Catherine Prendergast – One of the first female Land owners in Australia.

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.  

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?

I decided to delve deeper and googled the  the New South Wales Government State records and Archives site. Here I made a discovery.

New South Wales Land Grants Guide, 1788-1856

On page 2/36 it states that “Women were entitled to receive a grant of land – the first possibly being Ellenor Frazer on 20 February, 1794”. Fantastic! Now we know that Catherine Prendergast could own land. But why were we not finding anything with her first name, Catherine, on it?

Remembering that Catherine Prendergast was referred to as “Wife of John Prendergast, Windsor” and also “Wife of Jno Pender, Windsor” on the two documents referring to Catherine having Jane Williams assigned to her, I decided to take a look at the Land Registry Services NSW, Land and Property Information. The document “How to Search the Old System Grant Index 1792-1862” has been superseded now but is still available on line and has a wealth of information.

Keeping an open mind and thinking laterally as impressed upon me during my University College Cork genealogy course in 2015, I decided to trawl through the pages of beautifully hand written historical documents at the NSW Land Registry. My husband Barry became as interested as I am and continued the search when I took a break. Over the last five days we have viewed thousands of documents.

I have to admit that the Land Registry Services NSW site is not the most user friendly site that I have used. It is quite complicated to use and to find information the user needs to have a prior understanding of the what he is looking for.  For instance, the volume and Folio numbers or the serial and page numbers of a particular document. The surname initial is usually not enough. When I phoned the NSW Lands department for help I was advised that I might be better off to employ a conveyancer or a solicitor.

Not to be deterred I soldiered on and low and behold – Drum roll please – I have made two invaluable discoveries.

  1. As shown below, this property was listed under Jno Prendergast but the contents of the Deed clearly states “…..links to Prendergast’s 60 acres farm”
  2. The next Deed refers to “Prendergast’s 60 acre farm” and yet when there is a male owner, the first and surname is mentioned on every document that I have viewed.InkedJohn Prendergast index_LI
  3. John Prendergast land register
    The next Deed states “…links to land of Mrs. Pendergast”. and yet when there is a male owner, the first and surname is mentioned on every document that I have viewed.

    catherine prendergast land
    So, it was with great delight, on my 2019 visit to the New South Wales State Archives  and Records, that with the help of Jenny, John and Emily I discovered the document below that indicates the three parcels of land purchased by Mrs (Catherine) Prendergast from the original grantees of the land.

It appears to me that although Australia in the colonial days was liberal in allowing women to own land, where a woman was legally married to her husband, she, as was common law doctrine, lost her identity. Her Christian name was no longer used, she was addressed as Mrs. Prendergast in this instance and all her possessions were amalgamated with and under her husband’s ownership and control.

This might explain why her son, baby John when he grew up wrote his Will with strict instructions that his daughters were to inherit land in their own right and that their husbands were to have no control over it. But, that is another story, one I will post at a later date on my blog.

Catherine Prendergast – I have found you!


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.


As I walked through the eerily quiet older section of Glasnevin cemetery, I was the sole visitor for the day.  Just as I reached Grave K64, after much searching, a strange thing happened. Out of nowhere a little girl, aged about 4 years old appeared. She caught my attention because her parents were nowhere to be seen and I kept thinking “This is no place to leave a small child on her own” She was chasing after a Sea Gull. This in itself seemed strange as we were nowhere near the sea. As she drew near, skipping and laughing I noticed she bore an uncanny resemblance to my own daughter Gretta at that age. She was very beautiful and even had the same gorgeous glossy long black hair with pale skin and rosy cheeks. As I looked closer I started noticing more details. Her hair was not cut evenly and appeared to be ragged on the edges. Her clothes were not modern. In fact I recall seeing photos of little girls in the 18th century wearing similar clothes. She had on a pink smock, white blouse underneath with white apron over her smock. As she skipped she ruffled her dress and I could see petticoats beneath her dress. She wore thick white tights and little brown shoes that I had not seen before. They seemed to be laced up leather shoes and moulded to her feet. When I glanced away and looked back, she was gone. I never saw her again.

Although the Headstone was hard to read, I felt sure that I had found the right grave and was surprised to see how similar the vault was located in the cemetery in Dublin as it compared to John Prendergast’s family vault in Windsor, New South Wales, Australia.

Both Vaults/Graves were situated beneath a tree and each had other family members buried with them. John Prendergast has 22 family members buried with him in his vault and Catherine had 13. One of the many admirable traits of the Prendergast family is their love of family and the need to take care of all their loved ones.

K64 Glasnevin Ireland
Grave K64 Glasnevin Cemetery

Finding Grave K64 at Glasnevin Cemetery in July 2015 set me thinking. Did Catherine Prendergast die in Australia and were her remains returned to Dublin Ireland for burial? Did Catherine Prendergast return to Ireland shortly after the birth of her child and leave baby John just months old in the care of her husband and why would she do that? Were there other children from the marriage of John and Catherine who were being cared for by family in Ireland and had Catherine returned to Dublin to collect these children with the intention of taking them back to Australia? And, finally how did Catherine Prendergast travel back to Ireland?

Being a Geni Detective I had to analyse how Catherine thought, how she planned and how she put her plan into action.

Firstly, I discovered on two possible children from the marriage of John and Catherine Prendergast. The most likely one is Patrick Prendergast born in 1797. This child may well have been named after John Prendergast’s father Patrick, thus the Irish naming pattern having been adhered to. This could have been the child that Catherine rushed back to Ireland to collect.

Secondly, Catherine would have realised that John Prendergast could not take care of a New born on his own let alone run a farm and keep a house without assistance. These questions needed answers.

On Saturday December 16, 2017 whilst on a visit Sydney, I decided to conduct research at the Society of Australian Genealogists (SAG) office and met Alan Day, a volunteer who had been researching genealogy for 60 years. His knowledge was invaluable and he was very enthusiastic and helpful.

Alan helped me to find information relating to John Prendergast in the “Settlers’ Muster book of 1800” where there are two convicts renting 30 acres at Mulgrave place. One is named as James Clark and the other one is John Prendergast both convicts and with the letter P (Prisoner) beside their names. They arrived as rebels on the Minerva. Alan expressed surprise that two convicts were able to rent land whilst still prisoners. There is also interestingly, one unnamed female not listed as a convict. Was this Catherine? Did James Clark and John Prendergast both still convicts without their freedom, lease a farm or did Catherine lease the farm? Were both the convicts assigned to Catherine? They were all recorded as “Off store”. How could this be so early in their existence in the Hawkesbury? This was unusual for a Convict to be self-supporting. Was Catherine independently wealthy and able to provide for them all? We know the Muster was taken in June/July 1800 so we now know that Catherine had not yet given birth to baby John at that stage as there are no children recorded at the farm.prendergast-clark.jpg

On 14 December 1801, on board the convict ship Nile, we know that Jane Williams arrived at Port Jackson. Having read the chapter in the book “Sinners, Saints and Settlers” by Richard Reed and Brendon Kelson, I read recall how Convicts were selected and assigned to free settlers.  Along with many wealthy English wives of important men in the colony, waiting on the docks to hand pick the Irish girls for servants was one very gutsy, intelligent and independently wealthy Irish female by the name of Catherine Prendergast. Catherine on the other hand picked an English girl to be her Governess for baby John and Housekeeper for John Prendergast. Fortunately for the survival of our Prendergast family Jane took great care of baby John and John senior as no harm came to them. They thrived and prospered and 6 generations later I am here to tell the tale.

Catherine-Jane Williams - 1
Jane Williams assigned to Wife of J. Prendergast (Catherine)
Catherine-Jane Williams
Jane Williams assigned to Wife of J. Prendergast (Catherine)

What proof do we have that Jane Williams was assigned to Catherine Prendergast? On Friday 15 December, with the help of Gillian at the Australian National Maritime Museum at Darling Harbour in Sydney, I finally found the information that I have been waiting for so long to discover. My cousin Mark was with me and as delighted as I was to find this latest information.

Above we have a copy of the NSW State Records and Archives document indicating that Jane Williams is assigned to Wife of J. Prendergast, Windsor

On Saturday 16 December whilst trolling through “Find my Past” citing the NSW State Records and Archives, I discovered the record that states Jane Williams was assigned to the “Wife of Jno Prender, Windsor”. These two records prove that Catherine hand picked Jane to take care of baby John and John Senior and that she survived the birth of baby John. Picture1

As for how Catherine returned to Ireland, I have yet to discover the answer to that question along with the many other questions that have arisen during the quest to find Prendergast ancestry.

As for the little girl in Glasnevin Cemetery, when I got back home to the Whitsundays in 2015, I read all the names of the others interred in K64 and found that a little girl by the name of Catherine Prendergast aged 4 had been buried there. When I googled “Life threatening illness prevalent in the 18th Century with their symptoms”, I discovered that Cholera caused hair loss and breakage, thus explaining the state of her hair. The record does not show the cause of death but the little child that I “saw” may well have been the little child Catherine who is buried along with her Grandmother Catherine Prendergast.




An Australian first



How many Australian Academics can proudly announce that they have been  invited to deliver a paper at the Conference “Clans and Surnames”, Nenagh, Tipperary in Ireland scheduled for May, 2017?  I am thrilled to announce that I can. I was over the moon when Lorna Moloney, the well respected Irish Genealogist invited me to deliver a paper on my Prendergast family.

What a wonderful Genealogy year this invitation has capped off for me!

Following my research visit to Ireland to study at the University College Cork Genealogy Summer School in June 2015, I have had the pleasure of conducting 7 workshops throughout our Whitsunday Community this year. During the research and development of the Workshops to be delivered,  I learned a lot about the process of Preserving, Conserving and Restoring precious heirlooms and Documents.

At the Whitsunday Regional Council Library in Cannonvale October 19, 2016, we were delighted to have Rachael Spano, Senior Conservator of the State Library of Queensland, via Skype, generously donate her time to impart her extensive knowledge in the art of Preservation, Conservation and Restoration. It was a most interesting segment. workshop-117102016

I enjoyed studying at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow for the 6 week on line genealogy course commencing in April . The course was entitled – Genealogy: Researching your family tree.I found this course to be most useful, well researched, well presented with easy to follow lectures on a competent Computer interface. I would highly recommend this course.

In November supported by a RADF grant awarded jointly by the Whitsunday Regional Council and the Queensland Government, I flew down to Sydney to attend the SAG Seminar : Lost in Immigration and Travel. During the four days I was in Sydney I took the opportunity  to conduct research at the State Records of New South Wales and the Mitchell Library – part of the State Library of NSW.

Mitchell Library
Mitchell Library


With all the Australian and Irish research that I have conducted this year and the information I have collated, I can’t wait to co-present “Conservation and Collection care of your valuable family heirloom and documents” jointly with Lorna Moloney on 18 May, 2017 Clans and Surnames Conference in Nenagh, Tipperary, Ireland.

The following day 19 May, 2017, I will be delighted to deliver the Prendergast paper explaining all the research that I have undertaken with the help of many Archivists, genealogists, professors and experts from the various repositories around the world at the Clans and Surnames Conference. 




Catherine Prendergast – Where are you ?

catherine-prendergast-biographical-pdfThe quest to find Catherine Prendergast has become an obsession of mine. Catherine is my 5x Grandmother and deserves to have her rightful place in our family recognised.

In the Biographical Database of Australia, Catherine has been identified as Person ID: X#91011106202. spouse (1) Catherine Prendergast (-c1801); married RC, IRL issue by (1) John (c1800-1867) we know to be John Prendergast Jnr born in the colony of New South Wales in 1800 shortly after the arrival of his parents John and Catherine Prendergast.

John Prendergast Jnr. went on to become a very wealthy land owner and respected community philanthropist in both the Campbelltown and Monaro districts. He married firstly Elizabeth Dwyer and following her untimely death he later married Emma Shiels nee Taylor. He fathered 12 children.

What do we know about Catherine? Actually very little. We do know that John Prendergast Jnr. was recorded as BC –Born in the Colony. This proves that Catherine was living on Australian soil at the time she gave birth to Baby John. Did she arrive as a free settler on board the Minerva? We know that no rebel worth his salt would have willingly left behind his wife and family following the 1798 Rebellion because they would have received retribution of the most vicious kind.

In the book that John Washington price, the Ship’s surgeon penned, “The  Minerva Journal”, he states that there were 4 unnamed passengers. Could Catherine have been one of these passengers? And if so, why is she not named?

There is a female (unnamed) listed on the 1802 Muster  at John Prendergast’s property. Again why no name? For that matter, how could John Prendergast, as a Convict have another convict Jane Williams assigned to him as his Governess and Housekeeper – after all, only free settlers were afforded this privilege? Did Catherine hand-pick Jane to take care of Baby John and to be housekeeper to John Prendergast Senior knowing she had to return to Ireland to take care of their other children?

If John Prendergast (Senior) followed the Irish custom of naming his first born son after his own father, then by rights Baby John should actually have been named Patrick after John snr’s father who was also baptised in Dublin at St. Nicholas of Myra church.

Were there other children from John and Catherine Prendergast’s marriage in Ireland? I have found a Patrick Prendergast born 1766  in Dublin who was recorded as a Soldier. He became a discharged soldier due to ill health. Patrick Prendergast had been working as a Weaver. John Prendergast was also recorded as being a Weaver. Patrick later in life was recorded as living in a workhouse in south Dublin. This Workhouse is located in the same area that the Prendergast family home was. However they lived in a large house in the Mansion Ward. Patrick  may well be an older brother of our John Prendergast thus his name following in the family naming pattern.

I have also found the marriage and death record of a Patrick Prendergast born in Dublin 1797.Could this child be the son born to Catherine and John Prendergast prior to John’s third arrest and subsequent transportation to Australia?

A Librarian in Wexford believes that John Prendergast may have been married to Catherine Fitzgerald. Brian Cleary, a Historian from Wexford linked the Prendergast family and Fitzgerald family with several recorded business transactions. The Fitzgerald family was a very influential family in Ireland-in the 1700s. Lord Edward Fitzgerald who was a leader and died as a consequence of the 1798 Rebellion. He was also the brother of the Duke – the highest aristocracy in Ireland.

In the biography of John Prendergast’s wife,Veronica C.E.O’Brien Sitton states that John Prendergast came from one of the  distinguished Norman-Irish families of Ireland. We know that John Prendergast was a descendant of Maurice and Philip de Prendergast. These Knights came from Wales with Strongbow in 1169 to help the King of Leinster, Diarmuid MacMurrough  to regain Leinster. They were rewarded with land and built Enniscorthy Castle amongst other Castles in Ireland.

Also,was there money brought out to Australia by Catherine who travelled as a free settler and assisted John Prendergast to start buying land shortly after his arrival in Australia? Under early Colonial laws, John would not have been permitted to own land until he was a free settler? What proof do we have that John Prendergast actually earned his freedom?

Another question that a number of Genealogists have asked is, if John never received his Ticket of Freedom, could he have received Land Grants? We have proof that he did receive Land Grants on a number of occasions. This would not have been possible if he was still a convict.

Could land have been bought in Catherine’s name? Could grants have been received in his sons names? Recently I have noticed that a number of former convicts have purchased land or applied for grants in their children’s names. I noticed that John had written a memorial on behalf of his son Thomas.

Because Catherine vanishes from the Australian records following John Prendergast jnr’s birth in 1800, I have made extensive enquiries as to where Catherine Prendergast might be buried in Australia. I checked the records for Sydney’s first official cemetery dating back to the 1790s. It was known as the “George Street Burial ground”, the “Cathedral close Cemetery” and, retrospectively, the “Town Hall Cemetery”. It was used for 27 years. It is situated where Sydney Town Hall now sits in George Street Sydney.

By 1820 the cemetery had reached capacity so an alternative site was chosen. It was named Brickfield Hill. The human remains from the Town Hall were re-interred here but later, when the need to establish a new Cemetery due to the decision to build Central Railway on the location of Brickfield Hill was made, the bodies were once again exhumed and re-interred at Rookwood Necropolis in 1869.

I have made contact with all these Repositories who hold records for these Cemeteries but there is no listing of our Catherine Prendergast.

Knowing how strong the Prendergast Catholic faith is, I believe that John Prendergast would not have laid Catherine to rest in unhallowed ground and there would be a record of her Catholic burial if she died in Australia. I am aware that the Catholic Religion was banned from 1804 until 1814 due to the continued battle of Vinegar Hill staged at Castle Hill in Sydney’s Outer Western Suburbs.The records for Catherine cease in 1801 well before the ban in 1804 began.

When I visited Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin in July 2015, Lynn Brady,  the archivist felt sure that it is my Catherine who is buried in K64. As she explained, the address on the Cemetery Record of Catherine along with her Prendergast family and servants  is in the Francis Street Parish which is the right area of Dublin. They lived in a Mansion house in Peter’s Row which is now a backpackers Hostel. Catherine died in the June of 1833 and John Prendergast died in January 1833.glasnevin-cemetry-k64

I have discovered two Wills, one number apart. They were both made in Dublin. One for a J. Prendergast and the other, a Catherine Prendergast. Grant dated for both 1833. As they are recorded one number apart, it sounds as if they made their Wills together and on the same day. Is this our John and is this his Catherine?.

Also, the records all show that John Prendergast Snr. died in Australia Intestate. He had distributed most of his property prior to his death. William Prendergast, the youngest child still living at home inherited that property. In 1839 John Prendergast jnr. Bought a large quantity of land in several regions. Was this due to an inheritance from Ireland?.

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Sydney Family Genealogy Research


Visit to State Records of New South Wales.

Friday 4th November, 2016.

Excited to be visiting the New South Wales State Records today, I was running on Adrenalin. I had wanted to visit State Records for so long to conduct research. I needed to check out some details that did not make sense.image16

My walk to Town Hall station was very enjoyable as the weather is just beautiful. Warm and sunny with a gentle breeze – a perfect spring day. My train trip to Penrith from Town Hall went very smoothly.

The train departed on time and arrived in Penrith on time as well. I even managed to sit in one of the four “quiet carriages” that are allocated on longer distance Sydney trains for people like me who wish to Spend their travelling time reading or studying

I will be presenting the latest family history information at my Workshop in the Whitsunday Regional Council Cannonvale Library on my return. It is scheduled  for Wednesday 9 November which is the day after I arrive home. I intend to research and develop my course content along the way and then record the information as I discover it. You could not ask for more up to date information than that.

I have taken this travelling time to put in writing the questions that other Prendergast family Researchers have asked over the years.

These questions refer to what appears to be the incomplete records regarding the Minerva ship’s index. There has always been the belief that John Prendergast died intestate – is this so?Was there a Will for John Prendergast senior? Seeing  the number of pages for John Prendergast (jnr) Will, when Cousin Mark transcribed it, he believed that some pages are missing. If we find those missing pages,  what will they tell us.I have always wondered what the relationship between John and John junior was like? Will we find any documents that reveal their relationship? I will view several original documents that The State Records of New South Wales Repository is holding and has agreed to take out of their Safe to have ready for me.

Cousin Mark collected me from Penrith Railway station and I was grateful for the lift as the NSW State Records Repository is quite some way out of Penrith.

Our arrival at State Records was greeted by a very friendly and helpful Security guard who provided a vistors pass and registered our presence in the Repository.

We walked up the stairs to the Reader’s room, leaving my bag in a locker and received my pre-booked Readers card  so that we could view the pre-booked original documents. This is not permitted if you do not hold a Reader’s card. Mark who has visited the Repository on several occasions, already holds a Readers card.

There is no comparison to putting your hands on the original documents written by your ancestor, in my case, over 200 years ago. It is almost a spiritual sensation as you become witness to the lives they lived so long ago, written in their hand and using the language of that time.

Mark and I had a very exciting day making discoveries that have eluded the Prendergast family Researchers over many years. If there is anyone who would like to share our discoveries, please leave a comment and I will get back to you.

By viewing documents, reading the fiche reels and being guided by staff, I made some incredible discoveries about John Prendergast’s ships indents, John Prendergast’s Will, a dispute between John Prendergast and son John and I gathered quite a considerable amount of information not seen previously.

By donning the white gloves and trawling through the original, often delicate documents that the kind staff at State Records of NSW had taken out of their safe in preparation for my visit, I was able to put further pieces of the puzzle together. As my excitement grew, the staff offered us several other documents that they thought I would like to view. 

It was a very satisfying trip to the State Records of NSW and I hope to make another visit soon.

SAG Seminar

Saturday 5th November, 2016.

The sun shone brightly as I made my way to the Mitchell Library for the SAG Seminar “Lost in Immigration and Travel”

All along the way, I stopped to take photographs of the beautiful historical Sandstone buildings that mean so much more to me now that I realise they were built in my 5x Grandfather John Prendergast’s time. I now know that the Prendergast family contributed to the cost of building St. Mary’s Catholic Cathedral.image7

Several other ladies heading in my direction stopped to say hello and introduce themselves to me. They really are a friendly group.

On arrival at the Mitchell Library, it was lovely to be greeted by my friend Christine whom I have been keeping in touch with since our meeting at UCC Genealogy school last year. We could’nt wait to catch up on all our news.

The Seminar commenced with a warm welcome by Martyn Killion the president of SAG.

Also, I was pleased to hear the “Äcknowledgement of country” and the respect  paid to the “Traditional Custodians” when Michelle Patient commenced her presentation.

Michelle continued by giving an overview of the day’s proceedings. I was  not surprised when Michelle asked all in attendance to put our Cameras away and not take photos and to not copy any handouts from the Seminar.

Having just completed two Genealogy courses in the UK and having  plagiarism explained in the strictest terms during my UNE advanced diploma course, I realise that there are severe penalties for  stealing Intellectual property.

As a qualified Work place Trainer and assessor, who is also a qualified Mature age student teacher with qualifications accredited through Melbourne University, I understand the hours that an Educator and Genealogy  Researcher puts in to Research develop and deliver a bespoke course and  also the cost involved.

Along with every other Blogger I put away my camera and took out my pen and paper and made copious notes that I will use to construct the contents of my Workshop.

Michelle Patient then delivered her paper “Exodus to the Southern Seas”using information that she has researched throughout Australia and New Zealand. She made a point of telling us what media she had used and whether it was from her own private collection or free public access.

The well regarded writer and speaker Kerry Farmer then shared her research  into 19th Century Immigration Schemes to Australia. Like the experienced Genealogist sitting beside me was over heard to say to her neighbour “I have never heard of half these Organisations” I started hastily recording the names of these schemes to share at the a workshop on Wednesday as I believe they will be of enormous help to all the attendees.

After lunch, Emily Hanna who has been of enormous help to me during the times that I have emailed her, gave us a handout freely available at the NSW State Records and then went on to explain Shipping And arrival Records and how to locate them.

A very informative paper was presented by David Berg of the NSW State Library who showed many slides of historical ships during his talk and advised the availability of the photos in the Mitchell Library and where we can locate this information on line.

Brian Scales of the National Archives, NSW State office, yes not in Canberra at present but in every Capital city of each State in Australia, shared his extensive knowledge with us. His expertise is in the field of 20th Century Migration. He explained that their Website was designed to cater to all the demographics, school children, casual researchers, Genealogists and Statisticians doing serious Research. step by step we progressed through their website dealing with Genealogy. He simplified what could be a laborious task.

All in all, my attendance at the SAG Seminar on Saturday has proved to be invaluable and tomorrow promises to be just as exciting. 

Sunday 5th November, 2016.

imageAnother beautiful day in Sydney. It is so delightful strolling through the beautiful Hyde Park gardens to get to the Mitchell Library where our SAG Seminar is being held.

Today our Presenters included Ralph Hawkins who divulged what a varied collection SAG holds in their Library and Midas collection. It will be well worth a visit to Richmond Villas where the collections are held.

It was interesting to listen to another of the Australian Genealogists who provided information in their area of expertise on “Who do you think you are?” Christine Yeates did not disappoint. Her presentation “Soldier, sailor, exile or convict: how did you get here? Was very well delivered and I felt that I came away with a greater knowledge and a brilliant “select list of references”

Martyn Killion who began his illustrious career in Genealogy at an age so young his mother had to chauffeur him around to Repositories, gave some very practical advice on how to search for those Ancestors who are well and truly still swimming.

At the conclusion of the SAG Seminar, we were guided by a think Tank with all the presenters on a panel discussing and answering any questions that the Attendees still had.

I have met some other Genealogists and made many new contacts during the SAG Seminar.

I have a wealth of new ideas and some announcements to make on the latest developments in Genealogy research and will delight in sharing them with the advanced family historians on Wednesday at the Workshop at the Cannonvale Library.

The Mitchell Library Reading Room


The Land granted to John Prendergast 1816


Grant Signature Lachlan Macquarie fifth

Governor of New South Wales from 1810 – 1821


The large Colonial seal of N.S.W Government


Sydney Central Railway Station,

previously Sydney Burial Ground

until all remains exhumed 1901.

Monday 7th November, 2016.

The weather again was perfect and I enjoyed my stroll through Hyde Park to The Mitchell Library. I have an appointment to meet Cousin Mark in the Special Collections area of the Mitchell Library so that he can get a Special Collections card in order to view the documents I have requested to be taken from the Safe. I have held a Special Collections card for a number of years now and it allows me to view information restricted to other Library card holders.

On time at 12.45pm, we both proceeded to the Special Collections area to sign Mark up for a Special Collections card. The process was very swift and expecting it to take longer, I had planned to speak to the lovely Librarian of Information and Access Julie Sweeten when she arrived for work at 2pm. Julie has provided excellent service regarding my pre-order for the original documents of John Prendergast.

Firstly Julie rang me here in the Whitsundays to ensure that she had the correct details for the documents. Then she emailed me the night before my arrival to ensure that I had directions for where to collect them. She also added that she hoped to see me when she arrived for work.

Because we were a little earlier than expected and Julie had arranged our pre-order, the other staff at first had difficulty locating the documents. To be fair, some did not have access permission to the Safe as so many valuable documents are held there and along with all Repositories these days, there is tight security.

We initially started viewing the Microfilm but found that when printed, the copies came out too dark to be able to read.

Julie arrived at 2pm and the staff rang her from the Reading room. When she came downstairs, she warmely greeted us and happily retrieved from the Safe, the 1816 Land Grant of John Prendergast for us to view. Again we donned the White gloves.

It was so exciting being able to view the large and original document printed on beautiful cream coloured parchment, the flowing and elegant hand writing, use of historical legal jargon and the authentic signature of Lachlan Macquarie, the fifth Governor of New South Wales.It made it well worth the trip to the Mitchell Library.

Julie asked if we would mind if the rest of the Staff could take a look at the document and like me, they were so excited to be seeing it. They commented that we must be very proud of our 5x Grandfather being granted land at Airds so early in the history of the Colony and I must admit that I do feel enormous pride in my Ancestors as they all played a significant role in making Australia the wonderful country it is today.

I was sad to learn that the other records I requested could not be taken out of the safe as they are too valuable, fragile and delicate. The fear that they might crumble prevents them from being viewed.

after our Preservation, Conservation and Restoration Workshop with Rachel Spano of the Queensland State Library, I do wonder what steps to remedy this situation can be taken. After all, what is the point in keeping documents in the collection if no-one is able to view them?

The wording on the Grant of Land “I DO BY THESE PRESENTS, GIVE and GRANT JOHN PRENDERGAST , His Heirs and Assigns to HAVE and to HOLD FOR EVER, Fifty Acres of land” etc. reminded me that we do not own our family or country’s history but are custodians for future generations. The greatest legacy that we can leave our children, Grand children and the people of Australia, is the recorded history of their family.

Family History Workshops at Cannonvale Library

Jacqui, the Arts and Culture Officer – RADF Liaison Officer gave a very interesting presentation regarding what Art and Cultural projects a RADF Grant can be used for. I was very grateful that I was awarded a RADF Grant that assisted me to travel to Ireland in June/July/August 2015 to attend the UCC Genealogy Summer School, the Archives visit to Dublin and the 1798 Re-enactment in Enniscorthy, Wexford Ireland.

WORKSHOP 1 – An introduction to Family History

We enjoyed a very successful “Who do you think you are” presentation and Workshop at the Whitsunday Regional Council, Cannonvale Library on 17 August, 2016.

I was delighted that 3 members of the Whitsunday Family History Group came along to assist. Thank you Linda, Elizabeth and Neil.

5 members of the Bowen Family History group drove to Cannonvale for the Workshop. 20 other interested novice Genealogists participated and judging from the feed back we received, learned a lot from the Workshop.

During this Workshop the Enniscorthy DVD that Barry made featuring my photos and narration was shown. Each Participant was given a Pedigree sheet and a family group sheet amongst other hand outs.

An overview of what important Records to locate and keep was explained. Later a hands-on session of participants using the Library edition of “” on the Computer was appreciated by many attendees who had never used this programme previously.

Workshop 117102016


WORKSHOP 2 – How to trace and commence recording your family tree.

The Beginners Workshop held on 21 September, 2016 introduced novice Genealogists to important Records and web sites to research their Ancestors. Participants were able to locate Forbears in the UK, Ireland and Europe. One participant was delighted to find the details of her Grandmother,an Indigenous lady who was fostered during the period in Australia known at the “Lost Generation”. Most of the beginners were able to report that they had found lost relatives. It was a very rewarding Workshop.

Workshop 19-10

WORKSHOP 3 – Preservation of treasured Heirlooms – a guide to protecting your personal collections.

We held our third Workshop at Whitsunday Regional Council Cannonvale Library on Wednesday 19 October, 2016.

rachelDuring this Workshop we featured a Skype with Rachel Spano, the Senior Conservator of the State Library of Queensland, imagewho advised one-on-one about Preservation, Conservation and Restoration with a Q & A following. We learned how to prevent Mould from damaging our personal Collections by constant monitoring of temperature, no hotter than 26 degrees and avoiding humidity.image Rachel also outlined the various storage boxes to us to help conquer the challenges of living in the Tropics. After the Skype, each participant constructed a “Four Flap Enclosure” to preserve their valuable documents. Thank you Whitsunday Regional Council for supplying some of the materials and equipment. Thank you Archival Survival for supplying precious collections samples for the Workshop. And, Thank you to Rachel for delivering a very well received Skype Presentation that was voted by the participants as having exceeded their expectations!


Proposed planning for Workshop 4 – Advanced Research for experienced Genealogists.

This Workshop will include my report about the SAG Seminar that I am due to attend in Sydney on the Weekend of the 5th & 6th November.The Seminar will cover the latest information and Research techniques. I will also advise the strategies that I used to get the best out of my Repositories visits in Sydney. We will discuss the brick walls that we have encountered and by using the latest technology, how we can overcome these.

At the end of the Workshop, the participants will be invited to make suggestion of what topics they would like to have included in the Workshops that will be held next year at the Whitsunday Regional Council Cannonvale Library.

SAG Seminar, Sydney

I am delighted to be attending the Society of Australian Genealogists (SAG) Seminar “Lost in Immigration & Travel” in Sydney 5&6 November to be held at the Mitchell Library. To find out more about the Seminar please click on the link

I am looking forward to meeting up with my friend Christine at the SAG Seminar. We met when we were both attending the University College Cork Genealogy Summer school last year. It will be great to compare our Genealogy research notes over the past 12 months.

During my visit to Sydney, I will be driving with my cousin Mark who is also the 5x Grand child of John Prendergast to Kingswood to visit the New South Wales State Records. There we will be privileged  to view the original documents of John Prendergast.

Sarah from NSW State Records rang today to ask me which Records I would like to see. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am that I will be able to put my hands on (albeit wearing white gloves) documents that are over 200 years old and written or signed and sealed by my 5x Grandfather!

Following the SAG Seminar, Cousin Mark and I will be visiting the Mitchell Library in the New South Wales State Library, Sydney where I have been invited to view the original documents of John Prendergast. These are items of their special collections and will be taken out of their Safe just for our visit.

09-11WORKSHOP 4 – Advanced Research for experienced Genealogists.

We held out 4th Workshop of the series at the Whitsunday Regional Council’s Cannonvale Library on Wednesday 9th November, the day after my return from a very hectic but rewarding Repositories research trip and SAG Seminar in Sydney.

With my head spinning from all the new discoveries that I had made at the State Records of NSW and the Mitchell Library, along with all the new information imparted to us at the SAG Seminar, I couldn’t wait to deliver a memorable Workshop.

I decided that I would help break down the participants “Brick Walls”by shaking them out of their comfort zones. So many researchers who have been delving into their family histories over many years have set ideas about where their families came from, how they got here, what their lives were like and what sort of people they were.

Today I decided that if the participants were going to be able to break down their “Brick walls” that like the participants at the SAG Seminar, we would have to think laterally, not have preconceived ideas. And we would have to be prepared to take a new tack.

So, after the initial welcome and synopsis of the day’s Workshop content, instead of conducting a presentation, I started firing questions at them. What years did Queensland, South Australia,Tasmania and Victoria break away from NSW? Did they know that New Zealand was originally part of NSW? Did they know whether their Ancestors sailed as unassisted passengers to the colony or whether they arrived under an assisted immigrants scheme. What was the name of that scheme? Where did they first land in Australia. Did they settle there and then move on? Were they aware that our Ancestors were very mobile? What type of work did they do? What year was the first immigration Flight, not ship to Australia? What events occurred in their Ancestors lives. There were quite a few surprised looks.

Then we adjourned to the Computer room where “” was already set up for us. This time I asked the participants to click out of because today we were going to explore other avenues for researching additional records using Repositories that led to the exact same sites.

When I asked the attendees where their ancestors first lived in Australia and they all replied Queensland, they looked shocked when I asked each of them to go to various Computer sites that were NOT in Queensland. State Library of Victory, State Records of N.S.W, State Library of South Australia were just some that I chose for each participant to search for information.

When one attendee clicked on the State Library of Queensland, I asked her to click on a link which she did and she was totally surprised when up came the National Archives (which she protested “but that is in London!”) I then showed her how to get into Records of Convicts in N.S.W. on this site. Later I showed the attendees Baptism Records of Ireland in another area of this site.

What I was showing the participants was that World wide other Repositories hold records for Australia as do Australian Repositories for other countries.

I also wanted the attendees to take off their blinkers and think more widely. By searching International and Australian resource sites such as the State/County Records offices, State/county and National Libraries as well as State/County and National Archives along with the very useful sites, and Find my Past (amongst others) new discoveries would be made.

In order to break down “Brick Walls” we have to embrace new technology and information and be prepared to keep an open mind when searching the on line, constantly changing resources of each Repository. If the opportunity arises, there is nothing quite like getting your hands on the original documents but it is important to follow the guide lines of each Repository for planning your visit to avoid being disappointed on your arrival.

Next year I look forward to conducting a new series of Workshops at the Whitsunday Regional Council Libraries, writing a book on my Prendergast Ancestors here in Australia, accompanying a group of enthusiastic Genealogists to Ireland and presenting a paper on the Quest to find Prendergast family history in Ireland.

In my travels I will delight in meeting more living Prendergast family members and revisiting the lovely Irish people who made my trip to Ireland so wonderful last year.