Pioneer women – Margaret Curtin

Pioneer women – Margaret Curtin (Mrs John Wiseman).

Margaret Curtin was the daughter of Timothy Curtin and Mary Curtin of Mallow, County Cork, Ireland.  Margaret was baptised in September, 1832 in the parish of Rathcormac.  Margaret had younger siblings named Joseph and Emma.

Margaret Curtin was one of 20 girls from Mallow, Cork who made up over 300 Irish orphan girls who were brought to Australia on the ship, “Pemberton”.  The Royal Hibernian Military School website states “In 1849, when the effects of the Irish potato famine of 1846-1847 were still being felt, a ship load of orphan Irish children left Liverpool via Plymouth for Australia. Numbers vary according to the various reports. Between 307 and 317 girl immigrants sailed in the ship and, of these, 24 were reported to be volunteers from the Royal Hibernian Military School. Although 24 are reported, only 21 are listed in the ‘Disposal List (of the) Pemberton’ prepared for their hand over to the Government Depot 26. The first report of the orphan ship Pemberton is in the Times.”

“The full-rigged ship Pemberton, Captain J.H. Richardson, arrived here from Liverpool on the 12th instant, for the purpose of embarking Irish girls for Sydney.

They (the girls) were selected as follows:- From the Poor Law Union at Rosecrea, 60; Nenagh, 40; Limerick, 50; Kilrush, 30; Lisnakes, 20; Tipperary, 40; Mallow,20; South Dublin, 7; from the Dublin Royal Hibernian Military Asylum, 24; and from the Cork Foundling Hospital. 16; in all 307, under charge of a head matron, 1 school mistress, and 4 sub-matrons. After they had been mustered and sent below, the crew, consisting of 63 persons, were inspected by Her Majesty’s Emigration officer, Lieutenant Carew, R.M., who in addition to some general advice, endeavoured in the most feeling manner to impress upon the minds of the men the propriety of treating the unfortunate orphans with every proper respect during the voyage….Thus in every way the bodily and physical wants of these expatriated girls have been cared for. The mental abilities of those from the unions have received little or no cultivation-scarcely any one can write, and very few can read. To aid them in this deficiency, and to provide suitable employment during the long and tedious voyage is the peculiar object of the benevolent institution denominated the Female Emigration Employment Society, which distributes its donations by the hands of the Rev. T. C. Childs, minister of St. Mary’s, Devonport, a gentleman who (with Mr. Allen) received the orphans on their leaving the main deck of the Pemberton, and was soon actively employed in giving them spiritual and moral advice, in kindly ranging them in classes, supplying them with books and appointing teachers and monitors to instruct them on the passage. The latter were selected mainly from the girls of the Dublin Asylum and the Cork Foundling Hospital, whose education, discipline, and general appearance, reflected credit on the conductors of those humane establishments.’

The Sydney Morning Herald reported the arrival of the Pemberton at Port Phillip, listing its cargo.  ‘The Pemberton, ship, has on board, 11 married couples, 317 single women, 3 male children, and 1 female child, under 14 years old. The above emigrants are principally from the Unions. The Pemberton is a magnificent ship, and the largest that ever arrived in Port Phillip.'”

The S.S. Pemberton, arrived in Port Phillip 14 May, 1849.  Margaret Curtin was recorded as 17 years of age; Roman Catholic; from Mallow, Co. Cork.  The Irish famine memorial database states that Margaret was assigned to work as a house servant to Mr Forster of “Taitalia” at £10 for 1 year.  I have not found anything to confirm where Taitalia was situated, but it appears to have been in the north of the state of Victoria.

What is known is Margaret Curtin ended up in the South Western district of Victoria where she married Englishman Thomas Spalding about 1850 and had two sons; Peter and John.  Thomas Spalding died following a horse riding accident after which Margaret married a second time in 1856 to John Wiseman, who was also from County Cork.  Margaret and John Wiseman had nine children and lived in Kirkstall, Victoria, where John farmed a poor piece of land.

Margaret’s husband, John died at 42 years of age, from tuberculosis just three months after the birth of their youngest son.  Margaret now had a large family to raise on her own, however, her older sons were old enough to support her.

Margaret was to bear a lot of heartache, due to the scourge of tuberculosis which took the lives of a son, Robert at 24 years and a daughter, Elizabeth at 20 years, plus the early deaths of William at almost 3 years of age and Joseph at 6 months.  Another daughter, Margaret died of cancer of the uterus when she was only 26 years of age.  However, Margaret was to see six children married and have children.

Margaret was the mother of 11 children and grandmother of 44.  Margaret Wiseman died on the 8 October, 1912 at Kirkstall, having left the farm to her unmarried son, Timothy Wiseman.


About BeesKnees2013

Interested in family history research.
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4 Responses to Pioneer women – Margaret Curtin

  1. Lloyd Browne says:

    Tiatalia is (or was) a parish of the NSW town of Moama on the Murray. See the Wikipedia article on Moama. The reference is: Riverine Herald (Echuca, Vic. : Moama, NSW : 1869 – 1954) Saturday 15 September 1894 p 3 Advertising.

    • Thank you for your comment. I am glad you dropped by for a read.
      I wonder if Tattalia near Moama and “Taitalia” where Mr Forster was from are the same place? I don’t know if Margaret Curtin spent any time in the Murray river area. I only know that she lived in south western Victoria (Hamilton area, Port Fairy and Kirkstall area).

  2. Rowena says:

    My name is Rowena Curtin and I was relieved to find your research about Margaret Curtin. I am currently researching Irish Famine Orphans from the John Knox, which included my 4th Great Grandmother, Bridget Donovan, who came out on the John Knox in 1850. I decided to research the other girls she travelled out with from the Midleton Workhouse and it’s been intriguing, facscinating and frustrating trying to trace these women and see what happened to them once they came to Australia. On Christmas Day, I found out that my aunt and uncle had been to Cork this year and while hiding out from the intense heat, I’ve done a bit more dabbling and decided to follow up Mary and Margaret Curtin both Irish Famine orphans.
    I’m researching a web of Curtins, Donovans and O’Sullivans from County Cork. I trace my Curtins back to Thomas Curtin and Mary Scannell. Their son, John married Bridget O’Sullivan from Mallow in Sydney in 1855. Their son James, married Charlotte Merritt, daughter of Bridget Donovan and George Merritt.
    I’ve put together a blog about Bridget Donovan. Here’s the link:
    BTW Have you forwarded a link to your blog post to the Irish Famine Committee. I’ve been in touch with Dr Perry McIntyre and Dr Trevor McClaughlin. Here’s the link:
    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Best wishes,

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