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Lawrence Kearney, whose surname is also found as Kerney, was born in Ireland and was among the many who migrated to Australia; making his home in the vicinity of Melbourne, Victoria. Having experience as a seaman Kearney immediately became aware in January 1865 that the CSS Shenandoah had entered Port Phillip Bay off Melbourne. Looking for perhaps better pay and some excitement, Kearney made his way to the Williamstown docks where the Shenandoah was berthed for repairs and learned all Australians had been forbade to board the ship. Undeterred, Kearney on the night of February 17, 1865 shortly before the Shenandoah was to set sail, stealthily made his way aboard and manage to hide himself below decks.

After the Shenandoah had made for open waters, discharged the Australian Harbour Pilot and was in international waters, Kearney came out of hiding, joining forty-one other stowaways on deck, and on February 18th, 1865, signed aboard as an able bodied seaman, by placing his mark against his name on the log-book at a rate of $29.10. Lawrence Kearney was one of the signatories who expressed confidence in the command of Lieutenant James I. Waddell, in a petition dated September 1865.  

Kearney continued serving on the “Shenandoah” until it was officially surrendered by Lieutenant James Waddell to British Captain Paynter, commanding Her Majesty’s ship “Donegal, in Liverpool, England; on November 6, 1865.

Upon its surrender, Alexander joined the crew ashore and was said to have eventually returned to Australia.  Records indicate, however, Kearney became frightened and got dressed in civilian clothing on Wednesday, November 8th, 1865, and swore that he did not belong to the crew of the Shenandoah, and left the vessel when it docked at Liverpool, England. There is no indication he disembarked with the crew and after his disavowing them, it’s doubtful the crew wanted anything to do with him. It is not known at this time what happened to Lawrence Kearney after leaving the CSS Shenandoah.


Alabama Claims, “Correspondence Concerning Claims Against Great Britain  transmitted to the Senate of the

United States in answer to the Resolutions of  December 4, and 10, 1867, and of May 27, 1868”, Washington

Alabama Claims : The case of Great Britain as laid before the Tribunal of arbitration Convened at Geneva under

the provisions of the treaty between the United States of America and Her Majesty the queen of Great Britain,

concluded at Washington, May 8, 1871 (1872), University of Michigan Library

Lining Journal, Wednesday, November 8th, 1865.

Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion

The Cruise of the Shenandoah, Captain William C. Whittle, CSN

University of Michigan Library

William A. Temple, affidavit


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