NaNoWriMo Day 12
Today I began writing up my research on Bridget O'Neil and the following is an excerpt from this draft.
Bridget was 14 years old when convicted in the Glasgow Court of Judiciary, Scotland on 29 December 1842, on a charge of housebreaking. Her occupation was given a ‘Nurse Girl’ from which it is assumed she was a children’s nursemaid, working as a general servant within the nursery, with a less direct role in the care of the children. The nursery girl reported to the nanny (or nurse) and assisted her in taking care of the children of the employer's family. Her duties included tidying and maintaining the nursery, lighting the nursery fires, and carrying meals, laundry, and hot water between the nursery, kitchen, and scullery. It was a junior role for young girls, working under the supervision of the experienced and usually older nanny.
Small in stature, she was only four foot eleven or just under one fifty centimetres, with dark complexion and black hair. She had a scar over her right eye with a larger scar on her left arm. Her native place was listed as Tyrone County, Ireland. Her father, Daniel, was living in Scotland at this time with her three brothers, Edward, John and Barry also living in Glasgow. Nothing is known of the circumstances surrounding this charge, other than she was sentenced to seven years transportation, becoming one of 204 convicts transported on the Woodbridge on 20 August 1843, arriving at Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) on Christmas Day that same year.
As Bridget’s name does not appear among those seeking medical treatment during the voyage, it must be assumed she was one of the more healthy passengers, although one wonders how she avoided contagion living in close unsanitary conditions for this period of time amongst women quite unwell.
The following are the surgeon's general remarks for the trip, which give some insight into the conditions of the trip.
‘Between 4 and 11 August 1843, 204 female convicts, 24 children and 4 male and 15 female warders were embarked. Many of the convicts were debilitated but none had to be refused. They were washed and issued with clothing, their own clothing being taken away. Although there were a great many cases on the list, most were trivial. The synochus cases were mostly slight symptomatic affections, arising from 'suppression of some accustomed evacuation'. None of the vaccinations were successful although two or three trials were made. The unsuccessful atrophy and hydrocephalous cases occurred to very young weakly children at the breast, there was plenty of food for infants. The diarrhoea cases arose from change of food or cold, of the two sent to the hospital, one arose from disordered digestion and had suckled her child the whole voyage. The other was more serious and due to her previously dissipated life. Scurvy appeared after passing the Cape, the nitre mixture recommended by Dr Cameron was given and every symptom disappeared and six weeks after landing they all remained free from disease. The debility cases were generally from long sea sickness. The employment of the prisoners during the voyage had the best effects on health and discipline. The surgeon recommends all female convict vessels to be provided with means of employing the prisoners, such as shirt making, with women appointed to cutting out and supervising to prevent wanton waste and destruction of the materials. More than 1100 shirts were made on board during the voyage, the women making on average one shirt a day. Those employed at needlework in the morning read in the afternoons and vice versa.’
Hugh and Bridget
Apart from Hugh Holmyard receiving his ticket of leave 7 August 1847, there is little information on either after their marriage in 1949 until 1855 of the first fourteen years of their marriage and, if any children had been born alive during this period the records have not survived. An article in the Cornwall Chronicle, Launceston, Tas Saturday 8 September 1855, places Bridget at Longford where she was a witness at an inquest into the death of a child, her involvement possibly as a midwife to the mother.
Inquest- An inquest was held on the 4th instant, at the ' Berriedale Inn,' Longford, before Chas. Arthur, Esq , Coroner, and the following jurors, Messrs. H. B. Nickolls, foreman, William Saltmarsh, John Hyrons, J, C. Houghton, Chas. Edwards, Alex. Richards, and Abraham Wren, touching the death of a male child, not named, belonging to a man and woman named Wood, residing near the Traveller's Rest. From the evidence of Dr. Donlevy and Bridget Holmyard, it appeared that the child died of convulsions the day after its birth.
Verdict — Died from natural cause.
While it is generally believed Hugh and Bridget only had one child, Hugh Arnold, born in 1865, records show a daughter, Sarah Jane, was born in Hobart in 1863 and died in Launceston in 1864. The surname on her death certificate has been misspelled as Hollemyard, so it is also possible other records may have been lost to another misspelling.