b. 26 March 1869, d. 24 June 1951
Ellen Phillips (O'Loughlin)
Image: Roylyn Phillips
FatherMichael O'Loughlin b. Apr 1826, d. 3 Jun 1890
MotherMargaret Lee b. 1834, d. 15 Feb 1873

Birth, Death, Marriage

Ellen O'Loughlin was born on 26 March 1869 in Warrenheip, Victoria.1 
She married John Phillips, son of James Phillips and Bridget McMahon, on 15 April 1891 in St Mary's, Dunnstown, Victoria.2 
She died on 24 June 1951 in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, at age 82.3 


John Phillips b. 25 Jul 1863, d. 6 Aug 1925
ChartsO'Loughlin, Michael, descendant chart
Phillips, James, descendant chart
Phillips, Thomas, pedigree chart


Ellen was born to Irish parents, and grew up in an area near Ballarat that was home to many other O'Loughlins. Her mother died in childbirth when Ellen was less than four years old. Her father died the year before she married railwayman John Phillips. Initially in Lillimur, most of the couple's married life was in Bacchus Marsh where they raised a family of six boys and four girls. Occupations held by the boys include hairdresser, billiard marker, billiard saloon proprietor, publican, grocer, jeweller and railwayman. Several were also starting price (SP) bookmakers. For many years the family lived in a railway gatehouse and Ellen worked as a gatewoman. She was also a well-respected midwife and strong supporter of her local St Bernard's church. Ellen was a happy-go-lucky person who was devoted to her family. She was a much-loved and often visited Grandma to twenty-two grandchildren.
Tragic Childhood
Ellen was born in Warrenheip, a farming area near Ballarat that was home to a large number of O'Loughlins.

At the age of four, her mother died in childbirth.

We don't know how she was brought up. Certainly her father would have struggled on his own to raise his family consisting of a 15 year old boy and five girls aged from 13 down to two. One report suggests they were brought up by her mother's sister. Another possiblity is Michael's brother Austin and his family, as we know Ellen maintained close contact with this family throughout her life.4,5
John and Ellen were married in St Mary's Roman Catholic church in Dunnstown, near Ballarat, in 1891. This is where Ellen was born.

Witnesses to the marriage were Cornelius O'Loughlin and Margaret O'Loughlin, Ellen's cousin and sister.

At the time of the wedding, both of Ellen's parents had died. And as John's only remaining family was his mother, she was the only one of the parents to see them marry.

John was a Catholic because of his Irish mother, the family name Phillips not normally being associated with Catholicism at the time. When they moved to Bacchus Marsh, they were the only Catholic Phillipses there.6,2
John & Ellen Phillips (O'Loughlin)
Image: Roylyn Phillips
Raising Family
Following their marriage in Dunnstown, the couple lived near John's work around Nhill in western Victoria. The three eldest children, Larry, Mary and Tess, were born in Lillimur.

Around 1897, the family moved to Bacchus Marsh. They initially lived in Turner St in what would have been a railway house. There is a Bacchus Marsh railway manifest for April 1897 that mentions a Mr Phillips. It is likely that this was delivery of some or all of the family's belongings in their move from Lillimur to Bacchus Marsh. This is just two weeks before the birth of son Tom. More children arrived while in Turner St, Jack, Joe, Jim and Annie.

The children all attended one of the two local Catholic schools. Either St Bernard's School in Gisborne Rd, or St Joseph's Convent School adjoining St Bernard's church in Lerderderg St. The family is recorded as having made a donation towards the construction of the new convent school.6,7
One Grandparent for the Children
The children would not have known what life could be like with grandparents. Ellen's mother died when Ellen was only three, John's father died when John was only three, and Ellen's father died before John and Ellen married. So John's mother was the only grandparent that any of the children knew, and she died of dementia when the eldest, Larry, was just six.8,9,10,11
There were three railway gatehouses in Bacchus Marsh; on Grant St, Fisken St and Vallence Rd. Around 1908, the family moved to live in the Vallence Rd gatehouse and Ellen started working as a gatewoman.

Ellen (and sometimes the kids) would open the gates to let the train through, then close them afterwards. The Vallence family across the railway line had a dairy, so occassionally the job also involved shooing Vallences' cows off the line.

Ellen was the gatewoman all the time that the family lived in the gatehouse. We don't know when her job ceased, but John's August 1925 death might have been a trigger. His death might also have triggered the move from the gatehouse.12,13,14,15,16
The Gatehouse
The gatehouse was next to the railway line on the south-west corner of the Vallence Rd crossing (this crossing was removed in 2004). It was a small four-roomed house, and the older boys slept in a tent in the back yard.

The family moved there about 1908, with Danny born later that year, and their tenth and last child, Eileen, born in 1911.

The children would play with any children nearby or who were known through school or St Bernard's church. There seemed to be a particularly strong connection with the Vallence family, or more correctly all the Vallence families, in Bacchus Marsh. A number of Vallences lived nearby including Nell, Eddie, Amy and Harry, who were just over the railway line. Lifelong friendships were known between the Phillips children and Vallences. Mary married Bill Vallence.

The wide age range of the children, nineteen years to the day between the eldest and youngest, must have created an interesting household. Larry was working as a hairdresser in Grant St before Eileen was born. He married when Eileen was just three, and made her Auntie Eileen at age four, before she started school. During and following the First World War, the children gradually started leaving home to be replaced with visits by grandchildren.

They most likely left the gatehouse in 1924 when John retired from the railways.17
Gatehouse in Bacchus Marsh 1960
The House on the Hill
In the mid-1920s after John retired from the railways, the family moved to a bigger house on the other side of Vallence Rd to the gatehouse and higher up the hill. It is not known whether John ever lived in this house as he died the year after he retired. In later years, the grandchildren all referred to this as 'the house on the hill'. This house was a twin weatherboard house with a covering between the two sections.

The weatherboard 'house on the hill' was later replaced by a brick house, which in turn was demolished to make way for the 2004 rail realignment as part of the Ballarat Fast Rail project.18,19
Ellen & Eileen Phillips with Pat Simmons (in front), house on the hill, Vallence Rd, Bacchus Marsh
Image: Eileen Redden
O'Loughlin Family Contact
While we don't know the full extent of Ellen's contact with her O'Loughlin family, we do know she had regular contact with her sisters, Bridget and Margaret, and her cousin Cornelius. These last two were the witnesses to her marriage.

Bridget became Bridget Guerin and later moved to South Australia. Margaret became Maggie Budge and lived in Skipton. Cornelius visited from Dunnstown with his two sons, Jack and Con (Cornelius).20,21
Doctor's Assistant
Ellen was a well respected midwife in the area, often being called upon when a difficult birth was expected. She was not a registered midwife, but was often called out at odd hours to help the local doctor with births, and sometimes, deaths.22,5
The Great Bacchus Marsh House Swap
Around the mid-1930s, Ellen bought a house at 43 Lerderderg St. This house was a few doors from St Bernard's church.

After Bill Vallence died (1932) in Caulfield, Mary moved back to Bacchus Marsh and bought the house at 16 Millbank St. Ellen later moved in with Mary, and Ellen's son Jack and his family (Ruby, Joy and Roylyn) rented Ellen's Lerderderg St house.

As Ellen got older and less mobile, Jack bought the Millbank St house from Mary and moved in, with Mary and Ellen moving back to the Lerderderg St house. This was easier for Ellen to get to church.23,24,25
Mary Vallence (Phillips), Tom Redden, Eileen Redden (Phillips), Bub Phillips, Ellen Phillips (O'Loughlin), John Redden, Danny Phillips (seated), 16 Millbank St, Bacchus Marsh c. 1937
Image: Eileen Redden
Grandchildren loved visiting their Grandma Phillips in Bacchus Marsh, either at the House on the Hill, Lerderderg St or Millbank St. They would also get to play with their Bacchus Marsh cousins, Roylyn and Joy Phillips. At different times, their Auntie Mary and Auntie Eilie were also living with Ellen.

They would visit for two to three weeks during school holidays. The older grandchildren stayed at the House on the Hill.
The house had a cow. Grandma would squirt them [Jack, Reg and Laurie] in the face. Also chooks. The water tank had 'wrigglers' [mosquito larvae]. Grandma said 'They won't hurt you'. [Laurie Phillips]

At the House on the Hill, the nearby railway embankment was a popular play area.
After they [Dot, Beryl and Marge] had - again - been sliding down the railway embankment, Grandma told them that this time she was not going to patch the seats of their pants again. Marge remembers hearing from Auntie Eilie something like 'Why do we have to look after those b__y kids again?' [Marge Deveney (O'Loughlin)]

At Bacchus Marsh, they [Jack, Reg and Laurie] visited Gran up on the hill. They had good times. At the railway embankment they'd shout 'Paper! Paper!' as the train went by and people would throw out newspapers. They'd flatten pennies or halfpennies on the railway line or roll rocks down the embankment. They'd also try to trap rabbits by blocking some of the exits with rocks. [Jack Phillips]

When Grandma and Auntie Mary lived up on the hill near the railway line Jack, Reg and myself used to wait by the line as the train went by calling out 'Paper! Paper!' and the people would throw out papers, minties, different goodies they didn't want, we used to reckon it was as good as Xmas. Many trains went by on that line so we had a ball. Those were the days. [Laurie Phillips]

The children would get to ride on the horse and jinker to get to church.

The younger grandchildren visited their Grandma at Lerderderg St or Millbank St and would make their own fun.

At the Millbank St house, when Don and I used to visit, there was an ant track along the back of the house. We'd put sticks in the way so the ants had to go over hurdles. [Rene Barnes]26,23,27,28,29

Those damn blue shirts: Eilie recalls lots of blue shirts. When Jack, Reg and Laurie stayed with their grandma during school holidays, they would bring their blue school shirts to wear. These got grubby and needed changing every day, and Eilie remembers 'an endless stream of those damn blue shirts to clean and iron'.21
Charlie's broken windscreen: Auntie Eilie recalls once when Auntie Bub was going out with a chap by the name of Charlie Britnall. Charlie was from Sydney and his step father was Sydney bookmaker and politician, Sir John Montgomery Dunningham. Charlie was a good dancer (the Charleston gets a mention) and drove a sports car. One weekend, Bub and Charlie drove to see her and mum (Ellen, Grandma Phillips) at the house on the hill in Bacchus Marsh. Unfortunately for them, Jack, Reg and Laurie were there for a holiday (they were maybe 8 to 10 years old). From the safety of the house, the boys threw stones at Charlie's sports car, breaking the windscreen.30,21
At the time of her death in 1951, Ellen had twenty-two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Four generations: Dot McInerny (O'Loughlin), Pam McInerny, Ellen Phillips (O'Loughlin) & Tess O'Loughlin (Phillips) c. 1949
Image: Roylyn Phillips
Philosophy, Interests and Final Days
Ellen had a saying: 'It's no good being poor and looking poor'. Personal appearance was important to her, and she passed this philosophy on to her children. It has been noted that her six boys always dressed well.

Ellen is described as a happy-go-lucky person, another attribute she passed on to her children. This was in sharp contrast to her husband John, who has been described as 'a bit grumpy'.

Ellen was devoted to her church and family, though she did find time for other interests. While at the house on the hill, she would tune the 'cat's whisker' of the crystal set radio so she could listen to the wrestling through the headphones. And her obituary noted that her favourite recreation was a game of euchre.

Ellen Phillips died of cardiovascular disease and kidney disease at her home in Lerderderg St in Bacchus Marsh on 24 June 1951, aged 82. She was buried at Maddingley cemetery in Bacchus Marsh on 25 June 1951.

She died after a fortnight's illness. The funeral took place following a requiem mass at St Bernard's church.31,32,33,34,3
Ellen Phillips (O'Loughlin)


  1. [S30] Ellen O'Loughlin, birth registration no. 1121, 26 March 1869.
  2. [S22] John Phillips and Ellen O'Loughlin, marriage registration no. 3056, 1891.
  3. [S360] Ellen Phillips, death registration no. 17781, 24 June 1951.
  4. [S31] Eileen Redden, personal communication, 5 December1998.
  5. [S38] Lynette Dow, personal communication, 14 March 1996.
  6. [S318] Bacchus Marsh & District Historical Society, personal communication, Christine Bronchinetti 8 November 2013.
  7. [S276] '[No title]', Bacchus Marsh Express, 1857-1983, newspaper, Christopher Crisp & George Land, 17 April 1897, p. 2, viewed 23 June 2014, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88346650
  8. [S54] Michael O'Loghlen, death registration no. 5727, 1 June 1890.
  9. [S47] Margaret O'Loughlin, death registration no. 2885, 15 February 1873.
  10. [S48] Bridget Phillips, death registration no. 18989, 25 December 1903.
  11. [S34] James Phillips, death registration, 16 September 1866.
  12. [S1] Ellen has two electoral roll entries for 1908, one as homeduties in Bacchus Marsh and one as gatewoman in Maddingley, so we have assumed this is the year she started work as a gatewoman.
  13. [S38] Lynette Dow, personal communication, 18 December 1996.
  14. [S331] Joan McClure, personal communication, 7 December 2013.
  15. [S32] Laurie Phillips, personal communication, several conversations during late 2013.
  16. [S392] Australia, Electoral Rolls 1903-1980, online, division of Corio, subdivision of Bacchus Marsh, 1908.
  17. [S318] Bacchus Marsh & District Historical Society, personal communication, Christine Bronchinetti 18 November 2013.
  18. [S32] Laurie Phillips, personal communication, a number of conversations during 2013.
  19. [S331] Joan McClure, personal communication, 11 December 2013.
  20. [S38] Lynette Dow, personal communication, 22 June 1997.
  21. [S31] Eileen Redden, personal communication, 25 February 1996.
  22. [S31] Eileen Redden, personal communication, 16 November 1996.
  23. [S37] Margaret Deveney, personal communication, 11 March 1996.
  24. [S44] Roylyn Phillips, personal communication, 12 July 1996.
  25. [S15] Irene Barnes, personal communication, 5 October 1996.
  26. [S32] Laurie Phillips, personal communication, 26 May 2014.
  27. [S102] Jack Phillips, personal communication, 30 November 1996.
  28. [S281] 'Phillips Family', Facebook, webpage, Facebook Inc., group created 25 June 2011, 9 January 2012 post by Laurie Phillips.
  29. [S15] Irene Barnes, personal communication, 4 December 2013.
  30. [S102] Jack Phillips, personal communication, 2 March 2013.
  31. [S319] 'Obituary: Mrs John Phillips, Sen.', Bacchus Marsh Express, newspaper obituary, 30 June 1951.
  32. [S61] Beverley Scott, personal communication, 12 July 1996.
  33. [S31] Eileen Redden, personal communication, 10 March 1996 and 4 December 1998.
  34. [S52] Doris 'Nene' Courtie, personal communication, 30 December 1996.
  35. [S10] Thomas James Phillips, birth registration no. 8018, 2 May 1897.