Our Origins - the Family Histories of Craig Fullerton and Celine Amoyal
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Denis Sullivan
(ca. 1790-)
Ellen Unknown
(ca. 1790-Bef 1842)

Thomas Denis O'Sullivan **


Family Links

1. Ellen Jordan **

Thomas Denis O'Sullivan **

  • Born: 1815-1820, Tramore, Waterford, Munster, Ireland
  • Marriage (1): Ellen Jordan ** on 4 Feb 1851 in Berrima, New South Wales, Australia
  • Died: 25 Dec 1885, "Warri" nr, Ardlethan, New South Wales, Australia at age 70
  • Buried: 26 Dec 1885, "Warri" nr, Ardlethan, New South Wales, Australia

bullet   Cause of his death was Paralysis 10 years.

bullet   Another name for Thomas was Dennis Sullivan.


bullet  General Notes:

Thomas arrived in Australia on the ship Palestine arriving 6 March 1842. His Immigration record states that he was "Brought Out By Mr R. G. Jamieson", he was described as "A native of Newcastle, Co Limerick", his parents names were Dennis & Ellen (deceased). It is not clear whether it was just Ellen who was deceased, or both parents. He was a Farm Labourer aged 21, his health was Good, he could read and he was Roman Catholic. His character references were provided by James Fuller (?) & Thomas Baird of Margaret Street, Wilmington (this may have actually been Margery St which is in this area). The information in the document was certified correct by Rev James Whyte of St James', Clerkenwell. The "Bounty" was 19 Pounds. The doctor who conducted his medical examination was George Kitching of Tysoe St, Wilmington. Wilmington is an area in Clerkenwell and Margery St and Tysoe St bound a common area known today as Wilmington Square. It is less than half a mile from St James' Church, Clerkenwell (an Anglican Church out of interest). Thomas must have been living in this area in the latter half of 1841 when these references were obtained.

If his age was correct at 21 his birth year would be about 1820. However a review of the ages recorded on his children's birth records suggest he was born in about 1817.

His son Thomas' birth certificate suggests 1817, and his own death certificate suggests that he was born in 1818, and both Thomas' and Charles' birth certificates name his birthplace as Waterford. On Ellen Maria's Birth Certificate he was listed as aged 43 which would make it 1817, and on next son Michael's he is recorded as 45 also leading to a birth year of 1817. On son Edmund's birth record he is recorded as 52 placing his birth year as 1812, and his place of birth is recorded as Waterford. On Julia's birth certificate two years later he is recorded as 53 which would make his birth year 1813! On his son Charles' birth certificate, 2 years later again, his age was listed again as 53 which puts his birth year at 1815. On daughter Eva's birth certificate his age was recorded as 62 years which would also make his birth year 1815. His birth place was listed as Waterford Ireland on both of these last 2 documents. On son, Jeremiah's birth certificate his birthplace is recorded more specifically as Tramore, County Waterford, Ireland and his age as 41 which would make his birth year 1817. On daughter Catherine's birth record he is recorded as 53 years old placing his birth year at 1818! His birthplace was recorded as Waterford, Ireland on this document.

A review of the original Catholic Parish Baptism register (digital version online) for the Tramore parish over the period 1817-1821 shows only a couple of Sullivan baptisms, and none for Thomas. Several pages in the early years are illegible and it's possible he is recorded on those.

It is interesting that his immigration record lists him as a "native of Newcastle, Co. Limerick" (perhaps he lived there before embarkation) as this is apparently where his future wife Ellen resided (in the poorhouse) before being sent to Australia some 8 years after Thomas.

Thomas married in Berrima in 1851, his wife Ellen having been employed by a Mr Rowe at nearby Mittagong when she arrived in 1850. Thomas was teaching at a Catholic School in Berrima between 1849 - 1851, and at Bungonia in 1852. In Berrima he earned a salary of 40 pounds p.a. and in 1850 the school had 24 male and 11 female pupils. In 1852 he was teaching at Bungonia with a salary of 30 pounds p.a. and 33 male and 25 female pupils.

Their first daughter, Mary Anne was born in Berrima in 1851, and their second, Johanna was born in nearby Sutton Forest in 1853. By 1854, when son William was born they were further South at Bungendore, near modern day Canberra. By 1856 when Thomas Denis was born they were in Goulburn. In 1857 Thomas was a School teacher at the Roman Catholic Denominational School in Goulburn. They were still in Goulburn in 1858 when Jeremiah was born. According to one researcher, they later moved to Tumbarumba where Thomas was appointed in charge of the school. But by 1860, when Ellen was born, the family was in Gunning. Here, Thomas was the licensee of the Rose Thistle & Shamrock Hotel. He was listed as an Innkeeper on Michael Francis' Birth Certificate in 1862, and on Jeremiah's death certificate in September, 1864. The hotel building survives to this day and contains a modern cafe, called the Merino Cafe. The family was in Corowa by 1866 when Julia was born and Thomas had resumed his teaching career. At the time of his son Edmund's accidental death in 1877 he was recorded as Schoolmaster on the death certificate, and was still living in Corowa as daughter Eva was born there. The family was still in Corowa in May of 1881 when Thomas took legal action against his son-in-law, William Boyd over a paternity case involving his other daughter, 14 year old Julia (refer entry for William Boyd for the details). He was recorded as a School Teacher on his own Death Certificate in 1885, but by this time the family were living at "Warri" Station near Ardlethan in the Riverina.

Charles McGee has written a book - The Forgotton Ones - Teachers in the Catholic Schools of NSW before 1880, published in 2011. Drawing on my research, Charles recognises Thomas in his book as follows:

"Thomas O'Sullivan arrived in Australia on the ship "Palestine" in 1842. He was from Newcastle, County Limerick, Ireland, and was brought to Australia by R G Jamieson. Thomas was a farm labourer. In 1849 he took over the small school at Berrima located in two old slab huts formerly used to house the chain gangs that worked on the construction of the Great South Road. From 1849 to 1851 he and his pupils would have witnessed the construction of the Augustus Pugin designed sandstone church adjacent to their humble school building. In 1851 he married Ellen Jordan from Mittagong. In 1852 he taught at Bungonia in an unfinished slab building. He had to use the school room as a kitchen as there was only one other small living room adjacent to the school. By 1854 he had moved further south to Bungendore and in 1856 taught in Goulburn. Thence to Tumbarumba and Gunning where he was the licensee of the Rose, Thistle and Shamrock Hotel in 1862. He resumed his teaching career in 1866 at Corowa, on the Murray, and was still teaching 1885. He died near Ardlethan in the Riverina. Thomas had devoted the best part of 40 years to Catholic Schools."

From the Yass Courier 10 September, 1864:

Thomas O'Sullivan, teacher was brought before the Bench by warrant charged with having on the 27th April, 1864 unlawfully abandoned and deserted his wife Ellen O'Sullivan, leaving herself and 7 children destitute of the means of support.

The accused had been apprehended near Albury and brought before the Police Magistrate there when the following deposition was taken.

"William Morrisy deposed; I am a constable in the police force stationed at Albury, on 13th Inst. (August) I apprehended the prisoner at 10 mile creek near Albury by virtue of the warrant I produce it is under the hand and seal of J Allman Esq. one of her Majesty's Justices of the Peace in the colony of NSW. The prisoner was in Mr Purtell's employ as teacher when I apprehend him. He said when I apprehended him "I didn't desert my wife, my wife deserted me". He was about three weeks at Purtell's.

John Jenkins now deposed: I received the defendant in custody on a warrant on last Thursday week, the warrant charges him with unlawfully deserting his wife at Gunning.

Ellen O'Sullivan sworn: the defendant before the court is my husband, I have been married to him 14 years next February, I was married in Berrima by the Rev Mr Ginnerty, I have been living with the defendant about four years in Gunning, for some time previous to his deserting me he ill treated me several times. I left the defendants house in Gunning through his ill-treating me. I had on a previous occasion complained to a magistrate of his ill-treating me. He has never been dealt with. I have seven children, I believe the cause of his ill-treating me was through drink. The defendant was in the constant habit of beating and ill treating me. I was forced to leave his house through ill treatment. I applied to the Bench at Gunning for a warrant for his apprehension, defendant has struck me several times.

To the defendant; I first left you on the 1st March last, I summoned you to the Yass Bench for ill usage, I said before the court as Yass that you had ill treated me for two years, The case was dismissed against me. Everyday previous to my leaving you ill treated me and turned me out of bed. I was waiting in Yass on the 29th March last for your trial to come off on 10th April I left you through ill treatment.

Bridget Downes deposed; I have lived in Gunning for twenty years, I have known both complainant and defendant since they were in Gunning I often heard defendant abuse complainant. On the night before defendant was put in the lock up I heard complainant scream out. Heard defendant abuse her, I have never seen him lay hands on her.

Richard Sherriff deposed; I have known complainant and defendant, I saw defendant dragging complainant by the hair once.
To prisoner; I cannot state the day it happened, I have only seen you take hold of the hair of her head once, it was in your own yard. And this was the complainant's case.

Thomas O'Sullivan defendant deposed; I have quarrelled with my wife several times having been under the influence of drink. I was keeping a public house in Gunning, I never struck her, I was charged by her for presenting a pistol at her. The case was dismissed. I had not ill treated her previous to her leaving me. I swear she had no just cause to leave me, while she remained she had proper maintenance. She left me of her own accord.

Case dismissed."

He had left Ellen when she was about 7 months pregnant with their 8th child Edmund. It is perhaps not co-incidental that the timing of his appearance on these charges was just a week after the death of his 6 year old son, Jeremiah, from "exposure & cold".

He was mentioned in the Police Gazette as a result of these charges and he was described in some detail:
"A warrant has been issued by the Gunning Bench for the arrest of Thomas Denis O'Sullivan wherein he is charged with deserting his wife at Gunning on the 27th April last. He is about 55 years of age, 5 feet 7 inches high, dark brown hair and whiskers, squints with one eye; formerly kept a public-house at Gunning." If his age is correctly recorded this would place his birth year at about 1809.

In about 1885-1886 (according to his sons Thomas and Charles' obituaries) the family moved to Narrandera from Corowa. Thomas must have died soon after arriving there. Thomas is believed to have been working at Warri Station (near present-day Ardlethan). Several of his children were definitely there with him (possibly the entire family) as both Thomas Denis (Jnr) and William John had children born there. Thomas Denis Jnr's brother-in-law, William Henry Sole, also had children born there.

Thomas was buried at Warri Station, near his grand-daughter Ellen (Sarah Ellen), but no trace of the graves has been found. Apparently this is near the old "London Hotel" site. His Death Certificate records that he was buried at Warri, and was witnessed by his son in law George Carns (Mary Anne's husband). Another source says he was buried on the banks of a creek near The Willows school.


bullet  Noted events in his life were:

He emigrated to Sydney on the ship "Palestine" on 6 Mar 1842 from Ireland.

He resided at the time of his emigration to Australia on 6 Mar 1842 in Newcastle, Limerick, Munster, Ireland.

He resided at the time of William John's Baptism on 9 Jul 1854 in Bungendore, New South Wales, Australia.

He worked as a School Teacher in the Roman Catholic Denominational School in 1857 in Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia.

He worked as a Teacher on 8 Jul 1858 at the time of Jeremiah's birth.

Issued with a Publican's General Licence: 17 Apr 1860, Yass, New South Wales, Australia.

He worked as an Innkeeper - the Rose Thistle & Shamrock at the time of Ellen Maria's birth on 11 Jul 1860 in Gunning, New South Wales, Australia.

He worked as an Innkeeper on 30 Jan 1862 at the time of Michael Francis' birth.

He was involved in a court case about charged with "having unlawfully abandoned & deserted his wife Ellen, leaving herself and 7 children destitute." on 27 Apr 1864 in Yass, New South Wales, Australia.

He worked as a Schoolmaster at the time of Edmund's birth on 8 Jun 1864 in Gunning, New South Wales, Australia.

He worked as an Innkeeper on 3 Sep 1864 at the time of Jeremiah's death.

He worked as a Teacher at the time of son Charles' birth on 25 Oct 1868 in Corowa, New South Wales, Australia.

He worked as a Schoolmaster at the time of Catherine's birth on 7 Jun 1871 in Corowa, New South Wales, Australia.

He worked as a Teacher at the time of daughter, Eva's birth on 31 Jan 1877 in Corowa, New South Wales, Australia.

He worked as a School Teacher at the time of daughter Johanna's marriage to William Boyd on 29 Apr 1877.

He worked as a School Teacher at the time of his death on 25 Dec 1885 in "Warri" nr, Ardlethan, New South Wales, Australia.


Thomas married Ellen Jordan **, daughter of William Jordan and Judith Fegheny, on 4 Feb 1851 in Berrima, New South Wales, Australia. (Ellen Jordan ** was born circa 1832-1834 in Dromcolliher, Limerick, Munster, Ireland, died on 31 Jul 1912 in Narrandera,,New South Wales,Australia and was buried on 1 Aug 1912 in Narrandera Cemetery, Old R/C Section B, Narrandera, New South Wales, Australia.). The cause of her death was Cerebral Embolism/ 7 Days & Mitral Regurgitation / many years.

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