Famine Orphan Girls
The Fate of Mary Allingham
In what may be a final attempt to ascertain the fate of Mary Allingham, niece of the poet William Allingham, who was orphaned following the deaths of her parents during the period of the Great Famine in Ireland 1840-46, the following is published in the hope that some descendants may see it and have family knowledge of Mary and of what became of her.
It was compiled by the indefatigable Soinbhe Lally, whose name is well known to long-time readers of this web site.
On a visit to Belfast in December 2000 she visited the Linenhall Library in that city, and in the card index of births, deaths, and marriages published in the Belfast Newsletter between 1800 and 1857, checked for Allingham entries. Two entries in particular were intriguing, those of John James Allingham and his wife Jessie, who were married in the Australian gold rush town of Ballarat on August 2, 1885.
The marriage entry records:
Allingham John James
Formerly of Dublin
to Jessie Niven Dublin
at Ballarat, Melbourne Australia,
married 2 August 1855
The second entry poignantly records:
Mrs. John James Allingham
Formerly of Drumcondra
Surprisingly, the name James Allingham, without the first name John, turned up in a third entry:
James Allingham of Capel St. Dublin
The puzzle these three entries present is that if John James Allingham was really from Dublin, why were his announcements published in a Belfast newspaper?
All other Allingham announcements of the period related to deaths in and around the neighbourhood of Ballyshannon, the birthplace of the poet William. One other is of some significance in that it records the death of a centenarian:
George Allingham aged 100
Boa Island nr. Pettigo
It is known that the surname Allingham is frequently associated with the Armidale district in New South Wales. It is fervently to be wished that one or both local newspapers, The Armidale Express and The Armidale Independent, each of which publishes editions on the World Wide Web, may assist in the hunt for any record or family anecdote that may shed light on Mary Allingham’s ultimate fate.
The story of Mary and her fifteen co-emigrants from Ballyshannon is told in fuller detail in Girls Orphaned by the Irish Famine.
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