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Laird & Hunter Irish History

Laird and Hunter families Co Donegal Northern Ireland 1795-1911

Both families share a common ancestor. John Laird was born about 1795 and lived on a flax farm in Carrygawley, which lies just outside the Parish of Conwal in the Parish of Leck. Carrygawley was less than a mile from what today is the town of Letterkenny in the county of Donegal in the Republic of Ireland. John is believed to have married a Moore and had 3 daughter’s Lucinda (b ~1826), Ann (b 1831) and Matilda (b~1837). His holdings were a house, outbuildings, 68 acres of farm land and a flax mill which he rented from Joseph Pratt (Griffiths Valuation 1857). John Laird also owned two small houses which he rented to a Richard Taylor and a James Breslan probably workers in his flax mill. John Laird died Monday 26th December 1864 aged 69 years. 

Lucinda Laird married James Wilson in Letterkenny on December 28th 1847 at the Letterkenny Presbyterian Church. James died before 1886.

Ann Laird married William Laird of Bogstown farm located in the Parish of Templemore (5 miles from Londonderry and approx 25 miles from Carrygawley) at the 1st Letterkenny Presbyterian Church on January 31st 1854. Their youngest son Richard Laird was born Feb 4th 1866 and later emigrated to Melbourne Australia in August 1886. Ann died on May 8th, 1911 and is buried in the Londonderry Cemetery.

Matilda Laird married Henry Hunter (b~1835) of Drumanaught at the 1st Letterkenny Presbyterian Church on April 7th, 1857 and they lived on a 102 acre farm they leased from a Sir James Stewart at Newmill, Conwal. Their son John Laird Hunter was baptised at 2 months of age on Aug 12th 1860 at the 2nd Letterkenny Presbyterian Church. Both the sisters’ families remained very close. In 1895 when Ann’s son Thomas was dying, Matilda was present and was witness to his last will written only a few days before he died. Matilda was listed as a widow on the will, therefore Henry Hunter died between 1887 and 1895. Matilda died in 2nd Qtr 1906 and is probably buried in Letterkenny.

Henry Hunter was the son of Alexander Hunter (b1803 – d Nov 4th 1887) Townland Rann (Rahan) and Prudence Mortimer who had a total of 7 sons and 1 daughter. Both are buried in Conwal Church of Ireland cemetery in Letterkenny, Prudence was the daughter of John Mortimer.

John Laird Hunter emigrated to Melbourne Australia on the SS Orient in 1882 and married Isabella King (b 1861) in Gippsland on June 27th 1887. They lived at 66 Farmer St Richmond where John worked as a tram conductor. Their eldest son was Alexander Henry Laird Hunter (b 1888). Their son William John Hunter (b1890) died at 13 months of age from diarrhea/exhaustion and is buried in Boroondara cemetery Kew. Olive Matilda Hunter (b Dec 13th 1891) the younger of 2 twins died at 3 years of age in 1894 and is also buried in Kew.

Richard Laird emigrated from Northern Ireland via London on the SS Orient in August 1886 where he joined his cousin John Laird Hunter and both lived at 66 Farmer St Richmond Victoria. As Richard was only 20 having a cousin already in Melbourne would have taken a lot of uncertainty out of the long 3 month boat trip. Richard listed himself on the ships log as Scottish and bartered his fare to Australia by working on the ship. Richard married Jane Absalom at 66 Farmer St Richmond on Oct 10th 1889. John Laird Hunter was present and witness along with his mother in-law. John was most likely his best man at the wedding.

Kalgoorlie In about 1900 the Hunter family moved to Kalgoorlie and later Perth and both families lost contact. Back in Northern Ireland in 1911 Ann Laird died the only remaining Laird’s being 2 grand daughters.

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