The AUBURN Sisters
Father William ALLBONE b.c. 18003 m. 1855 d. 18734
Mother Catherine MORAN aka FITZPATRICK b.c. 18335 m. 1855 d. 19016
Inmate Sarah AUBURN b. 18567 m. 1880 (see below) d. 19438
Sister Susan AUBURN b. 18599 m. (1) 188110 (2) 1897 (1) Donald McQUEEN (2) Andrew MULLER d. 192611
Sister Elizabeth ALBONE b. 186112 m. d.
Brother John ABBYRNE b. 186313 m. d. 192014
Brother William AUBURN b. 1865 m. 190515 Ethel M. ROBINSON d. 1959
Inmate Mary Josephine AUBURN b. 186716 m. 1891 (see below) d. 195317
Sister Ann AUBURN b. m. d. aft. 1943
Sister Caroline AUBURN18 b. 186919 m. d.
Sister Francis Caroline AUBURN b.c. 1871 m. 189820 Edward LETHE d. 196321
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Father William22 33 5' 6¼" brown hazel dark sallow mark of severe burn left side of mouth; scar lower left arm; scar forefinger of left hand; scar back of ball right thumb near the wrist
Mother Catherine23 19 4' 10¾" brown brown ruddy stout face pock-pitted
Inmate Sarah24 13 brown fair tall good looking; dressed in a grey stuff petticoat and a man's black waistcoat with brass buttons
Inmate Sarah25 48 5' 3" brown blue fair tall good looking; dressed in a grey stuff petticoat and a man's black waistcoat with brass buttons
Brother John26 9 4' fair grey yellow slight left eye turned out; head and nose large; ribs left side broken and misshapen
Inmate Mary27 5 3' 8" brown brown fair slight medium chin, nose and mouth
Brother William Joseph28 8 3' 11½" fair hazel fresh slight nose, mouth and chin medium; scar inside left eyebrow; small scar on nose between eyes

Sarah and Mary AUBURN were arrested and charged under the Industrial School Act but at no stage were they together at either of the girls' industrial schools as Sarah had been discharged from Biloela by the time her sister was admitted. Sarah was arrested at about the age of thirteen in 1869 under quite sensational circumstances. She was admitted to Newcastle, was transferred to Biloela in May 1871 and was discharged in August 1872. Eighteen months later, Mary, who was about seven years old, was admitted to Biloela after appearing in Braidwood Court with her two brothers John and William J. These three children were kept in Braidwood Gaol29 where they were described as having been born in Araluen. The children were subsequently sent to industrial schools in Sydney and because the boys appeared on the Vernon index on 13 February 1874,30 this is the likely date of Mary's admission to Biloela.


Mary and Sarah were two of the children of William and Catherine AUBURN. William (X) ALBUN and Catherine (X) FITZPATRICK were married in St Peter and Paul’s Church, Goulburn, on 12 April 1855, by Michael KAVANAGH of Goulburn.31 Catherine was a Roman Catholic from Spring Valley but William was Church of England and came from Goulburn. The witnesses were John RYAN and Margaret McCARTHY. At Sarah's trial at Braidwood in 1869, her parents were identified as William and Catherine ORBIN who both gave evidence. Matching the entries on the NSW BDM Index Mary and her brothers, John and William Joseph, confirmed the correct family but the NSW BDM Index documented many different spelling variations for their surname. The family situation was difficult resulting in Sarah running away in 1869.

William was a prospector who lived initially in the Goulburn area, then Braidwood, and then in the Shoalhaven River area. His identity is still uncertain but online trees identify his birth as occurring in Bedfordshire and this very strongly suggested that he was the convict, William ALLBONE, who had been transported for life from Bedfordshire on the Lloyds in 1833. This man was a farm labourer who had been tried for poaching. He was married at the time of his transportation and had no education. William was recorded on the indent as a Protestant. On arrival he was sent to Norfolk Island32 and received a conditional pardon in September 1848.33 His identification is still being investigated but his religion was confirmed at the time of Sarah's court appearance when he stated:

I belong to the Church of England but never go to church ; my children have never been to church … (in) … fifteen years.

William was alive when he appeared in court at Sarah's trial but was dead by 187434 as the family, without William, was recorded on the Little River in the Braidwood district in 1874 at the time of the boys' admissions to the Vernon when Catherine was identified as unable to support her children. William's death was almost without doubt registered in Braidwood in 1873. His parents were identified as Edward and Ann on the NSW BDM Index. William's death was almost certainly the catalyst that placed his family under stress resulting in Mary, John and William being sent to the Sydney Industrial Schools.

Catherine FITZPATRICK first appeared in the gaol records of NSW when she appeared as Catherine MORAN aka FITZPATRICK in Goulburn gaol in April 1854. The gaol admissions indicated that she had arrived free on the Digby in 1849 and was a Catholic born in Dublin in about 1833.35 This ship was the same ship of arrival as Catherine RUDD nee McNALLY aka KELLY. Catherine appeared on the Digby indent as Catherine MORAN, a 17-year-old house servant from Dublin who had no relatives in the colony. Her parents were John and Anne and they were both dead.36 The origin of the use of the surname FITZPATRICK has not been determined. Catherine had probably moved to Sydney by 1879 and by 1890 she was earning a living as a fruit vendor with a fruit barrow. Newspaper reports have been found where she was reported with the name Kate ALBYRN. In 1890 she was identified as fifty years old37 and if this age is correct, it suggested that she was very young when she married William. In early 1901 when Sarah was admitted to Darlinghurst, her mother, identified as Mrs. C. MORAN, was her relative.38 Catherine died in St Vincent's Hospital, Darlinghurst, in August 190139 and was buried at Rookwood.40 Her death appeared on the NSW BDM Index under the name of Catherine AULBURN and no parents were recorded for her. The trustees of her estate made arrangements for the auction of her belongings41 so there is probably a record of these belongings in Kingswood.

Further members of the family moved to Sydney where two other sisters, Francis and Susan, appeared in the records of the Benevolent Asylum.42 Francis was almost certainly the 17-year-old who entered the asylum on 16 October 1888, as Fanny AUBURN and was discharged as Fanny ALBURN on 21 May 1889, with her seven-month-old daughter, Mary Catherine. Susan AULBURN was admitted to the Benevolent Asylum on 29 October 1879, at the age of twenty.


Husband John Joseph BELL b. m. 189143 d.
Daughter Veronica M BELL b. 189444 m. d.
Daughter Martha I. BELL b. 189645 m. d.
Daughter Esther Margaret BELL b. 189946 m. 192047 George E. BELL d. 195748
Son John J. BELL b. 190249 m. d.
Daughter Dorothy A. BELL b. 190350 m. none - d. 190451

Mary appeared with her brothers, John and William Joseph, in the records of Goulburn Gaol on 10 February 1874. The trio were discharged from the gaol two days later,52 The boys were placed on the Vernon and Mary was sent to Biloela. Her name appeared in the missing section of the Entrance Book so no family, religious, educational, admission or discharge details are available from this source. Mary spent four years at Biloela before being discharged on 15 January 1878, as an apprentice for six years to Mr A. L. LACKERSTEEN, of Parramatta. It is almost certain that this was her first apprenticeship as she would have been about twelve in 1878. The Discharge Book recorded that she was returned to Biloela on 16 February 1884, because her master was 'no longer able to control her.'53 Mary doesn't appear again in the discharge register so it is unknown when she actually left Biloela but, unless a later apprenticeship occurred, she would have been discharged when she reached the age of eighteen.

As Mary J. AUBURN she may have married John J. BELL in Sydney in 1891.


Husband (1) Rufus WORTHINGTON b.c. 183857 m. none d. unknown
Husband (2) Thomas NAVA b. 1852 m. 188058 d. aft. 1895
Son Joseph W. NAVA b. 188459 m. (1) 190360 (2) 192861 (1) Rosina BROADBY (2) Sarah WALKER d. 195362
Son Kelo aka Arcelo63 aka Arthur NAVA b.c. 1885 m. 191864 Dorothy WHALAN d. 195065
Son Amadio aka Thomas NAVA b. 188666 m. 190767 Bertha MANN d. 192468
Son John aka Jack NAVA b. 189569 m. 192070 Mary KEOUGH d.
Son David NAVA b. 189871 m. 191672 Violet HARRIS d. 195873
Sarah NAVA nee AUBURN – age 81 [1936]
Courtesy: Trove – Digitalized Newspapers – Australian Women's Weekly

Sarah, whose baptism hasn’t been located, was probably the first child of William and Catherine AUBURN as newspapers reported that she had been born in February 1856, about a year after her parents married. Her age is still uncertain and in 1871 she was indicating that she was 18.74 References to her arrest, court appearance as well as her admission details in the Newcastle Entrance Book were recorded under the admission name of Margaret WHITE.75 Sarah – as Margaret – was arrested by Sergeant DUFFY76 of Braidwood after she had run away from her home. As Margaret WHITE she appeared in the Goulburn Police Court on 12 March 1869, for

protection, having been found the previous evening in company with a colored man. She stated that she had no friends to take care of her, and that her step-father who lived at Shoalhaven, had ill-used her, and she had run away. Mr. W. Davies stated that defendant came to his store with the colored man, who wanted to sell some gold; that he had questioned her, and thinking that the matter ought to be looked into, had set the police in motion. Ordered to be sent to the industrial school.77

For a month before her arrival in Newcastle Sarah had resided with Mr LLOYD, the keeper of the Goulburn lock-up and on 31 July 1869, she was admitted to Newcastle where she was recorded as a 15-year-old. Above the name Margaret WHITE was recorded an almost unintelligible notation written in pencil recording that the actual name of the inmate was Sarah ALEBURCE or ALABANCE and that WHITE was her alias. These details were located on the last remaining page of the first section of the Entrance Book just before the missing section begins so family, religious, educational and discharge details are missing for her because the next page is lost from the record.78

The story of Sarah's arrival in Goulburn was outlined in the Braidwood Quarter Sessions trial of Rufus aka Rupert WORTHINGTON on 8 March 1869.79 Sarah and WORTHINGTON had run away together and had travelled on foot towards Goulburn. The pair were arrested together and WORTHINGTON was charged with abducting Sarah from her father’s house on the Shoalhaven River. WORTHINGTON pleaded not guilty and Sarah stated that she had gone with him willingly and that she had refused to go home. She stated that WORTHINGTON had told her to change her name to Margaret WHITE and to claim that she was going to visit her brother at Tuena. By her own admission Sarah wasn’t a virgin when she arrived in Newcastle. In court – as WHITE – Sarah referred to her father in Shoalhaven as her step-father.80 She stated that although she wasn’t starved, her parents would beat her and she might be killed if she went home. Her father, William, appeared in court and admitted that he had

flogged her when she would not do as I told her ; I once marked her face with a whip ; I never used her cruelly ; I punish her sometimes twice a week, sometimes not once a month, when she would not fork away the stones when I was gold digging.81

On 9 July 1869, WORTHINGTON was sentenced to two years' imprisonment in Darlinghurst gaol82 but was offered bail pending a Supreme Court decision. The Police Gazette confirmed that he received two years hard labour in Darlinghurst. Braidwood gaol records83 have recorded him as Ruffus WORTHINGTON, a sailor, who had been born in Boston, USA, in 1838. He was an American black84 who had arrived on the Raven in 1867. The Police Gazette referred to him as Rufus HETHERINGTON.85 By 1886, WORTHINGTON, who was thought to have operated a greengrocery in Sydney, was being sought by his brother, A. J. WORTHINGTON, from Strathroy, Ontario, Canada.86

Sarah transferred with the school to Biloela in May 1871 where she was recorded on LUCAS's April list as 'In the Institution'.87 She was not, however, recorded on LUCAS's list of girls eligible for apprenticeship compiled in June 1871 as it is almost certain that an administrative error made during the transfer to Biloela had confused Sarah's alias with the name of the girl Margaret WHITTY88 – making tracing WHITTY very difficult. Sarah was one of the nine girls – Margaret DIXON, Ellen JOHNSTON, Mary COUGHLAN, Catherine HARDING, Sarah BOURKE, Martha SHAW, Jane MURPHY – who were removed from Biloela by constable DICK charged with the destruction of Government property on 16 October 1871, about four months after the transfer to Cockatoo Island.

The conduct of the girls prior to their arrest was described by the police as outrageous. Stones and bricks were flying about in all directions, and about 100 panes of glass were destroyed. On being placed in the Water Police boat the prisoners commenced singing, and continued in the exercise of their vocal powers up to the Circular Quay.89

The girls appeared in court on 18 October 1871, where Constable TURNER deposed that at five o'clock on the Monday evening they damaged thirty windows, valued at £1.90 They were sentenced to two months in gaol or were to pay a thirty shilling fine91 and while Sarah was the only one who pleaded not guilty, she appeared in the Darlinghurst records with the other girls. These records for 1871 indicated that Sarah able to read and write, was a Catholic and had been born at Lake George in the Goulburn area in 1853.92 It is significant that Sarah was recorded as an 18-year-old on this record and it is believed that this age was an attempt to achieve a release from Biloela. Sarah was returned to Biloela after her release from gaol and was shown as 'In the Institution' by LUCAS in his April 1872 list.93 She was again involved in a further riotous conduct incident with Mary COUGHLAN, and two Biloela girls, Sarah BOURKE and Janet BOYD. At about 3 o'clock on 10 June 1872, the girls attempted to instigate the rest of the girls to rioting and smashed 30 panes of glass in the schoolroom. The decision of the Colonial Secretary was to bring them to the court of Petty Sessions so no further records of their trial exist.94 LUCAS confirmed in his report of 19 June 1872, that the four girls were confined in number three dormitory for ten days on a bread and water diet as a further punishment.95 In his report on 12 August 1872, LUCAS recorded that seven girls96 were involved in an arson attempt on the building and had been assisted by Sarah who had provided the matches. LUCAS wrote that Sarah

was confined for assisting in procuring the matches – she became very violent and abusive – the strait jacket had to be placed on her for half an hour when she became passive and obedient she was immediately released.97

On 8 August 1872, LUCAS applied to the Colonial Secretary for permission to release Sarah who, according to his records, had turned eighteen. He based his assessment of her age on the warrant that he held. This warrant was in the name of Margaret WHITE and the original was included in the papers of the Colonial Secretary and was therefore Sarah's fabrication so cannot be relied upon. It is almost certain that Sarah was only sixteen as she lied about her age when she was arrested. The Colonial Secretary must have requested further information but his communications were not stored with LUCAS's letters however LUCAS did forward Sarah's warrant and it was never returned to Biloela so remained in the CSIL.98 Sarah was therefore released from Biloela on 28 August 1872, because the official records, that were unreliable, indicated that she had turned eighteen.99

Sarah married the Italian immigrant Joseph aka Guiseppe aka John aka Thomas NAVA on 9 January 1880, at St. Mattias Church in Paddington,100 and was the mother to five sons. The registration of her last son, David, did not contain the name of her husband so it is possible that by this date Guiseppe had abandoned his family. Sarah earned her living by selling newspapers. She worked for fifty-six years on the corner of Park and George Streets in the city and as a consequence became a Sydney identity within her lifetime. In 1901 she was admitted to Darlinghurst Gaol charged with obstructing the footpath whilst selling her papers and her address was recorded as 6 Belmore Street, Surry Hills. She described herself then as a 38-year-old widow and her relative was identified as her mother, named as Mrs C. MORAN of Wexford Street.101 In 1936 Sarah was also earning money by advertising in national newspapers and magazines the benefits of Junipah Mineral Spring Salts to combat rheumatism.102

Sarah died on 10 January 1943, at the reported age of 97.103 Her final residence was identified as 623 Anzac Parade, Maroubra Junction. Her death notice named her sons and her sisters, Annie and Mrs. Frances LEATH or LETHE.104 Sarah was buried in the Catholic Cemetery, Botany, on 11 January 1943, but no headstone has been identified for her. Sarah's death registration105 indicated that her parents were William and Kathleen. Her obituary106 was reported in papers across the country but none from a Sydney paper has yet been located.

Updated July 2016

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