155th Wedding Anniversary

This year, 2023, will mark the 155th Anniversary of the marriage of my great grandparents, Thomas “Tom” Hill and Isabella Quinn.

On 18 January 1868, my great grandmother Isabella Quinn and her sister Rose married two ‘mates’, Thomas “Tom” Hill and Edward Ryan.  The weddings took place at St Patrick’s Church, Toowoomba. Tom and Isabella witnessed the marriage certificate of Edward and Rose, and vice versa. The ceremonies were performed by Father Denis Byrne.  Father Byrne, was a Dubliner and was described by Archbishop Duhig (in a newspaper article) as being a man with great polish and funds of good, clean Irish wit.  So, I’d like to think, that a good time was had by all.

Tom Hill and Edward Ryan, natives of Kings County in Ireland, had arrived in Australia a little over five years earlier on 2 August 1862 on the Erin-go-Bragh. The “Erin” was well known for its long and troubled voyage to Australia.  Fifty souls were lost on that voyage and both the ship and its passengers were in a very bad state by the time the “Erin” staggered into Moreton Bay 200 days after it had sailed from Ireland.  Tom and Edward, who I presume were friends or even possibly relatives ‘back home’, travelled to the Darling Downs together, and in 1863, they both purchased land at Drayton.

Isabella and Rose Quinn, arrived in Australia on the Earl Russell in January 1866, along with their sister Ellen who later married John Joyce. Records show that they were sponsored by their brother Robert Quin, who had already settled at Spring Creek near Drayton.  Given the close proximity of Spring Creek to the property owned by Tom Hill and Edward Ryan, and the fact that they were all Irish Catholic ‘boys’, new to this country – I like to imagine that they were good friends or at the very least acquaintances, and that is how it came about that two of Robert’s sisters married Robert’s friends.

Tom and Isabella settled at Drayton and built the family home on the the corner of Ball and Gipps Streets.  The family home was called “Ballymena” after Isabella’s home townland of “Ballymenagh” in county Tyrone. Together, they had two sons and three daughters.  Their first born son died in infancy, and their other son Thomas Robert grew to become my grandfather.  None of the girls ever married.

Edward and Rose eventually settled at Athol, about two miles from Westbrook Homestead.  They had one son and two daughters.  Coincidentally, neither of their daughters married either.  Rose (junior) went on to become a nun, Sister Mary Aquinas, and Maggie stayed at home with her parents until they passed away. (Sister Mary Aquinas went on to be one of the very first nuns to teach science to girls in Queensland at All Hallows College).

So, on 18 January 2023, please spare a thought for these two pioneering couples, as we celebrate their 155th wedding anniversaries.

PS The Earl Russell’s passenger list showed the arrival of four Quinn girls – Margaret, Rose, Isabella and Ellenor.  However, after years of research, I recently discovered that Margaret had already gone to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and had married Cornelius Casey.  Another sister, Theresa, stayed in Ireland and married John Stuart.

The image at the top of this page is a drawing of St Patrick’s Church, Toowoomba ca 1880.  This church was erected in 1863 and expanded in 1880, only to be burnt down the day after completion in 1880.  The fire was believed to be arson following a sermon on Temperance.  Thanks to the State Library of Queensland website for this image and information.


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