Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (60): More Court cases

Some more orphans in Court

Let me pick up where I left off last time with more from Julie Poulter’s “Earl Grey Orphans in the streets of Sydney”. My sincere thanks to Julie for sharing her work with us. I hope I haven’t done it an injustice.

Later I’ll have a quick look at Melbourne Women’s prison. There are always doubts about whether we have the right person but nowadays with so much available online, we have more opportunities to correct our errors…however laborious that may be. I’ll alert readers to some of the pitfalls when chasing Victorian orphans in prison.

Let me begin with Julie’s research. The next five cases who went to Darlinghurst Gaol in Sydney are Anne Wallis née Walsh, Mary Ann Pightling née Egan, Bridget Higney, Margaret Driver née Higgins and Ellen Farrell née Maguire.

New South Wales (cont.)

Ann Walsh from Kilcolman, Co. Offaly per Tippoo Saib

It was seventeen years after her arrival that Ann Walsh committed her first crime. In 1859, she married a violent mariner, John Henry Wallis who made her life hell. 6 April  1864, page 2, column 4, Water Police Court,  the Empire reported the domestic violence Anne lived with. Her drunken husband chased Ann “to the lane, beat, kicked her and tore the dress from her back”. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/page/5692787

Later, in 1872, John Wallis was charged again and found guilty of assaulting his wife. She in effect stayed with her violent husband for thirteen years, Julie tells us. But in the meantime, she too was arrested three times and put in Darlinghurst gaol for drunkenness, obscene language and once for assault. Her children were put in the Randwick Asylum, and in 1873 Louisa the youngest stated her father was dead and her mother was in Darlinghurst gaol. What happened to her mother is unknown.

Mary Ann Egan from Templeoran, Co. Westmeath per Tippoo Saib

Here’s Mary’s entry on the database.

    • Surname : Egan
    • First Name : Mary Ann
    • Age on arrival : 17
    • Native Place : Templetown? [Templeoran], Westmeath
    • Parents : William & Catherine (both dead)
    • Religion : Roman Catholic
    • Ship name : Tippoo Saib (Sydney Jul 1850)
    • Workhouse : Westmeath, Mullingar
  • Other : Shipping: house servant, reads, no relatives in colony; entered in ‘Barefoot & Pregnant’ as ‘Eagan’; married Norwich-born George Pightling 22 Aug 1853, St James CofE, Sydney; 7 children born Sydney 1854-1867; died 6 Sep 1902 St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney pneumonia following injuries from a tram accident on Oxford Street & was noted as an old-age pensioner from Paddington

Mary’s first conviction for drunkenness was in 1890, forty years after she arrived on the Tippoo Saib. Fifteen more convictions for drunkenness would follow in the next eleven years, seven them in 1894. Julie suggests her ‘downfall’ was related to her troubles with her children, Mary’s son Henry Pightling having more than one run in with the law. See the Evening News, 23 June 1891, p.6, col.3 under “Invited Home”. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/113883268/12052102 He and his sister Maria Gage were committed for trial at the Quarter Sessions. Mary Pightling was literally ‘drowning her sorrows’.

Bridget Higney from Boyle, Co. Roscommon per Digby

Julie has researched Bridget carefully. Her first conviction was sixteen years after her arrival on the Digby. Bridget Higney, like her shipmate Jane Kelly, was forced to live in Sydney’s backslums near Darling Harbour. They were sex workers (?) and drinking companions who sought refuge in the Sydney Benevolent Asylum. Bridget was refused admission to the Asylum in 1863 even though her baby girl, Ada, was born there. She had turned up drunk. In desperation Bridget abandoned her daughter on the doorstep of Dr Renwick in Pitt Street. Ada later died in the Asylum. She had secondary syphillis.

Both of Bridget’s de facto relationships the first with George Jarman, the second with Michael Barry, ended badly for her. In 1866-7 she was convicted seven times for damaging property, assault, using threatening language, larceny, and riotous behaviour. Probably suffering from mental problems associated with sexually transmitted disease, Bridget died in Darlinghurst Gaol in 1866, just thirty three years old. Here is her entry in the database.

    • Surname : Higney
    • First Name : Bridget
    • Age on arrival : 16
    • Native Place : Boyle, Roscommmon
    • Parents : Michael and Ellen (both dead)
    • Religion : Roman Catholic
    • Ship name : Digby (Sydney 4 Apr 1849)
    • Workhouse : Roscommon, Boyle
  • Other : Shipping: house servant, reads only, no relatives in colony. Appendix J No.99, 16 Mar 1850 indentures with Mr WT Boyce, pilot, cancelled WPO; Register 2 No.631, 16 May 1850 satisfactory conduct; her daughter, Mary Ellen Jarman(e) entered the Randwick Asylum for Destitute Children in 1863, aged 4, noted as RC and the illegitimate child of Bridget Higney. In 1865 Bridget was convicted of assault with intent to rob and was sentenced to two months in Darlinghurst Gaol. In 1866 Bridget died in Darlinghurst Gaol, an inquest indicating it was due to an epileptic fit. Her daughter, Ellen, left Randwick Asylum in Jun 1872, aged 13, apprenticed to Mr George Coombe, Pitt Street, Redfern.

Margaret Higgins from Athlone, Co. Westmeath per Tippoo Saib

Margaret married William Driver two years after she arrived when she was only 16 years of age. She was dead by the time she was 37. She and William lived in desperately poor, cramped, unhealthy areas of The Rocks, a neighbourhood that encouraged conflict. Her first conviction occurred six years after she arrived. In 1856 she was fined for assaulting Catherine Molloy. See the Sydney Morning Herald 11 April 1856, p.5, column 1.https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/12980412/1499635 Over the next seventeen years she was convicted eleven times for insulting language, riotous behaviour, thrice for assault and six times for drunkenness. In 1862 she spent a month in gaol for stabbing a lodger who owed her money. She had abused her lodger, thrown a basin at him, stabbed him with a sheath knife and even gave him a pound not to appear in court. See Sydney Morning Herald 25 January 1862, p.5, col.4. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/13223796

In 1873 upon release from Darlinghurst Margaret staggered drunk into the street and was killed by a horse drawn van.

Here is her database entry.

    • Surname : Higgins
    • First Name : Margaret
    • Age on arrival : 14
    • Native Place : Athlone, Westmeath
    • Parents : Timothy & Margaret (both dead)
    • Religion : Roman Catholic
    • Ship name : Tippoo Saib (Sydney Jul 1850)
    • Workhouse : Westmeath, Athlone
  • Other : Shipping: nursemaid, reads, no relatives in colony, sister Mary [Maria] also on Tippoo Saib. Register 3 No.309, 26 Mar 1851 in employ of John Rayner, Emu Plains, Penrith; married William Driver 21 Aug 1852 St Andrews Presbyterian church witnessed by her sister Maria Higgins; by 1862 Margaret and William were living in Jarvisfield, same area as Maria and her husband John Mathews. Margaret & William were both known to the Police & bought before Court numerous times for assault or bad language; back in Sydney by 1870 Margaret before court numerous times; died 26 Nov 1873 after being struck by a cab, buried Rookwood CofE. Anne Mathews: pamat47[at]hotmail.com

Ellen Maguire/McGuire from Loughlinnan, Co. Cavan per Digby

Ellen Farrell had a short criminal career. She married James Farrell in 1853 and in 1857 was working as a barmaid in Pitt Street when she stole from a patron and sent to gaol for six months. Her first crime committed eight years after arriving. In 1858 once again and perhaps for the last time she was sent to gaol for twenty four hours for drunkenness.  See the Sydney Morning Herald,  24 November 1858, p. 3, column 2 Water Police Court https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/28630107/1491920

Thereafter she no longer appears in the criminal records. Her database entry reads

  • Surname : Maguire (McGuire)
  • First Name : Ellen
  • Age on arrival : 15
  • Native Place : Lough Loughlin [Loughlinnan], Cavan
  • Parents : Charles & Jane (both dead)
  • Religion : Roman Catholic
  • Ship name : Digby (Sydney 4 Apr 1849)
  • Workhouse : Cavan, Cavan
  • Other : shipping: housemaid, reads & writes, relative in colony: an uncle Pat McGuire supposed to living in Sydney, complaint on board: her hair was cut for taking another girl’s part. Also an annotation against Catherine Horrigan [who]: ‘complains that the Master struck her and beat her head against the bed and then blackened the eye of Ellen McGuire who came to take her part’.
 Please see the previous post for information about how to get in touch with Julie.

Some Victorian examples

VPRS521

The Public Record Office of Victoria is to be congratulated for making so much material available to the public, lots of it online. Time will fly by as you become enmeshed in what they have made available. For Victorian women prisoners, for example,

https://prov.vic.gov.au/search_journey/select?keywords=Prisoners%20personal%20description%20register

 https://prov.vic.gov.au/node/1445

or for assisted passenger lists. This one below I used to check for dates of ship arrivals  in Port Phillip.

https://prov.vic.gov.au/explore-collection/explore-topic/passenger-records-and-immigration/assisted-passenger-lists

One of my problems at the moment is that I cannot find the names I noted down when I
worked in the Public Record Office of Victoria in the 1980s and 1990s. I was using PROV VPRS 521 and described it in my notes as ‘Prisoners’ personal description Register‘. That certainly exists  via the link above. But my names are not appearing. I wonder what I’m doing wrong. I had used, presumably on microfiche, Unit 1A March 1850-March 1853, and another 1A (?) March 1850-March 1852, Unit 1, 1852-1857 and Unit 2, 1854.  The scan of the 6″x4″ card at the beginning of this section is made from my notes. Yet i cannot find either Ann Lewis or Polly Tyrell on the digital links PROV provides, never mind a host of others.
Here are some women prisoners,  from my notes,
No. 36 Ann Hall per Derwent, 1850,
No 207 Jane McGuire per Diadem 1848,
209 Maria Walker per Diadem 1848,
328 Margaret Beatty per Derwent 1850,
Catherine Ellis per Lady Kennaway 1848,
382 Mary McGill per Derwent 1850,
261 Mary Smith per Derwent 1851,
325 Ann Beaty per Derwent 1850,
366 Ellen Brenan (Ellen Stewart) per Diadem 1851,
559 Margaret Baker per Eliza Caroline 1850,
667 Anne Hubbard per Diadem 1849,
755 Eliza Nelligan per Derwent 1849.
VPRS 521 Unit 2 Catherine Day per Lady Kennaway 1849
and from VPRS 521 Unit 1A No. 13 Susan McCullock per Lady Kennaway 1848,
235 Elizabeth Dunn per Lady Kennaway 1848
and 459 Maria Walker per Diadem 1848.
And from a separate set of notes from VPRS 521 vol.1 1853-57
No 129 October 1854 Amelia Nott per New Liverpool 1849, also 291 Feb 1855, 334, 472, 511, 597, 601, 883, 916, 1009 9 previous drunk one calendar month, 1125, 1856 644, 919, now saying she came on the Lysander in 1849,1857 26, 112 New Liverpool again,
Dec. 1854 151 Eliza Fitzgerald per Eliza Caroline 1849,
321Julia Johnstone per Pemberton 1848, 462 as Susan Gafney
355 Margaret Walker per Lady Kennaway 1845,
402 Julia Driscoll per Eliza Caroline 1848, 412,
Bridget McCarthy Lady Kennaway 1847,
470 Mary Ann Wallace Eliza Caroline 1848,
and this one ,
655 Alice Butler Eliza Caroline 1849 born 1835 5’3 1/2″ stout fresh complexion dark brown hair grey eyes reads imperfectly large mole left cheek Ireland RC single obscene language 14 days in prison.
826 Julia Connelly Eliza Caroline 1849 married no means of support,
833 Mary Ann Tyrell Roman Emperor 1848 married,
982 Jane Pindar or Pinder Diadem 1849 married b.1832 4′ 11 3/4″ reads imperfectly scan on forehead Ireland Protestant married imprisoned drunk 24 hours,
984 Mary Ann Forrester Inconstant 1846 no means of support,
1043 13 Nov 1855 Susan Stewart Pemberton 1848 1 previous drunk 5′ 2″ stout fresh hazel eyes reads imperfectly scar left back of left hand Ireland Catholic single medical enquiry unsound mind remanded to Police Court, 1856 133, 15 Feb  idle and disorderly Pemberton 1850
1856 68 Margaret Halcup(?) Roman Emperor 1847 2 previous widow,
22 Polly Tyrell now listed as arriving by Covenanter in 1848 which raises the question how many were from Van Diemen’s Land,
266 Margaret Walker per Lady Kennaway 1849 3 previous married, 400, 442 habitual drunkard 9 previous, 541, 608, 694, 746 821, 1857 169, 195 17 previous, 325, 395, 483, 20 previous,
606 Mary Ann Hawks Lady Canneway 1847 b. 1827 1 previous lunatic Ireland Catholic Married Remanded assault to Police Court 15 August 1856.
VPRS 516 Central Register of female prisoners is also available online. I noted from the first volume, Mary Ann Bourke, Mary Farrell, Eliza Turner, Eliza Tyrell, Mary Tyrell per Roman Empress to Adelaide 1848
and Mary Ann Yatton and Mary Ann Forrester per Inconstant to Adelaide 1846, quite a few claiming to be on orphan ships.
And that is only a selection.
But you can see some of the problems. How many of these were Earl Grey orphans? Susan Stewart and Alice Butler maybe.  But note how common are the errors regarding the date of arrival of ships. Note too that most of these names do not correspond with the names of female orphans on board those ships. Many of the prisoners said they were married.  I only spent a morning looking at Early Church Records without having any success establishing that some of the married ones were in fact Earl Grey orphans. Perhaps they meant common law marriage.  Then again how many do you think were Van Diemonians using the names of orphan ships to hide their origins? Nor did I chase any of them in newspapers. There’s a research project here for someone based in Melbourne, is there not?
The featured image to this post is of an 1832 painting by Daniel Maclise of a Hallowe’en party in County Cork. It appears on the cover of Fintan Vallely’s Companion to Irish TraditionalMusic, Cork U.P., 2011. My thanks to Fintan Vallely.

8 thoughts on “Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (60): More Court cases

  1. A wonderful site there is a possibility that Marie Mathews nee Higgins is my 3 times great grandmother. I have been researching 25 yrs. Going by names ,dates, locations this Marie is a possibility. The name John Rayner is on my paternal side. Marie my maternal side.

    Like

  2. Hi Trevor,

    I hope this finds you well. I am writing to ask whether you are aware of any paintings of the ship Eliza Caroline. I have not been able to find any and am not sure whether any exist?
    Thank you so much in advance!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My Gg Grandmother Rebecca Orr who came out on the Diadem spent time in the Ballarat Gaol in 1878 and 1885. Both times the offence was Idle and Disorderly. It appears she was running a brothel and her daughter Matilda McCarthy was also convicted for consorting. As a result Matilda’s daughter Helen Rebecca (known as Ellen) was put into care when she was 2 years old.
    I have been able to find a few documents to support this. Haven’t been able to find out what happened ti her husband James Scott.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Trevor, it’s a little while since I was last in touch. My ancestor Eliza Fitzpatrick had a considerable aquaintance with the courts and prison in Sydney. I discovered this when I was googling re her husband Henry Parker, draysman. This led me to the following site at Newcastle Industrial School for Girls .http://nis.wikidot.com/parker-2 All rather an eye-opener. I wrote to the author of the site who’d not heard of the Irish Famine Orphan scheme. I wonder if any other daughters of famine orphans ended up there? I’ve found the site’s information very helpful in my research. It helped me in tracing Henry Parker’s family in Cockermouth, Cumberland. His sister worked in the household there of an MP. Such a contrast to her sister-in-law on Sydney streets. Henry & Eliza’s daughter Catherine was mother of my paternal grandmother. It’s sad to see how the poverty & disfunction flowed down a few generations. My problem is that I’ve loads of research findings that need to be written up!
    Thanks again for your work. Regards, Peter, NZ

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Peter. Thank you so much for sharing all this information on Eliza Fitzpatrick Parker. I had done some research on her for my project on the orphans but ultimately she didn’t make the final cut of 10 for the essay. You have filled in many gaps for me. I had assumed daughter Mary Ann had been sent to the Randwick Asylum for Destitute Children in 1865, as the age matched but had not confirmed this as I hadn’t been able to get back to the NSW State Archives. There seems to be some discrepancy with her age which is certainly confusing as you say. On a side note, I read with interest the 1866 case involving Eliza, noting the man she robbed was a John Leftwitch. This may or may not be the estranged husband of Eliza Lenehy, an orphan girl from the Tippoo Saib. She married John Ledwidge but his name was often misspelt. As I keep saying, some much more research to be done with these connections between orphans in inner Sydney. Regards, Julie

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Julie for your reply. Such a huge amount of research that you’ve done on so many of the girls. I have other info such as BMDs for Eliza Fitzpatrick & Henry Parker’s children. Their only known surviving child Catherine (Kate)emigrated to London with her second husband & family in 1891 where my grandmother was born shortly after their arrival. Probably conceived in their home No 18( 20)? Kent St, Miller’s Point ,Sydney. It’s still there. My grandmother told me her mother died when she was young (around 1896-1901)& so brought up by her father’s parents. However I’ve discovered her mother alive & well until she died in London in 1930. Family secrets. eh!
        I also have another famine ancestor Anne Trainer from Londonderry who arrived in Melbourne on the Derwent 1850. She also was a colourful character who married a sea captain- George Whitford of Port Philip & Hokitika, NZ. I’ve info on her too. In the press before she died. Her daughter made well, marrying a Scottish master mariner, William McKechnie, a friend of Richard Seddon (later the PM of NZ). Her husband became chair of the Grey County Council, NZ. I think all the men above became mates on the Victorian goldfields.
        Sadly no photos of either woman.
        As mentioned in my earlier post I have lots of information which needs to be collated & written. My winter project! Regards, Peter

        Liked by 1 person

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