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Victorian Archives Centre public opening hours

Monday to Friday: 10:00 am to 4:30 pm
(excl. public holidays)
The second and last Saturday of every month

New Records Transfers


The below records have been transferred into the PROV collection and are now available for ordering and viewing in our North Melbourne reading room.

VA 2620 Registrar of Probates, Supreme Court (1960-ct)
VPRS 7591 / P19 Wills [1992]

VA 2549 Supreme Court
VPRS 17078 / P1 Draft Jury Roll [1959-1968]

VA 4204 Court of General Sessions, Melbourne [1852-1968]
VPRS 17020/P1 Criminal Presentments and Final Orders, Melbourne, Annual Single Number System [1902-1936]

VA 3707 Moonee Valley (City 1994-ct)
VA 898 Essendon (Borough 1882-1890; Town 1890-1909; City 1909-1994)
VPRS 16991 / P1 Annual Statement of Accounts [1882-1994]VPRS 16992 / P1 Rate Records, Computer Printouts [1979-1991]VPRS 17004 / P1 Deeds and Securities Register and Index [1899-1990]VPRS 17005 / P1 Building Permit Applications Register [1915-1974]VPRS 17009 / P1 Contract Register [1907-1978]

VA 3707 Moonee Valley (City 1994-ct)
VPRS 17010 / P1 Rate Records, Computer Printouts [1994-1996]

VA 3690 Greater Dandenong (City 1994-ct)
VPRS 14716 / P2 Council Minutes [2000-2004]

VA 3993 Dandenong I (Road District 1857-1873; Shire 1873-1955)
VPRS 17050 / P1 Valuation and Rate Books (1928-1944)

VA 4966  Corinella Cemetery Trust
VPRS 17045 / P1 Minute Book and Record of Burials
VPRS 17046 / P1 Receipt Book
VPRS 17047 / P1 Order Book
VPRS 17048 / P1 Order and Receipt Book

VA 3862  Corangamite Shire Council
VPRS 16770/ P2 Council Minutes
VPRS 17079/ P1 Subject Index Shire Minutes

VA 3673 Bayside (City 1994-ct)
VA 2505 Sandringham (Borough 1917-1919; Town 1919-1923; City 1923-1994)
VPRS 14659 / P2 Rate and Valuation Books [1917-1937]VRPS 14661 / P2 Rate and Valuation Cards [1937-1974]

VA 573 Brighton (Municipal District 1859-1963; Borough 1863-1887; Town 1887-1919; City 1923-1994)
VPRS 573 / P5 Rate and Valuation Books [1932]

The below records have been transferred into the PROV collection and are now available for ordering and viewing in our Ballarat reading room.

VA 3734 Horsham III (Rural City 1995-ct)
VPRS 16966 / P2 Council Agenda [2010]VPRS 16967 / P2 Council Minutes [2009]

VA 2440 Horsham II (Borough 1882-1932; Town 1932-1949; City 1949-1995)
VPRS 16969 / P2 Council Agenda [1986-1994]

Digging up the past: The Old Melbourne Cemetery

Just last week Melbourne’s Lord Mayor; Robert Doyle announced the state government’s intention to upgrade the Queen Victoria Market. This major project will inturn create thousands of jobs both in the market and its surrounds, as well as construction jobs.  Whilst this new upgrade might be great for the future of Melbourne, with the local economy likely to garner an abundance of new jobs, with additional tourist dollars flowing in; the historians amongst us may question the past.

What is today known as the Queen Victoria Market, a vast and vibrant iconic Melbourne institution that locals and tourists alike frequent, was once the Old Melbourne Cemetery. This burial ground was in existence from as early as 1837.  However, with the gradual expansion and encroachment of the market place, saw the slow demise of the cemetery holdings, with land increasingly being taken over for the purpose of the markets.

As early as 1877 sections of the original cemetery which was allocated to Aboriginal and Quaker burials, as well as unused sections of the Jewish area were taken over for the purpose of the growing market place.  In 1917 the final burial in the Old Melbourne Cemetery took place, with exhumations beginning in mid-1920 with only a ‘narrow strip of land affected’, and only marked graves exhumed.  The cemetery was eventually closed permanently by 1922, reportedly having been the final resting place for up to 10,000 early Victorian settlers.  However, with exhumations about to begin contention ensued, as there were many notable pioneers buried within the Old Melbourne Cemetery, who’s resting place would have to be disturbed in order to convert the space into market holdings. Such significant Victorians buried, included John Batman, the founder of Melbourne; Mr James Jackson, the first merchant in Melbourne; and Mr J. H. N. Cassell, the first Minister for Customs.

VPRS 9591/P0/1 Record of significant graves – Old Melbourne Cemetery

VPRS 9591/P0/1 Record of significant graves – Old Melbourne Cemetery – A TOOTAL

By the time exhumations were underway the responsibility fell to the Melbourne City Council, who identified 525 marked graves.  There remains, alongside many others were to be re-interred at the Fawkner General Cemetery, and later St Kilda, Melbourne General and Springvale Cemeteries.  However during further excavation works in the 1990s more remains were uncovered.  And again in 2011 the Melbourne City Council put together a plan for a proposed two-level underground car park at the markets, which brought the history of the site back into prominence, with Councillors arguing that the excavation of the site would not be ‘an issue’ if remains were to be uncovered.

VPRS 17131/P1/1 Correspondence, Old Melbourne Cemetery

VPRS 17131/P1/1 Correspondence, Old Melbourne Cemetery

Within the records held here at the Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) is a plethora of interesting information from the Old Melbourne Cemetery, which includes such things as notes on exhumations, correspondence and letter books regarding the Old Melbourne Cemetery and records of significant graves.  These records, along with Melbourne City Council minutes and records from the Board of Land and Works and the Public Works department can be a great starting point to dig a little deeper into the history that is the Queen Victoria Market.

Phoebe Wilkens
Access Services Officer

Records available at PROV by agency and series

VA 4779 Old Melbourne Cemetery Trust

VA 669 Board of Land and Works

VA 511 Melbourne City Council

VPRS 8915/P2/33 Valuation Field Books: Painsdale Place to Queen Victoria Market

VPRS 17131/P1/1 Correspondence, Old Melbourne Cemetery

VPRS 9588/P1/1 Notes on exhumations

VPRS 987/P0/1 Cemeteries, outward letter book

VPRS 9591/P0/1 Record of significant graves – Old Melbourne Cemetery

VPRS 9583/P3 Alphabetical record of burials – Old Melbourne Cemetery (digitised)

New Records Transfers

 New PROV logo BLACK

 The below records have been transferred into the PROV collection and are now available for ordering and viewing in our North Melbourne reading room.

VA 4925 Department of Business and Innovation
VPRS 16772 / P1 General Correspondence Files, Annual Single Number System
VPRS 16771 / P1 General Correspondence Files, Single Number System

VA 484:  Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD)
VPRS 16963 / P1 Central Correspondence Files – Annual Single Number System with Alpha

VA 4859 Victorian Law Reform Commission (2000-ct)
VPRS 16215 / P3 References and Community Law Reform Projects [2001-2012]VPRS 17022 / P1 Annual Reports and Financial Statements [2011-2011]

The below records have been transferred into the PROV collection and are now available for ordering and viewing in our Ballarat reading room.

VA 3730 Ararat III (Rural City 1994-ct)
VA 2375 Ararat I (Municipal District 1858, Borough 1858-1934; Town 1934-1950; City 1950-1994)
VPRS 16022 / P1 General Correspondence Files, Alpha-Numeric System [1977-1994]VPRS 16024 / P1 General Correspondence Files, Alpha-Numeric System, City Engineer [1977-1994]VPRS 16039 / P1 Index To Council Minutes [1909-1976]VPRS 16040 / P1 Committee Minutes [1909-1916]VPRS 16040 / P2 Committee Minutes [1966-1986]VPRS 16040 / P3 Committee Minutes [1974-1983]VPRS 16031 / P1 Notice of Motion Book [1872-1981]VPRS 16036 / P1 Balance Book and Statement of Accounts [1890- 1983] * (Unit 2 Closed s11)
VPRS 16037 / P1 General Ledger [1858-1966]VPRS 16032 / P1 Contract Register, Country Roads Board [1915-1940] * (Unit 1 Closed s11)
VPRS 16025 / P1 Register of Inward Correspondence [1903-1926] * (Unit 2 Closed s11)
VPRS 16037 / P1 Registered Premises Register [1921-1929]VPRS 16035 / P1 By Laws and Regulations [1874-1974]VPRS 16026 / P1 Authorised List of File Classifications [1974-1994]VPRS 12992 / P5 Rate Records [1858-1906] * (Unit 2 Closed s11)
VPRS 12992 / P6 Rate Records [1981-1994]VPRS 12994 / P2 Outward Letter Books [1904-1910] * (Units 1, 2 & 3 Closed s11)

VA 1948 Ararat Sewerage Authority
VPRS 16028 / P1 Minutes [1935-1984]VPRS 16029 / P1 House Connection Contract Register [1939-1951]VPRS 16027 / P1 Index to Authority Minutes [1981]VPRS 16023 / P1 General Correspondence Files, Alpha-Numeric System [1958-1980]

VA 2375 Ararat I (Municipal District 1858; Borough 1858-1934, Town 1934-1950; City 1950-1994) and
VA 1948 Ararat Sewerage Authority
VPRS 16033 / P1 Contract Register [1902-1957]VPRS 16038 / P1 Annual Reports [1957-1981]

VA 2056 Shire of Ararat Waterworks Trust and
VA 2042 Willaura Sewerage Authority
VPRS 16041 / P1 Minutes [1984]

VA 2376 Ararat II (Road District 1861-1864; Shire 1864-1994)
VPRS 12991 / P3 Council Minutes [1861-1867]

Creative Commons and Open Data Presentations

On the 24th October, Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) hosted a short event, showcased two well respected speakers, Mr. Neale Hooper and Ms. Pia Waugh.

Mr. Neale Hooper is an intellectual property and ICT lawyer who worked for over 20 years in the Queensland Government’s Crown Law Office (in the Department of Justice and Attorney General), providing specialist legal services in these areas.  Since 2005, Neale has been part of the Creative Commons Australia team, working on licence revisions and implementation and open data/open government policy development.  Neale was the principal lawyer for the Queensland Government’s Government Information Licensing Framework (GILF) Project, leading the legal work on the project from its inception in 2005. In 2010-2011 Neale was engaged as the Principal Project Implementation Manager for GILF in the Office of the Queensland Chief Information Officer, working on the implementation of CC licensing across all Queensland Government Departments.  He has consulted widely on CC licensing with Government agencies in Australia and overseas and is recognised internationally as an expert on CC licences.

In his presentation, Neale talked about how Creative Commons licensing is being used in Australia, particularly in the government sector, and provided an overview of recent developments (including the version 4.0 international licence suite).

Neale’s slides can be accessed at 
For more information, the Creative Commons Australia page on Slideshare is located at
Ms. Pia Waugh is currently working as a Director of Coordination and Gov 2.0 for the Australian Government CTO looking at whole of government technology, services and procurement. This is in the Department of Finance, itself a central agency focused on whole of government operations.  Prior to that she worked in the ACT Government as an Open Government Policy Advisor and on the data ACT open data platform, the first of it’s kind in Australia.  

In her presentation, Pia discussed what is happening in open data throughout Australia and how it will help government agencies in all spheres of government to do our work more efficiently and effectively. She outlined the improvements and roadmap, and how that fits in the broader landscape of opening up government public sector information.

Pia’s slides can be accessed here  

A copy of the mind map is located at

Pia’s blog on her NZ Open Data and Digital Government Adventure –

Pia’s blog on OKFestival 2012: Open Data, Open Gov & Open Science in Helsinki –

Overall reception received was excellent.  The presentations opened up further dialogue and interest among colleagues, particularly on the use of creative commons and open data and how that benefit government operations.

Why is Melbourne Cup Day a public holiday?

The first assertions to provide for a public holiday on Melbourne Cup Day were made in 1873.  At that time provisions existed to allow for the proclamation of special bank holidays under the Bank Holidays Act of that year and for special civil service holidays under the Civil Service Act.  Although these holidays were proclaimed by the Governor in Council and then published in the Government Gazette, the task of preparing documentation and making recommendations to the Governor was the responsibility of the Chief Secretary’s Department.

On 30 October 1873, the Department prepared the necessary documentation for the birthday of the Prince of Wales (9 November) to be declared a special public holiday under the Civil Service Act.  William Henry Odgers, the Under Secretary of the Department annotated the margin with “Also the “Cup” Day sug[gests]s CS [Chief Secretary]”.  This was duly approved by Chief Secretary James Goodall Francis.  The documentation for the proclamation of Cup Day (6 November) was also added to the Bank Holiday proclamation for the Prince’s birthday.

But this did not please everyone.  The file containing these arrangements (VPRS 3991/P0, unit 710, file 73/C15451) also contains a letter of complaint from the Society for Promoting Morality.  It argued that the proclamation of the public holiday may lead to young men “…contracting the habit of “gambling”.”  It is unclear whether this had any effect but a Cup Day was not proclaimed the following year.  By this time Chief Secretary Francis had vacated his position and this might appear to bear our Odgers’ annotation of the previous year that the holiday was his idea.

The 1874 Cup meeting was the last one to be run on a Thursday.  In 1875 it was moved to the second Tuesday of the month.  This meant the Cup was to be run on 9 November, the Prince of Wales birthday.  As a result civil service and bank holidays were gazetted.

So, did the Victorian Racing Club (VRC) move the day for the Cup meeting in 1875 to a Tuesday in order to take advantage of a likely public holiday?  Or was it soliciting a public holiday irrespective of the day?  In this respect it is worth noting that in 1876, the Secretary of the VRC, R.C. Bagot wrote to the Chief Secretary with the following proposal:

“Will you make Tuesday 7th a holiday instead of Thursday 9th.  Sir James informed me it was in your hand.”  (VPRS 3992/P0, unit 883, item 76/K13038, file 76/K13126.)  “Sir James” was most likely Sir James McCulloch, the Premier at the time.

William Odgers subsequently annotated this item to record that the Chief Secretary had “seen” Mr Bagot but did not disclose any further detail.  Subsequent to this meeting both of the 7th and 9th November were Gazetted as Civil Service and Bank holidays.

From then on the precedent appears to have been set and a special public holiday for the Cup was proclaimed annually.  The extent of coverage of the act was adjusted via these annual proclamations over time and legislation specifically providing for a public holiday on the first Tuesday of November was not enacted until the Public Holidays Act of 1993.

Cup day

Tragedy at Ross Bridge – Irish Famine Orphans

When Catherine Toland (or Tolland) arrived on the “Lady Kennaway” with her sister, Sarah, to start a new life half a world away from her native Donegal, she could never have imagined the tragedy that would occur in her life.
Catherine married Michael Murphy, a Shepherd, in 1850 at St. Francis Catholic Church in Melbourne and went on to give birth to eleven children – only three of whom would survive to adulthood.
It is undeniably tragic to lose one child but to lose eight children – four of them in the one devastating incident – must have been unbearable and enough to threaten any parent’s sanity and will to go on living.
Early one morning in 1863, Catherine left the family’s slab hut with her husband and four children still asleep in bed, When Michael left shortly after, the children – John, William, Elizabeth and Michael James – were all still in bed. At approximately 8:00, smoke was noticed in the direction of the Murphy’s hut and the landowner, James McDonald, was informed.  On arrival, Mr. McDonald found the hut ablaze and partially collapsed and was unable to locate the children. 
He went to where Michael Murphy was minding sheep and, on return to the hut, found that the fire had died down and they were able to retrieve the bodies of the four children – still in their beds.
All this information can be found in the Witness Depositions for the Coroner’s Inquest into the deaths of the young children – how heartbreaking must it have been for Catherine to relate the sequence of events that resulted in the deaths of four of her children?
Catherine died in 1899 and left all her estate (which included a town allotment in Kerang) to her sole surviving child, Sarah Ellen Gleeson (nee Murphy).
You can read more of Catherine’s story – don’t forget to follow the link to Records relating to Catherine Tolland to view the rest of the Inquest (VPRS 24/P0000/124 File ref. 1863/149).
VPRS 24-p0-124 ref 1863 149 page 9 sml

If you are a descendant of Catherine’s or a Researcher who knows more of Catherine’s story, I would love to hear from you either through this Blog or by emailing

Showcase Record – November 2013

Showcase Record – November 2013

VPRS 947/P0 Inward Overseas Passenger Lists 1852 – 1923

Immigration Records:

Immigration records that are held by Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) provide information about the administration of inward and outward immigration for Victoria. The inwards records relate to both assisted immigrants and those who came unassisted or were privately sponsored.

The term “unassisted” was used to describe passengers that paid their own fare, to distinguish them from passengers that migrated under sponsorship schemes, known as “assisted passengers”.

Famous People of the Past on our Unassisted Passenger Lists:

The assisted, unassisted and outward passenger lists have all been fully indexed and are available to search online. When searching these indexes you can find famous people of the past listed. Two of these world famous people are Saint Mary Mackillop of the Cross, who is just listed on there as Mary Mackillop and her profession/calling is listed as Nun, The other famous person is Dame Nellie Melba who is listed on there as Mme Melba and her profession/calling is listed as Lady.


Saint Mary Mackillop of the Cross:

Mary Mackillop was travelling back from Rome, Italy in October 1874 onboard the ship the SS St Osyth. She made it back into Melbourne, Victoria on January 1875. Mary Mackillop, as we all know is a world famous Australian who was beatified on 19 January 1995 in Sydney, Australia by Pope John Paul II  and then canonised and recognised as Saint Mary Mackillop of the Cross on 17 October 2010 at St Peters Basilica in Vatican City, Rome by Pope Benedict XVI.

Mary MacKillop 1_20130723_201190

Dame Nellie Melba:

Dame Nellie Melba was travelling back from Marseilles, France in February 1909 onboard the ship the SS Orontes. She made it back into Melbourne, Victoria on March 1909. Dame Nellie Melba who was born in Richmond, Victoria on 19 May 1861, was a world famous operatic soprano and prima donna. She was one of the most famous singers of the late Victorian era.Dame Nellie Melba was travelling back to Melbourne in 1909 because she was embarking on a concert tour of Australia.

MME Melba 1_20130723_201193

Various Creating Agencies:

Colonial Secretary’s Office: VA 856, 1852 – 1855

Department of Trade and Customs: VA 606, 1855 – 1900

Public Works Department: VA 669, 1900 – 1923


Agencies currently responsible:

Public Record Office Victoria: VA 683, 1973-continued

Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, State Office, Victoria: VA 4369, 1996-cont.

Charlie Spiteri – Access Services Officer

New Records Transfers


The below records have been transferred into the PROV collection and are now available for ordering and viewing in our North Melbourne reading room.

VA 3727 City of Yarra
VA 2494 Richmond City Council
VPRS 12892 / P2 Voters’ Rolls, Ward Order [1870 to 1973]VPRS 12895 / P2 Rate and Valuation Register, Assessment Number Order [1963 to 1978]VPRS 16671 / P1 Index to Inward Correspondence [1856 to 1875]VPRS 16669 / P1 Inward Correspondence, Annual Single Number System [1856 to 1876]VPRS 16672 / P1 Mayor’s Correspondence [1905 to 1912]VPRS 16673 / P1 City Surveyor’s Correspondence [1898 to 1907]

VA 4931 Yarra-Melbourne Regional Library Corporation
VPRS 16676 / P1 Board Papers, Minutes and Agenda [1995 to 2007]VPRS 16677 / P1 Correspondence and Subject Files, CEO [1995 to 2006]VPRS 16678 / P1 Committee Minutes, Agenda and Papers [1996 to 2007]VPRS 16679 / P1 Confidential Board Papers, Minutes and Agenda [1999 to 2007]VPRS 16680 / P1 Enterprise Bargaining Agreement Files [1996 to 2006]

VA 511 Melbourne City Council
VPRS 16940 / P1 By Laws  [1862 to 1965]VPRS 16675 / P2 Rates and Valuation Cards [1960 to 1977]

VA 3727 City of Yarra
VA 2494  City of Richmond
VPRS 16668 / P1 Subject Correspondence Files [1858 to 1956]VPRS 16670 / P1 Inward Correspondence, Alphabetical [1877 to 1952]

VA 2989 Cabinet Office
VPRS 11935 / P3 Cabinet Records [1918]

VA 4838 Department of Planning and Community Development (DPCD)
VPRS 16156 / P2 Country Victoria and Metropolitan Region Planning Scheme Ordinances, Interim Development Orders and Approved Amendments
VPRS 16260 / P3 Guide to Melbourne Metropolitan Planning Scheme (MMPC) and Interim Development Orders (IDO) Maps in VPRS 16157 and Planning Scheme Amendment Maps in VPRS 16155

The below records have been transferred into the PROV collection and are now available for ordering and viewing in our Ballarat reading room.

VA 3708 Moorabool (Shire 1994-ct)
VA 967 Ballan (Road District 1862-1864; Shire 1864-1994)
VPRS 16965 / P1 Register of Rateable Properties, Cards [1946-1987]

VA 2378 Bacchus Marsh II (Shire 1871-1994)
VPRS 16988 / P1 Register of Rateable Properties, Cards [1964-1979]

VA 3734 Horsham III (Rural City 1995-ct)
VPRS 16966 / P1 Council Agenda Books [1995-2008]VPRS 16967 / P1 Council Minute Books [1995-2008]VPRS 16973 / P1 Minutes and Agenda Books, Committee of Management, Horsham Regional Art Gallery [1983-1994]

VA 2440 Horsham II (Borough 1882-1932; Town 1932-1949; City 1949-1995)
VPRS 16968 / P1 Council Minute Books [1883-1994]VPRS 16969 / P1 Council Agenda Books [1992-1995]VPRS 16971 / P1 Council Committee Minute Books [1889-1994]VPRS 16972 / P1 Notices of Motion [1966-1984]

Mark “Chopper” Read – Did he or didn’t he?

Whilst no one should glorify death at the hands of someone else, it is something that is a part of our society.

Mark “Chopper” Read’s final interview, which aired on Sunday 20 October on 60 Minutes, displayed a callous and cold blooded murderer, with a complete and utter lack of remorse. Until Sunday’s confessional, “Chopper” had never been convicted, and therefore incarcerated for the act of murder. He had spent years behind bars for a litany of offences, including armed robbery, assault, arson and kidnapping.  Sunday’s confessional from the grave identified four murders, one of which had been deemed a ‘missing person’ case.

PROV holds inquests and coronial investigation records from 1840-1985, and it is within this date range, which two of these murders took place.

Inquests can hold a range of information, including photographs of the victims and crime scene, witness statements, police statements and any relevant information which may have helped to identify the victim.

Desmond “Dessie” Costello had a long criminal history which included violence and dishonesty dating back to 1943. Costello, a union heavy weight and painter and docker by trade was found dead from gunshot wounds in December 1971.

The first of four murders, which Read confessed to in his final interview, was an organised ‘hit’ and took place in Clifton Hill. Costello’s body was found in an excavation pit where construction was taking place for the new Eastern Freeway on Alexandra Parade. Unidentifiable at first, the body was assessed by a fingerprint expert, who identified the victim as Desmond St. Bernard Costello. Once the identification had been made enquiries began to trace his movements prior to his death. Police hit road blocks when Costello’s associates on the docks refused to assist in their investigations. At the time an election was underway and several painters and dockers had been shot and severely assaulted in what appeared to be ‘shows of strength by the two factions attempting to gain control of the union’. This would come to be known as the ‘Waterfront Wars’.

The final findings from the coroner into Desmond Costello’s death stated that he died from ‘gunshot wounds to the head feloniously inflicted on or about the 12th day of December, 1971 by a person or persons and at a place unknown to me’.

Desmond Costello

VPRS 24 P3 Unit73 Item1973-2095 

VPRS 24 P3 Unit73 Item1973-2095 Image5VPRS 24/P3 Unit 73  Item 1973/2095

Reginald Edward Isaacs was first sent to prison in 1952 for child sex offences.  He was subsequently sentenced several more times for various crimes, including murder.  In his final trial for murder in 1974 Isaacs was sentenced to the death penalty and sent to Pentridge Prison.

In his native Britain, Isaacs had been discharged from the Army as medically unfit on psychiatric grounds.  After his time in the National Service was involuntarily cut short he migrated to Australia, where his family subsequently followed. It would be in Geelong in 1950 where Isaacs’ first attempted suicide by drowning himself in the Barwon River after he started to experience ‘homosexual urges’. And it was noted throughout his lengthy inquest that he had suicidal tendencies.  So when he was found dead in his cell in ‘D’ Division having likely hanged himself, it was deemed suicide and the case was closed. All of the evidence had pointed towards him taking his own life, and with his history of self-abuse it was apparently unsurprising to the prison officers, police, his psychiatrist, prison medical staff and the coroner that this was the eventual outcome of his life of crime.

However, “Chopper” Read’s final interview told another story about the death of Isaacs.  Read ‘confessed’ to playing a part in Isaacs’ death, alongside Charles “Mad Charlie” Hegyalji, a known underworld gangland criminal in Melbourne.  The pair reportedly made their way into Isaacs’ locked cell and beat him to death before tying him up and making it look like he’d taken his own life.

Reginald Isaacs

VPRS 24 P1 Unit45 Item1975-1758VPRS 24 P1 Unit 45 Item 1975/1758

Whether these deathbed confessions by Mark “Chopper” Read, who led a life of crime, are in fact true will be for the Victoria Police to investigate if they so see fit. However, for now, we can only speculate.

To order to view the original inquest records, please click on the below links.  Please note: You must register as a public user prior to ordering this record.

Desmond Costello – VPRS 24/P3 Unit 73  Item 1973/2095

Reginald IsaacsVPRS 24 P1 Unit 45 Item 1975/1758


*Please note that any information obtained here has been done so with the use of the inquests held at Public Record Office Victoria (PROV).

Irish Famine Orphans

I was searching VPRS 521 (Register of Names, Particulars and Personal Descriptions of Prisoners Received 1850-1941) as an alternative method of finding Irish Famine Orphans who were convicted of a crime. The Series records Names, Ship and date of arrival into Victoria, personal description and particular scars, marks, tattoos etc.
One entry caught my eye – Ann Brown arrived on the “Derwent” in 1850 and was born in 1825, was 5ft1 inch with a  stout build, fresh complexion, brown hair and hazel eyes.  She was burnt on the right side of her face and was “deficit of her right ear”.  Pretty unique and distinctive, right??
Imagine my surprise when I discovered the description of Ann Hall – “arrived on the “Derwent” in 1850 and was born in 1825, 5ft1 inch with a  stout build, fresh complexion, brown hair and hazel eyes.  She was burnt on the right side of her face and was “deficient of her right ear”.  What a coincidence!
Then both Ann Beaty and Margaret Beatty had exactly the same description – “arrived on the “Derwent” in 1850 etc.  ….. burnt on the right side of her face and was “deficient of her right ear”.
What was going on?  Was this early evidence of cloning?  Or was it an epidemic of short, careless Irish girls who consistently fell into fires at the same angle and received the same horrific injuries?  I came to the (obvious) conclusion that one woman had been arrested multiple times and was using an alias each time but which was the correct name? I checked the passenger list for the “Derwent” – no Ann  Brown, Ann Beaty, Ann Hall or Margaret Beatty was listed.  There was, however, a Sarah Beatty listed on the 1850 voyage of the “Derwent” whose age was listed as 25 – making her born in 1825 and considerably older than the usual Irish Orphan. On further investigation of VPRS 14/P0000 (Nominal Disposal List), Sarah Beatty was listed as a Sub-Matron who assisted in the supervision of the Orphans whilst on the “Derwent”.
In Inward Correspondence (Immigration Board) – VPRS 115 / P0000 / 0004 ref 50/ 71 dated 07 March 1850 –  Sarah Beatty, one of the sub-Matrons, was reported to the Immigration Board by the Surgeon Superintendent for inefficiency in the discharge of her duties. On investigation, the charges were found to be correct and the Board recommended not paying her the gratuity expected.
vprs 117-p0-0001 page 117
Again in Inward Correspondence (Immigration Board) – this time in  VPRS 115 / P0000 / 0005 ref 50/310 and dated 19 July 1850 – there is a description of how, prior to leaving Ireland, Sarah suffered an epileptic fit and fell into a fire, receiving burns to the right side of her face and entirely losing her right ear.
So, Sarah Beatty is clearly her correct name but I have been unable to find any conviction under her correct name or a marriage for Sarah or her death or even a committal to a Lunatic Asylum.
Her story remains a mystery to me and although technically she is not an “Irish Orphan”, I would love to discover her fate because she was obviously a character. If you are descended from Sarah or your research has uncovered more of Sarah’s story, please contact me through this Blog so that I can satisfy my curiosity.

See the digitised records held by the Public Record Office Victoria and read more of Sarah’s story at Records relating to Sarah Beatty

Christine O’Donnell – Access Services Officer
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