Michael Davoren 18271827

Michael Davoren 1827

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Place of migration
Migrated to/Born in Australia

Michael Davoren, came from Lisdoonvarna, County Clare in Ireland. He was born circa 1827 and was the son of James Davoren (farmer) and Bridget Cairns/Kerin. On August 9th 1854, he set sail for South Australia with his mother, two brothers and a sister on the Dirigo arriving there on 23 November 1854.

The journey of the Dirigo had a troubled beginning due to an onboard outbreak of cholera. Thirty people died before the ship was able to set sail from Liverpool. The passengers wrote to the Government Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners complaining:

That we consider the ship Dirigo quite unfit for us passengers to proceed in, as she is at all times damp, and very much given to leakage. We have the opinion of many of the sailors as to the above-mentioned fact, together with our own experience. We were on board for 14 days, and during that length of time she was constantly wet; and we consider that the damp state of the ship tended greatly to the progress of the disease we had amongst the passengers.

Memorialists are ready to give their sworn testimony as to the facts stated in this memorial.

The passengers beg leave to state that our medical attendant allowed diseased passengers to come on board, which we consider was the first and principal cause of the fatal disease that swept so many of our passengers to an untimely end, as the passengers up to that unfortunate day were free from any infectious disease.

Many of the memorialists further beg to state that the doctor wilfully neglected to attend many of the dying when called upon to do so, he not being occupied at the time more than walking on deck. Memorialists have many minor complaints to make that they consider too numerous to put here, as they hope for an inquiry into the whole case. 3

Among those who signed this memorial petition were Michael and his brother, James. Obviously the Commissioners took little notice as a further thirteen were to die on the voyage to Australia. 

Michael had a brother, Oliver, and three sisters, Biddy (Bridget), Margaret and Eleanor who had arrived in South Australia three years earlier (1851) on the Marion. Their trip, too, had not been without peril:

According to official reports, as supplied by the Edithburgh Museum, The MARION went aground on Troubridge Shoal (off South Australia's coast) on July 29th 1851 near end of her voyage.

Unfortunately there was no light on Troubridge Shoal to warn of the danger and the shoal was not shown on the MARION's charts. Thus stranded, Captain Kissock, acting in an exemplary fashion as he had done throughout the journey, ordered out the long boats. With the coast of Yorke Peninsula only a few miles away, it was expected that the sailors would discharge their passengers and return to the ship for the remaining passengers and crew.

Alas, this was not to be - and so, it was more by good fortune than good management that all passengers and crew reached shore safely, some by long boat headed east instead of west with the sailors laying all night on their oars, waiting anxiously for dawn. At daylight, land was sighted and with the aid of a quilt and a sheet for sails they soon approached it. But, because of the huge breakers and rocky shoreline, they could not find an accessible point. At length, however, it became necessary to attempt to land but the boat capsized after her bows were stoved in when she hit the rocky bottom and a second sea drove her higher up on the rocks - no lives were lost. This appalling debarkation occurred about a mile from the boat harbour at Cape Jervis. Yet another boat had found its way to Yoho Bay near Rapid Bay, and it was from the three crewmen who manned this boat that the alarm was first given.

In the meantime, another group of emigrants and crew members with some of their luggage, after having been swept around the south coast of Yorke Peninsula, found shelter at a house on one of Mr Bowden's stations, and eventually made their way into Adelaide. Unfortunately Mrs Ann Johnson received bodily injuries when the dray she was on hit a rough piece of road and she was thrown off (she died within a few hours). An infant at her breast and her two other children miraculously escaped almost unhurt, though the babe, cared for by a fellow passenger, later died.

The remaining 150 passengers, including Captain Kissock, who were still on the MARION - where water was now within six inches of the main deck - were finally rescued when their plight was noticed by the small coasting schooner MAID-OF-THE-MILL, whose Captain promptly went to their aid. With their every need attended to by Captain Butler, this group arrived at Port Adelaide during Friday, 1st August.5

Having survived these perilous journeys the Davoren family immigrants must have been relieved to arrive in South Australia. But their motivation remained strong. They had sailed here just a few years after the worst years of the Great Famine. While possibly not rendered destitute by the effects of the famine, they probably saw life in Australia as offering better prospects than farming in Ireland. What may have added further incentive was financial assistance offered to emigrants by the newly formed colonies.

Oliver Davoren and his three sisters had taken up this assistance when they immigrated to South Australia in 1851. At this time South Australia was particularly appealing to immigrants since the convict system prevalent in the other colonies was deliberately excluded from South Australia. Three years later the rest of the family, probably motivated by news from the earlier immigrants, followed. Further motivation may have been the death of James, father of the Davoren children. The fact Bridget Davoren, mother of the Davoren children, travelled with the second contingent suggests that James probably had passed away.

However, within a few years, all the family, except perhaps for James and Eleanor, moved to Victoria.  In the early 1850’s gold was discovered in Ballarat and other places in Victoria and a population exodus from South Australia (as well as other colonies) occurred. While there is evidence that some members of the family went to the gold fields (Biddy married Charles Lack from the Porcupine Flat gold fields in Maldon; her sister Margaret lived with her; both died there) the rest of the family re-located in Melbourne. In the 1850’s Melbourne was one of the most prosperous cities in the world as a result of influx of wealth from the gold diggings and opportunities for employment abounded.

At first, a series of tragedies struck the family. Bridget, the mother, died in 1865.  At the time of her death she was living with her eldest son, Denis, in Denham St in Hawthorn.  Within four years (1869) Denis himself died as a result of drowning a special irony since he had escaped dying at sea when the Marion had been stranded near Adelaide on the voyage to South Australia. Oliver died ten years later in 1879.

However, Michael Davoren, Bridget’s second son  flourished. Michael became a road contractor – responsible for the construction, maintenance and repair of roads and bridges around Melbourne, particularity to the east of Melbourne around Kew, under the supervision of the Boroondara Road Board.  Many of the Melbourne roads our family are familiar with – Whitehorse Rd, Bulleen Rd and Camberwell Rd were worked on by Michael Davoren. The newspapers of the time record the contracts he was awarded.

Family life for Michael began in 1857 when he married Bridget Walsh (born circa 1836 in Co Clare - daughter of Patrick Walsh and Catherine Foley) in St Francis’s Church in Melbourne.

Bridget had arrived in Melbourne as an assisted immigrant on the Blenheim on 28 February, 1855 to work as a domestic servant.

Michel and Bridget had nine children:

Catherine Lucy (Kate) born 1858 died 1950 aged 92

James Patrick born 1860 died 1917 aged 57

Michael Henry Joseph born 1863 died 1927 aged 64

Annie born 1864

Mary Ellen born 1866 died 1931 aged 65

John Thomas born 1869 died 1903 aged 34

Nora (Honorah) born 1873

Bridget (Delia) born 1874 died 1935 aged 61

Susan Josephine born 1879 died 1966 aged 87

The family lived for a short while in Collingwood, then for about ten years in Bulleen Rd, Kew and finally for about twenty-five years at 30 Liddiard St, Hawthorn/Glenferrie. It was from these latter properties that Michael conducted his road contracting business.  The Liddiard St property must have been reasonably large since he also kept dairy cows there, advertising regularly for boys to assist in minding the cows and eventually for a man to drive a milk cart. (See Appendix Two)  By the turn of the century the cows were producing between 100 to 350 quarts of milk per day. 6

In 1902 Michael left the Liddiard property and moved to 11 Salisbury Grove in Hawthorn/Glenferrie.

In the meantime, in the late 1880’s with a large family to support and with contracting work precarious owing to disputes with councils and the thefts of materials (see Appendix One), Michael gave up road construction.  He took a job as a gatekeeper for the Victorian railways at annual income of just over £100 supplementing this with funds from his dairy business.  However, the depression of the 1890’s led the Victorian government in 1893 to forcibly pension off all railway employees sixty years and over, one of whom was Michael Davoren further. (See Appendix Three) Tragedy struck when Michael and Bridget’s third son, John Thomas died on 16 February 1903.

However, fortunes for the family changed dramatically on January 3, 1903 when James Patrick, Michael and Bridget’s second son, then a groom in the employ of Dr Douglas Stewart of Brunswick, won £4500 in Tatteresall’s Consultations Summer Cup:

Tatteresall’s Consultations were a lucrative sweepstake betting system run by George Adams out of Tasmania. Tickets were procured through the post by Victorians because Adams was banned from operating in Melbourne. Hence the subterfuge in James’ purchase.

With the winnings, James purchased a new family home at 23 Wakefield St in Hawthorn. This was a large house capable of supporting all the family, and in honour of his winning horse in the Tatteresall’s Consultations Summer Cup he re-named it “Aurantia”.

Michael and Bridget moved there from Salisbury Grove and took up lodgings with their sons, James Patrick, Michael Joseph and daughters Kate and Mary Ellen.

Both Michael and Bridget were living at 23 Wakefield St at the time of their deaths: Michael in 1907 followed by Bridget in 1911.                                      

Additional Information
Date of Birth 1st Jan 1827 (circa)
Date of Death 1st Jan 1907 (circa)


  • Hi - I am loosely connected to the Davoren family via Michael's brother James (born c1839) who came out to Australia with his mother Bridget and other siblings.  He married Catherine CANNY in 1866 in South Australia.  They had two daughters Mary and Delia. Delia married 1908 to James CONNOLLY/ CONNELLY and it stated that her father James was deceased.

    The last reference I can find for James is 1872 in South Australia when he was goaled for a forged cheque.

    Do you have any more information about James as I have not been able to find his death or burial in South Australia, New South Wales or Victoria (Australia).





    Tuesday 31st May 2022 11:24PM
  • Hi Donna,


    I have  reference to James dying in 1874.  As well I have a reference to him being released from jail after serving his time for the forged cheque.


    Did you see the account of the trip of some of the family members coming out on the Dirigo in the Ancestor database?





    IrelandXO Moderator DC

    Wednesday 1st June 2022 02:47PM
  • Hi Adrian

    Thank you for your reply. I did see the facinating story about the Dirigo journey.

    I will now focus my research on 1874 as the year of death for James; which ties in very close to the end of his time in goal for using a forged cheque for the second time (once as a Davern in 1868 and once as a Davoren in 1872).  

    All the best




    Wednesday 1st June 2022 09:49PM

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