"It's a long way back I'm gazing,
and the stage has changed since then;
Just an echo finds me sometimes,
bringing back the scene again. "
I have attempted to gaze a long way back to the days of Thomas and Anne Clancy, Janet Rankin, and their descendants to the second and third generations. I have included the Rankins because they belong to my ancestry, and those of my first cousins. Other Clancy descendants may, if they wish, undertake the task of recording their Mangan, Peak, Doran, D'Ornay and Johnstone ancestry, and check the descendants of these people who became part of the Australian community. As far as I know, immediate relatives of Robert Stewart and Mary Connolly did not come to Australia, and therefore there is less likelihood of descendants of such being in this country.
The number of persons written about in this story is great. As I indicated at the outset, I undertook this task, not because the people portrayed gained notoriety in the history of Australia, but because they were like so many other families who have helped make this country, but whose story is not well known, even to their own descendants.
As far as character goes, the Clancys and the Rankins were fair average quality. They had their failings, but I have not discovered that any of them had a criminal record. The Clancys do not fit into the widely accepted characteristic of Irish immigrants as feckless or quarrelsome folk every ready to engage in fisticuffs. Rather, they have gone their way quietly and industriously. Some were quick-tempered, but this did not lead to unseemly brawls; some were easy-going, but they were not no-hopers. They had their virtues, which found expression in a marked degree of initiative, in the ability to engage in never-ceasing hard work and endure great adversities, in their tolerance of other people's beliefs, and in their readiness to lend a helping hand. Concerning a number of them "Banjo" Paterson's words were literally true, "only Clancy stood his friend".
They were a nomadic people. True, necessity imposed it upon a number of them. Of quite a few it could be said, "He was, by necessity, a man of many callings". In the first three generations few, if any, lived out their lives in the same community. The attempt to discover where this or that one was at any particular period of time imposed upon me a great deal of research and I end it not knowing the answer in some cases. It is reported that Charles and Anne Cork lived in twenty-two different places in their married life. And that is typical of the movement of quite a few. In the words of Jessie Clancy, "We were a family of gypsies". An example of initiative is given by all three of the Clancy brothers, who in senior years changed from the life of a drover (in the case of John and Thomas Gerald) or a storekeeper (in the case of Richard) to engage in the life of a miner.
I have also attempted to learn something about the many different communities in which they lived for a time so that I might be able to provide some background to their lives. That which is only partial and illustrative rather than being a complete picture.
None of the Clancys sought positions of leadership in government and local government, nor did they take any prominent part in public affairs.
Some Rankins did - John Cramsie, who married a Rankin, was a Member of Parliament, and one of his sons was a Mayor, another Chairman of the Meat Board. Ronald Rankin became a public figure in Bendigo.
In religious matters, most Clancy and Rankin descendants remained loyal to the "faith of their fathers" in the Roman Catholic Church. A few, especially descendants of John and Richard Clancy and George Johnstone, and some Cramsies, joined one or other branch of the Protestant faith.
Nevertheless, where relationships were maintained or discovered (as in my case), they have been on the friendliest terms. Several women served in religious orders.
Many descendants have followed rural activities, but, in the main, they were small farmers. Only George Johnstone and the Cramsies were pastoralists. Most Clancy descendants were battlers who selected and worked small holdings. One group answered Paterson's famous description of Clancy, the drover.
Some followed the calling of teacher, but none (until the present generation) attained academic status. None were professional writers, and although some had some native ability in music and art, none made a career in these fields. Richard Clancy, an accountant in Queensland and New South Wales, and Ronald Rankin, an accountant in Bendigo, were among the very few who chose a professional career. A few were public servants - one a policeman, and another a police magistrate, and some were in the Postal Department. A few women did nursing, but no men (in the generations we have considered) entered the medical or para-medical field.
None were big business men, but several had small businesses, usually in country communities. A few, mainly in Victoria, were engaged in hotel-keeping or some associated activity. Several were engaged in transport, mainly as teamsters and carriers.
Although the Clancys were "on the spot" in the feverish days of gold-mining, none were tempted to become miners. Only in the latter part of their lives did the three Clancy brothers turn to mining opals, gold and copper.
No Clancy made soldiering a career, but a number volunteered for service in the First World War, and two of them - John Henry and John Charles Clancy - paid the supreme sacrifice, both on Gallipoli. The life they lived prevented any of them spending much time in sporting activities, although they had their pastimes, and none achieved fame in this sphere.
Such is the record. Mine has been the task of discovering and recording it. For me it has been rewarding, and I trust my endeavour to make it known will have some value. Ours is not a great heritage, not as the world understands greatness, but it is a "goodly heritage", for which we can be thankful. This kind of heritage can be paralleled in many other families - families not mentioned in any National Dictionary of Biography, but families who have made their quiet and worthwhile contribution to the nation. C. Hartley Grattan, an American scholar who visited Australia, noted about Australia its ''aggressive insistence on the worth and unique importance of the common man'. This is generally accepted, without too much being known about the lives and activities of "the common man". Mine is an attempt to dispel that ignorance, at least as far as it concerns one family. In the process, I trust the story reinforces that insistence.
We, the descendants of those portrayed in this work, are entrusted with the task of carrying on their work, making our contribution to the betterment of our land and enriching the heritage we leave for those who follow after.
Eric Gerald Clancy is a second generation Australian (however, his great-grandparents and grandparents became so thoroughly Australian, that he feels he can be considered a fourth generation Australian). Seven of his great-grandparents migrated from England, Ireland and Scotland in the period 1838-1854, bringing his four grandparents (as children) with them. His father was born on a New South Wales western goldfield, and his mother on a New South Wales north coast dairy farm.
Eric Clancy was born in Bellingen, N.S.W. After working on a dairy farm and in post offices, he entered Leigh Theological College, Enfield, in 1930 and trained for the Methodist ministry. Having served in a number of churches In New South Wales, he was appointed Connexional Secretary of the Methodist Church in 1974. He obtained a diploma in divinity from Melbourne College of Divinity, B.A. (University of Queensland) and B.D. (London University). He is Librarian and Archivist in the New South Wales Archives of the Uniting Church of Australia. He is married and has three children.
I have just completed putting the last details together on The Overflow of Clancy for web publication. For the record last week I rang Eric Clancy to tell him the news of the books successful publication on the internet. I was saddened to learn that he had died three weeks earlier.
I have tried to stay as close as I can to the original book in style and presentation. In some instances I have thought it not necessary to include some pieces of information - for example the Index because of the lack of page numbers and searches will generally find any information people want.
The book was scanned with OCR and in some instances this technique was not 100% correct...J's became 3's and C's, G's and vice versa. So I hope readers can tolerate some minor errors.
I share with Eric a much greater appreciation of the contribution to my life, I am the son of Joan Clancy, grandson of Thomas Clancy, and great-grandson of Richard Clancy, that my forebears made. My role I have seen is that of carrying on this important book in a modern manner - as a web on the internet - so as future generations of the descendants of the Clancy's and others will know and understand a bit more about their lives - and enjoy the gains I have in learning some of our family history.
Brian Powell, Brisbane September 16 2002.
This date marks the second edit of this fascinating book. I have tried to correct some of the errors generated by the scanning method I used. There have been so many errors that I have come across this note merits being recorded. If anyone should spot any others I would appreciate the advice.
Since I first published this material I have been contacted by quite a few people about the book. Many times I have mentioned my intention of re-editing the material and I apologize if I have taken too long. I have also mentioned extending the family lists. I decided against this idea for two reasons, firstly the time it would take to manage the task would be too long. I simply cannot afford it. Secondly is the growth of the family from 2 to 8 to 38 to 121 to 508 and now over 2000 families have their roots in the tree. That is quite an extension to the family lists so I am sure most would understand my logic in holding the account as Eric recorded it.
Brian Powell, Brisbane May 27 2014.
Again an update of the book, this time for technical reasons. I have included some scripting which allows the pages to be dynamically generated across a rang of devices, including mobile phones.
Brian Powell, Brisbane August 16 2015