Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Michael Joseph Conlon

On my mum's side are the Conlon's, from Trotskyites (Bob Gould) to senior members of the Catholic Church (Neil Brown), as Neil put it, 'we have some interesting people in the gene pool'. Mum had always told me that there was a Conlon on her side from the 1800's, a potter. Sure enough thanks to a few people I've been able to put his story together.

Michael, it turns out, has been the easiest person to research in my family tree, once I got a handle on him. He died in 1913 in Glebe, that much was clear, and married Ellen Allen in 1865 in Sydney. I assumed he was born overseas as I could find no birth record, however after much searching I've found that his birth was written as Michel Connellan when it was reported. His parents were Patrick J and Catherine Conlon, and he was born in 1841 in Wollongong.

Further searching along the Glebe line showed that Michael lived in Glebe and wasa a potter. Good old Google led me to a number of references to Michael, including at the National Museum of Australian Pottery (http://www.australianpottery.net.au/about.php) which revealed that they held a piece made by 'Conlon, Michael & Co'. I hadn't considered that anything he made may still exist!

After more searching I found a collector, Dave Stanley from Glebe (http://www.geocities.com/newtown_bottles/newtown.html), who sold me a ginger beer bottle made at Michael's pottery on Broughton St in Glebe. I have to say I never expected when I started this that I'd hold an item made over 100 years ago by my great great great grandfather. They would knock the top of the bottle to access the stuff within, and so the top is often restored (as is the case here).

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Ginger Beer Bottle made at Michael J. Conlon's Pottery in Broughton St, Glebe

Michael also made pickle jars and bricks (which we hope to also obtain in time), and Neil Brown informed me that he made the tiles for the Tank Stream.

Another line was a site by Bob Gould (http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/Goulds.html), a
common ancestor of Patrick Conlon. He referred to Neil Brown in his site, and much searching led to Neil, who informed me that Patrick had arrived with the 50th Regiment, having been born in Ireland.

And so the searching continued. The third useful site I found was a summary of submissions for the Aldine Centennial History of New South Wales 1888 Index of Biographical volume (http://www.geocities.com/docroberre/scc16.html). These were biographical sent in by subjects hoping to be included in the volume, and led to one of the many editions (again thanks to another common descendent) that contained a full biography published in 1907. Given that he died in 1913, this 1907 version was likely written by Michael, and fills out his life:

Mr. M. J . Conlon, Encyclopedia of New South Wales pp. 477-8, 1907
"Mr. Michael Joseph Conlon was born of Wollongong on the 27th September, 1841 . His father, the late Patrick Conlon was a native of KINVARA, County of Galway, Ireland and arrived in Sydney in the year 1834 as a private of the 50th Regiment which embarked in the ship "FAIRLEE". The subject of this sketch was educated at St. Benedict's School of George Street West, Sydney . Upon the termination of his schooling, he selected the business of a potter as his profession and has had experience in and of the various potteries in and around the metropolis. He spent some years as an employee, and having gained the necessary and essential experience of every department in this business, he eventually decided to become on employer and on the 19th October, 1875, he started his own business at Broughton Street, Glebe where he has remained ever since. AII the necessary requirements of the trade are manufactured by Mr. Conlon, and his goods ore to be found in all parts of the Commonwealth, which must in itself be an assurance of general satisfaction and consequents return of business. When he began his pottery he only employed two lads; but the magnitude of his output may be gathered when we learn that at the present time his business warrants the constant employment of twenty-eight hands. The works themselves occupy the large space of on acre and a half.

As a young man Mr. Conlon was of a theatrical turn of mind; and was a comic singer of no mean order, and on many occasions rendered gratuitions service. Mr. Conlon has taken a very great interest in cricket, and might reasonably be termed an enthusiast of the game. He was one of the promoters of the first Borough match ever played in this State, in which the boroughs of the GIebe and Darlington were the contesting parties for the trophy; a silver cup, which was won by Darlington. Subsequently, a match was played between the Borough of GIebe and Balmain for another cup, which now adorns the Glebe Council Chambers. Mr. ConIon's capacity as a selector and umpire could always be relied on, and it was his pleasure to serve the local Club in this, and with his ready council. He was also president of the local football club of the time when Rugby rules were first introduced into New South Wales; a position he held for many years. Mr. Conlon prides himself on the success he has attained at the game of howls; in which sport he takes an active part. He was one of the founders and president for many years of the first local Club. He thrice won the champion medal, and was runner up on five other occasions, and in addition, has added to his laurels many valuable trophies. In the year 1884, Mr. Conlon at the insistence of his many friends, allowed of his nomination as an alderman of the borough, and was duly elected unopposed for the Outer Ward - a seat he retained until 1896 he retired, owing to ill health. It is needless to add he was reluctantly compelled to toke this step, and as a mark of esteem from his brother councillors, he was made the recipient of a suitable recognition for the twelve years service rendered to the Council and the residents of the GIebe, and which was signed by the then Mayor and under the seal of its Council. The employees of the Council, can look upon him as their friend for it is on record that Mr. Conlon was the first to frame and carry the resolution that eight hours should constitute the working day of the councils employees. The thoroughfares of the borough have received more than an ordinary attention at the insistance of our subject. When he entered, the Council it is said, that they were in a deplorable state but on his retirement they bore testimony to the untiring efforts of Mr. ConIon.

In parliamentary matters he takes a great interest, in 1887 contesting the GIebe electorate in the interest of Protection, which he has twice done, but has been defeated on each occasion; on one occasion, only by fourteen votes .

He is very philosophical and charitable; his benefactors are both numerous and far-reaching, and, where it is possible, he avoids publicity in these matters. Mr. Conlon has been a resident of the Glebe for twenty-nine years. In the year l865 he married the daughter of the late Samuel Hyde ALLEYN, and has four sons and nine daughters, of whom three daughters only are alive."


Michael J Conlon died in 1913 in the house of his daughter Anne Jane Conlon, in Alexandra Rd, Glebe. Literally around the corner frm where I lived in Eglinton Rd Glebe while I was doing my PhD. I really wish I knew I was stomping along the same road every day that Michael did.

And so Michael's immediate tree as it stands:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I know little of Ellen Alleyn save what appears in Michael's biography above. The NSW BDM indexes show that Samuel and Mary Alleyn also had a son named William, and a Glebe site discussing local vendors notes that:
"Forest Lodge people bought their meat from William Alleyn (176 St. Johns Road)..."
so I assume the Alleyn's were a Glebe area family, with Ellen married to Michael Conlon in Glebe, and her brother William living one suburb away in Forest Lodge.

As for Michael's father Patrick, the NSW State Archives has a number of entries, including a surviving census entry for 1841 that I've ordered. More to come!


Alex said...


Just came across your blog during a google search. I was diving in Sydney Harbour this morning (Parsley Bay) looking for bottles (I'm a collector) and found an old Conlon & Co bottle - it's in great condition and was a very exciting find for me! Glad to find some information about the maker online.


m@ said...

Thanks Alex,

If you're interested in posting photos and a story of your find here I'd be happy to put it up for you (email me at cispt2@gmail.com). And if you ever find more Conlon bottles (or even a bit of it) I'd be interested in purchasing one!


Anonymous said...

Part of my family comes from William Placid Alleyn the butcher! Thanks again for putting pieces together Paula

Anonymous said...

We also live in Alexandra Road. Paula