Wednesday, 26 December 2012

The CONDRON discoverer of the Poseidon nugget

I have posted twice before about John (Jack) CONDRON, who in 1906 shared in the discovery of the Poseidon gold nugget with his fellow-miners Sam WOODALL, Frederick EVA and George BROOKS (John Condron strikes it rich and Australian Gold!). Today, with the help of correspondent Karen, I can definitively identify the CONDRON discoverer of the Poseidon nugget and his family.

The crucial document, a copy of which Karen sent me, that identifies John CONDRON is an Order of the Supreme Court of Victoria, dated 26 March 1908, granting administration of the estate of John CONDRON late of Newbridge-on-Loddon (Victoria), miner, to his brother James CONDRON of Bridgewater-on-Loddon, labourer. John left property at Newbridge valued at forty pounds, comprising a piece of land gifted to him by his grandfather, James MURPHY, in 1872, and a six-room house. (The land was granted to James MURPHY in 1855.) Together with other assets - principally money on deposit at the Union Bank of Australia, Tarnagulla - his estate was worth almost four hundred and forty four pounds. The clincher for me that identifies this John CONDRON as our man is that his assets include a twenty pounds debt owed by "Frederick Eva of near Bendigo Hotel-Keeper, money lent on or about September 14 1907" - i.e. money lent to his fellow miner and co-discoverer of the nugget. John died without leaving a Will, and according to his brother James's sworn statement the beneficiaries of his estate were to be "his brothers and sisters equally who are his only next of kin him surviving".

The picture above is a plaster replica of the Poseidon nugget at Museum Victoria. According to a report in a Melbourne newspaper, The Argus, for 22 April 1933, the four miners who shared in the nugget's discovery divided about three thousand five hundred pounds on its assay value. So John CONDRON's net worth on his death, though rather less than one quarter of this amount, is consistent with him having received a substantial fraction of what the nugget fetched.

From the records of the births, marriages and deaths in the state of Victoria, we can piece together the details of John CONDRON's larger family. His parents were Thomas CONDRON (son of John CONDRON and Mary O'DONOHUE) and Catherine MURPHY (daughter of James MURPHY - mentioned above - and Mary BOLTON). Thomas died in 1907 and Catherine in 1906, both in "Tallegalla" (which may be the same as Tarnagulla), Victoria. I cannot positively identify the marriage of Thomas and Catherine. There was a marriage of a Thomas CONDRON and a Catherine MURPHY at St. Nicholas's Roman Catholic church in Dublin in 1851; but if this is the same couple, I have been unable to find any immigration record of them moving to Australia, and we also know that Catherine's father James was obtaining land in Australia by 1855. Thomas and Catherine are presumably the two people each identified as "old-age pensioner" in the early 20th century as mentioned in my earlier post.

I believe that Thomas and Catherine had at least seven children: Martha (born about 1854), John the discoverer of the nugget (1856), James (1858),  Jane (1859), William (1865), Catherine Theresa (1867), and possibly also Joseph (1873). William was born in Newbridge, and Joseph was born in Tarnagulla, but where the other children were born is unknown for now. John's sister Jane may be the person identified as doing "house duties" in my earlier post. She married a Thomas RYAN fairly late in life, in 1916. James appears to have married a Mary Ann McDONNELL in 1887. James and Mary Ann had at least four children: William Richard (1888), Aileen (1890), Albert James (1892) and George (1896, died in infancy). Of these, at least Albert James CONDRON went on to have further descendents.

I would be pleased to hear from any descendants or anyone else having additional information about this family,  and as always I'd welcome any corrections to any of the above details. The email address is condran[AT] (replace the "[AT]" with an "@").

One last puzzle. Correspondent Alan CONDRON, who is not related to this family, kindly sent me a photograph (below) of "Condron's Globe Hotel" from the State Library of Victoria collection. I understand that the building still exists, at Bridgewater, Victoria, next to the Loddon river. It has an inscription "1890". As all the CONDRONs I've come across in Bridgewater are part of this family, the question is, who owned the hotel? If you know, please tell me!