Wednesday, October 29, 2014

More James Ryan And Another Convict Or Two?

      At the moment I'm pretty fascinated by the idea of having Aussie relatives, even if they didn't exactly arrive there of their own accord.  A few days ago I blogged about the convict James Ryan and his wife Margaret Dwyer, and I've since found a bit more information about him.  James was a dairyman, convicted of stealing a horse for which he was sentenced to transportation for life!  I've also found some of those annoying discrepancies that cause me to lose sleep--some records say he was a native of Tipperary and some say Limerick.  The National Archives records say Tipperary and give his wife Margaret Dwyer's address as "Ana Carty", so for now I'm going with that.

     I've also learned that James was eventually given a "ticket of leave".  That document enabled him to work and live on his own, and even acquire property within a designated district although his sentence had not yet expired.  Lifers like James had to wait at least 8 years before they were given tickets of leave, and though the index I found did not have the date James received his, I think it was probably 1831, the year he sent for his wife Margaret Dwyer.  A convict had to possess a ticket of leave and be able to support a wife before she would be allowed to join him in exile.  In November of 1837 James was granted a conditional pardon, the condition being he never return to Ireland or England.

     Finding all this data on James, made me wonder if a record I found years ago for the convict Margaret McGarr might now have some new information regarding it online.  One branch of my family tree is occupied by the McGarrs of Ballyraggan, Kildare and you just never know.

At left is Margaret's Certificate of Freedom.  These were given to convicts upon the completion of their sentences.  Margaret's was issued 29 August 1834, and shows that she arrived in Australia on the ship Edinburgh in 1828.  She was from County Kildare, and was a "country servant' convicted of picking pockets.  It even gives a physical description--she was just over 5 feet tall, with a ruddy, freckled complexion, sandy hair, and hazel eyes.  She had several scars, and was the wife of William Hague. Below that is "Per John Barry" Who is he??

     That's quite alot of information to go on, so I began searching Australian databases, but not finding much.  Next I did a Google search.  I wasn't sure what to use for search terms so I kept it simple -- ["Margaret McGarr" pickpocket], that generated only two hits, one was clearly not related, but the second one very definitely was.  It was a PDF file of a short work by Stephen Cooper entitled "Burglars and Sheepstealers"(Isn't the internet wonderful?)  In it I found the following about William Hague:
   "Shortly after he had first obtained a ticket of leave, he had remarried!  His bride was Margaret McGarr, a convict who had arrived in 1828 on board the City of Edinburgh.  At 24 Margaret was some years younger than her husband.  She had been a farm servant and dairy woman in Kildare... The convict indent for her ship shows her complexion was much freckled and her eyes were "red hazel"... she also had a nose inclined to the right and cock'd."

     Cock'd nose?  Red hazel eyes?  She doesn't sound like much of a looker, but William didn't mind.  The essay went on to give the place and date of their marriage (St. Philip's in Sydney, November of 1830) and noted that William in fact already had a wife still in England who had testified against him at his trial.  The image below is from the New South Wales Government State Records site, and is William's application to be allowed to marry Margaret.

From Index of Convict's Applications To Marry--Aha! John Barry Was William's Ship

     What amazing information!  It also clarified Margaret's husband's surname the first letter of which was a little hard to read in the handwritten certificate.  I've sent an email to St. Philip's and I'm hoping to get a response and perhaps the names of Margaret's parents and a townland.  At another site I found excerpts from a journal kept by the Edinburgh's ship surgeon, William Anderson.  He didn't mention Margaret, but noted there were several very young convicts on board; among them was Honora Crotty aged 17.  Holy Mother of Pearl! That's my 3rd great grandmother's name!  I know this wasn't her, she didn't go to Australia, she went to the USA,  but it could be a relative of hers.  I'd better get on this right away...



  1. Ellie, I wouldn't lose too much sleep over the Limerick versus Tipperary dilemma. The two counties are next to each other. If your ancestor came from a border townland--some actually spanned the border, in one of my ancestors' case--there might have been some confusion.

    Sounds like you have found a wealth of material on this Aussie branch. How exciting if you end up finding some descendants living there now!

  2. Hi Jacqi, I know the counties are very close. I didn't make it clear in this blog, but I have ancestors from Annacarty Tipp, so I really want him to be from that parish. I'm finding more all the time, I love the internet, lol!