Reuniting families in the Colony

This extract is from James O’Rourke’s 1847 application to have his child Peter (then six years old) brought out to the colony at the Government’s expense.

When James and his wife Jane O’Rourke left Ireland in 1841 their son Peter was four months old, but he had to be kept at home to be nursed, due to his mother’s delicate state of health. Although the application was approved, Peter O’Rourke did not come out to the colony until 1858 on the David McIver when he was sixteen years old.
Many similar applications were made by immigrants who were forced to leave children in their homeland; however, often the children did not want to leave their guardian, or unknown to their parents they had died.

Source: NRS 5239 Immigration Agent Letters Received, 1846-97 Letter No 47/280 [9/6190]


Immigration Application for Free Passages for Children
47/280 7 Septr 1847
In conformity with the Government Notice of 28 May 1846
James O Rourke
applying for free passage for his child
To the Agent for Immigration, Sydney:-
I, James O’Rourke, a married Bounty Immigrant,
by the Ship Marchioness of Bute, in the year 1842, and now in the
employ of HM Government, at Bathurst Gaol
in this Colony, in capacity of Turnkey, do hereby apply, in accord-
ance with the Government Notice of the 26 of May, 1846 for a passage, at the public charge;
for each of my children below described, who, on my emigration to this colony, were left by me,
an still remain under the care of Mrs Anne Adams, resident
in the Parish of St Peters Verschoyle Court Lower Mount Street in the City of Dublin, Ireland

Children’s Names Present Ages Where and by whom Baptised
Peter O’Rourke 6 years old St Andrews Roman Catholic Church
And by the Revd Mr Mulhall
Wesleyan Row
Colonial Secretary
31 January 1848

The undermentioned persons will be able to answer enquiries made under the Authority of the
Colonial Land and Emigrants Commissions in Ireland England respecting my self and my children

Name Calling Residence
The Honble Richd Pennefeather One of HM Judges of the Irish Court Exchequer No 5 Merrion Square South Dublin, Ireland
Doctor Reid Surgeon & Accoucheur No 30 Lower Mount St Dublin
Mr Tyrell Solicitor No 28 Lower Mount St Dublin
John O Connell Esq Gentleman No 30 Merrion Square, South

Signature of application       James O Rourke
Date September
The applicant is requested to state the circumstances
which induced you to leave your child at home
At the time of the applicant and his
family being about to embark for the Colony at Liverpool
the Surgeon Supt Mr Lambert and the Emigration Agent gave
their opinion that if the Infant was removed from its nurse
it would die during the Voyage, as its mother being
in a delicate state of Health could not suckle it.
Consequently had given it to be suckled and
nursed. If the Child was brought its Nurse
should accompany it that not being convenient
of the two evils the least was chosen, the Child
was brought back to the City of Dublin and
left with its Nurse, it then was not 4 four
months old

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