Obituaries Australia

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: use double quotes to search for a phrase
  • Tip: lists of awards, schools, organisations etc

Browse Lists:

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Catherine Medhurst (1799–1894)

Mrs Catherine Medhurst, recognised to be the oldest female born in Australia, died at the residence of her eldest daughter, Mrs Pateman, Narara, near Gosford, on Wednesday, August 8th, at 1.20 p.m. at the mature old age of 94 years. Mrs Medhurst was born in Sydney on Christmas Day, 1800, 12 years after the Imperial ensign first waved over the founders of the colony on the shores of Port Jackson. Mrs Medhurst's parents came to Sydney in the ship Cornwallis, one of the first vessels to arrive after the 'first fleet.' The deceased old lady was born in Back Row, a street of some importance in those early days, and situated in the 'Rocks' region. At 16 years of age she left Sydney for Windsor, and was married there a year later at the Church of England by the Rev Mr Fulford. After their marriage the couple left for the Wollombi district. She has resided in Gosford for about 50 years. The old lady had been a total abstainer as long as can be remembered, and was a member of the Wesleyan Church, but was until some years ago an attendant of the Church of England. Mrs Medhurst has had 11 children, 8 of whom are still living, and these have all had large families. Mrs Pateman, the eldest daughter, has had 12 children, another daughter was the mother of 15, three others are credited with 9 each, one with 11, and one with 7. Summed up, the old lady has contributed to the population of this country a great many descendants, classified as follows—8 children, 71 grand-children, 90 great-grandchildren, and 20 great-great-grandchildren. Considering the large family the deceased has reared under trying circumstances, no doubt, the fortitude with which she has borne up against old age and natural decay is wonderful. During the past three years, however, she had failed considerably, and for some time prior to her decease had been bedridden. Last Christmas Day, her 93rd birthday, she was assisted to the table where she ate her last Christmas dinner. Two months ago she could read and converse with anyone, and could even see to thread her own needle for sewing.

Original publication

Additional Resources

  • sketch, Australian Town and Country Journal, 18 August 1894, p 21

Citation details

'Medhurst, Catherine (1799–1894)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 27 February 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Shaw, Catherine
  • Carpenter, Catherine

1 January, 1799
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


11 August, 1894 (aged 95)
Gosford, New South Wales, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

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.