Freedom and Marriage

Shortly after James began work at Brown’s River a young Irish woman, Catherine McCarthy, arrived on Sir William Fenwick Williams on 2 December 1856. We are not sure how Catherine McCarthy travelled from Boherbue but it seems likely that the Irish immigrants were collected in Dublin before crossing to Liverpool. She was described an 18 year old illiterate general servant from County Cork and ‘sent out by Florence McCarthy’. Catherine McCarthy was baptised on 2 January 1838 in town of Boherbue, County Cork, with father Florence McCarthy and mother Mary Minihan. The sponsors were Jeremiah Minihan, apparently Mary’s brother, and Honora Ring. Boherbue, or Boherbee, was then a village in the parish of Kilmeen, in the barony of Duhallow, and is located five miles west of Kanturk. A Roman Catholic parochial chapel had been recently erected: it has now been replaced by a new church. The parish register records that the McCarthy’s lived in the townland of Umarabee five miles west of Boherbue. It is now in the parish of Kiskeam. Florence and Mary McCarthy had no other children.

Map of Boherbue

The Tithe Aplotment Book for 1834 records that a Florence McCarthy paid tithes of for three parcels of land in Umarabee totalling 68 acres with a total value of £16.8.5. The land was designated ‘misamble (sic)’, meadow and pasture. There is no Florence McCarthy mentioned in the Griffith Valuation for this townland. McCarthy is a particularly common name in the County of Cork: Cormac McCarthy was King of Munster in the 12th Century. Florence is a common Christian name for McCarthy males. Three Florence McCarthys appear in the Griffith Valuation for the parish of Kilmeen but none of these is likely to be Catherine’s father. Jeremiah Minihan is recorded as owning a house valued at 5 shillings in the townland of Loumanagh North, of the same parish.

Catherine McCarthy’s Arrival in Tasmania

‘The clipper ship Sir William Fenwick Williams arrived here yesterday after a splendid run from Liverpool in 81 days. … Fine weather, easterly winds since 23 November when the ship was 800 miles from Hobart Town. This splendid ship is one of the Black Ball Line belonging to James Baines of Liverpool.’ (Tasmanian Daily News 3 December 1856).



Catherine arrived in Tasmania on a momentous day in the colony’s history for it was the day on which the Legislative Council, the colony’s parliament, met for the first time. Later in the week the citizens of Hobart Town celebrated the town’s foundation with the Hobart Regatta.

The
Sir William Fenwick Williams of 869 tons left Liverpool on 11 September carrying cargo and as passengers Mr J G Williams and Dr Hardy and 335 bounty immigrants in steerage . There were 90 adults and 51 children under 12 years of age from England, 34 adults and 10 children from Scotland and 117 adults and 23 children from Ireland. there was one birth and six deaths on the voyage. The eighty one single women were under the supervision of the ship’s matron, Elizabeth Cook. Thirty six of these young women were domestic servants and fifteen were farm or dairy maids. The sixty nine single men were predominantly farm labourers.

‘All the passengers in good health, which in no doubt, in a great measure, owing to roomy and well ventilated ‘tween decks of this vessel.’ (Daily News)


The ship’s surgeon confirmed the good health of the passengers. On the day the ship arrived six of the passengers wrote a public letter to the master Captain Rees and paid for it to be published in the Daily News on December 13.

Sir,After a good and pleasant passage, which we have now, accordingly to the will of Devine Providence, completed and thank god with so very few troubles and privations to us all. considering what may be expected on a voyage of such long duration we now consider it our duty to return to you our most sincere thanks for the many privileges you were kind enough to bestow upon us, and which we can assure you remain sensible in our memory as well as acknowledging the gentlemanly conduct and demeanour which you have exhibited towards us since we left our native shores. We hope .sir, you will accept from us this humble form of kindest thanks for all the expressions from you and the officers and crew under your command whose conduct we fully appreciate and acknowledge as most praiseworthy. With these few remarks we conclude, sir, by wishing you prosperity in your future undertaking and a long life and happiness. God be with your ship Sir William Fenwick Williams.We are Sir,Yours most respectfullyWilliam S MorrisonWilliam AllisonGeorge TownDavid McGregorSteven AlnersonJohn Richardson on behalf of passengers in general.’



No one was allowed on board the
Sir W F Williams for three days whilst the Immigration Board carried out its checks. In order to claim the bounty payment from the Government the ship was required to bring the emigrants specified and to treat them well in accordance with published Regulations. The sponsors/employers had already paid £3 towards the cost of the bounty and some of the new arrivals were required to repay that amount from their wages. The new arrivals pledged to remain in the colony for four years or be liable for the repayment of their fare.

The ship was required to accommodate on board the new settlers until December 12. This was no problem for the ship did not plan to return to Liverpool with a cargo of wool until late in January. On 9 December The
Hobart Town Courier published a list of 106 ‘applicants’ under the Bounty Ticket system advising them that their immigrants had arrived. Included in the list was ‘Florence McCarthy’.