Sunday, 3 September 2017

29 September 1851 - John Killion and Jane Feeny marry in Port Macquarie

It appears that John Killion was living in Port Macquarie and working for John Dillon by 1837.  Eleven years later, in 1848, John obtained his conditional pardon. Just over a year later, Jane Feeny arrived in Port Macquarie.    
On Monday 29 September 1851, the 45 year old John married the 18 year old Jane at the home of William and Elizabeth Killion.  William McKee, a minister of the "Scots Church", performed the ceremony and William and Elizabeth were the witnesses.  John and Jane's marriage registration shows that she's a member of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland and he's a Roman Catholic.

Martyn Killion's research has uncovered references to John and Jane in the diary of Robert Heath Hall which is held at the Port Macquarie Historical Society.  Hall was transported to Van Diemen's Land in 1827 and transferred to Parramatta in 1838 with a ticket of leave.  He was subsequently twice imprisoned at Port Macquarie, and finally pardoned in 1851.  Hall performed secretarial and other administrative duties for business people in Port Macquarie in the early 1850s.  He kept a detailed diary which, fortunately, commences four days before John and Jane's wedding and runs for just over a year.

On the day of wedding, Hall records his visit to the house of William and Elizabeth Killion-
"Called at Killion’s after breakfast at home and writing till 10am there. But they so busy providing Jane’s and Killion’s wedding (they were married at Wm. Killion’s house by Rev Mr McKee) that I left and went to Green’s."
On the following day, he records-
"9 called at Killion’s. They very stiff. Then home. Did not ask me in. I saw the wife go upstairs."
William and Elizabeth must have put on a good turn for John and Jane!

Hall's comments suggest a level of closeness and familiarity between the couples.  William and Elizabeth were a married couple who arrived in the Port Jackson on 23 December 1841 aboard the William Jardine as assisted immigrants.  On the immigration records, William and Elizabeth are shown as being from Athlone, County Westmeath - the same place as John.  William and Elizabeth's family name is spelt in a variety of ways and their descendants now use Kellion.

Were William and John related?  So far, we've not been able to prove this with traditional genealogical research.  So we're trying the new "tool of trade" - DNA testing!

Was Jane assigned to work for William and Elizabeth Killion?  Again, this seems possible but we can't find any record of Jane's assignment when she reached Port Macquarie.

From reading the Hall diary and also papers held at the Port Macquarie Historical Society, it's most likely that 22 Clarence Street was both the business premises and residence of William and Elizabeth Killion - the location of John and Jane's wedding. This building is now the home of the Port Macquarie Historical Museum.


While William didn't purchase the property until 1853, it seems that he was operating it as a store for some years prior to that date as all convict labour was withdrawn by 1847.  The following was written after the death of William and Elizabeth's son-in-law, John Ramsey, and gives us an insight into life in Port Macquarie a few years prior to John and Jane's marriage:-
"In 1875, he (John Ramsey) married Hannah Isabella Kellion, daughter of Wm. Kellion.  She was born in Port Macquarie in 1852, her parents having arrived there in 1841.  Her father was well known in the business life of the Port in those early days.  And those were the hard old days, when the chain gang would march down the streets to their work on the roads.  Often he would stand at the door of his store as the gang would be coming down the street, and cut a fig or two of tobacco into small pieces, and throw it on the road in front of them.  He was not permitted to speak to them, or hand it to them, but they were generally allowed to pick it up from the ground.  A face turned with grateful expression toward the donor would be his reward.  Often those unfortunate men would be pleased to find some wild sarsaparilla by the road side, which they might boil to take the place of tea, when without the latter."

When John and Jane married, there were less than 1000 people living in the town and the surrounding region.  The withdrawal of cheap convict labour had an adverse impact on the economy of the area.  It took about a decade for an upturn.  John and Jane were starting their life together in these uncertain times.  Fortunately, we have further references in the Hall dairy which show that John and Jane were very much part of town life.
  • On 8 October 1851, less than two weeks after John and Jane's marriage, there's an interesting reference -"Tozer and John Killion been today to Smokey Cape after GOLD. They saw the sample. It appears it is gold, but the man refused to make it known locally."
  • The next reference is on 4 November 1851 - "11am to Blackwell’s writing about John Powell’s account for him. With him to Green’s. 3g. of wine there. John Killion there. Words with him about some lies he had been telling Green about me."
  • A few months elapse before Hall records that John was at the 11am church service on 15 February 1852.
  • The final reference to John and Jane is on St Patrick's Day, 17 March 1852 - "glass Rum with John Kellion and wife at Kellion’s".
Just over three years after their marriage, John and Jane's first child, Edward John, was born.  

That's where we'll pick up.....

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