1822 Markham

Introduction and Summary   –  The Edmund Markham Story.

My great great grandfather, Edmund Markham (1802-1866),  arrived on the ‘Mangles’ in 1822.

The story of his family in Ireland prior to his arrest, his transportation to the Colony, and life in New South Wales, is being put together. In the meantime,

………..Early generations of his Outline Descendant Tree are here;

………..The story of Markham’s Arrest and Trial  is here.

………..The unsolved puzzle re his whereabouts in 1823/1824 is outlined here.


Edmund Markham was born in 1802, most probably in County Limerick. Where and when are not known at present. When his sister, Anne Catherine, emigrated on the ‘Herald’ in 1845, the Immigration officer noted her parents as James and Ellen, deceased. However, examination of other contemporary immigration documents suggest that the ‘deceased’ referred only to the father. There was an Ellen Markham living in Chapel Lane, Rathkeale in the 1851 Griffiths Valuations, which document lists only one Markham in the whole of Co. Limerick. This was more likely to have been his widowed mother.

His grandparents on his father’s side were probably Edward Markham and Mary McGrath originally from Co. Clare but living in Limerick City when their son James was baptized at St Mary’s Church, Limerick City on 10 July, 1783. The parent/grandparent probabilities are discussed later .

 Edmund may have had other siblings. A Timothy and a Patrick Markham were arrested in Rathkeale under the Insurrection Act in 1824, but acquitted and released. A Daniel Markham is in the 1825 Croagh Tithe Applotment Book. (It was in Croagh Parish where the family probably lived at the time, rather than the nearby Town of Rathkeale.)

Edmund (listed as Edward) was the first person arrested after the promulgation of the Insurrection Act in February, 1822 – at 3 a.m.! He was charged with having a box (two) of pistols in his house at Mt Brown (3 miles outside Rathkeale.) Such conduct came within the Act’s definition of “Idle and Disorderly” which attracted a Seven Year sentence if convicted. We’ll never know what was behind his retort to the magistrate who said ‘…he was a fool to bring such desolation and trouble upon himself.’ He replied “It can’t be helped now.”

He was convicted, sentenced to seven years (consistent with all 1822 Insurrection Act cases), and was immediately moved to Cove of Cork for transportation to the Colony of New South Wales. He ship was the “Mangles” which arrived Port Jackson in November, 1822. There, he was assigned to a landholder as an agricultural worker. He spent most of his seven years sentence with Magistrate John McHenry of Evan (Penrith NSW) ultimately his property overseer until 1829, when he gained his Certificate of Freedom and moved to the Lachlan district at the limits of European settlement beyond Bathurst.

The name Edward was used on Government documents – arrest, trial, shipping records in Ireland; and land and other official documents in NSW, including many originated by himself. But he seemed, at least in later years to call himself Edmund (only). The names are interchangeable in common use. Note that his (likely) grandfather was Edward. It is interesting to note that a letter in the Post Office ‘unclaimed’ in 1842, possibly from Ireland was addressed to “Edward”. I have in all my recordings, used the name shown on the relevant document, whether it be Edward or Edmund.

“The ‘ lottery’ of the convict system meant that those who behaved themselves and had the good luck of assignment to a decent master, quickly gained Tickets of Leave (enabling them to become self employed). Some few with at least minimal education, or ability to act as overseer for a squatter were well placed to acquire their own station. Two outstanding examples from West Limerick were John Hurley and Edmund Markham. Many others were shown to have prospered on a smaller scale.” [West Limerick Families Abroad, Valerie Thompson pub. 2001.]

Milburn Creek was first seen by white man only a decade before Edmund’s arrival in the early 1830s. Here, until his death in 1866, with his wife Bridget Slattery alongside him, his life was one of  developing uncharted agricultural lands, some beyond the then Limits of Location, coping with floods and drought, with no medical or other services within a week’s ride, bringing up a family and taking part in a society of emancipated Irish, many with the same background as his own – a community which contributed  in so many ways in their day to day life, to nation building. Gormly, J G  wrote in his 1921 book “ Exploration and Settlement in Australia.”-   “The real history of Australia cannot be written without extensive reference to the old pastoral pioneers who, with their flocks and herds, went into the interior of the continent and battled drought, floods and in many instances with the hostile blackfellows.”  The Australian poet, Mary Gilmore, described, in 1918, such a person as Edmund Markham, who cleared and settled previously unexplored land, in her poem “Old Botany Bay”:

‘I’m old Botany Bay;

Stiff in the joints, little to say.

I am he who paved the way

That you might walk at your ease today;

I was the conscript sent to hell

To make in the desert the living well;

 I bore the heat, I blazed the track,

Furrowed and bloody upon my back;

I split the rock; I felled the tree;

The nation was – because of me!

The detail of this life story will be covered in the subsequent sections of this site, though some pars are offered here in order to set the scene:

Edmund Markham:

–          born Co. Limerick, Ireland 1802;

–          sentenced to 7 years under (UK’s) Irish Insurrection Act of 1822;

–          arrived New South Wales November 1822;

–          assigned as agricultural labourer and farm overseer to 1829 in Evan, now Penrith;

–          settled at Milburn Creek in the Lachlan District in the 1830s;

–          died New South Wales 1866;

–          his 600+ descendants.

Edmund Markham’s Australian descendants consist of:

  • 4 children;
  • 32 grandchildren;
  • 65+ great grandchildren
  • 88+ great great grandchildren                                                      
  • 151+ great great great grandchildren.
  • The   4 and five times great grandchildren have yet to be counted. But will reach 300

Thus there were/are more than  600  descendants in Australia, the latest being Daniel Adam DAWES, born Sydney 25 September 2014.


So it is evident that the contribution of Edmund (and Bridget Slattery – also from Co. Limerick b. 1820 – d. NSW 1898) to Australian life and society has been substantial. This young 20 year old  ‘ploughman’, who arrived in the Colony and walked off the ‘Mangles’ with no more than his clothing and his roll of bedding, served his “political” sentence under the (UK’s) Irish Insurrection Act, as agricultural worker, rising to overseer, left as a free man with a warm written reference from his employer of six years, and moved, with his own resourcefulness, industriousness and agricultural skills to settle and develop  lands in New South Wales at and beyond  the limits of European settlement. There he brought up his family, along the way complimented by the local press as

 “…Markhams (being) one of the farming element who form the backbone of the nation”, and where ‘Spring Vale’  was described in the press as “the hospitable home of the Markhams” to which the widely scattered and isolated people came to attend Mass when the priest visited, and also “for a periodical night of dancing.”

He owned some 5000 acres, growing wheat, cattle and sheep, employed 30 men and built a school on his land.

Thus an almost 50 year span stretched from this 20 year old’s transportation, penniless, from Mt Brown in Co. Limerick in 1822, to his death in 1866, after which he was lauded in the local newspaper as ”the late Mr E. Markham, lessee of the Milburn Creek Station, and a highly respected pastoralist”.

Bathurst Free Press.              6 February, 1861

The Markham Monument at Darbys Falls. Emma, Erica, Lexie and Max Murray, 4 x great grandchildren of Edmund Markham . Oct 2017.

“ I came to Spring Vale, the residence of Mr E. Markham; here I was at home – so went in and had a tough yarn with the Patriarch of the Vale, ate some of his Sunday dinner – a fine goose stuffed with no end of good things. The yarn at an end, and my dinner safely stowed away in my own particular paunch, I bid my old friend goodbye and started to follow out the object of my journey.”


But Edmund Markham’s monument is not material, (his agricultural assets were in any case mortgaged). It is his family of descendants:

–          Chief Justice of the Northern Territory and President of the Australian Law Council, and Queen’s Counsel; Head of a NSW Government Department; Australian Ambassador to a number of countries; NSW Magistrate; Mayor of Maclean, NSW; Chief Clerks of Wollongong and Mudgee in NSW; Superintendent, ACT  Ambulance Service; Nurses, one later Deputy  Superintendent, War Veterans’ Nursing Home, Queensland, another transferred to teaching, acquiring a Doctorate of Philosophy;

–          university graduates (law, economics, engineering, library science, business, journalism, pharmacy, arts), including at honours level in law and engineering;

–          several religious Sisters, at least one of whom was a School Principal;

–          many in war service in Gallipoli, France, Asia and Pacific in  WW1 & WW11, including at least three who were killed  on active  service and lie buried in France and elsewhere ;

–          winner of  the George Medal for bravery, in police service in northern New South Wales;

–          holders of Medal of the Order of Australia; British Empire Medal, Queen’s Police Medal, St John Ambulance Medal, as well as war service and national service medals;

–          authors and journalists; winner of Eureka Science Book Prize (for book on the Creutzfeld Jakob Disease issues and history); journalism awards for writings on legal, medical, science and Asian issues; author of books on the practice of law and court procedures;

–          winners of secondary and tertiary Government  education scholarships;

–          one or more of farmers, timber getters, sawmillers, builders (including of the Catholic churches at Darbys Falls and Frogmore, and the Anglican church at Darbys Falls) librarians, musicians, schoolteachers, bankers,  police officers, barrister, structural engineer, chemist, company directors, magazine editor, film director, public servants, and tradesmen.



Nineteenth Century Bathurst Newspaper.

“Go to the Markhams, the Whittys, the Ryans; consult the Newhams, Nevilles, O’Briens,   ……(and other (Catholic/Irish) families in the district)……….For they are the farming element who form the backbone  of the nation, whilst the big station-owning families are going the consumptive way of luxurious living.”

(Catholic Cowra. An Outline of its History. Pub:1939)

Mid 1850s     (Catholic Cowra. An Outline of its History. Pub: 1939)

“A burnished memory of Father Bernard (Murphy) is preserved amongst the heads of the most ancient clans of the Cowra district. The Markhams, Jordans, Whittys, O’Briens and O’Dwyers, the Dalys, the Walshes, Searsons – all are proud to summon up his ghost and give it to local habitation. He is pictured riding down from Mt McDonald into Spring Vale to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice for this closely populated, if isolated, Catholic Settlement. When “Paddy O’Dwyer armed with his fiddle rode with Patrick O’Brien and company from the districts of Morongla and the middle Lachlan to the hospitable home of the Markhams for a periodical night of dancing, we can feel sure that Fr. Bernard somehow graced their happy gatherings.”


Sydney Chronicle 2 October, 1847.

“Arrangements will almost immediately be made for the erection of a church at Carcoar towards which nearly ₤300 has already been collected by the Rev Messrs McGrath and Slattery, including the liberal donation of ₤50 from Mr Markham.”


(Catholic Cowra. An Outline of its History. Pub:1939)

“The first subscribers to the erection of the Catholic Churches of Carcoar and King’s Plains. The list begins thus:

 Mrs Edward Markham    ₤10/0/0                   Thomas Slattery        ₤ 1/0/0


Shirley Best, Red Hill, Grenfell. NSW 2810.

“My mother (Irene Alice [Molly] b. 1898 daughter of Edmund, James’ first son) told me about the ‘big shed’ at Milburn Creek where the convicts [employed by Ed Markham] were tied up. He let them off their chains. They looked after him. Edmund  broke his leg and that led to his death as it never healed properly.


Edmund Markham and Thomas Shaughnessy, later O’Shaughnessy, both from Co. Limerick  travelled to New South Wales together in 1822 on the Mangles, both having been sentenced (at separate trials)  to seven years transportation under the infamous Irish Insurrection Act. We do not know whether they knew each other in Ireland, (though each signed the unsuccessful petition for freedom before departure),  but it is evident from papers and other events throughout their lives that they developed a close relationship which continued into succeeding generations


On arrival they were allocated as a pair to be employed by James Byrne at Appin, some 25 miles west of Sydney town; It appears, however, that Markham was assigned instead to the employ of John McHenry, JP, at EVAN, now Penrith, on the Nepean River while O’Shaughnessy remained with Byrne, each seeing out the remaining years until grant of certificate of leave in 1827; O’Shaughnessy married Byrne’s daughter, Anne, in 1829 and moved some time after 1830 to Milburn Creek where he was employed by Edmund Markham on ‘Spring Vale’, remaining until 1835, when he took up land in different Milburn Creek locations;


John Neville, (also from the Rathkeale/Croagh area), also on Mangles in 1822 was assigned first to John Ryan of Evan, then to John McHenry on 18 January, 1825, five months after  Edmund Markham, and subsequently (perhaps before Markham) took up land at Milburn Creek.


When, in 1856, O’Shaughnessy’s son, Thomas Jnr (who was born in the Milburn Creek area and could later, in his diary, recall walking three miles to school at Spring Vale, Edmund Markham’s place), married Margaret Walsh (whose family came also from Co. Limerick), the witnesses were Edmund and Bridget Markham;


Two years later, James Markham, Edmund’s son, married Ellen Walsh, sister to Margaret and sister –in-law of Thomas O’Shaughnessy Jnr;


Many references in his diary over the next thirty years to spending time – socially, in business, mining, farming, milling, building, births, deaths and marriages – with Markhams, of James’ generation (James and his wife, Catherine (Markham) Nowlan and her husband, next generation – Thomas, Patrick, Doll, Edmund Jnr.



 In the County of Bathurst NSW; on the Lachlan River, with its junction with the Milburn Creek; the estate of Edmund Markham, situated thirty miles from Carcoar.”

[Extract from ‘A Geographical Dictionary or Gazetteer of the Australian Colonies 1848’  by W H Wells. 

[Note: Ballylin Townland in Co. Limerick, three miles from Rathkeale was alongside Mt Brown, where Edmund was arrested ‘in his home’.]


Obituary in the Cowra Guardian, 1898 on the death of Edmund Markham’s widow.

“…her first husband being the late Mr E. Markham, lessee of the Milburn Creek Station, and a highly respected pastoralist. She was the mother of Mr Markham, Sen., of Mt McDonald, and Mrs O’Leary, Mulyan, and amongst her grandsons may be included Messrs. Markham Bros, Sawmill proprietors, of Mt McDonald. Her marriage connections in this district are pretty extensive, embracing nearly all the old pioneer families.




Early generations of his Outline Descendant Tree are here;

The story of Markham’s Arrest and Trial  is here.