This is a tale – all true – of the origins of four half pint pewter beer mugs that arrived in Donegal from Australia in the year 1862/1863 and have since never travelled more than a hundred yards.
The story begins in 1852 when James left a farm near Convoy to seek his fortune in Australia. Extracts from Victorian Public Records (Australian) state that a James Wray arrived in Melbourne in August 1852 aboard the ship, ‘Fanny,’ which had sailed from Liverpool. The Fanny was 950 tonnes, held 271 people and was bound for Port Phillip Bay. James was an unassisted emigrant so less information is available. He is listed as having Irish nationality and being an agricultural labourer.
Where or when he met his future wife is unknown but she is believed to have emigrated from Baronscourt, Co. Tyrone. A couple with the same names are recorded as being married in Melbourne on the 1st October 1857. Together they ran a hotel in the mining town of Ballarat in Victoria. This hotel was burned down in 1857 and replaced by a new one which was subsequently purchased by the advancing Railway Company. An extract from a local Ballarat paper at the time records the following. ‘ Before the construction of the railway from Geelong, this hotel stood on the site now occupied by the entrance to the Eastern Goods Sheds. The premises were burned down on the 24th December and the rebuilt house was sold on 7th April to make provision for a railway reserve.’
James and Mary decided to return to Ireland. Their two children born in Australia had both died aged 6 years and 2 years – some say of chickenpox. A poignant, much faded photograph records a man and a woman standing beside a grave which still exists in Ballarat today.
By 1863 James had acquired over 96 statute acres in Donegal – a map of the time records such. Two more children were born to the couple before James died only four years later in 1867.
In their luggage from Australia they had carried the four glass bottomed pewter mugs as a reminder of their days in Australia. Engraved on the side of each is – James Wray, Imperial Hotel. Today they serve as a reminder of the courage and fortitude of James and Mary almost exactly a hundred and fifty years ago.
This is brilliant, a lot of work has gone into this and so interesting well done.ReplyDelete
So excited to see this blog . I have been trying to trace the James Wray you mention and wondering how he connects to my family. Will try to contact you .
Thanks for you comments. Jean has done a great deal of work putting this article together. Do you want to send me your email address so I can pass on Jeans to you?
What a brilliant and interesting true story, so much work and has gone into it, well done JeanReplyDelete
Do you know Marys maiden name, my ancestors are from near Baronscourt. I know a lot about Baronscourt. It is well documented as the Marquis of Abercorns Estate/mansion etc. All his papers are in library in Ireland, many searchable online. My ancestors lived there.ReplyDelete
Mary's maiden name was Watson. Her parents were Samuel Watson and Mary Anderson. On her marriage certificate she states that she came from Casty. She arrived in Victoria, Australia on 31 May 1852 on the Success and married James Wray on 1 October 1857 in Melbourne Victoria, Australia.Delete
The witnesses at the wedding of James Wray to Mary Watson were Hugh and Rebecca Barclay. There were from County Tyrone and were perhaps first cousins. They may have introduced James to Mary.Delete
There is also a Mary Watson aged 26 arriving in Victoria Australia on 25 August 1857 on board the Talbot which could also be her.Delete
I am wondering how Jean is related to James Wray in the story.ReplyDelete
Still trying to find how I am related to this family . If anyone can help please put me out of my misery.Delete
My ancestor is Elizabeth Wray born 1831 in Coolcrannel, County Fermanah. Her father, Thomas Wray was a schoolteacher in Coolcrannel from the 1820s to 1842 when his wife , Mary nee Morton passed away. He then sent his eldest child, Wiliam Wray to Mary's brothers in Canada.. Elizabeth and her sister, Mary Ann were placed in the Liskanakea workhouse as was possiby their younger brother, Alexander. Alexander later went to Canada and married and had a family .Delete
Mary Ann and Elizabeth were sent to Victoria Australia in late 1849 under the Earl Grey Scheme and employed as servants.
Elizabeth was introduced to William Thomas Keene, my gg grandfather and they married in 1852 in Melbourne. William T Keene was working as a baker on the Goldfields and I can't help feeling that William knew the above James Wray who introduced him to Elizabeth Wray. The question is how were James and Elizabeth related? In 1862 my ggg Aunt Mary Ann Wray married James Kirk and James Wray was one of the witnesses along with Robert Watson who may have been his brother in law. Please contact me if you can help.
The home of Australian democracy The battle at the Eureka Stockade near Ballarat in 1854 changed Australia forever. It has come to represent popular struggle and has been called the birthplace of Australian democracy.ReplyDelete
No votes, no rights From the early 1850s, hopefuls coming to the Victorian goldfields were required to pay high fees for mining licences and were ill-treated and harassed by the authorities who were meant to protect them. The government dismissed the complaints of this itinerant population, who had no vote and couldn't buy land.
The diggers' flag By 1854, the diggers of Ballarat were fed up. When their appeal to the government for justice was refused, they declared that they would stop buying gold licences and beneath the diggers' flag – the Southern Cross – swore to defend each other against the authorities. In a time of great hardship and brutal law their resistance was brave. The men of the stockade were risking all and the flag that came to represent their courage and vision now hangs in the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka as a monument to their struggle.
On 29 November 1854 a ‘Monster Meeting’ was held on Bakery Hill. A flag, representing the Southern Cross, with white stars on a dark blue background, was flown on ‘a very splendid pole, eighty feet in length’. The diggers took the ‘Oath of the Southern Cross’. They knelt, and with heads uncovered pointed to the banner and said,
“We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other and fight to defend our rights and liberties.”
Only four days later, in the early hours of the sabbath, some of these miners lost their lives to their cause. This was the culmination of the unrest and ill-feeling.
This was Eureka and James Wray was there!
Sorry forgot to add the outcome-ReplyDelete
Battle for victory- Before dawn on 3 December 1854, government troops stormed the diggers' flimsy stockade at Eureka Lead, Ballarat. In a fiery battle that lasted only 20 minutes, more than 30 men were killed. Charged with high treason, the diggers' leaders were all eventually acquitted. Within a year the diggers won the vote and the hated gold licence was abolished. As I write this it's almost 150 years since the event.
In case anyone is puzzling over their Wray family tree it may help you to know that the parents of James Wray, owner of the four mugs are Eliza Jane Holmes and William Wray c1793-1834. The two children of James born after he left Australia are Charotte born 22 April 1866 and James Henry Wray. The lady driving the cart is Margaret Steward Wray born c 1869 died 1949. The family grave is in Convoy Presbyterian cemetery.ReplyDelete
Sorry should be Margaret Stewart Wray.Delete
We all want to give great gifts, those gifts that bring a smile when unwrapped and make the new owner want to use them immediately. Finding that perfect personal gift, however, is not always an easy task. steampunk mugReplyDelete