Friday, January 28, 2011

Finding the Fullertons

Further to my earlier posts Australia Day 2011 - The earliest documentation for my Australian ancestors and Madness Monday - Finding my Irish Fullertons, the following is an article I wrote recently about my research into my Irish Fullerton family. About 130 descendants of this family met for a reunion in October last year to commemorate 170 years since the family first arrived in Australia. 

Finding the Fullertons

About eight years ago I decided to find out more about the family of my great great grandfather, Peter Fullerton. From previous research undertaken by relatives, I knew that Peter’s parents, William Fullerton and Mary Dunn/e, were Irish Catholics, originating from County Kildare, who immigrated to Melbourne in 1840 onboard the Himalaya. I knew Peter had sisters named Hannah and Mary and a brother named James who moved to Queensland. Apart from this, I knew very little about the Fullerton family. They were the earliest of my ancestors to immigrate to Australia, and Peter was the earliest of my ancestors to be born here, so I felt particularly interested to find out more about them.

I began by verifying the information I already had. At the Public Record Office of Victoria (PROV) the passenger list of the Himalaya, available on microfiche, confirmed that William and Mary Fullerton arrived in Melbourne on 30 September 1840 as bounty assisted immigrants. According to the passenger list, both were Catholic and came from County Kildare, Ireland; William, a 25-year-old agriculturist and Mary, a 27-year-old dairy maid. Upon disembarkation, William and Mary were employed as general servants by John W. Shaw of Melbourne.

Searching the Internet (various search engines, FamilySearch, Rootsweb, Ancestry) revealed very few clues about Fullertons from County Kildare. Most Fullertons/Fullartons seemed to be either Scottish or from the northern counties of Ireland. I found only one Fullerton in the Griffths Valuations for County Kildare (John Fullerton from the townland of Shanraheen in the civil parish of Kilberry). I found no Fullertons in the Tithe Applotment records for County Kildare. However, I made a note that there were similar names in the Tithe Applotment records, including Fuller and Fullard. Surely it shouldn’t be too hard to find my Fullertons if their name was uncommon in that county? Dunne was a very common name in County Kildare though, and I did not know an exact parish or townland to narrow my search. 

Through contact with other descendants of William and Mary Fullerton, searches of the Victorian, New South Wales and Queensland indexes of Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDMs) and various vital records certificates, I was able to find the following information about the children of William and Mary Fullerton:

Peter Fullerton
Peter was born 22 October1840, Melbourne, and baptised at St. Francis’ Catholic Church, Melbourne, on 1 November 1840.The baptism sponsors were James Campbell and Margaret Hanlon (who I believe were fellow passengers of the Fullertons on the Himalaya). Peter married Dorothea Atkinson on 1 July 1876 at St Kilian’s Catholic Church, Bendigo. Peter and Dorothea had twelve children and Peter died on 31 March 1924 at Elmore, Victoria.

Michael Fullerton
Michael was born 26 May 1842, Melbourne, baptised at St. Francis’ 30 May 1842. The baptism sponsors were Michael Healy and Maria Burns. Michael Fullerton died aged 6 months in 1842.

James Fullerton
James was born 5 November 1843 at Newtown (Fitzroy), and baptised at St Francis’ Melbourne on 4 December 1843. The baptism sponsors were Charles Higgins and Sarah Ryan. James Fullerton spent several years during the 1870s droving cattle. He worked for pastoralist Langloh Parker on his stations ‘Kallara’ and ‘Bangate’ in North Western New South Wales. Later, Parker employed James as the manager of his station ‘Retreat’ on the Barcoo River between Isisford and Jundah in Western Queensland. James married Agnes Ord on 21 October 1882 at Isisford. James and Agnes had one child: De Renzie Percival Fullerton, born at Blackall in 1884. James Fullerton died on 15 June 1889 at Mitchell Vale Station near present day Mount Molloy, Queensland.

Bridget Elizabeth (Lizzie) Fullerton
I knew nothing about a sister Bridget previous to discovering a 1923 death record for Bridget Elizabeth Houghton, of Ascot Vale, aged 77 with parents William Fullerton and Mary Dunn. Bridget had been married three times. Firstly to Gerald Thomas Fenelon on 14 June 1863 at Inglewood, Victoria. Secondly to John Harvey at Numurkah, Victoria, on 8 August 1884. Thirdly to John Thomas Houghton at Numurkah on 10 April 1898. Lizzie did not have any children, though she did have some step-children, the Harveys (whom I intend to blog about at a later date as I would very much like to make contact with their descendants if possible). Lizzie spent many years of her life at Tocumwal, New South WalesA search of the Victorian BDMs indexes for Bridget’s birth (c1846) revealed that a Bridget ‘Rutland’, daughter of William ‘Rutland’ and Mary Dunn was baptised at St Francis’ Melbourne in 1846. This surely had to be Bridget Fullerton’s baptism? But why might the name Fullerton have been mis-transcribed as Rutland? I purchased a copy of the baptism record which revealed that the writing was quite unclear. The baptism sponsors names were readable, they were John Wright and Julia Quick. If I used my imagination a little I could make the surname look a bit like Fullerton (with the ‘ton’ quite faded!). However, the last letter really did look very much like a ‘d’. The reason for this would become clear later in my research. 

Johanna (Hannah) Fullerton
Hannah was born on 23 May 1848. She was baptised at St. Francis’ Melbourne as ‘Ann’ Fullerton on 10 December 1848.The baptism sponsors were John Lahy and Maria Devine. Hannah married William Barwick Fox, a saddler, on 10 January 1874 at Bendigo. She and William had nine children. Hannah died on 22 August 1922 at Bendigo.

Mary FullertonMary was born on 18 August 1851 at Brighton, Victoria. Mary was baptised as ‘Ann’ Fullerton at St Francis’ Melbourne on 8 December 1851. The baptism sponsors were Lawrence Scanlan and Margaret Davis. Mary married George Brown on 8 July 1871 at White Hills, Victoria. George Brown was an engine driver for the Victorian Railways. Mary and George had twelve children. Mary died on 24 November 1935 at East Portland, New South Wales, at the home of her daughter Margaret Elva Austin.

...and Thomas Fullerton?
In addition to the above children, the Victorian BDMs indexes revealed that there was a Thomas ‘Fuller’ the son of William ‘Fuller’ and Mary Dunne, who was born at Forest Creek in 1854. As Civil Registration was established in Victoria in July 1853, I thought that this would be a civil birth certificate and might reveal more information than Catholic baptism records. However, when I purchased the certificate it was only an extract of baptism sent by the Catholic priest at Castlemaine, Thomas Barrett, to the Registry. The extract distinctly gave the name as ‘Fuller’.  Though I could not confirm, at that stage, that Thomas belonged to my Fullerton family, I thought the names were too much of a coincidence and I kept Thomas in my family records as a ‘maybe’.

What became of William and Mary?
I searched for all the William Full* deaths in the Victorian BDMs and narrowed the list down where possible (e.g. too young, English, Scottish etc.). William Fullarton, born Ireland, died in 1869, aged 50, seemed to stand out. I purchased the certificate which revealed that this William had died at the Inglewood hospital on 7 June 1869. Unfortunately, the informant of death, a ‘friend’, J.W. Mozar, had given no information about William’s exact birthplace (apart from Ireland), nor any information about parents’ names, marriage or children! It seemed quite possible that this was the correct William though, knowing that ‘our’ William’s daughter, Bridget, had married in Inglewood in 1863. 

Extract from death certificate of William Fullarton, Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria, 1869/4342.
Later, using a reference found in the Victorian Probate Index, I located an estate administration file at the PROV, which enabled me to confirm that this death did indeed refer to the correct William. The administration papers mentioned Peter, James, Mary, Hannah and Bridget, but did not mention Thomas. Did this mean that he was not actually another child of William and Mary? I still believed he was. However, I began to assume that he must have died some time between 1854 and 1874. At that stage I believed he had probably died as an infant.

There were no Mary Fullerton’s in the death records in the Victorian BDMs index with father’s name Dunn/e. However, there was a Mary Fullerton, whose father was ‘unknown’, who died aged 35 in 1858 – could that have been 'our' Mary? The age did not seem to fit, however. According to the Himalaya passenger list 'our' Mary had been born c1813, which would have made her aged 45 in 1858. By chance, I decided to check the Victorian Inquest Index. The same Mary Fullerton was listed there and the place of the Inquest was given as Castlemaine. I was then reminded of the Thomas ‘Fuller’ who was born at Forest Creek in 1854. So, I ordered this Inquest File at the PROV reading room. Bingo! The Inquest referred to her husband William and her daughter Bridget! I had found Mary Fullerton’s death. Her death had taken place at the family home near Elphinstone and the Inquest was held at the Abbotsford Hotel, Elphinstone. I then purchased her death certificate only to find that the coroner, William Fisher Preshaw, was the informant and had completely neglected to say where Mary was born, who her parents were, to whom she was married or who her children were. Unhelpfully, he had written ‘no information’ in each of these fields! However, I felt quite confident that I had the correct Mary Fullerton at that stage so it did not matter so much that no husband or children were listed. What was most disappointing was that there was no record of place of birth, parents’ names, or date and place of marriage.

Extract from death certificate of Mary Fullerton, Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria, 1858/4859.

Here I found myself up against a few challenges in my research. Both William’s and Mary’s death certificates were unfortunately very uninformative! How could I go about finding out where William and Mary were born, who their parents were, and when and where they had married? As William and Mary Fullerton came to Australia already married, there would be no record of their marriage here. Additionally, as they had no children born post civil registration, there would be no record of their place/s of birth or marriage on a child’s civil birth certificate. I did not know the names of either William’s or Mary’s parents, so it would be rather difficult trying to identify any siblings or cousins who may have immigrated to Australia.

Heeding the often repeated advice that most immigrants did not come to Australia alone, I started thinking about the Fullerton family as part of the wider community of early Melbourne. Had any friends or family members of William and Mary Fullerton also immigrated to Australia? I began looking beyond my own family, at baptism sponsors, other Irish Catholics who arrived pre-Gold rush and other passengers on the Himalaya.

I looked again at the passenger list of the 1840 voyage of the Himalaya to see which other passengers came from County Kildare. I found that there were several other passengers whose place of origin was County Kildare, including: brother and sister James and Judy Campbell, Eliza Marah, Jane Hussey and married couple Oliver and Mary Welsh/Walsh, as well as families William and Anne McGrath/Magrath and daughter Anne, and John and Jane Kelly and son Patrick. Using the BDMs indexes, the Internet and contact with other researchers, I constructed a picture of each of these families. I decided to see if I could find out where in County Kildare they had originated, which was not an easy task. Those that did have children mostly finished having their babies before civil registration was introduced in Victoria in 1853, or they neglected to register the births of their later children. I did find, however, that Oliver and Mary (Bernard) Welsh had a daughter, Elizabeth Welsh, who was born in Geelong in 1855. I hoped that Elizabeth’s birth certificate would tell me Oliver’s and Mary’s respective birth places, as well as their place of marriage. The birth certificate revealed that Oliver and Mary were married at Clane, County Kildare, though both gave their birth place as County Dublin. Luckily, I was soon able to verify this marriage information.

In 2007 many Church records for County Kildare were amongst those made available online on a pay-per-view basis from the Irish Family History Foundation. The first marriage I searched for was that of William Fullerton and Mary Dunne. There were no results for the search for William Fullerton, and far too many results for the search for Mary Dunne! I then searched the marriage index for the name Oliver Welsh, with the parish/district selection box set to ‘Clane’. This revealed that an Oliver 'Walsh' had married in Clane in 1840. A corresponding search for Mary Bernard showed that there was a marriage in Clane in 1840 for someone by that name also. I decided to purchase the transcript and found that the record did indeed refer to the marriage of the Oliver and Mary I sought. They were married in the Catholic parish of Clane on the 5 June 1840, which must have been very soon before they left for Plymouth in order to embark on the Himalaya on June 20!

Later, I tried again to search for the name Fullerton. This time I realised that there was a result for the marriage of a William Fullard in 1839. I then searched for a marriage for a Mary Dunne in 1839. There was one. I then selected ‘Clane’ in the ‘parish/district’ selection box. I found that both the William Fullard marriage in 1839 and the Mary Dunne marriage in 1839 were in Clane! But did they marry each other? I decided to purchase the transcript. Bingo! Here was a marriage for a William Fullard and a Mary Dunne in the same parish as the marriage of another couple who immigrated on the Himalaya on the same voyage in 1840. Fullard was not quite Fullerton though, so I remained cautious and tried not to let myself become too excited by the find. Perhaps there had been a mistake in the transcription? Later that year, I ordered a microfilm copy of the Clane Catholic parish records into my local LDS Family History Centre. On my first afternoon viewing the film I skimmed through the earlier records dating from the 1780s, noticed there was a gap in the records after that, before the register continued again in 1825. Much of the writing on the microfilm was very faded and difficult to decipher. However, when I came to the marriages of 1839, there was the entry I was looking for and it definitely read Fullard rather than Fullerton! Just a couple of entries below that of William and Mary was the marriage of Oliver Walsh and Mary Bernard. Surely I had found my Fullertons! But, why was the name Fullard rather than Fullerton?

I looked over many of the other records on the microfilm, which included the registers for both the Catholic parish of Clane and the neighbouring Catholic parish of Carragh, and carefully noted any other Dunnes, as well as any other Fullards or similar surnames. I then worked on reconstructing the families as best I could. Of the other Fullard’s mentioned, there was a baptism in Clane for an Andy Fullard on 29 September 1826, son of Thomas Fullard and his wife Judy, of the townland of Firmount. Additionally, Richard Fullard (possibly another son of Thomas mentioned above, based on traditional naming patterns) married Mary Dowd in the Catholic parish of Carragh in 1852. Many of Richard’s and Mary’s children were baptised in Clane. Most interestingly, two of the children were baptised with the surname spelled Fuller! When I looked again at the Griffiths Valuations I found there was a record for a Richard Fuller, of the townland of Firmount in the civil parish of Clane.

Part of an extract from the Deniliquin Chronicle, 18 Nov. 1865.
In 2008, when the National Library of Australia began to unroll the results of its Australian Newspapers Digitisation program online, a search for the name Fullerton revealed the conclusive evidence that Thomas ‘Fuller’ baptised at Castlemaine in 1854, was indeed another child of William and Mary. In December 1865, the Brisbane Courier reprinted an article from the Deniliquin Chronicle which reported the death of young shepherd, Thomas Fullerton, at Hill Plain near Deniliquin, New South Wales. The report of the subsequent Inquest mentioned the sister of the deceased, Bridget Fenelon. 

So I now had evidence that one of William’s and Mary’s children was baptised with the surname ‘Fuller’. And what about the 1846 baptism that was mis-transcribed as Bridget Rutland? Looking again at the baptism entry, the name could very likely read ‘Fullard’! What do you think?

Possible baptism of Bridget Fullard (indexed as Bridget Rutland on the Victorian BDMs index).
St Francis' Catholic Church records from Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria, 1846/1365.

In addition to the differences noted in these two Baptism records, I have noticed some irregularities on two documents signed by William Fullerton.  The first of these is the Inquest deposition signed when his wife Mary died suddenly (of a ruptured blood vessel in the lungs) in 1858, and the second is an agreement between a neighbour at Elphinstone (Robert Church) and William, dated 1860, which was found amongst documents held by another Fullerton descendant. The signature on the 1858 Inquest deposition appears to say ‘William Fullardton’, while the signature on the 1860 Agreement appears to read ‘William Fulliarton’. What do you think?
William's signature on his deposition at the Inquest into the death of his wife Mary, 1858.
Do you think looks like 'Fullardton'?  PROV, VPRS 24, Unit 61, File 1858/99.

William's signature on an 1860 Agreement between him and his neighbour Robert Church.
Do you think it says 'Fulliarton'? Photocopy of the agreement in my possession, location of original not known.
This brings me to the next piece of the puzzle, which I am yet to solve; what was William’s actual family name? And if his name was not Fullerton, why did he call himself that? 

As with the name Fullerton, there appear to be very few Fullards in County Kildare. However, through searching the online databases of the Irish Family History Foundation, I have found records from the Catholic parishes of Naas and Kilcock, County Kildare, for people with the surname Follard/Folliard. Among these are several Peters and Williams, including a 75-year-old Peter Folliard, an innkeeper and farmer from Naas who was arrested in 1838 for tithe arrears (see Freeman's Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser, Wednesday, 8 August 1838). 

There are also a few records for people with these surnames in the neighbouring counties of County Meath and County DublinMany Fullards/Follards/Folliards are included in the Church records for Dublin available to search at the Irish Genealogy web site. However, most records for Folliards in Ireland appear to come from County Roscommon and County Mayo and thereabouts.

I would love to know more about the origins of these relatively uncommon surnames. The Irish Times Irish Ancestors web site lists several variations for the surname Fullard, including Folliard. The same web site describes the surname Folliard as 'rare: Mayo. A French name meaning foolish'. Griffiths Valuations (searchable at the Ask About Ireland web site) list one Fullard in Westmeath, and 18 Folliards (mostly in Mayo, Galway and Roscommon, however, there is one, Nancy Folliard, in Moynalty, Meath.) Some other thoughts - could possible related surnames be Folliott? or Flood? or Fowler? or Fuller? or maybe even O'Fualairg? I have still lots of questions.

If you think you can help, any help or advice would be most appreciated, thanks. 

(Sources available on request)

Copyright © 2011 Australian Genealogy Journeys.


  1. My Maternal Grandmother married a Fullard. Have attached information on my Fullards

    See notes as to the origins of the surname


    Ian Hunt
    Alberta, Canada

    1. Thanks Ian. Very interesting. It would be great if there were other Fullards/Folliards who would be interested in a DNA surname study.


Your comments are appreciated. Thanks.

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