The Traveller

Robert Duncan Quinn, grandson of Michael John Quinn Sr.

Limerick, Ireland.


I count myself very lucky to have the information I have today, especially because this side of my family is Irish, and, as any genealogist would know- Irish records are damn hard to find!

Some of this information is courtesy of, and I suggest you check them out if you’re interested in the history and genealogy of County Limerick.

Michael John Quinn was born in 1807 to Thomas Quinn and Ellen Cleary. The first official document I have for him seems to be a military sheet, for what seems to be Her Majesty’s 21st Regiment of Foot, led by General James Lord Forbes as Colonel (apparently a Scottish regiment).

He was 18 at sign-up, a nailer from St John’s parish in Limerick City, Ireland on the 4th of May 1825. He was a private from this date to the 24th of June 1826, at which time he moved to drummer. A drummer would prepare and play the music on the battlefield, readying the troops for battle with their encouraging music. 

In August 1831, he was still in Ireland, Wexford to be exact, when he married Margaret Mary O’Brien, and in 1833, when he was stationed in Chatham Barracks, Kent, England, his first child Michael John, my 3x great-grandfather was born.

He would then sail to Tasmania, then called Van Diemen’s Land, where he would have his second child Bridget Margaret in 1834. He was a drummer until the 12th of August 1835, where he was given over to the Civil Power in Perth, Western Australia and sentenced to a month’s imprisonment for the theft of mahogany planks. It was in Perth that he and his young family finally settled, with the birth of his third daughter Ellen Margaret in 1836 and his final child James William in 1837.

Margaret, his wife, would unfortunately pass away in 1838 due to an ear abscess, and thus he was officially discharged from the 21st Regiment in 1840 in Perth, where he raised his children. 

On the 7th of September 1876, after a long career as a farmer, he passed away in Western Australia supposedly aged 74.

This information is courtesy of and Jenny Addison.

In 1832, a letter was sent from my 5x great-grandmother Ellen Quinn (nee Cleary) to her son, Michael John Quinn Sr, who you have just met. He was living in Chatham Barracks, Kent with his wife Margaret at the time.


September 16th 1832

Dear Son,

I take the opportunity of writing these few lines to you hoping to find you and Margaret in health as we are at present thank God for it.

Dear son you mentioned to send you account of John Ryan the number of the house where he lives. he lives in Compton place Brunswick Square London. The cholera still raging here and business is bad. There’s no means of reaching to you through the means of idleness and sickness.

You mention business to be good where you are and thee wages you mentioned the men could not believe it.send me a correct account your next and make a strict enquiry into the wages.Your mother has very poor health one day up and another down.all enquiring friends are well

No more at present from your loving mother

Ellen Cleary

(letter courtesy of Jenny Addison)”

I absolutely adore this letter! Such an insight into the lives of the Irish in the early 19th Century, and such a personal touch from mother to son. I am trying to imagine my 5x great-grandmother writing and sending this letter, I wonder what she looked like.

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