Monday, March 17, 2014


In Memory of all our Irish Ancestors
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I have chosen just two amazing women to feature. 

Our Irish ancestry begins with Bridget Heslin/Eslin/Haslin, born 1766 in Dublin, 
who was awarded a free passage to Australia in 1793 via the OLD BAILEY booking office. 
She travelled on the "Sugar Cane"with a 7 years free accommodation voucher.

"Bridget was tried in July 1792 in Dublin Ireland and was then transported to Cork by ship to await transportation aboard the Sugar Cane.  The ship sailed on 13th April 1793 so she would have been in custody for about 9 months waiting to sail.  Sh e was only 18 years old but at least had a friend or relative, Mary Hughes on board with her, along with Joseph Kearns who would have also been known to the family.  Bridget's brother, Patrick, was aboard another ship of that fleet, The Boddingtons, but whether Bridget knew this or not is unknown. Unlike Robert's trip, all aboard the Sugar Cane arrived on the 17th September 1793 in good health with the loss of one life (execution) on the trip.
Never-the-less Bridget was only 18, her father had been executed, her mother and another brother (John) had been transported elsewhere and she and Patrick were now in a new colony just over five years after it had been first settled.  Things would have looked so alien, I can only feel that she felt scared and frightened at what lay ahead of her.  At this stage we can only guess that she was either sent to the Female Factory at Parramatta or to the farms at Toongabbie, however sometime possibly in in late 1795 she met Robert Hobbs and their first of nine children was born (registered Sydney) on the 19th September 1796.  All other children after that were born in the Hawkesbury area, most of them at Pitt Town.
I often sit and think what they may have felt, initially elated that the trip was over, scared about the prospects for spending the rest of your life in a strange alien place.  Sailing into Sydney Harbour they would have seen nothing but bushland , with strange trees and huge rocky outcrops, strange birds with strange sounds, strange beasts (kangaroos), aborigines quietly observing this strange sailing vessel and the white people on board, and on arrival on shore, looking aghast at the pri mitive conditions that they would have had to accept in their daily life. They were plunged into a society primarily made up of the military and convicts - and they would have been plunged into the middle of the worst of society, all battling to cope with their own nightmares.  Hopefully for Bridget some kindly person gave her a roof over her head and helped her through these first couple of years until she married Robert.
What is known after that is that she lived the rest of her life with Robert, raised nine children, lived and laboured at Pitt Town on their own land and died in on the 25th October, 1843, four and a half years after Robert who died on the 23rd February 1839.  They are both buried together in Pitt Town Cemetery although there is no mention of Bridget on Robert's well preserved head stone. We should all feel very proud of what this couple endured and that they fought hard to survive and raise a family in the harshest of conditions."
Courtesy of Bev Woodman

Old Dublin Town

Our Irish Grandmother was Bridget Theresa/Teresa Dillon,
 born in Clonboula, Kilmaley Parish, Co Clare on Feb 10th 1901.

 She married Roy Leonard Swadling on Aug 21, 1924, had four children, 
but sadly passed away on Jan 11th, 1942, a month short of her 41st birthday.
She rests in Dorrigo cemetery, New South Wales.

I have written about her a number of times, including this recent post.

Around County Clare, Ireland


  1. Fantastic post, Chris! I love 'awarded a free passage to Australia in 1793 via the OLD BAILEY booking office' ;)

    1. Thank you, Frances... have to have a smile soetimes.

  2. That should be 'sometimes' ....

  3. They were amazing people, coping with grief, the challenges of a new place. Such bravery.

    1. I've often wondered what the two Bridgets would have thought of each other... There are more Bridgets in my line, my great great grandfather, Michael Dillon, married Bridget Keane.. Still haven't found much on her. I'm sure there were others and a number of us have Bridget as a middle name. I can't begin to imagine how the first Bridget felt, maybe she looked on her transportation as an adventure. My grandmother came for a better life, many of her siblings travelled quite a bit, mainly between Ireland and USA, though a couple came to Australia, two to New Zealand, one to America, one to Canada - how hard would that have been on their parents...


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