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Expert Q&A :: Irish immigration with Dr Richard Reid and Dr Perry McIntyre

Q. From Dee: An odd question for you. I have an ancestor that came here via the Earl Grey scheme from an Irish workhouse but she was born in New York, how can I find out when she was sent to Ireland?
A. Perry: Yes, there are a few young women of the 4114 on the 21 ships which brought these orphans from the Workhouses of Ireland to Australia, 1848-50 who are shown on the shipping lists as natives of places other than Ireland, there is for example one from Augusta, Jamaca. ALL these women were in Workhouses in Ireland as that was part of the qualification for the scheme so the issue is why was a New York born girl in Ireland? I suggest her parents went to USA and returned to Ireland so your problems is establishing that. Sorry that doesnt really help immediately but is a start. Perry McIntyre
A. IHM:  Here’s an explanation of Earl Grey’s Famine Orphan Scheme ::
Q(b): Dee: Where can I look for people entering Ireland from America after 1832?
A. Perry: Hi Dee, there are incoming passenger lists for the UK and Ireland from 1878 which you can search on Ancestry. Were these people ‘aliens’ ie not of British or America birth? If so, there are something called Alien Arrivals and Return Papers 1810-1868 on – Richard

Q. From Lyle: My Irish ancestors who arrived on “Duchess of Northumberland” in 1851, came to Queensland. I was wondering if you were maybe going to write about Irish migrants who came to Queensland.
A. Perry: Hi Lyle, Are you offering to pay me to do it? Always open to good offers J – Richard
A. Lyle: Wish I could afford to!
A. IHM: Hi Lyle, have you seen the online microfilm on State Records NSW for the Duchess of Northumberland ::
A. Lyle: No not direct from State Records of NSW. My information came from The Queensland Founding Families Project, family members research and QLD State Archives. I will go to NSW State Records. Thankyou.

Q. From Kerry: Hi Perry and Richard: I too have Ryans, Murphys and Kiernan’s in my family, and have a lot of trouble separating them out. Any tips you can provide would be appreciated. My Ryans are from Tipperary, Murphy and Kiernan from Cavan. Any help appreciated Thanks
A. Perry: The story is always – rather glibly – if your name is Ryan you are from Tipperary!! So with common names like Ryan and Murphy and even Kiernan you just have to do your homework very diligently. The records in Australia may be the only way to confirm exactly who they are and you may have to spend money getting certificates her to confirm. Perry
A. Kerry: Thanks Perry, I have the death certificates. They are 3 of my GGrandparents, which is where I have the information from. My problem lies in finding out more information from the Irish records: for example one of my ancestors is Edward Kiernan from Cavan, his wife is Catherine Murphy. I have his parent’s names Michael and Jane, and have found Kiernan’s with the same names as my ancestors. My query is how do I know that this family is mine? Do I need to buy the certificates? Also is there a FH group in Cavan? Thank you.
A. Perry: The issue here, as with all Irish searches before civil registration in 1864, is finding which parish they came from. You need that to know where to search but you can try to narrow down the area by the frequency of the name in the Griffith Valuation. The problem you have is just that – confirming which is which. What time period are we talking. Check local historical societies in Cavan.
A. IHM: Here’s the link for the Breifne Historical Society ::
A. Kerry: The years are early 1800’s My Edward was born in ~1838. Are the parishes aligned with the towns. It is believed that he came from Killeshandra. And thank you I will try the local history groups in Cavan.
A. Kerry: Thank you 🙂
A. IHM: There’s more info on County Cavan on FamilySearch ::
A. Kerry: Thank you so much. I will have something to do on the weekend now 🙂

Q. From Kerry: How do you trace Irish relatives that may have been gypsy when they immigrated here?
A. Perry: Re ‘gypsy’ do you mean a Romany, an Irish Traveller or simply they wandered about when they arrived in the colonies and you cannot find them?
A. Kerry: Apparently my grandmother grandmother was the head of her clan gypsy in Ireland an so was her husband and they didnt approve of her husband my great grandmother. I am unsure if my great grandmother was born here or Ireland. She just vanished an another woman raised her children her parents where supposed to go back to the Romany her last name Mead
A. Perry: The name Meade is a regular Irish name – Midheach in Irish originally. Prominent in County Meath in the East of Ireland. You really should try to find a publication about Gypsy families in Ireland – The Travellers are a different group from ‘The Gypsys so keep this in mind as well.
A. Kerry: Ty so much 🙂

Q. From Cheryl: My great grandfather, Michael Quinn, arrived in Australia in about 1864… A genealogist in Dublin found his baptism records at the knockavilla Catholic parish for me, he also found the baptism records of an older sister Mary but we have never discovered any information on her or Michael’s parents, Patrick Quinn and Mary Bryan from Bishopswood. We would love to get more info on why Michael came to Australia and what became of his Irish family.
A. Perry: Hi Cheryl, my main recommendation would be to check out the Irish 1901 census online for parish of Knockavilla to see if there are any members of the family that you recognise. Where is Bishopswood? – Richard
A. IHM: Here’s the link to the Census of Ireland 1901/1911 online at the National Archives of Ireland ::
A. Cheryl: Hi Richard, Bishopswood is in Tipperary.
A. Perry: Hi Cheryl, similarly check the census records for Tipperary as well. Hope this helps – Richard.
A. Cheryl: Thank you, I will give that a try

Q. From Trudy: Hello there, You’ve got me wondering about my Irish ancestors. I have found this marriage record which I believe to be of my ancestors, James McCarthy who married Mary McCarthy (my Gran told me they had the same surname but weren’t related). Both born in Ireland as far as I know. They are the right hand side bottom entry on the attached image. This branch of my tree has been left to gather dust as their names are very common in Ireland making it difficult to search. My question is why are all the people on this page married in the same church on the same day? I find that odd but surely there is a logical explanation. Kind regards, Trudy” – see image attached and on flickr at:
A. Perry: Hi Trudy, I would have no idea why all these marriages happened on the same day. The writing is hard for us to read form this image -what’s the name of the church, and where is it? – Richard

Q. From IHM: Hi Perry and Richard, thank you for all your help tonight! What exciting things do you have in the pipeline for us?
A. Perry: As Chair of the Great Irish Famine Commemoration Committee I would be remiss not to let you know that we are hosting the International Famine Commemoration in Sydney from 22-25 August. The website will be updated shortly so keep and eye on and if you are descendant please contact us via the website at and tell us the story of your Earl Grey Famine Workhouse girl so we can share it with the global Irish diaspora, Perry.
A. IHM: Search the list of Irish Orphans in the Great Irish Famine Commemoration Memorial database ::

Comment: IHM: Please join me in thanking Perry and Richard for all their help tonight!
A. Perry: Thanks everyone, it was a great session! – Perry and Richard
A. Kerry: Thank you for all the information, it was a great session.
Questions asked before or after the session: 

Q. From Joanne: I won’t be able to join in the Q&A tomorrow but will be looking forward to reading the transcript. My question is are Drs Reid & McIntyre able to suggest any research avenues, apart from the passenger list, to find out who may have employed my migrant ancestor on her arrival in Sydney. My 3xGreat Grandmother Hannorah Delay/Delea was from Cork & arrived on the ‘Lady McNaughton’ in Dec 1840. Many thanks. 
A. Perry: When did she marry and where? Not so much the ‘passenger list’ but check the Entitlement Certificates to see if that gives you a further clue – I’ve just checked – sorry nothing there. Perry
A. Perry: sometimes we just have to be content with gaps in the knowledge.
A. IHM: Entitlement Certificates on – New South Wales, Australia, Assisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1828-1896 ::

Q. From Leigh: Mary Cloran from Galway arrived in Geelong, Australia in 1854 on the Persian aged 20. She was with a shipload of young Irish woman. Cannot find anymore information on the story behind their departure or her family. Her father was Patrick and mother shown as Ann Bark but believe that could possibly be Burke. Any leads where to look for more info would be wonderful, as I have been researching this person for about 30 years without success. Going to Galway next year. 
A. Perry: We have just had a look at assisted immigrants to Victoria and I cannot locate her. Can you recheck her ship and arrival date. Given she is a Famine survivor and there were a group PERHAPS they were from workhouses but dont quote me – this needs investigation, Perry.

Q. From Jenni: I am unable to take part on Thursday night but I have a question. One of my Irish ancestors arrived in Sydney 15 March,1866 on the “Africana” as an assisted immigrant. She was born in Baqenalstown, C. Carlow, Ireland. I have the shipping list, but I’m wondering if there would be any surviving documents I could source in Ireland relating to her application for passage? Thanking you in advance.
A. Perry: Jenni, my main problem is what is her name?? There are very few, if any documents in Ireland – basically the reply is no. The assisted immigrant lists here are marvellous and the best indication of their application. I would also check the Immigration Deposit Journals, indexed by Pastkeys, to see if they were sponsored by any relatives in the colony or whether they sponsored others. They are on from 1853-1900, Perry.

Q. From Cynthia: We have a number of people across Australia who are connected. Collectively we are stuck tracking shipping records for our Irish ancestor who came into Australia. He shot at his wife & was sentenced, so the only lead we have is the NSW Archives photo. Collectvely we have tried many place, for many years for this ship name, but cannot find a breakthrough. Would love some tips:
A. Perry: Hi Cynthia, Tricky! How did you go with interpreting the ship’s name on the prison record? – Richard
A. Cynthia: Sorry was unable to join in and just checking now. Re the ship name for Michael Coleman. Have tried various interpretations of the first name, and then reverted to anything Star. This has incorporated manual (visual) searches and online records. Thanks.

Q. From Donna: I am after some information on my great, great, great, great Grandfather, Thomas Cassidy, (b 1805, Boho Fermanagh d Nov 1862 Parramatta NSW) who was convicted of killing a horse along with his 2 brothers (Philip & Edward) and father (Stephen Cassidy 1784 – 1830). Thomas arrived in Aust in Oct 1830 and married a woman, Mary Sweeney (1821 – 1896) and had 11 children. We believe though that Thomas left behind a wife in Ireland, named Rose Wheeler along with 2 daughters but have never had any luck tracing these women or verifying the marriage/births. We’d dearly love to know if we have any way of finding this out, especially as my parents will be in Ireland in 2 months time. Any tips on how to confirm a death at sea and/or the names of those who died aboard a particular immigrant ship? Many thanks in advance! Donna. 

A. Perry: The indent of the Hercules 1830 clearly shows: married 2 female children brother to Edward Cassidy and Philip Cassidy arrived per same ship. He did not formally apply to have his wife and his children brought to the colony under the Wives and Families of convicts scheme. I’ve done a pretty thorough check of Chief Secretary’s Office Registered Papers in the National Archives in Dublin for women applying in Ireland to join transported husbands and I did not locate anything relating to Thomas Cassidy but that does not mean there is not something hidden away but it would involved quite a prolonged search. If the killing of the horse involved some action against a landlord or other illegal agrarian activity there may be correspondence in the Outrage Papers for Fermanagh in 1829 or 1830 whenever he committed the crime. John Cunningham, a professional researcher in Fermanagh, is very knowledgeable about records in Fermanagh and may be able to assist.
A. Richard: The ‘Outrage Papers’ collection dates from 1835. Before that best to look in the ‘State of the Country’ Papers’ or indeed in the general ‘Registered Papers’. There is a gap between the supposed ending of the ‘State of the Country Papers’  – 1831 and the onset of the ‘Outrage’ collection – 1835.

Registered Papers, Including Outrage Papers

The Registered Papers range in date from 1818-1924, and are the largest single class of records of the Chief Secretary’s Office. They are so called because brief descriptions of incoming documents were entered in annual registers, which are still in use as finding aids (Cases 20-25). The methods of classification varied over the years in ways too complex to describe here, but for example, from 1826 papers relating to crime were classed as ‘first division’, and all others as ‘second division’. When referring to the registers, it should be remembered that papers specified in entries have frequently been attached to later papers on the same subject, and that a certain proportion of papers listed are no longer extant. The class of documents known as Outrage Papers consists of reports to the Chief Secretary on crimes and disturbances around the country. These are arranged in county order from 1835-52, but after that date must be located by consulting the registers under the headings ‘Constabulary’ (Royal Irish Constabulary) or ‘Police’ (Dublin Metropolitan Police). For further information, see Tom Quinlan, ‘The Registered Papers of the Chief Secretary’s Office’, Irish Archives, Autumn 1994, pages 5-21

State of the Country Papers

There are two series of State of the Country Papers, both similar in content: Series 1, 1796- 1831, arranged by year and county, and Series 2, 1790 – 1831, arranged by year only. Both series deal with the state of law and order throughout the country, and comprise in the main reports and letters from military officers and magistrates. Finding aids consist of a 2-volume calendar and incomplete card index for Series 1, and for Series 2 a draft list and card index covering the years 1790-1808.

Farewell My Children by Richard Reid
Farewell My Children by Richard Reid

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