Widdups from Urana & Bracewell-Hodgson connection

I originally posted this question on another site. My interest in the Widdups from Urana arises from the fact that Bridget Widdup nee O’Brien was the sister of my original Australian ancestor, Mary O’Brien later Kunkel. They came from the townland of Ballykelly in the Parish of Kilseily in East County Clare, Ireland. This is centred on the small town of Broadford which is not that far from Limerick.

The two girls emigrated from Ireland around the mid-1850s but no shipping records have been found (despite looking at every O’Brien entry in the records). Bridget O’Brien Widdup’s death record shows that she spent a year in Queensland before moving to New South Wales where she married John Widdup. Although rumour has it that he was a Danish seaman I have found no proof of this and I believe he was probably born in the north of England.  I have put what information I had on this family at the time into my family history of the Kunkel family, which also included the O’Briens from Ballykelly. The book is called Grass Roots Queenslanders: the Kunkel family and was published in 2003.

Information from another family historian suggests that there is a connection between this Widdup family and the Hodgsons in Victoria. There does not appear to be a connection to the Widdops in Victoria though spelling can vary as we all know.

This is a somewhat convoluted saga but hopefully someone, somewhere may know more….every tiny tip helps. 

I am seeking help in finding the origins of John Widdup born circa 1828 or 1829. He came to Australia in the 1850s and settled at a small place called Urana in southern NSW, near the Victorian border. He married a woman called Bridget O’Brien from Co Clare circa 1860. In theory his Australian marriage or death certificates should give his parents’ names and place of birth. However, neither of these appear to have been registered so no joy there! He is, in summary, elusive. Oral history suggests he was a mariner with the British Navy and born in Denmark. My own view is that his roots are almost certainly in Yorks-Lancs. I did find a mariner named John Widdup born 1829 living in Hartlepool and lodging with a couple on the 1851 census. He states his place of birth of Salterforth.  It is possible this could be him I suppose. 

His Salterforth origins may tie in with a posting on the OneguyfromBarlick site & also with a letter between a John BRACEWELL and John WIDDUP (late 19th century), searching for Jesse, Johnathan and Joseph HODGSON who had settled in Eaglehawk near Bendigo in Victoria. John Widdup is said to be John Bracewell’s cousin.  

By searching the IGI and also census records I think I have found the correct family of Hodgsons in 1841. In Hayfield & Glossop district, Derbyshire, Daniel Hodgson is head of household with his wife, Amelia (later Amy) and children including Jesse, Johnathan and Joseph who emigrated, as well as other children including Wright Hodgson and also John Bracewell (relationships not being stated as we know for 1841). Amy Wright’s birthplace is stated in later census records as Keighley, Yorks. 

Daniel married Amy Bracewell nee WRIGHT at Manchester cathedral in 1825. Amy had previously been married to Henry Bracewell in 1816 at St Bartholomew’s Colne (per an LDS member submission-not an extracted entry). Hence John Bracewell, baptised St Bart’s Colne in 1818, is probably half-brother to the Hodgson children incl Johnathan, Jesse and Joseph.  

Wright Hodgson remained in England and married a Martha WIDDUP on 29 April 1860 at Manchester Cathedral, Lancs. They had a daughter, Amy Hodgson, who was born c1861 in Derbyshire. It seems that she would be the one staying with James Widdup and wife Mary Wright at Sand Hole Foulridge on the 1871 census. This would mean that it was their daughter Martha (b 1834) who married Wright Hodgson.  

At this point I wondered if Amy Wright-Bracewell-Hodgson and Mary Wright-Widdup might be sisters as both are listed as born Keighley per the census. The IGI suggests this is the case as Amy DOB (1794) and Mary’s (1801) fit closely with census info.  

If so then this provides a possible link which would fit with John Widdup being cousin to John Bracewell and the Hodgson boys. HOWEVER, the John Widdup who is son to James and Mary Widdup apparently has died in England in 1882.

Perhaps people with more familiarity with the area might see something I’m missing or there might be a rellie out there who knows more. 

The following are the names of John & Bridget’s children with a note of which don’t “fit” with O’Brien naming patterns. 

Children of John & Bridget (O’Brien) Widdup (NSW):
Amelia                          c1859  (no known family link for name re O’B)

 Louisa                          c1860  (no known family link for name) married Edward (Harry) Luckie.

John                             c1863  (probably after father, John Widdup)

Michael James              1864    (after her father Michael O’Brien; James-may be his father ??)

Walter Ireland              1867    (no known family link for name re O’B)
Alfred England                c1869  (no known family link for name re O’B)

Martha                         1870    (no known family link for name re O’B)

Bridget Ellen                 1872    (her  sister Ellen O’Brien)
Catherine Agnes           1874    (her mother Catherine O’Brien; Agnes??)  

For interest: in Australia John Widdup became a pound-keeper in charge of impounding wandering stock. Some of his sons became shearers and drovers.

I’d be grateful for anyone’s insights/comments.

13 thoughts on “Widdups from Urana & Bracewell-Hodgson connection

  1. Have we been in touch through oneguyfrombarlick. If not , I have alot of information on the Widdup family of Salterforth


  2. I also have an elusive ancestor/Cornelius O’Brien -died around mid 1800’s whose Widow Bridget (nee Nash) emigrated with her family in the 1850’s spreading from Adelaide into Riverina. My distant cousin/John Martin O’Brien of your area Clare related to Mary O’Brien/Kunkel – gave me photo copy of her photo with son George/image of my grandfather John d.1894 aged 47. If your book is available how do I go about getting a copy? Trusting to hear from you – sincerely Barbara O’Brien (nee O’Brien)


  3. hi, i have a hodgson ancestor who was in the australian army, his name was albert, do you have any info regarding him.




    1. hi Jackie, I ‘m sorry but the Hodgsons are only peripheral to my research -trying to tie together John Widdup to his cousins the Bracewells and Hodgsons both in the UK and in Oz c1850. I haven’t done anything really with Hodgsons beyond the mid-late 1800s….I see from your email you are in the UK so I’ll list some places you might want to search: Have you tried to look up his army record on the National Archives site at http://www.naa.gov.au They have digitised most of the WWI enlistment records and they include a lot of information. I hope this is helpful. The Australian War Memorial also lets you search for information on a person and is definitely worth a look http://www.awm.gov.au/ They may give you clues for places to look further. For WWII you should also search http://www.ww2roll.gov.au/ Cheers Pauleen


  4. I’m a descendant of Brigid O’Brien and Mr Widdup. My great grandmother was Louisa Luckie. As to the Danish family and the seaman story, I too was told these. We have a Satsuma plate that supposedly belonged to Brigid O’Brien. Of course the plate could have been bought in Sydney. However, it is possible that it could have been brought to Australia by the sailor husband.

    Robbie lawson


    1. hi Robbie, thanks for getting in touch. I’ll email you about this. I can’t find any evidence that Widdup was a Danish seaman, so perhaps the plate came from other places.


  5. the Widdups lived near us in Urana and in the 60’s moved to the Wollongong area in NSW. Thomas Alfred England Widdup was the father. He served in WW2 in the Middle East and NewGuinea where he was badly wounded. He died in 1962 in Urana aged about 56. I think he was born in 1905 in Urana. He married ‘Peggy’ Galvin and they had several children including Therese Bridgit, Michael born around 1948, Pauline and Rosemary both born in early fifties. My siblings have recently been going through old school photos and reminiscing. The only one I could find anything about on the web is a Linkedin entry for Pauline Widdup who is a clinical psychologist in Wollongong and studied at Wollongong University. It has to be the same person. Michael became a pastry chef or baker in or around Wollongong. Haven’t seen them since the sixties. They were good people.


  6. 🙂
    Urana Blacksmiths.
    Louisa Widdup married Edward Luckie, the first child Martha born at Urana 1882.
    My interest is in the Blacksmiths of Urana during the time of Ned Kelly’s Jerrilderie robbery.
    Lousia’s sister Mary Ann married a blacksmith John Hatcher and raised a family at Urana at this time.
    Another of Louisa’s sisters married a Blacksmith John Duffin Barkley (Sarah Jane Luckie) who died at Urana 1877 (John Duffin is my 3rd Great Grandfather.
    A third Blacksmith at Urana has a similar name John Hatch 1837 – 1896. was at Urana
    A forth Blacksmith Charles Knight was known to John Barkley. (Beechworth)
    The families of all these Blacksmiths have family stories relating to the Kelly’s (all these stories except mine can be found easily enough online.)
    Quite a coincidence on the surface !!!.
    The little research I have done indicated both Michael Quinn and John King had selections at Urana (related to Ned), also Ned himself claimed that a horse he had stolen ended in the NSW police.after passing through the Urana Pound.
    Love your site.
    Regards Michael


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