Grace was fifteen when she appeared in court on 11 February 1868,27 in company with a Mary Ann SMITH. The girls were convicted of having stolen a sheet, a petticoat, and other articles, valued at ten shillings, from Percy GIBSON. Grace was initially sentenced to pay a penalty of twenty shillings or was to be imprisoned one month but instead she was charged under the Industrial Schools Act. SMITH was already sixteen so was not involved in this new charge. Constable BREMNER, executing a warrant granted to Grace’s father, James CRAWFORD, a labourer at the Glebe, had arrested Grace in George Street the night before. James stated that Grace would be sixteen 'next March,'28 that neither he nor her mother had any control over her, that she wouldn’t remain at home, had stayed away for three weeks and one night he’d seen her in the company of 'bad girls'. BREMNER confirmed that she had been in the company of prostitutes and that Grace had told him that she slept at night in empty houses. Grace was listed as a Protestant when she was admitted to the school on 12 February 1868,29 and she appeared on SELWYN's list.30 No parents were recorded in the Entrance Book beside her name and an administrative error has recorded the names of the parents of Jane WHITE, the next entry, beside Grace’s name – therefore confusing Grace’s details with those of Jane. The Entrance Book recorded that Grace could read the alphabet and write on slate while Jane, at age nine, was recorded with one of the best reading abilities of those entering the school. It is considered that Grace was far more likely to have been reading third book and writing small hand as this was a very high attribute at this time and not achieved by many at the time.31
Grace was involved in a well-reported escape from the school on 2 July 1868, when she and her two companions, Mary Ann HOPKINS and Sarah PARSONS,32 managed to reach Sydney and evade capture for days.33 Although some reports indicated that the trio walked about half the way,34 the girls must have travelled almost the entire way from Newcastle by sea due to their relatively quick recapture. How the trio paid for their passage to Sydney is unknown. KING reported the incident to the Colonial Secretary prior to their recapture. She identified that the girls had escaped at 5.30 pm.35 The girls were followed for much of their journey by one member of the Newcastle Police who failed to catch them.
The Escapades from the Industrial School.36
Two of the three girls who have recently escaped from the Industrial School, Barrack-square, have been retaken in Sydney, … It would seem that, on effecting their escape, they immediately proceeded towards Lake Macquarie, which they crossed in a boat. They then made for Brisbane Water, where they fell in with a schooner, in which they obtained a passage to Sydney. The police received information that the girls were on their way to the metropolis via Brisbane Water, and, of course, telegraphed to head-quarters to that effect. The wanderers got safe to Sydney, and the apprehension of two of them took place shortly after their arrival there. The third is still at large, but her capture may be speedily looked for. She is supposed to have taken refuge with some friends in Sydney, of which city the whole three are natives. Their respective ages were from sixteen to eighteen years.
The last girl was eventually recaptured and all three were returned to Newcastle on the morning of 8 July on the steamer. The reference to the trio being 'natives' of Sydney is likely to refer to their place of abode as only Mary Ann had been born there. One day after their return to Newcastle, Grace was involved in the first riot in the school. Her statement taken by CANE read:
Grace Crawford [E??]37 Age 15. States she is 19 years old that her father lives at the Glebe, Sydney – that on the occasion of the death of her mother her Father wrote to tell her of it and she wished to write to him again, but Mrs King refused to allow her to do so – this was because she had misbehaved herself and Mrs King said it was no nee(d) to write to tell her father she had been a bad girl. I have nothing to say against Miss Ravenhill – I heard Mrs King say in the muster Room that we were all too hot & wanted a cape put round us and get a ducking down the well.
Grace signed this statement.38 In her report of 15 September 1868, KING reported that Grace, Eliza O'BRIEN and Julia CUNNINGHAM continued to be very insubordinate after this event39 and on 17 September, later that year, Grace again escaped in company with Eliza, by crawling under the school fence but the pair was quickly recaptured and placed in the guard house cells40 where they remained for four days.41
After the arrival of CLARKE at the end of 1868, attempts were made to discharge girls who had been at the school for more than a year – especially those who were over 18. Grace was not 18 so was not old enough for service and should have been apprenticed but her circumstance is a good example of the difficulties of proving an age when there was no evidence able to be located. Her statements made to CANE during the riots in July 1868 that she was nineteen must have been believed as this age contradicted the entry in the Entrance Book that she was fifteen at the time of her admission in February 1868. By February 1869 she could only have been a year older – or sixteen at the most. On 4 February 1869, Grace was placed in service with John Woodward BOWMAN, Esq., of Arrowfield, Jerry’s Plains, Hunter River. CLARKE believed that she had reached the age of eighteen. Grace was to earn a weekly rate of eight shillings as a domestic servant. CLARKE had discussed the options for Grace's discharge with the Colonial Secretary at the time of his visit to the school.42 The entry in the Entrance Book concerning an additional apprenticeship in 1872 almost without any doubt referred to Jane WHITE as Grace was too old to have been readmitted after going into service. CLARKE in his letter43 to the Colonial Secretary on 1 August 1870, verified Grace’s employment with BOWMAN and stated 'I cannot say how long this girl remained in her place, but I am credibly informed that she is married to a respectable man and doing well.'
Grace doesn’t appear to have remained at Jerry’s Plains and no evidence of her remaining in the Hunter Valley has been located. The HVPRI and the NSW BDM Index have no indication of any marriage hinted at by CLARKE unless Grace assumed an alias to make it. Searches of children born in the Hunter Valley identify no possible families that may match a marriage in either 1869 or 1870. It may be that Grace entered into a relationship and never married but CLARKE believed that she did so it may be that the marriage occurred but was never officially registered with NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages. If Grace did marry the relationship was almost certainly short-lived as she was certainly admitted to Darlinghurst Gaol on 30 September 1874, for drunkenness. Gaol descriptions confirm that she had been born in 1851 in Scotland. No specific reference to her trial on this date exists because the charge was for drunkenness and inebriates were rarely identified in the newspapers.
It cannot be ascertained whether there was another girl of the same name and age who had been born in Sydney and was a Catholic or whether Grace was providing false information to authorities as further gaol descriptions lack sufficient detail to make any comparisons. No reference that can be linked to Grace with any certainty can be found after 1874. It is thought that an 1871 gaol admission was a first reference to the Newcastle inmate after her release but it cannot be confirmed that this incident referred to Grace. Grace had been arrested with Hannah DAVIS and had been sentenced to a month in Darlinghurst for larceny.44 While in prison during September 1871, this woman received three days solitary confinement for striking a fellow prisoner.45 It is also Believed that Grace was the woman charged with having assaulted Lucy Annie DRIVER within view of a constable in December 1877.46 This woman was ordered to pay a fine of five shillings or was to be imprisoned for two days. The last gaol admission recorded for a woman named Grace CRAWFORD occurred on 11 February 1878, when she was admitted to gaol for seven days.47 On that day 64 people were tried for drunkenness so none were named48 but it is thought that this is a reference to Grace.
While the last confirmed incident for Grace occurred in 1874 it is believed that Grace remained in Sydney using her maiden name until at least February 1878. After that date she disappears for Trove and the NSW BDM Index.
Grace was the daughter of James and Mary CRAWFORD who had arrived with their six older children as assisted immigrants on 28 August 1857,49 aboard the Vocalist. The births of two more children were registered in Glebe, Sydney, after their arrival. The family were members of the Church of Scotland and came from Bridge of Allan, Stirlingshire, Scotland,50 although the indent recorded that they were all born in Falkirk, Stirling.51 Grace was named on the indent. She had been born in about 1852 and at the time of her trial her father identified that she had been born in March.'52 The age on the indent roughly matched her age on admission but is believed that her father deliberately understated her age by a year. Grace was therefore illegally arrested under the Industrial Schools Act. By having Grace admitted to Newcastle, James ensured that she would be safer than she had been. It may also be that the family was under financial pressure as James stated in court that he was unable to contribute to her upkeep while she was in Newcastle. Grace fabricated the age that enabled her to be released early from Newcastle. She was probably only 17 when she was discharged from Newcastle.
The Vocalist indent doesn't identify Mary's surname but her maiden name and considerable further family ancestry appears online.53 Advertising from 1867 suggests that Mary may have begun or taken over the operation of the Glebe Diary.54 Mary died soon after Grace's admission to Newcastle and was buried on the 12 May after a 'long and very severe illness.'55 Mary's parents on her death registration were confirmed as Andrew and Janet, the same parents recorded on the Vocalist indent.56 Mary's death sheds new light on the escape Grace undertook from the school as she was in the school when her mother died and the refusal of King to permit further communication with her father after her escape was declared by Grace to be a contributing factor in her involvement in the July 1868 riot.
James was recorded on the Vocalist indent as the son of George and Christina CRAWFORD. He was residing at Glebe from at least as early as 1861 and remained in Glebe until 1869.57 He was living in Franklyn Place in 1865, was in Glebe Road by 186858 and was still at that address in 1869. By May 1869 he had moved to Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont, when his daughter, Mary, married James HUNTER.59 No CRAWFORD family members were identified when Christina JOLLEY died in 1880.60 James has not been traced after this date and there are no appropriate references to him yet found on Trove. There are no appropriate deaths recorded in the NSW BDM Index for any man who may be Grace's father. Because at least one of his children, John, returned to Scotland, it may be that James did also, although descendants of the family have also been unable to verify his death.
Where has She Gone?
No gaol records for Grace CRAWFORD can be found prior to Grace's admission to Newcastle. None have been located during her time there so it is considered very likely, but cannot be verified, that all records and court appearances after 1870 record instances where the Newcastle admission appeared in court or in gaol – albeit with contradictory details concerning birthplace and religion. Other than in the circumstance of her 1868 escape, there were no reports concerning Grace reported in the Police Gazette. There has been no reference to Grace found in Funeral Notices for any known member of her family. No appropriate gaol admissions other than those in her actual name can be identified.
There are no appropriate marriage or death registration for any Grace CRAWFORD before 1890 but two deaths remain for a woman of this name before 1960. Grace CRAWFORD whose father was Robert and whose mother was unknown, died in Redfern in 187961 but this was almost certainly for a child born earlier that year.62 The death of Grace M. CRAWFORD, whose father was James A. and whose mother was Catherine, occurred in Sydney on 2 June 1890. The actual registration indicated that this was the death of a young child.63
Because at least one of her brothers was identified by descendants as having returned to Scotland64 and no trace has been found of Grace's father, it must be considered that Grace may have left NSW at some stage with some member of her family or with her unidentified husband.
Updated November 2015