Tuesday, 17 February 2015

52Ancestors # 7 - Catherine McCann - a 3rd great-great-aunt

This post is for Week 7 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge - 2015 - by Amy Johnson Crow from No Story Too SmallPrompt for Week 7, Love and the prompt that interested me was the one - which ancestor seemed to have a lot of love?

Well, my 3rd great-great-aunt Catherine McCann would seem to fit this bill. Catherine was the second child born in the colony of New South Wales to Peter McCann [Minerva, 1800] & his wife Mary nee Fitzgerald [Atlas 1, 1802] on 1 July 1805 at Windsor. Her birth was recorded in the St Phillip's Church of England, Sydney register and she was baptised on the 21st July 1805. Peter & Mary were both convicts from Ireland and at the time of Catherine's birth were farming in the Windsor district. Catherine lost her father, Peter McCann, on Tuesday 21st October 1806 when he drowned while crossing a log bridge on flooded Rickaby's Creek. His body was not found.

Catherine would have had a hard life as a child as all children did then. Her mother Mary married twice more in 1807 & 1813 and had four more children. Perhaps that is why Catherine decided to marry early, to have some independence and her own life.

Catherine married Robert Chedd (Chidd, Chead) [Somersetshire, 1814] on the 12th November 1819 at Castlereagh, New South Wales. The ceremony was performed by the Rev Henry Fulton. Catherine had yet to celebrate her 15th birthday and Robert was 22. Her first daughter, Ann, to Robert Chedd [Shed] was born on the 18th February 1821 and baptized into the Church of England at Castlereagh on the 6th May 1821.

The Mutch Index shows the birth to Catherine of a second daughter, Mary Cheed/Chidd or Smith on the 8th October 1823. The child is also listed in the Index separately under Smith. This birth was that of a daughter of Thomas Smith and Catherine Chidd. An official document prepared in 1821 showing births in the Castlereagh & Richmond districts lists Thomas Smith and Catherine Chidd as unmarried and the parents of Mary. Catherine Chidd is recorded later under the surname of Smith in the church records of the birth of her third child Sarah, born in March 1826.

Catherine most likely came across Thomas Smith [Morley. 1818] when he was assigned to the Rev. Henry Fulton at Castlereagh and a younger man than her husband Robert. This liaison with Thomas must have been a 'grand passion' as Catherine followed Thomas to Moreton Bay when he was involved in a robbery on the 26th October 1826. Catherine petitioned Governor Darling to be permitted to accompany Thomas: "...Respectfully Sheweth that Petitioner was married to Thomas Smith (a prisoner of the Crown) by the Rev Henry Fulton in the district of Castlereagh, - by whom she hath had three children: one of which, the youngest is not more than eight months old..."

Obviously Catherine was bending the truth a little, she was still married to Robert at this time. Catherine gained approval and in the Colonial Secretary's correspondence dated 17th January 1827, to the Commandant of the Moreton Bay penal settlement, advised that: "...she  has been permitted to accompany her husband with her 3 children, but is not to receive rations from the Government."

Catherine left her two older daughters Ann & Mary with her mother, now Mary Hill in Parramatta. She took her youngest daughter Sarah with her to Moreton Bay. Thomas Smith appears in Newcastle in November 1829 with no mention of Catherine. Catherine appears in the church records in 1840 in Goulburn, New South Wales when two of her daughters were baptized into the Catholic Church. It appears that Thomas was also in the district, he died in 1854. Catherine married Abraham House [Eleanor, 1831] on the 5th April 1855 in Gunning, New South Wales. 

Catherine died on the 7th May 1865 at Fish River and was buried on the 9th May at Gunning between Goulburn and Yass in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales. I like to think that Catherine lived a passionate life with Thomas and in her later years found love again with Abraham. Her husband Robert Chedd died in 1864 at Werris Creek, New South Wales.

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