A travel blog of Ireland, Europe, and New Zealand

Mary Jane Flanigan

FamilySearch Code L5BK-B2F

Mary Flanigan c.1884

Mary was born in Cashel, Ireland, in 1854. There is a christening entry for her, with parents John Flanigan and Ellen Hanley, in the records of Emly Catholic parish. We can be reasonably sure that this entry is “our” Mary because she later named one of her sons “Andrew Hanly Annan”.

The next official record we have for Mary is her Immigration record, arriving in Auckland in 1863, aged 9, in the company of Mrs E Ryan. We first thought that Mary may have been a domestic servant for Mrs Ryan but we later discovered that it was her mother. We know this because when Mary married at age 14 she needed her mother’s signature on the church wedding register because she was under age and needed a parent’s permission to marry.

So her mother is now Mrs Ellen Ryan. What happened to John Flanigan? We do not know but he probably died, as the Catholic church did not allow divorce and remarriage. The fact that no siblings came out to NZ with Mary suggests that (a) she was the only one who survived, or (b) she was the first child of the marriage and John died soon after that.

We also know that the ship they emigrated on, the Elizabeth Ann Bright, was chartered by the British Army to transport soldiers (and their families) from Portsmouth to Auckland to fight in the NZ Wars. They were the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment, known colloquially as “Paddy’s Blackguards”.

Ellen Ryan was probably married to Private Michael Ryan. When Ellen arrived in Auckland, she had one other child with her, named Joseph Ryan, Mary’s half-brother. According to Rhona Steele (Josephine Annan’s daughter), Joe Ryan married someone called Kate and went north to the gumfields. (As told to Peter Farnell in a letter to Edith Annan.) However, a reference to the EAB passenger list shows that Kate is the name of a third child accompanying Ellen Ryan.

No trace can be found of Ellen, Michael, Joe or Kate in NZ records. There is a story that Ellen married for a third time to a Mr Renwick or Rennick but there is no trace of this in the records, either. (One of William and Mary’s children, Mary Ellen, married a George Renwick, so this may just be a confusion.)

How did Ellen come to meet Michael? The regiment was quartered in a town on the south coast of England at the time of the 1861 UK Census, and they sailed from Portsmouth direct to Auckland in 1863. One scenario is that Michael returned home to Cashel on leave some time prior to 1861, met and married Ellen, and took both her and Mary back to England. 

Also on the Elizabeth Ann Bright was another soldier, Private William Love, with his sons. It was one of these sons, Theophilus George Love, who married Mary in 1868. As stated, she was 14 and he was 23.

Mary and Theophilus were married on 30January 1869. Their only son Peter John was born on 18 April 1870. According to family tradition, he was born in Houhora, which is about 40 km north of Kaitaia. Why did she go there? We do not know. Perhaps her mother was living there? But she was in Auckland when Mary got married.

When was Peter born? Where was he born? If it was Houhora, why there?

This was gumdigging country, which ties in with Joe’s later life as a gumdigger. Perhaps her mother was living there?

Things may not have been too happy in the Love nest.

Theophilus, aged 24 years and Mary, aged 15.

This may just have been end of year hi-jinks. But Mary was 5 months pregnant at this stage. It would have been at some time in the next two years that Mary and Theophilus split up. We know from the date of birth of her first child with William Annan, November 1872, that she must have taken up with William no later than February 1872, when Peter was just under two years old, and possibly considerably earlier.

Mary went on to have 9 children with William Annan, with the last one born in 1893, just 4 years before William’s death from a tumour of the larynx in 1897.

She remained living in Auckland as a widow until 1941.