Earl Grey Famine Orphans

Dear Sir/Madam
My great great grandmother Johanna/Hannah Mahoney was one of the “Earl Grey Famine Orphans” from Millstreet sent to Australia in 1850. Her parents were Daniel Mahoney, a shoe maker, and Catherine nee Sheehan both deceased. I found a Widow Mahony and 3 dependants were evicted from Rathcoole in 1847 which could be Catherine.
I am trying to find out where Daniel and Catherine would have been buried as probable famine victims. Would it have been Cillin on the Clara Road or Clondrohid?
I would like to pay my respects and if possible plant a tree in their memory.
Although I was born and raised in New Zealand I have lived in Clonakilty the past 16 years and have only recently discovered my ancestors.
yours faithfully
Kaye <email>


About the Earl Grey Female Orphans

Between 1848 and 1850 over 4,000 adolescent female orphans emigrated from Irish workhouses to Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide on the other side of the world. Their emigration has become known as the ‘Earl Grey scheme’ after its principal architect, Earl Grey, Secretary of State for the Colonies in Lord John Russell’s Whig government at the time of the Great Irish Famine.

It has not always been recognized that Irish women made a tremendous contribution to Australian society. About one third of convict women were Irish. More than 1,000 young women came to Sydney and Hobart in the 1830s from Foundling Hospitals in Dublin and Cork. Approximately 18-19,000 Irish Bounty and government assisted migrants arrived in Melbourne and Sydney between 1839 and 1842. Of these about half were female. Gender balance was a defining characteristic of Irish migration to Australia throughout the nineteenth century. In 1855-6 over 4,000 single Irish women arrived in Adelaide. Such infusions of Irish female blood had a telling influence on the development of colonial society. Our ‘Earl Grey’ female orphans sit comfortably within that tradition.

The difference is that these last young women stand as symbolic refugees from Famine. They came from among the genuinely destitute class in Irish society, those whose world had been torn apart by the tragedy of the Great Irish Famine. Inmates of recently constructed workhouses, orphaned by the Famine, though about a quarter of them had one parent still alive, most were between 14 and 20 years of age, ready and willing to grasp the opportunity of a new life in the Antipodes…

Read more on the Earl Greys on irishfaminememorial.org

photo above is from the collection of the State Library of New South Wales [TN83] (Australian Town and Country Journal, 19 July 1879, p 120)

2 thoughts on “Earl Grey Famine Orphans”

  1. There were only two girls from Millstreet that went on the Earl Grey ships:

    Name Age Year From Parents Religion Ship
    Mahoney, Johanna 17 1850 Millstreet Dan & Cath. R.C. Maria
    Mullowney, Catherine 19 1850 Millstreet Wm. & Honora, f. in Kerry R.C. Tippoo Sahib
    The Tippoo Sahib [Tippoo Saib] left port on 8th April and arrived at Sydney 29th July, 1850
    The Maria was the last Earl Grey ship and arrived at Sydney 1st August, 1850

    There’s an interesting piece on the journey of the Tippoo Saib

    You’d have to wonder why only two girls from Millstreet out of 291 were sent from Cork County when conditions in the Millstreet area were so bad. I suspect the reason may be that the Millstreet Workhouse only opened the year before in 1849, and before that the Millstreet Workhouse area was bart of the Kanturk and Macroom Workhouse areas, which makes things much harder.

    THe full list of Earl Grey immigrants from Cork were researched by the Mallow Archaeological & Historical Society and can be see here.

  2. Thanks to Mary who sent us these details which are on the Irish Famine Memorial Sydney

    Surname : Mahoney
    First Name : Johanna [Hannah]
    Age on arrival : 17
    Native Place : Millstreet, Cork
    Parents : Daniel & Catherine (both dead)
    Religion : RC
    Ship name : Maria (Sydney 29 Jun 1850)
    Workhouse : Cork, Kanturk or Macroom
    Other : Shipping: house servant, cannot read or write. Appendix J No.181 3 Jan 1851 charged her mistress, Mrs H Hill, Cumberland St., with assault, guilty, indentures cancelled. 8 or 9 children: an illigitimate son John Mahoney born Ballarat Vic 1856, 2 daughters in Vic; 4 more children in NSW between 1864-72, last three registered as Williams; and 2 deceased on her death cert; Hannah Mahoney married John Williams 1874 at Newcastle NSW; no prior marriage located; Hannah Williams died 1905 of cerebral haemorrhage aged 73 after being in a coma for 4 days.

    Surname : Mullowney
    First Name : Catherine
    Age on arrival : 19
    Native Place : Millstreet, Cork
    Parents : William & Honora (father living in Kerry)
    Religion : Roman Catholic
    Ship name : Tippoo Saib (Sydney Jul 1850)
    Workhouse : Cork, Macroom
    Other : Millstreet PLU not til 1850 so Macroom is workhouse here.
    Shipping: house servant, reads, relations in colony: two cousins, James & Denis Mullowney, living in Sydney.


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