Pierce, William, Laurence PURCELL

Pierce Purcell                      1825-1877

William Purcell                   1850-1863

Laurence Purcell                1852-1866

Gerald Purcell has provided this information on the Purcell family.
Pierce Purcell was my great grandfather.  He was born in 1825 in the parish of Ballycallan, Kilkenny and arrived in Port Phillip on the ship ‘George Fyfe’ in 1841.  He married Mary Halloran in August 1843 at St Francis Church, Melbourne.  Four children of their union died on or before birth.  Their surviving children were: Laurence 1844-1850 who died five years and nine months and whose grave is in the Old Pioneer’s Cemetery in Fawkner;  William 1849-1863 who died age fourteen years and Laurence 1852-1866 who died aged fourteen years and three months.  It seems they were buried in the Hopetoun Cemetery.  The second born, Laurence, drowned in a dam near the Lerderderg Gorge but I do not know the cause of death of William.  Mary (Halloran) Purcell died in 1853, ten years after she married Pierce.

In May 1854 Pierce married Mary Delahunty at St Francis Church in Melbourne.  She was born in Kilkenny in 1834 and married Pierce at the age of about 20 years.  In 1856 they took up a land selection at Mt Blackwood.  Pierce seems to have been a successful farmer and is commemorated in a stained glass window in the Catholic Church at Korobeit.  Before Catholic churches were built at Blackwood and Korobeit, Sunday Masses were said in the Purcell house at Mt Blackwood.  [Pat Shanahan has a painting of the house but I believe it may be of the house reconstructed after a cyclone in 1901].  Pierce died on 20 July 1877 and was buried in the Hopetoun Cemetery.

The children of Pierce’s marriage to Mary Delahunty were James, Phillip, Mary-Ann, John, Elisha, Geoffrey, Edward, Laurence and Helen.  Mary held the licence at the Plough Inn in Myrniong for many years, and died on 20 January, 1920.  She is buried at Maddingley Cemetery, Bacchus Marsh.  I have no record of Daniel Delahunty but he may have been related to Mary. [Our research has since shown Daniel Delahunty is a brother to Mary Grace [Delahunty] Purcell].

After years of painstaking research, Bill Purcell of Tatura discovered the previously unknown name of his father’s mother. His father, William Purcell, had lived at St Joseph’s Home for Destitute Children at Surrey Hills. William’s mother was Mary Ann Purcell, daughter of Pierce Purcell and his second wife, Mary Grace Delahunty Purcell. Sadly, his illegitimacy caused William to be placed with a nurse who was paid to rear homeless children. From there he was sent to the orphanage. Until the Mackillop Foundation discovered an old register, Bill and his brother, Denis, had no idea their father was the grandson of well respected Mt Blackwood and Myrniong pioneers and early parishioners of St Bernard’s, Bacchus Marsh. By the time Mary Grace Purcell died, the Hopetoun Catholic Cemetery had closed. This would have prevented Mary Grace being buried with her husband, Pierce Purcell.

Laurence married Emily Vallence from Parwan at St Bernard’s Church, Bacchus Marsh in November 1898.  Emily was the aunt of Harry (Soapy) Vallence, the famous Carlton full-forward and was from the large family of Vallences in the Bacchus Marsh area.  Laurence died in 1932 and Emily died in 1953.  Their children were Mary-Grace, Brigid, Alice, Henry, Jane, Eleanor, Hanora, Pierce and John.  Pierce married Thelma Griffiths in 1838 and was my (Gerald Purcell) father. My middle name is Lawrence (meant to be Laurence, I think).

Phillip, the second child of Pierce and Mary, was a member of the Bacchus Marsh Shire Council for about 40 years and was Shire President twice.  He married Margaret Pattison. They bought the property ‘Oakfield’ in Myrniong.  His children lived there until they were very old.  They were rather eccentric as described by Fr Herb Steele in the book Bacchus Marsh by Bacchus Marsh by Geoffrey Camm.’

Geoffrey Purcell standing, Mary Grace Purcell [Delahunty] seated at their home ‘Oakfield’