On This Day in Wangaratta – 9th June 1896

On this day in 1896 Dr William Joseph Carroll passed away after battling pleurisy for six weeks. He was only 41. Dr Carroll was born in Dublin to wealthy former Lord Mayor Sir William Carroll (also a doctor) and Margaret Elizabeth Pearson. Sir William was quite well known in Dublin society, being dubbed one of the city’s ‘Civic Celebrities’. What brought his sons William and Stanislaus to Victoria is not known but William jnr arrived in New South Wales around 1880. He married 17 year old Ada Agnes Hudson early the next year at Corowa.

Dr Carroll worked for short times at Wahgunyah and Warracknabeal, before settling in Wangaratta in the late 1880s. His name made the news in 1893 when a man named Carl Stumph was brought before the Rushworth Court on a charge of perjury after he claimed to be a registered medical practitioner. Stumph had ‘practiced’ in Rushworth for several years, using the name and qualifications of the real Dr William Carroll of Wangaratta.

The Carroll’s must have been a theatrical family. William jnr’s brother Stanislaus, was an actor who used the stage name Stannis Leslie while working at the Princess Theatre in Melbourne. Their father, while knighted, struggled to find the respect often accorded to his position. You can see a wonderful cartoon lampooning Sir William by portraying him as a fat clown here.

Dr Carroll’s widow, later spelling her name as Aida Agnes or Agnes Aida, moved to Brisbane where she died in 1923. For all the prominence of Dr Carroll’s father and the celebrity of his brother, Dr William Joseph Carroll quickly faded into obscurity. No death notice appeared in the newspapers and most probably no international obituary. He left no probate and he is buried alone in an unknown grave in the Roman Catholic section of the Wangaratta cemetery.

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3 Responses to On This Day in Wangaratta – 9th June 1896

  1. What a strange story, Jenny, with so many unanswered questions. I don’t understand why a Doctor (with a surviving widow) would be buried in an unknown grave with no death notice. When you chose Dr Carroll as your subject did you expect to find more, or did you know there would be a lot of unanswered questions?
    It must be so difficult researching these subjects, with the same Christian names popping up everywhere in the family, to name but one problem…

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    • Jenny Coates says:

      Hi Gael,
      It was more that nothing else happened (that I could easily find) around this time and I wanted a quick post. I was surprised to find he was in an unmarked grave too, but I gather the widow didn’t have any money and she moved out of the area quite quickly. I also get a sense that possibly Dr Carroll may not have been very frugal with his money – having an eccentric father himself he may have had the same affliction. No death notice, no probate, etc etc. Doesn’t sound like a successful man. I did expect to find more and thank goodness for his father and brother or he would have ended up on the scrap heap! Hopefully a reader can add more to the story.
      Kind regards,
      Jenny

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