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Kathleen Mary (Kate) Leigh (1881–1964)

A former N.S.W. Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr W. R. Lawrence, will attend the funeral of former Sydney underworld identity Mrs Kathleen Ryan, also known as Kate Leigh.

Mrs Ryan, who was reported to be about 84, died on Tuesday night in St Vincent’s Hospital.

She had spent recent years quietly in a relative’s home in Devonshire Street, Surry Hills — the area in which she had been a colourful and well-known figure for many years.

Convicted by Courts many times, Mrs Ryan was stoutly defended by her friends as being kind-hearted.

She told the Bankruptcy Court, which examined her in 1954, that "Good Samaritans" had given her £1700 to pay her back taxes.

On that occasion she said, "I’ve helped a lot of people when they were down and out and now they’ve come good when I’m down and out.

Police and criminals who knew her well are expected to attend the funeral service which will be held at St Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, Surry Hills, at 12.30 p.m. tomorrow.

She will be buried at Botany Cemetery after the service.

Announcing that he would attend the service, Mr Lawrence said:

"Kate used to go to the Courts nearly every day and she would do all she could to help first offenders.

"On many occasions I saw her actually paying the fines of people who were not in a position to pay.

"I spent 19 years at the C.I.B. and Kate was one who gave me lots of information and help.

"There was another side to her life.

"Certainly she had a criminal record, but she did all she could to help the needy and young offenders.

"She warned many of the youngsters about the futility of crime.

Original publication

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Citation details

'Leigh, Kathleen Mary (Kate) (1881–1964)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 22 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Lee, Kathleen
  • Beahan, Kathleen
  • Barry, Kathleen
  • Ryan, Kathleen

10 March, 1881
Dubbo, New South Wales, Australia


4 February, 1964 (aged 82)
Surry Hills, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.