Convict Histories

Patrick Slattery (1829 – 1915) (Reg. No. 2515)

By Irma Walter, 2022.

Patrick Slattery was born in 1829 at Currow, in County Kerry, Ireland.[1] He was baptised on 20 May 1829, with his parents listed as Patrick Slattery and Ellen Daly of Kilcow, and sponsors John Daly and Mary Sullivan.[2] Kilcow is a small village near Castleisland in Kerry.

On 15 July 1850 Patrick Slattery was convicted of committing burglary. A brief summary of Patrick’s conviction was published that week —

Patt Slattery pleaded guilty to a charge of burglary, committed on the 9th inst., at the house of Michael Dillane, near Castleisland.[3] Due to his record of three previous convictions, he was sentenced to 10 years’ transportation.[4]

His trial occurred towards the end of the Irish famine period, when unemployment was widespread, especially among those with criminal records, leaving them with no alternative but to commit further crimes.

As a result of his conviction, Patrick was held at the infamous Dublin Newgate and Richmond Prisons, spending 13 months in Separate Confinement.[5] On 31 May 1853, he was taken to the convict ship Phoebe Dunbar for transportation to Western Australia, along with a large contingent of Irish prisoners. He was described as unmarried, aged 21, height 5’5”, with dark hair, hazel eyes and a fresh complexion. He could read but not write, and his religion was Roman Catholic.[6]

The ship sailed from Kingstown Harbour near Dublin on 2 June 1853. A newspaper reported the event as follows —

June 3, 1853 — This evening the Phoebe Dunbar convict ship was towed out of harbour, having onboard two hundred and ninety-five convicts, chiefly young men; she took a northerly course, and while I am now writing (half-past nine p.m.), has cleared the banks. Heretofore convicts, when in harbour, were allowed to come on deck in squads, which enabled those remaining below to cleanse the deck, etc., but this arrangement, conferring such benefits, has not been resorted to in the Phoebe Dunbar; since she received her human freight they have been stowed between decks. On yesterday I was permitted to visit her interior, accompanied by her commander, seemingly a most human man, who, I am disposed to think, may have perhaps exercised a sound discretion in deviating from former arrangements – such a number crowded below must be productive of the worst results. The unfortunate creatures, from their appearance, seem perfectly resigned to their fate; many of them I observed reading their prayer books, and now that they have leisure time may, perhaps, be the means of a fixed determination to make amends for their past life. I cannot state whether there is a chaplain in charge.[7]

Following a non-stop voyage of 89 days, the ship arrived at Fremantle on 23 August 1853. There are conflicting views over the exact number of convicts who had boarded the ship and those who died during the voyage. Erickson’s research shows that there were 286 convicts and 93 other passengers, made up of Pensioner Guards and their families, who arrived at Fremantle, with a possible ten convict deaths – eight at sea, one while in Fremantle Harbour and another in the hospital.[8] Four children and two women also died on the voyage. Surgeon Superintendent John Bowler’s final report was criticised as to the veracity of the causes given for so much sickness during the voyage. Scurvy is suspected as a major reason for the high death rate, rather than other fevers such as typhus, cholera, etc.[9] It seems likely that the poor physical condition of the prisoners on leaving Dublin would also have contributed to the high death rate during the voyage.

The Perth Gazette announced the ship’s arrival, along with reports of trouble onboard before the men were finally permitted to leave the crowded confines of the ship. The accuracy of the reports has not been confirmed

We regret to report that the convicts on board the Phoebe Dunbar are suffering from scurvy, and that thirteen deaths happened during the latter part of the voyage.[10]

On Tuesday last the Prisoners were all landed from the Phoebe Dunbar. Large parties of Prisoners are now stationed at North Fremantle and Freshwater Bay to be employed upon the Perth and Fremantle Road.[11]

A disturbance of rather a serious nature occurred on board the Phoebe Dunbar on Thursday in last week, in consequence of some mutinous conduct of certain Prisoners on board, who, it appears, managed to rid themselves of the irons which had been placed upon them for punishment, and were most abusive and violent towards the Pensioner Guard set over them. One or two of the ringleaders were bayonetted by the Military, and order was partially restored. Dr Bowler, the Surgeon Superintendent, who was on board at the time, appears to have acted with considerable firmness and promptitude. The affair was immediately communicated to the Comptroller General, who directed the worst of the Prisoners to be landed in the Water Police Boat which was sent off to bring them on shore, Twenty- seven of them were landed and peace was restored in consequence.[12]

A Fresh Start in Western Australia

On arrival Patrick Slattery was recorded as a labourer, aged 23, single, 5’6½” tall, with brown hair, dark blue eyes, a round face, his sallow complexion slightly freckled, and of stout build.[13] Surgeon Superintendent John Bowler on the Phoebe Dunbar recorded Patrick’s conduct as ‘quiet, but indifferent’.[14] Like many of the ship’s convicts, Patrick required treatment at the Fremantle prison hospital, being treated for conjunctivitis during June and July.[15]

A year after arriving in WA he was granted his Ticket of Leave, on 24 August 1854. He was determined to take advantage of the opportunities on offer in the Colony. He worked hard and kept out of trouble, saving his wages towards acquiring some land. In 1859 he married Rose Hanlon, an Irish girl who had arrived on the Emma Eugenia the year before.

Patrick was granted a Conditional Pardon that year. He bought 40 acres of land at Dardanup in the Wellington District in 1868. He acquired more blocks over the years.[16] Needing extra labour, he employed three Ticket of Leave men in the years 1864, 1870 and 1874.[17]

The Slatterys had a large family

Patrick, b.1860.

Mary Ann, b.1861.

Bernard (Barney), b.1863.

Daniel, b.1865.

James, b.1868.

Edward, d.1885 aged 15.[18]

Kate, b.1870.

Still-born male, b.1872.

Catherine Mary, b.1874.

Rose Ellen, b.1876.

The Slatterys had a strong connection to the Catholic Church. They were also heavily involved in community activities, as shown in the diaries of local farmer George Fee, where the Slattery family name frequently appeared, revealing close family ties, both socially and work related, with both parties always ready to give a helping hand when needed.[19]

In 1887 a Royal Commission was held into the depressed state of the agricultural industry in WA, and many farmers were consulted for their views. Patrick Slattery, ever the optimist, was quoted as follows —

Mr. Patrick Slattery, another man who had worked his way up from the foot of the tree, believed there was some depression around because many of the farmers were in debt and couldn’t get out of it. He had kept out of debt, because he had worked early and late and had a good wife.

“A man,” said he, “must have a good comrade, a good wife, to get on and pull together in the one road.”[20]

Patrick and his sons worked hard, and the family prospered. The Fee diaries show that the Slatterys and Fees both had properties on the coast near Lake Clifton, where their cattle could be pastured for short periods.

In 1888 the following article appeared in a Bunbury paper —

Bunbury is very dull at present. Brickmaking is at present our only industry. It is in full swing. The building trade is brisk just now. Mr. Patrick Slattery, Senr, of the Upper Ferguson, is getting a very large hay shed constructed, which, when finished, will be capable of holding between forty and fifty tons of hay. It is being built under the supervision of Mr. P. Slattery.[21]

Sadly, Patrick’s beloved wife Rose passed away in 1905, leaving behind her grieving family — Death of an Old Resident. The wife of Mr. Patrick Slattery, of Ferguson, died on the 14th inst., at the age of 68 years. She was taken suddenly ill, and expired an hour after the seizure. Deceased was a native of Ireland, and came to the district half a century ago. She leaves a sorrowing husband and a family of four sons and three daughters. The remains were interred at the Dardanup R.C. cemetery this afternoon, a large number of old residents attending.

Dean Martelli officiated at the graveside. The mortuary arrangements were under the direction of Mr W. Brittain, of Bunbury.[22]

The following newspaper article details Rose Slattery’s estate —

LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION. Rose Slattery, late of Dardanup, married woman, to Patrick Slattery, £186/10/11.[23]

An article in 1911 shows that Patrick Slattery (Snr) was still enjoying an active life —

Mr. Patrick Slattery, better known as “Grandfather” Slattery, is presently having a good look round the goldfields. The old chap came to W.A. 60 years ago, from Kerry, when he was 18 years of age. Very soon after landing, he started farming pursuits at Wellington, in the Bunbury district, and has remained there ever since, except for an occasional trip to the eastern States. Corporal “Barney” Slattery, of Kalgoorlie, is one of his sons.[24]

Patrick was still living at home when he died in 1915, following a brief illness. Several obituaries paid tribute to a much-loved community member


“Patrick Slattery, aged 83 years, died August 20, 1915. R.I. P.” Thus read the inscription on the casket of one whose mortal remains were laid to rest in the quietness and solitude of Dardanup Roman Catholic Cemetery on Sunday afternoon. It appears Mr. Slattery had set out to go to Mr. Buckenara’s farm, and had only got about a quarter of a mile from home, when it is presumed he must have stopped to rest on the roadside or was taken with some seizure. However, he had been away from home eight hours, and his relatives found him at a quarter to eleven on Thursday night last in an unconscious condition, and he remained unconscious up to the time of death, which took place at about 11 o’clock on Friday night.

Patrick Slattery came to Western Australia some 65 years ago, when a mere lad of 18 years. He was a native of Castleisland, a small town some ten to fifteen miles from the famous Lakes and Fells of Kallarney, in County Kerry, Ireland.

Shortly after his arrival in this State he married a Miss Rose Hanley, and there were nine children of the marriage, seven of whom are still living. Deceased took to the land in the Ferguson district in the fifties, and after years of battling with the forest country, aided in later years by his four sons, succeeded in getting together a fine homestead. Up to the time of the death of his late wife, who pre-deceased him some eleven years ago, Mr. Slattery was rarely to be found far away from home and work. Latterly, however, he became fond of travelling about, and during the last ten years he had made four trips to the East. One of his favourite resorts was the Blue Mountains, about which he loved to converse. St. Patrick’s morn would generally bring Mr. Slattery into Bunbury, where he would be seen to wear with pride the emblem of his country’s patron saint.

The Rev. Father Finnigan officiated at the church and at the graveside. The pall-bearers were: — Messrs. E. M. Clarke, M.L.C., Geo. Forrest, P. Buckenara, W. Rodgers, Chas. Hastie, and W. J. Wilson. The chief mourners were: — Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Slattery, Mr. and Mrs. Ber-nard Slattery, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Slattery, and Mr. and Mrs. James Slattery, sons and daughters-in-law. Mr. and Mrs. J. Rodgers, Mr. and Mrs. T. W. Harris, and Mr. and Mrs. H. Prout, sons-in-law and daughters. Messrs. D. E., J. G., C, and G. Slattery, and G. Harris, grandsons, Misses May and Alma Slattery, Rose, Kathleen, and Evelyn Harris, grand-daughters. Amongst the friends round the graveside were :— Mrs. J. Chapman, John Flynn, Mark Flynn, Michael Flynn, Samuel Gibbs, William Gardiner, Frank Venn, G. Fee, R. Fee, John Harris, Chas. Harris, Wm. Rodgers, Michael Rodgers, Frank Rodgers, Jack Rodgers, Wm. Wimbridge (Picton), P. Garvey, Ed. Garvey, Thos. Busher, Frank Busher, J. Coonan, Skipworth, Wm. Ecclestone (Boyanup), Sergt. Teehan, Constables Gee and Marks, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Wing (Bunbury), Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Marsh (Bunbury), Mr. J. H. Ball (Bunbury Herald), Mr. Chas. Snowden, Mrs. Snowden, sen., Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Sloan (Bunbury), Albert Hay, Thos. White, H. Morlock, Jas. Lee, in addition to a concourse of some 300 people from all over the South-West district. The funeral arrangements were carried out by Messrs. W. Brittain and Son.[25]

The following personal tributes appeared in the diary of his long-time friend and neighbour, George Fee —

Aug. 1915

I regret to record the death of Mr. Patrick Slattery senior of Ferguson which took place at his residence at 11 o’clock tonight after only a short illness. Deceased was an old identity of the district having resided at Dardanup in the early days and later at Ferguson where he farmed successfully for many years and brought up a large family. He was of a very kindly obliging disposition and an excellent neighbour and it may be truly said of the late Mr. Slattery that there was no one in the Dardanup and Ferguson district who had proved himself more worthy of the high respect and esteem of his friends and neighbours than he.  Mr. Slattery was one of the old pioneers of the district and had in his younger days and up to a few years ago been a hard worker. He was of a bright cheery nature and looked on the good side of things, always persevering under difficulties and trials which were all too common in the early days.

Aug 22nd

The funeral of the late Mr. P. Slattery took place this afternoon and was one of the most largely attended funerals ever at Dardanup before. There were representatives from Bunbury, Donnybrook, Boyanup and almost all parts of the district, who came in numbers to pay their last tribute of respect to a good and kind neighbour and respectable honourable old gentleman. R.I.P.[26]

Grave at Dardanup Pioneer Cemetery of Rose & Patrick Slattery, and their sons Edward and James.[27]


Appendix 1

The following selected entries in the George Fee diaries reveal a community always there for each other, in good times and in sorrow

Monday 29 Feby 1892. A dance was given at Mr Slattery’s residence on the Ferguson tonight at which Willie, Robbie and myself were present. We rode up after sundown and arrived there about 8 o’clock. We returned home a little after sunrise. A great many young people attended the dance – the young ladies present were – from Dardanup – Misses Margaret Maguire, Florrie Larkins, Mary Harris, Matilda Fowler and May Fowler – of the Ferguson and other places Misses Mary Ann Slattery, Kate Slattery, Rose Slattery, Rose Fowler, Mary Fowler, Mary Hartnett, Sarah Gardiner, Nellie Gardiner, Mrs Patrick Slattery Jnr, and Mrs John Flynn. The dance passed off very nicely indeed and all appeared to enjoy themselves well. For my part I may say that I had every reason to be pleased with it.

Tuesday 30 August 1892. We found all the cattle early this morning but we had a pretty hard job to get the young calves (which are out of the paddock) to the rest of the herd. We found the calves out on the furthest ‘seahills’ and we were obliged to get off and go after them. We left our paddock about 9 o’clock and arrived at Slattery’s hut (at Lake Preston) after 12 o’clock. After having dinner we set out to find the cow my Father and I left behind us in Rose’s the last time were up. We found her pretty late in the afternoon at Rose’s most north-westerly corner and did not reach Slattery’s hut till after dark. When we got there we found Mr Patrick Garvey, and George Clark had come there to stay for the night, so all four camped down.

Thursday 7 Feby 1895. Our horse got out of Slattery’s paddock last night and went down as far as Piggott’s Gate. We had some difficulty in gathering up the cattle this morning. We reached Australind about 8:30 p.m.

Tuesday 26 Feby 1895. Finished carting wood. A number of young men included Richard Dillon, John Harris, Lowrie, Slattery, and others left for the Goldfields this morning.

Wednesday 17 July 1895. We saw a good many calves on our way down today. We stayed at Mr Slattery’s house at the Point tonight.

Fri 18th Jany 1907. P. Slattery Jnr of the Ferguson had the misfortune to lose his crops of hay and wheat by a fire last night which originated in an outbuilding on his premises. His losses which include the sheds in which his crops were stored are estimated at about £250.

Thurs 4th April 1907..Pat. Slattery called and bought 1/2 ton chaff.  This we will cut and deliver at the Railway Gates tomorrow.

Sun 23rd Feby 1908. Mass was said in Dardanup today by the Very Rev the Dean.  Mrs Slattery Senr and Mrs Warby came here this afternoon.  My mother, Robbie and some of the children drove down to Paddy Garvey’s.

Mon 2 Jany 1911. We cut and carted some new chaff for Joe Slattery today.

Sun 24th May 1914. We drove over to W. Harris Waterloo this afternoon.  Mr. and Mrs. Barney Slattery of Ferguson were there. This is the first time I have met Mr. Slattery since his resignation from the police force last March.  He had attained the position of sergeant.

Mon 17th June 1916. I was at Bunbury today riding. I called at the Bank of Australasia and Messrs Stanley, Money and Walkers.  I saw James Slattery at Picton who rode with me from there to Dardanup.  We shall likely try to buy Venn’s Lake property.  Sent truck of potatoes to Hayward’s.

Wed 15th September 1916. We are now ploughing a plot of land about 3 acres for a summer garden.  A very nice dance was held in the hall tonight as a send off to Messrs J. G. Slattery late Store-Keeper at Dardanup and L. Poad. Mr. W. L. Thomas M.L.A. was present and the chair was occupied by Mr. Wilkinson the Station Master at Dardanup. I was present also my wife and Lena and Lillie.

Thurs 15th November 1917. The very sad news was received today that Private Joe Coonan eldest son of Mrs. A. E. Skipworth of the Dardanup Hotel and Private Dan Slattery and Douglas Gardiner of Ferguson were killed in action in France on the 4th Oct last. Much sympathy is felt for the bereaved parents and relatives. Mrs. Skipworth has four sons at the war and this is the second one who has paid the price. The late Pte Coonan was well and favourably known in this district and especially in Dardanup where he will be long missed by his many friends. The other two young soldiers were residents of the Ferguson and were very popular and respected by all classes of the community.

Sun 3rd Feby 1918. Miss Kathleen Harris, Evelyn Harris, May Slattery and Alma Slattery were here for afternoon tea this afternoon.

Thurs 21st March 1918. The bazaar was again largely attended this afternoon and tonight. The Ugly Girl Competition for which there were six candidates attracted much attention and was a really exciting contest.  The voting was closed about midnight and the result was shortly afterwards announced as follows, M. A. Coonan 16,489 Alice Garvey 15,451, Nellie Busher 8,282, Olive Dillon 2,778, M. A. Slattery 2,172, Eileen O’Neill 330.  This item realised £189-11-8. Shortly afterwards the first Dardanup bazaar was terminated. It was successful beyond all expectations and the takings constituted a record for Dardanup. Later on I hope to be able to give the full amount of the proceeds.

Sun 30th October 1936. A little girl named Mavis Mudford came to stay on a visit. Lily and children left for Merredin. D. Slattery who now lives on the site of the late Kitty Doolan’s old place and Mark Coonan visited Rob today.  I attended Mass and Holy Communion at 7 o’clock this morning.

Mon 24th August 1942. Called to see Dr Flynn this morning. Dorrie accompanied me. I caught the 12.40 p.m. train for Dardanup. The funeral of the late Mrs James Rodgers, formerly Miss Rose Slattery, who passed away yesterday or Saturday took place at Bunbury cemetery today.  Sent 2 cans of cream.[28]


Appendix 2

Patrick Slattery’s fee simple blocks in the Wellington District

The following shows the date, location number (Loc.) and acreage (in acres) of Patrick Slattery’s Fee Simple blocks in the Wellington District.

1878 – Loc. 358 of 95 acres, Loc. 369 of 100 acres and Loc. 506 of 100 acres

1883 – Loc. 451 of 31 acres, Loc. 630 of 125 acres and Loc. 380 of 40 acres

1885 – Loc. 487 of 40 acres and 518 of 40 acres

August 1897 – Loc. 280 of 40 acres.[29]


Appendix 3

 Map showing Slattery blocks, Upper Ferguson [30]


[1] Ancestry Public Member Trees.

[2] FHL Film No 823803, Irish Catholic Parish Registers, Kerry Killeentierna, 1803-1884,

[3] Tralee Chronicle, 20 July 1850.

[4] Irish Prison Registers, Dublin-Newgate (Richmond) Prison General Register 1849-1858, Book No. 1/12/3, Item No. 3.

[5] Convict Department Registers, Character Book (R18)

[6] Ibid.

[7] Freeman’s Journal, 3 June 1853.

[8] Convicts to Australia,

[9] Maritime Heritage Association,

[10] Perth Gazette, 2 September 1853.

[11] Perth Gazette, 23 September 1853.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Convicts to Australia,

[14] Convict Department Registers, Character Book (R18)

[15] Convict Establishment, Daily Medical Journals (M14.M16)

[16] See Appendix 3.

[17] Rica Erickson, Bicentennial Dictionary of Western Australians,, p.2837.

[18] There isn’t a birth registration for Edward but his death is recorded as 22 July 1885 on Patrick Snr’s headstone, below.

[19] George Alexander Fee & Norm Flynn, Fee’s Dardanup Diaries: George Alexander Fee 1886–1942 of Roseland, Dardanup, WA, Milligan House, Bunbury WA, 2002.

[20] Western Mail, 27 February 1909.

[21] WA Record, 25 October 1888.

[22] Bunbury Herald, 16 June 1905.

[23] Daily News, 24 Aug 1905.

[24] Truth, 8 April 1911.

[25] Bunbury Herald, 24 August 1915.

[26] George Alexander Fee & Norm Flynn, Fee’s Dardanup Diaries: George Alexander Fee 1886–1942 of Roseland, Dardanup, WA, Milligan House, Bunbury WA, 2002.

[27] Find A Grave website, https:/

[28] George Alexander Fee & Norm Flynn, Fee’s Dardanup Diaries.

[29] State Records Office of Western Australia, AU WA S2188- cons5000 0669, Register Fee Simple Lands, ‘Wellington’ pps 677-710.

[30] State Records Office of Western Australia, AU WA S236 cons3869 Wellington 049, part of ‘Vicinity of Crooked Brook, Boyanup Agricultural Area Lots 9-26. & vicinity of the Ferguson River by F.F. Monaghan, 1890 [scale: 20 chains to an inch].’ 1890-01-01 – 1906-12-31.