Jane Leahy – Curiously Absent from Everywhere

(Image from an 1870s magazine)

#52Ancestors Week 4 – Curious.

There are plenty of puzzles in my family tree. Despite all my efforts, Jane Leahy is still one of them.

Warning: this post is heavy on detail and more of a report than a general post.

Blackwater Castle near Castletownroche in Cork

Jane’s brief appearance in the records spans the seven years it took her to baptise five illegitimate children – 1839 to 1846.

The baptisms took place in the parish of Castletownroche. The father for all five was Henry Harrison Peard, and their address was given as Inchinapallas (aka Inchinapalace). Henry Peard’s death notice refers to him as ‘Henry H Peard of Inchinapallis’ so I think we can assume the two lived together.

That’s merely an assumption. Perhaps they didn’t. Perhaps Jane lived in a cottage on the property.

She was Irish Catholic and he was Protestant, but that didn’t truly stop people from marrying. It wasn’t very common, but it happened often enough. They were public enough that Jane could name him as the father for all the baptisms.

That said, did he even know he was publicly named? Was he present at those baptisms?

Here’s some geography. The world of Jane Leahy was a rather small triangle.

These towns and directions are pretty much to scale. Mallow, Fermoy and Mitchelstown form a triangle, Castletownroche and the townland of Inchinapallas are towards the centre south.

The Peards settled at Castlelyons near Fermoy somewhere around the 1640s (see Richard Peard-Adventurer or Gentleman?) and the ancestral property of Coole Abbey was passed down from eldest son to eldest son. They were comfortably off, not excessively wealthy. They weren’t titled. But they were landed gentry. They were educated, they travelled, they married into equally good families.

At least, some of them returned to Cork. I’ve not managed to trace the whole family.

As far as I can tell, our Henry Harrison Peard did not marry at all. He did not even marry the woman who gave him five children.

Why not?

There’s no indication that Jane could read or write. Castletownroche is six and a half miles from his home in Inchinappalas. I’m guessing she was a servant in Henry’s household and her parents were at Castletownroche. Would that be reason enough for him to not marry her?

Henry was aged about 25 when the eldest child John was baptised in Castetownroche. John was baptised on 26th June 1839, the 23rd child to be baptised that month.

(Baptism of John Peard 1839)

For a while I wondered if he really was the father, but enough DNA matches have surfaced to confirm that he was. At least, to confirm that a Peard of that particular family was the father.

Henry Peard was heavily involved in efforts to alleviate the impact of poverty on the Irish poor. The 1830s and 1840s were peak years of the Irish famine. Whole families were starving to death, fever was raging, misery was everywhere.

Henry’s family spent the 1820s in St Helier. Coming back to Cork from somewhere like the Channel Islands must have given the whole family a shock. The locals had grown gradually into the tragedy, but Henry and his siblings did not grow up here. They saw it in all its catastrophic rawness.

It might be because he lived elsewhere that a relationship developed between Henry and Jane. He didn’t have the local prejudices of religion, class and education. He exerted himself hugely to deliver food to the poor, to seek out medical help, to find them places to live.

But he still didn’t marry Jane, and when he died in 1847 of a fever probably caught from those he was helping, no trace of her remained. She just vanished.

I don’t know how old she was. All I know is that she was childbearing age from 1839 to 1846. She might have been 15 in 1839. She might have been 40. We can’t even be sure of her name. Yes, she was Jane Leahy, but was that by birth or marriage? Perhaps she was a widow?

Here’s that ‘map’ with a couple more places marked.

Castlelyons in the lower right is Peard homeland since circa 1640. It’s four miles from Fermoy. Ballyhooly is the nearest town to the townland of Inchinapallas, four miles from Castletownroche, 2.5 miles from where we think Henry Peard was living.
(Baptism of the second child, Richard Peard 1841)

Because we know so little about Jane, the best clue seems to be those baptism sponsors. Maybe they’re from Henry’s side, but if Henry’s family were happy to attend a local Catholic church for the baptism of Henry’s child among people who might have felt very bitter towards them with their good clothes and obvious health, then what possible impediment could there have been to the marriage??

(Baptism of third child, William Peard 1842)

At this point I’m puzzled that no child was named Henry.

It’s fairly common to name the first two boys after their grandfathers. We know that Henry Harrison Peard’s father was John Peard, so presumably young John was named after him. In that case, perhaps Jane’s father was Richard or William?

Whatever the naming system, we have three boys and none are named after their father. Why not???????????

Is there an elder child yet to find? Or did Henry perhaps already have a son named Henry with another woman?

(Baptisms of Ellen and Sarah Peard in 1846)

The final children were baptised together after a four year gap. This doesn’t make them twins. There’s no indication of their age at this time. I’m guessing Ellen was older than Sarah.

A Look at the Sponsors

I’m sorry. This gets convoluted.

I’ll add one more record here: the baptism of Patrick Sullivan in April 1839 with what has to be our Jane Leahy as sponsor. She would have been pregnant with John at the time, although maybe not showing if he was her first.

Here are my findings:

Digitised baptisms for Castletownroche begin in 1811. Older people might simply be absent from searchable records.

Thomas Donovan – no baptism located in Castletownroche. A couple in the further reaches of the diocese of Cloyne. Two babies of this name were baptised in Castletownroche in the late 1820s, perhaps suggesting they had a common grandfather of that name?? But those two are too young to be sponsors for an 1839 baptism.

Margaret Leahy – many possibilities. There is a possible 1819 baptism in Castlelyons (Peard home ground) with parents John Leahy and Ellen Cosgrave who also have a daughter Jane baptised 1816. This couple is a hot contender as parents of our Jane, but the surname Cosgrave does not show AT ALL among the trees of my DNA matches so I can confirm nothing. It’s possible that Henry hired his servants from his home town to Inchinapallas and their whole extended families moved with them, hence the switch from Castlelyons church to Castletownroche. But this is purely conjecture. There are several Margaret Leahy’s showing as mothers to baptised babies in Castletownroche through the 1820s, 1830s and 1840s.

Eugene Mahoney – no baptism found in Castletownroche but a candidate located in Castlelyons, baptised 1820 the son of Denis Mahoney and Ellen Mara(?), sponsors John Eagan and Ann Kenny.

Margaret Donovan – A possible baptism in Castletownroche in 1813, daughter of John Donovan and Mary Scannel with sponsors Patrick Mahoney and Mary Keefe. There’s a marriage in 1840 in Castletownroche between Margaret Donovan and Denis Sullivan. Witnesses look to be Daniel Sullivan and Owen Donovan, but the handwriting is a bit hard to read.

Daniel Neill – two options: there’s a marriage in Castletownroche in 1822 between Daniel Neill and Margaret Buckley. There’s a baptism in Castlelyons 1814, to Michael Neill and Honora Sullivan. The person on the scene is always the most likely.

Bridget Hickey – this is very likely the wife of Bartholomew Connell of Castletownroche. Her children were born concurrently with Henry and Jane’s.

David Gay – Two generations, son David baptised 1822 in Castletownroche to David Gay and Mary Nagle (sponsors Andrew Casey and Catherine Neill). In 1840 a baby David Gay was baptised in Castletownroche to William Gay and Julia Sullivan of Inchinapallas. William seems to be another son of the earlier David and Mary.

Catherine Culnane – There are a spattering of Culnanes in the Castletownroche search results but nothing conclusive.

Michael Flahavan – baptised 10 Oct 1819, son of Martin Flahavin and Jane Casey of Inchinapallas. There’s no doubt about this one. Sponsors to the birth were Ned Mahoney and Catherine Hickey. I can’t find a marriage, but from 1841, a Martin Flahavin and Margaret Donovan of Inchinapallas were baptizing children, including a daughter Johanna.

Margaret Sullivan – many possibilities, none certain.

Michael Sullivan – Michael Sullivan and Mary Sheahan lived at Inchinapallas. Their son Denis was baptised in 1834 and one of his sponsors was Michael Flahavan. I can’t find a marriage.

Patrick Sheahan – I think this Patrick might be the one baptised 08 Oct 1815 to William Shehan and Jane Keefe, living at Templenoe. Several of the Mary Sheahans that I looked at were in Templenoe. But I really am not sure.


This hasn’t helped me locate Jane, but it has shown a community.

The place was obscure, even by Cork standards. It rarely appears on 19th century maps or travel guides. The closest I’ve found is Ballyhooly which is equally obscure.

(Picturesque Views of the Antiquities of Ireland 1840)

Several families lived at Inchinapallas. These included the Sullivans, the Gays, the Mahoneys and the Flahavens, as well as our Jane Leahy and Henry Harrison Peard. There’s no indication that the sponsors of Henry and Jane’s children were family; they were probably just the other families in the same location. Friends.

The same surnames are scattered throughout the diocese, so there’s nothing to be learned there, and many records are illegible. It’s probably worth the time it would take to scour the parish records by hand and pluck out all the families of Inchinapallas – that’s a project I might undertake one day. But for now I’ll continue to explore the possibilites of DNA matching.

Through looking at the families of Inchinapallas I can see who Jane’s children played with; who their neighbours were. I don’t know if they continued in that place after Henry’s untimely death in 1847. I don’t know what his death meant to all the families there.

And so concludes this post: the curious absence of facts about Jane Leahy continues unabated.

(Leigh’s New Pocket Road-Book of Ireland 1835)

Beryl Reading – A Baby on a Postcard

#52Ancestors Week 3 – Favourite Photo

(Beryl Reading aged 3 months)

It was something they used to do in our state in the first half of the twentieth century- take a photo and turn it into a postcard that you could stick a stamp onto and send through the mail.

We have very few surviving photographs in our family. This is my grandmother Beryl, born January 1918 in Kempton, Tasmania. My grandmother handed it to me one day when I was visiting and said “Can you guess who this is?”

I couldn’t. I’ve never been good at recognising people.

She then let me turn it over to read the back, and said I could keep it if I wanted it.

Of course I did!

Message on back of the postcard

On the back it says:

“Dear Sarah

Beryl when she was 3 months old we could not get her to look up. I remain

E Reading”

It’s a true blast from the past because that’s exactly how they all talked, everyone around me. Running sentences together, switching where the pauses go. And the valediction also, which doesn’t make much sense alone but they were taught to say it at school. Not the whole “I remain your [servant, friend etc]. Just ‘I remain’.

This is my great grandmother’s handwriting. Esther was Beryl’s mother. Esther had a younger sister named Sarah, I’m guessing she was the recipient of the postcard. And at some point down the track the postcard was returned to Esther and passed on to Beryl, who then passed it on to me. I notice there’s no stamp, it may have been placed in a parcel with other items.

Beryl was the seventh child in her family. It’s lovely to see them still taking pleasure in a new addition, enough to have her dressed up in a clean frock and lacy bib. They were a very poor family, they all lived in a two bedroomed house with the males in one room, the females in the other. Beryl’s father was a share farmer, mostly of pigs, and they had some very tough years. Through it all they were united and loving.

Beryl grew up in the now vanished town of Apsley in Central Tasmania and went to the very small Apsley school. Her father died unexpectedly on 27th December 1931. The following year was her final at school.


She met her future husband when he came through her town as a laborer working on a new rail line. They were married in the registry office in Hobart in 1939.

It’s a shame she didn’t get a proper wedding, but the war was on and nobody had money. Plus, he came from Cygnet in the southern Huon Valley, a place of hills and dense forests and treacherous winding roads, while she was miles away in Central Tasmania. How could they ask their families to travel all that way? By modern standards the journey is manageable and Hobart was halfway between the two, but it was far slower in those days.

All the same, I think she’d have liked it: the gathering of family, and of feeling beautiful in a pretty dress. But she never said anything about that.

And speaking of weddings, here is Beryl and I at my wedding. I’ve cut the others out of the photo because I haven’t gained their permission to post the photo, not because there’s any kind of rift.

Beryl and myself at my wedding. She was aged about seventy at that time.

Beryl passed away in Franklin Aged Care on 9th February 2011. Due to family commitments and finances I was unable to attend her funeral which I will forever regret, but every time I visit the state of Tasmania I stop by her grave to say hello.

Beryl’s headstone, truncated to protect the privacy of living persons in the list of her children.

The photograph of Beryl as a baby now sits in a frame on my bookcase. I see it every day.

(1) “EMPIRE DAY” The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954) 18 May 1932: 10. Web. 16 Jan 2022 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article29955723>

Patrick Dillon of Dublin

#52Ancestors Week 2-Favourite Find

(View of the City of Dublin)

This week’s prompt for 52 Ancestors is ‘Favourite Find’. I have many, but I’ve not yet written about this family. It’s definitely time. Finding Patrick Dillon broke down a very persistent brick wall.

It also returned a lost surname to the tree. My paternal line is ‘Dillon’ and for decades we accepted that we had Dillon ancestry. Actually we didn’t – the paternal line is ‘Dillane’ morphed into Dillon quite recently. So after losing ‘Dillon’, a bit of research in a different line has brought Dillon back in a different place in the tree.

This is partly a post, partly a scrapbook of quotes by others about the world of Patrick Dillon, partly a historical account of Ireland from 1770-1800. I’ve done this to fill out his world where we don’t know about him personally. He lived in violent times and this is not a gentle history, but it’s accurate to his world.

Patrick was probably born in the 1770s, maybe in Dublin. He was Irish Catholic, which makes him hard to find, plus his name is very common. He was married in Dublin in 1803 and six children were born to him there. My ancestor is a seventh child to the family and there is no baptism record for her.

Dublin was a difficult place for an Irish Catholic to live. This post describes the events of the time, and how I think Patrick was impacted by them.

Irish Catholics in Ireland were into their third century of demonization by the time of Patrick’s birth. It’s hard to imagine what that does to a society, with successive generations stripped of dignity, respectability and hope. The goalposts changed regularly, they could never form a plan to pull the family together, no new way of life lasted more than two generations. And by the late 18th century they were seeing the effects of abuse on the land by the English overlords. Absent landlords ordered the planting of crops not suited to their soil, wars had resulted in the deliberate despoiling and salting of Irish owned land, as punishment. Whole forests were burned to the ground to prevent Irish soldiers and civilians from hiding.

It’s a grim picture, amidst which the Irish Catholic families fought for survival and justice, but also did what they could to lead stable, safe and happy lives. We still have remnants of their very hidden inner lives in songs, fabrics and devotions.

Plus there were wealthier Dillons: they were a major force a few centuries earlier and had found common ground with England. Many of them even became protestant. It’s possible that my Patrick came from Protestant origins, but in 1803 he was married in a Catholic church in Dublin and there’s no indication that he was comfortably off. He was most likely a quiet honest working man in the middle of difficult times.

Historian and journalist Philip Harwood describes Ireland this way:

(Philip Harwood ‘History of the 1798 Irish Rebellion’ 1849)

The situation was different across Ireland. Organised action against the tyranny of the British in the southern half of Ireland tended to start in Munster – that is, Cork, Waterford, Limerick and Kerry.

Dublin was far more English controlled. This meant fewer privileges for the native Irish, but conversely more stable employment on English properties so more family security. If you could put up with the subjugation, living conditions were much better. And maybe the English officials here were able to relax a little and give the Irish tenants some of the perks of a free people.

A man named Dr Thomas Campbell described Dublin in 1777 as an expansive city, about a quarter the size of London in area but with more empty spaces between the houses. A beautiful bay of blue water, a scenic coastline. He was surprised since England viewed Dublin as a smaller place, but noted that many Irish Catholics lived in Dublin who were not counted in any records.

Dr Thomas Campbell ‘A Philosophical Survey of the South of Ireland in Letters’ 1777

Campbell describes Dublin beautifully, both the good and the bad. This is Dublin as Patrick would have known it.

Campbell visited Dublin University and wasn’t impressed at all. Then he spent a few days exploring Dublin beyond the main squares and began to see how people were living.

Campbell described the hospital in some detail, and how it was a centre of social life since the hospital actually held music nights and dinners and concerts and dances which were attended by many. They were, of course, for Protestants only.

He then tells us about the Dublin people and here we get a glimpse of Patrick Dillon’s cohort. (canaille is a French word referring to the beggars and homeless and downtrodden poor).

It’s inevitable that the Irish people would be like this, given their past and their present treatment and the complete inaccessibility of any infrastructure to assist them.

Campbell clearly understood this. He shows himself to be a very understanding man.

Alcohol was probably the only recourse for medication, for entertainment, for warmth, even for sustenance. It’s also the one thing the British people supplied very freely to the Irish folk. And in those days they didn’t realise it was addictive. But drinking was common among the Protestants too, with every daily occasion involving drinks. No wonder Thomas Campbell was disturbed by what he saw.

Not all Irish folk were alcoholics: just the ones who had given up.

Our Patrick hadn’t given up as he reached his adult years. He was young and most likely fit and hopeful. I think this because he got married and must have felt he was able to support a family.

Historian Philip Harwood describes Ireland in 1783 as a place ready for independence from England. Even the English colonists wanted this, so they could profit from exported produce, choose their own customers, set their own taxes and make adjustments that would help the population. Protestants and Catholics united more than ever before in this.

A lot of parliamentary changes made it seem imminent. England granted Ireland’s parliament it’s independance in 1782 and the whole country rejoiced that freedom was upon them.

Philip Harwood ‘History of the 1798 Irish Rebellion’

The world of Patrick Dillon was a tough one, full of angry people and escalating violence. Harwood wrote succinctly of the rise of Irish rebellion groups like the Whiteboys and the Defenders.

Most of this was still out in the rural areas. Dublin carried on much as it had before, with just a few brawls and minor riots. Until the French Revolution of 1789 set everything off in Ireland.

Native Ireland and France had a very long connection. France sent aid to assist them in earlier centuries against Protestant England, and right through the 18th century Irish Catholics had quietly slipped out of Ireland to go join the French armies. If an Irish Catholic felt any trust in a nation other than Ireland, it was France. It makes sense that this event would ignite a flame.

The result was war in Ireland.

It took a while to get going. The Irish people banded together, a delegate went to France to ask for assistance which was provided, but bad weather prevented the French fleet from landing. This alerted England to the danger and they sent troops.

A new powerful Irish army was ready. The plan was to take control of Dublin.

It all failed, and it failed very fast. England were clever at keeping Ireland down, and more experienced with the coast and currents than France, plus they were geared up for the Napoleonic wars already and had fresh troops straight across the channel.

The rebellion was crushed in 1798, martial law imposed and even stricter conditions placed on the Irish Catholics. Irish Catholics were rounded up, removed from their land and barred from gathering together. This was the time when hedge schools and surreptitious worship in dense thickets became a thing.

A lot of rural Catholic churches were closed down and the people banned from meeting together.

This is the social climate I wanted to describe here. A world of fear and deep suspicion, great disappointment and anger. A world full of displaced soldiers and rebels who had been stripped of their land.

In the aftermath of the 1798 rebellion, the young Patrick Dillon and Bridget Hayes were optimistic enough to envision a future together. The wedding ceremony was conducted at St. James Catholic Church in Dublin on 24th June 1803.

They settled in the parish of St Catherine’s, in the liberties, an area in the south of the city. Seven children were born to them over the next ten years.

This is all I’ve found so far. They may have moved, or perhaps one of the parents died.

John and James each married a girl surnamed Martin. Thomas married a Murphy. Those marriages took place in Dublin.

My ancestor is Mary and she married in Kildare, forty miles away from the others.

Why would she be so far from home? I still have moments of doubt that these are the same family, but the DNA matches are reasonably strong. They match on the same segments, there’s a paper trail for them all. It’s just a mystery yet to be solved. Maybe the whole family moved to Kildare and only the boys stayed in Dublin, perhaps because they had employment there?

Despite the questions, it’s a very helpful find and I’m sure to learn more as time goes on.

Francis and Fanny Eliza Burleton – A Fresh Start #52Ancestors Week 1

Bristol 1840 (John Chilcott)

On the 6th June 1851, Francis Burleton and his wife Fanny Eliza lived in a small house in Bristol. It was a terrace house in a long row. Not the worst place to live, but a huge change from the rural highlands of Somerset and Wales where each had grown up.

On this date the family consisted of 6 people. There was 36 year old Francis, his 24 year old wife Fanny Eliza and 3 year old Mary Ann at the core. Francis was a corn dealer following in his father’s footsteps. With his uncle Robert’s good training behind him, he had every chance of succeeding where his father had failed.

Seven years ago Francis lost his father in a tragic shipwreck which robbed the family of a chance to redeem themselves in the eyes of society. William’s story concludes here.

Six years ago, Fanny Eliza’s father passed away in Bristol. He may have died in the very house they were in for the 1851 census. His story concludes here.

One year ago, Francis and Fanny Eliza buried their son Albert. I’ve written about the event here.

It had been a decade of loss for them both, but as the family grew smaller they grew closer.

On 6th June 1851, they lived at 3 York Street, Bristol. The house is still there.

Photographer’s child taken out of picture. Posted with permission, taken 2014.

With Francis, Fanny Eliza and Mary were three others. Francis’ mother Elizabeth nee Dudden aged 67. his brother William aged 32, and his sister Sarah aged 38.

By June of 1851, plans were already afoot. Perhaps Francis’ father wrote back about great opportunities in the colonies. Maybe it was just a way to escape struggle and death. Whatever the reasons, Francis and Fanny Eliza had made their decision.

Their fresh start was a move to the new improved colony of New South Wales.

It was probably a move of desperation for the Burletons. The British colony was seventy years old. But this was a giant region and the discovery of gold brought swarms upon swarms of hopeful new immigrants to the shores. Whole towns sprang up over night. Existing villages surged to city size. Transport problems, shortage of resources, the absence of law enforcement all culminated in the splitting of one giant colony into two more manageable ones.

On 1st July 1851, Victoria was born. Wealthy from the beginning, it settled down to pass laws, open immigration to those with skills that the colony required, and reap the benefits of their geographic location, the hub between three flourishing colonies with a lot of movement between.

It wasn’t such an easy time for New South Wales. They were in the middle of an economic slump and were losing valuable residents every day to the shiny new lands down south. But in 1852 they were starting to rally. It wasn’t such a bad time to be in Australia.

So it wasn’t only a fresh start for the Burletons. It was a fresh start for the Australian colonies too.

Map of the eastern Australian colonies. Adapted from the map of Australia by NordNordWest [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

They travelled on the Neptune. Francis described himself as a ‘farm manager’ but the immigration records rephrased, presumably in a way that made him the most useful. He is shown as a ‘brewer or farm labourer’. The shipping record confirms the details we have for him. His age, his birthplace, his parents (William and Elizabeth Dodding, a small confusion there as he presumably provided his mother’s maiden name). That his father is dead and his mother residing in Bristol.

Fanny Eliza is likewise confirmed. A house servant born in West Harptree, parents Thomas Wookey and Hannah. Mary aged 4.

I add this detail in their ‘remarks’ section which may be more decipherable to others than to myself. I can see they have five pounds. But there’s more.

Detail from New South Wales Immigration records, ship’s list for the Neptune dated 19th February 1852

Also on board was Francis’ brother William. The two of them were close for their entire lives. William’s details corroborate all other records nicely.

They said goodbye to their mother and sister and boarded the Neptune at one of its British ports.

The journey was recorded in a couple of places:

The Neptune left Deptford on the 9th of September, the Nore on the 10th, and Plymouth on the 26th September. She experienced very heavy weather in lat. 46-46 North long., 10 degrees West. A heavy sea struck her and carried away fore and main topmasts, all three topgallant masts, fore top-gallant yard, and she had to put back to Falmoutb, where several of the emigrants left her.

She resumed her voyage on the 23rd October. She has on board 42 married couples, 56 single men, 70 single women, 31 boys, and 24 girls under 14 years of age, and 10 infants. Seven births occurred during the passage, and eight deaths. Three of the latter were adults.

Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), Saturday 7 February 1852, page 2

Poor Francis and Fanny must have felt as if everything they touched turned to disaster. But they stuck it out, and they arrived safely at Port Jackson on 19th February 1852.

They came to a country very different to the one they left behind. They arrived in the height of summer. They found mosquitoes, giant spiders and poisonous snakes and the stories of these were brought on board ship before they even set foot on the land.

The Heads, Sydney, picture by David Edwards [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]

I’ll conclude this blog with the announcement of the ship’s arrival, as Francis, Fanny, William and little Mary waited on board to see what the future might hold for them.

Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), Thursday 19 February 1852, page 2

Herbert Dunstall – Optimism Against the Odds – #52Ancestors Week 12 – Misfortune

Templers pic

Between Bethel and Templers 2016

William Herbert Dunstall was born in harsh summer’s heat on 26th February 1873 in the Midnorth district of South Australia.  At the time of his birth his brother John was aged five and his brother Charles was three.  Another brother, Kenneth Norman, had been born two years earlier but died as a baby.

Herbert’s father James Dunstall was a struggling farmer, the son of a more successful farmer from Yankalilla.  James knew how to farm, but unfortunately he had made a bad speculation – he headed inland for land to the harsh, dry salinated regions thinking he could make a go of it.

Herbert’s mother was a Scottish woman named Annie McLeod.  She was an orphan, brought to South Australia by her married sister after the death of her parents in North Uist.  She was an intelligent woman, able to read and write and a hard worker, but plagued with ill health seemingly from birth.  The South Australian climate was tough on her.

Despite their struggles, the children in the family all gained an education.  The parents managed to raise highly literate, community minded children.

Dunstall locations SA

Dunstall locations in South Australia. This is a modified version of User:Fikri’s GNU-licensed road map of South Australia on Wikipedia under conditions of https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en .

Herbert was still a baby when the family left Templers and moved to Warooka on the Yorke Peninsula.  They lived at Orrie Cowie station.  I’m not sure of the circumstances – if they were employees or if they owned or sharefarmed there.  They lived at Orrie Cowie for the rest of Herbert’s childhood.

Approach to Warooka

Herbert was aged 2 when his little brother Ernest was born, and just 3 when Lewis came along. The older boys probably helped their father on the farm, while the younger ones may have helped their mother around the house.  It is hard to see when they had time to be educated but we know that they were.

Members of an Aboriginal group lived on the property and may have helped, but were not employed by the Dunstalls.  Herbert played with the Aboriginal children and learned a lot from them, skills which may have helped him survive at later times.  These were probably Narungga people, who suffered greatly from white settlement in their territory.  Annie had experienced the domination of British white autocrats herself, as a member of the McLeod clan who were forced by England to leave their home in the 1850s.  She was no friend to oppression and it seems tried to pass her native Gaelic on to her children despite a British attempt to remove it from their colonies.

As I said in my last blog post, Herbert was a very gentle soul, an extremely quiet and meek person.  He comes across as having a belief in strength through community.  He gave, wherever he went.

The youngest two members of the family were born in 1879 and 1882.  After all those boys, finally there were two daughters, Annie and Martha (Mattie).  The family was complete.

Uniting church

Uniting Church at Warooka 2015

There probably would have been more children had the family not lost their father after Mattie’s birth.  His death was devastating, depriving them of their breadwinner as well as of a much loved family member. He died on 17th May 1883 when Herbert was aged 10.

James Dunstall death again

“Family Notices” Evening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 – 1912) 19 May 1883: 2. Web. 1 May 2018 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article197786317>.

John and Charles took over management of the farm and the family continued to live at Orrie Cowie.  But things were tough.  Their mother sickened and did not regain her strength.  She developed tuberculosis. She wrote a will where her great concern over the future of her children was her principal concern.  Mrs Annie Dunstall passed away on 9th June 1887 when Herbert was aged fourteen.

No announcement was placed in the papers upon Annie’s death.  I suspect the young orphans were too distressed to think about such a thing.

John Dunstall was aged 20 in the year of his mother’s death, still not at the legal age of adulthood and now the legal guardian of a whole family.  This is exactly the circumstance of his aunt Mary McVicar nee McLeod, who brought her orphan siblings with her to South Australia in the 1850s.   There must have been some assistance, but it’s a puzzle. The family continued to live near Warooka, continued to struggle to hold their family together without a legal adult among them.


John James Dunstall grave

Grave of John James Dunstall 1867-1890, eldest son of James and Annie Dunstall of Warooka

But the sickness was still in the family. Tuberculosis had struck several of them and they languished in these harsh years.  The first of the siblings to die was John, the eldest, the guardian of the Dunstall children.  He was only 22 years old. Little Annie followed him to her own grave a year later, aged 11.

These would have been very dark years for Herbert.  With so many deaths he was probably convinced that he, also, would sicken and die.  The five survivors were split up. Nine year old Mattie went to Dunstall relatives who seem to have been living on the Yorke Peninsula at that point.  The boys continued to live in Warooka until Lewis’s death at the age of 18 in 1894.  Herbert was now aged 21 and had reached the official age of adulthood.

You certainly can’t blame them for leaving.  Three young men still with their health having watched their family slowly die of tuberculosis.  Charles was 26, Herbert was 21 and Ernest was 19.  The brothers packed their things and headed for the goldfields of Western Australia.

The years had been tough on Herbert, but even now he had hopes. He had a dream of finding gold and becoming rich.  He had worked hard all his life, he knew he could do that. He had watched his father put every ounce of strength into farming and it is clear that Herbert had no belief in farming as a means to safety and security.  Gold was the answer – it was either there or it wasn’t, and if it was there then wealth was to be made.

Misfortune had not defeated him.


At Port Augusta on the logical route from Warooka to Kalgoorlie. ‘Bob, the railway dog’ at Port Augusta, State Library of South Australia, B 6422

John McKinley 1822-1886 (#52 Ancestors – Week 11 – Luck)


Donegal in Ireland. Birthplace of John McKinley

As we all know, it is very hard to research ancestors from Ireland.  Each earlier generation brings new complications and less places where their name might have been recorded.  The sketchy details I have of the McKinley family are hard won and still too meagre to tell us much.  But here’s what I have gleaned:

John McKinley was born in Donegal in about 1822 and was the son of James McKinley.  Nothing is known of his siblings.

John’s grandfather – Mr McKinley – seems to have come from Scotland and only lived in the Donegal region for one generation.  We don’t have a name for him.  We do know, however, that John’s father had a brother Patrick and a sister Mary.

John’s Uncle Patrick married a woman of unknown name and had sons Patrick, Michael, Andrew and James.  Those four were my John McKinley’s first cousins.

John’s Aunt Mary married James McGarvie in Donegal and had children including William McGarvie.

John seems to have grown up with his McKinley cousins somewhere near Meenaneary in Donegal.

Somewhere around 1820,  Aunt Mary, her husband and perhaps some children moved to Enniskillen in Fermanagh.   As a young adult, John also moved to Fermanagh, most likely boarding with his McGarvie cousins.  His cousin William McGarvie was born in the same year as John.


Enniskillen in modern times, still looking very old-worldly. By User: (WT-shared) Plug at wts wikivoyage [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

These were tough times in Ireland. Even without records unique to this family we know that starvation was beginning to bite. Disease was rife in the southern Irish counties, the military was very active, bandit groups were active, work was nonexistent.  Displaced Irish folk were roaming all over the country looking for family to stay with, for sustainable work and for shelter from the harsh Irish climate. People starved.

From Fermanagh, John made his way to the city of Derry in the county Londonderry.

He may have been the John McKinley who appeared at the Antrim Quarter Sessions charged with stealing a quantity of linen yarn at Belfast in 1839.  The result of that court appearance is not known and if that was our John, the case must have been dismissed.  So possibly he was in Belfast then but he was not the only man of that name in the north of Ireland.   What we know is that by the early 1840s he went to Derry.

Somewhere on this journey he met his future wife, Alice Bowles.  They married in about 1842.  Two children, Mary Ann and James Patrick, were born to John and Alice in 1844 and 1846 respectively.

The young family struggled and despaired.

Just about everything we know about this family comes from that generation of cousins, because all the named young people managed to flee to country to a safe home.

The children of Patrick McKinley emigrated to the United States.  Patrick, Michael, Andrew and James settled in Pennsylvania where their name morphed to ‘McGinley’.

William McGarvie emigrated to Victoria, Australia where he was married in 1854.

The cousins emigrated as assisted emigrants but for some reason this option was not available to John. Maybe he was rejected on health grounds or he lacked the skill set required.  It’s a puzzle.

John McKinleys journey

Movements of John McKinley from Meenaneary (near Killibeg) to Enniskillen then to Londonderry.

Then in December 1847 or thereabouts, John McKinley took the gamble of his life, which qualifies him as the subject of a blog about luck.

Details are still sketchy, but John and his wife were arrested for stealing two geese.  As was the system back then, they were placed in a holding cell from the time of accusation, awaiting trial to prove their innocence or receive sentence.

I cannot prove this, but I am pretty certain that this was a deliberate move to achieve emigration from the country.

There used to be lots of stories about convicts having done this in Tasmania.  Many of those stories were the descendant’s way of reestablishing their family reputation in a time when society descriminated against the descendants of convicts.  The ‘deliberate ploy for emigration’ and the ‘he/she stole to save a starving family’ are good ways to deflect shame and dishonour.  I am always skeptical when I hear it.  But once in a blue moon it was true.  If the jury detected it as a motive for crime, they assigned a prison sentence instead.  Or as in the case of John and Alice, they would sentence the husband to transportation and exonerate the wife entirely as acting under her husband’s influence.   Looking through the court records this result was common for husband/wife first crimes.

John and Alice wouldn’t have known this.  Their theft, conviction and sentencing resulted in John facing transportation and Alice facing a life without him in Fermanagh as single mother to two infant children.

The jury deliberated on this one and decided that since neither had a prior record they should be afforded lenience.


Ship Artemisia built 1847. Not used as a convict ship but the same build as several convict ships of 1850. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ac/Discovery_at_Deptford.jpg See page for author [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

John probably didn’t feel very lucky at this point. The big plan had failed, his reputation was in ruins and the best he could hope for was that he would live while his family would die. It must have been a hard night in prison.

But they didn’t give up.  Two weeks later his wife was back in gaol, having committed an offence on her own.  An anxious wait must have ensued as she was once more kept in the holding cells awaiting trial. Her children were probably with her in the cell.

This time it worked.  Alice received her own sentence.  She and the children were shipped out first.

John languished a whole year in gaol in Fermanagh before the transportation occurred.


The 1836 convict built Ross Bridge crosing the Macquarie River in Tasmania by denisbin via flickr, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/ , no changes made.

Once in Van Diemen’s Land, John McKinley and his wife still had a sentence to serve before they could resume their own life. Their little boy died very soon after arrival, a fact which obviously depressed Alice.  John would not have known of the loss of his child until they met.  Their daughter was safe in the Orphan School where she received something of an education in being a domestic servant.

Both John and Alice were exemplary workers and servants and received their Tickets of Leave in almost record time.  Two years after Alice’s arrival in the colony they were back in the one household.  John gained further brownie points by accepting a position as a constable.

In those days, constables were basically police officers/sheriffs and council inspectors all rolled into one. They were often chosen from among the better behaved convicts with the additional incentive of six months knocked off the sentence as well as better working conditions than they would have as labouring men.  But the job came with animosity from many fellow convicts who maintained an ‘us or them’ mentality, considering the constables to be turncoats and betrayers.

John committed one offense as a ticket of leave constable, probably a genuine mistake. He illegally impounded a horse that should have been left where it was.

John McKinley convict record

Conduct Record John McKinley CON33/1/92 at Tasmania Archives

But finally, after serving only half his sentence, John McKinley received a conditional pardon.  He and Alice, now in their early thirties, settled in Kempton where John continued his employment as constable for the rest of his working life. A large family was born to them.

John McKinleys death

Civil death registration of John McKinley Tasmanian Archives RGD35/1/55 no 757

It was a long hard struggle, but that gamble paid off and changed the family fortunes forever.  Their descendants have lived comfortably ever since.


The Wilmot Arms former hotel in Kempton Tasmania. Built 1843. A part of the new home town of John and Alice mcKinley/McKinlay.  Photo by denisbin via Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/82134796@N03/10375487893 Some rights reserved https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/ . Image unaltered.



The Adventurous Alice Head: Part One – #52ancestors Week 10 -Strong Women

Link to Part Two

My tree is full of strong women.  Women of courage, ingenuity and independent thought who presented this trait in  a multitude of ways.  I’m very proud of them all, so I had to look hard for one who truly stood out to write into this week’s blog.  And here she is!

Alice Dunstall

My great grandmother Alice Head

Alice was born in London in a working family amidst overcrowding and industry. As a young adult, she emigrated to Western Australia and made the rugged journey from Fremantle to the very wild frontier mining town of Kalgoorlie. Here she met and married a young gold miner and they moved even further from civilization to an outback settlement.  She learned to shoot a rifle, to ride camels and to cope with many privations.  After her husband died in a mining accident she and her seven year old son stayed in the isolated settlement where she ran a boarding house.  She eventually remarried and moved with her new husband to Leonora.  Later they retired to Nedlands.

Her story is too big to tell in one blog post, so I am writing it in parts.  I am using Part One for the Week 10 prompt.


Eucalypt which can be found in Western Australia. Eucalyptus leucophloia habit By Mark Marathon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Alice Head (Allie) was born in February 1876 in Richmond, Surrey, England, the fourth child of Henry and Annie Head.

In the various UK census records Henry has the occupation of gardener.  Henry and Annie were married in 1871 and after a few years of shifting around moved into 10 Wigan’s Cottages in Mortlake in about 1880.   Wigans was a large company with hops and breweries in many locations around London and a lot of residents in that row of cottages were their employees.

Alice’s mother Annie was a laundress. Even as recently as the 1880s women only worked if they needed the money, so most likely the family struggled.  In the 1881 census Alice and her three elder siblings (Annie, Mark and Florence) attended school while her younger brothers Henry and Walter were still at home.  Also in the family were Alice’s grandfather George Doo, and her uncle William Doo.  It was a very full household for what was probably a very small house.

Jumping forward ten years to the 1891 census, the Head family lived at 61 Alexander Rd in Richmond.  The house is here on Google street view  but copyright prevents me from posting an image in my blog.  It was a three story narrow brick terrace house in a world of seemingly endless brick terrace houses just like it, streets and streets of them all around.

Neither George nor William Doo were with them, although both were still alive and living nearby.  Fifteen year old Allie was now working as a domestic servant and was the eldest child at home.  Six younger siblings were in the household.   The second youngest child was two year old Edwin, crippled from birth.


Perhaps Alice’s childhood world was something like this but with more siblings around and more fog and rain? ‘The Laundresses’ .Albert Edelfelt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/99/Albert_Edelfelt_-_Pesij%C3%A4tt%C3%A4rien_%281893%29.jpg

At what point Allie started thinking about leaving London is not known.  If she was in service in a large household her fellow servants may have talked about it.  There was a great need for female domestic servants in the colonies and some places were offering free passage along with assistance to find employment at the other end. It must have been enticing.  Alice was young and bright and no doubt she saw little future in the dense horizonless world of Richmond, particularly not when she saw the endless toil of her mother’s life with twelve children on top of her work as a laundress.  Alice and her sister Flo obviously put their heads together and dreamed of pastures new.

Emigration schemes had existed in England for hundreds of years, sometimes falling out of favour then, it seems, back when the need arose.  In about the 1880s the United British Women’s Emigration Scheme (UBWE) formed.  The scheme was managed by a team of charitable women in partnership with some churches.  The operation involved vetting suitable women, then chaperoning them to their new colonial home and ensuring that they found work, generally as domestic servants.

The requirements were strict. The women were to be single, aged between 18 and 24, sober, respectable, Christian, with some education and with some experience of domestic work.


Domestic Work 1880s. Religious Tract Society pamphlet

The UBWE annual report (June 1896) says their London office that financial year had received 1666 applications. Of those applications they interviewed 1300.  Among those applicants were Flo and Allie Head. (1)

A public talk in April 1896 described the scheme to interested listeners. (2)

During the ten or twelve years of the British Women’s Emigrant Association’s existence, emigrants, averaging 700 or more annually have been befriended and happily placed in the Colonies, either in Canada, South Africa or Australia  … in Western Australia, women are still at a premium.  A very lively description was given by Mrs Shaw of the rough travelling in those remote districts. 

An article in Pearson’s Weekly further describes the scheme:

I have received a letter … from the secretary of the United British Women’s Emigration Association, in which she requests me to inform my readers that they are on the point of arranging for the passage of fifty domestic servants to the Antipodes. The cost of the journey is, I am given to understand, defrayed by the colony.  Moreover, no repayment is required for this. In return the girls are expected to become parties to an agreement by which they undertake to remain for one year in Western Australia, their wages to commence on the date of their engagement in the Colony. It is not an altogether uninteresting fact that of the last party taken out under the auspices of this association, every single member had obtained a situation within an hour and a half of her arrival. … Wages in Western Australia commence at 40 shillings a month.  Only girls over eighteen, who can be recommended, will be accepted, and those who wish to apply must do so with as little delay as possible at the London offices of the association.

Flo and Allie Head met the requirements, gave notice at their current places of employment and packed their bags. Flo was 20, almost 21, and Allie was 19.  It must have been an exciting time.

The girls each year traveled with a matron who was employed by the Association. Miss Mary Monk was the matron to Western Australia.  She journeyed every year, taking the girls out and returning alone to prepare for the next batch.

I spent ages looking for an image of the ship on which they were booked for the journey. The Steamship ‘Port Phillip’ has a name which makes it very difficult to search.  Instead, I’ve found a public domain image of London at the time that Flo and Alice would have travelled through, heading for their ship.


Fleet Street in London looking east towards St Paul’s Cathedral. Photograph by James Valentine, c.1890. Public Domain in some countries including Australia but not in all. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fleet_Street._By_James_Valentine_c.1890..jpg

They departed on 17 Mar 1896, so embarkation was probably the morning of the same day or the afternoon of the previous.  The whole family may have come to the wharf to see them off.

It is interesting to note on the ship’s papers that the ‘Port Phillip’ was legally licensed to carry 50 Statute adults, exclusive of crew, officers and Cabin passengers.  Yet on this journey they were carrying 57 Statute adults.  The journey was expected to take 85 days.  Captain James Smith was in charge.

The girls traveled steerage and their matron, Miss Monk, had a cabin.

On the day of departure, the shipping lanes were congested due to a massive gale in Ireland preventing ships from approaching on their usual runs. In fact, there seem to have been bad gales right across the British Isles on that day. The girls would have been battling the wind as they walked up the gangplank onto the ship at Gravesend.

There is only the briefest mention of the Port Phillip in the shipping news.(4)

GRAVESEND: Tuesday, the Lusitania, from Bermuda, and Ovingdean Grange, from Buenos Aires, passed. The Carthage, from Bombay, passed. The Illovo, from Port Natal, passed yesterday.  The Umbilo, for Port Natal; Warrigal, for Sydney; and Port Phillip, for Fremantle &c; left.

I’ll leave this post here, with Flo and Allie sailing away from the densely populated world they had always known for the unknown.

But to conclude, because I love lists of names, I’ll add the passenger list.  My transcription just has names and ages.  The actual shipping records contain more information.  But it is still interesting to see all the girls.(5)  Flo and Allie probably became very friendly with at least some of them.

Passenger list Port Philip 1

Passengers under Miss Monk on the Steamship ‘Port Philip’ departing Gravesend on 17 March 1896. Page One.

passenger list Port Philip 2

Passengers under Miss Monk on the Port Phillip departing Gravesend on the 17 Mar 1896. Page 2.



(1) Woman’s Signal 25 June 1896 ‘Habitual Sobriety’ p. 6

(2) Western Times 14 April 1896 ‘District News’ p. 6

(3) Pearson’s Weekly 01 February 1896 ‘Let It Be Known That’ p.4

(4) Dundee Advertiser 18 March 1896 ‘Mail News’ p.7

(5) UK, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 via Ancestry.com.au

The Shattered Marriage of Ann Lovelace: Where There’s A Will #52Ancestors Week 9

Bank of Scotland at 1 Fleet St London

Bank of Scotland at 1 Fleet St London – formerly Child’s Bank

This is the story of two inheritances, two families and two young people living in a world of wealth and hard business.

It all began with the death of Francis Child on 23 September 1763.  It was a tragic cutting short of a potentially illustrious life.  Francis was the nephew of Francis Child, founder of Child’s Bank.  Born into a family of wealthy goldsmiths and bankers, Francis junior went into the family business early.  At the age of twenty six in 1761 he was worth more than two hundred thousand pounds and at that age he became the Member of Parliament for Bishop’s Castle in Shropshire – but he lived in London.

Two years later he was engaged to a wealthy heiress named Mary Constance Trevor and owned a large estate called Osterley.  But in that fateful summer in Buckinghamshire he was struck down in some unknown manner.  It quickly became clear that he was going to die.

The Scots Magazine of 5 November 1763 reported his death.

At Hampden, Buckinghamshire, Francis Childs Esq; Banker in London, Member for Bishop’s Castle.  When he found himself in imminent danger, he made a verbal will as follows. “I give to my brother all estates at Osterley and Upton, and all my other property, excepting 50,000 pounds, to Miss Trevor [only daughter of the Honourable Robert Trevor Hampden … to whom he was to have been married the Thursday after].  20,000 pounds to Mr Thomas Devon, and 20,000 pounds to Mr Robert Lovelace [his two partners].  He attempted to say more, but could not get the words out.

From The Scots Magazine 05 November 1763, ‘Marriages etc’ page 56.

A suspicious modern mind might be inclined to ask questions about this sudden death, verbal will, and the number of people who benefited.  But at the time no one batted an eyelid.  Of greatest relevance to this blog is the two lots of 20,000 pounds bequeathed to Devon and Lovelace, partners with Francis Child in the banking business.


St Mark’s Church at Battersea Rise, Clapham By Edwardx (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The two bankers took their money and purchased vast blocks of land at Clapham, newly opened to development.  They each built a showpiece mansion and moved in.  Clapham society in those days, apparently, was elite and exclusive.  It wasn’t actual British aristocracy, they were all self made men.  Plantation owners from the colonies, goldsmiths, mineowners – all of them ridiculously wealthy, creating a new aristocratic world just for themselves.  Clapham in those days, it seems, was beautiful, sparkling new with the best gardeners, roads, bridges and edifices that money could buy.

The unmarried adult children of all those wealthy magnates created a social scene all their own, with dances, balls, picnics and concerts.  They were a new sophisticate, the highly educated children of less cultured, semi-educated parents.

It’s all gone now, apparently nothing remains of their mansions at all.

As banking partners in Child’s Bank and as practicing goldsmiths in a thriving economy, Robert Lovelace and Thomas Devon were both financially comfortable even before the receipt of the Childs money.  But now they were rich. Robert and his wife Eliza had a family of seven children. I have only located two surviving children for Thomas and his wife Ann at the time of Francis Childs’ death.

At the time of moving into their new mansions, presuming they took a few years to build, Ann Lovelace, fifth child of Robert and Eliza Lovelace, would have been aged about 11.

Thomas Devon barely had time to sleep in his new home. He died in April 1767.  All his wordly possessions, and it seems his position in the banking partnership, went to his eighteen year old son George Barker Devon.

It may have been a fond fancy of Thomas Devon that his son might marry a daughter of his business partner and friend Robert Lovelace.  That sort of thing happened a lot in those days.  Young George may even have given such a verbal promise at his father’s deathbed in the heat of the emotional parting.  He was young and stepping into big shoes.  I have a lot of sympathy for George.  It was a big ask of a youngster whose social world was one of leisure and comfort.

George Barker Devon was now an extremely eligible bachelor.  I cannot be sure, but given the marriage bond, the license agreement and later events, I can’t help feeling that he was pressured into this marriage somehow.  He may have promised, but he was too young to know what that promise really meant.  The same goes for Ann.

Maybe it had nothing to do with money.  Perhaps the two fell in love and the marriage was their own wish.  Maybe.

They might have been two spoilt young people used to getting whatever they wanted.


The Morning Walk (Portrait of Mr and Mrs William Hallett), 1785. By Thomas Gainsborough – Websearch, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3063152 .  (Note: Mr and Mrs Halllett were probably not spoilt youngsters)


On 27 April 1773, 23 year old George Barker Devon and 19 year old Ann Lovelace were married in Battersea by license.  The marriage bond was signed on 14th April 1773 by George Barker Devon, Goldsmith, and Robert Lovelace, Goldsmith of Battersea.   Robert gave consent to the marriage of his daughter, a minor.  The witnesses were Richard Harris Lovelace, brother to the bride, and Ann Devon, probably the mother of the groom unless there was a sister I haven’t found yet.

The happy couple settled somewhere in the parish of St Dunstan’s in Middlesex.  George Barker Devon began working with a new banking partner, William Willis.

Matilda Maria Devon was born in 1775.  Harriet was born about two years later.  Just the two children.


Married State Circa 1780. By W. Proud [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AMarried-state-ca1780.jpg

What happened next is unclear. There was a rift. I’m surprised it wasn’t a scandal, but their social circles functioned differently to the aristocracy.   Researching the various young adults who grew up in early Clapham there were a lot of dodgy business deals, corruption, marital affairs, gambling problems, pistol duels and family feuds.  None of it made a stir in London society and they kept it under the radar.

Miss Elizabeth Willis, daughter of the banker William Willis, had a son in about 1782 to George Barker Devon.

I would love to know what occurred now.  What did Ann do?  Did she refuse to accept his betrayal, take her children and fly to her parents’ home in Clapham?   In that era she had no legal right to her own children.  Did she forgive him to no purpose?  Were there other extramarital children that haven’t been found?

The end result however it came about was that George purchased a new mansion and moved in with Elizabeth.  Ann and her two daughters went back to the Lovelace home in Clapham.

George and Elizabeth had nine children together, in all.  Once they were together, George settled down to a lengthy public career.  He was the Remembrancer of First Fruits for several years. He continued as a banker.  His daughters with Elizabeth made good marriages and his sons made excellent careers for themselves as military officers or businessmen.  There is no indication of flightiness in George from this time on.  Elizabeth was known in society as Mrs Elizabeth Devon, despite the absence of marriage.  It’s likely that within five years, nobody outside the family circles remembered that there had ever been a first wife.

Snip of woman

‘Lady Reading in an Interior’ by Marguerite Gérard [Public domain] ca 1796, via Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AMarguerite_G%C3%A9rard_-_Lady_Reading_in_an_Interior_-_WGA8609.jpg


Ann had the money to travel and to live comfortably, but she does not appear in a public record again, only in wills.  She was still married so she could not have another husband.   She had her two daughters and seems to have devoted herself to them.  Her love of her daughters emerges in the wording of Ann’s own will in 1833, written in her own handwriting.  But at this time – she seems to have lived a very quiet life.  Whether she was happy we do not know.

But her father Robert Lovelace – he was livid!  To the end of his days he never forgave George Barker Devon for his actions.  The rift between the families was permanent.

Also, in George Barker Devon’s will many years later there is no mention of his daughters to his first wife.  It’s as if that part of his life never happened.  Yet it seems that George’s sons with Elizabeth Willis knew of their nephew, the son of Harriet Devon and assisted him in his own military career later on.

So to the will that this blog is actually about – the will of Robert Lovelace 1796 (National Archives of London Catalogue Reference: Prob 11/1275) :

I, Robert Lovelace of Temple Bar London, Esquire, do make and publish this my last Will and Testament in manner following:

I will and bequeath to my daughter Ann the wife of George Barker Devon Esquire the sum of five hundred pounds to be paid to her within three months next after my death by my Executor for her sole and separate use and not to be subject to the debts or control of her husband, and my will is that [the recipient’s?] state shall be a sufficient surcharge to my executor. I bequeath to my daughter Dame Elizabeth Stachan the wife of Joseph Walton the annuity of one hundred pounds mentioned in her settlement previous to her last marriage according to the true intent and meaning thereof.  I give and bequeath unto my son Richard Lovelace an annuity or yearly sum to be paid … 

and so it goes on into the distribution of his estates to other family members.  He references trusts with Robert Childs and also a painting of Francis Child bequeathed to his eldest son Robert Lovelace.  The condition of the original will is not great and the handwriting is difficult too.  It looks as though he was stingy with Ann, but Richard Lovelace’s will decades later makes clear that he was managing an amount intended for the maintenance of Ann. Presumably this was to ensure that the recalcitrant husband could not make a claim.

It was purchasing this will that set me on the trail to solving the mystery of George Barker Devon’s marriage to Ann Lovelace but regular baptisms of children with Elizabeth Willis.  There are still mysteries.

But what a story to find in one’s tree!

Frances Richards and the Bible – Heirloom #52Ancestors Week 8


Family Bible first owned by Frances Richards 1829-1874

This week’s prompt was a challenge.  My family just doesn’t keep things at all.

I have a clock from my mother’s side, and a family bible from my father’s side.  That’s it, and I am exceptionally grateful to my mother’s brother and to my father’s mother for giving those items to me while they were alive, because otherwise they, also, would have been lost.

So for this week I decided to write about Frances Richards, a woman who might never have been known to me were it not for her bible.  She lived apparently in such isolation that no record has been found of the births of most of her children.  Were it not for the bible, my great great grandmother Sarah Ellen Cox would have been a brick wall.

Town very near Launceston Tasmania

This is a town just outside of Launceston in 2014 showing the terrain.

The little town of Launceston in northern Tasmania had a population of about 2000 when Frances was born on 2nd January 1829.  She was the first born child of George and  Ellen Richards.

George was a convict holding a ticket of leave, working as a butcher.  This meant that he could receive wages for his work, but had to observe curfew, was not allowed to leave town and might have his ticket revoked if he misbehaved in any way.  I have written a blog post about him already.

His wife Ellen was aged 19 when Frances was born.  Ellen was the daughter of the ex-Captain John Cummings, formerly of the 102nd Regiment.  John was a rather arrogant man, scion of a long line of successful military men.  He was forced to resign after participating in the Rum Corp Rebellion of 1808 and received a land grant at Port Dalrymple in return for his prudent withdrawal.   He brought his wife and three young children.  His wife drowned when Ellen was eleven years old.  The boys were sent off to be educated and Ellen was left behind presumably with a chaperon.  She was eighteen when she married 28 year old George Richards, a man of a very different social class to herself.

At the time of Frances’ birth, Launceston had a population of 2000 and was about 20 years old. There was talk of setting up a printing office for its own newspaper, but that was still in the future.  The ‘Launceston’ section of the Hobart Gazette reported on shipping arrivals and departures at Launceston, and on Criminal Court proceedings which in January 1829 took a whopping fortnight to process.  A lot of the crime concerned either stock thefts or drunken fighting.

Rural scene near Launceston

Rural scene near Launceston Tasmania

Frances was only a year old when her baby brother George was born and died within a fortnight.  He was buried at St Johns, a church only built eight years earlier. But after George came Richard in 1833 and Matilda in 1834, both hearty enough to survive the dangerous early years of life.  George’s sentence was now served out.  As long as he remained in the colony he was a free man.

The family packed up and moved to somewhere beyond Hamilton.

Part of Tasmania 1837

Journey of the Richards family circa 1835 in green.

It sounds easy, but this was a colossal trek.  How did they do it?  Either they travelled overland all the way, or by boat to Hobart and overland from there.  Neither option was easy.  This was a journey of 176km in those days (109 miles) on fair weather roads or horse tracks, through thick forest and with the constant danger of attack from bushrangers and perhaps also from the Indigenous population of Tasmania. It would have taken at least a week, maybe longer.

The above map is in the public domain and was printed in 1837, just a year after seven year old Frances and her family made the trek. Not much is known yet about that event.  They were probably not alone.  Most likely, George was employed in Launceston by one of the men now receiving land grants in the midland areas.  The family probably travelled with their new employer and with the families of other employees.  But until more is known, this is just speculation.

Soon enough the family were somewhere beyond the thriving township of Hamilton in the vicinity of the River Ouse.  Young Harriet Richards was baptised in Hamilton in 1836.

In 1836, parishes and counties were drawn up and gazetted for the colony, in blatant disregard of the large Aboriginal population  already living in the region. (See appendix below for the details regarding the Ouse region where the Richards family now lived. George Richards was probably an employee of one of the referenced grant holders.)

Forest near Ouse

Forest near Ouse where the Richards family lived 1836-1838

The only way to track the family at this time seems to be via baptisms of their children. Susan was born and baptised in 1838 in Ouse, just as discussions were underway for a proper church at the new Ouse Bridge.   In 1839, Esther was baptised in Oatlands. But all later children were baptised at the new St John the Baptist chapel in Ouse.

That wild region was developing its own community by now. I have written about it here.  The original grantees kept their holdings in the arable plains but sold off or leased out the more useless, resource-intensive mountain areas.  These became the home of ex-convict families, most of them wood merchants or shepherds.  Surnames such as Burris, Keats, Harrex, Pearce and Lane began to appear in the marriage and baptism records.  Their descendants still live there today.

Another newcomer to the region was ex-convict Edward Cox. He must have been about thirty when Frances met him.  They were married on 8 November 1847 in the new church, St John the Baptist at Ouse.

CofE Ouse 1992

St John the Baptist, Ouse (taken 1992), where Edward and Frances were married in 1847.

St John the Baptist inside 2015

Inside the chapel of St John the Baptist 2015

They both signed the register with an X.  The witnesses were Edward and Frances Burris.

Frances Cox marriage

Marriage registration of Edward Cox and Frances Richards 1847

The couple travelled around for a bit.  Their first child was a daughter Ann, baptised in Brighton which is towards Hobart Town. No birth or baptism has been located for their second child, Edward George Cox.  But then they moved to Lane’s Tier.

Lanes Tier Rd

Lanes Tier Rd near Osterley, Tasmania

This is the closest I could get to Lanes Tier on my most recent visit. This is the beginning of the road from the road into Osterley.  Somewhere in there was the married world of Mrs Frances Cox, where she cared for her husband and raised a large family.  Ann, George, Christiana and Letitia were the eldest four.

So finally – the topic prompt becomes relevant.  We learned of their births from the family bible.

Family bible

Family bible (click to enlarge)

Someone very thoughtfully arranged stickers with the children’s birth dates on them, stuck them in the bible and gave it to Frances. That’s my guess.  I would also guess that the someone might have been connected to the church or to the wealthy landowner.  Whoever it was has given our family a gift that is still treasured today.  Frances kept this bible safe and passed it on to her daughter.  It is hard to know how old the bible is, but later children are written in pen, probably by one of Frances’ younger daughters.

John Christopher William Cox was born in 1856, the year that Frances lost her mother to dropsy. Mrs Ellen Richards’ burial place is not known but the death was registered in Hamilton.  John’s birth is not referenced in the family bible at all, but luckily he was baptised so we know he belongs.

The place is merely a locality today, but by 1860 there was a bustling little township at Lanes Tier.  It wasn’t a township as we know them today.  There were no shops and the road out of the town was only accessible in good weather.  But they were self-sufficient and populous.

Money at Lane's Tier

In 1873, the residents of Lane’s Tier were unable to meet the amount required to contribute towards a school due not to lack of wealth but simply through lack of actual coin and an inability to transport their produce to a place which would pay real money. “IN CASH OR KIND?” The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954) 7 April 1873: 2. Web. 31 Mar 2018 .

Eleven children were born to Edward and Frances. Christiana died at the age of five, but the rest reached adulthood.

In 1862, Frances’ little sister Ellen had married Thomas Lane, a son of the original occupant of Lane’s Tier.  On 31 October 1871 Letitia Cox married  George John Lane, Thomas’ younger brother.

On 26 January 1874, Frances Ann Cox was the first one in the Lanes Tier community to sicken and die from diphtheria, an epidemic that decimated the little town to such an extent that they never recovered.  An inquest was held.  Of the twelve men who participated in that inquest in the Cox household, eight died within the following two months of the same contagious affliction.  But Frances was first and nobody knew what was ahead of them.  The cause of death as per autopsy was given as quincy.  The next six deaths were recorded as various throat-related inflammations. It was not till a month had passed before an actual doctor was sent to the community to investigate the large number of burials.

Frances Ann Cox

Death registration of Frances Ann Cox

Frances death

The deaths of Frances Ann Cox and her son Edward George Cox, both of diphtheria a month apart, as recorded in the family bible.

This was a long post, but I am glad to write the basic story of a woman who – were it not for this family heirloom – would have been without any sense of reality to me. She was buried at St John the Baptist in Ouse.

Headstone Frances Cox

Headstone of the Cox family. This seems to have been erected at least two years after Frances’ death and the dates are incorrect. The dates in the family bible match the death registration dates. This headstone is close, but seems to have given them all death years of 1875.






In the county of Cumberland.-Parish of Lawrenny.-Bounded on the east side by the river Clyde from its junction with the river Derwent to the northeast angle of a grant of fifteen hundred acres to Mrs. Jacobina Burn, on the north by the north boundary of the before
mentioned grant to Mrs. Jacobina Burn and by a west line (in contiuuation of her boundary) through the Lawrenny estate to the river Ouse, on the south-west by the river Ouse to its junction with the river Derwent and afterwards by the Derwent to the junction of the river Clyde with the said river Derwent. 
Parish of Guilford.-Bounded on the south by Lawrenny parish, on the east by the river Clyde from the northeast angle of Lawrenny parish to a rivulet wich falls into the Clyde, a few chains to the south of that point on the river whence the boundary of John Sherwin’s grant commences, on the north by the rivulet above described and a line in continuation through W. S. Sharland’s land, thence by a line in a north westerly direction to the Shaun ravine, by the Shaun ravine to the river Ouse, on the northwest by the river Ouse to the north-west angle of Lawrenny parish.
Parish of Abergavenny.-Bounded on the south by Guilford parish, on the southeast by the river Clyde from the northeast angle of Guilford parish to a point on that river opposite the division boundary line of Reid’s and Scott’s grants, on the northeast by a line in a northwesterly direction about the distance of four miles and a quarter to a mark, on the north by a west line to the river Ouse, and on the west by the river Ouse to the junction of the Shaun ravine with the said river.
Parish of Amherst.-Bounded on the south-west by Abergavenny parish, on the east and southeast by the river Clyde from the east angle of Abergavenny parish to the division boundary between Allardyce’s and Nowell’s grants, on the north by the division boundary of the two grants before mentioned and by the streamlet running through Captain Clark’s land and a line in continuation to a point about a mile west of the boundary of Captain Clark’s original grant, and on the north west by a line to a point on the Blue hills from the last mentioned point forming the northeast angle of Abergavenny parish.

[The above four parishes form the hundred of Lawrenny.]
Parish of Fortescue -Bounded on the north- west side by the river Ouse and Shannon from the north-west angle of Abergavenny parish to a small rivulet which falls in to the said river and divides the village of Ebrington, on the southeast by the northeast boundary of Amherst parish and a line in continuation of about two miles and a quarter, and on the northeast by a line from the termination of the last mentioned line running through the grant to Thomas James Lempriere and north of Mount Pleasant until it connects with the rivulet, thence by the rivulet running through the village of Ebrington to the river Shannon.
Parish of St. Albans.-Bounded on the south by Amherst parish, on the east by the river Clyde on the northwest by Fortescue parish and a line from the eastern angle of that parish in continuation of its south eastern boundary to the southeast angle of a grant to Miles Paterson by the cast boundary of that grant to its north-east angle, and on the north by a line from the northeast angle of the grant to Miles Paterson, bearing east to the river Clyde.
Parish of Malmesbury -Bounded on the south-west by the northeast boundary of Fortescue parish, on the southeast, and east by St. Alban’s parish to its northwest angle which is the northeast angle of a grant to Miles Paterson, and on the remaining part of the east by a line bearing north on the west by the river Clyde, and on the north by a line bearing east and west.
Parish of Rochford.-Bounded on tine south-east by the river Shannon, from its junction with tho river Ouse to a point” on the Shannon about two miles above the place whence the north boundary of Mrs. Sarah Smith’s grant commences, on the north by a west line from the river Shannon to the river Ouse, and on the west by the river Ouse to the junction of the river Shannon with the said river Ouse.
[The above four parishes form the hundred of Ebrington.]

John Reddan and Mary Ann McKinley – Week 7 52Ancestors – Valentine


Oatlands snipped fix

Oatlands 2014

On the 4th of April 1858, John Reading and Mary Ann McGinty were united in Holy Matrimony at St Paul’s Catholic Church in Oatlands, Tasmania.   According to the register, John was a farmer and a bachelor, aged 38.  Mary Ann was a Lady and a spinster, aged 17.  The witnesses were John Gorman and Sarah Flynn.

Here’s the entry:

Reading McGinty marriage

Tasmania Names website https://stors.tas.gov.au/RGD33-1-58$init=RGD33-1-58p596j2k

It was probably a very pretty wedding.  The historic church of St Paul’s is a grand sandstone building, a place anyone would love to be married in.  Here it is below.


St. Paul’s Catholic Church, Oatlands. V.D.L: first stone laid 9th April 1850 Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office: Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts.   Usage of image allowed for non-commercial use only with attribution included.

The topic of Week 9 is Valentine and I struggled to find a good couple to write about. I’m sure there was plenty of love in my family tree, but life was so different back then, I just don’t think they thought about it that much.   Generally speaking, the women needed to marry to have any kind of life at all, whatever their social sphere. The men needed to marry to have any kind of comfort in their life if they were poor, or to fulfil their social obligations if rich.  No doubt love came into it, but looking at paper records for my ancestors doesn’t tell me much about their motivations.

John and Mary were my great great grandparents.

John was born in Tipperary, Ireland as John Reddan in 1820.  This detail comes from later records. His father was Darby Reddan and his mother was named Bess.  He grew up in a time of poverty and conflict and as an adult became a soldier.  His name at attestation was recorded as John Redden.

He traveled to Canada with the 97th Regiment in about 1839.  He spent ten years there.  From the little bit I have read about the 97th Regiment and their experiences, it was very cold, very damp, very miserable.  In 1849 John deserted, was excused, but then deserted again.  He was found, charged with desertion and transported to Van Diemen’s Land as a convict.  His transportation record is recorded as John Reddin.  Upon receiving a ticket of leave after only two years, John became a constable in the Green Ponds region.  He would have met ellow constable John McKinley, who was a transported convict from Donegal.  He obviously also met John’s daughter Mary Ann.


Ruins near Oatlands, Tasmania 2014

John McKinley and his wife Alice came from Fermanagh in Ireland.  A young couple with two toddlers and a completely clean record, they committed a crime together and were tried together.  John was sentenced to transportation, Alice was deemed to have acted under the influence of her husband and was let off.

Alice committed another offence – larceny – days after her release.  This time she was sentenced to transportation.  It is very clear that the plan was orchestrated.  They were transported on different ships a year apart.

Alice and her toddlers Mary and James arrived on the Waverley in July 1847.  Both children survived the journey but tragically James died in the convict nursery at Dynnyrne – a place infamous for its disease and neglect of the children.   Mary was sent to the Orphan School while her mother completed her sentence.

orphanschool record

Orphan School Transcription – original can be found at Archives of Tasmania – transcription at http://www.orphanschool.org.au/showorphan.php?orphan_ID=3703 . Brother’s name is incorrectly listed as Patrick on the transportation record.

A fellow passenger on the Waverley was Sarah McTigue, aged 30 from Mayo, Ireland.

As Mary’s orphan school record shows, she was released to her mother at the age of about 7.   The family was reunited as her parents completed their sentences. John McKinley became a constable and was stationed in Kempton.


Kempton in the morning fog.

Also in the region were two other convicts – Peter Flynn who was transported for manslaughter, and John Gorman who was a former soldier, transported for insubordination.

Peter Flynn and Sarah McTigue were married at Oatlands in 1850, while the new church was still under construction.  The McKinley family probably attended that wedding. In 1850, Mary was aged about 8.

Mary must have grown up with John Reading around. He was a quiet man, not much of a talker apparently. He was 5 foot 7 with dark brown hair and blue eyes.  I don’t have a description of Mary in her prime.

A mere 8 years later at the age of 17 – which can’t have been true, she was actually 16 or perhaps even 15 – Mary and 38 year old John Reading were married.  The witnesses were Sarah Flynn (formerly McTigue) who made the crossing with Mary and her mother, and John Gorman, friend of John’s and a fellow soldier-convict.

John Reddan is recorded as John Reading and perhaps he was a farmer.  Mary Ann McKinley is recorded as Mary Ann McGinty and she clearly presented herself well.  ‘Lady’ is an unexpected status.

From all accounts, it was a very happy marriage.  John committed one offense about twenty years later – after five days he closed the gate on a stray cow who had wandered into his paddock and accidentally branded the cow’s calf along with his own.  Several character witnesses reported that he was a law-abiding man who participated in community life.

Tasmanian midlands

House in Oatlands

Twelve children were born to John and Mary.  Their son Thomas was my great grandfather.

John died in 1893 in Kempton, aged 73.  Mary moved in with her son Thomas and his wife.

My grandmother’s eldest sister  remembered Mary McKinley who was her own grandmother and used to babysit her.  She said she was a very old lady in a dark coloured dress who liked to talk.

Mary Ann Reading died on 13 Aug 1919 and was buried at St Peter’s Catholic Church Cemetery in Kempton. No headstone remains.

mary mck bible snip

Mary’s death entry in the family bible (confusing bit of previous entry removed)