Margaret CAMDEN
Name Variations Alias Ann MULHOLLAND
Father John CAMDEN b. 18101 m. 18452 d. 18773
Mother Sarah MULHOLLAND b.c. 18244 m. 1845 d. 18675
Brother James CAMDEN b. 18476 m. d.
Sister Mary Jane7 CAMDEN b. 18488 m. (1) 1865 (2) 1897 (1) Alfred McGOWAN (2) Thomas J. MURPHY d. 19099
Brother Charles CAMDEN b. 185110 m. 189611 Johanna HAROLD d. 191612
Inmate Margaret CAMDEN b.185313 m. 187314 (see below) d. 192415
Brother John CAMDEN b. 185516 m. none - d. 185517
Brother John J. CAMDEN b. unknown m. d. 189718
Husband Thomas Edward BALL b. 185419 m. 187320 d. 192421
Daughter Mary Jane BALL b. 187422 m. 1891 Charles Richard WATSON d. 193723
Son Richard Charles BALL b. 187524 m. none - d. 187625
Daughter Margaret BALL b. 187726 m. 1896 George H. GARDINER d. 195027
Son Thomas Edward BALL b. 187928 m. none - d. 188329
Son George Albert BALL b. 188130 m. d. 191131
Son John J. BALL b. 188532 m. none - d. 188533
Son Nigel BALL b. 188534 m. d. 194035
Daughter Ethel M. BALL b. 188736 m. d.
Daughter Violet May BALL b. 189037 m. 1917 John H. DELOHERY d. 196438
Son James E. BALL b. 189339 m. d.
Daughter Bertha BALL b. 189740 m. 1915 John SLY d. 195741
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Father John42 5' 3" dark brown hazel dark, ruddy man, woman and heart on right arm; crucifixion, sun, moon stars on left
Mother Sarah43 5' 2" dark hazel
Brother Charles44 brown brown
Brother James45 5' 8" dark brown brown
Sister Mary46 dark dressed in brown stuff frock and red print sun-bonnet

Margaret first appeared in the records of the institutions of NSW when she was admitted to the Benevolent Asylum at the age of nine. She remained there for the three days between 18 and 23 May 1864. This admission occurred before the death of her mother and may have been one of the times when Sarah was in gaol. Investigations of the NSW gaol records indicates that many of Margaret's older siblings were admitted for vagrancy and theft prior to her arrest so it is very likely that she was well known to the constables of Sydney prior to her arrest in Newcastle. Nothing further has been found for Margaret until 28 August 1867, when she and her cousin, Margaret MULHOLLAND, were arrested in Newcastle by sub-inspector HARRISON. Both their families lived in Sydney and although it is known that Margaret had run away from her father, why both girls came to be in Newcastle is unknown. The Entrance Bookrecorded that Margaret was thirteen years old47 when she was admitted on 31 August 1867. The Police Gazette48 when reporting the arrest of the cousins attributed to Margaret the alias of Ann MULHOLLAND and this was the name provided by Helenus SCOTT on the warrant returned to Biloela in 1873. SCOTT reported that the cousins had appeared before himself and Edward PARNELL where they had been sentenced to be admitted to Newcastle.49 There is no indication how Margaret came by her alias. She may have provided this name at the time of her arrest to avoid detection but because the Entrance Book identified that her father was named John but her mother was dead, it may be that Margaret was placed in or sought the care of her aunt, Margaret MULHOLLAND. She and Margaret MULHOLLAND may have considered themselves sisters but she certainly knowingly provided a false name to the arresting constables. It is also possible that Margaret was given the pet name Ann to avoid having three women in the same house named Margaret if she lived with the MULHOLLAND family. The Entrance Book confirmed that her family was Protestant and Margaret appeared on SELWYN's list compiled in June 1868.50 Her level of education was recorded as 'First Book; on slate.' Margaret's medical assessment51 by Dr HARRIS showed that she was a virgin.

In a letter to the Colonial Secretary, written on 1 April 1869, CLARKE requested permission to comply with Margaret’s request to return her to her father. CLARKE supported the petition52 by stating that Margaret’s character was good, that she was about fourteen and that John was employed as a stonemason. He enclosed a copy of Margaret’s warrant. There is no indication as to why this return to her father didn’t occur. In a further letter from CLARKE on 13 October 1870, he suggested that Margaret be apprenticed to Alexander JOHNSON in Scone, in place of Lucy AH KIN.53 Her apprenticeship was confirmed on 21 October 1870, and was to last for three years and she was to be paid at the rate of four shillings a week for the first year. This wage was to increase by one shilling a week for each of the next two years and remain at six shilling a week for any subsequent years. This apprenticeship was confirmed in the April 1872 list of admissions to the school54 so Margaret never transferred to Cockatoo Island with the school in May 1871.

On 11 September 1873, Alexander JOHNSON returned Margaret's warrant and indenture to LUCAS the superintendent of the school at Biloela. Her original indenture was included in the correspondence. JOHNSON included the following letter:

I have an apprentice girl from the Industrial School 'Biloela' named Margaret Camden unfortunately she is pregnant the supposed father is willing to marry her and the girl wishes to leave to make preparations for the marriage – her term of service expires on the 21st October next, and by the appearance of the girl the child is likely to be born before that time.
Will you kindly inform me if I am at liberty to let her leave my service?
I think if it can be done it would be better to let her leave and make her preparations for marriage or perhaps the man may change his mind.55

Margaret was married to Thomas Edward BALL, a butcher, in St Luke’s Church of England, Scone, by J. SHAW on 4 October 1873.56 Her cousin's future husband, Frederick RUSSELL, was a witness. Baptisms of later children show that the family was living at Swan Reach Farm57 near Morpeth but eventually the family returned to the Scone area. Margaret's death was registered in Scone58 and occurred on 10 July 1924. Thomas died on 25 December the same year and the couple was buried at Aberdeen Cemetery.59


Margaret's headstone at Aberdeen General Cemetery
Photograph courtesy of Australian Cemeteries Index (


The Entrance Book and KING’s letter60 named Margaret's father as the stonemason, John CAMDEN. John and Sarah MULHOLLAND were married by James HETHERINGTON in Scot’s Church, Pitt Street, Sydney, on 23 December 1845.61 Sarah signed but there was no signature or mark by John in this record. The witnesses were John and Jane TOFT of Sydney. The family was living in Bourke Street, South Head Road, when their daughters, Mary Jane and Margaret, were born. Margaret was born on 4 September 1853, and baptized on 16 April 1854.62 They were living in Chippendale when John appeared in court for an assault on Sarah in 1859.63

The first court appearance for Sarah CAMDEN found to date occurred in 1854 when she was a prosecutor in a trial.64 The first case yet fund where she was a defendant occurred in October 1856.65 Gaol records for Sarah CAMDEN begin in about 1859. They show that Sarah was Catholic, had been born in about 1826 and had arrived on the Elizabeth in 1844. Sarah was from Ahoghill, county Antrim and had arrived on 31 March 1845, with her relations, two of whom were her brothers, Robert and James MULHOLLAND.66 Her parents were identified as John and Catherine but her religion was documented to be Episcopalian.67 She was sponsored by John McNAMARA of Hunter Street, Sydney. She also was recorded as having a further relation, Arthur WEST(?) in Goulburn Street(?), Sydney.68 Sarah died in 1867.

At the age of 21 under the name John CAMPDEN, John was transported for 14 years aboard the Surrey in 1831. He was described on the Surrey indent as a baker and maltser but also as a brassfounder. He could both read and write.69 He was a Protestant born in Warwick in about 1810 and had a ticket of leave. Gaol admissions between 1833 and 1864 confirm his ship of arrival. John was imprisoned in Darlinghurst gaol in both 1858 and 1864. Further admissions using the alias John CAMPBELL also occurred in 1865.70 While an early admission to Newcastle gaol provided the occupation of brassfounder71 later admissions indicate that he was a mason. Court appearances between 185972 and 1864 indicate that John appeared in court for assaulting Sarah but these appearances are fewer in number than those recording Sarah's imprisonments.73 John died in Chippendale in October 1877 but only Margaret's brothers, James and Charles, were named in his funeral notice.74 The NSW BDM Index identified that John's father was named James.

The boy named John CAMDEN, aged 15, who appeared in court in May 1864 is very likely to be Margaret's younger brother.75 Her brother, James, appeared in gaol records from 1864 to 1869 and he was then named in a Funeral Notice for his father in 187776 but then no trace of him has been confirmed in the state from that date. Her brother, Charles, first appeared in the NSW gaol records with his cousin, John MULHOLLAND, at the age of eleven in 1862. In 1859 Margaret's sister, Mary, ran away from home and her mother sought her by advertising in the Police Gazette.77 The 1866 admission to Darlinghurst of Mary J. CAMDEN and Alfred McGOWAN surprisingly described Mary J. as a half-caste.78

Updated November 2015

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