Bridget Mary Frances Bourke was born on June 1st, 1874, at Kilmore, Victoria, the third child and first daughter of 31 year old Paddy Bourke and his 26 year old wife Margaret.
Bridget grew up the only girl amongst five brothers (another brother died soon after birth). her mother did give birth to two other daughters- Margaret in 1887 and Mary in 1888- but they died in their infancy aged five months and six weeks respectively.
Bridget received a very good education, attending several different schools. There is evidence that she initially attended Burramine State School, followed by Tungamah State School, Mount St. Patricks Convent in Kilmore and the Sacred Heart Convent of Our Lady of Mercy at Yarrawonga. An 1890 school text book entitled "English Grammar and Analysis" has inscribed on the front cover:-
" Brigid Mary Burke, the Sacred Heart Convent of Our Lady of Mercy, Yarrawonga. 6th April 1891."
Bridget's first and last names were incorrectly spelt, so the 16 year old school girl obviously did not write the inscription herself.
Bridge, as she was known, was an excellent horsewoman, and grew up surrounded by horses as her father Paddy Bourke owned a number of horses which he often raced in local race meetings. The family story has it that on one occasion near Berrigan, NSW, Bridget's sense of adventure was aroused when she heard it claimed ( by a man!) that a woman could not handle a team of horses. To prove him wrong, she drove a six-in-hand coach single-handedly without any difficulty.
In early 1897, Bridget took over the running of her father's Tungamah hotel, The Victoria, at the age of only 22 years.
At the age of 23 years, Bridget Mary Bourke married a 26 year old butcher from Yarrawonga by the name of Patrick James Sheridan. Known as 'Paddy', he had been born near the Carisbrook gold fields in 1869 to Irish parents Nicholas Sheridan from Ballyheelan, Ballymachugh, Cavan and Bridget McGrath from Tyrone. The ceremony took place at the Tungamah Catholic Church, Our Lady of Good Councel, on Tuesday July 20, 1897.
Bridget was given away not by her father, but by her uncle, James Bourke, a brother of her mother's. She had three bridesmaids- Roseannie Sheridan(Paddy's sister) and two of her Mannix cousins, Judith and Mary ( their mother Ellen was the only sister of Paddy Bourke). Two cousins also acted as trainbearers- Bridget Moylan from Shepparton ( daughter of her maternal aunt, Bridget Bourke Moylan) and Daisey Meehan from Yarrawonga( Daisey's grandfather, Patrick Meehan, was the brother of Bridget's grandmother, Judith Meehan Bourke).
Her husband Paddy Sheridan was attended only by one best man, Patrick Bourke ( brother of Bridget's mother Margaret).
After a brief honeymoon in Melbourne, Paddy and Bridget Sheridan settled down in their Murphy Street, Yarrawonga, home. Paddy worked for a butcher by the name of James Green.