Friday, 8 December 2017

On this day 8th December One of the Orphan Girls who went from Ballyshannon to Australia died

Mary Allingham died on 8th December 1917
On this day 8th December 1917, one hundred years ago, Mary Allingham who had been an orphan in Ballyshannon workhouse died in Australia. Mary Allingham aged 16 was an inmate of Ballyshannon workhouse and her address on the emigration records was given as Billig, Fermanagh which most probably was Belleek, County Fermanagh. The workhouse at Ballyshannon served a wide area, including parts of Fermanagh and Leitrim, and so Mary Allingham would have entered the workhouse at Ballyshannon. Her parents were Robert Allingham and Fanny Marshall (both dead) and by religion were Church of Ireland. She was one of 19 girls who were shipped to Australia from Ballyshannon workhouse at the height of the Famine in 1848.
Mary Allingham in Sydney

The first mention of Mary is in the Bench of Magistrates Cases for Wollombi, a rural area to the north of Sydney.  On 28th July 1849 the Police Magistrate wrote
to Francis Merewether, Immigration Agent, referring him to the enclosed
affidavit relating to the conduct of the employers of Mary Allingham.  The Police Magistrate asked the Immigration
Agent to remove Mary from the service of Mr. John Waugh Drysdale and cancel her
apprenticed articles, and “place her in servitude where her morals and her
religious instruction (she being a member of the Protestant Church of England)
may be attended to; at the same time it may be necessary to mention that four
out of seven of the parties who made the affidavits are of the Roman Catholic
Church”.  Mary’s apprenticeship to the
Drysdales had been made on the recommendation of a Roman Catholic clergyman of

On 3rd September 1849 the Police Magistrate again wrote to the Immigration Agent acknowledging receipt of a Memorandum from the Orphan Immigration Committee.  The Magistrate had the honour to solicit that in consequence of Mary having accompanied her employer Mr. Drysdale to the district of Brisbane Water that he may be excused from proceeding under the Apprenticing Act at his Bench.  He begged leave to recommend that the matter be communicated to the Gosford Bench (Brisbane Water district) that it may give the necessary instructions for the Police to protect “that unfortunate female from being led into scenes of immorality and vice at Mangrove Creek, the present place of residence of Mr. Drysdale.”

On 27th September 1849 the Police Magistrate at Gosford wrote to the Immigration Agent referring to previous correspondence (as above).  The Magistrate reported that they had given their constable at Mangrove Creek express instructions to keep a strick (sic) surveillance over the parties and he had informed them that they have conducted themselves since their arrival in the district with every propriety. He begged to decline entering into any enquiries with the case initiated by the Police Magistrate at Wollombi.

The above account of her employment with John Drysdale reveals that, despite early concerns for her welfare, Mary Allingham continued in his service. The report by the police constable at Mangrove Creek, in September 1849, seems to have put an end to concerns over Mary Allingham’s welfare, as he indicated that there were no grounds for further enquiries.

Marriage of Mary Allingham 1852

Three years after arriving in Australia, on the 2nd August 1852 Mary Allingham was married to John Ellem in the Church of England at Gosford (Mangrove Creek) by Alfred Glennie in the presence of John and Harriett Ferguson of Mangrove Creek. Both John and Mary signed with their mark. John Ellem was a son of Richard Ellem and Charlotte Huxley. They farmed, growing corn and rearing cattle until 1871 when John joined his brothers on the long trek northward to the Clarence River. They raised a family of nine which eventually spread over many of the northern states. 
Mary was described as “very small and thin, about five feet tall, had a fair complexion and extremely red hair”. John Ellem was born on 20th December 1832 and died on the 16th June 1916. Mary Ellem (nee Allingham) died on 8th December 1917 and is buried in the old South Grafton cemetery. Her death certificate stated that her parents were Robert Allingham and Fanny Marshall. Mary Allingham is one of 19 girls remembered at the Orphan Girls memorial beside the workhouse in Ballyshannon. The Orphan Girls Memorial is opposite the Fr. Tierney Park and is open at all times

.Ideal Local Book for Christmas

  "Ballyshannon Genealogy and History" available to purchase in The Novel Idea, Ballyshannon Museum, O'Neills, Clearys and Local Hands in Ballyshannon.Available also in Four Master's Bookshop in Donegal Town. For postal details contact

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