Caroline's Dilemma
362 pages, 6 x 9
16 b&w photographs and 4 maps
Release Date:01 Sep 2020
Release Date:01 Sep 2020
Release Date:01 Sep 2020
Release Date:01 Sep 2020

Caroline's Dilemma

A Colonial Inheritance Saga

UBC Press

Caroline Kearney faced a heartbreaking dilemma. In 1865 she was newly widowed, thirty-one years old, and the mother of six children. She had hoped her husband would leave his sheep station in Victoria, Australia to her sons. Instead, his will required that the family move to Ireland and live in a house chosen by her brothers-in-law. Pieced together from archives, newspapers, genealogical sites, and legal records, Caroline’s Dilemma sheds new light on colonial family and gender relationships of the nineteenth century and tells the story of how one woman fought to shape her own life within the British Empire.

A truly impressive work of historical recovery, on a major scale. Penny Russell, professor of history, University of Sydney

Bettina Bradbury spent her academic career in Canada teaching at Université de Montréal and York University. A long-time member of the Montreal History Group and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, she is the award-winning author of Wife to Widow: Lives, Laws, and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Montreal and Working Families: Age, Gender, and Daily Survival in Industrializing Montreal. She has retired to Wellington, New Zealand, where she grew up.

The Bax and Kearney family trees

Map – location of Bax family and relatives, 1837–70


Part 1: Migration, marriage and station life: Becoming Australian colonisers

1 Migrations and marriage

2 Broom Station, Mosquito Plains, South Australia, 1853–57

3 Lockhart Station, Western Wimmera, Victoria, 1858–65

Part 2: Widowhood: Contesting Edward’s will and his brothers’ influence

4 Edward’s death, his final wishes and religious warfare

5 Learning legal procedures

6 Leaving Lockhart Station

7 Arrivals and new challenges

Part 3: Later lives: Deaths and legacies

8 Endings

9 The boys’ adult lives






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