Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Taphophile Tragics

A lot of local families are buried in St Peters Churchyard at St Peters. This grave belongs to a member of the Gannon family. I was at school in the 1960s/70s with a Gannon or two. There is a Gannon Street in the area and I think that one of the major local arteries, Forest Road, was originally Gannons Forest Road. I have not done very much research this week, however Frederick Gannon was the son of Michael Gannon and the Australian Dictionary of Biography tells me:

Michael Gannon (1800-1881), builder and innkeeper, was born at Mullingar, Westmeath, Ireland, son of John Gannon, joiner, and his wife Alicia, née Gelshin. In 1820 he and his younger brother James, both carpenters, were sentenced in Meath, Michael for life and James for fourteen years. In December 1820 they arrived at Sydney in the Almorah.

In August 1824 Michael, then an assigned servant, married in Sydney Mary Parsonage, who later petitioned Governor (Sir) Ralph Darling for her husband to be assigned to her. They lived in the Rocks area where Gannon worked as a carpenter and joiner. By 1829 he had a ticket-of-leave and in June 1836 his conditional pardon was confirmed. Gannon prospered as a builder and accumulated real estate. By 1843 he was undertaker for Catholic burials and had started as an auctioneer and commission agent in Lower George Street but this business was damaged by his brother's insolvency. Michael then obtained a publican's licence for an inn on Cook's River Road, Newtown, and was settled at Tempe by the end of 1845. Bankrupt within two years he was criticized for fraudulent transactions, contradictory evidence on oath and criminal neglect in failing to keep proper accounts.

From 1848 Gannon 'played an active and largely hidden role in Sydney politics'. In November 1850 he bought for £732 in St George parish a heavily timbered estate of 1905 acres (771 ha), known as Gannon's Forest and later renamed Hurstville. Buying and selling property he lived at Tempe until he died aged 81 on 9 August 1881, survived by four sons and two daughters. He was buried in the family vault at Cook's River beside his wife who had died on 25 March 1875. His estate, valued at £9581, was bequeathed to members of his family but challenged by some of his relations.

James was granted his ticket-of-leave in 1828 and married Mary Phelps at Sydney in 1829. From carpentry he drifted into inn-keeping and sporting activities, notably pigeon shooting. Insolvent in 1843, his personal assets were valued at £62 and included his treasured fowling piece and two dogs. On the fringe of politics in 1865 he was fined £50 for personation and double voting but was pardoned by the governor. As a labourer he died aged 68 at Paddington on 19 February 1871, leaving three children.

This is an entry in Julie's Taphophile Tragics meme.


Julie said...

Pssst ...

Nicola Carpenter said...

What an interesting post and a great looking stone.

Beneath Thy Feet

Julie said...

Terrific read. Not sure that I agree with 'criminal neglect' for not keeping good books.

Both brothers were go-getters by the sounds of it. I find it amazing how many of the people sent out here as convicts really made a go of it. It was like a whole new world opened up for them, and they took the chance offered.