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$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 . 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)





New DNA Test Results to Play With

A summary of my experience to date:

Family Finder on FtDNA – 38 pages of matches @ ten to a page = 380 matches.

2nd-4th Cousins – Two adoptees, one unresponsive, one confirmed 3rd cousin

3rd-5th Cousins – 17 mysteries, 2 of which are probably connected via Annie McLeod and Prince Edward Island but this is by no means certain.

4th-Remote Cousins – several pages, 23 of which are connected via Annie McLeod and Prince Edward Island and one confirmed 6th cousin via John Burleton and Elizabeth Lush.

5th-Remote Cousins – a few more via Annie McLeod and PEI, but the rest of 29 pages remain mysteries.

Gedmatch – one confirmed 4th cousin via Robert Lockley and Catherine Hingley.

Several more potential connections to whom I have sent emails and about 300 matches where I just don’t have a clue.

At this point, my son’s Family Finder DNA Test came through.  It was a big moment!  As with mine, FtDNA were still predicting results to come through in 2-3 weeks.  I logged into my own kit, clicked on FF matches and realised I had a kit with enough matches for the ‘shared cM’ graphic to take a second to load.  Total shared cM 3384 and largest block 267 cM.

Of course, I knew he was coming in but it was still nice to see how a close match looks.  I also knew quite well that he was my own son but there’s nothing like scientific confirmation of it.  So I logged out of my kit and logged into his to see who he matched.

Not being as wealthy as I was when I purchased my own test, I only had Family Finder results for my son. I had of course researched his tree, but had in places accepted the research of other relatives.  One of them I know to be very meticulous so I had not checked, but quite recently I learned that he had done exactly as I had – there was at least one branch of that tree which he had accepted on faith, not being his area of especial interest.

My own family is obscure enough, but at least I had one branch of long term Tasmanians and one branch from New South Wales.  Tasmania is a rather quiet and isolated state and not so much in the world.  It is expensive to cross Bass Strait and not always a pleasant journey, so for many decades the same families tended to intermarry.  For greater variety, someone from the south might marry someone from the north.

As an example – I grew up in the far south, in the Huon Valley.  We went to Hobart roughly once a year.  Hobart was truly the Big City.  Many drivers in my home town had never driven in Hobart and when a roundabout was installed in one southern town in the late 1990s, many many drivers did not know how to use it and confusion reigned supreme!  It was quite something.

Growing up down there, I went to Hobart occasionally but Launceston in the north – well, that was just too far to contemplate.  260km – the roads were not too good and there was just no need for a trip like that.

A pity, because the Midlands Highway in Tasmania is an adventure.  It’s still one of my favourite drives.  Knowing Tasmania’s history as intimately as I know it, I have some idea of how all those towns came about, their reputations, their difficulties and their prides.  The old colonial road still exists in places, either beside the current road or in places as part of the walking tracks which can be found throughout Tasmania.  You can still see the cobblestones laid by convicts at times and the bridges they made.  When I was a child, the old milestones were still there on the road sides, in miles although kilometres as the standard measure came in before I was born.  There were also horse troughs and the wrecks of old inns.

Some parts of Tasmania have not changed from the early years of settlement.

Some parts of Tasmania have changed very little through the years and give a tantalizing glimpse into the past.

This is only partly a digression.  Tasmania through my childhood was a place lost in time.  This only changed in the late 1990s when so many Tasmanian institutions began to be administrated from the state of Victoria, resulting in a very sudden modernisation – no doubt necessary but I can’t help missing the old pockets where one really did ‘step back in time’.  I think that experience also helps me with my family history research.

I am surprised that I don’t have more DNA matches within Australia, but I’m only surprised by the lack of matches on my mother’s side.  New South Wales was always bigger, more cosmopolitan, more international.  I have not really expected matches on the paternal side.  Sarah was a pleasant surprise but of course she had left the state.

My husband’s family are entirely local to Tasmania.  His father came from the town of New Norfolk, which was settled very early on in the history of Van Diemen’s Land.  His mother’s family came from the northwest, from a little place called Forest which was also established quite early. Between us, with my Huon ancestry, my husband’s New Norfolk side and his Forest/Stanley side, we have most of Tasmania covered.

I expected very few matches and I wasn’t surprised.  Well, I tell a lie – there weren’t many but there were actually more than I expected.  My son had 16 pages total.

The breakdown was similar to my own:  he had a connection to my kit – predicted to be his parent.  He had four matches at the 2nd-4th cousin level, and a page and a half of 3rd-5th Cousin matches.  The rest were more distant.

Now, I thought my own match situation was bad, but my son’s is even worse.  Of his four close cousin matches, one was Jennifer the unresponsive, one was John my 3rd cousin through Annie McLeod, and the two others were clearly on his father’s side.  One came with a good gedcom, the other with about three names showing.

I’ll call them Simon and Walter, not their real names.  Simon’s tree was as extensive as my own but no match found.  What was perhaps worse, the ancestors came from all over the British Isles and all the same counties as my son’s ancestors.  More than that – three came from the same little towns, while two more came from Tower Hamlets in London – this tree was like a replica of my son’s but with all different names.

Just to clarify – it isn’t a replica, I’ve located most of Simon’s ancestors in the UK Census and the vital records.  They just happen to have all come from the same places.  I sent an email.

As for Walter’s – three names and no dates or locations.  I emailed him also.

Then I uploaded my son’s tree to Gedmatch and settled in for a good browse through the pages.

My Three Brick Walls – No. 2 Bridget Bain

As is the way with my mystery women, Bridget Bain comes to our attention at the time of her marriage.

Southern Tasmania was and still is heavily wooded and well watered.  The winters are cold, damp and foggy.  The summers are occasionally warm but just as often cool and showery.  The area is hilly and the rivers are deep and broad.  It’s a very pretty place and the soil is very productive.

Back in its early years, it was home to Aboriginal tribes who were quite friendly with the early settlers, until some early settlers were unfriendly to them.  In the 1830’s, sealers traversed the coast and often took Aboriginal women to accompany them.  The sealers don’t have a very good name in Tasmanian history, they come across as brutal and often sadistic. Perhaps it was the nature of the work.  Perhaps there were good men amongst them, the more spectacular stories are usually the ones best remembered.

Southern Tasmania today but an area still looking as it might have in the 19th century.

Southern Tasmania today, an area still looking as it might have in the 19th century.

Massively enlarged portion of a map of Tasmania which my grandfather used at school.

Massively enlarged portion of a map of Tasmania which my grandfather used at school.

Since this map was printed at the Tasmanian Government Offices for classroom use in 1902 it seems to meet the copyright requirements,so I’ll probably use it a lot.  Because it was for classroom use, it contains details not commonly found on a map, such as the main produce of the regions.  For Bridget Bain, this would be a glimpse into the future.  In the 1850s most terrain south of Hobart was very hilly and very much forested.  Transport was mostly by boat on the Derwent River, the Huon River and in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel which passed between Bruny Island and the southeast coast.  New houses were built along the rivers and all had their own jetty and their own dingy.

After the sealers came sawyers, after the sawyers came orchardists.  Convicts were given land in the area after serving out their sentence or receiving their pardon. It was inhospitable land, every tree required a two-man saw and there was no flat land to be found.  Without roads leading in or out, it was difficult to bring furniture except by boat.  This area was certainly not popular with the free settlers who preferred to go north and inland from Hobart.  But it worked out well for small groups of men who could work together and were not afraid of hard labour.  It particularly suited those who liked to live away from the authoritative eye, who liked the sense of freedom one could experience in unpopulated land.  About 80% of those who ended up in this region – who made a roaring success of the place – were convicts.

Three such convicts were the men once known as the Dillane brothers, from Ireland, now known as the Dillon brothers.  Edmund, John and Timothy were mature adults when they committed their crime and it was a first offence for all.  Transported on the same ship in 1852 at the ages of 38, 35 and 31, each left wives behind and the elder two left chldren.

John, the one who is relevant here, received his ticket of leave in February 1854 and was granted a conditional pardon in December of the same year.  His brothers followed a similar path and by early 1855, the three of them headed for the Huon.

John had left a wife and four children in Ireland but maybe his wife died.  Her name was Joanna Dillane nee Moore and she has not been located since John’s transportation.  A man and wife separated for over seven years were legally allowed to consider the marriage over, freeing them up to remarry.  This was a very necessary law for a colony of fit and free ex-convicts.  Administration had realized that a wife could manage these men better than they could.  A married man was a happier man, a man with a purpose, a man with a sense of belonging.  It didn’t work for all but it was very good for the colony where it did work, and the new generation was very much needed as a workforce.

Although John had only been separated from Joanna for four years, he married Bridget Bain on the 18th August 1856 in the riverside town of Franklin in the Huon Valley.  He stated that he was a widower.

Marriage of John Dillon and Bridget Bain

Marriage of John Dillon and Bridget Bain

This is earliest mention I can find of Bridget in Tasmania.  Edmund Dillon had made arrangement for his family to come and join him.  His wife refused, but some of his adult children came.  I have sometimes wondered whether Bridget came on the same boat. At the very least, John’s niece and nephews may have brought news of Joanna’s demise.

Who Bridget was is still unknown and there are very few clues.  Her surname can be found in Ireland, Scotland and England.  Her first name is Irish but not exclusively so.  She was born in 1834 according to her marriage record, and 1837 according to her death record.  Following the trend of the time, she may have been younger and raised her age for the marriage since she was marrying a much older man.  John did the usual and subtracted four years from his true age.  He was actually about to turn forty.  Bridget may have been as young as 17.

The witnesses at the wedding were Timothy Dillon and Margaret Mackey. Timothy was John’s brother.  Margaret, as far as we can tell, was Mrs Margaret Mackey nee Foley and the new wife of Michael Mackey.  Michael Mackey was transported from Ireland on the same ship as the Dillane brothers, and he and his wife settled on a neighbouring property in Port Cygnet.

Quite a group of them from the same convict ship had headed out to Port Cygnet – the three Dillons, Michael Mackey, John Mackey and Patrick Stack feature strongly in the lives of John and Bridget Dillon.  However, both witnesses being associated with John still leaves Bridget, an isolated young Catholic girl making her permanent home with a group of Irish ex-cons about twice her age. She was a brave young lady.

John and Bridget settled at Glazier’s Bay in the district of Port Cygnet, on the above map this is near the town called Lovett (and more easily found by the word FRUIT).  The town went through several name changes and today is called Cygnet.   Their eldest son, born in 1857, was named Edward Dillon – some say Edward Emmett Dillon – and maybe there is a clue in that middle name.  Nothing has been uncovered yet.

John’s brother Timothy left the region, but John and Bridget remained there and became known as one of the district’s pioneering families.  They had twelve children.  As usual, John informed for the children’s births and Bridget remains unsighted.

Birth record of Mary Teresa Dillon, my great great grandmother.

Birth record of Mary Teresa Dillon 1860, my great great grandmother.

Bridget died on 8th August 1903 in Cygnet and is buried in the Catholic cemetery in Cygnet with a million other Dillons. I will add a photograph of her grave when I convert it to digital format.

"Family Notices." The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954) 10 Aug 1903: 1. Web. 14 Oct 2014 .

“Family Notices.” The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954) 10 Aug 1903: 1. Web. 14 Oct 2014 <>.

My Three Brick Walls – No. 1 Mary Morgan

On 20th October 1856 a baby boy was born in the small colonial town of Hamilton in Tasmania, Australia.

This was their first year with the name ‘Tasmania’.  Until now the town had existed within the British colony of Van Diemen’s Land, but the colony gained the right to self-legislate in 1854 and in 1856 had made some large changes – including the name, in an attempt to shake off the convict stigma.  A whole lot of things were altered, including the details which went onto the birth, marriage and death registrations.  What England wanted to know about people was not what Tasmania wanted to know. Tasmania was still under British rule, but not under direct British administration.

That baby boy was the first child for his parents, as far as we know. He was named Robert after his father, who was Robert Brown, a carter, free by Conditional Pardon, born in Cambridgeshire and now settled in the Tasmanian midlands.  The baby’s mother was Mary Brown formerly Morgan, and this is the first definite mention of her in the official records.

By 1856, records in Tasmania were pretty good.  In a colony of convicts and a vibrant shipping industry, the authoritative bodies wanted to know who went where.   There were still thieves on the run, escapees and persons banned from the urban districts.  So how someone could reach the age of adulthood and not find herself on a public record is a bit of a mystery.  She is by no means the only one, but as more records are digitized and made available, and as the internet enables family records to be accessed by others, the mysteries are unraveling.  Generally, it comes down to an unexpected change in name.  A child who took on a stepfather’s surname, for instance.  Or someone who came to Tasmania not from overseas but from a neighbouring state like Victoria.

There’s a good chance that Mary has records, but her very name is against us.  She began life as Mary Morgan and ended it as Mary Brown.  Both are very common names.

It’s miraculous that we could trace Robert Brown, but he left his information everywhere – his name, his accurate age, the ship he arrived on, his home town.  He provided consistent details and thus we found him even before records went online.  He was transported for life and at first behaved rebelliously, but by 1850 he had received a ticket of leave and by 1853 received his conditional pardon.

A conditional pardon, generally, gave him freedom to live his life under certain conditions – usually that he not return to his native country, or that he not leave his new country.

An early winter's morning in the region where Robert and Mary Brown lived.

Early winter’s morning in the region where Robert and Mary Brown lived.

No record has been found of a marriage between Robert Brown and Mary Morgan, and since marriages were easy to procure back then, it is more likely that they did not formalize their union.  However, this in itself is odd in a cultural environment where such things were frowned upon.  Of course, if they arrived in a town as an already married couple, no one would know any different.

In 1856, the proud new father was aged 37.  We don’t know Mary’s age but she continued bearing children for many years.  Following the usual pattern on all paternal sides of my family, she was probably in her mid teens, giving her a birth year of somewhere about 1840. I think between 1835 and 1841 is pretty safe.

Robert and Mary seem to have been healthy and maybe happy too.  A second son, William, was born in 1858, still in Hamilton district but I’m not sure if it was in the township.  After this the young family moved to Black Brush, later renamed Mangalore, where Robert was employed as a carter.  Their third son was John and he was my great great grandfather.

Birth registration of my great great grandfather John Brown.

Birth registration of my great great grandfather John Brown.

Amelia was born in 1862, and two years later we have a glimpse into their everyday life when Robert, father and breadwinner, was in an accident and broke both his legs. After some searching, I have located a brief description of the accident in a local paper:

"THE MERCURY." The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954) 18 Jul 1864: 2. Web. 13 Oct 2014 .

“THE MERCURY.” The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954) 18 Jul 1864: 2. Web. 13 Oct 2014 <>.

I had wondered about the three year gap between baby Amelia, born in 1862, and the next child in 1865.  The accident explains everything.

Mary found herself with four young children and no way to earn a living.  As people do in that situation, she turned to the minister of her local church who referred her case to the Queen’s Orphan School in Hobart – the state orphanage.

I first saw a brief transcription of this event a few years ago, but it is only recently that I had a chance to view the original – which gives far more detail.

The closest we have ever come to Mary Morgan.

The closest we have ever come to Mary Morgan

The Orphan School application includes five glorious pages giving us a brief confirmation of this woman’s existence.  The greatest detail here – of which we were never sure – is that Mary was native born.  This means that she was born within the colony.  It is not a reference to aboriginality.  Her parents might have come from anywhere else.  But it does mean that Mary, to the best of her knowledge at least, was born in Van Diemen’s Land.  She didn’t remember any other home.  So we need to look at someone surnamed Morgan who was around in circa 1835 who could be her parent.  This is still not easy, but nice to know.

Mary’s tale was a sad one, to we who live in a world where children stay children till their teens.

A glimpse into the family's life in 1864

A glimpse into the family’s life in 1864

I have four children namely Robert 8 years old – supports himself – a cowherd, the two mentioned in this application (William and John) and Amelia 2 years old – my husband is a patient in the Colonial Hospital Hobart. His legs were broken on the 12th July ultimo and I am informed that he is likely to continue in hospital for several months – I have no means whereby to support my children. My husband’s wages were 1 shilling a week.  Application supported by the Rev M Ball whose letter is annexed.

It’s a useful document.  The Reverend’s letter certified “That the bearer Mary Brown is the wife of Robert Brown a labourer in this district who was recently received into the Colonial Hospital with both legs broken from an unfortunate accident.”  He also confirmed “That she has applied to him to have her three sons Robert, William and John recommended for admission to the Orphan School”

The application was rejected for Robert aged 8 who was deemed able to support himself as a cowherd, and was accepted for 6 year old William and 4 year old John.  They were only in there for a few months – until Robert Brown was released from the hospital at the end of October.  One wonders if he was able to resume his work as a carter quite that soon, and bring in a wage.  I also wonder if the Reverend certified that Mary was married to Robert because he assumed it or if he really knew it.

In 1865, Elizabeth was born, followed by James in 1868, Mary Anne in 1872, Henry in 1875, Frederick in 1878 and Benjamin in 1879.  Frederick died young but this was the only child they lost.

The rest lived to adulthood and were married but I have been unable to trace all descendants.

If Mary was still bearing children in 1879, I don’t think she can have been born earlier than 1835.  I still think 1840 is more likely.

That birth record for Benjamin is the last mention of Mary Morgan.

Birth of Robert and Mary's youngest child, and the final reference to Mary.

Birth of Robert and Mary’s youngest child, and the final reference to Mary.

For every one of the births, Robert was the informant.  It is only the Orphan School application which was undertaken by Mary herself.

Mary Brown died.  We can deduce that since she was born in the early 1800s and won’t be alive today.  There are 27 deaths for women named Mary Brown between 1879 and 1899.  Records are harder to obtain after 1900 for Tasmania.

Of those 27 records, one in New Norfolk in 1899 seems plausible, but it comes with absolutely no details.  A private patient at the New Norfolk Hospital and the informant was the superintendent.  The hospital reported deaths at the end of each month and they knew little about the patients and only wrote the necessary.  This Mary Brown was buried at North Circle cemetery and the burial record is word for word what they received from the hospital – exactly the same as the death record.  No headstone remains, the cemetery was badly vandalized through the 1970s and 1980s.

If that is her, it’s a sad and obscure ending for a woman who successfully raised a large family in difficult circumstances.

Robert Lockley and Catherine Hingley – my 3 X Great Grandparents

Anyone who has researched ancestors in Staffordshire in the early 19th century knows they were doing it tough.  Particularly the poor.  It was bad enough for those with an income – the nail makers, the miners and colliers, the chainmakers – if they had a home to live in, it took three or four incomes to keep it and little left for food. The industry in Staffordshire was iron, in its various stages, and the employers of the district were falling into greater and greater debt.  Wages reduced, men were laid off and dissatisfaction was great.

Some districts became very densely populated as families shared their homes, as adult children married and brought their spouse into the family home rather than move out, and as families sublet their rooms to boarders to gain that little bit of extra income.  Violence was increasing and there were areas to which the police simply would not go, for fear of their lives.

The plight of those who had lost their job or their home was dire. They shifted from relatives to friends, slept out of doors in summer and wherever they could in winter. They stole, begged and swindled, doing what was necessary to keep themselves alive.  Some found work on the canals but the canals were unofficially ‘owned’ by several families.  Smuggling was common from Worcester into Leicestershire and the goods run was always worth a few shillings.

This was the world of the Lockley boys, born in the 1810’s to John and Eliza Lockley of Tamworth.  The children were baptised in Kingsbury in Warwickshire but they called Tamworth their home.  John Lockley’s occupation was given on different records as a labourer, a gamekeeper or a gardener.  We know of five boys and one girl born to this couple, and John died fairly young.  Eliza can be found in the 1841 and 1851 census as a widow. The boys scattered far and wide, finding and selling pig lead, and taking jobs with carters.  This much can be deduced from court records.

Beyond this, their  lives are not known but the boys started getting into trouble young, and John Junior was transported to Van Diemen’s Land in 1842.  By all accounts John was rough, but we don’t know much about him.

Robert was either the third or fourth boy, and he found himself transported for a first offence in 1844, aged 17 or 18.  He and a group of boys his own age had stolen from a house and were caught with the stolen property. He provided a character witness but to no avail.   By that year, matters were dire in Staffordshire and Warwickshire and a civil uprising was feared.  Robert was a chainmaker,a useful occupation for a colony with a shipping industry, and the idea was to send all that could be sent, for their own repatriation, for the good of the colony and for the good of the county that could not support them.  Robert was brown haired and brown eyed and blind in one eye, and 5 feet 4 1/2 inches tall. He had scars on his fingers and arms.

On arrival in Van Diemen’s Land, Robert was not compliant.  His convict record shows several misdemeanors and one escape.  He refused to work and eventually ended up back on hard labour.  Then something happened – what it was is not clear, the record is in poor condition, but by 1848 he was in hospital.  Upon his release from hospital he seems to have settled and received his ticket of leave in 1850.

A ticket of leave is not freedom.  It meant that Robert would receive wages for his work, and with a good report from his employer he might be recommended for a conditional pardon.  But he was restricted to a district, he had to comply with a curfew and he was required to disclose that he held a ticket of leave whenever he conducted a transaction, be it purchasing goods, finding accommodation for the night, seeking employment or opening an account with a bank or shop.

Robert did not do this.  His next few misdemeanors are being out after hours, misrepresenting himself as a free man and being drunk.  It’s a common theme over his next ten years.  He lied about who he was quite often.   However, eventually he served out his sentence and became free by servitude in 1854 at the age of about 28, when he clearly made his way to Oyster Cove where his brother John was living.

Tasmanian Midlands looking much as it has always looked.

Tasmanian Midlands still looking much as it has always looked.

Catherine Hingley arrived in Tasmania in 1852 as a child of 7, travelling with her mother and her three young brothers.  Ann Orton, Catherine’s mother, was a widow and the mother of six children.  Like Robert, she was from the Staffordshire/Warwickshire area and the few scant references we have suggest she was struggling to make a home.  My impression of Ann is a big hearted lady, not too bright, who continually made poor choices and experienced some very bad luck.  She cared for her children but was not able to keep them.  She would have done well, probably, with a husband to earn money and keep her in a home.  She would undoubtedly have thrown herself into a small world of kitchen, babies and housework and been very happy in it.

We don’t know much about her life but a steady home and a husband were just a dream she constantly chased.  She was already a widow in the first records we have, so we don’t know her maiden name. She stated she was born in Northampton but one court record calls her an Irishwoman and the most likely census reference gives a birthplace of Ireland too.  She was a big woman with flaxen hair and a florid complexion.  In 1852, Ann was transported to Van Diemen’s Land for stealing.  It was at least her third offence.

Ann’s eldest two children were left behind in England and I believe I have located them in an orphanage in Dudley, Staffordshire in 1851 – but no certainty yet.  The youngest four came with her.  On board ship they were given the surname Orton.  Once in Hobart Town, Catherine and two of her brothers were placed in the orphanage under the surname Hingley, and the orphanage records give their father as Samuel Hingley.  The youngest, John, remained with his mother for the next year.  When he was eventually admitted to the orphanage, he came with the name John Orton.

My best guess is that Denis, Catherine and James’ father was Samuel Hingley of Dudley who was a collier, killed in an explosion in 1845.  If so, James was born after he died.  I have failed to locate a marriage for Ann Hingley with an Orton and I suspect no ceremony took place.  John had a father somewhere, and maybe it was a Mr Orton.

Catherine did not see her eldest siblings again, that we know of, and she probably did not see her mother again for years.  Denis left the orphanage to an apprenticeship but absconded.  In 1858, Ann served out her sentence.  Within weeks of receiving her freedom she finally married a man who lived as long as she did, and removed her children from the orphanage.

At what point Catherine met Robert Lockley is not known.  He was about twenty years her senior and just might have known her mother back in Staffordshire.  Catherine was about thirteen, maybe fourteen when her mother reclaimed her.  In 1861, at the age of about 16, she married Robert Lockley in Kingston, south of Hobart.  She was six months pregnant.  On the marriage certificate, Robert gave his age as 29 and stated that he was a free man.  He was actually closer to 35 and should have stated free by servitude.  Catherine gave her age as 20 when she was really 16.

They settled at Gordon in the woody wilds of Tasmania’s southeast coast where young Honor was born (might be Hannah). Robert was working as a sawyer and his brother John lived nearby.  Twelve weeks later, Catherine was gone.  Why, we can only guess, but Robert had the usual notice inserted in the paper that he would not be covering any debts she might accrue.  Honor died in Gordon in October, aged 3 and a half months, so Catherine seems to have returned by then, assuming she took the baby when she went.

Robert and Catherine went on to have nine more children, and in later years Catherine seems to have been fairly happy.  Their third child, Elizabeth, was my great great grandmother.  Their seventh child, James, was my newly found cousin Sarah’s great great grandfather.  I note with interest that they had no child named either Ann or Samuel.

Ancestors in Van Diemen’s Land

Sarah, my DNA cousin at predicted genetic distance of 4.4 on Gedmatch, replied to my email.

She was very excited.  She lived in England but was born in Australia.  She had tested with a different company to me and her mother was a single parent.  Sarah was seeking the father she had never known.  In my email, I had given the locations of my four grandparents and my father’s father came from the same region as her father.  It looked quite plausible.

However, I asked her to send the details she knew – her mother’s side – so we could eliminate them.  She was not a genealogist and only had a handwritten page of notes from a great uncle.  She sent me a copy and I found the match instantly.  This was how simple I had originally expected it to be!

We shared the same 3x great grandparents, Robert Lockley and Catherine Hingley.  We were 4th cousins.  This match was on her mother’s side and my father’s side. I had her great grandmother’s birth in my tree but had not discovered what became of her, as she married after 1900 which is always harder to research in Tasmania.

We also shared a slightly more distant common ancestor couple, Thomas Wilken Cowen and his wife/partner Mary.  Through this couple, we were fifth cousins once removed. Once again, this was on her mother’s side and my father’s side.

The state of Tasmania began as the colony of Van Diemen’s Land in 1803.  In its earliest years it was just a penal colony and no one was allowed on or off the island without letters of introduction and recommendation.  This changed quite early on.  England had an overpopulation problem and Van Diemen’s Land needed workers.

The colony had a rough start and everyone nearly starved.  The convicts roamed free, under threat of death if they attempted to abscond.  However, in the days of starvation it really wasn’t hurting anyone if some were gone.  They weren’t eating the meagre supplies, they weren’t adding to the burdens.  Later, farmers arrived and worked out how to use the climate and the soil.  Little settlements began to pop up all over and the convicts were confined again to keep order.  The worst were kept way down the east coast at a place called Port Arthur.

Port Arthur as it is today.  This was the penal colony for the more dangerous convicts, but it always was described as a beautiful place by free visitors.

Port Arthur as it is today. This was the penal colony for the more dangerous convicts, but it always was described as a beautiful place by free visitors.

In the early years of free settlement, prejudice against the convicts was quite strong.  However, this had to change.  Convicts -either still indentured or now free – held necessary jobs in the community.  They were carpenters, teachers, nurses and farmers.  Quite a few were constables.  Some of them never offended either during their period of servitude or afterwards.  Others were unable to change their ways.  But in the colony, convicts were only one of many groups to be concerned about.  There were aboriginal groups, who generally treated others as they were treated, there were sailors spending a week or two onshore with their wages to spend, soldiers who were often little better than thugs who liked violence and drank way more than was good for them, escaped slaves from the West Indies, deserters of all kinds, bushrangers, sealers and whalers who so often had a sadistic streak and felt no loyalty to their fellow men ….. it became necessary to judge people by what they did now or would do next, rather than by what they had done in the past.

By the 1840s, there was a lot of pressure on England to end transportation and allow the colony to establish itself respectably.  It was flourishing – it had a strong shipping industry, farms were producing enough for the colony and more to export, and the pubs were doing a roaring trade.  There were fetes and regattas, musical performances, public picnics and formal dinners.  As New South Wales suffered a depression in a time of drought, Van Diemen’s Land was able to profitably provide.  However, even Van Diemen’s Land was beginning to feel the economic pinch and viewed the continuing influx of convicts with great disfavour.

Even today, there are some who prefer not to find convicts amongst their ancestors.  However, most now cherish and parade their dubious past.  Those early Tasmanians are a pleasure to research.  They had spirit and a strong opinion which they had no reason not to express.  Their personalities come through very clearly in the records.  The inhabitants of Van Diemen’s Land worked as hard as they needed to, partied just as hard as modern man in their leisure time, and involved themselves in everything that went on around them.

This was the new world of Robert Lockley and Catherine Hingley.

The Derwent River viewed from Mt Wellington.  Hobart Town began at the far right where the wharf area can just be seen (east), and settlers followed the river westward and inland.

The Derwent River viewed from Mt Wellington. Hobart Town began at the far right where the wharf area can just be seen (east), and settlers followed the river westward and inland.