3 — 1835-6 — Whitfields

NOTE: 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 11, 2015 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.

Or thereabouts. Very significant for Victoria:

On 10 May 1835 John Batman set sail in the 30-tonne schooner ‘Rebecca’ on behalf of the Association to explore Port Phillip for land. After entering Port Phillip Bay on 29 May, Batman and his party anchored their ship a short distance from the heads and made several excursions through the countryside. On 6 June, at Merri Creek near what is now Northcote, Batman purchased 600,000 acres of land, including the sites of both Melbourne and Geelong, from eight Aboriginal chiefs. The Government later cancelled this purchase and, as a result, had to compensate the Port Phillip Association.

On 8 June 1835, Batman and his party rowed up the Yarra River and landed near the site of the former Customs House (now the Immigration Museum). John Batman recorded in his journal: “about six miles up, found the river all good water and very deep. This will be the place for a village.” Batman left three white men of his party and five Aborigines from New South Wales behind with instructions to build a hut and commence a garden, and returned to Launceston to report to his association.

Do see James Boyce’s excellent 1835: The founding of Melbourne and the conquest of Australia. (That’s a very left-wing review; it really is a great book.)

And another noteworthy event of this era: 1834 – Six English farm labourers (Tolpuddle Martyrs) sentenced to transportation to the Colony for organising trade union activities.

The population (non-Aboriginal, and rounded figures) of Australia in the decades we have come thus far was: c. 1815 – 25,000; c. 1825 – 35,000; c.1835 – 128,000. The present population of Wollongong is c. 282,000.

This was an interesting decade for my Whitfield ancestors. The convict Jacob got his Ticket of Leave in March 1834.

Then, as I have noted before:

[Jacob] witnessed the wedding on 20 June 1836 at St Andrews Presbyterian Church of William Whitfield and Caroline Philadelphia West, along with the other witnesses Maria Burgess and William Burgess. On 18 September 1836 (yes, I can count!) the baptism is recorded at St James Church, King Street, of William Joseph John Whitfield, son of William and Caroline. William gave his profession as carpenter, and his address as Elizabeth Street. The child had been born on August 14. (By the way, it snowed in Sydney on June 28 1836.)

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At that wedding the minister most likely would have been John McGarvie, the second Presbyterian minister in colonial Sydney. The much better known John Dunmore Lang was around at the time, but at Scots Church. Lang had arrived in Sydney a year after Jacob, became a member of the NSW Parliament, and died in Sydney in 1878. The baptism on the other hand was in the Church of England. St James’s remains a very notable part of Sydney’s architecture and life.

Jacob Whitfield had a bit of an adventure in 1834:

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The story goes on:

Deneen was not in the room at the time of the robbery, and he was not at all like the man whom complainant gave into his charge; the man was a stranger to him, and afterwards left the house. Whitfield was again examined,and swore positively to the prisoner Coch-rane, but knew nothing of Deneen. There being no evidence against Deneen, the Magistrates discharged him, and committed Cochrane, to take his trial for the offence. As soon as Cochrane had been removed from the bar, Whitfield was placed in the dock, and sentenced to be confined in a solitary cell for seven days, for being in a  public-house tippling on Sunday. The Magistrates, Messrs. Slade and Benington,also remarked that they considered the conduct of the publican highly reprehensible, in not taking the fellow into custody who robbed the old man, and stated, that it was not only the duty of publicans as special constables, to assist in the apprehension of robbers, but any Citizen was bound to do so, and uphold the laws of England.

Yes, by now Jacob had been assigned to his son William! The source is the Sydney Herald, 2 October 1834.

Jacob may never have been in the following pub, but I and my friend Sirdan and his friend Penny were in 2010:

Yes, that is the Surveyor-General Inn at Berrima, NSW, established in 1834 and licensed in 1835 – the oldest continuously licensed pub in Australia. Jacob’s children, who ended up in the County of Camden,  may well have called in — as has this great-great-great grandson more than once.

4 – 1835 again

Posted originally on January 12, 2015

Though this time there is nothing about my family. It is just that I have found a wealth of fascinating information (and trivia) about the period.

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Some might see that story as prefiguring a legendary Aussie attitude to work. Sydney Herald,  Monday 12 January 1835.

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William IV

Geo St 1835 1974 Annual Rpt

George and Bridge Streets, Sydney – 1835

There is a fascinating compilation about 1835 in the Lynne Sanders-Braithwaite and the  late Izzy Foreal’s pages on Melinda Kendall. See also IN THIS YEAR – 1835. It appears Basil and Melinda Kendall were married at the Second Scots Church , Sydney. Rev John McGarvie officiating, just as my great-great grandfather William Whitfield was in 1836.

And very locally I knew little about this: Battle of Fairy Meadow 1830.

When interviewed by Archibald Campbell in 1897, Martin Lynch – who had arrived in the Illawarra in 1827 – described the Battle of Fairy Meadow – a tribal encounter which took place around 1830 between the Illawarra and Bong Bong Aborigines. The location was Fairy Meadow, just north of Wollongong. Lynch also included an account in a later letter to Mr Campbell. Both accounts are reproduced below – the first as recorded by Campbell in the original 1897 meeting with Lynch, and the second from the letter written by Lynch in 1898. These are the only extant records of the conflict.

On a larger scale 1835 is worth reviewing. The voyage of the “Beagle”, Charles Darwin aboard, happened; they called in at Port Jackson and Darwin had a look at the Blue Mountains.

5 — 1845 — Jacob Whitfield again

NOTE: 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 14, 2015 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.

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Ann Bushby’s Dove and Olive Branch public house in Sydney, 1845.

Sydney town.

Sydney occupies a space of more than two thousand acres; but from this must be deducted fifty-six acres, reserved for recreation and exercise, and known as Hyde Park or the Race Course. By the Census taken in 1846, the number of houses in the city was seven thousand one hundred; there are now, at least, two hundred more. But, independently of the city itself, the suburbs have, during the last few years, steadily increased {page 6} in size and importance. To the eastward is Wooloomooloo; to the southeast, Paddington and Surry Hills; to the south, Redfern and Chippendale; to the south-west, Camperdown, Newtown, and the Glebe; to the west (across Darling Harbour), Balmain; and, to the north, the township of St. Leonard’s. All these, except the two last, are more or less connected by streets with the parent city; and, in 1846, contained one thousand seven hundred and fifteen houses: they now probably number two thousand.

Sydney is divided into four Parishes–St. Philip’s, St. James’, St. Andrew’s, and St. Lawrence’s; and was, in 1842, incorporated by Act of, Council, and municipally divided into six Wards: viz. Gipps Ward, Bourke Ward, Brisbane Ward, Macquarie Ward, Cook Ward, and Phillip Ward. Each of these divisions is represented by four Councilmen and an Alderman, of whom one retires annually by rotation. The Mayor is chosen from their own number, by the Aldermen and Council.

The Population of the city, in 1846, was 38,358; and, adding the average annual increase, taken from the five years previous to that year, must now be 41,712. The suburbs also, in 1846, returned as 6832, from their very rapid extension may be safely stated at 7500–making a total of 49,212.

— Joseph Fowles (1848), Sydney in 1848

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Francis Webb Sheilds Map of Sydney, 1844-5

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I have alluded before to this article from 16 October 1839 concerning my ancestor the convict Jacob Whitfield. See Family stories 3 — About the Whitfields: from convict days and Respectability achieved–and rapscallions left behind? Jacob was here:

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Jacob was accused of receiving stolen goods, namely hats, but the outcome of the trial was in his favour:

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So that gunsmith, who was murdered in 1864, may have been just a bit unfair about my ancestor. Then in 1846 there was the curious case of the goat…

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Jacob had gained his Conditional Pardon, making him an emancipist, published in October 1842. “A Conditional Pardon, when approved by His Majesty through the Secretary of State, but not before, restores the Rights of Freedom, from the date of instrument, within the colony. But it bestows no power of leaving the colony, and no rights whatever beyond its limits”.  The last we hear of Jacob is in 1851 when he was still living in Market Lane and witnessed a domestic.

5a — William made it–or I wouldn’t be blogging, would I?

Originally posted  January 18, 2014.

Amazed still by the extra pieces of information about how my great-great-grandfather William (1812-1897) arrived here as a kid just turned 14 in 1826. And imagine this, citing Dr Linton, surgeon on the Thames:

James Whitfield (12) Came under the care of Surgeon 2/2/1826 died 17/2/1826 After gradually sinking died

Ann Whitfield (9) Came under care of Surgeon 22 January – died 21/3/1826 – Examination of the cadaver revealed a collapsed lung and possibly other contributing factors

And it may be his mother also died…

The Thames, remember, had left Cork on 14 November 1825.

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General Street Scene in Cork, Ireland

Sailed via Cape Horn…

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HMS Blonde rounding Cape Horn by Robert Dampier (1825)

Arriving in Sydney 11 April 1826. Ten years later, 20 June 1836, at St Andrews Church of Scotland, Sydney, New South Wales, he married Caroline Philadelphia West. Their first son, William Joseph John Whitfield, my great-grandfather, was baptised on 18 September 1836 at St James Church, King Street.

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Mellish entering Sydney Harbour 1830

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Elizabeth St from Lyons’ Terrace in 1842 by John Rae (1813-1900)

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1836

See also :

As I mentioned in Unexpected connections the point is that William Smith arrived on the same convict ship as my ancestor Jacob Whitfield and his wife and children were on the Thames, the same immigrant ship as were my great-great-grandfather William Whitfield and his sister Mary. Mind you, whoever wrote that inscription gets two things wrong: the convict ship should be Isabella or Isabella 1, not Isabella 2; the Thames arrived on 11 April 1826.

On the Thames I repost a 2011 comment by Bob Starling from my family history page:

An update on the information dated 30/11/2010 –DOCTOR LINTON THAMES SHIP’S SURGEON/DOCTOR RN – meticulous records were maintained by Dr. Linton with his report now held by the Mitchell Library – Special Collections on Microfilm AJCP PRO Reel 3214 Page 522 onwards (79/8555 Identifying number on film). The film is most difficult to read but with patience I was able to decipher records that are of interest. During the voyage there were 223 passengers put on the sick list with 207 being discharged from the Doctor’s treatment with 16 deaths being recorded 3 wives and 13 children. Fevers and fluxes (whatever this symptom represents*) were the main illnesses treated. The 16 deaths were spread across a broad number of categories that cannot be deciphered although fluxes and debility accounted for 8 deaths. Dysentery was prevalent amongst those treated. If Dr Linton treated 223 passengers there is no way that the Microfilm has captured all of the Doctors medical journals. Perhaps he treated several patients on multiple occasions for minor ailments and did not record their medical history as all told here were only 161 passengers on board and although there is no mention of the number of crew there was possibly no more that 20 crew. I have only identified 9 of the 13 children’s deaths. Dr. Linton’s Report comprises 111 pages and has been captured to a CD but only addresses 31 medical cases plus a pre sailing report and a report at the conclusion of the voyage. Perhaps there are other medical journals maintained by Dr Linton that have not been microfilmed by the Mitchell Library. I have asked the Mitchell Library to see if they can locate the original Surgeon’s Report so that I can examine it with the view to locating the possible death of Mary Whitfield**.
The “Thames” was the 1st ship to carry wives and children of convicts that had sought permission to bring their family to Sydney. There is document at the Mitchell Library, although I have not viewed the document, that indicates that there lengthy delays to the “Thames” departure from Cork Ireland. This may account for the date that Dr Linton starts his records 20 September 1825 and sailing date 14 November 1825. Dr Linton was treating patients between these two dates. Perhaps Mary died before the Thames departed Cork.

* Dysentery – NW.

** Presumably Jacob’s wife Mary Gowrie. This would contradict the assertion “His wife Mary did not go to Australia.” And just to complicate matters, here is another story!

GOWRIE, Miss
Birth : C1790 Ireland
Gender: Female
Family:

Marriage: C1810 in Ireland
Spouse:

WHITFIELD, Jacob
Birth : C1787 Ireland
Gender: Male

Children:

WHITFIELD, William
Birth : 16MAR1812 County Cavan, IRL
Gender: Male

That is the William Whitfield who arrived on the Thames – same date and place of birth – but those other details vary from other records. In this Jacob is considerably younger! Bob Starling’s dates for him are “Born 1774 in Ballyhagen alternate date 2 April 1772” and some convict lists give his DOB as 1760! — NW

Index of Surgeon’s Report

Generally speaking if a passenger died on the voyage their names would not appear on either the Lyndon Genealogy or Michael Sheedy data bases
Family & Age Comments by Bob Starling
Page 1 Pre Sailing
Page 2 – 3 Ann Moore (32) No passenger with name of Ann although there is a Moore Family
Page 3 – 4 Catherine Smith (14) Discharged
Page 5 – 9 Rose Murray (16) Died 15/2/1826 – there is no family with this name
Page 9 – 14 Ann Carr (3) Discharged
Page 14 – 18 Margaret Farraher (11)Died 20/2/1826
Page 18 – 20 Bridget Farraher (49) Discharged
Page 21 – 22 Mary Smith (12) Discharged
Page 22 – 24 Mary Bradley (49) Died 25/3/1826 – there is no family with name (Paradby)
Page 25 – 30 Patrick Doyle (12) Died 14/2/1826
Page 31 – 33 Patrick Costello (12) Discharged
Page 33 – 36 Jerimah Doyle (10) Died 3/2/1826
Page 36 – 38 Patrick Real (7) Discharged
Page 39 – 40 Richard Casey (4) Discharged
Page 40 – 42 Patrick White (12) Discharged
Page 43 – 45 Judith Fogerty (11) Discharged
Page 46 – 49 Eliza Donovan (5) Died 26/3/1826
(Donagh)
Page 50 – 51 Mary Killduff (38) Discharged
Page 52 – 52 John Owens (7) Discharged
Page 53 – 54 Ellen McCarthy (35) Discharged
Page 55 – 62 Ann Whitfield (9) Came under care of Surgeon 22 January – died 21/3/1826 – Examination of the cadaver revealed a collapsed lung and possibly other contributing factors
Page 63 – 64 Jane Hinks (32) Discharged
Page 65 – 69 James Whitfield (12) Came under the care of Surgeon 2/2/1826
died 17/2/1826 – corrected NW
After gradually sinking died
Page 70 – 74 John Harvey (5) Discharged
Page 75 – 79 Mary McCovey (10) No passenger by this name – died 31/3/1826
(McCooey)
Page 79 – 81 Mary White (56) Discharged
Page 82 – 84 Mary Owens (38) Died 6/3/1826
Page 85 – 86 Ellen Chawner (32) Discharged – difficult to read name
Page 87 – 89 Mary Curton (15) Discharged
Page 90 – 91 Mary Real (38) Discharged
Page 92 – 93 Ann Smith (12) Discharged
Page 94 – 95 Alica McCovey (9) Discharged
(McCooey)
Page 96 – 110 Post arrival Report by Dr Linton
The Post Arrival Report would make great reading if only it could be deciphered and understood relative to legal terms. Page 102 does mention the words “highly probable, specifically from inappropriate food and drink”. James Whitfield is also mentioned on Page 108 with the word “hemorrhage” identified. Page 110 mentions the word “lemon Juice” which in those days may have been associated with scurvy, a deficiency in vitamin C.

ALPHABETICAL LISTING OF 10 IDENTIFIED DEATHS IN SURGEON’S REPORT
Mary Bradley
Eliza Donovan
Jerimah Doyle
Patrick Doyle
Mary Farraher
Mary McCovey
Rose Murray
Mary Owens
Ann Whitfield
James Whitfield
Mary Whitfield’s name does not appear on the Surgeon’s Report and there is every possibility that she died during the voyage as there are six deaths that cannot be identified from the Surgeon’s Report. Eight children and 2 wives have been identified leaving a discrepancy of eight children and one wife that are not accounted for in the Surgeon’s Report.

Bob’s research on the Thames and what happened to the people on her is now held by the Society of Australian Genealogists….

But see note on 5b — Stray stories of family and Australiana — 4.

5b — Stray stories of family and Australiana — 4

Originally posted January 24, 2014.

In September 2011 I posted Returnee!  It recapitulates what I knew at the time about William Whitfield (1812-1897).

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The Maudabawn Cultural Centre viewed from the Grotto Gardens

near to Madabawn Bridge, Drumcondra, Dernakesh, Boagh and Drumgoon, Cavan, Ireland

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Cootehill is a fine example of an 18th century Ulster linen market town.  Cootehill takes its name from the Coote family who acquired a large estate after the Cromwellian wars.  The land had previously belonged to the O’Reilly clan. Cootehill developed from a small village dating from the late 17th century.  Thomas Coote was a founding member of the Linen Board in Dublin and played a major role in encouraging the linen trade in Cootehill.   The linen market grew rapidly throughout the 18th century.  And by 1801 had become the sixth largest market for brown linen in Ulster.

William Whitfield, recall, was born 16 Mar 1812* , Parish of Drumgoon, Cootehill, Co. Cavan, Ireland.

That’s my grandnephew Nathan in Ireland in 2011 – the returnee of that 2011 post. He said recently on Facebook that he was sorry he hadn’t known more of his mother’s Whitfield connection to the place at the time. I reflect with some amazement that my great-uncles and aunts actually knew William Whitfield as their grandfather! Most of them were adults when he died. This tells you something of the time frame of European presence in New South Wales.

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Nathan also through his grandmother – my brother’s former wife – traces back to a much more ancient Australia while both he and I may also have a connection through my Whitfield grandmother.

Consider this map, which is liked to the full size version.

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There are two places I have spoken of lately in connection with the Whitfield stories – but how recent all that is compared with what the background represents!

See also two other great maps: Cumberland Plains  to 1830 and NSW Extent of Territory Known to Europeans 1770-1860.

* In an email  May 19, 2017 Stuart Daniels, grandson of my father’s Aunt Annie, noted: Bob Starling (family historian) also found that William was 8 when he landed in Sydney so he was born 1816. Actually that would make him 10. We are sure about the arrival of the Thames (see next post) and about William’s wedding being in 1836. The other issue Stuart and Bob found is that William’s mother was not Mary Gowrie but Mary Goss: Jacob’s wife I think was born Mary Goss not Gowrie as most people have. Her brother put Goss on Mary, his sister’s death certificate & I have found Goss in Dublin but nowhere a Gowrie. While noting these finds I will be retaining the dating and nomenclature also found  in the reference book Australian biographical and genealogical record series 1, 1788-1841, with series 2 supplement, 1842-1899 / series 1 edited by John T. Spurway, assistant editor Allison Allen; series 2 edited by Kenneth J. Cable and Jane C. Marchant.

6 – 1845 again — Whitfields

Posted originally on January 15, 2015 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.

Here my living memory meets the memories of people I actually met! For example, my grandfather T D Whitfield’s siblings no doubt recalled William Whitfield (1812-1897), the son of Jacob the convict (arrived 1822),  just as I recall some of them. Such is the story of European settlement in Australia.

I think I am changing my mind about Jacob too. For example in Respectability achieved–and rapscallions left behind? (2012) my assumption was Jacob was left behind in Sydney out of some sense of shame. I now doubt that; I suspect it was merely because he was old. After all, William did name his second child (Jacob 2 1838-1885) after him. That child was born in Sydney. I now rather discount the character sketch of Joseph provided by the gunsmith George Whitfield (no relation) in 1839 – see the previous post.

The thumbnail biography of William Whitfield is: born 16 Mar 1812 — date now in doubt —in Cootehill, Drumgoon Parish, Cavan, Ireland and died 12 Oct 1897.  He had arrived in Sydney 11 Apr 1826 on the “Thames”, master Robert Frazer, from Cork, Ireland. By 1856 he was in Picton, NSW. This is expanded with information in the reference book Australian biographical and genealogical record series 1, 1788-1841, with series 2 supplement, 1842-1899 / series 1 edited by John T. Spurway, assistant editor Allison Allen; series 2 edited by Kenneth J. Cable and Jane C. Marchant.

It appears that after his marriage to Caroline Philadelphia West in 1836 William lived in Brickfield Hill (2) and Strawberry Hills (3). (1) is where Jacob the convict lived in the 1840s.

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I lived exactly in Strawberry Hills myself from 1992 to 2010, in Elizabeth Street indeed as did William. There are some remnants of the 1840s still in this area – McElhone Place, for example, with this former shop, which I photographed in 2008,  conceivably visited by William when he lived in the area all those years ago. In 1987 I lived in the next street to that building!

There is also a post marking the city limits, dated 1842.

Here is the entry on William Whitfield in Australian biographical and genealogical record.

They left Sydney in c1846 with five children… That’s about ten years after their marriage, and their wanderings, judged by the birthplaces mentioned there, were quite extensive.

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A child born in Penrith at the foot of the Blue Mountains in 1846, another at Molongo near modern Canberra in 1848, and another at Mittagong in 1850. (“MITTAGONG is where the first iron smelting venture in Australia was established. The Fitz Roy Iron Works operated from 1848 with varying degrees of success until the 1880s.”) Soon after that to Picton where much of the family stayed into my lifetime, and where no doubt many still are in the district, though I no longer know them.

William had no easy arrival in the colony either, at the age of 14 in 1826: see William made it–or I wouldn’t be blogging, would I?, Tangible link to the convict ship “Isabella” and the immigrant ship “Thames” and William and his tribe…

And by way of background:

While the 1830s in Australia saw a land boom and economic highs, the early-mid 1840s experienced a fall in land values due to a slump in the price of Australian wool, wheat and livestock. The economy of the colonies was dependant on England and its buoyancy corresponded to harsher economic conditions in the ‘mother country’. Stock and land were hard to sell due to a drought that had started in 1839. Sheep that once provided fine wool for export to England were being boiled down for tallow to make candles and soap. Speculators who bought land expecting its value to rise found that they were no longer able to sell or repay their mortgages to the bank. The banks consequently made credit harder for the graziers and farmers to obtain. Shops faced difficulties selling goods as people earned less. Capital stopped coming from England. Mechanics and labourers were glad to get employment even at vastly reduced wages.

By 1844, a slow economic recovery had started and the value of exports exceeded the value of imports. By 1847, New South Wales had economic recovery, and the depression was officially over by 1845, although the boom times would return only after the discovery of gold.

7 – more 1845 — Whitfields, Christisons

Posted originally on January 19, 2015 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.

It was about this time William and Caroline Whitfield left Sydney, eventually settling in Picton. That remnant housing in Surry Hills from the 1840s at McElhone Place shown in the last post looked like this earlier in the 20th century – pre-trendy!

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The Harbour was of course already splendid, as this 1845 painting by Jacob Janssen in the Art Gallery of South Australia shows.

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That is on the My Place site – an excellent resource for background decade by decade, designed originally to support the excellent ABC children’s television series My Place based on the book by Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlins.

I wonder if the Whitfields of the 1840s kept any kind of contact with their old country, Ulster, which they had left in 1821 (Jacob) and 1825 (William). I also wonder what they would have sounded like, those old Ulstermen….

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There’s County Cavan on the left. Not such a good place to have been in 1845, it would appear. See The Great Famine in Cavan.

The Great Irish Famine was, to quote a cliché, a disaster waiting to happen. Between 1750 and 1850 Ireland’s population grew beyond a level at which it could sustain itself. Much of this demographic growth was based on the availability of one food item and when this was withdrawn not just once, but on successive occasions, it resulted in widespread destitution. This was worsened by the structural and ideological failure of those in authority to provide for their sustenance and to prevent the resultant spread of disease.

The population of Ireland on the eve of the Famine stood in excess of 8 millions. The population of Co. Cavan alone was just short of 250,000 – nearly five times its present population. The reasons for this demographic ballooning, which had occurred in the space of little over a century, can be traced to the availability of the potato which provided food security for peasant farmers with little land of indifferent quality. Not surprisingly the potato was adopted with alacrity throughout Ireland, unlike the hostile reception it initially received elsewhere in Europe.

In Cavan and throughout the northern half of Ireland the advent of flax cultivation and domestic linen production had augmented a further security. Areas supplying linen markets like Cootehill became semi-industrialised, as cottages and cabins were modified to deal with the various processes involved in the process of turning flax fibres into cloth. This was sometimes accompanied by the neglect of farm-based food production. When, after 1825 the cottage linen industry collapsed in the face of mechanised production in factories near Belfast, many areas of Ireland, including Co. Cavan, experienced widespread destitution. Ireland lacked industries which could have absorbed surplus agricultural populations, as was the case in the north of England. However there was a growth in urban populations as towns, including Cavan and Cootehill (amongst others) attracted settlers from their rural hinterlands in search of greater though non-existent prosperity of the towns who were confined to unhealthy yet extensive shanty-towns on their peripheries.

The mid 1840s were years of increased tension in Cavan. Acts of physical violence became common. In May 1845 James Gallagher, the under-agent on the Enerys’ estates at Ballyconnell was badly assaulted and died later the same day with forgiveness on his lips for his assailants. Three months later the unpopular George Bell Booth of Crossdoney was assassinated. December 1847 saw the death of the well-known controversialist Father Thomas Maguire. His passing was widely attributed to poisoning, though as the late Fr Dan Gallogly pointed out, this might have been administered by members of his own erstwhile flock who were dissatisfied with his denunciations of physical force methods…

The Famine in Cavan, in common with the rest of Ireland, had its winners and losers. Alas the latter numerically surpassed the former. Those who were already poor and badly-fed were most vulnerable to the food disruption and attendant diseases, and those who came into contact with them, like doctors, were also prone to fall victim to the lethal cocktail of viruses that escaped from the Famine’s Pandora’s box. Others whose positions in society allowed them to eschew contact with the teeming masses, who could afford better food, enjoy more favourable hygiene and heating were insulated from its effects. It is true that while Ireland was in the grip of famine there was no shortage of food in the country. Profits were also made by merchants who exported agricultural items…

The potato famine also affected Scotland.

The eviction of Highlanders from their homes reached a peak in the 1840s and early 1850s. The decision by landlords to take this course of action was based on the fact that the Highland economy had collapsed, while at the same time the population was still rising.

As income from kelp production and black cattle dried up, the landlords saw sheep as a more profitable alternative. The introduction of sheep meant the removal of people. The crofting population was already relying on a potato diet and when the crop failed in the late 1830s and again in the late 1840s, emigration seemed the only alternative to mass starvation.

The policy of the landlord was to clear the poorest Highlanders from the land and maintain those crofters who were capable of paying rent. The Dukes of Argyll and Sutherland and other large landowners financed emigration schemes. Offers of funding were linked to eviction, which left little choice to the crofter. However, the Emigration Act of 1851 made emigration more freely available to the poorest.

The Highlands and Islands Emigration Society was set up to oversee the process of resettlement. Under the scheme a landlord could secure a passage to Australia for a nominee at the cost of £1. Between 1846 and 1857, around 16,533 people of the poorest types, mainly young men, were assisted to emigrate. The greatest loss occurred in the islands, particularly Skye, Mull, the Long Island and the mainland parishes of the Inner Sound….

My maternal ancestors, the Christisons, were still in this part of their old country in 1845.

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As I previously posted: On my mother’s side of my family – the Christisons – I note my great-great-great-grandfather David was a teenager in 1815, having been born in 1799 in Fettercairn, Kincardine. Seems the poor old sod died in the poorhouse July 21, 1860 of chronic bronchitis. His wife had also died July 2, 1859 in Poorhouse, Luthermuir, Marykirk, Kincardine.  That I’d never known before. Note Poorhouses in Scotland “provided medical and nursing care of the elderly and the sick, at a time when there were few hospitals and private medical treatment was beyond the means of the poor.”

And that brings us back to our local area, to Shellharbour where one branch of the Whitfield family would settle in the late 19th century and in due course marry into the Christison family in 1935.

Caroline Chisholm Park

In 1843 Mrs. Chisholm took up 4 acres at Shellharbour for the settlement of immigrants.  In December, 1843 Mrs. Chisholm left Sydney with thirty families totalling 240 people to settle at Shellharbour.

One hundred years later Sir Joseph Carruthers said “Work such as this great and noble woman did ought never be forgotten, least of all in places like Shell Harbour where she did so much for settlement.”

See also:

Caroline Chisholm ‘The Emigrants Friend’ was renowned for assisting immigrant women and families to settle in Australia.

On the 6th December 1843, Caroline brought 23 families of some 240 persons to the harbour at Shellharbour where Captain Robert Towns (son-in-law of D’Arcy Wentworth) as part of Dr Lang’s immigration scheme offered some 4000 acres of land on the Peterborough Estate for families to settle on clearing leases. This allowed families to live rent-free for 6 to 7 years on the land on the condition they clear the land of trees for future farming.

Caroline Chisholm’s diary relates, that when the families boarded the ‘Wollongong’ steamer for the voyage to Shellharbour on 6 December 1843, all stayed on deck until the ship cleared the darkening Heads, then settled down to sleep, while the sea sick lined the rails. The party awoke to a distant view of the beautiful south coast. Some of the children were sea-sick by the time they landed at Shellharbour, the spot most convenient to the proposed settlement’. ‘Fifty-one Pieces of Wedding Cake’-A Biography of Caroline Chisholm – Mary Hoban.

One such family, Matthew Dorrough his wife Martha and their children came with Caroline Chisholm and farmed the area known today as Shell Cove. The family spent their first night under the stars, with the children huddled up under the roots of a large fig tree at the edge of the beach. Next morning they were picked up by bullock dray and transported to the site of their proposed farm. Matthew’s house was adjacent to the beach and he was delegated the job of retaining and issuing the stores to the other settlers on the Estate. He was an experienced farmer and their crops were good, and with the help of his eldest children and Martha, the family prospered.

By 1857, many of the Immigrants had secured or leased homes and properties. The settlers turned mainly to dairy farming. By 1861 the population had grown to 1,415 and land began to open up throughout the whole of the new Municipality of Shellharbour.

Hoban, MC ‘Fifty One Pieces of Wedding Cake: A Biography of Caroline Chisholm, Lowden, 1973.

And this article (PDF) by Neroli Pinkerton:

In 1840, NSW was passing into a depression. Sydney was experiencing high rates of unemployment. Rural labour was needed but the government had no plans for dispersing the throngs of assisted immigrants who remained in Sydney without employment. Caroline Chisholm sent circulars to leading country men seeking
information and enlisting help. In November 1843 she spoke to the Select Committee on Distressed Labourers, telling them that most immigrants emigrate to “live and have land” and she outlined a scheme for settling families on the land with long leases. The government, however. was slow to take up the challenge and unwilling to invest in her schemes. Undaunted, she began the arrangements to settle 23 families on land provided by Robert Towns at Shellharbour …

Incidentally those conditions in Sydney  may help to explain why William and Caroline Whitfield left Sydney when they did.