Author Archives: Maria Gillen

Emily Alone

Over the course of five years Emily had lost both of her full brothers in quick succession and her only sister, Miriam had emigrated to Australia, married and had her own family.

To make matters worse around the time of Richard’s sickness and subsequent death there was another family tragedy unfolding across the water in Yorkshire, England. Her half brother, William Henry’s life had spiraled into chaos, too horrific to imagine. He had lived a somewhat privileged life as a a doctor, but he had difficulties too and drank heavily, loosing his family as a result. He got lost in his own sadness and died in 1889 at the age of only 43.

Emily's brother, William Henry

Emily’s brother, William Henry

This final blow must have hit Emily hard, but somehow she overcame this horrible period in her young life. It is possible that she got help and guidance from the Revell/Joly family, who were known for their generosity.

In 1893, at the age of 25 she began her training in Sir Patrick Dunn’s Hospital in Dublin as a nurse.

The York Herald Tuesday November 26, 1889
The Sheffield Evening Telegraph, Monday, February 6 1888
Thanks to Mary Revell Dinnin, for sharing her family history with me.




The Short Life of John Jasper


John Jasper Joly Burke, like his brother Richard died when he was 23. The above rather poignant notice appeared in the Births, Death and Marriages column of the Bendigo Advertiser on the morning of  Friday 26th May 1893.

BURKE: At Bendigo, Victoria, John Jasper
Joly youngest and last surviving son of the late Rev.
William John Burke, Rector of Castlcjordan, Co Meath,
Ireland, in his 23rd year.

The advert placed by the undertaker, requested that his friends follow the funeral cortege to Bendigo Cemetery, it did not mention family.  When John Jasper died his nearest relative was his  sister Miriam who lived in New South Wales, which at the time was days away from Bendigo. His only other relative was Emily, who was at the other side of the world. Miriam may not have made the funeral, that was the sad reality of those that died in the colonies in those days.

It is likely that john Jasper died in an accident, the most probable being a mining mishap. However his name does not appear in the well kept records of Bendigo mining casualties. He may even have even succumbed to a tropical disease, that his constitution was not able to cope with.

John Jasper is laid to rest in Bendigo Cemetery the record book contains the following information:

Internment number 12656 is John Jasper Burke, 23 years of age, funeral 26 May 1893 in Monumental section L4 at Bendigo Cemetery. Religion Church of England , last address was Ironbark. (a small community approx 2 kms from the heart of Bendigo .) Have located the grave on the maps, no headstone at present.

Emily and Miriam Sophia were now the last of that branch of the Burke family. They never met in person again, Emily never visited Australia and Miriam never returned home.

Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 – 1918), Friday 26 May 1893, page 4, National Library of Australia.

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954). Mon 29 May 1893. P1. National Library of Australia


With thanks

Bendigo Cemeteries Trust

John Jasper Joly Burke leaves for Australia

Down Under

Like his older sister Miriam, John Jasper emigrated to Australia. John J Burke aged 21,    disembarked from the Oceania at Sydney Harbour 24th June 1890. His sister Miriam arrived two years before in 1888 and settled in  New South Wales. John Jasper may have joined her for some time but eventually left for Bendigo, formerly Sandhurst, in the state of Victoria.

Just about the time John Jasper arrived the town was in it’s second flush of prospering from the mining industry. Gold was struck in 1851, and later quartz was found. It was no longer a temporary structured town more substantial structures were being built. There was a variety of employment choices for young men.

John Jasper may not have intended to stay at Bendigo for long because, records show that he was boarding at the Fifeshire Hotel rather than at a more permanent address. The hotel was in Ironbark, a small community, about two Kilometres outside Bendigo town.

Sources New South Wales, Australia, Assisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1828-1896 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007.
Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 – 1918), Friday 26 May 1893, page 4. National Library of Australia


John Jasper Joly Burke 1

Kings County Chronicle 29 September 1869

John Jasper Joly Burke was born in October 1869, younger brother to Emily and the last child of Rev Burke and his wife. Like Emily and Richard he was born at Windsor Terrace, Edenderry and like Emily (Arabella) his middle names Jasper Joly were after the Joly family of Clonbullock, near Edenderry.

Family Connections

Family Connections

The couple Jasper Robert Joly and his wife Maria Arabella Armit Joly, friends of Rev and Emily Burke and possible God parents to Emily and John Jasper, were land owners in the area. Jasper Robert Joly’s father Rev Henry Edward Joly had county Clare roots and may have known William John Burke when he was a young man too. The family were also connected to the Revell family on her mother’s side as, Emily’s aunt Abigail Graisberry married Rev. Henry Revell.

These connections seemed to last beyond the life of Emily’s parents and may have looked after the young Burkes when the Rev and his wife died. They may have even oversaw their education. John Jasper was only thirteen at the time and like his brother and sisters  sent away to school. Following his brother Richard he attended the Irish Clergy Son’s School in Lucan, Co Dublin. It is impossible to say what profession he trained for or if he attended college, but he did follow Miriam Sophia to Australia.


Kings County Chronicle 29 September 1869 Ireland, Select Marriages, 1619-1898 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Ireland, Marriages, 1619-1898. Operations, Inc.: FamilySearch, 2013.
Wexford Independent 14 February 1849
Thanks to Mary Revell Dinnin, for sharing her family history with me.

Miriam Sophia Betts Life Down Under

Life in the Colonies


The Australia of the 1880’s was a far cry from what it is today, a relatively rich land, a tropical climate and good employment opportunities, not quite what Miriam would have found on arrival. The cities may have been modern for the time but the outback would have been harsh and tough on an Irish constitution better adapted to cool more temperate weather. Somehow she adapted well and lived out her days there till she died in 1941 at the age of 78. Miriam would never return to Ireland.

What happened after she arrived in Australia is unclear, however her youngest brother John Jasper joined her there at some stage. He seems to have remained in Victoria, where she traveled to New South Wales. It was there that six years later she married Henry Samuel Marsden Betts, a member of a prominent family in Vale Head, Moolong.

Vale Head Estate

Part of Molong Run, John & Mary Betts property. In 1832 Mary Betts (nee Marsden) received 1280 acres as a grant at Molong. By 1952 it had increased its acreage to 1711 when it was offerred for sale by the Estate of the late R S Black. Molong’s original cemetery was located on Vale Head where the current Bowling Club is located.

Henry Samuel Marsden Betts was 54 years old when he wed his third wife Miriam Burke, she was 31, 23 years his junior. Miriam had two children, John Ulick in 1895 and Enid Cecily Patrica came along in 1898.

Theirs was a short but happy marriage, it said so in his obituary, less than 5 years later. “The consummation of this happy union was one son (John Ulick DeBurgo) and one daughter (Enid Cecily Patricia)”.

Miriam married into a ready-made family, she was stepmother to Henry Betts children from his second marriage. His first wife and baby died in childbirth. His second bore him eight of which six survived. Miriam and her new husband lived in relative comfort for the few years they had together, as Henry Betts was a good provider. A former Returning Officer for Parliamentary elections he also held the officer of Coroner. He was a Justice of the Peace in Queensland and when he settled in Moolong he was appointed to the Bench of Magistrates until his death in 1899.

Ní Dheirg, Íosold. Emily M. Weddall: Bunaitheoir Scoil Acla. Beann Éadair, Baile Átha Cliath: Coiscéim, 2010.
Molong Historical Society
‘Betts, Henry Samuel Marsden (1839–1899)’, Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 23 January 2016.