|Thomas Higgins & Mary Neill/O'Neill
- assisted immigrants from Galway -
My Great Great Great Grandparents:
Thomas Higgins Snr, son of John Higgins and Margaret, born approx 1806. Thomas was a
farm servant and labourer. He could read and write. His religion was Roman Catholic. He
came from Tuam, Galway Ireland. [b]
Mary O'Neill, was baptised as Mary Neal on 26th February 1804 at Tuam, daughter of
Patrick Neal and Honor Walsh [e] Mary's religion was Roman Catholic. She could not read or
write. Her occupation is listed as House Servant. She came from Tuam, Galway [b]
Marriage: Thomas and Mary were married in Tuam, Galway on 17th January 1827,
witnesses were Patrick ONeil and Sally Fahy [e]
Tithe Applotments: the 1831 Tithe Applotments for Tuam show Thomas Higgins residing at
Ballinasha or Ballin, Tuam. Tithe Applotments of Ireland were carried out between 1823 and
1838. These tithes were collected for the Church of Ireland (Protestant) from most
landholders, no matter what their religion. They were collected in each civil parish and listed
by townlands and householder.
Their Children Were: Note - there is another couple Thomas Higgins and Sarah/Sally
Neil who are also baptising children in Tuam at the same time.
Mary Higgins Baptised 7th September 1828 Tuam Galway father Thomas Higgins mother
Mary 'Neil' sponsors Charles Ferny and Mary Ferny [e] Arrived in Australia aboard the
Albatross in 1841 with her parents. Married Patrick Burke in 1855. at Maitland [ref
V18557 101/1855] Mary Burke paid the deposit for sister Honora Higgins to come to
Australia in 1860.
John Higgins baptised 6th May 1831, Tuam Galway, sponsors Patt O'Neil and Margaret
Higgins [e] Arrived in Australia aboard the Albatross in 1841 with his parents. Married
Catherine Connolly at Maitland 1855 [ref V1855261 123/1855]
Bridget Higgins baptised 25th October 1833, Tuam Galway father Thomas Higgins mother
Mary 'Neil' sponsors Sally 'Neil' and James Brennan [e] No record of her coming to
Australia. May have been known as Delia Higgins [c] Delia is a nickname for Bridget and is
mentioned on mother Mary's death cert.
Margaret Higgins born about 1835.No baptism found to date. No record of her coming to
Australia, although her death certificate states she had been here for 53 years making her
arrival date about 1870. Possible arrival aboard the Peterborough in July 1881 as Sarah
Higgins aged 45, single housekeeper from Galway, Roman Catholic, read and write. On 27th
May 1889, Margaret Higgins, dressmaker of Conadilla Street, Gunnedah has a sequestration
order issued [bankruptcy file no 73] On 20th Feb 1890 a Certificate of bankruptcy was
issued. Margaret Higgins, late of Gunnedah died on the 10th of July 1923 at State Hospital
and Asylum, Newington, Lidcombe. Cause of death was senility and chronic rheumatism. Her
remains were left to the Medical School at the Sydney University. They were later recovered
by the undertaker and she was buried in the Roman Catholic section M2 P 2645 of
Rookwood Cemetery on 6th December 1923 . Margaret never married. [Death cert Margaret
Higgins courtesy of Peter]
Honora Higgins born about 1838. No baptism found to date. Honora did not come to
Australia in 1841 with her parents but arrived in Australia on 20th August 1860 aboard the
Tudor with cousin Honora O'Neill. For more about Honona Higgins read A tragic tale of a
servant girl from Galway.
NOTE on missing baptisms: Parents Thomas and Mary's immigration papers show
their native place as Tuam, however their character references are from Springfield,
an area on the boarder with Co. Roscommon, as are the young women who are under
their protection. This would suggest that Thomas and Mary may have moved from
Tuam and hence, baptisms for Margaret and Honora may have been elsewhere. No
record of these baptisms has been found to date. Research continues.
Thomas Nicholas Higgins born 27th July 1841 at sea aboard the Albatross [ref V1841850
121A/1841] Baptised 28th December 1841 in the Parish of East Maitland by Rev E Mahony.
Residence recorded as East Maitland. Father, a labourer - My great x 2 grandfather
James John Higgins born about 1843. James was a contractor and partner in the firm
Higgins and Morriss. His known residences were Sugarloaf, Coolah and Gunnedah. James
died from typhoid on 6th April 1878. He had suffered from the condition for three weeks.
'Frank' Higgins is the informant on his death certificate, [probably brother Patrick Francis
Higgins] James is buried on 7th April 1878 at Gunnedah. James never married. From the
Namoi Independent, 11th April 1878.
Again it is our unpleasant duty to report more losses in our community, three deaths having
taken place during the week, the first being that of Mr. J. J. Higgins, of the firm of Higgins and
Morris, contractors. Mr. Higgins expired at his residence, Barber street, on Saturday last, at
about six o'clock p.m., after suffering for three weeks from typhoid lever. The deceased, who
was 34 years old, was a native of Buchanan, near East Maitland, and had been a resident of
Gunnedah for about eleven months, having previously lived at Coolah, For the short time he
was among us, he had secured the respect and friendship of all with whom he came in
contact, and was one we could ill afford to lose, being always anxious to assist in any
movement for the benefit or amusement of the town. His funeral took place on Sunday
afternoon, and was largely and respectably attended. Mr. Higgins has left many relatives,
with whom much sympathy is felt, as this is the second death in the family within a short
period,- Miss Higgins [note: this is Sarah Elizabeth] having died only about three weeks since.
Sarah Elizabeth Higgins, born 20th May 1846, baptised Parish of East Maitland on 27th
September 1846 [ref V18461814 63/1846] as HIGGANS. Minister was Rev. P Magennis [sic]
Residence shown as Buchannon [sic] Father a farmer. Sarah died 26th March 1878 at
Maquis Street, Gunnedah, of phithisis pulmonalis [Pulmonary consumption] which she has
suffered for 5 months. [ref 9783/1878] She was buried at Gunnedah on 27th March 1878.
Brother 'Frank' Higgins was the informant. Of interest is the fact that father Thomas Higgins
is recorded as a boot and shoe maker on the death certificate.
Patrick Francis J Higgins born NSW 1851 Ref No V18512203 68/1851. Baptised 7th
September 1851, East Maitland [f] Married Ellen Elizabeth Stevens at Gunnedah in 1879
Also 3 Males and 2 Females deceased as per death certificate Mary Higgins 1891. This would
probably include James, Sarah who were both deceased by then and possibly Honora,
Bridget and Thomas who are unaccounted by that date.
Continued Page Two
[a] NSW BDM Index
[b] Shipping Records, State Library Qld.
[c] Death Cert of Mary O'Neill -courtesy of Rick
[d] Galway Immigrants Index - online
[e] Tuam Parish Records- National Library Ireland Website
[g] Death Cert James Higgins - courtesy of Peter
[h] Baptism and death cert Sarah E Higgins
[i] Baptism cert Thomas Higgins