Annie Love (C1830’s–1897)

Vanessa Kiessling, Australia

They tell me a story has a beginning, a middle and an end but what was the beginning of the story of Anne Love? What happened in the years before she became a member of the Union Workhouse, Cork, Ireland? Did she have brothers and sisters? Were they with her in the Union Workhouse? In 1851 Anne Love was among 30 girls from the Workhouse, all registered as being 17 years of age, that sailed from Penrose Quay, Cork. Did they leave behind sisters, brothers, other family members, never to be seen or heard from again?

Irish convict women had been transported by their thousands to Australia for many years. During the Great Irish Potato Famine the Earl Grey Scheme which lasted for 2 years had seen over 4000 Irish orphan girls transported to mainland Australia but this was a small proportion of the Irish girls who had come and were still to come to escape the hunger and tragedy that was Ireland during those tragic years. In the years 1854-1856, 4000 to 5000 free Irish girls were shipped to Adelaide, South Australia. In 1851 the ships Beulah with about 160 orphan workhouse girls and the Calcutta with 150 orphan workhouse girls, had been specially voted by the House of Commons in England for Emigration to Van Diemen’s Land, present day Tasmania. There was an outcry from the local population against the Irish invasion, those prejudiced saying the influx of criminals, dishonesty and immorality were ruining the nation. Consequently many hid their birthplace as far as possible from their neighbours, and still into the early 20th century people would deny their Irish heritage, as can be seen by the death registration of Anne McDonald at the end of her story.

The Union Workhouse girls sailed to Plymouth, England, where the girls joined 120 other Irish orphan girls at the Government Emigration Depot on Baltic Wharf before boarding the ship Calcutta, a 484 ton vessel with Captain Wrankmore at the helm. The ship sailed on 16 July 1851 facing the perils of a 4 month voyage to a land on the other side of the world. The regulations stated each girl was to be provided with six shifts, two flannel petticoats, six pairs of stockings, two gowns and two pairs of shoes. All items were to be new and of good quality and in a wooden box of good quality with strong locks for storing their belongings and their names printed on the front of the box. Catholic girls were also to be provided with a bible. Passengers on board Calcutta were 150 unmarried orphan girls, 7 married couples and 8 children. The Surgeon-superintendent, Dr. Church, found the Matron unsatisfactory and she was replaced during the voyage. A Schoolmistress was appointed and the girls taught to read and write, Dr. Church reported the girls to be apt and quick if instructed with kindness. Calcutta arrived in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, on 4 November 1851. In Hobart they were housed in the Immigration Depot on the Old Wharf until they were placed in employment as nursery maids or domestic duties being paid £7 – £10 per year. Tasmanians were obliged to make written application for servants and this was needed to be approved by the local authorities. Anne was employed and paid £7 per year by Isaac Eynon Chapman of Warwick Street, Hobart, a bank clerk whose young wife had just given birth to their 4th child.

It is unknown how long Anne worked for the Chapman family but in 1859 she is recorded as being a house maid in Jerusalem, now known as Colebrook, a small country town about 35 miles from Hobart, an agricultural area with a population in 1861 of 388 people.

When the Englishman Robert William Willson was appointed the first Catholic Bishop of Hobart Town in 1843 he brought with him 3 detailed models of churches designed by his friend the Architect Augustus Pugin, including the design of vestments, church furnishings and even tombstones, because Augustus Pugin felt there would not be people who were skilled enough to design or build in the new Colony. Ausustus Pugin had designed Killarney and Enniscorthy Cathedrals in Ireland and the Tower for Big Ben and the interior of the Houses of Parliament in London among many other churches and buildings. In 1846 Bishop Robert Willson visited England, at his own expense, to report to the House of Lords on the horrific conditions and treatment of the convicts in Tasmania and Norfolk Island. An Anti-transportation league had been formed, and in 1853 Tasmania celebrated 50 years of European settlement and the official end of transportation. This meant that the farmers could no longer apply for convict labour on their properties and the arrival of more free settlers to the Colony.

James McDonald arrived as a free emigrant from Kings County, now known as County Offlay, Ireland, in 1854 on the ship Kingston. He also passed through the Immigration Office at the Old Wharf in Hobart to find employment. The repayment of his passage money was to be paid by his new employer and then deducted over time from his wages. Anne Love and James McDonald were married in St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Jerusalem, in May 1859, Anne, being registered as a house maid aged 23. Her husband James McDonald was recorded as 24 years of age and a farm labourer. St. Patrick’s was one of Augustus Pugin’s designs and was consecrated in January 1857 and said to look like a small English medieval Church of the 1300’s.

Anne and James McDonald had 6 children, 4 daughters and 2 sons, all born in the Colebrook area of Tasmania and the Irish red hair was evident among them. They all went on to marry and all but one son had children of their own, a dynasty spread far and wide.

Anne died at the home of one of her daughters in Hobart in 1897. Her age was recorded as 58 years, the wife of a labourer, cause of death was paralysis, bed sores and exhaustion and she was born in England. The shipping register has her as born in 1834, her marriage record as 1836, which would have made her 15 years old when she came to Tasmania, and her death record as born in 1838. Her husband James outlived her by 10 years and died at the home of one of their sons in Hobart.

The family know nothing of Anne Love’s early life, word of mouth history has it that the girls in the Workhouse were sent to Tasmania and the boys to Canada, it would be interesting to know if this is correct. Anne Love was my Great Grandmother and I would like to think that an Irish orphan girl was remembered and to know that she has descendants, and part of the Irish heritage goes on even to my red headed Grandsons living in Central Australia.


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