Died with a fork in his hand
When I was finally able to research the family, I found that Michael Ahern did indeed serve in India, taking part in the Relief of Lucknow, but he was an NCO, not a captain. Moreover, he was ‘busted’ from sergeant back to private on two occasions for unspecified offences.
However, the timing of one of the demotions coincides suspiciously with his marriage to a 15 year old lass (a ‘Spaniard’?) by the name of Mary Ann Butler. My suspicion, unverifiable, is that she was an Anglo Indian lass, and the ‘Spaniard’ rumour was put about to account for her colouring when they arrived in Western Australia. I’ve just seen a photo of their grandson, which in my opinion lends weight to my theory.
Oh, and the lightning strike and the fork?
Mary and Michael’s youngest son was working outback as a timber getter and camped with three other men in a tent, eating their meal during a wild storm. A large tree fell on the tent, killing all men instantly, with my great grandfather dying holding his fork.
© Macbev 2007
This is the picture which made me think that there could be substance to my theory of there being Anglo-Indian blood in the family via Michael’s wife, Mary Ann BUTLER who was born c1833 in Poona, India.