Margaret Gorman

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Margaret Gorman is associated with Melbourne, Victoria, Australia located at these coordinates -37.8113667, 144.9718286

Date of Birth: 1833
Date of Death:
Also known as: margaret walker
Related Resource URL:
User Tags: irish famine orphan, lady kennaway, earl grey scheme

Margaret Gorman arrived in the Lady Kennaway from the Donegal Union Workhouse in Rathmullen, Co. Donegal, Ireland– she was aged 15, Roman Catholic, unable to read or write, possessed no religious books and her Mother was her sole surviving parent at the time of leaving Ireland. (Nominal Passenger List - VPRS 14/P0000/00004).

Margaret left the Immigration Depot on 1st February 1849 when she was engaged by Mrs. Ensor of Melbourne, for 12 months. (Disposal List - VPRS 14/P0000/0006)

The Immigration Branch claimed that she was obviously an imbecile when selected by the Workhouse to be sent to the Colony and that there should be some funds made available to defray the cost of her maintenance and support as she is incapable of working. The Donegal Poor Law Union claimed that it was impossible that she would have been selected to participate in the Irish Orphan scheme if she was so far advanced in imbecility as the Immigration Branch and the Superintendent of Port Phillip claim. In addition, it is impossible to interrogate the Master and Matron of the Workhouse as neither are still employed at the Workhouse and, indeed, have actually left the country. The Matron of the Lady Kennaway advised that Margaret Gorman had been subject to fits, was unfit for domestic service and in an advanced state of imbecility while under her charge on the voyage to the Colony. The Chief Matron, Christina Ensor, expressed her willingness to feed and clothe Margaret and endeavour to train her to undertake some duties for the period of twelve months for the sum of five to six pounds. Margaret Gorman expressed her willingness to remain under Mrs. Ensor’s care. 28 May 1849 – Joseph Mulreany, MD, from the Donegal Union wrote that Margaret Gorman had measles and fever while under his care in the Workhouse but did not have fits of any description in that time. Indeed, while convalescing, she assisted in keeping the ward clean and seemed to be of ordinary intelligence for a girl of her years. 15 June 1849 - Margaret Gorman had been vaccinated, was free of abdominal and chest diseases and was in perfect health. On the morning that the Emigrants were to leave the Workhouse, Margaret Gorman heard the cries of her mother and fell in a fit from the car in which she was being removed to Dublin. It also was revealed that she had had subject to fits since her last admission to the Workhouse but that these facts had been carefully hidden from Captain Herbert, Lt. Henry and himself. The nature of epilepsy makes it difficult to detect and many epileptics can perform correctly the normal duties of life. It was impossible for Dr. Mulreany to pronounce Margaret Gorman unfit when the facts had been carefully suppressed from him. 9 August 1849 – After an interview with the medical officer, Hospital Nurse, Schoolmistress and a Laundry worker, C.G. Otway has decided that there was no evidence to suppose that Margaret Gorman was subject to fits and unsuitable for selection for immigration. Julia McCormick, Hospital nurse, states that Margaret Gorman was under her care twice while in the Workhouse and that in that time that she had no fits. On the morning she was leaving, Nurse McCormick was told that Margaret fell from the car in a fit that was brought on by the emotion of leaving her Mother. She was a good-looking, healthy country girl with no symptoms of weakness of mind or body and made herself useful helping out around the hospital while convalescing. Since she left, Nurse McCormick heard that Margaret had had fits in the dormitory after her last admission but prior to her leaving, she had never heard that Margaret was subject to fits. Margaret Gallagher, laundry assistant, stated that she worked in the Workhouse Laundry for three years and that she knew Margaret Gorman and had actually slept in the same room as her for six months and saw her daily. In that time, Margaret Gallagher never saw, or heard about, Margaret Gorman having fits. Margaret Thornley, schoolmistress, knew Margaret Gorman perfectly well having taught her for six to eight months while she was in the Workhouse. Physically, she seemed to be a healthy, strong girl of about 16 years of age and was very good at housework and sewing although she was very slow at trying to learn her letters and could not read. She learned her Catechism by rote. Margaret Thornley never witnessed Margaret Gorman having a fit and never heard that she was subject to them. 18 April 1850 A letter from John Patterson, Immigration Office, to the Superintendant of Port Phillip referring to a letter from Earl Grey to Sir Charles Fitzroy dated 20 September 1849 – After enquiries made of Mrs. Ensor, Head matron of the Lady Kennaway who supervised the Orphan Girls including Margaret Gorman, Mrs. Ensor stated that Margaret Gorman enjoyed good bodily health on the voyage with the exception of two “fits”. From the description of the fits, Mrs. Ensor deduced that they were epileptic fits. She also stated that Margaret was generally of a sullen disposition, easily irritated and subject to occasional fits of passion when opposed or thwarted. When not under the influence of the gusts of temper, she did not show a sane mind and was unable to judge or act correctly as would be expected of a girl of her age or condition. Her appearance and demeanour were an indication that mental faculties where not in a healthy state. With these disadvantages, employers seeking servants from the Immigration Depot would not be inclined to hire her. Mrs. Ensor felt compassion for the girl and took her to live with her as a servant where she remained for nine months before leaving due to her intolerably morose temper. Six weeks after leaving Mrs. Ensor, she married a labouring man, a widower with two children and was living with him. Mrs. Ensor sees her occasionally and she still shows a great deal of eccentricity in her manners and incoherence in her conversation. She attends her domestic duties in a very slovenly fashion.

Married James Walker, widower with two children – two more children Mary born 1851 and Francis born 1854 died 5 days old.

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