Family History – William McGuigan of Kanumbra

Top: Mrs Wm McGuigan nee Margaret McMinn  1826 – 1910  

Top right: Wm McGuigan  1827 – 1909

Below: Martha, a daughter of Wm and Margaret McGuigan,

“Hey! McGuigan!”

The ploughman turned to see who was calling to him across the paddock, reined his horses in, and cupped his ear towards the buggy stopped on the road.

“McGuigan! Do ye know what day it is?”  The caller was Fox, a neighbour from down the road. McGuigan looked down at his hands and slowly counted off the days. Then, without a glance back, he moved alongside his horses, unhitched them from the plough, and led them back towards the farmhouse. Fox continued on his way, a broad smile on his face; he had caught McGuigan working on the Sabbath!

William McGuigan was a God-fearing man, a churchgoer, and after dinner each night when the dining table had been cleared of dishes, the family bible was placed before him and he would read a passage from it to his assembled family. He and his wife Margaret were from Baillieborough in County Cavan, Ulster, Ireland. They had attended the established Church of Ireland there, and here in Australia they became Church of England, the equivalent of the church in Ireland.

They lived and farmed at Kanumbra in north-eastern Victoria, and attended St Paul’s C of E at Yarck, a small town a few miles down the main road (now known as the Maroondah Highway).  A church was later established at Kanumbra on a 1/4 acre block donated by McGuigan. After one morning service McGuigan could not contain his fury and as he filed out of the church he ignored the handshake proffered by the cleric, Michael Francis Cahill, and staring at him, hissed: “You’re nothing but a Papist! I’ll not bring my family here again!” And the McGuigan family was marched out to the buggy for a furious drive back to the farm. Something in the liturgy of the C of E service had offended McGuigan’s protestant beliefs.

McGuigan wanted a local church for his family to attend, so he donated the 1/4 acre block of his land next door to the Methodist Church and the two churches stand side by side to this very day as monuments to the strong religious views of my great-grandfather, William McGuigan. But, churches no more are they; judging by their appearance in 2010 they are weekenders abandoned to the wattles that shield them from the roadside view.

Postscript: (i)  My grandparents, William Hendry Pollock and Mary Ann McGuigan were married at St Paul’s, Yarck, on 1 June 1887.

(ii) Papist was a derogatory term used to describe a member of the Roman Catholic Church as an adherent of the Pope.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  – almewett 

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Published in: on June 28, 2011 at 10:44 am  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi William, I understand you wrote a book called “The history of Kanumbra” which covers some of the history of the Simcocks (Simcox) family. I’m after a copy if you have one available, my Great Grandmother was a daughter George Eyre Simcocks who is buried at Yarck Cemetary.

    • I am sorry I cannot help you; my name is not William, I am not the writer of a History of Kanumbra and I do not have a copy of such a book. My knowledge is limited to the 19th century history of the McGuigan family. I have no knowledge of the Simcocks family.

      • Hello,

        My maiden name is McGuigan, I believe these peoplel were also related to me and would be interested inin any information.

  2. Hello. Margaret McMin b 1826 Bailieborough Co Cavan is the sister of my ancestor John McMinn of Alexandra. Great to see some relatives are around 🙂 Would love to hear form you.

  3. Interesting how you can turn history to what you require. The Neighbour “Fox” was not catholic but Church of England, get your facts right before publishing. I know as I am related to both the McGuigan and Fox Families of Yarck, Kanumbra and Gobur.

    • Yes, Daryl, you are quite right about the neighbour Fox not being catholic.
      I visited the Yarck cemetery recently and noticed that the catholic section
      did not contain a grave in the name of Fox; I was immediately aware that I
      had committed a journalistic sin by failing to research the story as it had
      been passed on to me. I had fallen into the trap of not letting the facts
      get in the way of a good story. My apologies to you, Daryl, and other descendants
      of both Fox and McGuigan. I shall withdraw the lie (as Joseph Furphy would call it) by
      re-editing the blog. Thank you, Daryl.


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