Monday, September 29, 2008

Family history writing

Maybe certain friends who read my Antipodes blog are interested in Grafton, which was my birthplace. In my monograph on my maternal genealogy entitled A Little Bit of Irish, I've just completed and uploaded chapter 4, concerning my maternal ancestors in Grafton named Kearney, O'Keefe and Dixon. After clicking the cover image, click MENU then request the downloading of the PDF file for chapter 4. It's quite bulky (10 megabytes), so don't try to download anything unless you've got a broadband Internet connection.

Once you've downloaded the file, it's preferable to read it on the screen of your computer, rather than printing out some or all of the 53 pages on a color printer, since you can use the enlarge feature of your PDF reader to zoom in on photos, etc.

Chapters 2 and 3 of my monograph deal with an earlier and more exciting dimension of my maternal genealogy: the Walker and Hickey branches in Braidwood, at the time of the gold rush and bushrangers.

The title of my monograph is slightly ironic in that I no longer believe that our pioneering ancestor Charles Walker [1807-1860] was really a Catholic Irishman from Cork, as he made himself out to be, but rather a Protestant Scotsman, maybe even [according to a family legend that is old enough to be taken seriously] a brother of the fellow who invented Scotch whisky. I find it hard to imagine that the owners of the Caroline—a Newcastle banker, William Chapman, and a man from Calcutta, Eliot MacNaughten—would have hired an Irishman from Cork, in 1833, as the steward aboard a vessel carrying the families of convicts to New South Wales. Besides, nobody has ever found the least trace of our ancestor's alleged birth and life in Ireland. I have the impression that, once settled as the owner of a sheep grazing property in a largely Irish area of the Braidwood region, called Irish Corner, my ancestor simply lied about his nationality and religion in order to wed a 16-year-old Irish Catholic girl, daughter of a transported convict.

Today, many of the Australian descendants of Charles Walker are devout Catholics. I've invented a joke on this theme. I can imagine making the above allegations in front of one of these Catholic descendants, and concluding as follows: "So, you see, your supposedly Irish Catholic ancestor may well have been a Scottish Protestant." Reaction of the Catholic Walker descendant: "I've always known that Scottish Protestants are lying bastards."

1 comment:

  1. Being raised as an Irish Catholic, I had to smile reading this one! LOL... You are probably right on target about him having to lie to wed the daughter. Sounds just like what Catholics had to do to get married back then.