|Age when admitted:|
|Date admitted:||29 May 1828|
|Institution(s):||Queens Orphan School|
Eleanor McDonald (aka McEvoy or Donnelly), who was only at the Orphan School for about a month in 1828, was my great-great-great grandmother and a half sibling to John McEvoy or Newby (Orphan number 3624 and 4109) and Julia McDonald (orphan no. 3588).
She was the daughter of Irish convict Eleanor McEvoy (Alexander 2), and arrived in Hobart with her mother on the Kangaroo in April 1816. There is no list of children who came out on the Alexander but it is likely that Eleanor did so as an infant, and had been born in Dublin around 1814. Her mother, aged about 23 on arrival, had been transported for seven years for larceny. For some years Eleanor senior cohabited with Thomas Newby (former second fleet convict and Norfolk Islander who had been free since 1804). Their son John was born in December 1817. In 1818 Newby was working as a bailiff for the Provost Marshall Martin Tims and in 1820 was rationed for himself plus half a ration for a wife and two children. Eleanor and Thomas never married, although she appears to have been commonly known as “Mrs. Newby.” Both the children of “Eleanor Mcovey” (a boy aged four and a girl aged seven) were recorded in a list of children requiring education compiled around 1821.
Initially things appeared to go fairly smoothly for Eleanor senior - her early conduct record is clean until around the time her sentence expired. Things fell apart when, early in 1823 Newby was convicted of two serious offences. Described as a free man and also as “aged,” Newby was convicted of stealing money and altering a promissory note with intent to defraud John Fawkner. He was sentenced to transportation for life and appears to have died at New Norfolk in 1833. Around the same time Eleanor senior appears to have commenced a relationship with Charles McDonnell (or McDonald). He was a native of Tyrone, Ireland, transported per Canada. He arrived in Hobart in 1816 and had a very chequered career indeed thereafter, particularly after he forfeited his ticket of leave in 1824. Eleanor’s conduct record now began to sport an occasional appearance for being drunk and disorderly and she suffered an assault at the hands of McDonnell.
When the census of children was taken in 1827, Eleanor junior was recorded in Brisbane Street with her half-brother John and half-sister Julia, born in 1825 to Eleanor and Charles McDonnell. The mother’s name was said to be Newby. McDonnell, continuing his downward trajectory, was by then confined to the Prisoners’ Barracks.
The Committee minutes of the Orphan School record that on 29 May 1828 Eleanor McEvoy or Donnelly was ordered to be admitted but there is no indication of the surrounding circumstances. One can guess what they were by the fact that on 30 June she was removed by a constable to face some very serious charges. Joseph Hone wrote to the Police Magistrate and tried to obtain bail for Eleanor but was unsuccessful. She was probably lodged in the gaol. On 3 July her two younger siblings were ordered to be admitted to the Orphan School. On 5 July Eleanor was committed on three charges of theft and her mother was committed for receiving the stolen goods. They were tried on 12 July for stealing two earrings, value 10 shillings and one brooch, value ten shillings, the property of John Curran. Charles McDonnell appeared as a defence witness. Both Eleanors were found guilty and on 17 July the mother was sentenced to fourteen years transportation, and the daughter (recommended to mercy on account of her extreme youth) to seven years. If the full list of charges as detailed in Tardiff had been pursued, Eleanor could have been hanged:
Stealing from William Elliott: A gold watch key (value £2) gold onyx mounted diamond ring (value £2.10); from John Curran: Two black earrings and one brooch (value 20 shillings); breaking and entering the dwelling house of John Curran in the day time and stealing a piece of calico (value £1.10.0) a piece of muslin (35 shillings) a piece of printed cotton (value £2) and a pair of trousers (value £2.12.0)
Eleanor junior continued to have a troubled history. In 1829 she was sentenced to three months in the Crime Class, House of Correction, on “violent suspicion” of stealing a pair of gloves and other articles from her master H. Nicholls, and the following year, when assigned to R. Woodward, to a further 12 months in Crime Class on “strong suspicion” of having stolen a pound note from her mistress’ drawers.
In July 1831, after another daughter, Mary Ann, had been born (baptised in 1829) Eleanor McEvoy and Charles McDonald finally married, permission having been granted on their second application. Julia and John were discharged from the Orphan School the following December. The family lived at Oatlands, where McDonnell had commenced business as a general dealer in 1832, but he continued his colourful criminal and often confrontational career (harbouring runaways, and destroying the glebe cottage amongst other things). In 1835 he was sent to Port Arthur and in 1840 allowed to reside in the Morven area with a ticket of leave but “on no account to be allowed to go to Oatlands.” He finally received a conditional pardon in 1845, his wife having received hers five years previously for, believe it or not, “living in good repute with her husband.”
Eleanor junior, meanwhile, applied to marry an Oatlands man, Joseph Salmon, who had arrived in the colony as a free emigrant with his parents and two brothers in 1816. In 1823 he had received a hundred-acre grant of land in close proximity to where the township was to develop. They were married on 25 June 1832. Eleanor is listed in the 1832 and 1833 musters as assigned to a Mr. W. T. Clarke, but must have been able to spend some time with her new husband as on 28 January 1834 their first child, William (my great-great grandfather) was born. By 1835 Eleanor was free. Eleanor and Joseph were to have six more children, the five who survived to adulthood all being girls.
Like many other small property holders Joseph struggled financially through the 1830s. A number of judgments went against him and he twice advertised his property for sale or lease. After mortgaging twice, he finally sold it to John Robinson (who had been a witness at his marriage) in 1839. The family moved into the township of Oatlands and the census records them living in a brick dwelling at Lake Dulverton in 1842 and the following year in a wooden structure in Church Street.
Disaster struck in 1846 when Joseph died suddenly. His youngest child Julia was less than three months old. At that time in the employ of Messrs Robinson and Gaby, Joseph was driving a dray between Green Ponds and Oatlands when he accidentally fell off and the wheel crushed his head. An appeal for charity was launched. It was not without controversy. Eleanor later wrote to the newspaper and took Robinson and Gaby to court to recover money she alleged had not been paid. A compromise agreement appears to have been reached.
Eleanor's mother died in Hobart in 1849. Her daughter continued to live in Church Street in Oatlands, and on 29 July 1850 she married Samuel Archer, a probation pass holder who had arrived on the Marquis of Hastings in 1839. She died of consumption in Oatlands on 8 November 1863, aged just 48. There are numerous descendants, some of them in New Zealand.