Caroline Ratcliffe

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Hager Grave, Ballarat Old Cemetery, Ballarat Heritage Services Picture Collection


Caroline Frances Ratcliffe (sometimes mistakenly called Radcliffe) was born on 20 February 1843 in Melbourne, Victoria. According to her obituary in 1928 Caroline was one of the oldest native born residents of the state having been born in Swanston Street, Melbourne on 20 February 1843. Her parents arrived in Victoria in 1840 on the Intrinsic. Caroline had clear recognition of events of Eureka having witnessed the destruction of James Bentley's Eureka Hotel. She heard the firing when the government troops met the diggers in the battle. It is reported that two of the insurgents stayed with Caroline's parents and she was on the scene of the encounter the following morning. She also remembered encounters with bushrangers and the black Thursday bush fires of 1851. She married Rudolph Sophus Hager in 1860 in a tent on the current site of St Alipius Church. She was 17 years of age. They lived in Ballarat where they produced at least nine children among which were: Charles Frederick Henry b. 1861 Ballarat; Rudolph Thomas b. 1862 Ballarat; Mary Helena b. 1864 Ballarat; Catherine b. 1877 Ballarat.

Caroline and Rudolph entered the hotel keeping business their first hotel being the Half Way House on Smyth's Road. Four and a half years later they took over the licence of the Criterion Hotel Ballarat and after that the North Star Hotel, Lydiard Street, Ballarat. Not one prosecution was charged against her in the hotel business. She was of an equable and kind temperament and one who was every ready to assist others. Rudolph Sophus Hager died on 25 May 1909 and was buried at the Ballaarat Old Cemetery. Caroline Hager died on the 4 November 1928 aged 86 years and is buried at the Ballarat Old Cemetery in the same grave as her husband.[1]

Goldfields Involvement, 1854

Post 1854 Experiences


DEATHS — ... HAGER.—On 10th January. at the Criterion hotel, Doveton street, Caroline, the infant daughter of Rudolph and Caroline Hager, aged one month.[2]


One of Ballarat's oldest and most highly respected pioneers in the person of Mrs. Caroline Hager passed away on Friday week at the residence: of her son, Mr. Charles Hager, North Star Hotel. In her 86th year, the late Mrs. Hager was one of the oldest native-born Victorians," being born in Swanston-street, Melbourne, in" 1843. During her long life she had witnessed many of the vicissitudes through which the State, and more particularly the Ballarat district, had passed. She had a clear recollectipn of all the events at Eureka, and of many other stirring events of the early days, such as bushranging episodes and Black Thursday. Mrs. Hager was married in a tent on the site on which St. Alipius' Church was subsequently built, the officiating clergyman being Rev. Fr. McCarthy. She was practically all her lifetime in the hotel business, having conducted the old Half-Way House, on Smythe's-road, the Criterion, Ballarat, and the North Star. Three of her sons —namely, Arthur, Chris, and Charles—are in business in Ballarat. The funeral took place on Sunday morning to the Old Cemetery. Very Rev. Fr. Kerin, Adm., read the burial service at the graveside. R.I.P.[3]

See also

Further Reading

Corfield, J.,Wickham, D., & Gervasoni, C. The Eureka Encyclopaedia, Ballarat Heritage Services, 2004.


  1. Dorothy Wickham, Women of the Diggings: Ballarat 1854, BHS Publishing, 2009.
  2. Ballarat Star, 15 January 1879.
  3. The Advocate, 15 November 1928.

External links