Julia Leahy (c1778-1840)





(parents of Joan Gaffey):



Line of Descent to Joan Gaffey


Julia Leahy

(Great great grandmother)

William Williams

Thomas Williams

Stella Williams

Joan Gaffey


bet 1778 and 1780 in Ireland[1]


Aug 1808 in Dublin (age 30)[2]


1809 in to New South Wales (age 31)[3]


Sep 26 1840 in Pitt Town, near Windsor NSW (age 62)[4]


Sep 28 1840 in Windsor R/C (age 62)[5]


Lear, Lehy, Leahay, Leehy[7]
Marriage William WILLIAMS (Jul 18 1814 in St. Matthews C of E, Windsor) [8]

Eleanor WILLIAMS (1810-1883)

 Julia WILLIAMS (1813- )

William WILLIAMS (Sep 28 1814 – 1863), married Mary Anne Pendergast, 1848, Windsor NSW

Mary Ann WILLIAMS (1820- )

Julia was born probably in Dublin, Ireland, around 1780[9] - but that is all that is known of her early life before her transportation, as a convict, to New South Wales in 1809. 

She was sentenced to seven years exile, but what crime she committed to earn this (comparatively) light sentence is also unknown.  All that remains is a date of conviction, in Dublin in August 1808.  Unfortunately, Irish transportation documents (and other historic records, including nearly all early census material) were destroyed in a fire in Dublin in 1922.

Julia was almost certainly illiterate, as various spellings of her name have cropped up, all spelt according to the ear of the recording clerk.  The variations range through Lehy, Leahay, Leehy, and even Lear.

She was sent to Port Jackson on the second voyage of the Experiment, which left Cork in southwestern Ireland under Captain Jos Dodds on January 21, 1809, arriving in Sydney on June 25.  Julia must have quickly established herself in a relationship with another convict, William Williams on a farm at Pitt Town, near Windsor - their first child Eleanor was born in 1810.  

Although Julia is listed as a Catholic in the convict records, her husband was Protestant, and the couple married in the Church of England, with their children christened Protestants, partly, one assumes because Catholic priests were not allowed to operate until 1820, with the arrival of Father Thierry.  (Other priests had arrived earlier, as convicts, after an Irish rebellion in the late 1790s, but were not allowed to practise)

Julia and William had two children before they married in 1814, with their third child and only son William arriving just a few months after their marriage.  According to the NSW Census of 1828, William and Julia Williams had four children, ranging in age in 1828 from 18 to 9.

Julia’s husband died in 1840, leaving her a pension of £30stg.  In his will, William decreed that all his property be converted into cash, and held in trust to provide the pension for his wife, and after her death, to be divided equally between their four children.

Julia herself, however, lived less than three months after William’s death. Her end was tragic – a brief Coroner’s inquest at Windsor held two days after her death found that “death was caused by burning while intoxicated”.[10]

She was buried apart from her husband (who had been interred in the historic St. Matthews churchyard), just a few hundred metres away in the old Catholic cemetery at Windsor.  In the church records of her burial, Julia's age was given as 62.  She was simply described as a widow, who lived in Pitt Town.

 The inscription on Julia’s gravestone refers to her as the “relict” of William Williams, an archaic term for widow

Photo: courtesy Elizabeth Marshall

[1] Census/Muster.  1828 Census; Church Records.  NSW Registrar of BDM.  Burial records from St. Matthews Catholic church, Windsor

[2] Census/Muster, 1811, page 76.

[3] As above; 1828 NSW Census

[4] Church Records - NSW Registrar of BDM, St Matthews, Windsor (RC); Gravestone - cemetery records

[5] As above

[7] indices of births/ deaths and marriages, held at Newcastle Library.  Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages for all Australian States; Church Records (NSW Registrar of BDM); Census/Musters

[8] Church Records - NSW Registrar of BDM., St Matthews, Windsor

[9] possibly two years earlier in 1778 - the birth year records vary from the 1828 NSW Census, and her age in the burial register at St. Matthews Catholic Church, Windsor.

[10] State Records of NSW, Reel 2921, (Register of Coroners' Inquests and Magisterial Inquiries, No. 874)