Saturday, 27 August 2016

A Patchwork of Memories

Week Four in the National Family History Month Blogging Challenge looks at the idea of country or place in family history including what makes a place special or unique.
Check more contributions here
One of the assignments in the University of Tasmania Family History unit, Place, Image Object, was to create an annotated map of an area important to your family history. This was to be a creative activity where participants chose materials to create their map. A short reflective statement was to accompany the annonated map / artwork created. This proved to be a challenging assignment as the examples provided appeared to relate more to artwork rather than history but I took a deep breath and did the best that I could.

Although the presentation of the material was a challenge the exercise, from a history viewpoint, was worthwhile. I was seven and in grade 2 when we arrived at our new home in Edinburgh Street, so I based my assignment as an observation of the area as seen largely through the eyes of a child. As I thought about my chosen site I recalled many memories of my childhood and the process caused me to think about how the area had developed from market garden to suburbia. I named the assignment A Patchwork of Memories.
Patchwork of Memories
I chose to look at the a section of the suburb of East Bentleigh which my family moved to in May 1955, an area which several years earlier had been market gardens. This area, locally, also has the name of Coatesville after the name of the primary school established in August 1953. The school was originally South Oakleigh State School but was renamed Coatesville in 1955 after Councillor Leslie Robert Coates. The post office, lawn bowls club and tennis club also use the name Coatesville.

When doing research for this assignment I discovered, on the State Library website, a Collins Street Directory 1952 map of the area showing a blank space for the area where we were to live, go to school, attend church and shop.
Map of part of East Bentleigh 1952 - Collins Street Directory
I created a very basic map for the assignment showing the initial changes made to the area by 1955.
The area on both sides of Mackie Road had now begun to be developed with the addition of streets, a shopping centre, school and church.
Google Maps shows the area today as suburbia
My family moved from rental accommodation in an established area to a brand new house, purchased via a war service loan, built on a developing housing estate. As already mentioned, the area had originally been market gardens. An article in The Australasian in 1906 describes the market gardens in Moorabbin with crops grown  including potatoes, cabbages, carrots, turnips and cauliflowers. Artichokes were grown in the Coatesville area as at one stage as my parents and neighbours found artichokes in the garden for many years. When we moved to Edinburgh Street there were hardly any completed buildings in the street apart from our house, the house on the Mackie Road corner belonging to the family who had owned the local market gardens and a house on the Tambet Street corner.

Other houses were being built nearby and gradually the area changed from green furrowed paddocks with a few houses to streets of houses, made roads and lots of people, including children. The paddocks were places to explore, make cubby houses and daisy chains. The sound of building was prominent during the day but once the builders left, the new structures became play areas for children. We spent hours clambering over these wooden structures forming the intial frame of what were to become rows of brick veneer houses.

For a child the nearby school was an important place. Being only two streets from home it was a short walk to school and in my senior years at primary school I often went home for lunch. Initially Coatesville was the only state school in a rapidly expanding residential area and consequently the class sizes were large until new schools opened at South Oakleigh and Valkstone. When Valkstone State School opened two grade four classes from Coatesville were each day bussed to the new school for their lessons. My memories of primary school include learning to play skippy, hopscotch, swapcards, shelter sheds where we often played but also watched movie films with blackout curtains over the doors, lessons via radio piped into the classroom, school milk each day, ink wells, ink monitors and boys flicking ink soaked blotting paper across the room, rows of desks, blackboard monitors, marching into school to the beat of a drum after assembly, school marching team, inter school sports at Oakleigh, swimming lessons at Brighton baths, learning maypole dancing and the school fete each year. There was also a vacant paddock next to the school (it later became part of the school grounds) where we were not allowed to play but, of course, we did.

The church was where we went to Sunday School - hundreds of children attended each Sunday - attended the Girls Friendly Society (GFS) each week, played in our GFS basketball team, went on the annual Sunday School Picnic (often in a furniture van to places such as Ferntree Gully) and, of course, the Church fetes.

The shopping centre was also two streets away in the opposite direction to the school so I was allowed to go to the shops for Mum to purchase her copy of the Women's Weekly from the newsagent or to buy a bag of broken Nice biscuits from the Grocers. At the Milk Bar we were occasionally allowed to buy an icy pole or a small bag of mixed lollies which we chose from the display cabinet.

Being a new area creating a garden was an important activity and we watched the transformation of the area when lawns were planted, trees began to grow and there was colour from newly planted flowers. Planting a  liquid amber in the front garden proved to be an unwise decision but it did have pretty leaves in autumn.

I don't remember this but according to my mother Edinburgh Street was the first of the smaller streets to be a made road. I do, however, remember the bread and milk being delivered via a horse and cart. One of the boys in my class used to sometimes skip school to do the rounds with the man delivering the bread. For many years each Spring, when there was heavy rain, our section of Edinburgh Street used to flood. Children from all the houses would play in the water until a neighbour pointed out that it may not really be a healthy activity. New neighbours who had just planted their lawn were also not impressed.

In the 1950s there were two firework nights each year - Empire Day (later Commonwealth Day) on 21 May and Guy Fawkes Day on 5 November. These were the days when we could go to the shops and buy fire crackers. It was a community event with neighbours often coming together to let off rockets, fountains, catherine wheels set in holes in the fence, light bungers and wave sparklers in the air. One year we had a bonfire on the evening of the school fete.

Fetes were also community events with people working together to raise money for the school or church. I have memories of Mum making cakes all day for the fete and we would also make toffees and cocnut ice to be sold. Our next door  neighbour spent months sewing aprons and other items for the craft stall. There were always lots of stalls, food to eat and rides. As children, fetes were something to look forward to.

The move to East Bentleigh was a great adventure for a seven year old. This was a time of freedom, a time to explore and to make friends. It was also the building of a new community. 

For our assignment we had to try and capture the feelings of the area in our annotated map. I chose to use Popplet to create my map.
Annotated Map in Popplet - http://popplet.com/app/#/3355799
Using the 1952 map and images I also created a Patchwork of Memories illustrating recollections of my childhood in this new environment. An annotated version of A Patchwork of Memories was also produced in Popplet.
Annotated A Patchwork of Memories in Popplet - http://popplet.com/app/#/3355413
Although this assignment caused initial angst it proved to be a useful exercise in thinking about the importance of place in a family story.

References:
Coatesville (place) - eMelbourne
Bentleigh East - Wikipedia

'Coatesville State School' in Vision and realisation: a centenary history of State education in Victoria. (1973) volume 3 page 492
Coatesville Primary School website
Coatesville Primary School - Know your schools website

'Market gardens at Moorabbin' - photo 1953 - Victorian Places
'Through the market gardens', Moorabbin in The Australasian 25 August 1906 - Trove

 Collins street directory 1952 - State Library of Victoria

Annotated map in Popplet
Annotated A Patchwork of Memories in Popplet

Monday, 22 August 2016

War Widows' and Widowed Mothers' Association of Victoria

The Week Three theme for the National Family History Week Blogging Challenge relates to the First World War, particularly events in August 1916. This post is not strictly on topic however when you look at the huge number of deaths of Australian soldiers in 1916 the establishment of a support group for the widows and widowed mothers of those who died is important.
Read more contributions here
The first meeting of the War Widows' and Widowed Mothers' Association of Victoria (WWWMAV) was held in Melbourne in May 1922. After the First World War a number of support groups were established for war widows and / or widowed mothers but most of these groups have disappeared over time. In 2016, although the membership is shrinking, the War Widows' and Widowed Mothers' Association continues as a support group for its members.
When my father died in 1984 my mother was contacted by the local branch of the WWWMAV and her membership of this organisation continues. For many years she has been secretary of the local branch. The age of the membership is currently around 90 +, give or take a few years, but the ladies continue to meet regularly when health and other commitments allow.

Towards the end of 2003 a decision was made at a WWWMAV State Council meeting that the ladies would like a history of their association to ensure that in the future there would be a record of their organisation and their activities. My mother suggested (volunteered) that I should undertake the project so much of 2004 was spent reading the minutes, newsletters and other papers that had been kept (unfortunately minutes of the AGM prior to 1948 are missing). I also conducted a small survey of sample WWWMAV members as well as reading background material available in books and online about events affecting the lives of widows and widowed mothers during and after the First World War. In 2005 the Patriotic Funds Council arranged for the publication of War Widows and Widowed Mothers Association of Victoria: the first 82 years and copies were made available to members.

Although legislation such as the War Pensions Act 1914 paved the way for the payment of a pension to widows, and later widowed mothers dependant on their sons who died serving overseas, the pension was well below the basic wage and women with children, in particular, faced financial difficulties. A decision was therefore made to form an organisation to promote the cause of war widows and widowed mothers. Inintially, as stated in the WWWMAV constitution, the group worked towards attaining the betterment of pensions, amenities and concessions for war widows and widowed mothers and their families as well as the promotion of fellowship, interest and co-operation among members with help and advice wherever possible to the bereaved. This group has proved to be an important network. During and after World War II the WWWMAV quickly absorbed and assisted a new generation of widows and widowed mothers.
Plaque in Birdwood Avenue, Shrine Reserve (Monument Australia)
Twenty-nine branches of the WWWMAV were founded throughout Victoria though a number have closed over the years. The Association has been governed by a State Council. Statewide events included an annual State Conference, an annual Get-together Luncheon and an annual Pilgrimage to the Shrine. The WWWMAV also produced a monthly publication, Remembrance, for members.

Caring and sharing can be seen as two major functions of the Association as the WWWMAV works as a support group for its members. Branches hold regular, often monthly meetings which may be followed by a speaker or a product demonstration. Bus trips to a variety of destinations have been a popular activity. In the past many groups also organised holiday trips for members. Branch anniversary and Christmas celebrations have also been important and well attended functions and in many cases have also been attended by members of neighbouring groups. Especially after the Second World War when the existing group membership was joined by younger members, often with young children, an annual Christamas Treat for the children was organised.

When WWWMAV was established visiting patients in repatriation hospitals was an important role of members. Members continue to visit their members who may be hospitalised and regularly check on the needs of members who are unwell. The WWWMAV has maintained a close association with Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital including members attending services at the hospital.

Anzac Day and Remembrance Day are special days of commemoration with members often attending services at the Shrine or services organised by their local RSL. An annual pilgrimage to the Shrine was a regular event. The WWWMAV branches work with their local RSL branches and also with local Legacy groups.

From the early 1950s WWWMAV funds purchased holiday homes at Rosebud and Olinda and later at Ferny Creek allowing members and their families the opportunity of affordable holidays. In 2004 ownership of the remaining homes at Rosebud was transferred to Carry On Victoria. Seventy-five thousand dollars was also been placed in a trust fund with the interest used for an annual nursing scholarship at Federation University, Ballarat.

Support, care and companionship remain key elements of the WWWMAV as well as providing information for members regarding benefits and services. At meetings and other functions it is never forgotten that the current members are widows of men who served in Australian forces.

The membership may be aging but the WWWMAV plays an important part in the lives of its members, providing the opportunity to form friendships and share experiences. To quote one of the members replying to the survey question - why she joined the Association - "Lovely club, wonderful girls, great friends."

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Challenges of Working on the Land

The Week Two topic for the National Family History Blogging Challenge is to honour our working ancestors and the challenges they faced in their occupations.
Read more contributions here
Many generations of my family have owned and worked on properties primarily in New South Wales and Queensland.The early settlers to the colonies were often granted or purchased parcels of land. When Dorothea Mackellar wrote of 'droughts and flooding rains' in her poem, My Country, the experiences she described were faced by family members who lived in outback Queensland and NSW as well as family members with smaller properties near the Hawkesbury River.

An example of how challenging being a landowner can be can be shown through the experiences of George Hutton (1850-1936). George was born in Bath, England and at the age of 19 came to Australia. Initially he worked on a number of properties in western Victoria and southern NSW before his father arrived in Victoria to investigate settling there. The contrast between life in Bath and life in rural Australia must have been dramatic for George however I suspect he treated it as an adventure, initially anyway, as he spent the rest of his life in this country.

George helped his father in the early establishment of a property in Lilydale before deciding, in 1874, to go north to Queensland to work as a cattle drover. The next time we hear of him he had purchased (with financial assistance from his father) a sheep station, The Troffs, near Parkes.

Articles in Trove refer to the prices obtained at the wool sales and also note that George was a Pasture Director of the Forbes Pastures and Stock Protection Board in the 1890s. There is also a report of George purchasing additional sheep in 1888.
Forbes Stock Report January 13 included information that 2000 ewes on the 6th January had crossed the river travelling from Grawlin Plain to The Troffs.
Australian Town and Country Journal Saturday 21 January 1888 p4
George's brother, Arthur, joined him to help run the property. Lack of water was a problem for property owners and in the early 1890s rain was limited. However worse was to come in the form of the Federation Drought which occurred between the years 1895 to 1902.
Federation drought 1895-1902
The five years preceding Federation had been intermittently dry over most of the country. Very dry conditions set in across eastern Australia during the spring of 1901, and became entrenched over the following months. As the drought worsened, enormous sheep and cattle losses were reported from Queensland, and many rivers dried up. The Darling River at Bourke virtually ran dry, while Murray River towns such as Mildura, Balranald and Deniliquin - at that time dependent on the river for transport - suffered badly. The Australian wheat crop was all but lost. Rain in December 1902 brought temporary relief, with a more substantial break in autumn 1903. The long drought and its severe climax in 1902 had devastated stock numbers, and began focusing attention on planning for irrigation, especially in the three states through which the Murray River flows. Australian Yearbook 2008 - Natural disasters in Australia.
The family property, The Troffs, was sold and George needed to find new employment. His wife, Annie, moved to Sydney and took their two daughters with her but George elected to remain in the Parkes area where he became a Rabbit Inspector for the Molong Pastures Protection Board.

As we all know the introduction of rabbits to this country was a disaster for property owners. Rabbit Inspectors were therefore appointed to check that property owners were complying with regulations to minimise the spread rabbits on their properties. Articles in Trove show that monthly meetings were held which included reports from the Rabbit Inspectors.
Rabbit Inspector Hutton reported that he had travelled 304 miles since the previous meeting, and had made 45 inspections. He reported ten holders to be unsatisfactory, and recommended three owners for prosecution. The board decided to lay poison in reserves at a cost of £25, and to prosecute three holders reported by Inspector Hutton.
Sydney Morning Herald Wednesday 23 December 1914 p9
According to the Sands Directory, George was still a Rabbit Inspector in 1926. It was around this time that he left Parkes and spent the rest of his life living with his daughter and her family on their property in Western Queensland.

While trying to make a living from the land in his new country George discovered that the environment provided many challenges difficult to overcome no matter how hard you perservered.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Exploring census data

As part of National Family History Month,  held in August, a challenge was issued to write a post on a selected topic each week. The topic for Week 1 was a Census Story.
Read more contributions here
Recently, as part of the Convict Ancestors course, I  reseached one of my convict ancestors, Mary Bateman, who arrived in New South Wales aboard the Lady Juliana in 1790 and was then sent to Norfolk Island where she lived until her family relocated to Hobart Town in 1805. On Norfolk Island Mary had married George Guest, a First Fleet convict. The New South Wales Convict Death Register shows that Mary died in April 1829 and was buried at St Luke's, Liverpool, NSW.

We know from newspaper reports and correspondence in Historical Records of Australia that Mary and her family travelled to Port Jackson in 1806 as opportunities for education for the children in Hobart Town were limited. It seems, however, that Mary did not return to Hobart Town with her family. There are a few reports mentioning Mary and her husband, who made frequent trips to Port Jackson, in Trove however I needed to rely on the muster and census records to try and piece together what happened to Mary.

Mary's name, sometimes under Bateman and sometimes under Guest, is recorded on the New South Wales population Muster for 1811,  the New South Wales Settler and Convict List for 1818 and the New South Wales Musters of 1822 and 1825. The last two records show that Mary was at the Lunatic Asylum in Parramatta. The New South Wales Census 1828 then shows that Mary had been transferred to the Lunatic Asylum at Liverpool. She died there the following year.
Tuesday 9 August 2016 is Census Night when once again the Australian Bureau of Statistics is asking householders to complete the Census of Population and Housing. From the early days of the settlement of the Colony of New South Wales, officials carried out and relied on census data to record information about the convicts, former convicts and free settlers in the colony. The initial surveys were known as musters but by 1828 the term census was being used.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics website has an article on Colonial Censuses and Musters while the State Library of Victoria has a useful guide on Early Australian Census Records.  The links at the top of the SLV guide page provide specific information for each state.

Fortunately much of the early collected data up to the 1841 New South Wales census is available for the use of historians, including family historians, via online databases such as Ancestry.com.au. Some census reports (not the data) is available on Historical Census and Colonial Data Archive. Some of this data can also be found on microfiche. The first Commonwealth Census was held in 1911. Initially the census was taken every ten years but since 1961 has been held every five years.

During the second half of the nineteenth century and throughout the twentieth century the census records were destroyed once the data had been collated into reports. This policy has changed since the 2001 census resulting in those filling in census forms being able to indicate if they want their information to be kept in secure storage for one hundred years when information may be released for general research. Those of us investigating the history of family members in the UK are likely to have used data from census records from 1841 until 1911 and are grateful that this information is now readily available.

Those of us using the available census information for family history research know that the data about family members varies. The later British census forms now available online provide quite detailed information about households. However even the limited information to be found on some of the early colonial muster and census forms can still provide a new, sometimes unexpected, piece of information leading to further research. Census information can be a really useful research tool.

NB: A useful link that has just  appeared - Australian Census 1828 and 2016
Also Census Musters Guide

Monday, 4 July 2016

Family history sites on Facebook

Examples of Types of Family History related sites on Facebook
There are many ways that Facebook can be useful for Family History research. In the following list are examples of just a few of the Facebook Pages and Groups that may be useful.

The type of pages and groups chosen will depend on the locality and interests that you are researching. For example in this list, many of the Facebook pages and groups are from the Hawkesbury area as members of my family settled there.
The general sites in my list are for organisations primarily in Australia (east coast) and England, Ireland and Scotland. There will be similar pages and groups for other countries and regions.

See previous post on Facebook for additional information.

Libraries and Archives

Historical Societies and Family History Research Groups

 Specific Location Groups

Genealogy Assistance

Single Issue Research Groups

Family Groups

Organisations

Resources Groups

Useful Websites for Locating Genealogy Related Facebook Pages

Family Search Wiki - Facebook Genealogy
Cyndi's List - Social Networking - Facebook

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Employment oppotunities for women in the 1780s

When Mary Bateman was arrested in London in 1788, she was working as a prostitute with a number of other young girls, for Elizabeth Sully.

The 1780s were a time of social upheaval in England resulting in many people, including women, from country areas travelling to the towns and cities searching for employment. However, at this time, a  number of issues impacted upon the potential employment of young women in the workforce.
  • One event which greatly impacted upon the employment opportunities for women was the disbanding of the British Amy with soldiers returning home in 1783 after the American War of Independence. Many of the former soldiers returned to the cities increasing the population and displacing women from the workforce. Many women who had worked in shops were forced from the workforce to be replaced by men. 

  • A Shop Servant tax was also imposed at this time. 

  • In 1785 a tax imposed upon the employment of Maid Servants above the age of 15 also resulted in many young girls and women being left without employment and / or accommodation. 
The Maid Servants Address to Master Billy Pitt

The following article article provides an observer's view on new taxes in 1785 including Shop Servant tax and Maid Servants tax:
'Parliament: new taxes'. The Scots Magazine July 1785 p327. Google Books. Retrieved 23 June 2016.

For many women living in the cities, prostitution and crime associated with prostitution was the only way to survive. How Mary ended up working as a prostitute we can only surmise. We do know however that after her arrest on 20 April 1788 her life changed dramatically.

References and credits

This article was completed after the assignment deadline but is relevant to providing some background for Mary's story.

Mary's Story - Mary Bateman 1773-1829

Mary's Story - Mary Bateman 1773-1829

On 19 April 1788 Mary Bateman and Elizabeth Durant met James Palmer in Wellclose Square in East London - a meeting that would dramatically change Mary’s life.  

The report of Mary's trial records that Palmer, after drinking with a friend for much of the evening, drank some ale with the young women before the three went to 45 Cable Street - a house operated by Elizabeth Sully as a brothel. [It was not unusual for young girls to be working in brothels at this time.] It was two hours before Palmer left the house and it was another hour before he noticed that his silver watch was missing. The following day police found the watch among the feathers of the bed of Elizabeth Sully. (1)

At the trial at the Old Bailey held on 7 May 1788 Elizabeth Durand swore that Mary took Palmer's watch and gave it to Elizabeth Sully.
Part of the report from Mary's trial at the Old Bailey (illus 1)

Mary Bateman was found guilty of 'stealing to the value of 39s' and sentenced to seven years transportation. Elizabeth Sully was sentenced to fourteen years transportation for receiving stolen property. (2)

Locating information about the lives of female ancestors can be a challenge but if they were convicts there is some information about them in convict records. I have not been able to locate a birth record for Mary but she was probably 15 when arrested so would have been born c1773.  Although I have found baptisms for children named Mary Bateman in the London area in the right time frame I have no proof that any of them are our Mary. There is also the possibility that Mary may have travelled to London looking for work from another area.

After her arrest and conviction Newgate Gaol was Mary's home for ten months. Conditions in the gaol were overcrowded and unhygienic with limited food rations. It was not until 12 March 1789 that 108 females (including Mary) were transferred by cart from the prison to the transport ship, the Lady Juliana - a ship which was to carry 226 female prisoners to Sydney Cove. Having escaped the confinement of the gaol the convicts now faced confinement aboard a ship for the next fifteen months. 
 The ship, Lady Juliana, in 1783 painted by R Dodd (illus 2)

The ship remained on the Thames until early July when it sailed to Portsmouth and then to Plymouth before beginning the long voyage to Australia on 29 July 1789. The Lady Juliana travelled to New South Wales via Teneriffe, Cape Verde Islands, Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town arriving at Port Jackson 6 June 1790. The actual trip took eleven months. It was a long journey. (3)

List of Convicts on Lady Juliana - Convict Stockade (illus 3)

When the Lady Juliana arrived at Sydney Cove supplies for the fledgling colony were unloaded before, on 11 June, the convicts were finally allowed on shore where they were accommodated in the hospital building or huts or tents. It must have been a relief to be on land again though the convicts were probably dismayed to see the settlement of huts in what would have appeared an alien environment. On the Sunday the convicts attended a church service where babies born on the ship were baptised.(4)

After a short stay at Sydney Cove many of the women, including Mary, boarded the ship, Surprize, to sail to Norfolk Island arriving 7 August 1790. At Norfolk Island Mary met George Guest (1765-1841) who had travelled to Port Jackson on the First Fleet and then to Norfolk Island in July 1790.

Mary and George were married by the Rev. Johnson on 21 November 1791 but had probably been living together prior to that time. Mary was mother to five children that we have records for - Sarah born 1792, George 1794, John 1798, Mary 1803 and William 1804. Unfortunately her daughter, Mary, died aged 20 months in April 1804, three months before the birth of William.
Headstone for Mary Bateman - Cemetery Norfolk Island (illus 4)

We know that George owned parcels of land on Norfolk Island where he was reputed to be the largest landowner. Hopefully Mary led a settled life with her family on the island before her life changed again. When the government decided to close the Norfolk Island settlement Mary and her family relocated in 1805 to Hobart Town, yet another new colony.

In January 1806 Mary and her family left for Port Jackson in the ship, Sophia, due to 'the want of Education' for the children.(5) Although George travelled between Port Jackson and Hobart Town on many occasions, subsequent records show Mary only living in New South Wales.

Mary probably lived in Pitt Street, Sydney, as a newspaper advertisement concerning a burglary at George Guest's house includes descriptions of female attire among items stolen.(6) However George also had other land in the colony including at Bullanaming.(7)
 Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 22 June 1811 (illus 5)

Mary's name appears in the New South Wales Population Muster of 1811 (8)
New South Wales Population Muster 1811

and on the New South Wales Settler and Convict list for 1818. (9)
NSW Settler and Convict List female 1818

The New South Wales Musters of 1822 and 1825 provide a location for Mary (10) - the Lunatic Asylum, Parramatta.
NSW Muster 1825

Mary's apparent instability was first noted in May 1810 when, in a petition to Governor Macquarie, George stated that his treatment over land claims had resulted in his wife being deprived of her reason and that two men were employed to restrain her.(11)

The New South Wales Census for 1828 shows her as a patient at the Lunatic Asylum at Liverpool.(12)
 1828 Census

The final mention of Mary is in the New South Wales Convict Death Register recording her burial at St Luke's Cemetery, Parramatta, on 2 April 1829. She had died the previous day aged 56. (13)

New South Wales Convict Death Register

When exploring Mary’s story, it is easy to understand how, later in her life, she suffered from a mental illness. This is a sad story compounded by the knowledge that in New South Wales, isolated from her growing family, Mary would not have seen her children marry or have known her many grandchildren.

References and credits

This post was written as part of an assignment for a course on Convict Ancestors, one of the units offered by University of Tasmania, Diploma of Family History.

Cable Street and Wellclose Square

Cable Street and Wellclose Square


Map of part of London today showing Cable Street and Wellclose Square - Google Maps (illus 1)

The above map shows the closeness of Wellclose Square where Mary and Elizabeth met James Palmer to Cable Street where they then took him.

The blog, Spitalfields Life has a post entitled the lost squares of Stepney which includes information about Wellclose Square.  

References and credits

England to New South Wales

England to New South Wales 
It was more than two years from her trial at the Old Bailey until Mary finally arrived in New South Wales to start a new life on the other side of the world.

Mary's trial at the Old Bailey was held on 7 May 1778. Twenty-five months later on 11 June 1790 Mary first walked on land at Port Jackson. During that time she had spent ten months in Newport Gaol situated around the corner from the court.

In the book, The Floating Brothel, Sian Rees describes the conditions in the gaol when Mary was a prisoner:

By December 1788, 151 female convicts were living in three female cells in Newgate, which had been built to house a maximum of 70. They lived on rations fixed for that theoretical maximum and not for the number actually confined. Each cell had one window opening on to an interior well. There were no beds. Instead, there was a ramp at one end of the room with a wooden beam fixed to its top end which served as mattress and pillow. To sleep on the ramp and beam was a privilege, to be paid for weekly. To rent a blanket woven of raw hemp cost extra. Those who could afford neither curled up together on stone slabs awash with saliva and urine. (1)

On 12 March 1789 Mary and 107 other female convicts were conveyed by cart to their new accommodation, the convict ship the Lady Juliana. The ship with its cargo of convicts remained moored on the Thames until early July when it finally left the river to travel to Portsmouth and then to Plymouth. The number of prisoners on board the ship when it sailed varies in different reports but the number was possibly 226 women.

A newspaper report about the ship appeared in The Times 7 February 1889 page 3:

The ship, Lady Juliana, which is ordered by Government to carry over the convicts to Botany Bay, is a fine river-built vessel, and was the first ship that was taken by the Americans on her passage from Jamaica to London, and was afterwards retaken by a man of war, and conveyed to England. One hundred marines are ordered by Government to be raised to go to Botany Bay in the Lady Juliana.(2)

Detailed records were kept of the voyage of the Lady Juliana and Charles Bateson's book, The convict ships 1797-1868, and Sian Rees book,  The floating brothel: the extraordinary true story of an eighteenth century ship and its cargo of female convicts, are recommended reading. The ship travelled to New South Wales via Teneriffe, Cape Verde Islands, Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town arriving at Port Jackson 6 June 1790. Only five convicts died during the trip. Bateson suggests that this was because
  • the women were issued with sufficient rations
  • the ship was kept clean and fumigated throughout the voyage
  • the women had free access to the deck instead of being confined below deck
  • long stays at ports visited with access to fresh provisions (3)
During the voyage the women had a daily routine which included cleaning the ship and cooking. Some of the women also sewed shirts to be sold when they arrived at the colony.

Michael Flynn's book, The Second Fleet: Britain's grim amarda of 1790 also provides information about the journey of the ships including the Lady Juliana. Flynn also includes biographies of the convicts. 

It was winter when the Lady Juliana arrived at Sydney Cove. Two and a half years after the establishment of the new settlement supplies in the colony were low and rations had been reduced. Attempts to grow crops were not as successful as had been hoped. New supplies were needed for the survival of the colony so when a ship carrying additional convicts and only limited supplies arrived it was not greeted with great enthusiasm.

This is illustrated by the reaction of Captain David Collins to the new arrivals:

... in the distressed situation of the colony, it was not a little mortifying to find on board the first ship that arrived, a cargo so unnecessary and unprofitable as two hundred and twenty-two females, instead of a cargo of provisions ... (4)

This was not an encouraging welcome for the women after their long journey and there were more convict ships to come. Fortunately the store ship, Justinian, also arrived.

Early asylums in NSW

Early asylums in NSW

Mary Bateman is recorded as spending her final years in lunatic asylums at Parramatta and Liverpool in New South Wales. Mary died at the asylum in Liverpool in 1829 and unfortunately there are no records about patients in asylums at this time. However there is some information about the establishment of asylums in the colony.

On 29 May 1811 Governor Macquarie visited Parramatta and visited the new asylum at Castle Hill. A report in the Sydney Gazette 1 June 1811 described the establishment of the asylum.(1)
Section of article in Sydney Gazette 1 June 1811 page 1 (illus 1)

Previously a number of people with mental illness were housed in the town gaol.

The two storey former granary on the Castle Hill Agricultural Settlement was used as the main asylum building. Before its time as a granary it had been used as convict barracks. The building was made of sandstone, had a shingle roof and measured approximately 100 feet by 24 feet. It was probably first used as an asylum in May 1811. Six inmates were initially transferred from the gaol to the asylum where they were looked after by a man named Cullen and a woman who was the cook. (2)

The asylum at Castle Hill operated from 1811 to 1825. We do not know when Mary entered the asylum. Population muster and convict lists, however, show that she was there in 1822 and 1825. (3)

A short article in the Dictionary of Sydney about the Castle Hill asylum describes it as being 'overcrowded and squalid' and plans were made for the establishment of a larger asylum at Liverpool. (4)

The Colonial Secretary Index 1778-1825 contains a list of topics relating to correspondence concerning the running of the Castle Hill Asylum.

An article about the Liverpool Asylum on the New South Wales State Records' website provides the following information:

On 28 September 1825 the Grand Jurors had reported to the Court of Quarter Sessions, Parramatta, that the Lunatic Asylum at Castle Hill was "altogether unfit" due to its lack of a reliable water supply and distance from medical attention. The asylum contained 27 male and 8 female patients, under the care of one keeper. The report recommended that these "afflicted and unfortunate persons should be secured in a proper Hospital more directly situated in the vicinity of the Town", with a building constructed for the purpose. (6)

Mary would have been one of the female patients.

The article also includes the information that patients were committed to the asylum by order of a magistrate.

Patients from Castle Hill Asylum were moved to accommodation at the Liverpool Court House in 1825. It is debateable that this new accommodation was much of an improvement. It was here that Mary died in 1829.

Patients remained in this building until the new Tarban Creek Asylum was built and opened in 1838.