The CALF Sisters
Father John CALF b.c. 18161 m. 18502 d. 18923
Step-father unknown WILLIAMS or McWILLIAMS b. unknown m. none d. unknown
Mother Elizabeth WILSON b.c. 18284 m. 1850 d. 18785
Step-mother Charlotte PARR b. m. 18796 d.
Sister Fanny Elizabeth7 CALF b.c. 1853 m. 18688 Patrick MACFARLANE aka MACFARLAND d. 18869
Inmate Elizabeth Wilson CALF b. 185410 m. (1) 1871 (2) 1878 (3) 1897 (see below) d. 191211
Sister Louisa Kate CALF b. 185612 m. (1) 187913 (2) 189314 (1) Michael O'GRADY (2) William RUDDELL d. 192015
Brother Edwin John CALF b. 185816 m. 190017 Florence MOORE d. 192918
Inmate Charlotte Sophia CALF b. 186019 m. (1) 1880 (2) 191420 (see below) d. 194021
Brother Frederick Charles CALF b. 186222 m. 188623 Florence Josephine BATTLE24 d. 194425
Sister Georgina Jane CALF b. 186726 m. 188727 Joseph NEWTON d. 191628
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Father John29 24 5’ 5” black grey sallow slight scar on centre of forehead
Father John30 54 5’ 5” grey grey sallow JC in a heart tattooed on his left arm

Eliza and Charlotte were never inmates of the industrial schools at the same time. Eliza was only ever admitted to Newcastle – never Biloela – and Charlotte was only ever admitted to Biloela – never Newcastle. Fourteen-year-old Eliza was an inmate of the Newcastle Industrial School until 4 January 1870.31 Charlotte was thirteen when she was admitted to Biloela after appearing in court on 16 August 1873.32


Eliza and Charlotte were daughters of John and Elizabeth CALF. At the time of Eliza's admission to Newcastle both parents were identified in the Entrance Book. The couple had married in Gloucestershire and had arrived in 1853 with their eldest daughter, Fanny, on board the Talavera. John had almost certainly already visited NSW as a sailor before his permanent immigration as he appeared in the gaol records in Sydney and Newcastle during the late 1830s and the early 1840s. At this time his ship of arrival was identified as the Fairlie.33

John and Elizabeth separated in late 1867 or early 1868 and it may be that the trigger for this separation was John's admission to gaol in October 1868. It must be considered that this may also have been the trigger for Eliza's admission to Newcastle.

In February 1867, Eliza's mother, recorded as Elizabeth CALFE, was caring for the six week old child, Georgiana ELLIOTT,34 who, while left in her care, died of dysentery. No blame was attributed to Elizabeth.35 She was a resident of Castlereagh Street, Sydney, at this time36 so it is almost entirely certain that at this date she and John were still together.37 It is uncertain when the couple separated but on 18 September 1867, Elizabeth, entered the Benevolent Asylum at the age of thirty-nine, almost certainly to give birth to her youngest child, who she named Georgina. Georgina was almost certainly named after the dead Georgiana ELLIOTT, whose mother was reported to be a friend of Elizabeth's. Elizabeth and Georgina CALF were discharged from the asylum on 21 October 1867, when Georgina was fourteen days old.38 There was a further entry date for Georgina on 2 December 1867, but without viewing the original record it isn’t possible to be certain about its condition and therefore the dates recorded online and whether this was actually a second admission. John and Elizabeth were certainly living apart by March 186839 and it should be considered that Georgina may not be a child of John CALF as Elizabeth appears often in the courts from this date.

While Elizabeth wasn't described as his mother-in-law, Patrick MACFARLANE, recorded as Patrick McFARLAND, assaulted her in December 1868, shortly after Eliza was sent to Newcastle.40 In 1868 Elizabeth was admitted to Darlinghurst and her court appearances attributed to her an alias of WILLIAMS41 or McWILLIAMS.42 Elizabeth's discharge from Darlinghurst confirmed that she had been born in England and could read and write but the record contained no further description and no others have been located under the surname WILLIAMS or McWILLIAMS.43 In 1873 Charlotte confirmed that her mother was living with another man in Clarence Street but didn't identify him.44 Elizabeth CALF died at Gannon's Forest, St George, Sydney, on 27 April 1878, at the age of 50.45

After his arrival in NSW, John was living at Long Creek in the Western district46 and was recorded in the Police Gazette as the victim of a robbery in 1866. By 1868 he was in Sydney and was operating as a dealer in Castlereagh Street.47 He was involved in a theft and appeared firstly in the Central Police Court48 and then at the Quarter Sessions on 8 October 1868,49 charged with larceny. He was sentenced to two years labour50 for the theft of a watch from Joseph FOSTER, a blacksmith, of Sussex-street.51 Although he was sentenced to be imprisoned in Darlinghurst Gaol, in 1870 he was released from Port Macquarie.52 John was described on his discharge as a seaman who was born in England in 1816 and his final ship of arrival was confirmed in his gaol discharge record. Family correspondence and NSW gaol records indicate that John had travelled to Australia three times, once in 1837 but also on one other unspecified date. His first arrival was as a sailor on the Fairlie in about 1838 as he had been arrested at Singleton in the Hunter Valley after this arrival.53

John and his family finally immigrated in 1853.54 After his release from gaol and by 1873 he was living on Stream Mill Street off Bathurst Street and was described as a dealer. After Elizabeth's death John almost without doubt remarried Charlotte PARR in Sydney although this marriage also suffered from troubled circumstances.55 John died in April 189256 at Prince Alfred Hospital. His funeral left from the house of his unnamed daughter – 113 George Street, Macdonaldtown.57

The Mitchell Library letter from John's son, Frederick Charles CALF,58 locates his grandfather, John CALF, in Western Australia, but this John CALF ultimately died in Mitcham, South Australia, in 1880.59 An extended ancestry of the CALF family can be found online60 but they have little further information about Eliza or Charlotte.

Charlotte Sophia CALF

Husband (1) Robert WILSON b.c. 185161 m. 188062 d.
Husband (2) John BARKER63 b. m. none d.c. 1912
Husband (3) James BAWN b. m. 191464 d. 193865
Son John Henry WILSON66 b. 188467 m. d.
Daughter Ethel M. BARKER b. 188768 m. 190669 d.

Charlotte was brought to court by constable MACINTOSH on 16 August 1873. She had been taken from a brothel in Steam Mill Street, off Bathurst Street, Sydney, between 1 and 2 o'clock that morning. There were two prostitutes in the house and one, who was identified as Charlotte's sister, was not named. Charlotte stated that her father, who lived in the same street, had turned her out of his house and knew that she had been living in the brothel. She further stated that her mother, who was living with another man in Clarence Street, would not allow her to live with them. John, a dealer, said that Charlotte would be thirteen in September, that she hadn't lived with him for some time and that he had no control of her. He didn't believe that the unnamed sister working as a prostitute was 'a proper person to have the care of her'. Charlotte was reported to be in tears when she stated

"You know, father, that you would not let me stop at home." She said that she was beaten and driven away by both father and mother, and that she only intended living at the house out of which the constable took her until Monday, when she was to go with a married sister to Gulgong.70

It is very likely that this married sister was Eliza who had been in Newcastle. The records in the Entrance Book are missing for the period of Charlotte's admission so no family or personal details can be confirmed from this source but it is likely that she was admitted the day of or the day after her court appearance. Charlotte was discharged from Biloela on 17 April 1877, as an apprentice for one year and five months to Mr. E. R. HALLORAN of the Bank of NSW. The Biloela Discharge Book contained the notation 'married well' beside her discharge date.71 Darlinghurst gaol records have an admission of a Charlotte CALF in December 1876 and again in July 1880 and it is thought that both these records refer to her even though one of them occurred during the period when she was reportedly on the island and it is unknown how this could occur but it may be due to an inaccurate record in the Discharge Book72 or an unlocated or unidentified incident that occurred on the island.

Charlotte married Robert WILSON, a timber-getter from Casino, on 4 July 1880.73 In May 1886, Robert WILSON divorced Charlotte when she deserted him, taking their son, and moving to Sydney with Robert's former friend, John BARKER, a carpenter, with whom she had had a daughter. Both children were claimed by Charlotte to have been BARKER's. The divorce was granted. When her sister, Elizabeth, died in 1912, Charlotte was referred to in the funeral notices as Mrs BARKER but no marriage has been found.74 It is likely that the birth registration of Ethel Mabel BARKER in 1887 gives a marriage date for Charlotte and John BARKER of 4 July 1879, as this date is recorded in online trees for Charlotte.75 In 1914 as Charlotte S. WILSON, she married James BAWN and this choice of name strongly suggests that she and BARKER had never married. Charlotte Sophia BAWN died in August 1940. Her death was registered in Randwick and her parents were confirmed on the NSW BDM Index. She was buried in the Church of England Section of Randwick Cemetery76 but no record of a headstone has been located in the Randwick General Cemetery: Monumental Inscriptions book.77

Elizabeth Wilson CALF

Name Variations Eliza
Husband (1) Thomas MACFARLANE aka MACFARLAND b. 184478 m. 187179 d. unknown
Husband (2) Matthew T. WARD b. 185880 m. 187881 d. unknown
Husband (3) John William DONALDSON b. unknown m. 189782 d.
Son John (Jack) WARD b. 187883 m. Florence d. 195384
Daughter Ada WARD b. 188085 m. (1) 190486 (2) 192387 (1) Robert Richard88 BENNETT (2) William J. E. FRAZER d. 197089
Daughter Elizabeth WARD b. 188290 m. none - d. 188291
Daughter Anzenia Irenia D. 'Bird' WARD92 b. 188993 m. 190894 Norman YOUNG d. 196095
Child B. DONALDSON96 b. m.

Elizabeth was born on 13 September 1854, and was baptised on 1 October 1854, as Eliza Wilson CALF. Her father was recorded as a labourer and at this date, the family was living in Crown Street, Sydney. Elizabeth had requested protection under the Industrial School Act after being taken into custody by constable HYEMS, who stated that the night before he had found her lying in a verandah in Castlereagh Street. Eliza appeared in court on 27 October 1868.97 She was recorded in the Empire as Elizabeth.98 The reports indicated that both her parents were alive but 'her mother drinks, and while drunk ill-uses her and turns her out of the house.' Evidence was given that her father was under sentence and before his conviction

his house was the resort of persons of bad character. Mr. CARROLL informed their Worships that he was requested by the girl to state that there is but one alternative for her, the Industrial School or the streets, and the latter course she wished above all things to avoid.

Eliza was admitted to Newcastle99 on 29 October 1868. She was described as a fourteen-year-old Protestant who was able to read the second book and write in a copybook. This was a very good standard of educational achievement in comparison with many other girls of her age. The following month Eliza absconded from the school but was recaptured by constable SMITH of Newcastle police before getting very far.100 In her report on 17 November 1868, KING described the circumstances of Eliza's escape stating that Eliza

escaped from the School over the Gate at the residence of the Police Magistrate. She was captured and brought back. She left the institution at 5 a.m. and was returned by the police at 10 a.m. the same day.101

In March 1869 a letter was sent to the matron of the Industrial School from F. J. THOMAS who stated:

I am informed that Eliza Wilson Calf became an inmate of the Industrial School at Newcastle about five months ago and I am requested by her mother to inquire whether there is any truth in a report that her daughter was burnt to death.
If the report is not correct please state how the girl referred to conducts herself.
I have no doubt that the poor girl found or finds your institution a better asylum than her parents home.

Joseph CLARKE responded that Marion CLARKE had replied and clarified the situation.102 Eliza was identified in CLARKE’s list of girls eligible for apprenticeship on 15 December 1869,103 when she was fifteen and a half years of age. She was recorded as having been in the school for one year and two months.

On 16 December 1869, Mrs John RICHARDSON, High Street, West Maitland, requested that he be granted permission to take Eliza into her service. The post script on the request from John RICHARDSON stated:104 'I was not aware she [was] in the school untill very lately otherwise I should have applied sooner.'105 CLARKE, who erroneously referred to this family as RICHARDS, investigated the request stating:

Upon enquiry I find that Mr John Richards of Maitland is a respectable man, in comfortable circumstances, and it would appear that his wife takes considerable interest in Eliza Calf, I would respectfully recommend that the girl should be discharged to the care of Mrs Richards.

This was approved by the Colonial Secretary and CLARKE confirmed Eliza's apprenticeship to Mr and Mrs John RICHARDSON on 4 January 1870.106 Eliza was discharged to RICHARDSON and his unnamed wife on 26 January 1870.107

By 1871 Eliza was back in Sydney where as Eliza Wilson CALF she married Thomas MACFARLANE aka MACFARLAND. While no detailed description is recorded, Darlinghurst Gaol records108 confirm that Eliza and Thomas were the couple who appeared in court charged with an assault on Mary REEDER on 26 November 1872.109 Mary REEDER aka READER was Thomas' aunt, the sister of his mother Bridget. Thomas’s description further confirmed that he was the person appearing in court for robberies in the St George area commencing in 1855 when he was about ten.110 His parents were John and Margaret McFARLANE and he was a brother to Bridget McFARLANE, the mother of Emma PEISLEY, and also to Patrick MACFARLANE/MACFARLAND who married Eliza’s sister, Fanny.

No births have been registered for Eliza and Thomas in the short period of time that they were together. Thomas abandoned Eliza shortly after their marriage111 and ran off to Mount Victoria with another woman leaving Eliza with no means of support. Eliza almost certainly sought employment as a servant because in 1874 a summons was issued – but not served – on an Eliza CALF for assaulting J. W. LOVETT. Eliza countersued LOVETT for a breach of the Apprenticeship Act.112 The case was dismissed because neither party appeared. When her sister, Charlotte, was sent to Biloela in 1873,113 Charlotte stated that she was attempting to get to a married sister who lived at Gulgong and this sister was almost certainly Eliza as at this date only she and Fanny were married and subsequent reports locate Eliza 'up country in the bush.'114 It is thought that Eliza returned to Sydney around this time. Thomas, after a brief reappearance in 1883, disappeared again. He may be the man who moved to Western Australia115 but further than this he has not been traced.

As Elizabeth CALF, Eliza married Matthew WARD in Sydney in 1878, after Thomas had been missing for seven years. In 1883, after Thomas McFARLANE's brief re-appearance, Charlotte CALF brought a charge of bigamy against her sister, identified as Elizabeth McFARLANE, claiming that the couple were still legally married. The magistrate committed Eliza to take her trial at the next Quarter Sessions where she was subsequently discharged.116 One daughter was born to Eliza and Matthew WARD in 1880 before they had married and another was born before the trial. Elizabeth and Matthew were living together after the bigamy trial as they were named in funeral notices when Fanny McFARLANE died.117 Matthew was almost certainly an omnibus driver or cabman and on occasion he appeared in the Sydney courts for traffic breaches. In May 1881 a warrant was issued for Matthew for furiously driving three horses attached to an omnibus. He was twenty-three years old, of medium build and was thought to have gone to Temora.118 In 1888, Matthew, described as a cab driver, was being sought for refusing to support his illegitimate child and disobeying a managerial order to do so. He was described as being about 30, 5’ 8”, medium build, brown hair, small fair moustache, sallow complexion, wearing dirty tweed clothes and a cabbage tree hat.119 In 1889 the Victorian newspapers reported on a cabman named Matthew WARD and this may very likely be Eliza's husband. There was a further incident in 1907.120 If this man was Elizabeth's husband, she did not go with Matthew WARD when he left NSW.121 If this man was Elizabeth's husband, it is unlikely that he was the father of Anzenia.

Elizabeth probably tried hard to be a good citizen and there is no evidence that she was ever involved in any crime after the incident with her first husband, Thomas.122 She may be the Elizabeth WARD who was tried at the Sydney QS on 24 February 1881 for illegally pawning goods belonging to Simon FRANKS.123 She pleaded guilty at the QS and was sentenced to four, three months terms but the report providing details of the trial has not been found. This Elizabeth was born in the colony in 1851, was 5’ 3” and had brown hair and brown eyes.124 Eliza may have been released early from Darlinghurst in May 1881 or the reports may refer to a second woman.125 It is unlikely that the two boys born to Matthew and Elizabeth WARD between 1889 and 1890 are children of Matthew and Elizabeth as Elizabeth's son, John aka Jack, identified himself as her only son in an In Memoriam notice in 1913.126

In 1897, in Newcastle, Eliza W. WARD married John W. DONALDSON. This marriage does not appear in the HVPRI. Elizabeth and John DONALDSON were living at Victoria Road, Marrickville, in July 1901, and at this time Elizabeth's daughter, Anzenia, was referred to by the surname DONALDSON.127 No father was recorded at the time of Anzenia's birth and she may be a daughter of John and Elizabeth DONALDSON. No children have been registered for this couple but a B. DONALDSON was identified as a cousin together with two of Eliza's known children.128 Elizabeth would have been very careful to avoid any charges of bigamy so Matthew must have been gone for a full seven years by the time she undertook this marriage. Eliza died as Elizabeth W. DONALDSON on 1 February 1912, at the age of fifty-seven. The couple was living at 45 Sydenham Road, Marrickville, at the time of her funeral. She was buried at Waverley Cemetery129 and cemetery records indicate that her headstone was erected by her children.130 In Memoriam notices were placed in 1913 and these identify Elizabeth's children.131 Further In Memoriam notices were placed in 1914 by her son-in-law and daughter, Norman and Bird [Anzenia] YOUNG.132

Updated July 2016

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