Thomas Cassidy
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Thomas Cassidy (abt. 1800 - 1862)

Thomas Cassidy
Born about in Boho, County Fermanagh, Irelandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married about 1840 in De facto - No record of a marriagemap
Descendants descendants
Died at about age 62 in Prospect, New South Wales, Australiamap
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Profile last modified | Created 16 Aug 2013
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Ireland Native
Thomas Cassidy was born in Ireland.
Thomas Cassidy was a convict after the Third Fleet.
Thomas CASSIDY[1] was born between 1799-1807 in Fermanagh, Ireland, to parents Stephen [2] and Catherine CASSIDY (nee BRITTON). Both the death certificates of Thomas and his brother Phillip, indicate their mothers name as 'Unknown BRITTON'. His death certificate indicates he was from Bow, Fermanagh. Further research has determined this to refer to the civil parish of Boho, more probably the townland of Gortgall. DNA research has confirmed his mother as being Catherine or 'Kitty' Britton.
A Thomas CASSIDY is recorded in the tithe records for the parish of Boho in 1827 in the Townland of Tubberan/Tobradan/Toberadon which means he could have rented extra lands in these townlands.[3]. Tobradan is listed as the English name of the townland on Logainm. The other variations may be possibly the Gaelic names?
There is some conjecture about Thomas' age. The convict arrival list indicates Thomas was 25 when he arrived in 1830 which gives him a DOB of 1805. The convict ticket has an alternate date of 1804 and the 1837 general return of convicts suggests 1807. One record on the birth of his daughter Margaret suggests he was 60 years of age in July 1859 which indicates he was born abt 1799, his wife Mary was the informant so this record could be reasonably accurate. His death certificate indicates he was 62 when he died in November 1862 which also suggests he was born in abt 1800, the informant of his death being his eldest son John.

The Crime and Trial

Thomas was convicted, along with his brothers Phillip and Edward in 1830 at the Enniskillen Assize of killing his landlord's horse, and transported to Australia on the Hercules 11 (1830) for life. Their father Stephen was also tried but was given a lesser sentence presumably due to his age.
Newspaper accounts of the time indicate that the offence occurred on 9th September 1829 and the brown horse was the property of Andrew Whaley. The prisoners were identified by an Irwin ROBINSON on the lands of Gortgall , was afterwards on Moyleat...saw them having hold of a horse belonging to Andrew Whaley by the head, they were about 40 perches off witness; sometimes they led the horse, sometimes they rode him on the mountain; they brought the horse forward to a precipice, tied his feet with gads, struck him with a hammer in the forehead, witness was then in the heath below, the prisoners on the hill above, from which they threw the horse down a precipice of of 20 perches; it was a water course, water formally ran down. He saw the horse next day, dead; the rock had stopped him in descent; he was greatly mangled, burst and the rock quite through him.
Evidence provided in the trial suggests that it was the day before the fair at Enniskillen and it had been a light night, the moon and stars shining. The land of Moyleat was owned by a Mr Clarke, a carpenter, with Mr Robinson indicating he had never heard that Mr Clarke wanted to get (these people) out of the land.... but did indicate he had heard they were being put out of their land by the landlord Christy Buchanan and that he had a farm there, gave it up for fear of being killed. Mr Robinson also indicated he believed Mr Clarke and the prisoners had some misunderstanding. Other newspaper reports gave a slightly different account.
The horse was found lying in Cultagh (townlands are now called Gortgall and Moylehid which are Belmore Mountain and Cullaigh at the bottom of the cliff face). There is some suggestion by the defence cross examination of Mr Whaley that he and Mr Robinson spent part of the night of the 9th together and did not report the missing horse until a couple of days later, Robinson only telling him on the 11th. He is reputed to have said along the lines of transporting a family is not a bad way of ejecting, if they deserved it, witness (Whaley) gave up his land from the threats he received; would take a farm if he got it, but does not want their land; Mr Buchanan is the landlord; does not know of any ejectment being brought against Cassidy's land. There is some suggestion that there was known to be a stray horse, with Robinson not telling Whaley about the incident with the horse on the night of the 9th, possibly suggesting it may have been fabricated.
A witness George FIDDIS claims he had a conversation with Stephen CASSIDY 12 months prior about a neighbours land and being put out of the land, a person by the name of Andrew FLANAGHAN is mentioned with Cassidy indicating that if he were in similar circumstances if witness would be loyal and true, it would be well done to put the cattle off the land and put Clarke out of the way! Other newspaper reports give a slightly different account. He says the conversation was only with Stephen, but that Thomas CASSIDY had been in the house at the time. It is suggested that either George or his brother had previously fought in drink with Thomas CASSIDY. Fiddes admits a fight with Thomas 4 years before but states there were no odds between them.
Another witness John BREEN, a church warden of the parish (Boho, Cleenish?) also indicates a conversation with Stephen CASSIDY about 18 months prior about depredations being committed in the neighbourhood (apparently Mr Clarkes cattle had been damaged before). Breen advised him if he was the mover of these things he should quit. Breen states that Stephen said he could not forget what had been done to him by putting him out of his place, and that if he was dead, and all his family out of the country, there would be some persons to have revenge (for what he has suffered). There is some suggestion a notice was served on him by Robinson striving to take the price of him (the horse) off the county or parish , Breen suggests this prosecution was got up in consequence of having failed to get money off the county. The Imperial Reporter goes into this aspect in more detail and advises that Judge JEBB required more information on this point. It was confirmed by Mr Breen that what he meant was that when he, as churchwarden said, if they had done the act were not prosecuted, he would withhold his signature and prevent them getting damages, that that was his meaning for saying they had failed in getting them.
A witness for the defence, John DOLAN gave evidence that Robinson came and asked him if he had seen a stray horse on 11th. Dolan was living in the same townland as the CASSIDY's for 2 years. Another witness for the defence Charles LOVE told that he had seen Mr Whaley at the fair on 10th and he had told him about a lost horse. He also claimed he spoke to Robinson, which Robinson denied, that Robinson was going to Mr Clarke to give information about it.
Witness Alexander CARNEY (tenant to Colonel Montgomery), lives about 16 miles from Gortgall, claims Thomas CASSIDY visited him on the night of the 9th between 9 and 10 o'clock and told him there was a decree against him for rent by on Pat NOUGHER and that he had been at Flush Hill (Slush Hill). Swears Thomas stayed the night. Also indicated Thomas was to go to the fair the next day to make up part of the decree money. Both Alexander and his wife Ellen swear the house was locked each night and they had the key. Ellen indicated that she had no recollection of Thomas being in her house previously, his father (Stephen) and her husband were well acquainted. (Note: Lieutenant Colonel Hugh Montgomery was a member of the grand jury on this case - Seamus McCanny).

Previous entanglements with the law

    • 1828 -add in Case re James McCourt**
    • 1824?

Connections to the Macken Fight

The trial was held on the 23rd March 1830 the same day and with the same judge as the famous MACKEN case. Records from the parlimentary papers indicate that a Thomas CASSIDY from the town Fort Richard gave evidence in the Macken trial. It is unclear whether this is the same Thomas. It could indicate there is a connection between the two cases, particularly given the later issue surrounding the recording of their sentence. (I have been unable to identify where Fort Richard was but it could be Gortadrehid townland ? - fits with Corracoash!!)
The Macken Fight is a very well-known event in Fermanagh history as it was the most serious sectarian clash of its time, happening in 1829, the year of Catholic Emancipation. It happened on the 13th of July. The Orangemen normally march on the 12th but as this fell on a Sunday it was postponed until the following day. There are various tellings of the event but there was a major confrontation as Orangemen passed through Macken, a Catholic district, and four of them were killed. Some Orange historians not wishing to see the event as a defeat claim that numbers of Catholics were killed as well but that their bodies were taken away and hidden. Catholics do not see the event as a victory however, rather they see it as a great injustice as one man, Ignatius McManus was hanged, others were transported and others fled to other parts of the country. In the Catholic version of the event the Orangemen were the aggressors and the Catholics' lawyers were unhappy with much of the evidence and the legal proceedings (Source: Seamus McCanny).
The evidence given by a Thomas CASSIDY of Fortrichard, Cleenish (probably Gortadrehid, Cleenish) was taken on 3rd August 1829. It states (to be added)

Sentence and Transportation

Thomas and his two brothers were transported to New South Wales on the Hercules II, which was built in 1822 at Whitby. The Hercules II sailed from Dublin on the 3rd July 1830 and arrived at Sydney Cove on 1st November 1830, a journey of 121 days. Thomas was described in the convict indents of being 5' 8¾" tall with brown hair, grey eyes, a ruddy complexion and a sharp nose. He is listed as a labourer. His conduct on the voyage was described as very good. On the arrival record it states that the brothers had indicated their sentence was 7 years, not life.
It is interesting to note that there were conflicting newspaper accounts from the trial about the sentence, The Enniskillener on 20th March 1830 (date conflicts with most versions of trial date) suggesting 7 years, but others reported death.
The historical records of Australia indicate that the three brothers reported an error in the indent papers regarding their sentences and lodged a petition on 9th February 1832. Indents, or Indentures, were the documents written to formally transfer the prisoners from the custody of the master of a transport ship to the Governor of the colony receiving them. Governor Bourke acknowledged on the 19th January 1833 advice from Viscount Goderich about their compliant that the indent showed them as being transported for life instead of the sentence only being for 7 years. Viscount Goderich provided a copy to Governor Burke of a letter from the home office which indicated that there "was no foundation whatsoever for the statements made by the prisoners". The letter from Sir William Gossett to Mr G Lamb advised that the books of the department and the official records indicated that the sentence was commuted from death, to transportation for life and advised the indent was correct. Unfortunately, some of the relevant dispatches in 1832 and 1833 have been omitted from the record. Shortly after this on 24 July 1833, his brother Edward escaped.

A Convict in the Colony of NSW

When Thomas arrived in NSW in 1830 he was attached to the Government Domain. His occupation later noted as Grounds Colonel.
Marnie Dann provided details of the following reference in the Hayes Collection in the University of Queensland Library where Thomas has been working as a constable; "Item 1415. List of persons charged by Thomas Cassidy per "Hercules" attached to Government Domain Parramatta (as Overseer and Constable). March 1831 - November 1837. Signed Henry Bailey, Clerk of Petty Sessions,".
Lesley Ubel from Claim a convict provided the following information that explains how Thomas became a constable:
Government Order 30th May 1831.

It having become necessary, in order to reduce the expense of the Police 
Establishment, to revise the present system, His Excellency the Governor is
 pleased to order the following regulations to be established: viz.

1. Prisoners of the Crown shall be employed as Constables

2. Every Prisoner who shall be so employed, shall receive a Ticket of Leave at
 the end of three years service, provided the Magistrates under whom he has been 
employed, shall report that he deserves that indulgence.

3. At the expiration of five years further service, that is from the date of his 
receiving a Ticket of Leave, every prisoner shall, on producing a Certificate 
from the Magistrates as above, receive a Conditional Pardon.

4. No man will be admitted into the Establishment, unless he be able bodied,
active and intelligent; nor unless he produces satisfactory testimonials of good
 conduct; nor will his services entitling him to a Ticket of Leave commence until 
he shall have been two years in the Colony, although he may have been previously
 appointed a constable.

5. Misconduct during the period of a prisoner's service as a constable, will
 deprive him of all claim to the advantages held out; and it will be the duty of
 the Magistrates immediately to report to the Colonial Secretary, for the
 Governors information, whenever a constable shall misbehave or become unfit for
the duty of his position.

6. The Constables will be allowed pay, while employed as above, at the rate of
one shilling and nine pence a day, They are to provide themselves with food and 

7. They will, of course, be entitled to the usual rewards for apprehending 
runaways etc.

8. These Constables will be removed occasionally from one district to another;
 and will not be able to cultivate land for themselves or others, or engage in 
business or employ themselves in any manner not immediately connected with their 
9. Any person who shall employ any of these or any other paid Constable,
contrary to their duty, will be made responsible for the same as far as
circumstances may permit.

10. The Governor trusts, for the important nature of the boon now held out, that
the services of an efficient body of Police will be ensured; and that they, with 
the zealous co-operation of the Magistrates in the arrangements now promulgated,
will carry on the duty of the several districts at a much less expense to the
public than hitherto.

11. The new organisation of the Mounted Police, which has proved the means of
re-establishing the tranquility of the country, will render it unnecessary to
employ the Constabulary in the pursuit of Bushrangers, should they again disturb
the Colony, and a much smaller number of Constables will consequently be
employed. The arrangements which have been made already enabled the Government
to dispense with the services of the sixty five Constables and a further 
reduction will shortly be carried into effect.

By His Excellency's Command
 Alexander McLeay

Thomas was granted a ticket of leave on 28th Dec 1838. A ticket of leave allowed convicts to work for themselves on condition that they remained in a specified area, reported regularly to local authorities and if at all possible, attend divine worship every Sunday. Thomas' TOL allowed him to stay within the district of Parramatta.
Thomas is not listed in the 1841 NSW census as that only lists the names of householders as Thomas was still a serving convict at that time (His brother Philip is listed, it is unclear why this was the case).
Convicts with life sentences generally received pardons, Thomas gained a 2nd class conditional pardon on 2nd March 1846. Conditional pardons freed convicts and were granted on the condition that convicts did not return to England or Ireland. Original copies of the pardons were sent to England and duplicates remained in Australia.


When Thomas was transported in 1830 the convict indent stated that he was married and had two female daughters.
Thomas applied for marriage bans late in 1838 to marry a Margaret Reeves aged 74/54 (aka McKeale or McKee), stating himself as a bachelor, he was about 38 years of age at the time. The application to marry at St Patricks Parramatta was disallowed. The record stating "Thomas Cassidy per Hercules 1830 on arrival stated that he was married and had 2 children" (Reel 734, 4/2391.2). The couple never married.
Thomas had taken up with Mary Sweeney by 1840, having their first son John in March 1841. It is believed they were unmarried at the time and they took him to be baptised to the Catholic Church at Parramatta. John's baptism certificate is noted as illegitimate. No record can be found of a valid marriage. It is concluded that this was due to him having a wife and 2 daughters living back in Ireland. This fact may have never been revealed to their children with various death records indicating the couple were married at Prospect in about 1840.
Thomas and Mary had 12 children together. A family bible notes their 11 children and their birth dates (including some death dates).

The family in Ireland - a brickwall

It is understood that at around this time there was a controversial government policy that encouraged reformed married men to apply from the colonies for the free passage for their wives and children. It is unclear why Thomas would not have sought to have his wife and children join him in the colony.
Several possibilities have been explored.
1. An Alice and Flora CASSIDY came free to the colony on the 'Elizabeth' in 1841, they were from Fermanagh Ireland, parents Thomas and Mary CASSIDY. On the shipping record it states, father still alive, presumably the mother Mary is dead. If these are in fact Thomas' daughters it is unclear why Thomas did not marry Mary SWEENEY. If his mother's name was in fact Catherine it seems unusual for one of the girls not to be named after her, but again not conclusive.
2. A possible marriage was found in Dublin in 1827 to a Rose WHEELER. In 1862, there is a Rose CASSIDY still living in Fermanagh in Corrocoash. She is living next door to some other CASSIDY's. If this is her, why did she not join her husband in Australia when the opportunity arose? (A fellow researcher has a Mary CASSIDY who she does not know who the parents, with possibly a sister named Catherine, could they be Rose's children ?? - no match however under DNA testing). If the Thomas who gave evidence in the Macken case was our Thomas and if Fort Richard is Gortadrehid townland, this could give more weight to this marriage as it is very near Corracoash, both being in the Barony of Clanawley.
3. There is also a Jane CASSIDY living in Stockport England at the time of the 1841 census, with daughters Isabella 14 born in Ireland (possible BRITTON family name) and Ann aged 11 born in England this would make her born in 1830 the year Thomas was transported. Could Jane have been pregnant at the the time of the trial and travelled to England in an attempt to join her husband in Australia having her child in England whilst waiting to get on a ship? I can find no further trace of this family in the 1851 census.

Death and Burial

Thomas died on 30th November 1862 after having been in decline for a period of six months at the age of about 62. The informant of the death was John CASSIDY, son. He left his wife Mary with the care of their 9 living children, ranging in age from 3 years to 20 years. Thomas was buried on 2nd December 1862 at St Patricks Cathedral in Parramatta with his son Philip and daughter Anna Maria. Witnesses to the burial were listed as John CASSIDY and John H Gain.
His death notice appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on 20th December 1862 and read:
Thomas Cassidy, farmer, aged 62 years, after a long and painful illness, leaving a wife and nine children to deplore their loss.
Ten years after his death his wife Mary and most of her children made the move to Glen Innes in Northern NSW after she was granted a freehold lease of 140 acres of land, known as Shannon Vale.


DNA matches of their great grand daughter, great grandson, second great granddaughter and a second great grandson have confirmed the accuracy of the CASSIDY line research back to the relationship of Thomas CASSIDY and Mary SWEENEY.

The maternal line is confirmed to the shared ancestor of:

The paternal line is confirmed:

  • DNA testing with a male descendant of John Joseph CASSIDY has confirmed the relationship with descendants of Rebecca Gertrude CASSIDY.
  • Initially, there no yDNA matches for the male line, so it was inconclusive whether Thomas was indeed the father of John Joseph SWEENEY, given this was the first child in the couples relationship. YDNA matches have subsequently confirmed the line.
  • Big Y-DNA: Male descendants on the Cassidy line are likely to test positive for SNP FT193376. Please test Big-Y and join the Cassidy Clan FTDNA project.
  • A large group of DNA matches descended from Thomas Cassidy born before 1806 and his wife Bridget Maguire could be clues to Thomas' family or perhaps his brother Edward who escaped from the colony in 1833. If you can help with this research, please contact Veronica Williams

52 Ancestors

I have chosen Thomas to be my entry in the Week 4 of the 52 Ancestors challenge for 2018 - 'Invite to Dinner'. These are some of the questions I want answers to!

  • What were the names of your wife and two daughters?
  • Why didn't you apply to have your wife and daughters join you in Australia under the family reunion program?
  • If your wife had died, why did you never marry Mary Sweeney?
  • Were you involved in the sectarian events at Macken, Fermanagh in 1829?
  • Did you give evidence at the House of Commons enquiry - if so, why were you in the company of the Protestants on the day of the Macken Riot?

This will be the subject of a future post on my blog.


  1. Veronica Williams created WikiTree profile Cassidy-450 through the import of CASSIDY and SWEENEY 4_2013-08-13_2013-08-16.ged on Aug 16, 2013.
  2. Paternal relationship is confirmed through Y-chromosome DNA testing. Cassidy-453 and Cassidy-1188 match on 35 out of 37 markers (see YSearch IDs 9EJCS and ZQYVC) thereby confirming their relationship as fifth cousins and their direct paternal lines back to their MRCA as yet Unnamed CASSIDY.
  3. Nuala Cassidy, Cassidy Clan, 2007.
  4. Gedmatch X match one to one comparison confirmation of relationships between John Roberts T766864, Michael Stevens T410351 and Don Temples A969300; resulting in Triangulated segment = 14 cM, Chromosome 23, 99.7-115.4, 30 Dec 2016.
  • BDM - Certificates, CASSIDY Thomas - Death - NSW 5323/1862, Parramatta.
  • New South Wales and Tasmania, Australia, Convict Pardons and Tickets of Leave, 1834-1859 (Provo, UT, USA, Operations Inc, 2007),, Database online.
  • New South Wales, Australia, Convict Indents, 1788-1842 (Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2011),, Database online.
  • BDM - Certificates, CASSIDY John Joseph - Death - NSW Glenn Innes 1888/9393.
  • BDM - Certificates, MURPHY Rebecca - Death - NSW 1596/1931.
  • Australia Death Index, 1787-1985 (Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.Original data - Compiled from publicly available sources.Original data: Compiled from publicly available sources.),,, Database online.
  • Australia Birth Index, 1788-1922 (Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2010),, Database online.
  • Heritage World and the Genealogical Publishing Company, Ireland, Tithe Applotment Books, 1824-1837 (Provo, UT, USA, The Generations Network, Inc., 2008),, CASSIDY, Thomas; Database online.
  • BDM - Certificates, CLANCY Mary Ann - Death - NSW 8531/1887.
  • New South Wales and Tasmania, Australia, Convict Ticket of Leave and Pardons (Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2007.Original data - Home Office: Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania; (The National Archives Microfilm Publication HO10, Pieces 31, 52-64); The National Archives of the UK), CASSIDY Thomas, Database online.
  • New South Wales and Tasmania, Australia, Convict Pardons and Tickets of Leave, 1834-1859 (Provo, UT, USA, Operations Inc, 2007),, Database online.
  • Australlian Socity of Genealogists, 1837 General Return of Convicts to NSW (Nettley, SA, 5037, Griffin Press Limited, 1987), NT library, State library Parliment House Darwin, CASSIDY - p104.
  • BDM - Certificates, COLLOPY Margaret - Death, NSW 10391/1893.
  • New South Wales and Tasmania, Australia, Settler and Convict Lists, 1787-1834 (Provo, UT, USA, The Generations Network, Inc., 2007),, CASSIDY Edward. Database online.
  • New South Wales and Tasmania, Australia, Convict Ticket of Leave and Pardons (Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2007.Original data - Home Office: Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania; (The National Archives Microfilm Publication HO10, Pieces 31, 52-64); The National Archives of the UK), CASSIDY Thomas.
  • Newspaper - Ireland, TRILLICK - 24 March 1830 or Impartial reporter 1st April 1830 (exact source unclear).
  • Newspaper - Ireland, Enniskillen Chronicle & Erne Packet: 25 March 1830. Original article provided by Seamus McCanny (copy held); Transcribed by Tony Stanford - April 2009.
  • Newspaper - Ireland, The Enniskillener: 20 March 1830. Original article provided by Seamus McCanny (copy held); Transcribed by Tony Stanford - April 2009.
  •, New South Wales, Australia Convict Ship Muster Rolls and Related Records, 1790-1849 (Provo, UT, USA, Operations Inc, 2008),, Database online.
  • Shipping - Passenger lists, Various, Convict ships to Australia.
  • Historical Records of Australia, Penrith Library, Series 1 Vol XVI pages 1and 498 and Vol XVII pages 2, 700-701.
  • Hayes Collection, University of QLD library, Item 1415 - sourced by Marnie Dann.
  • Cemetery visit, Veronica Williams, Parramatta Catholic Cemetery, St Patricks Cathedral.
  • Genealogy reports, Various, CASSIDY James.
  • Port Jackson Convict Anthology, NSW State Records, CASSIDY to Margaret REEVES, aka McKEALE, aka McKEE; Application to marry, ; 4/2391.2, Parramatta, Reel 734.
  • Newspaper - Ireland, Enniskillen Chronicle & Erne Packet: 31 Jul 1828, Enniskillen Assises, page 1.
  • Shared ancestor of T485376 and her second cousin T439388, with shared cms of 159.16, confirmed by a Family Tree DNA match on 23 Oct 2012.

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It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Thomas by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA. Y-chromosome DNA test-takers in his direct paternal line on WikiTree: It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share some percentage of DNA with Thomas:

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Hi Veronica

Just in case you haven't heard the following

Has Thomas listed there is a challenge in progress to improve/complete these 5Star profiles. You may wish to put your name down against Thomas on the above page

Regards Janet

A Cassidy descendant via my paternal, grand maternal line.

posted by Janet (Langridge) Wild