My great aunt, Elizabeth May Brady, lived a short, lonely, painful life. May as she was called was born in December 1881 at Dongara to her parents James and Mary Brady. Elizabeth’s dad, James, died from a brain tumour in December 1886 when Elizabeth was just five. James’s death lead to a catastrophe for his family. Mary Brady who was pregnant with my grandfather Henry struggled to handle the stress. My grandfather, who was called Harry all his life, was born on January 19th, 1887. Elizabeth was never to see her baby brother. Poor little Elizabeth was separated from her older brother Fred and younger brothers William and Tom and baby Harry. The boys were sent to the Middle Swan branch of the Perth Orphanage. Girls from the Orphanage were not sent to Middle Swan until 1942. Meanwhile the Brady children’s mother, Mary, met William Cardwell, an expired convict in Dongara. She married him in May 20, 1888. I don’t understand why Mary didn’t keep her Brady kids because her father and mother William and Ellen Dee and siblings were living in Dongara.
Mary had four children to William Cardwell. Cardwell didn’t last long he was dead within a decade of marrying Mary and died a lonely death at the Men’s Mount Eliza depot. He died on August 20th, 1896. He is buried in the East Perth Cemetery. I wonder why my grandfather Harry made his three shillings a day A.I.F. allotment to one of his brother Fred’s daughters and not his living mother as most soldiers did. I wonder why on Tom Brady’s A.I.F. enrolment he noted that his mum was not alive even though she was.
In July 1887 The Daily News reported,
“A little girl, named May Brady, an inmate of the Perth Protestant Orphanage, received very serious injuries on Thursday through her clothes catching fire. She had a cotton dress on at the time, but the flames had so rapidly penetrated her underclothing that before they were extinguished the poor creature’s right side was terribly burned. Dr. Waylen was quickly summoned and everything was done to relieve the sufferer.”
Three weeks later the Daily News reported,
“About three weeks ago a little girl of about six years of age, named Mary (sic) Brady was accidentally severely burned at the Perth Girls’ Orphanage. At first hopes were entertained of her recovery, but the unfortunate child has succumbed to the injuries she received and her remains will be interred tomorrow.”
Elizabeth passed away at the Colonial Hospital, Western Australia’s first dedicated hospital building which was opened on the present RPH site in Murray Street on 14th July 1855.The convict-built hospital was named the “Colonial Hospital” then renamed Perth Public Hospital in 1894, in 1921 to Perth Hospital then to “Royal Perth Hospital” in 1946. The original hospital building still exists on the corner of Murray Street and Victoria Square although later extensions built to accommodate outpatients in the 1920’s now hide the Murray Street facades. Elizabeth was laid to rest at the East Perth Cemeteries. The records state that her mother and father were “unknown.” Ironically Elizabeth and her father James are buried quite close together in the East Perth Cemeteries in the Church of England section. The authorities did not know at the time that Elizabeth was James’s daughter. Elizabeth was buried in a pauper’s grave on Friday July 29th, 1887 the day after she died. Friday the 29th was a cold, wet, winter’s day in Perth. The temperature struggled to reach 16 degrees. Mary Cardwell died in 1921
Written by Norm Miller – Family Story