- Kilkenny, Ireland
Campbells Creek, Victoria, Australia
Perhaps the archetypal ‘low Irish woman married to a Chinaman’, Ann Coogan was born in Kilkenny and married James Ah What in 1860 with Sarah Ah Sam as witness (she would soon be notorious as prostitute Mon Sing). Ann bore six children between 1861 and 1875 in the Guildford, Loddon and Campbells Creek districts. The birth of her first son, William, in 1861 was attended by a doctor and a midwife with the registration giving the father’s occupation as storekeeper. Between 1870 and 1880 Ann was gaoled repeatedly, at least three times for prostitution. On many other occasions she was arrested and fined as drunk and disorderly or for using offensive language and she was refused her application for a beer licence in 1871 on character grounds. When the marriage failed in 1873, Ann unsuccessfully sought maintenance from James for herself and three children. Two daughters were sent to Industrial School in 1876. In 1889 the Ladies Committee of the Benevolent Asylum gave Ann two shillings weekly while they investigated the ability of her two sons in Wilcannia to support her. Ann died in Campbells Creek in 1905. Her story is not typical of most women married to Chinese men whose lives were much more peaceful.