|Shared note|| A short biography of William Purnell and Bridget Murray and their families by Marion Purnell |
William Purnell was born on 26 Jan 1795 at Berkeley, Gloucestershire, England. William was found guilty of committing a crime but we don't know what that crime was. He was sentenced to seven years imprisonment and transported to New South Wales.
The convict ship 'Larkins' sailed from Portsmouth, England in July 1817 with 250 male convicts on board including William. On arrival in Sydney in Nov 1817, 247 convicts embarked. Three had perished on the voyage. The journey took 125 days. William was listed as 22 years of age, 5ft 9 inches in height, sallow complexion, dark brown hair and hazel eyes. He was described as a carpenter.
On arrival in Sydney, William was forwarded to Parramatta for distribution and was assigned to work for William Lawson on a selection near Camden.
Bridget Murray was born in Dublin in about 1795. She was convicted of stealing stockings in Dublin City in October 1815, sentenced to seven years and transported to New South Wales.
Bridget arrived in Sydney on the convict ship 'Canada' in March 1817. She had a 6 year old son called Edward Welsh with her and she must have been pregnant because her daughter Bridget Welsh was born in early 1818 at the Female Factory at Parramatta. Bridget was about 22. The Female Factory was the destination of all convict women transported to the colony before most were assigned to settlers to work as 'domestic servants' or married off to male convicts.
Bridget and Felix Hare/O'Hare, another convict who arrived from Ireland in the ship 'Fanny' in 1816, were married in June 1818 by the Rev. Samuel Marsden in St. John's Church, Parramatta with other convict couples whose marriages he arranged. Besides being known as the 'flogging parson' because even by the standards of his day, he inflicted severe punishments, the Rev. Samuel Marsden was also known as the 'marrying parson' because he would go to the female factory and choose six of the most presentable prisoners, put them in a line-up and have single male convicts walk up and down in front of them and choose one to marry. This was done by the man dropping a scarf or handkerchief at the feet of the woman of his choice. If she picked it up, the marriage was virtually immediate. That way they got rid of prisoners early and got the convict men off the Government lists for supply of foodstuffs because they gave the couple a bit of land and left them to their own devices in the hope that they would become self-sufficient.
In January 1819, two years after arriving in Sydney, Bridget applied to place Edward Welsh her son in the Orphan School at Liverpool because she was by then married to Felix Hare and had her baby daughter Bridget Welsh to care for. Edward would have been about 8 or 9.
Bridget then gave birth to John Hare in 1819 and Thomas Hare in 1821. On the 1822 muster, Felix O'Harra (convict ship 'Fanny') is shown as being a landowner at Parramatta with 3 children - Bridget Welsh, John Hare and Thomas Hare.
In April 1823, Bridget's husband Felix Hare was tried and acquitted of highway robbery, but was convicted of assault and gaoled.
While Felix was in gaol, Bridget was ill in Parramatta Hospital awaiting the birth of their third child Felix Jr. and, in August 1823 petitioned the Government to place her daughter Bridget Welsh into the Orphan School stating that she herself was ill in hospital and her husband in gaol. Her daughter Bridget would have been about 6 years old. This document is the only one that gives the name of the supposed father of her daughter Bridget Welsh (father James L. A. Welsh). Bridget Welsh must have been conceived in Ireland, or on the voyage to Australia. At least Bridget Murray she was consistent in naming her first two children with the same surname which she herself used later on occasions, along with Hare, O'Hare, Welsh, Walsh and Purnell. Bridget Welsh would have been trained at the Orphan School in domestic service, and remained there for 7 years until 1830 when she was assigned to a Mr Weiss, a missionary.
After Bridget recovered from the birth of Felix Jnr and after she had put her daughter Bridget in the Orphan School, and while her husband Felix was still languishing in gaol, she moved in with William Purnell. In April 1823 Bridget was granted her Ticket of Freedom. William received his Ticket of Freedom in March 1824.
The 1825 muster shows Bridget Murray, convict ex 'Canada' living with William Purnell at Bringelly near Camden. William was now listed as free and employed by Jonathan Hassell on the selection called 'Bringelly'' near Camden. William was substantially improved in circumstance. He had five head of cattle of his own and was able to support a Government man to help. He petitioned again for a grant of land and on 22 March 1825, received his land grant.
William and Bridget did not marry. Bridget was still married to Felix O'Hare at the time.
In June 1825, Bridget and William had a daughter Mary Purnell (Simon Peter's aunt) who was baptised at St. Peter's Anglican Church Campbelltown.
In July 1826, William was charged with the theft of tools from his employer Jonathan Hassell and sent to prison. Meanwhile, after 7 years, Bridget's first son Edward was discharged from the Orphan School in August 1826 into the employ of Jones and Walker, two Sydney businessmen who, among other things they did, ran whaling ships.
And once again, while her partner was locked up, Bridget was pregnant and gave birth in October 1826 to another daughter Sarah Purnell (Simon Peter's aunt). Bridget was about 31 years old. She was using the name Welsh at the time.
While Bridget was living with William Purnell at Bringelly, her husband Felix O'Hare was living at Prospect and missing his wife. In Jan 1827 he petitioned the Archdeacon to make her return to her marital home. He drew the Archdeacon's attention to the fact that Bridget was also petitioning him to have William Purnell released from prison. Felix pointed out that "William Purnell is living in adultery with my wife Bridget Murray or Hare after bearing three children to me, two of whom I keep at school at Prospect, the other one she keeps against my inclination with her. We were married more than eight years ago by the Rev. Mr. Marsden at Parramatta."
His petition goes on to say "Sir she has also two children by said Purnell and is continually with him in the prison which is contrary to all laws, Human and Divine that such adulterous intercourse should be permitted. She and he now reside thirty miles from where I reside so that the inhabitants of the Cowpastures who signed her Memorial thought her to be his wife. I beg of your honour to command her to show her marriage lines wherein you will find what I say to be true, which I pray you make known to His Excellency. I am, Sir with great respect, your obedient servant, FELIX HARE. Prospect, January 22 1827."
William was listed in the census of 1828 at Clarence Street Sydney with his daughters Mary Purnell and Sarah Purnell aged about 3 and 2. Bridget Murray was not listed. Whether William was living there or just visiting is not known. (His son Stephen Purnell (Simon Peter's father) was born in about 1829).
In 1830, Bridget Murray (calling herself Bridget Welsh) petitioned The Honourable Archdeacon Broughton as follows:
"The Humble memorial of Bridget Welsh showed that your memorialist arrived in the colony under transportation for seven years, but who is now free, and that on her arrival, being unable to support her family availed herself of the indulgence granted to her in putting one in the Orphan School who has been subsequently assigned from thence to a Mr. Weiss of Sydney.
That your Memorialist is now in circumstances capable of maintaining her child and Mr Weiss to whom she has been assigned, is willing, provided the sanction of the public authorities be obtained to part with her.
That therefore your memorialist most humbly and respectfully exhorts this indulgence may be granted to her and for which she will as ...duly bound over pray, BRIDGET WELSH" (her mark).
Bridget Murray claimed to be in favourable circumstances and able to look after her child Bridget Welsh then aged 13. We don't know exactly what those circumstances were. We do know that by then she had six children to care for between the ages of 11 and one (John, Thomas and Felix Jr. O'Hare and Mary, Sarah and Stephen Purnell. Perhaps she thought that Bridget Welsh could be useful an extra hand in caring for the children. Bridget was granted her request and her daughter Bridget Welsh was released into her care and went on to no doubt assist with bringing up her younger siblings and at age 17, married another convict - Daniel Fowler in 1835.
Bridget Murray did not stay in favourable circumstances for long because in December 1831 she was committed for trial for assault on Judith Doyle, who resided near Market Wharf. Judith Doyle swore in court that she was sweeping at her front door when Bridget Welsh commenced abusing her in a gross manner. She stated that she took no notice of Bridget and was about to enter her home carrying her child when Bridget threw a piece of wood at her which nearly knocked her down and then followed her into her house and pushed her down and she and her child fell to the ground.
Judith Doyle alleged that Bridget then tore her dress and tore her hair out and this assault took place without the slightest provocation. Bridget also threw a knife at her and broke nearly all the glass in the windows of her house. It certainly sounded like Bridget went on a rampage, probably fueled by alcohol, and so of course she was put in Darlinghurst gaol where the records show she was from 20 December 1831 until 20 July 1837. So we assume that she was still in gaol and missed the wedding of her daughter Bridget Welsh to Daniel Fowler in 1835.
Bridget Welsh's husband, Daniel Fowler was himself a convict who was tried for burglary and passing counterfeit coin in Taunton Somerset in March 1831. The original sentence was 'to be hanged'. The charge of passing counterfeit coins seems to have been dropped and the judgment passed on the charge of breaking, entering and stealing. He was sentenced to 'life' in August 1831. He arrived in Australia on the ship 'Isabella' in 1832 aged 24 and was sent to work with Frederick Guilding of Sydney. He had a de facto relationship with Mary Gunny, an Irish orphan who was 17 when she sailed to Sydney on the ship 'Red Rover' arriving in August 1832. The ship was full of young Irish women from orphanages who were brought out to fill the shortage of suitable brides for the convict men. Daniel and Mary had a son Daniel Gunny, born in 1835.
In 1835 after Mary Gunny's relationship with Daniel Fowler ended, she took up with another convict, Denis Lynch. She changed her son Daniel Gunny's name to Denis Lynch after the 'new' father. Daniel Gunny/Denis Lynch died in 1895 aged 59 as a result of a fracture to base of skull after a fall from a horse.
Daniel Fowler married Bridget Welsh in 1835. Daniel's life sentence was pardoned in December 1847. Daniel and Bridget had 9 children between 1837 and 1856. Daniel died in 1855. Bridget married again in 1862, this time to Robert Grimwood who lived only until 1863. Bridget and Robert had 6 months together.
Bridget Welsh/Fowler/Grimwood never married again and died alone in 1889 at Camperdown of breast cancer. Photograph of Bridget Welsh above. It is interesting to note that Bridget Welsh never once during her life on any official document, acknowledged that Bridget Murray was her mother. I suppose after reading labour Bridget Murray's life, one can sympathise with her. And convict ancestry was not something to be proud of in those days.
Bridget Murray and William Purnell's last child, Stephen (Simon Peter's father) was born in about 1829. Some time after this, William and Bridget Murray parted company. We can surmise that Bridget's extended period of 6 years between 1831 and 1837 in gaol might have been a contributing factor in their separation.
We don't know what happened to Bridget after she and William separated. Because a lot of the records of this early phase of settlement do not contain much detail, and because Bridget Murray was a common name, we have not been able to find out when Bridget Murray died but we did find one death certificate that could be hers - in 1852 a Bridget Hare, a Catholic aged 70 died at Emu Plains so we think, because her only legal marriage was to Felix Hare, that this could have been her.
In Dec 1838 William was listed as a settler at South Colo, Barowra (Berowra). He was mentioned as a farmer of industrious habits and possessed 50 acres of land which supported himself and his family. We don't know who exactly was in this family. He applied to have the adjoining 12 acres of land sold to him by the Government Regulations to add to his property.
At age 44, William married Mary McCallum/McKinnon in 16 February 1839. William and Mary had no children. On 6 December 1871 at age 76, William died at the house of his daughter Mary and son in law James Errol Boyd at Lane Cove from heart disease and dropsy.
NOTE: CEME St. Thomas Church of England Cemetery