Note: If this biography is read by any of the potential families mentioned below, it would be appreciated if they could make contact with this researcher to see if the tangled mess outlined can be clarified.
Sarah was admitted to Newcastle on 22 November 1870.7 Her admission details appeared in the missing section of the Entrance Book so family, religion, education, trial location or discharge details cannot be confirmed through this record. Sarah wasn't identified in the Police Gazette for either 1870 or 1871. CLARKE made no record of any admissions in his report for this particular week in November so there is no reference to Sarah's trial location in his letter book. For these lack of records Sarah's trial location is one of two in the school that remain unidentified. The April 1872 list8 compiled by LUCAS has incorrectly recorded Sarah’s surname as BOSWORTH but the transfer list9 and LUCAS’s report of 26 December 1871, where he was only reporting on only four girls, confirmed that her surname was BOSWELL.10
Sarah transferred with the school from Newcastle to Biloela in May 1871. The transfer list named the older girls who made this transfer to the island and this record indicated that Sarah was a Catholic who had been born in about 1855. Sarah, whilst suffering from a severe toothache, accidentally set fire to the Biloela Number 5 Dormitory on 26 September 1871. LUCAS reported the incident to the Colonial Secretary but indicated that he believed Sarah's account that the incident was accidental.11 On 12 December 1871, after spending just over a year in the school, Sarah was discharged to Mr. W. TULLY of Gundaroo.12 Further details of her apprenticeship were contained in the letter written by LUCAS when requesting permission to make the appointment. TULLY of Newington, Gundaroo, agreed to pay Sarah a shilling a week for her first year and this pay would increase by a shilling a year for each of the further years of the apprenticeship. LUCAS stated that Sarah's conduct had been uniformly good.13 His letter did not identfy Sarah's initial arrest location but confirmed that she had been in the school since November 1870. Sarah was almost certainly still working for TULLY when she appeared as a witness in a court case in May 1873.14 Her apprenticeship with TULLY would have ended in about December 1874 but it is unknown whether this apprenticeship was completed and if it was whether Sarah remained in the area around Gundaroo.
It is almost entirely certain that Sarah was the mother of two illegitimate sons whose births were registered at Queanbeyan and these births have been attributed to her. Sarah's first son, born in 1873, was named William BOSWELL. On 26 December 1874, another son, named William James BOSWELL, was born. His birth registration specified that he had been born at Newington, Gundaroo – an exact match for the apprenticeship location of the Newcastle admission. The registration confirmed that William James had an older brother who was still alive but this older child was unnamed on the record. Sarah was nineteen years old and her birth year was calculated as 1855 – an exact match for the Newcastle admission. Sarah stated on this registration that she had been born in Gundaroo. While this may be an error made when she registered her son, this location can't be proved to be incorrect and must therefore be considered to be the truth.
The fate of Sarah BOSWELL and her sons may be solved if her initial trial location can be located as this might point to a possible parent or family. No confirmation of Sarah has been made after December 1874 and it is unknown whether she remained in the Gundaroo/Queanbeyan area.
It is uncertain whether Sarah's birth or baptism was registered on the NSW BDM Index. Currently her family, their original location and her trial location remain unconfirmed. Based on her statement on the birth registration of her son, William James, in 1874, she had been born in Gundaroo in about 1855 and this age matched records of those of the Industrial School so there is almost no doubt that the Newington apprentice was the mother to the two boys named William. It was common for the Government to return a girl to the same, a nearby or a similar location to that of her trial so it is possible that Sarah's initial trial in 1870 was in Cooma, Goulburn, Campbelltown or even other localities in far western Sydney. To date no reports of any admissions to Newcastle have been located for any girl from the Parramatta or Penrith courts, nor have any from this area been documented in the Police Gazette. It may be that an as yet unread letter from the CSIL will locate Sarah's trial location or will indicate whether a specific request was made for her to be apprenticed to the Gundaroo area.
Who was Sarah Boswell?
Extensive searching has failed to locate any trail that would assist in the discovery of the identity of either Sarah BOSWELL or her family so no trial location or family details have been identified. The only accurate link to Sarah before or after her admission to Newcastle were the births of her two sons in Newington, Gundaroo. The following information pieces together two possible families and it is conceivable that eventually proof may be found that one of the links suggested is correct. It is also conceivable that the two families were connected by extended family ties and that Sarah was a child of the couple in Family 2 who went to live with extended family in the Queanbeyan area or who had actually been born in Gundaroo before returning to her mother's home in Parramatta. It may be that further information or connections will be made as more papers from this area are scanned.
If Sarah had been arrested in 1870 in the Queanbeyan area it is considered likely that she belonged to Family 1.
The BOSWELL name was important in the area around Gundaroo as a William BOSWELL was reported in the Goulburn papers to be living in this area during the 1860s. This man was William Alexander BOSWELL who had moved to the Gundaroo area near Queanbeyan sometime before 186515 when he married Martha Matilda ELLIOTT.16 Online trees indicated that William had been born in Parramatta in 183717 to George BOSWELL and Emma Jane aka Jane née SCULLY.18 George had been transported on the Hercules and Emma Jane had been born in NSW.19 Emma Jane can't be located on the 1828C but it may be that she was in fact recorded there as the thirteen-year-old Jane SCULLY who reported that she had arrived free aboard the Matilda. George BOSWELL had been born and tried in London20 and had died in 1843.21 Jane aka Emma Jane died in Parramatta in 1878 – well after her son had moved from the Parramatta area.22
Could it be that Sarah was the illegitimate child of William Alexander BOSWELL and an unidentified woman and that her step-mother was Martha Matilda ELLIOTT? It is interesting that while William died in Queanbeyan in 1900,23 his widow, Martha, died in Parramatta in 1934.24 There was no indication in Martha's Funeral Notice25 that there was any connection to the BOSWELL family of Parramatta outlined below.
If Sarah was originally arrested in Parramatta or the western Sydney area, she may have returned to this area after the birth of her two sons and married and belonged to Family 2. While it is not proof that the Sarah BOSWELL outlined in Family 2 was the Newcastle admission, the frequent court appearances and gaol admissions of her mother wass a common indicator in the lives of other girls who were admitted to Newcastle and even though her parents were still alive, this arrest pattern strongly suggested that this girl was the Newcastle admission.
In 1849 a BOSWELL family from Norham, Scotland,26 arrived in Port Phillip, Victoria, aboard the Andromache. They were William (b. 1806) and Elizabeth BOSWELL (b. 1806) who arrived with their children Anne (b. 1828), John (b. 1830), William (1832 – 1885), Robert (b. 1834), Charles (1836 – 1905), Margaret (b. 1849) and George (b. 1846). PROV records for the Andromache indicate that the three older boys were planning to work at Barrabool Hills27 west of Geelong. There were no relatives mentioned on any of the PROV records. After working at Barrabool Hills the younger William almost certainly made his way to Parramatta, NSW, and married Mary DURDEN née SWEENEY and this marriage resulted in the birth of a daughter, Sarah BOSWELL, in 1857. William's brother, Charles, also settled in NSW but further members of this family haven't been tracked. It may be coincidence that these two families frequented the area around Parramatta but there may also be some connection – although none has been found. William BOSWELL, the younger, almost without doubt moved to Parramata, married Mary SWEENEY and died in Parramatta in 1885.28 Although his death registration has not been viewed, the NSW BDM Index recorded that his parents were William and Elizabeth, matching the parents of the man who arrived in Port Phillip in 1849.
Mary SWEENEY had been transported for seven years aboard the Margaret. In 1838, at the age of 21, Mary SWEENEY married Joseph DURDEN.29 Joseph had a Ticket of Leave, was 27 and had been transported for seven years aboard the Heroine. Permission to marry for this couple was granted by Henry BOBART on 17 August 1838, with the provision that
(t)he consent of the Visiting Justice is necessary which must be obtained before the ceremony is performed.
The baptisms of four children were subsequently registered – William DURDEN,30 James DURDEN,31 Joseph DURDON,32 Mary Jane33 DURDON34 and Martha E. DURDAN.35 Martha died in 184336 Joseph junior died in September 184837 and William died in Helensburgh in 189838 Mary J. DURDON married Joseph NORFORD in 187339 and died in 1876.40 Joseph senior died in 1854 at the reported age of 36.41
At Parramatta in 1857, Mary DURDEN remarried William BOSWELL. William's surname was erroneously transcribed in the NSW BDM Index as BOUVILL.42 In 1857 the birth of their daughter, Sarah, was registered. In June 1865 Mary BOSWELL alias DURDEN, appeared in court charged with stealing oranges.43 She was admitted to gaol in 1868 and the Darlinghurst records confirmed that her ship of arrival was the Margaret. No trial details have yet been located for this gaol admission. It is possible to track Mary SWEENEY through the NSW BDM Index and by compiling other records. Mary died at the age of 68 in Parramatta in 1888.44
Sarah Margaret BOSWELL's birth was registered in Parramatta in 1857 as Sarah M. BOSWITH. She married Thomas TIBBETT45T. [[/footnote]] in Parramatta on 7 May 1878,46 and the marriage registration confirmed that she was the daughter of William BOSWELL and Mary SWEENEY. The record only indicated that she had been born in NSW. A registration made in Parramatta is not proof that a child had been born in Parramatta so it is possible that the actual birth registration would identify a specific place of birth. This registration has not been viewed.
Thomas and Sarah TEBBITT had four children Gertrude, Daisy May, William Thomas Leslie and one boy who had died by 1895.47 Two of these children were registered in the Central Cumberland area. This potential family is outlined below.
While this Sarah BOSWORTH's birth was registered in 1857, by the time of her death as Sarah TEBBET in Blacktown on 10 May 1895,56 it was recorded that she had been born in 185557 in Parramatta. Sarah was buried in the Church of England section of Prospect Cemetery.58 Thomas died in 192559 as Thomas TEBBET and his obituary confirmed that he had outlived his wife.60
The wife of Thomas TIBBETT was almost without any doubt the nine-year-old61 child, Sarah62 aka Mary63 BOSWELL, who in 1866 was 'under the age of ten' when she was assaulted by James BURNS in Parramatta.64 BURNS was found not guilty.65 No parents or siblings were identified in any reports but newspapers did identify that Sarah had an older sister.66 This older 'sister' was almost certainly Sarah's half-sister, Mary Jane DURDEN, who was to eventually marry Joseph NORFORD. There is little doubt that this child's mother was Mary BOSWELL née SWEENEY who had often appeared in the Parramatta courts for various offences prior to this attack.
There are two complications with attributing these parents to the Sarah BOSWELL who was admitted to Newcastle. Firstly, although at this time period in NSW two years is a small age difference, the age of Sarah BOSWELL, the daughter of William and Mary, is younger than the age recorded for the Newcastle girl. Secondly, Thomas and Sarah had a son, named William Thomas Leslie TIBBETT who had been born in 1894. If Sarah TIBBETT is the Newcastle girl, two older half-brothers, also named William had been born and no trace of these men has been located. While they do not appear on Sarah TEBBET's death registration, this does not confirm that they were not her sons as children of many first relationships are omitted from the registration made by a connection to the family of the second relationship.
Where has She Gone?
Sarah was almost certainly not the mother of the William James BOSWELL who married Ada HODGES in Cowra in 1905 but compelling similarities exist between the two women. The difficult, extensive and well-documented research undertaken by descendants of William James BOSWELL indicated that he had been born in Albury and that his parents were George and Sarah BOSWELL née ARNOLD. William's marriage certificate recorded that his mother's maiden name was Sarah ARNOLD. He documented that his mother was alive when he married although Ada's mother was marked as deceased. Because Sarah was alive and known to the family, the fate of Sarah ARNOLD is clear. Even if the Newcastle admission had initially appeared in an Albury court in 1870 she could not be this woman as at this time she had not married so had the surname ARNOLD. The Newcastle admission was admitted as BOSWELL. This woman's descendants document that Sarah ARNOLD married George BOSWELL in Yackandandah, Victoria, on 20 January 1873, at the age of fourteen. They then indicate that the marriage didn't last and that Sarah went on to have her son, William, in Gundaroo, some considerable distance away where her husband, George, was omitted.
It is highly unlikely that this family's William James BOSWELL was the same man who was born on 26 December 1874, at Newington, Gundaroo, unless they somehow adopted him using an informal source. If this is their ancestor major inconsistencies exist with his birth registration. What is missing from the 1875 registration is what very strongly suggests that this is not their ancestor's registration. The 1875 registration of William James BOSWELL was an illegitimate birth registered by Sarah BOSWELL at Newington, Gundaroo. It identified no father and clearly indicated that Sarah's maiden name and 'married' name were both BOSWELL. While this boy had probably been born after the marriage of Sarah ARNOLD and George BOSWELL, if he was legitimate why was he not recorded as such and why did Sarah neglect to provide her maiden name? The registration further indicated that one other boy had been born before 1874 and that Sarah had been born in Gundaroo. Even if George had abandoned Sarah shortly after their marriage it is considered highly unlikely that she would record the birth of his first child as illegitimate and provide herself with the stigma of being an unmarried mother when this was not the case. There is also no explanation concerning the existence of an older child who had been registered in 1873 and who was also given the name, William. It is not impossible that the couple travelled the approximately three hundred and fifty kilometres between the Albury area and Gundaroo but it is believed that the additional child, the lack of a father and the lack on the record of Sarah's maiden name of ARNOLD are significant reasons for this registration to be incorrect for this family.
A further inconsistency is the difference in nearly five years between the stated ages of Sarah BOSWELL and Sarah ARNOLD. Descendants identify that Sarah ARNOLD had been born at Jindera near Albury in 1859.67 Her parents were forty-year-old Robert ARNOLD and sixteen-year-old Caroline KEENS who had married in Albury in 1858. As Sarah ARNOLD, she married Peter Daniel TUOHY or TOUHY as TUSHEY at Nymagee, NSW,68 at the age of twenty-seven and her parents, Robert and Caroline, were confirmed on the 1891 registration. Peter and Sarah had no children.69 As Sarah TOUHY, she died in Griffith on 26 June 1944. On her death registration her father was recorded as Robert. The record confirmed that she had been born in Albury and that she had married 'BOSWELL' at the age of fourteen. Sarah's death registration identified that she had had three children, William, William James and Mary who had been born in 1881 and was identified on her marriage certificate as the child of George Henry HODGES. Mary stated at the time of her marriage that her mother, Sarah ARNOLD, was deceased which wasn't accurate but can again be easily explained and may also indicate a turbulent family history. The age difference of ten years from Sarah BOSWELL's age at the time of the birth of William James BOSWELL to that recorded for Sarah TOUHY formerly BOSWELL nee ARNOLD can be easily explained so is not necessarily wrong. The death details however are a better match for Sarah ARNOLD who was born in Victoria in 1859 rather than the Sarah BOSWELL who had been sent to Newington, Gundaroo from Cockatoo Island.
It is only possible for this woman to be the Newcastle girl if she was married at the age of fourteen and was admitted to Newcastle in 1870 from Albury under her married name. As she married in 1873 this is highly unlikely. If this was this case she would actually be recorded in correspondence as Sarah ARNOLD but no mentions for an appropriate Sarah ARNOLD have been found in the Police Gazette or the CSIL. There is considerable doubt that Sarah TOUHY née ARNOLD formerly BOSWELL and the Sarah BOSWELL who was admitted to Newcastle are the same person. There is also considerable doubt that the man born in Gundaroo in 1875 was the man who married in Cowra in 1905.
Sarah was not the daughter of James and Rebecca BOSWELL of Mudgee as the child of this couple died in 1861. Sarah can't have married Charles WALL in Wagga Wagga as well as been the mother to illegitimate sons in 1873 and 1875. In addition, Sarah WALL née BOSWELL had family in the Wagga Wagga area. One online tree indicated that she was working as an apprentice in 1871 in an unlocated70 infirmary,71 further indicating that she was not the woman admitted to Newcastle. Online trees and family researchers72 of Charles and Sarah WALL identify that this Sarah had been born in England and her parents were Eli and Sophia BOSWELL.
Updated February 2016