Given names: 
Given address: 
Cashel St
Sheet No: 29
South Dunedin

Biographical information provided by Michael Keir-Morrissey and Joanne Koreman, for the He Tohu exhibition:

Bridget Ellen Kenelly was born in Ireland in 1840, five years before the horrors of the potato famine. The next time we hear of Bridget, she's in Melbourne. She'd arrived there with her elder sister in 1858. By 1862 she was employed as servant in Richmond.

That year Bridget married Patrick George Morrissey. Patrick was 28, and Bridget 22. Patrick was a seaman, travelling between Melbourne and Dunedin – a busy sea route then because miners from Victoria were leaving the exhausted fields for newly discovered gold in Otago. Sometime after their wedding Bridget sailed with Patrick to Dunedin, where their eight children were born.

Tragically, in 1876 scarlet fever claimed the lives of their eldest son and their youngest daughter on the same day. Four of their other children were ill with the fever and the Health Inspector was sent to take them to the fever hospital. In the horror of their grief Patrick snapped. It was reported that 'Mr Morrissey threatened to shoot anyone who would come to take them away.' The Health Inspector discreetly withdrew at first but eventually the sick children were removed, and survived.

In 1887 the family moved to a fine detached house at 8 Cashel St, South Dunedin. Another Irish family, the Mulrooneys, moved in next door and they became friends - the two women signed the Women's Suffrage Petition together. Bridget seems to have had no formal education. She signed her wedding certificate with a cross, beside which someone has written 'her mark'. Did Bridget, the bride who wrote her name with an 'X', ask her neighbour to help her sign the petition?

Bridget died in July 1897, aged 57, and is buried in Southern Cemetery, Dunedin.

Click on sheet number to see the 1893 petition sheet this signature appeared on. Digital copies of the sheets supplied by Archives New Zealand.

Community contributions

2 comments have been posted about Mrs Morrissey

What do you know?

David Mulrooney

Posted: 08 Jul 2020

Bridget Morrissey's neighbour, Mrs Mulrooney, was Bridget & Patrick's eldest child Honora (1863-1937). Honora married William Joseph Mulrooney (1863-1928) in 1889 and they eventually were parents of 10 children. Prior to living in Russell Street the Morrisseys lived 'off Stafford Street' where William's parents had a grocery store on the corner of Melville Street.

Russell Tregonning

Posted: 06 Apr 2019

Bridget Morrissey ( nee Kennelly) is my great great grandmother. At the age of 18 years she left Plymouth, UK for Melbourne, Australia on 'The Atlanta' with her older sister Johanna--both were recorded as 'servants'. She travelled to NZ shortly after her marriage to Dunedin in 1862.
If any body can tell me more about my relatives--either her or her husband, Patrick George Morrissey I would be grateful as i am exploring my family history. Russell Tregonning [email protected]