My McClean Story

The Story of my McClean Ancestors

Researching my McClean/McLean/McClain leads me back to the Irish County of Tyrone, which has resulted in my shortest journey back in time.  Research in Ireland was undertaken in 1989 by the Ulster Historical Foundation.  All events in Ireland took place in the Church of Ireland.  The parish registers revealed that the McCleans were well established in Killyman by the mid 1700s.

Roger (Rodger/Rody) McClain was the son of John and Sarah McClain.  It is likely that Roger was the first child of John and Sarah, as the following children baptised in the Parish Church of Killyman, County Tyrone, could be his siblings (1).

Roger McClain, baptised 18 June 1772
Jane McClain, baptised 29 December 1774
Mary Anne McClean, baptised 21 April 1780
Margaret McClean, baptised 30 December 1782
James McClean, baptised 11 July 1790
Bathsheba McClean, baptised 15 January 1794

Killyman is also a larger civil parish partly in the County of Armagh, but mostly in the County of Tyrone, on the Blackwater River, the border between the two counties.  The population of the parish was about 7500 in 1837 .  The fertile land produced a good standard of agriculture, linen manufacture was extensive, there was a paper mill, and earthenware was manufactured. St Andrews Church of Ireland was built in 1823, and there were four public schools.  Killyman parish of the Church of Ireland is four kilometres east to southeast of the large town of Dungannon while Tullyniskan is about ten kilometres to the northeast; all three are in the Barony of Dungannon Middle.

Roger, a farmer, married Anne Walker on 19 August 1803 in the Parish Church of Killyman (1).  Roger and Anne had at least the following children (1).

Sarah McClean, baptised in the Parish of Killyman, 18 May 1804
Anne, baptised in the Parish of Tullyniskan, 5 October 1807 – parents of Correny, Parish of Killyman
Jane McClean, baptised in the Parish of Killyman, 4 October 1809
Mary McClean, baptised in the Parish of Tullyniskan, 7 September 1811, parents of the Parish of Killyman
Thomas McClean, born about 1814/15 (from headstone)
Andrew McClean, baptised in the Parish of Tullyniskan, 28 April 1816, parents of the Parish of Killyman, mother’s name given as Nancy

The tithe applotment books for 1836 and the first rating valuation in 1860 (3) reveal that a number of McCleans leased small farms in the parish, including Roger’s four acres in the townland of Kenaghan.  Kenaghan was part of the large Cuppage estate and to the east of Dungannon.. The few surviving records of this estate revealed that Roger paid 10 pounds annual rent.  The 1860 valuation records also reveal that Thomas McClean, held about six acres. Other members of the McClean wider family had larger farms in the nearby townland of Mullaghteague.

The following is a transcription from a headstone in the Killyman parish cemetery at Larghay (4).

In memory of Ann McClean of Silverford who died 8 December 1848 aged 70 – also her husband Rodger McClean died 5 February 1857 aged 86 years – also their son Thomas died 14 June 1885 aged 70 years – also his son Andrew died 16 July 1885 aged 52 – also his beloved wife Mary Ann died 7 March 1900, aged 62 years.

On 4 December 1840, in the Parish Church of Ireland, Brackaville, Andrew McLean, of this parish, married Sarah Jane Hughes, of the same parish, witnesses Charles Hardy and William Stewart (5). Brackaville parish church was built in 1838 and is within the civil parish of Donaghhenry. Prior to 1838 parishioners would have attended one of the four parishes, Donaghhenry, Tullyniskan, Killyman and Clonoe.  “Of this parish” as used in 1840, just two years after the building of the Brackaville church, probably means “of the parish of Donaghhenry”.

The Hughes Branch

Sarah Jane Hughes baptism on 24 April 1814 is recorded in the Donaghhenry parish registers, the daughter of George and Sarah Hughes (6).  The surname of Sarah is not given, but its more than likely Hardy as stated on her daughter’s NSW death certificate (16) and supported by one of the witnesses to Andrew and Sarah’s marriage, Charles Hardy.

George and Sarah’ marriage was not found, and they had at least another six children, all recorded in the Donaghhenry parish register with of “Stewartstown” being recorded in the last four (7).

Margaret Hughes, baptised 24 May 1812
George Hughes, baptised 11 August 1816
Elizabeth Hughes, baptised 24 January 1819 – mother named Anne
Arabella, born 21 February, baptised 23 February 1823
Mary, born 23 June baptised 25 June 1825
Thomas, born 10 June, baptised 14 June 1829 

What of George’s occupation?  We know the family lived in Stewartstown, a small market town within the parish of Donaghhenry, with the manufacture of linen being its main activity.   An entry in the Belfast and Province of Ulster Directory 1858-59, for Stewartstown, lists George Hughes, shoemaker (6).  This is confirmed by information on  Sarah Jane’s 1871 death certificate (18).

The burial registers for Donaghhenry parish reveal that Sarah Hughes, aged 55, was buried on 7 December 1837 (7).  If this is George’s wife then it indicates the possibility that they married some years before the birth of Margaret above, and that there may be more children.  The burial registers also include George Hughes, aged 42 years, of Stewartstown, who was buried on 5 March 1860, possibly the son of George and Sarah.  There was no entry for George senior, although there are gaps in the register.

I wonder how Sarah and Andrew met in the years just before they married in 1840.  It would seem Sarah was a town girl while Andrew was probably raised on a farm some kilometres away.  Perhaps Andrew’s father decided Andrew would not inherit the farm and sent him to Stewartstown to learn a trade (he was later a carpenter in Sydney), and while in Stewartstown he met Sarah at the local church.

The potato famine in the 1840s had a major impact on living conditions in Ireland, as did the attitude of the British administrators.  However County Tyrone did not suffer like other counties, from the famine.  But general living conditions were poor as reflected in this statement 

“One historian calculated that between 1801 and 1845, there had been 114 commissions and 61 special committees enquiring into the state of Ireland and that “without exception their findings prophesied disaster; Ireland was on the verge of starvation, her population rapidly increasing, three-quarters of her labourers unemployed, housing conditions appalling and the standard of living unbelievably low.” (8)

It would seem that Sarah, age 25 years, and Andrew, age 23 years, had already decided to emigrate to Sydney, for surely it would have taken more than a month to plan, obtain approval to be bounty immigrants, obtain tickets, and travel to Liverpool.  Having married on 4 December, and just 33 days later, they departed Liverpool for Sydney on board the Orestes. What did their parents think of this?

They sailed via Cape of Good Hope, arriving Sydney on 14 May 1841. On board were 280 bounty immigrants (9).  Bounty immigrants were free immigrants whose passage was paid by the colonial administration to the ship’s owners for the safe arrival of their passengers.  Because the scheme assisted healthy young couples and single persons, each applicant had to submit certain information.  The following was recorded for Sarah and Andrew (10).

Name                  Andrew McLean                          Sarah Jane McLean (wife)
Occupation         Carpenter                                     Maid
Religion              Protestant                                     Protestant
Age                     21 years                                        21 years
Read & Write    Yes                                                 Yes
Native Place      Dungannon, Co Tyrone              Donagheady, Co Tyrone
Father                 Rody McLean                              George Hughes
Occupation        Farmer                                          Shoemaker

Sarah and Andrew’s seven children (11)

Harriet, born 24 September 1842, baptised 1January 1843, Parish of St James, father Andrew McLean a carpenter, of Market Lane, Sydney
William George, born 25 March 1844, baptised 28 July 1844, Parish of St James, father Andrew McLean a carpenter, of Kent Street, Sydney
Sarah Jane, born 19 August 1845, baptised 9 November 1845, Parish of St Andrew,
father Andrew McLean a carpenter, of Kent Street, Sydney
Mary Ann, born 21 September 1847, baptised 12 December 1847, St James, parents living “near the gaol at Darlinghurst”, father Andrew McClean, a carpenter 
John Charles, born 4 December 1849, baptised 30 December 1849, Parish of St James, father Andrew McClean a carpenter, of Yurong Street, Wooiloomooloo
Thomas, born 26 January 1851, baptised 2 March 1851, Parish of James, father Andrew McClean a carpenter, Yurong Street
Andrew, born 14 July 1852, baptised 15 August 1852, Parish of St James,
father Andrew McLean a carpenter of Yurong Street (12)

It is interesting that the family were living in 1847 “near the gaol at Darlinghurst”.  Could this be an indicator that Andrew’ was working there, for the gaol was progressively built over the years 1822 to 1885.  After the gaol closed in 1914, it became a WWI internment camp, then the East Sydney Technical College and later the National Art School. 

Sadly daughter Sarah Jane died on 9 March 1848 at William Street, aged 2.5 years, father a carpenter, and was buried on 10 March 1848, as recorded in the parish register of St James, Sydney (13).

In discussing family history with my grandma Ruby Lane (1882-1978 nee Russell) in the early 1970s, she recalled that her grandfather McClean had drowned in Sydney Harbour many years before she was born.  It took me some months to find the following as at the time there were no BDM indexes available to the public, or access to old newspapers online.  The Sydney Morning Herald of 28 December 1852 (14) reported :-

Death by Drowning – A man named Andrew Maclean, who has been for many years carpenter on the Steam Company’s Wharf, was drowned yesterday by the upsetting of a boat alongside the Tamar in Botany Bay. Maclean was a respectable, steady man, highly valued by his employers, and has left a widow and six young children.

Andrew was buried on 31 December 1852 by Charles C Kemp, minister of the Church of England Parish of Camperdown, aged 36 years, living at Woolloomooloo (15).

Camperdown Cemetery, Newtown, has been tidied up and many of the headstones have been placed against a high stone wall on the boundary, including the following (16) :-

Sacred to the memory of
Andrew McClean who departed this life Dec 27th 1853, aged 36 years
Leaving a wife and six children to lament their loss, also
Andrew, infant son of the above died Feb 11th 1853, aged 7 months, also
Thomas, son of the above died April 10th 1861, aged 10 years and 2 months

What a sad time for Sarah and her remaining four young children.  It must have been difficult for her to carry on.  They continued living in Yurong Street, Woolloomooloo.  It seems that Sarah operated a grocery shop as the Sands and Kenny’s Directory of 1858/59, listed Sarah McLean, 12 Yurong Street, as a grocer (17).

Sarah died on 28 August 1871 at her home, 12 Yurong Street, Woolloomooloo, details on her death certificate reveal (18)

aged 53 years
died from “malignant disease of the bowel”
buried at Haslem’s Creek (Rookwood Cemetery) on 30 August 1871 
informant, her son William George McClean of 12 Yurong Street
father George Hughes, shoemaker
mother – Hardy
born in Ireland
30 years in New  South Wales
married in Ireland, aged 20, to Andrew McClean
children 2 males and 2 females living, 2 males and 1 female deceased

Her headstone can be seen in Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney (19), and the inscription reads :-

In memory of Sarah Jane McClean, native of Stuartstown, Co Tyrone, Ireland, died 28 August 1871, aged 53 years,
also of
William George McClean, died 31 May 1882, aged 38 years 
also of
Caroline Dodd, died 27 December 1882, aged 51 years
also of
John Charles beloved husband of Mary Ann McClean, died 26 August 1923, aged 73 years.


The online NSW BDM index reveals the following about the children of Andrew and Sarah

Harriet McLean married Joseph Lomas on 26 March 1867 at St James Church, Sydney (21).  This couple appear to have had no children and by 1871 they seemed to have separated as the Empire of 10 January 1871 reported that Harriet had been awarded 10 shillings a week maintenance against Joseph Lomas. Harriet died aged 47 years in 1889 in Lismore, NSW.

William George died aged 38 years in 1882 in Parramatta, and did not marry

Sarah Jane died aged 2 years in 1848, see above

Mary Ann McClean married John Edmund Miller Russell on 21 September 1869 at St James Church, Sydney, and to read more about this couple click on link below.

John Charles married Mary Anne Dodd and died aged 72 years in 1923 in Sydney; Caroline Dodd was Mary Ann’s mother, for details of their children see note 20,

Thomas died aged 10 years in 1861, see above

Andrew died aged 7 months in 1853, see above.  


1. Killyman Church of Ireland parish registers from 1745, T679/383-4, 386-7, 391, 393
Tullyniskan Church of Ireland parish registers, MIC1/10A – The baptism registers of this time do not reveal the mother’s surname or the place of residence and the burial registers had few entries up to the 1830s.

2. The Samuel Lewis Topographical Dictionary of Ireland 1837, State Library of Victoria

3. Tithe applotment book, Killyman, 1836, FIN5A/183, Griffith’s Valuation of Tenements 1860, Rental and account, Coppage estate, T877/602

4. Transcriptions held by the Ulster Historical Foundation

5. Brackaville Church of Ireland parish registers from 1836, T679/267-8

6. Online site, accessed November 2013, Belfast and Province of Ulster Directory 1858-59, page 687

7. Donaghhenry Church of Ireland parish registers – baptisms , marriages and burials – T679/40, 318-22, 331

8. – Great Famine (Ireland, from book The Great Hunger by Cecil Woodham-Smith 1964.

9. The Sydney Gazette, 15 May 1841, page 2, Orestes departed Liverpool on 6 January 1841

10. Index to Bounty Immigrants, 1828-1842, Family History Centre, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Sydney.  Their ages were probably given as 21 years to simply recognise they were adults.

11. Four children had their surname spelt McLean, and the others McClean.

12. Archives Kit mfm, NSW Registry of BDMs, Baptisms,
Harriet, entry Vol 27A entry 2216
William George, Vol 28 entry 467
Sarah Jane, Vol 30A, entry 689
Mary Ann – Vol 32A, entry 575
John Charles, Vol 34A, entry 483
Thomas, Vol 37A, entry 270
Andrew, Vol 38A, entry 430

13. NSW Death Index on microfiche, 1848 Vol 33, entry 850, and NSW Archives Kit, copy of Parish of St James Burial Register on microfilm.

14. Sydney Morning Herald, 28 December 1852, page 2

15. NSW Registry of BDMs, Burial, Vol 38B, entry 688

16. Personal visit by Grahame Thom in August 1972

17. Sands and Kenny’s commercial and general Sydney directory 1858/59, State Library on NSW.

18. NSW Registry of BDMs, Death,1871/967

19. Personal visit by Grahame Thom in 1986 – Church of England Section B, Plot 259

20. John Charles and Mary Ann McLean (nee Dodd, died 19 April 1931, Surry Hills – NSW BDM Index and SMH) had the following children :-

a Charles A V McLean born 1878, Sydney, married Ethel M Harris  1903, Sydney

b Elizabeth M McLean born 1881, Sydney, married Aris J McLeod, 1901, Sydney

c Caroline McLean born 1883, Sydney, married John C Davies, 1915, Sydney

d Mary May McLean born 1885, Sydney, married Denis Woods, 1926, Sydney

e William George McLean, born 1886, Sydney

f Ivy Gertrude born 1890, Sydney

g Bertha McLean born 1892, Sydney, married Tanswell D McCarthy, 1951, Bankstown

h Ruby Doris McLean born 1894, married George W Marshall, 1911, Sydney

21. NSW Registry of BDMs online index , marriage 244/1867, and Sydney Morning Herald, 24 April 1867.

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