Caroline REGAN
Name Variations Catherine REGAN1
Father James REGAN b. m. d. aft. 1869
Mother Mary REGAN b. m. d. aft. 1869
Brother Daniel REGAN b. m. d.
Sister b. m. d.
Inmate Caroline REGAN b.c. 1859 m. 18772 (see below) d. 19543
Husband Donald MACRAE b. m. d.
Daughter Isabella M. MACRAE b. 18784 m. d.
Daughter Florence MACREA b. 18805 m. none - d. 18816
Son Donald MACREA b. 18827 m. d. 19648
Son John MACREA b. 18849 m. d.
Son Lonza MACRAE b. 188610 m. 1920 Grace I. BAILEY d.
Daughter Ruby Caroline MACRAE b. 188811 m. 193212 Alexander WATSON d. 197813
Son Christopher MACREA b. 189014 m. d. 194815
Son Norman MACREA b. 189216 m. d. 196217
Son Gordon Clarence MACREA b. 189618 m. d. 196519
Daughter Gladys MACRAE b. 189820 m. d.

Caroline – recorded as Catherine in the Empire – was brought before the court on 8 March 1869,21 by constable TOOMEY, who stated that he had known her for some time and had apprehended her the previous night at Five Dock, in execution of a warrant charging her with having no lawful visible means of support.

Toomey deposed that he had known defendant for the last three years. Her father is an inmate of the Liverpool Asylum, and her mother, who is a great drunkard, subsists on what money she earns by the sale of brooms and the charity of her neighbours. She (the mother) lives at Five Dock. Defendant is very often out in the bush by herself, wandering about, and was so last night when Toomey arrested her.22

Caroline was in the habit of wandering about the bush with 'very low children'. The Sydney Morning Herald indicated that her unnamed father was in the Benevolent Asylum. At the time of Caroline's admission to Newcastle, even though her name appeared in the complete section of the Entrance Book, no parents were recorded beside her name. She was however, recorded as a Catholic who was ten years old and who couldn’t read or write.23

Caroline transferred to Biloela in May 1871 and was recorded on LUCAS's list as 'In the Institution.'24 She was initially apprenticed for three years to Mr Thomas BIRKENSHAW of Balmain on 5 April 1873,25 at about the age of fourteen. She was to receive an opening salary of one shilling a week and this was to increase by one shilling a week for each of the next two years.26 No explanation remains indicating why Caroline was returned to Biloela on 12 April 1873,27 one week after her apprenticeship began.

Caroline was eventually discharged to Mr W. DEVLIN at Wagga Wagga on 25 May 1874. This location almost without doubt indicated that she married Donald MACRAE as Caroline REAGAN in Wagga Wagga on 19 June 1877. They were married by G. L. NAIRN of the Church of Scotland, in the Manse, Wagga Wagga. The witnesses were John McLEOD and Ellen SPRING.28 The marriage registration doesn't identify Caroline's parents nor her place of birth and the actual church record has not been located so no parents have been identified. Caroline died Bondi, Sydney, on 23 April 1954, at the age of ninety-five. She had formerly lived at 18 Howard Street, Canterbury.29 No parents were named on her death registration. She was buried with Donald in the Waverley General Cemetery on 23 April 1954.30


No confirmation of Caroline's family has been made. All that is known is that her father had been admitted to the 'asylum' – the newspapers named the asylum as either the Benevolent Asylum or the Liverpool Asylum – and that her mother sold brooms.

There was one man of this name admitted to the Benevolent Asylum. He was admitted on 2 December 1867, two years before Caroline’s trial. Hubert Henry REGAN had no age or discharge date recorded in the record but he was very likely to have been the man who married Margaret REDMAN in 1865 in Brisbane Water so unless this is a second marriage or Caroline was illegitimate, he cannot be Caroline's father. Hubert H. REGAN died in 186831 and his parents were Huber H. and Margaret so it is unknown without purchasing the registration whether this death was a child or an adult. The only men named REGAN admitted to the Liverpool Asylum at any stage during the 1860s were two Catholic labourers named James REGAN. The man admitted in May 1859 was 66 and had been transported aboard the Castle Forbes in 1823. He had been born in about 1793. This man may have absconded in July 1859. An earlier admission of this name also absconded in April 1859 by climbing over the wall but no matching admission can be found.32 The man admitted in November 1859 was 55 and had arrived on the Lady Clarke in 1842. He had been born in about 1804. This man died in July 1860.33

Darlinghurst gaol records for the 1860s and early 1870s indicate few women with the surname REGAN. If Caroline's mother shared the same surname as her then the best woman to be her mother was Mary REGAN who was often imprisoned for drunkenness. The most recent admission to Darlinghurst was the woman who had arrived on the Mary Russell as she was in gaol around the time of Caroline's arrest. Gaol records show that she was about fifty years of age in 1871, was born in Ireland and was a Catholic with no education. This fits well with what is known of Caroline. No ship named the Mary Russell appeared on the SRNSW ship lists. Another woman of this name had arrived on the Margaret in 1840 and had been born in about 1804. She was from Mayo and also had no education and was a Catholic. Another woman arrived on the Lady Clarke in 1841 at the age of 31 and this woman was very likely connected to the man admitted to Liverpool who had arrived on the same ship. These people do not appear on the Lady Clarke indent where only a John REGAN was listed.34 It may be that Caroline's family was the couple who separated in 187035 and were probably the parents of Matthew (3518/1860), Michael (3414/1862) and John (3305/1868) and may include Richard (4484/1870) whose birth appeared to be illegitimate but also occurred in the Paddington area. Because Mary stated that she had four children and only three boys were registered here, it may be that this was Caroline's family and Caroline could conceivably have been their first child as she was born two years before Matthew. James and Mary were unlikely to be the parents of Mary.36 The James REGAN supposed to be of unsound mind37 may be connected as it is known that Caroline's father had formerly been in a asylum. This man was sent to Gladesville but there was no ship mentioned in the gaol records.38

A trial at the Central Police Court on 27 March 1866, identified a James REGAN who was a broom maker and the victim of an assault. He was possibly not married as he was living with his assailant.39

The admission of an apparent son and mother, Daniel and Margaret (indexed as Mary on Ancestry) may refer to Caroline's family. Daniel had been born in Sydney in about 1852 and Margaret in Ireland per the Ellenborough and born in 1822. It may be that Daniel REGAN died in Sydney in 1876 and his parents were recorded as James and Margaret REGAN.

The illegitimate children Julia, John Alexander and Joseph B. REGAN admitted to the Randwick Asylum on 12 July 1865, were the children of James W. JONES, a coloured man40 and Bridget REGAN who had been deserted by her first husband.41 Bridget appears to have been the wife of Timothy REGAN. These siblings had an older brother named Thomas42 but it is difficult to identify how there could be another child of this relationship. Bridget and Timothy had a daughter named Mary Ann in 1845 where Bridget was identified as Bridget LYONS and Timothy was a labourer living at Parramatta.43

Updated January 2017

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