Bridget BOURKE
Name Variations BURKE, BURK
Father Thomas BOURKE b. 18231 m. 1845 d. 18732
Mother Mary BUTLER b. 18283 m. 1845 d. aft. 19034
Inmate Bridget Mary BOURKE b.c. 18535 m. (1) 1872 (2) 1903 (see below) d. aft. 1903
Sister6 Catherine aka Kate7 BOURKE b. 18578 m. none - d. aft. 18739
Brother10 Patrick11 BOURKE b. bef. 1861 m. d.
Brother12 Thomas BOURKE b. 186113 m. none - d. 1895
Brother14 unknown15 BOURKE b.c. 1864 m. d.
Husband (1) Benjamin WOOD aka WOODS b.c. 1846 m. 187216 d. 188917
Husband (2) Bernard aka Barnard SMITH b.c. 1854 m. 190318 d. 192119
Daughter Alice Rebecca WOODS b. 187420 m. none - d. 187421
Daughter Mary WOODS b.c. 1875 m. none - d. 187622
Daughter Florence I. W. WOODS b. 187723 m. none - d. 187724

Bridget BOURKE appeared in court in Sydney on 24 September 1868, on a warrant applied for by her father Thomas, a tailor living at 420 Sussex Street.25 She was recorded as BURKE in the Sydney Morning Herald.26 Bridget had been arrested by constable COSTELLOE at the Central Police Station the day before her court appearance. Her father Thomas, alleged that Bridget was in the habit of wandering about the streets with no ostensible lawful occupation, had left home against his will and had not been home for the previous two nights. He said that neither he nor his wife had any control over her.27 Bridget was admitted to Newcastle on 25 September 1868,28 and was described in the Entrance Book as a fourteen-year-old Catholic who was reading the third book and writing in a copybook.29 This level of education was the highest recorded for those girls admitted to Newcastle, and Bridget's superior skills were further reflected in the communication skills exhibited by her father in his subsequent correspondence with the Colonial Secretary. The letters written and signed by Thomas indexed in the CSIL suggest that he was a well-educated and fluent communicator.30

Bridget's behaviour at Newcastle placed her within the group considered to be the ringleaders of many of the newsworthy incidents that occurred at the school during 1868. On 20 November 1868, she absconded from the school with six other girls and a further two girls made a separate escape shortly afterwards. On 21 November KING identified them in her letter to the Colonial Secretary31 stating that all except one32 were returned by two constables at eleven o’clock that night – half an hour after they had escaped. The girls had:

forced open the windows of No. 4 dormitory, they then climbed over the fence near Mr SCOTT’s residence … and [were recaptured and] placed in the cells.33

Three months after this incident, the new superintendent, CLARKE, contributed the additional detail that on their recapture, Bridget and the other girls were brought back by the police 'quite drunk' although he added that since he had taken over the institution Bridget's behaviour had been good.34 It is almost entirely certain that it was this incident that provoked Bridget to communicate with her father as on 7 December 1868, eleven weeks after her admission and a fortnight after this escape, Thomas sent his first petition to the Colonial Secretary. His handwriting is fluent, the punctuation is clear and the letter was written partly in the third person. He wrote:35

[The writer is] Induced to make this application in Consiquence of having received letters from his daughter promising to be a good and dutiful child for the future; and I truly believe that she has seen the Folly of which I had reason to complain; and that the punishment she has already receive will be the means of her future good conduct. I therefore most humbly request that she may be returned to my Charge.

His application was denied36 so Thomas travelled from Sydney to Newcastle to visit Bridget. Access to his daughter was subsequently denied by CLARKE and his visit resulted in a Newcastle court appearance as Thomas BURKE, on 1 February 1869. This trial provided no additional details concerning his family37 and as he was only fined there was no gaol admission. After this incident Thomas almost certainly made a complaint either to the Colonial Secretary or to the Sydney police but its form is unknown as no letter written by him was filed with any correspondence relating to the incident. A character reference from George READ, the Police Inspector in Sydney, does remain. READ stated that Thomas was 'a sober, industrious, respectable man who [appeared] to be endeavouring to bring up his family in a creditable manner.' READ petitioned on Thomas' behalf for the release of Bridget and included copies of her initial arrest warrants.38 In a further letter written on 15 February 1869, almost without doubt as a response to Thomas's visit, CLARKE confirmed Bridget’s admission details and went on to elaborate on his version of the incident involving Thomas where:

Mr BOURKE came to this institution to see his daughter on Sunday morning :– 31st January and as he was then drunk I would not let him see the child, he afterwards then accosted the girls of the Institution on their way to public worship and insulted the officer in charge, he was afterwards arrested by the police for being drunk and disorderly in the streets of Newcastle and fined 5/-. According to the girls own statement when she was at her father’s house she was surrounded by such temptation[?] and the treatment she received at home was such that she could not stay at home and often preferred staying out all night to being at home under those circumstances I would suggest that when the girl has been here a year that she should be sent to service or apprenticed out from the Institution.39

Two months later, on 6 April 1869, Thomas again petitioned the Colonial Secretary stating:

I had the honor of speaking to you yesterday respecting my daughter at present in the 'School of Industry' Newcastle when you most condescendingly told me to lay the case before you in writing.
I must inform you that Bridget Bourke, my daughter has been under confinement or rather at the above institution for upward of (8) eight months. – She was sent there by the magistrates at my request; and not from having committed anything wrong to the police. – But for fear what might become of her, if not removed from some bad companions she had commenced associating with I deemed it the most proper place to secure her.
I have however every hope and I firmly believe that she has seen the folly of her conduct and will be dutifull to her mother and myself if allowed to return to her home. – I therefore might respectfully beg that you will take the matter into your consideration and give an order for her release. I may further most respectfully Inform you that I am fully able to support her and that it is the most anxious wish of her mother to have her at home to assist her (my wife being in delicate health) in looking after the younger members [?] of my family.

A further letter containing similar statements and supported by the referees, John WOODS, J.P., Michael CARNELL[?], John BURTON, grocer, E. GILLIGAN and S. PALMER, woollen draper, was sent on 9 June 1869. This petition was also refused. On 20 September, once Bridget had been in the school for twelve months, Thomas wrote again. Due to CLARKE's response, which wasn't located within the correspondence so his concerns are unknown, Thomas's request was again denied. Thomas's final appeal was written on 19 October 1869, and it was accompanied by a further letter from READ. Thomas repeated his plea for Bridget's release and stressed his ability to care for her, her mother's anxiousness to have her returned and his confidence that the fourteen months spent in the institution would have had a 'beneficial effect' on Bridget and she would 'see the folly of her ways.' READ stated that the police had known Thomas for the last twelve years and he:

… was never seen under the slightest degree under the influence of drink.
His neighbours all speak very highly of his sobriety and industry.
He has occupied the house which he at present resides for a period of nine years. It contains four rooms and is clean and well-furnished.
There are three children living at home with him, two boys and one girl, and they have every appearance of being well cared for. His average earnings are about £2 10. per week.
I cannot obtain the slightest corroboration of the girl's statement that she was harshly treated and subject to temptation at home.
She persisted against the remonstrance of her parents, going out at night and getting into improper company and was several times chastised for disobeying them. …
At the time she was sent to Newcastle she was to all appearances incorrigible, and her parents availed themselves of the provisions of the Industrial Schools' Act as a last resource.
Mr Bourke's conduct at Newcastle appears to have been quite exceptional. He admits being under the influence of drink while there, and for the only time in his life, being in the hands of the Police.
He excuses himself by saying that he was ill from sea-sickness, and was prevailed upon to take too much drink, in the hope that it would expedite his recovery.

Thomas's petition was finally approved by the Colonial Secretary provided that Bridget's conduct had improved.40 CLARKE's report written on 28 October stated that:

for the last eleven months the girl’s conduct has been good for the last six months she is greatly improved in her demeanour. She is cheerful and obedient and I have much confidence in thinking she will remain so.41

On 16 November 1869, against CLARKE's wishes but 'in obedience to instructions contained in your letter of the 11th', Bridget was discharged to her parents by order of the Colonial Secretary42 after having spent more than the required year in the school. In his letter of 1 August 1870, CLARKE reported that Bridget had been twice to gaol since her discharge but he believed that she was currently back with her father.43 This statement very strongly suggested that the gaol admission located for a woman of this name in January 1870, was one of those instances. Darlinghurst Gaol records indicated that Bridget had appeared twice before D. F. C. SCOTT, the brother of the Newcastle Police Magistrate, who was believed to have been constantly in contact with his brother, and therefore through him to CLARKE regarding the behaviour of released inmates.

On Saturday, 29 January 1870, Bridget was sentenced to four days in Darlinghurst Gaol. She almost certainly appeared again on 7 February, less than a week after her release charged again with riotous behaviour and spent a further week in gaol. In both admissions she was associating with other girls. In the Darlinghurst Gaol record Bridget was recorded as nineteen years old. She was able to read and write and had been born in Sydney.44 Neither court appearance was reported in the newspapers. While this admission age does not exactly match the age stated in the Entrance Book, based on CLARKE's statement, it is considered that these appearances refer to the Newcastle inmate. Bridget however, should not be confused with another woman of this name who appeared in the NSW gaol records but was released from Darlinghurst Gaol in March 186945 while Bridget was still in Newcastle.

On 23 March 1872, Bridget married Benjamin WOOD at the Presbyterian Church in Sydney. Benjamin was a 28-year-old drayman and the marriage record indicated that Bridget was 18. The marriage had been updated from the original church record but no parents were identified for either party so they may not be recorded anywhere. The witnesses were Kate BOURKE and a Thomas BOURKE.46 It is believed that these witnesses were Bridget's sister and father. While they may have been two siblings, they were almost without any doubt connected to Bridget. Benjamin and Bridget WOODS had two and possibly three children between 1874 and 1877. The child, Florence, may possibly be one of those children even though her birth was apparently illegitimate and at the time of her death her father was recorded as William. Florence's likely death occurred in the November following her birth. Benjamin B. WOODS was almost certainly the man often in court for various misdemeanors as this man had been born in about 184647 and had been admitted to Darlinghurst Gaol three times between 1882 and 1884. Online trees, who have not attempted to identify Bridget, indicated that Benjamin was the son of James WOOD and Elizabeth VANDERS or VANDRY. There are some problems with these trees as they show that Benjamin's father died in 1826, 17 years before Benjamin had been born,48 but they do confirm that Benjamin died in Waterloo in 188949 and it is known that he had to have died between 1884 when he was in gaol and 1903 when Bridget remarried.50 || This subsequent marriage confirmed that the marriage to Benjamin WOOD was Bridget's first husband.

There is evidence that the marriage to Benjamin WOODS was not happy. Bridget was recorded as WOODS alias BOURKE when she was admitted to Darlinghurst Gaol in 1876.51 As Bridget WOODS, she also appeared for drunkenness in the Water Police Court on 24 June 1876, where she was fined. On this occasion Bridget paid the fine. It is reasonable to expect that Bridget had been trained in her occupation by her father. She was almost certainly the tailoress named Bridget WOODS who was stabbed by William CLEARY in December 1896 as this woman was approximately the correct age.

ALLEGED STABBING AFFRAY. – A tailoress named Bridget Woods, 39, who resides in Surry Hills, was yesterday taken to the Sydney Hospital and treated for several punctured wounds on the scalp. She stated that she had been in the company of a man who had inflicted the wounds with a knife. The Paddington police subsequently took into custody a man, and charged him with stabbing her.52

Even though reports suggested that this woman had been born in about 1857, this difference in age at this time in the history of NSW is not considered significant and it matched reasonably well with the age Bridget gave at the time of her second marriage. On 30 September 1903, at the age of 47 and as a widow, Bridget Mary WOODS of Bedford Street, Sydney, married Barnard SMITH. The witnesses were S. D. YARRINGTON and A. YOUNG. The identity of these witnesses is still unknown. Bridget's father was confirmed as the tailor, Thomas BOURKE, who was identified as the only parent of either participant who had died. Bridget's mother was confirmed on the registrations as Mary BUTLER. Barnard was the son of the Royal Naval mariner, James SMITH, and his wife, Rebecca SINES. He was a tinsmith who lived in Bondi but who had been born in Portsmouth, England, in about 1857.53 Barnard may have been the man arrested for assaulting a constable in Sydney in November 1899.54

No children were recorded for the couple as either Barnard or Bernard. The couple were poor and were almost certainly the same couple who were sent to gaol in October 1919 charged with destitution. Even though Bridget was recorded as 57 in the newspapers at the time, this appearance is still considered to be her.

Bondi Cave-Dwellers
Old Couple Sent to Gaol
Bernard Smith, 64, and Bridget Mary Smith, 57, appeared at Paddington Police Court this morning, on a charge of having no lawful visible means of support. Sergeant Toohey said that he found the couple in a cave under a huge rock at North Bondi. The place was destitute of furnishing. There were no blankets, and no food, and the only article in the cave was an old tin, in which a fire had been kindled. The two had been inhabiting the cave for years, on and off. Both were in a dirty condition. The woman had been sent to an inebriate home for a year, but on getting out she had rejoined her husband at the cave. Many complaints had been received about the accused begging for food, and becoming abusive if it was not forthcoming.

Bernard Smith said he had been living at Bondi for 30 years, and had lived for 10 years in "this stone house."
The Magistrate (Mr. Clarke): They say you live in a cave.
Smith: I can't help it. I suffer from rheumatism. I go out soldering kettles and pans.
The woman here took a hand. "He is my husband," she said. "I'm supposed to go wherever he goes, which I will do until I die. Wherever he is I'll be with him. We had food. I was doing a bit of cooking when the police came. Give us this chance for the love of Heaven. We'll go up the country. It'll be the turning-point of our lives."
The Magistrate, remarking that she would certainly go where her husband went, sentenced both accused to two months' hard labor.55

Bernard SMITH died in Granville on 9 March56 1921, where his parents were confirmed on the NSW BDM Index.57 No Family Notice has been recorded in either the Sydney Morning Herald or The Sun up to and including 14 March and because the couple were destitute, it is considered unlikely that one will be found. Bernard was buried at Rookwood Catholic Cemetery at the age of 64 but no apparent relation shared his grave.58 He was likely buried in a pauper's grave.

Bridget was not the woman identified in Sand's Directory as Mrs Bridget WOOD living in Portman Street, Waterloo, in 1905 and at 19 Dudley Street, Paddington, in 1915. No trace has yet been confirmed for Bridget after the 1919 court appearance and it is still unknown whether she was alive at the time of Bernard's death. Because both Bernard's parents were identified it may be that she outlived him but his death registration has not been viewed so the informant is unknown.

No appropriate death for Bridget SMITH occurred prior to 1921. No burial of Bridget SMITH at Rookwood Catholic Cemetery has a similar burial lot number to Bernard's although it is believed likely that she was interred in this cemetery if she died in Sydney. No burial of a Bridget with no identified surname between 1903 and 1950 was recorded in the same grave as either Bernard SMITH or Thomas BOURKE. No 1913 Sydney electoral roll recorded a Bernard and Bridget SMITH at the same address and no roll recorded any Bridget SMITH. No remarriages of a Bridget SMITH yet found are considered likely even though all were after 1915 as she was destitute and inebriate and aged.


Bridget was clearly recorded in the Entrance Book as the daughter of Thomas and Mary BOURKE of Sussex-street, Sydney. Even knowing their names the accurate identification of this couple and their other children is ongoing and difficult. Bridget had been born in Sydney as this birth location was stated on both her marriage registrations and confirmed in her probable gaol admission in 1870. Industrial school records indicated that Bridget had been born in about 1853. While subsequent ages recorded for her suggested that she was younger, it is believed that these ages were more likely to have been deliberately understated and therefore erroneous. The most accurate year of birth was the year that was stated when she married in 1872. She had required permission to marry and her father was almost without any doubt the witness to her marriage. No baptism for Bridget has been identified.

Bridget had been born in about 1853 which was before compulsory registration in NSW so only a baptism would remain if one survived. She was the daughter of Thomas BOURKE and his wife Mary BUTLER. This couple had married in Ireland in about 184559 before they emigrated to Australia in about 1851.60 No record of their arrival has been located. It may also be possible that they arrived separately.

Identifying Bridget's siblings is ongoing. She had at least three siblings or half-siblings, two brothers and one sister,61 who were likely younger than her so had been born between 1853 and 1861. The birth registration for Thomas in 186162 identified that he had two older sisters and two older brothers and one sister had died so Thomas was likely the youngest of the BOURKE children. To date many pre-1856 baptisms have been viewed but none have yet matched this family in any way. There are many post-1856 registrations for children of Thomas and Mary BOURKE in the Sydney area but confirmation is difficult as there were at least three couples in Sydney with these names. Birth and death registrations do not name any of the children but the witnesses on different family registrations identify that Bridget's siblings included Catherine who was known as Kate, Patrick and Thomas.

Identifying Thomas BOURKE has been difficult as there were many men with this name in NSW at this time but it is believed that he has been identified. Registrations confirm this identification. Thomas had been born in county Kilkenny, Ireland, in about 1823 and was living in Castlereagh Street when Thomas was born.63 By 1868 Thomas had been a resident of Sydney for about twelve years so had arrived in about 1856. By 1869 he and his family were residents of 420 Sussex Street.64 Sand's Directory identified that Thomas, recorded variously as BOURKE or BURKE, had been working as a tailor at 414 Sussex Street in 1865 and 1866 and at 420 Sussex Street in 1867, 1868, 1869, 1870, 1871 and 1873. After 1873 Thomas wasn't in Sussex Street.65 Prior to a move to Sussex Street he was likely to have been working as a tailor at 53 Bathurst Street in 1861. There is no confirmation for him anywhere before this date. He doesn't appear on historic electoral rolls and no man of this name appeared in the City of Sydney Archives living in Sussex Street.

Because Sands Directory identified no tailor named Thomas BOURKE living in Sydney after about 1875 it is thought that Thomas had died between 1869 and 1880 as he was the only one of the four parents recorded as deceased when Bridget made her second marriage in 1903. The death registration for the Thomas BOURKE who died on 9 February 1873, at the age of 58 years confirmed that he was a tailor and the husband of Mary BUTLER. His age at death was nearly ten years older than the age he provided on the registration of his son, Thomas. The most accurate year of birth was not about 1815 but about 1823. Thomas was buried in the Rookwood Catholic Cemetery and shared a grave66 with another Thomas BOURKE who died on 4 December 1895. This younger man was 35 years old when he died and his parents were recorded on the NSW BDM Index as Thomas and Mary. The older man was Bridget's father and there is little doubt that the younger man was her brother, one of the unidentified boys referred to by the constables in 1869. The NSW BDM Index identified the parents of the older man as Edward and Mary.67 The death registration confirmed that Thomas had arrived in NSW in about 1852 and had married at the age of 29 in about 1844. The informant was a cousin named Patrick McC[unknown]68 who lived in Dowling Street and the witnesses at the time he died were Patrick and Kate BOURKE who are believed to be two of his children. He had been the father to five children – three boys and two girls, all of whom were alive in 1873.69

While there were other families living in Sydney with this specific relationship, they have been eliminated and that elimination is outlined below.

No arrival as an assisted immigrant in NSW has been found for a tailor named Thomas BOURKE or BURKE, quite a skilled occupation. Victorian records have not yet been searched. A man of this name and age had been imprisoned in Newcastle Gaol in 1832-183370 who had arrived on the Norfolk (3) in 1832. This record was twenty years before it was stated that Thomas had arrived. There was no indication of any occupation in the gaol records but the bound indent identified that this man had been transported for seven years from County Clare as Thomas BURKE in 1832 and had been a stableboy. This is unlikely to be the family of the Newcastle admission.

Bridget's mother, Mary BUTLER, was identified when Bridget married for a second time in 1903. Little is yet known of her. Like Thomas she had been born in county Kilkenny, Ireland, in about 1828.71 After Thomas died she was listed in Sand's Directory in 1875 and 1876, still living at 420 Sussex Street. In 1879 she had recently been or was still a resident of 420 Sussex Street.72 Mary was believed to still be alive in 1903 as, while Bridget's father was recorded on the marriage registration to Bernard SMITH as deceased, her mother was not.

It may be that Mary was the Mrs Mary BOURKE who died on 31 March 1906.

BOURKE.—The Funeral of the late Mrs. MARY BOURKE will leave 29 Hopetoun-street, Paddington, THIS (Monday) MORNING, at 9 a.m., for Waverley Cemetery. (By request, no flowers.)73

No further details for this woman have yet been located so her age is unknown. The matching death registration identified that this woman's parents were Thomas and Mary.74. A burial in Waverley Cemetery would explain why there was no Mary BOURKE buried with Thomas BOURKE in Rookwood Cemetery. Sand's Street Index in 1905 showed that the occupant of 29 Hopetoun Street was Walter LOWE and this man had married Edwardina M. GRAY in 1896.75 A connection is still being investigated but the consideration that there is no connection makes this being Bridget's mother less likely.

Bridget's likely sister, Kate BOURKE, may have been the 23-year-old woman who appeared charged with obscene language in November 1883.76 The Darlinghurst Gaol admissions only provided the additional information that this woman used an alias of GREEN.77

Who were Thomas and Mary BOURKE?
The following research has been left to avoid completing it again and to provide a reliable elimination of Bridget's potential siblings and for the deaths of Thomas and Mary.

A tailor named Thomas BOURKE was a resident of Goulburn Street when he was the witness into a death in Durand's Alley in November 1859.78 It cannot be ascertained whether this was Bridget's father as another tailor living in Sydney was also named Thomas BOURKE or BURKE. The two tailors can be separated in Sands Directory. The other Thomas BOURKE was employed by ELSWORTHY in 185679 and was a resident of 12 Swan Street in 1861, 1863, 1864 and was almost certainly living at 11 Swan Street in 1867, 1868, 1871, 1873 and 1875. The City of Sydney Archives indicated that this man owned his house. Sands Directory identified no tailor named Thomas BURKE or BOURKE after 1875 and before 1884. In 1884 a tailor of this name was again recorded in Brisbane Street but it isn't possible to identify whether this was a new tailor or one of the two former men. It is believed that this man was the tailor, Thomas BOURKE, who was hit and killed80 by a tram in September 1883,81 He had been born before 181282 and had a wife named Anne, who was still alive in 1883. His sons were Michael, Andrew83 Michael,84 and Walter BURKE.85 Michael and Walter were still alive in 1883.

Thomas cannot have been the man who was also having children in Sydney from about 1860 with his wife, Mary. In 1869 this Thomas was identified as a 33-year-old gardener who lived in Hunters Hill so had been born in about 1828. Thomas and Mary BRADY had married in New Zealand in about 1863. No appropriate marriage has been identified in New Zealand records. This couple registered two children in the Ryde area of north Sydney. The children were John BOURK in 186586 and Thomas BOURK in 1869. By 1869 the older child, John, was three-and-a-half and there were only two boys in the family.87 Further siblings may have been born after 1869 but none have been confirmed. John BOURKE died in Sydney in July 1880 and he was probably fifteen,88 so it is believed that this was the boy whose birth registration was made in Ryde in 1865.89 His mother was identified as Mrs Mary BOURKE90 and he was her eldest son.91 His death registration identified that his father was Thomas.92 John's Funeral Notice suggested, but didn't state, that his mother was widowed. John does not appear in the Rookwood Catholic Burials so he was probably buried somewhere else and it must be questioned whether any of his family were buried there. This elder Thomas cannot have been the man who was buried in Rookwood in 1873 as, while his son, Thomas, had been born at about the same time as Bridget's brother, this man was too young. It is also likely that the other son, Thomas, was the man who was often in gaol during the 1890s as, just prior to two year imprisonment in 1891, he stated that he had been born at Hunters' Hill. He was still alive in 1896.93

Thomas cannot have been the man who died in the Sydney Infirmary as Thomas BOURKE on 20 September 1874,94 at the age of 59.95 He was identified as a bricklayer on his death registration. John BLACKSTONE, the manager of the Sydney Infirmary was the informant and he did not complete the sections recording whether Thomas had ever married or had children. It therefore cannot be ascertained how an online tree can be certain that he was the Thomas BOURK, who had married Mary Ann McCABE nee DOWNEY, the widow of James McCABE.96 It is very strongly suspected that these researchers who have not viewed this death registration. This tree identified that Mary Ann had a daughter named Bridget who had been born in 1858. Because her marriage was also identified on the tree, it is likely that, this wasn't the Newcastle admission adopting Thomas's surname. The tree identified that Mary Ann died in Mummell, near Goulburn, on 15 August 1874,97 shortly before the Sydney death of the man attributed as her husband. The tree further recorded that Thomas and Mary Ann had had two children in Sydney They identify that the children were John Thomas, born in 1870,98 and Helena, born in 1872.99 The author is skeptical of this claim and has attributed the birth of John Thomas BOURK in 1870 to the family outlined below although the birth registration has not been viewed. Mary Ann was reported to have been nearly in or in her 50s when these two births occurred and, while this is not impossible, this must be questioned but it cannot be confirmed if these are errors. Nothing concerning the death of either Thomas or Mary has been located on Trove. Thomas was buried at Rookwood and these records indicate that he had been born in about 1815. Nobody has yet been found sharing his grave.100 The tree identified 1820 as Thomas' date of birth and has nothing further about him so it is unreliable.

The Thomas BOURKE and Mary BUTLER who lived and died in Victoria and who are identified on online trees are not thought to be connected. This Thomas was a carpenter and has been identified as dead in 1851 so he pre-deceased the birth of Bridget.

The following children were those of Thomas and Mary BOURKE. Thomas BOURKE and Mary CONLIN, CONLAN or CONLEN had married in Newcastle in 1859.101 Their first children were registered in Maitland but the family moved to Ultimo around 1867 when further children were born and their sons, William and Martin, died in quick succession. While no reference to this couple has yet been found on the HVPRI and no birth registration for any child has been cited, the Queensland death registration and NSW Funeral Notice for their son, Patrick, identified the surname CONLON.

Sister Ann BOURKE b. 1859102 m. (1) 1888103 (2) 1907104 (1) Joseph J. McCAFFERY (2) Denis CUNNEEN d. 1933105
Brother William BOURKE b. 1860106 m. none - d. 1867107
Sister Ellen aka Lena BOURKE b. 1862108 m. 1886109 George SCUDDER d. 1910110
Brother Martin BOURKE b. 1863111 m. none - d. 1867112
Brother Patrick BOURKE b. 1864113 m. none - d. 1900114
Sister Mary BOURKE b. 1865115 m. none d.c. 1865
Sister Mary A. BOURKE b. 1866116 m. 1886117 George Humphrey LESLIE d. 1939118
Brother John Thomas119 BOURKE b. 1870120 m. d. 1957121
Sister Catherine aka Kate BOURKE b.c. 1886122 m. none - d. 1916

The family can be identified using Family Notices and the NSW BDM Index. Searches for "Thomas and Mary BOURKE" in Family Notices identified that their daughter, Catherine (Kate) BOURKE, died in 1916.123 Her Funeral Notice read:

BOURKE. – November 1, 1916, at the residence of her sister, Mrs. G. H. Leslie, 16 Linthorpe-street, Newtown, Catherine (Kate), youngest daughter of the late Thomas and Mary Bourke, of Ultimo. R.I.P.

Catherine was buried in the Rookwood Catholic Cemetery124 and the reference identified that she shared the grave with the man who was almost certainly her father, Thomas, who had died on 23 December 1904, at the age of 64. A check by date of the NSW BDM Index identified that his parents were Michael H. and Ann.125 Catherine's sister, recorded as Mrs. G. H. LESLIE in Catherine's Funeral Notice was Mary A. BOURK who had married George H. LESLIE in Sydney in 1886.126 Mary Ann LESLIE died in late June 1939127 and was also buried in Rookwood Catholic Cemetery. She and her daughter, Mary, who died in 1973, share a plot.128 George LESLIE was buried in a different plot.129

The Mary BOURKE who died at her residence at 93 Quarry Street, Ultimo, on 14 April 1905, at the age of 70 was the mother of Mary Ann LESLIE, Kate BOURKE, John BOURKE, Annie McCAFFREY and Lena SCUDDER130 confirming that she was the wife of Thomas BOURKE. Mary was buried at Rookwood Catholic Cemetery131 and articles confirmed that Thomas had pre-deceased her.132 Her parents were recorded on the NSW BDM Index as John and Mary.133

The death of Annie CUNNEEN in November 1933134 confirmed another sister.135 Her Funeral Notice read:

CUNNEEN. – The Relatives and Friends of Mr. and Mrs. G. H. LESLIE and FAMILY, Mr. and Mrs. J. T. BOURKE and FAMILY and Mr. and Mrs. F. G. WAUGH and FAMILY are invited to attend the Funeral of their dearly beloved SISTER and AUNT Annie Cunneen to leave the residence of her NIECE, 8 Edward-street, Marrickville, THIS DAY, at 2 p.m., for Catholic Cemetery, Rookwood, by road. Friends travelling by Funeral Train alight No. 3 Cemetery Platform.

Annie was 73 when she died in 1933.136 Her first marriage was to Joseph J. McCAFFERY in 1888137 and as Ann McCAFFREY she then married Denis CUNNEEN in 1907.138 She and Dennis were buried in the Rookwood Catholic Cemetery.139 Dennis Michael CUNNEEN had died in 1924.

Another sister, Lena BOURKE, was thought to be the girl registered as Ellen. As Lena she married George SCUDDER in 1902 in Sydney.140 Lena died in 1910 where further extended family were identified.

SCUDDER. – The Friends of Mr. and Mrs. CUNNEEN, Mr. and Mrs. LESLIE, and Mr. JOHN and Miss CATHERINE BOURKE are respectfully invited to attend the Funeral of their late dearly loved SISTER, Mrs. Lena Scudder; to leave 10 William Henry street, Ultimo, THIS AFTERNOON, at 1.30, for the Necropolis.
SCUDDER. – The Friends of Mrs. CATHERINE BOURKE, Mr. JOSEPH and Miss KATIE BOURKE are respectfully invited to attend the Funeral of their late dearly loved NIECE, Mrs. Lena Scudder; to leave 10 William Henry-street Ultimo, THIS AFTERNOON, at 1.30, for the Necropolis. COFFILL and COMPANY.141

Patrick BOURKE, otherwise Francis BOURKE, died in Queensland in March 1900 at the age of 35. He was described in the SMH as the eldest son of Thomas and Mary BOURKE of Ultimo.142 This notice suggested that both Thomas and Mary were still alive in 1900 and that was known to be the case. Patrick had married Rebecca CORRIGAN in Sydney in 1890143 and they had a daughter, May.144 The Queensland BDM Index indicated that his parents were Thomas BOURKE and Mary CONLON. It is unknown whether the family were connected to William, the nephew of Denis and Mary BOURKE who died in 1902.145

The only surviving son of the family, John, was recorded as J. P. BOURKE in Mary LESLIE's Funeral Notice. This was thought to have been a compositing error for J. T. BOURKE as he was recorded this way in other notices. John Thomas BOURKE had been born in Sydney in 1870. He had possibly married Ellen O'CONNELL in Redfern in 1925. This couple may have been living at 17 Georgina Street, Camperdown, in 1930.146

Bridget was not a member of the family who arrived on the Malvina Vidal in June 1853. The indent identified a Thomas BURKE, 35, with a wife Mary Ann née PORTER, 29, and two sons, Edmund (7) and John (2). Thomas was from Duccallo, Co. Kilkenny. Both his mother and Mary’s mother were named Bridget. His brother, John, was already in Sydney. They were Catholic but he was a farm labourer and not a tailor. It is possible that Edmund died in Campbelltown in 1871.147 No trace of this family has yet been confirmed in NSW.

A Mary BURKE was the mother of Patrick BURKE whose wife, Bridget, committed suicide in 1859. Possibly Patrick's father was Thomas but this family is considered unlikely to be connected to Bridget as their children were likely to be too old.

Where has She Gone?

Much of the following information is included here to avoid repeating the research.

Bridget is unlikely to be the woman who often appeared in Maitland Gaol during the 1870s as this woman was born in Maitland in about 1848 so was too old. She was unlikely to have been the mother of the illegitimate son, Herbert Patrick BURKE148 as this woman was admitted to the Benevolent Asylum and was recorded as nineteen years of age, so she was too young.

Because she stated that she had been born in Sydney and her family had been reported to have been in Sydney since at least from 1860, Bridget is unlikely to be the seven-year-old Bridget BURKE who arrived with her father, Thomas, aged 37, and brother, Thomas, aged 3, on the Morning Star in 1864. Thomas' literacy levels also do not match those exhibited in his letters. This family was identified on the index as children of residents and their mother was reported as being in 'Golburn, Sydney' but wasn’t named on either indent. This Bridget had been born in Ballytagh, Tipperary.

All other marriages for Thomas BOURKE, BURK or BURKE that could identify an earlier family were:
1. In 1836 as BOURK to Mary MILDENHALL in the Catholic Church at St Mary's, Sydney [V90 1836/113]
2. In 1841 as BOURKE to Margaret DWYER in the Catholic Church at St Mary's, Sydney [V91 1841/933]
3. In 1844 as BURKE to Mary WHITE in the Catholic Church at St Mary's, Sydney [V93 1844/2569] This was a Catholic record in Redfern so the Mary's maiden name was recorded on the 1846 baptism of Mary A. BOURKE. No occupation was recorded for Thomas.149
4. In 1846 as BURKE & BOURKE to Eliza SMALLHORN in the Catholic Church at St Mary's, Sydney [V94 1846/654]
5. In 1847 as BURKE to Alice WILLIAMS in the Presbyterian Church at St Andrew's, Sydney [V32 1847/45] & St Mary's, Sydney [V95 1847/783 ]
6. In 1847 as BURKE to Mary RYAN in the Catholic Church at St Mary's, Sydney [V95 1847/1027] The baptism of Michael BOURKE in Redfern was Catholic and indicated Mary's maiden name but provided no occupation for Thomas.150
7. In 1853 as BURK to Bridget NASH in the Church of England Church at Penrith [V29 1853/301] & St Mary's, Sydney [V99 1853/301]

Thomas cannot have been the Thomas BURKE who married Mary SHIRLEY in 1835 in the Church of England Church, and registered at Castlereagh [V19 1835/1231]. Thomas BOURKE (30) per the Mangles (4) and Mary Ann SHIRLEY (21) per the Fanny (2) were granted permission to marry on 8 July 1835, by H. FULTON at Castlereagh and were having children in the Hunter Valley. Thomas was a farmer and this was not an appropriate match to what is known of the family of the Newcastle admission. Online trees further indicate that Thomas died in the Hunter Valley.

It is unlikely that in 1857 as Thomas BOURKE he married Mary Elizabeth EYLES at Sydney [923/1857] as online trees identify a large number of children, none of whom was Bridget and a family that probably did not remain in Sydney.

The family of BOURKE children admitted to the Randwick Asylum in October 1866 were the children of John and Kate BOURKE so were not connected to Bridget.

No appropriate marriage for the couple, Thomas BOURKE and his wife, Catherine, has been identified. Two children were baptised – Maria BOURKE151 and Catherine BOURKE.152

The following marriages are unlikely as they are too far from Sydney or occurred outside Sydney when Thomas was known to be a resident of Sussex Street.
1. In 1843 as BOURKE to Mary A. MURPHY in the Catholic Church at Melbourne [V18432292 93/1843]
2. In 1855 as BURKE to Rebecca WILSON in the Presbyterian Church at Bowenfels [V1855195 82/1855]
3. In 1866 as BOURKE to Emma EAGAR at Bombala [1603/1866]
4. In 1867 as BOURKE to Honora FRANCIS at Maitland [2327/1867]
5. In 1867 as BOURKE to Mary O'DONNELL at Camden [1816/1867]
6. In 1867 as BOURKE to Anastasia DAVIS at Bathurst [1502/1867]

Updated December 2019

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License