Name Variations CLINTON1
Father Charles CLIFTON b.c. 18372 m. 18593 d. 18834
Mother Bridget aka Mary CASSIDY b.c. 18425 m. 1859 d. 18856
Inmate Mary Ann CLIFTON b. 18607 m. (see below) d. 19248
Husband John ROACH b.c. 1848 m. (1) bef. 1873 (2) 18859 d. 1920
Son Robert Bridge CLIFTON aka ROACH b. 187410 m. d.
Son William CLIFTON aka ROACH b. 187811 m. d.
Son James ROACH b. 188012 m. d.
Daughter Elizabeth Ann ROACH b. 188213 m. d.
Son Matthew ROACH b. 188514 m. d.
Son Mark E. ROACH b. 188815 m. d.
Son Charles ROACH b. 189016 m. d.
Daughter Mary I. ROACH b. 189217 m. d.
Son Thomas ROACH b. 189418 m. d.
Son Walter ROACH b. 189619 m. d.
Daughter Blanche F. ROACH b. 189820 m. d.
Daughter Lucy ROACH b. 189921 m. d.
Daughter Alice L. ROACH b. 190122 m. d.

Note: Mary Ann's biography has been written in collaboration with Kathy, her descendant.

Mary Ann CLIFTON, who it was reported would turn fifteen on '24 May next,'23 appeared in court on 19 February 1875. The Evening News erroneously identified that her surname was CLINTON and other newspapers briefly reported the circumstances of her arrest without identifying her by name. Mary Ann had:

appeared in court with an infant in her arms, was brought before the court under the Industrial Schools Act. Constable Tindale deposed that he apprehended prisoner in a brothel in Liverpool-street, this morning, and brought her to the Central Police Station, and there charged her with being under the age of sixteen years and found living in a house of ill-fame with common prostitutes. On the second of this month witness had occasion to go to the house and arrest her, with her mother and two common prostitutes, for robbery. Previous to that he had seen men and prostitutes in the house who had been prisoners. He visited the house at about 11 o'clock last night. The defendant and her child were lying on the sofa. Her mother, a woman known to be a prostitute, and two men, were also present. Witness had seen as many as six or seven prostitutes in the house at one time, and nearly every time he visited the house, the mother had been in a beastly state of drunkenness. – The girl admitted that two men were in the house last night; they were her father and uncle. She had nothing else to say. Ordered to be sent to the Industrial School at Biloela.
Constable Tindale was ordered to search out the father of the child the girl carried in her arms, and make him support it.24

It is almost certain that at the time of her admission to Biloela, Mary Ann appeared with her two-month-old son, Robert Bridge CLIFTON, who was born on 1 December 1874.25 It is expected that as yet unread letters in the CSIL, probably in the names of both Mary Ann and Mary Jane CLIFTON, will confirm that this did occur and this will further confirm that this child was the reason that Mary Ann was discharged from Biloela almost immediately. Mary Ann CLIFTON was admitted to the Sydney Benevolent Asylum26 with six-week-old George Robert CLIFTON, on 31 March 1875, where they both remained until their discharge over a year later on 25 July 1876, to Mary Ann's mother27 even though family researchers believe that Bridget was probably still living in a ‘house of ill-use’ at this time.28 Twelve months after this discharge, Mary Ann fell pregnant and delivered another son, William, who was born in 1878. A few months after William's birth, 17-year-old Mary Ann met her husband, John, and it is thought by descendants that she had been employed by him to care for his two sons. It is considered likely she, Robert and William moved into ROACH's residence in about 1879.

John ROACH and his wife, Elizabeth Jane aka Jane, and their children arrived in Queensland from Cornwall aboard the Countess Russell on 30 June 1873. Sickness had broken out on the ship Jane died on 16 July 1873, as the ship was in sight of the Queensland coast and heading for quarantine. She was pre-deceased by two of her children, one before leaving Cornwall and another aboard the Countess Russell, leaving John a widower.29 When he met Mary Ann he had two small sons and was 17 years older than her. This association became a strong relationship, which produced a further twelve children, four of whom were born before the couple married. John and Mary Ann married in 1885 after returning to Sydney from the western goldfields.

Both John and Mary Ann were well respected in Coledale, where they lived from around 1902 until their deaths. John died in 1920 and Mary Ann died from a heart attack in 1924.30 Mary Ann was always remembered fondly by her grandsons, Matthew and Ted ROACH, as a very hard worker and a firm but gentle woman.


Mary Ann was born on 25 May 1860, and baptised on 3 July at St James Catholic Church, King Street, Sydney.31 She was the only known child of Charles CLIFTON and Bridget CASSIDY who had married in Sydney in 1859. Both Mary Ann’s parents became known by the police as drunks. Charles and Bridget were also charged with using their home as a place of ill-use. Mary Ann was the same age as some of her uncles, her mother's younger brothers. The CASSIDY family were also very well-known to the police. Mary Ann's uncles Patrick, John and Edward were admitted to the Vernon. Patrick's entry refers to two further pages, pages 25 and page 27A but both these pages are missing from the Vernon record.32 It is believed that at least one of these pages recorded a first admission of John during 1867.33 There may be letters in the CSIL which will add further detail to these admissions.

Mary Ann's father, Charles, was a sailor born in New York in about 1837.34 After his arrival in the colony he appeared in court for theft,35 drunkenness and assault.36 Family researchers indicated that he may have only occasionally lived in the same house as his wife located near the Haymarket area of Sydney, as he was most likely often living on board his ship. Charles died from hydrothorax in September 1883 in his berth aboard the SS Tasmania moored in Darling Harbour.37

Bridget CASSIDY was born in about 1843 in Tipperary, Ireland, and arrived in Sydney with her parents Patrick and Mary CASSIDY and her brother, Patrick, in January 1852 aboard the William and Mary. She was their eldest child.38 She was about 17 in 1859 when she married Charles CLIFTON. As Bridget CLIFTON, she and her mother appeared in court after committing offences together.39 On one occasion Bridget was fined for assaulting Mary.40 It is considered very likely that in 1867 and as Bridget CASSIDY, she appeared in court for operating brothels in Hancock's Lane. She was sentenced to twelve months in Darlinghurst but no confirmation that this is Mary Ann's mother has yet been found in the NSW gaol records. Bridget was also known as Mary after her marriage and especially from about 1875.41 Most offences were for drunkenness42 and she often lived rough on the streets of Sydney and drinking heavily. Her drinking continued until her death. In July 1880, the constables

took a woman named Mary Clifton, 37 years of age, to the Infirmary, at about 1 o'clock on Saturday afternoon. She was there examined by Dr. Hastie and found to be suffering severely from fever. It was stated that she was in the habit of sleeping under the flooring of a cottage, situated at No. 473, Kent-street, occupied by some of her relatives.43

This property, 473 Kent Street, Sydney, was Mary Ann's home as this address was identified as the place of birth of her son, James, seven months before this incident occurred.44 The following March Bridget suffered injuries, reportedly in a fit, and was again admitted to the Infirmary.45 By July 1883, Bridget, still recorded as Mary, was a resident of Hay Street when she was 'knocked down by an omnibus and sustained a fracture of one of her legs.'46 Bridget died in Prince Alfred hospital in 1885.47 Her death was registered as 42-year-old Mary CLIFTON and descendants believe that Mary Ann remained close to her mother, loved her and took care of her until her death.

Updated April 2015

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