Studying the Diploma of Family History at Utas, I learned an exciting way to discover more about our ancestors. This technique helps bring them historically to life.
I had read the court report of what transpired the night John Prendergast was arrested in Dublin. Click for court report
Although I have visited Dublin on 5 separate occasions, the location where John Prendergast was caught, after quite a chase, was mere words to me.
Because I wanted to visualise the scene, I decided to write a story speculatively of what John was doing that night and plot his route on a historical 1798 map of Dublin. I became quite the detective and was surprised at what I discovered.
John Pendergast, son of John Prendergast Snr. married Elizabeth Dwyer on 1st June, 1824.
They produced 10 children.
Elizabeth was the daughter of Cornilius and Harriett Dwyer.
It has always puzzled me how Elizabeth died. Records show that Elizabeth died on December 6th, 1847 and was buried on 8th December, 1847. Her oldest son Thomas died one week later and was buried 14th December, 1847.
The rumour was that they both died in a fire. What sort of fire? Was it a house fire or a bush fire? It could have been either at that time of the year in Campbelltown.
When I visited the Vault of Mrs Pendergast, wife of John at St. John’s cemetery, Campbelltown, I was puzzled by the inscription on the side of the Vault.
It read “It is a Holy and Wholesome Thought to pray for the Dead that they may be loosed from Sins” Maccabees X11. 46. I have never seen this on the side of a Vault before and am wondering what the significance of this might be.
It is so sad that they both died before Christmas 1847, a time that would normally be filled with joy and excitement for the other 9 children.
It is even sadder when you discover that John Pendergast was one of those named on a Grant to build the St. John’s Catholic Church and Cemetery at Campbelltown the year before on 31st March, 1846. Little did he know that his darling wife and precious son would be one of the first to be buried there the following year!
To research Elizabeth further I visited the Campbelltown Library on my 2019 visit to Sydney but could find no information related to Elizabeth or Thomas’s death.
Vault of Elizabeth Pendergast (nee Dwyer) and Thomas Pendergast her son.
Following my invigorating research trip to the Hawkesbury NSW in June/July 2019, I felt inspired to plan a P[r]endergast family reunion and coordinate a “go fund me” and heritage grant to raise funds to restore the family Vault at the old Catholic Cemetery Windsor during 2020.
The Whitsundays where I live is a very long way from the Hawkesbury so I knew that I would have the ideas but need a great team of experts on the ground to bring the plans to fruition.
I met with Michelle Nichols OAM, a local Hawkesbury expert, regarding coordinating a Prendergast family reunion in 2019. I emailed Katie Hicks of the National Trust in regard to restoring the P[r]endergast family vault at Windsor. I then emailed a contact that I have in Ireland, Dr. Ruan O’Donnell a senior lecturer in History at the University of Limerick. I invited him to come to Australia for a 220 year commemoration of the arrival of the first convict ship “Minerva” with an Easter service at the Martyrs wall, Waverley Cemetery. I felt confident that my dreams could become a reality.
But, as the expression goes “the best laid plans of mice and men …” So sadly, like many other people world wide, my plans were thwarted by the outbreak of Covid 19 and subsequent lockdown.
Undeterred and not knowing how long Covid would curb my plans, I decided that if I couldn’t coordinate a family reunion and Vault restoration, that I would further my studies in family history.
Several years ago I had been told of the brilliant Utas diploma of family history and after further investigation and comparison with similar University courses, I decided to enrol in the Utas diploma of family history.
I cannot speak highly enough of the course. I loved every minute of it. It was wonderful!
Although, due to the fact that like all Universities world wide, on campus study had to be converted to on-line study for all students, I felt the staff at Utas did an amazing job under very difficult circumstances.
In June/July 2019, following my productive Archival visit to Sydney in February, we decided to drive to Sydney and stay for a month at Agnus Banks, a suburb on the Nepean River. This river is a tributary of the Hawkesbury River and close to all the early colonial settlements outside of Sydney in New South Wales.
Agnus Banks is a beautiful lush rural area with many large properties and elegant homes.
My plan for this Archival tour was to visit the New South Wales State Archives, the Hawkesbury public Library, Campbelltown public Library and Ebenezer historical church. I wanted to locate and visit original P[r]endergast properties at Kurrajong, Richmond, Cornwallis, Windsor, Lower Portland and Mulgrave Place in the Hawkesbury. I needed to research John Prendergast’s Airds land grant as well as the Campbelltown region. There was also P[r]endergast property at Wollombi in the Hunter Valley.
In January 2019, I travelled to Sydney to conduct genealogy research into property owned by the Prendergast family in the Hawkesbury district of NSW. The records were held at various Repositories in Sydney, Kingswood and Wollombi.
I wanted to locate records at the repositories and then visit the land of my forbears to get a sense of how my ancestor John Prendergast and his wife Catherine would have felt as first settlers on that land.
With Barry’s technical assistance, I plan to document these blocks of land on an interactive map, recording them for future generations.
I chose Sydney University Village as my base for the first visit in January because it was centrally located, there was plenty of public transport available and it was reasonably priced.
I visited the New South Wales land Registry Services to obtain maps of the Prendergast properties in Lower Portland, Kurrajong, Windsor, Pitt Town(formerly Mulgrave place) and Wollombi.
By pre-booking the documents that I wished to view during my Mitchell Library visit, I was able to discover which properties were crown grants and which ones were purchased by the Prendergast family.
In researching Catherine Prendergast and the role she played in the establishment of the Prendergast family in Australia, I needed to “time travel” back to an era in our history where married women, by law were considered part of the goods and chattels that were OWNED by their husbands. This doctrine was a rule of law associated with the common law doctrine of coverture outlined in this paper written by Andrew Cowie, School of Law, Murdoch University. http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/AUJlGendLaw/2009/6.pdf
Cowie goes on to explain that Coverture is “the state of being under the protection of one’s husband. The term can also mean marriage. Marriage can then be categorized as a contract between a wife and husband where the wife gives up certain legal powers to the husband in return for being under his protections. Until the late 19th century, the marriage contract was the last contract a woman would ever enter”. Women lost their legal identity when they married.
This law, which I found quite shocking, was further explained to me by a volunteer at the Society of Australian Genealogists (SAG) during my visit to their Library in Sydney, Australia on 16 December, 2017. This law changed in 1918 allowing women to own land in their own right.
When we opened the ‘’Mutch’s” Muster book of 1800-1802 and viewed the entry recording the details of John Prendergast and James Clark leasing property at Mulgrave place in 1800 whilst still convicts, “that can’t be right!”, exclaimed Alan. “A convict with a 7 year term could not lease land until he had been granted his freedom”. “Could his wife Catherine, the unnamed female on the land have leased the land”, I asked? “Yes and no”, replied Alan. He then went on to explain that if a wife had a guarantor, she could lease land but usually that guarantor was her husband. In this case her husband was still a prisoner so no, she could not own land.
So, how did John Prendergast and James Clark lease land at Mulgrave place in 1800?
When I set out on my quest to find Prendergast Ancestry, one of my main priorities was to find Catherine Prendergast, wife of Irish Rebel John Prendergast, my 5x Grandparents who arrived on the Convict ship Minerva 11/1/1800
I had read in numerous records of Catherine being everything from mother “Unknown’’ (to John Prendergast junior), to having died in childbirth. There appeared to be no records of her existence after 1801.
This information niggled at me. How could a baby have a mother unknown, perhaps a father unknown but never a mother? Why was it assumed that she had died during childbirth? Why were there no records of Catherine in Australia apart from the recording in the Biographical Database of Australia (BDA) who lists her as Person ID: X#91011106202. Death: circa 1801
I set out on a journey to find her and I believe that I was given divine intervention with a lot of help from Archivists along that way.
In 2015 during a visit to Dublin, I visited Glasnevin Cemetery. Archivist Lyn Brady worked her magic on the keyboard and up popped a record of a Catherine Prendergast interred in Grave K64 along with 13 other Prendergast family members and some of their servants.Continue reading “Catherine Prendergast – I have found you!”→
I am back in the Whitsundays and constantly in awe of the amazing trip I enjoyed to Ireland in May/June this year.
Visiting the National Archives at Kew, I changed trains at Turnham Green Station. This is the very area where King William 111 would have been assassinated had it not been for my ancestor Sir Thomas Prendergast, 1st Baronet. I did not know this at the time but found out a few days later about the Jacobite plot with the intended ambush of his coach at Turnham Green on Saturday 15 February, 1696 and Sir Thomas Prendergast’s role in preventing the murder.
At the National Archives Kew I was delighted to read the details of Sir John Standish Surtees Prendergast Vereker, Baron Kilarton of Gort, sixth Viscount Gort, and the role he played as Commander in Chief of the British Expeditionary force at Dunkirk.
Lord Gort’s promotion to Governor of Malta and Gibralta in 1942 was exciting to read with the often hand written documents and mention of the Prime Minister of England Sir Winston Churchill, Louis Mountbatten and King George V1
Every little girl dreams of being a Princess in a Castle. We grow up with stories of Snow White and Cinderella but no one really believes that they can live in a Castle – even for a short time.
Today I felt like a Princess. As I watched the tables being laid, the flowers being arranged, the food being plated up and people running to and fro to ensure that everything was ready for my High Tea to take place in Enniscorthy Castle, I felt like a Princess.
The sun is shining, the birds are singing. What could be a better way to start the day for such an historical event? High Tea at Enniscorthy Castle. Whilst serving me yet another delicious breakfast, Moira greeted me with a “Good morning bride”. And, yes I do feel as a bride does on her special day.
Just as a wedding day takes many hours of planning and there are many people involved, so has the High Tea celebration that will be held at Enniscorthy Castle this afternoon. There are a number of people who have been involved that I would like to thank.Continue reading “Taking Tea at Enniscorthy Castle”→