Submitted by jays on 28 January 2014 - 2:27pm

This cross, 8.5cm long, made of vulcanite in an ornate moulded floral design, belonged to Catherine Eleanor Joyce who was born around 1832 in Cong in County Mayo, Ireland, and died in 1893 in Bourke in outback New South Wales. Catherine arrived in Sydney in January 1850 on a ship called the Panama, along with 156 other young women and girls who came to New South Wales as assisted migrants in the wake of the Great Irish Famine of 1843-1848. On arrival in Sydney, Catherine and the other girls were accommodated at the newly established Female Immigration Depot at Hyde Park Barracks, where they awaited employment. She was a house servant, one of several on the ship. The rest of her shipmates were nursemaids, needlewomen, dairymaids, housemaids, laundresses, kitchen-maids and farm servants. They were among 4114 single and orphaned young women selected from Irish workhouses and offered the opportunity of work and wifehood in a new land. Catherine Joyce found wifehood less than two years after her arrival, although her husband turned out to be a rogue and a bigamist. After they parted company she lived with her children in Bourke where her youngest son, Robert Stuart Robertson, joined the Australian Labor Party. He was later elected to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, described by party leader Jack Lang as a “strait-laced reformer”. 

Photograph: Penny Clay, 2013
Handcarved cross with floral relief decoration, circa 1860s Handcarved cross with floral relief decoration, circa 1860s
Hyde Park Barracks