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MAGNER CONVICTS IN AUSTRALIA

Preliminary Notes

In 1992, while on a visit to Australia, I became interested in the convict beginnings of this former English colony. The First Fleet of eleven British sailing ships had deposited 772 convicts on the shore of what is now Sydney on January 26, 1788. The youngest of these convicts were nine-year old John Hudson and thirteen-year old Elizabeth Haywood, both transported for theft of property. These convicts (568 men, 191 women and 13 children) were the first white inhabitants of Australia.

In the Sydney Convict Archives I learned that in the 81 years of convict transportation six Magners from Ireland had been included or, more precisely, the Archives had records for that number. I selected the Magner who had been the first to arrive, a Thomas Magner from Mallow, County Cork, Ireland, who landed in New South Wales in 1823, and set about researching his background. Actually, he arrived with his brother Michael who was two years older but I concentrated on Thomas because of the identity of our names. Now I know a good deal about him though certain aspects of his life remain obscure. A summary of my findings appeared in the December 1995 issue of the Mallow Field Club Journal, published by the Mallow Archaeological & Historical Society, and that article follows. TFM

 

 

IRISH CONVICTS IN AMERICA AND AUSTRALIA

By Thomas F. Magner

In recent centuries crime and punishment linked Great Britain to America and Australia in a most curious way: the actual crimes occurred in England, Ireland and Scotland but for punishment thousands upon thousands of the criminals were banished to the American colonies and later to Australia. In the case of Ireland, social protest and political dissent were sometimes construed as criminal activity and the court's harshest sentence – transportation to the colonies - could be handed down for dissent as well as for common theft.

The Transportation System

The historical record is this: in the 17th and 18th centuries England transported some 50,000 convicts to the American colonies where they were sold into servitude, usually for seven years. Of that number the historian A. Roger Ekirch estimates that 36,000 came from England, 13,000 from Ireland and 700 from Scotland (Bound for America. The Transportation of British Convicts to the Colonies, 1718-1775, Oxford, 1987, p. 27). Convict transportation to the American colonies was effectively ended by the American Declaration of Independence in 1776 which forced England to use the newly "discovered" land of Australia as a dumping ground for convicts. For 81 years, beginning in 1787, England transported some 160,000 manacled convicts in sailing ships on a 16,000 mile voyage to Australia; in the dark holds of the ships which ferried this human cargo there were 39,000 convicts from Ireland, 30,000 men and 9,000 women (Robert Hughes, The Fatal Shore, New York, 1987, p. 195).

In his history of Maryland Robert J. Brugger describes the arrival of convicts in America: "Typically males of humble origins, the convicts arrived at either Annapolis or Baltimore chained in groups of ninety or more men, 'wretched, ragged and lean', as one of them recalled. Buyers came aboard, looked in mouths, and haggled over prices." (Maryland. A Middle Temperament, 1634-1980, Baltimore, 1989, p. 86). Irish convicts were the least desirable to the American planters, a situation later repeated in Australia; as the Australian writer Robert Hughes notes, "It was taken for granted that all Irishmen were 'wild' and 'lawless', and the authorities in Sydney, who had enough trouble with the relatively tractable English prisoners, were never glad to see them." (Hughes, p.184).

The transportation of convicts, so inhumane on the surface, was ironically an attempt to mitigate the severity of the British Criminal Code, popularly called the Bloody Code, which listed 167 capital crimes, offenses for which a convicted felon could be hanged. The Bloody Code prescribed death for crimes ranging from murder to the theft of property worth a shilling or more; a shilling was not an insignificant amount: in Ireland: during the 1800s it was the daily wage of a farm labourer.

Though most of the Irish felons were convicted of crimes against persons or property, the offences of a substantial minority of them were of a political nature. Hughes writes that "Australia was the official Siberia for Irish dissidents... Between 1800 and 1805 their influx began in earnest, swollen by political exiles transported for their role in the rebellion of 1798, when Ireland tried unsuccessfully to ally with France in revolt against England." (Hughes, p.181).

It is safe to say that the average American knows nothing about the 50,000 convicts transported here in colonial times and the reasons seem clear: the number of convicts was small compared to that of black slaves (some 721,000 in our 1790 census) and also because the institution of slavery endured until 1863 whereas the flow of convicts ended in 1776. Australians, however, desperately wanted to forget the fact that their country was founded as a convict settlement and so it was only in recent decades that serious studies of the historical role of Australia's 160,000 convicts have appeared. One such study is the book, The Fatal Shore, by Robert Hughes. About the memory problem he writes: "By the 1880s, when the Protestant majority in Australia had all but sublimated the 'hated stain' of convictry, the Irish still kept the memory of the System alive. Naturally, they also fostered the delusion that most Irish convicts had been sent to the Fatal Shore for political offenses..." ( p.195).

An Irish Convict in Australia

For the past two years I have been tracing the story of one Irish convict who was transported to Australia in 1823; my involvement was entirely accidental: as a tourist in Sydney in early 1992 I looked into a local telephone book just to see if anyone with my uncommon Irish name had turned up Down Under. To my astonishment I found seventeen entries for the Magner surname. Suddenly all the information about Australian convicts which I had absorbed from Hughes' book came alive for me and a visit to Sydney's Convict Archives confirmed my suspicions: in the 19th century six convicts named Magner, five men and one woman, had been transported from Ireland to Australia. I am not suggesting that all the Magners in Sydney or in other Australian localities are descended from the five male Magner convicts transported to Australia in the 19th century. Irish Magners could have migrated voluntarily to Australia during and after the famine in Ireland in the 1840s or, in fact, at almost any time up to the present. But it is possible and perhaps even probable that there are now Australian citizens descended from the Magner convicts.

Taking advantage of one of the archives' services, I paid a reasonable sum for a search of the records of a convict named Thomas Magner, the one Magner convict with my first and last name and also that of my 8-year old grandson who lives in Brisbane, Australia. A month or so after my request, I received a thick bundle of papers on the convict, Thomas Magner, with supplemental information about a Michael Magner who was two years older than Thomas and probably his brother since they were sentenced at the same trial. I was so inhibited by the warning carried on several of the documents - BY ORDER OF THE ARCHIVES AUTHORITY OF NEW SOUTH WALES THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THESE RECORDS MUST NOT BE USED IN ANY MANNER LIKELY TO CAUSE PAIN OR EMBARRASSMENT TO ANY LIVING PERSON - that I have not yet contacted any of the Sydney Magners.

A few words about the Magner surname. Like the familiar "Irish" names of Barry, Burke, Butler, Fitzgerald, Lacy, Roche, Tobin and others, Magner came into Ireland with the Norman invaders in the 12th century. Originally, the name was Magnel which mutated to Magner over the course of a few centuries. In the northern part of County Cork, between the towns of Kanturk and Mallow, there is a hamlet named Castlemagner (originally Magnelstown) where one can view the ruins of the Magner castle. As a result of a later invasion, that of Oliver Cromwell and his English soldiers in the 17th century, two-thirds of Irish lands and estates including the Magner holdings were seized and turned over to new English owners. The dispossessed Magners were over time reduced to peasant status. Oddly enough, my request for a search of Thomas Magner's records, based on an identity of his name with mine and that of my grandson, turned out to be a pure case of serendipity since he was tried and convicted in Mallow, a few miles east of the ancestral Magner estate.

Australian records describe Thomas Magner as a 24-year old "ploughman" from Mallow who was tried and convicted in November of 1822 but his crime was not specified. Thomas and Michael Magner were transported on the Earl St. Vincent, a 412-ton sailing ship making its third run to Australia; the ship sailed from Cork City on April 29, 1823 and was 133 days in the crossing. Thomas had four bouts of scurvy but the ship's surgeon, Robert Tainst, was evidently quite competent, judging from the fact that of the 157 convicts aboard only one died. In contrast, the Surrey which sailed from England in 1814 with 200 convicts arrived in New South Wales with 164, thirty-six having died in transit.

Thomas seems an unlikely criminal: freckle-faced with light-brown hair, hazel eyes and standing only 5 feet 3 1/2 inches tall. Hughes' book describes in gruesome detail the horrors of the prison system but Thomas' passage through it seems relatively benign: his career as a "government man" (as the prisoners liked to call themselves) began in 1823 but four years later in 1827 he had his Ticket of Leave (parole) and by 1829 his Certificate of Freedom. In the Australian census of 1828 he is recorded as being 31 years old, a Catholic and a farmer living in Patrick Plains, New South Wales.

Magner’s Crime

 What interested me was the nature of the crime for which this young farmer was plucked from his native Mallow and set down half a world away. The great difficulty in searching for early records in Ireland is the fact of the catastrophic explosions and fires in the General Records Office in Dublin in 1922 which destroyed Irish records dating back to the thirteenth century. Fortunately, I finally made contact with a very competent archivist in Dublin, Gregory O'Connor, M.A., and with his help I gained access to relevant trial records that had been preserved at another location. In his January 18, 1994 letter to me O’Connor writes: "The National Archives holds a Register of Prisoners in Cork County Jail (reference: D/Justice 8/11) … which commences in 1819 and provides the following information concerning the Magners:

Michael, No. 1444/1822; Thomas, No. 1445/1822. When committed: 15 November 1822. Crime: Under Insurrection Act. Trial Location: Special Sessions Mallow. Sentence: 7 yrs transportation. Age of Michael - 26, Age of Thomas - 24. When "disposed of": 25th March 1823. How disposed of: Convict ship "Earl St. Vincent."

The next three entries in the Prison Register are in respect of three persons (John Carroll, John Hassett and William Doyle) who underwent the same legal processes as the Magners and were sent on board the same convict ship." The actual date of the trial was 13 November 1822 as shown by the Australian records for Thomas Magner and by Colonel Gaugh who referred to the trial in his report of 22 November 1822 (see below).

In Ireland the British Insurrection Act amounted to martial law; any act of sedition, even violating the sunset to sunrise curfew could result in a trail without a jury and speedy banishment to Australia. If Magner’s crime was not curfew violation, he could be convicted on many other charges including "administering or taking oaths for seditious purposes; circulating messages inciting people to riot … or for being an idle and disorderly person." I was happy to learn that Magner was guilty of insurrection; it was a crime by British definition only, not by Irish, and in any case it was more admirable than larceny or common theft.

That was my rather smug conclusion about my 19th century "relative" but I was taken aback by five Soc (State of the Country Papers, National Archives, Dublin, Series 1) documents which the industrious O’Connor unearthed. One document, evidently a public poster, offers generous monetary awards to informers and the range of information sought testifies to the turmoil in and around Mallow in the 1820s; the year is not indicated but it is clearly 1822 since it is in the same archival series as other 1822 documents and indeed it is referred to in Colonel Gaugh’s report.

 

SOC/2347/40 Rewards for Informing

County of Cork

We the undersigned Magistrates having been entrusted with the management of the subscription fund raised in Mallow on the 29th of October and having this day met at Buttevant to consider the best mode of applying that Fund do hereby offer the following rewards:

To any person who shall place a party of Military or Police in contact with a party of the Insurgents in arms…..£100

To any person who shall place a party of Military or Police in contact with a party assembled for unlawful purposes even though unarmed…..£50

To any person who shall give such information as may lead to the seizure of any depot of serviceable Arms rewards according to their state and number not exceeding the sum of…..£100

To any person giving information against and prosecuting to conviction at the next assizes any person or persons concerned in attacking houses for arms or destruction by fire of houses or other property…..£100

To any person giving private information which may lead to the detection and conviction of any person or persons concerned in attacking houses for arms or destroying by fire Houses or other property…..£50

To any person giving information against and prosecuting to conviction any number of persons assembled as a Committee for unlawful purposes…..£100

To any person giving such private information as may lead to the apprehension and conviction of such committee…..£50

To any person giving such information as may lead to the discovery and apprehension of any person having in his possession concealed arms or ammunition…..£20

For prosecuting to conviction any person guilty of writing, posting, circulating illegal notices…..£50

For such private information as may lead to conviction for writing, posting, circulating illegal notices…..£30

For such information as may lead to the detection and conviction of any person or persons concerned in administering unlawful Oaths…..£100

Besides the sums above specified the Magistrates of the Baronies of Duhallow, Orrery and Kilmore and Fermoy pledge themselves to use their best endeavours with Government for such further rewards as the Government may deem fit to grant and pardon for any person if implicated with the disaffected who will give such information either public or private as may lead to the detection and conviction of those concerned in the existing disturbances.

Signed Doneraile

Ennismore

Hugh Gaugh, Colonel Comm.

W. W. Beecher

C. D. Jephson

W. G. Crafts

A. Newman

Samuel Maxwell

H. G. Barry

Thomas Montgomery

A. Batwell

 

SOC/2347/32. Major Carter’s Report.

What follows is an official report on the Magner case by a Major S. Carter; I have made no changes in this or other documents except to regularize the punctuation and to add explanations in square brackets. Carter uses the spelling "Magnor" but all other documents both in Ireland and Australia consistently use "Magner."

Private Doneraile [town near Mallow] 16th. November 1822

Sir:

Referring to my letter of 10th Instant respecting the criminality of the Doyles and reporting the apprehension of five persons concerned in the Outrage committed upon two Keepers [guards], William Hunt and Patrick Bush, in charge of property destrained [legally seized] for Rent at Parknow on the 8th Instant, it may be satisfactory to His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant to hear that upon the conviction of the delinquents Michael Magnor, Thomas Magnor, John Carroll, William Doyle and John Hassett, after a patient investigation which lasted ten hours, Thomas Magner declared in the dock his determination to disclose the names of all the actors not only at the attack on the Keepers but those concerned in taking arms from Mr. Glover of Johnstown on the 5th Instant.

I followed Thomas Magner from the dock to the Bridewell [prison] of Mallow where he repeated his assertions in [the] presence of Colonel Sir Hugh Gaugh and Viscount Doneraile but with peculiar cunning he endeavored to extort from us a promise of pardon and pecuniary compensation previous to his confession. When I explained clearly to him that he should trust entirely to His Excellency for Mercy and to the gentlemen for Rewards adequate to the extent of benefit which might be derived from his Information, yet I gave him every proper encouragement to expect both, I regret to say without effect.

About midnight he sent a communication to me and Mr. Jephson, who owns the town of Mallow, and at this Interview he, Thomas Magnor, requested me to have apprehended a man named Barry as a principal Whiteboy [Irish insurgent] alledging [sic] when he was captured all other proceedings would be secure. That Barry [was] apprehended the following morning but when I urged Magnor to proceed with his confession, he swore "that he could not disgrace his family by turning informer and preferred being transported." I have detailed this fact to show the attachment of these people who are comfortable farmers to a bad cause and I feel confident that the punishment of such men will produce a beneficial effect on the Minds of the Peasantry within Immediate Vicinage [vicinity] which at present is the very focus of Outrages.

I have now to assure His Excellency that every effort which Ingenuity could invent by Terror and Bribery was tried in vain upon the Prosecutors in this trial, William Hunt and Patrick Bush, whose poverty and unprotected state exposed them to the Influence of the Multitude and, when the friends of the accused found themselves baffled by my taking the prosecutors into the Police Barrack [sic], they caused the Wife and family of Hunt to be burned out of her Lodgings; as this is the first instance wherein any of the lower orders of this Barony have come forward voluntarily and boldly to give Information and prosecute and I am convinced the lives of these men are not safe in the present state of the country, I trust His Excellency will be pleased to allow me to reward them liberally as an encouragement to others and to enable them to quit this district and I submit that the sum of twenty five pounds will not exceed their deserts [sic]."

I have the honor to be, sir, you most Obedient Humble Servant,

S. Carter

A note at the end of the document reads: Major Carter, 16th Nov 1822. £25 each to William Hunt & Patrick Bush to enable them to leave the District.

 

According to Michael Shine, "Carter’s police were a branch of the Peace Preservation Force, brought into existence under and Act of George III in1814, and appointed by the Lord Lieutenant to any disturbed area in the Country…. In 1822, they were stationed in Churchtown, but, in that year, when Churchtown Barracks was burned down by the Whiteboys, they were transferred to Doneraile." ("The Burning of Carker Lodge," Field Journal No. 6, p. 88).

One can speculate that the five men sentenced at Mallow were Whiteboys themselves, rural enforcers punishing a rapacious landlord by assaulting his guards, or that one or more of the five had been evicted from the particular farm being guarded. Other official reports which refer to the Magner case describe considerable turmoil in the Mallow area: arson, shootings and even the killing of a valuable hawk. In her book, A History of the Irish Nation, Mary F. Cusack describes life in 19th century Ireland in words that ring true for the Mallow region: "The people were almost starving ... .yet they were compelled to pay rents...far above the value of their land. If they were unable, they were thrown out upon the wayside like dogs. There can be no doubt that the outrages they perpetrated were fearful. Everyman's hand was against them, and their hand was against every man." (London, 1877, p. 953). In his description of "social unrest" in North Cork in the 1820s Edmund O’Donovan writes: "The extent of Whiteboy activity in the area was considerable. Between December 1822 and mid-June 1823, at least twelve serious incidents, ranging from the shooting of a bullock, to demands for money, to arson, attempted murder and murder are recorded." ("Social Unrest in Doneraile, Killavullen and Castletownroche 1820-1822. Its Broader Context," Field Journal, 1991, p. 117).

SOC/2347/40. Colonel’s Gaugh’s report

Turmoil continued after the Magner trial as Colonel Sir Hugh Gaugh regretfully notes in the following document:

Head Quarters, Buttevant

November 20th, 1822

Sir:

I entertained very sanguine hopes that I should have been enabled to have passed on to the usual period of my report (the last day of the month) without feeling myself called on to convey to you for the information of the Lieut. General Commanding a report of any further serious Outrage. The apprehension of the five Men who beat and swore [at] the Keepers of Mr. Richard Hill in the parish of Cleanor and their conviction and Sentence to Transportation at the Special Sessions which sat at Mallow on the 13th Inst. induced me to hope that so immediate an example after the Commission of the Crime would have had a beneficial effect. But I regret to say after a fortnight’s intermission from Outrage of any kind I am again called on to report that on Sunday Night a party of Armed Men broke into the house of Mr. Henry Langley halfway between this [place] and Doneraile. Six entered the house and not finding the Proprietor or his family at home and being unsuccessful in their Search for Arms they broke the Doors and Windows and greatly injured the furniture. The same party called at a Farmer’s at Lough Eagh between Mr. Langley’s and the Mountains immediately after dusk which has proved from whence they came. The same night the Haggard [hawk] of a Tenant of Mr. Richard Hill which he had put Keepers on and was the following day {Yesterday) to have [been] sold for the payment of rent was burned and the keepers much beaten. I beg to enclose the Rev. Mr. Bruce’s (the Magistrate of that Subdivision) report of the circumstance.

In addition to the foregoing I beg to state that on Monday Night some Men entered the dairy house of Mr. Stowell at Wallstorn and set fire to some Hay which was in one of the Upper Rooms evidently for the purpose of burning the Premises. They also set fire to a thatched house which was adjoining; this was entirely consumed but the dwelling house from the Hay being very damp sustained little injury. From the Commanding situation of Wallstown the Incendiaries evidently appeared to dread discovery as they only remained there a few minutes. This is the house I have recommended as an eligible situation for a Military Post and to which I begged to call your attention in my report of the 10th Instant. I have thought it adviseable [sic] to send a Military party to remain there for its protection until the Lieutenant General’s pleasure is known as to its permanent occupancy. I beg to enclose a letter from Mr. Stowell giving his unconditional consent to its being occupied by the Military. I think it right to send the letter as it is altho the previous part relates to a correspondence which has taken place on the subject of the withdrawing of the Military from his house at Ballysherat [?] (Carker) as reported in my communication of the 31st Inst., an extract from which I thought it but right to forward Mr. Stowell’s [message?]. You will percieve [sic] he asserts that he was induced to make the Application from his anxiety to appease the fears of his Wife – not in compliance with a rebel notice. I am happy to find that so respectable an Individual justly feels that such imbecile conduct would be derogatory to his character both as a Gentleman and a Magistrate and I find it a pleasure to communicate such feelings.

I regret being obligated to enumerate these outrages at the present Season on which I conceive depends so much the tranquillity of the country for the ensuing winter. No exertions are wanting on the part of the Military detached over the fact of the country. I am happy also to say the measures of the Magistracy are much more energetic and I feel much pleasure in adding I derive every assistance form Major Carter and his Police Establishment. An active and steady perseverence [sic] will I trust put down these returning symptoms of insubordination.

Enclosed I beg to send a copy of the resolutions of the elected Magistrates of the four Baronies holding out specific rewards for information [see above] and which I earnestly hope the Government will enable them to carry to their fullest extent. I have long been anxious to establish this point and I trust I am not over sanguine in calculating on considerable advantages for it adoption.

I have…(etc.)

(Signed) H. Gaugh, Colonel Commanding

 

SOC/2347/63. Chief Constable Brophy’s Report

The month of December 1822 saw no letup in the "Outrages" occurring in the Mallow area as the following report of Chief Constable Brophy to Major Carter shows:

 Doneraile, 29th Dec. 1822

Sir:

I regret I have occasion to detail to you a continuance of outrages in this district. Last night between the hours of 8 & 9 o’clock an attempt was made to take away the life of Mr. Hunt who prosecuted the Doyles and Magners by firing at him near his own House at the upper end of Grove [?] lane in this town. The investigation of this business has been put off till tomorrow in congruence of a Protestant caretaker of Mr. Low’s having been shot this Morning returning to his home from a Farm of Mr. Low’s of which he was in charge. The Ball passed thro his arm and is not likely to be of much consequence. Lord Doneraile and Mr. Low had taken the Most Informations which have been sent up (I believe) to government this night. Mr. Croker’s [?] Mills near Mallow were also perceived [?] on fire this Morning about 7 o’clock; they have been entirely destroyed, the damage upwards of one Thousand Pounds. Whether this has happened by accident or otherwise has not yet been ascertained but you will recollect the Information of Lieut. __________. Tomorrow I hope to be able to give you a more circumstantial account of these transactions and

I have the Honour to be, Sir,

Your most Obedient Humble Servant

            1. Brophy, Chief Constable

 

Shipping Irish Convicts to Australia: Trevor’s Report

The Magners were kept in the Cork County Jail until late April of 1823 and, on their last day in Ireland, the Cork harbormaster [my assumption] filed this report:

Cove [Cork Harbor], 28 April 1823

Sir:

I beg leave to acquaint you that immediately on the receipt of the Lord Lieutenant’s Warrant yesterday with the list of names of one hundred and Sixty Male Convicts I took immediate measures to have those Prisoners who were confined in Cork County Jail and Depot named in said list brought to this place and those who had been embarked according to a former Order sent to the Depot and this day I made the necessary arrangements for the sailing of the Earl St. Vincent by which demurrage [ship compensation] ceases and that Vessel will proceed on her Voyage tomorrow provided the Wind continues as it at present is.

I have the honour to be, Sir,

Your most obedient humble Servant,

Peter S. Trevor

Magner’s Life and Death in Australia

Let me close with a final look at Thomas Magner of Mallow. He served out his sentence in New South Wales, Australia, and became a free man in 1829, six years after arriving in Australia in chains. In 1836 a Thomas Magner bought four parcels of land in NSW and in 1838 two more acres. It seems almost certain that the land purchases were made by the former convict from Ireland but we cannot be positive since land deeds do not carry any personal information other than the name of the buyer. One factor that does make for near certainty is the time of arrival of the few Magner convicts. Thomas and Michael arrived in Australia in 1823 while the other Magners arrived in 1832, 1833 and 1837, hardly time for them to be in a position to purchase land in 1836. In one deed the land-buying Magner is identified as "Mr. Thomas Magner of Sydney."

An early register of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Sydney contains this entry: "10 Feb 1834. I married Thomas Magner per the Earl St. Vincent and Jane Horogan per the Red Rover in presence of Charles and Julia McCarthy and Michael Farrell. Rev. J. McEnroe." Unlike Thomas who had arrived as a convict, Jane Horogan [Harigan in another record] had arrived on August 10, 1832 on the ship, Red Rover, as an "Assisted Immigrant"; at the time of her arrival she was identified as a "housemaid from Ireland, age 21." For this information and that which follows I am indebted to Mrs. Heather Davis, Voluntary Research Official at the Society of Australian Genealogists in Sydney, NSW.

Thomas Magner’s ending was indeed bizarre: his death certificate states that on March 27, 1866, he was "found on the road with his neck broken but there was no evidence to show how he came by his death. Inquest on the body, 28 March 1866. Verdict as above." There was "No Minister" at his funeral, not uncommon in those early years when travel to remote areas of Australia was slow and difficult; he was buried in East Maitland, NSW, in the Hunter Valley where he had lived and farmed for 43 years. His death certificate carried the notation "No Issue" but it does tell us the name of the names of his parents in Ireland: David Magner, a "labourer," and Mary Sullivan.

 

ADDENDUM – 1

 

In January of 1996, after the foregoing article had appeared, I received a letter from Mrs. Mavis Newcombe, a Research Officer at the Maitland & District Historical Society Inc. Responding to an earlier request of mine, she enclosed a photograph of the East Maitland cemetery, a sketch map of the area and a relevant clipping from the local newspaper, the Maitland Mercury of March 29, 1866. It reads:

DEATH FROM SUPPOSED ACCIDENT. Yesterday an inquest was held at the Victoria Inn, Hinton, before Mr. Thomson, the coroner, on the body of Thomas Magner, aged sixty-eight years. It appeared from the evidence that, about three o’clock on Thursday, Patrick O’Brien came upon the body of deceased on the main road at Hinton; he lifted the body up, and there was a gurgling sound in the throat; deceased was then in the agony of death, and died in O’Brien’s arms. He had apparently fallen off his dray, which was near at hand. Dr. Getty examined the deceased, and found that his neck had been broken; the injury received was sufficient to cause almost instantaneous death. Deceased had been purchasing stores in the town. He was a general dealer and resided on the Clifden estate [north of Maitland]. The jury returned the verdict: - "Found dead, with fracture of the neck; no evidence to show how received, but is supposed to have been occasioned by a fall from his dray."

Mrs. Newcombe mentioned that there is no headstone for Thomas Magner and that the cemetery has been in a "derelict state till the mid 1980s."

ADDENDUM – 2

In June of 1998 I received a welcome surprise: through the Magner e-mail bulletin board I made contact with Philippa Garnsey, an Australian, who put me in touch with a fellow Australian, Merrick Sims, a descendant of Michael Magner. He has chronicled the lives of the Magner brothers in Australia in great detail and he has also discovered the place and dates of their births in County Cork. I have asked him to contribute an account of his research to this web site and, hopefully, that will appear in the near future.

Merrick Sims Article

 

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