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Burkhill, Emma (1864 - 1936)

28 December 1864
Cooling, Kent, England
20 August 1936
Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia
Alternative Names
  • Orman, Emma (former married name)
  • Watson, Emma (maiden name)


Emma Burkhill was the first Matron at Broken Hill, New South Wales.


Emma Burkhill trained as a nurse in England before marrying Joseph Orman and migrating to Australia in 1866. The pair had two sons, only one of whom - Alfred Orman - survived infancy. After Joseph's death, around 1870, Emma married John Burkhill, a pharmacist at Mount Gambier, South Australia. In 1871, Emma Burkhill became Matron at the Mount Gambier Hospital. She later moved to Menindee, New South Wales, where her daughter Emma Ethel was born in 1878. She had a second daughter, Alice. Following the establishment of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company in the 1880s, Emma Burkhill moved to Broken Hill to offer medical assistance to the growing population of miners and their families. The hospital at Broken Hill consisted of a wood and iron room alongside a large tent that was built to house the many patients suffering from typhoid. When a new hospital was built in 1889, Emma Burkhill was appointed as its first Matron.

Sources used to compile this entry: Camilleri, Jenny, Some Outstanding Women of Broken Hill and District, Jenny Camilleri (Broken Hill Historical Society/Broken Hill Council), Broken Hill, NSW, 2002; See also the Barrier Daily Truth, 20 August 1936.

Barbara Lemon

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