Sunday, 16 April 2017

M is for Arrival in Melbourne of the Persian in 1854

Western End of Queens Wharf Melbourne 1854 by S.T. Gill retrieved from MossGreen auctioneers



Ellen Murray (1837 - 1901) and Margaret Smyth (1834 - 1897), two of my husband's great grandmothers, sailed from England to Melbourne, Victoria, on the Persian, arriving on 9 April 1854. Ellen's sister Bridget and an infant surnamed Smyth traveled with them.

The Persian left Southampton on 2 January 1854 with 448 government immigrants, of whom 200 were single women. Eight people died on the 97 day voyage and five babies were born. The Croesus, which sailed from Southampton more than a week after the Persian, arrived the same day.



PORT PHILLIP HEADS. (1854, April 11). Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer (Vic. : 1851 - 1856), p. 4 Edition: DAILY. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91932661


The Persian collided with another ship, the Cheshire Witch, in Port Phillip.

SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE. (1854, April 11). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 4. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4805696




From the passenger list of the Persian, Margaret Smyth and infant are at the bottom of the screenshot , record retrieved through ancestry.com (click to enlarge)


Margaret Smyth was recorded as having given birth on board. She was from Cavan; her religion was Church of England; she could read and write; and she was 20 years old. She did not find a job immediately on landing, but went to stay with her cousin. His name on the record appears to be 'John Hunter', though the surname is not clearly legible.

I know nothing more about this cousin, nor have I have discovered anything more about Margaret's baby. There seems to be no death certificate, but the baby may have died without its death registered, for in 1854 civil registration of deaths was not yet in force in Victoria.

From the passenger list disposal summary Margaret Smyth and infant went to her cousin.



On 19 November 1855 Margaret Smyth, dressmaker from Cavan, aged 22, married John Plowright, also 22, a gold digger. Their wedding was held at the residence of John Plowright, Magpie, Ballarat. On the certificate Margaret's parents are given as William Smyth, farmer, and Mary nee Cox.


1855 marriage certificate of John Plowright and Margaret Smyth (click to enlarge)




Passenger list from the Persian showing Bridget and Ellen Murray at the bottom of the image. Retrieved through ancestry.com (click to enlarge).

Bridget and Ellen Murray were both from Dublin. Their religion was Catholic; both could read and Ellen could also write; Bridget was 24 and Ellen 18. Both found jobs on 15 April, within a week of their arrival. Bridget was engaged by S. Marcus of Prahran for a term of 1 month with a wage of 28 shillings and rations. Ellen was similarly employed by Mrs Ireland of St Kilda, with a wage of 30 shillings.

I have not been able to find anything more about Bridget Murray.

On 28 March 1856, two years after her arrival in the colony, Ellen Murray married James Cross, a gold digger, at Buninyong . Their wedding was at the residence of John Plowright, Black Lead Buninyong, in the presence of John and Margaret Plowright. Ellen gave her residence as Buninyong and her occupation as dressmaker. She was born in Dublin, aged 21, and her parents were George Murray, glass blower, and Ellen nee Dory.


1856 marriage certificate for James Cross and Ellen Murray (click to enlarge)



It seems that Margaret Smyth and Ellen Murray, who had emigrated to Victoria on the same ship, remained friends. Later the son of Ellen Cross nee Murray, Frederick James Cross, married Ann Jane Plowright, the daughter of Margaret Plowright nee Smyth.

Hunter Smyth connection?

I think I have found a connection between the Hunter and Smyth families but I can't link Margaret Smyth to it, at least not yet.

On other certificates Margaret Smyth states she was born in Bailieborough, County Cavan. I found a John Hunter associated with Bailieborough.

I have not been able to find a death of this John Hunter.

Family Notices (1866, December 27). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 4. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5782047

I ordered the marriage certificate and discovered Elizabeth Grace Hunter, age 27 had been born in Bailieborough. Her parents were John Hunter and Eliza Hunter nee Carmichael.

I ordered her 1897 death certificate and found Elizabeth had been in the colony 34 years. The informant on her death certificate was Charles Smyth, nephew, of Albury, New South Wales.

I found H. Hunter on the death indexes. He was Henry Hunter who died 1875. Henry was Elizabeth's brother, also the son of John Hunter and Eliza Carmichael.

I hope further research will uncover the connection and I can learn more about Margaret Smyth's family.








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