Catherine Elizabeth BANNAN
Father Francis BANNAN b.c. 18174 m. (1) none (2) 1866 d. 18855
Mother Jane HAYES b.c. 18146 m. (1) none d. 18637
Step-mother Anne SMITH8 b.c. 1821 m. (1) unknown (2) 18669 d.
Sister Mary Ann BANNON b. 184610 m. none - d. 186811
Sister Letitia Hayes BANNAN b. 184912 m. 187013 Henry SMITH d. 191914
Brother Francis BANAN b. 185115 m. none - d. 188016
Inmate Catherine Elizabeth BANNAN b. 185417 m. (1) none (2) 1890 (see below) d. 192018
Husband (1) unknown b. m. none d.
Husband (2) John MUNT b.c. 185819 m. 189020 d.
Son Walter Smith BANNAN b. 187321 m. none - d. 187322
Son unknown MUNT b. m. none - d. bef. 192023
Daughter unknown MUNT b. m. none - d. bef. 192024
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Father Francis25 43 5' 3" light light
Inmate Catherine26 15 tall dark scar on her forehead; dressed in a brown dress, Galatea jacket and a black hat decorated with black flowers

After the death of her mother, Jane, Catherine almost certainly moved in to live with her married sister, Letitia SMITH. In September 1866, the year before the opening of the Newcastle Industrial School, she appeared in court after having been assaulted by a Grace SMITH, who may possibly have been related Letitia by marriage.27 Nearly four years later, in May 1870, Letitia applied for a warrant because she believed that Catherine kept the company of prostitutes. A warrant28 was issued by the Sydney bench for Catherine's arrest. Catherine first appeared in court on this charge on 18 May 1870, after her arrest by constable MANDERSON of the Sydney Police.29 At this appearance Catherine was ordered to be sent to Newcastle but convinced Letitia to give her another chance. Letitia petitioned that the decision to send Catherine to Newcastle be reconsidered stating:

I have the honor to entreat your Excellency to take my petition under your favourable consideration.
My sister, Catherine Banner [sic] was sentenced by the Justices of the Peace, Messrs. Scott and Hunt, to be sent to the Newcastle Industrial School but as she has promised information and has obtained respectable employment in the Country I beg your Excellency will kindly excuse the sentence being enforced and that she be released to my care. She is very contrite. I am sure will conduct herself differently in future. She has no mother.
As she is at present in the Sydney Lock-up I entreat your Excellency to acceed to my request and release her.

HUNT and SCOTT agreed so Catherine was released to Letitia30 however four months later, on 24 September 1870, Catherine again appeared in court and Letitia again gave evidence. At this trial Catherine maintained that she was over sixteen but Letitia refuted this and stated that Catherine would turn sixteen 'next Christmas.'31 Catherine’s baptism record from 185432 proved that Letitia was telling the truth and that Catherine was lying. At this appearance Catherine was charged under the Act and was sent to Newcastle. She was recorded as Catherine BARWON in the Evening News33 and the Empire.34 She was admitted to Newcastle on 25 September 1870,35 and was recorded as a fifteen-year-old Catholic.36 Because the admission records for the the Entrance Book have ot survived for this time, no admission, religious, family, education or discharge details can be confirmed from this source.

Catherine was one of the four ringleaders37 of the riot38 that occurred on the night of 6 January 1871. CLARKE stated:

… that the eleven girls who conducted themselves so badly, are still in solitary confinement and on bread and water diet they cannot in any way account for their conduct nor give any reason for acting as they have done, it has been estimated that it will take from £8 to £10 to repair the damage they have done.
Under these circumstances I would most respectfully suggest that the four ringleaders … should be handed over to the Police Magistrate and dealt with according to law for using obscene language, for mutinous conduct, and for wilfully destroying Government property. On speaking to Mr Scott on the subject I regret to to find that the punishment is not near so great for such conduct as I think they deserve.39

On 16 March 1871, Kate somehow contacted the Inspector of Public Charities. Because his letter implies that they had met, it may be that she had made her approach to him at the time of the change-over of the Superintendents earlier in March. She insisted that she was over the age of eighteen and was entitled to be released from the school. He wrote:

Her appearance would indicate that she is now over the age of eighteen and I would suggest that the superintendent be directed to report on the facts of the case without delay with a view to her discharge.

CLARKE's successor George LUCAS responded that Catherine appeared to be over the age of eighteen but the office of the Colonial Secretary did not consider this an adequate response and requested that he refer to Catherine's warrant. LUCAS reported Letitia's statement concerning her age and baptism location but again stated 'but from her appearance I should think that she is over the age of eighteen.' The involvement of the Inspector General of Police resulted in the provision of a statement from Rev. John HAYES, the curate of the Roman Catholic Church at Petersham, concerning Catherine's baptism which again confirmed Letitia's declaration concerning her sister's age. No further correspondence is included in this bundle but subsequent events and the proof that she had lied showed that she was not released.40 On 22 April 1871, approximately a month later and shortly before the transfer of the school to Biloela, Catherine, Jemima BURT and Catherine CONDON absconded from the school.41 They climbed the fence on the south side of the building42 beside the residence of Helenus SCOTT but were recaptured by senior sergeant LANE of Newcastle police and immediately returned to the school.43 The trio were confined to the cells.

Catherine transferred with the school to Biloela in May 1871 and was apprenticed on 12 November 1871 to Duncan McKILLOP, Esq.44 Permission for the two year apprenticeship at Terribilli, Wellington, was sought by LUCAS on 10 November. Catherine was to be paid two shillings a week for the first year and three shillings per week for the second year.45 It is unknown whether Catherine completed her apprenticeship but it is considered very unlikely. It is almost certain that in May 1872 and named only as 'C. B.', Catherine advertised in the Sydney Morning Herald

TO KIND LADIES, in the country. – A poor Girl, who has just received a short punishment for insubordination at the Industrial School, now expresses great penitence, and is anxious to obtain a Nursegirl's SITUATION, with a kind mistress. Address C. B., HERALD office.46

There was no other girl with these initials st Biloela at this time. It is unknown whether Catherine received any responses. Just over a year later in Redfern in 1873, Catherine registered the birth and death of her illegitimate son, Walter Smith BANNAN. The middle name of the child may give some indication of his father and may suggest a connection to Catherine's step-mother or her sister.

On 30 August 1890, at the age of thirty-one, Catherine married John MUNT in the Good Samaritan Convent, Sydney. Her sister Letitia was a witness. While no births have been recorded for the couple, Catherine's death registration indicated that she had been the mother to two children – a son and a daughter. It is unknown whether the illegitimate son Walter born in 1873, was one of these children. Catherine died in Newington Hospital and Asylum of bronchitis on 26 May 1920. Her parents were confirmed on her death registration that also indicated that both her children, a boy and a girl, had predeceased her.47


Although the record of Catherine's admission is missing, her family can be verified by tracing her sister, Letitia SMITH, through court and NSW BDM records. Letitia was born in 1849 and had married Henry SMITH in 1870. She and Catherine were the daughters of Francis and Jane BANNAN. Catherine was a Catholic and was born on 15 December 1854, and baptized on 29 March 1855, at St. Thomas’s, Petersham. At this time, Francis was recorded as a labourer who resided at Petersham. Because it was a Catholic baptism, Catherine's mother Jane HAYES, was identified in the register.

Jane had arrived as Jane HAYES in 1844 and was recorded as an unmarried immigrant on the indent of the United Kingdom. No marriage registration for Francis BANNAN and Jane has yet been found in NSW but descendants state that they had married in County Cavan, Ireland, in 1836. An advertisement from the cousin of John F. BANNON of Pennsylvania, also suggested that a marriage had occurred.48 The couple's eldest daughter, Mary Ann, was born in NSW in 1846. Jane died in 1863 and her death was recorded on the NSW BDM Index as Jane BAUNAN. Her parents were recorded as Francis and Bridget.

Francis BANNAN was also recorded on the indent of the United Kingdom. He had arrived as a single male.49 The family was advertising in Petersham for lost animals before Catherine’s admission to the school and again in 1868 when Francis placed a death notice in the SMH when Mary Ann died.50 In 1866 as Francis BANNER, Francis remarried the widow, Anne BROSEN nee SMITH.51 Francis appeared often in the Sydney courts but the spelling of his surname varied. He was charged in the Central Criminal Court with stealing saplings in June 1867 at Canterbury.52 He may also be the man fined twenty shillings for carrying slaughterhouse refuse through Ashfield outside the proper hours,53 or the man, a bill sticker, who two weeks earlier was fined five shillings for ‘following his worldly calling on a Sunday’. When Francis BANNAN, of Petersham, died on 2 June 1885,54 he was buried in the Catholic cemetery in Petersham.55 He died intestate but Anne was named as his wife in the SMH on 12 February 1886, in connection with his property. Francis’s parents were recorded as John and Catherine.

Updated July 2018

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