30 October, 2011

The Marriage of Martin Gleeson, witnessed by Martin O'Loughlin

Original text found here:

Martin Gleeson's tombstone carries the words "A native of Gowran Kilkenny". He was baptised there at the Roman Catholic Church on 28th September 1825, with Thos. Butler and Judy Dunphy as sponsors. This was around the time of the Tithes War which started in County Kilkenny, and added to the political tension as Catholic farmers were objecting to paying tithes to the Established Church of Ireland. It coincided with a period of recession when both the price of corn and livestock slumped simultaneously. The mid 1840s then saw the Irish Potato famine which caused the death of a million people in Ireland and the emigration of another one and a half million. It appears that the Gleeson family made the decision to joined the emigrants and over a few years Martin and seven brothers and their parents all arrived in Australia. The names of his brothers were John, Patrick, Edward, Michael who were older than Martin, and Joseph, Thomas and James who were younger.

Martin travelled to Australia via the ship "Constance", from Plymouth, England, and disembarked at Melbourne on 28th November 1850. He was an assisted immigrant recorded as an intermediate passenger, with his occupation shown as Labourer; religion as RC; year of birth as c1825 and place as Kilkenny, Ireland.

The "Constance" was a barque of 578 tons, measuring 120.5' x 26.8' x 19.8', built at Ayre's Quay, Co. Durham in 1848 by William Henry Parson. It sailed under the command of Capt. John Bulwer Godfrey.

On 15 February 1855, at St Mary's Catholic Church, Geelong, Martin, then aged 30, married Margaret Butler, originally from Coan, Kilkenny, but then of "The Springs","(now known as Waubra) Victoria, although the marriage certificate show "The Heads". Martin's occupation is shown as "Shopkeeper". The celebrant was Fr John A Parker and witnesses were Martin Loughlin and Bridget McNally.

This Martin Loughlin was also a native of Kilkenny and was destined to become one of the richest men in the colony of Victoria through his membership of a small syndicate whose "Band of Hope" mine yielded a world famous treasure of millions of pounds worth of gold. There is no evidence that Martin Gleeson was a member of the syndicate, although there is a story that he once handed Martin Loughlin 2 handsfull of sovereigns to overcome a cash shortage to complete a project, so perhaps he was repaid generously. Martin Loughlin died unmarried. He gave generously to charities. One of his legacies was for the erection of a church in Kilkenny city, large enough to hold 1,000 people. It is named St John the Evangelist" and cost 40, 000 pounds to erect late in the 19th century.

The parents of the bride and groom were respectively shown as Maurice Butler, farmer, and Anne O'Brien, and Edward Gleeson, shopkeeper, and Mary Lyons.

The bride's father was a descendant of the Butlers who originated from the appointment by King Henry 11 of England of Theobald de Valognes, a Norman Knight, as his chief Butler for Ireland in 1185. The office became the surname in the same manner as did that of Steward, Marshall or Chamberlain. Their original seat or home was at Gowran, Kilkenny, but early in the 13th century they purchased Kilkenny Castle from the descendants of the Norman Knight, Strongbow, and moved into Kilkenny city where it is located.

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