Patrick Humphries of Watson’s Bay

I was looking through my grandmother’s scrapbooks and found this picture of her grandfather — he’s the one standing (click to enlarge).


I found the history of the lifeboat he is on:

In 1879 a new British-built lifeboat, designed by the RNLI and built by Forrest & Co. Ltd in London, arrived in Sydney and was displayed at the Sydney International Exhibition, a showcase of the latest technology from around the world. Following the exhibition the lifeboat was put into service at Watsons Bay and launched as the Port lifeboat in 1880. Probably after 1885 it was named the “Lady Carrington” after Cecilia Margaret, wife of the NSW Governor from 1885 until 1890, Charles Robert Carrington, Marquess of Lincolnshire (1843-1928).

The “Lady Carrington” lifeboat was called out a number of times but actually undertook few rescues. One of them was the rescue of the entire crew of the Scottish barque “Centurion” which broke up off North Head while under tow in January 1887. By 1901 the “Lady Carrington” was showing signs of deterioration and was replaced in 1905 with a locally-built lifeboat, the “Alice Rawson”, constructed at the government dockyards at Cockatoo Island.

And I also found the story of his grandfather, also called Patrick Humphries:

Patrick Humphries was born in Ireland in c1767.

Patrick was tried in Dublin, Ireland, in 1791 and sentenced to 7 years transportation.

He came to the New South Wales colony on the Convict Transport Boddingtons …
The Boddingtons arrived in Sydney on 7 August 1793. …

NSW Corps records show Patrick having joined the corps in 1801 on detachment to Captain Prentice. …

Soon after joining the Corps, Patrick married a young widow, Catherine McMahon nee Mooney, on 28 February 1802. Catherine was from County Wicklow, Ireland. She had arrived in Sydney Cove 11 January 1800 on the ‘Minerva’ with her husband, a soldier in the NSW Corps, and two infant children – Catherine’s husband, Pte Terence McMahon had drowned in Sydney Harbour on 7 September 1801 not long after the birth of their third child, leaving her with three young infant children to raise …

It seems that Patrick, like Terence McMahon, had been posted to Watson’s Bay fishing village on the southern shore of Sydney Harbour close to its entrance – The village had been in existence since 1792 to provide food for the colony’s hospital. The village became home for Patrick, though his activities with the military and later farming, over the years, tended to cause him to often be away from Catherine and the children. Catherine was to spend most of her life at Watson’s Bay, and all of Patrick’s children, four sons and two daughters, appear to have been born there.


  1. #1 Scott M
    March 25, 2009

    Wow, pretty amazing story. Thanks for posting it. Through the miracle of the internet, I learned several years ago that my maternal grandmother was descended from a man who was deported from London to the northern neck of Virginia in 1702 and sold into two years servitude for the crime of stealing two sheep. Her surviving sister was aghast and said it couldn’t be true. It’s interesting how Australia has embraced its POME heritage while here in the American south, people are very ignorant of it and find it hard to believe when they learn about it.

  2. #2 david tiley
    March 30, 2009

    If you haven’t already, click on that photo. The blown up version is bloody wonderful.

  3. #3 Roy Humphreys
    September 1, 2009

    Fasinating ! I am also related to the two Patrick Humphreys. The original Patrick and his son Thomas are both buried alongside the Holy Cross Church at Kincumber, near Gosford, NSW (the spelling of the names on their graves is Humphreys). The original Patrick got a land grant of 100 acres at Kincumber (in addition to Watson’s Bay) and his son Thomas purchased it from him and developed it before building the church. My own son is getting married in that church this coming Saturday 5th September 2009. I was just browsing the net and came across this post – thanks so much for putting it up !
    If there are any other photos of Humphreys history in your grandmother’s scrapbook that you would like to share please contact me.
    There are some really good old photos at:

  4. #4 david sheedy
    February 20, 2010

    Thank you also for posting the fine photograph and linking history to the Humphries family.I have purchased the replacement lifeboat for the Lady Carrington which is named the Alice Rawson. I hope to restore it and return it to Watson’s Bay as a tribute to all of those connected to both the lifeboat and pilot services.

    Any further information that you may have I would be grateful to find out and credit you accordingly.

    TRhank you , David Sheedy

  5. #5 Mori Flapan
    October 2, 2010

    Dear Tim

    Thanks for posting the wonderful photo of the Lady Carrington on the web. A great shot. Thought that you might be interested to hear that the Powerhouse Museum has a fine model of the lifeboat. See:


  6. #6 carol dunn
    February 1, 2011

    Dear Tim, I was amazed to see you photograph of the Lifeboat at Watson’s Bay with Patrick Humphreys at the helm. My uncle Billie (95) is still alive and was part of the lifeboat team later on of course. I wonder if your pic shows some of the men including the Dunn’s who found the Dunbar Anchor. Interestingly, my great grandmother was Theresa Ann Humphreys daughter of Thomas Patrick Humphreys born 1 Feb.1845 and married Frederick Thomas Dunn in l868 and had 10 children,. one of whom was my grandfather Charles Ernest. I am doing the family history and fascinated to know who the Lamberts are descended from. Please be kind enough to let me know. With kind regards Carolyn

  7. #7 Tim Lambert
    February 3, 2011

    Carol, the father of the Patrick Humphries in the photo was Michael Humphries (born in 1803), eldest son of the first Patrick Humphries. Your ancestor, Thomas Humphries was his younger brother. I think that makes us fifth cousins!

  8. #8 Rod White
    February 15, 2011

    I am also a decendant of Patrick Humphreys. My Mother was born a Humpherys at Bathurst and is still alive although she is 91.

  9. #9 anne hutchinson
    February 20, 2011

    i am a decendant also of patrick humphries. His daughter ann born 1812 married alexander robertson (convict) born 1790. They had a daughter named elizabeth who married a man named george hutchinson in 1862. one of their children william john hutchinson born in 1865 married bridget dunn born 1864 at a registry office at the georgetown goldfields (qld). They they had 14 children, one of them is my grandfather – john dunn hutchinson, born in bondi in 1900.
    I think that makes him my great great great grandfather.

  10. #10 anne hutchinson
    February 25, 2011

    ooops sorry, got that wrong, turns out i got the wrong ann humphries.

  11. #11 Margaret Badger
    Newcastle NSW
    October 27, 2013

    My husband is also a direct descendent of the first Patrick Humphreys (through his son Thomas, born 1805) who was granted land at Watsons Bay and Brisbane Water. This photo is a wonderful addition to our knowledge of the family history, much of which comes from the book “Industry and Perseverance”. Patrick’s wife, Catherine Mooney McMahon was also an amazing woman, who lived most of her life at Watsons Bay.

  12. #12 Einar Docker
    February 28, 2014

    I am related to Jane Ann Nash that married Patrick Humphreys. I would very much like to chat to you Tim and others regarding the Research I have undertaken so far. feel free to email me at

  13. #13 Renee
    August 21, 2014

    Amazing! I am related to Catherine Humphries and her first husband Terence McMahon about 7/8 generations back. It was interesting to read your story, join all the dots and learn a little more about my ancestors. Thank you.

  14. #14 Roy
    May 21, 2015

    There is an historical fiction novel based on the life of Patrick Humphreys on Amazon books – search for “Patrick’s Journey”

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