Wednesday, 17 September 2014

From Derry to New South Wales cont'd

As I start this part of the Connor family's journey from Derry to New South Wales, some questions come to mind. Why did they leave in 1838? Why Australia and not Canada or America? What did they expect to find when they arrived in New South Wales?

So, why did they leave Ireland? 

In 1838 the British Parliament introduced the Irish Poor Law Act, closely modelled on the English Poor Law Act of 1834. This was an attempt to address the widespread poverty and hunger in Ireland. The establishment of the workhouse system of poor relief closely followed. Also, dissenting Protestants, i.e. Presbyterians and others not of the established Church were now being treated as second class subjects and debarred from civic and public life in Ulster along with the Catholics. 

Why Australia and not Canada or America?

Anne Connor & children's immigration record 1838
Australia as a young country needed immigrants (as labour and skilled tradesmen), but cheaper and quicker to get to Canada and America. The colony also needed farm labourers and female domestic servants. There were government immigration schemes to Australia from Ireland. In the period 1837 to 1845 the British government fitted out ships to take selected emigrants from Irish ports such as Belfast, Cork, Derry and Limerick to New South Wales. So, to attract immigrants the government needed to provide free or heavily subsidised passage. 

What did they expect to find when they arrived?

In 1838 convicts were still being transported to New South Wales. The Minerva, with immigrants also known as the 'fever ship', arrived on 2 January to be quarantined with typhus/typhoid aboard just a month before the Susan
The population of New South Wales was only about 80,000 and half the population were convicts or their descendants. Moreton Bay and Port Phillip were only recently established small settlements.

The Susan arrived on 2 February 1938 with 261 passengers and the Connor family commenced their new life in Australia. What were their thoughts about their new country? Where did they settle, and why?

To be continued...


  1. You have answered the questions to why my Irish ancestors came to New SOuth Wales in 1839, I hadn't given a lot of thought to this question.

  2. Thanks for the kind words Jill, I plan to explore their reasons and their experiences in further posts