Stories and People

Mary Carroll

Myree McGoldrick

East Perth Cemeteries Volunteer Guide

Mary Carroll 1830 - 1840


Myree McGoldrick
East Perth Cemeteries Volunteer Guide

East Perth Cemetery Burial 1841.

My name is Mary Carroll and I am ten years of age. I am the only child of William and Ann Carroll, I was born in London, England in 1831.

My parents came to Perth in Western Australia with me when I was two years of age that was in 1833. Four years after the settlement of Perth commenced. I remember being on a ship for an awfully long time and playing with other children on the ship.

When we arrived in Fremantle my parents Ann and William Carrol and me stayed at an Inn for some weeks until my Pa got work as a laborer in Perth, helping to build the Commissariat store for Perth. [Magistrates Court-Perth. (1834, November 22). The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal (W.A. : 1833-1847), p395. Retrieved March 17,2022 from]

His job was to wheel stone from the beach to the building site. Pa liked to be outside and he liked hard work. He never grumbled about work. And seemed to be happy every day when he came home.

Pa had found us a small wood house in Perth when he got the job with Mr. Reveley the Civil Engineer. It wasn’t very big just two rooms really. One room had the kitchen and fireplace where Ma had a kettle and an iron pot that she put over the fire to cook our meals. We had a small table that Ma used to prepare our meals and where we ate our meals. Ma had bought two trunks with all our possessions from England. One trunk had our clothes and the other cooking utensils and blankets and useful tools for Pa. The other room had a bed with a horsehair mattress for Ma and Pa and I had a cot in the corner of the room. Ma also had a special chair that she sat on which was next to the fireplace. Pa had bought the padded chair, kitchen table and chairs and beds in Fremantle before we moved to Perth.

I know that we arrived early in the settlement because Pa had been called to court as a witness in 1834 and he had to go to court. (1833-1847) Ma talked about him having to go to court to some of the other ladies she knew in Perth. There wasn’t very many buildings in Perth when we arrived, there were a lot of tents as well on the shoreline of Perth’s Swan River on the North side. while the wealthy people were having their houses built. A few pubs and inns had been built first and there were a few government buildings under way. []

Our house was next to Mr. Clapp’s, Mr. Chipper and Mr. Shenton, lived next to each other, they had fancy big houses on St. Georges terrace next door of our little house. Our houses were on the rise and overlooked the river.

On the night of July 19th, 1840, a terrible thing happened to me. Being the middle of winter, I got very cold and got out of bed and went to the fireplace to light the fire again after it had died down. I was allowed to light the fire as I was older, and Ma had taught me how to light the fire to help her out every morning and evening when she needed a fire lit for cooking. She also needed to boil water for her cup of tea, and it was easy to use small sticks and dry leaves to get the fire going. That night when I was lighting the fire, I didn’t see that my night dress had got too close to the grate and caught alight. It gave me a terrible fright and I started screaming when the fire light up the hem and lower half of my night dress when I stood up. I was very scared and ran for the door with Ma beating at me trying to stop the flames. I died from the burns I got and an inquire into my death was written in the newspaper. I have copied the newspaper article for every-one to read.

Mary Carroll (1830-1840).

An Inquiry into the circumstances attending the death on 19th July 1840, of Mary Carroll, aged 10 years, the daughter of William and Ann Carroll of Perth, on Friday, the 17th inst., before W. H. Mackie, Esq., J. P.

Arthur Clapp, laborer deposed, that Saturday week, between 7 and 8 o’clock in the evening, while I was sitting I my house, near Carroll’s, I heard a child cry out. I did not, at first, pay any attention to it, but I heard it shortly after screaming out and say, Mother, I am burning. I heard Mrs. Carroll say, “go into the well Mary,” I then went to the door and saw a girl, about ten years old apparently, running down to a well at the bottom of Carroll’s grant, with her dress all in flames. She stopped when she got within about a yard from the well as if she could not run any farther from the flames ; but her mother came up and threw her down into the well – which is a small hole about two feet deep, with the water in it on a level with the surface of the ground. The flames were extinguished immediately. The child then walked back to Carroll’s with her mother, complaining that she was burned a good deal. Other neighbors came up (John Chipper, and others), and I thought I could not be of further service, so I did not go into the house. I saw Carroll return to the house about an hour or an hour and a half after the accident happened. He was not sober when her returned. Mrs. Carroll appeared as if she had been drinking a little.[]

John Chipper, constable-I did not see the child so soon as Clapp did ; I heard her screams and went out to see what was the matter ; I saw her dress in flames, and the fire all at once extinguished. I went to Carroll’s and saw her walking up to the house, in front of her mother. She went into the house. There was nothing in the house to dress the child with. Mrs. Carroll was the worse for liquor. Carroll was not at home. I was standing near the door of his house when he came home ; he was quite drunk. The child died on Sunday afternoon. On Monday morning, about 9 o’clock Mrs. Carroll was worse in liquor that she was on Saturday night ; Carroll was also tipsy. There was not so much in the house as a blanket or rug to throw over the child.

Mr. G. Shenton, Chemist and Druggist, had attended the child and gave it as his opinion that the death was solely attributable to the injuries she had received from the fire.

Ann Carroll, the mother of the deceased, said - I was sitting reading in my own house, about 10 o’clock, on the Saturday night before last, when the deceased said that the place was cold, and she would make a little fire to warm it against her father came home. She did so ; and while I continued reading, her clothes caught fire - I immediately caught her in my arms and wrapped her clothes together, but she tore herself away from me, and ran out of doors around the lagoon. I followed and overtook her, and threw myself upon her, but could not even then extinguish the fire. I then called to her to jump into the well – she did so, and the fire was put out. What the other witnesses have said, as to what took place afterwards, is I believe, correct, I had taken a drop that night, but I was not the worse for liquor – Carroll was drunk when he came home. The magistrates considered the death of the above-named Mary Carroll as solely the result of accidental burning. [ LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL. (1840, July 25). The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal (WA : 1833 - 1847), p. 2. Retrieved November 17, 2021, from]

Some of Ma and Pa’s friends in Perth came to my funeral. Pa got a loan of a horse and cart, and my coffin was carried on the cart to the cemetery. Pa and a few of his work mates carried the coffin from the gate of the cemetery to the hole that the grave diggers had dug for my coffin. Ma and Pa used to come to the grave yard in the first year that I was here. Ma used to put pretty cream flowers on the ground where I was buried. I had a cross to mark the site when I was first buried but that has long gone. After a few years Ma and Pa stopped coming to grave. No one knows exactly where I am buried in the Cemetery. It was such a long time ago. But I am buried somewhere in the Church of England Section.


Figure 1. State Library W.A. 1867, 26 years after Mary Carroll’s death. George Shenton's home on St. Georges Terrace, Perth. William and Ann Carroll lived next door.


Figure 2. State Library W.A. St Georges Terrace the street where Mary Carroll and her parents lived. George Shenton's home right two story home near the boy's school. Carroll's home next door to Mr Shenton's home.

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