabled to survive is unarguably a good thing. But that obvious benefit does not eliminate the emotional damage which the forced displacement causes”.

I encourage you to read Jeff’s speech if you haven’t already done so. https://tintean.org.au/2017/09/06/only-nineteen/

Reading his oration again I’m aware how much I’m indebted to him in these two blogposts on “Skibbereen and beyond”.

Were Skibbereen orphans especially vulnerable?

But let me play the devil’s advocate. What counter arguments or qualifications might be made to the claim that orphans from the Skibbereen area were especially vulnerable? Was Skibbereen so exceptional? Some qualifications to the claim have appeared already viz. there are places other than Skibbereen just as badly affected by the Famine. Dingle and Clare Abbey were mentioned in the previous post, for example. Note too the cover picture of the last post which features Captain Arthur Kennedy’s young daughter distributing clothing to children at Kilrush.

Kilrush evictions

Kilrush, in County Clare, was notorious for the number of evictions that drove people from their homes. Captain Kennedy, the Poor Law Inspector in Kilrush Poor Law Union, reported in July 1848,

“These helpless creatures are not only unhoused, but often driven off the land, no one remaining on the lands being allowed to lodge or harbour them. Or they, perhaps linger about the spot, and frame some temporary shelter out of the materials of their old homes against a broken wall, or behind a ditch or fence, or in a bog-hole (scalps as they are called), places totally unfit for human habitations, or they crowd into some of the few neighbouring cabins still left standing, when called to do so, as lodgers, where such numbers congregate that disease, together with the privations of other kinds which they endure, before long carry them off. As soon as one horde of houseless and all but naked paupers are dead, or provided for in the workhouse, another wholescale eviction doubles the number, who in their turn pass through the same ordeal of wandering from house to house, or burrowing in bogs or behind ditches, till broken down by privation and exposure to the elements, they seek the workhouse, or die by the roadside”.

scalp of brian connor nr Kilrush union house
scan0009

Or to take a different tack, there were another eighteen or so orphans from Skibbereen on board the Eliza Caroline and another eighty-five (85) on board the Elgin to South Australia about whom we know little or nothing. We just do not know how they fared in Australia. And therefore surely cannot be certain their Famine experience predisposed them to disaster in Australia.

Remember too that the orphans did not board ship carrying disease or wearing lice infected rags. They had an outfit, a wooden box, a Bible, and would be well fed during their voyage to Australia.

Dunmanway was different?

My thanks to  Síle Ní Muirchú (O’Driscoll) whose spiritual home is the beautiful Gougane Barra in West Cork. Síle provided the following excerpts from the Dunmanway Board of Guardian Minute Books. Dunmanway is just up the road from Skibbereen. Fifteen orphans from Dunmanway were also on board the Eliza Caroline.

“1st December 1849  “The Reports of the Master and other Officers were read, and orders made thereon, as follows”:

“The matron reported that 350 yards of gingham was required for girls bibs” 

The clerk was directed to advertise for contractors to supply gingham. Contracts to be made on the 8th inst.

8th December 1849

Letter from the Commissioners of 6th Inst No. 76770 containing instructions respecting Female emigrants – directions were given to the union officers to carry out the instructions of the Commissioners.

Special Business “Tender for supply of gingham deferred for consideration”.

The clerk was directed to advertise for persons willing to convey to Cork 15 female emigrants with their boxes etc? – tender to be considered on the 15th inst”.

15th December 1849

Special Business “Tenders for conveying female emigrants to Cork deferred for a few days”.

The tender of Mr Ralph Phipps? To paint boxes for the female emigrants at 5/2d each was accepted”.

22nd December 1849

“Debit Workhouse Invoice Account, and Credit Treasure, with the several sums as above”. 

“4. Emigration Account”.

Messr Skilling? And Co Books £1 s3 d9

Mr. ? for Bonnets 1 0 0

Mr Standley for Emigrants shoes 1 5 0

Mr Winder? For conveyance to Plymouth 3? 13 10 0

Mr ?? Fares to Cork 1 15 0

“The Reports of the Master and other Officers were read, and orders made thereon, as follows”:

That all? The clothing and requirements/requisites? Required for the outfit of the Female emigrants are now complete”.

Bibles, bonnets, boxes, shoes, and dressed in gingham, the Dunmanway orphans were privileged indeed, and cut a fine bib as they made their way to Cork en route to Plymouth and thence Port Phillip.

I doubt that today many Syrian children seeking refuge in Lebanon or Jordan, or in Canada or Germany are receiving professional counselling. Nor are the Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh. How far have we failed to come? Such psychiatric help did not exist for our Famine orphans either. Yet maybe 235 Earl Grey orphans living close to one another on board the recently built, well appointed but small, Eliza Caroline, fostered memories of home. Living cheek by jowl for a ninety day voyage provided plenty of opportunity to share and talk about past experiences, and about anxieties, and hopes, and dreams. Good medicine in itself, for some at least, was it not?

There are different and subtle hues to our picture of ‘Skibbereen and beyond’, are there not?

Australian circumstances and events

gillslygrogc
Sly Grog Shop on the road to Bendigo by S. T. Gill, 1852. Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria picture collection

Vulnerable orphans

What tipped a vulnerable orphan into the abyss? What things made her life so difficult in Australia? Maybe the life cycle of an ‘at risk’ orphan became a disaster because of events that happened in Australia. How many of them fall into this category? It is hard to know. We may never know. My gut reaction would be, about ten percent (10%) of the whole. But if we include any Earl Grey orphan who went into an institution, even once, to a Benevolent Asylum, a Lying-in hospital, a women’s prison, a Mental Asylum, or whose children went to an Industrial school, I’d put the figure higher. We just do not know the history of all the orphans. Which is why the work of people such as Perry Mc Intyre, Karen Semken, Cheryl Mongan, Richard Reid, and committed family historians is so important to our understanding of this issue.

Let me briefly explore, in general terms, the kind of thing that had an adverse effect on an orphan’s life. Here’s an incomplete list just off the top of my head. I hope you will identify others. Let me know your thoughts.

  • 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

Sexual and domestic abuse

I’ll just look at a couple of things from the list above. Under sexual and domestic abuse let’s include any orphan, vulnerable because of her servitude, who was a target for an employer abusing his or her power as master in the master-servant relationship. There will be more than the ones that came to court. Here are a few that were reported in the Melbourne press, the Argus.

Sarah Higg/Head ( the Melbourne Daily News named her as Sarah Head) a 14 year-old from Limerick per Pemberton took her employers to court in November 1849. Richard Clarke a printer in the Gazette office in Melbourne abused her with ‘the most insulting language’, calling her a ‘poor-house brat’. His wife had grabbed her by the neck and thrown her out the door. See Argus, 13 Nov. 1849 p.2 col 6 http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/page/504313

Catherine Mackie per New Liverpool was also a 14 year-old but from from Wicklow. The Argus 3 Nov 1849 reported as follows,

“The evidence went to prove that Mr.Williams (a schoolteacher of Brighton) had struck the girl repeatedly with a broom handle, and when she cried with pain he filled her mouth with ashes, to prevent the neighbours being alarmed”.
Or in Catherine’s words,”he then knelt upon me and took two fists full of ashes and put them down my mouth”.

Tragically, in April 1850, Alice Ball  a 16 year-old from Enniskillen per Diadem committed suicide by throwing herself into the River Yarra in Melbourne. “Even though reins were thrown to her from the bank of the river, she would not, she refused to lay hold of them”. She was pregnant by her married master. See the Argus, 26 April, 29 April and 1 May 1850.  http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/4773296

On Alice see https://www.prov.vic.gov.au/about-us/our-blog/tragic-end-irish-alice

My final example, one that i cannot forget, is Mary Coghlan from Skibbereen per Eliza Caroline. You can read about some of the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband via this link http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/page/6455284?zoomLevel=1

“He pulled me out of bed and shoved me one way and then another. I was stupid and taken in labor after he beat me, and I can’t tell half what he did to me… The child was born dead. Prisoner struck me with his hand and his foot. He struck me all over. He struck me with the point of his foot. I was tumbling on the floor. My daughter was in the house when he beat me. He ill-used me from the Saturday till the Friday, when the child was born. Sometimes he’d up and give me a shove or a slap”.

The sad thing is, a husband’s so-called “rights” to discipline and punish his wife and children was enshrined in law, a legal position which was underpinned by the ideology of most churches of the time. The head of a household, that is, the male, had a duty to administer ‘moderate’ correction to his wife and children to keep them on the straight and narrow. I wonder do we really live in more enlightened times. There are still plenty of troglodytes about.

Mental Hospitals

In the 1990s I did some research on Irish women in Mental asylums for my Irish Women in Colonial Australia. I am glad to say some excellent work has appeared since then, particularly by the former Professor of Irish studies at the University of Melbourne, Professor Elizabeth Malcolm. Have a look for Elizabeth Malcolm, “Mental Health and Migration: The case of the Irish, 1850s-1990s”, in Migration, Ethnicity and Mental Health…, ed. A. McCarthy & C. Coleborne, Routledge, 2012, and her chapter on Yarra Bend Asylum, “Irish Immigrants in a Colonial Asylum during the Australian Gold Rushes, 1848-69”, in Asylums, Mental Health Care and the Irish:1800-2010, ed. Pauline M. Prior,  Irish Academic Press, 2012, 2017.  One can gain access to substantial portions of these works by searching via Google books.

Professor Malcolm identifies two orphans in her chapter on case histories in Yarra Bend, Bridget Ferry  from Dunfanaghy in Donegal per Lady Kennaway, and Elizabeth Armstrong from Enniskillen per Diadem. One was described as a ‘congenital idiot’ and the other as suffering from ‘paralysis’ and ‘dementia’. But both were released ‘cured’ after only a few months stay in the institution. Professor Malcolm suggests they may have used the asylum for their own ends, “as a means of escaping from intolerable living conditions”.

There was no shortage of Irish women in Australian mental hospitals. Dr Malcolm lists the reasons for their being there; post natal depression, grief at the death of children, alcoholism, head injuries and poor physical health, and some evidence of ‘gold fever’ i.e. overwhelming disappointment at not finding gold on the Victorian gold fields.

And if I may add, from my own research notes, the reasons given by the medical authorities of the day as the ‘supposed cause’ of an inmate’s illness. They help identify some of the ‘difficulties’ an ‘at risk’ orphan may have faced. These are taken from mental hospital records in Victoria, Queensland, and New South Wales;

“her mind is affected by her child burning to death”,

“feeble and much emaciated”,

“drunkenness and ill usage of her husband”,

“death of her husband and destitute circumstances”,

“states she has been living in a solitary hut, her husband having been up the country and that continued fear was the cause of her illness”,

“form of mental disorder, nostalgia. Supposed cause, grief at leaving her country and ardent desire to return to it”,

“she continually reads her Prayer Book…becomes excited over religious subjects stating she has renounced her husband, that she considers sexual intercourse a crime and that she would sooner die than submit”,

“supposed cause of her melancholia, ‘regret at leaving home coupled with her recent desolate condition'”,

“she is a native of Ireland and lived by selling fruits…she has been long parted from her husband on account of his brutal usage”,

“the mother states that during her pregnancy with this child she received the most cruel usage from her husband”.

No matter how heavy the psychological baggage the orphans brought with them from a Famine ravaged Ireland, sometimes the struggle they had in their new home in Australia  tipped them over the edge, and determined the downward course their lives.

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Woogaroo, later Goodna, now known as Wollston Park mental hospital in Queensland, built in 1865.

Benevolent Asylums

Elsewhere in my blog I’ve drawn readers’ attention to the fact that because so many orphans married older men, in their old age they were more likely to spend their last days in an institution such as a Benevolent Asylum. Or as Dr Malcolm puts it, ‘elderly working class widows were especially vulnerable to psychiatric institutionalisation’. They coped as best they could, whatever way they could.

Unfortunately records of the names of those in the Melbourne Benevolent Asylum have not survived. But they have done so elsewhere. One needs to be aware of the name of the ship and date of arrival to detect an Earl Grey orphan. Here are a few from the ‘Register of Personal details relating to persons admitted to Dunwich Benevolent Asylum’.(Queensland State Archives Ben 2/4). Dunwich is on Stradbroke Island in Moreton Bay.

In alphabetic order,

Mary Clark aged 69 admitted January 19th 1897. Born in Belfast, daughter of Charles Murray and Mary Donnelly…came to Australia 49 years ago by ship Roman Emperor, landed at Adelaide S.A. Goodness how far had she travelled.

Eliza Dwyer aged 75 admitted May 4th 1898. Born in Belfast, daughter of John Frazer and Margaret Gallagher…came to Australia 50 years ago landed Moreton Bay. Eliza was one of the original Belfast girls who arrived by the Earl Grey.

Ellen Agnes Hickson aged 61 admitted Oct. 29  1895 . Born Clare Ireland, daughter of John Leyden and Mary Cronin…came to Australia 1850 landed in Sydney…last two years in Asylum Goodna. Ellen Leydon  from Ennistymon in County Clare arrived by the Thomas Arbuthnot.

Eliza Scholes aged 52 admitted October 10th 1889. Born Belfast, daughter of Anthony Rodgers and Jane Harver…came to Brisbane ’48 & have been in Queensland ever since. Eliza was another of the original Belfast girls who arrived by the Earl Grey.

It would be a major research project searching for, and cross referencing orphans in different institutions throughout Australia. Eliza Scholes nee Rogers had served three months for vagrancy in March 1888 and another 6 months for the same ‘crime’ in January 1889 in Toowoomba Women’s prison.

A reminder, though, searching for orphans in such institutions, as I’ve said elsewhere, ” is merely adding the bias of expectations to the bias of the evidence itself”. But it is still worth doing.

The work of family historians can act as a counterweight to this, even if they too have a bias of their own. Their concern is not with the ‘lost’ orphans. They are the survivors, and sometimes, maybe too often, view things through rose-tinted spectacles. As Noeline Kyle puts it in her very useful book, Writing Family History Made Very Easy, Allen & Unwin, 2007, in her chapter called “Nostalgia, Sentiment and Blazing Sunsets”, “we read about devoted wives, hardworking men, dear children and pious wives” (p.165). Noeline has important and valuable advice for all would-be genealogists and family historians.

My intention was to include some Port Phillip orphan stories via family reconstitutions in this post, on the occasion of this year’s Williamstown commemoration. But the post is too long already. Next time, I promise, before the ‘gathering’ occurs.

Here’s an incomplete key to the contents of my blog http://wp.me/p4SlVj-oE

I hope it may be of use to the actors researching their roles for Jaki McCarrick’s play “Belfast Girls”. Break a leg!

At the bottom of each blog post after the comments there is a search box. Type in whatever you are looking for and click enter and you will find what reference there is, if any, in the whole of the blog. Thus if you enter “Ellen Leydon” you will be told she appears in posts 51, 25, 9, and 4. Happy hunting.

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (50): more brief histories

SOME MORE BRIEF HISTORIES

A reader recently mentioned how much she liked reading stories about the orphans. So you will forgive me, i hope, if i add some more.  These are based on my ‘family reconstitutions’ some of which appear elsewhere in my blog. But this time I’ve added a little gloss.

May I suggest these orphan stories illustrate the many textures and hues of the female condition in colonial Australia? Some of the orphans were lucky in marriage, some not so. Most of them had agency of some kind, even if often limited by historical circumstance, and societal norms and constraints.

Let me begin with two from the notorious Earl Grey, the first vessel to arrive, carrying the “Belfast Girls”. I’ll refer to a couple more towards the end.

ELLEN PARKS from Belfast

Ellen Parks married twenty-five year old, London born, George Clarke, in May 1850, less than two years after she arrived. George proved to be a successful restaurant keeper, dealer and fish-monger whose estate was valued at £3500 when he died. Ellen predeceased him by six years. The couple lost two of their children at an early age. But Ellen was assured her other children would be well looked after. In his will, George spread gifts of glassware, furniture, jewelry, books, and fine engravings among them; to James, a large diamond ring, to Christina, a gold locket and chain in a box, to George(?), a gold hunting watch with Albert and locket attached, to Lillian, a ladies gold watch with Albert and Pendant gold chain with cross attached, to Anna Lloyd, a gold miniature brooch with Emu and Kangaroo on a wreath, to Alice, a gold brooch and earrings containing topaz, to Ellen Sewell, a cluster diamond ring, and to Frank Fowler a number of books and engravings. It is always worth checking probate records, is it not?

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A different fate awaited her shipmate, JANE HOGAN from Ballymena.

She married a former convict, Francis Hanley, a good bit older than herself, scarcely six months after arriving. But she was to die in childbirth in 1860 when she was twenty-eight years old.

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FROM MALLOW, COUNTY CORK to PORT PHILLIP

MARY BARROW per Pemberton

Mary Barrow is not so well-known as her older sister, Ann. Ann married a former convict, Samuel Phillips. The photo is of Ann and her husband Samuel on shopfronts in front of cab stables, Sydney Road, Brunswick, unfortunately now demolished. Their son David was to become Mayor of Brunswick.

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And among their illustrious descendants was their grandchild, Sir Ronald East CBE MCE FICE FRHSV. Try typing his name into a search engine. My informant for the entry in Barefoot vol 2, p. 320, told me the family now embraces twenty-two different nationalities. It is very much part of multicultural Australia.

It is fitting we also acknowledge Ann’s sister, the young fourteen year old Mary Barrow who arrived by the Pemberton in May 1849.

Mary was to marry a Cork man, Michael Doherty, and together they went searching for gold. The couple travelled west, living in Raglan, Charlton, Avoca and Ararat. Both of them are buried in Ballarat New Cemetery. One can only hope the two families remained in touch with one another. Is there any evidence for this, does anyone know?

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DORINDA SALTRY FROM SLIGO per Lady Kennaway

I must admit my choice of family reconstitutions is pretty much a random choice. But  I notice I am influenced by my knowing some people who may be interested, such as Terry, Barbara, Kay, Anne-Marie, and Chrissy.

Dorinda Saltry from Sligo married an ‘exile’ Lemuel Bryanton from Suffolk. Lemuel was in Pentonville prison as a horse thief before being sent to Australia. He evidently used his skill with horses later in life for he was a groom and a horse cab owner in Melbourne when all of his nine children were born. Note that William Lonsdale, a member of the Melbourne Orphan committee, was required to give his approval to the marriage of the young couple in 1850. Four of their children, including two named after their mother, died at a young age. Orphans’ children dying relatively young surely affected their attitudes to death. Maybe it was a common enough occurrence throughout colonial Australia. Giving birth every two or three years was a common experience for women too.

The couple do not seem to have travelled far. Bowondara or Boroondara cemetery is in Kew, Melbourne.

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ELLEN CURRAN from Enniscorthy per New Liverpool

Here’s one who did travel– as far as Casterton in Glenelg Shire near the South Australian border. Ellen Curran married an Englishman nearly twelve years her senior. But he outlived her. Most of their children inherited their longevity. Ellen’s father, step-mother and half-sister came to Australia in c. 1851. Her ancestor who provided this information has supplied the married names of their children. Note there are few Irish sounding names among them. Like many an orphan, Ellen’s children were absorbed into the larger, dominant,  dare I say, Anglo-Australian culture.

Ellen was a Wexford orphan most of whom came to Australia on board the New Liverpool. A similar number of their Wexford workhouse “sisters” disembarked at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.

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One more to Port Phillip,

CATHY CULBERT from Tuam per Lady Kennaway

Port Phillip, and what was soon to become the colony of Victoria, attracted people from all over the world at the time of the 1850s gold rush. Cathy Culbert, originally from Tuam in County Galway, married William Swain, or Swane, from Flores in Portugal on the first of January 1850, both residing at Sugar Loaf Creek north of Kilmore. William was there before the rush for gold began. I wonder what his history is. Together Cathy and William had ten children, six boys and four girls. At some stage they moved north of Ballarat to Maryborough which is where Cathy was buried in 1899.

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Some more who lived in Queensland,

CATHY DURKIN from Ballyglen, Mayo per Panama

Maybe Barbara or Terry can tell me where exactly Ballyglen is in County Mayo. I suspect it is somewhere between Killala and Ballycastle in the north of the county. Times must have been really hard in these beautiful western districts of Ireland during the Famine.

Cathy was lucky. She had relatives in the colony, a cousin Catherine White, who lived in the Moreton Bay district. A few months after arriving in Sydney she went with a party of another twenty-two orphans to Moreton Bay! Either the Sydney Immigration Agent was most accommodating or Cathy herself managed to take advantage of her circumstances. A few years later she married Henry Wakefield from Oxford with whom she spent the rest of her hard working life, in Brisbane, giving birth to ten children.

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CATHY KENNEDY from Kerry per Thomas Arbuthnot

This one will be of interest to Kay Caball, author of The Kerry Girls. Her book is essential reading for anyone with a Kerry orphan in their family. I’d recommend it to everyone with an interest in the Irish Famine orphans. Kay tells us that Cathy  gave her place of origin to the Dingle workhouse Board of Guardians as Brandon Bay, which is in the Gaeltacht in the north of the Dingle peninsula. There is always room for error in our official records, and interestingly here we have strong evidence that the first language for some of the orphans was Irish. Like Cathy Durkin above, or the young Moriarty sisters from Kerry, Cathy Kennedy may have had Irish as their first language.

Perhaps Irish was the first language for many orphans from the West of Ireland? Or perhaps my East-West fault line is too crude? 1851 Census records identify the areas with the largest number of Irish only speakers, Galway, Kerry, Clare, Cork, Mayo, Waterford, Donegal, for example. Like Cathy Durkin above, from Mayo, or the young Moriarty sisters from Kerry, Cathy Kennedy was probably at least bilingual.

But as Máiréad Nic Craith reminds us in her brilliant chapter in the Atlas of the Great Irish Famine, ” Legacy and Loss: the Great Silence and its aftermath”, (p.583), the 1851 census probably underestimates the number of Irish speakers in the country at the time.

The language question is a fascinating subject is it not? Other questions about attitudes to death, posed earlier, or  about the ways geography impinges on an orphan’s life–Kay Caball reminds us that Cathy Kennedy and her parents walked miles across difficult mountainous terrain to get  to the Dingle workhouse–or in Queensland, Mary Moriarty from Dingle, restlessly moving with her husband, Samuel Brassington, from Brisbane to Ipswich to Dalby, Condamine, Moraby, Roma, Mitchell up the Maranoa River, across the mountains to the Warrego River and finally reaching Augathella in 1864, would be very much aware of how the natural environment impacted on her life–these sort of subjects can bring us to a closer understanding of an orphan’s life both in Ireland and Australia. We shouldn’t be afraid to cast our net as wide as we can.

 

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I intended including the young Moriarty sisters in this post. Maybe another time. Let me finish, as promised, with two more of the orphans Surgeon Douglass banished to the Moreton Bay district.

ELIZA FRAZER and VIOLET LACKIE per Earl Grey

One of Eliza‘s descendants figures prominently in Siobhan McHugh’s Radio National podcast which you can download and listen to at  http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/hindsight/the-famine-girls/4857904

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Violet Lackie reminded me of  young James Porter’s disparaging account of the orphans who went to Brisbane by the steamer Eagle,

“Within forty eight hours they had all been married and they could be seen all over the town trecked out in the gaudiest finery that could be procured in the few drapers shops then in Brisbane. Of course the men from up country represented themselves or were understood by the girls to be squatters and when their cheques were spent the difficulty was to get their wives out of town. They had been spoilt by the few days carouse and did not care to face the discomforts of a bullock drivers camp. One girl positively refused to move but her husband by main force got her to the camp pad locked a bullock chain round her waist and fastened it to the tail of the dray. Eighteen months afterwards I got to the Merro diggings I reconnised her living under the protection of a man other than hr husband, keeping a sly grog shop”. (cited in Barefoot…, vol.2, p.112).

Evidently it was not Violet. She remained with her native born husband, George Fitzpatrick, all her life.

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I knew these two appeared in court records not long after they’d married and hoped I could find out more using the digitized newspapers in http://trove.nla.gov.au/

Eliza had rushed to the rescue of a young servant working next door, in Humby’s the bootmakers in Brisbane. Fourteen year old Mary Maddocks was being sexually assaulted by a Mount Elphinstone ‘exile’. The culprit was sentenced to seven years imprisonment (Brisbane Court of Petty Sessions (QSA Z2833 31 July 1850).

I had a little trouble with trove and had to login to my account before I had any success.

Unfortunately I found nothing on the Mary Maddocks case but did find a brief reference to a fight Eliza and Violet had in late 1849. See the Moreton Bay Courier, 10 November 1849 column 3. Eliza was fined 5 shillings, and ordered to pay ten shillings costs.

http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/page/541419?browse=ndp%3Abrowse%2Ftitle%2FM%2Ftitle%2F14%2F1849%2F11%2F10%2Fpage%2F541419%2Farticle%2F3711662

http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/3711667?searchTerm=Violet%20Fitzpatrick&searchLimits=l-title=14|||l-state=Queensland

There was little more using ‘Violet Fitzpatrick’ as my search term. But there were rich pickings using ‘Edward Dwyer’ and ‘Eliza Dwyer’.

Edward appeared before the Brisbane Petty Sessions court on charges of drunkenness. See for example,  http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/3718161?searchTerm=Edward%20Dwyer&searchLimits=l-state=Queensland|||l-title=14

I cannot sing the praises of Trove enough. It is a great research tool. Create an account for yourself, persist with it. You will be rewarded many times over.

Just a quick reminder of the gathering at Hyde Park Barracks this coming Sunday 27 August. You will be made very welcome. See https://www.facebook.com/GreatIrishFamineMemorial/

Cad a dhéanfaimid feasta gan adhmad,
tá deireadh na gcoillte ar lár;
níl trácht ar Chill Chais ná a teaghlach,
is ní bainfear a cling go bráth;
an áit úd ina gcónaíodh an deighbhean
a fuair gradam is meidhir thar mná,
bhíodh iarlaí ag tarraing thar toinn ann,
is an tAifreann binn á rá.

Noli timere (Seamus Heaney)

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (48): some orphan stories based on family reconstitutions

MORE ORPHANS AND THEIR FAMILIES IN AUSTRALIA

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

PORT PHILLIP ARRIVALS

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

SOME PORT JACKSON ARRIVALS

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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Some Moreton Bay Orphans

 

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

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

 

 

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

http://wp.me/p4SlVj-vf 

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

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

The digitised newspapers at Trove are a national treasure.

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

 

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

 

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

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

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (41):Famine rock commemoration, Port Phillip family reconstitutions

FAMINE ROCK COMMEMORATION 2016

Famine Rock Memorial

In honour of the Famine orphans who arrived at Port Phillip, and the gathering at Burgoyne Reserve 3 pm 20 November 2016, let me present a few more of my family reconstitutions. It’s been a while since i looked at the demographic results. Maybe i should go back and have another look.  In the meantime, double click or pinch these to make them larger. I’ll try putting them in alphabetical order. I’ve added a couple for the occasion.

Ann Arbuckle per Derwent

Ann Arbuckle per Derwent

Sarah Arbuckle per Derwent

Sarah Arbuckle per Derwent

Margaret Britt per Eliza Caroline

Margaret Britt per Eliza Caroline

Rebecca Cambridge per Diadem

Rebecca Cambridge per Diadem

 

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Helen Corbett  per New Liverpool

fodrumladykEliza Drum per Lady Kennaway
fodunbarpembEllen Dunbar per Pembertonfogalvinpemb

Margaret Galvin  per Pemberton fograydiadAnn Graydon per Diadem

foharrisdiadMarea Harrison per Diadem

folawnladykEllen Lawn per Lady Kennaway

folearyelizacJane Leary per Eliza Caroline

fomccartpembBridget McCarthy per Pemberton

fomulligadiadSarah Mulligan per Diadem

 

Eliza Nelligan per Pemberton

Eliza Nelligan per Pemberton

 

foryanelizcMargaret Ryan per Eliza Caroline

 

 

fostaffladykJane Stafford per Lady Kennaway

fouptonpembEliza Upton per Pemberton

My very best wishes to everyone at the gathering next Sunday 20th November, Burgoyne Reserve, Williamstown. And a special thank you to Debra Vaughan and Val Noone. Go raibh maith agat.

http://wp.me/p4SlVj-oE

Famine Rock Memorial

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine orphans (35):some notes from PROV Victoria Superintendent letters inwards

A few more snippets

http://prov.vic.gov.au/

Here are some of my research notes. They are barely legible. Please get in touch if you cannot decipher something you want. They were made on one of my research trips to the Victorian Public Records Office when it was out at Altona, i.e. before Spring Street, and before moving to North Melbourne. I can remember taking a train and a bus and a walk before getting there. But it was worth it; the people there were extremely helpful. I cannot thank them enough.

These are notes i took when i perused PROV VPRS 115, 8 boxes, Superintendent Inward Registered correspondence. They’ll be useful for anyone interested in the Port Phillip orphans, I hope. Maybe worth another trip to the archives? You’ll notice I’ve occasionally recorded stuff not directly related to the Earl Grey orphans; remittances, people nominating others for a government-assisted passage, or the death of a baby, as you do. There’s even mention of one of the children who earlier was offered a passage on the Edmund Parry,  and who had refused. “1 March 1850 Catherine Minnihane niece (11 year old) to John O’Keefe from the Parish of Killaloe, townland of Kilcredan, nominated by Thomas Budds Payne“. I wonder did she make it here after all.

What strikes me is the ‘duty of care’ reflected in these letters to Superintendent La Trobe. Sure, there is desire that regulations be administered properly but there is also a very human(e) touch, providing soap for the Pemberton orphans “to enable them to wash all their things and to disembark comfortably” VPRS 115, vol.1, 49/85. Or to help Mary Darcy who had lost use of her limbs from an injury aboard the Pemberton,“the poor girl must be cared for somehow. I must leave the Police Magistrate to suggest in what manner and at what cost” VPRS 115, vol.1, 49/340 .

Anyways have a rummage through these. See what you can find. Note for example, the tenders for an Immigration Barracks; reference to orphan ship reports viz Pemberton, ‘the females were orderly and obedient’ and the ship ‘well fitted out’ ; Diadem, Derwent and New Liverpool, ‘the orphans from Clonmel were refractory, insubordinate and extremely troublesome’; letter from the Police Magistrate, Portland, re what he was doing for the arrival of the orphans by the Brig Raven, and individual cases, Mary Darcy,Margaret Gorman, Eliza Armstrong, Isabella Browne, causing them concern.

PROV. Superintendent correspondence-in 1849 VPRS 115 vol.1

PROV. Superintendent correspondence-in 1849 VPRS 115 vol.1

VPRS115i

VPRS115ii

VPRS115iii

VPRS115iv

VPRS115v

VPRS115vi

VPRS115vii

VPRS115viii

Happy hunting. I don’t think a lot of this made its way into my Barefoot & Pregnant? or on to the website. http://www.irishfaminememorial.org/

Here’s a list of the contents of my blog. Just click on the http address http://wp.me/p4SlVj-oE

Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (9): Some sad stories

No Rose-Tinted Spectacles

Let me draw attention to some of the fascinating work on the Earl Grey Famine orphans currently in progress. Perry McIntyre and Karen Semken, for example, are working on a database comprising biographies of each and every orphan. It is an ambitious project. I can only wish them well. To aid them in this, I’m sure contributors to Facebook pages, such as Anne-Marie’s ‘Ireland Reaching Out’ or Karen’s ‘Earl Grey’s Irish Orphans’ and Melissa’s ‘Great Irish Famine Commemoration Memorial Community’, will be willing to help. Please do have a look.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/165165103656877/?fref=ts

https://www.facebook.com/GreatIrishFamineMemorial?fref=ts

https://www.facebook.com/EarlGreyIrishOrphans?fref=ts

 There is also a marvelous three-disc CD-Rom set by Ray Debnam on the orphans who went to present-day Queensland, “The Feisty Colleens” http://thefeistycolleens.com/author.html

Kay Caball’s book on The Kerry Girls,The History Press Ireland, 2014, tells the story of the orphans from that part of the world. It’s a great read, and available on kindle.

And for a very interesting literary turn, see http://jakiscloudnine.blogspot.ie/

I’m rediscovering the wheel myself, finding material wrongly filed (ha- as if there ever was a system) among my research notes. Here’s a couple more photos I wasn’t aware I had.

fojaneclarkeearl grey1

Jane Clarke from Belfast per Earl Grey(?)

 

 Anne Lawler

Ann Lawler from Galway per Lady Kennaway(?)


foannelawlerthomashiggins

Thomas Higgins husband of Ann Lawler

 

I didn’t use these pics in volume two of Barefoot because there was doubt about whether they were Earl Grey orphans. I knew from experience how difficult it was establishing if x and y really were part of the scheme. How does one confirm that they were?

Some fundamental questions historians use, and I’m sure other disciplines too, are often forgotten–and not just by historians. How do you know that? What is the evidence? How reliable is it? Is it independently verified? A pity such questions are not more widely used in all walks of life.

Another thing historians do, is question everything, even the words they use. For instance, in the last post I talked about Letitia Connelly’s ‘success’ story. Putting the word ‘success’ in quotation marks indicates I had qualms about using the word. Does ‘success’ only mean bourgeois respectability and material well-being?  I much prefer the ideas of Bessie Stanley myself. I’ve changed her ‘He’ to ‘She’ in the following,

“She has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much, who has gained the…love of little children;…who has left the world better than she has found it…who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty…who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best she had…”

Finding hard evidence for this, in the lives of the orphans, is an almost impossible task, however much one would like to pluck something out of the air. In fact, I’m now prepared to argue that asking whether or not the orphans were ‘successful’ in Australia is the wrong question to ask.

‘Coming to Australia rather than staying in Ireland was better for the young women’, is another way of putting it. I’ve said that myself on more than one occasion. But that too should be questioned. My intention in this post is to show  that coming to Australia was not the best thing that could have happened to every orphan–just in case I’m tempted to view their  Australian lives through rose-tinted spectacles. It may well have been for the best. But how many examples, such as those I’m about to relate, does it take–ten percent, twenty, twenty-five of the whole– before we reject the claim? Maybe this too is the wrong question to ask. Everything, may I suggest, is up for debate.

Let me tell you a couple of stories. They prevent me from being starry-eyed about the orphans’ lives in Australia. They are sad stories. Perhaps they shouldn’t be read all at once.

Death by Fire

At the age of eighteen, Catherine Toland, along with her fifteen year old sister Sarah, left the beautiful lakes, lochs and waterways  near Rathmelton and Milford workhouse in Donegal (do have a look on Google Earth). They arrived in Port Phillip on board the Lady Kennaway early in December 1848. They had each other, and were lucky to be employed by the same person, Mrs Catherine Ro(a)che of Bourke Street in Melbourne. Just over a year later, Catherine married Mike Murphy, a Cork man, a marriage that would last until Michael’s death in 1882. Catherine and Sarah would remain close for most of their lives.

Is there anything that strikes you about Catherine and Mike’s family reconstitution below?

 

focathtolandladykenn

Perhaps you noticed the death of four of their children at Gledfield Station in early February 1863. They were buried on a rise overlooking the Wannon River: John was nine, William six, Lizzie four and Michael only two. The Coroner’s verdict at the inquest was “the four children were burnt to death by the conflagration of the hut in which they slept, but how the fire originated there is no evidence to show and no blame can be attached to any person“.

At the inquest we hear Catherine’s voice but it is a simple statement of fact, devoid of the grief she felt.  The local newspaper, the Ararat & Pleasant Creek Advertiser was to report on 13 February “the utter prostration and distress of Michael and Catherine Murphy was harrowing in the extreme…everyone present seemed greatly affected at the intense grief displayed by the parents of the unfortunate children.

I am the wife of Michael Murphy who is a shepherd in the employment of Hugh McDonald; I left our hut about half past six in the morning; it is about three miles from the home Station; I had two of the children sleeping with me; three generally slept in one bed and one in another; I woke my eldest boy, John, and told him to dress the little girl; he said he was very sleepy and I did not like to take him up, so I left them; previous to going away I put one log of wood on the fire, and left the kettle with the tea near the fire for the children; I put one match on the table, in the middle of some pines; when I left the fire was not bright, and the log I put on was damp; I pulled the door but did not fasten it; the two beds were close to each other; when my husband got up he put one  of the children in his place; there was no one near the place when I left; my husband never left matches about; he was very careful…

There is a Murphy family history in the La Trobe Manuscript section of the State Library of Victoria. Later in life, Catherine, a devout Catholic, is reputed to have said I have suffered my Purgatory here on earth. I’ll surely go straight to heaven.

 

A Lost Soul

Let me tell you the story of Mary Littlewood. Her’s is one I also find disturbing.

In late 1846, ‘ragged and dirty’, Samuel (57) and Mary (54) Littlewood from Ballybreagh, Rich Hill entered Armagh workhouse along with their four children; 15 year-old Mary who was described as ‘thinly clothed and hungry’; 13 year-old Thomas William; 11 year-old John, and 9 year-old Ann Eliza. Over the next couple of years, in and out of the workhouse, the family was slowly destroyed.  Described variously in these years as ‘very ill’, ‘delicate’, ‘thinly clothed and quite destitute’, residing in the ‘Union at large’, (i.e. homeless) the family broke apart. Samuel, a former weaver, died 25 February 1847. His widow, Mary, died 10 March 1848, shortly before their 16 year-old daughter (also named Mary) set out on her long journey to Sydney.

Already psychologically affected by her famine and workhouse experience, 16 year-old Mary joined the Earl Grey in June 1848, along with other orphans from northern Irish workhouses.  Once again, she watched the authorities impose their will on their charges, and she watched the ‘Belfast girls’ fight back. She may not have taken part in the ‘clash of cultures’ on board the Earl Grey but she certainly learned some ‘attitude’, and whose side she was on.

Her first employment in Sydney as a servant apprentice was with J. C. Curtis at the rate of £9 per annum for two years. Alas, it was not to be. By the end of 1848 she was in court defending herself against the domestic violence inflicted upon her by Mrs Curtis of Sydney’s North Shore. You can read about the case in the Sydney Morning Herald for the first of January, 1849, beginning page 3 at the bottom of column 3.

Here is the Trove link. http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/page/4094385?zoomLevel=4

In late December, Mrs Curtis took Mary to the Sydney Police Court and charged her with assault. She claimed Mary had ‘struck her and threw a chair at her’. Fortunately, one of Mary’s neighbours, John Higley, believed Mary ought to have been the complainant and ‘engaged the services of Mr Nicholls, Solicitor, to defend her’. (He was later reimbursed by Immigration Agent Francis Merewether out of public funds). In court, Mrs Curtis denied she had ever struck the girl. But Nicholls produced two witnesses who testified “she saw Mrs Curtis…‘hammering the girl as hard as ever she could’, striking her on the face, and that the girl was bleeding”. The second witness confirmed this report, “adding that she found the girl nearly fainting from the loss of blood, and that she had considerable difficulty in conveying her to the residence of Mrs H. H. Browne, who most humanely received her into her house“.

I lost sight of young Mary after this. But she surfaced again in Appendix L of the Legislative Assembly, New South Wales, Report from the Select Committee on Irish Female Immigrants (Petition of Celtic Association), printed by the Government Printer, Sydney, 1859–once again in a court case. But this time she had no one to come to her defense. (I reprinted the documents concerning her case in volume two of my Barefoot, pp.106-7).

On September 7 1849 Elinor Magrath wrote to the Bench of Magistrates at Scone frightened by the “paroxysms of rage” that Mary was subject to. She explained that Mary had come to her and her husband Thomas as an indentured orphan apprentice on the 3rd January–just after the cancellation of her indentures with Mrs Curtis. They themselves were recently arrived immigrants from Ireland, if my memory is correct (ha). In her letter Mrs Magrath stated that “for the last six weeksMary was acting in a very strange way. “Her conduct is much like that of a person delirious or excited by drink”.

I wonder what had happened. Did Mary have a mental breakdown? Had she just had enough of being told what to do? Was she fed up being locked away? Was she fed up with having no friends and being isolated in the country? Was she just very angry because she wasn’t allowed to see her male friend?

On 14 September Elinor Magrath presented the same information contained in her letter to the two Justices of the Peace who made up the Bench of of Magistrates at Scone viz. “she refuses to obey my lawful commands or to attend to her duties as a servant, and is excessively insolent when spoken to”. On the 2nd September, before she went to church, she forbade Mary to leave the house, thinking she intended meeting a man outside. But Mary became  “excessively violent”. Thomas had to deal with it, placing himself between Mary and the door. Let me out! Let me out, damn it! I’ll throw myself in the well. Damn me, damn my soul to Hell. Holy Christ. Open the door, open the window. Damn you to Hell. Damn you and the mistress to Hell! I’ll tear down the curtains, I will.

The Bench cancelled her indentures and ordered she be sent to the Immigration depot at Maitland, in effect at her own expense, from the wages owed to her.

Mary disappears thereafter. She obviously needed help and may not have received it.

I have often wondered what happened to this angry young lost soul.

A Hard Life

 Ellen Leydon (or Lydon) from Ennistymon in County Clare was also only 16 years old, when she joined the Thomas Arbuthnot in late 1849. She may well have danced and sang on deck, under the watchful eye of Surgeon Strutt, as the ship made its way to Sydney. Her life was full of promise. But she didn’t travel with Strutt over the ranges to south-western New South Wales. Instead, she went north, to Brisbane, where she was employed as an indentured servant by W. Coombes at the rate of £7-£8 for two years. Within the year, she had married Thomas Stanley, a brickmaker from Ipswich.

For research on the births, deaths and marriages of the Earl Grey orphans in the 1980s, I was given access to records in New South Wales and Victoria. An employee of the Registry of Births, deaths and marriages did work for me in Queensland. Here is Ellen’s reconstituted family from that work. Look carefully. By 1863, whilst pregnant, she has become a widow. Two years later she has a little girl whose birth is recorded as “illegitimate” but she, like her sister before her, is soon dead.

foellenleydonthoarb

 I found Ellen again in the records of Dunwich Benevolent Asylum which is situated on Stradbroke Island, Moreton Bay. Remember to gain access to the Asylum an applicant had to have no visible means of support, either financial, or from a friend or relative. Some applicants would have provided information to suit their purpose.

Ellen Agnes Hickson was “admitted, age 61, October 29 1895, from Goodna (Mental) Asylum. The cause of her admission was ‘old age’. She was born in Clare, Ireland, and her religion was Roman Catholic. Her trade or profession was that of ‘Housewife‘ and she could read and write. Her father was John Leyden, a farmer, and her mother was Mary Cronin”. It was Ellen herself who provided the information.

“Married? Yes, six times. 1st: to Thomas Stanley, 14 years of age” (I assume this is the age she thinks she was), “in Ipswich. He died July 21 1862. 2nd: to Thomas Heffernan, 27 years , in Ipswich. 3rd: to Hugh Munro, 30, Ipswich. 4th: to William Jones, forget age, in Cairns. 5th: to James Dwyer, forget age, in Maryland, New South Wales. 6th: to James Penrose Hickson–died 1889–Charters Towers”. Ray Debnam has confirmed these marriages; to Thomas in 1866 with whom she had two children, Hugh in 1871, James in 1875, William in 1886 and finally James Hickson in 1888. He actually died 16 December 1891. Ellen may not have had the best memory for dates. I don’t think the researcher in the Queensland BDM records could have uncovered this complicated history with the pittance I was offering. What always impresses me is the geographical ground the famine orphans travelled; just look at the distance Ellen’s travels covered.

“How many children did you have? Thirteen. Ten by my first marriage– William Stanley. He’s 44 and lives in Sandgate. Thomas Lot, don’t know how old. He’s in Strathpine. John Sovereign. He’s dead. George James is dead I believe. Alled Henry is in Charters Towers. One died at three days old. Mary Ann is dead, Elizabeth Ann is dead. Can’t think of the others. I had two children by my second husband, Jerry Joseph who’s in Charters Towers, can’t remember the next. I had one only by my third husband. She–Jane–died in infancy”.

I wonder how one should read this record. Given Ellen was married six times and had thirteen children, and given she was 61 years old and had spent time in Goodna Mental Asylum, that’s a pretty good memory is it not? Or do you think she should have had closer emotional ties to her children? It certainly raises questions about the accuracy of the information we have in our family reconstitutions.

“I came to Australia in 1850 and landed in Sydney. I remained in New South Wales for three weeks then came to Moreton Bay. Then I went to Ipswich and remained there for many years. Then I went up North and remained up North many years and on the death of my husband Hickson I went wrong in the head and was in Goodna for a long time.

The last two years were spent in the Asylum at Goodna. She has no money and no property.

She went on leave from Dunwich February 11th 1896 until ? 1896 She stayed beyond her leave and was struck off, 28 May 1896. She was readmitted 6 October 1897 and remained in the Benevolent Asylum until her death 16 December 1901″.

Here’s a pic of Woogaroo Mental Asylum, later known as Goodna, now Wollston Park. It was built at Wacol in 1865. I remember it was a very hot day when I took the pic. The building was close to a river and I hope cooler for the inmates than I imagined.

wollston park1ascan

In some States access to Asylum records is more freely given than in others. Personally, in the interests of good health, I believe we should be as open about these things as we possibly can. But I understand the contrary argument too. I’ll not mention any other names. Ellen would have had the company of many an Irishwoman in both institutions, Dunwich and Goodna. Explaining this is not an easy task. Should we make something of their Irish background, their ‘collective memory’ of Estate clearances, Famine or family upheaval? Or was it a result of their demographic history; many of them married much older men, and in the days before pensions or ‘social security’, vulnerable women were more likely to end up in such institutions? I leave that for you to ponder.

Parramatta womens asylum c1890aMy thanks to the Picture Collection of the New South Wales State Library. The photograph is of “Women Residents in the Newington Asylum” c. 1890 SPF/1170.

The case books of such institutions make for sad reading.  “Attack came on suddenly. Loud crying. Seems to have a desire to injure others. Bodily health good”; “melancholic with great emaciation”; “having been exposed to much hardship and trouble”; “has threatened to drown herself”; “very excitable and quarrelsome”; “a strong bony woman. She expresses herself with vigour and delusions”; “a thin wrinkled old woman who smiles when spoken to and always sits holding a cloth to her left cheek”.

A number of the Earl Grey orphans would spend some period of their life in such an institution in Australia. Exactly how many would spend any time in prison, in lying-in hospital, in Benevolent Asylum or Mental hospital is unknown. Maybe when Karen and Perry’s database is complete we’ll have a better idea.

To return to what I was saying earlier, I don’t think looking at the ‘success’ (or its corollary, ‘failure’) of the orphans is the right way to go–too judgemental for my liking.  Trying to decide whether coming to Australia was the best thing the young women could have done, interesting as it may be, is in the end pointless. I’d much prefer to research subjects such as the following; what was it like living as a shepherd’s wife at Ross Bridge on the Wannon River or what was it like living in Brisbane or Ipswich in the 1850s? Did any of the orphans see the last public execution in Brisbane in 1855–of the great Aboriginal warrior, Dundalli? (I’m really looking forward to Libby Connors’ book on Dundalli which Allen & Unwin will publish in the next month or two). What kind of life was there for a gold-miner’s wife at Ballarat or Castlemaine? What work did you do ‘on your selection’ in the 1860s? Who exactly were the German family members of your husband in the Clare valley in South Australia? The possibilities are endless. I’m sure you can think of others.

 Scusi. I seem to have wandered. I haven’t even started on “Arrival”. And a trip to the Mt Tomah Botanic Gardens beckons at this time of year.