Seeking Susan’s family …

Susan Kelleher, my Great Great Grandmother, emigrated on the ill-fated “Nashwauk” in 1855 with her sister Bridget and has always been my inspiration for researching family history (see here). It’s a joy to have managed to piece together her life from the moment the ship was wrecked off the coast of South Australia, until she was buried in the Broken Hill Cemetery, New South Wales, after a long and productive life. 

However, I’ve had no luck at all in locating Susan’s birth family in County Clare, Ireland.  A visit to the   “Clare Heritage Centre” Corofin, Co Clare, in 1994 resulted in the discovery of a family which may be my Ancestors as they had a daughter, Susan Kelleher born 1835. However there is no record of her having a sister named Bridget, but it was pointed out that this does not necessarily mean this couple didn’t have a daughter of this name because,

“…like most other Parish Registers they are riddled with gaps and omissions in fact there were no baptisms recorded in the Parish of Ennistymon between July 1836 and March 1842 with their being many gaps and omissions in the intervening period. “ 

This couple, who may be my Great Great Great Grandparents, are Hannah and Patrick Kelleher from the Parish of Ennistymon, County Clare. We know from the Ship’s Passenger List that the name of Susan and Bridget’s father is Patrick but there’s no mention of their mother.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the Immigration Papers for all aboard the “Nashwauk” are  missing from the South Australian State Records. I say it’s not surprising because many of these immigrants complained they had no applied, nor had been approved, to come to South Australia.  I’m guessing that some clerk neglected to re-file the papers appropriately.

The Irish “Griffiths Valuation” has been of little help because, although there are a couple of “Patrick Kelleher’s” listed, there is nothing to connect either to my Susan.

Susan was married twice but her mother’s name does not appear on either certificates.  Her death certificate has her mother’s name as the same as hers, “Susan”, but we know that these can often be unreliable as those providing the information are not always fully aware of all details. Susan’s Grandson, with whom she was living, was the informant.

The Clare Heritage Centre confirmed that the name “Susan” may be “Susannah” or shortened to “Hannah” but that’s just a “maybe” and not good enough.

Pauline, from “Family history across the seas”, made a great suggestion, that I follow up on  Susan’s sister, which is something I’d not thought of.  Unfortunately Bridget disappeared from the South Australian records on 13 Jan 1856, after witnessing Susan’s Marriage and there are no “family stories” of her whereabouts.  I suspect she may have travelled on to Sydney, for it’s recorded in the book, “What Really Happened to the Nashwauk?”,  that Bridget was one of the immigrants who complained that she had applied to go to Sydney, New South Wales not Adelaide, South Australia.

As the South Australian Genealogy & Heraldry Society has just set up an online Index of BD&M’s I decided to give this a go.  All that came up was a marriage for a Bridget Kellery to a Thomas Smith. It was a “longshot” but I did hope that this may be my Bridget with an incorrectly spelt Surname. Finally the Transcript came through and it’s not my Bridget –  Drat! – even if it was there is little information about the Bride.

Well, I have “another iron in the fire” and am waiting… waiting… waiting… for Susan’s Will & Probate Records to arrive.  Maybe she mentions her mother’s name in her last “Will & Testament”?  One can but hope.


Sources:  Genealogy SA –
                 “What Really Happened to the Nashwauk?” ©2004. J.Callen. ISBN 0-9595356-2-4. Printed by Butterfly Press, 225 Main Road, Blackwood, South Australia, 5051. Tel: 08 8278 2899

Copyright © 2012. Catherine Crout-Habel. “Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Family 

15 thoughts on “Seeking Susan’s family …

  1. What a shame that the first lead fizzled out…fingers crossed to the will. I just had a look at the NSW deaths (and marriages). I was surprised that Bridget Kel*eher wasn’t a more common name. There are no marriages but a death in 1918 in Newcastle (Merewether) of an 88 year old woman…but no parents listed. I can see that Susan and Hannah could be variations of Susannah but as you say, how do you know? Only other thing that comes to mind is following the land transfers 9GV revision lists) of the Patrick Kelleher in Ennistymon but then it’s not going to link you to Susan. Did you know the Nashwauk anchor was in the Not Just Ned exhibition last year ? We heard about it at last year’s Shamrock in the Bush.

    • Thanks Pauline, Whipped out the calculator but this Bridget Kelleher was about 5 years too old, however will keep it in mind, just in case it’s a mistake with the age. How do I check the “Land transfers 9GV revisions lists”? … any info is worth having, I reckon.
      Oh yes … many of us South Ozzies know that “our Anchor” got “snitched” and taken to the Eastern States 🙂 and worried it won’t come back! Last news was that it didn’t make it to Ireland, as planned, because of monetary probs over there ‘cos of the GFC. Understand it’s back in the hands of SOz Onkaparinga Council and they’re trying to decide where to put it. Believe the Moana Caravan Park want it back but “rellies” of the passengers want it ceremoniously placed back on public display… looking out to sea where the ship went down. Must follow up on that. Thanks for the reminder. Cheers Catherine.

      • Yes we heard how the SA mob were mistrustful of those east staters 😉 There was talk of sending a lot of stuff to Ireland but their parlous economic state has probably put paid to it -that and I reckon because Richard, the senior curator on the job, has changed jobs and wasn’t there to bring his persuasive skills to bear. The story of how they “cleaned it up” was really interesting. Would have added years to its life. I thought I had a link on the process but can’t find it online now. Maybe it was only hearing it in person at Shamrock.

      • Ha ha ha … yep, we “crow eaters” get pretty antsie with the Eastern States when they try to “snaffle” our “treasures” esp our written records which requires us to travel many many hundreds of miles to access the originals. However, we must be grateful for the restoration of the “Nashwauk” anchor! 🙂 … Yes, I know the link you mean Pauline, re: the process. I looked too but it seems to have disappeared 😦

  2. It sure is intriguing …. Let’s hope the probate papers give you the answers you’re looking for Mum!! x

    • Yep… might have to enquire as to progress. It’s the waiting for info to come back that’s so so so frustrating… ha ha ha… but I’ll never give up Kirrily, as you well know 😉

  3. Re the revision lists: go to the catalogue, use the former version. Search keywords by “valuation revision place-name/union-name”. This should give you a list of townlands within the union with the relevant film numbers. You can then order them in. Not sure it will help you solve this particular problem but for $7.50 probably worth a look. I’ve been going to write on this for a while. Perhaps this is my incentive.

  4. You’ve found so many pieces of the puzzle–and yet they don’t all fit together quite right. Best of luck as you try to get it all sorted out.

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