Earl Grey Orphans

Between 1848 and 1850 some 4,414 girls from Irish workhouses were sent to Australia. Of these ninety-four were listed as being from county Tyrone, while ten left from Dungannon workhouse.

Little is known about the departure of the girls, except that they left Dungannon on 25 May 1848 and left Belfast the next day

Brought before a government inquiry into the selection process, George Moon, noted that:

I am the clerk of the Dungannon union and have been so since the formation of the union nearly ten years ago. I recollect a number of young females being selected for immigration to Australia last year. One of the persons named in list of the girls selected, and approve of, died shortly after…and another girl was here or refused to go. As I heard two other girls were sent in the place to make up the number on the list selected and approved, that is 16. I heard that they were substituted and sent in the name of parties…I believe I was aware of it at the time. I believe it was the board of guardians ordered the substitution. I was not aware at the time that they would have to answer at Belfast or any other place in the names of the girls in whose place they were substituted but I was aware that they left this house under the names of the others. The union books show the parties that actually went.

Edward Senior claimed that he had been responsible for selecting the girls in the first place, in conjunction with Mr Way, an ex officio guardian, and the medical officer. The list was reduced to 16 by Lieutenant Henry as there was not room for the whole group in the first ship. Some of the remainder were sent in the second ship. At Belfast I called over the names of the Dungannon party from the return furnished to me by the poor law  commissioners as having been approved of by Lieutenant Henry. The called over the names of the Dungannon party in common with others in the presence of Mr Hogg, the master [of the Workhouse].

On 6 June 1849, before the same inquiry, Hogg admitted that: 

I am the master of the Dungannon workhouse since it first opened seven years past. I recollect the immigration to Australia of young females last year from this workhouse the names of the females finally selected and approved of by Lieutenant Henry were [names not published]. These are the names of the girls finally selected and approved of by Lieutenant Henry but these were not the parties that went the only exceptions were __________ and ________, __________went in the place and under the name of _____ ________, and _______  ___ went into place and under the name of ___ ________. These girls answered in the false names when the list was called over by Mr Senior at the port of embarkation in my presence. I did not tell Mr Senior at the time that the girls answered to false names…… It was the subject of conversation in the boardroom and generally known to the whole board of guardians. The directions given to me by the guardians were verbal. The character of _________  __________was excellent to my own knowledge. I heard that  _____ ______had been a woman of bad character but from my own knowledge I knew nothing against her while she was under my charge in the workhouse she conducted herself very properly.

Speaking of one of the girls, Hogg noted:

I knew that after she had reformed her life that she had been taken under the protection of the ladies of Dungannon and I knew that she had been sent to a penitentiary or House of reformation in Belfast before she came here and I have already mentioned that while here [she was in the workhouse for over three years] she conducted herself remarkably well and I looked upon her as a reformed person and as a religiously inclined girl from my own observation in the workhouse. Mr Wray gave me directions as to sending out ____ ___  in the room of _____. I was directed to do so by the guardians of her electoral division, Drumaspil namely Mr JG Richardson and Mr Richard Lloyd which was afterwards sanctioned by the whole of the board of guardians. 

When they reached Australia, Mary Ward claimed that she had come under the name Anne Hartley, as Mr Senior her told her that this was the name in the book and that she ‘must go under that name’.  


A list of those shipped to Australia can be accessed here: https://irishfaminememorial.org/orphans/database/