b. 1842 Port Macquarie NSW AUSTRALIA
(Parents: Neale Connell O’Donnell and Caroline Amelia Collins)
d. 26 April 1884 “Oakbank” Gullengutta, Warialda district, near Graman NSW
Interred: on “Oakbank” Gullengutta Fanny’s headstone later placed in Graman Cemetery alongside her husband Alexander Dill Gamble sometime after 1908
Married: 21st January 1862 at Wellingrove Presbyterian Church NSW
to Alexander Dill Gamble
(Parents: Mr Gamble and Anna Scott Dill)
Fanny was the first child born into a family of nine children to Neale and Caroline O’Donnell at Port Macquarie NSW.
Fanny’s mother, Caroline Amelia Collins, was a milliner/dressmaker and had arrived from London, England to the colony as a free settler aboard the ship “Amelia Thompson” on 28th September 1839 under the care/protection of John Marshall Esquire. Caroline was then 17 years of age, her parents were John Collins, a feather merchant of Spitalfields, London and her mother was Catherine Adair.
Fanny’s father, Neale Connell O’Donnell, a descendant of the O’Donnell Baronetcy of Newport, Ireland, had been transported as an Irish convict, arriving in the colony aboard the “Royal Sovereign” on 19 January 1834 when he was sent to the penal settlement of Port Macquarie. Neale’s story can be read in another post on Fanny's page.
Fanny’s childhood consisted of participating where possible towards the routine daily tasks of an early colonial family with few comforts. There was no formal schooling in the district at that time. However, Fanny was fortunate her father had been well educated in Ireland and gained a University Degree, so presumably taught his children literacy skills.
Unfortunately, due to an accident, Fanny’s father died in 1855 when she was only 13 years of age, leaving her the eldest of eight siblings, the youngest an infant.
Fanny’s mother remarried in Armidale in 1857 to John O’Brien a baker.
Some 7 years following her father’s death Fanny met the handsome Irishman, Alexander Dill Gamble and they married on 21st January 1862 at Wellingrove Presbyterian Church NSW.
Inside Wellingrove Church 2017.
Together with her new husband Alexander, Fanny said goodbye to the only family she ever knew. Making their way by horse and dray to a new beginning in the New England district of New South Wales.
Although riding off into the sunset sounds romantic, in reality this same dray was to be their home for many months as they travelled miles over country without designated roads and exposed to the elements. Fanny falling pregnant and delivering her first born along the way at “Coolatai Station” in February 1863.
By November 1864 Fanny had delivered her second child on “Wallangra Station” where Alexander had found employment as a sheep overseer. It was also here that in 1866 Fanny delivered her third child and in 1868 saw child number four delivered on “Wallangra Station”.
After establishing their own family home “Oakbank” Gullengutta in 1870, Fanny went on to deliver another nine children before finally dying from complications the day after delivering her 13th child at 42 years of age in 1884.
Original grave of Fanny Gamble (nee. O'Donnell) and her son Roland
at "Oakbank" Ottley's Creek, Gullengutta. Photo by J.E. Speers 1897.
Like many other women of the time, Fanny was a true pioneering woman, she worked beside her husband, bore 13 of his children over 22 years, while existing in remote isolation, without comforts of running water, electricity, sanitation or medical assistance, having to launder by hand, and the list goes on.
It is poignant to reflect on how that pioneering life would have differed, if Fanny had been her father’s daughter in the O’Donnell Baronetcy in Ireland.