The Virtual Sydney Rocks Guidebook

Richard Byrne and Margaret (Mary) Kelly

Richard Byrne was born in Castletown, County Kildare, Ireland in about 1775 and died in 1841. He took part in the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and was sentenced to exile in New South Wales. He arrived in Sydney in 1800 on the Minerva. He joined a group who were planning to seize a ship and escape. They were betrayed and he was flogged and sent to Norfolk Island. He became involved in a group planning an escape attempt but the group was betrayed. Two of the group were arrested, gaoled and summararily hanged. He took part in no more escape attempts and was soon appointed overseer of works and paymaster. In 1805 he was pardoned by Colonel Foveaux and returned to Sydney. Richard was a stonemason and was regularly contracted to work on government building projects including the new Commissariat Stores, the Surgeon's Barracks and the kitchen for the new Hospital in Macquarie Street. Richard was once confined for being drunk. And in a seperate incident his arm was broken in two places in the course of a fight.

Mary Kelly was an Irish servant working in Kent when she was convicted of the theft of spoons, plates, pillowslips and napery. She was sentenced to seven years and arrived on the Coromandel and Experiment in 1804. She was assigned to a house in Windsor. She met and married Richard Byrne and they settled on the allotment in the Rocks. After her marrige to Richard she became known as Margaret. She smoked a pipe according to family lore.

They had seven children. Their eldest child Catherine (born c1806, died 1853) married mariner John Winch and stayed close to the family home for all of her life. She and John owned and occupied 124 Cumberland Street for 27 years. James (born c1808) became a cooper and, along with his two brothers Patrick (born c1810) and Richard jnr (both stonemasons like their father), left for New Zealand to find work with the whaling industry. Jane married mariner George Beers and Anne (illiterate) married mariner Thomas Dowse. (witnessed by Edward and Mary Lakeman) Both families moved to Moreton Bay, Queensland.

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