James Kenney (1849-1936)
Mary Scholastica Thecla Walker (1850-1933)
Mary Scholastica Thecla Walker was the older of two children of James Devonport Walker & Honora O’Neill. She was born on 24 Apr 1850 in Dungog, New South Wales. The middle names Scholastica Thecla are unusal and were not registered at birth. In particular, the name Thecla is somewhat disctinct on Mary’s death certificate, though it is more like Thecla than Theela. Thecla was a saint of Greek origin in the early Catholic church and crops up as a girl’s name much more frequently than Theela. We will settle on Thecla, especially since the newspaper notices of Mary’s death use that spelling.
James Kenney was born on 26 Nov 1849 to Eugene Kenney and Janet (Jessie) Honora Norrie, also in the Maitland district in New South Wales.
This page has been assembled with the help of Donna Wieland, one of James and Mary’s great-great-grandchildren.
The Kenneys were a large family living on the Upper Allyn River in a clearly supportive community. This notice, involving a number of Kenney men including James Kenney, appeared in The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser on Sat 02 Aug 1873:
WE, the Undersigned Residents of the Upper Allyn River, have heard with extreme regret that MR. WILLIAM NINNIS, JUN., HAS HAD HIS HOUSE REPEATEDLY SEARCHED AND WATCHED BY THE POLICE, acting on secret information; and having known Mr. Ninnis, who has been a resident amongst us from childhood, we believe those CHARGES to have been FALSE AND MALICIOUS, and unfounded by any facts, as have been abundantly proven by the strictest police investigation.
And we publicly desire to express our sympathy with him under these imputations, our confidence in his integrity, and our detestation of the late cowardly persecution to which he has been subject.
John Minors, sen., William Jarrett, Henry Jarrett, Reubin Sivyer, John Beatty, George Bruce, James Lawrie, William Poulton, A. G. Lawrie, Thomas Sales, Eugene Kenney, Solomon Hopson,John Hopson, George Towns, Charles Hopson, William Leake, George Sales, John Poulton, John Burley, Edward Bridge, Henry Deards, James Towns, Robert Busteed, John Wilks, James Busteed, George Minors, John Minors jun., William Edwards, John Poulton, Owen Hoolilian, William George Sivyer, George Stukins, William Jarrett, David Thomas, Benjamin King, Radforth Rayment, William Towns, William Cook, William Papworth, James Kenney, Andrew Kenney, Alexander Kenney, James Cook
Allyn River, July 28th, 1873.
Mary and James married at St John’s Catholic Church in West Maitland on 18 Dec 1873. At the time he was shown as a farmer at Gresford. Their marriage certificate shows one of the two witnesses to be William White, who is almost certainly Mary’s uncle by marriage: Mary’s mother Honora had a younger sister, Mary Agnes O’Neill, who married a William White in 1866. At the time of Mary’s marriage to James Kenney, William White would have been 29 to Mary’s 23. Mary and her mother had returned to the Upper Williams River district from Queensland following Mary’s father’s untimely death.
In Honora’s death notice in 1883 James Kenney was described as living in the Upper Williams River area; Honora’s sister Ellen lived in Munni in that district; Honora’s other sister, Mary Agnes, had lived in Paterson and had died in 1874 in childbirth age 37.
Three of Mary’s children moved to West Australia in the late 1800s. From a sworn statement Mary made and was published for many months in the Sunday Times in 1908 and 1909, Mary and James Kenney also moved across to Perth in 1899. Here’s the statement, from the edition published on Sat 28 Mar; it appears to be a advertisement for Clements Tonic (which is still available today):
Mrs. Mary Kenney, of 290 William street, Perth, recently made some remarks to a press representative that are deemed worthy of repetition in these columns.
“Some nine years since,” began Mrs. Kenney, “I was living in a part of New South Walled called West Maitland, and the only grudge I have against that place is that I had a lot of suffering there. Neuralgia was one of the main afflictions, which bore me down for many years, and would you believe that I could not get anything to do me good? It’s a positive fact, anyhow. When it seemed that no medicines could be effective I unwisely started to have my teeth extracted, for the pain was mostly at the roots of them, and I was willing to sacrifice anything so long as I could get relief. Well, I kept having them drawn till there were only a few in front left, and to my horror and dismay my tortures were not diminished in the least degree.”
“What a great sacrifice for nothing,” ejaculated the scribe.
“Oh, it was really too bad; but it can’t be helped. A doctor told me it was no use having my teeth taken out, but my agonies drove me to desperation, and you see the result. Why, the pains about my head were enough to drive anyone’s reason away. Night after night passed, and I did nothing but walk the floor. It was awful. Surely, I was slowly losing my reason, I thought, for there were times when I was quite dazed. Would I go on like this, I asked myself often, till my senses left me, or what would the end be?”
“Ï daresay you tried nearly everything going, in the hope of finding something effective?”
“I did, indeed, and at last I got something that answered my purpose. It was Clements Tonic. There is nothing under the sun like Clements Tonic for neuralgia, for it decidedly proved my only source of relief when all else had proved useless. Its sudden curtailment of those maddening shafts of pain was nothing short of wonderful, and its ultimate complete banishment of my neuralgic troubles makes me its grateful debtor for life. But there was a lot to be done all round, as I was nothing bat an absolute wreck. You’ve no idea what I went through! Why, from my head right down my arms the pain extended, and I could not bear to lift them to dress myself. I had got as thin as a rake, and there was no strength in me whatever. As for eating – well, you might not believe it, but there were days when I would not touch a morsel of food, and it was almost as well to go without, for nothing would digest.”
“Considering all you had gone through, your nerves would not be over strong.”
“Quite the opposite, indeed, for nervousness was one of the greatest evils I had to contend against. In that respect I was in such a state of weakness that I would jump at the least thing. There is no doubt about – it my internal organs must have been in a very bad way, for I used to get very giddy without apparent reason, just as if I was going to faint. This is how I was when a friend strongly urged me to have just one more try to regain my health. And it was to be made with Clements Tonic. It was a big undertaking, but my last remedy was my best, and proved quite equal to all that was before it. As an agent to produce strength I am confident of its superiority over all other medicines, and for promoting sleep. Clements Tonic cannot be equalled. It gave me a splendid appetite, and so worked upon me internally that I could soon digest anything. And when at last I was as well as could be I often thanked God for its happy release which had come to me simply through the influence of Clements Tonic. Further, you can publish these facts in any way it suits you.
I, MARY KENNEY, of 290 Williams-street, Perth, in the State of Western Australia, do solemnly and sincerely declare that I have carefully read the annexed document, and that it contains and is a a true and faithful account of my illness and cure by Clements Tonic, and also contains my full permission to publish in any way my statements, which I give voluntarily, without receiving any payment; and I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true, and by virtue of the provisions of an Act of the Parliament of Western Australia rendering persons making, false declarations punishable for wilful and corrupt perjury.
Declared at Perth, in the State of Western Australia, this second day of November, one thousand nine hundred and six, before me,
WALTER SIMPSON, J.P
According to Mary’s death certificate there were 12 children from this marriage, but we have not yet identified all 12 birth records. Four males and three females predeceased her, so one female birth is not in the following list:
01. David Eugene (b. 1874, d. 1874) (NSW birth record 10346/1874, death record 4689/1874)
02. James Davenport Walker (b. 1875, d. 27 Mar 1958) (NSW birth record 10658/1875)
03. Janet Margaret Ada (b. 05 Oct 1877, d. Oct 1931) (NSW birth record 11364/1877)
04. Alexander William A (b. 1879, d. 29 Dec 1917) (NSW birth record 12947/1879)
05. Leonora Lindsay Gladys (b. 1883, d. 16 Feb 1910) (NSW birth record 16439/1883)
06. Catherine Ivy (b. 1885, d. 1949) (NSW birth record 18715/1885)
07. Alexander Bruce (b. 02 Aug 1897, d. 07 Aug 1917) (NSW birth record 10658/1875)
08. Andrew (b. 1889, d. 1889) (NSW birth record 19708/1889, death record 9302/1889)
09. (Mary) Margaret (b. 1890, d. 15 Mar 1944) (NSW birth record 12377/1890, registered as Mary M)
10. Ellen Monica (b. 1895, d. 07 Jul 1978) (NSW birth record 23962/1895)
11. Minnie Agnes (b. 1892, d. 28 Apr 1959) (NSW birth record ?)
We have little information on some of these children. We are interested in hearing from anyone who knows more on these families (email email@example.com and copy to firstname.lastname@example.org).
02. James Davenport Walker Kenney (named after his grandfather James Davenport Walker) born in 1875 in Dungog, NSW and married Elizabeth S Collings at Freemantle in 1909. We know that James lived in Perth and Freemantle throughout his life, working as a labourer. He died on 27 Mar 1958 and is buried in the Catholic section of Freemantle Cemetery (gravesite 1595). There is the death of an Elizabeth Sarah Kenney recorded in 1971 at Coolgardie. She was 84 at the time, and if this is the same person she would have been 22 at the time of her marriage; James would have been 34.
06. Catherine Ivy Kenney was born in 1885 in Dungog, NSW. In the 1910 electoral rolls she was described as a barmaid at the Bedford Hotel, Murray St, Perth; in 1913 and 1914 at the Criterion Hotel, Hay St, Perth. She married Thomas Charles Hollonds (b. 1882 in Swifts Creek, Victoria, d. 14 Feb 1936, Canterbury, Victoria). In 1919 they were living at 3 Percy St, Glenferrie, Victoria, Thomas was described as a motor mechanic and Catherine home duties. In 1924 their address was 16 Haines St, Glenferrie, and a Mary Ann Hollonds (presumably his mother, see the later death notice) was living there as well. From 1931 they lived at 38 Rochester Rd, Canterbury, Victoria and Thomas was described as a driver. Thomas died on 14 February, 1936; from The Age, Sat 15 Feb 1936:
HOLLONDS.—On the 14th February, at his residence, 38 Rochester-road, Canterbury, Thomas Charles, the dearly loved husband of Catherine Ivy Hollonds, stepfather of James, and son of Mary and the late Charles Hollonds, aged 52 years.
Sometime after his death Catherine took a job as a cook at Langi Kal Kal, Trawalla (a pastoral property about 150 km west of Melbourne). By 1949 she had moved back to East Melbourne, living at 110 Powlett St and died on 08 Aug 1949. From The Argus, Tue 09 Aug 1949:
HOLLONDS. — On August 8, at the residence of her son, 3 Disney st., West Heidelberg, Catherine Ivy, loving wife of the late Thomas Charles Hollonds, and dearly loved mother of James, loved mother-in-law of Eileen, and dear grandma of James, Patricia, and Janet, aged 63 years. —R.I.P.
From the two death notices it appears that Catherine had a son James and three grandchildren: James, Patricia and Janet. However, James was not Thomas’ son. We are not sure what surname James went by.
04. Alexander William Kenney (known as William or Willie within the family) never married. For some time his parents depended on him for support. His mother Mary wrote a letter in 1917 requesting that her son Alexander Bruce Kenney be released from the army on compassionate grounds (see also Alexander Bruce‘s webpage), partly because William had been admitted to Claremont Asylum suffering: “paralysis of the brain”, a disorder affecting the brain and generally caused by late-stage syphilis; since the advent of penicillin in 1928 it has largely disappeared. Alexander passed away on 29 Dec 1917 at Claremont, WA.
From that letter, and a letter an army investigator sent supporting her application, it appears that Mary had suffered a stroke or some other catastrophic illness that made her completely dependent; possibly the affliction she outlined in her stat dec in 1908 simply got worse. She was confined to a wheel chair and could not even dress herself. Yet she survived another sixteen years, passing away on 23 May, 1933, just six months after she and James (reportedly) celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Her death certificate indicates the cause of her death as senile myocardial degeneration and arterioschlerosis. She was burried in the Catholic section of the cemetery in Freemantle.
There are a couple of discrepancies on Mary’s death certificate:
- Mary’s mother is named Nancy, not Honora.
- Mary’s age at her marriage is said to be 20 years. Mary was born on 25 Apr 1850 and was married on 18 Dec 1873, so her age should have been 23.
The informant was the undertaker’s assistant, who would have relied on information supplied by the family on events having occurred 60 to more than 80 years before. That the family’s memories are unreliable is seen in the first in the sequence of family notices and memories of Mary; their 60th anniversary would have fallen in 1933:
The West Australian, Tue 29 Nov 1932:
Mr. James Kenney, of Newman-street, Fremantle, celebrated the 86th anniversary of his birth on November 27. Mr. Kenney was born on the Allyn River (N.S.W.) and came to this State 36 years ago. Mr. and Mrs. Kenney on the same day celebrated the 60th anniversary of their wedding. Both are enjoying fair health. The day was fittingly recognised by members of the family, and a continuous stream of friends to their home added to their enjoyment. Mr. Kenney has never drunk intoxicating liquor and has never made a bet.
KENNEY. — On May 23, 1933, at her late residence, 15 Newman-street, Fremantle, Mary Scholastica Thecla, dearly beloved wife of James Kenney, loving mother of James, Catherine (Mrs. T. Hollonds), Mary (Mrs. G. Lawson) , Minnie (Mrs. J. McDonnell), Ellen (Mrs. M. Hogan), fond grandmother of thirty three grandchildren and nine great-grand children; aged 83 years.
KENNEY. — On. May 23, 1933, Mary Kenney, beloved mother-in-law of Minnie Kenney, and grandmother of Rene and Wally, 105 John street, North Fremantle; also loving friend of Bessie Williams.
KENNEY. — The Friends of Mr. James Kenney, of 15 Newman-street, Fremantle, are respectfully informed that the remains of his late dearly beloved wife, Mary Scholastica Thecla, loving mother of James, Catherine. Ivy (Mrs. T. Hollonds), Mary (Mrs. G. Lawson), Minnie (Mrs. J. McDonnell), Ellen Monica (Mrs. M. Hogan), will be interred in the Roman Catholic Cemetery, Fremantle. The Funeral is appointed to leave her late residence, 15 Newman-street. Fremantle, THIS (Thursday) AFTERNOON at 2 o’clock, arriving at the Cemetery at 2.20 o’clock. No flowers, by request.
The West Australian, Wed 23 May 1934:
KENNEY. — In loving memory of my dear wife, who passed away at Fremantle, May 23, 1933.
It’s hard to part with those that you love.
It fills our hearts with pain.
To know that on this earth
We shall never meet again.
We will meet in heaven above.
Beyond the deep blue sky.
Where we will never part again,
And never say goodbye.
Inserted by her loving husband, James Kenney.
KENNEY. — In loving memory of my dear mother and grandmother, who passed away at Fremantle, May 23, 1933.
Years may pass, dear mother.
But your face will never fade.
For we love you just as dearly
As in the hour you passed away.
Inserted by her loving daughter Minnie, and grandchildren, Vera and Frank.
KENNEY- In loving memory of my dear mother, Mary Thecla, who passed away, May 23, 1933.
A beautiful memory left behind
Of a loving mother,so true and kind
I have lost, but heaven has gained
One of the best the world contained
Inserted by her loving daughters. Mary Lawson, Monica Hogan; sons-in-law. Matt Hogan, George Lawson; grandchidren. Myrl, Mattie, Madge Hogan.
Again on Thu 23 May 1935:
KENNEY. — In memory of my dear Wife, who passed on May 23, 1933.
She is gone, but not for ever,
We will meet again,
Where there is no sorrow, anguish, grief or pain,
We will meet in heaven above,
Never to part again,
When each other’s face we will see,
What a happy meeting that will be,
To know that we will never part again.
Inserted by her loving husband. James Kenney.
KENNEY. — In loving memory of my dear Mother and Grandmother, who paused away at Fremantle. May 23, 1933.
I miss her kind and loving ways,
With her I spent my happy days;
I miss her when I need a friend,
On her I always could depend.
Inserted by her loving daughter Minnie, grandchildren Vera and Frank.
James had himself been unwell at the time when Mary had written her letter to the army in 1917. He was 67 at the time and unable to find work. He passed away on 23 Jan 1936 in Freemantle.