Seventeen Ninety Eight Memorial

There is a mystery concerning the names of the 78 men and women, who were involved in the Rising in Ireland, inscribed by the  the 1798 Committee on the rear wall of the Memorial.


That list was made out by people living in Sydney.  This makes it so extraordinary that of all those names only one, Michael Dwyer, was buried in Australia.  (Joseph Holt, whose name is on the wall, was transported to Australia but returned to Ireland in 1813.)  One would think that they would make sure to include those who had lived in Sydney and its surroundings, and who were known by the locals..

One omission is most glaring  - William Davis.  He was called the 'Wexford Pikemaker'.  He was born about 1767 in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford.  He was a blacksmith and was arrested on suspicion of making pikes in March 1798, two months before the Rising broke out in May.  He was convicted in November 1798 and given a life sentence.  He was sent to Australia on the 'Friendship' which arrived in Port Jackson on 16 February 1800.

Dr Ullallthorne wrote "William Davis had suffered much for his Faith.  Twice he had been flogged for refusing to go to the Protestant service - and was so long imprisoned in the black hole that he almost lost his sight."

He received a conditional pardon in 1811 and an absolute one in 1814.  He conducted his old trade of blacksmith as a freeman but he also was granted and bought land in the Airds or Campbelltown district.  The 1822 and 1828 census show that he had 700 horned cattle, 200 sheep and five horses. 

In 1839 he gave a house in Parramatta as a first convent for the Sisters of Charity who had arrived in the counrty.  He also gave them a grant of 100 pounds a year.  In 1840 he made a grant of his own house and garden for St Patrick's Church, Church Hill.   When the foundation stone was laid he placed a donation of 1000 pounds on the foundation stone.    Twelve months before the completed church was opened he died in his sleep on 17 August 1843.  He was buried in the same grave as his wife Catherine in Devonshire Street.

In 1898 the 1798 Committee announced that they were going to move his body to the Memorial they were building at Waverley.  For some reason or other they did not and they did not even put his name on the rear wall.

Other People who should be on the Rear Wall

Hugh Byrne, Martin Burke, Arthur Devlin and John Mernagh were close associates of Michael Dwyer in the fighting in Wicklow.  They came to Australia with him on the Tellicherry..  It was said that Campbelltown Council would not release the bodies buried there.  There is no evidence of this in Council documents.  Hugh Byrne was buried in the fine tomb shown below in St John's Cemetery, Campbelltown..  Perhaps, his descendants did not wish to lose the right to be buried with the famous fighter for Irish freedom and would not release his body.  This would explain his body not being with Michael and Mary Dwyer but not why his name and the names ot his companions were left off the rear wall.


James Meehan, convict surveyor, who obtained the land for St Mary's Cathedral

Who do YOU think should be there?

I will be pleased to hear of ones whom you believe should be on the wall.  You can contact me on athmiceal at hotmail.com.  The address is deliberately mis-written to deter spam.  I know you'll be able to substitute the @.

from Ray Swinfield - his great, great grandfather, Nicholas Delaney born 1772 or 1778  in Co Wicklow.  Charged with the murder of two men in June 1798 at Vinegar Hill, Co Wexford.  Condemned to death, later commuted to life imprisonment.  Arrived in Australia on Atlas II on 30 October 1802.  Granted absolute pardon on 31 January 1813.  Died 1834



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