James Hally and Margaret Casey ...

The Family

The second of their eight children, James junior, born on 10 September 1856, did not survive, with his death recorded as being the same day. Just over a year later, Margaret junior was born, on 26 November 1857, followed by Ellen some time in 1859.

Tragedy struck the young family in March 1861, when Margaret junior was killed at the age of three years and four months. An inquest found her clothes had accidentally caught alight while she was alone in the Hally house on 28 March. She was severely burned and died the following day. A family story has Margaret being a cripple whose clothes were burned when she put shavings on the smithy fire. James was about 35, Margaret about 27, Mary about 6, and Ellen about 2. The arrival of their fifth child, Julia, 8 months later, on 1 December 1861, must have been of some solace. But the fact the baby was not named after the recently deceased child, as was a common practice, may indicate the depth of their grieving.

Catherine was born on 13 September 1864 and Bridget on 16 July 1867. By the time of Bridget’s birth, James and Margaret, about 41 and 33 respectively, had living daughters aged about 12, about 8, 5 and 2. Less than two years later, on 21 March 1869, their one surviving son, Nicholas, was born. Their last child was born in 1870 or 1871. It was about ten years since Margaret junior had been killed, so they evidently felt ready to once again use Margaret as a family name.

James and Margaret may not have welcomed their first grandchild, August Becker, an illegitimate son born to Ellen on 27 December 1877. The baptism at St Matthews on 31 January 1878 was closely followed by the death of the baby on 13 February.

More welcome would have been the marriage of Julia, at the age of 17, to John Crothers, the eldest son of Joseph Crothers, a trooper from the Pontville police station, on 23 January 1879. James would surely have had plenty of dealings with the police through tending to their blacksmithing needs.

And on 28 January 1881 came the birth of their first surviving grandchild, Elsie Crothers, followed a couple of years later by her sister, Ellen, on 4 February 1883. John and Julia moved to the northeast of Tasmania shortly after, so the Hallys may not have seen much more, if any, of Elsie and Ellen Crothers, at least not as children. By the time James died, Elsie would have been 22 and Ellen 20; they would have been 26 and 24 when Margaret died. It is unlikely the grandparents were able to travel to Deloraine for Elsie’s wedding to Alfred King in 1902 and James, at least, probably never saw the first great grandchild, Leonard King, born in 1903.

Moreover, they probably could only hear of the births of six more daughters and three sons to John and Julia before 1903, with one final grandchild, Albert Crothers, born in 1904, 16 months after James’ death. Margaret would have known of the birth of a second great grandchild, Elvie King, in about 1905.

James and Margaret would have attended a number of family weddings and christenings through the years, mainly at the Catholic St. Matthews, after it was opened and consecrated on 11 September 1867. Eldest daughter, Mary, however, was married at St. Johns in Richmond on 26 September 1889, even though her husband, Martin Blake, was a blacksmith at Pontville. Martin died on 10 September 1891 and Mary was back at St. Matthews for her second wedding, to Charles McLoughlin, on 14 February 1893.

At some stage, Ellen must have left for Victoria, because it was there that she married Joseph Worthy in 1892, probably never to see her parents again.

Catherine, known as Kate, married Phillip Devereux at St. Matthews on 29 January 1885. Their children, William and Margaret, were baptised there on 6 December 1885 and 15 May 1887 respectively. Phillip became the first son-in-law to die in 1891, on 3 June, three months before Martin Blake. Catherine left for the mainland, probably to stay with Ellen, some time before 15 July 1896, when she married William Marshall in Fitzroy. It seems her two Devereux children remained in Pontville, perhaps with James and Margaret but more likely with one of the Devereux families. They would certainly not have seen Catherine’s two children from her second marriage, as they were born in Western Australia.

Bridget married a policeman, Michael Mackey. Again St. Matthews was the venue, on 9 May 1888. It is possible one of their ten children was born and baptised in Pontville before Michael was transferred to Lefroy in the northeast following the restructure of Tasmanian police at the end of 1889. At least seven of the Mackey children were born before James died and at least nine before Margaret died, but they may not have seen any of them.

The last wedding before they died – Nicholas was not married until 1910 – came on 3 July 1896, when their youngest, Margaret, married Edward Kent. But the wedding took place far away on the west coast, at Zeehan, and the eight Kent children were all born there – three grandsons and two granddaughters before James died, two more granddaughters before Margaret died and another grandson later.

So, despite having a family of nine children and 40 known grandchildren, with about three quarters of them born during their lifetimes, James and Margaret were not surrounded by loved ones during their declining years. Only Mary and Nicholas were still living in the area by the last years of the nineteenth century, and only the two Devereux grandchildren were, presumably, nearby. It must have been a great comfort to James, in particular, to see Nicholas carry on his blacksmithing in Pontville. It may be that Nicholas, by then in his late thirties, delayed his marriage to Eugenie (Jean) Scott until six months after Margaret had died.

Table of Contents

  1. James Hally in Ireland
  2. James' Journey
  3. James in Hobart
  4. Margaret Casey in Ireland
  5. Margaret's Journey
  6. Early Married Life
  7. The Family
  8. Life in Pontville
  9. James Hally the Activist