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Thomas McCarthy Fennell

Date of Birth: 
December 1841
Date of Death: 
February 1914



Thomas McCarthy Fennell was a political prisoner who was transported as a convict to Western Australia.

He was born in County Clare in 1841 and was four years old when the Irish Potato Famine occurred.  Despite this he received a good education and attended either a Catholic or national school and learned to speak Gaelic at home.

In 1863 he became one of the first Fenians recruited in from County Clare.  He then helped recruit and organize a group of men in preparation for the Fenian Rising.   On 5 March 1867, he with five others raided a coastguard station in search of arms for use in the ‘Irish Republican’ cause.  A scuffle ensued and Fennel was shot through the hip and testicle.  The group retreated and he was treated for his injuries but then arrested three days later, tried for treason and, having been found guilty, sentenced to ten years penal labour.

In October 1867, he was put on board the ‘Hougoumont’, a convict ship, arriving in Freemantle, Western Australia 9 January 1868. 

He remained in the Western Australian penal system until March 1871 when he received a conditional pardon, banned from returning to United Kingdom, he sailed from New South Wales in 1872, arriving in San Franscico on board the ‘City of Melbourne’. From there he went to Connecticut, eventually settling in Elmira, New York, having married Margaret Collins in 1874.  Fennell became the operator of the ‘Commercial Hotel’ and also served as the local agent for the ‘Cunard Line’, a city park commissioner and Elmira’s first Superintendent of Public Works.

He helped raise funds for various Irish causes.  He died on 23 February 1914, after a brief illness. He was survived by his Wife and three children. One of whom was:



Born 1875

Died 1936

Tom Fennell was an American football player and coach.  He served as the head football coach at the University of Cincinnati in 1897 and Pennsylvania State University from 1904 to 1908.  Fennell also played football at Cornell University where he is a member of their Athletic Hall of Fame.  

He graduated from Cornell Law School and was admitted to the bar.  During his legal career he was City Attorney of Elmira, Count Attorney of Chumung County, and First Deputy Secretary of State of New York.

Fennel was inducted into the Cornell Athletic Hall Fame being described as a “star’ in three different sports; Football, Men’s Crew and Men’s track as well as being Heavy weight Champion in boxing. One of his nephews was:

Thomas F. Fennell II

Born: March 1 1904

Died: May 23 1991

Thomas F Fennell was born in the Bronx, New York.  After obtaining his undergraduate degree from Cornell in 1926  he served as an assistant football coach from 1927 to 1931 while attending Cornell Law School.  Mr. Fennell was named to ‘Cornell’s Athletic Hall of Fame’ for his national  renown in football and heavyweight boxing.   He became an expert in labour arbitration and was first an associate and then in 1943 became a  partner at ‘Shearman & Sterling’.

From 1972 to 1988 he focused on arbitration for international oil companies.

Fennell died in 1991, aged 87,  in Manhattan of cardiac arrest.  He was survived by five sons and eight grandchildren. One of his sons, Philip Fennell, with his wifeMarie King, published a book entitled "Voyage of the Hougoumount and Life at Fremantle", using the diaries of his great Grandfather had had  written between 1841-1914.



Location in USA: 
Elmira New York