Mary (Maria) Dillon 18441844

Mary (Maria) Dillon 1844

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Place of migration
Migrated to/Born in New Zealand

Many thanks to Ireland XO members for assisting. In the center of the image are my great-great-grandparents Patrick Ford (1834?-1918) and his wife Maria nee Dillon (1844-1919), surrounded by most of their eleven children (eight girls and three boys), and some of the next two generations. The place is Oamaru, New Zealand, the date 1912, and the occasion is Patrick and Maria’s 50th wedding anniversary. They married in Tokomairiro, Otago, NZ, in 1862, had their first child Mary Ellen (Ellie) in Southland (1863-1912), then migrated to Oamaru where after working as a gold miner Patrick resumed his profession as a stonemason that he had learned back in Ireland. Maria was from the parish of Aughrim in Galway. Maria and her sister Helen had arrived in NZ first, Maria aged 16, on 28 January 1861 on the maiden voyage of the Lady Egidia, and Patrick followed shortly after, arriving on his birthday, St. Patrick’s Day, on the Melbourne in March 1861. (Confusingly he was one of two persons named Patrick Ford on the Melbourne, but it is unclear if they are related.) The two girls and Patrick were early in the sequence of chain migration of people from the district that commenced with William Cavanagh who arrived from Victoria in Australia in 1856.

I started this post with a series of questions about the people listed here, many of which have now been answered below - many thanks.

  1. On the Lady Egidia with Maria Dillon was her sister Helen/ Ellen - for more on the family see below.
  2. Another sibling of Maria and Helen was Bridget Dillon who was born “circa 1846” and also migrated to Oamaru in which town she died in 1923. In NZ she married Archibald Wallace from Edinburgh (c. 1838-1917) and they had four children all born in Oamaru (Mary Jane, William, James Robert and Archibald).
  3. Another sibling of Maria, Helen and Bridget was John Dillon. He was another in the chain migration system, was born c. 1851 and died in 1928 in Oamaru.
  4. A further sibling of Maria, Helen, Bridget and John was Andrew Dillon who died in 1941 at Oamaru.
  5. We know that the parents of Maria, Helen, Bridget, John and Andrew were Andrew Dillon and Ann Halloran also born in Galway married before 1844.
  6. Our records thus include the five children of Andrew Dillon and Ann Halloran. One more child (Patrick) remained in Galway.

As mentioned above, William Cavanagh started the chain migration of people from Annaghdown after he arrived in Otago in 1856. He was one of the individuals recruited from Victoria, Australia, by the province of Otago which at that time was very short of labour. He may well have been a gold digger in Victoria who became interested in other opportunities when the Victorian gold was petering out. My question: in the 1850s were there any known family connections between the Cavanaghs and the Dillons that would help to explain why William C facilitated the Dillon family chain migration?

With thanks, Frank Sligo

Additional Information
Date of Birth 5th Jun 1844
Date of Death 21st May 1919 VIEW SOURCE
Father (First Name/s and Surname) Andrew / Andy Dillon
Mother (First Name/s and Maiden) Ann/ Anne Halloran
Number of Children 13
Townland born Brackloon in Galway
Names of Siblings Helen/ Ellen Dillon, Bridget Dillon, John Dillon, Andrew Dillon, Patrick Dillon
Spouse (First Name/s and Maiden/Surname) Patrick Ford
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  • Hello Frank,

    Congratulations on a wonderful family photo, some great detective work. and your informative notes and questions. 

    If I read the 1911 transcriipt of Maria Dillon's baptismal certificate correctly, she was the daughter of Andrew Dillon and Ann Halloran, born on the 5th of June 1844, but the record is not from the Parish of Annaghdown.  It is from the parish of Aughrim & Kilconnel in the diocese of Clonfert.  That is indeed in County Galway, but quite some distance southeast of Annaghown. There are five or six other parishes in between those two.. 

    Annaghdown is in the Diocese of Tuam and I know those records pretty weit because my GGgrandfather Edmond O'Dea  left Annaghdown for the U.S. in 1849.  Some of his 7 adult children and 3 grandchildren had preceded him in1848. Annaghdown baptismal records begin in 1834 and I know there were Fords and Cavanaghs living there, but I don't recall seeing Dillons among themand it's a name that would catch my eye because my mother was a Dillon..  You could consult the records for both parishes yourself, because they are online at the National Library of Ireland website at The record for Maria Dillon's baptism is at (Aughrim, aka Kilconnel) and those for Annaghdown are at (baptisms from 1834, with some marrriages from the 1820s.).

    I did some browsing in the original Aughrim records on your behalf and located Maria Dillon's 1844 baptismal record, which is iess formal than the transcript.  She was baptized Mary Dillon, daughter of Andy Dillon and Ann Hallorin.  Unfortunately, I can't find a way to insert that image here.. But I stumbled across another record in those files that sheds light on your question about connections between the Cavanaghs and the Dillons.  Patrick Cavanagh, son of Mat Cavanagh and Mary Dillon was baptized on 5 April 1844, two months before your GGgrandmother was born. His godparents were William Dillon and Mary Dillon. That means that by the middle of 1844, there were at least three Mary Dillons living in Aughrim parish - Mary Dillon Cavanagh and Mrs. William Dillon, both presumably in their twenties or thirties, and the newborn daughter of Andy Dillon and Ann Halloran..

    Best of luck in your continuing research, and don't hesitate to hit me up at if other questions arise

    Edward J. (Ed) O'Day,

    Co-genealogist of the O'Dea Clan (USA & Canada)





    Thursday 19th May 2022 07:30PM
  • Hi Frank, Regarding your query about Andrew Dillon. I see from Family Search NZ passenger records that Andrew was a herdsman, and purportedly 24 years old, from Galway, when he came out to Oamaru, New Zealand aboard the steamship Ruapehu in June 1884. He was Government assisted, contributing ten shillings in cash towards the total cost of sixteen pounds for the voyage. I see from Papers Past that in 1888 he injured his hand while working in a quarry at Deep Stream. Later he worked for grain merchant, James Cooney, working on the wharves and on many farms around North Otago, Still later he worked for building contractors. In 1928 he was a witness at an inquest into a fatality that occured on the wharves. In September 1934 he was a passenger mildly injured in a car collison. Andrew was unmarried. His death notice states he was born in Ballinasloe, Co. Galway, At the time of his death on 22nd Oct 1941 he was 79 years old and lived at Tamar Street in Oamaru. He had a requiem mass at the Basilica at 9.00am  on Saturday 25th, and his funeral left for the Oamaru cemetery at 10.00am. I am presuming you can access these sources, Frank, if any of this detail is new to you, but if you can't, let me know pdward@xtra,co and I can send you the original information. Papers Past is an excellent resource, and you can often build up a picture of a person through the newspaper reports. All the best, and enjoy the search, 

    Trish Ward, Invercargill, NZ


    Trish Ward

    Thursday 19th May 2022 11:29PM
  • email address


    Trish Ward

    Thursday 19th May 2022 11:31PM
  • Excellent information; many thanks Trish and Ed. I'll certainly follow up the various sources you mention. Cheers, Frank

    Frank Sligo

    Thursday 19th May 2022 11:40PM
  • Also I had located both Anne and Andrew's death registrations on Ireland BDM but was unable to post them here. Let me know by email if you can't access them on-line yourself, and I will send them to you. Both under Ballinasloe district, Anne on 2nd August 1885, aged 65, registered by Andrew Jnr;  and Andrew on 19th November 1887, aged 79. Both died at what looks like Brackloon, Killallaghton so we may have narrowed down their home location. Cheers, Trish

    Trish Ward

    Friday 20th May 2022 12:17AM
  • Hello Frank!  I was researching this couple last month!  My great-great Grandmother was Bridget Dillon, also living in Oamaru, but I believe another generation younger - probably born around 1866/7.  I have a DNA match with someone else descended from your Maria.  I have found Helen/Ellen's information - she did marry and die young - will frisk my notes and try to locate that information.  

    My Bridget came out as a nominated immigrant, which likely means she was going to family.  I have a hunch she was sent to Maria and may have been a niece or similar.  She arrived in 1879, aged 13, and died in Australia in 1929, aged 62.  She married Samuel Thomas Crook in Jan 1882 in Oamaru, claiming to be in her early 20s, but would have been about 15, and gave birth to her firstborn a few weeks later.  

     I have a ton of DNA matches which go back to a William Dillon b. 1821 and Alice Brady who emigrated from Ireland to Greenock, Scotland.  I see unconfirmed sources that my Bridget's parents were a Joseph Dillon and Bridget Mondon from Donegal.  I haven't found proof yet.  William and Alice also had children named Joseph and Bridget

    Would be very keen to collaborate on finding origins :-)   


    Monday 23rd May 2022 08:46AM
  • Sorry - typing before coffee!  My great great Grandmother was Margaret Dillon.  Her mother was apparently Bridget.  


    Monday 23rd May 2022 09:09AM
  • Excellent information and corrections all, many thanks. The Oamaru connection is starting to come through strongly. Taonga1, if you want to give me your email we can compare notes. More information on Maria Dillon's sister Helen (Ellen) would be great. Cheers Frank

    Frank Sligo

    Monday 23rd May 2022 08:33PM
  • Found my file on Ellen  :-)  Yes, I'd love to hear from you - my username here

    Maria Dillon's sister Ellen:

    Ship: Lady Egidia
    Helen and Marian Dillon
    Government assisted immigrants
    Domestic servants

    Mary at christening? (Cappataggle, Galway)
    Marian at immigration
    Maria at marriage
    Mariah at death

    Helen at immigration
    Ellenor at marriage
    Ellen at birth of all 4 children
    Ellen at death

    Ellenor Dillon m. John Black - BDM 1862/2043
    Maria Dillon m. Patrick Forde - BDM 1862/2044

    Consecutive numbers in the register - double-wedding?

    Children to Ellen and John Black:
    1866 John
    1868 Eleanor
    1871 Mary
    1872 Alice

    Who raised them??

    (Maria has children named Joseph and Bridget, Ellen has Alice - like Alice Brady in Greenock. - linked to an earlier generation)

    John Black died 1873 aged 39

    North Otago Times
    Mrs John Black - sale of grocery fixtures 30 Jan 1874, Thames St (Dunedin?)

    Ellen (Ellenor) d. 12 Sep 1874, at her residence, Thames-street - relict of Mr John Black, aged 29 years.  Native of Galway, Ireland.  

    Ellen Dillon Black
    1874/12892 aged 29




    Tuesday 24th May 2022 07:43AM
  • I understand that the Blacks lived in Thames Street in Oamaru (rather than Dunedin).

    Trish Ward

    Tuesday 24th May 2022 08:25AM
  • Thank you Trish :-)  That was one piece from my notes I meant to go back and check.  Most of my great-great Grandparents' children were also born in Oamaru.  Must have been a large number of Dillons there by the 1880s/90s. The cemetery records have lots more names.  


    Tuesday 24th May 2022 09:36AM
  • I don't know who raised Ellen and John's orphaned children but one way of trying to find that information is through school records, which typically record the child's birthdate, prior school if any, address, and name of guardian, and when they left the school and their destination after departure. The Oamaru Museum and Archives hold Oamaru school records, and the Hocken Library also, in Dunedin. I wonder if you have checked the parents' wills? Ellen's is available on-line at no cost (National Archives website). Ellen made her final will and testament on her death bed. Her executors were John Dooley and Patrick Ford. She left her entire estate (beneath value of 200 pounds) to her three children whom she named as Hugh, John and Alice, in that order. Ellen and John are buried in the Old Cemetery in Oamaru and a seach of their record on-line shows that they had two chiildren who pre-deceased them - Ellen Black died April 1872, aged 3 (born 1868 as Eleanor) and Mary died in May 1872, aged 18mths (born 1871). 

    Trish Ward

    Tuesday 24th May 2022 09:41AM
  • Hello again Frank,

    I will keep my comments primarily to the Irish side of the equation, because Trish and Taonga 1 have done a very good job of adding new details about the New Zealand Dillons and their spouses.  Kodos to Trish for finding the death records for Andrew and Ann (Halloran) Dillon in the Irish Civil Records which specify their place of death as.Brackloon. That Townland is a 215 acre speck on the map of Ireland, but it is the equivalent of an address in rural Ireland.

    Frank, I have done some additional searching on your behalf in the Irish Catholic Church records and came up with a surprise.  I found one of Maria Dillon's siblings who did not  emigrate to New Zealand.   -  Patt Dillon was baptised in the  parish of Aughrim on 1 June 1851.  His godparents were John Dillon and Elinor Dillon, in all likelihood two of his older sibliings who later did go to NZ. Elinor is probably the Helen who arrived with Maria in 1861.

    I know he did not emigrate (or if he did, he returned to Ireland) because he appears on the Irish Census of 1901, the first surviving every-name census of Ireland.  He was then 49, married and working as a shepherd in the townland of Ballydonnellan West.  He and his wife Maria had seven children, ages 9 to 22 .

    Ten years later, Patrick and his family had moved to Brackloon, the townland where his parents had lived and died.  He may actually have owned the farm, because the Land Purchase Act of 1903 had made it possible for lesssors to buy out their landlords. 

    Ed O'Day




    Tuesday 24th May 2022 07:43PM
  • Brilliant information thanks Ed, Trish, and Taonga1 - I'm basically getting a masterclass in how to do genealogical research. :-)

    Then as of 2020 there were still Dillons in the area: “Thomas also known as Tommy Dillon, Brackloon, Killoran, Ballinasloe. Mass for Tommy Dillon will take place … in St. Michael’s Church, Cappatagle. Funeral afterwards to Killalaghton Cemetery. Published by the Connacht Tribune Nov 7-8, 2020.”

    Maria Dillon among others was born in Cappatagle, so it's interesting to see the continuity in the district. With others in the extended family I'll continue at the NZ end.

    Cheers Frank

    Frank Sligo

    Tuesday 24th May 2022 09:35PM
  • Amazing that you have found a contemporary death notice linking the Dillon family of Brackloon to the church at Cappatagle where Maria was born!   The two townlands are only a stone's throw apart.  Andrew Dillon and Ann Halloran probably have descendants still living in the area.


    Ed in the U.S.


    Wednesday 25th May 2022 12:46AM

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