The STRONGs of Ulster, Ireland, Chapter 5
The "STRONG Family" section of this site is divided into 13 chapters and 9 appendices. Please read in sequence by following the links at the bottom of each page or use the "Quick Nav" at top right. If you wish to select individual chapters, please click on the top left link to the "Sitemap" page. Note that the chapters develop the story of our family and the appendices contain supporting data… for example the Descendancy Report in Appendix 1 with BDM records and photos of family members.
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Robert STRONG's sons: Robert James, Joseph & David
Robert James STRONG
Robert James STRONG was born on 17 Feb 1863 in Belfast, Ireland i), probably at 21 Alexander-street West.
At the age of 11, in 1874, Robert J.STRONG received a bible for attendance at the Falls Road Wesleyan Sunday School ii). I found this bible amongst RGD STRONG's books. RGD was RJ's nephew and my father. This Sunday School was located at the beginning of Divis-street where it joins on Falls-road, and in easy walking distance from the STRONG home in 21 Alexander-street West (c 1862-1868) and also near their next home in 108 Dover-street (c 1870-1872). RJ's parents were married in the Donegal Square East Wesleyan Chapel on 26 Apr 1862 iii) and thus RJ was brought up in this faith in Belfast. RJ emigrated at age 11 with his family to NZ in the ship "Baron Aberdare" and arrived in Auckland NZ on 19 March 1875 iv). He left home some time before his father entered his first census in the family bible in Auckland on 3 Apr 1881 when RJ was aged 18 i). RJ's death certificate does not help in telling us when he arrived in Australia… the question "How long in the Australasian Colonies or States" was answered with "35 years in New S Wales", which goes back to when RJ arrived in NZ. Perhaps the original informant meant with "35 years in the Australasian Colonies"? v)
There is no record of RJ until he turns up in 1900 when he was a 37 year old steward, living at 12 Thompson St, Darlinghurst Sydney NSW vi). On 14 Jun 1900, he married 26 year old Catherine Dorethna BUTLER (from Dublin), at St Matthias Church of England in Paddington NSW vi). There is a 1902 record of Strong R.J., Secretary Mercantile Marine Club of N.S.W at Royle’s Chambers, 5 Bond St Sydney ix). Was this our RJ? The original English meaning of “steward” includes “manager”, thus the managing secretary of a club in 1900 might say his occupation was “steward”? Modern day use of the term now extends to somebody serving passengers on an airline or boat, or even a barman in a club. In those days parts of Australia were more British than the British, and that was probably true of the Clubs.
In 1904 viii) and 1903 vii) records show Robert J. STRONG (steward) and Catherine STRONG (domestic duties) living at 4 Lincoln-street, North Sydney, which was off McDougall-street. Later, in 1906 they were not at this address vii). In 1924 Lincoln-street was still there x), but present day maps show that the northern end of McDougal-street together with Lincoln-street have been demolished and are now part of the Motorway.
The Mercantile Marine Club disappeared. In 1913 there was a Royle’s Chambers, but no Club! ix) However another source shows Royle’s Chambers was still at 5 Bond St Sydney in 1924 x). This side of Bond St was later demolished to construct the Australia Square. No record of the Mercantile Marine Club has been found in any archives.
Robert James died ten years after his marriage, in Rydalmere Hospital for the Insane, NSW, on 9 May 1909. Further information in RJ's death certificate is that he had suffered from epilepsy over a number of years, and died from epilepsy exhaustion. The certificate also shows his occupation as a barman, and also that RJ had no children v). He was buried alone without a monument on 10 May 1909 in Rookwood Cemetery, Anglican section T, grave number 1851 by a Church of England minister Rev. CTS West, The witnesses were Charles Gittoes and Richard Rowe v), xi). I have no subsequent record of what happened to his wife Catherine STRONG…
i) STRONG Family Bible, held by Philip Strong.
ii) Robert J. STRONG's Sunday School Bible, presented at Belfast, on 22 Nov 1874, held by Philip Strong.
iii) Marriage of Robert Strong & Jane Lain. Film # 0101434, Marriages of Belfast Ireland, #194.
iv) Port of Auckland: Baron Aberdare. Daily Southern Cross; 20 Mar 1875: 2.
v) Death of Robert James STRONG. Reg# 1909/6983. Registrar of BDM, NSW.
vi) Marriage of Robert James STRONG & Catherine Dorethna BUTLER. Reg# 1900/6859. Registrar of BDM, NSW.
vii) Electoral rolls.
viii) Post office directories.
ix) Sands Directories.
x) Wilson's 1924 Sydney street directory.
xi) Terri Napier, Cemetery Searches.
Joseph was born on 21 Jun 1868 in 21 Alexander Street West, Belfast, Ireland, and emigrated to Auckland with his family in 1874 when he was aged 6. He left home in Auckland some time after the age of 18. On 26 Apr 1893 when Joseph was 24, he married Isabella Ann (Bella) FINLAYSON in St James Beresford St Presbyterian Church, Auckland, with the witnesses being his brother-in-law Alexander Neill and his sister Mary STRONGE (note the spelling). In 1893, the Electoral Roll Auckland lists Joseph STRONG as a waiter and Bella domestic duties, both living in Beresford Road. Joseph and Bella then emigrated to Australia around 1895. Their children Robert and Dulcie were born in Sydney NSW on 1896 and 1897. Robert died in 1896. In 1902 & 1904, Joseph and Bella lived at 149 Dowling-st Sydney. The following year, on Oct 12, 1905, Joseph was diagnosed with "degenerated spinal tissues" and was confined to a hospital bed in the Rookwood Asylum (for the infirm and destitute). Regrettably, Joseph's only official hospital record, which has survived, is the admission date on the admissions register. Later, the asylum changed its name to the Lidcombe State Hospital and Home, and Joseph remained there until he died in 1930. Bella "kept things going by running a little shop in Redfern", which was probably 43 Abercrombie St, Redfern, NSW. ….. the address given at the time of Joseph’s death. Sadly, it appears that Bella could not cope with the care of her daughter Dulcie while her husband remained in hospital. Dulcie was given to a ROBERTS family for foster care. Consequently, at her marriage, she was described as: "Dulcie Muriel Jessie STRONG, known as ROBERTS".
The "Daily Pictorial" gave this account of Joe STRONG on June 28, 1930:
BEDRIDDEN 26 YEARS, YET STRONG OF HEART
Joe says it might have been worse
Rip Van Winkle slept for 20 years, and wakened an old man; but in Lidcombe State Hospital there is one who has seen 26 years go without rising from his bed. It is worse to go to bed young, and wait there for age and eternity. But Joe STRONG has smiled through, and is still smiling. This month he was 62, having occupied the same bed in the same position since he was 36. "When I became helpless", said Joe yesterday, "a doctor told me that my spinal tissues had degenerated. I came in here, and thought I would try it for a few weeks. But time went on…. time goes on….."
Counts his Blessings
Joe has a smooth bright face, and a soft friendly voice. On his chest rests a huge, flat-bottomed pipe, which he sucks at will by merely catching the stem with his lips. His hands are useless. "How do I use up the hours? Well people are kind to me. I have newspapers read to me, I hear music on the radio, and I smoke. That is all I do. When you are down, make the best of it. Sometimes I say to myself, "you get tired, Joe, lying so long'. But I don't really growl. It could have been worse".
Through the years his wife has come to his bedside at least once a fortnight. She has kept things going by running a little shop in Redfern. "How’s my heart?" Joe asked the doctor at the fateful examination 26 years ago. "Sound as a bell", he was told. Today Joe still says: "My heart’s still good".
Source: Bedridden 26 years yet strong of heart. Daily Pictorial, Sydney. Jun 28, 1930; 4.
The 1930 article in the "Daily Pictorial" was found in a typed transcription, at the back of a cupboard shelf of a descendant of Joe’s brother William in NZ. Thus William Aberdare must have known about Joe’s illness and stay in hospital? Thanks to Brian STRONG for forwarding this transcript. I checked the original "Daily Pictorial" article and there was no photo. Such a photo might have cross-matched with a photo of a STRONG family group and show that Joe was taken from hospital around 1930 to for a family gathering, including David (from Sydney) and even William Aberdare (from NZ). Note that the "Daily Pictorial" newspaper became the "Daily Telegraph" in the following year (1931) when the "Daily Pictorial" merged with the "Daily Guardian", all in Sydney NSW.
Joe STRONG died in hospital on 11 August 1930, aged 62 years; the cause of death given in his death certificate was spastic paraplegia and arteriosclerosis. He was buried in Rookwood Cemetery, and was taken there in a "black covered coffin in a motor hearse". My father, Rev. Robert STRONG, officiated at the funeral. Bella died shortly after in 1933, and the photo of their headstone is above. This part of Rookwood was not very well maintained and the long grass is seen beyond the gravestone.
Joseph STRONG's daughter Jessie Dulcie Muriel (Dulcie) STRONG was born in 1897 in Sydney NSW. On 9 Feb 1924 when Dulcie was 27, she married 28 year old Arthur TIERNEY in St Stephen's Presbyterian Church, Sydney, NSW. Arthur said he was born in Goulburn NSW, to Nicholas Henry TIERNEY, licensed victualler, & Ernestine WATSON (WILSON?), though no record can be found of Arthur's birth. Significantly, Nicholas Henry's death certificate (1909) said he was married (1874) to Henrietta Ernestine Charlotte BRITZ (née AURISCH), and also that there were no children of his marriage! However, his wife was called Ernestine, and Nicholas died in "Ernestine Villa".
There must have been some link between Arthur and Nicholas! Arthur had a close relationship with the daughters of William Austin Coutts STEWART and Margaret Teresa TIERNEY (Nicholas' older sister). Amongst these daughters, when he enlisted in 1917 he lived with Margaret ARMSTRONG of Marrickville (b. 1866) and called her "aunt"; in 1917 he named as his next of kin Effie IRELAND of Narrabri (b. 1883) "sister"; "aunt" Minnie GORDON-HUME (b. 1875) was a witness at his wedding in 1924.
Arthur enlisted as a Trooper in the Camel Corps Reinforcements in April 1917 in WWI. He saw service in the 12 Light Horse Regiment in Egypt and was invalided out in July 1919 with nose and wrist injuries. Arthur is pictured in uniform at left, in a copy of a portrait held in the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales. The Library's kind permission is acknowledged.
Arthur and Dulcie’s daughter Pamela Joan was born in 1928 and they lived at 450 Old South Rd Waverley NSW in 1933 when Dulcie’s mother died. This was during the "Great Depression" and Arthur had been out of work for some years, receiving the dole, with occasional employment on the pick and shovel. In 1934, Arthur obtained a temporary clerical position in the Census Department in the new Australian Capital Territory (ACT). His "uncle" Eric GORDON-HUME (a chartered accountant in the Sydney CBD) wrote on Arthur’s behalf to AC Smith in the Prime Minister’s Department: "he is a good worker, writes an excellent hand, is quick and accurate at figures, and possesses a first-class knowledge of book keeping." The reply was not optimistic about continued temporary employment after July 1934, and it said that the Census department was: "under instructions to issue rail warrants to men as soon as their employment on the Census staff comes to an end, so they can return home. The object is to avoid having men hanging around Canberra without occupation". A startling insight into the social engineering of the time!! AC Smith suggested that Arthur should make "application to the Public Service inspector, Canberra for temporary employment when (his) Census work terminates…. I will do what I can personally to help his application along" The return letter to AC Smith from Arthur’s "uncle" revealed one of his motivations in securing Arthur’s employment: "the prospects of obtaining permanent employment in Sydney are very poor, and if he comes back here it will only be to live on the charity of relations. This is demoralising, and for that reason as well as others, is to be avoided."
In 1937 Arthur was working as a bookkeeper for a milk distributor (Hugh Keith) of Kingston. This was reported in a Supreme Court embezzlement court case, which made the distinction between an accountant and a bookkeeper.
Source: Supreme Court: Embezzlement charge. Canberra Times, Canberra. Nov 16, 1937; 4.
The TIERNEY family (1952) are pictured at the left, courtesy of Heather Carter. From L to R: Daughter Pamela, Arthur and Dulcie.
The Electoral Rolls show that Arthur’s application was successful… the family (including their 6 year old daughter) left their Waverley NSW address in 1934, and they remained in Canberra… 1935: Giles St Kingston, ACT; 1943: Lefroy St Griffith, ACT; 1949 and 1959: #57 Bougainville St Forrest, ACT. When public servants were transferred to the ACT in those days, they were moved into suburbs according to what they could pay in rent. The TIERNEYs’ final suburb Forrest was the area where the 'upper class' Public Service etc lived. This process of leased occupation and allocation of housing, resulted in Canberra being a city arranged on "class" lines.
Arthur died at age 64, and his death certificate gave his occupation as an accountant. The death notice said: "TIERNEY, Arthur - August 23 1960, at Canberra, of 57 Bougainville St. Forrest. Beloved husband of Dulcie Muriel, and fond father of Pamela (Mrs. J.B. Mackay, Athens), father-in-law of John, and dear grandfather of Deborah and Lisa."
Arthur’s funeral left the Parish Church of St. Paul, Manuka, for interment in the Church of England portion of the Canberra Public Cemetery (Woden). Members of the Canberra Services Club were invited to attend the funeral of their late colleague. The photo at right, of Arthur’s gravestone was kindly provided by Leslie Ashman.
After Arthur's death, Dulcie remained in Forrest until 1964, when the Electoral Roll and her death certificate show that she left the area. The Department of Veterans’s Affairs gave me the first knowledge of Dulcie’s move, when they stated that Dulcie’s pension file was sent to their Western Australian Perth office in 1965. I assume that she went to live with or near her daughter Pamela MACKAY at 16 Waratah Ave Dalkeith, which was on the Swan River, near Perth. Dulcie’s son-in-law, John Burgess MACKAY may have transferred from a diplomatic posting in Athens, Greece to Perth in 1964. John then held the position of State Director of the Perth Immigration Office for 20 years, 1964-84. Details of John’s outstanding life and career can be found in his obituary. John & Pam had been married at Canberra ACT in 1954, and their wedding photo is shown below.
Dulcie TIERNEY died on 30 May 1977, in a nursing home, "Mon Repos Hospital" Palmerston St., Mosman Park. A death notice in the Canberra Times gave the cremation date of 31 May 1977, but no location: "Tierney, Dulcie. Wife of the late Arthur, loving and loved mother of Pamela, mother-in-law of John and Nanty of Deborah and Lisa". Dulcie’s ashes were placed in the Anglican Lawn area of Karrakatta Cemetery WA.
The MACKAY family then moved to 5 Platt Close, Mosman Park, partly surrounded by Buckland Hill reserve. This is a most desirable area about 1 km from both ocean and river, and overlooks both. When Dulcie’s daughter Pamela Joan MACKAY died on 27 Aug 2004 at Mosman Park, her ashes were placed in the same gravesite as her mother. Pamela's husband John Burgess MACKAY died nearly a full year later, on 5 Aug 2005 at Mosman Park.
We hope that Dulcie TIERNEY (née STRONG)’s personal records (old photos, diaries, letters etc) have survived in Western Australia. Old photos might resolve questions relating to the "Family Gathering" photo, shown as a thumbnail on the right. A full-sized photo is presented in the appendix, together with a discussion of who is actually present. It would be great if we could find a photo of young Dulcie, a photo of her mother Bella as a middle-aged woman, and even a photo of Dulcie’s father Joseph STRONG! Such photos would confirm the tentative conclusions which we have made.
Other unanswered questions relate to Dulcie’s early life, Dulcie & Arthur TIERNEY’s married life, and so on. We hope for answers.
Acknowledgements and Sources:
… in the Search for the TIERNEYs and their Descendants.
Researching this group of my family has been difficult. Initially, I had thought that the TIERNEYs had died childless and moved overseas! Thanks to all the kind people who made this present result possible.
- FINLAYSON family (Kath Forbes and Heather Carter): Kath made contact after Googling our STRONG site, due to her interest in Isabella Ann (Bella) FINLAYSON who married Joseph STRONG. Kath and Heather told me the TIERNEY family had lived in Canberra, and kindly gave me photos and information to prove it! See details of Isabella Ann FINLAYSON on the FINLAYSON site.
- Heraldry and Genealogical Society of Canberra (HAGSOC): "Monumental Inscriptions: Australian Capital Territory including Jervis Bay" (2001); "Index to The Canberra Times".
- Rootsweb ACT Mailing List (AUS-ACT-L@rootsweb.com) members, and also Canberra residents: The kindness of… Leslie Ashman, Jennifer Burt, Carole Douch, Jan Grant, Ann Gugler, and Brian Rhynehart.
- NSW State Library: Photo of Arthur TIERNEY. Copy of a portrait held in the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.
- National Archives of Australia: Arthur TIERNEY’s military record, employment in 1934; military record of John Burgess MACKAY.
- ACT Registry of BDM: "ACT Historical Death Index 1930-1973"; death of Arthur TIERNEY.
- Department of Veterans’ Affairs: transfer of Dulcie TIERNEY to Perth.
- WA Metropolitan Cemeteries Board database: burial details of Dulcie TIERNEY; John & Pamela MACKAY.
- WA State Library: Death, Funeral, "In Memoriam" Notices, an obituary, and Electoral records.
- WA Registry of BDM: Death of Dulcie TIERNEY.
David was born on 4 Aug 1870 in Belfast, Ireland. My grandfather left home in NZ some time after the age of 16. He possibly met his future wife Minnie WEDEMEYER at Bundaberg, Queensland Australia and married in Sydney NSW. For details of the WEDEMEYER family see my WEDEMEYER web pages. David is seen in this photograph seated with his children & grandchildren in 1946. From left: Standing: Alma, Robert, Eddie, Barrie, Ruby Seated: Minnie and David. On Ground: Philip. A further set of photographs of David STRONG can be seen on the David STRONG Photo Gallery, and of Minnie STRONG at the Minnie WEDEMEYER Photo Gallery. Details relating to Ruby who was the “girl next door” are here.
How did Minnie meet her husband David? My mother told me that David travelled around the Pacific working in a cruise ship. In his garage he had many mementos of those days, such as large clam shells, much coral and spears of all sizes. David’s cruise ship was probably a sailing ship or a ship with a combination of sail and steam, and would have visited Bundaberg on its way from the South Pacific tourist islands of Samoa and Fiji. The easiest way for a sailing ship onto the Eastern Australian coast (apart from Sydney Harbour) was through the Great Barrier Reef via the Curtis Channel. This led to the leeward protection of Fraser Island in Wide Bay and the port facilities of Bundaberg.
David and Minnie married in Sydney NSW on 8 Feb 1896 in the Congregational Manse, Allen Street Pyrmont NSW. In 1896 when my father Robert was born, the family lived in 8 Junction Lane, Woolloomooloo, which ran between Forbes and Palmer streets. In 1899 the Sands Directory recorded the family at 123 Bourke St Paddington and then at 340 Bourke Street in 1900, and from 1902 to 1910 at 52 Palmer street, Woolloomooloo.
My father told me that life around Woolloomooloo was rather violent in those days with razor gangs terrorising the locals. He also told me of German musical bands which were made welcome in their house and who taught him the "bad German words". Presumably Minnie kept her German language skills in the early years?
The STRONGs bought "WEDEMEYER", 18 Manning Road, Waverley on 19 Aug 1909 from the original owners of the house, H., H., & W. Bartrop (builders). David's father Robert died one year later on 22 Aug 1910. The Sands Directory recorded the STRONGs leaving their 1910 home at 52 Palmer street Sydney and then living at 6 Manning street Waverley from 1911 to 1914, indicating a possible number change in the street in that period. The Sands Directory shows they were living at #18 from 1916. They spent the rest of their life in "WEDEMEYER", until they moved to 55 Burns Bay Road, Lane Cove in their old age. It is significant that the house kept its German name during two world wars, even though many of such names were taken down or changed.
In the 1910's David was in and out of work. My father Robert left school on December 1911 at the age of 15, and according to his brother Eddie, had a good job in Government Stores, so that his money kept the household going during this period. At various times in his life, David was a waiter, doorman and drinks waiter at the Hotel Australia, lift driver at Nock and Kirbys, cleaner, floor walker at David Jones. Various electoral rolls all listed David as a storeman.
I can still revisit my childhood memories of "WEDEMEYER" and my grandparents at their home. I remember the long trip by a rattling tram from Lane Cove across the Harbour Bridge to Bondi Junction. Then there was the even longer walk downhill with my mother from the tram stop to 18 Manning Road, Waverley. "WEDEMEYER" was a dark Victorian era house with the curtains drawn, the electric lights used sparingly and the gaslights still remaining on the walls.
The front lounge room was for display only. My parents used to warn me that grandpa believed in "children are meant to be seen and not heard", particularly during the 7:00pm news broadcast. Grandpa was a tall grey bearded austere man and quite intimidating to me. However grandma was the warm and affectionate power behind the throne. She was a little wrinkled lady with a frail appearance and glasses with heavy lenses who seemed to do everything for grandpa. On one visit we found both of them sick and starving. Grandma had been sick and went to bed. Grandpa found his meals weren't being prepared for him and also went to bed. Consequently they both almost starved. We took them both to our home (the Church of England Rectory) in Lane Cove, Sydney NSW, and they lived with us until grandma died after a succession of small strokes.
Subsequently, my mother became ill, and David moved to stay with his second son, Edward James STRONG at Penshurst, Sydney, NSW. David then died of pneumonia on 23 Jul 1957 in the St George's Hospital, Kogarah NSW, following a fracture of the right thigh bone when he walked to the letter box. The City Coroner T.J.Towns ruled "Accidental Death" and dispensed with an Inquest. By co-incidence, this coroner was my grandfather PATFIELD's stepson. David was cremated at the Woronora Crematorium Sutherland NSW, and then buried next to his wife Minnie in the Northern Suburbs Crematorium, Sydney NSW.
The Story Continues
- Chapter 6 The story of Robert STRONG's child Mary (Minnie) STRONG.