Parish registers give fascinating insight into Port's early history

ST THOMAS’ Anglican Church early parish registers give a fascinating insight into early settler and convict society, a family history society says.

Those records will be available in a user friendly publication produced by Port Macquarie & Districts Family History Society.

The publication, Church of St Thomas Port Macquarie - Early Parish Registers of Baptisms 1824-1864, Marriages 1824-1856 and Burials 1824-1876, records baptisms, marriages and burials, not only at Port Macquarie, but also in the Hastings, Macleay and Manning River valleys.

Port Macquarie & Districts Family History Society members Clive Smith and Trysha Hanly transcribed the registers and other volunteers helped with proof reading.

Mr Smith said difficult to read handwriting meant they frequently had to go to other sources during the transcription process.

The records show 1355 baptisms, almost 320 marriages and 1015 burials.

All nine marriages recorded in the 1824-1825 period involved prisoners.

“The wonderful thing about all of this is on the same page you will have a convict getting married and someone in the top of society getting married,” Mr Smith said about the register.

Society weddings included Major Innes’ daughter Gordina to assistant clergyman Thomas O’Reilly in 1853.

St Thomas’ Church is the fifth oldest Anglican church still in use in Australia and one of the few remaining built by convict labour.

Port Macquarie & Districts Family History Society received a $1500 grant for the register project from the NSW Government’s arts policy and funding body Arts NSW through the Royal Australian Historical Society.

The publication cover features a painting by convict Joseph Backler who was sent to Port Macquarie and later married at St Thomas’ Church in 1842.

The new publication will be available to view and pre-order at Port Macquarie & Districts Family History Society’s Escape to Port Macquarie Family History Fair on May 18 at Port Macquarie Panthers.

Entry is $10 per person which covers all speaker presentations. 

More information is available at the society’s website or contact Wendy Anson on 6582 1742.

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