Anne (nee Murray) & Thomas Brunton (g-g-g-g grandparents)

Thomas Brunton’s immigration records indicate he was a native of Cara, County Kildare, Ireland and he was probably born around 1793.  He is believed to have married Anne Murray about 1815 as their first son was born in 1816.  The couple were to have four more children with the last being born in 1834.  Anne is thought to have died sometime between 1834 and 1839 because Thomas is listed as a widower on the immigration records.

Thomas and Anne had the following children:

  1. John b1816 (listed on emigration records as a blacksmith, aged 23)
  2. Catherine b1819 (listed on emigration records as a house servant, aged 18)
  3. Mary b1823 (listed on emigration records as a dairymaid, aged 16)
  4. James b1826
  5. Bridget b1834

Thomas and his children sailed from Kingstown in Ireland on the 13th August 1839 with 249 other emigrants.  They sailed aboard the Ship North Briton as Government ‘Bounty’ Immigrants.  The majority of those on board were Catholic like the Brunton family and Divine Service was held every Sunday on the Quarter Deck, weather permitting.  If the weather was inclement, the service would be held on the Lower Deck or in the Cuddy.  Two schools were set up, one for the boys the other for the girls.  Thomas and the three eldest children were recorded as able to read and write on the immigration records.  This information was not recorded for the younger children but regardless, they were likely to attend school on board the North Briton.  Life on board the ship appeared to follow a strict routine with the bedding and bottom boards of the bed frames brought on deck every day weather permitting.  Washing days were Friday and Monday and clean linen (clothing) was worn every Thursday and Sunday by those on board.  Of an evening, the emigrants would gather on the Quarter Deck or forecastle and dance to sound of the flute and the bagpipe.

The bed places, hospitals, and lower deck were frequently fumigated with Chloride of lime and vinegar, and the smoke of vegetable tar but this would not be enough.  It would be another sixty years before Charles Nicolle would make the connection between lice and typhus.  Typhus was also known as ‘gaol fever’ because it was in close confines that it was most rampant.  Twenty of the emigrants were destined to die on the voyage, mostly from Typhus.  Upon their arrival in Sydney on 14th December 1839, the ship’s surgeon, Dr Millar was also ill.  Doctor (Wylie or Leonard) was taken aboard and the ship was taken to the quarantine station on 16th December.  Thomas and his family were to spend their first Australian Christmas in the Quarantine Station.

The emigrants from the North Briton were released over the period of a few weeks, with the final survivors being released at the beginning of February.  By September that year a subscription notice appears in the paper indicating that the family have settled in Bungendore, NSW.  Thomas appears on the 1856 Electoral Roll as a leaseholder. His death was registered in 1860 and he is buried in the Braidwood cemetery.


Elizabeth Mary (née Hickey) & John William Cahill (g-g grandparents)

Elizabeth Mary Hickey was born in 1850 to Catherine (née Brunton) and William Hickey at Reidsdale NSW.  She was one of eight children, namely: Catherine b1848 d1948; Mary b1852 d1855; John b1855 d1870; Luke John b1877 d1929; Patrick b1862 d1862; Thomas b1862; and William b1863.  Both Elizabeth’s parents were born in Ireland then later met and married in Australia

In 1875 Elizabeth married ‘James’ Cahill.  I have a few conflicting names for ‘James’ so this may change as I find more information.  Most other records have his name recorded as ‘John’, which is what I will use for now.  John was born 10 January 1845 in Araluen to Richard Cahill, an Irish convict, and Mary Corrigan.

Elizabeth and John had the following children:

Richard James b1876 d1915
William John b1878 d1954
Catherine Agnes ‘Agnes’ b1879 d1960
Patrick Bede b1882 d1952
John b1884 d1884
John b1886 d1887

The only way I was able to locate Elizabeth’s details it thanks to a photo of her headstone which reads:

“In loving memory of Elizabeth Cahill youngest daughter of William and Catherine Hickey of Reidsdale who died June 23 1886 aged 36 years  Erected by her affectionate brother John Hickey”

John’s cousin Mary McCarthy married a man by the name of Peter Rusconi who worked as a monumental mason at some stage.  I’m not sure if this connection had anything to do with the headstone but it is rather elaborate.

Thirty six is very young for Elizabeth to die and leave even younger children behind.  Their ages would have been: Richard 10; Catherine ‘Agnes’ 7; Patrick 4; and John 1.  I have no clue as to what happened to the family after her death.

It would appear the family may have gone to Sydney as some of the children were married there and after that headed up to Queensland.  John died 1 July 1928 in Cairns and is buried in the Martyn Street Cemetery.

Catherine Agnes (nee Cahill) and William Cree McNeilly (g-grandparents)

William Cree McNeilly “Billy” was born near Goulburn in 1887 to Sarah Jane (nee Cree) and Hugh McNeilly.  William had three sisters: Mary Alice b1885 d1940; Annie Maude b1889 d1953; and Katherine I b1892 d1961.  He married Catherine Agnes Cahill “Agnes” in Sydney during 1912.  Catherine Agnes Cahill was born 11 November 1879 in Durras Lake, NSW to Elizabeth Mary (nee Hickey) and John William Cahill.  Durras Lake is north of Bateman’s Bay on the south coast of NSW.  Catherine, or Agnes as she was known had two older brothers, Richard James b1876 d1915 and William John b1878 d1954.  When she was turning three, in 1882, her younger brother Patrick Bede arrived and two years later another brother, John arrived, sadly dying that same year, 1884.  Agnes probably had little recollection of this brother, but another was to arrive in 1886 whom was also named John.  This time Agnes would have been turning seven and would certainly recall her baby brother although he would only survive until 1887.

Billy and Agnes lived in Sydney at least until 1915 but moved to Queensland prior to the birth of the girls.  In 1913 the couple were residing at 126 Bridge Street, Glebe.


They were living in Mareeba in 1917, Malanda in 1919 and 1925 when Billy’s occupation was listed as ‘teamster’.  in 1929 the family were living in Cairns when Billy died from cancer at the young age of forty one.  He is buried in the Cairns Martyn Street Cemetery.

William Cree burial

Agnes and Billy had four children:

  1. William John Cree McNeilly was born on 12 July 1913 but sadly only survived until 27 November 1913.
  2. Patrick Cree McNeilly was born 13 January 1915 in Sydney.  He married Alison Betty Reiman and the couple had one son before Alison’s death on 19 May 1958.  The couple’s son was then raised by his sister Josie.  Patrick died 22 November 1974.
  3. Kathleen Mary “Molly” was born 2 December 1917 in Mareeba.  She married Cecil Andrew Percy Keller.
  4. Elizabeth Josephine “Josie” was born at Malanda on 18 March 1919.  She married Robert Valentine Cannon.

After Billy’s death, Agnes was left to raise the three children on her own.  Patrick would have been 14, Molly 12 and Josie 10.  The family remained in Cairns with Agnes running a boarding house.  By 1954 Agnes was living at 55 Queen Street, Grafton.  She died on 18 January 1961 and is buried in the cemetery located in Villiers Street in Grafton; sadly her grave bears no markings.

CAHILL Catherine Agnes McNeilly