Ellen was daughter of James Fitzgerald; her mother’s maiden name was Ann Carey. She married Henry Biggs, 14 months after her arrival in Australia, and had seven children.
In 1849 she, along with several other young girls left the Dungarven Workhouse for Australia as part of the Earl Grey Scheme. She arrived at Port Philip Melbourne. She remained there for a month and was then moved to Geelong depot where she later went into domestic service. It seems like she stayed on the ship for that duration.
She married a man named Henry Biggs who was stabbed to death in 1864. Ellen remarried again four years later. She actually married on the same day as her daughter Elizabeth, who must have been aged around 18.They were married in the Primitive Methodist church. Many of the orphan girls were married in protestant churches. Ellen’s daughter Annie wrote a little book about her mother Ellen's hard life;
"They lived a hut made with 'paling sides a bark roof and an earthen floor beated down hard and covered with kangaroo skins'. Annie grew up God-fearing, hard-working and on a diet of goat's milk and eggs and senna tea. (Made from flowering plants)"
Ellen died in Healesville in 1897.
Some details of Ellen Fitzgerald’s life can be found in the book 'Barefoot and Pregnant', by Trevor McLoughlin.
She is pictured here with her son Henry.
This Chronicle was created with thanks to Eddie Cantwell.
|Date of Birth||1831 (circa)|
|Date of Death||1897|
|Associated Building (s)||Dungarvan Workhouse|