KEENAN FAMILY in Australia
Henry John Keenan (1842 - 1889)
Last updated: 15 July 2023
|Born: 1842................... at Glenone, County Derry, Northern Ireland|
|Parents: Henry Keenan and Mary Ann Gamble|
|Married: Nancy ("Ann") Jane Gamble of Lislea, County Derry, Northern Ireland, on 1 October 1863. They were married at the 1st Presbyterian Church, Kilrea, County Derry, Northern Ireland. The marriage certificate (see below) (film number 101443) shows that Henry John's father was Henry Keenan; the witnesses were James McKay and Aaron Keenan; Nancy Jane Gamble's father was James Gamble.|
|Occupation: Labourer, Farmer, Miner, Shepherd.|
|Main Residence: In Northern Ireland: Glenone, County Derry. In Australia: Reedy Flat, later named Batlow, NSW|
|Hospitalisation: Henry John was admitted to the Gladesville Mental Hospital on 22 September 1885 at 43 years of age and suffering from "dementia". He remained there until his death, 3 years and 9 months later. Although the hospital's medical record book describes his mental illness as dementia, its medical records refer to "constant Choreiform movements of the trunk areas and head". At the time, in common parlance, this was called "Saint Vitus' Dance". These days St Vitus' Dance is called Sydenham chorea.
When he was admitted to the Gladesville Mental Hospital he was described as follows:
"He is a wretched looking illnourished man, 5 feet 4 inches in height with a face indicative of considerable recutal faiu (?). He has a red beard, darker hair, blue eyes, a straight nose and a clear complexion. It is extremely difficult to understand what he says oweing to Constant Choreiform movements of the trunk areas and head. He at any rate seems to be considerably demented tho evidently intelligent and anxious to explain anything connected with himself. He needs assistance to walk. He takes his food, is cleanly in his habits and sleeps well."The reason for his admission is recorded as: "Medical certificates state that he: "threatened to injure his wife and burn down the house. Believed that one of his children was pregnant and was incoherent in speech...." .
I have not seen the medical certificates. Presumably a doctor in Batlow, acting upon evidence by Nancy/Ann and family, or by police, certified that Henry was a potential threat to her well-being and to that of others; and that on receiving that certificate, police "arrested" Henry and took him to the Gladesville Hospital. Perhaps the intention was that he be given treatment for his mental illness and, if and when he improved, he would be released. But in medical circles at that time such practices with respect to the mentally ill were rare.
The Notice of Death signed by Eric Sinclair, Medical Superintendent of the hospital on 22nd June 1889 states that the apparent cause of such death "as ascertained by Port Mortem examination, was chronic Brain Disease." (See below for a copy of the Notice of Death.)
To see photos of the Gladesville Mental Hospital, go to this website: VISIT TO THE OLD GLADESVILLE / TARBAN CREEK MENTAL ASYLUM https://thesmoko.com/visit-to-the-old-gladesville-tarban-creek-mental-asylum/
In 1884, the year before Henry was admitted to Gladesville Mental Hospital, four of his children died:
1. Annie, aged 14, died in April 1884 from typhoid fever ;
2. Elizabeth, aged 15, died in June 1884 from typhoid fever;
3. Isabella (Bella), aged 18months, died in July 1884 when she accidentally burnt to death; and
4. Stuart, aged 4, died in September 1884 from typhoid fever.
According to Dorothy Lovering, writing to me (Peter Keenan) in 1995, her grandfather, John Keenan (1873-1957), told her that Isabella had died "while the others had diptheria and to keep warm they had a big log fire out in the yard to keep the family out of the house (from infection)". Newspaper reports of baby Isabella's death say that when Isabella fell into the fire, Henry "stood laughing and gesticulating by himself". They also say that Henry "suffers from St. Vitus Dance and is half imbecile". (See the page titled 1884 News Articles for details.) It may be that Henry's demeanor and lack of action on this occassion, together with the newspaper reports, started the process by which he was committed to the Gladesville Mental Hospital.
Speaking of hardships, it is worth mentioning too that in about 1884 Henry's son - named identically as Henry John Keenan (born 1878) - got a spinal infection and suffered from epilepsy. The existence of a son with epilepsy is recorded in the Gladesville Mental Hospital records, alongside the prompt/question titled Insane Relations.
Shortly after Henry's admission in September 1885, the hospital records state that "(His) Choreiform movements are less constant ... and are absent at night".
About a month later the medical record says: " He has marked delusions of persecution and believes that he is to be divorced from his wife".
For the next few years his condition was only described as "No change".
But on the day of his death it is recorded that: "He has gradually grown thinner altho the choreie movements have been kept in check by Hyosoqamine/ Mereki Auiorthous ...”
A postmortem was then carried out to examine his brain. In the summary of the report it is said: "Excess of fluid in the membrane well marked. Macroscopic Structure (?) of the grey matter of the Brain”.
[For more on Henry's time in the Gladesville Mental Hospital see the extract from hospital records that I prepared several years ago. Also, see further down this page for the copy of extracts made by me in June 1994 from records kept at the Mitchell Library in Sydney.]
I did not find in the official papers any record of letters written to Henry. Even if his wife and family still loved him, this is not unexpected in the circumstances at that time. His wife, Nancy/Ann, could not write or read. [According to Anita Arnold, Nancy was eventually taught those skills by her grand-children. All of them were not born until after Henry died.] Also, perhaps Henry's sons and daughters - who were aged from twenty-one to one when he was admitted to hospital - could not write either.
Nor could I find any record of Henry receiving visitors while in hospital. But that too is not surprising. His family lived in Batlow, which is a long way (about 280 miles/450 kilometers one way) from Gladesville; and the only means of travel in those times was by horse drawn carriage.
Click the next link for more information about the Gladesville Mental Hospital.
Causes of death: See Hospitalisation note above and the link. Henry died without making a will; administration of his estate was granted to his widow, Nancy/Ann Jane Keenan, in April 1891. ( Ann remarried in July 1892, to Robert Hopson, and from then on became known in Batlow as Granny Hopson.)
|Buried: Gladesville, NSW. See section on "Hospitalisation" (above) for background information. The "Burial Register" exhibited below shows that Henry was buried in the Protestant section of the Gladesville Hospital Cemetery, grave number 1089. However, my research shows that these graves can no longer be located. But thankfully, the buriel grounds have been preserved, are well cared for and may be visited by the public.|
Photographs: As Henry John Keenan died just before cameras became available to amateur photographers, there are unlikely to be any photographs of Henry in existence. However, there are photos of his brother, Stewart Keenan of Western Australia, and these give a clue to what Henry looked like. (See my page "The Keenans of Western Australia" for photos of Stewart.) Also, on seeing a photo of George Aaron Robert Keenan of Batlow in about 1913, a person who was a neighbour and friend of Henry John wrote that George looked like Henry. (See my page on Ivy Morris nee Keenan). . Photos of George Keenan appear on his page.
Other notes made by staff at the Gladesville Mental Hospital are reproduced further down this page.
THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION ABOUT >HENRY JOHN'S ANCESTORS IS SUPPLIED BY MRS ANITA ARNOLD OF ENGADINE, NEW SOUTH WALES. More recently some additional information has been obtained on-line from The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI).
Father: Henry Keenan, born 1808, died at Glenone on 24 December 1881, Glenone, County Derry, Northern Ireland. Henry had a brother named John. Letters of Administration of Henry's estate were granted on 18 April 1882 to his brother, John. Henry's occupation is shown as "Labourer", and his "Effects" were valued at 112 pounds 4 shillings. (Elsewhere I have seen John recorded as the "sole beneficiary", but this is probably wrong.) In addition to having a brother John, Henry appears to have had a brother James and a sister Jane. (Source: Griffith's Valuation carried out in Ireland between 1848 and 1864 - search at http://www.failteromhat.com/griffiths.php)
Mother: Mary Ann Gamble
Father and Mother were married: +/- 1834
Henry John's Brothers and Sisters: Stewart (b.1836 or 1834), Aaron, Elizabeth, David (b.1846), James (b.1847), John. NOTE BY PETER KEENAN: In the family tree I prepared there is no John. Instead there is a Robert.
Grandfather: Anita says that Henry John's grandfather was John Keenan, a Presbyterian, who died 1863. However, my research has found only one John Keenan in County Derry who died in 1863; and he is said to have been 63 at the time, which would mean he was born in 1800. On my calculations Henry John's grandfather would have to have been born in about 1785. UPDATE 20/7/2021: Recently I received the following message from Northern Ireland - "I'm Ian McGhee. My Mother was Mary Taylor Keenan. Our Common ancestor was James Keenan 1780-1820, who was the father of HJ Keenan 1808-1881 and he was the father of Henry J Keenan 1842-1889." If true, this means that Henry John's grandfather was James Keenan (1780-1820). I've established contact with Ian McGhee and expect to exchange more information with him. UPDATE 30/6/2023: Ian McGhee has a family tree on Ancestry.com - namely Ian McGhee Family Tree - which could be a useful source of information.
Great grandfather: Anita Arnold says that Henry John's great-grandfather was Henry Keenan, a Catholic, died 1830, Kilrea, County Armagh, Ireland. However, this information appears to me to be doubtful. There are two towns named Kilrea: one is in County Armagh and the other in County Derry (or Londonderry). My branch of the family resided near Kilrea in County Derry, not in County Armagh, and were Protestants/Presbyterians.
General: During a phone conversation with Anita in April 2002 , Anita said that there was/is a pew in the church at Kilrea belonging/to or named Keenan. She also said then, and in July 2021, that the Keenans received a grant of land from William of Orange. I have since heard this tale of land being granted to the Keenans by William of Orange, as a reward for fighting on William's side in a war (at or after the Battle of the Boyne, 1690?). However, I've never seen any written mention of such alleged land grant.
|For family history see 1949Newspaper Article.
|Marriage Certificate of Henry John Keenan and Nancy Jane Gamble
This copy extract was emailed to me by Bevan Stone on 16/11/2012. It shows that Henry John Keenan, died on 22 June 1889 at the age of 47 and was buried in the Prostestant section of the graveyard at the Gladesville (NSW) hospital, grave number 1089. This grave and nearly all the others at the hospital can no longer be located.
The reference number (5832) is the number assigned to Henry John Keenan in the hospital's Register of Patients and Admission Book; the Date of Admission to the hospital is 22/9/1885.
For more on Henry's time in this facility see the extract from hospital records that I prepared several years ago.
Also, see the following copy of extracts made by me in June 1994 from records kept at the Mitchell Library in Sydney:-
Gladesville Hospital Medical Case Book No. 48, 11/7/1884 to 22/12/ 1885 (4/8175)
Fol. 240 No. in Register 5832
Admitted 22 September 1885
Henry John Keenan
Age ..... 43
Social Condition ..... M
No. of children ..... 11 (Youngest act (?): 5 ----- (?)
Occupation ..... Farmer
Nativity ..... Ireland
Residence ..... Reedy Flat near Tumut
Religion ..... Presbyterian
Form of Mental Disorder ..... Dementia
Insane relations ..... Has an Epileptic Son
Further History : - Medical certificates state that he threatened to injure his wife and burn down the house. Believed that one of his children was pregnant and was incoherent in speech. In the R.H. (a few hours) he was quick and clean.
Medical & Bodily Condition, Symptoms, Etc:
29 September 1885
He is a wretched looking illnourished man, 5 feet 4 inches in height with a face indicative of considerable recutal faiu (?). He has a red beard, darker hair, blue eyes, a straight nose and a clear complexion. It is extremely difficult to understand what he says oweing to Constant Choreiform movements of the trunk areas and head. He at any rate seems to be considerably demented tho evidently intelligent and anxious to explain anything connected with himself. He needs assistance to walk. He takes his food, is cleanly in his habits and sleeps well.
The Choreiform movements are less constant and not so worked (?) and are absent at night.
No change. He has marked delusions of persecution and believes that he is to be divorced from his wife.
Jan 31, March 31, June 30, Sept 30 Dec 31
All marked "No Change"
Mar 31, June 30, Sept 30, Dec 31
All marked "No Change"
Mar 31, June 30, Sept 30, Dec 31
All marked "No Change"
There is no material change in his condition
He has gradually grown thinner altho the choreie movements have been kept in check by Hyosoqamine (Hyoscamine ?) / Mereki Auiorhous/ (?) gr 1/12 in 2 doses. He died at 3.15am.
For notes of P.M.: See Journal Folio 215
Date Sept 17 R1 (Can't read) Weight 105 lbs
Oct 1 continue
Nov 1 continue
Notice of Death of Henry John Keenan signed by Eric Sinclair, Medical Superintendent of the Gladesville hospital on 22nd June 1889
Probate Notice advertised by Ann Jane Keenan on 11 April 1891:
|A report in The Tumut and Adelong Times of 7 February 1867 records an event which appears to involve Henry. The report says:
TUMUT POLICE COURT. MONDAY, FEBRUARY 4 (1867). Before the Police Magistrate. Wages — Henry Keenan sued William Murphy for 15s. wages. The defence set up was that Keenan was not hired ; but Piper, who was a witness for Keenan, swore that Mr. Murphy set Keenan to work. Verdict for amount claimed.
|LAND PURCHASE #1
The NSW Titles Office records show that Henry John Keenan of Upper Gilmore, Miner, purchased 2 acres of land (Vol. CLX1, i.e. 161, Folio 59) (Portion 26) (Plan W579 1687) for £2.0.0 on 23 November 1871. He held the property until 29 August 1878, when it was transferred to Jeremia Regan of Upper Gilmore. After several other transfers and leases it was transferred to the Bowmans (Percy Sidney and Ernest Frederick) on 24 June 1946. (Copy document at hlrv.nswlrs.com.au.)
The purchase by Henry J Keenan is one of many Crown Land Sales recorded in The Gundagai Times and Tumut, Adelong and Murrumbidgee District Advertiser on 8 December 1871, where it is described as "Lot C, 2 acres, county of Wynyard, Parish of Batlow, adjacent to the south-western corner of portion No.4". It is also reported in The Goulburn Herald And Chronicle, Sat 2 Dec 1871 - page 6.
It appears at present (4 March 2017) that this land was on either the west side of (what is now called) Wakehurst Avenue, near Memorial Avenue; or, less likely, the north side of Memorial Avenue near Wakehurst Avenue. I say this because the Batlow Bowling Club - which is on the south-western corner of Memorial Avenue - is on Portion 4. (See advertisement/notice in the Sydney Morning Herald, 3 August 1972, page 26.)
Further research suggests that the 2 acre property where they settled (Portion 26) is the area now occupied (August 2019) by E E Muir and Sons P/L, 99 Mill Road, Batlow, on the corner of Forest Road.
Part of 1977 contour map (arrors and text by me):
During the period of Henry's ownership of this land four of his children were born: Grace (1871-1915), John (1873-1957), Mary (1876-?) and Henry John (3/8/1878-1889).
LAND PURCHASE #2
On 2 February 1882 Henry John Keenan purchased 40 acres of land in Batlow. (In The Gundagai Times and Tumut, Adelong and Murrumbidgee District Advertiser on 3 February 1882 it is reported that "selections were taken up at the Tumut Land office on Thursday Feb.2 :- .... H. Keenan, 40a, Batlow ...." This is also reported in the Wagga Wagga Advertiser, 7 February 1882, and other publications.)
Maps from 1890 - held by NSW Land Registry Services - show that the land he purchased was Lot 19, which is adjacent (south) to land reserved for "racecourse and public recreation". A copy of part of the relevant map follows (the red arrows pointing to H J Keenan are mine):
Below is a copy of the Google maps satellite view of Batlow in 2020, upon which I have marked out the abovementioned block on which Henry and Ann settled.
After Henry died (June 1889) his widow, Ann Jane Keenan, lodged an affidavit for the purpose of obtaining Letters of Administration of his estate. It is said that Henry died without leaving a will. The affidavit, dated 15 November 1891, put the net value of Henry's estate at £15.0.0, made up of land valued (by Robert Timms JP) at £70.0.0, furniture valued at £5.0.0, less debts of £60.0.0, being £30.0.0 owing at 21 June 1889 to Timms and Eyles, Storekeepers of Batlow, for goods supplied, and £30.0.0 described as "balance due to Government on 40 acres of C.P. land".
On 15/7/1908 Henry's former wife, by then known as Ann Jane Hopson , was granted a title to this 40 acres of land in Batlow ( Portion 19. Registered No. Fol.1898 Vol.147.)
On 20/12/1913 Ann Jane transferred the land to her sons, Stewart/Stuart Gamble Keenan and James Keenan, as joint tenants. On 27/6/1936 Stuart Keenan and James Keenan divided the property in two and transferred 22 acres to Stewart/Stuart Keenan (Vol. 4928 Fol. 91) and 18 acres to James Keenan (Vol. 4928 Fol. 92). Stuart's portion was the top (northern) part and James' was the bottom half.
On 9/12/1937 Stuart transferred his land to Robert Copeland Morton (Batlow Floor Manager). On 29/10/1941 Morton leased the property to James Keenan's son Hector James Keenan. The lease expired on 25/9/1944.
On 23/9/1939 James transferred his land to his son, Hector James Keenan. On 24/7/1967 part of the land was resumed by the Minister for Public Works. A new cert of Title was issued 11/8/1967 (Vol 10648 Fol 147).
MISCELLANEOUS EXTRA MAP: Part of 1935 map held by the NSW Lands Department (arrows by me):
NOTE: When the Batlow Golf Club was formed in 1932 James and Stewart Keenan permitted the club to put four holes on their land. The following news item - found on Trove - contains more information about this and the formation of the Golf Club:
Daily Advertiser (Wagga Wagga, NSW: 1911-1954, Saturday 6 May 1933, page 7:
The president (Mr. A. J. Arnot) presided at the annual meeting of the Batlow Golf Club. The report of the secretary (Mr. Peterswald) showed that in February, 1932, it was decided to form a golf club, the site chosen for the course being part of the showground, and Messrs. J. and S. Keenan's paddocks, which ground was kindly made available. The club was greatly indebted to them for their generosity, for the four holes situated in the paddocks had been the only source of amusement since play began.
A splendid start was made, in preparing the courses by an enthusiastic band, and the course soon took shape. The fairways were planted with grass at a cost of over £1/1. It took a long time to make a satisfactory golf course, and when funds were limited in the initial year, and the membership low, it falls on the shoulders of the members to do a tremendous amount of spade work. It is entirely depended on their support in this direction whether the club was to a success or not. The membership totalled 55 — 32 members, and 23 associates. It was hoped that the incoming committee would carry on the good work and meet with every possible success. Mr. R. C. Morton had purchased portion of the land from Mr. S. Keenan, on which were two holes, but he had kindly consented to allow the club to continue using the ground for a considerable time.
The treasurer's report showed that the receipts amounted to £47/1/6 and the expenses £38/14/1.
The election of officers resulted: President and captain, Mr. A. J. Arnot; vice-presidents, Messrs. F. J. Casey, H. H. Robinson, E. C. Whittaker and H. V. Smith; treasurer, Mr. J ;lia (Mr. Petenswald resigned); as T. A. Hudson; secretary, Mr. E. C. assistant secretary, Miss Hilder; committee, Messrs. O. J'. Butz, W. J. Broome, E. M. Herring, R. Keenan, W. I A. Peterswald, H. O. Quarmby, O. W. Quarmby and H. O. Rigg; green committee, Messrs. A. J. Arnot, W. A. Peterswald, O. W. Quarmby, H. V. Smith and E. C. Whittaker; competition committee, Messrs. E. M. Herring, H. H. Bolbinson and H. V. Smith.