My Hetherington ancestors from Fermanagh, Northern Ireland

I’ve decided I would like to blog more often, rather than wondering about whether it is of interest to anyone else. So, if it is interesting to me, I’m going to yack about it. Hopefully it will be of interest to someone else too!

My Mum’s maiden name is HETHERINGTON, and until recently we all assumed that the Hetherington’s were from England. Not quite, it would seem, they were from County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. I was excited when I discovered this because they were the first, and even now the only, ancestors I have from Northern Ireland.

Through shipping records I could see that my 3xgreat grandfather Noble HETHERINGTON came to Australia in 1863 when he was 57. He is listed in the records as a Widower, and as travelling with his daughter Ann (27), son George (my 2xgreat grandfather, aged 24), his wife Jane and their first child John (aged less than 1).

I have spent most of time researching my direct ancestors, but there is only so far you can go via the web, and without visiting local repositories of historical information. I would love to be able to discover all the details myself, (must be the reference librarian gene in me!), but I finally decided I should give in and ask for some help from the professional service provided by the Family History Centre at the Kiama Local Library. They provided me with a huge packet of information that included many pieces of information I am still digesting, 4 months later! One thing that did stand out was that Noble, Ann and George were assisted in their move to Australia by another daughter of Noble’s,  Mary who emigrated 7 years earlier.

My discovery earlier this week however, completely surprised me, although I think I probably should have expected it considering where and when these ancestors of mine headed to Oz. Looking at the fantastic Fermanagh GOLD Members Genealogy Pages which I found trawling through RootsWeb.com mailing lists, I found a transcription of a Lowtherstown Workhouse record from 1847 which suggest that Noble’s eldest children, Mary, Thomas and Ann were “placed” in the workhouse, without their parents. There is no “release” date, and I have done no further research to try to find out when they left the workhouse, but can only imagine the horror that was their life inside – hopefully it wasn’t any worse outside…

Mary, as I already knew, had come to Australia and sponsored her father and siblings to emigrate too. With Mary on that trip came Thomas, who until now I hadn’t paid much attention to until I realised he had been in Lowtherstown Workhouse too – I don’t know why, but somehow this made him more real to me. I know what became of Noble, he passed away in Gerringong 10 years later, and presumably was a little more comfortable than he had been previously.

Noble’s daughter Ann who accompanied him from Nth Ireland I was very curious about now, and decided to see if she had married. By the time she reached Australia she was nearly 28, so I wondered if she had married at all, but quickly found that she had married Charles WILEY in Kiama in 1868. They had 2 sons, Joseph and Samuel, and when I found that, I felt a little more hopeful that she had had a happier life for coming to Australia. I was extremely surprised to make my next discovery, that Ann is buried in the cemetery of the town I live in. I checked this a few times, but here she was! I haven’t been there yet to take my own photo, as I only discovered this in earlier this week in the dead of night, (and I think I will try to go without my small children who could fall down the numerous bunny holes that also litter this cemetery), but think it would be very funny if she is lying close to where my father’s great grandparents are buried – the ones who indirectly started me in earnest on this adventure.