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Descendants of transportees in songs

17 Feb 00 - 05:27 AM (#179899)
Subject: Descendants of transportees in songs
From: John Moulden

I am researching two songs which concern men transported from Belfast to Australia in the 1820s. Both are essentially true. One concerns a petty larcenist called James Donnelly (that is the name of the song) sentenced to death at the Co Antrim March Assizes of 1824 but the sentence was commuted to transportation for life; he was 18 years old. He was transported on the fourth voyage of the ship Asia which sailed from Cork on 29th October 1824 and arrived in Sydney on Feb 22 1825.He was granted ticket of leave in 1836 and Conditionally pardoned in 1844. At this stage he was free to conduct a normal life and presumably married.

My interest is in whether Donnelly's descendants can be traced in Australia.

Is there any person in Australia who might be able to advise me - or even to take up this aspect of the work on my behalf?

I am also interested similarly in a number of convicts who were or may have been associated with a celebrated forger called William Hill - his song begins:

Adieu lovely Erin, I'm now going to leave you
May peace be on your daisy clad hills
In wild foreign lands I am bound for to praise you
And I'll sing the perfection of your sweet winding rills

He and an accomplice Peter Sloan[e] were transported on the ship Regalia, arriving in Sydney on 5th August 1826.

Hill was aged 47 and may have been granted Ticket of leave in 1839 (aged 60) There is no record in Ireland of any petition for his wife and family to join him, which there is in the case of Peter Sloan[e] - he was 41 and his wife (named as Catherine Lynn) and his family were recommended for free passage in 1831.

Other possible associates were Joseph Tierney aged 43 (Conditional Pardon 1841) and John Fox aged 30 (Ticket of Leave 1834) whose families also were recommended for free passage in 1831.

I would very much like to find more than the convict records can tell me of the Australian lives of these men and feel that this would be best answered if their descendants were traceable.

Any takers? Anyone like a challenge.

17 Feb 00 - 06:26 AM (#179910)
Subject: RE: Descendants of transportees in songs
From: GUEST, Bob Bolton('s home computer)

G'day John,

I'm not sure who is the local expert in the Convict Records you seek ... or, indeed there is left. I always understood the the catastrophic fire that consumed the Crystal Palace in the Sydney Domain, after it was used for the Centenary (1888) Exposition, was solidly credited to the fact that the government had just moved its old archives into the vacant building - and these included all the old Convict Records.

There were many prominent Sydney families in the late boom years of the 1880s that would have paid well for the Convict Records to go up in flames! Obviously, some survived and these are routinely accessed by historians and genealogists at the Mitchell Library, the Australiana collection of the State Library of New South Wales. The general URL for State Libraries of NSW is here and this may help you contact the appropriate section.

Interestingly enough, I have just been asked to add a chapter to a book on one of our really good folk sources here in NSW - Sally Sloane (1894 - ~1982). Sally and her husband Fred Sloane lived in various parts of NSW - Lithgow, some 140 km west of Sydney, when I knew them; 1970 - 1981. Sally passed on hundreds of songs and tunes over a period of years to pioneer folklore field collector John Meredith. I know a bit about Sally's Irish ancestors, the Alexanders, but nothing useful about Fred's Sloanes ... yet!


Bob Bolton

17 Feb 00 - 09:36 AM (#179970)
Subject: RE: Descendants of transportees in songs
From: John Moulden

Thank you for your suggestions. I have the convict records for these transportees from the Mitchell Library and some information from the National Archives of Ireland and reckon I've gone as far as I can among the Public Records. Hugh Anderson is a correspondent and found me the details and then a neighbour working in Sydney had them copied for me.

What I need is a way of tracing people beyond the convict records. What further archives are there? How useful might newspaper inquiry be - which would be the best newspapers to approach with a letter - or even with a feature article?

18 Feb 00 - 08:07 AM (#180619)
Subject: RE: Descendants of transportees in songs
From: Crowhugger

I was wondering if this would be about the slave trade. Well, when I care about it enough, I'll start a thread.

18 Feb 00 - 08:08 AM (#180620)
Subject: RE: Descendants of transportees in songs
From: GUEST,

I don't know haow successful this might be, but you could try some link through Cyndi's List, there is among other things a name search facility at the bottom of her page.

Malcolm Smith.

18 Feb 00 - 09:22 PM (#181026)
Subject: RE: Descendants of transportees in songs

G'day all,

John Moulden: If you are in correspondence with Hugh Anderson you certainly have a good contact for the Australian folklore side. Being based in Victoria, he has not quite the direct access to convict records that he would have in Sydney, but these things are all out on micrifilm (and probably database) nowadays.

Anyway, you say you are now looking beyond the records and considering newspapers. There are only the two widespread daily papers in Sydney: Fairfax Press' The Sydney Morning Herald and News Ltd's The Telegraph/Mirror (or whatever the combination of their erstwhile morning and evening papers is currently called.

The SMH is a morning broadsheet with a more serious tone while the Tele/Mirror (aka The Terror) is a tabloid with a stronger emphasis on sport and TV. I don't know which would be likely to run a query ... and which would bring results. Interestingly, it is the Tele/Mirror that runs a permanent history page and has done so for decades.

Two of my younger brothers worked for News Ltd as photographers in past years and a sister-in-law has been a journalist for both. I can sound out her suggestions on the best way to follow up these family links.

If I can get the blue clicky things right, this is a link to the SMH home page:


Bob Bolton

19 Feb 00 - 08:54 AM (#181170)
Subject: RE: Descendants of transportees in songs
From: John Moulden

"Guest" whoever you are - I'm grateful for your suggestions and for the offer of further help. You can e-mail me at

23 Feb 00 - 05:40 AM (#183249)
Subject: RE: Descendants of transportees in songs
From: Roo


If you are trying to trace the descendants you might try the searchable online Births Deaths and Marriages. I can give you the url if you need it. Also there are a number of genealogical mailing lists eg. Australia-D and also newsgroups which could flush out some relatives who may have lots of info. I live near the State Archives and could possibly help if you can forward the details. My email is:

15 Apr 02 - 08:52 AM (#690361)
Subject: RE: Descendants of transportees in songs
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan

Just a postscript to say that John Moulden cracked this one well and truly. He traced the whole story of "William Hill, the Forger" (a.k.a. Erin the Green - not the one in the Digital Tradition) and published an excellent pamphlet based on contemprorary newspapers and other sources.