From One Irish Convict
The McVillys in Australia, 1823-2004.
David McVilly, copyright July 2004,
This family history is dedicated to all of my family.
Brothers and Sisters
Who was my fatherís fatherís father?
Am I related to you?
A good hobby to lead us into history,
To understand our prejudices,
To play detective with the past.
To keep the past in our memory.
And a good way of making friends.
But keep it in perspective.
We are all brothers and sisters,
And the fleeting present flies past.
We struggle to find the still point.
Our mothers and fathers live in our memories,
Our ancient ancestors less so.
Therefore our energies are better spent
On our present brothers and sisters.Chapters
Introduction. A biased family history!
Chapter One. Generation One. From Ireland to England to Australia. 1792-1849.
Chapter Two. Generation Two. From England to Australia. The three children in Australia, 1827-1884.
Chapter Three. Generation Three. Life and death in Tasmania, 1841-1914.
The "red and the black."
Chapter Four. Generation Four. From Tasmania to Victoria. 1875-1938.
Chapter Five. Generation Five. A Hairdresser in Gardenvale. 1930-1985.
Chapter Six. The Hundred Plus. Generation Six, Seven, Eight and Nine. 1930 onwards.
Chapter Seven. Before Generation One. The McEvillys of Ireland. A thousand years in two pages.
My father paid Lilian D. Watson of Tasmania to do research beyond his memories of a Schoolmaster grandfather and a great grandfather who had a ring, perhaps a toll keeperís ring or stamp. No doubt his father told him about these things as he never knew his grandfather. Dad also wrote letters or tried to contact every McVilly he thought could help in the search.
Lilian assiduously traced Dadís family back to William and Margaret. Dad was told by his best friend, Father John Ashe, the Parish Priest of St Finbarís, that William and Margaret McVilley were from Ireland. His source was Irish Families, the entry under MacEvilly, Staunton. This was confirmed when my nephew generously procured the "McVilly coat of arms" for Dad while on an overseas trip. As there was no evidence linking the two names, using the principle of Occamís razor, I preferred the entry that I found in a book of Scottish surnames which I found in the State Library during the 1960Ďs.. This entry stated that McVilly was a name "first appearing about five hundred years ago in Scotland" meaning "son of Willy".
The motto on the Coat of Arms was "En Dieu Ma Foy" (On God is My Reliance"), a statement which helped Dad survive life and even reach happiness and love with my mother. Dad was happy and was not eager to do any more research. Mum was happy because Dad was happy and they could get on with the present. Thank you Mum for not allowing Dad to call me Finbar!
Gradually, Mum and Dad handed the baton to myself especially when people came to him requesting information. Dad and I agreed to differ and I decided that William was press-ganged in Scotland to fight against Napoleon and then at the end of the wars was dumped on the streets of London to drift into a life of poverty and crime. This theory was influenced by one of the most knowledgeable historians I knew and by the book The Life Adventures of John Nicol Mariner 1776-1801 edited by Tim Flannery (Text Publishing, 1997 ).Now it is time for me to stop looking back, document what has been discovered and also try to be happy in the present. All other contributors and references are mentioned in the text or in the references. The rest is my responsibility.
The story is subjective and written with one line in the forefront. The first two chapters will be relevant to all McVillys in Australia. Younger McVillys should be able to trace themselves if they talk to their oldest living relative. I have never failed to fit an enquirer in yet, though as the years go by it may become more difficult. There are many loose connections and unanswered questions but someone else will have to follow these up.
I have tried to place the whole story in its historical context but have tried to avoid discussing the living or their loved ones. The only exception to the latter principle is with my parents where I do share my memories.
My wife, Meloney, with a far richer background and longer family history than myself, has helped and supported me. She came out to Australia in 1965 when the "white Australiaí policy was in force. Incredibly, you had to prove that you were mainly European and to do so her late father had to produce a genealogy going back to a Dutch seaman of the early eighteenth century.
I remember that moment in the Tasmanian Archives Office when we discovered in a ship document, that Williamís "native place" was County Mayo in Ireland. It was the highlight of the trip and better than a Melbourne Premiership.
I would like to finish this introduction by quoting from the late Carol Shields, The Stone Diaries (Fourth Estate, London,1993), p.265. The paragraph is perhaps more relevant to my motherís Cornish ancestors than to Dadís Irish ancestors but nevertheless it is an interesting paragraph from a great writer.
"Sheís confided to her Aunt Daisy for instance the genealogical phenomenon that has burst forth all around her. She finds it moving, she says, to see men and women- though oddly they are mostly women- tramping through cemeteries or else huddled over library tables in the universityís record room, turning over the pages of county histories, copying names and dates into small spiral notebooks and imagining, hoping, that their unselfish labors will open up into a fabric of substance and comity. Victoria doesnít believe these earnest amateurs are looking for links to royalty or to creative genius; all they want is for their ancestors to be revealed as simple, honest, law-abiding folks, quiet in their accomplishments, faithful in their vows, cheerful, solvent, and well- intentioned and that their robustly rounded (but severely occluded) lives will push up against and perhaps pardon, the contemporary plagues of displacement and disaffection. Common sense that prized substance, seems to have disappeared from the world; even Victoria realizes this."Chapter One. Generation One. From Ireland to England to Tasmania.
I have never met a person with the surname McVilly to whom I am not related. This is because like myself, the Australian McVillys are the descendants of William and Margaret McVill(e)y of Hobart, Tasmania and before that, England, and before that, Ireland.
William was born in County Mayo, Ireland in about 1792, and died in Hobart on the 26th of May 1849. The official record of his death says that he was aged 65 years at death. His tombstone says that he was 62 at death but a 1822 prison record says that he was aged 30 that year, while a 1823 shipping record says that he was 31 that year. These latter records are the records into which he has direct input and so at the moment, I prefer them.
William first enters the historical records on the 20th of February 1822 in England in an Old Bailey Sessions Roll. William McVilley, a labourer from the Parish of Middlesex was found guilty by a jury, of burglary of the house of William Tuck, of Leg Alley, Long Acre in the County of Middlesex on the 29th of November 1821 at 3 p.m. Yes 3 p.m.! William stole goods worth 195 shillings. In those days of poverty and the desire of the possessors to protect their possessions, if you stole anything over 40 shillings, the punishment was death. In addition, the penalty for any burglary was death by hanging. Later documents say that William had been in Newgate before (for 3 months), for smuggling.
Williamís sentence was commuted to transportation for life. Before he was transported, he spent some time on the "Hulks" where he is said to have behaved well.
He departed England on the "Commodore Hayes" on the 26th of April 1823 along with 218 other convicts. He arrived in Hobart on the 16th of August 1823. He was five feet five and a half inches tall, had brown hair, blue eyes and was not described as of dark complexion (as were many others), leading one to think that his complexion may have been consistent with his blue eyes. His trade was described as soap boiler. The Description List and the Muster List says that he was from Middlesex and was in the Gaol Delivery of 11th September 1822 having received a life sentence. It was noted that he had a scar inside his left elbow joint. In 1823 he was 31 years old. His "native place" was County Mayo in Ireland. At the time of the burglary, he was living with his wife and three children at Burleigh Street, The Strand. The convict record states that his uncle was in Mayo. William (or his uncle) is described as being a soap boiler in Mayo and that he had kept a coal shed at Burleigh Street. No mention is made of his parents and I have never found them in an historical record. My hunch is that they perished at the hands of the English in 1798, the year of the French invasion of Mayo, the subsequent anti-English uprising in Mayo, the defeat of the French and the terrible English revenge on the defeated rebel Irish.
A contemporary Georgian map of London (kindly supplied to me by Peter Appleyard), shows that William lived near the Thames and that he had to cross Covent Garden to burgle William Tuckís house. Perhaps he had a horse and cart to deliver his coal and he took, instead of delivering.
William Blake, in 1792, described this London and the Thames in his poem, London.
I wonder through each chartered street
Near where the chartered Thaqmes does flow,
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
In every cry of every man
In every infants cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban
The mind-forged manacles I hear.
According to his convict record, in 1823, William was assigned to R. A. (Bert) Roberts. (The settlers had to pay a man ten pounds a year, a woman two pounds per year as well as supply them with sufficient food, clothes and other provisions.) His record was without blemish for two years until December 1825. In that month he was absent without leave, a minor offence. Then on 28th April 1826 the demon of the settlement shows itself. William was drunk and disorderly. Then in June 1826 he was absent without leave and was punished with 25 lashes and confined to the 3rd Class Prisonersí Barracks. In March 1827, he was absent from a Church Muster.
At this stage his wife and children enter the historical record.
On the 9th of January 1827, Margaret and her three young children arrived in Hobart on "the Grenada" with 87 other wives of convicts, having left England on the 10th of September 1826. Richard was said to have been aged 10, Margaret, 9 and Mary Ann, 7. The aim was to unite them with their spouses.
On the 3rd of February 1829 Margaret made a petition to the Lieutenant Governor, George Arthur, asking that her husband be assigned to her to help her bring up the children. She further states that this was made more urgent because in March 1828 her husband had been taken from Bert(?) Roberts and placed in the Prisonersí Barracks. To his credit Roberts supported the petition. Unfortunately, in March 1829 and May 1829 (either the latter date represents an appeal or the date of the record). The petition was not approved. Williamís convict record is set out up to that time and here lies the reason for the refusal. For Williamís record had grown worse.
In March 1828, William had got drunk, was insolent and struck his master. He was put in the chain gang for one month and returned to Barracks. On May 1st 1828 he was absent from his work gang and was put on the treadmill for two days. On May 26th 1828 he again got drunk and was again put on the tread wheel for seven days . On October 29 1828 he was absent from his duty as a night watchman at the Colonial Secretaryís Office. At this stage the myth that he had stolen a shawl enters the historical record. Before the refusal of the plea, it is stated that William was employed as a Watchman at the Secretaryís Office and that he had a tolerably good character but "is liable to get drunk at times". From the evidence, alcohol was Williamís downfall. If only prozac or valium had been available! They would have dulled his pain as much as the drink.
After the refusal of Margaretís petition, Williamís behaviour became worse.
On 27th April, about seven weeks after the refusal of Margaretís petition he was charged with leaving his post as Watchman at the Colonial Secretaryís Office and being in the company of men who were in possession of stolen goods. He was put on the tread wheel for 10 days and was sacked from his position as Watchman. In June 1829, he became "intoxicated" in the Prisonerís Barracks, for which he was given 25 lashes and the tread wheel for 14 days. He seemed to have despaired and as he did the punishments became harsher.
On July 15th 1829 he was found to have been absent from his duty and from the Prisonerís Barracks for a whole night. He received 25 lashes and the tread wheel for 10 days. On September 22, 1829 he was again found to have been absent without leave from his "labour" and from the muster at the Prisonerís Barracks and drunk and was put on the tread wheel for for 14 days. On December 9th he repeated the offence and received 25 lashes. On December 14th 1829 he again got drunk and was put on the tread wheel. (At this stage, one wishes to cry out, why no rehabilitation for his despair and alcoholic addiction and who was giving or selling him the drink?)
On Febuary 22nd, he was found to have been drunk and given the tread wheel for 10 days. On March 17th 1830 he was again drunk and given the tread wheel for 7 days. On May 24th he received 10 days on the tread wheel for his absence from the Barracks. On August 24th he was shown some compassion for a charge of being absent for two days and nights resulted in him being admonished and discharged. On October 25th he was given the tread wheel for being drunk. On December 30th he was put on the wheel for 14 days for being drunk. On February 15th 1831 he again got drunk and was given the tread wheel for 10 days.
The record is silent until April 1833 when he is once again found to have been drunk. He received "road duty" for two months. The records become very hard to decipher at this stage and are continued on another page.
By 23rd September 1835, he had a ticket of leave and was with Bert Roberts again. Unfortunately, on that date, Roberts accused him of receiving some stolen ginger beer bottles and he was deprived of his ticket of leave and condemned to do hard labour in a Road Party.
On April 11th 1837, it is stated that he had a ticket of leave, but had been fined five pounds five shillings for being drunk. Then a shock. On May 12th 1838 his wife complained that he had assaulted her. He again had a ticket of leave but was disciplined. On July 1838 he was found to have been drunk and disorderly. Then on March 23rd 1839 while on a ticket of leave, he was accused by his wife of not paying her a proper maintenance. He was ordered to pay Mrs Hamilton of Liverpool Street six penny every Saturday for the use of his wife. So they were both living in Hobart but not together. On May 14th 1839 he was fined 5 shillings for being drunk. On June 25th 1840 he was put into the "cells" for 7 days for being drunk. On August 14th 1841 he was admonished for not attending a Church muster and on 10th September 1841 he was deprived of his ticket of leave for unspecified misconduct and put to hard labour. Between 1841 and 1843 he is reported to have been a broom maker in the Prisonerís Barracks. He seems to have continued to get drunk, although the punishment has changed to hard labour on the roads and confinement to the Prisonerís Barracks. Perhaps in 1843 and certainly from 1845 he seems to have received a ticket of leave.
I have reported the record in detail because it is satisfying for a historian to be so aware of an ancestorís life. And yet it is disturbing so that one hears those passionate words from Richard Flanaganís Death of a River Guide ( Penguin Books, Ringwood,1994), a book which captures the dreadful decline of a man.
On page 259, Flanagan writes this chilling but marvellous passage.
"The Van Diemenís Land that bubbles like boiling blood in my brain was not a world, nor even a society. It was a hell. Who would seek to change hell? I witness how the most ambitious only sought to escape it, by boat if possible, by death if desperate. I see how many convicts died by their own hand, by the hands of others, by sickness. How many more felt something within them break that could not be fixed by conditional pardons nor healed by time, and they knew it could not be fixed or healed and they knew themselves to be somehow less. And after the English government stopped sending convicts and after they stopped sending the gold to pay for the upkeep of the convicts, the island entered a long winter of poverty and silence."
Flanagan continues to describe convict Tasmania with his passionate, gothic, novelistís imagination in Gouldís Book of Fish (2001). Thomas Keneally, in The Great Shame (Random House, 1998) also records the horrors of life on a convict ship and in particular the cruel realities of flogging. He mentions that one English Benedictine priest "believed that the Irish were vulnerable in the face of a flogging, which disoriented a man and altered for ever the balance of his soul."(page 43).
In the light of such novels and histories, William did well to survive and to keep his sanity.
On 26th of May 1849 it was reported that a William McVally died aged 65. Said to have been a soap boiler, of a blood in the head. (stroke?). The informant was H. Pettiford, friend, Brisbane Street, Hobart. This is William McVill(e)y, for the the birth date tallies with his tombstone. Perhaps the misspelling ( the second in his life) points to an Irish informant or Williamís manner of speech.
And so the sad tale ends. Going by his childrenís religion, William was not a Catholic. Perhaps he was! In any case, his burial place was in the grounds of St Maryís Roman Catholic Cathedral,Hobart. Inscribed on the tombstone is the following.
"Sacred to the memory of
William McVilley who died 26 May 1849 aged 62 years
(also) Margaret McVilley who died 9th June 1866 aged 77 years also Ann Dennet who died March 14th 1858 aged 6 months."
My brother, John, sleuthed out this last historical record. It was difficult, for the place of burial is now a car park and he had to go to the evidence of a tombstone scribe. John has also informed me that the Priest of the Cathedral at that time was sympathetic to convicts.
What of Margaret the long-suffering wife (as all wives who are to survive must be)? The husband suffered physically and survived great hardships but she must have been a great survivor also.
We donít know much about Margaret. We donít know her exact date of birth, her place of birth, her date of marriage, her parents or her maiden name. We know that she was with William in England at the time of the burglary in 1822 that she was born in about 1789, perhaps married in about 1814, that she bore children in 1815, 1816 and 1817, that she struggled to provide for them especially after 1822, that she left England in 1826, arrived in Tasmania in 1827, petitioned to have her husband assigned to her in 1829, was forced to suffer at the hands of her husband and that she died on the third of July 1866 in Hobart General Hospital aged 77 years (the tombstone says the 9th of June 1866 but the hospital record may be the correct date). The hospital record finishes with the information that she was a widow and was senile.
She had survived in Hobart for 50 years and outlived her husband by 17 years. She seems to have been a loyal wife, a loving mother and was buried with her husband and infant grandchild.
So that is what I know of the first generation of McVillys in Australia. It is tragic, cruel and courageous and these two survivors were to be the parents of thousands of people, some seemingly happy and successful, some seemingly not so. Appearances and reality, but we all laugh and
suffer, do our best, but end up by joining nature as compost, even if under a car park in Cathedral grounds. That is the lot of all humans.
References Not Cited In Text
"Mercury" 5-7-1866 Obit. Of Margaret
Tasmanian Pre-1900 Birth, Death and Marriage Record (2429) and (6302) in
Tasmanian Pioneers Index
Kempton C. of E Marriage Registry.
CSO 1/97/2308 p.161 and CSO 1/395/8931 in Tasmanian Archives Office
Old Bailey Sessions Roll- 20 Feb 1822 ( obtained by Betty and Max Rawlings)
Microfilms in Tasmanian Archives con 31 record book, con 23 description list, con 32/1 p.115. CSO 1/403/9100 musterlist. Con13/2 p.455, con32/1 p.115.
HO 26 Criminal Registers Series 1 Number 28.
HO 26/28 Newgate Gaol 1822
HO 16/2 ( The Home Office Papers were found in the State Library of Victoria.
Tombstone & Memorial Inscriptions of Tasmania (TAMIOT) 2nd ed. 1999 Genealogical Society of Tasmania Inc. ( found by my brother, John McVilly on a trip to Tasmania ).
Chapter 2. The Second Generation. The Three Children
The three children of William and Margaret were Richard (c. 1815/1816 Ė 21-7- 1884), Margaret ( b. c.1817 - ?) and Mary Ann (born c.1819 -?).
Their world is no longer the harsh world of struggling to exist in a new largely convict society, but the struggle to make lives for themselves in a free environment. This means that there are more mysteries about their lives for they are only on the public record when they are born, marry, die or become famous or notorious.
Richardís obituary in the "Mercury" Hobart, Monday July 28th 1884 tells his public story.
"Mr Richard McVilly (sic) whose melancholy death was announced in the Mercury of the 22nd last was an old colonist having arrived in the colony from England in the ship Glenadie (sic), Captain Stacey in the year 1827. Shortly after arrival, Mr McVilly proceeded to Green Ponds where he commenced business but at the solicitation of an intimate friend, the Rev. Joseph Beazlely, he relinquished business for an appointment under the Imperial Government under whom he held several offices of trust. On the introduction of responsible government Mr McVilly was transferred from the imperial to the colonial service under which he held various positions. He was superintendent of the Bicheno station where under his supervision the tramway for the Douglas River Coal Co. was completed. Upon the abolition of the Bicheno station, Mr McVilly was appointed to succeed the late Captain Cheyne as surveyor of the main line of road from Hobart to Launceston, and he held that position for about six years. Reductions taking place in the Department of Public Works, Mr McV was selected by Mr W. P. Kay, Chairman of the Bridgewater Commissioners to be Collector of tolls, Bridgewater and was also appointed postmaster. He held these offices for a period extending over 24 (?) years and when tolls were abolished, received the appointment of custodian of the bridge and postmaster, in which position he continued until his death. His total period of service in the government extends over forty years, during which he received many expressions of confidence from persons in high positions, as his testimonials contain the names of Sir W. T. Denison, late Lieutenant Governor, Captain Hamilton BE (?), Mr W. P. Kay late Director of Public Works, the Hons. R. Q. Kermode, M.L.C., F. M. Innes, M. L. C., P.J. Smith, Dr H. Butler and many other distinguished colonists. At the date of his decease Mr McVilly was 74 years old. During the last 10 months he had been ailing very much and for at least three months was almost an invalid, and became exceedingly despondent. He was universally respected and leaves a widow and numerous family to mourn their irreparable loss."
An obituary to be proud of ! Note that he spelt his name McVilly, without the "e" whereas his sisters at marriage retained the "e", following their parents (who I suspect to have been nearly illiterate for much of their lives). As we have seen he arrived on the ship Grenada not the Glenadie with his mother and two sisters in January 1827 aged 10. If he turned 11 later in 1827, he would have been born in 1816, making his age at death 68.
The historical records have more to say of his public life. Another piece from the "Mercury" tells us more about Richardís death. It is headed "Inquest at Bridgewater".
"(By Electric telegraph. From our own correspondent) BRIGHTON, Wednesday. Yesterday afternoon at the Railway Hotel, Bridgewater, Mr gunn, coroner, held an inquest on the remains of the late Richard Mcvilly, found drowned near the drawbridge on the previous afternoon.
Albert McVilly son of the deceased, and Edward Ricketts, gave evidence as to the recovery of the body. It was also found necessary to examine the widow, who stated that on the previous afternoon, about 3 oíclock, she went at deceasedís request to Mrs Neilsonís who lives on the floor below, leaving her husband, who was up and dressed, sitting by the bedroom fire. He seemed depressed in spirits, but not more so than he had for some time. When she returned, her husband was not in the room. She searched the house, but did not find him, and she then went towards the bridge, and saw his coat lying on the jetty between the two bridges. She told her son Albert, and also alarmed the neighbours.
Albert McVilly deposed to finding his fatherís coat, hat and spectacles on the jetty. It came out in evidence that deceased had frequently threatened to make away with himself. Mr McVilly was 74 years of age, and had held the post he occupied for over 30 years. For some time past he had been a great sufferer, and only able to leave his bed for an hour or two in the middle of the day. During the few minutes that he was left he must have hurried out and passed unobserved over the few yards that lie between the house and the jetty from which he cast himself. Very general regret is expressed a his melancholy end, and every house in the village had drawn blinds.
A verdict was returned to the jury to the effect that he drowned himself while temporarily insane."
Inquest of Richard Mcvilly dated 22 July 1884.
"The said Richard McVilly not being of sound mind but lunatic, and distracted on the 21st day of July, into the River Derwent did cast and throw himself, by means of which casting and throwing, the said Richard McVilly then died."
Stephen Wailes, who did some careful copying of McVilly records in the Kew Library in the 1980ís informed me that on 26-9-1894 Emma Mcvilly died Argyle Street. Born England 66 years Morbus Cordia. Labourerís wife. Inf. Undertaker.
This would almost certainly be the Emma (or Emily) Smith who is mentioned as marrying Richard in 1839.
" Kempton Church of England Marriage Register 356/12. No. 10 Ė9 Dec. 1839. Richard McVilly (24) and Emma Smith (16) X her mark, Shoe maker and Settlerís Daughter. Witnesses Ė John and Jane Priest."
Again, this marriage record makes Richardís date of birth 1815.
Mrs Watson pointed out that Kempton was also known as Green Ponds. Thus Richardís first career was as a shoemaker at Kempton. He then joined the Imperial Service which became the Colonial Service.
Richard and Emma had 14 children and from the baptism and birth records as well as his service appointments we can follow his career to his death.
As we have seen in Chapter One, Richard was born in about 1815 or 1816., probably in Middlesex in England at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. As we have noted, Blake describes London and the Thames area where the "McVillyí family lived in his famous poem as a horrific place where there was a vast gap between the rich and the poor. Again in Jerusalem he describes the evils of the Industrial Revolution, the slavery of the workers and their conditions and the enclosures. Karl Marx saw this England with its middle class owners of property and factories and its downtrodden working class as ripe for what he saw as the inevitable revolution by the workers. As it turned out revolutions in the name of Marx occurred in Russia and China. England reformed enough to avoid a full workersí revolution. Many said its Empire saved it from revolution at home.
As a young boy of between five to seven years, Richard saw his father go to Newgate jail for smuggling then be sentenced to transportation for life for a burglary. Somehow his mother managed to nurture him and his two younger sisters through the "coal shed" days and the years without their father (1822-1827). When he was ten or eleven he sailed for Van Diemenís Land with his mother and sisters with other convict families to join their fathers. At fourteen he saw his motherís petition to have her husband assigned to her rejected and some time between 1829 and 1839 he settled in Greenponds (now Kempton) as a shoemaker. In 1839 he married Emily Smith, the illiterate daughter of a free settler at Kempton in 1839 and they had their first child, William Thomas in 1841. In the Irish way he named the boy after his own father. Later he named one of his daughters after his mother and two sisters. We must remember that he grew to his manhood in the shadow of his troubled, alcoholic, convict father and his long- suffering mother. In the year before his marriage his father was accused of assaulting his mother and in the year of his marriage his father was forced to pay maintenance of sixpence per week to his mother through an intermediary.
Meanwhile ,in 1835, one record has his sister, Margaret, marrying William Dennett. There is another record of her marriage to the same man in 1843. His other sister, Mary Ann married in 1848 and in 1849 his father died in Hobart and was buried in the grounds of St Maryís Roman Catholic Cathedral. We do not know what how involved Richard was in these events nor whether he helped his mother. I have an intuition that he would have helped as much as he was able.
Encouraged by a minister of Religion, he had applied for a job in the Imperial Service between the years 1842-1844 and by 1844 when "young" Richard was born he is working at the Buckland Probation Station. By 1846 he is supervising the Road Party in the Campbell Town District. In 1850 he is in Oatlands, St Peterís Pass. In 1853 he is a Superintendent charged with the job of building the Douglas River Coal Companyís tramway at Spring Bay. This tramway to Waubís Bay at Bicheno was completed in 1854 by a private company after the Government had worked on it for a number of years. The only remains of it are at The Gulch at Bicheno.
From 1855 to 1860, Richard was Surveyor of Roads assigned to the road from Hobart to Launceston. He was stationed at Ross in the Campbell Town district and this was the zenith of his career.
In 1856, Tasmania was granted full Responsible government ( following Van Diemenís Landís Representative government in 1850). In 1853 the transportation of convicts had ceased. In 1858 his neice, Ann Dennet, the daughter of his sister, Margaret, died aged six months and was buried in the same tomb as her grandfather. The family seemed to have stayed together! Note that none of Richardís children were baptized as Catholic!
By 1860 things had began to change in Tasmania for as Richard Flanagan pointed out "when the convicts ceased coming, so did the gold and so the island entered a long winter of poverty and silence." Indeed Tasmania must have lost many people to the gold rushes in Victoria and New South Wales which occurred during the early 1850ís.
In 1860 Richard was appointed by the Commissioner of Public Works to the lesser post of Collector of Tolls, Bridgewater as well as Postmaster. When tolls were abolished in 1880, he received the appointment of Custodian of the Bridge and Postmaster, positions he held until his death in 1884, aged about 69. His remaining children were baptized at Brighton and Pontville Church of England churches.
In 1866, his mother had died and was buried with her husband and her grandchild at St Maryís Cathedral. By 1844 he was so sick that he only got out of bed for two hours per day and he decided that such a life was not worth living. His life was a full one and given the nature of his childhood one could say his life was a triumph.
The second child, Margaret, was born in 1816 or 1817, and in 1835 or 1843 married William Henry Dennet, the son of a convict, William Dennet. This convict came from Sussex to Norfolk Island, then to Sydney and finally to Tasmania. In Tasmania he married Elizabeth Redden or Reddan (born in 1790). Elizabeth was also of Norfolk Island and the marriage took place in about 1811 or 1812. Elizabeth died in 1866 in Hobart (Norfolk Island was a New South Wales convict settlement from 1788 to 1813.)
These children of convicts, William and Margaret Dennet had seven children between 1843 and 1857, one of whom Mariann or Ann died in 1858 (aged six months) and was buried with her maternal grandfather. Sometime after 1858, William and Margaret are said to have moved to Victoria near Albury.
There is a little mystery about these two. In 1998, my wife and I found a strange entry on the Tasmanian Pioneers Index. Margarita McVilly is recorded as marrying Guillelmus Henricus Dennet in Hobart on the 7th of January 1835 (2916). No age is given for either person. I have recorded that there is another official entry of a marriage between Margaret McVilly and William Henry Dennet in 1843 and this is the more likely date. Unles they eloped in 1835 and were forced to wait until 1843! Look at the Italianized Margarita and the Latinized Guillelmus, - a love affair or an attempt at disguise? The Archives Office of Tasmania notes that compulsory registration was introduced in December 1838. Prior to this there was no official registration although some events can be traced through church records Ďsome of which have been transcribed by the Registrar- Generalís Department. Indeed there is a record for 1836 for a different family. Anyway it is a good story and one day some eager person might follow it up. I am tired of records from the past and prefer to say that these children of convicts have their own story. It is interesting that one of Richardís daughters, Margaret Mary Ann changed her name to Margretta Maryann when she married William Crosland Lewis on 24-07-1880.
I have contacted the Dennett family and although the family reseacher is no longer involved in research it was she who told me about the Dennett family.
The third child of William and Margaret McVill(e)y remained a mystery to me until 2002-3 when I discovered that Mary Ann McVilly, born about 1819 in England, married Henry Pellifott in 1848. (253512) There were three un-named male children born in 1843, 1845 and 1848. Did they have children before they were married? Did Mary Ann remain with her mother until she was secure? After all, William died in 1849, a year after Mary Annís marriage. Another mystery. For free people are more likely to keep their mystery than prisoners.
And so the three children all grew into adulthood and married. They seemed to have battled their way into ordinary society and led good ordinary lives while remaining faithful to their parents.
" Mercuryí, 22 July 1884, 28 July 1884 and 5 July 1866
Tasmanian Pioneers Index
Kempton C. of E. Marriage Registry
Tasmanian Pre-1900 Birth, Death and Marriage records
Pontville C. of E. registers
Ross C.of E. registers
Sorell C.of E. registers
Stephen Wailes (a great researcher of family records)
Lilian D. Watson ( a great professional researcher)
Also the reference to "Tamiot" in chapter one and the reference to Richard Flanaganís , Death of a River Guide in chapter one
Selected Poems of William Blake, edited with an Introduction and Explanatory Notes by F. W. Bateson London, Heinemann, 1957 and 1961. ( for references and quotations in chapters one and two).
If I have left anything or anyone out , please let me know.
Chapter Three, The third generation: Life and Death in Tasmania, 1841-1914. Richard and Emmaís Children.
Dad had told me that there were two types of McVillys, the red heads and the dark ones. The red heads were the "toffs"! Perhaps he based this on Cecil McVilly, the winner of the Diamond Sculls at Henley Regatta, England in 1913 and up to 1954 the Head of the Hospitals and Charities Commission in Victoria and compared his position in society and his complexion with his own. As far as I know Dad never met Cecil to talk about their family history although he always spoke of him with pride.
The key to Dadís dichotomy as far as the McVillys were concerned can be found in this third generation.
The first child was William Thomas, the best known of the children. He was born on 17-03 Ė41 in Kempton (formerly Greenponds). William was a Constable at Ross and then became a schoolmaster. He then held various positions with the Railway and Land and Works Departments and on his death on 3rd November 1914, he was Clerk of Papers in the Legislative Council of the Tasmanian Parliament. His career closely resembles that of his father and like his Dad he received a generous obituary in the Mercury (4-12-14). No wonder my Dad always told me to go into the "Public Service", although this advice was coloured by the fact that we were Catholics and we could not be discriminated against there. William Thomas married Sarah Elizabeth Francis of Sonning Common, Oxfordshire, England, on 20th December 1859 and they had ten children. Sarah was the great aunt of Morris Lansdell and the sister of his great grandmother, Ann Dell, both of whom arrived in Hobart from Oxfordshire. A photograph exists of William Thomas and Sarah and their family. I am grateful to Mrs Allwright for her information about this side of the family. Mrs Allwright laughed heartily when I told her of the red heads and the darkies as did her sister and brother. More about them later.
It was William Thomas who was responsible for the red heads. Indeed he looks very Irish. I imagine his grandfather, the first William to have looked like him. At first, Dad thought that he was descended from William Thomas. Dadís researcher, Lilian D. Watson, soon proved that Dadís grandfather was Richard (the younger), the third child of Richard and Emma, born on 23-09-44. Dad never knew this grandfather for he died on 18-12 - 1899 of a stroke, the same way as the first William had died. This was almost four years before Dad was born. Dad knew that his grandfather had been a schoolteacher but not much else. In fact Dad did not know much about this generation at all.
At first, Richard was a labourer, then, from 1869-1875 a schoolmaster at Bridgewater. He married Annie Bray James within the Manse of the Free Church of Chalmers according to the rites of the Free Presbyterian Church on 13th September 1864. The bride was the youngest daughter of Mr George James and Mary James (born Scannell). The Minister was William Nicholson, D.D.. The rank of Richard was given as Clerk while that of his wife was spinster. It is interesting that Richard signs himself as Lieutenant. Perhaps he served in the army also! In later documents, Richardís occupation is given as schoolteacher. At the marriage of his eighth child, Algernon Ernest (Algy), both he and the bridegroom were described as brewers. Algy is described as living at the Cascade Hotel in Hobart. The inquest of Richard dated 18 December 1899 states
" On the 18th day of December, at the George and Dragon Hotel, situate in Elizabeth Street in the city of Hobart in the colony of Tasmania, one Richard McVilly aged 56 years, died suddenly and the jury aforesaid further say that the said Richard McVilly died from natural causes, to wit Ďeffusion of blood on the brainí and not otherwise."
Mrs Watson reported that according to document CSO 22/34/1998 a John Bray was moved to be Overseer at the Cascades 27 January 1843 . Mrs Watson goes on to say that " there may be no connection, but the second name of Annie, wife of Richard McVilly happened to be Bray - a most unusual name."
There is another mystery about Annie James. Was she Jewish or Spanish or Italian or a mixture of all of these influences? Some of the letters to Dad from older McVillys talk about a Spanish or Italian connection but I am inclined to think that Annie was at least partly Jewish. My father saw his paternal grandmother in 1914 or 1915 and recalled that she was a very "striking woman". Elizabeth Fahey, Annie Bray Jameís daughter-in-law, and my fatherís mother, is said to have believed that Annie was Jewish. My father also remembers " Aunts Millie and Elsie" the daughters of Annie to have been Ďvery dark". I looked through the records of the James family in Tasmania at the time and found that many of them had distinctly Old Testament first names. Finally, have a look at the photographs of Dadís father. He is a very handsome, dark man who looks to be of Jewish origins. That look has come through dad to his sons and even to their sons. So much for the red heads and the "darkies". Enough to start the legend and for me to use it in this family history.
Now, let us look briefly at the remaining eleven children of Richard and Emma.
The second child was Charles Edward who was born on 6-12-1842 and died at Oatlands on 15-11-1850. Henry John Napier was born on 24-06-46.
He was a blacksmith,gatekeeper and railwayman. He married Alice Adelaide Mary Macleay on 9-06-73 and died on 14-05-1891 (aged 44). Alice Macleay (born 1854, died1894) was the daughter of John Breadalbane Macleay, a landholder. The mother was Elizabeth Jane Corrigan. John Breadalbane was one of the seventeen children of the explorer, Alexander Macleay (1763-1848 ).
We have already spoken of Margaret Mary Ann McVilly (born 23-09-1848) who married William Crosland Lewis on 27-07-1880. On 4th October 1866, she had been appointed schoolmistress at Port Arthur. This was only two months after the death of her grandmother.
Arthur McVilly died aged six. Susan Emma died aged twenty-one. Esther Marie died aged fourteen. Francis Napier only lived for six days. Annie Elizabeth died aged twenty-six. Martha Gertrude died aged five years. Harrie Sarah was born in 1863 and I have no record of her death.
Albert Thomas (who found his father in the Derwent River) was born in 1866 and married Charlotte Eliza Miller on 7-04 1898. Finally Martha Gertrude died aged five years in 1875 at Bridgewater.
Thus, of the 14 children, only William Thomas, Henry John Napier, Albert Thomas, Richard, Margaret Mary Ann and perhaps Harriet Sarah lived beyond their twenties. Eight died very young. People seemed to have big families but there were many deaths. Only William Thomas seems to have survived to his three score and ten and it is he from whom many older McVillys are related. But not my Dad. And we shall begin the next chapter with the younger Richardís children.
References and Acknowledgements
Chapter Four (Reginald Albert) Ė from Tasmania to Victoria, 1875-1938.
Richard (the younger), and Annie Bray James had eleven children between 1865 and 1888. William Thomas, Henry John Napier, Susan Emma, Annie Elizabeth and Albert Thomas Bray were having their children also. So the McVillys in Australia were multiplying. The memories of the convict days might have been evaporating though the Irish influence was to remain.
The fourth child of Richard and Annie was Reginald Albert Edward, Dadís father, who was born at Bridgewater on the 31st May 1875 and baptized at the Pontville Church of England on 22-08-1875. I know little of this gentle man who died on 23-04-1938 aged 63. The cause of his death was a heart attack occasioned while running up a ramp for a train. Which I think would have taken him to the football. There are a few photographs of him and he appears as a handsome man with dark European or Jewish features. He was loved and respected by all who met him. He was a menís hairdresser by trade and he married Elizabeth Margaret Fahey, a beautiful woman of Irish descent in St Patrickís Cathedral, Melbourne on 26-06-95. Elizabethís father, John Fahey had died in Melbourne on 18-08-1892 and so her mother having shifted to Melbourne from Tasmania with her husband probably lived in Melbourne. (For the record John Fahey was the son of Peter Fahey and Catherine Power while his wife, Elizabeth, was the daughter of John Murphy and Margaret Kennedy.) Reginald Albert liked to raise Australian terriers and also liked sport. He and Elizabeth had twelve children, all of whom were brought up as catholics as their father would have promised at his wedding ceremony. My memories are of my grandmother lying in bed at a flat in Windsor, Victoria where she lived with Archie who was intellectually retarded. Dad was always loyal to his mother and did his best to look after his brothers and sisters where it was necessary. He loved his father a fact which is evident from a fragment from a diary or notebook which was given to him by his father.
His father wrote, "To my dear son. May you have a merry Christmas. From your loving Father. Xmas 1926." Dad has written underneath, "From my dad, Xmas, 1926". Dad was travelling at the time and was in Sydney.
The family came to Melbourne in the late 1920ís and Dad and his father worked as hairdressers with Dad going into ladies hairdressing.
Richard William Henry McVilly ( Richard the third and the eldest son of Richard and Annie) was born on 20-09-1865 at Brighton, Tasmania and died in Hobart on 2-03-1891, aged 25. Percival Augustus Charles ( Percy) was born on 14-08-1867 and married Ellen Sarah Higgins on 10-05-1891. Florence Maud Emma Margaret was born on 13-08-1869 and married William Sutty on 13-05-1891 ( three days after Percyís marriage and two months after Richard Williamís premature death.) Mildred Lavinia Beatrice ( Millie) was born on 15-08 1871 and married Francis Zavier Howard on 1-12-1890, just three months before her brotherís death.
Alexander Francis (Archibald) was born on 14-04-1873 and married Mary Ann Belbin on 1-07-1893 at Chalmers Church, Hobart. He was the grandfather of Noel McVilly whom I met because of the family history. Algernon Ernest (Algy) was born on 22-10-1879 at Sorrell Creek, Hobart and married Mary Burns on 22-10-1879. He was the brewer mentioned in chapter three. Elsie Lilians (Elsie) was born on 4-04-1886. Josephine Amy (Josie) was born on 25-02-1888 and Gertrude Margaret Lucy was born on 18-10-1881. Dad never told me anything of his aunts and uncles but then I never asked.
One cannot help asking oneself whether it is worthwhile to list these grand aunts and uncles?
"But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know."
Lifting the dust has enabled these people to be remembered and has and may, bring a descendant a little knowledge to mix with a memory. In any case as I get older I prefer not to gossip about the dead nor the living especially not in print. Stories are more interesting than dates but when recording a family history I think that the living deserve their mystery and so do the dead. The further one goes back, the myths accumulate anyway. As for the living, we all wish for forgiveness, respect, perhaps acceptance and the opportunity to love and be loved.
But back to the record, for there are many out there who will need this fourth generation of McVillys in order to slot themselves in.
First of all, William Thomasí and Sarah Annie Francisí children. There were ten and most had families. Only one is recorded as having died as an infant.
The first, Richard William ("Dick"), became Commissioner of Railways in New Zealand and had a road named after him.. It is thought that he did not have any children. "Bill" or William Henry was a station master at Evandale Junction. He married Rosanna Mary Domeney and died at his residence in September 1910 aged 47. He is the great grandfather of Jason who has been in contact with me many times and is the grandfather of Ray McVilly, Helen Allwright and Margaret Lowry and Patricia. Helen was very generous in her sharing of her father, Redversí memories. "Joe", or Joseph Henry, married Marion Jane Thompson Smith. He was the father of Eric Norman, Cecil Leventhorpe, Joseph Henry, Beatrice Mary and Eileen. Walter Frederick married Ellen Little and ran a well known grocery and general hardware store in Liverpool Street, Hobart. They had a girl called Sarah Ellen in 1868. Laura Blanche married William Theophilus Cox and was the ancestor of Rod McGee with whom I have had contact. Henry Reginald Tasman married Kathleen Griffiths in 1908 and they were the parents of Richard Brooke, Mabel and Ian Wentworth ( who wrote to me in 1981). Albert Francis, (Archie) married Julia Oak Thomson from St Arnaud, Victoria and had two children, Archie Albert and Reginald Francis. Tryphena Mabel ( "Tot") never married as far as I know and there is nothing on Maud Louisa Francis. Thomas Hawkins, "Tom", married Lily Athena Manning in Auckland, New Zealand and died I think in 1935.
I must say that there is a certain cosy warmth and career success in this family compared to my fatherís predecessors who seem to have had more of a battle in life and so often but not always, became more atomised.
Now to the children of the other children of Richard and Emma.
Henry Napier only lived until 1891, aged 45. But he and Alice Macleay had six children, (Margaret Adelaide Jemima, Richard Breadalbane, Marie Desdemona Irene, Alma Leonie Brown, Kenneth Albert Aquilla and Gordon). Stephen Wailes told me of the existence of these McVillys for he married one of the descendants of Gordon. I donít know about the children of Susan Emma who married Thomas Bryce nor of Annie Elizabeth who married John Griffin nor of the children of Margaret Mary Ann who married William Crosland. Albert Thomas Bray married Charlotte Eliza Miller and they had a son, Clarence Albert Gormaston, born at Lyell, Tasmania.
And so from this bundle of names, it is time to pull out from the maze and Theseus like go with the string leading from Reginald Albert Edward to his son Reginald Albert Algernon and his wife, Mary Gladys, my dad and Mum.
Chapter Five. Generation Five. Reginald Archibald Algernon McVilly and Mary Gladys McVilly. November 2nd 1903 (Dadís birth) to September 1st 1999 (Mumís death). The Hairdresser in Gardenvale Victoria and his wife and our Mother.
Dad was born Reginald Archibald Algernon McVilly at Launceston on 2nd November 1903, "all souls day", the day when the faithful petition God to alleviate the suffering of the souls in purgatory. He later changed his name to Reginald Albert Aloysius but later in life reverted to his birth names. He was the second son of Reginald Albert McVilly and Elizabeth Margaret Fahey. He was baptized at the Church of Apostles, Launceston by the Reverend E. A. Cunningham. He was sponsored by Sarah Fahey and John Eldridge was the witness. His Dad was 28 years old at his birth and his Mum was 26 years. They lived at 31 Wellington Road Launceston.
Mary Gladys Strongman was born on 24th March 1905. Her Dad was Samuel Strongman who was descended from a Cornish mining family who had come to Clunes, Victoria .His father died of minerís lung, aged 46. Samuel was a boot and shoe salesman. Her Mum was Mary Georgina Kelly and she was descended from David Kelly and Mary Clune, who was from County Clare. ( After David Kelly died in 1876, Mary Clune married John Clune and had Annie, Nellie and Tom.) I remember my great grandmother as "Gogga". They had lived at Axedale, Victoria. Mumís family lived at 30 Gladstone Street in Prahan, Victoria. Mum made her first communion at St Maryís St Kilda on 6th December 1912, aged 7.
Evidently Dad met Mum when she came to him as a hairdresser. They married on January 11th 1930 at St James Catholic Church, Gardenvale, Victoria.Dad was 26, Mum was 24. Both had been working for their fathers in the same profession. The witnesses to the marriage were Norman J. Hoare and Lilian Strongman. Father Joseph Murphy was the officiating priest. An almost totally Celtic affair! Mum and Dad had their celebration at Leonardís Cafť Esplanade, St Kilda opposite Luna Park. Mumís parentsí address was "Emohruo", 113 Cole Street, Gardenvale. The name reflects the open, warm home that Mum later described.
Detail after dead detail and some of it hard to recall or read. But the details lived once and they live again on this page. I have just read a book called The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time by Mark Haddon about a boy with a type of Aspergersí syndrome ( a type of autism, although Christopher is a savant as well as finding it hard to connect to society and to people). I wonder whether all this is obsession. I do find it fascinating to link everything up and to record once important facts. It probably is obsession, but not sheer obsession, rather an attempt to record the past and move on to the present. And not hold on to the past but let it go without forgetting its lessons. Anyway, thatís my story.
On with the details!
Dad died Reginald Archibald on 13 May 1988 at 4/8 Payne Street, Caulfield North, aged 84 years. He died of a myocardial infarct. He had had angina for years and had had a heart attack in 1966. He gained an extra 22 years by retiring from work, giving up smoking and settling into a happy existence with Mum. He was buried at New Cheltenham Cemetery. Mum died on 1-09-1999, aged 94 years at a nursing home after a rapid deterioration in her health. She waited until she had seen all of her children before she died, the last being the first child, Reg. She had said that a parent should die before her children and that she was lucky to have seen all of her children into adulthood. Not long before, she told me that her grandmother, ĎGoggaí, had died because she was tired and that she was also tired.
Dad was an Irish Catholic who called the English, "poms". He told me that the First World War was an imperialist war amongst the rulers of Europe and said it had nothing to do with Australia. This was not a Leninist line but the Irish approach put forward by Achbishop Daniel Mannix of Melbourne and probably Father John Ashe, the Parish priest of St Finbars East Brighton and probably Dadís best friend. Unfortunately, from this Irish Catholicism, Dad also received a good dose of Jansenism which was a type of Catholic Calvinism originating in France, transported to Ireland and then to Australia via the Irish priests who had studied under this Jansenist influence. This Jansenism saw the flesh as potentially sinful, emphasised sin over love and was a good breeding ground for fearful even psychologically damaged adults. For one had to be perfect in thought and action if one was to have purity of soul. Such Catholicism can be seen in the film by Fred Schepisi, The Devilís Playground, in James Joyceís A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and made larger than life by Frank McCourt in Angelaís Ashes. It was later in his life that he discovered William the convict. Encouraged by Father Ashe he always believed him to be Irish although the hard evidence did not emerge until after he had died.
When he met Mum he asked her about her social life and her love of music and dance. Mum felt sorry for this handsome man but thought that he did not have enough fun in his life. When a boyfriend told a lie to his mother to cover up his late night out, Mum gave him up and perhaps decided to go for the more dependable hairdresser. In later life she told me of cousin Lionel who stayed at her house when she was nine years. Lionel died at the end of World War One when he stood up in the trench too early, after the armistice had been signed. Mum spoke of Lionel more warmly than she did of her young husband. But she stuck with Dad through hard times and ended up vigorously defending him against any ill-health or unfair criticism.
Dad and Mum had eight children between 1930 and 1946. Dadís gambling on horse racing must have been a big problem for a time but he seemed to replace this with a devout Catholicism. Mum said that the gambling was replaced by the scruples.
But most of the time Dad kept busy. He told me of Sqizzy Taylor, of Phar Lap, Les Darcy and of Don Bradman and we stayed up late to hear if the Australians would beat the "Poms". He took us to watch the Melbourne football team and talked of the glory days of 1939-1941. If Melbourne won in 1953 we went to West Melbourne stadium to watch the wrestling, (after Confession of course). He named his first son after his father and chose his third son to be a priest. He cut and permed his way through the depression for "women will always want to have their hair done" and then during World War Two, he built an air raid shelter in his backyard so he would not have to send his children to the country. He was sure that the "Japs" would attack Australia and John Curtin was his hero when he brought the troops back from the Middle East to defend Australia. This admiration for Curtin and Chifley was in contrast to his opinion of Sir Robert Menzies who he called "pig iron Bob". He continued to refuse to stand up when the English anthem was played at the films and he bridled when a client spoke of going back to the "motherland". He agreed with Mr Santamaria that Communism had to be pushed out of the unions and he joined the meetings at the local Church. To his credit he saw that the "movement" was becoming a power in itself and eventually he returned to the Labour Party. He thought communism to be wrong bcause it was atheistic and was associated with Stalin and Mao Tse Tung. But he helped the poor and the homeless by working with the St Vincent De Paul Society. In later life he said that one day Australia would be an Asian nation. He was a good businessman but disliked his job. He followed his Church rather than the Bible which had to be interpreted by the Church. In many ways he led a full and perhaps fortunate life with strong views on everything.
Mum spent much of her life bringing up her children. She herself had been deprived of her beloved piano lessons and a secondary school because of her family circumstances. But she loved working with her Dad. She also loved her parents and brothers and sisters although she did not see them as much as she would have liked because of her husband who offended them in many ways. Mum was the first child, then came Lilian, (born 27-03-1906, died April 1981), Norman, ( born 1-10-1907, married Janette and had three children, Desmond, Marie and Colin), died 1980ís?, Nancy, (born 22-04-1914, married Edward Eugene Hackett at Caulfield and had Edward and John, died 11-01-2004), and Rene, ( born 27-03-1918, died 20-06-1986). She brought up her children with her tough common sense approach and could not understand irrational fears. Unlike Dad, she was not an introverted person but expressed her love in action. Now that we are parents, we appreciate such qualities more than when we were children.
Mum respected people until they let her down. She thought that Lawrence Collinson, the rather eccentric son of one of our neighbours was a lovely man. And he was, for he is often described as one of Australiaís great poets. She was down to earth and loyal, loved musicals and took us all to pantomimes and musicals. Unlike Dad, she had a fascination for the Royals and took us to see the Queen in 1954. I always thought that the Queen Mother was like Mum not vica versa. Yes there were times of trouble and probably all of us children were affected by the incompatibility of Mum and Dad but as I have said we got through to be adults and parents. We realize that they did their best for us and loved us all according to their nature and circumstances. Mum became very political in later life, generally pro-labour. In many ways Mum was like many women of that generation, for she seemed to be in circumstances not entirely to her choosing. She gave her life to her family. Such a generation was an easy target for Barry Humphries to satirize. I have never found Dame Edna to be funny for I have seen the nobility, courage and often heroism of these women and the fact that they all have their story. Mum told me at dadís funeral that she had shed all her tears during her marriage so that she had no more to shed. Perhaps you need to be more detached and less emotional about these women to appreciate Dame Edna, perhaps less prone to depression. I am not sure. Anyway Mum was never remotely like Dame Edna. She might have laughed at the shows. She often laughed and said that Dad said that she saw life through rose coloured glasses.
Let us now give a little time to Dadís brothers and sisters.
The oldest child was John Reginald, (Jack), who was born on 2-09-1896 and who left home as a young man and married Anne May Dunn. His son, Thomas Reginald, was born on 27-02-1919 and he died, prematurely I think, in an accident. Jack recognized my sisters, Pat and Betty in a Queensland hotel in the 1950ís. He guessed by their looks that they were McVillys. (As a friend of mine said in the 1960ís, all my sisters looked Spanish! I have always thought that my sisters were dark and pretty.)
Dad was born seven years after the first child, then came Archibald Augustus on 22-06 1905. Archie was intellectually handicapped but he was a happy man who lived with his mother until she died and often did jobs for Dad. In return, he came to the football with us on Saturdays. He died on 23-09-1962, aged 57. Lilian Hazel was born on 23-07-1907 and died in 1929. (Uncle) Cyril Percival was born on 31-03-09 and married Nancy Anderson (died 1980). We saw a fair bit of Uncle Cyril and Aunty Nancy and their children, Barry and Joan. Cyril was a French Polisher by trade and a gentle man who had served in World War Two.
Ismah Zennah Berryl Pearl was born on 31-01-1911 and she married Henry Perry of Perryís Circus. She died on 9th September 1941 aged 30. I think she had a brain tumour although it was said that she had had a fall within the circus ( tightrope?). Their son, "Mickeyí Perry often allowed us free entry to the circus.
Henley Zederick (Eck) was born on 1-11-1913 and died in July 1997. Like my father, he was a hairdresser and he married Phyllis Walker (died 1995) in Geelong. He was a very handsome dapper gentleman, always courteous and we saw him regularly. They had four children, Ron, Joy, Lynette and Fay. Ron has always been a family man and likes to get together with the family and has been interested in the family history.
Mercia Doreen Kathleen was born on 19-09-1914 and died on 29-06-1988. She married Arthur Tyson (died 17-08-1982). Dad helped her in her last years in spite of him not always being in good health himself. Mary Josephine was born on 25-02-1917 and died on 29-10 1958. She married John Seager. I think I remember going to her funeral with Dad and going on to see Neil Harvey bat against the "Poms". Maybe not, perhaps that was some other ceremonial occasion. I remember Father Ashe taking me to see South Melbourne ( now the Sydney Swans) after a family wedding I think.
Olive Jean (Aunty Jean), was born on 30-07-1918 and married John Kelly. They had John (deceased) and Brian (aged 60 in February 1995). She later married Bernie McShane and lives in Bendigo. Olive Patricia (Aunty Pat) was born on 10-07-1920 and died in 1981. She married Frank Flannery, a jockey who won the Caulfield Cup on Grey Boots in 1951, rode successfully in South East Asia, and then became an official with the West Australian Racing Club. I met them and their daughter, Carol in Perth in about 1968 or 1969. They were very warm hosts.
James Michael ("Mickey Mac") was the youngest of the twelve. He was born on 3-07-1922 and married Noreen Daldy who died of cancer at an early age. Their children were brought up by Aunty Jean and I met them at a family funeral in the 1980ís with Betty and Mum. Beverley was working at Charles Sturt University near Wodonga and "Jeannie" was married and lived closer to Melbourne. They were fascinated by my talk of the family history for their father was always a quiet, private but very pleasant man. "Mickey Mac" is still alive and along with Aunty Jean makes up the last of the Mohicans, as Dad might have said. Dadís sisters appear to have been very beautiful girls and his brothers all fine looking Ė all dark of course. Like Dad they were all battlers, doing their best for their families in the first half of the twentieth century.
In his mellow years Dad began to enquire about his origins. As I have noted in the introduction Father Ashe told him that he was a McEvilly and therefore related to John MacEvilly, Bishop of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora from 1857-1881 and Archbishop of Tuam from 1881 to 1902. In addition his grandson, Paul McVilly obtained the "McVilly" coat of Arms while on an overseas trip and gave it to Dad as a present. When I sent a copy to the McEvilly web page in England, Darren McEvilly was thrilled.
Before this Dad had written to the State Library of Tasmania, to Norman McVilly of Avenel, Victoria and Lawrence McVilly in Canberra. He also employed Lilian D. Watson to do the genealogical work in Tasmania. She did a very professional job.
Norman or Joseph Norman, was the son of Eric Norman the grandson of Joseph Henry and the great grandson of William Thomas. He wrote a very friendly reply in 1979 or 1980 and talked of his sister Frances Jean McVilly, born in 1916, his uncle, Cecil Levinthorpe McVilly who was born in 1889 and who was the champion sculler, public servant and soldier in World War One. Cecil had twin girls, Margaret and Kathleen. Margaret evidently married a Cooper. Normanís aunty was Eileen McVilly who married Mac Brunckhorst who was manager of the ANZ Bank in Melbourne. They had Alfred, Ken, Ian and Donal, all born in Queensland. The fourth child of Joseph Henry McVilly was Beatrice Mary who also married a Brunckhorst and had one son, Larry.. A fifth child, Joseph Henry was living in Snug, Tasmania at the time. He had two children, Irwin and Bessie.
Lawrence McVilly was born on 2-02-1922 at Hobart, the son of Archie Albert, born 4-07-96 at Mathinna, Tasmania, and Llywyn Doris Smith (born 2-02-1895 in Hobart). His parents were Albert Francis (known as Archie and "quite a good singer who worked in Government offices in Hobart"), and Julia Oak Thomson from St Arnaud, Victoria. Lawrence married Mary Farmery (known as Faye), from Sheffield, England on 2-06-1951 in Sheffield. They had Anne Louise, Ian James, Joan Elizabeth and Fiona Margaret.
Another Ian McVilly ( Ian Wenworth), wrote to me in 1981 from Ballarat, and he told me of the children of Henry Reginald Tasman McVilly and Katleen Griffiths Ė Richard Brooke, Mabel and himself. Richard Brooke had a son, Magnus, who died in 1999. Norman had mentioned in his letter that Brooke had a lot of information on the overseas connections of the McVillys. From the fact that he named his son Magnus it is probable that he discovered the Irish connection.
Thank you, Norman, Lawrence and Ian. You made Dad and myself think that it was all worth while. I later learnt through Jason McVilly that Richard Ian McVilly was the son of Ian Wentworth McVilly. Richardís sisters were Lesley Nan ( who married Roger Kemelfield and who died on 14-01-2001) and Judith Margaret (deceased).
After they had shifted to Caulfield in about 1965, Mum and Dad drove Edna McVilly to Church. She was the widow of Reginald Francis McVilly ( born 1-01-1901), the son of the above mentioned Albert Francis McVilly and Julia Oak Thompson. Edna died on 26-09-1987 and her son was Reginald Francis junior. This Reg McVilly was a good bike rider and broke many of Hubert Oppermanís long distant, interstate records. Lawrence McVilly once promised him an old bicycle and at the time of Mumís death he was ringing all "R" McVillys in Australia to find him. On the day of Mumís funeral, my brother-in law, Kevin, told me that he knew where the required Reg could be located. Lawrence was happy and the family history was some practical use. Reg told me that he had once beaten Graeme McVilly ( who won three Sun Tours, a record) in a pursuit race in Tasmania and then found that Graeme was his second cousin. I donít know the parentage of the late Graeme McVilly, but if his relatives know his father I am sure that they could fit him in to the family tree. The same goes for any other McVilly descended from William and Margaret.
Chapter Six. Generation Six, Seven, Eight and Nine. The Hundred Plus. 1930 onwards
Mum and Dad had eight children. These eight had 37 children and these had 61 children. Finally the great great grandchildren number eight so far. This makes 107 descendants from Mum and Dad so far. I am aware that there have been still births in the family and I hope that I am fairly accurate in my numbers.
Before Mum died a photograph was taken of "the five generations", a photo of Mum, Reg, Anne, Jacinta and perhaps Ally-Rose. It was like having a photograph of William with Richard Senior, Richard Junior, Reginald Albert and Dad! A remarkable fortunate photograph.
My brothers and sisters are a close family, as close as their own families, distance, and the speed of the era in which we live, allows. I know that they are always there for each other. Mum said that all her children were born with different natures and she knew this nature from the time we were babies. Because Dad was born with just his thumb and little finger formed fully on his left hand she always searched to see that everything was there. Our hidden genetic inheritance was not fully visible and only manifested itself in our behaviour and events in later life.
Reginald Francis was born on 22-11-1930. As Auntie Anne had prophesied he became a farmer. He had big hands! He married the girl next door, Mary Burmeister and now she prefers the country to the city as much as him. They had 15 children and they have lost only little Mary Carmel who died as a baby. Reg and Mary have invited the family to all of their childrenís weddings.
Mary Patricia was born on 24-11-1931. She married William Ryder and spent a large part of her married life in Papua and New Guinea. I saw her running their Cocoa plantation at Kokopo on the island of New Britain. Bill died aged 46. Pat and Bill contributed to the upbringing of Stuart and Bill, Billís nephews. Later Pat married George Straughen (born 1922). George had been a planter on Bouganville and before that had been a member of the Australian Parachute Battalion during World War Two. Pat and George live in Queensland and Pat has always been a warm host to Mum and Dad and any family who was up that way.
Elizabeth Georgina was born on 24-10-1933 and she married William Maxwell Rawlings, a builder ("Rocker Rawlings") on 28-9-1957. Max and Betty found Williamís trial while on a trip to England. Max said that he had been a naughty boy for he had stolen more than a shawl! Max and Betty had four children and seven grand children.
Judith Anne was born on 7-04-1935 and she married Robert Cooke on 21-04-1956. Bob was a sheep farmer and he died on 30-03-1997. Judy has five children, nine grand children (Levi died in 2003), and two great grand children. Judy has the gift of being able to give to her family and friends.
John Xavier was born on 1-05-1937 and married Sandra Holden and had three children, one of whom, Stuart died in his 21st year. John had Clare Louise with Joan McMahon. John has been self employed in the Insurance and Financial Advising Sector for most of his adult life. He has researched Mumís Cornish ancestors and has also always been a part of the McVilly hunt.
Margaret Francis was born on 16-05 1940 and married Kevin Quinn, builder, (and like Bob Cooke possessing a very Irish ancestry), on 15- 04-1963. Margaret and Kevin have three children and two grand children.
David Peter was born on 20-11- 1943 and was a chubby baby who let his siblings speak for him because he was so laid back. He eventually learnt to speak and is the writer. The best decision that I ever made was to marry Meloney Annemarie Bastiaensz who came out from Sri Lanka in 1965. We have two children, Neil David and Anne Louise.
Mareen Frances was born on 16-05-1946 and like Reg married a neighbour (in South Oakleigh), John Salmon, a builder, on 21-09-1963. Maureen and John have four children and six grand children.
It is not for me to say any more about my brothers and sisters for we are contemporary friends and we all have our mystery and privacy. I am fortunate to be able to love and respect all of them.
There are other McVillys who I have not mentioned so far.
Noel McVilly , (born 30-10-1929, died 28-09-1998), came to visit me in1991 to obtain information and I was fascinated for he was one of the dark ones. Dad had met Noelís wife, June Lynette during a hospital stay for she was a dietitian. Noel was the son of Cyril Ashton McVilly and Olive Charlotte Travers. Cyril was the son of Archibald Alexander Francis McVilly, who was the son of Richard Junior and Annie Bray James who in turn were Dadís grandparents. Noel was an Army Officer who had served in Vietnam and who then became the Manager of the Alkira Centre for Retarded Adults. It was a pleasure to meet Noel.
Just a few weeks ago I met Ray McVilly and his wife Beverley. Ray is the brother of Patricia, Helen Allwright ( who sent me some fascinating material about her knowledge of the family history), Wilma ("Billie", who lives in Ballarat) and Margaret Lowry to whom I had given some material some time before. These McVillys are the children of Redvers who was the son of William Henry and the grand son of William Thomas. The red heads and the dark ones get along very well!
Another son of William Henry and Rosanna Mary Domeney was Oscar Richard Stanley McVilly. Oscar is the great grandfather of Jason McVilly with whom I have had much correspondence and who has a web page for McVillys in Australia. When I told Jason of Sean McVilly of Queensland, his father, John, was thrilled to know that he had found a cousin. There are many other McVillys who have sent me emails but at this point I will stop for they have all fitted in to the McVilly family tree in Australia somewhere.
It only remains to discuss the McEvillys of Ireland from whom the first McVilly in Australia almost certainly came.
Chapter Seven. Before Generation One. The McEvillys in Ireland. A thousand years in two pages.
Before the McVillys were the McEvillys. Here is an oral history of the McEvillys as sent to me by Carolyn Plep on July 22, 2000.
" Subject MacEvilly/StauntonÖetc.
I just came across this page and read it with great interest. My grandmother was a Celia Stanton born near Turlough, Castlebar,Co. Mayo. In 1991 I had the opportunity to live with a cousin of mine for a few months near the round tower in Turlough. During my stay my cousin Celia Staunton, who by the way was originally Stanton, but changed it to Staunton because she said her grandfather had been Staunton, but her father changed it to Stanton, and she said that Staunton was the correct spelling.) introduced me to many people who knew of my interest in genealogy and that I had been spending many a day in the Castlebar library doing research. I had previously never heard of the MacEvillyís, but the following story came up more than once in my conversation, and I was told it was the family legend.
The first time I heard this story, it was told to me by another cousin introduced to me, Patrick Burke. An old man of about 89. As I was told, there supposedly had always been an ongoing feud between the de Staunton family and the de Burgh families. They fought over land, money, and basically over who would be the more powerful ruling family of the area, etc. At some point during this feud, there arose some sort of misunderstanding between a specific member of the de Staunton family, and the de Burgh family. At some point the male de Staunton took it upon himself to kill his supposed nemesis from the de Burgh family. This outright murder supposedly split the de Stauntonís apart. Part of the family felt the murder/killing was justified, the other wanted to separate themselves as much as possible from the deed. It was this second group that changed their name to MacEvilly (Iíve seen it spelled so many ways), which I was told stood for "son of the knight", which was meant to represent how the family had arrived (the knight) in Ireland during the Norman invasion. For they were all Ďsonsí of that original knight.
Anyway, I of course can not verify the facts behind this story. But as family lore, found it quite interesting"
And substantially that family legend told by Carolyn Plep is the story of the McEvillys, for history does not add much to it. As for surnames, well the history is just as vague as to them. The path to the modern day McVilly is a twisted one.
The McEvillys, then known as Stauntons were part of the Norman invasion of Ireland led by Richard de Burgh (Burke, de Burgo) in 1169. The Normans were the descendants of those Viking warriors who had invaded Northern France hundreds of years before. The Normans led by William the Conqueror obtained England by defeating Harold at Hastings in 1066. The Norman Barons then invaded Ireland in 1169 with the blessing of Henry II of England. By 1235 the Normans were in Mayo.
In 1333 The Stauntons murdered a de Burgh and they became known as the Clan Ulcin (the family of spite or ill will). In about 1338 the Stauntons cut their ties with the Anglo-Normans and became an Irish clan known as Mac-an-Mhiidh ( also spelt as Mec-an Mileada) which means "Son of the Knight", the Knight being their ancestor, Milo de Stanton, a Norman warrior. He came from Nottinghamshire- the Manor of Staunton. In 1650, under Cromwell, Gaelic was forbidden in Ireland so Mac an Mhileadh became MíAveely, MíEvilee, MíEvelly, McEvelly, MacEvilly or McEvilly. There was no standardized spelling in those days.
The McEvillys would have fought the Cromwellian invasions as well the subsequent English invasions and they became Irish and impoverished. The final blow which links William and Margaret McVill(e)y with Ireland was the 1798 uprising in Mayo when the western Irish rose up against the English, expecting the French to come to their aid. But the French failed and the English took terrible retribution on the rebels. The story is told in the novel The Year of the French by Thomas Flanagan (Arrow Books, 1980, first published By the Hutchinson Publishing Group,1979). On page 326, a MacEvilly and a Staunton are mentioned as two of three tenants of the English Protestant landlord, Lawrence. They are said to have been part of the uprising of 1798 which set up the Connaught or Mayo Republic. In the novel they are referred to as the Ballycastle men. Ballycastle was near Ballina. Mt Lawrence Hall at Ballycastle had been burnt by the rebels and the Lawrences fled to Killala.
Thus by legend, "1066 and all that" history and a novel, we work our way back to William and Margaret. William would have been about six years old in 1798 and his parents would probably have been killed during or after the rebellion. In the documents only his uncle is mentioned as being in Mayo. From there we know that William was placed in Newgate for smuggling and then in 1822 tried at the Old Bailey for buglary. The spelling change to McVill(e)y and then to McVilly was probably due to Williamís accent and his illiteracy and the copying of a clerk. With all the changes to the name listed above, it is the least severe.And that is how it should be for as we go further back in history we become connected to more and more people until the ties of immediate family are not as relevant as the fact that we are all persons.
1.For a number of years Darren McEvillyís prize winning web page, The McEvilly web site,the Genealogy site for descendants of the knight, was a great source of knowledge about the Irish connection. It seems to have gone for the present although there is still a database of all McEvillys and their relatives who spell their names differently. Type in McEvilly to get to this source.
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