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Ormsby Irwin (c. 1779–?)

Ormsby Irwin (c.1779- ) was sentenced to life imprisonment in April 1806 at Cork, Ireland. Aged 30 he arrived at Sydney aboard the Boyd in August 1809 with his wife Eleanor who came free. Their first child William was born on board the Boyd on 6 August 1809, six days before the ship arrived in Port Jackson.

Irwin owned two houses in Sydney by 1811; one at 24 Kent Street and the other at 18 Pitt Street. In August 1811 they were living at the first address and had the second property up for sale.

Irwin and his wife were convicted of the manslaughter of Sgt Robert Morrow in June 1814 after a drunken fight in a tavern. The couple each received a two-year sentence. Eleanor served her time at Parramatta gaol; Ormsby was sentenced to hard labour at Newcastle. The couple's two children were sent to Newcastle with their father and were later enrolled in a school that was opened there in May 1816 for "the poor children of that Settlement".

After completing his sentence Ormsby returned to Sydney where he was appointed "overseer in the town gang". Reunited with his children, he requested in September 1816 that they be "victualled from the Government Stores", stating that 'thro unforseen misfortune and the unnatural conduct of their other parent' they 'are now dragging on a miserable existance having no earthly means of support but a part of petitioner's ration'.

Ormsby Irwin and his two children were sent to Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) aboard the Kangaroo in December 1816. He was appointed overseer of the public gangs in Hobart in January 1817. In April 1817 he arrested and brought in two escaped convicts. In July 1817 he was appointed a gunner and signal man. He was granted a ticket of leave in 1820 and a conditional pardon on 7 August 1821. He died some time after 1828.

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Irwin, Ormsby (c. 1779–?)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 27 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Irwain, Ormsby

c. 1779
Cork, Ireland

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

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Passenger Ship
Key Places
Convict Record

Crime: unknown
Sentence: life
Court: Cork (Ireland)
Trial Date: April 1806


Children: Yes (2)