c1837 Possibly Manchester, England - 1884 brisbane, Qld., Australia
BENT, Eleanor
c1837 Ardwick, Manchester, England - 1908 Ipswich, Qld., Australia

James Gallagher
The first known son of James Gallagher and Amelia nee Walmsley, baby James was born approx. 1837 and most likely in Manchester, Lancashire, England.

No birth or baptism details have been found.

James' father, also James, was a carter.

As can be expected of a man who died at an early age, information on my great, great grandfather James is fairly sketchy, and mostly contrived from details shown on various official documents.

He lived in Manchester and was a silk salesman.

Eleanor Bent
Eleanor was born in Ardwick, Manchester, around 1837 to Lawrence Bent and Mary nee Wood.

How did James and Eleanor meet? They both lived in Manchester - that was a good start!

Manchester Cathedral 1800's

Manchester Cathedral Altar

Choir - Manchester Cathedral

The marriage of James Gallagher and Eleanor Bent was celebrated in Manchester Cathedral on 10 October 1859. At the time James, aged 23, was a salesman living at 69 Back Piccadilly, while Eleanor aged 22 lived at 27 Hart Street. (see map of area below).

NOTE: When we visited Manchester Cathedral in 2004 we were shown the area, where at the time of James and Eleanor's marriage, a number of ceremonies would have been performed in a group situation,then each individual couple would have approached the altar for a personal blessing.

Number 69 Piccadilly is a large old building which appears to have housed Silk merchants in earlier years. 69 Back Piccadilly is situated at the rear in a narrow little street and its probable James may have had a room or lodging in the same building where he worked.

Children born to James and Eleanor in England were Emma in 1860 (my great grandmother), Amelia 1861, Edward 1863, Harry 1864, Eleanor 1865, Annie 1867, Ada 1868 (died 1868 aged 9 months), Elizabeth 1869 and baby Maude Mary born in 1873.

They were living at 21 Smith Street, Ardwick in 1860 when Emma was born,

NOTE: The 1861 UK Census shows James and Eleanor with a daughter Mary aged 1, plus Eleanor's mother Mary Bent.

It has been decided following intense research, that the entry for Mary aged 1 should read Emma aged 1.

No birth for Mary in the correct time frame with parents James and Eleanor has been located. Nor has a death. There are no further entries for Mary born c.1860. There is no entry for Emma aged 1 to be located elsewhere.

Very possibly an error by whoever filled in the census form in the household, or by the enumerator when transferring details from the forms to the census book.

James now being a salesman for silk goods, and as shown on the 1871 census had moved to 9 Apsley Grove. This street is still there as is the Apsley Cottage Pub at No. 1. The pub is white washed, with black beams and low ceilings discoloured by smoke and age.

apsley cottage pub interior of pub
Apsley Cottage Pub

Members of the Gallagher family may well have frequented this old pub - they were just a hop, step and a skip away! No houses remain and the whole area (when we visited in 1997) was a wasteland of litter-strewn deserted blocks with here and there a warehouse or dilapidated building.

On the 1871 census James is shown to be a Collector for a Burial Society. Whatever James thought of this as an occupation he must have decided that a trip to the colonies was worth the risk!

I have heard it said that James came to Australia first and that it took him a couple of years to get enough money together to enable him to send for his wife and children. However, to date no evidence has been found to support this scenario. How and when he arrived in Australia is something we may never know.

NOTE: July 2020 - New evidence has finally come to light! Numerous Queensland newspapers carry the story of James Gallagher, employed by Queensland Ice Company as a carter being involved in an accident.

From Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 - 1947), Tuesday 15 February 1876, page 2
Accident.- An accident happened yesterday evening, at the Ice Company's works, to a man named James Gallagher, a carter in the employ of the Company. It seems that Gallagher had returned from delivering ice at the Railway Station, and had undone the harness on one side, when the horse suddenly bolted, and the man, in his efforts to stop the horse, fell, and one of the wheels of the waggonette passed over his loins. Dr. Hancock was immediately sent for, and after examining the man, advised his immediate removal to the hospital. Fortunately, a spring cart belonging to Mr. Walters, the plumber, happened to be there, and it was cheerfully placed at the disposal of the injured man, who was at once conveyed to the hospital. Gallagher has been in the colony for some time, but his wife and eight children have just arrived by the Gauntlet.

What an amazing woman Eleanor must have been! She could be described as a “Real-Life Heroine”. Aged only thirty-seven, she left England with eight children aged between two and fifteen to face the unknown, without her husband.

They sailed as Remittance passengers from London aboard the “GAUNTLET” (See picture below) on 18 September 1875. This ship was an iron clipper, which had been launched on the Clyde in 1853. She was described as being ‘the most perfect ever built there’ and ‘as a yacht of large tonnage’ (being 693 tons). The family was shown on the shipping list as Nominated or Remittance passengers.

ship - 'gauntlet'

It was a long, dangerous journey, surely the most gruelling time the family had ever had to endure. Here in the “Lucky Country” we marvel at their bravery but to dwell on conditions in the industrialised, overpopulated inner city area of Manchester gives an insight into what life may have been like for the working class in the 1800's. Certainly bad enough to force them to try for a better life in Australia.

Five months on board is a long time, but Eleanor was a strong minded woman who “knew best”, and stories tell of her brow-beating the ship's Captain into providing her young family with any fresh food that became available. The children may have their mother to thank for surviving the trip!

The ship arrived in Brisbane almost six months later in December 1875. Cases of enteric (typhoid) fever having been diagnosed on the ship, passengers were quarantined on Peel Island for forty days. They finally reached Brisbane on 7 February, 1876.

After their long separation, it is not surprising to find that James and Eleanor had an addition to their family in the following year. A new son, John, was born in 1877 at their home in Ann Street, Brisbane, Queensland. John's father James is shown on John's birth certificate to be working as a printer. Sadly, the tiny baby died three months later. The Toowong Cemetery was very new at that time, and whether because of that fact or the lack of necessary funds, their little baby was buried in Public ground, near a creek, in the grounds of the cemetery.

The next trace of the Gallagher family a year later is once again tragic. Their fourteen-year-old son Harry did not return home from what must have been his first employment after leaving school. He was working as an apprentice printer's compositor, and had been sent to the wharf area near the Brisbane Botanical Gardens with a message. The message delivered, 14 year old Harry must have decided to “play hookey” on his way back to work.

He was missing for a day or two when an employee of the Edward Street Ferry noticed a body floating in the water of the Brisbane River. An Almanac entry describes how he was killed when he fell from the mizzen mast of the migrant ship the “DEVON” and was drowned. A Tide Waiter (officer who superintends the landing of goods to secure payments of duties) for the Customs described how Harry had asked him for directions, and mentioned that “he stuttered in his speech badly”.

Harry is buried in Toowong Cemetery with other family members in an unmarked grave. What a sad end after that long sea journey from England!

At the time of Harry's death the family was still living in Ann Street, James' occupation - laying telegraph wires.

James and Eleanor's eldest daughter Emma was married to Theo Geertz in 1882, and on her wedding certificate James is shown as a Draper's Porter. Maybe this is when he gave up laying telegraph wires! According to the electoral roll in 1883/4 the Gallagher family had moved to Bowen Street, Spring Hill, with James' occupation listed as ‘porter’.

A couple of years after his daughter's wedding, ‘Father Time’ caught up with James and in 1884 at the young age of 47, he died in the Brisbane Hospital. His occupation at this time is once again shown as ‘porter’.

He also is buried in Toowong Cemetery, in the same plot as son Harry. There is no headstone to mark his final resting-place so far from his homeland.

Eleanor must have been at her wits end to know how to raise her large family by herself. Emma was already married to Theo, possibly others may have been married by then. It was a mammoth undertaking for a woman alone in the early days of Brisbane.

The Post Office Directories show Eleanor as a boarding house keeper in Thomas Street, Kangaroo Point between 1885 and 1892. Her son Edward and wife Caroline, her daughter Amelia and husband Andrew Shewan also lived in Thomas Street at that time.

There are photos of the original houses still standing in Thomas Street, but due to the lack of house or block numbers on the PO Directories, it's very hard to decide which house may have belonged to Eleanor Gallagher.

1892 is the last year that Eleanor is shown living in Thomas Street. From snippets of information gathered from elderly family members it seems Eleanor may have gone to live with her daughter Emma and son-in-law Theo at Ipswich. In 1893 Eleanor was 56 and she probably spent from then until she died in 1908, with her daughter.

Olga, daughter of Hannah, told me she “could remember Great Gran'ma Gallagher as a rather dumpy old lady sitting about Great Gran'ma Geertz' house. She had cropped hair cut short like a man's, and snowy white”.

Eleanor had been suffering from cancer for close to a year when she died aged 71 on 30 July 1908 at Queen Street, Ipswich. She is buried in the family plot in Toowong Cemetery with son Harry, granddaughters Amelia and Eleanor, and husband James. Baby John is not far away.


Her obituary in the Queensland Times (see notice above) states that Eleanor came to Australia “with her husband in 1875,” - well we know when she came, but what about James....?

NOTE: July 2020 - see earlier article above re James - whoever supplied the details for her Obituary had it wrong! Eleanor and the children travelled a couple of years after James.

A self-appointed task is for me to arrange a headstone for the grave with a suitable inscription telling of James, Eleanor and their children and the fantastically adventurous journey they undertook to come to Australia.

Edward Gallagher - the only male to survive - produced only daughters from his union with Caroline Binnington. The Gallagher name, which had its ‘roots’ so far away and such a long time ago, has now disappeared.


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