Guide to the Autobiography of James Francis Plunkett (as filmed by the AJCP)



National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2019

Collection Summary

Plunkett, James Francis
Autobiography of James Francis Plunkett (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
1874 - 1926
Collection Number
6 items
Language of Materials
Australian Joint Copying Project
The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) online portal was created with the assistance of the Australian Public Service Modernisation Fund, 2017-2020. The National Library of Australia gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the other foundation AJCP partners, the State Library of New South Wales and The National Archives of the UK, and all other organisations which supported the work of the AJCP, the world's most extensive collaborative copying project, operating from 1948 to 1997.


Scope and Contents

Account of his early life and education, his journey to Australia, life on the Victorian goldfields and his later life in New Zealand.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for Access.

Conditions Governing Use

Many of the records digitised as part of the AJCP are still in copyright. Readers wishing to publish or reproduce documents should seek permission, in the first instance, from the owner of the original material.

Preferred Citation

Acknowledgement of use of this material should refer to the location of the original material and to the Australian Joint Copying Project.

Items from this collection should include references to the location of the original material and to the AJCP nla.obj number, which serves as the online identifier for the digital copy.

Example: M Series: Journal of Capt. James Cook, 18 February 1770, British Library Add. MS 27885 (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Filmed at Oscott College, St Mary's College, Sutton Coldfield, as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1990 (AJCP Reel:M2503). Original microfilm digitised as part of the NLA AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

Existence and Location of Originals

Oscott College, St Mary's College. Oscott, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands B73 5AA, England.

For more information see: St Mary's College Oscott Archives (

Existence and Location of Copies

The original AJCP microfilm of the records filmed from this collection is available at the National Library of Australia [] as well as other institutions holding AJCP microfilm.

Finding-aid Notes

This finding aid is a revised online version of the original finding aid prepared by the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP), published by the National Library of Australia in 2019. The original AJCP finding aids were unpublished typescripts or photocopies available from libraries that held copies of the original microfilm.

Dates used in this finding aid refer to the date range of the records selected for filming rather than to the date range of the Series or Files.


Australia; Education; Emigrant voyages; Great Britain; Australia: immigration to; New Zealand; Plunkett, James F.; Victoria


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry 376, p143.

Biographical / Historical

James Francis Plunkett (1831-1917), who was born in Southampton, was the son of Charles Plunkett, who originally came from Waterford, Ireland. Charles Plunkett died in 1838 and James was sent to Sedgley Park School, a Catholic school at Wolverhampton. In 1846 he entered St Mary's College, Oscott, which trained priests for the Diocese of Birmingham. After leaving the college, he was a bookkeeper and clerk in London and in 1851 he returned to Sedgley Park as a teacher. In the following year he was briefly a postulant at St Mary's College, Rugby.In October 1852 Plunkett joined his mother, stepfather and brother and sailed from England on the ship British Isles. They arrived in Melbourne in February 1853 and after a brief stay travelled to the gold diggings at Bendigo. He returned to Melbourne in 1854 and worked on a short-lived newspaper, The Arm Chair. He married in 1864 and in the same year he opened a Catholic school for boys at Elsternwick which he called 'Oscott'. It closed in about 1868, possibly due to competition from the newly-arrived Christian Brothers.In 1871 Plunkett and his family moved to New Zealand where he opened another Catholic school in Auckland. After a few years he abandoned the school and from them on worked as a newspaper reporter and editor. He had a long association with the New Zealand Herald (Auckland) and also worked for the Kumara Times, The Star (Christchurch) and The Press (Christchurch). He retired in 1912.

Item Descriptions

James Francis Plunkett: Autobiography, 1893 (File 82: 130)

Birth at Southampton, 18 Aug 1831; history of his family; childhood memories; school; death of father (1838); removal to Tixall; school at Sedgley Park - learning to serve mass and joined choir, dramatic performances, religious education; marriage of mother to William Furlong; school holidays; attendance at St Mary's College, Oscott, Sutton Coldfield (1846); Jenico Preston (Lord Gormanston, Governor of Tasmania, 1893), fellow pupil, runs away from College; poetry submitted to College magazine, Academia; leaves Oscott - Bishop Ullathorne tells him he has no vocation for priesthood; London; anti papal riots; employment as clerk, Messrs Shoolbred & Co., Tottenham Court Road; return to Sedgley Park as a master (1857); enters religious order - College of St Mary Rugby (1852); returns to family who have decided to emigrate; passage on British Isles, Mr Furlong fleeing creditors; voyage to Port Phillip, sea sickness, playing chess, suicide of apprentice, becomes editor of ship's newspaper, crossing the line; arrival Port Phillip (4 Feb 1853); excitement of sailors over Great Britain; living in tent and then cottage at Collingwood Flat - dysentery; employment at Bendigo store - journey on foot; description of Bendigo; "discomforts of a life on the diggings"; robbery of escort; life at McIvor - buying gold; attitude of police to diggers - incidents observed by Plunket; situation of women at the diggings; return to Melbourne; employment on Armchair; mother living at Canvas Town; connection with St Vincent of Paul Brotherhood; opening of Hobson's Bay Railway, 12 Sept 1854. (Faint in parts).

Charles Plunkett (Auckland) to Rev Father Sandy (Oscott College), 19 May 1926 (File)

Re his father's autobiography detailing his college days at Oscott; further details of life of James Plunkett - marriage 1864; opened Catholic boarding school at Elsternwick called Oscott; emigration to New Zealand - opened Catholic School for boys in 1871 at Auckland; 1875 abandoned teaching and joined Southern Cross as reporter; died 23 April 1917; Disabilities of Catholic Church in New Zealand re education.


Poem (1p.) (File)

Aide-memoire re events at diggings[?] (File)

Poem written New Year's Eve (2p.), 1874 - 1875 (File)

Poem. Kynge Alfred in the Danyshe Campe (2p.) (File)