John Prendergast – Irish rebel or convicted felon?

Over the past 8 years, during my quest to find Prendergast ancestry, a number of people have asked me “Was John Prendergast a rebel or a convicted falon?”

Slowly, with the changes to the privacy laws in Ireland and the launch of the Catholic parish records 8 July 2015 that information is being released on line. I was delighted to be an invited guest at the launch of the Catholic Parish records and excited to be introduced to Enda Kenny on this momentous occasion. The information from these church records forms the basis of my research into the Irish Prendergast family.

Photograph of me with Enda Kenny

John Prendergast was baptised in Dublin at the St. Nicholas of Myra church. This catholic church is located in the same street that John and his family lived, Francis Street, Dublin. Although it is not publicly available on line, I do have documentation to confirm that the Prendergast family lived in Francis Street for many years.

Following several emails between Ruan O’Donnell and myself, I have been able to construct a plausible explanation of John Prendergast’s status.

In his email to me in February, Doctor Ruan O’Donnell, head of the history department at the University of Limerick advised me that Wicklow rebels and their families often hid out at Francis Street “when things were very hot” and that Francis Street is where the ‘Sun Inn’ was the meeting place for the Leinster directorate of the United Irishment. It would appear that John Prendergast was an Irish rebel and involved with several members of the Society of United Irishmen.

* Dr. O’Donnell has conducted research and studies both here in Australia and in Ireland and is a well known expert on the 1798 Rebellion. He has published several books. The title of the book I read is “The Rebellion in Wicklow, 1798. If you are a member and would like to read it, the book is available from the State Library of NSW. The CALL NUMBERS is N941.807/1

Bond, Oliver Cromwell | Dictionary of Irish Biography (

Oliver bond was a leader in the Leinster Directorate. Both Oliver Bond’s home and John Prendergast’s homes were situated in the Liberty district of Dublin, Oliver Bond’s home was at 9 Lower Bridge Street which was 1 minute’s walk from John Prendergast’s Francis Street home. Oliver Bond was a wool merchant and John Prendergast a weaver.

Copy of Perkin Papers document

(given to me by my mum, fellow researcher Lorna Prendergast)

Although this document is dated 20 May 1798, we know that the 1798 rebellion did not commence until 23 May, 1798. This document details the interrogation of John Pender (Prendergast) and confirms the family story that John Prendergast was a rebel. Following the arrests on 12 March 1798, 14 members of the Leinster directorate whose leader was Oliver Bond were imprisoned, the other members who got away were being watched. John Prendergast was arrested in April for a petty crime, tried and transported to Australia.

John Prendergast was transported to Australia on board the Minerva. There is a great account of that journey and biographies of most of the rebels in Barbara Hall’s book “The Rebel Ship Minerva – From Ireland to Sydney, 1800.

From when he arrived in Australia 11 January 1800 until his death 27 January 1833, records show the majority of John Prendergast’s business and social dealings were with fellow passengers/rebels who were transported to Australia with him on board the Minerva.

The trial of John Prendergast in Dublin

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, were mere words to me.

Because I wanted to visualize the scene, based on the details in John’s court hearing and knowing that there were three Prendergast families, all related living in Dublin in the 1700’s, I decided to plot John’s route as he tried to escape on the night of his capture on an historical 1798 map of Dublin. 


Continue reading “The trial of John Prendergast in Dublin”

Repository Visit to Sydney.

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.

View from Sydney University Village accommodation

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.

New South Wales Land Registry Services

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.

Mitchell Library safe
Continue reading “Repository Visit to Sydney.”

Fond memories and exciting new research

Saturday 19 August, 2017

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


Lord Gort is descended from Maurice de Prendergast, as am I. Continue reading “Fond memories and exciting new research”

Following the Prendergast trail down the East Coast of Australia.

The Quest to find Prendergast family continues.

Genealogy begins with you! To ensure that no stone is left unturned, we begin the challenge of putting the family history pieces together with the information that we already know but may not have collated about our family. Our siblings, parents and grandparents are our most immediate source of information.

We then move on to the next generation who by the time we commence our genealogy research may have passed on and we are relying on discovering details of their lives through older living relatives or at the various on line sites or at various repositories.

The most accurate way to gather information is to visit your living relatives and in a relaxed atmosphere, talk about their memories of family members. Along the way they may dig up documents to show you that you can then photo copy and add to your research. Nothing beats sighting a primary document.

It is always a good idea to let your relatives and the various repositories know of your plan to visit well in advance. Tell them what you are hoping to discover and enlist their valuable help. Once you have set your dates ask them to keep these dates free so that you don’t miss seeing them as they have prior engagements for these dates. This saves a lot of time and disappointment in not seeing that very special person that you really want to find that important detail from!

And so, the quest to find Prendergast family continues.

I decided that the fastest, most accurate and fun way to piece together the missing parts of my Australian branch of the Prendergast family is to visit them, sit down over a cup of tea and chat about what they know of the Prendergast family.

I have let them know that I am coming to visit through other relatives, emails and telephone calls. I have advised the dates that I will be in the region and when booking accommodation in these regions have let the owners know of my quest to find Prendergast family. Already I have had success!I have a team of very enthusiastic Prendergast family members, Archivists, Librarians, Conservationists and even local Mayors awaiting our visits. This is so exciting.


As you can see from the Map above this will be one epic journey. We will travel through 4 states, stay in 12 locations and stop every two hours while we are driving. We will cover more than 6,000 kilometers in 27 days and we will stay in 12 different types of accommodation. Everything from Riverside cottages, City Executive Apartments, B&B farm stays, Self catered duplexes, country homes, grand country homes to hotels and Motels. Continue reading “Following the Prendergast trail down the East Coast of Australia.”

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. Continue reading “Sydney Family Genealogy Research”