CHAPTER TEN South Australia:- Arrival of an old soldier

On new-years day 1856, a marriage was celebrated in the South Australian city of Adelaide between Thomas Cassidy, a twenty year-old farmer from Port Gawler, and Caroline Francis a fifteen year old Adelaide girl. The marriage was celebrated in the home of the bride's father Mr William Francis in Wakefield St, by the Rev.John Gardner according to the rites of the Free Church of South Australia. It was witnessed by William Francis and Thomas Hodges.1

Thomas, the third son of Samuel Cassidy and Mary Rutherford had been born at Killan near Shercock in Co. Cavan, Ireland, in 1829 and had arrived in South Australia as a young boy with his parents and four brothers. His father, Samuel, who had died just two months before (on Nov 2nd 1855)2 had applied for a free passage for himself, his wife and his five sons on April 22nd 1840 whilst living at Skeagh near Bailleborough in Co. Cavan. His age at the time of application was given as 40 years and that of his wife as 36 years. The ages of his sons were given as 13, 11, 8, 7 and 2 years respectively, but these are not consistent with the dates of their baptisms.3 In order the boys were William (b 1826), Samuel (b 1827), Thomas, James (b 1832) and John (b 1838?). William is not referred to in any later documentation. Possibly he died on the voyage or even before the family left Ireland, as by the time of the South Australian census of January 1841, an S Cassidy, his wife, and only four sons were living at Emigration Square in Adelaide.4


Main street, Bailieborough, Co Cavan

Something is known of Samuel's history before this. He served in India for about twelve years with the Bengal Army of the British East India Company. There are at least three references to this service in the Muster Rolls and Casualty Returns that have been preserved from this time.

It appears that Samuel enlisted in 1809 from Cavan when he would have been about fifteen or sixteen years of age (depending on which records are used for reference, he could even have been as young as twelve or thirteen). He arrived in India in March 1809 aboard the "Union" and served as a gunner in the artillery. It is recorded that he was 5 feet 9 inches in height. There is also a record of his re-enlistment at Agra in 1816 and a further record of his becoming a casualty in 1821. At this time he was a member of 4th Company, 1st Battalian of the Artillery Regiment commanded by Major-General Thomas Hardwick.

Somewhat more detail of his service in India is revealed in a letter that Samuel wrote to the Governor of South Australia Sir George Grey. In the letter he states that in 1809 he had marched from Allahabad to Cawnpore to join the command of Major-General Brown where for the next six months he took part in skirmishing warfare as the Army moved in pursuit of the Maharatta chief, Holkar and the Pindari chief, Amerkhan.

The following year he was part of the British force under Major General Martindale which captured Collinger. In 1812 he was present at the fall of Antorah to the British force under Brigadier-General Adams. In 1814 he was ordered into the Nepali States under the command of Major General Gallagher when Cullinghur, Nahor and Jeystuch(?) fell. (the spelling of place names may be inaccurate due to the difficulty of reading the copy of Samuel's hand-written letter)

In 1817-18 Samuel was part of Major-General Sir David Ochterlony's division under the command of the Marquis of Hastings which marched in to the Jaipori States and subdued Rajputana and Agmur, and was present at the capture of Madragopoora. He was also pesent at the capture of 175 pieces of cannon, ammunition stores etc.

Samuel was later ordered to join the Horrianah Field Force under the command of Brigadier General Arnold sent to reinforce Major Fast's Division and took part in the retreat from Fittiabad and the crossing of the Buckana Desert where Samuel stated that he suffered very great hardship. In 1819 he was ordered from Loodianak to join the Nurbudah Field Force under the command of Brigadier-General Adams which was ordered against Asserghurr. Subsequently on 31st October 1820, he was invalided to Chunar from Hufsingabad and presumably some time after this returned to England where he was admitted as an Out-Pensioner at Chelsea Hospital on Sept 19th 1821. He continued to receive a military pension for the rest of his life.5

Countryside at Killan near Shercock, Co Cavan, May 1996. Samuel Cassidy and his wife Mary (Rutherford) lived near here. In the picture with me are Tom Rutherford of nearby Cootehill (almost certainly a distant relative), Elaine one of Tom's daughters (extreme right) and a friend, Mary

Samuel then returned to Ireland where he later married. His wife was formerly Mary Rutherford, a daughter of James Rutherford and Nancy Doribty(?) (the spelling on Mary's death certificate is unclear. It could be Doubty which is is how it apears on another document. Although neither Doribty nor Doubty appear as surnames in Irish records at this time, the name Doughty does - including a number of instances in Co Cavan). Mary was born in Co. Cavan, but nothing further is known of her early life although possibly the family originated in Roxburgh, Scotland and as such would have come to Ireland as part of the 17th century Plantations of Ulster.6

There is some confusion in regard to the vessel on which Samuel, Mary and family sailed to Australia. In a letter written from Bailieborough in regard to the transfer of his miltary pension, Samuel states that he was due to sail from Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) just south of Dublin aboard the "Mary Dugdale" on May 25th. In fact it did not depart until June 2nd l840. The "Mary Dugdale" was a 375 ton vessel that had been built in 1835. It sailed under the command of Captain Henry Buckland and arrived in Adelaide on Oct 1st 1840. On the other hand the assigned embarkation number would suggest that Samuel and family sailed on the "Diadem" a three masted barque of 398 tons that had been built at Whitby earlier in that year and under the command of Captain Robert Harland was making its maiden voyage. The "Diadem" did not sail until late June and arrived at Port Adelaide on Nov 15th. Unfortunately no complete passenger list for either vessel has survived which makes it difficult to settle the question.7

Soon after arrival Mary gave birth to another son. Henry Adams Cassidy was born on March 20th 1841 and christened at Trinity Church Adelaide on Nov 21st of the same year. A seventh son, Robert, was born on July 8th 1843. At the time Samuel and Mary's address was still Emigration Square and Samuel's occupation was described as "labourer". The place of residence seems to be confirmed by an item of correspondence in the files of the Colonial Secretary for June 20th 1843 which has reference to a Mary Cassidy being employed to care for a mental patient named Lucinda Hocking at Emigration Square. It would seem that shortly after this the family moved to Cowandilla, about two miles west of the city. Samuel purchased two acres (nos 31 and 32 of section 92) from Edward Gwynne for the sum of 20 pounds.

It was from Cowandilla that Samuel wrote to the Lieutenant Governor of South Australia applying for a position as keeper of the powder magazine. The letter gives an interesting insight into Samuel's character and is as follows:-

To Maior Fredrick Holt Robe
Lieutenant Governor & Commander in Chief
of the Province of South Australia & & &

The Humble Memorial of Samuel Cassidy late of the Bengal Artillery Humbly Prayeth that your Excellency will be Graciously Pleased to place me in some situation somewhere I may not have to work too hard for the support of a numerous family and as I am getting old and infirm I hope your Excellency will be so kind as to consider me. I applied to our Late Worthy Governor and he was kind enough to place me as an Overseer on the Public Works until the working parties were discontinued.

I then applied to be placed over the Magazine as I understood there was a person who understood the Duty Wanted. But I was informed by our Worthy Governor that the pecuniary circumstances of the Colony did not admit of any person being permanently placed in the situation but should circumstances permit he would not forget me.

I hope your Excellency will be Graciously Pleased to do something for an old soldier who has seen some service and suffered some hardships in India.

I have enclosed the Character I received from the different Officers I served under as Overseer.

Your Excellency's
Most Obedient
Humble Servant
Samuel Cassidy
Bengal Artillery Pensioner
Cowandilla 29th March 1846)

The following rather terse note was added to this letter presumably by the Governor's secretary:-.Memo: The Lt Governor has no intention of appointing any person in charge of the magazine and regrets that he has no present opportunity of giving employment to Sa'l Capsidy in the Fort Service. April 2/46. Characters returned.8

As already mentioned Samuel had written an earlier letter to the then Governor on a similar theme. The letter was dated September 22nd 1842 and written from No.15 Immigration Square. In it Samuel gives details of his military service (described above) and requests the Governor to find him a job "so as he may be able to support a delicate wife and four small children". He goes on to explain that he had been an overseer on Public Works until dismissed as a consequence of reductions in the Immigration Department and states that he has no means of supporting his family as "his constitution is broken down with hard service" He also appeals to the fact that the Governor had himself been a soldier and would therefore "be acquainted with the hardships an old soldier must undergo in the torrid zone, of every description of burning heat and scarcity of water, and every other disease and difficulty he has to contend with" It seems that this letter was no more successful in producing a result than the later letter quoted earlier, as the Governor attached a note for his secretary which read:- "Will you return this poor man his certificates, informing him that I do not at present seen any means of assisting him, but that if any opportunity offers of so doing I will comply with his request I think it probable that he may call in on Monday for an answer to his letter. In that case I will see him."

The name Samuel Cassidy again appears in official records shortly after this when on October 29th 1846 four candidates were selected to fill vacancies in the police force. Perhaps it refers to Samuel Cassidy Sr, although it would seem to be a strange appointment for someone allegedly "old and infirm" and looking for "some situation somewhere I may not have to work too hard". More likely it was Samuel Jr who would have been about twenty years of age by this time. In any case it appears that whoever it was did not last very long in the position, as a trooper named Cassidy (no first name given) was dismissed from the force on June 2nd 1848.9

Probably too it was Samuel Jr, rather than his father, who appeared before the police court in Adelaide in March 1855 charged with being drunk in Franklin St. According the newspaper account, Samuel Cassidy, the defendant, stated that he came from the country beyond Port Gawler and therefore could not have been drunk! (It is difficult to see how this could be mounted as a defence, unless the newspaper account has left something out here) but Samuel went on to allege that he had attended the government land sale where certain (unnamed) parties had found out that it was his intention to purchase a section of land, and in order to prevent him doing so they managed to get him put out of the sale room and afterwards arrested for drunkenness! Furthermore, as he was not released until after the sale was over, the Government had lost 200 pounds according to Samuel, an amount which he intended to give for the Section, over and above the value for which it was sold! At this point the judge interposed and stated that he had seen Samuel in a drunken state himself, to which Samuel is reported to have replied "Oh no your Worship, I was not drunk; but a man cannot walk 30 miles without a drop. I know you would not." This remark is said to have occasioned laughter in the court but perhaps the judge was not amused as he fined Samuel 6 shillings to which Samuel is reported to have replied "all right!". 10

It would seem that the Cassidys were no strangers to the coutrtroom as some years previously, in Nov 1847, Thomas Cassidy had also appeared in the South Australian Supreme Court charged with obtaining 1 pound by false representations, thereby defrauding David Downing. The offence allegedly occurring on the previous 23rd September. Although Thomas pleaded not guilty, the jury took only five minutes to convict him. Several character witnesses appeared for Thomas including William Crabbe, a shoemaker, who testified to his honesty, James Lucking, a grocer, who had him in his employ for eighteen months, testified that he bore the best character and a Mr Dumbleton, a licensed victualler, had also employed him four months and gave him a similar character reference. Samuel Cassidy, the father of the prisoner, urged the judge to give him a hearing, and "hoped his Honour would be merciful." Samuel reminded the judge that Thomas was only fifteen years old, and was a most dutiful son. He also said that "he fully relied on his Honour's mercy, and left the case wholly to his clemency." Thomas was sentenced to be once privately whipped, and seven days solitary confinement, a seemingly harsh sentence for a fifteen year-old, even though the amount involved was not insignificant.11

In the meantime Mary had given birth to another son, Edwin, born at Cowandilla on Feb 18th 1846. Then a little over two years later, after eight boys, Mary presented Samuel with a daughter. The baby girl was born on April 27th 1848 and given the name Mary-Ann. It is interesting to note that at the recording of his daughter's birth Samuel's occupation is given as "labourer", which seems to indicate that he would not have been the trooper who was to be dismissed from the force in a little over a month's time. Samuel's residence at the time was still Cowandilla.12

The family remained at Cowandilla until 1853. On May 3rd of that year Samuel was successful in obtaining a grant of 316 acres at Port Gawler approximately 40 km north of Adelaide, for the sum of 350 pounds. The land in question lay some 5 km east of Two Wells, just north of the Lewiston road (section 215). This was not his first venture into the buying and selling of land as some years previously he had purchased the two acres at Cowandilla (Jan 3rd 1848) which was later sold.(November 12th 1853). Samuel wasted no time in making his presence felt in the area as in November of the same year (1853) his name headed a list of petioners to the governor opposing a plan to include the residents of Port Gawler in a particular district council. Included among the signatures were those of his sons Thomas, John and James.

His name also appears in a Government Gazette of 1853 where he was given permission to depasture 20 head of cattle. His name appears yet again in the minutes of a meeting of the Mudla Wirra council held at the Willaston Hotel on April 25th 1855 which records the establishment of a Building Committee whose task was to furnish the Council with details of plans and costs for the school that had been first discussed for the Port Gawler district in January of that year. Members of the committee were Henry Hornhardt (who had provided the land for the school), James McCord, Johnson Carson, Dennis McEvoy and Samuel Cassidy. Progress must have been very rapid as the July 1855 edition of the Government Gazette mentions that Mr T Ashton was the first teacher at the Port Gawler school which had 33 students in attendance - most likely including some of the younger children of Samuel and Mary.13

A reason why Samuel's son's names appeared on the petition referred to earlier is that they were also property holders by this time. Two months after the purchase of the original grant Samuel divided his property among three of his sons, Samuel Jr, John and James, retaining the south-west corner for himself. The sales to the three sons were transacted on the same day (July 4th 1853) and each was for a portion of section 215 (the original grant). The sale price for each portion was 90 pounds. The name of Samuel Jr does not appear on the November petition because he promptly sold his 79 acre share of the land to a T Kneese for 160 pounds (Sept 17th 1853) thus making a tidy profit in so doing. The fourth son Thomas was not included, probably because he had obtained his own grant of 80 acres at Port Gawler at the same time as his father (No.125 granted May 3rd 1853). Shortly after signing the petition however Thomas sold his land (Dec 5th 1853), however a little over two years later, on Jan 28th 1856 John Cassidy sold his 79 acres to a Doctor David Wurk who on the following day leased the land to Thomas. Possibly John was in need of cash and the newly married Thomas was in need of land but short of money - hence the arrangements. The archives of the State Library of South Australia, the source of this information, go on to record a whole series of land sales involving Thomas over the four or five years following his marriage. As some of these transactions involved members of his wife's family I will return to this matter in the next chapter.14

Given that his older sons were established on their own land, Samuel no doubt felt that they were provided for. Thus in the very detailed will that he drew up in Sept 1855 some two months before his death he made no mention of the four older boys, but made careful arrangements to provide for his wife and four younger children. The will itself covers four foolscap pages and is too long to reproduce here, but as can be seen from all the records of his dealings described in this account, Samuel emerges as an educated, shrewd and prudent man. In his will he describes himself as a farmer and makes reference to "the annual rents, issues, profits and incomes" of his real estate and in another place refers to "all my cows, heifers and two bulls" - all of which seems to indicate that he was comfortably off. However in claiming probate of the will his wife Mary stated that the total value of the estate did not exceed 500 pounds.15

Nevertheless the will was still the subject of a court case almost 50 years after Samuel's death. The reason for this was that Samuel's youngest son Edwin (one of the beneficiaries), as a 16 year-old had disappeared, an event which eventually required a court to rule that he was dead and authorize the disbursement of his inheritance to the descendants of Samuel's children mentioned in the will. It appears that Edwin accompanied his older brother Samuel on an overland journey to Mount Gambier in 1862. The pair camped out in the Coorong on the night of July 3rd and Edwin was sent out to search for a horse that had strayed and was never seen or heard of again! Yet another mystery in the Cassidy story. 16

The circumstances of Samuel's death are unknown, nor is it known where he is buried. If he died at Port Gawler the most likely place of burial is Two Wells or Willaston, however no grave has been located and the records relating to burials there make no mention of him. To make matters worse, in the early days of registration in Sth Australia many births, deaths and marriages were either not recorded or the records mislaid. This probably accounts for the absence of a death certificate for Samuel.17

It would seem that Mary continued to live at the property at Port Gawler following the death of her husband. Probably around 1869 she moved to Sale in Victoria to join her recently married daughter Mary-Ann, leasing the Port Gawler property. She subsequently shifted to near Cargo in NSW where two of her sons were living. Henry had been married at Orange, near there, in l861, with Henry's brother Robert acting as a witness to the marriage.

The portion of the original property at Port Gawler which seems to have been retained by Mary was later leased to Thomas Robinson under the same terms as had been agreed to with John and at the same time (1877). Robert Cassidy's name also appears on the lease agreement to ratify and confirm the arrangement. Perhaps this may have been necessary due to Mary's advanced age by this time. Mary died on August 31st 1882 at Limestone Valley near Cargo. Her age on the death certificate was recorded as 92 years which is hardly correct as it would mean she gave birth to her daughter at the age of 58! A better estimate would be 76 years, an age that is consistent with that given on her application to come to South Australia. The death was registered at Molong by Robert who stated that his mother had been ill for 5 weeks but had not been visited by a doctor. The cause of death was recorded as "old age". Mary was laid to rest at Cargo, no priest or minister was in attendance but the burial was witnessed by George Kingsley and William Quick.18

Skeagh Lake near Bailieborough Co Cavan