An Irish Famine Orphan Came to Jerrawa Creek

Garry Smith at the Irish Famine Memorial at Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney
(Photo by Malia Smith - provided)

By Garry Smith:

The 18th Annual Commemoration of The Great Irish Famine was held on Sunday 27 August 2017 at the Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney. Beginning in 1845 and lasting for six years, the potato famine killed over a million men, women and children in Ireland and caused another million to flee the country.
During the early 1830s, approximately 3000 women accepted the British government’s offer of an assisted passage to Australia. Many of these women were educated, articulate and keen to escape the stultifying effects of their family and demonstrate their enterprise.

By contrast, the young orphan girls from the workhouses across Ireland during the potato famine were very young, very poor and refugees of a calamitous famine that ravaged Ireland. In the Ennis, County Clare workhouse, built in the period 1839-41, there was an overwhelming crush of famine victims wanting to enter.

One inmate who did gain entry to the Ennis workhouse was Eliza Roughan, born in Ennis c 1831, the daughter of John Roughan and Mary McNamara. In 1849, under Earl Grey’s Orphan Famine Scheme, Eliza Roughan, having lost both parents, became one of 4114 orphans to leave for Australia in the years 1848 to 1850.

From their arrival base at the Hyde Park Barracks the girls, some as young as 14 years, were transported to Yass, there hopeful to find employment and a home in such places as Tumut, Gundagai, Jugiong and Binalong. Eliza Roughan arrived aboard the Thomas Arbuthnot on 3 February 1850; she spent some time working as a house servant for Cornelius O’Brien at Bendenine.

In 1852 Eliza met and married Ambrose Alchin Junior (1830-1918), farmer at Jerrawa Creek and my great, great uncle. Wesleyan Ambrose Alchin Junior, married Roman Catholic Eliza Roughan in the St Clements Church of England, Yass on 21 August 1852.

Marriage Record for Ambrose and Eliza, Parish Records, St Clements, Yass

Ambrose Junior and Eliza Alchin had at least seven children: Ann (1853-1938), married Arthur Bush; Charles (1855-1947); Ambrose William (1857-1938), married Ellen Norris at Gunning; George (1859-1956); Elizabeth (1861-1947), married Walter Dickenson in Cootamundra; Lydia (1863-1957), married Phillip Cahill in Cootamundra; Rebekah (1866-1867). All the children were born at Jerrawa Creek.

Eliza Alchin (nee Roughan) died on 9 January 1866, of “natural causes” following the birth of her last child, Rebekah; she was 35 years old.

Ambrose and Eliza were married at this place; Rev Ken Rampling, Malia Smith & Garry Smith

Garry Norman Smith is a regular contributor to the Gunning & District Historical Society's blog. If you have an idea for an article or photographs you are willing to share, please contact us at