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Exploring Australia's Irish Ancestry
Issue 3: November 2009

Spotlight on:
Sir Henry Browne Hayes

Sir Henry Browne Hayes is one of our favourite convicts this month. A very colourful character, he was the Sheriff of Cork before being transported for abducting a heiress. 

His antics continued in the colony, but he’s probably most famous for being the first owner of the lovely Vaucluse House in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. Hayes purchased the land in the early 1800s, employing two Irish convict stonemasons to build a two-room cottage for him. 

Hayes surrounded the building with soil that he'd brought from Ireland to keep the snakes away. His theory was that because there were no snakes in Ireland, the soil would keep out Aussie snakes. 

William Charles Wentworth later purchased the property and the gothic splendour that we see today (pictured below right) was built. Wentworth said later that he had never seen a snake in the area where Hayes had laid the precious Irish soil.

Hayes' complete biography will be available soon from Irish Wattle. If you’re in Sydney scroll down to check out the Kitchen Tea the Historic Houses Trust is hosting at Vaucluse House on November 14.

Find your family

Vincent Shekleton, a descendent of Anne Slater from Dublin who arrived on the Queen in 1791, would like to contact anyone researching Anne from her first or second marriage. Vincent can be contacted at

Barbara Butler would like to contact those researching Laurence Butler. Laurence was sentenced to transportation for life for his role in the 1798 rebellion and arrived on the Atlas 2 in 1802. Barbara can be contacted at

News and Events

Event Women of The Rocks
Presented by Dr Margo Beasley and the City of Sydney Historical Association
The economy of early Sydney was, in many ways, dependent on the enterprise and hard work of women. Convicts, wives or partners of the early European inhabitants, they supported themselves and their families by managing the pubs, the shops and lodging houses of the colony. 
Dr Margo Beasley is the Oral Historian of the City of Sydney and has studied the contribution of those women. She will talk about their contribution to the colony.
When 14 November 2009, 2.30pm
Where Ultimo, Sydney
Contact the City of Sydney Historical Association for more information.

Event Conservation clinic
Presented by State Library Queensland
Do you have a rare book, artwork on paper, manuscript, document, map, old photograph, film or object that you want to know how to care for correctly at home? Each month SLQ conservation staff are available for one-on-one consultations to look at your personal treasures and offer advice on how to maximise their longevity.
When 12 November 2009, 1-3pm
Where Meeting Room 1A, Level 1, State Library Queensland
Contact the State Library Queensland for more information.

Event The Kitchen Garden: 10 Years On
Presented by Historic Houses Trust, New South Wales
In 1999, after intensive research and an archaeological dig, work began on reinstating the Wentworth family's kitchen garden. The gardening team will demonstrate their techniques of double digging and trellis construction, followed by a tour of the estate and a sampling of produce that graced the Wentworth's dining table.
When 14 November 2009, 1.30-4.30pm
Where Vaucluse House, Vaucluse, Sydney
Contact the Historic Houses Trust for more information

Spread the word

We often put genealogists in touch with others who are researching the same ancestor. So we thought we'd make this a regular part of our newsletter! If you'd like to know if anyone else is researching your ancestor transported from Ireland between 1791 and 1806, please contact us and we'll include your details in our next issue so people can contact you. 

Similarly, if you have an event coming up related to convict history, or a recent publication you would like to let people know about, please contact us
 with the details and we'll include it in our December newsletter.

Irish Wattle in the press

The Irish Echo newspaper talks to Irish Wattle. Read the article here.

Read what the Society of Australian Genealogists (SAG) thought of The Irish Vanguard here. 

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Sydney 1824. Courtesy 
National Library Of Australia

Vaucluse House, Sydney

Courtesy Historic Houses Trust

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