Friday, 28 June 2013

Matters of Conviction - Philip Keefe and Margaret Daly, Part 2

So Philip Keefe and his cousin Francis were arrested for "killing cattle with intent to steal the carcase". They appeared in Berrima Court House on 16 September 1842, before Justice Sir William Westbrooke Burton. Burton was a man who applied the law equally, even in respect of race, but he took no excuses from anyone. Margaret meanwhile scraped up what funds she could to employ a lawyer to defend Philip. Not only did she risk losing her husband to goal, but, if he were found guilty, then under the law his lands and property would be confiscated, leaving his family homeless and penniless. There was much at stake.

But it was to no avail. Philip and Francis were found guilty, and were both sentenced to 15 years' transportation to Van Dieman's Land (Tasmania), with 18 months' probation. They were transferred to Darlinghurst Goal in Sydney on 4 October 1842, and from there to Cockatoo Island.
Convicts on Cockatoo Island, pencil and watercolour, 1849 by Phillipe de Vigors. State Library of New South Wales . Note the parti-coloured uniforms and the comment "Canary Birds"

The accommodation at Cockatoo Island was said to be appalling, but the food was generous. Philip was now receiving each day one pound of fresh beef or mutton, twenty ounces of bread, and half a pound of vegetables, 'when procurable'.

Meanwhile, Margaret was fighting for the livelihood of herself and her children. On the way back from Philip's trial in Berrima, Margaret stayed with Timothy Lacy, who wrote to Governor Gipps for her. The letter states that there are eight children under ten and "earnestly implores that she may be permitted to retain the land as their only refuge that can save herself from the Workhouse and the children from the Orphan School". Margaret signed with a cross. Gipps wrote on the letter that he could not intervene, but a clerk gave some hope, advising that it would be best to wait for a report on how the matter stood under law.

Neighbours and relatives helped Margaret and the children manage the land, and no eviction order was forthcoming, so they battled on. I cannot yet find the report referred to by the Clerk, but whatever it was, it eventually brought good news. Margaret was granted, by order of the Governor, the right to retain the land, and the Deeds were eventually made in her name. The family was safe.

On 17 February 1844 Philip and Francis were put aboard the transport Louisa and sailed out of Sydney, bound for Van Dieman's Land. They arrived in Hobart on 1 March 1844 and were assigned to a chained Road Gang, constructing a road from Hobart to Launceston. Philip made it as far as Ross, about 117 km north of Hobart. I don't know when he was admitted to the hospital at Ross, but the prison records state that he "Died at the Hospital Ross, 13th Novr 1845". He was buried on 14 November 1845 in the Church of England section of Ross Cemetery, despite being clearly listed as a Roman Catholic in the prison record book.
Map of Tasmania, showing location of Ross. From Man O' Ross Hotel website.
Now things with Margaret get a little confused. Having secured her land, Margaret kept the family going, but also continued to have children. Owen casts doubt on the parentage of Cornelius as his information said that Cornelius was born in 1843. However, NSW State records clearly show Cornelius as being born in 1842 (we are so lucky with the records that are now available to us), so he could very easily be a child of Margaret and Philip. However, then there is Michael, born 1845 and Margaret, born 1851. Owen concludes that "the two or three youngest were born out of wedlock to female members of the family and were accepted as the tail-enders of their grandparent's family" (Rabbit Hot, p.316). But there is another explanation. Under NSW law at the time, children born out of wedlock were required to take their mother's name, even if the father was around. Also, children were required to take the name of their mother's husband, even if he wasn't the biological father.

Margaret Keefe, ni Daly, married William "Bill" Large on 2 June 1848 in Campbelltown. He could easily have been the father of Michael. Margaret was 45 when little Margaret was born, but I don't see whose else she could be. The only other girls in the family were Catherine and Ellen. In 1851 Catherine already had her own family and indeed gave birth to a boy that year, and Ellen, at 10 years of age, would have been too young. To further complicate this, I am struggling to find records for little Margaret beyond "Rabbit Hot, Rabbit Cold", so I would love to know where Owen found her. It is one of the few areas where he doesn't explain his source (it could be Picton Court House, as those who were registered were registered there). But, if little Margaret was the daughter of William and Margaret, why was she known as Margaret Keefe and not Margaret Large?

I am unclear what happened to William Large. There is a William Large in NSW BDM who died in Tunut in 1881, well after Margaret died, but there are also reports that Bill predeceased Margaret. Clearly, more work needs to be done, and death certificates ordered. So I will go with what I know. Margaret Large, labourer's wife (implying Bill was still alive), died at Cox's River, Burragorange, 13 June 1877, age 74 years. Parents Patrick Daly and (unknown) Higgins. Cause of death was a) Erysipelas (an infectious skin disease), b) old age. There was no physician present. Buried RC Cemetery Burragorang, William Packenham undertaker, no Minister present. Witnesses R. O'Reilly and James Maxwell, born in Ireland, lived in colony 46 years. Informant, Francis Keefe, her son, of Cox's River.

The family farm was sold, reportedly for far less than its real value, and the bulk of the Keefe children left Burragorang. Catherine remained, living with ex-convict George Pearce.

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