Honora O’Neill

James Devonport Walker (1822-1864)
Honora O’Neill (1832-1883)

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Honora O’Neill was the third of six children of William O’Neill & Johanna Flaherty, born in 1832 at Brookfield, close to Clarence Town, NSW. William had been transported to NSW from Co. Kerry, Ireland, in 1822 for a term of 7 years. His wife Johanna and son, John were given free passage to join William in 1827. For several years they squatted on Crown land in the Brookfield region and it was not until 1842 that they obtained a lease for a 2,150 acre property adjoining the north boundary of Clarence Town.

The first O’Neill family historians noted the marriage of Honora O’Neill to a James D Walker in 1849 (122/1849 V1849122 96, early Church records in district LK encompassing East Maitland, Maitland and West Maitland) and assumed the latter to be James Dunlop Walker. There was a birth of a James D Walker registered in 1830 (768/1845), no district noted; and a death in 1891 (12892/1891) in Randwick. However, the Evening News reported on Mon 28 Sep 1891 as follows:

a single man, named James Dunlop Walker, 61, committed suicide at his residence in Rainbow-street, Coogee …

No other information on Honora’s descendants was available, apart from the birth of two children; the early family historians had noted that further research needed to be done on this speculation. We now know much more about this side of the family, thanks to the input of Donna Wieland, Honora’s great-great-grand-daughter.

Honora O’Neill married James Devonport Walker at Hinton, NSW (between Maitland and Clarence Town) in 1849 (record V1849122 96). Honora would have been 17 at the time, James 27. James was born in 1797 in Ireland to James Davenport Walker and Mary Lyndsey Larrymore. The following information comes from the Gordon family records. We have retained some of their links to facilitate moving directly to a page of interest:

James Davenport Walker [Parents] was born about 1797 in Ireland. He died on 23 May 1866 in Byerwin, near Port Denison, Queensland, Australia. He married Mary Lyndsey Larrymore in 1816 in Ireland.

James Davenport Walker, his wife and family arrived in Port Jackson on the ship “Palembam” on 31 July 1831. Mrs Mary Lyndsey Walker, nee Larrymore, was one of two Matrons appointed to supervise a group of fifty orphan girls from the Foundling Hospital of County Cork, Ireland, who were included in the passenger list of this vessel. The list also included 114 convict women from County Cork.

At the time of their arrival, the children of James D. and Mary Walker were John George, born 24 June 1819; James Devenport, born 1822; Ann born about 1825; and Henry born 1829. After their arrival, Mary Jane was born in Sydney on 24 September 1832, and William Henry was born 3rd November 1833, but died a few days later on the 22nd and buried at Camperdown. Another son, Joseph George was born 12th June 1836 at ‘Brookfield’, a farm between Clarence and Dungog.

James Davenport Walker was recorded as the proprietor of ‘Brookfield’ for the NSW census of 1840.

James Davenport Walker held the publican’s license for the Union Inn at Dungog in 1841. This Inn was situated on Half Moon Flat on part of the estate of Brookfield and was held up by bushrangers known as the Jewboy gang in 1840.

James was living in Maryborough (Qld) township in 1848. He was a Master Cooper, a Proprietor of Boiling Down Works and a Grazier.

James’ father (John) migrated to Ireland from Somerset/Wiltshire district of England.

Death Notice – Maryborough Chronicle dated Saturday, June 23, 1866:
On the 14th May, at his son’s residence, Byerwin, near Port Denison, James Davenport Walker, late of Maryborough, aged 69 years.

[Qld death records have his date of death as 23 May, 1866. Ed.]

As discussed on William O’Neill & Johanna Flaherty‘s page, James & Mary had acquired the property ‘Brookfield’ in the 1830s, situated about 8km from Clarence Town along the Dungog Rd. ‘Brookfield’ had earlier been selected by Major Charles Thomas Smeathman, free of quit-rent. William O’Neill had first squatted on land that was later surveyed and named ‘Unwarrabin Village Reserve’, ‘for the purpose of removing O’Neill, a squatter on Government land’. He then leased a small portion of ‘Brookfield’ until gaining land in 1852. The two families certainly knew each other, This map is from the early 1830s:

James Devonport Walker managed to lease 2177 acres of the extensive Church And School Lands two years before Honora’s father William gained his 2150 acres; from The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Wed 11 Feb 1852:

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 1852. LEASES OF CHURCH AND SCHOOL LANDS.

The Leases specified in the annexed list have been transmitted from the Colonial Secretary’s Office to the Supreme Court for enrolment under the provisions of the Act of the Governor and Legislative Council, 13th Victoria, No. 45, and to be afterwards forwarded through the Surveyor General to the Agent of the Church and School Estates, by whom notification of their receipt at his office will be made by letter to the lessees, to whom they will then be delivered on application.

Dated 2nd August, 1848.

8. James Devenport Walker, 2177 acres, Glou
cester
….

Dated 1st May, 1850.
25. William O’Neil, 2150 acres, Durham

From 1854 Honora’s brother Patrick held the license to run a multipurpose family home and inn that he had built at Brookfield. His brother John held the license for the hotel in Clarence Town at the same time. Patrick had married Elizabeth Lulham, whose father James Lulham had been a victim of bushranger activity, as had James Davenport Walker. From the Dungog Chronicle, Fri 29 Sep 1905 in an article on bushranger problems in the Dungog area in 1840:

Dungog, 14th Dec., 1840.

In accordance with his instructions Captain Cook on the I4th Decr., wrote to Mr Walker, Union Hotel, Brookfield, asking for a lis tof all who were present on the morning of the robbery of his place, and to specify servants and masters, whether bond or free, for submission to His Excellency the Governor. The accompanying declarations will enable your excellency to judge of the extent of the depredations lately perpetrated in this district.

Your Memorialists, therefore, humbly pray that your Excellency will be pleased to station a party of mounted police at Dungog for the protection of this and the adjoining districts.

The declarations referred to in the memorial run as follow : —

On Monday, 30th ultimo, at 8 o’clock in the morning, my house, situated 7 miles distant from Dungog, was suddenly taken possession of by four armed bushrangers, confining my family into one room, while they compelled me to give up my keys, and possessed themselves of £37 in cash and property to the amount of £4. The state of alarm and excitement caused by these outlaws has put me to further expense and inconvenience.”
(signed) J. D. Walker, Brookfield.      Williams River, 15th December 1840.

“I do hereby declare that on Monday, the 30th ultimo, at about 9 o’clock a.m., I was bailed up by four armed bushrangers who detained me prisoner until they had ransacked my house in search of money and firearms. The detention put me and my family to great inconvenience, as four of these were dangerously ill at the time. They desired me to shoe their horses, which I refused to do.
(Signed) James Lulham,
Brookfield.

It appears that the family moved to near Maryborough, Queensland. James Jn. passed away suddenly on 24 Mar 1864; from the Maryborough Chronicle on Mon 28 March 1864:

We regret to have to record the sudden death of Mr J. D. Walker, of this town, while pursuing his avocation as lumberer on the banks of the Susan, on the 24th instant. The body of the deceased was brought to Maryborough on Saturday. A magisterial inquiry will be held this morning. A post mortem examination has been held, which has shown that death was caused by disease of the heart.

James & Honora’s family:

01. Mary (b. 1850, d. 1933) (birth record 1231/1850 67)

02. Peter S (b. 1851, d. ?) (birth record 2189/1851 68)

Peter’s mother’s name was spelt Honorah on his online birth record; spelling and mis-matched dates are fairly common in this period, and a few instances will be outlined in this family. Peter had died by 1883 (he is listed as deceased on his mother’s death certificate), and the only death records we could locate in NSW or Queensland are these:

  1. a Peter Walker died in Kiama in 1881, his father was James but his mother is shown as “unknown”. If this is the same person, Peter would have been 30 at the time of his death; there is a record of Peter Walker marrying Anna M A Iriskip in 1880 in Kiama, but no children could be found.
  2.  a Peter Urquart Walker died in Queensland on 13 Feb 1879 (record 1879/C/1594)

Following James Devonport’s death in 1864, Honora returned to the Upper Williams River district in NSW. She died of bronchitis on Sep 13, 1883, aged 50; a transcript of the death certificate can be viewed here. Note that she is registered as Honoria in this certificate.

The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser carried a notice of her passing on Sat 6 Oct 1883 :

Died, September 13th, after a protracted illness, at the residence of her son-in-law, J. Kenny, “Munus,” Upper Williams River, Mrs. Walker, relict of the late J. D. Walker, formerly of Brookfield, and late of Queensland.— R.I.P.

The informant was her sister, Ellen McNamara (née O’Neill), who lived in Munni, about 14km north-west of Dungog. She gave Mary’s age as 31 at the time of Honora’s death, which in 1883 should have been entered as 33.