Saturday, February 5, 2011

Waitangi Day 2011 - My Ancestors Gold Rush to New Zealand - Gilmore, Fullerton, Joyce, Mulhall

New Zealand topographic map
New Zealand
This is my contribution to the Waitangi Day Blog Challenge initiated by Seonaid at Hunting Ancestors. February 6th, Waitangi Day, is New Zealand's national day. The blog challenge is to write about your early New Zealand ancestors. 

Several of my ancestors spent some time across the Tasman Sea in New Zealand. As far as I am aware none of them married or had children there, so the amount of genealogical evidence that I can glean about their time in New Zealand is, unfortunately, quite limited. 

William Gilmore
My Great Great Grandfather William Kenneth Gilmore was born c1839 at Tullymore, County Down, Ireland, the son of William Gilmore and Margaret Gilmore. 

William embarked from Liverpool on the ship Peter Maxwell on 18 April 1859 and arrived in Melbourne in July 1859 (a voyage of 140 days). The passenger list for the Peter Maxwell listed William as a 20-year-old Irish labourer. 

William Gilmore was mentioned in Victoria and Its Metropolis: Past and Present (1888) as follows: 

"Gilmore, William, Tooborac, was born in county Down, Ireland, and arrived in this colony in 1859. He was engaged in clearing land for nine months, and then worked on a station at Bendigo for two years; was for seven years gold mining in various parts of Victoria, and for eight years in New Zealand. After that he returned to this colony and selected land at Tooborac, of which he now holds 333 acres. He is engaged in grazing and breeding cattle, and has a dairy of 25 cows."

I believe some of the years in this entry do not add up. As William arrived in Melbourne in April 1859, engaged in land clearing for nine months, this brings us to about January 1860. He began working on a station at Bendigo for 2 years, which brings us to about January 1862. 

But when was he involved in gold mining in various parts of Victoria and in New Zealand? It was obviously some time between c1862 and 1871 because on 20 January 1871 William Gilmore married Bridget Colbert at Heathcote, Victoria. The marriage certificate declared he was a 29-year-old miner, so it could have been at that time that he was gold mining in Victoria. 

The Index to Outward Passengers to Interstate, UK, NZ and Foreign Ports  1852-1908 is available at the web site of the Public Record Office Victoria (PROV). This is an ongoing indexing project conducted by volunteers - Thank you volunteers! This index shows a W. Gilmore, aged 25, travelling to Otago, New Zealand on the ship Helen McGaw in December 1861.   
Is this my ancestor William Gilmore? If so, then he was among the many people at that time who headed to New Zealand as part of the Otago Gold RushYou can read more about the Otago Gold Rush on Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand.
Central Otago, New Zealand, 22 July 2005
Central Otago, New Zealand. By Phillip Capper from Wellington, New Zealand (Flickr)
 [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The Index to Unassisted Inward Passenger Lists to Victoria 1852-1923 lists a W. Gilmore, aged 25, as returning from New Zealand to Melbourne in March 1862 on the ship Aldinga II. Was this William returning? If so, it appears he only spent a couple of months in New Zealand. Perhaps his entry in Victoria and Its Metropolis meant to say 'eight weeks in New Zealand', rather than eight years. 

I have not yet had the opportunity to view copies of the original passenger lists for either the Helen McGaw or the Aldinga II at the PROV, but I hope to do so in the future. 

William Fullerton and Peter Fullerton
My 3rd Great Grandfather, William Fullerton, and his son, my Great Great Grandfather, Peter Fullerton, are also believed to have gone to the Otago Gold Rush and spent a year there between February 1863 and February 1864. 

Alhambra (1853)
The Alhambra, 1855 [public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The Index to Outward Passengers to Interstate, UK, NZ and Foreign Ports  1852-1908 shows that P. Fullerton (aged 18) and W. Fullerton (aged 47) were passengers on the Alhambra in February 1863The Alhambra regularly travelled between Australia and New Zealand. The Fullertons were aboard the Alhambra when they left Melbourne on 14 February 1863 for Port Chalmers, New Zealand.  Extracts from the Otago Witness' Shipping News for 1863 lists the arrival date for the Alhambra at Port Chalmbers  23 February 1863.

A family story is told by a relative that, while in New Zealand, Peter bought a Scottish piper figurine which he later gave as a gift to his younger sister, Mary Fullerton (see more about the Fullerton family at Finding the Fullertons). 

The Index to Unassisted Inward Passenger Lists to Victoria 1852-1923 lists the Fullertons returning to Melbourne from Otago, NZ, again on the Alhambra, in March 1864, listed as P. Fullerton (aged 28) and Wm. Fullerton (aged 31).  The ages are obviously not right, but I still believe it may be them. I have looked at the original outward and inward passenger lists on microfilm and microfiche at the PROV. Both Peter and William were listed on the original passenger list as miners. This voyage embarked from Port Chalmers on 27 February 1864 headed for Hobson's Bay, Melbourne. 

Edmund Joyce
A history of my Joyce family, compiled by a couple of Joyce relatives in the 1970s, states the following about my Great Great Grandfather, Edmund Joyce (1833-1916): "With the exhaustion of alluvial gold fields around Ballarat in the late 1850s, Edmund went to New Zealand where he made enough money in the goldfields to return to Victoria and buy a bullock team." The book also states that other Joyce relatives (who came from Whitegate, County Galway - now part of County Clare) immigrated to New Zealand, as well as to America and Canada. Because much research has already been conducted about my Joyce ancestors, I have not spent time researching them. With all the newly indexed resources available online, I do hope to research the Joyce's in the future.

Catherine Mulhall
Catherine (Kate) was the sister of my Great Great Grandmother, Mary Joyce (nee Mulhall) (1844-1923). Their parents were Matthew Mulhall and Margaret Coghlan and the family came from the parish of Tubberclare, County Westmeath, Ireland. I found out about Kate's connection to New Zealand when I purchased a copy of her death certificate. Kate Painter (nee Mulhall) died on 22 June 1894 at 4 Arthur Street, South Melbourne.  The certificate stated that Kate had spent 12 months in New Zealand and 14 years in Victoria. Kate had married Edward Nutting Painter on 14 January 1883 at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne. The New Zealand Immigration Passenger Lists, 1855-1973 available on FamilySearch include a record for Cathe. Mulhall (aged 25, a farm servant from County Westmeath) immigrating from Plymouth (left 3 November 1877) to Wellington, New Zealand (arrived 28 January 1878) on the ship Gainsborough. 

These are just some of the connections to New Zealand in my family tree,  undoubtedly there are many more still to be discovered in my research!

Useful links:
(Sources available on request)

Copyright © 2011 Australian Genealogy Journeys.


  1. I found this very interesting, as I have my own connection to the Otago gold fields: And I love the photograph of William Gilmore - just how a Gold Rush miner ought to look, with that wonderful beard!

  2. Wow thanks Aillin, you have loads of NZ connections. You've done a lot of great research here . . love the pix! Thanks for the contribution . . .

  3. Thanks Caroline and genebrarian. I enjoyed taking part. That photo of William Gilmore is one my favourites too.


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