22 November 2016

An elusive great great grandfather

Where and when did he die? Patrick O’Dea migrated from County Clare, Ireland to South Australia in 1854 aboard the barque “Time and Truth”. He was accompanied by his wife Mary, sons Thomas and John and daughters Mary and Margaret.

Two hundred and forty one emigrants were aboard when the ship left Plymouth on January 11th 1854. There were 80 adult males, 88 females, 32 boys and 41 girls. During the voyage there were 4 births and 6 deaths. The captain’s report at the conclusion of the 4 month voyage on the 8th May 1854 provides some interesting insights into life aboard. He reports the conduct of the immigrants as very good with the only corporal punishment being “two boys put in irons for an hour for fighting.” General satisfaction was expressed with all aspects of the suitability of accommodation on board but he reported
The fresh potatoes failing at the end of 12 days after sailing. The quantity placed on board of the preserved potatoes proved insufficient to last the voyage. In other respects the provisions and water were ample and good.
In regard to the school provided on board for the children, he recorded that about 27 boys and 14 girls had attended, Margaret O’Dea at 8 years old may have been one of these girls.
The results of the tuition were exceedingly satisfactory. Several of the boys who could not form a letter or spell a word when they commenced, being able to write fairly and read fluently by the end of the voyage.
He also wrote to the Land and Emigration Commissioners to present the emigrants’ complaints about the depot at Plymouth where they were housed before departure. It appears there were several shady operators who sought to take advantage of the emigrants by promising certain services on the payment of extra fees. The complaints ranged from being compelled to purchase unnecessary goods, payment for sleeping at the Depot and payment for unfulfilled promises of “situations to be obtained”. Amongst the list of complainants was Patrick O’Dea who stated:
I, Patrick O’Dea was compelled to buy a blue shirt that I had no use for to the amount of 5s.6d. at the Plymouth Depot.
Patrick was listed as 42 years of age in the ship’s records putting his possible birth date as sometime in 1812. His wife Mary was listed as 40 years old putting her possible birth date in 1814.

What I know of their early years has been gleaned from their son John recalling their early days in South Australia on the occasion of his 50th wedding anniversary in 1913. It appears they lived near Kapunda for 8 years working as carters before obtaining land.

The early land records in South Australia yield details of land rented and purchased by several O’Dea males. The common practice of using similar names in families (Patrick, Thomas and John) makes it difficult to determine which land titles belong to which O’Dea family.

From his own recollections, son John and his family were farming at Pinkerton Plains by 1863. John was married in August of 1863 and took his bride to Pinkerton Plains. Here in September of 1864, Patrick lists his interest in blocks 359 and 360.

The first mention of the name Patrick O’Dea occurs in the land records with the transfer of a block of land in the Hundred of Mudla Wirra in 1863. Block 274 had been leased from John Coleman Dixon in February of 1863 for 10 pounds per annum for 5 years with the right of purchase for 80 pounds. In 1866 this title records the payment of the 80 pounds and the transfer of the title.

All the Patrick O’Deas in South Australia are listed under one entry in the SAILIS historical name indexes to the registers of transactions. Blocks of land accredited to the name Patrick O’Dea are listed in the Hundred of Tungkillo (near Adelaide) and the Hundred of Blanche (near Mt Gambier). Both these distances make it unlikely that all the listings under the name of Patrick O’Dea could be accredited to the same person.

In 1840 a family of O'Deas had arrived on the ship Birman. A large family of O’Deas with sons named Patrick, Michael, John and Thomas arrived in November 1849 on the ship Duke of Wellington. Another John O’Dea, with sons John, James and Michael arrived on the ship Constance in the same month.  The gates to confusion in registers were open.


There is no easily found or obtained death certificate for my gt-gt-grandfather Patrick. No reference is made to him in the official registers of deaths. This certificate of title for block 300 in the the Hundred of Mudla Wirra, lists Patrick, Thomas and John “all of Pinkerton Plains farmers” as joint holders of this 81 acre block. Could it be that the note below on the certificate of title refers to my Patrick O’Dea?

The above named Patrick O’Dea died in either [or about] the months of June or July 1867 as appears by Declaration of Death (No.29845) produced to me and [----] the 4 day March of 1870 at Two o’clock P.M.
I am pursuing several avenues of interest to see if this Declaration of Death can be found and some of the mystery solved. If you an O’Dea descendant with more information I would be pleased to hear from you.

Genealogy Snapshot

Name: Patrick O'Dea
Parents: unknown
Spouse: Mary or Margaret

Relationship to Carmel: Great great grandfather
  1. Patrick O'Dea c.1812 - ? - maternal great great grandfather
  2. John O'Dea 1835 - 1922 - maternal great grandfather
  3. Patrick Joseph O'Dea 1877 - 1919 - maternal grandfather
  4. Hannah Olive (O'Dea) Horgan 1912 - 2013 - mother
  5. Carmel
1. Crown land and Immigrants ship’s papers GRG 35/48/1854  9 Time and Truth State Records of South Australia, 2 September 2016
2. SAILIS – Historical name Index search 1858-1863 Letter O 
https://www.sailis.sa.gov.au/products/imageDelivery/historicalNameIndex/O/1858-1863/PRIVATE/4 viewed 20 October 2016
3. SAILIS – Certificate of Title Register book Vol 49 Folio 164 viewed 20 October 2016


  1. I'll certainly share this on the next GeniAus Gems in the hope it helps find a connection.

  2. I have included your blog in INTERESTING BLOGS on FRIDAY FOSSICKING at


    Thank you, Chris


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