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This page examines the evidence we have that William Charles O’Neill, born in Killorglin, Ireland, Co Kerry in 1832, belongs to our family.
Killorglin, Dromavalla, Sunhill and Tullig/Tullig More are towns/areas in County Kerry where we believe our convict forebear William O’Neill and his family lived. Dromavalla is shown in the second Google map below and is about 30 km south of Tralee. Sunhill and Laharan are less than 3 km from Killorgan towards Dromavalla; Tullig More is 2 km from Tullig and 4 km from Killorglin. These locations all appear in the O’Neill records below.
The 1820 marriage certificate for William O’Neill & Johanna Flaherty has catholics of Ballyroe (in Latin). There are a number of Flaherty families in the Ballyroe area, a small agricultural hamlet about 5 km north west of Tralee and about half way to Ardfert ( see top map), so the reference on the certificate may well apply only to the bride. Alternatively, William may have lived in the area leading up to his marriage. He was described as a ploughman in the convict records.
Recently a descendant, Helen Johnson (née O’Neill) was travelling in Co Kerry with her husband Gary and they uncovered a link in the Irish genealogy site that indicates that our William O’Neill had (at least) one sister named Ellen. Her surname in the register is listed as Neil, however it seems Neil, Neill and O’Neill are used fairly interchangeably. This is the entry (record KY-RC-BA-339833) relating to Ellen Neil’s baptism:
Martin O’Neill and Catherine Barry were our convict William O’Neill’s parents. The author, a descendant of William O’Neill, has a confirmed dna match with a descendant of William’s sister Ellen.
Martin Neil has an entry in The Tithe Applotment Books, 1823-37: it appears that he leased 125 Irish acres at Tullig More, 4km west of Killorglin. The page is faint but can be read more easily by magnifying the image.
We know that William Charles O’Neill arrived as a assisted passenger in Sydney on board the Lady Milton in 1862; on page 12:
He is listed as an unmarried man in the ship’s manifest; a farmer born in Killorglin, Co Kerry; a Roman Catholic who could both read and write. It seems he paid £5 towards his fare to Australia. He gave his age as 23, making his birth year 1839.
When William Charles O’Neill died on 24 Apr 1910 his parents were listed as Cornelius O’Neill and Ellen Neill:
On the death certificate William’s age in 1910 is given as 75. Along with the statement that he had been 44 years in New South Wales it would seem he was born in the first four months of 1835 and that he arrived in Sydney in 1866. However, he married Catherine White in Clarence Town on 25 Jul 1866 (record 2398/1866): 44 years is more likely an estimate given by his daughter when registering his death. The only William O’Neill we could find who was born in County Kerry and who arrived in Sydney a year or two earlier than 1866 was the one on the Lady Milton in 1862. He gave his age as 23, so a birth year of 1839 (the ship having arrived in May of 1862).
The most telling evidence that William Charles O’Neill is related to our family is this: the two witnesses at his wedding were William White, the brother of the bride, and Mary Agnes O’Neill, one of William O’Neill and Johanna Flaherty’s children. In fact William White and Mary Agnes O’Neill were themselves married at her parents’ property in Clarence Town on 07 Aug 1866, just two weeks later. These are two close families.
So in summary, we believe that Killorglin, Co Kerry, was the birthplace of our O’Neill forebears. William Charles is almost certainly convict William’s nephew who arrived in Clarence Town in 1862 and was married within a few years, witnessed by Mary Agnes, his first cousin.
We know that William had a brother Martin O’Neill who arrived in Sydney as an immigrant on board the Ocean Express on 18 Jan 1864, aged , born in Killorglin, Co Kerry. Other pages in his immigration entry state his age as , his parents being Ellen & Cornelius O’Neill and that he had a brother William O’Neill living in Clarence Town:
In this entry William O’Neill is listed as the “depositor” who in June 1863 had paid £7, £5 of which was for Martin’s fare and £2 for “Outfit”.
Both William and Martin’s parents were Cornelius O’Neill & Ellen Neil. On 06 Feb 1827 an Ellen Neil of Killorglin married Cornelius Neil of Sunhill (record KY-RC-MA-63226).
At the time of his marriage Cornelius lived in Laharan; his parents at this stage are unknown. Boombridge Genealogy researchers list three brothers, however we haven’t yet verified this information:
- Eugene, who married Mary Sullivan (b. 1841), with whom he had 7 children: Ellen (b. 15 Oct 1864), Dennis (b. 31 Jan 1866), Ellen (b. 22 Apr 1868), John (b. 21 Jul 1872), Nora, Daniel (b. 31 Jan 1875) and Mary (bap. 01 Sep 1881). Dennis married Hannah Callahan on 30 Aug 1896 in Boston, USA.
- John, who married Julia Sullivan, with whom he had at least one child Julia (b. 30 Jul 1808).
- An unnamed brother who had at least one son, Daniel who married Deborah Sullivan (b. 1835). The couple had 4 children:
Daniel (b. 08 Sep 1866), who married Bridget Clifford (b. 1874) on 13 Feb 1892; the couple had 7 children: Denis (b. 1893); John (b. 1895); Mary (b. 1897); Daniel (b. 1900); Deborah (b. 1903); Ellen (b. 1907) and emigrated to America in 1926, meeting her aunt Mrs Julia McCarthy, 23 Barker Street, Hartford, Hartford, CT; and Julia (b. 1910)
John (b. 21 Dec 1871 )
Julia (b. Abt 1873), who emigrated to America, residing in Hartford, CT. She married Jeremiah J McCarthy on 22 Oct 1942. The couple had 7 children: Catherine (b. 07 Mar 1901, d. 24 Mar 1978), married Jeremiah Carroll; Helen T (b. 20 Jan 1903, d. 11 Jun 1989), married Terrence J O’Rielly; Michael J (b. 1905, d. 11 Aug 1968), married Florence Carey on 29 Oct 1988, the couple having two children; John (b. 1907); Timothy D (b. 1909, d. May 1982); Mary (b. 02 Oct 1911, d. 11 Feb 1972), married William Reidy, the couple having at least one child; Jeremiah J (b. 1915, d. 09 Jan 1932).
Eugene (b. 9 Sep 1876)
Cornelius & Ellen’s children:
Six of Ellen & Cornelius’s children appear in Irish birth records registered as Sunhill, Killorglin:
01. John (bap. 07 Dec 1827, d.)
02. Martin (bap. 28 Jan 1830, d. 23 Apr 1893 in Laharan, Killorglin)
03. Gerald (bap. 28 Oct 1832, d. 24 Apr 1910 – see below)
04. Mary (bap. 06 Sep 1835, d. )
05. Cornelius (bap. 4 May 1838, d. )
06. Jeremiah (bap. 01 Jan 1841, d, )
The entry for Cornelius Neil and Ellen Neil in Boombridge Genealogy also includes a son Patrick . His birth year is calculated from his 1901 census record; for this and other reasons, we accept this addition:
07. Patrick (b. 1845, d. )
We had not traced Martin’s movements after his arrival in NSW, however a distant relative from Boston, Meghan Hurlburt, has been in contact with details of his marriage and extended family, for which we are grateful.
Meghan pointed out that on her side of the family are births of a “Gerald” but the name always used is William or Willie, even in official records. There are no further records of Cornelius and Ellen’s son Gerald O’Neill (bap, 28 Oct 1832), and it’s almost certain that he is the William Charles O’Neill who migrated to Australia and died there on 24 Apr 1910.
There are several surnames that crop up in various combinations amongst the families of Ellen & Cornelius’ seven children, including [O’]Shea, Kelliher, Sullivan, Griffin and Purcell. These surnames are very common in this part of Ireland and it is sometimes difficult sorting out which record to attach to which individual. However, Meghan’s grandmother left her a handwritten family outline setting out how Martin and Mary, brother and sister, fit in to the wider family.
We have added their brother Patrick to this list: click on the image to view an enlargement, then click the back button to return to this page:
It is not surprising to find it difficult to locate catholic records in this period as the penal laws that were in place for decades were not rescinded until 1829 when the Catholic Emancipation Act was finally passed. The list of draconian laws preventing Irish Catholics from exercising their religion, receiving an education, holding land and so on can be read on our Catholics in Ireland page. Records around these times show that few could read or write. Moreover Irish peasants tended not to travel far from their roots, a product of which is the multitude of people living in the same area with the same surname and often the same first name. An example can be read in the Notes section on the Boombridge Genealogy pages of Patrick Kelliher’s father and of Timothy Kelliher.
01. John O’Neill married Honora Harnett in Killorglin on 04 Feb 1845. The couple had at least two children (see Irish Church Records for Killorglin):
01. Martin O’Neill (bap. 28 Feb 1847, d. )
02. Thomas (bap. 01 Jan 1850, d. )
02. Martin O’Neill has a separate webpage.
03. [Gerald] William Charles O’Neill has a separate webpage.
04. Mary O’Neill has a separate webpage.
At this stage we have found no definitive records for 05. Cornelius O’Neill or 06. Jeremiah O’Neill and would love to hear from anyone with any information about them.
We do not publish names of living people without their permission, unless they appear in an official or public document. Please send your stories and photos, which we will publish with due acknowledgment, to Mick O’Neill (firstname.lastname@example.org).