Margaret Daley (1806-1807)
(Great great grandmother)
Life in the small Irish county of Louth in the early 1800s would not have been easy - particularly for a young mother two children with a third on the way. For Margaret , born in the neighbouring county of Monaghan, this life turned even harder when her husband, Thomas Stewart, a labourer, was caught and convicted of housebreaking in 1830 for the second time. The judge sentenced Tom to seven years' transportation "beyond the seas". When Tom set sail in the Waterloo for Botany Bay, as the fledgling settlement was still colloquially known, he left behind Margaret and his family of three children, the eldest seven years old and the youngest, Alleck, a mere infant, born after his father had been sent to prison. He was not to see them again for six years, and young Alleck, never.
With only charity for support, Margaret
was soon destitute - a point mentioned in a bid for her and the children
to be allowed to sail to New South Wales to join Tom. The
opportunity for this came when a petition from Tom was approved after
he'd worked for several years on a farm in the MacDonald Valley nearly
100kilometres northwest of Sydney. Mrs Elkins, the farmerer Tom
was assigned to, gave him a good character report, so his petition ended
up in with the office of the Governor General of Ireland.
From the tone of the letter, it seems that this appeal in 1835 was not
the first approach made. The High Sheriff of the County of Louth
wrote, in part:
memorialist and two (and until lately three) children thro' the absence
of her husband is reduced to the lowest extreme of poverty and
memorialist and children would be most thankful to embrace the happy
opportunity of being restored to the bosom of their natural protector,
your memorialist being of the age of about 30 years, her eldest
daughter 12 years and youngest 10 years.
And so, on the Thomas Harrison
in 1836, Margaret and daughters Mary Anne and Catherine ("Kitty") left
Ireland headed for a reunion with their husband and father,
Thomas. By the time they arrived, Thomas had been granted his
"Ticket of Leave", and within
another few years, his certificate of freedom. Despite Thomas
earning his freedom, the family continued to live in the area near
St Albans, north west of Wiseman's Ferry. Their family
continued to grow, with another five children being born to the couple
while they lived long lives in the MacDonald Valley.
Thomas lived to 86 years, dying in July 1886, while Margaret followed him within the year, dying at age 81, in May, 1887. Their graves are in the historic cemetery which was attached to St Joseph's church on the western bank of the river, between Wiseman's Ferry and St. Albans. According to a local Hawkesbury River history website, by 1905 the church was in disrepair. The church had been burnt out by fire in 1898 and stones had been removed for the construction of other buildings in the area. The disastrous flood of 1889 had destroyed farms along the river and from that time the population was in decline. However, while the church was reduced to a stone shell, the graveyard remained, somewhat overgrown for a 100 years, before being cleared in a restoration project in the first years of the 21st century.
left: St Joseph's as it was in 1999.