Willunga 1840 – 1860

Michael Haughey and his wife Catherine Cromie migrated from Northern Ireland to Australia as free settlers. They arrived in Port Adelaide on the ship ‘William Nichol’ on 7 July 1840 [1]. Michael’s occupation is listed as ‘labourer’ on his embarkation record [2].

Michael and Catherine had six children. There are no baptismal or birth records for the birth of their first two children John and Mary Anne.  John was probably born in either 1840 or 1841 and Mary Anne was probably born in 1843 [3].

Michael and Catherine’s next four children were born at Willunga. Their third child Michael was born in 1844, their fourth child Daniel in 1846, their fifth child Catherine in 1848 and finally their sixth child Patrick in 1851 [4].

The family appears to have moved to the Willunga district soon after arrival to farm as they were not recorded in the 1841 census which covered the Adelaide area and nearby districts and the later sale of a wide range of farming equipment by Michael at nearby McLaren Vale in 1860 [5]. The lack of baptismal records for their first two children in the Catholic Church baptismal register of 1841-1853 lends support to this theory.

Michael in a number of editions of the Adelaide Advertiser in February and March 1860 advertised to sell a range of farm animals, farm implements and household effects.  From the extensiveness of the items listed for sale it would seem that the family had done quite well from its farming endeavours.

The family moved to the South Island of New Zealand in May 1860 [6]. Presumably Michael and his family made their way to Melbourne by local coastal shipping as overland travel would have been very difficult due to the very poor roads.

We can only speculate on why the family moved from Willunga but by the 1860s agricultural production in the Willunga region had begun to decline to due to the impact of inappropriate European farming techniques so this may have been the reason [7].  Or was it just simply the lure of fortunes to be made from the ‘Otago’ gold boom that occurred around the same time.

The family’s involvement with the gold rush was short lived and they returned to Australia in 1863, settling in Warrnambool, Victoria.


[1] Family History South Australia, Passenger lists of shipping arrivals in South Australia 1836-55 (http://www.familyhistorysa.info/), 8 March 2010

[2] Index of emigrant labourers applying for free passage to South Australia 1836-41, Mortlock Library of South Australia, embarkation number 4324

[3] Based on Michael and Catherine’s death certificates

[4] Catholic Church baptismal records held by South Australian Genealogy Society

[5] The South Australian Advertiser, various editions from 16 February to 1 March 1860, advertisements for an auction on the premises Michael Haughey of McLaren Vale on 2 March for the sale of various farm animals, farming implements and personal property

[6] The “Otago Witness” of 12 May 1860 lists Mr and Mrs Haughey and their seven children (although there were only six children) arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin on 4 May 1860 as steerage passengers on the “Pirate”.

[7] “City of Onkaparinga Community Profile” (text by Historical Consultants, 2001) http://www.onkaparingacity.com/builtheritage/heritage_history.htm, 23 March 2010.