Patrick Hanrahan
(1784-1858)

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Patrick arrived in Australia as an eighteen year old convict in 1802 aboard Atlas. Nothing is known about his childhood or his antecedents. He had been tried at Loughrea on 25 March 1801 and sentenced to transportation for life.

Two ships called Atlas arrived in Sydney during 1802. The first, known as Atlas 1 arrived on 6 July and the second, Atlas 2, arrived on 30 October. The first was full of Irish rebels from the 1798 uprising and was a hell-ship on which an inordinate number of convicts died, some whilst being carried between the ship and the hospital in Sydney. The avaricious captain, Richard Brooks, was tried and he would have hanged if not for a legal technicality. He later returned to NSW and became a magistrate! There was no loss of life on Atlas 2.

It is not clear whether Patrick was transported to Australia on Atlas 1 or Atlas 2. When Patrick's Conditional Pardon was granted on 5 June 1815, his ship was recorded as Atlas 1, the 1798 rebel's hell-ship. It is unlikely, however, that Patrick, at 14, was involved in the uprising. It seems more likely that his conviction related to a petty crime committed when he was 16 or 17. In that case, the Atlas 2  is more likely. Nevertheless, he is known to have maintained close ties with the Irish community in NSW throughout his life.

Seven years after arriving in NSW, Patrick fathered a child, William Henry (sometimes known as James), with Euphemia Young. The child was born on 9 November 1809 at Castlereagh. Two more sons followed: Patrick (born 24 September 1811) and Dennis (born 27 March 1813), both born at Castlereagh. Many Irish people were established on and near South Creek as it meanders from the Campbelltown area, through Mt Druitt and on to the Hawkesbury near Windsor. It is apparent that Patrick and Euphemia lived on some land on Ropes Creek near South Creek (where the suburb of Mt Druitt now stands).

In July 1814, Patrick was one of a party of 24 convict labourers and 13 convict specialists that built the first road over the Blue Mountains under the direction of William Cox. The road was built from the corner of Woodruffe's Farm, opposite Emu Plains on the Nepean River, crossed the Blue Mountains and from thence to Bathurst, a distance of one hundred miles. The mountain terrain was incredibly challenging for a road builder; and yet, the road was completed within 8 months!

The building of the road was very important to the colony at that time. The colony had been in existence for 26 years and was hemmed in by the mountains during all of that time. Despite numerous attempts, a route across the mountains was not discovered until Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth succeeded in 1813. Governor Macquarie immediately sought to have a road built in order to expand the colony's resources. The 1812 drought had exposed, once again, the tenuous existence of the colony unless more land could be found.

All of the convicts that worked on the road were granted emancipations. Patrick's Conditional Pardon was granted on 5 June 1815.

In the following year he chose to marry Euphemia. It is not clear why he had not done so earlier. It may be that he was not free to do so as a convict. It may be that he did not wish to marry except through a Catholic ceremony. Church law allowed that if no priest was available within a given time, a marriage was regarded as lawful. In any case, he and Euphemia were officially married by the Anglican Henry Fulton (himself a convict from the 1798 Irish rebellion) on 15 April 1816. Their son Dennis (aged 3) was baptised the same day but 6 year old William and 5 year old Patrick were not.

In January the next year, the couple's 4th son, John, was born at Castlereagh. Three months later, the baby was baptised at Christ Church, along with his brothers, William and Patrick. A fifth son, James, was born in 1822, also at Castlereagh.

It appears that Patrick and Euphemia went their separate ways around this time. Patrick placed a notice in the Sydney Gazette on 8 November 1822 cautioning that his wife was not to be granted credit on his account.

Three years later, Patrick became involved with a widowed neighbour, Catherine Burke, nee Hogan. They could not marry because Patrick was already married to Euphemia. Catherine's son, Michael Burke, was born circa 1824 at Campbell's River in the Bathurst District. He was adopted by Patrick Hanrahan and was thereafter usually known as Michael Hanrahan. A year later, Patrick and Catherine's first child, Phillip, was born on 16 October 1825 at Mt Pleasant (Bathurst district). It appears, therefore, that Patrick and Catherine moved from Ropes Creek to the Bathurst District in 1824.

After seven consecutive sons, Patrick must have despaired of ever having a daughter. Nevertheless, the first of five daughters, Mary Ann, was born in the winter of 1828. Patrick and Catherine were back at South Creek for the birth, probably so that Catherine could be near her family. The remaining children born to Patrick and Catherine were Margaret (10 December 1830 at Parramatta), Anne Blanche (3 January 1833), Bridget (circa 1839) and Sarah Jane (3 October 1843 at Brisbane Valley in the Bathurst District).

Patrick's farming, grazing and animal husbandry activities were very successful. He acquired several properties during his life and, with the help of his many children and their husbands and wives, used them to very good effect. His organisational skills were apparently very good.

He was, surprisingly, a well-educated man who wrote a fine hand despite the very hard physical labour that he undertook throughout his life. His fine handwriting is apparent in the intermittent diary that he kept from 1848 until his death. When and where he learnt to write so well is open to conjecture when one considers that by the time he was 18 he had been tried, convicted and transported to Australia. One possibility is that he had commenced training for the priesthood during his teenage years, but we will probably never know for sure. It is apparent, however, that he was a committed Catholic all his life and was generous to the priests when they visited.

In late 1850, Patrick and Catherine received word that Euphemia Young had died. Patrick was now free to marry and so he and Catherine were married on 15 January 1851, 25 years after their first child, Philip, was born.

He was obviously a canny man. Evidence of this can be seen in the pre-nuptial agreement that he arranged before he consented to allow his daughter Mary-Ann to marry John Kessey in August 1857. Kessey's family had a reputation for dishonesty and Patrick made sure that the land that he bestowed upon Mary-Ann as a wedding gift was in her name alone and that her future husband could not get his hands on it. This suspicion proved to be well-founded; John Kessey spent several periods in Bathurst gaol for stealing over future decades but his family was always able to rely on the produce from Mary-Ann's land.

Patrick's will reveals a thoughtful, well-prepared and fair-minded man. When he died (aged 74) in 1858, his many goods and chattels were divided amongst his family in a manner that should have satisfied all who he left behind.