It’s a Long Way from Tipperary- the Mackey Family

It has been many years since I started researching our Mackey family. I’m often told I will not be able to research far, because I’m spelling the surname incorrectly, as it should be “MacKay”. I laughingly tell people we are the Irish variety and I do indeed have the correct spelling.

Family research is conducted backwards from the present, generation by generation,with as much documentation as we find. Beginning with my husband, who is the only son of James John and Valerie Mackey (nee Hodgetts), we find ‘James John’ was the only son of James and Honorah Lena Mackey (nee Stapleton). Then ‘James’ was the son of James and Winifred Mackey (nee O’Neill). In the generation before, ‘James’, was the son of William and Sarah Mackey (nee Hadnett). He was born in Dundrum, in the parish of Ballintemple, in the County of Tipperary, Ireland in about 1861, and immigrated to Queensland in 1883. He arrived on board the ‘Woronga”, a steam ship under Captain Fife, which left Plymouth, England on 1 April 1883 and after a passage of several weeks arrived off Cooktown on 5th June and eventually arrived in Brisbane about the 16 June 1883.

James Mackey worked as a labourer, possibly on a farm on the out-skirts of Brisbane. When he married Winifred O’Neill, on 23 May 1885 at St Stephen’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Brisbane, he stated he lived at Happy Valley, Lutwyche.

James and Winifred Mackey had two sons, James b 1886 and Michael b 1887 before Winifred died in 1889.

Little is known of James Mackey Sr for a number of years, but he died in Brisbane Hospital in 1943. His sons, as young children were reputed to have been raised by a Mr and Mrs Kirby.

However, soon after the turn of the 20Th Century, both James and Michael can be found living at Mullumbimby, in Northern New South Wales. For a number of years they worked at Hollingworth’s Timber Mill. Michael later returned to Brisbane. He married Mary Jane Byrne. They were killed in an accident in 1963.

James remained in Mullumbimby and married Honorah Lena Stapleton, the daughter of Michael and Rosanna Stapleton (nee Kane), in 1912. They in turn had two children, James John, b 1914 and Rose Winifred b 1920, both of whom are now deceased.

James John Mackey married Valerie Mary Hodgetts in 1941 and had one son and three daughters.

Rose Winifred Mackey married Norman Joseph Hodgetts in 1941 and they too, had one son and three daughters.

Although James and Winifred Mackey’s descendants are small in number with less than thirty descendants over the five generations in Australia, I am still interested in being in contact with any one interested in researching the MACKEY surname, particularly in Queensland and Tipperary, Ireland.

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A Great Second Fleet Mystery-the Hodgetts Family

Our grandchildren are eighth generation born in Australia and are descendants of Thomas and Harriett Hodgetts, who arrived at Port Jackson on 28 June 1790 on board the Second Fleet.

I have been researching their ancestry on and off for over forty years, long before computers and the Internet, but it is only recently I have had the necessary time to devote to it again.

Originally back in the 1980’s, there was a small band of dedicated descendants of Thomas and Harriet Hodgetts, who searched the records in several libraries and archives throughout New South Wales, Tasmania and Victoria. We corresponded and shared the information with each other. Several of us then contributed monies to have professional research done in Staffordshire, the native county of our Hodgetts ancestors.

Later other branches of the family became involved and this led to family reunions and the publication of the book, “The Brave Old Pioneers 1788-1988-A History of the Hodgetts,” by Richard J Hodgetts.

Much has been written about the Second Fleet and the Hodgetts in Australia in books such as the above mentioned, “ The Brave Old Pioneers” and “The Second Fleet- Britain’s Grim Convict Armada of 1790” by Michael Flynn. Several websites also tell much of the story on particular family lines.

On our Hodgetts ancestry I have collected many documents tracing the family back generation by generation in Australia, from Valerie Mary and James John Mackey (nee Hodgetts); Vernon Edward and Fedalis Hodgetts (nee Finlay); Edward and Jeanette Hodgetts (nee Wheeler); James and Mary Hodgetts (nee Fagan); John and Olivia Hodgetts (nee Lucas) to Thomas and Harriet Hodgetts. Over the last few months I checked and and reassessed all these documents.

Even though some research had been undertaken on the Hodgetts family in England many years ago, it was superficial and incomplete. I have turned my efforts to researching the family in Staffordshire, England. With the use of the Internet to search and identify documents in National and County Archives and Libraries throughout the world, and by using the facilities of the LDS to identify and order microfilms of many the parish records for Staffordshire and London, I have now been able to identify our Thomas Hodgetts. By purchasing documents and laying them out in time and context, I have been able to put together much of his life before he was transported.

Similiarly I have been able to identify his wife, Ann, and their reputed children. By tracing these forward in time, I found no evidence they emigrated to Australia at a later time. In fact they remained in their native place and some of them can be found in the census records, some sixty years later.

It has been suggested Thomas’s wife Ann, changed her name to ‘Harriet’ and came to Australia leaving the children behind. As I can now prove this was not the case, it raises the question, who was the woman who came on the Second Fleet, and later claimed to be ‘ Harriet Hodgetts’ the wife of Thomas Hodgetts?

As this woman is a direct ancestor of my husband’s family, I now need to concentrate on researching her story. A very challenging task indeed. However, I have found a woman I believe is a potential candidate and hope over the coming months with painstaking and in-depth research, I may find the documents to solve this enigma.

Meanwhile, I am writing the story of the Hodgett family in Staffordshire with references and notes to eventually share with the family, but I want to see what I can find on our ‘Harriet’ first.