|James Gillan Byrne/Burns
- a convict's child -
James Byrne was born [according to his death certificate and birth certificates of his children]
about 1825/6 in Dublin Ireland, to Esther Byrne and her first husband. To date, no baptism
has been found.
According to his death certificate James came to Australia about 1833 however I have been
unable to find a corresponding shipping record. He probably arrived in 1830 aboard the
convict ship Asia, as the unnamed child with his widowed mother Esther Byrne. The Asia
arrived in Sydney on 13th January 1830. Within 5 months of arriving, Esther married Patrick
[also known as John] Gillan, an ex-convict per Tyne who arrived in 1819. James was
sometimes known by his stepfather's surname Gillan. James had two brothers, Robert Gillan
born about 1833 and Thomas Gillan born 1831.
According to the book 'Back to Cooma Celebrations' published in 1926, James Gillon [sic],
and his brothers, came to the 'Maneroo' in the early 1830s as servants of settlers John
Cosgrove and his step brothers Charles and Henry York. [NOTE: Since Robert and Thomas
Gillan were both under 5 years of age in the 'early 1830s' it seems unlikely they were working
as servants without their mother being also employed. Records show that Esther was still in
Sydney at this time. I suspect James and his brothers came to the Monaro region later,
perhaps in the mid 1840s. Cosgrove settled at Billylingera which is about 17 miles north of
Cooma. Cosgrove and York also had holdings at Queens Gallery and Adaminaby. The York
brothers had a holding at Black Springs which was managed by James Devereux senior, who's
wife Susan would be present at the birth of several of James' sons.
There is mention of James 'Gillan' donating one pound to the collection by Rev Kavanagh in
the district of Queanbyan and Monaro for the Irish relief fund in October 1846. This may be
the earliest mention of James in the district. He appears on the list again in September 1847
sandwiched between the names John Cosgrove and Henry York. Curious is the fact that he
appears as 'Mr' James Gillan an appellation usually reserved for the upper classes. Thomas
Gillan also appears on that list.
Marriage: James, recorded as James Burns, married Elizabeth Callon [sic] Callan on 4th
January 1852 [ref V1852192 98/1852] at Bungendore, according to the Roman Catholic rites.
Both Elizabeth of Bungendore and James of Maneroo signed with an X indicating they
probably could not read or write. Witnesses were George Sparrow and Mary Ann Brunton,
both of Bungendore.
James and Elizabeth had four sons: - as per James death cert.
John Burns born 7th October 1852, baptised 13th October 1852 [ref V18521603 69/1852] in
the parish of Queanbeyan. Father recorded as James Burns. Residence -Billylingerra. John
died 17th October 1855 aged 3, no registration found but he is buried with his father in the
old Cooma Cemetery.
Thomas Byrne aka Thomas Gillan/Gillon Byrnes born 4th September 1854 baptised 27th
September 1854 [V18541966 71/1854] in the Parish of Queanbeyan. Father recorded as
James Byrne. Residence -Billylingerra. 'Thomas Gillan BURNS' is recorded as land claimant
at Woolumla, Cooma QA 12th April 1879 [also mentioned Robert Gillan] Married Mary
Connelly in Cooma in 1882 [ref 5321/1882] as Thomas Gillan Byrnes. Thomas Byrnes died
1917 at Forbes in the home of son Reginald at Sherrif Street.
Children: From NSW BDM Index :
24753/1884 BURNS/BYRNES JAMES P THOMAS MARY COOMA
26472/1886 BURNS REGINALD E THOMAS G MARY COOMA . Died West Wyalong
21606/1889 BURNES EDITH M THOMAS MARY GRENFELL
15475/1892 BYRNS BERTIE E THOMAS MARY GRENFELL
18088/1897 BYRNES PETER J THOMAS MARY WYALONG
James Burns aka James Gillon Burns aka James Gillon born 17th October 1857 at
Billlingera, District of Cooma, father James Burns, mother Eliza 'Carron' [ref 6115/1857] Note
: Correct couple as marriage date per birth cert matches. Present at birth were Susan Deverix
[sic] and Eliza Pecherham. James never married. James was a mail contractor according to his
death certificate. James 'Gillon' of Sharp Street, Cooma died on 19th February 1927 of
Prostate Hypertrophy and Cystitis. Half sister Anges Woodcroft nee Engelman of the same
address was the informant. He was buried on 20th February 1927 in the Roman Catholic
section of the Cooma Cemetery [Mittagang Road] Half sister Agnes Woodcroft nee Englemann
would later be buried in the same grave.
Robert Gillan aka Robert Gillon Burns aka Robert Gillon, born 5th December 1858 at
Billylingerra in the District of Cooma ref 6521/1858, just 2 days before father James died.
Present at the birth was Mrs Deverix sic. James' brother Robert Gillan was the Informant
which may account for the fact the registration is in the name Gillan and not Byrne. Robert
Gillan died in West Wyalong in 1935 -ref 13208/1935 GILLON ROBERT JAMES
ELIZABETH WEST WYALONG .
His obituary in the Albany Banner dated 5th July 1935 reads:
Mr Robert Gillon, aged 73 years, died in the District Hospital. He had been gradually failing in
health for a considerable period, and had on previous occasions been an inmate of the District
Hospital. The late Mr. Gillon had been a resident in the town and district for more than 30
years. He was mostly engaged in droving and the care of stock up to the time that his advanced
age and the state of his health precluded further activities. The deceased is survived by two
brothers, who reside in Sydney; and two step-sisters — Mrs. M. McCarthy (Cowra) and Miss
Ingram, (Moss Vale).
Billylingera: Billylingera was about 17 miles north of Cooma. Billylingera, a native word mean
resting place of the Native Companion covered an area of 16, 640 acres held by Jonh Cosgrove
one of the first settlers in the area. The Devereaux family were employed by Charles York, step
brother of John Cosgrove
Death: James, a labourer, died on 7th December, 1858, aged 33. [reg under Gillan ref 3317
1858 - parents John & Henrietta] Cause of death was disease of the liver, length of illness was
4 months. Brother Robert Gillan was the informant which may account for the use of the
Gillan surname once again. Joseph Ward snr and John Cosgrove were witnesses to his burial.
Widow Elizabeth nee Callan later married Martin Engelmann
Untangling the origins of James Gillan Byrne/Burns has been a long process. His surname is
spelt several different ways and some records also show his stepfathers surname Gillan. The
search was made even more difficult by the fact that his stepfather was also known by two
different Christian names and multiple spellings of his surname and his mother Esther married
at least three times. There are several missing registrations for the family but I am slowing
Last Update 30th November 2011
Below: Christ Church Cemetery, Cooma. Graves of
James Gillan Burns [sic] and wife Elizabeth Callan and
two of their children [John Burns and Edward
Right: Grave of James Gillan Burns [sic]
Sacred to the memory of
James Gillan Burns
who departed this life Dec 1858 aged 33
Also his son John who departed this life 1855 aged 3 years
Verse - unreadable
This stone was erected by his bereaved widow