"Through my dream there went
That strange procession of the Past .........."
In the concluding sentence of his book "Immigration into Australia 1788-1851", R.B. Madgwick wrote: "It is a grave mistake to acclaim the gold-miners as the true founders of Australia, or to condemn out of hand the less spectacular immigration of the previous years". This story has to do with one family in that "less spectacular immigration". It was not a distinguished family. Very rarely did any member of it receive mention in the Press, very few held any position of note, and as far as is known none gained notoriety because of criminal activity. This was just one among many families who came to Australia and made their quiet but worthwhile contribution to the growth of the country.
The compilation of a family tree necessitates much research. Yet this task is easy compared with putting this family, like many other families in their community setting. It was not easy for me to find records, and the task of tracking down the Clancy family was made more difficult because they moved frequently from place to place, and did not leave clear footprints. There was almost a complete lack of letters, diaries and other records. Nevertheless, I have discovered more than I anticipated when I began the research. Though there are gaps in the story, the end result is more meaningful than just a family tree. The latter relates person to person in a limited way, but it says nothing about their employment, their relationship to the wider community, and the general social conditions which they would have experienced. This I am attempting to do in this story.
The story deals with Thomas Clancy, his children and grandchildren, with a diversion to look at some Rankin's who became linked with some of the Clancy's through marriage. It covers in detail a period of about eighty years since the Clancy's arrived in Melbourne. When they arrived in 1841 the convict era was drawing to a close, the first rush of assisted migration was at full tide, settlement had become fairly general throughout the nineteen counties in New South Wales, squatters were taking up huge areas of land beyond those counties, and Melbourne was a lusty five year old child and growing rapidly.
Our forebears were present in the early days of the several communities in which they lived. Melbourne was a village with tree stumps in its streets, but rapidly expanding; Kyneton began only a few years earlier, but developed quickly as a centre of an important farming community; the Pyrenees was a vast area of large stations serviced by one straggling village, Burbank (later called Lexton), but soon to spawn numerous communities with the discovery of gold; the quiet pastoral area along Bendigo creek was being transformed as gold-miners flocked to the area, and a large city grew up overnight; Deniliquin, less than a decade old, was already an important centre athwart the main stock route from North to South; Parkes and Forbes were just emerging from their first flush period of the gold-rush into stable communities; Booligal situated at an important stock crossing was showing signs of growth partly as a result of some closer settlement; John Clancy was a member of the group of miners who developed the White Cliffs opal fields, while his brothers at the same time were involved first in gold-mining in the Gladstone gold-fields and then in copper-mining at Mount Morgan; and the children of John were among the pioneers who opened up the Dorrigo (N.S.W.) and Atherton (Qld.) tablelands. These and some other places in the three Eastern States of Australia will receive considerable mention in this story.
The period under review, from 1841 to about 1922, was one in which representative government was established in all States, and the Federation of the States was achieved. It was a period of rapid increase in population in each area in which our forebears lived, with closer settlement forging ahead despite various failures; a period of vast improvements in communications as a result of road-making, bridge-building, the development of railways, the establishment of postal communications and telegraph services; a period of the erection of schools and churches; a period of vast pastoral and agricultural expansion; and yet for the Clancy's a continuing experience of pioneering.
Any chosen segment of time has a before and an after, and any family should take some cognisance of its heritage and also acknowledge that its story continues in the succeeding generations. This story, which concentrates on that period covering the residence of the children of Thomas and Anne Clancy in Australia, will also take brief note of the before and after. Our story on the Clancy side is Irish and Anglo-Irish, and (for some of us) Gaelic. So we shall look at the "before" in Ireland and Scotland. Of course, this is but half the heritage, for our family and those of our cousins have a different heritage on the other side - in most cases, this is English. Except for some brief references, that side is not being considered in this story. The "after" brings the story down to our own generation, when history becomes mingled with personal memories, and this will receive only scant mention.