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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Whiteford Family near Bathurst

On a recent trip to Orange in NSW I decided to do some hunting for the last resting place of my children's gggggrandfather John Whiteford. With a copy of his death certificate transcript in hand (purchased from Joy Murrin)we were off to the little hamlet of O'Connell. A township about 30 km south east of Bathurst. With my kind of luck the whole main street was blocked off for roadworks and we were sent on a detour around the town. We passed by the old Anglican Church and its cemetery but he wouldn't be there. John and his family were Roman Catholics. I had previously searched the internet in search of the family and found some useful information on the Australian Cemeteries Index site it has listings for O'Connell Cemeteries (including Anglican, Roman Catholic and the General Cemetery). You can also find a listing of the O'Connell General Cemetery at this site Family Lists

A visit to the local pub at O'Connell and a chat to the lady working there put us on the right track to finding the old Roman Catholic cemetery. She also informed us that the O'Connell Hotel had been running since 1865 so I it is more than likely that the Whiteford's frequented this establishment.

A short walk from the hotel to the old Roman Catholic Church and convent which is now a private residence was in a picturesque setting as shown. 

We knocked on the door and asked permission to go through to the cemetery as a courtesy because the cemetery is at the back of the residence.

The headstones are very old and most are in poor condition. Many are broken or were made from sandstone and the inscriptions are worn away.

We did not find John Whiteford senior but found his son John Whiteford junior who had died in 1868 aged 25 years. Perhaps John senior is buried with him and this was never recorded on the headstone. There were no other of the family buried here that we could find.



John Whitford was born in County Antrim, Ireland in 1805, the son of John Whitford (Farmer) and Jane Gow. He was tried in County Armagh on 14 February 1826 for stealing cloth and with no previous convictions for this petty crime he was sentenced to transportation for life. John was transported to Port Jackson in 1827 aboard the Countess of Harcourt. His age at this time was 21. A description given for him describes his height 5 feet 5 and 3/4 with a ruddy pock pitted complexion, light brown hair and grey eyes. He was a Protestant and could read and write and had an occupation as a farmer. In 1842 he was given permission to marry Catherine Bligh. He married her on 4th April 1842 at St Michael's RC Church, Kelso NSW. Catherine was a young 19 year old Irish girl born about 1823 in County Down the daughter of Andrew Bligh and Catherine Cain. She had come as a free on the William Turner to Botany Bay 5th October 1841. She worked as a house maid. 

A Ticket of Leave was originally granted on 9 March 1836 – at this time John Whitford was described as a Labourer and, as well as the above physical description, he was said to be deficient of the left hand.  As this was not mentioned in his indent,  John may have met with an accident in this time.  John Whitford’s original Ticket of Leave given on 9 March 1836 was cancelled and his recommendation for Pardon halted on 3 February 1843, having been had up for Aggravated Assault.  His Passport was re-issued on 22 August, 1843.  His Ticket of Leave was restored and his eventual date of Pardon was 22 January, 1848. AT this time John added an 'e' into his surname and became Whiteford. John was given a grant of land at Mutton Falls, Snakes Valley near Bathurst. He died at Snakes Valley on 3rd February 1877 age 74 of old age and was buried at O'Connell Plains on 5th February 1877. The informant was James Ryan, tenant, Snakes Valley. The undertaker Henry Whelan, Minister D. A. McGrath. His religion was RC and witnesses Edward Brennan and James Ryan. Apparently the land passed on to his eldest surviving son Thomas.



The headstone of John Whiteford(jnr). He was born 1843 at Bathurst and died in 1868. A farmer who married Mary Ann Hourigan on 14 June 1864. 


We took a drive along the Mutton Falls Rd to Tarana and lunched at the little old Pub there,that has been around since 1878. The area is very pretty as the road winds through the hills and crosses the little creeks and valleys through the area.


So we didn't find John Whiteford but we had a nice time looking.