Bridget the badass

#IWD2021 So today is also a day to celebrate success, as much as it is about struggle too. So I want to shout out to my ancestor Bridget Brady (nee Lynch 1842 -1892). From my research it’s plain to see she was a badass. She ran the Shannon Hotel in Kilmore in the Victorian Gold Fields.

VALE BRIDGET, THIS INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY. I HAVE NO DOUBT YOU WERE ONE TOUGH COOKIE.

After her husband, John, who owned and operated the Kilmore Brewery took his own life in 1888 life must have gotten significantly harder. A woman on her own running a business, and the business of liquor at that. CW: discussions of suicide.

Not only that, I found she had to fight to keep her possessions after the death of John. This was despite the fact that Victoria had followed English law and made provisions for women with the Married Women’s Property Act of 1884. This act protected the rights of women to their personal property upon marriage. I’m planning on exploring her legal woes after John’s death in later posts.

But for now, lets talk about the pub, and Bridget the Badass. First there is her account in the inquest into her husbands death. It certainly shows her as not afraid to speak her mind…that must definitely run in the family.

It was one of the first things that I read recently that made me think differently about John’s death. It’s easy to conclude that there was some economic or social pressure on John. The doctor’s testimony, simply blanket concludes “insanity”, despite admitting he had not seen him for several weeks.

Bridget’s testimony to police is brave because she does not shy away from talking about the issue of the nature of his death and is unafraid to counter the testimony of the attending doctor. Bridget refers to John complaining of a pain in the head for several weeks, as does their son, Bernard.

And let’s face it, those of us who know the terrain of suicidal thinking know it is not something people just get up one day and just decide to do, it’s often a long time coming. John might not have talked about it, but pain and pressure do things to us over time. So, here is the system, the word of the doctor, leaping to conclusions and not listening to families or that of the person themselves…sigh…many of us know that hasn’t changed has it?

Later I found a Kilmore Police court reference to her some two years later. Still running the pub. In goldrush Victoria, a widow running a pub is badass defined.

This time the police attention is because she left the pub door open after hours and is fined a whole five pound. Which would have been a lot of money for leaving a pub door open for a brief few minutes. Later there is reference to dropped charges against her for illegal gambling on the premises, largely because she couldn’t be there all the time due to ill health.

So here is the gutsy, short, succinct and to the point testimony of Bridget defying the doctors single word diagnosis, transcribed beneath the image.

Magistrates Inquiry

Colony of Victoria, To wit. This deponent, Bridget on her oath saith, I am a wife of the deceased residing at Kilmore.

I identify the body as that of my husband John Brady, he was 47 years of age, he has been in usual health but complained of pain in his head. I never heard him say he would commit suicide. I saw him about 5.30 pm on the 29th at his residence when seemed alright. I went to the malt house to milk the cows about half an hour after after I saw deceased. When I saw my husband lying at a distance in the corner of the malthouse.

Mark of Bridget Brady, Witness John Wilkinson, Const. 3179.

Taken and Sworn before me, the 31st Day of October 1888 at Kilmore.

What little the history shows so far, it speaks to gutsy, but also bloody tired.

IF YOU ARE STRUGGLING WITH YOUR MENTAL HEALTH, HAVING A PERSONAL CRISIS OR HAVING THOUGHTS OF SUICIDE, CONTACT LIFELINE ON 13 11 14

YOU CAN CALL THEM 24 HOURS A DAY, 7 DAYS A WEEK FROM ANYWHERE IN AUSTRALIA.

LOOKING FOR INFORMATION OR SUPPORT SERVICES ON ALCOHOL OR DRUGS AND NOT SURE WHERE TO BEGIN? CALL THE AUSTRALIAN DRUG AND ALCOHOL FOUNDATION 1300 85 85 84 TO SPEAK TO A REAL PERSON.

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