Monday, April 19, 2010


When I started this blog, I knew about the Fitzgerald family because I had lived in the Hawkesbury district where they were well known.
I wondered if Jimmy Governor's mother, Annie Fitzgerald, had been fathered by one of them.
None of my subsequent research found that she was.
Several convicts named John (Jack) Fitpatrick arrived in the colony, so one of them or one of their descendents may have been Jimmy's maternal grandfather.
I discovered that the Fitzgerald family provided a very interesting snapshot of life in the early colony of New South Wales.
For that reason I have kept the information I found about them and placed it on a separate page on this blog.
I am also providing some of this information here, to save any other researchers wasting time going down the same track.
Jimmy Governor was black and white ...
Jimmy, along with his five brothers and sisters, had Irish as well as Aboriginal blood flowing through his veins.
His mother, Annie, was the daughter of a full blood Aboriginal woman, Polly, and an Irishman, Jack Fitzgerald.
Jack was a stockman, according to Annie, who died before she was born.
Annie told police in 1900 that she had been born on Caigan station owned by a squatter, Andrew Brown, where her mother was a house servant.
She was raised by Polly and a male Aboriginal house servant, Henry.
Polly is said to have been a Wonarua woman from the Hunter Valley.
Caigan was on the Castlereagh River, about 10 miles from Mendoran.
Andrew Brown became very wealthy and was praised for his charitable activities.
[See: Governor family history page]
A wealthy Fitzgerald family owned properties in the Area ...
A convict who became a multi-millionaire after being transported to the penal colony, Richard Fitzgerald (1772-1840), owned large properties in the central-west of New South Wales, where Annie Fitzgerald was born.
He had arrived in Sydney with the Third Fleet and had three sons out of wedlock to his housekeeper, a married woman and fellow convict, Mary Ford, before marrying her in 1815.
The names of his three illegitimate sons were Richard Jnr (1805-22), Robert (1807-65) and John (1812-35).
Richard Snr was adept at managing people and found favour with a succession of governors who rewarded him with land grants.
Starting in 1824, he had acquired rich pastoral land on the other side of the Blue Mountains at Tongy (at Cassilis, later the township of Uarbry), Dabee (five miles east of Rylestone) and Wollar (a village near Mudgee).
The Fitzgerald family file in the Hawkesbury Library at Windsor reveals:
* In 1825 Richard Fitzgerald purchased 5000 acres of portion 1, Tungay, parish of Uarbry on Talbragar River, county of Bligh; [Perrett says it was given to him by Governor Bourke on 3-5-1825.]
* On 2 May 1830 Richard Fitzgerald said he had been on the Wollar land for about five years. [Perrett says the 1,000 acres in the parish Wollar in the county of Philip was given to him by Governor Brisbane on 28-2-1824]
* In September 1834, the Colonial Secretary's Office in Sydney recorded the sale of 790 acres to Richard Fitzgerald at Uarbry bordered by the Talbragar River;
* In 1838 Richard Fitzgerald had 25 assigned convicts on Wollar and three other holdings;
* In 1837, his son Robert Fitzgerald had 12 assigned convicts and one free man on his property, Mogadore, situated between the Talabragar River and Turee Creek;
The Fitzgeralds appeared to have a good relationship with Aboriginal people.
According to The Australian Dictionary of Biography's entry on Richard Fitzgerald: 'His republican and liberal sentiments taught him to treat the Aboriginals humanely, and they in turn led him to Tongy.'
It also says that in 1835, five years before his father's death, Robert Fitzgerald had done the right thing by the Aboriginal people when he had paid cash for the property, Yarraman to Bonegarley, 'King of Yarraman Plains'.
Robert Fitzgerald Snr left his properties, Dabee and Tongy, to his eldest illegitimate son, Robert Marsden Fitzgerald, aged 30. [Source: Perrett].
Because he was named after his father, he would have been known as 'Jack'.
When I discovered the existence of this illegitimate son of Robert Fitzgerald in the Fitzgerald family history by Susan Perrett, I thought he might just have been the father of Annie Governor (nee Fitzgerald).

But he did not die young.
Perett says he was one of the first graduates of the University of Sydney and was admitted to the Colonial Bar in 1860.
He never married and when he died in 1910 aged 74, left a fortune of $76 million (2003 exchange rate)!!
If Annie was born in 1844, Robert Marsden Fitzgerald would have been 9; in 1850, 15; and in 1857, 22.
Perett says he spent his life managing the 15 station properties the family owned.
It is possible he may have worked as a stockman for his father when he was a young man.
It seems that the only way of ascertaining whether or not he was Jimmy's maternal grandfather would be to DNA test descendents of the Fitzgerald and Governor families.
BUT ...
On the death certificate of ANNIE FREE (nee GOVERNOR) it is recorded that her father's name was JOHN.
Was it 'John' Fitzgerald, not 'Jack'?
Deaths of two men bearing the name John Fitzgerald are recorded in 1846 and 1854 in New South Wales.
Neither of these dates agree with Annie's story about him dying within the nine months before she was born (1844, 1850 or 1857).
In November 1840, a John Fitzgerald was a stock-keeper on a station called Yarrabembarra owned by a Mr Oakes.
This property was about 40 miles from Bathurst and 70 miles from the Lachlan River.
He had been a witness to a murder of the other stock-keeper there, John Dillon, by an Aboriginal man called 'Neville's Billy'.
Dillon, 31, had been speared while trying to shut the door to his hut to prevent the perpetrator from coming inside for food.
Perhaps Fitzgerald had decided to look for another job after this and found one at Caigan.
In October 1848, a John Fitzgerald had a property called Mylora (aka Grylora) on the Lachlan River.
AND ...
Richard Fitzgerald had a son named John, but he died in 1835 aged 23.
Annie died at Brewarrina in 1915.
She and her family had been forcibly moved there from Wollar near Mudgee during the murderous rampage of her two sons in late 1900.
Authors, Moore and Williams claim that she is buried on a property where the young Governor family once lived, with her young daughter.
This may have been Alice, Jimmy's older sibling
The NSW Births Deaths and Marriages has recorded in its registry a death of an ANNIE D GOVERNOR at Cootamundra in 1917.
The given name of her father is JOHN.
I do not know who she is, where she fits into the big picture.
Reference: From Convict to Millionaire - The Story of Richard Fitzgerald and family (2003), by Susan Perrett, self-published, Victoria.