Bridget  Delia Gertrude Learnihan1874

Bridget Delia Gertrude Learnihan 1874

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Place of migration
Migrated to/Born in Australia

Spelling of Learnihan surname

There are multiple spellings of the Learnihan surname.  The Irish and Australian sources (1901 Ireland Census, Ireland, Civil Registration Marriages Index, 1845-1958 and Ireland, Select Marriages, 1619-1898, original Queensland Marriage Certificate) show there are three known variants of the Learnihan surname: - 1. Learhinan 2. Lernihan and 3. Lerhinan

It is not certain which is the correct spelling but the oldest Learnihan person for whom there is some information is for Thomas Joseph Learnihan. The Learnihan variant seems to be the most common and for that reason only it has been assumed as the correct one.

Bridget Delia Learnihan's Parents

Her parents were Thomas Joseph Learnihan 1842-1930 and Maria Learnihan (his first cousin) 1848-1879

Thomas Learnihan's Marriages

Thomas Joseph Learhinan married twice. Thomas  and (his first wife) Maria Learnihan (his first cousin) of Kilmihil, Clare, Ireland had nine children of whom seven survived into adulthood. Maria died young in 1879 aged 31 (of premature labour). 

Thomas married again on 22 July 1879 - his second wife was Catherine "Katie" Molly and they had a further 10 children of whom only five survived into adulthoold.

Learnihan Family Immigration to Northern Queensland

Six of the surving seven Learnihan children from Thomas Learnihan's first wife as well as the first born child (Annie) from his second wife, immigrated to Townsville, Queensland in the 11 years between 1889 and 1900, on three ships - SS Juman, SS Dorunda and SS Duke of Portland.

The first two children to immigrate were Susan and Mary in 1889 on the SS Jumna. Next was Patrick, 2 years later in 1891 on the SS Dorunda Then James, 7 years later in 1898 on the SS Jumna. Finally 2 years later, Bridget, Norah and Annie in 1900 on the Duke of Portland

First Name   Born               Died                 Arrived                             Ship                            Married                          

Patrick           16 Mar 1869   18 Jun 1911     Abt Mar 1891 Townsville  SS Dorunda                 Did not marry   

Susan           24 Nov 1870   18 Sep 1900     5 Dec 1889   Townsville   SS Jumna                    Did not marry     

Mary             10 Sep 1873   16 Apr 1957      5 Dec 1889   Townsville   SS Jumna                    John Martin West

Bridget Delia  6 Dec 1874    18 Aug 1984    5 Feb 1900 Townsville     SS Duke of Portland    Thomas W G Blackburn

Norah           11 Mar 1876    26 Mar 1922    5 Feb 1900 Townsville     SS Duke of Portland     1 John Joseph Hughes and 2 Henry Albert James 

James          15 Feb 1878      8 Sep 1961    2  Jan 1898 Townsville  SS Jumna                     Did not marry 

Annie  (step sister) 12 May 1880    16 Nov 1951    5 Feb 1900 Townsville     SS Duke of Portland    Vincent Rowland Jackson

It is suspected that all of the six siblings and their step sister travelled as remittance passengers – fares paid by someone else.

Remittance Passengers

On 10 December 1859 Queensland was formally separated from the colony of New South Wales. Some 13 years later, the Queensland Government enacted an Immigration Act in 1872 that allowed residents in Queensland who wished to obtain Passages to the Colony for their friends or relatives in Europe, to purchase shipping passenger tickets, by paying to the Immigration Agent in Brisbane, or to any of the Clerks of Petty Sessions in the Colony, amounts varying in cost from £1 to £6.

Passengers who arrived under this scheme were called Remittance Passengers. This arrangement was advertised in local press including on page 3 of the 10 December 1872 edition of the Rockhampton Bulletin newspaper.[1]

"IMMIGRATION ACT OF 1872 - REMITTANCE PASSENGERS”. PERSONS resident in Queensland wishing to obtain Passages to the Colony for their friends or relatives in Europe, can do so under the provisions of the New Immigration Act, by paying to the Immigration Agent in Brisbane, or to any of the Clerks of Petty Sessions in the Colony, amounts in accordance with the following scale:-

  • Males and Females between 1 and 12 years each 1 pound
  • Males between 12 and 40 years each 2 pounds
  • Females between 12 and 40 years each 1 pound
  • Males and Females above 40 years each 4 pounds
  • Infants under 12 months Free"

Who paid the fares for Susan and Mary Learnihan ?

It is unknown who paid for the fares of the Learnihan children. Perhaps the initial fares for Susan and Mary were paid by a friend or relative who could have been in Queensland already and Susan and Mary went on to pay the fares for the subsequent siblings Patrick, James, Bridget Delia, Norah and Annie.  Another possibility is that a publican looking for workers may have paid the initial fares but to date no evidence of this has been identified.

Post Arrival

In 1904, Bridget Delia married and migrated to Vancouver, BC, Canada where she and her husband  had 2 daughters and they all remained there for the remainder of their lives.

All of Bridget Delia's 6 surving siblings and her step sister (Annie) remained and died in Queensland, Australia. 

Bridget Delia's Learnihan's Step Siblings

Delia's oldest step sister Annie migated to Queenland in 1900. Five of the ten step-siblings survived into adulthood. Of these five, three migrated to and died in three separete states in the USA and the other two remained and died in Ireland.

[1] Source: IMMIGRATION ACT OF 1872. REMITTANCE PASSENGERS. (1872, December 10). Rockhampton Bulletin (Qld. : 1871 - 1878), p. 3. Retrieved January 6, 2019, from

Additional Information
Date of Birth 6th Dec 1874 VIEW SOURCE
Date of Death 18th Aug 1964 VIEW SOURCE
Father (First Name/s and Surname) Thomas Learnihan b. 1842-d. 1930
Mother (First Name/s and Maiden) Mary Learnihan b. 1848-d. 1879 (Mary and Thomas Learnihan were first cousins, with a shared grandfather, Michael Learnihan b about 1770 )
Townland born Kilmihil (Cill Mhichíl) , Kilmihil Civil Parish, Barony of Clonderalaw, Co. Clare 831 A, 1 R, 27 P
Names of Siblings Siblings Susan 1870 - 1900 Mary 1873 -1957 Patrick 1869 -1911 James 1880 - 1961 Norah 1876 - 1922 Step-Siblings Annie, Thomas, Jeremiah, Matthew, Catherine, Michael *, Ellen *, John *, Alice * and Joseph* * = died young
Spouse (First Name/s and Maiden/Surname) Thomas Wordsworth Gavin Blackburn
Place & Date of Marriage St Aidans Church, Charters Towers, Queensland, Australia. 19 Nov 1904 VIEW SOURCE
Number of Children 2
Names of Children Dorothy "Dot" May Blackburn - born 16 Feb 1908 Vancouver, BC, Canada - died 20 Feb 2003 Vancouver, BC, Canada Gladys Mary Blackburn - born 12 Dec 1912 Nelson, BC, Canada - died 10 Dec 1984, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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