James Gilligan

Male 1773 - 1847  (74 years)

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  • Name James Gilligan 
    Born 1773  County Westmeath, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2
    Gender Male 
    _UID A60BC52FBDC648C8B31023F3D1028E63D5C6 
    Died 13 Feb 1847  Avoca, Tasmania, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 3, 4
    Person ID I9233  Treefive
    Last Modified 15 Oct 2015 

    Family Mary Ann Bailey,   b. Abt 1808, Cheddar, Somerset, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 3 Sep 1884, Tasmania, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 76 years) 
    Married 25 May 1830  Launceston, Tasmania, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [5, 6, 7, 8, 9
     1. Rosa Gilligan,   b. 13 Jul 1832, Campbell Town, Tasmania, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
     2. Sophia Gilligan,   b. 2 Jun 1839, Campbell Town, Tasmania, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
     3. James Gilligan,   b. 1845, Avoca District, Tasmania, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
    Last Modified 12 Sep 2019 
    Family ID F2632  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 

    • In Aug 1808, at Mullingar, County Westmeath, Ireland, James was convicted and sentenced to transportation to NSW, Australia. He arrived at Sydney on the ship "Boyd" on 14 Aug 1809.

      In 1814, James was on a list of convicts to be sent to the Derwent. His name was spelt "Kellaghan" or "Gillaghan". There was then a convict settlement at Derwent River (the site of Hobart Town, now simply Hobart).

      He was on a Convict Register of Conditional and Absolute Pardons which indicated that he had been granted an absolute pardon in New South Wales on 31 Jan 1820. But he was on a Settler and Convict List which indicated that he had been granted a conditional pardon.

      James Gilligan was requested, alongside 9 other convicts, to travel to Tasmania from Sydney (Governor Macquarie was in office at the time). In the 2 years before that, there was a drought in Sydney and many farms in Sydney had failed. Also at that time Hobart establishment were asking Sydney for convicts as numbers were reducing in Tasmania - the ones they had had moved on (sentences expired etc) and they needed workers. Perhaps these factors could be part of the explanation of why James Gilligan was moved to Hobart. Once fully pardoned he was able to take up a land grant. The government was were trying to encourage convicts who had served their sentences to settle, rather than return to Europe.

      James received his free pardon on 20 Sep 1926.

      James had a range of other interactions with authority:
      14 Dec 1819: fined 5/- for being drunk and disorderly;
      20 Sep 1827: charged with stealing a heifer, but was discharged, there being no evidence;
      25 Jul 1829: fined £10 for retaining liquor without a licence;
      13 Jan 1831: harbouring Thomas Mount a prisoner of the Crown illegally - charge dismissed; and
      18 Jun 1831: fined £2 for keeping a dog without a licence.

      Vol 40 No 21 2008 of "The Valley and East Coast", printed and published by Voice Valley Voice Publications at St Marys, on the east coast of Tasmania, has an interesting historical article on James Gilligan's property, Clifton Lodge. Thanks to Jim Haas for permission to reproduce the article:
      "Clifton Lodge"

      In 1820 explorer Henry Rice came up the east coast of Van Diemens Land to Falmouth, scrub bashed his way through the foothills of St Patricks Head and discovered the eastern end of the Fingal Valley. The area we now know as the Break O' Day Plains.

      He followed the Break O'Day and South Esk Rivers until he reached the Tamar River and Launceston, where he reported to the Colonial Government what wonderful fertile land with an ample supply of water he had found.

      Although it was not reported in his journal, one wonders if he came across James Gilligan who, it appears, had already settled on a grant he named "Clifton Lodge". The grant, which was a few miles east of the St Pauls River, consisted of 1600 acres overlooking the South Esk River and what we now know as Ormley Flats.

      Well known surveyor-explorer John Helder Wedge reported staying at "Clifton Lodge" when he surveyed the Avoca — St Pauls area in 1825. The most significant journal entry, however, was from Roderick O'Conner and Peter Murdock who visited "Clifton Lodge" in 1827 whilst working for the Land Commissioner. They reported James Gilligan had been there for a little over seven years, which meant he should have been there when Rice passed through in 1820. It would also appear from these records that Gilligan was the first permanent European resident of the Fingal Valley.

      James Gilligan was born in Ireland in 1768. He arrived in Van Diemens Land on the 6th May 1814, and after obtaining his land grant took up residency somewhere around 1819. For the next twenty years he worked tirelessly establishing a sheep and cattle property, rearing a family and building a humble dwelling, the ruins of which are still visible today.

      But by 1840 Gilligan was getting old and put his property up for sale. It appears he had an overwhelming desire to return to Ireland where he could confess his sins much better than he could in what he called "this unchristian place". Also he wanted the traditional Irish wake when he died and he believed that more of his friends and family would attend back in his homeland.
      In 1843, however, whilst District Constable William Ward was a dinner guest at "Clifton Lodge" Riley Jeffs and John Conway, two bushrangers who had been terrorizing the district for months, raided the homestead. Constable Ward tried desperately to defend his friends and their property but in the scuffle was shot dead by one of the "misguided" men.

      The Lieutenant-Governor immediately put up a reward of one hundred sovereigns plus a free pardon with a free passage home for information leading to the apprehension of Jeffs and Conway. The murderers were captured soon after, but only after their gun powder became wet during a storm. They were both hanged together in Launceston.

      At the trial Gilligan told how greatly shocked he was over the events of that fateful night and his health was deteriorating as a result. He died on the 13th February 1847 at the age of 79 without selling "Clifton Lodge" or returning to Ireland. He was buried near his home and his headstone still marks his grave today.

      Gilligan's wife, Mary Ann, remained at "Clifton Lodge" for a few years. Indeed, the census of 1848 indicates the residence was of brick and wood with twelve inhabitants. The land was eventually taken over by Mary Ann Cox, who purchased "Ormley" in 1850. Mrs Cox was a well know Van Diemens land coach operator, who had taken over the business after her husband died in 1837.
      "Clifton Lodge" soon acquired the reputation of being haunted by the ghost of William Ward and this story was strengthened when the driver of the coach to Fingal claimed to have met the "ghostly policeman" on the road one moonlight night. By 1860 "Clifton Lodge" was abandoned and has remained that way ever since.

      Or has it? Does the ghost of William Ward still linger there amongst the rubble? Perhaps he has been joined by James Gilligan who was so traumatized by the policeman's death and tormented by the fact he was unable to return to his homeland to die.
      All bunkum you say. Then go and spend a night camped amid the ruins.

      A special thanks to John Mallinson for his research on this story.

      Jim Haas had some additional comments in correspondence with Rex Sinnott in Sep 2014:

      'My research on James has him settled in the Fingal Valley as early as 1820. This is only confirmed by a statement in the records of the local surveyor, John Helda Wedge, who in 1827 stayed with James at Clifton Lodge.
      He stated at the time that James had been at Clifton Lodge for seven years. If this was the case, James was most certainly the first permanent white resident of the Valley. This, however, dose not match with to other records which claims James Grant of Tullochgorum was the first.
      Given that Gilligan is mentioned by Wedge and Commissioner for Lands, Roderick O’ Conner prior to 1827, I believe Gilligan was the first settler to the valley. I have some doubts as to whether it was as early as 1820, because the records show Explorer, Henry Rice, discovered the valley in that year and made no mention of Gilligan.
      Rice would have seen Gilligan you would have thought, as he followed the South Esk River and Clifton Lodge overlooked the river.
      Then again, Rice talked more about the eastern end of the valley as an ideal place to farm and Clifton Lodge was in the western end.
      I still think Gilligan came after Rice, maybe even a year or two.'

      James was in the 1842 census of Van Diemen's Land, in Avoca No. 4 District. He was living at Clifton Lodge, which was built of stone, but unfinished. There were 6 free people in the family, plus four other people living in the house. Only one of these people were dwelling there with James on 31 Dec 1941, and none on census night. The census form gives a breakdown of the 10 occupants by sex, and then by marital status (listed in age groups), civil condition (e.g. born in the colony or not; whether free or not), religion and occupation. There were 9 Church of England and one Roman Catholic - as Mary Ann was Methodist, she was either not living there or was listed incorrectly.

      A seminal event for the Gilligan family at Avoca was the murder of Constable William Ward at their home in 1843. Both James and Mary Ann were present in the house, and they gave evidence at the trial of the men accused of the murder. A report of the trial is at:
      The initial text and James' testimony is set out below:

      R. v. Jeffs, Conway and others
      Supreme Court of Van Diemen's Land
      Pedder C.J., 3 and 4 July 1843
      Source: Cornwall Chronicle, 8 July 1843[1]
      Monday, July 3, 1843
      Before Sir J. L. Pedder, Chief Justice, and the following Jury:-
      Messrs. B Francis, (foreman), G. Goldstraw, W. H. Luckhurst, J. Ferguson, W. Herbert, C. Grant, T Knowles, J McLachlan, E. P. Tregurtha, C Clepham, and J. Webb.
      Riley Jeffs and John Conway were indicted for feloniously stealing one gun, and various other articles, from the dwelling-house of Thomas Massey, on the 4th of May last; and George Ewings and Henry Blunt were indicted for being accessaries after the fact.
      The Attorney-General opened the case, explaining to the Jury that the reason Riley Jeffs and John Conway were now placed on their trial for an offence, comparatively of a minor nature to the one they would yet have to answer for, was, that it was necessary to prove that the robbery had been committed, in order to bring the charge home to the prisoners Blunt and Ewings at accessaries. The Attorney-General stated the case at some length, detailing the circumstances of the robbery at Mr. Massey’s, and pointing out how the evidence bore against the prisoners Blunt and Ewing.
      The prisoner Jeffs, in consequence of his wound, was accommodated with a chair during the trial.

      [Among the evidence were statements from James and Mary Ann
      Statement of James Gilligan on Tues 4 Jul 1843:]

      James Gilligan. - I resided on the Break o’ Day road on the 2nd May last, leading up to the new settlement; it is called Clifton Lodge in the district of Campbell Town; I know the prisoners Jeffs and Conway; I saw them on the 2nd of May about six o’clock in the evening; I was in my sitting-room taking tea with Wm. Ward; I had known Ward since he first came to the settlement; I did not know his name was William, until his wife told me after his decease. My wife and a little girl were in the room at the time beside Mr. Ward. I saw Jeffs first; he came into my hall and stood with his back to the staircase; he pointed a piece in and told us that if any of us moved he would blow all that was in the piece through those that did so. Mr. Ward got up, ran to him, and got hold of him; he stood at the staircase until Mr. Ward got hold of him. The staircase is opposite the door; the stairs are about a yard and a half from the door; the door was open. Mr. Ward’s face was forenent the door; my back was towards it. Mrs. Gilligan’s face was to the door. I turned round and saw Jeffs; Jeffs was in the passage when Mr. Ward seized hold of him; the passage led into the kitchen at one end; and the other to the front door. I did not go into the passage while they were struggling; my wife shut the door and prevented me. After my wife shut the door I heard a shot; it appeared to come from the kitchen; I heard a struggle before I heard the shot; I heard a struggle in the passage; it was a very short time; it might be a minute after Ward seized Jeffs that I heard the shot. I got my wife to open the door, and went down in the kitchen; my wife was with me; the servant woman was also with me; I saw the servant woman in the kitchen after I got there; her name is Sarah Verse. When I went into the kitchen, I saw Ward laying on the ground. There is a small step from the hall into the kitchen. Jeffs, at the time I went into the kitchen, was there; Conway was in the kitchen; there were four men belonging to Mr. Hamilton there also. The prisoners Selby and Rushbrook were two of them. Conway had fire-arms; he had something round his waist, and pistols stuck into it. I don’t recollect that he had any thing in his hands; the hands of the four men were tied. I saw a piece in the kitchen; it was broke. It was at the corner of the dresser on the ground. I don’t recollect how the men’s hands were tied. Conway spoke to me when I went into the kitchen; he said - “get up old man, and go into your room, so I’ll make you go in,” that was all he said, I don’t recollect that Jeffs spoke to me. I laid my hand on the body of ward; I believe Conway asked me if his breath was gone. Ward had his breath at the time, but very weak. There was some wadding on fire on his shoulder; I brushed that off. I did not observe blood. I was in such a state I could not ascertain. I went then into my own room. I saw none of them after. I had a musket in the house. To the best of my opinion, Jeffs came and asked me for my arms; that was after I had left the kitchen; I cm certain Jeffs asked me for my arms; I cannot recollect if I told him what arms I had; I think I told my wife to get him the musket; I think I saw my musket in Jeffs; hands coming down stairs; I told my wife to go up stairs and get him the musket; Jeffs went with my wife; they went towards the room. The party remained a very short time after that. A man of the name of Sewell was in my service that night; he was eating his supper, in the kitchen when the bushrangers came; I saw Sewell a very short time before the bushrangers came in. I don’t know that they took any thing out of my house but the musket; I saw Ward, afterwards, lying in the kitchen; he was dead. It was not a quarter of an hour from the time the shot was fired until I saw Ward dead. I cannot tell how long I laid on my bed previous to seeing Ward dead. Ward was just opposite the door when Jeffs came in; there was no light in the hall; there was a candle in the kitchen, and a candle in the sitting-room; the candle from that room threw a light into the passage, as did also the candle in the kitchen. I was sitting about a yard and a half from the door; the candle in the kitchen was five or six yards from the spot where Jeffs stood. The light was sufficient for me to know a man again. I don’t think any part of Jeffs’ musket was in the room. Ward jumped up immediately and got hold of the man; as soon as they struggled into the kitchen, my wife shut the door, and would not let me go out. I was in the kitchen two or three minutes before Conway ordered me to go to my own room. When I first saw Jeffs, he was standing with his back to the staircase; I had never seen Jeffs or Conway before. Jeffs did not hold his piece to his shoulder. I can’t tell whether Jeffs had any thing on his head. I think he had a grey jacket on; his face was not concealed. I think Conway had a cap on. I smelt wadding that was burning when I went into the kitchen. I was alarmed at the attack; I have never got the better of it since.

      A notice in the Launceston of 19 May 1847 advises that a son was born to the lady of the late James Gilligan Esq. at Clifton Lodge on 27 Apr 1847. It seems unusual that a 79 year-old would have a son - even if his age was wrong, he would probably have been abt 74 at the time of the birth, if a convict record giving his age as 36 in 1809 is correct.

      An unnamed son was born to a W. Gilligan and Mary in 1843. The birth entry has no date, but it is on the same page as entries for Sep, Oct and Nov 1843 and was registered on 28 Oct 1843. There is no informant. This is unlikely to be a child of James and Mary Ann, and may be John Gilligan, whose marriage to Mary Ann Duncan (registered at Fingal) indicated that he was 21 by 15 Sep 1864. Only one son is mentioned in Mary Ann's hospital admission documents in 1860, and James (b. 1845) is the only one with a known birth entry. But there was also the son whom she bore in 1847 after James died. Note that one of John's daughters is named Sophia, the same as one of the daughters of James and Mary Ann. Perhaps there was some relationship between W. Gilligan and James.

      The Launceston Examiner of 24 February 1847 has an interesting letter to the editor following James' funeral on 16 February:

      Sir.-I have to request that you will have the goodness to give the following facts a place in your widely circulated journal.
      On Tuesday last, having attended to pay the last tribute of respect to the remains of a very old and respectable settler, (Mr. James Gilligan, of Clifton Lodge), I was no less shocked than surprised to hear a respectable man in the presence of all assembled state, that on his coming through Avoca he was accosted by the Rev. Mr. Richardson, in the following terms: " Where are you going ?" asked the Revered Gentleman. "To the funeral," was the reply. " Are you a protestant ?" " Yes." " Then if you have any regard for yourself," said the minister, " you will not go there, as they are all drunk, and they are going to bury him in a ditch, and an old drunken carpenter called Young is to officiate as priest."
      Now, Mr. Editor, in order to give the most unqualified contradiction to this unfounded, and uncharitable representation, I need merely state that there was no person drunk, nor the least sign of spirits upon any person there, everything being conducted with the utmost respect and decorum, the burial service being read by a respectable person, according to the Roman Catholic religion, of which the deceased was a member. His remains were deposited beside those of his two children, in a properly enclosed place, appropriated to that purpose on the farm. The standing in society of many of those pre sent on the occasion is of sufficient respectability to render their testimony undoubted.
      I thank God that I have been taught that is the duty of every christian, of whatever denomination, to assist to bury the dead, and to comply with one of the "corporeal works of mercy." The above   facts will be attested by the names of those who were present, if necessary.-I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
      Fingal, February 17.
      [The writer, who was present on the occasion to which he alludes, has given his name, and we therefore publish his communication. So far as he is personally concerned, his character and station are both respectable.-Ed. L. E.]

      James left a will dated 16 Apr 1842. It is yet to be transcribed.

  • Sources 
    1. [S2392] TRE Family tree - Shearer/Murfett Family Tree (owner LesShearer51) on ancestry.com accessed 1 Aug 2014, James Gillinghan.

    2. [S2412] Ancestry.com New South Wales, Australia, Convict Ship Muster Rolls and Related Records, 1790-1849, 1809: James Gilligan.

    3. [S2467] DTH630 Funeral Gilligan, James, DTH630., letter to the editor re funeral of James Gilligan; 24 February 1847; page 6.

    4. [S2468] DTH631 Death notice Gilligan, James, DTH631., death notice for James Gilligan; 24 February 1847; page 4.

    5. [S983] ancestry.com Australia Marriage Index, 1788-1950, 25 May 1830 Tasmania: Mary Ann Bailey and James Gilligan.

    6. [S2380] BAC Tasmanian convict biographies, 26 July 2014; biographical details of Mary Ann Bailey, Tasmanian convict.

    7. [S2392] TRE Family tree - Shearer/Murfett Family Tree (owner LesShearer51) on ancestry.com accessed 1 Aug 2014, Mary Ann Bailey.

    8. [S2507] MAR411 Marriage Gilligan, James and Bailey, Mary Anne, James Gilligan.

    9. [S2884] MAR437 Marriage Gilligan, James and Bailey, Mary Anne, Gilligan, James and Bailey, Mary Ann.