On 15 January 1835, my 3rd great grandparents Daniel Cudmore (1811 – 1891) and Mary Nihill (1811 – 1893) were married, at Drehidtarsrna, County Limerick. On 11 February 1835, less than a month afterwards, the newly-wedded couple, with Mary’s mother and two of her sisters, left Ireland on the John Denniston for Hobart Town, Tasmania. (Mary’s father and her other sisters later joined them there.) Daniel Cudmore applied for a free passage to Australia in 1834 as his means were ‘very limited’. They arrived on 7 June, after a voyage of more than four months.

Daniel Michael Paul Cudmore and his wife Mary probably taken in the 1850s

This sequence—marriage followed immediately by emigration—occurs several times in our family tree.

John Way (1835 – 1911) and Sarah Daw (1837 – 1895), the great great grandparents of my husband Greg, were married at Wendron, Cornwall, on 2 March 1854 and left Plymouth, England as Government or assisted emigrants on the Trafalgar four days later. They arrived in Adelaide on 28 June 1854.

On 10 June 1854, some two years after the death of her husband Kenneth Budge, my 3rd great grandmother Margaret Budge née Gunn (1819 – 1863) married for a second time, to Ewan Rankin (1825- ?), a carpenter in Wick in the far north of Scotland. Soon afterwards she and her new husband, with the four surviving children of her first marriage, made the five-hundred mile journey from Wick to Liverpool, planning to emigrate from there to South Australia.

The family sailed as assisted immigrants, whose fare was paid by a Government body. The ship Dirigo was to have been ready for the reception of passengers at noon on Friday 23 June, and though this was very soon— within a fortnight—of their marriage I am sure that the Rankins were at Liverpool ready to embark. The voyage did not start as planned (but that is another story: M is for Merseyside – 1854 departure of the “Dirigo”).

Preferred candidates for assisted emigration were “respectable young women trained for domestic or farm service, and young married couples without children.” A shortage of single women in the colonies meant that single men would not be accepted as assisted emigrants “without a corresponding number of young single women of good character to equalize the sexes”. Widowers and widows with young children were also forbidden to apply. In order to become a preferred candidate and gain the benefits, including free passage, of assisted emigration it was definitely an advantage to be married.

In these three cases the marriages lasted the usual term, certainly beyond the journey of emigration, until the death either of the husband or the wife. Although the marriage and emigration may have seemed hasty, the decisions and plans had clearly been carefully made.

Related posts:

Further reading:

  • Russell, Roslyn & National Library of Australia, (issuing body.) (2016). High seas & high teas : voyaging to Australia. NLA Publishing, Canberra, ACT. page 37.