search web this site
Paterson River history

search web this site

Edward Kealy & Mary Lannan

[Summer Hill]

Edward Kealy and Mary Lannan did very well as a result of their hard work, thrift and ability. They began their colonial experience as free Irish emigrant servants and ended up as prominent citizens and respected landowners. They arrived in New South Wales on the convict ship Mangles in 1822 as servants accompanying Timothy and Elizabeth Nowland. Edward and Mary were married in Newcastle (NSW) in 1824 by the Church of England chaplain the Rev. Middleton (probably the only available pastor at the time, as Edward and Mary were Catholics).

The Nowlands were granted land between Tocal and Maitland, so as Nowland employees, Edward and Mary Kealy became residents of the lower Paterson district. Edward worked as Nowland's overseer but within a few years the Kealy's became farmers and landowners in their own right.

In 1825 Edward Kealy applied for and was granted land which he took up in Maitland in 1829. He was ousted from this land just months later because it had also been promised, by mistake, to a Veteran soldier who had quickly taken possession.[1] In 1830, as compensation for the loss, Kealy was allowed to take up 200 acres (shown as portion 18 in the map below) on the Paterson River to the south west of James Adair's Creebank.

Edward Kealy's Summer Hill land in Gresford and Houghton parishes

Old Parish map showing two of Edward Kealy's blocks of land north of the Paterson River in Gresford Parish and one block south of the River (portion 18) in Houghton Parish.

By this time Edward and Mary had five children. Twins Eleanor and Catherine were born about 1824, Ann in 1825, William about 1827 and Edward in 1830.[2] The twins were baptised by Father Therry in 1827 (his first baptism, according to Kay Ingle, recorded in the Paterson Valley).

Edward also owned blocks of 570 and 630 acres fronting the river, shown as portions 11 and 9 on the map below.[3] Edward and Mary named their land 'Summer Hill'. Their Summer Hill estate was upstream about 5 kilometres north west of the current village of Vacy (see map—land grants around Vacy). Edward also acquired other blocks of land in the district.

In 1840 neighbours Edward Kealy at Summer Hill and Richard Clarke at Bird Hill (see map below) donated three acres between them, along their dividing fence, for a church and burial ground. The Catholic Church at Summer Hill was built on this land in 1840, as a simple structure with wooden slab walls and a shingle roof. It survived into the 20th century when a new church was built alongside it and opened in 1913.

Edward Kealy was elected to the Paterson District Council in 1857 and re-elected in 1860. The Council was an early form of local government. Edward died in 1867 at the age of 70. Ann died in 1884 at the age of 86. They are buried together in the Summer Hill cemetery on the land they generously donated to the Church, and a momument marks their passing.


1. Kay Ingle, 2001—see full citation in 'references' below.

2. Sainty MR and KA Johnston (eds). Census of New South Wales 1828. Library of Australian History, 2008 (revised edition on CD). The fifth child is mentioned in Ingle, 2001.

3. Map for Parish of Gresford, County Durham.


Geoff Cannon, The First Title Holders of Land in the Counties of Camden, Cook, Hunter, Durham and Gloucester, 2004 (CD).

Kay Ingle, Sacred Heart Church and Cemetery Summer Hill, Paterson Valley. Paterson: Paterson Historical Society, 2001.

External links

Index to the NSW Colonial Secretary's papers. There are several papers listed for Edward Kealy.

See also

An overview of settlement at Patersons Plains from 1822.

Map—land grants around Vacy.