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.

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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.

7a: from “Respectability achieved–and rapscallions left behind?”

Originally posted July 29, 2012.

William Whitfield was born 16 Mar 1812 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. More on that soon. By 1856 he was in Picton, NSW.

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This is my branch of the Whitfields, and we have been fortunate in having a great family historian in Bob Starling. “Jacob Whitfield’s journey from Cootehill County Cavan Northern Ireland to the land down-under : embracing the Whitfield family history /​ by Robert Starling… Research relating to Jacob Whitfield (convict) transported from Ireland 1822. Jacob’s wife Mary and four children migrated on the ‘Thames’ in 1826. Mary and two children died on the voyage. William, the only son of Jacob to survive was responsible for the Whitfield name propagating to towns of Picton, Braidwood and the NSW South Coast.”…

One of the remaining mysteries about [William’s father] Jacob concerns his final years. On Trove I have tracked down the latest mention of him in a case where he wasn’t the defendant!

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The rest of that paper is rather devoted to the subject of gold…

So Jacob remained in Market Lane until at least the second half of 1851. In a 2011 comment on “About the Whitfields: Convict Days” Bob Starling wrote:

For some years I have been searching for Jacob Whitfield’s death. It was noticed that Jacob gave his religion as a Quaker on one of his applications to marry. With this fact the Quaker society in Sydney has carried out some research and came up with the following piece of information:

“In searching the incomplete records we have of burials in the Friends Burial Ground within the old Devonshire Street (Sandhills) Cemetery, I came across a reference to:
“Burial Notes missing of … Jacob Whitfield” Unfortunately, there is no indication of his date of death or burial. Burials took place in the Friends Burial Ground from about 1837 through to about 1880.”

Whilst we can now accept that Jacob died in Sydney, probably between 1851 and 1856 we cannot quite put him to rest until we find an exact date.

He was certainly around for a long time.

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From Bob Starling

Bit of a villain though, it seems. [I have since moderated my views on this.]

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It turns out there is another Whitfield family altogether extant – and with Shire links.

Perilous Seas: The Whitfield Family – Ancestors & Descendants England & Australia 1605-2012

The Whitfield family farmed in the Tyne Valley of Northumberland before moving to iron works on the Derwent River in Cumberland where two daughters drowned in separate accidents. Descendants experienced contrasting fates. One, James Whitfield made a fortune on the Australian goldfields before becoming a successful entrepreneur in Workington. His siblings lived and worked in industrial towns and the youngest, William Whitfield became a master mariner in Australia, experiencing a number of misfortunes before returning to Hull, Yorkshire, leaving his Australian family behind.

Now that is interesting, because my father used to say his Aunty Jessie and one other family member had traced the family to Hull, and there was allegedly a lost fortune there… That must be this family, but there is no doubt there is no close connection.  I suspect OUR Whitfields arrived in Ireland in the 17th century as part of the “plantations”.

And as for Jacob? Given the respectability his son William achieved I am beginning to think he was simply left behind when William and Caroline went south. Certainly he was erased from the family memory as I first encountered it in Picton in the 1950s with yet another William Whitfield – Dad’s Uncle Bill.

You will recall that we “found” Jacob, my convict ancestor, or we at least found the part of Sydney where he is known to have resided in the second half of the 1830s through early 1840s. By the 1860s the family had moved on – Braidwood, Picton… My grandfather was born in Picton in 1867. Him I remember. Just. He died in 1948. His brother William I remember more clearly, because he survived well into the 1950s. That William – son of William, the son of William, the son of Jacob – was still riding horses and ploughing his orchard almost to the year of his death. I remember his house, with its (to citified me) rather magic rural air, and tales of this one and that one, and timber getting, and horse breaking, and blacksmithing, and bullock teams… And Sao biscuits with tomato and cheese…

The tales never went back more than about one generation…

I think I can see why, for several reasons. Sometimes my father would mutter about the Old Testament curse on “the sins of the fathers”… Perhaps too, given what the area they had left behind in Surry Hills had become by 1900, you will see why it didn’t figure in the stories… Anyway, it was not part of my grandparents’ generation’s personal memories. They had become country people.

My June 09 South Sydney Herald piece

Redfern has its say on Human Rights

May 7 Around thirty people from a range of backgrounds heard expert views at a Community Consultation on Human Rights at Redfern Town Hall.

Chaired by Sydney Peace Foundation Director Professor Stuart Rees, a panel outlined issues in a number of areas. Indigenous Australians were represented by Charmaine Weldon, women’s domestic violence expert at Redfern Legal Centre. Culturally and Linguistically Diverse matters were the area of Rosa Loria from Sydney Multicultural Services, while Annie Parkinson raised issues concerning people with disabilities. A former asylum seeker from Bangladesh, Maqsood Alshams, outlined his personal experience and addressed related matters. Maqsood spent 16 months in the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre before his release in April 2000. GLBT and sexuality concerns were the province of Yasmin Hunter from Redfern Legal Centre.

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After refreshments came the action. Groups of six discussed their concerns and what they had heard in the first part of the meeting. Each group contributed to a submission to be sent to the National Human Rights Consultation Committee. Individuals were also encouraged to make personal submissions.

Matters in this area are not as simple as they might at first seem. First, as Andrew Lynch says in an article on Australian Policy Online, “the Commonwealth attorney-general, Robert McClelland, made it clear that constitutional entrenchment of rights, empowering the courts to strike down legislation it found in breach of a protected right, was not on the table.” What is up for discussion is a parliamentary Act similar to the ACT’s Human Rights Act and Victoria’s Charter of Rights and Responsibilities.

Several speakers drew attention to the great difference between enshrining rights in such an Act or Charter and actual social equality – what happens in day-to-day life, which is a matter of the psyche rather than the statute books.

An audience member, claiming Indigenous Australians have “no rights”, cited difficulties experienced paying for funerals, but it is doubtful that would be addressed under a Human Rights Act or Charter. It is an important issue, no doubt affecting many marginalised through poverty in this country.

Then there are paradoxes: the tension between anti-vilification laws and freedom of speech, for example, or removal of discrimination on grounds of same sex relationships at Centrelink actually working against the financial interests of some couples.

But do have your say.

Submissions close on 15 June. You can make a submission by going to the NHRC website at http://www.humanrightsconsultation.gov.au./www/nhrcc/nhrcc.nsf/Page/Home. You may also send your ideas to:

National Human Rights Consultation Secretariat
Attorney-General’s Department
Central Office
Robert Garran Offices
National Circuit
BARTON ACT 2600

See also http://www.humanrightsact.com.au/2008/ (A Human Rights Act for Australia) and http://apo.org.au/justice/127 (Australian Policy Online).

 

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