4 December 2014

Andrew O'Leary sails from Dublin

A family leaves Ireland

In the early years of white settlement in the newly established colony of South Australia, there was urgent need for agricultural laborers. Suitable candidates were selected from Ireland and England to fill this gap. During 1835 eleven commissioners were appointed to control land sales and any revenue. They were also in charge of regulating the flow of emigrants. From the initial nine ships that had sailed in 1836, immigration grew steadily and during 1840 nearly 3000 people reached South Australian shores. Desirable applicants were expected to be fit and preferably married with family to populate the state.

Andrew O'Leary from County Cork, Ireland fitted this bill and sought assisted passage for himself to be accompanied by wife and four children. Andrew is listed as an agricultural labourer, 36 years old on his application (number 7592) seeking assisted passage to South Australia. The  ship Mary Dugdale departed Dublin on June 2nd 1840 for a journey to Port Adelaide which lasted for four months.

Aboard with Andrew were his wife Catherine (born Burke 1818) and the children, the baby Honora was only a few months old. While the application shows that passage was sought for 4 children, the census record taken in 1841 only lists 2 boys under fourteen and one daughter under 7 as part of the household.
Is it possible that their other child died aboard the Mary Dugdale as there were 8 deaths on that voyage all of whom were recorded as children?

Life in South Australia

In 1845 Andrew is listed as being a petitioner on The Memorial by the Colonists of South Australia against the introduction of convicts. Andrew had purchased land at Salisbury and along with other colonists was making a hard earned living "to found for themselves and their children a virtuous happy and permanent home"  the moral tone of which they felt would be undermined by the introduction of felons. (1.)

In  July 1846 we find Andrew in the magistrates court seeking £3 wages owing to him from 1843 at the rate of 6 shillings per day. The defendant is ordered to pay £2 8s at 10s per week. (2.)
This money would now have been essential for survival as by then at least another three children, including David Joseph (1843) had been born. We can garner more of those early days from David's recollections on his 90th birthday in 1933.

Here we see that Andrew and Catherine arrived with three children perhaps adding weight to the theory that a child died aboard the ship in 1840.

By 1849 Andrew had 26 head of cattle on the property purchased at Salisbury.
As years passed the newspapers of the day mention some of the sons being involved in ploughing matches in districts nearby. Here are the rules for a typical ploughing match; a tough day's work indeed.

" Each competitor to plough half an acre in one ridge and two half ridges, with an equal number of furrows on each side of the ridge,  independent of the mould furrow.
The depth to be five inches, and not more than nine inches wide. Time allowed six hours." (3.)

These competitive days drew large crowds sometimes up to 600 people. They were popular with the ladies too. After the hard work of supplying the food, these days were also a social gathering.

Perhaps it was here at one of these ploughing matches that my great grandfather John Horgan met and wooed Andrew and Catherine's daughter, Honora O'Leary.

Andrew (great-great-grandfather) died on June 6th, 1882 at Salisbury listed at the age of 88, he had been in the colony for 42 years. His wife Catherine (great-great grandmother) had predeceased him in September of 1871 at the age of 53.

Genealogy Snapshot

Name: Andrew O'Leary
Spouse: Catherine Burke

Relationship to Carmel: Great-great-grandparents
  1. Andrew O'Leary
  2. Honora O'Leary
  3. Andrew Joseph Horgan
  4. Edward John Horgan
  5. Carmel
1. 1845 'MEMORIAL BY THE COLONISTS OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA AGAINST THE INTRODUCTION OF CONVICTS.', South Australian (Adelaide, SA : 1844 - 1851), 14 February, p. 2, viewed 4 December, 2014, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71600655 
2. 1846 'RESIDENT MAGISTRATE'S COURT.', Adelaide Observer(SA : 1843 - 1904), 1 August, p. 7, viewed 4 December, 2014, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article158922940
3. 1860 'VII—AGRICULTURAL PROCEEDINGS.', The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 - 1889), 25 August, p. 4, viewed 4 December, 2014, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article823193
Further newspaper articles relating to this O'Leary family http://trove.nla.gov.au/list?id=53065


  1. I enjoyed the post especially the succinct historical background.

    Do tell what you used to create your graphic.

  2. Thanks Jill, graphic created in Canva, https://www.canva.com . Free, designs can be private or public, great for slides and posters.

  3. I had seen taht program but hadn't tried it. Thanks for the nudge, Carmel, it is just what I need. I can see some lots of new geniaus graphics coming soon.

  4. Hi Jill, I too am distantly related to Andrew O'Leary, and interested to know how to get in touch.


Thanks for visiting, I welcome your comments. All comments are moderated before publication.