9 March 2013

Stephen Tobin- Ch:1- Introduction

Australian Migrants Stephen and Mary Tobin

My earliest ancestors to migrate to Australia were Stephen Tobin and his wife Mary Driscoll who arrived from Ireland in late 1857 or early 1858, ship unknown. 

Emigrant Ships in the 1850's
by T. Robertson 1859
(La Trobe Picture Collection- S.L. of Victoria)

Stephen was a well-educated man with a strong community spirit and did not shy away from hard work. Historian and author of two books on the history of the area from the Nerang to the Tweed border, Robert Longhurst described Stephen Tobin as:
 “a determined lobbyist, an articulate man who obviously had previous experience in rattling the bones of government. In a community where many settlers could not sign their names, Tobin early on assumed a commanding role.”[i]
 “An especially literate and forthright man, Stephen Tobin figured as a prominent community leader.[ii]

A newspaper journalist for the Kiama Independent and Shoalhaven Advertiser described Stephen Tobin in 1868 as  "a gentleman whom I respect and honor as a respectable, honest, and straightforward, though occasionally a rather capricious and obdurate man." [iii]

Stephen's obituary revealed that "in his time, he formed a large circle of friends, among whom were some of the leading politicians and rulers in Queensland. Sir Henry Norman, who when Governor of Queensland, showed a special mark of esteem to Mr Tobin in a letter written by his Excellency." Stephen had previously served (in the rank of sergeant) in Sir Henry's regiment in India. (Freeman's Journal, Sydney, Sat 5 Nov. 1904, p.29)

Stephen would be described in another obituary as "intellectually and physically a splendid specimen of Irish manhood, and his tall, soldier-like figure, and his cheery voice will long be pleasantly remembered by the people of Bundanoon." 
(The Catholic Press, Sydney, Thurs 3 Nov 1904 p4)

It is unknown why the Tobins left Ireland five years after the mass migration caused by the potato famine had ended, although Tipperary was one of those counties hit hard at the time of the famine with tens of thousands making the decision to emigrate. The Tobin’s decision may have been due to favourable reports of the opportunities available in this new colony of Australia coming from his two sisters who had migrated several years before him.

Although little is known about his former life in Ireland, numerous newspaper reports on Tobin’s activities in this fast developing colony of Australia help us formulate an accurate picture of the character of this man.

Typical hut in Tallebudgera 1870

One can also imagine the life of his wife, and mother of his numerous offspring, as she endured the incredible hardships inflicted on all wives of pioneers who first turned the soil in newly opened up developments in the expanding colony.

In the following chapters, this blog tells their story.[iv]

© B A Butler

Contact email: butler1802 @hotmail.com (NB. With no spaces)

  Links to all other chapters in this blog:

Tobin and Driscoll family in Tipperary Ireland

Tobin family settle in Gerringong, NSW, Australia in 1857

Tobin family settle in Tallebudgera Queensland in 1870

Life at Tallebudgera for the Tobin Family until 1892

Tobin family move back to NSW and Western Australia- deaths of Stephen and Mary

Stephen Tobin's sister Catherine Tobin- marriage to Timothy Guinea

Bushrangers in the family

Stephen Tobin's sister Ellen Tobin- an Irish female orphan immigrant in 1850

Stephen Tobin's daughter Katherine Tobin- marriage to Adolph Poulsen

Sons of Stephen Tobin and Mary Driscoll

Daughters of Stephen Tobin and Mary Driscoll

Irish Roots of Tobins, Driscolls, O'Briens, and Whites

[i] Robert Longhurst, Nerang Shire: A History to 1949, albert Shire Council 1994, p.62
[ii] Robert Longhurst, Tallebudgera to the Tweed, Gold Coast City Council 1996, p.40
[iii] Kiama Independent and Shoalhaven Advertiser, Thurs 6 February 1868 p.2
[iv] My thanks to Julie Tobin Davidenko, another descendant of Stephen Tobin whose extensive research she generously shared with me.