Author(s): Bettina Bradbury
Caroline Kearney faced a heart-breaking dilemma.
Caroline was a 31-year-old mother of six when her husbanddied in Melbourne in 1865. Having no legal rights herself to the sheep stationin Wimmera, Victoria that her late husband owned, she had great hopes that hersons would inherit it. But that was not to be.
Her husband's will, written on his deathbed, offered areasonable annuity to support her and the children, but it came with a catch.To get that money, she had to move to Ireland with her children and live in ahouse of her brothers-in-law's choosing. English-born, Caroline had migrated toAustralia with her family when she was only seventeen. She had never even beento Ireland. Her husband and his family - unlike her - were Catholic.
This extraordinary book combines storytelling with anhistorian's detective work. Pieced together from evidence in archives,newspapers, genealogical sites, legal records and old-fashioned legwork, Caroline's Dilemma sheds new light on the workingsof colonial gender relationships and family lives that spanned the 19th centuryglobe. It reveals much about women's property rights, migration, settlercolonialism, the Irish diaspora and sectarian conflict. It shows how onemiddle-class woman and her family fought to shape their own lives within theBritish Empire.
'A truly impressive work of historical recovery, on a major scale'. -- Professor Penny Russell, University of Sydney