- a thrice married convict from Dublin and her
second husband -
Esther BYRNE was born about 1805 in Dublin city Dublin, Ireland. According to details
given on her son Robert's death certificate, Esther's maiden name was Murphy but I have
been unable to confirm this information. Possible baptism Esther, daughter of James Murphy
and Ann, sponsers Patrick Sullivan? and Cath O'Brien at St Marys Pro-Cathedral Dublin on
15th March 1807.
First Marriage: To Unknown Byrne in Dublin Ireland, probably before 1825.
James Gillan Byrne/s: Esther's son from her first marriage. Born about 1825/6. James is
sometimes recorded with his stepfather's surname Gillan as a middle name and occasionally
a surname. [A POSSIBLE baptism is James Byrne baptised 27th May 1824, son of Thomas
Byrne and Esther [no maiden name given] Sponsers John Doyle and Elizabeth Cruise. Parish
BOOTERSTOWN BLACKROCK &DUNDRUM - from RootsIreland.ie]
Conviction and Transportation: As a 23year old widow Esther was convicted of child stealing
and street theft along with Mary Collins, in Dublin City on 16th July 1828. The following
account appears in Freeman's Journal dated 17th July 1828:
Recorders Court, Yesterday - Child Stealing.
Esther Byrne and Mary Collins were indicted for feloniously, and by force and fraud,
stealing away on 27th June last, Thomas Barnusconi junior, a child of 7 years old
with intent to steal and take from his person certain articles of wearing apparel. The
prisoners were indicted on a second count of enticing away said Thomas Barnusconi
junior and stealing from his person a pair of boots and a bib, property of Thomas
Barnusconi senior. The prisoners were found guilty and after a suitable address from
the Recorder who descanted on the enormity of their conduct, in a very feeling and
eloquent manner, they were sentenced to seven years transportation. The
announcement of the sentence seemed to give great satisfaction to a crowed Court.
Esther Byrne and her accomplice Mary Collins were transported on the Asia, which sailed
from Cork on 10th September 1829 with 200 female convicts aboard. The Asia arrived in
Sydney on 13th January 1830. Esther had no previous convictions. Esther is described as
being 5’ 2” tall, with a ruddy pock pitted complexion, brown hair and brown eyes. Her
occupation is shown as ‘all work’. She had a child on board, probably son, James Byrne. Her
possessions are listed as 1 gown, 1 cape and 1 shawl. Mary Collins, aged 27 was a married
woman with one child [probably not on board as not mentioned in indent] and a kitchen maid
of all work. On arrival Esther most likely was assigned to the Female Factory as her shipping
indent does not show her assignment.
Esther BYRNE aged 23 married ex-convict Patrick GILLAN aged 27, free by servitude in
1830. The List of Persons Applying for the Publication of Banns at the Catholic Chapel
Sydney [Ancestry] shows Esther as a 23 year old widow working for Thomas Fraser who has
given his permission. Patrick is aged 27 and a tailor. Permission [per ancestry records] dated
13th May Rev JJ Therry, Sydney. Catholic Church record shows the date as 12th May 1830.
Mary Dwyer was the witness. Esther was most likely assigned to her new husband Patrick
after their marriage.
Patrick GILLAN aka John Gillan - was born about 1802 in Dublin. A possible baptism is
Patrick Gillon [sic] December 1801 at Saints Michael and John, Dublin, parents Thomas
Gillon and Cathhe [sic] Kennedy. Sponsors Thomas Jones and Margaret Kennedy.
Conviction and transportation: Patrick was convicted of the theft of wearing apparel in
Dublin March 1818. He was sentenced to 7 years transportation. The first use of the name
'John' appears in the Kilmainham Prison General Register 1815-1823 Book no 1/10/50 Item
no 9 [FMP] along with other men sent from Dublin's Negate prison who were to be
transported on the Tyne.
Patrick arrived in Sydney on 4th January 1819 aboard the ‘Tyne’. He is described as being 5’
2 1/2” tall, complexion dark, hair brown, eyes hazel. His native place was Dublin. He was a
tailor by trade. He was just 16 years old.
1819 On arrival Patrick was assigned to government labour in the Colony.
1820 Patrick is still in government employ in the Colony
1821 Patrick is still in government employ in the Colony
Per Colonial Sec Papers: GILLAN, Patrick. Per "Tyne", 1819
1821 Oct 16: Patrick Gillan on list of prisoners transported to Newcastle per "Elizabeth
Henrietta" (Reel 6008; 4/3504 p.407) The gaol description and entry book records for 22nd
September 1821 John Gillin [sic] per 'Tine' [sic] appeared before the Sydney bench, crime
unknown at this time. This is the first record of Patrick under the christian name John in
Australia. He was sentenced to 50 lashes and two years hard labour at Newcastle.
1822 Muster: John GILLAN [sic] per Tyne, convict 7 years Govt Employee at Newcastle, fits
with Col Sec papers per Patrick Gillan.
1823 Sep 25 : On list of convicts removed from Newcastle to Port Macquarie per "Lady Nelson"
(Reel 6019; 4/3864 pp.430-1)
1825 Muster: Patrick GILLAM/N per Tyne free by servitude, arr: 1818 7years, residing
1825: Patrick was issued with a certificate of freedom on 9th April 1825.
1828 Australia census: Patrick is recorded with the surname 'Gilly' aged 26, free by
servitude, per Tyne, catholic, tailor residing at Cambridge Street, Sydney.
Esther and Patrick had at least two children:
Thomas Gillin [sic]: was born '15th May last', baptised 2nd September 1831, St Mary's,
Sydney, mother Esther Byrne, father John Gillin [sic], residence, [female] factory. Note: This
baptism probably took place whilst Esther was serving time in the female factory for
assault - see below.
Robert Gillan There is conflicting evidence as to where and when Robert was born. According
to the birth cert of his daughter Clara in 1881, of which Robert was the informant, he gives
his place of birth as Sydney and his age as 48 making his date of birth about 1833. However,
according to his death certificate, where son James was the informant Robert was born at sea
in 1829. This is unlikely as there is no mention of this birth in the surgeons journal for the
1831 - Violent Assault: On 30th July 1831 a warrant was issued for the arrest of John Gillon
and Esther Gillon. The charges read as follows:
John Gillon free appears upon summons to answer a charge of violently assaulting
Margaret Freeman and Esther Gillon late Byrne per Asia for 7 years assigned to her
husband stands charged with the same offence.
Margaret Freeman a prisoner of the Crown assigned to James Donnelly, carpenter
residing in Clarence Street, being sworn deposeth and saith yesterday afternoon the
prisoners Esther Gillon who was a little intoxicated came into the house of my master
and made a disturbance and challenged me to fight. I told her to go home. My mistress
told her the same. She immediately came to me and struck me. She struck me again
and tore the gown off my back when I struck her and her husband the defendant John
Gillon, who was present struck me a blow on the face with his crutch [he is a lame
man] which blow cut my face and swelled and bruised my eye as it now appears. The
defendant and his wife live next door to my master. I did not go to Gillon's house. I did
not knock Esther Gillon down and rob her of 3 [looks like dollars!] Sworn 30th July
1831 by M Freeman who made her mark.
Rhoda the wife of James Donnelly, carpenter residing in Clarence Street, being sworn
deposeth and saith yesterday the prisoner Esther Gillon made a disturbance at my
house and called my servant Margaret freeman several bad Names. I desired her to go
to her own house next door and she abused me. Margaret Freeman was hanging out
some clothes in my yard and Esther Gillon was behind her and struck her. Margaret
Freeman told her that she would speak to her when she was sober and she struck her
again and tore her gown when Margaret Freeman struck Esther Gillon and the
defendant John Gillon instantly struck Margaret Freeman a blow to the face with his
crutch. I saw him strike her again with his crutch. One of the blows was upon her eye
and it bruised and swelled it as it now appears: he was going to strike her with his
crutch and I prevented him. Sworn 30th July 1831 by Rhoda Donnelly who made her
John Gillon was committed for trial and Esther Gillon was found guilty of the assault and
sentenced to one month to 3rd Class to [female] factory and to be [returned?] to service.
On 30th July 1831 Esther appears in the description book for the Sydney Gaol and is
described as being 4 foot eleven inches tall with a stout build, sallow complexion, fair hair and
grey eyes [quite different from her initial description at time of transportation]
On 20th August 1831, John Gillon of Clarence street, was granted bail of 20 pounds. He
made his mark.
On 28th October 1831 Margaret Freeman consented to forgo the prosecution and the case
against John is withdrawn. This is the last confirmed mention of him in the records.
Death: I have not found a death registration for Patrick/John Gillan [and variations] but we
know he died between 1831 and 1835 when Esther is recorded as the 'widow of John Dillon'
[sic]. A probable death is that of John Dillon [sic] who is reported to have drowned at The
Domain. An inquest was held in December 1833 but I have not found a corresponding death
registration. The Sydney Monitor reports that John Dillon was a tailor in the employ of the
government. The Sydney Gazette reports he was a tailor employed at the Military Barracks.
The Sydney Monitor dated Saturday 21st December 1833 reported the following details of the
An Inquest was held on Tuesday last at the Rum Puncheon public house, Kings Wharf
on the body of John Dillon, a tailor in the employ of the Government. The deceased: in
company with another Government man went into the Domain to bath. Being no
swimmer, he tied his braces and pocket handkerchief to his waist which his
companion on shore held. Deceased plunged into the water and dragged his
companion with him from the rock on which he was standing. Deceased grappled with
his companion in the water and nearly drowned him; the latter with difficulty
extricated himself and made for the shore. The deceased immediately went down.
Verdict -accidental death.
1834 - Esther Gillon late Byrne appears in the gaol description book for 4th June 1834. She
is described as a servant and catholic. She was reduced to 3rd class for three months.
July 1835 - Certificate of Freedom: no35/773
Esther BYRNE [sic] was granted her certificate of freedom on 22nd July 1835. At the time she
is recorded as being the widow of John DILLON [sic] per ship Tyne. Occupation servant. Year
of birth 1807, Native Place; Dublin Height; 5” 2’ Complexion; ruddy and pock pitted Hair;dark
October 1835 - Esther GILLON [state archives quarter sessions] DILLON [Sydney Gazette and
NSW Advertiser] was charged with stealing a gown, three handkerchiefs and three shawls but
the case was dismissed. Esther also appears in the gaol description book which notes she was
acquitted in September 1835. The Sydney Gazette of 24th October 1835 reported the
Esther Dillon [sic], charged with stealing a gown, three handkerchiefs, three shawls,
etc the property of Mary Larkham. Mary Larkham sworn, deposeth, that she lives in
Kent-street; in the month of July the prisoner and other women were in her passage; I
went out and locked the door, on my return the door was open, and the above named
articles were stolen. Verdict. Not Guilty.
1836: Esther appears in the gaol description book for January 1836 [as Gillon] and again in
August 1836. She is described as being 5 foot 3 inches tall, slender build, fresh complexion,
dark hair, brown eyes and being pockpitted. She is on bail in September 1836.
It also appears that she was living with John Madden an ex-convict per John Barry (2) born
about 1797 in Kings Co Ireland, and sentenced in Dublin City to 7 years transportation for
shop lifting. John was a tailor. John and Esther appear side by side in the gaol entrance
book for August as well as having entries for January and August. The Sydney Monitor date
18th November 1836 reports the following:
John and Esther Madden were charged with committing an assault in Ann Roberts.
Roberts stated that the defendants came to her house the other night, and called her
out, and commenced ill using her for refusing to go to their house, and permit the
familiarity of a man who at one time lived with her; but she did not wish to proceed
any further against them. Discharged.
The Sydney Gazette dated 8th November 1836 also reports the following:
On Sunday a fellow named Lawrence Mahony, went into the house of a woman in Kent-
street, called Esther Madden, to enquire after her health, on leaving he found means to
carry with him a shawl, she immediately discovered her loss and gave information to a
constable, pursuit as made after the culprit and the missing shawl was found secreted
in his bosom under his jacket. He was taken into custody.
Continued Page 2
Last Update 1st June 2015