Let’s return to the McKenna family of immigrants: Elizabeth McKenna and her children William, Sarah, Mary, Catherine and Peter. What happened to them? Who did they marry and where did they settle?
I will leave William for a moment and address the others first.
Sarah McKenna (20 years old on arrival) was employed by John Macpherson in Melbourne for L20 pa for three months. She married William Thomson in Melbourne in 1848. I wondered if he had arrived on the Adelaide as well but it seems not. Sarah died only a few years later, age 23, in Melbourne. She had given birth to one child, William, in 1849. No parents’ names are listed on her death index.
Mary McKenna, 17 on arrival, was recruited by James Simpson in Melbourne for three months at L18 pa. She married Robert (Douglas) Horgan on 8 September 1851 in the Anglican church of St James in Melbourne. Mary’s sister, Catherine, was one of the witnesses. Mary and Robert’s children were Mary (1861-), James (1863), Matilda (1869) and William (Henry) Owen (1871 – 1957) and possibly also Robert (1853-1933). Mary died in June 1922 and is buried in the Ballarat New Cemetery. Her parents are listed in the indexes as Owen McKenna and Unknown mother.
Catherine McKenna and brothers William and Peter left the ship with their mother Elizabeth to find brother James. Catherine married William Kelly in 1853. They apparently had nine children though I can only find some of them. William and Catherine lived at Strangways near Castlemaine. William died in April 1894. Catherine died on 2 January 1919, age 83, and was buried at Newstead Cemetery at Green Gully near Ballarat. Her parents are listed as William McKenna and Elizabeth.
William McKenna has been discussed in an earlier post about his wife Bridget Gallagher aka Gollagher, a Famine Orphan from Donegal (or Galway or Limerick or…) The witnesses to the marriage in 1850 were Mary Boyle and James McKenna. This links back to my previous post about James McKenna, who was whom, and when he arrived.
When their first son, James, was baptised in Melbourne, the witnesses were Robert Horgan (previously thought to be Hogan) and Sarah McKenna. It is almost certain that this is Mary’s husband Robert. Initially I thought the female witness was William’s sister but now I wonder if it was his sister-in-law Sally McKenna, wife of James, as by 1851 his sister had become Sarah Thomson.
At the baptism of their daughter in 1853 (registered as Elvia but seemingly known as Elizabeth), the witnesses were Patrick McGrath and Mary McKenna. This is a bit odd as by then Mary had married Robert Horgan. Were the women using their maiden names?
I am confident that the correct death for William McKenna is 27 June 1910 in the Austin Hospital, Melbourne. At the time he was working as a carrier and living at Holmwood Place off Cardigan St, Carlton. His death certificate clearly states that his wife was Bridget Gallagher, though an annotation incorrectly states she is still alive. Despite this, I have eliminated all other instances of deaths for Bridget Gallagher McKenna as being incorrect based on index information or actual certificates. As Bridget died from alcoholism in 1882, it seems most likely the family had lost touch with her and had no idea she’d died. I’m a doubting Thomas so other potential deaths would need to be convincing.
The children listed on William’s death certificate also match the children born to Bridget and William (a circular argument perhaps), with one exception: son Myles is shown as Giles.
Peter and Elizabeth McKenna have completely defeated me. I have been unable to find marriages or deaths which convince me they are the correct people. Several Ancestry trees attribute Peter to one who lived at Purnim near Warrnambool and who married Bridget McGinnis. However, this Peter seems to have completely different parents based on death indexes but more importantly on his marriage certificate where he states that his parents are James McKenna and Sarah Cassidy. He stated he was from Monaghan, lived at Purnim Springs Valley, Warrnambool and was 25 years old in 1855 (too old as well). So that pretty much eliminates him from consideration I think. Given that there are a few McKennas at Purnim Springs are they related in some other way than as siblings?
I wonder if Elizabeth and Peter perhaps re-emigrated to another location? I did check New Zealand deaths without success.
What I find quite sad, is that despite Elizabeth travelling around the world with her family at age 44 (at least), her descendants seem to have completely forgotten her – her name only appears on one of her children’s deaths. This is a further reason for wondering if she moved away, because you’d think if she lived in Victoria, her grandchildren would have had a chance to know her.
Thanks for “listening” to my perambulations on the McKenna family. Putting it in writing was one way of sending the message into the ether but mainly getting my thoughts clarified and set out for future review.
Sadly for once, also, my good friend Trove did not add much to my family knowledge.
There are some research investigations that leave one completely muddled and this is one of them….feeling rather like a novice investigator. Bright ideas welcomed.
5 thoughts on “The McKenna maze Part II”
(Not sure if I already posted this): Thanks for all your work Pauleen. I’m still trying to digest it. Are you aware of the Indian connection? My ggg grandfather was Owen McKenna, b 1804, my gg grandfather was William, b 1826, married to Margaret Rae. My research shows they they married in Guernsey (Channel Is) and he had joined the British army. He (William) was stationed in Madras, where my g grandfather James was born in about 1866, and the family came to Melbourne aboard the Bombay in Dec 1868 (I’ve lost the shipping record and can’t find it again.) I’ve researched all this and recently put it up on myancestry.com, which I can invite you to look at if I have your email address. It gets quite infuriating, because you think you are close but never know. All the best
Andrew McKenna (I’ve pasted the myancestry link below but not sure if you can see it if you’re not a member. )
hi Andrew, thanks for getting in touch and my sincere apologies for the delayed response – I’ve been all over the place with blogging this year. I was totally unaware of any Indian connection. It certainly bears investigation. This is my husband’s ancestry so I try to leave it to him 😉 My email contact is on the contact me page if you want to send the ancestry link – I couldn’t see it here. Cheers for now Pauleen
hi Andrew, Don’t think I’ve replied as your comment went to spam 😦
My email contact is on the contact me page but I will send it to you re the Ancestry tree. I’ve parked the McKennas for a bit but I knew nothing about an Indian connection.
Its facinating learning about my ancestors. (James mckenna & mary tyrell are my ggg grandparents)
Hopefully these missing family members will be found one day
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Wow! Thanks for all your work Pauline. It has helped clarify much of what one might call the ‘dogs breakfast’ that is my family tree on Ancestry. One thing I am sure of is that I am a descendant of Catherine McKenna. Like you I find it incredibly sad that such a brave woman as Elizabeth seems to have dropped off the face of the earth after her arrival in Australia. As an aside I did pay a ‘Born and Bread’ researchers to look into our family tree for my mothers 80th birthday. She believed that Elizabeth went by the name of Ellen.