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Website of the Fleming, Jolliffe, Kessey and Murphy families of New South Wales - and their forebears

Biography: Judith Grady

Judith Grady

Basic information about this person: \click here\

Judith (often called Julia) Grady was born in County Tipperary, Ireland, about 1816. Her parents, Patrick Grady and Margaret Whalan had been married for ten years and had two surviving daughters (Mary and Ellen) and a son (James) already.

When Judith was seven years old, her youngest brother, Patrick, was born. However, by then the family's life was all awry due to the arrest of her father a few months earlier. He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. He had been transported to Australia before his youngest son was born.

Fortunately the family was allowed to join their father in Australia but it was not until 1828 that they were able to do so. The intervening five years must have been incredibly hard for Judith's mother, with five children to rear without a husband. By the time the family boarded the City of Edinburgh on 23 June 1828, she and her daughters were dressed in rags. The government was forced to issue them with various items of clothing to see them through the voyage, including bed gowns, petticoats, shifts, stockings, shoes, caps, cloaks, bonnets and handkerchiefs. James and the toddler, Patrick, received nothing.

Judith arrived in Sydney as a twelve year old. Her father was living at the edge of civilisation and it was not possible for the family to join him at Bathurst (except for James). It took nearly four years before he was awarded his ticket-of-leave which required him to reside in the Bathurst district. By then, Mary and Ellen were married (to Samuel Rawson and Patrick Foran respectively). The whole clan moved to the Brisbane Valley area on the Fish River near Oberon in NSW.

Judith soon met Thomas Casey, a convict who had been convicted in 1818 at the Old Bailey, London, of sheep stealing and transported from England on the horrendous voyage of the General Stewart. He obtained permission to marry her in November 1832 and they were married at Kelso NSW by Rev. John Espy Keane three days before Christmas. Judith's brother-in-law (Patrick Foran) was one of the witnesses. Thomas was a 34 year old man hardened by convict servitude while Judith was only 16 years old.

Bu the time she was seventeen, she was a mother. Her first-born son was named for his father. Three years later came another son, John, followed four years later by her third son, James (named for his paternal grandfather). Nine more children followed over the next 18 years: Ann (1841), Mary-Ann (1842), Margaret (1845), Julia (1847), Elizabeth (1849), William (1853 - 1928), Martha (1857) and Jane (1859). An unnamed daughter was born in 1851 but did not live. Judith's brood became a baker's dozen when she adopted her grandson, Herbert John Smith, in 1875 (at the age of 59). He was the illegitimate son of her youngest daughter, Jane, who was only 16 when he was born. Perhaps Judith had a strong feeling, based on personal experience, that Jane should not be forced to be married at such a young age. Jane eventually married Denis McNamara five years later.

It is likely that Judith preferred to be known as Julia. It is noteworthy that she chose this name (and not Judith) for one of her eight daughters. She was certainly referred to as Julia in many of the documents that survive her.

Judith and Thomas raised their family in the Rockley - Black Springs district, near Bathurst and, in time, the family surname was more consistently spelt "Kessey" rather than "Casey". There are many Kessey descendants in the Bathurst area into the 21st century.

Her eldest son, Thomas, was the first of her children to marry. He married Sarah Ann Grose in 1856 as a 23 year old. Her second son, John, married Mary Ann Hanrahan the following year.

Five years later, in 1864, Judith was shattered when two of her sons (Thomas and James) were arrested and convicted of highway robbery. They were sentenced to ten years hard labour and served time in Darlinghurst gaol and Cockatoo Island. A number of individuals in her extended family, including the Forans, Donnellys and Groses were involved in crime around this time and in later years.

Her 83 year old husband died on 22 July 1882 of hemiplegia and senile debility. He left all of his estate, valued at £320 to his wife.

On 1 February 1883, Judith took a cart and drove into Bathurst from her home at Burnt Flat, near Gorman's Hill. Her adopted son (grandson), Herbert John Smith (known as John) accompanied her. They left home soon after lunch and visited Alloway Bank in Bathurst. A thunder storm broke but did not deter the pair from commencing the return journey that evening. They stopped at two public houses but Judith did not drink anything alcoholic. She was obliged to ford the strong-running Machatties Creek near Ranken's Bridge. The horse shied at froth on the water and twisted round; Judith pulled the reins and the horse jerked the cart backwards. A wheel was caught and Judith was thrown out, dragging John Smith with her. He was able to grab hold of the shaft and get back onto the cart but Judith was caught in the wheel. Her jaw was broken and she was probably unconscious. She drowned in shallow water. She was 67 years old.

The little boy ran, crying, the half mile to Daniel Cusick's house near Alloway Bank. He had known Judith for about 14 years and testified at the inquest the next day that she was a woman of temperate habits. Senior Constable Sutton, who had retrieved her body, testified that he had known her for 20 years and never saw her the worst for liquor. The jury brought in a finding of accidental drowning.

Judith died intestate. Her estate of £536 was granted to her son, William.