Bridget WIDDUP nee O’BRIEN from Ballykelly.

The Lockhart Review and Oaklands Advertiser Wednesday 22 May 1912, page 2

The Lockhart Review and Oaklands Advertiser Wednesday 22 May 1912, page 2

Today I’m going to focus on a family member, Bridget Widdup, from Urana in southern New South Wales. I made brief mention of Bridget in my introductory post, as she was my Mary O’Brien Kunkel’s sister.

I only came to know of Bridget through oral histories from Mary’s granddaughter, Anne Kunkel, and then distant cousins in Sydney. In this I was enormously lucky, as I was with Bridget’s and Mary’s longevity and their unusual married names. I was able to buy Bridget’s death certificate many years ago and it gave their place of origin as Broadford in County Clare. It also told me that Bridget had spent a year in Queensland confirming another point in the family’s oral history. Other research pinned their townland down to Ballykelly in the hills near Broadford, which belongs to Kilseily parish.

Over the years I’d visited the State Library of New South Wales and looked in newspapers for obituaries or death notices for Bridget, always looking for more clues. None provided anything additional to the other documentary information.

The Catholic Press, 20 June 1912, page 22

The Catholic Press, 20 June 1912, page 22

How fortunate then, that Trove is here to help us and with the on-going digitisation program, more and more newspaper articles are being revealed. It was one such which told me that Bridget had spent her Queensland year in Ipswich. In retrospect that should have been obvious but….You can read the serendipitous migration discovery which arose from that here. I am confident that the advertisement ties the two women together, and that Bridget must somehow have been on the Florentia.

Much of the family’s oral migration story fits together with that discovery. Unfortunately I have been singularly unsuccessful in tying them into the official documents despite trawling the archives. I can only assume that Mary’s advertisement was successful given that she knew her sister’s married name, and they apparently remained in touch.

The Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 12 February 1859, page 1

The Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 12 February 1859, page 1

We have no idea why Bridget left Queensland heading for New South Wales. Perhaps she had indeed met her future husband on board ship as I believe he was a sailor and have found a merchant seaman whose details fit. Perhaps her Queensland employer also had property in NSW. Perhaps she just didn’t like the hotter weather in Ipswich.

Whatever the reason, Bridget married her husband John Widdup, apparently in Albury, though repeated searching has been unsuccessful. They had nine children: Amelia, Louisa, John, Michael J, Walter Ireland, Alfred England, Martha, Bridget Ellen and Catherine Agnes.

Wagga Wagga Advertiser (NSW : 1875 - 1910), Thursday 22 August 1901, page 2

Wagga Wagga Advertiser (NSW : 1875 – 1910), Thursday 22 August 1901, page 2

One question, long in my mind, is why both Mary and Bridget each named a daughter Louisa as it’s not a traditional name in their families. One thought was it might have been the name of the ship they were on, but further research eliminated that possibility too.

The Widdup family lived and worked in Urana. Bridget helped establish the Catholic church there and oral history from Irish relatives recalled that she had Mass said in her house. Husband John was heavily involved with establishing the Urana school. He was also poundkeeper and after his early death (not registered) in 1876, Bridget became poundkeeper – another Trove discovery. In 1901 Bridget was accepted for the Old Age Pension, a little surprising given her land-holdings.

Riverine Herald (Echuca, Vic. : Moama, NSW : 1869 - 1954), Tuesday 21 March 1876, page 3

Riverine Herald (Echuca, Vic. : Moama, NSW : 1869 – 1954), Tuesday 21 March 1876, page 3

Photograph of Bridget's grave in the Urana Cemetery. Pauleen Cass c2002.

Photograph of Bridget’s grave in the Urana Cemetery. Pauleen Cass c2002.

Over the years Bridget purchased several plots of land in the Urana area, and seems to have taught herself some basic literacy as her signature is found on her husband’s probate documents.

Bridget and John are buried in separate areas of the Urana cemetery, reflecting their religious differences.

And yes, I’m waiting (im)patiently for an upcoming Trove release from the Wagga Wagga Express which tantalisingly says “Mrs. Bridget Widdup, a colonist of 55 years, who landed in…”. Will Trove pull the cat out of the bag again, and give me another pivotal clue?

I’d also dearly love to make contact with any of Bridget O’Brien Widdup’s descendants. I’s also love to see a photo of Bridget  – I have photos to share of her two closest sisters, Mary and Nora, and lots of the family story in Ireland as well.

7 thoughts on “Bridget WIDDUP nee O’BRIEN from Ballykelly.

  1. Pingback: Trove does it again – Bridget Widdup and the Florentia | Family history across the seas

  2. Hello there Pauleen. I lost your email address when I had a computer crash. I haven’t found out anything genealogical, but would be interested to hear of any news discoveries you have.

  3. I’m Bridget’s great great granddaughter, her son Alfred England is my great grandfather, my grandfather is Thomas Alfred and my father is Michael Alfred

  4. Hi Pauline
    My 2nd GGrandfather John Duffin Barkley was at Blacksmith @ Urana
    His first wife was Sarah Jane Luckie , she died childbirth 24 March 1877 and her child Isabella the same day at Burrangong. I am not sure if they are buried at the Station cemetery or at Urana. John was also an Undertaker, he buried Sara Jane’s sister Margaret Luckie ( age 18) at Urana just one month later. He re-married and his next child was born at Burrangong Station June 1880 and was buried ( By John again) at Urana around Xmass 1880 at Urana.

    I am given to Understand that their are few to no records of burials at Urana and Burrangong, which would give plot numbers or the like.

    Very nice Blog and a wonderful resource.
    Kind regards
    Michael Lea-Whyte

  5. Thought i might have got a reply ?
    Brights Dau Louisa married Edward Lucky , so a brother in law of my 2nd Great Grandfather John D. Barkley.
    So there are some family stories which have been passed down, relating to the re birthing of stolen horses through the Urana Pound (Edward Kelly)( The same two horses Ed repossessed at Jerilderie), and also of shoeing of Edwards horses at Urana ( 2 sources). Despite the naming of the “Jerilderie Letter” there was NO printer yet existing at that place, there was however one at Urana and the ‘typsetter” is yet another brother in law.

    JD’s brother William married into the Knights family, Charles Knight is known as the “Beechworth Blacksmith” At Urana at the appropriate time the “GinninderraBlacksmith” James Hatch is also said to have shod horses for Ed K.(ABC documentary source Brett Fitzgerald descendant. JD himself claimed to have made armour and met Kate for the purpose of also shoeing horses. Ned himself made reference to a woman and child expiring at this time.

    Just wanted to share some Irish gossip, and ask if you have any oral history relating to these events
    Kind regards again Michael.

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