Slattery is the maiden name of one of our paternal great-great-grandmothers, Anne Slattery (1847-1908) who married John Boyle in 1864. The sequence of surnames in the four generations between us goes Slattery-Boyle-Ramsdale-Dwyer-Dwyer.

The surname Slattery is of Irish origin, being an anglicisation of Ó Slatara or Ó Slatraigh, meaning “strong”. The name originated in the townland of Ballyslattery in eastern County Clare, but was also fairly common in the adjoining counties Tipperary and Limerick.1

Our Slatterys are believed to have come from County Limerick.

Patrick Slattery (c.1817-1861) and Julia Holohan (c.1820-1894)

Patrick Slattery was born in County Limerick around 1817. His exact place of birth and his parents’ names are unknown. It is believed that Patrick married a Catherine Hayes (b.1819) in County Limerick between 1835 and 1840, and that together they left Ireland in late 1840, taking ship at either Gravesend or Plymouth arriving in Port Phillip on 1 March 1841 aboard the Argyle, a barque of 598 tons commanded by Captain John Gatenby. Patrick was described in the shipping record as being a farmer who could neither read nor write. Catherine was a 22 year old housemaid who could read and write. Both were Roman Catholics from Limerick.

A cabin passenger aboard the Argyle, Georgiana McCrae, kept a diary of the passage starting in October 1840.2 While written from the relatively privileged position of a cabin passenger, McCrae’s diary provides some insight into the voyage, but provides precious little information on the bounty immigrants’ experiences:


Sunday, 26th While the church bells at Gravesend were ringing for morning service, we moved towards the Nore, where we lay-to, the ship tossing uneasily through the day and night.
27th… The wind freshening, I went below and found the children more or less ill. The maids, Jane and Jenny, quite hors de combat
The night rough, and myself added to the sick-list.
The gale increased to such a pitch that we lost our “Best Bower” anchor. In the meantime, Dr Ronald and young Dr Traill (straw coloured gloves, and a withered nosegay) went their rounds among the emigrants. Just before midnight Ronald came along to our cabin.
“I’ve been roond to the intermediates”, said he, “puir leddies! They’ve a’ been deid-sick this while, sae I had a guid pan o’ gruel made for them, and pit it in a bucket wi’ a flavour of brandy to comfort their hearts!”

28th Off Deal. The captain signalled for a new anchor…

30th Anchored off Plymouth, after having encountered a stiff gale…
Late in the afternoon, to our dismay, no less than 150 emigrants (in addition to as many already embarked), swarmed up our sides, a drab and ugly crowd, who had been waiting several days, insufficiently provided for; this in spite of the fact that Marshall [the emigration agent] had assured Captain Bunbury, and other cuddy passengers, that although the ship would carry Bounty emigrants, they would be so few as to be hardly worth mentioning.
Day after day, the wind against us, the ladies keeping to their cabins. Captain Treadwell (the ship’s husband) and Dr Ronald having gone ashore, Dr Traill having already left to rejoin the Susan.


November 11th Hoisted anchor. Sailed out of harbour. “Chops” of the channel. Farquhar ill.

14th Terrific gale, lasting forty-eight hours. The sea white to the horizon. Every roll of the ship filled me with horror.
Captain Gatenby said it was the worst sea he had known. We were still within soundings; Eddystone light [Devon] struggling through the gloom.

17th Spars and booms washed out of jollyboat and thrown on to the deck. We, below, supposed our mainmast had gone by the board. All deadlights put in and caulked round. Emigrants marched up to cuddy to give them breathing room, some of the women praying, others dumb from despair. After these had returned to their quarters, Captain Gatenby astonished me by saying: “If ever we are compelled to take to the boats, only cuddy-passengers will be allowed to embark. The emigrants must stay behind.”
Blown out of our course.

18th The wind dropped as we entered the Bay of Biscay, riding across dark-coloured waves dappled with foam.
[Entries for 20 and 21 November only describe the Argyle encountering a vessel in distress and rescuing those on board before it sank.]

22nd Our first Sunday at sea. Captain Bunbury and his brother-in-law M.R.B. conducted the service. The singing so bad it had to be given up.

26th Sighted Madeira – like a cloud in the offing. The Argyle becalmed. Captain Gatenby said he couldn’t land the shipwrecked crew at Funchal for less than forty pounds; also, Madeira being an open roadstead, he was averse to entering the harbour.


December 6th Cast anchor in the Bay of Porto Prayo, Cape Verde Islands, opposite to where, not long since, the Red Rover had been wrecked. The passengers subscribed a sum of money towards new clothes for the Capitano [the captain of the wrecked ship] and his men, who immediately went ashore to hear Mass, in recognition of their escape...
[The remaining text for 6 December and 7 December describe McCrae’s experiences in Porto Prayo. The emigrants, including Patrick and Catherine Slattery, would not have been permitted to go ashore.]

11th We sailed from Porto Prayo.

19th Crossed the line in Lon. 28° West.

23rd Ran for west, within 300 miles of Pernambuco.

29th In the latitude of Rio Janeiro.

31st Terrific orgies among the emigrants! [Presumably a vigorous New Year’s Eve celebration. Best not to take this entry too literally.]


15th Rounding the Cape of Good Hope. A heavy sea following the ship.

17th Still “rounding the Cape”. Ship unsteady.


February 21st Ran down to latitude 40°. Kept pretty straight on course until…

22nd When we sighted Cape Bridgewater, Coasting along, saw smoke from supposed native fires or “clearing” near Portland Bay.

23rd Going slowly, then contrary breezes.

24th Driven back on our course.

25th Regained our meridian of the 23rd.

26th Off Cape Otway. A very rough night, but the wind off shore.

27th As we were trying to enter the heads of Port Phillip, we encountered a fierce gale from the north-west. Sky as black as ink. At last we got into smoother water, and anchored off Swan Pond. On the cliff opposite, saw the foundation walls of a lighthouse. All the buoys adrift, but no pilot within hail… Captain Gatenby consulting the chart of the bay and sailing directions, but unwilling to risk the ship and passengers by attempting to go without a pilot.

Sunday, 28th A clear morning. Wind still north, and fresh. On walking through the cuddy to look at the shore, I surprised Captain Gatenby and Captain Bunbury tête-à-tête. As I entered, the former had just said: “The insurances will hold good”, and would have added more had he not become aware of my presence. I immediately told him how much I had heard, whereupon he asked me to treat this “as a matter, in confidence, between ourselves”, and then continued: “The anchor is dragging, and I fear we will go stern foremost on Point Nepean. We shall be able to get ashore, but the shock of the ship striking may take you off your feet, so you’d better feign headache and go to your bed, and get the boys to lie down till the wind lulls.” I did as directed and lay in suspense for a long time, my tin box at hand [the box containing her miniatures] ready for carrying off. As a Mr Cummins had insured my passage and goods for £800 I was less anxious than I might have been. Suddenly, the wind shifter to south-west, and we were blown inward. At sun-down the wind fell, and we went on deck to enjoy the fresh air…


March, Monday, 1st Port Phillip. At 8 a.m., after the anchor had been walked-up to the bows, Tobin, the pilot, came aboard; a man like John Flatt [bosun of the Argyle], dresst in a frock-coat and chimney-pot hat. He went straight to the poop, where nobody else was to remain, except Gatenby and a seaman called Adams, but, later on, the Captain took George up too, and allowed him to help Adams hold the chart while Tobin steered. Thus George had his share in bringing the Argyle into port!
About 2 p.m. we anchored in Hobson’s Bay off William’s Town: a collection of houses, shingled and clap-boarded, and one large stone building.
We lay alongside the Eagle, Captain Buckley; and the York (seven other ships being in the bay). Captain Gatenby gave us dessert and champagne to celebrate our arrival in Australia, with appropriate toasts. Willie completed his sixth year.

2nd All kinds of people came on board, chiefly for the purpose of hiring servants; but our emigrants aren’t yet at liberty to engage.

After their arrival in Victoria, Patrick and Catherine had a daughter, Mary Slattery (b.1842) born at Richmond. Catherine died in 1843.

Based on her death record, Julia Holohan was born in County Kilkenny around 1812, but her parents’ names were recorded as “unknown”. The record also said that she had been in Victoria about 50 years, meaning that she must have arrived between 1840 and 1844 , the year of her marriage to Patrick Slattery . Probably she was the “Judy Hooligan”3 from Kilkenny who came out in 1840 aboard the Coromandel. The Judy Hooligan aboard the Coromandel was recorded as being aged 20 at the time, so born around 1820 rather than 1812.

Coromandel, a ship of 638 tons commanded by Captain Edward French, left Gravesend on 13 December 1839 and proceeded first to Cork, where Julia Holohan and other Irish assisted emigrants most likely joined the ship. Coromandel left Cork on 2 February 1840 and arrived in Sydney on 26 June.4

Patrick and Julia married at St Francis’ Church in Melbourne on 11 January 1844. Julia signed the marriage register, which is consistent with her Coromandel immigration record that said she could read and write. Patrick and Julia had five children together:

  1. Anne (1847-1908)
  2. James (1849-1871) – died at Kyneton aged 22.
  3. John (1851-1924) – married Eliza Thorpe in 1883 and they had three children: Mary Ellen (b.1885), James (b.1887) and Annie Francis (b.1890). He died at Oakleigh, Victoria in 1924.
  4. Ellen (1856-1876) – died at Kyneton aged 20.
  5. Mary (1858-1914) – married George Hay Thomson in 1902. She died at Malvern, Victoria aged 56.

Anne and James were both born in Melbourne, but by John’s birth in 1851 the family resided in the Carlsruhe/Kyneton area, where Patrick and Julia stayed for the rest of their lives. Patrick was variously noted as a labourer or a farmer, but may have also been a timber cutter:

Cutting Timber on Crown Lands. – Three wood-cutters, named Patrick Slattery, John Kelly, and Thomas Cashen, were charged before Major Firebrace and Mr. Payne, on Thursday, with cutting timber on Crown Lands, within the five mile boundary surrounding the City. The offence was proved by the evidence of a District constable, who witnessed its commission. The defendants produced their licenses to cut timber, but it was distinctly specified in them, that they were not to cut within five miles of Melbourne. They were severally fined 10s., and 16s. 6d. costs.4

At the time of her arrival in Victoria, Julia’s calling was listed as dressmaker. According to her great-granddaughter (our grandmother) Ethel Ramsdale, Julia “used to operate the tollgates at Kyneton”. Ethel also said that Julia brought up her granddaughter, Johanna Boyle, but the circumstances that brought this about were not explained by Ethel, if indeed she knew them.

Patrick Slattery died in May 1861 aged 44. He was buried at the Kyneton Cemetery, but no marker of his grave remains. Julia died of pneumonia at Kyneton on 13 September 1894 and was buried there two days later. Again, no marker remains.



2 McCrae, G. (1966). Georgiana's journal (2nd ed.). (H. McCrae, Ed.) Sydney, NSW: Angus & Robertson. pp. 14-25.

3 Julia is shown on her marriage record as “Judith Holahan”, and the names Judith and Julia, as well as several variations of Holohan, were used in records relating to her.

4 Brett, H. (1924). White Wings (Vol. 2). Auckland, NZ: Brett p. 24.

5 The Age, Saturday 11 August 1849, p.2.


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