James and Ellen McAllister m 1837 arrive NSW 1838

James and Ellen McAllister

The name McAllister has quite a few variations however I believe they are the same family. The first is that of James McAlister who married Eleen Clohessy in Limerick 14th October 1837. Clohessy too has a variety of spelling, and it is most likely that neither of the two were literate and therefore the person scribing their name would simply write it as they heard it.

James McAllister and Ellen Clohessy married in Limerick 14 October 1837 at St Mary’s Limerick City

St Mary’s Cathedral Limerick dates from 1168 and is built on the site of the Viking Thingmote (Parliament).

According to The Irish Story, an online history site, Limerick city in the 1830s was an especially desperate place for the poor. The treatment of the Irish people by the English and absentee landlords was appalling.

James and Ellen made up there minds to choose a better life for themselves. The Government of NSW was looking for labour to build the colony. They decided to seek a Bounty ship to take them to Australia. “Bounty immigrants” were selected by colonists who then paid for their passage. When the immigrant arrived, a colonist would employ the immigrant and the employer would then be reimbursed by the government for all or part of the cost of passage.

They most likely travelled from Limerick to Cork, a distance of 100km, by a Bianconi coach – the Ryanair of the 18th Century.

According to the site ‘Ships to Australia’ they boarded the ship ‘Magistrate’ on the 8th March 1838 in Cork. Shipping records show, James MacAllister from Limerick, was a 22-year-old, a farm servant married to an 18-year-old. They could both read and write. (I do not think so.) He was a Catholic and was engaged by a Mr Robert Beatson of Sydney who agreed to pay him £25 per year with rations. The ship’s records also show the occupations of the married men, single men and single women. Married women were not acknowledged other than their age.

Records from Family Search give more detail. James was 22 and a farm servant. His father was Patrick, a hatter and his mother was Mary O’Flaherty. Helen, (Ellen) 18, was a milliner and dressmaker. Her parents were Edward and Catherine Clohacy. Edward was a land steward to Mr Leahy for Cork. They were married on the 14th October 1837. They were both Roman Catholics from the Limerick Parish of St Mary’s and they had no children with them.

Official shipping records show they arrived 21 July 1838.

183821 JulMagistrateReel 2654, [4/4780]

They had five children in Australia:

  • JOHN born NSW 1840 died Brisbane QLD 1909
  • JAMES born NSW 1842 died Charters Towers QLD 1888
  • EDWARD born NSW 1845 died Maryborough QLD 1901
  • MICHAEL born NSW 1848 died ? QLD 1920
  • BRIDGIT born QLD 1853 died Northgate Brisbane QLD 1916

Some of the records are a little confusing as Queensland did not separate from NSW until 1859. I believe the family were in Sydney for eight years before moving to Queensland. They moved to Brisbane where Mrs McAllister was a Hatter. She took out an ad on Tuesday 22 December 1868, a month after the death of her husband, in the Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser (p3). This is a bit curious as Adelaide Street is the main shopping area in Brisbane and it seems odd that the ad was place in a newspaper many hours north of Brisbane city. They must have had other relatives living in that area as that is where Ellen McAllister died in 1898.

In the QLD Birth Death and Marriage site, I found a James McAllister who died in Brisbane 22 November 1868 but there was scant information so I have not confirmed that as yet. Ellen died in Childres aged 79.