Saturday, October 25, 2014

Ryans Down Under?

Margaret Dwyer to join her husband, the convict James Ryan from the ship Mangles

     Transportation-- the heartless punishment favored by the19th century British empire for minor offenses like theft or forgery, although it was better than the 18th century sentence, which was hanging.  Even children were not exempt from this cruelty, one of  the youngest I've found was a 14 year old girl, Nancy Adams of  County Antrim, who was transported to Australia for ten years for the crime of burglary in 1842.  I've read of children as young as nine also being sent away from their homes and families.

     Before the American Revolution, many victims of the British justice system found themselves banished to North America.  Afterwards, a penal colony built in New South Wales, (Australia), became the destination for most.  Along with the loss of their freedom and home and families, that meant four to six months on a prison ship; in itself an ordeal for men and women who had never before been more than a few miles from home. The sentence for their crime could be life or a set term of years.  In practice it usually became a life sentence since even after the assigned number of years had passed, the convict was responsible for getting him or herself back home to Ireland.  Given the distance and expense, only a handful ever returned. 

     Upon landing and being processed, most all but the hard cases were assigned to settlers who had made application for them, and worked as servants for the duration of their sentences.  I found this reference to some of the prisoners aboard the 1822 sailing of the ship Mangles--
The British Convict Ship Mangles

"Some convicts were sent to private individuals ...... Humphrey Lynch, John Kenny, John Grady, Martin Grady, Patrick Byrne, Dennis Gleeson Snr & Jnr, Dennis Gorman, John Dalton, James Ryan, Michael Coughlin, Thoms Donoghue ALL to William Howe Esq at Upper Minto" 
Since there was only one James Ryan on the Mangles in 1822, I feel sure it was James from Annacarty, Tipperary who became the servant of William Howe.
     At another site I learned the Mangles with it's cargo of 189 prisoners left from the Cove of Cork on June 21 and arrived in NSW on November 8, 1822, having lost only one prisoner on the voyage.  That being twenty-two year old James Costello from County Mayo who was sailing to a life sentence for "administering unlawful oaths", in other words he was a political prisoner.  Once settled, if the convicts behaved themselves, they could apply to have their wives and families sent to join them in Australia.  That appears to be what happened in the case of James Ryan of Annacaty. 

     The index image at the top of this page, from the National Archives of Ireland, doesn't specify James' crime, but he must have been a well behaved prisoner since we see in August of 1831, the governor of the colony recommended that his wife Margaret Dwyer of "Ana Carty" be given passage to join him.  Looking at the dates, we see nine years had passed since James and Margaret last saw each other!  How did she support herself those long years without her husband, and how many times did they apply before permission was granted?

      While I can't be sure these individuals are related to me, I do have direct ancestors named Ryan and Dwyer who lived in Annacarty Parish.  However, those surnames happen to be the most common in the parish, and the forenames are also very common.  Without a townland it would be hard to determine, but I image that more of us of Irish descent than we think, have long lost relatives in Australia.

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