Caroline Jane COLES
Name Variations COLE
Father Edward COLES b.c. 1814 m. 18461 d. 18632
Mother Ellen C. CRANFIELD b. 18303 m. 1846 d. 18654
Sister Mary A. COLES b. 18495 m. 18636 James CORBETT7 d. 19128
Sister Elizabeth COLE b. 18529 m. d.
Brother unknown COLES b. abt. 185510 m. unknown d. unknown
Inmate Caroline Jane COLES b. 185711 m. 1875 (see below) d. 192212
Brother unnamed COLES b. 185913 m. d.
Husband William T. RYAN b. 185214 m. 187515 d. 191916
Daughter Mary RYAN b. 187617 m. 189318 John MULLINS d. 191419
Daughter Ellen RYAN b. 187920 m. 190221 Hugh Alexander FULTON d. 193022
Daughter Alice RYAN b. 188123 m. 190524 John CAMPBELL d. 198225
Daughter Caroline RYAN b. 188326 m. d. aft. 1922
Daughter Amelia RYAN b. 188627 m. Michael KANE d. 194428
Daughter Norah RYAN b. 188829 m. d. aft. 1922
Son William RYAN b. 189030 m. d. 194831
Son Edward RYAN b. 189332 m. none - d. 190133
Daughter Annie M. RYAN b. 189534 m. d. aft. 1922
Daughter Lila RYAN b. 189835 m. 191836 Bede Joseph HICKEY d. 197437
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Father Edward38 20 5' 3" brown grey mole left side of chin; scar on forefinger and thumb of left hand

Caroline, a twelve year old orphan,39 was arrested in Tamworth under the Vagrant Act. It was reported that:

Caroline Cole, a girl under sixteen years of age, was brought before the bench during the past week, charged with having no place of abode, and sleeping in out houses and other places at night. These facts were deposed to by Mr. Thompson, blacksmith, a man named Pierce, and the apprehending constable, and she was ordered to be sent to the Industrial School at Newcastle.40

Caroline appeared in court in Tamworth during the week preceding 25 July 1868, and entered the school in August that year. Her situation highlights the difficult circumstances experienced by orphans in NSW at the time. Just over a year earlier attempts had been made to have Caroline admitted to the Protestant Orphan School in Parramatta. When the request was made by the Tamworth Church through the Reverend F. R. WHINFIELD, the incumbent of St. Paul's, Parramatta, officials at the school indicated that there was no room however, a reply on behalf of the Matron of the orphan school suggested that if an order for admission was sent to WHINFIELD, by the time Caroline arrived from Tamworth there would almost certainly be a place for her.41 The record stated that Caroline was:

aged eleven years a member of the Church of England who has lost both her parents has no relations or friends to assist her and is destitute.

It was further suggested that if no space could be found she might be admitted to Randwick but it was very likely that this institution would not accept her as she was over the acceptable age of about eight. No record of Caroline arriving at the Protestant Orphan School or Randwick has been found on the SRNSW Child Care Index.

On Caroline's arrival in Newcastle on 5 August 1868, it was noted in the Entrance Book that both her parents were dead. They therefore weren't named. Caroline was recorded as a ten-year-old Protestant who could read the second book and write in a copy book.42 This was a very good reading level for a ten-year-old at this time and in comparison with records for other inmates. Few girls in the school were writing in copybook suggesting that someone who cared was involved in Caroline's life for long enough for her to attain this level of education. KING indicated in her report on 11 August 1868, that Caroline had been admitted to the school hospital immediately upon her arrival as she was suffering from a skin disease.43 Caroline may have been the child who introduced the contagious skin disease into the school that eventually spread to dozens of the girls. Two months later, on 12 October 1868, the teacher, KELLY, replaced Hannah McGILL as a monitor in lessons held at the school, with Caroline 'who although young exhibits considerable intelligence and manifests a desire to improve.'44

Caroline remained quietly in the school and became one of the last girls for whom CLARKE arranged an apprenticeship. In a letter on 18 March 1871, CLARKE wrote requesting permission to apprentice Caroline to Mr Robert BARTON of Singleton for four years. This request was signed by LUCAS although it was in CLARKE's handwriting. Caroline's beginning wage was to be three shillings a week and her pay would increase by one shilling for each or the three remaining years of her apprenticeship. CLARKE described Caroline as a girl of good character.45 This correspondence contained no reply from the Colonial Secretary but included a letter from James VERNON of Scone written on 8 April 1871, stating that:

after the late riotous behaviour of the inmates of the Indus: School I must decline having one as a domestic servant on any terms.46

There is no apparent explanation as to how this letter ended up in correspondence connected with Caroline, as the apprentice who was to go to James VERNON was actually Rosabel GUNNERY. Caroline transferred with the school to Biloela in May 1871 where on 23 June 1871, she was listed as eligible for service in LUCAS's letter47 to the Colonial Secretary. Two months later on 17 August 1871, James THOMSON, Blacksmith, Tamworth, wrote to the Colonial Secretary stating:

I wish to get a girl out of the industrial school named Caroline Cole she formerly live with me she has wrote to me wishing to come back to me and has promised to behave herself if I will take her back again I am willing to take her back and pay her expense up to Tamworth. If you should want refferances as to character I can refer you to D. Williamson Irvin PM or to P. Gidley King JP Esqs Goonoo Goonoo. …48

To facilitate this apprenticeship LUCAS was required to send two letters to the Colonial Secretary explaining why Caroline hadn't been apprenticed to BARKER. LUCAS explained that he had assumed that BARKER's reason for not returning the apprenticeship papers was the same one as given by James VERNON and he justified that at this time he was heavily involved in quelling the riots at the school. LUCAS's report of 9 October 1871, indicated that Caroline was apprenticed49 on 2 October 1871, to Mr. THOMPSON of Tamworth, Caroline's former carer and this was confirmed by a notation in the Entrance Book. Although it is clearly written, it is also difficult to read. It states:

Apprenticed Oct. 2 1871 to Mr. Thompson, Tamworth discharged on above date.50

Caroline did not give birth to an illegitimate daughter sometime during her stay even though the interesting birth registration was made in 1871 in Newcastle for Florence RYAN51 to William and Caroline RYAN – four years before the couple married. This registration has been viewed by descendants and does not identify either of these parents.

Caroline Jane COLE married William RYAN in Patrick's Plains in 1875.52 Even though her parents married in Singleton there has been no evidence yet found that Caroline had any ties to the town and no connection has been confirmed for this location for William's family. Might there be some remaining family members in Singleton or was the marriage simply undertaken by a minister on his rounds or the north and entered in the Singleton register? Florence was not identified nor accounted for on Caroline's death registration and no descendants can find any evidence of her existence. William and Caroline settled initially with his family in the Nundle area of New England but later they moved to Narrabri. At some date between 1898 and 1901, they moved to Sellheim in Queensland where the death of their son, Edward, confirmed Caroline’s maiden name. William died in Sellheim on 14 June 1919.53 The Queensland BDM Index identified his parents, confirmed by descendants, as William and Mary RYAN nee BOURKE/BURKE.54 Caroline died in Sellheim on 18 July 1922.55 No parent or age was recorded on her death registration on the Queensland BDM Index but the registration did name her children and list the numbers and sex of those who had predeceased her. Caroline was buried in the Catholic cemetery at Sellheim, Queensland.


Although the Entrance Book doesn't name Caroline's parents because they were deceased, her birth was registered as Caroline COLES in 1857 at Patrick’s Plains. Her parents were Edward and Ellen COLES. There is little doubt that these are the correct parents as Caroline was labelled as an orphan in letters to the Colonial Secretary. The only deaths of people with these names before Caroline's admission to Newcastle with the surname COLE or COLES occurred in Sydney and these deaths have been attributed to Edward and Ellen. Edward (X) COLES had been married to Ellen (X) CRANFIELD on 3 December 1846, by Irving HETHERINTON at Denbie. The marriage appeared in the Presbyterian Church records of St Andrew's Church, Singleton. Edward was from the Gwyder River and Ellen was from Fallbrook. The witnesses were Charles MATHIESON of Denbie and Rosannah HAMLET of Fallbrook. The couple had two other daughters and an unnamed son was registered in Warialda in 1857.

Edward was a Protestant who had been transported aboard the Neva in 1833. He had been born in Somersetshire and was transported for 14 years for stealing money. He had served a former conviction of a year in gaol in England before his transportation. Edward could read.56 By 1853 the family was living at the property Currangandi, near Barraba.57 Edward died at Ryde in 1863.

Ellen had been born on the estate of Lieutenant Colonel DUMARESQ in 1830.58 She was the daughter of John and Mary CRANFIELD and had been baptised in Maitland. Her parents59 were the convicts Mary SMITH, who had been transported on the Princess Royal in 1829 and John CRANFIELD, who had been transported on the Neptune in 1820. Their Permission to Marry indicated that John was free when he married so no ship or arrival was stated. John CRANFIELD eventually became a constable. Two years after the death of her husband, on 18 September 1865, it is believed that Ellen died from exhaustion brought on by intemperance, exposure, and neglect, just after reaching the infirmary60 in Druitt Street, Sydney. Her inquest held in Sydney recorded that her age was about forty and provided the information that she had used the aliases of KENNEDY and O’BRIAN61 and that 'her last husband' had left her money which she drank.62 It is uncertain that this attribution is correct as Darlinghurst Gaol records for this woman identify that she had been born in Ireland in about 1828 or 1829. It is also uncertain whether the death registration for Ellen COLE would clarify her identity and the registration has not been viewed.

Note: There has been no proven connection made for this COLE family to the eleven year old boy named George COLE who entered the Vernon on 23 December 1870, from Sydney as these records show that this boy was the child of George and Catherine COLE.

Updated February 2019

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