Wednesday, June 22, 2016

What happened to Helena Emily MCBURNEY?

Helena Emily MCBURNEY is not an ancestor, but the second wife of my ancestor Sebastian HODGE (1833 - 1889 Sydney NSW, of whom I have written a great deal). Sebastian's wife Harriet nee SMITH died on 24 January 1888 at their hotel, the Commercial Hotel, on the corner of King St and Castlereagh St in Sydney (I have searched in vain for a photo of this hotel). Sebastian and Harriet had nine children from 1855 - 1874.

A year after his wife's death, Sebastian re-married, to a widower named Helena Emily McClelland.

The Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday 14 February 1889

HODGE - McCLELLAND - February 4, at St. Stephen's Church, Phillip-street, by the Rev. Dr. Steel, Sebastian Hodge, of King-street, Sydney, to Helena Emily McClelland, relict of the late Thomas McClelland.

They married on 4 Feb 1889 - the marriage certificate only reveals that Helen was a widow (no information on family). 10 weeks later, Sebastian HODGE died in the Commercial Hotel, apparently of nephritis and a carbuncle (perhaps the latter precipitated the former). As a result, Helena appears to have inherited her husband's estate (though she may have had independent assets). We know this because very shortly afterwards the Commercial Hotel was sold:

The Sydney Morning Herald
Friday 9 August 1889
Transfer of hotel license from Helena to J.E.Fallon

Then, three months later is the last record of Helena I can find:

The Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday 28 November 1889

In this case J. A. G. D'Alpuget claimed from Helen Emily Hodge, administratrix in the estate of the late Sebastian Hodge, £100 commission on the sale of the Commercial Hotel, King-street. A verdict was given for the defendant, but his Honor granted a stay of proceedings.

But what happened to Helen after she married Sebastian? After this, I can find no mention in newspapers, no death record, no record of re-marriage. Nothing. I have searched and searched, with no sign of her fate. I have even searched in the US, NZ and UK.

So I looked back at her past, as her family connections may be useful for tracing her fate after 1889. For example, if a family member died in 1895, she may be mentioned on a death announcement.

Twenty years earlier, the NSW BDM shows the marriage of Thomas MCCLELLAND to Helena Emily MCBERNEY (336/1869), registered in Sydney.

The Sydney Morning Herald 
Sat 1 May 1869 
On the 2nd February, by special license, by the Rev. John M'Gibbon, M.A., LL.D., minister of the Presbyterian Church, Palmer-street, Woolloomooloo, THOMAS, fourth son of the late ROBERT McCLELLAND, Esq., Belfast, Ireland, to ELLEN, eldest daughter of JOHN McBURNEY, Esq., Thompson-street, Darlinghurst. No cards.

I can find no reference to children by their marriage. Thomas was born in Ireland abt 1841 and came to Australia with his parents Robert and Jane MCCLELLAND. He died in 1884:

The Sydney Morning Herald 
Sat 8 Nov 1884
THE FRIENDS of the late THOMAS McCLELLAND are respectfully informed that his Funeral will move from his, late residence. Point Piper-terrace. Point Piper-road. Woollahra, SUNDAY AFTERNOON, at 3 o'clook, for Waverley Cemetery. SHYING and CO.. Undertakers.

The Sydney Morning Herald 
Mon 8 Nov 1886
McCLELLAND. — In memoriam of my dearly loved husband, Thomas, who died at his residence, Point Piper-terrace, Point Piper-road, Woollahra, November 6, 1884.

There is a gap of several years between when Thomas died, and she married Sebastian. One of the confusions is that her name is listed as Helen, Helena, Ellen and Emily.

Ellen Emily (Helena) was baptized in 1848 in NSW to parents John and Eliza MCBURNEY. Her parents arrived in NSW on the 'Canton' that year, from County Armagh in Ireland. Helena was the eldest of at least six children. I am still working on the MCBURNEY family in Sydney, and would be excited to hear from descendants of the extended family.

In the meantime, the search for Helena's fate goes on.

1 comment:

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