Thursday, 26 January 2017

Who was here first?

No this is not a discussion about Invasion Day. It’s a suggestion for an interesting discussion around the table for the ‘Australia Day’ long weekend.

When did your earliest ancestors arrive in Australia? Who were they and why did they come?  Don’t limit your thoughts to male ancestors on your father’s side. 

Here’s my list. Details are a work in progress.

Father’s side:

Alexander Marion Poe.  My grandfather arrived in 1906, probably in Sydney, as a 21-year-old ship’s cook after leaving California to see the world. He stayed a short while and then worked in China and the UK as an entertainer returning in about 1912 to stay.

George Keys and his wife Jane Coyle. George brought his family from Enniskillen, Northern Ireland in about 1850 at the age of 22. They were seeking a better life and settled in Hillston, New South Wales. Their granddaughter Beatrice Keys married Alexander Poe.

Michael Farrell. There are several possibilities. The best fit was born in County Cork in southern Ireland and arrived in Sydney as 'a youth' in 1827.  His wife is next.

Catherine Ahern arrived in 1832 aged 21 as a bounty immigrant’. She was selected by an existing colonist, who paid for her passage. When she arrived, the colonist was to employ her and could be reimbursed by the government for all or part of the cost of passage. She was also from Cork and married Michael in less than a year. Perhaps they already knew each other. They were at Miller’s Pont in Sydney for the birth of my ancestor Richard who married …

Catherine Dunne. Kate was born in 1843 at Yackandandah, Victoria. I know nothing about her parents John and Jane, except their names. John may well have been a convict as there are many with that name it could have been. His daughter Emmie Farrell was Beatrice Key’s mother.

Mothers side:

Henry Marsh and Mary Hiscock. They were both born in England in 1858 (Surrey and Gloucester respectively) and arrived separately in Melbourne in 1880 and 1882. They married in 1882 and in 1888 moved to Adelaide on the second train to run between the two cities. Henry had come here for business and was engaged to Mary before he left. She had relatives in Ballarat.

Margaret Evelyn Ker Bald. Margaret was born to Scottish parents Claud and Margaret Bald in Darjeeling in 1888 and married Henry Marsh’s son Fred there in 1917. They moved to Melbourne in 1948 following riots associated with Indian independence. I’m glad they did: if not I’d never have been born. Indeed, if any one of the moves listed in this post was missing, I would be too.

Joan Marsh. Mum was born in Darjeeling also and arrived in Melbourne in 1940 because her parents thought it would be safer than India during World War II.

If you’re wondering where Lyell came from, it’s my father’s adopted surname. The Lyell family descend from Captain James Robertson Lyell (1822-1888) who arrived in the Colony of New South Wales in about 1855.


Where did your people come from?


Henry and Mary Marsh with their brood in Adelaide about 1900.