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Michael b 1798 and his son Alexander McFadden b 1828 were born in or around Lifford, County Donegal. Both were convicted at the Lifford Assizes, in Donegal on 14 Mar 1840. Lifford is on the border of Counties Donegal and Derry. Some of the older children of Michael and his wife Catherine nee Hagan were born in Co Donegal. They were Alexander b 1828, Elizabeth b 1830, Michael b 1835. Catherine b 1836, John b 1841, Mary b 184? were born in Derry City, near Fahan Street in that City. 

   Michael and Alexander were convicted of stealing geese in Lifford Assizes and sentenced to serve 7 years Transport to Tasmania, (Van Diemens Land), Australia. They were transferred to Kilmainham Jail in Dublin City on 29 April 1843 with a departure from Dublin aboard the "Orator" on 12 Aug 1843 on their journey to Tasmania. They served their sentence in Tasmania and at the outbreak of the Victorian Goldrush in 1850, travelled to the mainland, to Victoria around 1852. Michael was convicted in Victoria of horse stealing and received a sentence of 5 years. Michael died on 11 May 1860 at the Benevolent Asylum, Melbourne, having lived in Vctoria for 8 years. He was classed as a Widower. As far as it can be found, Michael never married in Tasmania or Victoria, meaning his wife, Catherine, must have died back in Derry (City) prior to 1860.  Alexander married in Victoria and had many children and died in Trentham, Victoria in 1908.

    I am trying to find Michael and Alexander's family in Donegal (or more likely) in County and City Derry. If anyone has any information on the family, I would be very pleased to hear.


Tom O'Driscoll

Collie, Western Australia


Thursday 20th Apr 2023, 02:49AM

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  • Tom,


    Statutory birth, death and marriage registration (in some jurisdictions called Vital Records) only started in Ireland in 1864, save for non RC marriages which were recorded from 1845 onwards. So you probably won’t find statutory birth, death or marriage certificates in Ireland for this family. For earlier years you usually need to rely on church records, where they exist.  Ideally you need to know the precise denomination and have some idea of where the person was born in order to search the correct records. Not all churches have records for that period and not all that do are on-line.

    RC records are mostly on-line on the nli site:

    They can also be found on rootsireland and other pay sites.

    For other denominations, the churches usually hold the originals but there are also copies in PRONI, the public record office, in Belfast. A personal visit is required to access them. Access to the records there is free. This link explains what records exist, parish by parish:

    If you are unable to go yourself, you could employ a researcher. Researchers in the PRONI area:

    The 1831 census for Co Derry has survived. There is no sign of Michael and his family in that census which points to them still being in Donegal at that date (something probably confirmed by Michael junior’s birth there in 1835). Unfortunately the 1831 census for Donegal was destroyed in the 1922 fire.



    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Thursday 20th Apr 2023, 12:06PM
  • Thank you Elwyn for all the information you gave me. One more question. Who can I contact to see if I can acess the Lifford Assize Records?




    Friday 21st Apr 2023, 02:59AM
  • In all probability the Lifford Assizes records were lost in the 1922 fire. You could check with the National Archives site in Dublin but I would not be optimistic of finding anything.

    Have you searched the newspaper archives? That’s possibly the only record that exists these days.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Friday 21st Apr 2023, 10:58AM

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