Catherine REDDAN
Name Variations Catherine, REDDIN, REDDEN, READING
Father unknown REDDAN b. m. d.
Step-father Thomas MILLER b. 18421 m. 1862 d. 1916
Mother Mary Ann STEPHENS b. 1841 m. 18622 d. 19283
Inmate Catherine REDDAN b.c. 1855 m. 1878 William McNEIL d. 19314
Half-brother male MILLER b. 18635 m. none - d.c. 1863
Half-sister female MILLER b. 18656 m. none - d.c. 18657
Half-sister Margaret Ann MILLER b. 18668 m. d. 19429
Half-brother Thomas J. MILLER b. 186810 m. d. 193811
Twin Half-sister Mary Ann MILLER b. 187012 m. J. HAND d. aft. 194813
Twin Half-sister Louisa MILLER b. 187014 m. 189415 P. DONNELLY d. 195116
Half-brother James William MILLER b. 187417 m. 1903 Rose CONROY d. 194818
Half-brother Andrew Henry MILLER b. 187519 m. d. 196020
Half-brother Robert Arthur MILLER b. 187721 m. d. 194422
Half-brother George Francis MILLER b. 187923 m. d. bef. 1948
Half-brother Gerald Darcy MILLER b. 188124 m. d. 1955
Half-brother Charles Edwin MILLER b. 188525 m. d. 1968
Half-brother Harold Ernest Victor26 MILLER b.c. 1886 m. 192627 Helena T. KELLY d. 195128
Husband William Charles McNEIL b. 1849 m. 1878 d.
Son William Charles McNEIL b.c. 187829 m. 189830 Annie M. JONES d. 194031
Son Arthur James McNEIL b. 188332 m. d. 194933
Daughter Catherine Elizabeth McNEIL b. 188534 m. 190335 Norman ANTHONY d. 194936
Son John N. McNEIL b. 188637 m. d.
Daughter Janet Mary McNEIL b. 188838 m. (1) none (2) 192639 (1) Earl E. NOBLE (2) Harry Bedford GREEN d. aft. 197240
Son Albert Edward McNEIL b. 189241 m. d. 194742

Catherine was identified as a fifteen-year-old Protestant43 when she was admitted to the Newcastle Industrial School on 26 January 1870.44 She had appeared before J. F. LANE, P.M., in Orange Court on 29 December 1869, almost certainly at the same appearance as Catherine and Sarah HOWARD (2). The three girls were recorded together in Bathurst gaol records prior to their transfer to Newcastle on 25 January 1870.45 Catherine's name appeared in the missing section of the Entrance Book so no confirmation of her arrest location, family, education, religion or discharge details can be made from this source.

In May 1871, Catherine transferred with the school to Biloela.46 Because she was still recorded as fifteen at this time, just over a year later, there is no doubt that one of her recorded ages was incorrect but it is unknown whether her date of birth was earlier or later than 1855.47 Shortly after the transfer Catherine was identified as sixteen when she was recorded as eligible for service by LUCAS in his letter to the Colonial Secretary on 23 June 1871. LUCAS requested that the Colonial Secretary permit Kate to be apprenticed to Frederick CANE, the Biloela Storekeeper, for three years 'at the same rate as the boys from the N.S.S. Vernon … her conduct has been uniformly good.'48 This apprenticeship was approved and Kate was apprenticed on 24 October 1871.49 In his report to the Colonial Secretary on 27 October, LUCAS confirmed that she had been discharged to CANE.50

It is unknown whether Catherine remained on the island in CANE's private accommodation or whether she worked in another residence belonging to him but it is believed to be almost entirely certain that when CANE moved back to Newcastle towards the end of 1871 as the superintendent of the newly opened Newcastle Insane Asylum, Catherine accompanied his family as her apprenticeship had not ended. A second Biloela girl, Catherine MANTON was also apprenticed to CANE but it is unknown whether she replaced Kate or was employed as an additional apprentice within the CANE family. It is certain that Catherine's treatment within CANE's family would have been extremely good. An apprenticeship to CANE was also very significant because he was in a position to be fully aware of the character and intellect of each girl so it is almost entirely certain that Kate found learning easy. It is less certain, because behavioural assessments by LUCAS have often been found to be generic and expedient, that she was well-behaved within the school as CANE also demonstrated a preparedness to work closely with difficult girls, rewarding them to assist in their social progress.51

As Catherine Maria (X) READING she was married to the mariner, William McNEIL, in Christ Church, Newcastle, by A. E. SELWYN, on 13 May 1878. The witnesses were John DYER [?] and Margaret (X) FRIEND.52 William had been born in Belfast, Ireland, and was the son of the carpenter, William N. McNEIL and Mary Ann GILCHRIST. He was 29. Catherine was recorded as a 22-year-old who had been born in Orange, NSW. Only the surname of her father was recorded in the Christ Church register but her mother was identified as Mary Ann STEPHENS.53 There was no indication that Mary Ann was still alive in 1878 and it may be that Catherine did not know. Online trees have erroneously identified that Catherine's parents were Patrick READING and Frances Catherine HORGAN or HOGAN and attribute that she had been baptised as Catherine REEDING in 1853.54 It is unknown whether these researchers have cited the original marriage record or whether no parents were recorded on the registration but they are certainly recorded in the original church record.

Catherine and William McNEIL had a large family and remained in the Newcastle area. William Charles died in Carrington in 1905 at the age of 62.55 Catherine M. McNEIL died at her residence, 64 Bourke Street, Carrington,56 in 1931 and was buried in Sandgate Cemetery, Newcastle, on Sunday, 28 June57 at the age of 79.58


Catherine had been born in Orange to Mary Ann STEPHENS and an unknown man named REDDAN. She was almost without any doubt illegitimate. She had born in about 1855 which was slightly before the compulsory registration of births in NSW so it is considered unlikely that any record of her birth would exist. If one does it would be a baptism record only. Catherine had been arrested from the Orange police district59 and was a Protestant.60

Catherine's mother, Mary Ann STEPHENS, is currently being investigated. It is unconfirmed but considered very likely that as Mary STEPHENS, she married Thomas MILLER in Orange in 186261 and this marriage has tentatively been attributed to her. Although online trees always identify the wife of Thomas MILLER as Mary Ann she has never been recorded on the NSW BDM Index with any name other than Mary. Her year of birth of between about 1839 and 1841 is consistent with the birth of an illegitimate child about 14 years later. Thomas and Mary had a large family in the Wellington and Yeoval districts of NSW. Thomas died in 1916.62 Mary died on 3 June 1928, at Yeoval, Wellington, NSW, and it was reported that she had had nine sons and three daughters.63 Her father was recorded as James on the death record64 on the NSW BDM Index. Mary MILLER was buried in the Catholic cemetery at Yeoval however this religion does not negate her being Catherine's mother as she may have adopted the religion of her husband when she married.

The identity of Catherine's father will remain unknown. There is a remote possibility that Mary Ann STEPHENS took him to court requesting child support and that may have been reported in the Orange papers which are not scanned on Trove. It may also be that a newspaper report concerning Catherine's arrest and court appearance may disclose details of her family and life before her admission to Newcastle.

It must be considered that because Catherine was born in and arrested from the Orange area she may very well be connected to William REDDAN and Ellen MARA who married in Bathurst in 1858 after the birth of three children – none of whom was Catherine, or the thirty-five-year-old, John REDDAN, who died in Bathurst in 187665 and who was buried in the Bathurst Catholic Cemetery where a headstone, erected by his father, remains.66 The complication that gaol or burial records for both John and William indicated that they were Catholic does not prevent either of them them being Catherine's father as she was almost without any doubt illegitimate and raised by her mother.

Updated July 2016

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