John Pendergast (1769-1833)





(parents of Joan Gaffey):



 1769 in Dublin, Ireland[1],[2]

Line of Descent to Joan Gaffey


John Pendergast

(Great great great grandfather)

James Pendergast

Mary Anne Pendergast

Thomas Williams

Stella Williams

Joan Gaffey


Apr 1798 in Dublin[3],[4

Sentenced to

 7 years (Apr 1798) [5]


1799/1800 in NSW[6],[7]


Farmer (bet 1800 and 1833)[8],[9],[10]


Jan 27 1833 in Cornwallis, near Windsor[11]


1833 in Windsor R/C[12]


Mar 1833 in Sydney[13
Marriage 1. Catherine   ????? (?1800, no documentation)
Children  John PENDERGAST (1800-1867)
Marriage Jane WILLIAMS (1802/3 in Parramatta, NSW (no documentation)

James PENDERGAST (1803 – 1865), married Sophia Hancy, 1828, Parramatta

Thomas PENDERGAST (1805-1862)

Sarah PENDERGAST (1806-1873)

William PENDERGAST (1808-1850)

Bridget PENDERGAST (1810-1885)

John Pendergast was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1769, and according to his wife's biographer Veronica C E O'Brien Sitton[15], came from one of the "distinguished Norman-Irish families of Ireland".

The Australian Biographical and Genealogical Record, Series 1, 1788-1841 says : "Available evidence indicates that John Pendergast “was transported for participating in the 1798 Irish Rebellion". However, the revolt was launched -and suppressed - in May, 1798, and the date of John's conviction was recorded as being a month earlier, in April 1798.  However, it is possible he was involved in the preliminary skirmishes which preceded the outbreak of full-scale rebellion. He sailed on the Minerva, a vessel noted as carrying Irish rebels, which after leaving Cork in August 1799, arrived in Sydney on January 11, 1800. 

John is presumed to have married(?) his first wife Catherine soon after his arrival, with one son John, being born of the union. Catherine has then disappeared from the record books. It's been speculated that another convict Jane Williams then cared for the infant, before starting to live with John as man and wife at Windsor. No official records of the Pendergast - Williams marriage have been found, but as noted by her biographer, Jane and John were both Catholics, and no Catholic priests were allowed to operate as priests in the Colony at that time - at least not officially. At one stage, official records show that John lived in a state of concubinage[16]

He was soon given a conditional pardon, surprising since his sentence was for only seven years, and the effect of a conditional pardon was to block him from ever going home to Ireland.  

The Muser of 1802 shows that John's first land grant of 30 acres, growing wheat and maize, was held in partnership with James Clark; by 1806, he had 115 acres to his name.  Establishing himself in the Hawkesbury district would not have been easy- severe floods had devastated the area, and John was struggling to pay his debts. 

In 1808 the Provost Marshall had put some of his property up for sale:

“Two farms situated contiguous to Cornwallis known by the name of Pender’s farm and containing 60 acres more or less…with 40 acres under wheat..  Likewise a farm situate down the Hawkesbury River formerly Adlam’s Farm – the whole the property of John Pender”   (Sydney Gazette, 23 October 1808).

However, the sales did not proceed - we can only assume John came good with whatever money was needed at that time, but again, he faced further action in the Court of Civil Jurisdiction between 1810-1814 for other business problems [17].

Eventually, however, John became an astute businessman , acquiring more  land, both by grant and purchase, at Cornwallis, Lower Portland, Kurrajong, Windsor and Wollombi. 

The Wollombi connection is interesting.  John's son Thomas also had property there (as well as the Monaro district) and went on to become the second licensee of the Rising Sun Inn, at Millfield (right).  Thomas had been described as a "colourful character".  In 1840, the inn was held up by a notorious bushranger gang, that of Edward  ("Jew Boy") Davis.  Thomas was robbed of £13, but he was more fortunate than another victim.  A visitor to the inn on that night was previous licensee John McDougall, who was whipped by the bushrangers in revenge for his treatment of convicts while he'd been a convict overseer[18].

In January, 1833, John Pendergast died  at his home at Cornwallis, without leaving a will.

A legal notice (see left) was published in the Sydney Gazette of February 5, 1833, by solicitors representing his son William, calling on his mother and John Pendergast's next of kin, to show cause why the remaining estate should not be handed over to William (Pendergast's fourth son, after John, James, and Thomas).  This notice was issued on January 31st, only four days after John Pendergast's death.  However, the letters of administration granted by the NSW Supreme Court for the estate suggest that the arrangement was amicable. (At the time of the 1828 census, William was the only one of his sons still living at his parent's home).

The lack of  a will is not as thoughtless as it may seem. Shortly before his death, John transferred several properties to his sons John, James and William, and Thomas's son John. Thomas himself was not a beneficiary, but by that time Thomas had established himself with considerable property of his own, in the Monaro district.[19]

[1] Michelle Nichols.  Hawkesbury Pioneer Register.  Hawkesbury Family History Group.  page 143.

[2] compiled and edited by Dr C J Smee.  Pioneer Register 2nd Ed. Vol. 2.

[3] Veronica C E O'Brien Sitton.  Jane Williams Pendergast 1775/6-1838 an unpublished monograph submitted  for the Australian Biographical and Genealogicial Record (ABGR). Held at the Hawkesbury Public LIbrary.  Veronica C E O'Brien Sitton, Oregon U S A  1984.  Apprendix III

[4] John T Spurway (editor).  Australian Biographical & Genealogical Record, Series 1  1788-1841.  ABGR in association with the Society of Australian Genealogists.

[5] As above p331

[6] Michelle Nichols.  Hawkesbury Pioneer RegisterHawkesbury Family History Group.  page 143.

[7] John T Spurway (editor) op.cit..  p 332.

[8] Census/Muster

[9] Veronica C E O'Brien Sitton.  Jane Williams Pendergast 1775/6-1838  Op.cit. Appendix II

[10] Michelle Nichols.  Hawkesbury Pioneer Register.  Hawkesbury Family History Group

 [11] As above page 143

[12] As above

[13] Sydney Gazette.  February 5, 1833

[14] Veronica C E O'Brien Sitton.  As above.

[15] As above

[16] Jan Barkley, Michelle Nichols, Hawkesbury 1794-1994: The First 200 Years of the Second Colonisation, Hawkesbury City Council, 1994, Appendix 5, p16

[17]  See NSW State Records item: 5:1103.

[18] a pamphlet issued by the Rising Sun Inn c2005 to promote the history of the Inn

[19] Michelle Nichols, A Brief History of the Land at Upper Half Moon Reach, Hawkesbury River,  1995