1 — 1815 — Christisons, 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 6 January, 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. Now it is finished, and you can just keep scrolling down to get a continuous set of posts!

I have decided to start a series going back through my “personal” decades – that is mentioning things from family history – starting with 1815, when most of my family connections were elsewhere. One exception — my former sister-in-law’s family: see Family stories 4 — A Guringai Family Story — Warren Whitfield. My former sister-in-law is a descendant of the family of Bungaree.

Sydney was a tad different c.1815:

C 359 Joseph Lycett's painting of Natives and the North Shore of Sydney Harbour, courtesy of Mitchell Library.lightbox

1815

Jane Brooks writes of how Koorie people live in the Domain ‘in their gunyahs made of bushes.’ She also remembers seeing ‘the very tiny canoes with a gin (Koorie woman) fishing in them, quite alone, sometimes with a streak of smoke from it, and we supposed she was cooking.’ (Karskens, p. 209)

See also Bungaree and the George’s Head Settlement: 31 January 1815

On Tuesday last, at an early hour, HIS EXCELLENCY the GOVERNOR and Mrs. MACQUARIE, accompanied by a large party of Ladies and Gentlemen, proceeded in boats down the Harbour to George’s Head. The object of this excursion, we understand, was to form an establishment for a certain number of Natives who had shewn a desire to settle on some favourable spot of land, with a view to proceed to the cultivation of it; — The ground assigned them for this purpose (the peninsular of George’s Head) appears to have been judiciously chosen, as well from the fertility of the soil as from its requiring little exertions of labour to clear and cultivate; added to which, it possesses a peculiar advantage of situation; from being nearly surrounded on all sides by the sea; thereby affording its new possessors the constant opportunity of pursuing their favorite occupation of fishing, which has always furnished the principal source of their subsistence.

On this occasion, sixteen of the Natives, with their wives and families were assembled, and HIS EXCELLENCY the GOVERNOR, in consideration of the general wish previously expressed by them, appointed Boongaree (who has been long known as one of the most friendly of this race, and well acquainted with our language), to be their Chief, at the same time presenting him with a badge distinguishing his quality as “Chief of the Broken Bay Tribe,” and the more effectually to promote the objects of this establishment, each of them was furnished with a full suit of slop clothing, together with a variety of useful articles and implements of husbandry, by which they would be enabled to proceed in the necessary pursuits of agriculture; — A boat (called the Boongaree was likewise presented them for the purpose of fishing.

About noon, after the foregoing ceremony had been concluded, HIS EXCELLENCY and party returned to Sydney, having left the Natives with their Chief in possession of their newly assigned settlement, evidently much pleased with it, and the kindness they experienced on the occasion.

We Whitfields were presumably in this part of the world in 1815:

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Near Drumgoon, Cavan, Ireland

Before the next decade the first one of them would arrive in Sydney involuntarily. I note a new family history source, by the way, on Wikitree, maintained by a distant relative, Sandra Green, which reminds us that my great-great-grandfather William Whitfield was born 16 Mar 1812 , Parish of Drumgoon, Cootehill, Co. Cavan, Ireland, arrived on the “Thames” from Cork via Brazil and Cape Horn, age 14, married Caroline Philadelphia West 1836, died  Sydney 1897. The Wikitree page includes copies of the inquest finding into his death and his death certificate, and this portrait with his wife Caroline:

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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.”

David’s son, also David (b May 1828), ended up in Australia when his son, John Hampton Christison, brought him here from Brechin in Scotland. Or did he? Is this Brechin David the same as Fettercairn David? The family pictured below are definitely my ancestors and in the later 19th century for sure they were in Brechin. That is surely J H Christison’s parents and siblings.

brechin1

David Hampton Christison, father of of my grandfather John, in Scotland. Exactly when and where  was he born?

The photo is from Arbroath near Brechin.

Fettercairn David Senior married a Hampton or Hanton; this suggests that they are my maternal family: the Hampton name persists to this day.   The date on David Junior’s gravestone is one year out though. So I am left wondering if we have two families here…  Mind you, Fettercairn and Brechin are not all that far apart. That poorhouse is halfway between. Perhaps the family just moved a bit south.

The Niven Family Tree claims David Hampton Christison was born July 13 1829 in Fife,Ceres Scotland. That makes even less sense of the gravestone! And Fife doesn’t seem right, given the photo above.

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See also Fascinated still by (family) history (November 2013) and My great-grandfather: “morally dubious to say the least.” (October 2013).

Meantime in the big world in July 1815:

Napoleon on board the "Bellerophon".  Illustration from Highroads of History series (Thomas Nelson, c 1920). NB: Scan of small illustration.

Sir William Quiller Orchardson — “Napoleon on Board the Bellerophon”

 

1a.2 — Fascinated still by (family) history

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 November 14, 2013 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.

My cousin Ray Hampton Christison has sent his almost final draft of the life of our fascinating, talented, but at times repellent great-grandfather John Hampton Christison. Ray has really done a great job. I am sure it will be of interest to, but also way beyond, John H’s descendants. So colourful and paradoxical a character!

I meanwhile have been sidetracked into my convict Whitfield ancestry, inspired by Tony Moore’s Death Or Liberty: Rebel Exiles in Australia 1788 – 1868. Not that my ancestor was a “political prisoner”. On those who were see an article in The AustralianRebels sent to our shores have a story to tell us.

Researching my book Death or Liberty I learned that in an old cemetery in Dapto bush where we skylarked as teenagers lay a French-Canadian revolutionary named Joseph Marceau, transported as a convict in 1839 for rebellion against the British Empire. The understated resting place of the Canadian rebel disturbs our conventional understanding of the convicts as criminals, and leaves us asking why we don’t learn about such people at school or in our civic remembering. Few Australians realise their homeland was once the British Empire’s Guantanamo Bay, where about 3600 rebels, radicals and protesters were transported as political prisoners in the late 18th and 19th centuries. “Death or Liberty!” was the rallying cry of a stream of political exiles including liberals, democrats and republicans; English machine breakers, trade unionists and Chartists; radical journalists, preachers and intellectuals; and of course Irish, Canadian and even American revolutionaries. While viewed by the British government with the same alarm as today’s terrorists, the political prisoners are now revered in their homelands as freedom fighters. Yet in Australia, the land of their exile, memory of these martyrs has dimmed.

This is surprising, as many of the principles for which they were transported: freedom of speech, publishing and assembly; universal suffrage; and responsible government, animate both the Liberal and Labor sides of politics…

And in the comments a loud harrumph from a fogey, whether old or young I know not:

Romantic Nonsense. We were given our political liberties by the British not because of agitators but because a prosperous, strong, politically-conscious middle class developed very quickly here. It was the safe pair of hands into which the British were willing to place responsible government. It’s this strong middle class which still forces government into the centre and keeps Australia on a steady trajectory. I’m glad we never had a revolution here. The rebels and radicals were a sideshow.

That of course is also Romantic nonsense, even if I am fogey enough to be myself glad we have avoided the tragedies that revolution rather than reform has so often wrought.  But then Tony Moore, while clearly a republican – NOT in the US sense – is hardly advocating revolution either.

But I have found lots of interesting things.

Here is a convict ship, the “Minerva”, leaving Cork Harbour in 1819.

Minerva Leaving Cork Harbour 11

As did my ancestor, Jacob Whitfield, in November 1821.

isabella

More detail about the “Isabella 1” is here.

On October 14th forty-seven convicts were received onto the vessel making the total to 200 men. They were divided into messes and sent on deck during each day in two divisions. This routine continued until nearly the end of October when rain set in and the men were kept below. The surgeon reported that the prisoners were orderly and well behaved. The bad weather continued and the men were allowed on deck intermittently. By November they had set sail and most of the convicts, guard and women were all experiencing sea sickness in the boisterous weather.

Over the next four months Surgeon Price kept a daily record of the position of the vessel and weather experienced as well as the various illness of the convicts.

There were light winds on the 10th March when they came to anchor in Sydney Cove. The convicts were mustered on deck and divine service performed. The following day the Colonial Secretary came on board to muster the men.

On the 14th March at daylight the guard and the convicts were all disembarked and at 11am Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane inspected the prisoners in the gaol yard.

As well as two hundred convicts, those arriving on the Isabella included 32 people belonging to the guard including the officer; two soldier’s wives (one died on the passage); passengers 1 man, wife and two children.

Back on the vessel after everyone had landed, a party of men came on board from the dockyard and dismantled the on-board prison in preparation for the return to England.

A list of all the 200 is online.

For a time Jacob was housed in the Convict Barracks, now an attractive tourist spot.

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Life at the Hyde Park Barracks

When Governor Macquarie’s convict barracks opened in 1819 it was remarkably the colony’s first facility to house convicts.

After 1815, as convict numbers grew, a shortage of housing resulted in many men being homeless. This caused disorder in the town. Macquarie established the barracks in order to control the living and working arrangements of the convicts.

By accommodating convicts together, Macquarie hoped to keep his workforce sober and well fed, to ensure they turned up for work on time and put in a full day’s labour.

Construction began in 1817. Designed to hold 600 men, at times it housed up to 1,300.

These re-enactment photos taken a the Hyde Park Barracks (example above) may help you imagine what life was like for a convict.

penal colony

See also Family stories 3 — About the Whitfields: from convict days.

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Convict ship “Success” off Point Piper.

2a — Irish again – new light on Jacob Whitfield’s 1820 crime?

A good example of how our family historians Bob Starling and Stuart Daniels are still adding to our knowledge. 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 April 23, 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.

On St Patrick’s Day I posted:

As you may recall my father’s family descended from an Irish convict who arrived in Sydney 10 March 1822, and his son who joined him age 14 as a free settler in 1826. They came from this bit of Ireland, or nearby [followed by a scene from County Cavan].

Reminder of what constituted Ulster in 1820:

2000px-Ulster_counties.svg

I needed that to follow a marvellous document sent to me by family historian Stuart Daniels that came his way through the research of Bob Starling. It is a transcript of a petition relating to a trial in County Tyrone in June 1820. The petition is addressed to Charles Chetwynd, 2nd Earl Talbot, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland at the time.

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Charles Chetwynd, Earl Talbot

Here is a key part where my ancestor is mentioned:

Jacob Whit  trial1

The document goes on to argue that Fisher (the petitioner) is not getting a fair trial in County Tyrone because a number of witnesses for the defence are in County Cavan.

Jacob Whit  trial2

I am not sure what light this casts on my ancestor Jacob Whitfield, who was convicted in relation to this matter and sentenced to life in New South Wales. I am inclined to read it as suggesting that Jacob Whitfield framed the petitioner. Stuart Daniels reads it differently:

Also I have been reading the trial of Jacob Whitfield in Cavan Ireland , and I don’t think he got a fair trial. One of his witnesses could not travel to the court room that was 40 miles away. The trial was held in Tyrone and the witnesses lived in Cavan. Both men protested about the restriction of their witnesses. Makes you wonder was it a kangaroo court, or the Irish equivalent. Was he innocent? We will never know. Our ancestor might not have been such a bad person. The writing is very hard to decipher.

…the original copy of the trial is VERY hard to read as it is in a yellow and faded copy, but Bob [Starling] did a good job of getting a readable copy.

I found also this account of County Cavan in those days.

Cavan, the southernmost county of the old province of Ulster, was a bleak inland region of limited agricultural and commercial development, but it was populous and contained the disfranchised boroughs of Belturbet and Cavan, where county meetings and elections were held. The Catholic population greatly outnumbered, yet were electorally in thrall to, the almost exclusively Protestant gentry, of whom none individually had a sufficient interest to return a Member. The leading figure since the Union had been the only resident nobleman, the 2nd earl of Farnham, a Tory representative peer and joint-governor, whose large and comparatively advanced estate at Farnham gave him an interest which was described by the Irish government in 1818 as ‘very great’. His estimated 1,000 electors were enough to ensure control of one seat, since the potential electorate was only about 6,000 (although one calculation put it as high as nearly 8,000) and in practice was probably far smaller…

2b — Irish

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 March 17, 2015 by Neil.

As you may recall my father’s family descended from an Irish convict who arrived in Sydney 10 March 1822, and his son who joined him age 14 (or 10) as a free settler in 1826. They came from this bit of Ireland, or nearby:

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I am not sure where they would have stood on St Patrick’s Day – which is of course today. See National Museum of Australia.

St Patrick’s Day has always been the day for the Irish in Australia. On 17 March 1795 there were rowdy festivities among the Irish convicts, and the cells were filled with prisoners. Later the occasion gained in respectability, marked by formal dinners attended by the colonial elite, many with no Irish connections.

By the early 20th century, parades were held in capital cities and rural centres. These were demonstrations of connections with an Irish Catholic past, or support for Irish political causes.

Today, St Patrick’s Day in Australia has evolved into a fun day marked by revelry, green beer and comical hats. On that day, some say, there are only two kinds of people — those who are Irish, and those who wish they were.

While “the wearing of the green” apparently commemorates the United Irishmen of the late 18th century, many of whose leaders were Protestants, it is now rather associated with the Catholic majority. My ancestors were not Catholic, presumably descended from the 17th century Plantations. They certainly lived in the Six Counties. The picture above is near Cootehill in County Cavan.

Whatever, I refer you to an item in today’s Sydney Morning Herald:

From its humble St James Gate brewery beginnings in Dublin to its position as one of the world’s most recognised beer brands, the black brew with the stark white head can come with some turf wars. Some Guinness enthusiasts may cry “It tastes better in Ireland!”, but the black stuff is now brewed in more than 55 countries and the distinction is best settled from pub to pub.

Sydney’s raft of Irish pubs may lay claim to the best Guinness in town, but it’s sometimes in the spots you least suspect it that the black nectar finds its best expressions. Sydney’s pubs host a wealth of bartenders serious about their Guinness pouring but, in the end, the cream rises to the top.

Surry Hills pub The Porterhouse heads the list. Now that brings back memories!

Sunday lunch was at the Porter House

Posted on December 14, 2008 by Neil

How long have we been coming here, I asked Sirdan. We couldn’t remember for sure, but suspect it may go back to last century… It certainly goes back to 2000 or 2001, as I recall The Rabbit coming here… This is a real Irish Pub with real Irish people, and a great $12 Sunday roast.

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.

Aboriginal Cultural Country Areas 1

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.