Tag Archives: Echunga

John Brosnahan in the Cyclopedia

Interestingly, a John Brosnahan appears in The Cyclopedia of New Zealand, which I posted about yesterday. Could this be my John?

Brosnahan, John, Farmer, Levels. Mr. Brosnahan was born in County Kerry, Ireland, and came to New Zealand in 1862 by the ship “Exchange.” He engaged in various pursuits until 1865, when he became a farmer at the Levels, where he acquired 530 acres. Mr. Brosnahan is married and has twelve children.

Twelve children. Crikey! I have my work cut out trying to find all that lot.

The people featured in the Cyclopedia paid for the privilege of having an entry included – and provided the information to the compilers, so one assumes that the biographical data would be reasonably accurate.

My John Brosnahan did arrive in New Zealand in 1862, but the ship given here is “Exchange”, whereas he sailed on the “Echunga”. I can’t find any record of a ship called the “Exchange” sailing to New Zealand during this time, so I suspect it is an error made by the compiler, or perhaps faulty memory on John’s part? Or a different John?

  1. “Brosnahan, John”, The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District], (The Cyclopedia Company Limited, 1903); digitised publication by New Zealand Electronic Text Centre (http://www.nzetc.org/tm/scholarly/tei-Cyc03Cycl-t1-body1-d6-d104.html : accessed 09 Feb 2012).

Excerpt from The Cyclopedia of New Zealand shared under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand Licence.

The Brosnahans (no, not those ones, these ones)

My great great grandmother Margaret Brosnahan (1844 – 1927) arrived in New Zealand at Timaru on December 16, 1862 aboard the Echunga, which had left London on September 10.  Travelling with her was her brother, John.1

John Brosnahan

Caption in family album: John Brosnahan, brother of Mrs Margaret Gaffaney, Belper Farm, Temuka

There are a heap of Brosnahans in early South Canterbury, many (most?) descending from a Hugh Brosnahan and Deborah Butler, from County Kerry, Ireland. Their family settled in the area known as Kerrytown.2   (A descendent, Seán Brosnahan, has published a history of the family, The Kerrytown Brosnahans, which I’d love to find a copy of.)  As far as I know, we’re not related to that lot, but it’s a bit hard to sort the wheat from the chaff with so many Brosnahans knocking around the area. (Er, no offence intended to you other Brosnahans!)

Anyway, I wanted to know what happened to my great great great uncle John.  Part of my reason for following up John’s family was that my grandfather had a cousin, Jim Brosnahan, who was at high school at the same time.  Later, as Fr Jim S.M., he married my grandfather and grandmother – it was the first wedding ceremony he conducted.  But, I couldn’t figure out how he fitted into the family – was he related by blood or marriage?

From information my father had, it appeared John had married a Hanorah O’Driscoll.  I found a likely entry in the online NZ Births, Deaths & Marriages  and so ordered a printout of the marriage registration.

John Brosnahan, 23, Labourer, and Hannah Driscole [sic], 21, Servant, were married in the Catholic church in Christchurch on March 31st, 1865.3  No parents’ information was given – customary for marriages registered in New Zealand before 1880 (very frustrating!).  The witnesses were Matthew Driscole, Labourer, Christchurch, and Mary Brosnahan, Servant, Christchurch.

Searching the BDM indexes for possible children of John and Hanorah proved fruitless – none seem to be listed, even after checking variant spellings.  How could I find them?

  1. South Canterbury GenWeb, “The Echunga Arrives”, transcription (http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nzlscant/echunga.htm), from Lyttelton Times, December 24, 1862.
  2. Michael Brosnahan,”Family Tree”, (http://www.thebrosies.org/our-family-tree.php : accessed 2011).
  3. New Zealand, marriage certificate for John Brosnahan and Hannah Driscole [O’Driscoll],31 Mar 1865, Catholic Church, Christchurch, 1865/7579, NZ Births, Deaths & Marriages.