I have always kept a low profile in order to protect my spouse and sons from embarrassment, but the time has come to speak out. I have written countless letters to the press, publishers and authors who will insist on continuously producing more sensational, fictitious material these writers hide behind the label “Fiction” but the public believe it to be fact. In particular I have tried to defend Kate, especially after the publication of Sister Kate by Jean Bedford, but my legal advice was that there was nothing I could do, as she is dead.
I cannot understand why anyone would launch such a vicious character assassination with out there being a reason (Bedford did not even have the courtesy to reply when I wrote to her via her publisher). Unfortunately it seems that instead of doing their own research the likes of Daniel Keene Blood Sister and Peter Carey base their material on the fantasy that has already been written under the guise of fiction by Ms Bedford.
Can you imagine the hurt caused to her descendants, especially when the only primary evidence for any of the sins of which she is accused was the Coronial Inquest into her death, held on Saturday 15 October 1898.
Never have there been official documents to support any of the other allegations that have been made including her suicide, pregnancies, abortions, illnesses, drug dependence (laudanum). Not one doctors report or one hospital admission.
Some other people have tried to strip her of her reputation, their claims based on newspaper articles which have been printed over the last one hundred and three years. It was always the family belief that Kate did not die by her own hand.
A magisterial inquiry was held on the afternoon of Saturday 15 October 1898 by the Coroner, C.P. Sowter esq. The following evidence was taken:
Edward Patrick McDonnell, Government Medical Officer, Forbes depose: “Yesterday afternoon I made an examination of the body of the deceased owing to the advanced stage of decomposition it was impossible to form any definite opinion as to the cause of death, or to recognise the marks of violence. If the body had been in the waters even or eight days it would present the appearance it did. I should think that the body by it\’s appearance had been lying in the water from four to eight days. I may have treated the deceased during life but not for a number of years, and do not recollect particulars. I do not particularly remember treating her for mental derangement.”
re: Alleged Suicide note
Inquest states the neighbour, Susan Hurley, with whom she left the baby on the afternoon she was last seen. “She asked me to write a note for her…” The contents were not revealed. Hence, I would have thought it was to do with some thing unrelated. I would also have thought if it had been of relevance to the inquest the note would have been of vital importance. The writer of the note , Susan Hurley, would have known the contents and had it been a suicide note informed the authorities as soon as Kate was discovered missing.
re: Her addiction to alcohol
Susan Hurley in her evidence stated, “Wednesday 5th October… She was sitting in her house slightly under the influence of drink… I have never heard her threaten to commit suicide… I have seen her under the influence of drink but only in the last month.”
William Foster stated, “Tuesday 4th October… I arrived home from Barawong that day, when I arrived home my wife was under the influence of drink, I remonstrated with her and she promised to reform… I have been living on good terms with my wife lately she has been addicted to the drink. I have not been home for the last five months.” This is the only document in existence that alludes to her addiction to alcohol.
re: Her mental condition
Edward Patrick McDonnell, Government Medical Officer, Forbes in his evidence “I do not particularly remember treating her for mental derangement”
You will also note – At the time of the inquest 15th October, the same Susan Hurley was caring for the baby Catherine, Fred, Maudie and Gertrude. Not any member of the Foster family.
William Foster in his evidence stated: “I have not been home for the last five months”. The baby was then three weeks old. There were also three other siblings aged 10, 8 and 4 years. She did not have it easy!
Her young life was both full of action and frightening. There was routine police harassment, constant invasion of their home by the police who regularly destroyed their meagre possessions and food stuff. Her bravery is demonstrated in her participation and assistance to her brothers. She met adversity and danger, both physical and legal, head on with little training or preparation. She addressed large groups of people, arranged legal defence for several of her clan, met with lawyers, politicians, special interest groups, led marches to Government House. She and Maggie persevered through a constant barrage of police harassment, the worry of small children from several family groups at home, with their mother in jail and few of the men left to provide support.
25 August 2001