Eliza, Catherine, Matthew, Mary, Daniel, Edmund FINNIN

Eliza Finnin                          1824-1857

Catherine Finnin                 1833-1876

Matthew Finnin                   1812-1894

Mary Finnin                          1816-1886

Daniel Finnin                        1809-1889

Edmund Finnin                    1806-1898

Bernice Clarke nee Finnin writes:  ‘Daniel, Edmund and Matthew Finnan (in Ireland) Finnin (in Australia) were the sons of John Finnan and Ellen Merrigan who married at St Michael’s Church, Tipperary town on 14th February, 1797.  Obituaries published in Ireland refer to the family as being fiercely patriotic people with literary ability and ability as stonemasons.  Jeremiah ‘Myles’ Finnan, the famous Irish Fenian poet, was a nephew of Daniel, Edmund and Matthew.  ‘Finnan’ is the spelling used in Ireland. It became ‘Finnin’ in Australia.

John and Ellen first built a small, stone cottage on Ballinleenty townland, not far out of Tipperary town.  To accommodate their growing family (sixteen children), they built a large, substantial stone house with a thatched roof.  A huge open hearth was a feature of the kitchen.  This building is still solid and is being
used as a farm img_8347shed by the present owner, Paddy Doherty.  It was a great privilege to be taken by Paul Merrigan (who shares the Merrigan family tree with me) to visit this property and to meet Paddy, a grandson of John Finnan and Kate Doherty.

The eldest son, William, farmed with his father.  The neimg_8303xt two boys built stone houses on Arduvullane townland.  Both, now unoccupied, are on land which was sold to the government but could easily be renovated.  Recently one of the homes has been repurchased by a Finnan family member.  Some of the Finnans were stonemasons and recognised as excellent craftsmen. Again thanks to Paul Merrigan and his friend, PJ Merrick, we were able to access these homes.

The next son farmed close by and the fifth boy also worked on his parents’ property.

Obviously, the family land could not support any more families so Daniel, Edmund and Matthew made the decision to emigrate.  They settled in Bacchus Marsh in the area known as ‘Tipperary Flats’ because it reminded the early Irish pioneers of their native land.

Daniel Finnin married Mary Ryan, daughter of Patrick Ryan and Margaret Moloney, on 20th  February 1854 at St Michael’s Church, Tipperary.  Their exact arrival date is not known but Daniel appeared on the 1856 West Burke, Bacchus Marsh Division of the Australian Electoral Roll.  He qualified as a leaseholder as did his brother, Matthew, who was on the same roll.  In 1867, Daniel obtained a beer licence for a house at Deep Creek.  This house was right on the roadway at the top of Anthony’s Cutting.

As well as Daniel having brothers in Bacchus Marsh, his wife Mary had a brother, John Ryan, here.  John lost his life in a farm accident in 1868.

Mary died at ‘Summerhill’ on 21st December 1886.  Her death certificate said she was 70 years of age but her baptism record would indicate 76 years.  Daniel died on 19th November 1889 at the age of 80.  Daniel and Mary did not have children.  A substantial headstone still stands on their grave at Hopetoun Cemetery within the remaining foundation stones depicting the old church building.

Edmund Finnin arrived as Ed Finnan into Victoria on the ‘Nor Wester’ from New Zealand in November 1862 and was known in Australia as Edward.  Jim Quillinan, a descendant of Catherine Quillinan [Finnan], Edmund’s sister, who emigrated with her husband and children, has a trunk with the name Edmund Finnin on it.  If only it could talk?

In 1872 Edward was granted a ten pound publican’s licence for a house at the top of Anthony’s Cutting.  The valuation return for Bacchus Marsh in 1877-1878 had Edward’s hotel being rated.  Matthew and Daniel were also property owners on the same return. This home, ‘The Traveller’s Rest’, was demolished in my lifetime.  Edmund/Edward didn’t marry and lived with his nephew, Matthew, for three years prior to his death in 1898.  His death was not without controversy. Edward had failed to apply for burial rights at Hopetoun Cemetery after its closure but Matthew buried Edward in the cemetery without permission.  Much correspondence relating to this illegal burial went between the parties with the local police being instructed to actively ensure that only licensed interments take place, but no prosecution resulted.  I feel rather proud that Matthew ensured Edward was laid to rest with his brothers.

Matthew Finnin married Eliza O’Doherty at St Michael’s Tipperary on 26th  November, 1853.  They left Liverpool on 18th January, 1854 on the ‘Indian Queen’ and arrived in Melbourne on 22nd April, 1854.  The shipping record said Eliza was 20 and Matthew was 28.  He was really 38.  I assume that Matthew knew the Leahy family as the Leahy and Finnan folk in Ireland were neighbours.  Matthew Finnin’s nephew in Ireland married Mary Leahy.  It must have been this that brought the young couple to Bacchus Marsh.  They settled first at the base of Anthony’s Cutting and then moved to the top of the cutting where they purchased land from John Connell.  This land was farmed by the family.  My grandfather, father and I grew up on this land.  In more recent times the land was purchased by the government for freeway development.’

Matthew and Eliza had one son, John, born in 1855.  Sadly, Eliza died on 1st January, 1856. John did not marry and worked on the family farm until his death in 1922.

Ten months after her death, Matthew married Eliza’s sister, Catherine, at the St Laurence O’Toole Church.  They had eleven children.  In 1867, Catherine slipped and broke her leg when she was pregnant with Matthew.  Catherine died in 1876 when her youngest child was only four months of age.  No doubt the eldest two daughters had the task of rearing their younger siblings.  Matthew died in 1894, having survived a black snake bite in 1867.  He had served on the committee for the Merrimu School.  His children attended this school and later the Djerriwarrh School.

The eldest daughter of Matthew Finnin and Catherine Doherty, Johannah, married James Hogan, the brother of Michael Hogan, my maternal great grandfather.  James died when he was quite young and Johannah was left with nine children.  She moved to WA where she remarried. Many descendants still live in WA.

Patrick, the eldest son was a railway employee and married Catherine O’Shea daughter of Stephen Shea and Catherine [Corbett] Shea who was born in Bacchus Marsh.  Some time prior to 1869, just prior to Stephen’s death, Stephen and Catherine had moved further west near Ballan.  After Catherine junior’s death Patrick Finnin married Charlotte Wilson.

Ellen Finnin married William Serong.  William Finnin, the child of Margaret McCullagh and Edward Finnin, was reared as Walter Serong.

Elizabeth Finnin married Francis Stewart.

Daniel Finnin married Emily Stephens and they moved to Perth, WA, where Daniel won £3000 in the state lottery.

Catherine Finnin and Joseph Ryan were married at Shepparton.  Catherine’s mother died when Catherine was about ten years old.  She was sent to live with her relatives Michael Quillinan and Catherine nee Finnin at Kilmore.  She was so homesick and unhappy she walked from Kilmore to Bacchus Marsh.  Joseph was on the ‘Ned Kelly’ family tree.

Matthew Finnin married Catherine McCullagh in 1898 at St Bernard’s, Bacchus Marsh. They were my grandparents.  My grandfather acted as caretaker of the Hopetoun Cemetery for some time.  After his death, Bill Griffith took on the responsibility.  Their only son, Matthew Finnin, was my father.  He married Mary Hogan, daughter of William Dodemaide Hogan and Catherine McGrath.  She was a grand-daughter of Michael Hogan and great grand-daughter of William Hogan and Annie Doorley, who married in Lorrha parish, North Tipperary in 1834. Matthew and Mary, who died in 1980 and 1987 respectively, are buried at Maddingley Cemetery, Bacchus Marsh with their 21 month old son, John, who died in a car accident which hospitalised my mother for many months.  Their first child, a son, who lived just ten hours is also buried at that cemetery.  I am the last Finnin living in Bacchus Marsh.  My eldest son, Hamish, lives with his wife, Ashley, and daughters, Maisie and Meridie, in North Carolina, USA. Hamilton, my youngest son, has recently moved from Beijing, China to Bordeaux, France.

Matthew and Catherine’s eighth child, Margaret married Laurence Cuolahan at Coolgardie, WA.

Edmund Finnin, the ninth child, did not marry.

Mary Finnin, the tenth child, married Robert Kells and the youngest child, William, is not known to have married.

The erection and dedication of the Hopetoun Cemetery Memorial Stones on 22nd October, 2016 has been an important project for me to see completed.

From ‘The Finnin Family History’ [Bernice Clarke]