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Sally at Teralba

article ©Valda Low



THE BEGINNING - Sarah Alexander

Sally Sloane has an important place in the history of traditional music in Australia. She was the most documented traditional performer in Australia and the source of many collected tunes and songs. Some time back I was shown a folder containing the seeds for a book about Sally's collected songs. It began with a forward written by John Meredith, one of Australia's foremost collectors of traditional music.

I realised when reading his words that although much has been written about the songs and tunes that he and others collected from her, I could find very little about Sally herself. With his blessing I set out to correct this. Below is what I have discovered so far about Sally Sloane.

Sarah Alexander - Sally's grandmother

Sally's maternal grandmother Sarah Alexander was born to James Alexander and Mary (Lloyd) in Belfast, Ulster, Ireland c. 1816. In 1838, at the age of 22, she left Ireland with her brother and sailed to Australia. Sally said that during the voyage Sarah sang "Adieu My Lovely Nancy" at a concert. The song became a favourite of the captain.

Although her grandmother had died six years before she was born, Sally acknowledged that Sarah was a trained singer who knew many songs and dance tunes. Many of these songs and tunes were later passed down to Sally from her own mother.

Sally Sloane (1894-1982)
In 1843 Sarah Alexander married Richard Burrowes (Burrows) in Sydney and they had 4 children – a daughter: Jane(1844 )and 3 sons: James (1845), Richard (1847), Charles(1851) and John.

After Richard's death, probably in 1851, Sarah married George Dean (Deans) . This marriage took place on April 5 1852 at Shepherd's Creek, Wellington, New South Wales and it was a Church of England service. The witnesses were a Charles and Norah White. George was born in Cambridge England and was about 35 years old, as was Sarah. They went on to have four children,all born in New South Wales - two sons: James (1851) and George (1853) - and two daughters: Elizabeth (1856 near Wellington) and Sarah Ann (1859 at Narrowgall, near Wellington).

On July 21, 1863, Sarah's husband George died at Newrea NSW. He was buried in nearby Wellington. She was left with the 4 children under 12 (she also had had 4 more by her first husband).

On September 26 the following year Sarah married again, this time to James Kenny (Kenney) in Wellington, NSW. The witnesses at this marriage were Thomas Coonan and Jane Doran, who was Sarah's daughter to Richard Burrows. This time it was a civil ceremony. In 1872 James Kenny was farming at Back Creek near Black Rock.

Sarah Kenny (nee Alexander) died 17 March 1889 at Babinda Station, Nymagee, New South Wales and was buried at Nymagee two days later.


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