Larry (Laurence) BAMFORD from birth to war

My dad, Laurence (Larry) BAMFORD was born at home at 15 Adlington St, Macclesfield, Cheshire in 1910 to Sam BAMFORD and Lily HEANEY and he was the eldest of their 3 children.  At the time, his father was working as a Silk Dyer Journeyman.    

Dad’s brother was born in 1913 and his sister, Lily in 1921. Sadly in 1926, their mother, also named Lily died from breast cancer. Sam was very unlucky to lose his second wife so young as he had already endured that loss in 1907 when his first wife, Elsie HALL died of Pleurisy and Peritonitis only 4 months after their marriage. So cruel.

1914 Lily HEANEY BAMFORD with Laurence (standing) and his brother on her lap

I learnt that Dad attended St George’s C. E. School, Macclesfield when I was given this photo and I’ve very recently found details of his schooling (thanks so much, Cheshire Archives). He attended St George’s school from Infants and moved into the upper school in 1918 when he was 8.

He left school in early 1924 soon after his 14th birthday. Later, his brother and sister also had their education there. I noticed that Lily was described at “Lillian” which surprised me as I had not heard or seen anything to that effect. While Dad didn’t get a secondary education, he was very literate and one of his sayings was that “you learn something new every day”.

The family is listed at living at 75 St George’s St in Macclesfield in the St George’s CE school register from 1918 – 1925 and I notice that Dad’s home address on the passenger list in 1927 was the same. But by the time, Lily went to the senior school in 1929; they were living in “Fern Lea” in Saville St.

2004 “Fern Lea”, Saville St. (J.Gay)

Dad mentioned working for an electrician before he left for Australia. He must have owned a pushbike as he often talked about riding on Roman roads in order to impress on me how old England was and Australia wasn’t.  Of course, that was several decades before the information that the First Nations people were here 60,000 years ago became widely known.

My grandfather, Sam was a volunteer in both WW1 and WW2 with St John’s Ambulance and in WW2 with Heavy Rescue as well. I have one photo of Dad and his father in a group photo with St John’s volunteers taken about 1919 – I’ve no idea what a boy of 9 or 10 could do to help.  It was among the many things he didn’t talk about!

WW2 Samuel and Laurence BAMFORD – St John Ambulance volunteers in Macclesfield

By this time the BAMFORD family was involved in the Salvation Army; I know that Sam played in their band for over 50 years (see Salvation Army post link). I have a programme and photo of the Celebration of Brother Bamford’s 50 years with the band in 1957; so he must have joined in 1907; perhaps after the tragic death of his first wife. I believe that Dad played the cornet in the years before he emigrated to Australia. This, however, came to an end when Dad decided to emigrate to Australia in 1927 thru a programme promoted by the Salvation Army but partly paid for by the Australian government and the young man himself.

1927 Group of Salvation Army Lads ready to leave for Australia on the Ormonde. Dad is 3rd from the left in back row, how young he looks. He was 17 years old.

Sadly, I never asked Dad why he left his family – it must have been such a huge decision to leave home in a silk and cotton town at 17 years old and cross to the other side of the world only with the boys he travelled with on the ship.  As far as I can understand, the programme was devised because Australia needed farm workers and the Salvos got involved as they wanted to find useful occupations for boys on the streets but Dad didn’t fit that description as he had a family, a job and a home.  There are no other Macclesfield boys on the passenger list so he didn’t travel with anyone he knew and certainly never mentioned any of the other boys nor did he keep in contact with any of them. 

1927 Part of the passenger list of the Ormonde listing the Salvation Army Lads

The passenger list for Dad’s ship, the Ormonde informs us there were 34 English boys, 1 Scot, 4 Irish and 1 “other countries” travelling under the group name, Salvation Army Lads. On board were boys involved in other schemes to work as farm labourers.

The opportunity to emigrate to sunny Australia was promoted in the well known Salvo journal, the War Cry so I presume that’s where Dad learnt about the scheme. Still it must have needed a lot of courage to tell his recently widowed father he wanted to go to Australia as a Salvation Army farm labourer. There is a family story that I didn’t hear about till about 15 years ago that he left because his father was marrying again but he never once talked about his reasons for leaving every one behind. He believed you never looked back but always looked forward.

My research shows the boys had around 12 weeks of farm training on Hadleigh Farm in Essex before shipping out. When they landed in Brisbane, they were taken to the Salvation Army’s Riverview Farm for training on milking, saddling horses etc. .

Salvation Army’s Riverview Farm SW of Brisbane

My research shows that the British, Queensland and Australian governments were all contributing to the cost of running Riverview Farm and there are some critical reports written at the time and freely available online in the National Archives of Australia. We had the opportunity a few years ago to visit Riverview which is still owned by the Salvos but hasn’t been a training institution for a long time. It was a very special day for us to walk around the place where my father first worked and lived in Australia – some of the buildings are still there. The farm is bordered on one side by the Bremer River.

1927 Boys at Riverview Farm being shown how to ride a horse – wonder if Dad is in that group?

The records held in Queensland State Archives show that one of the boys, Patrick Walsh drowned in the river a couple of days after their arrival which must have been incredibly difficult for the boys as they started their new lives in Australia. I wonder if Dad could swim as I don’t think there would have been many opportunities in Macclesfield but I could be wrong.

After 3 or 4 months of training, the boys were sent out to Queensland farms and because this programme was funded by the governments including the Australia, the Salvos had to send reports to Canberra and these reports are in the National Archives of Australia and available freely online. Dad was sent to Queensland town of Murgon to work on the farm of Mr. P. Smythe, Boat Mountain Road, Murgon.

If this is your ancestor and you have any memories of this English lad coming to work on your farm in 1927, I’d love to hear from you.

This is one of the few photos I have of Dad’s. He isn’t in this photo but the stamp on the back (see below) indicates it was taken in Murgon
This one doesn’t have a stamp but it’s the same size as the first Murgon one; again, I don’t think Dad is in the photo but it’s hard to tell with the hats on. Perhaps the crop in the background is a clue. Any ideas, please let me know?

 I don’t know how long he stayed in Murgon but by 1933 (dates on photos in his handwriting) he was working in Mt Isa; he never mentioned mining so I presume he was working on a property. The few photos in my possession seem to indicate that. They are mainly dated from 1933; I also don’t know how he decided to go further NW from Murgon to such a remote place.  He may also have worked somewhere between his time in Murgon and Mt Isa.

From the few photos I’ve have of dad’s time in Mt Isa; it’s obvious he must have enjoyed swimming (see above) and as there is the following photo of the Mt Isa Swimming Club on their way to nearby Paroo.

By 1937, he was back in Brisbane working on the Brisbane river (why, I’ve no idea as he had no river or sea experience) and certainly had some adventures there. 

One of Dad’s favourite sayings was about charity being cold so I presume he was talking about his experience with the Salvation Army. Interestingly, he never mentioned going back to England (not that we could afford any holidays let alone going overseas) nor did he refer to England being “home”. He believed in adapting to life in his new country

I’m so grateful to the National Archives of Australia for their free digital newspapers, TROVE as I was able to learn more about my dad’s life in Brisbane before he enlisted. 

Several years ago, an aunt told me that Dad had been shipwrecked before the war and had written to his father in Macclesfield asking him to send copies of identity documents.  I found that difficult to believe as I understood that he’d not been to sea before his war service.  To my surprise when searching on Trove some time later, I found out that she was right!

1939 The Telegraph 12 Jun 1939
The red arrows shows Flinders Reef north of Moreton Island where Dad was shipwrecked

Later that month, the Marine Board held an Inquiry into the shipwreck and the lawyers of the Insurer and Owner questioned whether the boat or the Master had certification to go out to sea or should only have been in the Brisbane River and who exactly was the Owner. A few years ago, I was able to find the minutes of the Marine Board inquiry as a result of a research trip to the Queensland State Archives in the Brisbane suburb of Runcorn.

The Minute book does not record the minutes of the Inquiry but records that the Inquiry heard from the “Man-In-Charge”, Albert WILLIAMS and G H H on the morning of 27th June. In the afternoon, Dad, Alfred W. A…… and G. W. HURST gave their evidence about the events of that night.

On the 3rd July, the Board met to consider the evidence. The lawyer for the Owner wanted to have more of the crew of the pilot boat, the Matthew Flinders brought to the Inquiry but that was deemed too difficult as it was leaving port soon.

The Board met again on 5th July and adopted the Findings of the Inquiry and decided they would be made public on Wed 12th July. I don’t have a copy of the Findings so I’ll have to wait till I get back to the QSA one day.

Findings of the Marine Board Inquiry

Dad was back in Brisbane as a witness for a court case in March 1940 when there was a case regarding the payment of the Insurance on the ship.

Also in TROVE, I found 6 articles in Brisbane’s The Telegraph in September 1939 – just 2 months before Dad enlisted for WW2. They reported on a very nasty court case in Brisbane in which Dad was a minor witness; the husband accused his wife of adultery (which was the one of the few reasons a couple could be divorced at that time) with the Boatswain of the MV Atlantic that Dad was working on (see above).

The husband claimed that his wife had been seen leaving the Boatswain’s cabin by crew and other people on board. Her lawyer claimed all the evidence had been manufactured and that the husband was violent, drank heavily and had affairs. His lawyer claimed she’d left him a few times but come back, that she drank heavily and upset his clients. The jury found that the wife hadn’t committed adultery so the husband couldn’t divorce his wife. (I’ve decided not to publish the newspaper reports as I don’t feel its right to publish information about someone else’s ancestors)

I wonder what happened with a result like that as they couldn’t get divorced, therefore, they couldn’t marry again – what an unhappy situation. Before 1975, there were a number of grounds for divorce but proof was required that in many cases was difficult to find. Here is a history of divorce in Australia. In 1975, the Whitlam Govt brought in No Fault divorce and the only evidence required was a 12 month separation.

Dad spent the war working up and down the east coast of Australia and Papua New Guinea while moving from one RAAF base to another and was demobbed in early 1946. When I found out from his RAAF file (I paid to have it copied by the National Archives of Australia several years ago and now it’s available free online at NAA) that he was based at Pt Cook near Melbourne for nearly 2 years from June 1940, I assumed that’s when he and mum met as Mum was Melbourne born and bred and they married in June 1944 in Melbourne. Six months after their marriage, he was sent on his longest trip which lasted nearly 12 months which must have been very hard on the newly weds. I plan to write a further blog post about his wartime experiences.

Something that has only occurred to me in the last 5 years is that by the time I was born, some twenty years after his arrival in Aust, Dad had lost his northern English accent. I’m guessing that in order to assimilate into Aust society he decided to lose his northern accent. In fact, he had quite a plummy English accent and expected me to speak well too.

The other day while watching ABC’s Casey Briggs’ showing us the statistics and charts relevant to the Covid crisis, I suddenly remembered another of Dad’s sayings. He often said, “There are lies, damned lies and statistics“. This was followed by “you can do anything you want with statistics to prove your own point of view”. Initially, I thought this quote was attributed to Mark Twain but limited research on my part found this interesting opinion from the Dept of Mathematics at University of York.

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Z is for zzzzz…..

I’ve come to the end of the A-Z blogging challenge and I truly can’t find a word beginning with Z that I can turn into a post. Some of you have been amazingly creative. It’s been a huge amount of work but I’m really happy that I have been able to turn my research into something readable.

I realise that no-one is going to look at my database and the physical folders and blogging is an ideal way for me to present all that I’ve researched over 3 decades. I’m never going to write “the book” but working in small sections works for me. Also as I find more information and hopefully, hear from other family members; I can now easily update my posts to reflect the new information.

I’d like to thank the experienced genealogy bloggers who have encouraged me by commenting on my posts during this month; it has been greatly appreciated.

As I finish, I can see I’ve got a few more posts to write that I couldn’t fit into the A-Z; these are:-

  • DENVIR (surname)
  • Portaferry Schools
  • 1798 Irish Rebellion
  • Spirit Licences
  • S.S.Mozart – Loading diagrams
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Y is for Yarra Bend Asylum

My great great grandmother, Margaret (1837-1880) MAGEE LENNON was taken to the above asylum on Oct 28th 1871 after the really quick birth of John Alexander a week earlier at the Melbourne Lying In Hospital[i].  Her sister, Susan (1840-1912) MAGEE is listed as her relative and she was working as a servant in Barkly St, St Kilda at that time[ii].  The Lying In Register stated that Margaret was suffering from Puerperal Mania (now known at Post Partum Psychosis). See my earlier post L is for Lying In Hospital There is no record of baby John in the registers; so I don’t know if his father took him home or he if he was in the asylum with his mother. 

This asylum was further out of the city of Melbourne on the Yarra River as the name indicates.

1878 Nettleton, Charles (1878). Yarra Bend Asylum (

There is an excellent article about this asylum on the Darebin Libraries website .  The asylum was set up by Governor Gipps to care for “lunatics and idiots”. The site of 620 acres was selected in 1843, by the Surveyor, Robert Hoddle; it was on the Yarra Bend above Dights Falls.  To me, that seems a huge amount of land for a hospital but I guess at that stage, there was plenty of land in Melbourne – it was before the Gold Rush when the population of Melbourne and the surrounding country areas increased dramatically

There is an excellent article about this asylum on the Darebin Libraries website .  The asylum was set up by Governor Gipps to care for “lunatics and idiots”. The site of 620 acres was selected in 1843 by the Surveyor, Robert Hoddle; it was on the Yarra Bend above Dights Falls.  To me, that seems a huge amount of land for a hospital but I guess at that stage, there was plenty of land in Melbourne – it was well before the Gold Rush when the population of Melbourne and the surrounding country areas increased dramatically.

1871 Case Book, Yarra Bend Asylum (PROV)
1871 Margaret LENNON’s Admission form

The Admission form had a number of fields including Occupation and according to the form she had none when she was the mother of 7 children including a newborn!

The Admission Register states that Margaret was “Out on Leave” from Dec 19th; 1871 so she was there for 1 ½ months at first.  It doesn’t say when she returned but on May 16th in 1872 she must have been considered well enough to be Discharged[iii]

I found another interesting document at PROV from 19 Feb 1872 which is a formal letter from the Chief Secretary of the Colony to the Superintendent of the Yarra Bend Lunatic Asylum ordering the discharge of Margaret LENNON as she was being detained under the Lunacy Statute “without sufficient cause”.  I would love to know how that came about; had my gg grandfather, William gone to the government asking them to release his wife?

She still wasn’t discharged for another 3 months.

By the time, she was discharged in May 1872, she was a few months pregnant with their 8th child, Hugh Patrick.  Hugh Patrick is a huge brick wall to me as I can’t find his death or where he lived as an adult. He appears on his father’s Death certificate in 1907 as one of the children listed as Living and was said to be 30 years old but even in 1907 I can’t find him in Australia or anywhere else for that matter.  I suppose he must have been using another name.  Any descendants out there?  I’d love to hear from you, my email address is

Sadly, William had to take Margaret back to Yarra Bend again on April 20th 1880.  Judging by the Admission Form, she was in a very bad state.  She was assessed as having “Incoherency Delusions”, while she was described as “well nourished” and “in a very dirty state – skin sore from scratching” and this time she was suicidal[iv]

1880 Margaret’s 2nd Admission to Yarra Bend Asylum

She had been very, very busy since being discharged from the asylum in May 1872.  She had delivered Hugh Patrick in Doncaster, later in 1872 and in 1874, she delivered Agnes in the same area.  They then moved to Sandhurst (now part of Bendigo, which is a country town where there was gold diggings – perhaps they took the train as that line started running in 1862).

Sadly, in 1875, in Sandhurst, Agnes died of Scarlatina (Scarlet Fever)[v] before she was 2 years old.  They moved back to Melbourne and set up in North Melbourne where Margaret had her last child named, Agnes Theresa in 1876. 

That year, she and sister Susan also lost their father, James (1802-1876) MAGEE who had died in the Benevolent Asylum at Hotham (now known as North Melbourne). Margaret was the informant on his death certificate[vi]. She must have been exhausted; I presume they were moving around a lot trying to find work to support the growing family which would have been stressful and exhausting.

According to the “Alphabetical Lists of Patients in Asylums”[vii], Margaret was there for nearly 3 months before she was allowed out on leave from July 12 1880. On her page in the Case book, it states she was “Removed by Husb’d on trial”[viii].  Sadly, she died 6 weeks later on Aug 27th of Cerebral Disease and Phithis[ix] aged only 43.  William was left with 8 children ranging in age from 23 years to 4 years.  Such a distressing story.

[i] Women’s hospital Melbourne online

[ii] Case Book, Yarra Bend Lunatic Asylum, Public Records of Victoria PROV, North Melbourne

[iii] ibid

[iv] ibid

[v] Death Certificate

[vi] Death certificate

[vii] Alphabetical Lists of Patients in Asylums, VA 2863, Hospitals for the Insane Branch, Unit 1 (Yarra Bend) 1848-1884).  Available as a PDF from the Public Records of Victoria

[viii] Ibid

[ix] Death Certificate

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X marks the spot ….

Or perhaps it should be the missing post? I’m all out of ideas and I’m impressed that the rest of you found something to write about. I’m off to finish my Y post.

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W is for Wells and William’s children

When I was in Portaferry some years ago, an elderly cousin who sadly, has died since talked about the eels they kept in the well on the farm in the ’20’s and ’30’s and that one of her jobs was to whitewash the sides of the well as far down as she could reach to keep the water at the top clean. Having always lived with water to the house, it was an eye opener to me.

W is also for William and Margaret’s children.

  1. William (1857-1933) LENNON was born in 1857 on Craigaroddan and was christened on 5 Jul 1857 in St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Ballyphillip, Portaferry[1]. He was 12 when the family arrived in Melbourne in 1870 but I haven’t found any trace of him till he died in 1933 in NSW. On his death certificate, he was described as an O.A.P. (Old Age Pensioner, I guess) Labourer. He died of Arteriosclerosis and Senility at the age of 76 in the Orange Mental Hospital and was buried in the Roman Catholic Cemetery, Orange.[2]
  • Margaret (1859-1935) LENNON was born about March 1859 on Craigaroddan and was christened on 10 Mar 1859 in St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Ballyphillip.[3] She lived in Moonee Ponds in 1935.[4] Margaret was buried on 5 Nov 1935 in Melbourne General Cemetery.[5] Margaret (1859-1935) LENNON and John COX were married in 1884. John COX was the son of Thomas COX and Ellen HOGAN and was born circa 1857. He died in 1896 at the age of 39 in Essendon, Victoria[6] and was buried on 2 Sep 1896 in Melbourne General Cemetery.
  • Thomas* (1861-1923) LENNON , my great grandfather was born about Sep 1861 on Craigaroddan. He was christened on 9 Sep 1861 in St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Ballyphillip.[7] He immigrated in 1870 to Melbourne with his mother and 5 siblings. In 1887–1923, he worked as a Railway worker.[8] Thomas lived in Kensington in 1888[9]and lived in North Carlton in 1894.[10] Thomas lived in Carlton in 1914 and 1923 He died of Bronchitis and Pneumonia on 20 Jun 1923 at the age of 61.[11] Thomas was buried on 22 Jun 1923 in Melbourne General Cemetery (RC R1071). Thomas (1861-1923) LENNON and Bridget Mary or Mary Therese (1855-1942) PRENDERGAST (she was very relaxed about her forenames and her age) were married on 4 Jan 1888 in St. Brigid’s, North Fitzroy.[12] Bridget Mary or Mary Therese (1855-1942) PRENDERGAST, daughter of Patrick* (   -1904) PRENDERGAST and Winifred* (1836-1908) MURRAY and was born on 9 Nov 1855 in Melbourne. I haven’t found her birth certificate but found her baptism certificate and have visited the church where she was christened on 12 Nov 1855 in St. Francis Catholic Church, Melbourne. Mary died of Cerebral thrombosis, Chronic Myocarditis and Senile decay on 7 Jan 1942 at the age of 86 at 73 Nimmo St., in Middle Park, Victoria, Australia.[13] She was buried on 8 Jan 1942 in Melbourne General Cemetery, RC R1071, Carlton[14]and she had worked as a tailoress.
  • Susan (1863-1883) LENNON was born about Jun 1863 in Portaferry and was christened on 7 Jun 1863 in St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Ballyphillip.[15] She died of Fibris Enterica on 23 May 1883 at the age of 19 in Gipp Ward, Melbourne Hospital[16] and was buried on 23 May 1883 in the same grave as her mother in Melbourne General Cemetery.[17] She worked as a tailoress.
  • Rose (1864-1887) LENNON was born on 29 Oct 1864 in Portaferry[18] and was christened on 6 Nov 1864 in St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Ballyphillip.[19] She died of Typhoid Fever in February 1887 at the age of 22 in Hotham West, Victoria. Rose was buried on 17 Feb 1887 in the same grave as her mother and sisters at Melbourne General Cemetery.[20]
  • Mary (1866-1883) LENNON was born on 4 May 1866 in Portaferry.[21] She was christened on 10 May 1866 in St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Ballyphillip. She died of Phithis Pulmonaris in July 1883 at the age of 17 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Mary was buried on 2 Jul 1883 in the same grave as her mother and sisters at Melbourne General Cemetery.[22],[23] Sadly, this grave is just bare earth without a gravestone.
  • John Alexander (1871-1874) LENNON was born in Oct 1871 in Melbourne’s Lying In Hospital.[24] The family lived in Bulleen Rd, Borough of Kew, County Bourke, Melbourne in 1874.[25] He died of Croup on 5 Jun 1874 at the age of 2[26] and was buried on 6 Jun 1874 in Air Hill Cemetery, St John’s Catholic Church, Mitcham.[27]
  • Hugh Patrick (1872-   ) LENNON was born 6 Nov 1872 in Doncaster, Victoria, Australia.[28] He was still alive in 1907 when his father died according to his father’s death certificate but I cannot find any information on him. As one of his siblings must have been the informant and said he was still alive in 1907, they were obviously in contact with him and I can only assume that he had changed his identity – I’ve look under Patrick and Hugh throughout Australia and tried family trees on Ancestry.  If you know of him, I’d love to hear from you (my email address is
  • Agnes (1874-1875) LENNON was born on 4 Feb 1874 in Doncaster, Templestowe Road District, Victoria[29] and buried on 8 Dec 1875 in Sandhurst Cemetery (now Bendigo, Victoria)[30] She died of Scarlatina on 7 Dec 1875.
  1.  Agnes Theresa (1876-1950) LENNON was born circa 1876 in North Melbourne, Victoria.[31] She died of Endocarditis/Myocarditis, Arteriosclerosis, Senility on 3 Aug 1950 at the age of 74 in Eltham Heights, Victoria and her death certificate said she didn’t have children.[32] She was buried on 4 Aug 1950 in Fawkner Cemetery, Victoria, Australia.[33]  Agnes Theresa (1876-1950) LENNON and Thomas BANKS were married on 10 May 1909 in St Ignatius Catholic church in Richmond, Melbourne.[34] Thomas BANKS had 9 children from his 1st marriage and was the son of James BANKS and Margaret and was born circa 1856 in England.[35] He died in May 1936 at the age of 80 in Alfred Hospital, Melbourne[36] and was buried on 9 May 1936 in Fawkner Cemetery, Melbourne.

[1]. Parish records, Sent to me by Sheila Phillips May 2009.

[2]. Death certificate

[3]. Parish records, Sent to me by Sheila Phillips May 2009.

[4]. Death Certificate.

[5]. Cemetery Index.

[6]. Death Index – Australia – (Ancestry). Date originally found in Melbourne General Cemetery records.

[7]. Parish records, Sent to me by Sheila Phillips May 2009.

[8]. Government Gazette – Victoria (online at SLV).

[9]. Ibid.

[10]. Post Office Directory – Victoria.

[11]. Death Certificate.

[12]. Marriage Certificate.

[13]. Death Certificate.

[14]. Cemetery Office – Melbourne General Cemetery Sept 2012.

[15]. Baptism Register – Ballyphilip parish, Portaferry, St Patrick’s, N.I. (online National Library of Ireland 2015).

[16]. Death Certificate.

[17]. Cemetery Index.

[18]. Birth Certificate.

[19]. Baptism Register – Ballyphilip parish, Portaferry, St Patrick’s, N.I. (online National Library of Ireland 2015).

[20]. Melbourne General Cemetery info.

[21]. Birth Certificate (Purchased May 2009)

[22]. Cemetery Index.

[23]. Melbourne General Cemetery info.

[24]. Case Books – Yarra Bend Asylum at PROV, Accessed 2010.

[25]. Death Certificate.

[26]. Ibid.

[27]. Ibid.

[28]. Birth Certificate, Accessed 2010.

[29]. Birth Certificate, Accessed 2010.

[30]. Death Certificate, Accessed 2010.

[31]. Marriage Certificate, Accessed 2010.

[32]. Death Certificate, Accessed 2010.

[33]. Ibid.

[34]. Marriage Certificate, Accessed 2010.

[35]. Ibid.

[36]. Death certificate

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V is for Valuation Revision Books

The Valuation Revision Books would have to be some of my favourite Irish records. When Griffith completed his Survey and Valuation in 1864 (see G is for Griffith’s Valuation); it was decided to continue recording the changes of ownership or tenancy of land in Ireland. I guess it was so the right person paid the Poor Rate?

Every time, the land changed hands, it was recorded. The recorder used a different coloured pencil for each year and that number can be found in the last column; sometimes it’s very difficult to read the number. But hey, the pencil marks are over 150 years old!

The beauty of these Valuation Revision Books is that you can follow changes in ownership and leases over a particular section over several decades which gives a great indication of the death or emigration of the owner or leaseholder. The Northern Ireland books are online and free at PRONI.

1868 This is a perfect example of why I love these records. Areas 15 & 16 had been leased by my GGG
grandfather and my GG grandfather (note the use of Sen. and Jun.) but in 1868, the leases are both transferred to my GG grandfather’s youngest sibling, Henry LENNON.

The missal I wrote about in C is for Catholic Missal said my GGG grandfather, William died in 1867 (and as Civil Registration started just 3 years earlier, I have his death certificate) and we know from the passenger list for the Alumbagh that my GG grandmother travelled on that my GG grandfather, William was in Melbourne when his wife arrived with 6 children in 1870. So I can safely assume that Henry got areas 15 and 16 because his father died and his brother was leaving for Melbourne.

Of course, it begs the question, where were the other 8 siblings who were older than him?

Well, two (James and Thomas) had died in India, William was in Australia, Hugh was in NZ but my brickwalls are Patrick, John, Mary and Rose (see M is for MERRON and F is for FITZSIMONS), I don’t know where they ended up but presumably they were no longer in Portaferry in order for the 10th child to inherit the lease.

The books stop at 1918 but there was no change in the ownership/lease of sections 15 and 16 as Henry LENNON farmed there till his death in 1933. He also inherited section 6A and B in 1868 which was the biggest acreage of the 3 sections with 16 acres. But over the years, you can see him leasing one or two sections more to increase the size of his farm.

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U is for the Ulster Covenant and Ulster Declaration

In 1912, a 3rd bill to solve the “Irish question” was brought into the English Parliament. It faced huge opposition from Ulster Unionists and their MP’s and they began to train their own military force known as the Ulster Volunteers. The leaders thought that getting members to sign a binding oath would assist in maintaining control and order and demonstrate to the English Parliament how serious they were and how much of the community was of the same belief.

The men signed the Ulster Covenant and the women signed the Ulster Declaration.

All the sheets of paper which were distributed around over 500 halls and Protestant churches including the Presbyterians and signed on the one day have been digitised and are available on the PRONI site (Free).

A sample page of the Ulster Covenant

There is a much more detailed explanation of how this was carried out on one set day in 1912 on the PRONI website.

I found 746 names of people who signed the Covenant in Portaferry; sadly, none of them were my ancestors which can’t be a surprise as they were Catholics. But one of those 746 might be your Portaferry from Portaferry.

One page of my search for signatories made at Portaferry

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T is for Tara townland

Map of the Ards Peninsula showing townlands of Tara, Craigaroddan and Derry

The townland of Tara is very near the townland of Craigaroddan and where my great great great grandmother, Rose MASON was born in approximately 1798. We were very fortunate that either she or my great great great grandfather recorded her townland in the first entry in his missal given to him by his son, Patrick in 1851. See my earlier post C is for Catholic Missal.

How lucky were we that some one included the place of Rose’s birth in this marriage record?

After my visit to Portaferry, the local historian connected me with another Australia researcher of the Portaferry area and a descendant of the MASON’s of Tara. We believe there was only 1 MASON family on Tara in the late 1700’s and early 1800 and that my Rose is the sister of his ancestor. There were MASON’s on Tullymally for many decades too but no relationship has been found between these 2 MASON families. One day DNA testing on the male line will help sort it out. There was also a Robert MASON on Craigaroddan in the 1860’s but we don’t know where he fits in but 2 other researchers are looking it to that now. Will be interesting to find out the results of that research.

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S is for Seamen and Sailors from Portaferry in Co Down

I’m seriously going to cheat here and send you backwards to a post I wrote last year called LENNON Sailors from Portaferry, Co. Down which contains the information I have collected.

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R is for Railway workers

My great grandfather, Thomas (1861-1923) LENNON was a Railway worker in Melbourne and last year, I came across some great records which I was able to use to chase his Railway career from the 1880’s to the early 1920’s when he died. He was born in Portaferry and emigrated with his mother and 5 siblings to Melbourne in 1870 when he was 10 years old.

1890 – I found an earlier entry for a T. LENNON who might be my great grandfather but it isn’t proof. This is the first entry I feel safe in claiming.
1902 From this Gazette, I can see lots of great details about my Thomas although the birth date is wrong by 3 years as I have his baptism record for 1861 in Portaferry.

I note there are 2 different types of salaries – one in shillings presumably for the lower level workers and in hundred of pounds for a few others who seems to be clerks and station masters. Thomas stays on 8 shillings (per week?) for several years. By 1902, he has 4 daughters, and they bury the youngest that year in Melbourne General cemetery with a substantial gravestone so he and his wife must have been good money managers. Most of the other family graves in Melbourne General are unmarked.

1921 This is the last record of Thomas’ Railway service as he died in 1923 and it was good to see over the course of the records that he had gradually been promoted and ended his working life as an Acting Clerk

One of his 4 daughters and my Nana’s sister, Mary Winifred married a Railway employee, William J HUGO who went on to have a role in the Railway union and the Labor Party in Melbourne. I do wonder if Mary met Uncle Will ( think I only met him a couple of times in my early childhood but they always remembered birthdays and I have his stamp collection) thru her father?

I found the above records on the Victorian Association of Family History Organisations website where they in conjunction with a Railways historian had identified the specific Victorian Government Gazettes which included full lists of Railway Employees for the late 1880’s to 1920’s. Every 3 years, the Victorian Govt published a list of their railway employees with their details of their position and salary, what a boon for a researcher.

1923 Death certificate of my G Grandfather, Thomas LENNON

This death certificate is a good example of why you should take anything on a death certificate with a grain of salt and must double check each piece of information. The information on it totally depends on the level of knowledge of the informant.

Thomas’ age is out by a year and interestingly, his wife and daughter corrected the age a month after he died and made it 3 yrs younger. Of course, I have to consider that perhaps, he himself didn’t know his birthday and thought it was in 1864. Also his birthplace is given (and provided a misdirection in my early years) as Downpatrick which is a ferry and cart ride from Portaferry at that time.

In checking my sources for this post, I discovered that the Public Record Office of Victoria (PROV) has a collection of 16 years of railway employees records covering the years 1910-1926 which I’ve added to my list of items I want to look at when I’m next in Melbourne. My list is getting longer as I couldn’t travel there at all last year. VPRS 13537 Employee History Sheets, Traffic/Transportation Branch circa 1910 to 1926 This series comprises self-indexed volumes containing staff record sheets of employees who worked with the Victorian Railway Traffic/Transportation Branch

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Q is for Catholic Qualification Rolls

Some 5 years ago, I was thrilled to find my gggg great grandfather, William (1747-1833) LENNON’s name on the Catholic Qualification Roll in 1796. It indicated he had sworn allegiance to the English king in a court session in Downpatrick (the capital of Co Down). This was after Catholic Emancipation and would have enabled him to own land for the first time. I’m actually very impressed that he had the get up and go to find out what was available to him and to take advantage of this new oppportunity.

Not only was it wonderful to see William’s name on this list but it positively confirms that the family has been on that townland since 1796. Not too many records in Ireland that can give that confirmation.

Throughout the eighteenth century, restrictions enacted by the Penal Laws were relaxed for those Catholics who took the Oath of Allegiance to the King and renounced their religion for that of the established Church of Ireland. In the majority of cases this was not a sincere renunciation of the Catholic religion, as it was the only legal means whereby a Catholic could obtain basic civil rights.

In 1774 an Act was passed to permit the King’s subjects, of any religion, to take an oath at the local assizes (courts) “to testify to their loyalty and allegiance to him, to promote peace and industry in the kingdom.”

These names were then registered in the Catholic Qualification Rolls according to surname, first name, address, and date of qualification. Occupation is sometimes also supplied. The rolls cover the period from 1700 to 1845, with most entries after 1800 dealing with naturalised citizens. Over 50,000 people are listed.

The Rolls can be searched by name, date, county, residence and diocese. The county, residence and diocese entries are not consistent; sometimes all three appear; sometimes only one.

This information is from the National Archives of Ireland site which hosts a number of digital images from a number of old sources which are available free to search and save the images.

I only found 2 other entries of interest in that same year but there could be others as the search function was very poor, in my opinion as I couldn’t search by townland even though many of the records included that detail. So it’s hard to get an idea of how many Portaferry farmers went to the court to gain that new right of owning land.

The first was John MASON on Tara whom we (another Aust based researcher whose family has been researching the MASON’s of Tara for decades and has visited Portaferry many times) and I believe was the brother of my gggg grandmother, Rose MASON LENNON (remember, the 1851 Missal recorded her townland when her husband wrote their marriage in his book see C is for Catholic Missal).

The second was John McCRISIKAN, also of Craigarddan; I don’t know anything about this John yet..

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P is for Portaferry

Portaferry is a beautiful Northern Irish town about 1 ½ hours drive south from Belfast and the townlands of my ancestors, the LENNON’s, the MAGEE’s and the MASON’s surround it.  It is on the Ards Peninsula with the Strangford Lough on one side and the Irish Sea on the other. I understand that the population today is around 2,500 and it is still a farming community.

From Windmill HIll overlooking Portaferry and the Strangford Lough (J Gay)

As I’ve said before, the earliest record of my LENNON family dates them living there on the townland of Craigaroddan in 1796.  The MASON’s were on the townland of Tara in the same time and represented in the same records (see Q is for Qualification Rolls).

Many of the men were farm labourers with tenancies on their land from the large landowners. Obviously the more well off actually owned their land and many were sailors (Portaferry was a busy port in the 1700’s and into the 1800’s). Early on in my research, I used to wonder how my family even knew about Australia enough to decided to move there but as the years went on I realised it was a busy port (hence, the name, doh!). Everyone would have been well aware of the experiences of the sailors in their families and much more aware of other countries compared to those people living away from ports.

Most of County Down is on the other side of the Lough and from about the 12th century there were some kind of a ferry and today, it’s a modern car ferry.  At Xmas time, the communities of Portaferry and Strangford on both sides of the Lough use it as a travelling Xmas Carol event which sounds like fun. I’ve read articles about farmers using the ferry when it was only a rowing boat to move their cattle to the other side of the Lough ; sounds very risky to me.

I find Post Office and Commercial Directories of places, towns and areas can be of enormous significance in understanding and building up a picture of the town/place your family lived. And if you’re lucky, you might even find an ancestor listed with their place of abode, their business or their occupation.

I’ve used the County Down Guide and Directory 1886 which I found on Google Books where I downloaded a PDF and here is a short list of the things I learned about Portaferry from this useful book.

  • it had a population of 1647 in 1881 (10 years after my family left and now, it has a population of approx. 2500.
  • the chief import was coal and exports were potatoes and grain
  • there were 8 pilots on the Lough (the Lough has the fastest changeover of water from the sea into and out of the Lough). See the information on the dangers of Strangford Lough further down this post
  • there are eight luggers and about 20 rowboats for fishing – the luggers go to herring and mackerel grounds and the rowboats are used in winter for catching codling, whiting, lobsters etc
  • the town is supplied with gas by a local limited liability company
  • the water is brought from well to fountains (presumably only in the town)
  • there are regular annual activities such as an Annual Regatta, an active Cricket club, several churches and societies
  • Potatoes, oats, wheat and flax are grown
  • Within a mile of the town, 50 to 60 persons are employed in a potato and soup tinning factory
Oilean: A Guide to the Irish Islands (Google Books, P24)
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O is for Obituaries and Death Notices

Following on from N is for New Zealand, I particularly wanted to share the death notices and obituaries of Hugh and Elizabeth LENNON when they died in NZ in 1910 and 1917 respectively.

Hugh died first on Oct 26th 1910 at Mary Ann’s home.

How lucky was I to find such a detailed death notice which positively confirmed I had found the right Hugh LENNON?
Someone in the family had a strong sense of family history to write this death notice.
Hugh LENNON’s entry in the Burial Register of Waikomiti (now Waikamete) Cemetery in Auckland

When Elizabeth died 7 years later at her son, Williams’s home, a wonderfully complimentary obituary was published in the local Auckland newspaper.

I was thrilled to find this obituary showing readers how respected Hugh and Elizabeth were in their new country of NZ

This obituary was very informative and enabled me to find out how respected Hugh and Elizabeth were considered by the community; I was so proud of them. The phrase “one daughter, Mrs Mabe, Sydney” was great new information as it never occurred to me that the family might have moved to Sydney. So that lead to more research!

Marianne and George had 6 children, all born in NZ. They were :-

  1. Louise Frances (1887-1890)
  2. Bertha Elizabeth (1889-1917)
  3. George Henry (1890-1892)
  4. Rose/Rosa (1894-1976)
  5. Walter (1895-1968)
  6. Dorothy Irene (1896-1943)

My research showed that Mary Anne moved to Sydney with her daughters, Bertha, Rose/Rosa and Dorothy during WW1; I don’t know if she followed them or they all went together. Judging by various BDM notices in Sydney and Auckland it seems she separated from George and one of their sons, Walter appears to have stayed with his father.

Bertha was married in Sydney in 1915 and had a child but tragically was killed in a car accident in 1917 (the year her grandmother died in NZ). Rose/Rosa also married in Sydney during WW1 and had 3 children. The youngest child, Dorothy married in 1919 in Sydney. All the girls and their mother, Mary Anne who died in 1924 are buried in different Sydney Cemeteries. Their brother, Walter appears to have lived many years in NZ and was buried with his father, George and perhaps his wife in an Auckland cemetery.

Again, if you are a descendant of Hugh and Elizabeth and Mary Anne and George; email me for more information.

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N is for New Zealand

To my surprise in 2016, I came across a passenger list that suggested that another of the missing brothers (Hugh) of my great great grandfather, William had emigrated to New Zealand in 1883.  I had never known we had family in Ireland nor in New Zealand.

New Zealand off the coast of Australia

In fact, it was only when I only started to research my family’s history in the mid 80’s that I became aware where I came from but sadly, by then my parents were dead and it was too late to ask questions. This information was also unknown to my family in Ireland just as they didn’t know they had family in Australia till I contacted them in 2015 when I wrote to every LENNON and MAGEE in the British Telecom White Pages.  I think I must come from a long line of poor letter writers; myself included.

Hugh’s birth was listed in his father’s Missal as being 19 Dec 1830[i] presumably on Craigaroddan as the family had been there since at least 1796.  Some of the land was still owned by family in 2015.  Hugh was one of 3 siblings to serve as a sailor either in the Merchant Navy or in the Royal Navy.  The earliest reference I can find to Hugh’s Merchant Navy service was in 1848 and the last crew list, I found him on was in 1880.  See S is for Seamen and Sailors for more information.

I presume he must have found something to like about New Zealand and persuaded his family to emigrate from Portaferry.

New Zealand map showing Auckland on the North Island where the LENNON’s lived

Hugh (1830-1910) and his wife, Elizabeth (1838-1917) EDWARDS had been married on 4th Feb 1856 at St Patrick’s Catholic Church in Portaferry. Elizabeth was from Dundalk in County Louth[ii]; perhaps, she had a sister as a Letitia EDWARDS married James LENNON from Killydressy.  Although, I have recently noticed that there was a William EDWARDS who had land on Craigaroddan.  Note to self, go back and check that out properly.

Obituary of Elizabeth EDWARDS LENNON

Elizabeth is listed on the Westmeath’s passenger list[iii] as arriving in Auckland, New Zealand in May 1893 with their 3 children:-

Mary Anne who was 27 years old (also spelt at Marianne, Marion and Marian)

Hugh who was 14 years old

William Henry who was 11 years old

1883 Passenger List for the Westmeath taking migrants to NZ

I guess the children were very different in age due to their father being away a lot or perhaps Elizabeth suffered many miscarriages.  It must have been so hard for the wives of Merchant and Royal Navy men being on their own for months at a time and not knowing where their husband was and if he was even still alive.  I wonder how they managed for money?

The Westmeath was a steamer chartered by Shaw Savill for the NZ service. The NZ Maritime index[iv] states that ‘the voyage took 62 days and was plagued with engine trouble”.  Hugh isn’t listed on the passenger list so perhaps he was part of the crew or he had already settled in NZ.  So another brave LENNON wife who travelled to the other side of the world with her children. 

Sadly, young Hugh died from Tubercular Meningitis later that year when he was only 14 years old.

Only a few years after arriving in NZ, Mary Anne (1856-1924) married George Edwin (1859-1921) MABE in 1886, also a sailor. Her descendants seem to be mainly in Australia – I haven’t yet found any living in NZ but I’ve very happy to be corrected.

Marianne and George had 6 children, all born in NZ. They were :-

  1. Louise Frances (1887-1890)
  2. Bertha Elizabeth (1889-1917)
  3. George Henry (1890-1892)
  4. Rose/Rosa (1894-1976)
  5. Walter (1895-1968)
  6. Dorothy Irene (1896-1943)

William Henry married Edith May (1882-1951) RYAN in 1901 in St Patrick’s Cathedral in Auckland and they had a daughter, Letitia Rose (1902-1951) LENNON. She was known by both Lettie and Rose. She may have had 3 sons but I can’t find their details and perhaps adopted another 2 children but I don’t full confirmation of that theory yet.

Edith appears to have run a midwifery home in Auckland as I found Birth notices that thank Mrs Lennon for her support and it’s an address that I found for Edith in other documents.

I do have more information on Hugh’s descendants which I don’t have room for here but if you are a descendant, then I am more than happy to share my research with you, just email me at

[i] Catholic Missal given to William (1788-1867) LENNON by his eldest son, Patrick (1823- ) in 1851 and is held in the family in Portaferry.

[ii] Obituary – Ohinemuri Gazette, April 11th 1917 (Papers Past NZ)

[iii] Westmeath Passenger list

[iv] Available online

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M is for Melbourne and MERRON

M is for Melbourne

My MAGEE’s and LENNON’s all emigrated to Melbourne in the colony of New South Wales which encompassed the whole east coast of what became known as Australia in 1901.  After much discussion during the 1890’s, the colonies finally agreed to federate and we became citizens of Australia in 1901.

This image shows how the governance of Australia changed over time

Victoria’s coast, bays and rivers were explored from 1797 by various survey parties and some of the reports were positive regarding future settlement depending on which part of the country they surveyed. In 1803, the Governor of New South Wales sent a party of 300 convicts to settle the area but their commander wasn’t happy with the availability of water so went on to Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) and set up the city of Hobart.

More explorers came overland from Sydney looking for good land and water. In 1834, Edward Henty set up an unauthorised sheep run in the area of Western Victoria bringing sheep over from Tasmania.  In 1835, John Batman, a farmer and business man set up in what is now Geelong and in Melbourne as did John Fawkner. 

Map showing the position of Melbourne, Victoria in Australia

The citizen set up a Separation Association from 1840 but it was 10 years before the colony became self governing and was called Victoria.[i]

The Port Philip District (now Melbourne) was founded on the Yarra River. All Australia’s capitals were founded on rivers -obviously due to the need for a water supply. In 1850, the colony became independent of New South Wales and was named Victoria and you can easily guess who the town was named after.

When Margaret MAGEE LENNON arrived in 1870, the population of Melbourne was estimated to be 200,000 (the number depends on the researcher’s definition of the boundaries of Melbourne and it’s suburbs).  In 1851, when it became the colony of Victoria, it was estimated to be only 23,000; so you can see the huge growth that had taken place during the Gold Rush.

Melbourne has been Australia’s 2nd biggest city after Sydney but in March this year, the statisticians found there was only a 200,000 difference in population between those capitals.

Melbourne and Victoria grew rapidly in the 1850’s as the news of the gold rush spread around the world. People came from everywhere to try their luck.  As a result of the money that flowed thru the state because of the gold rush, Melbourne has some lovely Victorian buildings.

1900 Postcard of the Melbourne Exhibition Hall built in 1880
1890 Victorian Parliament House which was built in 1855 and still in use today
Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication
Melbourne Public Library now known as the State Library of Victoria built 1879 – 1873 and still use today. It has the most beautiful domed reading room called the La Trobe Reading Room.

M is also for MERRON

My MERRON family is yet another brickwall. I’m surrounded by brickwalls with my LENNON and MAGEE families! 

My great great grandfather, William (1825-1907) LENNON’s second sister, Rose married John MERRON in 1870 at St Patrick’s Catholic church in the parish of Ballyphilip in Portaferry.

They had 4 children:-

Margaret (1871-     )

Mary Jane (1873-     ) when family was on townland Ballymarter

William (1875-    )

Rose (1878-      )

They were all baptised in the church in which their parents married.

The family is still living together in the 1901 Irish census on the townland of Ballymartin[i].  None of the children are married at this time.

NB According to Place Names of Northern Ireland[ii] the townland of Ballymarter and Ballymartin are names for the same townland so the MERRON’s were in the same place/farm from at least 1873 to 1901. But what happened then? If you are a descendant, please consider putting me out of my misery and email me at

X 1901 Irish Census

[ii] Hughes, AJ and Hannan, RJ (1992)  Place names of Northern Ireland, Volume Two, County Down 11, The Ards, Queen’s University of Belfast, Dept of Celtic,

[i] Wikipedia

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L is for LENNON and it’s various spellings

There are many spelling of most surnames in official records from the 1700 and 1800’s as many people didn’t know how to read and write.  So their names were spelled as the official hearing the words, thought the surname should be spelt.  Add into that, the accent of the first person being interpreted by the official and you can’t be surprised that there were variations in spelling.

For some reason, my LENNON family seems to have had less trouble with the spelling of their name that some of my other family lines although I have commonly come across LANNON, LENON and LEMON.

Somewhere (but I can’t find the reference today, LENNON could also be spelt as:-









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K is for Killydressy LENNON’s

I wrote in C is for Catholic Missal the following:-

Interestingly, the missal records the births and deaths of the children and grandchildren of my great great great grandparents, William (1788-1867) LENNON and Rose (1798-1888) MASON but then goes on in later years to also record the deaths of the Killydressy LENNON’s in Ireland and in Queensland.  Back in 2015, when we were in Portaferry, no one had been able to link the families of those 2 townlands and yet they are both represented in the missal.

I also wrote in C is for Craigaroddan that

There were LENNON’s living on a number of other townlands in the same parish and adjacent parishes. The LENNON families I’ve found were on Corrock(Corrig), Ballynickle (Ballynichol,) Killydressy, Ballywierd, Ballyquintin, Bankmore, Ballyrusley and Derry (spelling as found on documents). As yet, I haven’t been able to link them together and it would have helped if they hadn’t all used the same group of forenames.

I know you can’t read it but this family tree represents all the LENNON’s I’ve found in Portaferry but sadly, I haven’t been able to link them together.

I did some research on the Killydressy LENNON’s in order to see why the missal recorded both families but so far, I haven’t made a connection.  I went a bit further when I discovered some of them also came out to Australia and had settled in the tropics in northern Queensland.

These 2 pages represent the deaths of the Killydressy LENNON as recorded in my ggg grandfather, William’s Catholic Missal. Note several of the events occurred in Aust yet none are recorded of my family in Aust or Hugh’s family in NZ. You can tell who were the better letter writers. I note that the first entries tell us that “William came home June 1913” and then “William went away October 23 1913”. I wonder who recorded that news? At this stage i assume that William is the son of James and Letitia who lived in Cairns.

Finding a relationship between the 2 families won’t be easy as the Catholic Parish Registers in Portaferry didn’t start till 1843 and there is a paucity of the records prior to that.  Maybe, a cousin may discover they have some records from before that period and let me know; I live in hope! Could d there be another family bible or missal somewhere?

Of course, DNA tests may help in the future.  I have tested with 2 companies and so far, have only found one match  who was also descended from the Craigaroddan LENNON’s but none with links to the Killydressy LENNON’s.  My match is a descendant of Hugh (1830-1910) who went to NZ; see N is for New Zealand.

Map of Australia showing the state of Queensland and the towns of Cairns and Charters Towers near Townsville

James LENNON and Letitia Edwards of the townland of Killydressy had 6 sons and a daughter. I was surprised to find that 3 of their sons emigrated to Queensland in the 1880’s and in 1892.  They were William, Patrick and Thomas.  William’s death certificate indicates he must have arrived around 1885 when he was 27 years.  Patrick must have come with William or at a similar time but sadly, he was killed in Charters Towers in 1892 when the charge he was setting up in the Day Dawn mine exploded.

1892 Death Certificate of Patrick LENNON in Charters Towers (Qld)

Thomas came out in 1892 according to passenger lists and also lived in Cairns as did William.

As a mother, I can imagine how hard it must have been for their parents to say goodbye to their 3 sons and not long after, eventually get the news that Patrick had died so tragically. My research indicates that the other 2 brothers settled in Cairns on the coast of northern Queensland.

When we were in Portaferry in 2015, we met the well known local historian, Gerard LENNON and a descendant of the Killydressy LENNON’s who had some months before, welcomed descendants of those men from Queensland.  I hope we can make contact one day and see what we can work out about our joint history.

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J is for my GG grandfather, William’s jobs

Today’s post is about the jobs my great great grandfather, William (1825-1907) LENNON had in his lifetime. I’m taking the information mainly from BDM certificates of his family. In some cases, he wasn’t the informant so how accurate the description is depends on how well the rest of the family knew their father.

1862Had a Spirit LicencePortaferryDownpatrick Recorder, 27 Sept 1862
1864FarmerCraigaroddanGriffith’s Valuation
1866Labourer Dau, Mary’s Birth certificate
1872CarterDoncaster, MelbourneSon, Hugh’s Birth certificate
1874Farmer & CarterDoncaster, MelbourneSon, John’s Death certificate
1874CarterDoncaster, MelbourneDau, Agnes’ Birth certificate
1875LabourerSandhurst, Bendigo, Vic.Dau, Agnes’s Death certificate
1883LabourerMelbourneDau, Susan’s Death certificate
1883LabourerHotham (Nth Melbourne)Dau, Mary’s Death certificate
1887FiremanHotham (Nth Melbourne)Dau, Rose’s Death certificate
1923StokerMelbourneSon, Thomas’ Death certificate
1935Gas Stoker in Gas worksMelbourneDau, Margaret’s Death certificate
1950Gas Works employeeMelbourneDau, Agnes’ Death certificate

Gosh, collecting the information for this table was a depressing exercise. William’s wife, Margaret died in 1880 after having delivered 10 children, 2 of whom they had buried before her death. The youngest was only 4 years old when Margaret died and in the next 7 years, William would bury another 3 grown unmarried daughters who were working as dressmakers and tailoresses – perhaps from home and looking after the younger children. How did William keep going? And who looked after the youngest children while he worked once his 3 daughter’s died?

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I is for India

My great great grandfather, William (1825-1907) LENNON who migrated to Melbourne in Australia was one of 10 children to William (1788-1867) LENNON and Rose (1798-1888) MASON.

They had 7 sons and 3 daughters and you can see from the following list that many of them seemed to be adventurous and great travellers.

  1. Patrick (1823-    ) LENNON was born on 15 Oct 1823.
  • William* (1825-1907) LENNON was born on 19 Feb 1825.  William and Margaret* (1837-1880) MAGEE MAGEE were married on 20 Jun 1852 in St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Ballyphillip, Portaferry. They both died in Melbourne.
  • Mary (1827-     ) LENNON was born on 24 Feb 1827.  Mary and James FITZSIMONS were married in 1854 in St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Ballyphillip. This family of nine disappeared from records after 1882.  Where did they move to?
  • John (1829-    ) LENNON was born on 9 Feb 1829. From 1845 or 1854, he worked as a Seaman.
  • Hugh (1830-1910) LENNON was born on 19 Dec 1830 at Craigaroddan.  Hugh and Elizabeth (1838-1917) EDWARDS were married on 4 Feb 1856 at St Patrick’s Catholic Church in Ballyphillip. Hugh was a sailor with the Merchant Navy from a young age. They both died in New Zealand.
  • James (1833-1860) LENNON was born on 28 Jan 1833. He died of Dysentery on 20 Apr 1859/1860 at the age of 27 in Bombay, India. He served in the military in the 95th Regiment of Foot in India.
  • Thomas (1834-1868) LENNON was born on 7 Nov 1834. He was drowned on 18 Jun 1868 at the age of 33 in Calcutta, India while working as a carpenter on board the Genie.
  • Rose (1837- ) LENNON was born on 27 Nov 1837 in Craigaroddan.  Rose and John (1841- ) MERRON were married on 29 Sep 1870 in St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Ballyphillip.  They and their 4 children last appeared in the 1901 Irish census in Ballymartin, Portaferry.
  1. Margaret (1841-1901) LENNON was born in Jan 1840. In 1901, she worked as a Seamstress on Craigaroddan. Margaret died of Heart disease on 30 May 1901 at the age of 61 in Portaferry and is buried in the family grave in Ballytrustan graveyard.
  • Henry (1844-1933) LENNON was born on 2 Mar 1844. He was christened on 4 Mar 1844 in St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Ballyphillip, Portaferry, Co. Down, Ireland. Henry worked as a Farmer on Craigaroddan, Portaferry, Co Down, Northern Ireland. He died of Influenza and Pneumonia on 8 Mar 1933 at the age of 89 in Craigaroddan.   Henry and Mary Ann (1854-1933) FALLOONA were married on 3 Jun 1873 in St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Ballyphillip. John MERRON & Cecilia FALLOONA witnessed the marriage.  Mary Ann was the daughter of Patrick FALLOONA and Ellen FALLOONA. She was christened on 15 Apr 1854 in St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Ballyphillip and lived in Derry townland.. She died of Influenza, Pneumonia on 14 Mar 1933 at the age of 79 in Craigaroddan, Co Down, Northern Ireland.

(Please excuse the messy numbering here – WordPress isn’t very helpful with numbering lists even though I brought it over from Word correctly set out nor is it helpful with justifying both sides of text)

It must have been a huge sorrow for William and Rose to lose 2 sons in India in just eight years; so far, I haven’t been able to find out anything about where they were buried or if they left families behind in Portaferry.

William and Rose’s sixth child, James enlisted in the 95th Regiment of Foot and died of Dysentery in Bombay in 1858.  This was the time of the First War of Independence or as more commonly known in Britain as the Indian Rebellion (Wikipedia states “Its name is contested, and it is variously described as the Sepoy Mutiny, the Indian Mutiny, the Great Rebellion, the Revolt of 1857, the Indian Insurrection, and the First War of Independence.[i]  I can’t find any records of his service yet, so I don’t know if he was fighting in that war. The BBC has a great article too [ii]

1859 Death of James LENNON in Bombay (now known as Mumbai). NB there is a discrepancy here between the official record here and the entry in the Catholic Missal below.
This page in the family’s Catholic Missal records the death of my ggg grandfather and the deaths of 2 of his sons with Rose MASON

Some years later in 1868, their seventh child, Thomas was serving on the Genie as the carpenter and is listed in the Register of Deceased Seamen as having drowned in Calcutta. 

1868 Drowning death of Thomas LENNON in Calcutta (now known as Kolkata)

Brother Hugh sailed the world for some years but in the 1883, his wife and 3 children sailed to NZ (see N is for New Zealand).  I wonder how long it took for the news of the deaths to get back to their parents and siblings in Craigaroddan?

One more brother, John (1829-     ) entered the Merchant Navy alongside Hugh and Thomas.  I don’t know where John ended up yet – give me a break, how many John LENNON’s must there be in the world apart from the famous Beatle? 

The frustrating thing in researching Irish ancestors is that once they left Ireland, their birthplace was rarely recorded as the actual town/village in which they were born but the general term “Irish” or “Ireland” was given.



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H is for Hospital – Melbourne Lying In Hosptial

My great great grandmother, Margaret MAGEE LENNON travelled to Melbourne with her 6 children in 1870 and she went on to add to the family in Victoria. On the 22nd Oct. 1871, she had her 7th child, John Alexander. 

I assume that she had the first six children at home or on Craigaroddan in Portaferry but this time she is recorded in the Admissions Book of Melbourne Lying In Hospital which was “a benevolent institution dependent on donations and subscriptions from the successful and comfortably-off sector of society”.[i]   John Alexander only lived for 3 years as he died of Croup while they were living on Bulleen Road in the Borough of Kew (Melbourne) and his death certificate says he was buried at AirHill Cemetery at St John’s Catholic church in Mitcham and my research indicates that this cemetery was built over when the current St John’s church was built.

1871 Details of Margaret’s admission into the Melbourne Lying in Hospital and the rapid birth of John
In the last column, it was noted that she had been transferred to Yarra Bend Asylum

If I’m reading the page correctly, Margaret was admitted on the 20th Oct and delivered John in half an hour on the 22nd. Oh dear, poor woman.  Things went further wrong, when she was diagnosed with mania (Puerperal Mania) and 6 days later sent to the Yarra Bend Lunatic Asylum, oh dear again (there will be a specific post about Margaret and her admissions to Yarra Bend in Y is for Yarra Bend Lunatic Asylum).  There is no mention of what happened to John in the admission books of either institution.

1874 Death of John Alexander LENNON in Melbourne

This hospital was established in 1856 and was known as the Melbourne Lying Hospital and Infirmary for Diseases of Women and Children and was the forerunner of the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne today. There is an excellent website with lots of information about this hospital and the timeline is particularly interesting.

After writing the last sentence, I went back to check for the details of the website I had used to include in this post but I couldn’t find the digitised Admission Registers that I found online only a few years ago. I eventually found an index prepared by volunteers with no association with the hospital; this contained a statement that the online registers have been taken down (no reason given) and are now in the possession of the Public Record Office of Victoria (my second favourite archives).

So now, once you’ve located your ancestor in the Index to Royal Women’s Hospital (formerly Melbourne Lying-In Hospital, Midwifery Book No. 1 (1856-Mar.1879) you will then have to go to PROV to consult the actual books.


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