1a — Unexpected connections — Whitfields

Recent family history research has William Whitfield aged 10 on arrival in the colony, as indeed he is in the “Thames” passenger list. Also, it appears Jacob Whitfield’s first wife, Mary, was Goss not Gowrie.

Posted originally on January 10, 2014 by Neil.

This series of posts is the most comprehensive I have done on family history. I am doing them backwards here so that in due course they will appear sequentially.

As you may know I do from time to time visit The Illawarra Brewery, which overlooks grounds that once were the Catholic cemetery.

See The Illawarra Brewery–and pioneer cemetery! See also my 2011 posts Pioneers: Wollongong’s Old Roman Catholic Cemetery — 1, Pioneers: Wollongong’s Old Roman Catholic Cemetery — 2, Pioneers: Wollongong’s Old Roman Catholic Cemetery — 3.

Recently I have also been revising my main family history page: Family stories 3 — About the Whitfields: from convict days. That, in summary, is:

William WHITFIELD (above) & Caroline Philadelphia WEST: William WHITFIELD Born: 16 Mar 1812 – , Parish of Drumgoon, Cootehill, Co. Cavan, Ireland. Died: 12 Oct 1897 Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Buried: Rookwood, New South Wales, Australia. Father: Jacob WHITFIELD (1774- ? ) Mother: Mary GOWRIE (1781-1841) Married: 20 Jun 1836 – , St Andrews Church of Scotland, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Wife Caroline Philadelphia WEST: Born: 12 Jul 1817 – Seven Oaks, Kent, England. Died: 21 Oct 1881 – Picton, New South Wales, Australia. Buried: Redbank Cemetery, Upper Picton, New South Wales, Australia. See also Jacob WHITFIELD & Mary GOWRIE. Convict Jacob is given this birthdate: Born: May 1774 – Ballyhagen, Co. Kildare, Ireland, and Mary died in Co. Tyrone, Ireland in 1841. Mary, the wife of Daniel Sweeney, was the daughter of these two, and William (above) their son. Curious though that we don’t know when Jacob died.

Jacob Whitfield was transported to Australia 1821-22 from Cork in the convict ship Isabella 1

‘ISABELLA I’ Built 1818 at London. Wood ship of 579 Tons. She carried 200 male convicts to Sydney and had no deaths en-route. She departed Cork, Ireland on the 4th of November 1821 and arrived in Sydney on the 9th of March 1822. Master: Captain John Wallis. Surgeon: W. Price.

Jacob’s son William and his daughter Mary arrived as free settlers on the Thames in 1826. To quote family historian Robert Starling (2011):

My interest is the Irish immigration ship the Thames which brought wives and children from Cork Ireland to Sydney to unite with their husband/father who had been transported prior to 1826. The Thames was the first immigration ship to carry families direct from Ireland. My connection with the Thames is through my wife’s line. Her Grandmother was a Whitfield with her line back to Jacob Whitfield who was transported with his family immigrating on the Thames.

Researching the families that immigrated on the Thames is a challenging undertaking as there is no official passenger list existing in the NSW State Archives, the National Archives in Canberra or the National Archives in Dublin Ireland. Fortunately a researcher named Lyn Vincent of Lyndon Genealogy has managed to reconstruct a passenger list through using the 1828 Census, the Ship Surgeon’s Report, Birth, Death and Marriage Indexes and the Australian Biographical & Genealogical Record.

A Constable Michael Sheedy in the 1830s, who may be linked to the Costello family, also compiled a list of family names that travelled on the Thames. I believe the interest by Constable Sheedy may have been that he married one of the passengers on the Thames. I hold a copy of Lyn Vincent’s, Michael Sheedy’s and The Thames Surgeon’s Reports which all reveal interesting facts about the families which made their way to Sydney. Unfortunately there were 16 deaths on the voyage (3 wives and 13 children). Close analysis of the Surgeon’s Report (Dr. Lynton) has identified 2 of the wives and 8 children) on a microfilm held by the Mitchell Library. I have asked the library to try and find the original report as it would seem that not all of the Surgeon’s report has been copied to microfilm….

The Thames carried 37 wives and 107 children. There were also 16 paying passengers and crew captained by Robert Frazier. Apart from the reference material referred to above which has produced a reasonably creditable passenger list, the internet resources, mainly the State Archives of NSW and the Society of Genealogy has been a valuable source of gathering initial data to make contact with the descendants of the passengers on the Thames…

Note that Robert Starling has collected two volumes of Thames immigration ship Cork Ireland to Port Jackson Sydney 1825 – 1826 : family stories related by descendants of families that emigrated on the Thames 2012 — available at the Society of Australian Genealogists (SAG), and in 2011 he published Jacob Whitfield’s journey from Cootehill County Cavan Northern Ireland to the land down-under : embracing the Whitfield family history.

There is a grave in the Wollongong old Catholic cemetery:


As best as I can judge from this and this, it would appear this is someone who arrived, along with my great-great-great-great-grandfather Jacob Whitfield, on the Isabella 1 in 1822! That is the unexpected connection of my title, but there’s more! Seems there is also a connection to the Thames (1826)! That is the context for Bob Starling’s remarks above. Another contributor to that thread notes: “Mary and Catherine Smith were passengers on the “Thames” which also carried Mary and William Whitfield, children of Jacob Whitfield who had been transported on the “Isabella I” with William Smith.”

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