Bridget McELROY
Name Variations McEVOY, McALROY, McELVOY
Father Edward McELROY1 b.c. 18202 m. bef. 1864 d. aft. 18703
Mother Margaret (Madge) McELROY4 b.c. 1827 m. bef. 1864 d. 18665
Sister Catherine McELROY b.c. 1850 m. d. aft. 1865
Brother James McELROY b.c. 1853 m. d.
Brother Edward McELROY b.c. 1855 m. none6 - d. 19377
Inmate Bridget McELROY8 b.c. 1857 m. none (see below) d. aft. 1875
Brother Dennis McELROY b.c. 1859 m. 18839 Bridget MORRISSEY d. 192910
Brother John Edward11 McELROY b.c. 1862 m. 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
Inmate Bridget14 15 4’ 10½” brown blue-grey fair stout

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

As Bridget McEVOY, Bridget appeared before the Central Police Court on 16 June 1870, after being arrested under the Industrial Schools Act.15 Detective CAMPHIN gave evidence that between nine and ten the previous night he had seen her 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 her. She was not there but he afterwards saw her running away and eventually she had been 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 was a labourer in the service of the Corporation. Bridget was sent to Newcastle. Unusually, it took a fortnight for her to arrive in the Newcastle institution as she was admitted there on 30 June 1870.16 No reason for this delay in being sent from Sydney has been identified and it may be that she arrived immediately 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 in this source but as her name was recorded as McEVOY in correspondence connected with her held in the CSIL, this therefore must have been the name under which she was admitted.

About six months after her admission Bridget was one of the four ringleaders17 of the riot that occurred on the night of 6 January 1871.18 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.19

As a result of CLARKE's request, on 13 March, and as Bridget McEVOY, she was tried with a group of girls20 all charged under the Injuries to Property Act in Newcastle Court with wilfully destroying Government property during the March riot. The girls were fined five pounds each or were to be sent to Maitland Gaol for one month's hard labour as one of the two most violent of the March rioters.21 Bridget, recorded with the surname McELROY, was admitted to Maitland Gaol with the rest of the rioters. The Maitland gaol description book recorded that she was a Catholic who had been born in Scotland.22 She could not recall the name of her ship of arrival but stated that she had arrived in 1861. As Bridget McELROY, she 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,23 as 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 cell' and a further seven days for 'striking a fellow prisoner.'24 Bridget was released from Maitland on 12 April 1871.25 She transferred with the school to Biloela in May 1871 as she was listed in the letter written by LUCAS to the Colonial Secretary on 23 June 1871, as one of those eligible for service.26 She continued to rebel as in his report on 20 November later that year, LUCAS reported that Bridget was one of seven girls27 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.28

Bridget was apprenticed to Mayor R. J. MURPHY, Esq.,29 of Grena,30 near Mummell near Goulburn, on 22 January 1872.31 LUCAS's correspondence confirmed Bridget's admission month and year, reported that she was sixteen and had been conducting herself well. Little credence should be placed on this assessment of Bridget's character as this was a standard response made by LUCAS when he discharged girls from Biloela. Bridget's apprenticeship was 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.32 He confirmed Bridget's apprenticeship in his report to the Colonial Secretary on 29 January.33 Her two year apprenticeship would have concluded by January 1874. Just over a year later 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 me to arrest her for protection. Remanded until Monday for the evidence of Major Morphy.34

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.35

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 it is eventually scanned for this date. It is likely but unconfirmed that Bridget finished her apprenticeship in Goulburn and then 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. This birth has been tentatively attributed to Bridget but the registration has not been viewed. It is also very likely that she was the Bridget McEVOY who appeared in the Central Police Court on 29 March 1886, charged with being riotous.36

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 1888.37 No marriages for Bridget McEVOY or McELROY were recorded after this date.


Bridget's parents have still not been positively identified and the family outlined is based on conjecture and supposition. Part of the difficulty in Bridget's identification is caused by 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 both the pronunciation and spelling of her surname and the current pronunciation of the names McELROY and McEVOY is close. Adding an accent would cause further difficulties.

Goal records indicated that Bridget's surname was interpreted by Maitland Gaol administrators as McELROY and based on her 1871 statement in Maitland Gaol records, she had been born in Scotland in about 1858. Based on this statement it is almost entirely certain that eight-year-old Bridget, her mother, Madge, and five siblings arrived in December 1865, on the Star of Brunswick.38 This arrival has been attributed to the Newcastle admission. The family was from Falcarragh, Donegal, Ireland39 and while this location disagreed with Bridget's stated place of birth, this arrival is thought to refer to her. No father arrived with the family but the Deposit Journals recorded that they had been sponsored by their husband and father, Edward McELROY. His sponsorship was confirmed in the newspapers.40 It is almost certain that Edward had left Ireland first to establish himself in NSW.

Edward has not been identified but if he was Bridget's father and the correct family has been identified, 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 1828.41 This arrival would fit well with a deposition being made the following year. It was probably this man who was released from Darlinghurst in October 1868.42 Edward may have been the man who, two years earlier, had stolen a coat and was sentenced to three months in Darlinghurst.43 He was unlikely to be the man who died in Parramatta in 188644 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 man cannot be their father. It is thought that the most likely death for Edward was as Edward McEVOY aged 52, in 1872 and this death has been tentatively attributed to him.

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 her surname and parents. Margaret was recorded on the indent as Madge and she died as Margaret McELROY in 1866. Margaret's death registration on the NSW BDM Index recorded that they were Denis and Margaret. Her actual death certificate would almost certainly provide her maiden name and confirm the length of time she had been in NSW. The 1866 death matched Bridget's statement that her mother was dead by 1870. Further support was given to this identification as on 4 August 1866, 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.'

Of the two boys admitted to the Randwick Asylum in 1866, Dennis was apprenticed in 1871 to the Clarence River and John in 1876 to Mullenderie45 – probably near Moryua. 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 1886.46 Deaths for John and Dennis were registered in the Casino area. Both recorded that their father was Denis. The death of Edward, also on the North Coast identified that he had never married and had no known siblings.

No trace of Bridget's other siblings have yet been confirmed. Catherine may have married Charles TOMS in Sydney in 1880 but this is yet to be confirmed. The Catherine McEVOY who married Martin McMAHON in 1873 in Dubbo has been identified as arriving in 1856 with parents named James and Catherine. The Catherine McEVOY who married in 1876 in Bathurst was born in about 1858, died in Queensland and her parents were recorded as Jeremiah and Margaret.

Where has She Gone?

Because the illegitimate birth of Margaret Ah Hoy McALROY attributed to Bridget occurred in the July of 1875, her birth discounts the only likely marriages made by a woman with a name similar to Bridget's as they occurred before this date.

The marriage of Bridget McEVOY to Thomas Michael FITZGERALD in 1874 is also highly unlikely, although the ages of this woman are very irregularly recorded. Bridget FITZGERALD died in November 1938,47 and was recorded as seventy-five years of age at this time. This puts her date of birth as about 1863 and this age doesn't gel with the information on her marriage registration which indicated that she was 25 when she married. The differences between the two sets of records for apparently the same person is significant and it suggests that one or both of the records may contain errors. While this marriage doesn't match with what is strongly suspected of Bridget, 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 or made genuine errors when she married. Bridget's father was recorded as Patrick and her year of birth was approximately 1848 when she married and 1863 when she died and an age difference of fourteen years is difficult to justify. She is very unlikely to have been married in 1874 at the age of 11 and no trace of any family has been located. The witnesses were Michael (X) O'BRIEN and Mary FLYNN. It is conceivable that Bridget lied at the time she married because she was under age and would therefore have required permission to marry. The wide difference in her recorded ages suggests that this may have been the case. Without parents she could have sought out a Police Magistrate or other official but this would have required some organisation so lying was probably the most expedient solution.

The Bridget McALROY who married James GILLIES in January48 1875 in Sydney49 and then almost certainly registered four births between 1876 and 1882 in the Scone area of the Hunter Valley cannot be Bridget. When she died in 1924, her parents were clearly identified as Bernard and Honorah.

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

No further marriages of a woman of this name are recorded in the NSW BDM Index before 1897.

Bridget isn't connected with the boy, Edward McEVOY, who was placed on the Vernon on 9 December 1868. This Edward McEVOY was tried at the Water Police Court because he had been wandering the streets with reputed thieves. Edward was a Catholic and was born on 12 April 1860. His birth wasn’t registered in NSW. 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. Ann'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 perhaps 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 was also admitted to the Vernon, was also not connected to Bridget as his mother was also still alive and he had probably been born in Sydney.50 John aka James may however, be related to the Vernon admission, Edward McEVOY.

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.51 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 be easily located.

Updated April 2016

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