Margaret COONEY
Father Patrick ERWIN aka IRVING b.c. 1801 m. (1) 18371 (2) none (3) 18592 d. 18663
Step-father John aka George COONEY alias Henry LANGHAM or LANGHAN b.c. 18154 m. none d. 18755
Step-mother Eliza NELSON b. m. (1) 1837 d. 18526
Mother Margaret COONEY née CONNELLY aka CONLEY b.c. 1832 m. (1) none (2) none d. 18827
Step-mother Mary PEARCE b. m. (3) 1859 d. 18828
Half-brother Patrick IRWIN b.c. 18239 m. d. aft. 186610
Half-brother Patrick IRWIN b.c. 183711 m. - none d. 186312
Half-brother James Joseph IRWIN b.c. 183813 m. (1) 185914 (1) Elizabeth GUNN (2) Sarah d. 190615
Half-sister Eliza Nelson IRWIN b.c. 184116 m. (1) 185917 (2) none found (1) James Weir SMEAL (2) Andrew HANSEN d. 191618
Half-sister Sarah IRWIN b. 184219 m. 185820 John NICHOLS d. 190721
Half-brother Michael Joseph IRWIN b.c. 184422 m. 186623 Susannah DOUGLAS d. 191024
Half-sister Jane IRWIN b. 184525 m. 186526 Eugene GOULDIN aka GOULDING d. 187427
Half-brother Andrew IRWIN b. 184728 m. 188529 Caroline MELVEN d. 192230
Half-sister Susanna IRWIN b. 185031 m. 186732 Peter DESSAIX d. 191933
Inmate Margaret ERWIN aka CONLEY aka COONEY b. 185634 m. none (see below) d. aft. 190735
Half-brother John Michael COONEY b. 186436 m. 189037 Mary A. MOORE d. 190838
Husband unknown b. m. d.
Son Thomas IRVINE b. 1872 m. none - d. 187239
Son Albert aka Alfred40 COONEY aka ERWIN b. 187341 m. 189942 Miriam Louisa43 GREEN d. 194844
Son Joseph Sydney COONEY b. 187845 m. none - d. 187946
Daughter Margaret COONEY b. 188847 m. none - d. 188948
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Father Patrick49 25 5’ 7½” dark brown grey ruddy read and write; scar on back of hand and inside of left hand
Mother Margaret50 27 4’ 8” brown brown can't read or write
Inmate Margaret51 29 4’ 10” fair fair medium dressed in light coloured dress and black hat
Half-brother John52 24 5’ 6” brown blue dark medium read only; scar on forehead
Step-father John53 46 5’ 9” grey grey fresh proportional "D" on left breast; one tooth out of upper jaw; marks of corporal punishment; read and write
Step-father John54 56 5’ 9” grey grey sallow long nose; large mouth; round chin

Margaret was recorded on the list of at risk children compiled by the constables of Sydney on 31 July 1867, a month before the industrial school in Newcastle took its first admissions. She was described on that list as an eleven-year-old Catholic of delicate health. The constables noted that it was not known whether she had ever worked as a prostitute or had ever been arrested for prostitution. They recorded details about her home stating:

father in gaol for larceny, mother a prostitute residing in Smithers Street, Chippendale.55

Margaret had appeared on warrant in the Central Police Court the day before her admission to Newcastle, charged with living with common prostitutes. The prostitute was her mother. Sergeant LEE had apprehended her from her mother’s house at Chippendale on the night of 29 August. He stated that he had frequently seen prostitutes at the house and he described her mother as a drunkard of bad repute and a reputed prostitute. Constable KELLY deposed that Margaret had said that she had often been turned out of bed by her mother to make room for other people and had had to lie on the bare floor.56 Newspaper reports confirmed that Margaret's father was undergoing a sentence of two years’ imprisonment for theft.57 Margaret arrived in Newcastle in the initial intake of girls, all of whom were admitted on 31 August 1867, the first day of admissions to the school.58 Although the Entrance Book recorded that Margaret was 11,59 newspapers reported that she 12.60 Margaret's other admission details recorded that she was a Catholic and that her level of education was 'First Book on slate'. Her medical assessment by Dr HARRIS showed that she was a virgin.61

Margaret had been at the school for nearly a year when on 12 August 1868, Agnes KING wrote to the Colonial Secretary seeking advice concerning a disclosure made to her by Margaret that KING found quite startling. She informed the Colonial Secretary that Margaret:

informs me that she has at her disposal the sum of Twenty Shillings per month This was given her by her God Father Patrick Irving, known as Paddy Irving, who left the Colony and is now residing in Ireland. Prior to her coming to this Institution she received it monthly from James Irving of Clarence Street Sydney, pawnbroker, and gave it to her mother, Margaret Cooney, she calls him her Uncle. Patrick Irving also gave her land in Liverpool, the Deeds of which are in the hands of Redman Esqre., Solicitor, King Street Sydney which are to be given to her on coming of age. The girl's mother having written to her, to get her consent to receive some money. I thought it proper to communicate the above facts.62

No reply was enclosed in the correspondence and possibly no response appears to have been made as nothing was found in the CSIL index although no correspondence for this incident have been tracked. Only two notations were recorded on the original letter. One stated 'submitted' but the other, composed of only one word, is illegible. Because this information recorded by KING and sent to the Colonial Secretary, was provided orally by Margaret, the spelling of the surname IRVING has almost without any doubt been incorrectly recorded based on Margaret's likely accent and on KING's interpretation of the surname that Margaret had said. The surname of Margaret's 'God-father' has been identified as ERWIN63 or IRWIN and the money Margaret was receiving had been the monthly payment to her outlined in her father's will. The 'uncle' outlined in the letter was actually Patrick's eldest surviving Australian son. The use of the title 'God father' is a deception as Patrick ERWIN was actually Margaret's father and James ERWIN was therefore her half-brother. It is unknown whether at this date, either James or Margaret were aware of their blood relationship.

In May 1871 Margaret transferred with the school to Biloela on Cockatoo Island and was listed by LUCAS in his report to the Colonial Secretary on 23 June 1871, as eligible for service.64 On 27 September 1871, two months after arriving on Biloela, Margaret was apprenticed for three years to Mrs Elizabeth65 TOWERS of Parramatta66 specifically to enable her to learn the skills of needlework and dressmaking. She was to be paid two shillings a week for the first year and this was to increase by a shilling a week each year for the next two years.67 Her apprenticeship was confirmed by LUCAS in his report of 18 October 1871.68 This apprenticeship should have been completed when Margaret turned 18, which was likely to have been in 1875.

Rookwood Catholic Cemetery records show that Margaret had delivered a child named Thomas around July 1872 so must have fallen pregnant very soon after beginning her apprenticeship. Thomas died in December 1872 at the age of four months and was buried in Rookwood as Thomas IRVINE. No birth registration has been identified. He was eventually joined in the grave by his grandmother and step-grandfather. There is also no doubt that on 31 July 1873, and as Margaret ERWIN, she delivered a son named Alfred Patrick ERWIN in Sussex Street, Sydney. By this stage and with her use of this name, it is believed that Margaret had been made aware of her true parentage. Alfred's birth registration clearly identified that his mother was 17 years of age. This birth record was therefore not the birth of another child to Margaret's mother who by 1873, would have been about 41. The birth registration also confirmed that Margaret's place of birth had been Parramatta.69 Albert was raised by his grandmother Margaret and believed that she was his mother.

On 8 June 1878, this time as 23-year-old Margaret COONEY, Margaret entered the Sydney Belevolent Asylum and delivered another illegitimate son named Joseph S. COONEY. She and Joseph left the asylum a fortnight later on 28 June 1878, when he was three weeks old.70 It is believed that he died in Sydney as Joseph S. COPE in 1879 where his parents were recorded as Sydney and Margaret COPE.71 Joseph S. COPE was ten months old and died on 11 April 1879. He was buried two days later. Nobody shares his grave.72

In October 1884, it is believed that Margaret was the woman for whom a:

warrant for commitment for want of distress for the sum of £1 8s., fine and costs in default fourteen days' imprisonment for being found leaving the "Chippendale Hotel," Bank-street, with liquor in her possession on Sunday, the 12th ultimo, [was] issued by the Central Police Bench … .73

Another illegitimate child, a daughter named Margaret COONEY, who died on 7 February 1889, at the age of ten months, is believed to be another of Margaret's children. This child had been born in Brisbane, Queensland and the Queensland BDM Index recorded the registration of only one child that exactly matched this birth – the birth of Margaret COONEY on 29 May 1888. This girl's parents were recorded on the Queensland BDM Index as John and Margaret COONEY nee CLEARY. While this record doesn’t appear to be an illegitimate birth, the ages of the child match and it is considered that the entry was very likely to have been a deliberate fabrication to ensure the appearance of a legitimate birth. It is uncertain whether the surname CLEARY indicated the maiden name of Margaret's mother, the actual name of Margaret's partner, a mishearing of CONNELLY or was a deliberate fabrication with no basis in reality. Margaret and her mother had moved back to NSW about eight months before her death and only her mother, Margaret, was recorded on the baby's death registration. Baby Margaret was buried on 8 February 1889, in the Catholic Cemetery, Rookwood,74 and is in the grave alone.

The consideration that Margaret's father Patrick, held land in Queensland75 may have been one reason she had travelled to Brisbane. That land was identified in Patrick's will as:

the county of Stanley, Queensland, at Brown's Plains, consisting of about forty three acres.

It is also unknown whether Margaret ever took possession of the property put aside for her in Liverpool but because she had money to support her brother and pay for her son on the Vernon, it is thought that she did acquire the land. She would have come of age and turned 21 some time in 1887. The deeds had been separately stored so, unless the ERWIN family purchased the land from her, it would not have been part of their inheritance. Patrick defined his land in Liverpool as Moore Street and Queen's Place. He wrote:

… As to my property in Liverpool aforesaid I give and devise the same to my said Executors for the benefit of my child Margaret Erwin otherwise Connolly absolutely for her sole use and benefit upon her attaining the age of twenty one years, and to be disposed of as she thinks proper and in case she dies before she attains the age of twenty one years same to go to her mother Margaret Connolly for her life only, and after the death of the mother of my said daughter same to revert back to my said Executors for the use of my family, but in case my said daughter Margaret Erwin otherwise Connolly gets married the same to be for her use and her husband's for life and for her issue absolutely, but in case she dies without issue same to go to her mother as before stated and after her mother's death to revert to my family - and I also direct that the said Margaret Erwin otherwise Connolly shall receive one pound per month from the date of this my Will. …76

Margaret's land does not appear to be listed when James ERWIN was forced to sell his own properties in 1890.77 One name appearing on Patrick's will that has not yet been identified was the man William MAGUIRE but he is thought to be a grandchild of Patrick at this point or a partner of Mary ERWIN, senior.

Margaret was alive in August 1907 when a long report was written in The Australian Star about her support of her brother.

John Cooney, 42, of no occupation, was charged at the Water Police Court this morning with vagrancy. He pleaded not guilty, and called his sister to prove that he was not idle—or at least if he was out of work it was by reason of misfortune, and not neglect or opportunity. His sister said they were left orphans, and she, having means, kept her brother in food. She allowed him pocket money as well to go out with.
"Do you mean to say," asked the Court, "that you keep him all the time, and he does no work?"
The witness replied that it was so. She did not mind it at all, "Mother died," she said, "and left me a house and a home. He's not done any work for about two years. The house has been sold long ago, but the home is always there for him. He does not sleep out, and never wants for a meal or a little money. You might give him a chance this time, and if he doesn't take it of course I can't help it."
After consideration Mr. Bannett, S.M., remanded Cooney for five weeks to give him a show to get work.78

Margaret was not identified by name in either of these reports so the name which she was using at that date is unknown. The location of the 'home' where John lived with Margaret and where she provided for him has not yet been identified.79 She has not been traced since this incident.

There were no suitable women named Margaret buried before 1940 in any of the Rookwood Catholic graves known to be associated with her.


Margaret's parents were named in the Entrance Book that specified that she was the daughter of John COONEY, a baker, and his wife, Margaret, a washerwoman. These occupations were confirmed in the Police Gazette. No notation was made indicating that John was Margaret's step-father but there is no doubt that this was the case as John had commenced his relationship with Margaret senior after the birth of the Newcastle admission. Records within the CSIL named Margaret's father as Patrick IRVING although he was identified as her God-father.

The similarity between the spelling of the surnames ERWIN and IRVING can be attributed to accents. The surname IRVING had been provided orally to and recorded by Agnes KING in the CSIL correspondence of 1868. Patrick ERWIN's will clearly identified Margaret and acknowledged her as his daughter.80 The information provided on these varied records confirmed that the illegitimate birth in 1856,81 for Margaret CONLEY whose mother was Margaret, was that of the Newcastle admission. This registration number was attached to two records on the NSW BDM Index reflecting the information that was recorded on the registration itself. The second registration was that of an apparently legitimate birth in the name of Margaret ERWIN whose parents were Patrick and Margaret. Margaret had been born on 13 May 1856, in Parramatta. No further information concerning the ages or places of birth of her parents appeared on this registration. The informant was Nicholas Joseph COFFEY, the Roman Catholic Dean of Parramatta.

Patrick ERWIN, recorded as IRWIN and IRVINE in his convict records, had been born in Trim, County Meath, tried in Dublin and transported for seven years for highway robbery aboard the Regalia arriving in Sydney on 5 August 1826.82 The Regaliawas confirmed as Patrick's ship of arrival when he was imprisoned in Darlinghurst Gaol in 1851.83 Patrick was the man who became variously known in Sydney as the 'gentleman of Clarence Street' and Paddy ERWIN. Paddy Erwin's Alley84 and Paddy Erwin's Lane85 were various names for one of the more disreputable streets of Sydney – Edward's Lane aka Erwin's Lane.86 Their existence reflected the wealth that ERWIN had accumulated during his time in NSW. These streets were in the centre of Sydney but had disappeared well before the turn of the 20th Century.

Patrick married Eliza NELSON in Sydney in 1837 and the couple had eight children. Eliza died in Sydney in 1852 and her death was recorded as Eliza IRWIN. In 1858 Patrick married Mary PEARCE formerly SCANLON. Patrick and Eliza's surviving seven children and his second wife, Mary, were identified in his will, written in NSW on 12 August 1866.87

James Erwin, Michael Erwin, Andrew Erwin, Sarah Erwin (otherwise Nichols), Jane Erwin (otherwise Golding), Eliza Erwin (otherwise Smeales), and Susan Erwin, an infant (afterwards Susan Dessaix), and my wife, Mary Erwin (otherwise Scanlon).

Between his marriages to Eliza and Mary, Patrick had a relationship with Margaret CONLEY aka CONNELLY. The birth of only one child for the couple, Margaret ERWIN aka CONLEY, was registered in 1856. In 1860 ERWIN was sent to Parramatta Gaol in 1860 for owning and operating a brothel.88 Patrick89 shared his name with his son90 who died in November 1863, at the age of 26.91 The younger man's parents were confirmed as Patrick and Eliza on the NSW BDM Index. The following year,92 Patrick senior returned to Ireland. He died in Dublin, Ireland, on 12 November 1866.93 This location is significant as it was recorded in 1867 that Margaret's God-father had returned to Ireland, confirming that Patrick ERWIN aka IRWIN and Patrick IRVING were one and the same person. Patrick's will94 was being challenged in 191395 and still being challenged in 192796 after the progressive deaths of his children.97

Susannah DESSAIX was erroneously described as Patrick's youngest daughter when she died in 1919.98 Although she was illegitimate, Margaret was the youngest daughter of Patrick ERWIN but by this date she may have died. If this was the case Susannah's claim would have been correct. It is unknown for how long the ERWIN children were unaware that Margaret existed. There is little doubt that the legitimate ERWIN children eventually became aware of Margaret because James was responsible for paying her weekly allowance. It is almost equally certain that, as a child, Margaret knew nothing of the actual relationship between Patrick ERWIN, her mother, Margaret and herself. Margaret junior almost certainly believed Patrick to have been her God-father but there is little doubt that by 1873 at the time she used the surname ERWIN when her son was born, Margaret knew the truth of her ancestry. While it is still unconfirmed that Margaret did reach the age of 21 and take possession of the land in Liverpool left to her by Patrick,99 it is considered almost certain that she did.

Margaret's mother, Margaret COONEY need CONNOLLY was almost certainly an immigrant. The 1859 Darlinghurst Gaol admission for her recorded while she was awaiting the trial for which she was acquitted, showed that she was a Catholic who had been born in Dublin, Ireland, in about 1832. She stated in 1859 that she had arrived on the Nabob. This record doesn't confirm that she had arrived free but it is likely that she did do so.100 No year was stated for the arrival of the Nabob but SRNSW has recorded only one voyage for this ship in 1855 and it carried immigrants. The indent confirmed that there was no single or married woman on the Nabob named Margaret COONEY but there was an immigrant the correct age named Margaret CONNOLLY. She was a laundress, who had been born in Belfast in about 1829, was Catholic and could neither read or write. She had a brother named Michael living in Sussex Street, Sydney, who had sponsored her arrival and her parents were identified as Patrick and Alice. Her father was alive and living in Dublin.101 Based on this immigration information, her death in Sydney in July 1882 was confirmed as her parents Michael and Alice, recorded on the indent, were also recorded on the NSW BDM Index.102 This woman had a son named John and her funeral left from her late residence, Middle Street, Chippendale.103 Margaret was erroneously recorded on the index of the Rookwood Catholic records as Margaret COOREY. She was aged 52 and this was a good match with the age recorded on the Nabob indent. Margaret senior was buried with her husband John, who had died in 1875. She also shared her grave with the four-month-old child Thomas IRVINE, who had been buried on 3 December 1872.104 It is believed that the 1858 Darlinghurst Gaol admission for Mary CONNOLLY who had also arrived on the Nabob and who had a description very similar to that of Margaret COONEY was another gaol admission for Margaret. There were no women named Mary CONNOLLY were on the Nabob. The only other gaol record for Margaret occurred in 1870. Although the age was unclearly recorded, it was probably about 40.105

Margaret was not the woman who was frequently in trouble with the law in and around Sydney between 1844 and 1860 as this woman was identified in gaol records as having arrived on the Diamond. She had been born in about 1807. She was also not the woman imprisoned for 'unsound mind' who was eventually admitted to Tarban Creek, as this woman was from Gundagai and had been born in about 1841.106 There was also a woman of this name who was a Catholic who had arrived aboard the Anglesea in 1838 but she had been born in London in 1806 so was too old to be Margaret's mother.107

No record of a marriage between John COONEY and Margaret CONNOLLY has been identified under any of their aliases and it is considered likely that they had never married. The first incident yet located for the couple attributed by the Entrance Book as Margaret's parents occurred when they were arrested for a theft.108 John and Margaret COONEY appeared in the CPC on 21 November 1859, charged with stealing from Albion House, the residence of Mrs. HUGHES. The couple subsequently appeared at the Sydney Quarter Sessions where John was sentenced to a year in Sydney Gaol. John's occupation on this record indicated that he was a tailor. It was proven that Margaret senior had pawned many of the items stolen from the property under instructions from John at Moss's.109 Margaret stated that she knew nothing more of the incident and John admitted full guilt. The Darlinghurst Gaol records identified that John was a Catholic, born in Ireland in about 1815. It was also recorded that he was a tailor who had arrived free aboard the James Baines in 1849.

By the time of Margaret's arrest in 1867, the man identified in the Entrance Book as her father and who she probably believed at the time of her arrest to be her father, had again been admitted to gaol. His gaoling occurred in March 1866 when he was sentenced to two years for a theft in a dwelling where he stole a trunk, the property of Eliza Ann LOMAS.110 John was arrested by constable HENEBERY and was tried at the Sydney Quarter Sessions on 3 April 1866. Shortly after, the Gazette reported his arrest, again for theft, and attributed to him an alias of Henry LANGHAN or LANGHAM. He was tried on 1 June 1868, at Sydney Quarter Sessions and was sentenced to 2½ years at Berrima Gaol. His name was recorded as Henry LANGHAM alias George COONEY, born in 1814, and this time his ship of arrival is recorded as the Red Jacket in 1854. All other parts of the description, including the date of trial, matched the information given on his release from Port Macquarie with additional identifiers of a long nose, large mouth and round chin. John was sent to Goulburn Gaol and these records, where he was only referred to as John COONEY, identified his place of birth as Rosscrea, Tipperary, Ireland. The description further recorded that John was 'strong and in good health but looks 20 years older than he is'. The Darlinghurst Return of Prisoners indicated that he had formerly been a soldier and identified two former convictions in Sydney for theft on 22 November 1859 and 27 December 1860. His identification appeared in the Darlinghurst Gaol records which identified that he had arrived on the James Baines.111 Due to constant dyspepsia, a request for a transfer to a gaol with a warmer climate was made to the Colonial Secretary. The request was approved so John was sent to Port Macquarie.112 On his transfer from Darlinghurst, John was recorded as Henry LANAGHAN alias COONEY and Port Macquarie records identified him and described him as Henry LANGHAM or LANGHAN alias COOPER. On his release from Port Macquarie in 1868, he was returned to Berrima Gaol113 presumably before being transferred to Sydney. He was again described as being born in Ireland in 1823 and who had arrived on the James Baines in 1849. His occupation varied in gaol records. He was recorded variously as a tailor but by the time of this later imprisonment he was confirmed as a baker. It is possible that this skill was learned or refined in gaol. While trial dates vary slightly between gaol and Police Gazette records, there is no doubt that the men with different names described above were the same person. While John's gaol records indicated that he had arrived free, because two records identified114 that he bore signs of corporal punishment, it is considered almost certain that John had been transported. The Port Macquarie records indicated that John aka Henry was 'ailing' and had three prior convictions, 119 marks and 'conduct of the worst description.'115 Within weeks of his release, as Henry LANGHAN alias John COONEY he was again arrested by constable O'BRIEN in Sydney for two further larcenies and was again remanded for trial.116 During his trial at the June Quarter Sessions a further alias of George COONEY was identified.117 He was sentenced to a further two and a half years in Darlinghurst Gaol118 and was released in 1870.119 No possible convict transport has yet been located for John aka Henry aka George and it is considered very likely that he was originally called none of these names. The possibility of his being a Tasmanian convict who crossed to NSW on either the James Baines or the Red Jacket is considered likely but he could equally have been sent to NSW.

John was released from Darlinghurst Gaol in late 1870. No further confirmation for him can be found until his death in July 1875. His Funeral Notice recorded that his last address was Levey Street, Chippendale.120 Rookwood Catholic Cemetery burial records recorded his age as 55121 although he was likely closer to 60. His burial was in the same plot as the child Thomas IRVINE, the son of his step-daughter, Margaret. The NSW BDM Index identified that his parents were John and Bridget.122

John was not the John COONEY who was admitted twice to Maitland Gaol and who stated that he had been born in Tipperary and had arrived an assisted immigrant on the Jane Gifford in 1841, had arrived with his wife, Catherine, as a farm servant. While this man was about the same age as Margaret's step-father, he is not believed to be the same person because the descriptor of height does not match.

Margaret and John COONEY had only one known child. This was the man named John COONEY who had been born in 1864 and was therefore eight years younger than his half-sister Margaret. There is no doubt thet John was Margaret's half-brother and that the two children only shared a mother. John's father however was almost without any doubt the man identified as Margaret's father in the Entrance Book. There is also no doubt that John junior was Albert's uncle and not his brother even though it is unclear whether either boy was aware of this relationship. In September 1872 John was discharged after an assault when he was accused of being an accessory.123 In April 1883 he spent six months in gaol for theft.124 In May 1888 John was tried for theft and was transferred from Darlinghurst Gaol to Maitland after a trial in Redfern125 on 10 April 1888.126 This event occurred nearly a year after the court appearance where Margaret admitted to supporting him.127 John is however not thought to be the man admitted to Darlinghurst Gaol on 26 January 1901. This man's address was recorded as 19 Poplar Street, City, and he was recorded as a married man whose wife lived at 23 East Street, City. This address matches the family of Patrick COONEY and this family is not thought to be connected.128 The location where John lived with his sister where she provided for him has not been identified.129

It is uncertain whether the John COONEY who died on 3 July 1908, after falling from a bus130 at the age of 44 years was Margaret's brother. Everything points to this event recording his death. His residence just prior to his death was recorded as 17 Alderson Street, Redfern.131 There was no parent recorded when he died. John's Funeral Notice identified that his only brother, Albert, lived at Hornsby132 and this man has been identified as Margaret's son raised by her mother. No mention was made of Margaret in the Funeral Notice.

While the death only indicated an age which matched well with what is known of John, this man was buried in Rookwood Catholic Cemetery133 and shared his grave with a Mary A. COONEY who was buried on 27 September 1919. She was reported to have been 75 and her parents were recorded as John and Ellen on the NSW BDM Index.134 This woman was perhaps Mary COONEY nee SLATTERY. Funeral Notices indicate that she was 78 rather than 75 so she had been born in about 1841. Why they shared a grave is unknown and how she connected has not yet been ascertained. Mary Ann's last address was 3 Elger Street, Glebe.135 Despite the Funeral Notice suggesting that she was to be buried in the Church of England Cemetery, Rookwood Catholic Records show that she was buried with John at the age of 72.

The NSW BDM Index recorded that her parents were John and Ellen.136 It is likely that she was the Mary COONEY described as John's wife in his 1908 Funeral Notice137 although she seems to have been at least 15 years his senior. Without viewing her death registration this cannot be confirmed. This woman was a different Mary COONEY to the woman who died in mid-September 1919138 and who was also buried in Rookwood Catholic Cemetery on 19 September 1919. (It would appear that I have confused the two women so these paragraphs nee a revision.)

Albert COONEY was Margaret's son but it is believed that her mother raised him from his birth in 1873 until she died when he was about nine. Alfred believed that Margaret senior was his mother and not his grandmother and there is also no doubt that John was Albert's uncle and not his brother. It is believed that neither boy was aware of their true relationship. Newspaper reports showed that Albert believed that John was his brother and by extension, that Margaret was his sister. It is possible that after 1882 Albert was raised by John but it also may be that he was raised by somebody else. Whatever the case by January 1884 Albert was almost certainly the boy accused of stealing newspapers in company with another boy named Frederick BELL.139 BELL was almost certainly the son of Annie BANHAM. As a result of this incident, 11-year-old Albert was admitted to the Vernon.140 Upon his arrest he informed the arresting constable that:

his sister would pay double the money if he was let go.141

This unnamed sister was Margaret and just like the incident 20 years later, she remained unidentified. One newspaper report erroneously identified that his brother would pay for him whilst on the Vernon.142 Unfortunately the date of Alfred's Vernon admission would have appeared in the Vernon records that have not survived so no details about Albert's family can be identified from this source. No records for Albert are indexed in the CSIL and this suggests that little additional information about this period of his life remains. In February 1895, there is little doubt that John COONEY advertised requesting that Albert contact him.143 It is believed likely that this was an attempt to reunite the family after Albert's admission to the Vernon and John's gaol admission.

Albert a fishmonger, can be found on the NSW Electoral Roll in 1903/4 in Hornsby. He was living in Hornsby from at least as early as 1902 when his house burnt down.144 Miriam Louisa COONEY held the title for the land in Old Berowra Road from at least as early as 1902.145 By 1930 Albert, Miriam Louise and their likely daughter, Hannah, were living in Old Berowra Road, Hornsby, where Albert was still working as a fishmonger. Albert died in October 1948 at the age of 74. His father was recorded on the NSW BDM Index as Patrick but no mother was identified.146 This identification of his father may be an indication that some contact had occurred with Margaret earlier in his life.

It is believed that John and Albert's actual family lived on the edges of society for much of their life and only infrequently abided by the conventions or laws of NSW.

These trees indicated that Albert had been born in Parramatta and this fact is consistent with him being a brother of the Newcastle admission.

Some online trees have identified that Albert belonged to the family of John and Mary COONEY nee SLATTERY and that he had a brother named James Joseph COONEY who, when he died in 1911, had sisters named Margaret PENROSE nee COONEY and Mrs. S. GRUNDY.147 This cannot be Albert's family but the marriage registration for Albert and Miriam has not been viewed so the names of his parents identified on the registration have not been verified. If this is his family, it is difficult to understand why he was not mentioned in the Funeral Notice of James COONEY and why Albert had twice148 identified that his only brother was John.149 It is believed that the death of Mary COONEY nee SLATTERY whose Funeral Notices indicated that she was 78 rather than 75 occurred a fortnight or so before the death of the woman buried with John COONEY. It was almost certainly this older woman's son John who was the man admitted to Darlinghurst Gaol on 26 January 1901, where his address was recorded as 19 Poplar Street, City, and he was recorded as a married man whose wife lived at 23 East Street, City. This address matched the family of Patrick COONEY. This family is not thought to be connected to John and Margaret COONEY who had never married.150

It is known that this is a difficult family to research and this researcher has not cited all original registrations but it also cannot be known whether the actual registrations of family members given as references on this tree have been viewed. Contact with the descendants of either family would be welcomed.

Where has She Gone?

Margaret was alive in 1907 when she was supporting her brother John. The name she was using at this time is unknown and it is unknown whether she married. No Funeral Notice yet found has identified any sister for either John or Albert.

It may be that Margaret married Thomas DUNN in 1894 after perhaps having children with him but this is just guesswork and needs more investigation. [See file] If this is Margaret's marriage then she may have died in 1909. The NSW BDM Index registration in Sydney for the woman named Margaret A. DUNN whose mother was Margaret,151 indicated that the death had occurred on 29 January 1909. No Family Notice for this death has been identified in the Sydney newspapers and it seems likely that some reference may have have been made to Margaret by her half-brother, Alfred.

This woman was not buried in Rookwood Catholic Cemetery. This was the most appropriate registration number for Margaret DUNN. There were three women of this name who died in 1909. One occurred outside Sydney and the July death in Sydney was for a woman who was 87. There was also a burial in Rookwood Catholic Cemetery on 12 April 1909, for a Margaret DUNN whose age was unknown and for whom there has been no death registration found.

Updated December 2019

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