Stu's Stories as at 2022

118 | P a g e James McGrath As with John Oliver, some mystery still surrounds James McGrath. He may not have had the influence the others did, but one of his sons, Francis (known as Frank) turned out to be one of Australia’s all-time greats of the Australian Turf and was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 2003. James was married three times, first to Kate Costello, then to Catherine (Kate) Cain (nee Cahill) and, finally, to Margaret Jane West. Death registrations indicate a number of irregularities, especially in his age, and just who he may have been. His father was John McGrath (about 1790), and his mother Mary Chidle (about 1796). There seems to be a lot of miss-information about the family; probably because of the “troubles” between the English and Irish. However, as far as I can determine, there were 8 children born to John and Mary. Although, if James was 97 when he died, that would make his birth year about 1813; but records indicate he was probably christened in 1826, so it is hard to tell. If so he was the 8th child, the others being: Kathleen (c 12 Sep 1812), Patrick (c 21 Feb 1814), Catherine (Cate) (c 18 Oct 1815), John (c 1 Feb 1818), Mary Ann (c about 1820), Margaret (c 27 Oct 1821), Nancy (c 15 Oct 1824), James (about 1826). Margaret Jane West was born 28 Mar 1859 at Tambaroora, New South Wales; she died 6 May 1917 at Boorowa, NSW, Australia. Not a lot is known, but my uncle, Lewis Oliver, who supplied me the basic information upon which my research is founded, believes she came to James McGrath as a housekeeper to look after his three young sons after the death of his second wife, Kate Kane, about 1876. Margaret was the only daughter of Charles West (about 1821, Somersetshire, England) and Jane MacElveen (about 1841, Dunamine, County Monaghan, Ireland). Charles was drowned 28 May 1860 at Jemalong, Lachlan River, NSW. Jane then married a John Abraham Lewis (born 29 April 1811, St Phillips, Sydney, NSW, Australia; died about 1873) to whom she had 7 children. She died a widow in Goulburn 6 Dec 1875. Although I have not been able to confirm it, I believe the following story is about one of the family (or a cousin) as it was a John McGrath who later organised the bringing out of James’ family. To add to this belief, I have confirmed that a John McGrath, b 1815, Tipperary, Ireland, arrived in NSW in 1836 as a convict. I believe this was probably James’ brother (c 1 Feb 1818). However, this could not have been the John McGrath in Lewis’ story. Lewis’ research has turned up the story that a John McGrath was involved in an uprising in Ireland against some sort of military dictatorship. There were some 14 involved; the leader was hanged and the rest transported to Australia as convicts. This occurred in 1815 when the fourteen men were arrested for destroying some buildings that were to be used by the militia as barracks.

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