James (Tom) Hunter at Newfield

Tom Hunter

James (Tom) Hunter 1820-1869, farmer and his wife Helen 1823-1903 lived at Newfield, on the northern shore of Clew Bay with their daughter Joanna Cessford “Jo” Hunter 1857-1945 and son Simon Hunter 1859-1933. James Hunter had married Helen Weddell on 13 November 1853 in Edinburgh. James and Helen were born in southern Scotland where their families had their roots.

Newfield photograph probably taken by John’s daughter Lily in 1914
Mrs Helen Hunter

On 29 August 1869  John Oram recorded in his diary “Poor Hunter shot”.The Oram family oral tradition, as recorded by Daphne Oram in the 1960s is: “On August 29th 1869 John was awakened by gravel being thrown up at the window – below was Mr. Hunter’s man shouting “Mr. Oram, Mr. Oram, Mr. Hunter’s dead: They shot him as he rode home from church.” John dressed immediately, mounted his horse and went to do all he could for Mr. Hunter’s widow. After the incident, she had taken over the reins from her dead husband and driven home. Simon Hunter, the young son in the back of the trap never fully recovered.”

The murder of Tom Hunter has been well documented.
Other sources include an article in the Freeman’s Journal dated 2 September 1869.


Extract from ‘Disturbed Ireland: Being the letters written during the winter of 1880-1 by Bernard H Becker, Special Commissioner of the “Daily News” (Guttenberg Press)

1950 Mayo News article with reference to Mr Hunter’s murder taken from a newspaper kept by John’s grandson James.

The Hunter family in Arthur Oram’s diaries

The history of the Hunter family continues to be relevant to the Oram diaries as “Mrs Hunter” and “Mrs Weddell”, as Joanna Hunter became visited Arthur Oram and his family at Wilford.  At some stage Joanna became great friends with Arthur Oram’s sister-in-law Maggie Anderson.

To return to Newfield in the 1870s …

Mrs Hunter and her two offspring Simon and Joanna continued to live at Newfield throughout the 1870s.  John Oram recorded their departure in his diaries:

12 Oct 1880: “Mrs Hunter’s auction at Newfield”; 16 Oct 1880: “Took possession of Newfield”; 18 Oct 1880: “To Newfield lease cancelled”; 22 Oct 1880: “To Westport with Johanna [sic] Hunter”. 

The 1881 census returns show Mrs Helen Hunter, Simon Hunter, his wife Isabella and Joanna Hunter farming “400 acres 250 arable”  in Abbey St Bathans, Berwickshire, Scotland. This was about 30 miles from Lauder, James “Tom” Hunter’s birthplace. A researcher contacted through ancestry.co.uk kindly shared the information that Simon Hunter died in Manitoba, Canada in 1933.

In August 1889 Arthur Oram recorded “Mrs Hunter & Mrs [Arthur’s wife] to Kirk. Mrs H & Mrs to Knockloughra [Home of Mr Hope and his two daughters]”

By the 1891 census Joanna had married George Weddell, a baker and they were living in Edinburgh with their young daughter Helen.  George Weddell died in 1897 and Helen has not been found in the records.  She may be one of the ladies in the slide show above.

Arthur Oram recorded that Mrs Hunter & Mrs Weddell spent most of August and September 1900 at Wilford.

In 1901 Scottish census Joanna C Weddell is head of a household in Morningside, Edinburgh living ‘on own means’ with her mother Helen Hunter.

Maggie Anderson and Joanna Weddell, Edinburgh ladies

In August 1902 Arthur recorded  “Aunt Maggie left for Knockroe with Miss Smith, Mrs Weddell & Mrs Hunter, the latter from Miss Hopes by the mail”.  It may have been during this visit that it was arranged that Arthur’s daughter Margaret “Gretta” Oram should attend a domestic science college in Edinburgh and live with Aunt Maggie and Mrs. Weddell.   This information came from Gretta herself, so the friendship between Maggie and Jo was firmly establish by 1902.

In 1903 Helen Hunter died in Morningside, Edinburgh at the address given in the 1901 census, as did Joanna Weddell in 1945.

The Anderson – Weddell story continues here.

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