Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (74): “Criminal” women

“Gosh Kirsty, long time no see. How have you been? What happened”?

“Trev, I’m really sorry not to have been in touch. I’ve been having a hard time in Iso. I needed to see someone about my mental health, and thankfully found the right person to help me. Only last week she prescribed some meds that i’m still getting used to. Seriously, though, I don’t want to abandon my research, even if any kind of academic future for me is out of the question.

“Ok. I very much agree with you: early career prospects are not looking good for anyone in the humanities at present. If you want to talk about this sometime, we can do so. But just for now, if you want to continue with your research, hoping things will improve eventually, you might have a look at a couple of my blogposts , that is, if you want to pursue the question, how many Earl Grey orphans came before the courts? Ten per cent? fifteen ? More? What do you think? Is this worth doing?

One of the posts is called ‘Miss D. Meanors’

https://wp.me/p4SlVj-24L

And the other is ‘More court cases’. Some of the problems I have with the topic, i mention briefly at the end of this second one. https://wp.me/p4SlVj-25B

You will notice in these posts how i am indebted to a young researcher, Julie Poulter. Maybe approach Julie to ask her about her project, ‘Orphans on the streets of Sydney’. She has a new website, http://www.quirkycharacters.com.au

That is the best way to get hold of her. You might like to ask her about her methods, and how she confirms it is Earl Grey orphans she’s found in the records.

But to begin, let me recap the rich detail of Victorian records. Here are a couple of examples, and problems.

The examples are taken from PROV VPRS 516 Central Register of Female Prisoners (in Melbourne gaol) and PROV VPRS 521 Register of names, Particulars, and descriptions of prisoners received (in Melbourne women’s prison).

From exhibition in Pentridge c. 2002(?)

PROV is so good these days, researchers can work with many of these records online, establish cross linkages, and prepare beforehand a visit to the records themselves, in North Melbourne, when that becomes possible.

This is just a random selection from,

VPRS 516 Unit 1 (1855-61) Register of female prisoners

Number 34 Annette Skipper born 1831 Ireland per Panama to Sydney 1949 Free married 3 children

82 Margaret Walker b. 1823 Ireland per Lady Kennaway 1848 Free married

115 Mary Ann Bourke, Mary Farrell, Eliza Turner, Eliza Tyrell, Mary Tyrell b. 1823 Dublin per Roman Empress to Adelaide 1848

231 Elizabeth Maher/ Mair b.1832 Clonmell per Lady Kennaway 1848 free widow

454 Sarah Berry b. 1833 Ireland per Diadem free widow

Unit 2

624 Alice Fitzgerald/ Alice Ryan b. 1832 Ireland per Eliza Caroline to Melbourne 1848 free married

886 Margaret Jones 1832 Ireland per Pemberton to Melbourne 1848 free married.

937 Kate Strahan b 1835 Ireland per Diadem to Melbourne 1849, husband in Pentridge.

From Melbourne prison exhibition c. 2002(?)

And from VPRS 521 vol. 1, 1853-57, Register of names, particulars and description of female prisoners. Please note a physical description is provided.

No. 129 October 1854 Amelia Nott New Liverpool 1849 born 1827 Free 3 convictions drunk of slender build fresh complexion dark brown hair grey eyes neither read nor write two small scars on the bridge of her nose born Jersey married servant 20 October for medical treatment.

Amelia was a frequent visitor to the Melbourne women’s prison. She is there again in February 1855 , number 291 and again no. 295 as Amelia Knott with added detail of her height 5 foot one inch with a front upper tooth decayed, this time fined 20 shillings or 24 hours incarceration.

At number 334 she is described as a habitual drunkard, and at 472 she says she arrived by the New Liverpool arriving in 1850. She is there again at numbers 597 and 601, 883, 916, 1009, 1125, recording she had eleven previous convictions and her sentence increasing in severity, 3 calendar months 10 December 1855 to 10 March 1856.

Or Julia Driscoll 402 per Eliza Caroline 1848 born 1834, five foot five and a half inches, stout, fresh dark brown hair grey eyes neither read nor write slight scar top of nose Cork RC married felony for trial sent to Police Office April 1855.

She appears again at 412 , for stealing a shawl and is sent to prison for a month.

Or Julia Connolly per Eliza Caroline 1849 b. 1835 one previous 5’6” slight brown hair blue eyes neither read nor write Ireland Catholic married imprisoned for one calendar month no means of support.

Or in the next volume, no. 701 Bridget Allen per Pemberton 1851 b. 1932 7 previous 5’2” stout sallow brown hair grey eyes non literate Ireland Protestant married Williamstown to be kept lunacy 10 October 1857 sent to Yarra Bend 1 April 1858.

There are literally hundreds of such cases in Victorian prison records, of women found guilty of minor crimes, drunk and disorderly, without visible means of support, idle and disorderly, obscene language and the like. And despite the names of orphan ships appearing regularly, their date of arrival is rarely accurate. Did they forget or were some of them former convicts from Van Diemen’s land trying to pass themselves off as orphans. Many of them are married. Does that mean we will find them in early church records, or by ‘marriage’ do the the women mean common law marriage?

It seems to me that is a tough challenge. To establish that these women prisoners in Melbourne gaol in the 1850s, were in fact Earl Grey famine orphans is a formidable, even thankless, task”.

“I’m so glad you brought that up Trevor. I’ve been thinking the same; I’d be spending so much time and getting such a small return for my efforts. Maybe i would find the percentage of orphans was greater than the 10% most people suggest, maybe not. No big ting.

I’m still not sure how to to tell you what I’ve been thinking. I’m very interested in the research papers and notes you gave me on ‘Irish women before the law’ and wondered if i should do my thesis on that. I’ve jotted down a few things, basically focussing on one particular example to illuminate the ‘crime’ i had in mind. Here then are my first thoughts,

Mt Rennie and rape, NSW:

Johanna Sullivan, infanticide, concealment of birth, abortion, South Australia:

Ellen Thompson, murder, Queensland:

Some i haven’t examples for yet,

Inheritance, marriage and divorce:

Misdemeanours, prostitution, vagrancy, drunk and disorderly, petty theft, obscene language:

Activism, women and labour legislation, women and the vote. When are women ‘allowed’ to become lawyers Do you know?

My worry is that i have no training in the law, and little knowledge of the law in colonial Australia”.

“Same here, Kirsty. But when did that stop anyone? Let me ask around to see if there is someone who can help. Being interested and excited by your research project is very important”.

From Old Melbourne Gaol exhibition c. 2002(?)

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.

blogfoctyrellladyk

 

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.

 

blogfoetighepanama

 

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

blogfomshanahanlismoyne

 

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

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

 

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

blogfomaReillylismoyne

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

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

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

BlogfoBquigleytipsaib

 

Some Moreton Bay Orphans

 

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

blogfocgearythoarb

 

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

 

 

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

http://wp.me/p4SlVj-vf 

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

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

The digitised newspapers at Trove are a national treasure.

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

 

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

 

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

blogfomcarriggthoarb

 

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