John Whelan b.1831
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John was the eldest child in his family and would have been a working man of 18 when they all arrived in Melbourne in 1850.
It is possible that John met his bride-to-be, Mary Looney, on the very first day their ship arrived at Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne. John and his family rowed ashore from the ship ‘Aurora’ on the 31 March 1850, and a Mary Looney disembarked from the ship ‘Eliza Caroline’ that same day. Therefore, it seems likely that John and Mary met during the immigration or settling-in period, in the then small town of Melbourne. The ship ‘Eliza Caroline’ had carried 12 families, 6 females and 235 ‘orphan females’. Mary Looney was listed among the ‘orphan females’ and was described as a “house-servant from Ennistymon, County Clare.”
John and Mary were married in the Church of St Francis, in the very centre of Melbourne, on 16 January 1854. John was 22 at the time and earning his living as a labourer in Melbourne. Mary’s father was recorded as Michael Looney, a farmer, and her mother Eliza (Mackey). (Later documents refer to her mother as Elizabeth MacKay). Reverend William Cunningham was the priest, and the witnesses were Pat O’Connor and Eliza Sullivan.
John and Mary began their own family of ten children in 1855 or 1856. For the first years of their marriage they were living in Yan Yean, about 30 kilometres north of Melbourne, the site chosen for a source of clean water for the growing city of Melbourne.
Sometime during 1857 or 1858 John, Mary and baby Patrick moved back to Melbourne, living at Odd Fellows Lane, Little Lonsdale Street. By 1866 John and his family had moved slightly north, to the fast growing area of Carlton. Their seventh baby, Sarah Josephine, was born at 115 Westgarth Street.
John earned his living as a carrier during the years 1864 to 1866, having a complex of stables on the south side of the Yarra river, but by 1876 he was the Hotel Keeper of the ‘Ancient Briton Hotel’, Rathdowne Street.
In 1886 John decided to sell his carrying business. John’s daughter, Elizabeth (Lily), had married Charles Arthur Coulson. Lily’s father-in-law, Charles Coulson, successful bricklayer, and the owner of many properties, agreed to attend the auction and to bid up the price for the carrying business, so that John’s monetary return would be more lucrative. When Charles Coulson put in a bid, the auctioneer stopped the bidding and brought down the hammer. Charles Coulson had bought the business - by mistake! There was seemingly nothing John could do about that, and the business went to the Coulsons.
After selling his carrier business John and Mary appear to have settled down in the Princes Street area of Carlton.
On 13 July 1891 John Whelan died aged 59 years, at Tobin’s Place, Princes Street.
Mary Whelan (nee Looney) survived her husband for another 16 years, living at 75 Princes Street in the company and care of her youngest son, William. Mary died at her home on 14 April 1907, aged 74.
John and Mary Whelan had six sons and four daughters:-
Patrick John Whelan, born c1855
Thomas James Whelan, born c1857
Elizabeth Helena Whelan (known as Lily) born c1859, became Lily Coulson.
Bridget Whelan (known as Mary Theresa Whelan), born 1 Nov 1860, became Mary Westerdale.
Michael Joseph Francis Whelan, born c1863, married Margaret Jane Raeburn.
Mary Ann Theresa Whelan, born 1 Jun 1864, died 13 Feb 1874, aged 9
Sarah Josephine Whelan, born 15 Nov 1866, became Sarah Coulthard.
John Whelan, born c1871, married Eliza Rhodes.
Stephen Whelan, born c1871, died aged 4 months in 1871
William Whelan, born c1873
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