Bridget McELROY
Name Variations McEVOY, McALROY, McELVOY
Father Edward McELROY1 b.c. 18202 m. bef. 1864 d. aft. 1870
Mother Margaret (Madge) McELROY3 b.c. 1827 m. bef. 1864 d. 18664
Sister Catherine McELROY b.c. 1850 m. unknown GARRITTY5 d. aft. 1887
Brother James McELROY b.c. 1853 m. none - d. 18786
Brother Edward McELROY b.c. 1855 m. none7 - d. 19378
Inmate Bridget McELROY9 b.c. 1857 m. none (see below) d. aft. 1875
Brother Dennis McELROY b.c. 1859 m. none - d. 192910
Brother John Edward11 McELROY b.c. 1862 m. none - d. 195312
Husband unknown AH HOY b. m. d.
Daughter Margaret Ah Hoy McALROY b. 187513 m. d.
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Sister Catherine14 34 5’ 5” blonde brown
Inmate Bridget15 15 4’ 10½” brown blue-grey fair stout

Note: Although it has not been possible to positively confirm the exact spelling of her surname, it is believed that, although she was recorded in some industrial school records as McEVOY, the most appropriate spelling for Bridget's surname was McELROY.

Bridget was reported in the newspapers as Bridget McEVOY, when she appeared before the Central Police Court on 16 June 1870, after being arrested under the Industrial Schools Act.16 Detective CAMPHIN gave evidence that between nine and ten the previous night he had seen Bridget near the Bathurst Street entrance to Hyde Park speaking to a man who was about fifty. Sergeant GOLDRICK stated that he then searched a brothel in Castlereagh Street kept by ELKINS to find Bridget but she was not there. He afterwards saw her running away and eventually she was brought back by the police. In reply to his questions Bridget said that she went to the house with a gentleman who gave her five shillings and that on a previous occasion she'd seen him for a 'like purpose at the same house, and received the same remuneration.' Bridget stated that she was nearly sixteen years old, that her mother was dead and that she didn’t know where her father lived. She added that she hadn’t seen him for four or five months but that he worked as a labourer in the service of the Corporation. Bridget was sent to Newcastle.

Unusually, it took a fortnight from the date of her trial to be recorded in the Entrance Book for the Newcastle institution as she was admitted there on 30 June 1870.17 No reason for this delay in being sent from Sydney has been identified and it may be that she arrived immediately after her trial but that her admission details weren't entered in the Entrance Book until some days after her arrival. Records for Bridget would have appeared in the missing section of the Entrance Book so no verification of her family, religion, education or discharge can be verified from this source but as her name was recorded as McEVOY in correspondence connected with her held in the CSIL, this must have been the name under which she was admitted.

About six months after her admission to Newcastle Bridget was one of the four ringleaders18 of the riot that occurred in the school on the night of 6 January 1871.19 CLARKE stated:

… that the eleven girls who conducted themselves so badly, are still in solitary confinement and on bread and water diet they cannot in any way account for their conduct nor give any reason for acting as they have done, it has been estimated that it will take from £8 to £10 to repair the damage they have done.
Under these circumstances I would most respectfully suggest that the four ringleaders … should be handed over to the Police Magistrate and dealt with according to law for using obscene language, for mutinous conduct, and for wilfully destroying Government property. On speaking to Mr Scott on the subject I regret to find that the punishment is not near so great for such conduct as I think they deserve.20

As a result of CLARKE's request, on 13 March, and as Bridget McEVOY, Bridget was tried with a group of girls21 who were all charged in Newcastle Court under the Injuries to Property Act with wilfully destroying Government property during the March riot. Bridget was identified as one of the two most violent of the March rioters. The girls were fined five pounds each with the alternative to be sent to Maitland Gaol for one month's hard labour.22 Bridget, in this instance recorded with the surname McELROY, was admitted to Maitland Gaol with the rest of the industrial school rioters. The Maitland Gaol description book recorded that she was a Catholic who had been born in Scotland.23 Bridget could not recall the name of her ship of arrival but did state that she had arrived in 1861. As Bridget McELROY, she subsequently appeared in the Maitland Gaol punishment return for April 1871 together with other industrial school girls also sent to Maitland for their involvement in the same riot.24 These girls continued to misbehave during their time in gaol. The Maitland Gaol punishment return indicated that Bridget had spent seven days in the cells for being 'disorderly in [her] cell' and she received a further seven days for 'striking a fellow prisoner.'25 Bridget was released from Maitland on 12 April 1871.26 She transferred with the school to Biloela in May 1871 as she was recorded in the letter written to the Colonial Secretary by LUCAS, on 23 June 1871, as one of those girls eligible for service.27 Bridget continued to rebel as in his report on 20 November later that year, LUCAS reported that Bridget was one of seven girls28 who were:

confined in No. 3 Dormitory for the remainder of the day for holding conversation with some men in a boat cruising off the island.29

Bridget was apprenticed to Major R. J. MURPHY, Esq.,30 of Grena,31 near Mummell near Goulburn, on 22 January 1872.32 LUCAS's correspondence confirmed Bridget's admission month and year, reported that she was sixteen and that she had been conducting herself well. Little credence should be placed on this assessment of Bridget's character by LUCAS as this was a standard response made when he discharged girls from Biloela. Bridget's apprenticeship was to be for two years and she was to be paid two shillings a week for the first year and three shillings a week for the second year.33 LUCAS confirmed Bridget's apprenticeship in his report to the Colonial Secretary on 29 January.34 Her two year apprenticeship would have concluded by January 1874 but just over a year after it began, Bridget gave herself up to the police for protection and appeared in Goulburn Police Court on 22 March 1873.

Bridget McEvoy, a girl seventeen years of age, was brought up by the police for protection. Constable Lloyd deposed: The girl came to the lockup on Friday afternoon and knocked at the door; she said she had been working at Major Morphy's as a servant, and had hardly any clothes to wear; she also said she had been overworked, and received no wages; she had been taken from the industrial school at Biloela by Major Morphy, as a servant; he had since threatened her with the police, and she gave herself up sooner than be taken; Major Morphy called at the lockup and tried to reason with the girl, and offered to take her back, but she declined to go; Senior-sergeant Fenton then directed [the police] to arrest her for protection. Remanded until Monday for the evidence of Major Morphy.35

On Monday 24 March MORPHY's evidence was given and:

The police-magistrate said the girl had rendered herself liable to be imprisoned in gaol for two months. It would be much better for her to go back and serve her eight months with Major Morphy, and then she could go as a servant where she liked. Defendant consented, and was ordered to be locked up until the cart came in for her.36

No details of the evidence outlined by MORPHY were reported in the Goulburn Herald and Chronicle and it may be that the Goulburn Evening Penny Post may provide further details of the circumstances of this trial when this date is eventually scanned. It is likely but unconfirmed that Bridget finished her apprenticeship in Goulburn at about the end of 1873. After this date it is believed that she returned to Sydney.

There is almost no doubt that as Bridget McALROY, she was the mother to an illegitimate daughter, Margaret Ah Hoy McALROY, in Sydney in July 1875. Margaret's name very strongly suggested that her father was of Chinese descent and that she had been named after Bridget's mother. This birth has been tentatively attributed to Bridget but the registration has not been viewed. It is also considered very likely that this was the same Bridget McEVOY who had appeared in the Central Police Court on 29 March 1886, about eleven years later, charged with being riotous.37

No further trace of Bridget as either McELROY or McEVOY has been verified after 1875 but as Bridget McEVOY she may be the woman who gave birth to a daughter, Mary V. McEVOY, in 1888.38 No marriages for either Bridget McEVOY or McELROY have been recorded in the NSW BDM Index after this date.


Bridget's parents have still not been positively identified and the family outlined here is based on conjecture, supposition and circumstantial evidence only. Part of the difficulty in accurately identifying Bridget is because of the verified use of two different, but similar surnames while she was at the school. Even though Bridget was recorded on LUCAS’s list, copied from the original register in April 1872, as Bridget McEVOY, no trace of any suitable family with this surname can be confirmed. It is conceivable that Bridget was uncertain of the spelling of her surname. The pronunciation of the names McELROY and McEVOY is very close and it is also conceivable that Bridget's accent created a further difficulty for those responsible for its transcription.

The Maitland Goal Entrance Book recorded that Bridget's surname had been interpreted by administrators at the time she was admitted in 1871 as McELROY and based on her statement, she had been born in Scotland in about 1858. This then very strongly suggests that the eight-year-old Bridget, her mother, Madge, and five siblings arrived in December 1865, aboard the Star of Brunswick. While the origin for this family disagreed with Bridget's stated place of birth in 1871, this arrival has been attributed to her.39 The family was from Falcarragh, Donegal, Ireland.40 No father arrived with the family but the Deposit Journals recorded that they had been sponsored by their husband and father, Edward McELROY. This sponsorship was confirmed in the newspapers.41 There is little doubt that Edward had left Ireland before his family to establish himself in NSW.

Edward has not been positively identified but if the correct family has been found, he had to have arrived between about 1861, a year before his youngest child was born, and late 1864 or early 1865, in time to sponsor his family to follow him. Edward may be the Edward McEVOY who was in Darlinghurst Gaol in 1868. This man had arrived on the Ocean in 1864 and was a Catholic who had been born in Ireland in about 1828.42 This arrival would fit well with a deposition made the following year. It was probably this man who was released from Darlinghurst in October 1868.43 Edward may have been the man who, two years earlier, had stolen a coat and who had been sentenced to three months in Darlinghurst.44 He was unlikely to be the man who died in Parramatta in 188645 as this man had been born in about 1810 and was probably the convict of the same name who had arrived on the Cambridge. Because Bridget and her siblings had been born overseas, this convict cannot be their father. Edward cannot be the Edward McEVOY who died in Sydney in 187246 at the age of 52, as this man was that of the surveyor who had been in NSW since the 1850s,47 a time when Bridget's father had to have been in Ireland.

Little is known of Madge or Margaret McELROY. Unfortunately no second immigration reel has survived for the Star of Brunswick to allow a verification of Margaret's surname and parents. Margaret was recorded on the Star of Brunswick indent as Madge but she died as Margaret McELROY in 1866. Margaret's death registration on the NSW BDM Index recorded that her parents were Denis and Margaret. Her actual death certificate would almost certainly provide her maiden name and confirm the length of time that she had lived in NSW. This 1866 death verified Bridget's 1870 statement that her mother had died. Further support for this being Margaret's death occurred on 4 August 1866 when Bridget's youngest two brothers, Dennis and John McELROY, were admitted to the Randwick Asylum for Destitute Children. The brothers were 'received from father who is a drayman + unable to attend to them his wife being dead.'48

Of the two boys admitted to the Randwick Asylum in 1866, Dennis was apprenticed in 1871 to the Clarence River.49 Dennis almost certainly died in November 1929. He was 68 and his father was recorded as Dennis.50 His obituary confirmed that he had a brother, John, living in Casino.51 Dennis cannot have married Bridget MORRISSEY in 1883 as this man died in 1901 when his will was read. He was a teacher and he had three sons named George, Francis and David.52

John was apprenticed in 1876 from Randwick to Mullenderie53 – probably near Moruya. John's death was almost certainly registered in the Casino area but his death also recorded that his father was Denis.

It is believed that James died in Sydney at the age of 26 in 1878.54

Bridget's older sister, Catherine, was admitted to Darlinghurst Gaol on many occasions beginning in about 1870. She was charged with stealing from the person and she received a year hard labour which she completed in Maitland Gaol. Unfortunately her description is unreadable.55 She was also admitted to Wollongong Gaol as Kate GARRATTY or McELROY early in 1887. Her ship of arrival was confirmed in most gaol records as the Star or Brunswick and many records were for drunkenness.56 Where Catherine acquired the surname GERRITTY aka GERAGHTY is unknown as no marriage nor any confirmed births for her have yet been identified. It is believed that Catherine had acquired the surname from a man with whom she lived. Catherine may have been the mother to the son, Francis P. McEVOY, who died in Sydney in 188957 but the original death registration has not been viewed. It is not believed that Catherine married Charles TOMS in Sydney in 1880.

Bridget's brother, Edward, may be the twenty-eight-year-old, Edward McEVOY for whom a warrant was issued for using indecent language on 29 November 1886.58 The death of Edward on the North Coast of NSW, the area where his brothers were known to have settled, identified that this 94-year-old man had never married and had no known relations in the area.59 It is yet to be confirmed that this was Bridget's brother.

Where has She Gone?

The Newcastle admission has not been positively identified after 1873 although the illegitimate birth of Margaret Ah Hoy McALROY that has been attributed to her. No connection to any member of her family has been absolutely confirmed.

Bridget isn't connected with either boy named Edward McEVOY, admitted to the Vernon in 1868. The first boy of this name was admitted to Bathurst Gaol in May 1868. These gaol records recorded that he had been tried in Bathurst before being forwarded to the Vernon on 1 June.60 He arrived on the Vernon on 5 June 1868. It was recorded that his father had been dead for about five years and with his brothers he had been involved in a theft.61 There was no age recorded in the Vernon records for this boy. It is thought that this his baptism was recorded in 1853.
This record on the NSW BDM Index identified that his parents were Terence and Margaret62 but it is believed that this entry is in error and the baptism should identify his father as Jeremiah however the original record has not been viewed so it is unknown where or when the error in names occurred. It is thought that the Patrick McEVOY who was admitted to Bathurst Gaol in 1868 was Edward's brother who was almost certainly one of the brothers identified in the Vernon records. He was the child of Jeremiah and Margaret. The Catherine McEVOY who married in 1876 in Bathurst had been born in about 185863 and when she died in Queensland, her parents were confirmed as Jeremiah and Margaret. It is believed that Catherine was Edward's sister.

On 9 December 1868, another Edward McEVOY, had been tried at the Water Police Court where he was reported as Thomas McEVOY. This boy was admitted because he had been wandering the streets with reputed thieves. Edward was a Catholic and had been born on 12 April 1860.64 His birth registration has not been located in the NSW BDM Index. His father, Arthur, was reported to be a sawyer and his mother was a washerwoman and both were alive in December 1868. Arthur couldn’t afford to support Edward at the school. This boy's mother was probably Ann McEVOY nee CLEARY. Arthur McEVOY probably died in Redfern in 1878 at the age of 76 (3454/1878) and was possibly the convict who had arrived on the Asia in about 1825. Anne McEVOY died in Ultimo in 1873 (1022/1873) at the age of 50.

It is believed that that John aka James McEVOY, who had also been admitted to the Vernon, was not connected to Bridget as his mother was also still alive and he had probably been born in Sydney.65 John aka James may however, be related to one of the Vernon admissions named Edward McEVOY.

Because the illegitimate birth of Margaret Ah Hoy McALROY that has been attributed to Bridget occurred in the July of 1875, this birth discounts the only likely marriages made by a woman with a name similar to Bridget's because they occurred before this date. It is remotely possible that Bridget had married and that she and her husband separated after he became aware that she was pregnant and it believed that the child was not his. No marriage registrations have been viewed other than the one outlined below.

The marriage of Bridget McEVOY to Thomas Michael FITZGERALD in 1874 is highly unlikely but records for this woman are inconsistent as her ages are very irregularly recorded. This marriage registration recorded that her father was Patrick and that she was 25. This calculates a year of birth of approximately 1848. The witnesses were Michael (X) O'BRIEN and Mary FLYNN. When Bridget FITZGERALD died in November 193866 her age was recorded as 75 and this calculates that her date of birth was about 1863. These two ages are quite inconsistent and the difference of 14 years for apparently the same person is difficult to justify and considered very significant. It strongly suggests that one or both of the records may contain errors. While this 1874 marriage doesn't match with what is suspected of Bridget, it must be considered that because she had spent a good deal of time away from her father, both prior to her arrival in NSW and after her mother died, it may be that she had fabricated a past and/or made genuine errors when she married. Without parents Bridget could have sought out a Police Magistrate or some other official but this would have required a degree of organisation so lying may have been the most expedient solution. It is conceivable that this occurred because she was under age and would therefore have required permission to marry. However, it is hard to imagine that Bridget would have overstated her age by four years as at this time, the age of 21 was legal.

The Bridget McALROY who married James GILLIES in January67 1875 in Sydney68 and then almost certainly registered four births in the Scone area of the Hunter Valley between 1876 and 1882 cannot be Bridget. When this woman died in 1924, her parents were clearly identified as Bernard and Honorah. This 1875 marriage occurred before the birth of Margaret Ah Hoy McALROY.

The woman who arrived with her family on the Lloyd in 1856, whose father was named Richard, married William KELLY in 1866.

The marriage of Bridget M. McEVOY to Timothy O'MEARA in 1897 in Sydney69 is very unlikely as two children were registered to this couple in 1898 and 1899 and it is unlikely that two children would have been born to a woman of about the age of 50.

No further marriages of a woman named Bridget McEVOY aka McELROY or McALROY or McILROY or McIVOY or McAVOY are recorded in the NSW BDM Index before 1897.

A Michael McEVOY was recorded as employee of the Corporation when he was injured at work in about 1867 and subsequently petitioned for relief due to an illness acquired while he was labouring for the Corporation. His petition was referred to the Finance Committee.70 It is unknown whether, but it is considered unlikely, that this man was Bridget's father as he is likely to have been the Michael McEVOY who married Bridget TRACEY in Sydney in 1842. This couple were not Bridget's parents as Bridget senior was still alive in 1886. Funeral Notices for members of this family may easily be located.

Updated August 2017

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