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My passion is genealogy and family history. I host a podcast about Australian family history, Genies Down Under. In my day job, I work as a lecturer and a researcher in higher education, teaching pre-service teachers.

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Monday, 11 April 2016

The ninth step in my A-Z of quirky ancestor antics - I is for interesting immigration anecdotes

Most of my ancestors immigrated to Australia from Ireland, England and Wales. Down through the generations, a few interesting immigration anecdotes have survived and I've uncovered a few from other relatives and places like TROVE newspapers. Here is a small selection of the interesting immigration anecdotes from my family's history.

Margaret BUTLER from County Clare, Ireland: Rough seas, quarantine and bedbugs

One of my great-grandmothers arrived in Sydney from Kilmihil, in County Clare, on the Norval on 2 March 1880. The ship spent over a week in quarantine due to a chicken pox outbreak on board.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 3 March 1880, page 4

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 13 March 1880, page 5

Apparently when Margaret found a place to stay in Sydney, a boarding house, she put her hat down on the bed and noticed it was quickly covered with bugs. She soon found work as a governess for a doctor's family. When they asked her to travel with them to America, she refused, saying that she couldn't face another sea voyage if it was going to be anything like the trip on the ship from Ireland to Australia.

Michael BUTLER from County Clare Ireland: Shipboard romance or hometown sweethearts?

Margaret BUTLER's brother, Michael BUTLER, arrived in Sydney two years before Margaret on 22 July 1878 on the Earl Dalhousie. Also on board the ship was a young woman named Catherine CRAWFORD, also from County Clare. He married Catherine CRAWFORD on 20 October 1879 at St Augustine's Catholic Church at Balmain in Sydney. The marriage certificate recorded them both as being from County Clare but I'm not sure if they were from the same town. Since they were both from County Clare and both travelled on the same ship to Australia, it seems that they either met on the ship or were friends already from the old country.

Catherine and Anne HIGGINS from County Galway: Reunited after 18 years

One of my great-great grandmothers, Catherine CARRICK (nee HIGGINS), arrived on the La Hogue in Sydney with her husband, Thomas CARRICK, and five children, on 23 October 1880 from County Galway, Ireland. Catherine and her family were sponsored by her sister, Ann KELLY (nee HIGGINS), who had arrived in Sydney back in 1861. The sisters were reunited in Sydney in 1880, after 18 years apart.

Catherine HIGGINS

Patrick FLEMING and Ellen TORPY from Kilkenny: Newlyweds take the trip of a lifetime

One pair of my great-great grandparents, Patrick and Ellen (nee TORPY) FLEMING were married on 3 February 1853 in Windgap, County Kilkenny, Ireland. A few months later, they arrived in Australia on 14 November 1853.

The swimmers

Although I've found quite a few records of my ancestors' immigration to Australia, I'm still looking for the so-called "swimmers" whose records I still have not found. My search continues for how these ancestors reached Australia
  • William Walter NORTHCOTE arrived about 1866 from Devon, England
  • James KINGSBURY arrived about 1885 from County Flint, Wales
  • Harriet Lysaught arrived in about 1838 from Limerick, Ireland
  • William Keneally arrived between 1879 and 1890 from Killea, County Tipperary, Ireland

Other A-Z bloggers in April 2016

Also, thanks to Pauleen Cass at her Family history across the seas blog for collating a bunch of great A-Z April bloggers:

Sunday Summary – A to Z of the bloggers involved in the Blogging from A-Z Challenge (April 2016).



  1. Several of my Irish were members of that same swimming team.

  2. With all our swimmers we should be Olympic standard :)

    I loved seeing your Kilmihil ancestor Margaret Butler - love the dress style too.

    Will pm you about some of your Clare rellies.

  3. Oops, forgot to say, thanks for the link mention.

  4. I wouldn't be surprised if some of our County Clare ancestors crossed paths at some stage.