Mary Corcoran

Evidence Type: Newspaper Report
5 October 1843



SINGULAR CASE—On Friday last ANN EDGELY, free by servitude, was brought before GILBERT ELLIOTT, Esq., P.M. and Dr. ANDERSON, charged by MATTHEW BYRNE, holding a ticket-of-leave for this district, with bigamy.

From the evidence of MATTHEW BYRNE, it appeared that he became acquainted with the prisoner, who held a situation in the Female Factory, but had lately been dismissed on account of glaring irregularities of conduct, and she consented to marry him. He accordingly went with the prisoner on the 21st instant to the residence of the Rev. NICHOLAS JOSEPH COFFEY, Roman Catholic Priest of Parramatta, adjoining the chapel, who there married them in the presence of SAMUEL TORR, a ticket-of-leave holder, and ELIZA TORR, his wife; he then accompanied the prisoner to TORR’s residence, and there the marriage was consummated.

The Rev. N. J. COFFEY corroborated the testimony of this witness as to the fact of the marriage, and in addition thereto stated, that on the 27th instant, the prisoner again called on him and made the following declaration:

“I, ANN EDGELY, per ship Margaret (1) arrived in the year of our Lord 1836, now free by servitude, do declare and make declaration before the Rev. NICHOLAS JOSEPH COFFEY, Roman Catholic Priest of Parramatta, and SAMUEL TORR and ELIZA TORR, both of Parramatta, that I was married to CHRISTOPHER EDGELY, of Waterford, Ireland, of whose death I have not heard, and that I have no claim whatsoever arising from a marriage performed in this colony of New South Wales on MATTHEW BYRNE, per ship Waverly, I being the lawful wife of CHRISTOPHER EDGELY.

———— Signed and delivered, and declared

———— in the presence of the aforesaid Parties

ANN EDGELY, her    x   mark.

“Witnessed by SAMUEL TORR, and


and also signed by NICHOLAS JOSEPH COFFEY.”

That after the prisoner had made this declaration, which witness took down as above, she stated that she had a disinclination to the marriage with MATTHEW BYRNE, on account of her having been married before, and not having heard of her husband’s death. On the following say BYRNE called on witness, who stated to him what had occurred, and under the circumstances felt himself justified in absolving the marriage; he therefore gave to BYRNE the following certification of absolution:

“Parramatta, New South Wales, September 28, 1843 — To all whom it may concern, This is to certify that MATTHEW BYRNE, of the City of Dublin, Ireland, per ship Waverly, year of arrival 1839, sentence 7 years, now holding a ticket-of-leave, district Parramatta; is an unmarried man, and with the consent of his Excellency the Governor, may marry.— N. J. COFFEY, R.C.P.”

From the evidence of MARY CORCORAN, per ship Hooghley, free by servitude, (lately dismissed for gross improprieties from the Female Factory); it appeared that the prisoner had frequently told her she was married; witness knew her twenty years ago in Ireland, she was then living with a man named CHRISTOPHER EDGELY, and they always passed for man and wife.

CATHERINE POWER, corroborated this last testimony; and JOHN GOODE, a joiner, proved that the prisoner was sober on the night that she went to be married to BYRNE.

The prisoner on being called upon for her defence, treated the matter with great levity, and stated that she never was married before; but that she did not like BYRNE, and as for the declaration, that she thought as she was not upon oath, she might say what she liked.

Mr. ELLIOTT commented at great length upon the extraordinary complexion of the affair, and the unheard of proceeding of thus making an unmaking marriages; but, as the prisoner had solemnly declared that she had been previously married, and the Roman Catholic Priest had stated that he considered such a declaration tantamount to an oath, he felt it is his duty to send the case before a higher tribunal, and he therefore committed her to take trial for the offence.

The prisoner was accordingly sent to gaol, but on the following day was admitted to bail, the Rev. N. J. COFFEY entering into the necessary securities for her appearance.


Female Factory Online, (, “Law Report of MARY CORCORAN,”, accessed [insert current date].

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