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Hugh Byrne

** community contributed record **

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: Hugh Byrne
Aliases: "hughie The Brander", "the Brander"
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 1770
Occupation: Farmer
Date of Death: 1842
Age: 72 years

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 61 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to Life

Crime: Political prisoner
Convicted at: Dublin City
Sentence term: Life
Ship: Tellicherry
Departure date: 31st August, 1805
Arrival date: 15th February, 1806
Place of arrival New South Wales
Passenger manifest Travelled with 46 other convicts


Primary source: NSW Gov Records. Irish Convicts. HRA Volume V, page 552 and p 571. NSW SR - 1806 Muster "B" males; Indent of Tellicherry Freemans Journal 17, 21, 24 December 1803 page 2 and Tues 21 Feb 1804 p 3
Source description:

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Dennis Nightingale on 7th May, 2015 wrote:

Born - Carlow County Ireland. Crime - Treasonable practices. Hughie the Brander captured at Derrynamuck 1799. Informer member of James Corcoran’s Wexford Gang 1804.

D Wong on 9th May, 2015 wrote:

Son of Sylvester and Rose.

From Australian Royalty.net.au:

HUGH VESTY BYRNE, a lieutenant of the rebel leader Michael Dwyer, Byrne fought at the battles of Arklow, Vinegar Hill and Hacketstown.
With the retreat of the rebel force into the Wicklow Mountains, Dwyer and a small band of loyal followers including Byrne held out against the British and Protestant forces. By 1803 however the pressure on Dwyer had increased to a point where he surrendered with the understanding that he and his four lieutenants would be pardoned and with their families to America.
Byrne had been imprisoned at the Wicklow Gaol following Dwyer’s surrender. He was one of the few men who ever escaped from the Gaol however his fate was unalterably linked with Dwyer.
Dwyer had been held at the Kilmainham Gaol until 1805 when he learned that he was to be sent as a free man, not to America but to the penal colonies of New South Wales—Australia.
On August 28, 1805 Dwyer and his wife Mary; his first cousin, Hugh Vesty Byrne his wife Rachael and their children; and Dwyer’s other lieutenants, Arthur Devlin, Hohn Meenagh and Martin Burke left Cobh Harbour aboard the ship “Tellicherry.”

Landing in New South Wales in early 1806, the men were given 100 acres of land and the promise of a new life.
That promise was shattered by the British Governor of New South Wales—Captain William Bligh, the infamous commander of H.M.S. Bounty. Bligh had Dwyer, Byrne and the others arrested on charges of seditious activities. They were cleared by the court only to be re-arrested by Bligh and sent to various convict depots including Norfolk Island and Van Diemen’s Land.
Bligh was eventually removed from office during the Rum Rebellion and Byrne, Dwyer and the others released and pardoned. They eventually returned to their farms at Liverpool near Sydney.

1828 Census:
November 1828 (Age 58)
Airds, South Coast and Illawarra, New South Wales, Australia

Byrne, Hugh, 50, conditonal pardon, Tellicherry, 1806, Catholic, settler at Airds, 210 acres, 163 acres cleared, 66 acres cultivated, 6 horses, 236 horned cattle
Byrne, Sarah, 50, conditonal pardon, Tellicherry, 1806, Catholic
Byrne, Charles 19 born in the colony
Byrne, Bridget 17 born in the colony
Byrne, Mary 15 born in the colony
Byrne, James 10 born in the colony
Byrne, Silvester 8 born in the colony
Byrne, Winifred 5 born in the colony
Byrne, Elizabeth 4 born in the colony
Byrne, Rose 2 born in the colony

Hugh and Sarah Dwyer had 17 children.
20/4/1842: Hugh died aged 72 at Cambelltown, NSW and was buried at St Johns Catholic Church Cemetery.  Sarah was buried with Hugh

Denis Pember on 6th February, 2016 wrote:

This record contains some information which is incorrect.
This is indeed the record of Hughie The brander, Byrne a member of the Wexford outlaws, captured in 1804.
It is NOT the record of Hugh Vesty Byrne of the Wicklow Outlaws (Dwyer, Byrne, Devin, Burke and Menargh).

There were TWO Hugh Byrnes transported on the Tellicherry in 1806.
See Peter Mayberry; Irish convicts to NSW 1788-1849: http://members.pcug.org.au/~ppmay/cgi-bin/irish/irish.cgi?requestType=Search&ship=Tellicherry.

Denis Pember on 6th February, 2016 wrote:

Informatiuon reagrding census etc is incorrect and applies to the other Hugh Byrne.

The only record so far located of ths Hugh in the colony is in the 1806 Muster:
[Ref A0360 page 14] Hugh Burne, Tellicherry, FBS, works for The Association.
the other Hugh is shown as [Ref A0258].
# Please Check data before adding to this record.

Robin Sharkey on 6th April, 2016 wrote:

ALL INFORMATION ENTERED on 9th MAY 2015 IS ABOUT HUGH ‘VESTY’ BYRNE, tried at Dublin and transported on Tellicherry as a State Prisoner with the DWYER GANG AND NOT FOR THIS CONVICT LISTING OF HUGH BYRNE tried AT CARLOW and also transported on Tellicherry.


When Tellicherry arrived in NSW on 15 February 1806, there was a letter to Governor King from Dublin Castle in Ireland, not only explaining the presence of the five members of the Dwyer Gang but also referring to this other Hugh Byrne:

“ Three other Men also charged with treasonable Practices And who have acknowledged their Guilt, are embarked from the Gaol of the County of Carlow, their Names are John Fitzpatrick, Hugh Byrne and Lawrence Fenlon—with these, there have not any Terms been made And they are considered to be of a very bad description.”
HRA Vol V page 552,  - Letter 17 Aug 1805 from Secretary Marsden to Governor King)

Despite these negative comments, six months later in the August 1806 Census Hugh Byrne was recorded as being employed by “Association” at Parramatta.  He was also incorrectly recorded as being Free by Servitude - when he had a life sentence.

The “Association’ was the Loyal Association, originally formed in 1801 by Governor Hunter with volunteers, to assist in the defence of the colony. They were called on to assist in quelling the Irish Uprising at Castle Hill in March 1804. To be a member of the Loyal Associations a man had to be a respectable citizen, so for emancipated Convicts it was a boost to their good standing in the colony. 

It seems extraordinary that, firstly, Hugh Byrne would wish to join such an Association, and secondly that he would be accepted into it.  McArthur was Capt Commandant of the Parramatta Association (appointed July 1805), and Walter Davidson its Lieutenant in 1806.  Association members were clothed and victualled off the government stores.

The return of the Association dated 2nd August 1806 -when the Muster states that Byrne was a member -  only stated total numbers and did not name each member as previous retires had done. There were 22 rank and file members at Parramatta and 33 at Sydney. As well, each of these these associations had 1 captain, 1 lieutenant, 3 serjeants, and 2 drummers. (AT least 16 Parramatta rank & file are listed in the 1806 Muster).

The explanation for Byrne’s presence as a member probably lies in this statement on the Australian War Memorial website re ‘Colonial Period 1788-1901’
https://www.awm.gov.au/atwar/colonial/ after describing the initial raising of the Association in 1800:
“Six years later Governor King recruited six ex-convicts as the nucleus of a military bodyguard, creating the first full-time military unit to be raised in Australia. “

On 18 May 1806 the Sydney Gazette page 1 reported Governor’s orders that:
“ From the Unlawful Meetings lately held in the Colony, and the numerous Depredations of various kinds committed on the Public, Patrols from the New South Wales Corps and Association are directed to visit the different parts of the Towns of Sydney and Parramatta and their Environs at indeterminate periods from sunset to daylight “

The Sydney Gazette of 10 Aug 1806 page 2 reported that the newly arrived Governor Bligh was saluted with gun salutes and the NSW Corps and “Sydney Loyal Association” were under arms with the colours of the Regiment.  Then Bligh landed at the Government Wharf and, “the [NSW] Corps and Association lined the avenue leading from the Government Wharf to Government House”.


Family information from “The Byrnes and the O’Byrnes” Volume Two, by Daniel Byrne-Rothwell, published 2010 (which does not refer to what became of Hugh Byrne)

* Hugh Byrne’s father was Anthony Byrne, who died about 1751, and the family’s home under Anthony had been at Cornaum on the slope of Kegeen Mountain (now called Keadean Mountain).
* Hugh had a sister Anne and a brother Edward.
* Brother Edward Byrne lived at Cornaum. Edward was with Hugh Byrne in 1803-4 in Corcoran’s gang, and died as a result of wounds in February 1804 (Per James G Patterson “In the Wake of the Great Rebellion: Republicanism, Agrarianism and Banditry”)
* Hugh Byrne lived at Hamilton Lodge, Mullinacrana, near Rathdangan and was involved with the United irishmen and the 1798 Rebellion.
* Hugh Byrne’s wife’s maiden name had been Lalor.
* When the Irish Rebellion started in May 1798, his children ranging from young children to teenagers. He had a lot of children - four daughters, two of whom were supposedly nuns and five sons.

  - Anthony who was in Dwyer’s gang at the time of the 1803 Emmet attempted rebellion and was recommended by Dwyer to be made a captain. Married 1803 to Anne Metcalfe of Old Mile near Donard. Opened a general merchant’s business in Donard.
  -  John Byrne born about 1786, Married Margaret O’Toole 1824. Migrated with family to USA on “Elizabeth” in May 1847 arriving at Louisiana.  They bought farmland at Ardon, Iowa in the USA.  Died 1852 at Ardon, Muscatine County, USA and had 160 acres of land at death.  Had several children.
  -  Peter Byrne, 1795 - 1851; Married 1826 to Mary Kehoe, had 8 children in Co Wicklow.  December 1848 followed brother John to Iowa on “Chaloner’ to New Orleans . Died Ardon USA, with extended family.
-  Thomas Byrne. Born about 1791. Became a merchant in Hacketstown, Carlow.
-  Edward Byrne


Hugh Byrne, known as “Hughie the Brander” became one of Michael Dwyer’s gang when men from the 1798 rebellion at Wexford retreated into the mountains. He was with them for several months until the fateful night in February 1799 at Derrynamuck, (near the Glen of Imaal) where Sam McAllister gave his life so that Dwyer could escape. 

However, Byrne likely was no longer welcome with Dwyer after his capture at Derrynamuck because he informed on a person, widely believed to be innocent.  Michael Dwyer had zero tolerance for informers.

Byrne gave evidence against a man named Valentine Case, and was also physically involved in this man’s execution, thereby earning himself the nickname of “Hughie the Brander.”

Some time again after this, Hugh Byrne got involved with another rebel gang in the Wicklow Mountains, led by James Corcoran.  Did he return to Hamilton Lodge and his family in the interim?  Did he lvd with the Corcoran gang in hiding?  Byrne was eventually captured in County Carlow, as the few remnants of the gang dispersed on being attacked in February 1804.  Byrne was tried for these seditious activities and ended up being sent to NSW for life on the same convict ship, “Tellicherry” as the five banished members of the Dwyer gang.


Dwyer and eleven others of his gang, exhausted from the effort of vigilance from soldiers, sought rest in three cottages situated at the end of an isolated boreen at Derrynamuck one bitterly cold night in February 1799. While Dwyer was with Sam McAllister, John Savage and Pat Costello in a cottage resided in by the Connell family, two others (Ned Lennon and Thomas Clark) were in Hoxey’s cottage and six of Dwyer’s men were in Toole’s cottage.  These six were Wat McDaniel (or McDonnel) Darby Dunne, John Ashe, Martin Hoar and Hugh Byrne.

When all were resting/retired early in the night an informer, said to be one of the Connells, hastened to the army barracks at Hacketstown (carlow) and reported them. It was snowing and very cold and troops reached the cottages just before dawn. The first two houses were surrounded and the men within captured, all except Byrne who had hidden up a chimney. However as the five other rebels in that house were being led away, one effectively betrayed Hugh Byrne by saying there was ‘no use leaving Byrne after us’.  So the soldiers found out that there was another man, and went back to find him and he too was taken away with the others.  Meanwhile, the cottage with Dwyer in it was threatened with burning lest Dwyer come out, -  it was set alight - a gunfire started, when McAllister’s arm was shattered by a bullet. McAllister and Savage went as cover for Dwyer to the front door so they took the gunfire direct while Dwyer escaped through the smoke and mayhem. (See Chris Lawlor, ‘Michael Dwyer, the Wicklow Chief’, a paper delivered at the University of Melbourne, 1 August 2006.)

The other five who’d been in Hugh Dwyer’s cottage were court martialled, all recommended to be shot, and all were next day marched up to the sand pit (now called Gallows Hilll) at Hacketstown and executed - except for Hugh Byrne.

Byrne had bargained for his own life by offering to give information about the murderer of a Dr Armstrong who’d been Regimental surgeon to a cavalry regiment headquartered at Baltinglass (Wexlow). So he was not court martialled but was taken to Baltinglass gaol.

Mr Valentine Case, 1799:

(from a serialisation “Anecdotes of Captain Michael Dwyer” published in periodical magazine “The Celt” by John O’daly, Dublin, in 1857. Anonymous author.
Extracted in the newspaper ‘Irish Canadian, June 11, 1873’ as “CAPTAIN MICHAEL DWYER - Reminiscences and Anecdotes of the Wicklow Outlaw.”
Accessed 30 March 2016. https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=68&dat=18730611&id=tjM8AAAAIBAJ&sjid=bisMAAAAIBAJ&pg=401,29558995&hl=en  (The same story as follows was told, with less detail in “The Life and Times of Robert Emmet” published 1857,  attributed to James Hope from time he spent with Dwyer in the mountains as an emissary of Emmett.)

Valentine Case acted as caretaker to Francis William Greene Esq. at Greeneville, [now called Kilranelagh]. Green was elected a member of the Dublin Society in Dec 1799 and in 1804 he was High Sheriff of Wicklow.  He was an improving landlord.
Greeneville, [now Kilranelagh] where Case lived is only about 10km from Rathdangan area where Byrne lived.
Francis William Greene Esq was known to be discriminating in his choice of servants so that Case would not have been employed long with Greene if he were a man of improper conduct. 
Byrne was known to have ill feeling toward Valentine Case.  Someone had falsely insinuated to Byrne that Valentine Case had an improper intimacy with Byrne’s wife, nee Lalor, while Byrne was absent during the insurrection; however, Mrs Byrne was known to be virtuous and had lived with her parents, Mr & Mrs Michael Lalor during the insurrection.

Byrne’s Evidence Against Valentine Case

* Byrne’s story about the murder of Dr Armstrong was that Armstrong had gone to Mr Greene’s bog to snipeshoot;  Mr Greene and his family happened to be away. There he ran into Valentine Case, who induced him to go to a more lonely part of the bog, higher up the river, where Case said there was abundant game. Once there, Case (with one or two accomplices) attacked the doctor, overpowered him, pulled him into the river and drowned him by holding his head under the water.  Motive: robbery. They took his gun and whatever money he had on him.
Body disposal: Took the body to a barn of Mr Greene’s, stripped it and hid it in a pile of hay but during the night Case became apprehensive of discovery so he took the body about three miles to New Inn, and left it exposed on the high road, where it was found.

* Valentine Case didn’t attempt to flee beforehand even though he knew Hugh Dwyer was talking to the soldiers at Baltinglass.  He was arrested while out on a hillside rabbiting. He approached the soldiers willingly.  He was taken to Baltinglass on his arrest, on a Saturday.  Next day he was taken to the Catholic chapelyard while Mass was going on inside. A large body of soldiers went up there too and a gallows was erected.

* Byrne was also taken to the chapelyard, having been given a hatchet and other implements.  He was to assist in Case’s execution.  Case was half-hanged by the soldiers, and then taken down.

Soldiers called to Byrne that “he was the boy that could brand him” [ although he was a middle aged man, not a boy].  Byrne used the hatchet to decapitate Valentine Case. This was how he came to be called “Hughey the Brander’.  As people were coming out of divine service, Case’s head was kicked down the hill to the Baltinglass marketplace and his body roughly dragged there. Valentine Case’s head was stuck upon the Baltinglass market place house and remained there for years.

Because of the detail given by Byrne in his evidence against Case, there was some local feeling that it was Byrne himself who had killed Dr Armstrong, and in the manner described.


James Corcoran had been a farmer, an activist in the Society of United Irishmen before the Rebellion started, and had fought at the battle of Ross as had other members of the gang.nnOn 1st October 1801 a Proclamation outlawed Corcoran and 17 others [ October NAI SOC 1020/3].

Corcoran worked with Joseph Cody, who was a Protestant from Newtownbarry.  The gang moved about in a remote mountainous region that they knew intimately. They attacked soldiers, held up the mail coaches (which prevented the military receiving information) etc etc.  The populations of both South Carlow and West Wexford sheltered them, so their support was not based only on kinship or religious allegiance, but on the anti-government feeling of the people, possibly fuelled by memories of a day of an atrocity in June 1798 in the Barony of St Mullins when two hundred people were killed by soldiers and yeomen. In the local Authorities’ request to government to have the group proclaimed they said “Corcoran’s conduct has been that of a rebel leader, who has shaken off all pretensions to allegiance and has expressed openly his expectation of a change and of an invasion.”

On 13 December 1803 Corcoran had evaded capture for five year, and the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland issued another Proclamation against Corcoran, requested by the Magistracy of Carlow.  £500 reward was offered for capture or information leading to his apprehension, and, as had been done to Michael Dwyer also in December 1803, £100 was offered for information about anyone harbouring or assisting him. See for example Freemans Journal of 17, 21, 24 December 1803 page 2.

“James Corcoran, late of Ballindagganin the Co. of Wexford, Farmer, stands charged with repeated acts of High Treason and with furthering the Rebellion that lately broke out in Ireland. …’

By late 1803 the gang was made up only of two sets of brothers - two Byrnes [ i.e. our Hugh, and Edward], and two Brennans -  another Brennan, a John Fitzpatrick, and a Timothy Breen, along with Joseph Cody. They hit hard and moved fast, and kept to ground they knew and where they could get help, part of Wexford but mostly in the St. Mullins and Borris area of Carlow. ( Courtesy of the Nationalist, February 2005 By Willie White)


[See James G Patterson “In the Wake of the Great Rebellion: Republicanism, Agrarianism and Banditry”. at pages 176 to 177].

Under relenting pressure in St Mullins, Carlow, the band had dispersed.  Corcoran, John Fitzpatrick and Daniel Brennan had gone to their native Wexford and someone informed of their location. On 11 Feb 1804 in a gun battle, Corcoran & Fitzpatrick returned fierce fire, although wounded, Corcoran shot in the hip, but Corcoran was then shot dead. Fitzpatrick was captured and would ultimately be transported with Byrne on the “Tellicherry” . Daniel Brennan was wounded but managed to escape.  (Detail of their capture /death are in The Freemans Journal 16 Feb 1804 page 2)
“On 13th February 1804, Hugh and Edward Byrne were set upon by a number of people in St Mullins.  After ­an affray in which the pair fired on their assailants, Hugh Byrne was captured”; Edward managed to escape. The locals took Hugh Byrne to magistrate Walter Kavanagh who expressed his delight, and possibly ­­surprise, at the “good conduct in the country people taking this fellow’.  A detachment of the Borris yeomanry captured Edward Byrne in a sandpit.  After a struggle in which Byrne received “several wounds” he was taken prisoner.

Freemans Journal Tues 21 Feb 1804 p 3
Yesterday [i.e. Tues 14 Feb 1804] the two Byrne’s belonging to Corcoran’s gang, were brought in here, and lodged in the county gaol, by a party of the Borris Yeomen. One of them is desperately wounded, having his leg broke and a ball lodged in his hip. While one of the Byrne’s lay a prisoner in the guard-house at Borris, information was received there that the other was seen lying in a knot of furze, near St Mullins, co Carlow, a party instantly went in pursuit of him, and on their approaching the place of his concealment, he fired, and wounded one of the Yeomen, several shots were then interchanged, until his ammunition was expended, and he lay incapable of further resistance, from the dreadful effects of his wounds, when he was taken and safely lodged in gaol.

The Byrne brothers were put into Kilkenny jail with Lawrence Brennan.  Edward Byrne died of his wounds on 27 February, refusing to confess anything even to a priest.
“ Eventually, the government decided to try Hugh Byrne and John Fitzpatrick under civil law at the Spring Assizes….. …. The regional gentry feared the possibility that there was insufficient evidence to ensure conviction”

[From James Patterson, ibid]:  Hugh Byrne however, did give up information. He confessed that he and Corcoran had sat in committee as United Irishmen with a French agent in County Wexford around mid-January 1804.  He claimed the committee met on Thursdays and Saturday at home of one Paul Barry who lived in Newtownbarry area. The Frenchman was Jean Lethang who used the alias Philip Brenhan.
Byrne also claimed Corcoran had told him he met with another Frenchman at Kilkenny and had prepared many Kilkenny citizens for an attack as they “made new United Irishmen”.
“ General Floyd met with two able magistrates on 3 March, examined Byrne’s declaration and decided it ‘was of sufficient merit to warrant measures being taken on all points therein’. As a result a cutter “the Swan” was put to patrolling the coast to anticipate a landing of arms.”
But there were no further French attempts to land arms this late after the 1798 Rebellion. [See James G Patterson op cit at page 183.]

Eighteen months later Hugh Byrne and John Fitzpatrick were put on board “Tellicherry”, sent to NSW for life.

Helen Carrick on 20th April, 2016 wrote:

As an earlier entry stated, there were two Huh Burns on the Tellicherry. So was my husband’s ancestor- Stephen Hyland. In the 1806 census, he is listed as being assigned to Hugh Burn at Parramatta, as were two other convicts who arrived on the Tellicherry. I am intrigued as to how these assignments could happen? Did Burn have a property at Parramatta so soon after arrival? How long would they have worked for him?

Mary Byrne on 23rd April, 2016 wrote:

Hugh the Brander I believe ended up in the Hawkesbury area. two different people

Mary L Byrne on 15th March, 2017 wrote:

I would just like to mention there are people still getting Hugh Vesty and Hugh the Brander mixed up.

I don’t know what they are reading but there is a difference there are several historians that have also made errors regarding Hugh Vesty Byrne and his family.

If you can find some of Luke Cullens writings or manuscript it may help clarify.


Convict Changes History

Dennis Nightingale on 7th May, 2015 made the following changes:

convicted at, term: years, voyage, source: NSW Gov Records. Irish Convicts. (prev. ), firstname: Hugh, surname: Byrne, alias1: , alias2: , alias3: , alias4: , date of birth: 1780, date of death: 0000, gender: m, occupation, crime

Dennis Nightingale on 7th May, 2015 made the following changes:

convicted at, term: 99 years, voyage, alias1: Hughie, crime

D Wong on 9th May, 2015 made the following changes:

alias2: Hugh Vesty Byrne, date of birth: 1770 (prev. 1780), date of death: 20th April, 1842 (prev. 0000)

Denis Pember on 6th February, 2016 made the following changes:

alias1: Hughie 'the Brander' (prev. Hughie), date of birth: 1780 (prev. 1770), date of death: 0000 (prev. 20th April, 1842)

Robin Sharkey on 6th April, 2016 made the following changes:

source: NSW Gov Records. Irish Convicts. HRA Volume V, page 552 and p 571. NSW SR - 1806 Muster "B" males; Indent of Tellicherry Freemans Journal 17, 21, 24 December 1803 page 2 and Tues 21 Feb 1804 p 3 (prev. NSW Gov Records. Irish Convicts.)

Mary Byrne on 23rd April, 2016 made the following changes:

convicted at, alias1: Hugh Vesty Byrne (prev. Hughie 'the Brander'), date of birth: 1770 (prev. 1780), date of death: 1842 (prev. 0000), occupation, crime

Robin Sharkey on 18th September, 2018 made the following changes:

alias1: "hughie The Brander" (prev. Hugh Vesty Byrne)

Robin Sharkey on 18th September, 2018 made the following changes:

alias2: "the Brander" (prev. Hugh Vesty Byrne)

This record was discovered and printed on ConvictRecords.com.au