Bridget McEVOY
Name Variations McELROY, 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 John AH HOY b. 184013 m. d.
Daughter Margaret Ah Hoy McALROY b. 187514 m. d.
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Sister Catherine15 34 5’ 5” blonde brown
Inmate Bridget16 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, that Bridget's surname was more likely 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.17 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 for her name to be recorded in the Entrance Book of the Newcastle institution as Bridget was finally admitted there on 30 June 1870.18 No reason for this delay in being sent from Sydney has been identified. 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 section of the Entrance Book that has not survived so no verification of her family, religion, education or discharge can be made from this source. As her name was recorded as McEVOY in correspondence connected with her held in the CSIL, this was almost certainly the spelling of the name under which she was admitted so is not useful in confirming the name by which she was known.

About six months after her arrival, Bridget was one of the four ringleaders19 of the riot that occurred in the school on the night of 6 January 1871.20 Of the riot 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.21

On 13 March, as a result of CLARKE's request and again as Bridget McEVOY, Bridget was tried with a group of girls22 who were all charged in the Newcastle Police 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 of being sent to Maitland Gaol for one month's hard labour.23 Bridget, in this instance and in a newspaper report that contained spelling errors for the names of four other girls, was recorded with the surname McELROY, when she was admitted to Maitland Gaol with the rest of the rioters. The Maitland Gaol description book recorded that her surname was McELROY and identified that she was a Catholic who had been born in Scotland.24 Bridget could not recall the name of her ship of arrival but did state that she had arrived in 1861. It is hard to imagine why, at the age of eight, she was unable to remember the name of her ship of arrival and this is worrying as it may indicate that the wrong girl has been identified but it could also be indicative of Bridget's defiance and an intention to deceive. As Bridget McELROY, she and some of the other rioters subsequently appeared in the Maitland Gaol punishment return for April 1871.25 The 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.'26 On 12 April 1871, Bridget was released from Maitland and returned to the school in Newcastle.27 By this date there had been a change in the superintendency of the school and CLARKE had been replaced by George LUCAS.

In May 1871 Bridget transferred with the school to Biloela and was recorded in the letter written to the Colonial Secretary on 23 June 1871, by the new superintendent as one of those girls eligible for service.28 She continued to rebel on the island as in his report on 20 November later that year, LUCAS reported that Bridget was one of seven girls29 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.30

Bridget was apprenticed to Major R. J. MURPHY, Esq.,31 of Grena,32 near Mummell near Goulburn, on 22 January 1872.33 LUCAS's correspondence confirmed Bridget's admission month and year, reported that she was sixteen and stated that she had been conducting herself well. Little credence should be placed on this assessment of Bridget's character by LUCAS as this comment was a standard response made when he discharged girls from Biloela irrespective of their behaviour. Bridget's apprenticeship was to be of two years duration and she was to be paid two shillings a week for the first year and three shillings a week for the second year.34 LUCAS confirmed Bridget's apprenticeship in his report to the Colonial Secretary on 29 January.35 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.36

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.37

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 onto Trove. 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 on 3 July 1875. Bridget was the informant. Margaret's father was the Hong Kong born hawker, John AH HOY who was 35 years of age. Margaret had almost certainly been named after Bridget's mother. Bridget was aged 18 and had been born in Donegal Ireland38 and this was the location for the family outlined in the deposit journals who arrived aboard the Star of Brunswick in 1865. No marriages to any person of potential Chinese ancestry was recorded for any woman named Bridget whose surname began with 'M' until 1875 so it is not believed that this couple had ever married.

No further trace of Bridget as either McELROY or McEVOY has been verified after 1875. She may have been the woman appearing in the Central Police Court in 1883 charged with being riotous. This woman used the alias GILBERT.39 It is considered very likely but it cannot be confirmed, that she was the Bridget McEVOY who had appeared in the Central Police Court on 29 March 1886, charged with being riotous.40 She was not the Bridget McEVOY who gave birth to a daughter, Mary Veronica McEVOY, in 188841 as the registration shows that the mother Bridget had been born in Paddington in about 1870. 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 exact surname can be confirmed. The pronunciation of the names McELROY and McEVOY is extremely close and it is likely that Bridget's accent further created difficulties for those responsible for its transcription. It is also conceivable that Bridget was uncertain of the spelling of her surname and therefore ultimately adopted the spelling of her surname provided in the industrial school records.

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 this statement, she declared that she had been born in Scotland in about 1858. This statement cannot be accepted as the absolute truth as Bridget may have lied or Scotland may have been the country from which the family emigrated. The consideration that Bridget stated that she had not been born in Australia however 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, this arrival has been attributed to her.42 The family was from Falcarragh, Donegal, Ireland.43 No father arrived with the family but the Deposit Journals recorded that Madge and her children had been sponsored by their husband and father, Edward McELROY. This sponsorship was confirmed in the newspapers.44 Therefore there is little doubt that Edward had left Ireland before his family in order to establish himself in NSW.

Edward has not been positively identified but if the correct family has been found, in order to sponsor his family to follow him, he had to have arrived between about 1861, a year before his youngest child was born, and late 1864 or early 1865. 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 1828.45 This arrival would fit well with a deposit made the following year. It was probably this man who was released from Darlinghurst in October 1868.46 Edward may have been the man who, two years earlier, had stolen a coat and who had been sentenced to three months in Darlinghurst.47 He was unlikely to be the man who died in Parramatta in 188648 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 although he may be connected. Edward cannot be the Edward McEVOY who died in Sydney in 187249 at the age of 52, as this man was the surveyor who had been in NSW since the 1850s,50 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 maiden surname and parents. Margaret was recorded on the Star of Brunswick indent as Madge but her death was registered as Margaret McELROY in 1866 and 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 two youngest 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.'51

Of the two boys admitted to the Randwick Asylum in 1866, Dennis was apprenticed in 1871 to the Clarence River.52 He almost certainly died in November 1929 at the age of 68. His father was erroneously recorded as Dennis.53 His obituary confirmed that he had a brother, John, living in Casino, but identified no other family.54 Dennis did not marry 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.55

John McELROY was apprenticed in 1876 from Randwick to Mullenderie56 – probably near Moruya. He seems to have also moved to the north coast where his death was registered in the Casino area. The NSW BDM Index also recorded that his father was Denis.

It is believed that James died in Sydney at the age of 26 in 1878.57 Nothing further has been located for this death in Trove.

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 received a year's hard labour which she completed in Maitland Gaol. Unfortunately her description is unreadable.58 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. Many or her gaol admissions were for drunkenness.59 Where Catherine acquired the surname GERRITTY aka GERAGHTY is unknown as no marriage nor any confirmed births for her have yet been identified but it is believed that this was acquired from a man with whom she lived. She may have been the mother to the son, Francis P. McEVOY, who died in Sydney in 188960 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 1886.61 The death of Edward McELROY 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.62 It is yet to be confirmed that this was Bridget's brother but it is considered possible. The 1937 death has been tentatively attributed to him.

Where has She Gone?

No connection to any member of the family outlined above has been absolutely confirmed for the Newcastle admission. Bridget has not been positively identified after the 1875 illegitimate birth of Margaret Ah Hoy McALROY and because this birth occurred in July 1875, it discounts the likely marriages made by a woman with a surname similar to Bridget's as 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 suspected that the child was not his. Unless he was of Chinese ancestry, he would have quickly discovered that he was not the father once Margaret had been born.

The only marriage registration that has have been viewed was the marriage of Bridget McEVOY to Thomas Michael FITZGERALD in 1874. It is highly unlikely to be the Newcastle admission but records for this woman are inconsistent as her ages are very irregularly recorded. This marriage registration showed that Bridget's 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 193863 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. This is considered very significant but could be explained by poor handwriting. The ages strongly suggest 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, an age of 21 or more was legal.

The Bridget McALROY who married James GILLIES in January64 1875 in Sydney65 occurred before the birth of Margaret Ah Hoy McALROY, however this couple almost certainly registered four births in the Scone area of the Hunter Valley between 1876 and 1882. This almost certainly discounts it as Bridget. When this woman 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.

The marriage of Bridget M. McEVOY to Timothy O'MEARA in 1897 in Sydney66 is not considered relevant to the Newcastle admission as two children were registered to this couple in 1898 and 1899. It would be very unlikely that two children would have been born to a woman who was 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.

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.67 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.68 There was no age recorded in the Vernon records for this boy. It is thought that this his baptism was recorded in 1853 on the NSW BDM Index and that baptism identified that his parents were Terence and Margaret.69 It may be 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, when or if an error in names had occurred. It is thought that the Patrick McEVOY who was admitted to Bathurst Gaol in 1868 was Edward's brother mentioned in the Vernon records. Patrick was the child of Jeremiah and Margaret. The Catherine McEVOY who married in 1876 in Bathurst had been born in about 185870 and when she died in Queensland, her parents were confirmed as Jeremiah and Margaret. It is believed that this woamn was Edward's sister.

On 9 December 1868, another Edward McEVOY, had been tried at the Water Police Court in Sydney where he was also reported as Thomas McEVOY. This boy was admitted to the Vernon because he had been wandering the streets with reputed thieves. Edward was a Catholic and had been born on 12 April 1860.71 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.72 John aka James may however, be related to one of the Vernon admissions named Edward McEVOY.

A Michael McEVOY was injured at work in about 1867. He subsequently petitioned for relief due to an illness acquired while he was labouring as an employee of the Corporation. His petition was referred to the Finance Committee.73 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 February 2020

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