Mary and her brothers appeared before the Braidwood Police Court in March 1868, under the Industrial Schools Act. The court decision was that the boys were to be sent to the Vernon28 and that Mary would be sent to Newcastle.29 The catalyst for this court appearance was the accidental death of their father, Dean BOYD. Further announcements in the Braidwood Dispatch indicated that the committee for the relief of the family sent a memorial to the magistrates in an attempt to release the children and rescind their committal believing that the court’s decision was contrary to their intentions as they were not willing that the children be committed to institutions of a ‘semi-criminal character’. A telegraph was sent to the Colonial Secretary to discover whether it was in the power of the bench to release the children after their committal, and investigate what other course of action was open to authorities for meeting the views of the petitioners. An application was then sent to the Colonial Secretary requesting that the court’s decision be overturned and that all the children be sent to the Randwick Asylum.30
Contrary to this request, Alexander, James, William Henry and Dean BOYD were all admitted to the Vernon from Major’s Creek on 11 March 1868. Alexander, Dean and James received positive reports on board and were described as of good character. William was described as having a bad temper.31 A brief letter sent by their mother, Isabella, dated 9 February 1870, and written as a response to an enquiry by the Vernon Superintendent, MEIN, contained information about her sons.32
There was no comment in this correspondence concerning Mary who, at the age of four, was sent alone to Newcastle where she was admitted on 13 March 1868.33 The Entrance Book identified Mary as a Protestant and assessed her reading level as alphabet. She was able to write on slate. For a four year old this was a very good level of attainment. Because she was only four years of age at the time of her admission and no request was made for her release, Mary transferred with the school to Biloela in May 1871. The transfer list confirmed that she was a Protestant and recorded that she was seven.34 LUCAS identified that Mary was 'In the Institution' on his April 1872 list.35 Three years later, in January 1875, she was admitted to the school hospital with measles.36 On 15 March 1875, Mary was discharged by the Superintendent, Selina WALKER, as an apprentice to Throsby ROBERTSON, Esq., of Campbelltown.
No further confirmation of Mary has yet been located after this apprenticeship.
Mary was the daughter of Dean BOYD and Isabella ELLIS who had arrived as assisted immigrants aboard the Telegraph on 5 February 1858. The family came from Borora, Derry, but were Protestant. The Telegraph indent recorded that Dean’s parents were Alexander and Mary BOYD and Isabella’s were William and Jane. Isabella had a brother, James ELLIS, living in Goulburn who had sponsored their arrival. Her birth was registered in Braidwood in 186337 and she was the youngest daughter of the couple.
Dean was killed in 1868 at Major's Creek when a bank collapsed on him while he was working on his gold claim,38 leaving Isabella a widow. Isabella had seven children to support so the inhabitants of the community raised about £300 for her family39 but unfortunately this amount was insufficient for all her children to remain with her. Papers reported that she planned to care for the baby, Joseph, and to keep with her her two older children who were aged between eleven and twelve. Records suggested that only the baby, Joseph, and the eldest daughter, Sarah Jane, who had arrived with her parents, remained in Braidwood after Dean's death with all their other children being sent to the industrial schools.
By December 1874 Isabella had been working as a servant when she was admitted to Bombala gaol for concealing the birth of an illegitimate child whose body had been found by her brother, James ELLIS,40 in Major's Creek.41 Isabella was ultimately acquitted of child murder.42 She remarried James CANNING in Braidwood in 1878 and in July 1901, received the old-age pension.43 By 1905 she was working as the housekeeper for R. J. GASH.44 Isabella died in Braidwood in 1911 at the age of seventy-six.
It seems very likely that after her children were sent to the industrial schools that the family was never fully reunited, although the eldest son, Alexander, was almost without any doubt recorded living in the Braidwood area after being discharged from the Vernon. One online tree has suggested that Alexander had died in Sydney at the age of twenty-eight while working on a construction site. This death must be questioned as another possible death was recorded in the Braidwood area, the same area where his mother was known to be living. Reports of the 1886 death indicated that this deceased man had been born in Ireland. Because Alexander was not recorded on the Telegraph indent, he must have been born in Australia as he would have been too young to travel alone. This location for his birth is a further indication that the 1886 death was likely to have been a different man. Two of Isabella's other sons, James and Dean, eventually settled in Gosford, on the Central Coast of NSW, and it is considered very likely that they had been apprenticed to this area from the Vernon.
Where has She Gone?
There are no letters for Mary indexed in the CSIL. No marriage or trace of her has yet been confirmed before 1900 and because of her extreme youth at the time of her admission and because she had no older siblings present to remind her of her ancestry, it is considered almost certain that she would have been unable to recall either her birth location or her parents’ names if and when she married.
The most promising marriage yet found was to John GRAY in 188545 in Balmain. The couple appeared to have had only one daughter, Mary A., who had been born in 1886 and who died later that year. A Mary GRAY entered the Benevolent Asylum on 7 January 1886, and left on 5 February 1886. If this was the wife of John GRAY it was not to have her baby as the child was born towards the end of 188646 but it is interesting and may possibly be her as the admission age was recorded as either 21 or 24. Another admission for possibly the same woman occurred in 1893 and again in 1895.47 Nothing further can be positively identified for either John or Mary GRAY and there are no trees for the family on Ancestry.
The woman who appeared in the Sydney courts in the 1870s was almost certainly not her because this woman was probably in her 60s.48
Possible deaths for Mary that have not been eliminated are:
4120/1884: Mary A. BOYD, aged 18, died Camperdown, and registered in Newtown.
4306/1890: Mary BOYD, parents unknown died Central Cumberland.
4916/1893: Mary BOYD, parents unknown died Central Cumberland.
While the age is not correct for the woman who died in 1884, it is not so inaccurate as to discount the death as the age at death only differed by four years from Mary's known birth year. It is however, considered unlikely that Mary ever used a middle name.
Updated September 2016