This page examines the evidence we have that William Charles O’Neill, born in Killorglin, Ireland, Co Kerry in 1835, 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 the red location pin in the Google map below and is about 30km south of Tralee. Sunhill is less than 2km from Killorgan towards Dromavalla; Tullig More is 2km from Tullig and 4km 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; Dromvalla is a village in Co Kerry about 4km north of Tullig More or about 5km north-west of Killorglin (which is the parish Ellen’s baptism is registered in):
Martin O’Neill and Catherine Barry were our convict William O’Neill’s parents. 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:
Coincidentally also on board the Lady Milton in 1862 was an Ellen O’Neill, her name situated in the list of Wives and Families of Persons resident in Colony, aged 48. On page 4 of the manifest:
The Ellen above gives her birth location as County Clare. In addition, William is listed in the ship’s manifest among the Single Males not being members of families. Were the two related you would expect to find them in the families section. This is not William’s mother.
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 most likely our William’s nephew who arrived in Clarence Town in 1862 and was married within a few years, witnessed by Mary Agnes who (we believe) is his first cousin.
Cornelius & Ellen’s children:
There is some evidence of this. His parents were Cornelius O’Neill & Ellen Neil. On 6 February 1827 an Ellen Neil of Killorglin married Cornelius Neil of Sunhill (record KY-RC-MA-63226). Unfortunately no parent is listed for either party so we cannot be certain that this Ellen is convict William’s sister: in 1839 she would have been 38 or 39. Six of Ellen & Cornelius’s children appear in the database between 1827 and 1841 with baptismal dates: John 07 Dec 1827, Martin 28 Jan 1830, Gerald 28 Oct 1832, Mary 06 Sep 1835, Cornelius 14 May 1838 and Jeremiah 01 Jan 1841; -but no William!
Click here to move to the webpage for William Charles O’Neill (1835-1910) & Catherine White (1840-1929)
Next, a Martin O’Neill arrived in Sydney on board the Ocean Express in 1863, aged 28, born in Killorglin, Co Kerry and sponsored by a William O’Neill (New South Wales, Australia, Immigration Deposit Journals, 1853-1900; Deposit Book 1863). The age doesn’t exactly match the age of Ellen & Cornelius’s son Martin – maybe Martin lowered his age by 5 years – but the coincidences are strong. We have not yet traced Martin’s movements after his arrival.
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