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.


Florence Ann Fitzgerald & Albert Pelling (g-g grandparents)

Albert Pelling was born in Hornsey, Middlesex according to the 1861 census which was taken on the night of the 7th April 1861.  Albert’s parents were Emma Louisa (nee Grinder) and James Richard Harrison Pelling.  Albert was ten months old which would make his birth June 1860.  According to the census, his father James was a house carpenter with the family living at 10 Royal Crescent Margate.

By the time of the 1871 census the family have relocated to his mother Emma’s home town of Hornsey and are living at 35 Mount Pleasant Road.  Emma is a general shop keeper and James is now working as a Plumber – this seems inconsistent with the earlier census but I believe it is the same family .

 Albert now has four siblings: Lewis John 8; Colin Stewart 5; Stewart Charles 3; and Lucy Alice 1.  The children’s birth information tells us the family most likely returned to Holloway, London by 1863 for Lewis’ birth then moved to Stratford in Essex by 1866 when Colin arrived.  They were to return to Margate around 1868 for Stewart’s birth but moved to Hornsey prior to the birth of their daughter Lucy in 1870.  The four boys are listed as scholars indicating they were attending school and therefore were most likely able to read and write.

In January 1875, James’ mother (Albert’s grandmother) Lucy died and whether this influenced the family’s decision to emigrate to Australia is unknown but later that year James and Emma travelled aboard the Clara to begin a new life with their young family.  The Clara sailed on 10 November 1874 and arrived in Brisbane on 28 February 1875, with the tug ‘Boko’ towing the ship up the river according to a passenger, Lizzie Chard.

I don’t have any information at present to tell me where the family settled after arriving in Australia. Albert’s youngest sister Hilda arrived 14 March 1876 and as far as I can tell was the last child born to Emma and James Pelling.  By this time Albert would have been sixteen and most likely already working.

In 1883 Albert marries Florence Ann Fitzgerald on 23 August.  Florence was born about 1861 in Ballinacurra, County Limerick, Ireland to Catherine (nee Donnelly) & John William Fitzgerald.  

Albert and Florence’s children were all born in Queensland but I have no information relating to where they were actually born, but their second son (Albert Harrison) died in 1887 and is buried in Cairns.

  1. 1884       Ida May/Maud
  2. 1886       Albert Harrison
  3. 1888       William George
  4. 1891       Ethel Maud
  5. 1894       John Vincent Wilfred
  6. 1895       Violet Hilda
  7. 1898       Eileen Florence
  8. 1901       Florence Victoria Mary
  9. 1903       Albert Clifford Charles

In 1888 the family are living near the Railway Station in Cairns and Albert earns a reputation for killing snakes.
albert pelling

In 1892 an advertisement indicates Albert Pelling is the agent for the Citizens Life Assurance Co Ltd in Cairns.  This is also the same year that his mother Emma Louise (nee Grinder) Pelling dies on Christmas day.  By 1902 the family have relocated to Hughenden but the family’s home is destroyed by fire.

albert pelling house fire

In 1903 Albert is working as a carpenter and the family are still recorded as living in Hughenden, Queensland on the electoral roll.  In the 1905 electoral roll, Florence is still in Hughenden but Albert is missing from the roll.  The following year a warrant for the arrest of Albert Pelling by the Townsville bench appears in the Australian Police Gazette, and indicates he has deserted his family.  I have not found definite records for Albert after this date.Police Gazette

Florence next appears on the Chillagoe electoral roll in 1913 but this appears after her death in 1912.  Florence is buried in the Chillagoe cemetery.


Ann (nee Perry) and Hugh McNeilly (g-g-g-grandparents)

Born in County of Down, Ireland, Hugh McNeilly was most likely baptised in Killinchy on 24 August 1826.  His immigration document indicates his parents were John and Jane Davis (an assumption is made that Davis is Jane’s maiden name and not another unusual family circumstance).  If this information is correct he likely had the following siblings: Robert b 1822; John b1823; Thomas b1827; John b1829; Robert b1832; and Eliza Jane b1834.  The immigration document indicates he was born in Killala county Down however Killala is located in the county Mayo.  Errors often occur in early documents due to the information being provided verbally.  At the moment, I tend to think his birth location was actually Killyleagh.

Hugh married Ann Perry in Newtownards, Ireland on 8 December 1849.  The spelling of his surname on that record was McNeely, while the immigration document records it as McNiel.  Despite this inconsistency, Hugh was recorded as being able to both read and write, while Ann was able to read.  Ann was born about 1827 in Bangor, County Down to Jane & Hugh Perry.

The couples first child was named William and was born in Ireland shortly after their marriage.  It must have been such a bitter-sweet time for the young family, as this was right in the middle of what we know as the Irish Potato Famine and I would imagine this was a contributing factor in their decision to emigrate to Australia.  Their immigration documents show they had no family in Australia, so their leaving was possibly preceded by an Australian version of the American Wake.  This was the party held before their departure when they all knew there was little chance they would ever see their family and friends again.  The journey in 1852 aboard the Irene started with great hope but became a journey filled with tragedy.  During the voyage thirty four people died, mainly due to an outbreak of measles, with one of the deaths being the couple’s two year old son William.  Ann was expecting the couple’s second child when they left Ireland, and, when their son was born on the voyage they named him William.  

Irene measles

Hugh found work with  on Chatsbury, a property owned by Sir Charles Cowper who became the second premier of New South Wales.  Hugh eventually went on to lease his own farm on Macarthurs’ Richlands Estate, also in the Taralga area.  Hugh and Ann had the following children:

  1. William b1849 d1852 Died on board the Irene and was most likely buried at sea.
  2. William b1852  Born during the voyage and mentioned as deceased in his mother’s obituary in 1916.
  3. Alice J b1854 married Hugh White and mentioned as deceased in her mother’s obituary in 1916.
  4. Mary b1855 married John Ross and had two daughters and a son; Cloudy, Jennie & John.  I am not sure of their birth dates or real names. Mary died 20 February 1940.
  5. Hugh b1857 married Sarah Jane Cree and had four children: Mary Alice b1885; William Cree b 1887; Annie Maude b1889; and Katherine I b1892.  Hugh died 10 July 1925.
  6. Alexander b1859 and died in 1940
  7. Annie b1861 married James Cameron and had five children: Arthur J S b1888; Donald Victor b1890; Arthur James b1891; Marion E b1894; and Annie Elizabeth b1899.  Annie died in 1938.
  8. Robert b1894 He was still alive at the time of his mother’s death in 1916.
  9. Elizabeth b1868 married Alexander McKenzie and had five children: Lillian EA b1890; Alice Pearl b1893; John H b1894; George A b1896; and Florence May b1905.

Hugh died 22 December 1900 after a long illness.  He was described as “..a most upright and straightforward man,…greatly respected throughout the district.”  Ann (nee Perry) died at her daughter’s home on 3 July 1916.


This list is incomplete but I will update it as I find more records.

Sir Edward Paget – arrived 14 Feb 1842

Patrick Cronin, from Dromcolliher, Ireland
Catherine (nee Sullivan) Cronin, County Cork, Ireland
James Cronin, County Cork, Ireland
Elizabeth Cronin, County Cork, Ireland
Mary Cronin, County Cork, Ireland
John Cronin, County Cork, Ireland
Johanna Cronin, County Cork, Ireland
Sydney/Daniel Cronin, born on the journey, recorded as Sydney later recorded as Daniel

‘Irene’ – arrived 16 October 1852

Hugh McNeilly, from (Killala) ?Killyleagh, county Down, Ireland
Ann (nee Perry) McNeilly, from Bangor, county Down, Ireland

‘Malvina Vidal’ – arrived 20 June 1853

Eliza Kershaw, from Tipperary, Ireland

‘Phoebe Dunbar’ – arrived 25 December 1854
The Phoebe Dunbar was owned by Duncan Dunbar and was a sister ship to Dunbar Castle, Dunbar Castle and the ill-fated Dunbar that was wrecked at the Gap on 20 August 1857.

Lavinia (nee Macklin) Gibb, from Tyrone, Ireland

‘Light of the Age’ – arrived 13 December 1855

Thomasine Eliza (nee Anderson, nee Keller) Underwood, from UK

‘Gipsy Bride’ – arrived 29 April 1860

Herbert Francis Keller, from Dublin, Ireland
Horace Keller, from Dublin, Ireland

‘Clara’ – arrived 22 February 1875

James Richard Harrison Pelling, from Middlesex, England
Emma Louise (nee Grinder) Pelling, from Middlesex, England
Albert Pelling, from Middlesex, England

Alice (nee Shane) and Herbert Francis Keller (g-g-grandparents)

Herbert Francis Keller was born about 1843 in Rathmines, Dublin, Ireland to Thomasine (nee Anderson) and Thomas Keller.  Herbert was the eldest of his five full siblings: Horace John b1844 d1871; Laura Sophia b1847 d1867; Sybella b1847 d1931; Florence Augusta b1849 d1933; and Thomas Anderson b1850 d1901.  He also had six half siblings from his mother’s marriage: Mary Westby b1851 d1941; Thomasina Frances Herbert b1856 d1930; Charles William M b1858 d1859; Helen Elizabeth b1860 d1928; Sarah b1862 d1862; and Hugh George b____ d1866.

Herbert’s father, Thomas Keller, was reported to be a barrister, according to Herbert’s brother, Thomas Anderson Keller’s death notice.  I have not so far seen actual records for the time spent in Ireland but Thomas Keller apparently died around 1850 and after his death Thomasine married Charles Underwood.  The couple emigrated to Australia sometime during the 1850’s but I have not found definitive records showing their arrival.  There is a record for Thomasine arriving on board the ‘Light of the Age’ during December 1855 supposedly as an immigrant, however, this lists her address as Coolangatta Shoalhaven and no children are listed, leading me to believe she is returning home, not arriving.  Charles Underwood was manager of the Coolangatta Station owned by the Honourable Alexander Berry MLC during 1856-1860.  By 1862 the family are living in Queensland where Charles has taken over the management of Gullivan Station in the St George District.

I believe Herbert and his brother Horace remained in Ireland until 1860 when they are recorded as arriving in Victoria on 29 April aboard the Gipsy Bride immigrant ship.  I would assume they initially made their way to Coolangatta Station.

In November 1865, Herbert applied for the licence of the Bohle Hotel.  Three years later, on 22 November 1868, Herbert married Alice Shane.  According to Alice’s death index she was born in Ireland around 1841 and her father was named William.  The information provided for a person’s death certificate often tends to be inaccurate and is dependant on how well those left behind knew their loved ones’ family.  Alice & Herbert’s marriage certificate tells us that Alice was born in Carlow, County Carlow, Ireland around 1844 and that her parents were Elizabeth & John Shane. How Alice came to Australia is at present unknown but a common theme I have encountered during my research is for female Irish immigrants to find employment as barmaids, so, despite being described as a ‘lady’ on her marriage certificate, I wonder if Alice found employment at the Bohle hotel?  Their marriage certificate describes Herbert as a squatter and Alice as a Lady with both residing at Cardington Station.  Alice’s first child, Edith Alice Shane, was born in 1867.  Her second child Francis Herbert Shane (although the index records him as Herbert Shaw) arrived four months prior to their marriage.  I believe both of these children were fathered by Herbert Francis Keller as their later records show they use the name Keller.

Including the two children listed above, Alice (nee Shane) and Herbert Francis Keller had the following children:

  1. Edith Alice Shane/Keller was born 15 Apr 1867.  She married Alfred George on 7 Apr 1892 and they had five children: Edith b1892 d 1893; Ethel b1894; Alfred b1899 d1900; Alice Edith b1902 d 1903; and Ernest b1908.
  2. “Frank” Francis Herbert Shane/Keller was born 21 July 1868.  His death notice indicated he previously worked at Cardington Station and that he was killed when his horse rolled on him on 7 January 1893 aged twenty four.
  3. “Charles” John Charles Keller was born 8 August 1870.  In 1925 he was working as a teamster and died on 11 May 1938.  I have not found records showing if Charles married or had a family.
  4. Baby Keller was born on 26 June 1874 but its name and gender are unknown so I presume the baby was stillborn.
  5. Thomas Keller was born 3 August 1875.  He married Ida May Pelling 3 February 1909 and I believe they had seven children.  This was Ida’s second marriage, her first husband, John Henry Jenkins died 5 January 1908 when their son was only eight months old.  Date restrictions make searching for these records difficult but I believe these were the children: “Jack” John Henry Keller(Jenkins) b1907; Herbert Frank Shane Keller b1909; Arthur Charles Thomas Keller b 1912; Cecil Andrew Percy Keller b 1914; Phyllis Alice Keller b 1917; Thomas John Keller b1919; Violet Keller b1923 and Ida b____.
  6. Ethel Maud Mary Keller was born 19 September 1876 and married Samuel William Colborne 7 November 1894.  They had two children, Joseph William b 1896 and Clarice Maude b1898.  Ethel died 19 September 1899 and Samuel remarried in 1906 to Clara Jane Lucas.
  7. Twin girls were born 1 December 1880 Kate & Sarah.  Sarah only survived until 16 March 1881.
  8. I believe Kate Keller married James Williamson on 24 November 1900 and died 5 May 1960.  I am not sure if she had any children.

According to the electoral roll 1903, Herbert is a stockman at Woodhouse Station and a change of address appears in the Government Gazette for his brand.  I am not sure but I think this means he has moved here from another station.  He and Alice appear to maintain separate residences with Alice appearing in the electoral roll to live in Burdekin St, Charters Towers where she resided until her death on 7 September 1916.  Despite the separate address’, Herbert’s death notice on 27 June 1916 leads me to believe they maintained a strong relationship.