Frederic CANE

Frederic CANE was appointed to the Newcastle school on 22 February 1868, replacing Thomas McCORMACK. CANE interviewed all the girls and staff involved in the first riot in the school on 9 July 1868. At this stage he had been at the school for about five months:

I recollect being sent for by Mrs King on Friday the 3 Inst. into the Muster Room - she wished me to take notes of the language of Eliza OBrien and Sarah Wildgust - some conversation took place for about half an hour bewteen Mrs King and the girls. The girls refused to go into the school. I was requested to ask why they would not go into school. E. OBrien said, we have been taken off our work for nothing, and ordered to go into school - rather than do that, this morning, I would be town limb from limb. I said no more at that time, but waited expecting Mrs King to order me to take them to the Cell, which finding she did not do I said do you wish me to take them to the Cell - before this they said they would go to the Cell - but Mrs King refused to send them there, and ordered them into school. I then waited some considerable time. Miss Ravenhill addressed the girls which seemed to irritate them very much. fearing their language would be overheard, I recommended they should be taken to the office until Mrs King had decided what shd be done with them. __Miss Ravenhill continued to talk to the girls and they grew more irritated I have not any great recollection of what I said - but I think I said they were responsible beings, when Miss Ravenhill addressed me. I said Miss R. with all due deference to you Mrs King is the only authority I recognize here. I obey her orders implicitly, and decline to receive them from any one else. the girls repeatedly said they wd finish their week out. I said if Mrs King has no objection I have none, nor do I think Mrs Cane has any. I said if Mrs King assents . she did so and the girls returned. while working for me the girls had never sought my advice or complained to me in any way about the institution. I understood that the reason why the girls were taken off the work was because they were leaving their work and going to the other part of the Institution. I have never interfered with the girls at any time except at Mrs Kings particular and general request. The first change that I noticed in the girls was on my return from Sydney on 21st May last. Mrs King and Miss Ravenhill at breakfast told me the girls were very insubordinate and a complete change had come over the institution. I asked the cause. Mrs King stated. "I fear we have been too kind to the girls", and such characters as these do not appreciate it. I said I am sorry for that. I had come back hoping to spend many pleasant hours in the Institution. I have noticed a decided change in the place since Miss Ravenhill cam into it, before she came Mrs King used to invite me to join in prayers, and in recreation with the girls, with the teacher, the servants and the constables. I have heard Mrs King use the words street walkers and strumpets, near the passage and the office - to the girls. I am unable to say the names of the girls. I have also heard Mrs King say alluding to the girls they have cost the govt more than their bodies and souls are worth - I have no recollections of hearing Mrs King use any other unpleasant words to the girls or cast reflections on their parents. The girls have never come to me to repeat any grievance they may have had - but I have heard them talk of the change change since Miss Ravenhill came to the building- I was present during all the disturbance after the escape of the girls from the Room. I saw twenty or thrity girls with stones, bricks, sticks & coal, but I did not see a knife or a cleaver in the hands of any of the girls. I did hear several of the gilrs threaten Mrs King's life, but I cannot say who they were & they used most abominable language. I can't say where Mrs King was at the time I did not see her in the yard or about the building. Mr Harrison called me into Mrs King and told me in her presence that she had given into the charge of the institution to him, for him to do the best he could and he said Mr Cane will assist me,and Mrs King said yes - there was no time to consider long what what was to be done as the girls were smashing the windows. When I went with Mr Harrison, I heard him say to the girls in the yard I am on charge of the Institution, and you must obey orders, then I said those who will obey orders will go into the Kitchen - a large number went into the kitchen, and two constables were placed at the door, a number of police coming in at the time. Mr Harrison ordered them to charge of the girls outside, and peace was restored at once.
Frederic Cane
Mr Cane further states on Sunday the 5th July I was sent for by Mrs King to handcuff some of the girls who were in the cell making a great noise. Sergt Conway & another Constable & Mrs King were present. Sergt said, what do you wish done. Mrs King said I want the girls handcuffed. I was then requested to handcuff the girls. The sergt then asked them what they made the noise for. they said they wanted their beds, and they would be quite. he then asked Mrs King if she would give them their beds so they said they would be quiet so the beds were given to them.

CANE signed the statement.

Updated March 2015

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