Annie BURT (2)
Name Variations Ann, Hannah, BUNT, BURTE alias 'Newcastle Annie'
Father William BURT or BUNT b. m. (1) 18481 (2) 1854 d. bet. May 1853 & 18642
Mother Emma Ann BROWNE b. 1834 m. (1) 1848 d. 18533
Step-mother Bridget PHILLIPS b. m. (2) 18544 d.
Inmate Annie aka Hannah BURT b. 18505 m. 1876 (see below) d. 18836
Sister Sarah BURT b. 18537 m. d.
Husband William COOK b. m. 18768 d. aft. 1876
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Inmate9 Hannah10 18 dark dark medium dressed in a bright green dress, a black jacket trimmed with black and white beads and a black hat trimmed with velvet
Inmate Annie11 24 5’ 3” fair dark fair slight dressed in a blue dress and black straw hat trimmed with blue ribbon

Note 1: All records for Annie in connection with the Newcastle Industrial School appear under the name Hannah BURT.
Note 2: Annie aka Hannah is not to be confused with the daughter of William and Sarah BERT whose birth was erroneously registered in 1850 at V121 1850/6965. This is a Wesleyan reference actually recording a birth in 1856. The index year has been incorrectly transcribed onto the index.

As Hannah, Annie first appeared in the records of the Benevolent Asylum in Sydney. Hannah had been admitted there on 24 January 1864,12 but on 23 March 1864, two months later, she had been transferred to the Randwick Asylum. On her admission at Randwick it was reported that she was twelve years and 2 months of age, making her time of birth about January 1852. Subsequent records suggest that her birth had been erroneously recorded at this time so it may be that those caring for her were uncertain of her age at this date. Annie's admission to Randwick recorded that she was Catholic, that her parents had died by 1864 and that she had been in the care of an unnamed uncle who had subsequently deserted her. Annie, as Hannah, was apprenticed from Randwick to Mr. James DOYLE of Picton on 5 August 1865, at the age of thirteen.13 While nothing further was written on her admission to Randwick, by 1867 she had been returned there although that return date has not been identified.14

On 2 September 1867, after the passing of the Industrial Schools' Act, Annie, again as Hannah, was brought before the Sydney courts15 by senior sergeant WATERS. WATERS stated that on the 24 and 27 August he had found Annie in a house off Clarence Street and later that week had seen her at the station. He added that he had been informed that she had run away from the Randwick Asylum so he charged her, under the Act, with keeping company with prostitutes. Annie confirmed that she had been apprenticed by the directors of Randwick after she had been sent to there from the Benevolent Asylum but did not elaborate on her apprenticeship.

As Hannah, Annie appeared in the Newcastle Entrance Book on 5 September 1867. The record simply confirmed that her parents, who were not identified, were recorded as dead. While newspaper reports indicated that she was fifteen at the time of her trial three days earlier, her age was pencilled into the Newcastle Entrance Book as seventeen. In light of the discovery of her baptism record outlined below, there is no doubt that Annie had been illegally arrested under the Act and this pencilled age was correct. Annie was recorded as a Catholic and her level of education was described as 'sequel number 2 small hand.'16 This educational level in combination with the superior level of the language she used in the CANE interview transcribed below, strongly suggested that Annie was a very clever and capable girl as her vocabulary differs in a marked and positive way to that of most of the other girls interviewed.17 Annie’s medical assessment by Dr HARRIS showed that she was not a virgin.18 At one stage, KELLY, the teacher, reported that Annie had been a monitor in the school but that she had had to replace her with another girl.19 This action was probably made by KELLY after Annie's involvement in the July 1868 riot. As Hannah, Annie was interviewed by Frederic CANE and her statement, which she signed, is transcribed in full.

Hannah Burt Age 18 last St Patrick's Day. I was one of those who took part in the disturbance. I was present when the 320 last girls were brought back who had run away. Mrs King asked us were we not ashamed of them. I answered with others No! Mrs King then scolded me and said I ought to have better sense. I was one of those who helped to light a Fire in the Dormitory on Saturday July 4th There was no mischief intended in doing this. I was present on Friday night 3rd Inst. when Mrs King was speaking to Sarah Wildgust and she threatened her with handcuffs. I never hear her say on any occasion, "I am in for blood tonight." I never heard her use threatening language to Mrs King. It was on Friday night when Eliza OBrien put the lamp out - she did this because the Laundress was going to give it to the constable on the Verandah. I heard Mrs King use the words "The sight of a man would set us mad." Did not hear the words used by Mrs King about the Bull & Cow in the Field. On more than one occasion Mrs King has said to us we were too hot we wanted ducking down the well and asked us was it the old Apple man we wanted? I do not believe Charlotte Perry had any intention to set fire to the premises when she lit the straw in (the) Dormitory. Mrs King never said aflictions on my parents nor did I hear her do so to the other girls. I heard her tell Sarah Wildgust when she was speaking to her about her misconduct in the Dormitory that at about 8 her rearing or bringing up I never heard such words as dirty street walkers but I have heard her say "We were the scum of the Earth" this was soon after Mr Parke's visit. She wanted to know "Why such characters were sent to her" I know we have misbehaved ourselves on this occasion I recollect in the Muster Room on one occasion Mrs King said to Eliza ONiel is this the way you behave after four and five shillings a bottle being paid for medicine for you but I never heard her use such words as 'You are not worth more medicine." I had no knowledge that Sarah Wildgust had a knife to use as a weapon against Mrs King nor do I think any of the other girls knew it. I would prevent her using it in that way if I knew such a thing. I never had a knife in my hand but I threw stones at the windows I simply joined in kicking the windows because I saw the Constables taking the girls. There was no plot to break out or break the windows I did not join in the disturbance on Friday night I did so on Saturday when I saw the others do it and without anyone asking me or making a proposal to me I recollect Mrs King asking in the Dormitory what was the reason of the disturbance I answered with some we would tell at head[?] greaters[?] some said "They had no [?] since Ravenhill came" We were agrieved because the blind was taken down while the Constable was in the Verandah and the Elder girls would not go to bed on Friday night the 3rd Inst. I never saw knives or cleavers in the hands of the girls But I did hear the words "Bring out the Bloody Matrons" We had no intention of doing and harm to them I for one would not have allowed any injury to be done to Mrs King or any of the Matrons. So far as I know we simply called out this because we thought they were afraid to come out, and we determined they should come out before we went away.21

Annie BURT and Hannah McGILL were appointed as classroom monitors by the teacher, Margaret KELLY on 1 September 1868.22 On 19 December 1868, in a letter responding to the Colonial Secretary, CLARKE was asked to verify the ages of Annie and Elizabeth MORGAN.23 He repeated what was recorded in the Entrance Book stating that Annie was eighteen and had been in the institution for fifteen months. In a further letter to the Principal Under Secretary on 4 January 1869,24 he stressed the need for permission to appoint the two girls as:

the lady with whom I intended to place Hannah Burt, has called to say she cannot wait much longer, and as I feel it would be a great privation to the girl to lose so good an offer, and very distressing to [others. Please give your approval immediately].

In a subsequent letter on 18 January, CLARKE stated that Hannah was 'anxiously looking forward to being discharged.'25 Annie was over the age of eighteen so on 27 January 1869, with the authority of the Colonial Secretary, she was discharged into service with Benjamin M. CUNNINGHAM, the manager of the Waratah Coal Company of Newcastle.26 CUNNINGHAM was Presbyterian. Annie was to be paid six shillings a week.27 Three months later, on 7 March 1869, a warrant was issued for the arrest of Annie and Mary Ann DEVENEY for absconding from their apprenticeship with CUNNINGHAM. It was thought that the two girls had gone to either West Maitland or Sydney.28 On 11 March the pair was arrested in Maitland and both girls appeared at the West Maitland court where they were remanded to Newcastle to be dealt with. The next appeared in Newcastle court on Friday, 12 March29 and again on Monday, 15 March.30 In addition to answering charges of leaving her indenture and having the indenture cancelled, Annie faced a charge of larceny for the theft of a petticoat. She was freed but was not returned to the school as it was confirmed that she was now too old. No reference has been found in the list made by LUCAS in April 1872 of any of Annie’s actions after she left the school31 but CLARKE’s letter of 1 August 1870, recorded that he had discovered that Annie had returned 'to Sydney and to the bad.'32 Because there was no apprenticeship, Annie would have been free to leave her situation when she liked and it seems likely that CUNNINGHAM would have been unwilling to take back two, such wild, girls.

Annie spent periods of time in court after her release from Newcastle and her leaving CUNNINGHAM's employ. Comparisons of gaol descriptions verified her use of the various given names of Hannah, Ann or Annie. Darlinghurst Gaol descriptions for Annie in 1872 and 1873 are sketchy but there is no doubt that these admissions refer to her.33 Her age and birth location of Queanbeyan remained constant even though descriptions from gaol or the Police Gazette varied or were vague. As Annie BURT, she was very likely to be the woman charged with an assault on 6 December 187134 who was fined ten shillings.35 Gaol records confirmed that she was sent to Darlinghurst for a month on 5 February 1872, after she was found guilty of theft.36 In September 1873,37 she appeared as Hannah BURT when she was charged by Emma GRANT with assault when she received two months in gaol. She appeared as Ann BURT in October 1876.38 The Police Gazette in 1876 stated:

A warrant for commitment for want of distress for the sum of L2 5s. fine and costs, for behaving in an indecent manner in Rowe Street, on the 4th Instant39 has been issued by the Water Police Bench against Ann Burt. … She is known as “Newcastle Annie.”40

Hannah was arrested and admitted to Darlinghurst for this offence.41

On 14 December 1876, at St Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney, Annie BURT married William COOK. Her parents were confirmed on the marriage registration but no ages were recorded. Annie's father was identified as a surveyor. William's parents were identified as William COOK and Mary CROZIER. William had been born in England but Hannah's birthplace was confirmed as Queanbeyan. The witnesses were Catherine (X) PARKER and Edward CROKER. No births have been attributed to the couple. There is no indication that the marriage of William and Annie lasted but no appropriate women named Annie or Hannah of this age and born in Queanbeyan can be found in the NSW gaol records or the Police Gazette after the date of the marriage. No further trace of Annie or Hannah can be found in Trove. There are no appropriate deaths in NSW as Hannah but it is almost certain that Annie was the 31 year old Annie COOKE, who died in Sydney on 3 March 1883.42 This registration indicates that Annie COOKE died in Sydney Hospital from phthisis43. Her place of birth was recorded as Queensland – rather than Queanbeyan – but is considered an understandable error. She had resided in NSW for 22 years – or since about 1861. No children were recorded on the death registration but she was recorded as being a married woman. Annie was buried in Haslem's Creek44 Catholic Cemetery on 5 March 1883.45


Because Annie's parents were both reported to be dead at the time of her admission, neither was named in the Entrance Book. Gaol admissions for Annie under both the given names that she used stated that she had been born in Queanbeyan in about 1850. The baptism record in Queanbeyan for Anne BURT, a child the correct age, indicated that Anne had been born on 20 November 1850, and had been baptised on 15 December 1850, in the Queanbeyan and Canbury Parish by G. E. GREGORY. Her parents were recorded as William and Emma BURT or BUNT. William was a sawyer on the Murray River but he was also recorded as a servant on the baptism.46 William BURT, a member of the Church of England, was married to Emma (X) BROWNE in the Catholic Church, Queanbeyan, by Michael KAVANAGH on 31 January 1848. The witnesses were Jeremiah MALONEY and Catherine (X) GLOVER. William’s signature was clear and is closer to BUNT than BURT but it is thought that any reference to the BUNT surname stems from this signature. The baptism record for Annie’s sister, Sarah, shows that it also occurred in the Catholic Church in the Queanbeyan area.

Annie's mother, Emma Ann BURT, has not been identified. Emma died at the age of nineteen on 31 May 1853, when her youngest daughter, Sarah, was only four months old.47 Her burial on 2 June 1853, was recorded as Emma BURTE.48 She was buried by R. WALSH of the Roman Catholic Church in the parish of Queanbeyan in the county of Murray. No suitable arrival has been found for an Emma BROWN or BROWNE of this age in time to marry William in 1848. On 21 August 1853, about six weeks after Emma's death, a two-year-old child named Emma BROWN was also buried by the same minister in the same area and it is considered possible that this child was connected in some way to Emma. No baptism has been located for this child that has been able to assist with any further identification of what may be Emma's extended family.

William BURT's identity has not been identified. Both his marriages occurred before compulsory registration and no further birth or death registrations have been able to be attributed to him. On 8 December 1854, William BURT, a widower, was married by license to Bridget (X) PHILLIPS, a widow, by James ALLAN, the Minister of Braidwood, in the St Vincent's Parish of the Church of England Church of Araluen and Braidwood. The witnesses were John Boden[?] YEATES of Braidwood and James (X) OCCLESHAW of Major's Creek. Although there are two deaths in NSW of a man of this name, neither has been confirmed to be that of Annie's father. One occurred in 186549 and the other was in 1868.50 The fate of Bridget BURT, William's second wife, is also unknown. Her first husband has not yet been identified.

It is possible that William was not dead by 1864 as recorded in the Benevolent Asylum records. Because Hannah knew the names of her parents when she married it must be considered that she left her father closer to the date of her admission to the Benevolent Asylum rather than earlier. The Benevolent Asylum records may record the name of her uncle but this avenue has not yet been investigated. It is also unknown whether this uncle was from her mother's or father's family.

Updated May 2017

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