Person Sheet


Name

John O'FARRELL

Birth

1843, County Clare, Ireland

Death

14th April 1890, Dunnstown Age: 47. See Coroner's inquest. Burnt to death in house fire whilst under the influence of alcohol.

Burial

16 Apr 1890, Ballarat Cemetery Age: 47

Father

John O'FARRELL

Mother

Bridget O'NEIL

Spouses:

1

Martha WILKINSON in St Mary's Catholic Church, Geelong on the 10th May 1877

Birth

8 Oct 1859, Ballarat, Vic

Death

31 Jul 1902, Yarragon Age: 42, cause appendicitis, now known to be curable. 

Occupation

House servant prior to marriage

Father

Thomas WILKINSON (1817-1879)

Mother

Ellen HENRY (1831-1870)

 

Children:

Bridget (1877-1877)

 

Patrick (1879-)

 

Cathleen (1881-)

 

Ellen (1883-)

 

Martha (1884-)

 

Bridget (1885-)

 

John "Jack" (1887-1961)

 

James (1889-1946)

 

Thomas (1889-1919)

Notes for John O'FARRELL

BIO:BIO:John O'Farrell was born in one Ireland's poorest counties, County Clare in 1843. At the age of sixteen years and with no formal education, John O'Farrell left the hardships of Ireland behind and began a trip to the other end of the earth. It appears John may have travelled with his parents and 4 brothers to Australia. Each of them taking up small land allocations around Ballarat. It is unknown if they were involved in the gold mining prior to this. At the age of 34 John married Martha Wilkinson (18yrs) the only surviving child of the second marriage, Thomas and Ellen Wilkinson in St Marys catholic church Geelong on the 10th May 1877. Despite his reputation as a hard drinker John was a successful farmer. The alcohol did take it's toll on family life, when combined with his temper, he could be very frightening and brutal towards his family, who frequently fled to the bush to avoid him till he fell asleep and sobered up. It eventually led to his own death in 1893 when after just such an episode, he was burnt to death when he became trapped in his own burning house.

TERRIBLE DEATH BY    
BURNING.
(From OUR CORRESPONDENT.)
BALLARAT. TUESDAY.
A case of burning to death took place at Warrenheip last evening under singular circumstances, the victim being a man named John O’Farrell, who lost his life while mad with drink, and apparently by his own hand It appears that O’Farrell was in Ballarat on Monday, and having gone home about 8 o'clock quite drunk, he proceeded to use violence towards his wife and family (of whom there are seven, ranging in age up to 11 vears) The wife, with her children, sought refuge from the madman in some scrub near the house, intending to stay there until O’Farrell might be asleep. In the meantime a neighbour, named McInerney, proceeded to the house with the intention ot appeasing the drunken jun, but O'Farrell pushed him   outside the door, which he locked, at the same time threatening to burn the house over his head. This he appears to have done, for shortly afterwards Mrs. O’Farrell, from the scrub, saw the building ablaze, but was powerless to do anything. There being no water available the fire burnt itself nearly out, when Constable Nelms. of the Warren help station arrived, and after some trouble partially subdued the flames. Although there were then about 30 persons on the scene, and O’Farrell was known to be in the burning house, nothing could be done to save him, as be had locked himself in whilst locking McInerney out The remains when found amongst the ruins presented a horrible appearance the head, arms, and legs being completely burnt off the body, which was a mere shapeless mass of charred and burnt flesh. Whether he had wilfully set fire to the house, or whether he lay down to  sleep and left the candle burning by which the lining of the building had become ignited cannot be known, but McInerney says that when he was in the house O’Farrell  attempted to set fire to the canvas ceiling in his drunken madness It is a curious fact that the deceased's brother, some years ago, met his death by falling and breaking his neck whilst pursuing his wife with an axe to cut her in pieces. The truth is he feel hitting his head , fracturing  his skull whilst chasing one of his children to punish them, as reported in the newspapers at the time.

Dunnstown  farm site behind Old Distillery


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COUNTY CLARE

"Clare, a county of Ireland, province of Munster, 55 miles long and 38 broad; bounded on the W by the Atlantic, N by Galway, and E and S by the Shannon, which separates it from Tipperary, Limerick, and Kerry. It is divided into 79 parishes, has two market towns, and sends three members to parliament. It breeds more horses than any other county in Ireland, beside a great number of cattle and sheep. Pop. 209,595. Capital, Ennis."
[From The New London Gazetteer (1826)]

At the age of sixteen years and with no formal education, John O'Farrell left the hardships of Ireland behind and began a trip to the other end of the earth.

Unemployment was an endemic problem in Clare for decades before the famine ~1849. That is how the term 'ordinary labourer' came to be used to describe the unemployed rather than those who worked regularly. The destruction of the potato crop during the famine removed their last means of subsistence. The Boards of Guardians in the Poor Law Unions considered that they should lessen the burden on their finances, by offering free passage to Australia to orphan girl inmates between the ages 14 and 18 years. The workhouses during the period 1840-1862, were homes for the most destitute children in Ireland. One boat the Thomas Arbuthnot arrived into Sydney on the 3rd February 1850 with a cargo of orphans, including eighty-two girls from Co. Clare workhouses. A number of wealthy citizens in Australia to-day are direct descendants of those girls.

John O'Farrell sailed from Liverpool on the 20th of January 1859 aboard the "Prince of Seas" and arrived in Port Phillip one hundred and three days later on the 3rd of May 1859. The new colony provided many rewards for a hard working labourer and John was able to farm for himself first at Lal-Lal south of Ballarat then Warrenheip. At the age of 34 John married Martha Wilkinson (18yrs) the only surviving child of Thomas and Ellen Wilkinson in St Mary's catholic church Geelong on the 10th May 1877. Despite his reputation as a hard drinker John was a successful farmer and good horseman. His work horses were a champion pull team. The alcohol did take it's toll on family life, when combined with his temper, he could be very frightening and brutal towards his family, who frequently fled to the bush to avoid him till he fell asleep and sobered up. It eventually led to his own death in 1893 when after just such an episode, he was burnt to death when he became trapped in his own burning house.

 

Last Modified 28 Dec 2003

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