I sometimes wonder how much my family heritage has influenced my personality, with a mix of Irish pioneers and English convicts for ancestors.

The Shanleys

On my mother's side, my great-great grandfather Richard Shanley came to Australia in 1860 from Ireland. At 25, Richard boarded the clipper Lightning at Liverpool on 6 August 1860 for that ship's 7th voyage to Melbourne, a voyage that lasted until 31 October when Richard stepped ashore at Sandbridge Pier, in Hobson's Bay.

Richard came carrying a small swag, and all he possessed in the world besides what he wore was in that swag. Yet, in a few years, Richard was able to bring to Australia his father, mother, and brother, who arrived in Australia around 1867. In 1870, Richard selected 320 acres of land in Moyhu, Victoria, and settled down to work and make a home for himself. Eventually, Richard built up his land holdings to about 1500 acres.

From all published accounts, Richard Shanley was an industrious and methodical farmer, and he soon found success. His farm was for cattle grazing mainly, but he also grew wheat, oats, and tobacco. Richard did not seek public life, but for 9 years he was a member of the local council, where his sound judgement was, according to the newspapers of the time, of much value to the rate-payers.

Richard took a lively interest and active part in public affairs, and gave generously to deserving causes. According to the Wangaratta Chronicle, Richard:

was possessed of a most genial spirit and a ready Irish wit, and these together with his strict integrity and fine neighbourly qualities won him the respect and esteem of all who knew him.

In 1911, at a banquet held in Richard Shanley's honour, the Chairman of the event said Richard had come to Victoria:

tackling Australia and hard work on his own, and without any support from others or assistance from Government he worked his way along quietly but surely to the splendid position he now holds — a position of independence and security.

Richard and his wife had 9 children, which included my great-grandfather Peter Shanley. Many of my ancestors on my mother's side became teachers. My late grandfather, Dick, was a member of the RAAF, stationed at Richmond Air Base, and was city alderman. Another of Dick's claims to fame is that as a baby, Dick was regularly babysat by Ned Kelly's sister, Kate Kelly. Richard, Peter, and Dick, are all pictured in the photograph below.

The Goodalls

My ancestry on my father's side is a little different. I have a convict in my family tree. My great-great-great grandfather William Goodall was transported to Australia from Yorkshire on the Moffatt, arriving in Hobart, Tasmania in 1842. That year saw the so-called Plug Plot Riots back in Britain, a general strike that affected factories, mills, and coal mines.

The general strike of 1842 was influenced by a mass working-class movement, the Chartist Movement. At its peak, the strike involved nearly 500,000 workers throughout Britain. The strike began in response to deep and repeated recessions, which saw swingeing wage cuts and rife unemployment, without any kind of welfare benefits.

Tens of thousands of workers, including those in Yorkshire, mounted picket lines, took control of whole towns, and organised militias. I do not know what role, if any, William (pictured below) played in the strikes, or how much the recession impacted on the young William's life; but I do know that in 1842 William received a 10-year sentence for housebreaking and for stealing 18 shillings, at age 20.

Before William's death in Victoria at age 50, William and his wife had produced 11 children, including my great-great grandfather, also called William, who begat yet another William, my great grandfather, who served as a gunner in World War I and later became a respected town Policeman.