This entry is part 1 of 18 in the series The Brosnahans of Temuka

My great great grandmother Margaret Brosnahan (1844 – 1927) arrived in New Zealand at Timaru on December 16, 1862 aboard the Echunga, which had left London on September 10.  Travelling with her was her brother, John.1

John Brosnahan

Caption in family album: John Brosnahan, brother of Mrs Margaret Gaffaney, Belper Farm, Temuka

There are a heap of Brosnahans in early South Canterbury, many (most?) descending from a Hugh Brosnahan and Deborah Butler, from County Kerry, Ireland. Their family settled in the area known as Kerrytown.2   (A descendent, Seán Brosnahan, has published a history of the family, The Kerrytown Brosnahans, which I’d love to find a copy of.)  As far as I know, we’re not related to that lot, but it’s a bit hard to sort the wheat from the chaff with so many Brosnahans knocking around the area. (Er, no offence intended to you other Brosnahans!)

Anyway, I wanted to know what happened to my great great great uncle John.  Part of my reason for following up John’s family was that my grandfather had a cousin, Jim Brosnahan, who was at high school at the same time.  Later, as Fr Jim S.M., he married my grandfather and grandmother – it was the first wedding ceremony he conducted.  But, I couldn’t figure out how he fitted into the family – was he related by blood or marriage?

From information my father had, it appeared John had married a Hanorah O’Driscoll.  I found a likely entry in the online NZ Births, Deaths & Marriages  and so ordered a printout of the marriage registration.

John Brosnahan, 23, Labourer, and Hannah Driscole [sic], 21, Servant, were married in the Catholic church in Christchurch on March 31st, 1865.3  No parents’ information was given – customary for marriages registered in New Zealand before 1880 (very frustrating!).  The witnesses were Matthew Driscole, Labourer, Christchurch, and Mary Brosnahan, Servant, Christchurch.

Searching the BDM indexes for possible children of John and Hanorah proved fruitless – none seem to be listed, even after checking variant spellings.  How could I find them?

  1. South Canterbury GenWeb, “The Echunga Arrives”, transcription (, from Lyttelton Times, December 24, 1862.
  2. Michael Brosnahan,”Family Tree”, ( : accessed 2011).
  3. New Zealand, marriage certificate for John Brosnahan and Hannah Driscole [O’Driscoll],31 Mar 1865, Catholic Church, Christchurch, 1865/7579, NZ Births, Deaths & Marriages.
Series NavigationJohn and Hanorah Brosnahan ~ Tombstone Tuesday >>