Jane DAVIS
Step-father Joseph HUNT b.c. 18091 m. (1) 1834 d. 18752
Father Joseph DAVIS b.c. 1818 m. (2) none d. 18803
Mother Mary HINCHLEY b.c. 1814 m. (1) 18344 (2) none d. 18755
Half-sister Francis or Frances HUNT b. 18346 m. d.
Half-brother William HUNT b. 18387 m. 18588 Catherine Agnes AHERN9 d. 191810
Sister Mary DAVIS b.c. 1838 m. unknown - d. after 186111
Sister Eliza DAVIS b.c. 184112 m. (1) none (2) none (3) none (1) unknown Chinaman (2) 'Dick' (a Chinaman) (3) John KEW d. 187713
Sister unknown DAVIS b.c. 1842 m. d. unknown
Sister Betsy DAVIS b.c. 184314 m. none - d. 188115
Brother Joseph DAVIS b. 184516 m. - none d. 184517
Sister Anne DAVIS18 b. 1847 [[/footnote]] m. unknown d. unknown
Inmate Jane DAVIS b.c. 1849 m. 1869 (see below) d. aft. 1915
Husband (1) Hassan HOSEA b.c. 1842 m. 1869 d. unknown
Husband (2) Glovie BELL b. unknown m. none d. unknown
Husband (3) Jack TOOKLO b. unknown m. none d. unknown
Husband (4) Frank TANNA b.c. 1841 m. none d. 1916
Son John aka David HOOSEY b. 186919 m. 190720 Margaret DONOVAN d. 195321
Son Joseph HOOSEY b. 187122 m. (1) 1904 (2) 1934 (1) Emily EDWARDS (2) Elsie Caroline LOVERN d. 195223
Son George HOOSEY b. 187424 m. - none d. 1874
Description
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Father Joseph DAVIS alias 'Joe the Tinker'25 18 5' 7½" light brown hazel fresh stout
Mother Mary HINCHLEY 32 4' 0" chesnut[sic] brown brown small pockmark left temple; slight scar right cheek; seven blue dots between forefinger and thumb left hand26
Sister Eliza DAVIS27 19 5' 1" brown hazel fresh stout
Inmate Jane DAVIS 54 4' 0¾" brown brown "J.D." above "J.A.D." on right arm; left side paralysed28
38269303496_28c46c1e5b_z.jpg

Jane HOOSEY nee DAVIS (1905)
//Image Courtesy of State Records NSW: Photo No. 9775 [3/6070 p. 235], Reel 5111 Digital ID: https://www.records.nsw.gov.au/index_image/2138_a006_a00603_6070000235r//

WARNING: Details of Jane's family history and life make unpleasant reading and may be distressing to descendants.

Jane was fifteen when she was arrested by sergeant DWYER under the provisions of the Industrial Schools Act on the grounds that she was living with common prostitutes.29 A month earlier, on 31 July 1867, she had been one of the girls identified by the constables of Sydney 'who might be dealt with under the provisions of the Industrial Schools Act of 1866.'30 This list indicated that Jane was a fifteen-year-old Protestant who was a prostitute in robust health. Constable McHALE identified two of the prostitutes with whom Jane associated as PINKERTON and PARKER.31 An investigation of NSW gaol admissions suggests that it is unlikely that Jane was admitted to gaol in Sydney prior to her arrest under the Industrial School Act. It was further recorded in the constable's lsit that although two of her sisters lived with her parents, Jane had no fixed place of abode. One of these sisters32 was recorded as 'a cripple'.33 Jane was apprehended on warrant on 3 September 186734 in the house of a Chinaman, in Cambridge Street. In court Jane responded that she was seventeen and that she was 'kept by a man belonging to one of the mail steamers', that her father was a woodcutter and that her parents lived at the Bark Huts on the Parramatta Road. Laurence DWYER's statement35 indicated that the man from the mail steamer was coloured36 and it is believed that this man was Jane's future husband, Hassan HOSEA. Sergeant STEEL's statement declared that Jane had admitted to him that she was only fifteen. He went on to state that:

she was kept by a coloured man. She seems to live first in one house and then in another but always with low, disorderly characters.37

Jane was sent to Newcastle and on her admission there her age was pencilled into the Entrance Book as seventeen. She was described as a Protestant who was able to read the ‘first book’ and write on slate.38 A medical assessment by Dr HARRIS showed that not only was she was not a virgin, she was suffering from gonorrhea.39 It is unknown why the constables were so confident that Jane was able to be legally arrestd but her gaol admissions do identify that she was a very small woman. Whether deliberate lies were told in court in order to have Jane admitted to the school in the first place is unknown as Jane stated in court that she was 17 but the age of 15 identified for her on the list compiled by the constables of Sydney was taken to be accurate. There is little doubt that Jane reached Newcastle because the law was new and the implications of an arrest under the Act were not clearly understood by those who were going to be most affected by an arrest. Prior to its implementation girls in Jane's situation as an identified young prostitute would have received a penalty of a short stay in gaol and a quick release if they were young, and not a 12-month stay away from their family.

While Jane entered the school on 5 September 1867, she didn’t remain in Newcastle for very long. She was discharged into the care of her parents on 20 November, less than two months after she entered the school.40 The government requirement was that girls be under the age of 16 and that they remained at the school for a minimum of twelve months and petitions from Jane's parents indicated that they fought very hard to achieve her release and proved that she had been illegally arrested under the act as she was older than 16. Joseph and Mary began corresponding with the Colonial Secretary immediately after Jane's arrest and the correspondence contains valuable details about their lives. They provided a statutory declaration indicating that Jane's date of birth was 26 January 1849. They further stated that she had been baptised by the Rev. Mr WILKINSON of Enfield. Joseph and Mary were successful in achieving Jane's release because the government accepted the declaration that Jane was over sixteen. KING reported that Joseph and Mary had arranged for Jane to be brought back to Sydney on the daily steamer and she was handed into the care of Captain SUMMERWELL.41

On 8 February 1869, Jane, aged twenty, married Hassan HOSEA in the Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth Street, Sydney. Jane was under the age of twenty-one so her father Joseph, Jane's father, gave permission for the marriage to occur and was a witness. Hassan was recorded as a twenty-six-year-old Singaporean mariner.42 It is almost certain that Hassan had been the man from the mail steamer referred to in Jane's 1867 court appearance. His place of birth remains unclear as other records indicated that he was 'from India' – although this statement is believed to reflect a generic term used at the time to describe people from the Indian sub-continent. Tension within the family was evident when Hassan was charged with an assault by his father-in-law Joseph.43 Hassan hasn't been located after the birth of his third son, George, in 1874 and it is thought that he had abandoned his family by this date. It may also be that he had left Jane earlier and that George was illegitimate and the child of an unknown man, as naming a child 'George' indicated a strange choice of name for both branches of the family.

Births for Jane and Hassan's three sons were recorded using the Anglicised surname of HOOSEY. The registrations were made in the Concord area of Sydney – the registration area for Liberty Plains and the Bark Huts. George's death was also recorded in the Concord area so only two sons, David and Joseph, survived childhood. Mary, Jane's mother, and Eliza, her sister, were present at the birth of her first child, David,44 who was later known as John. By June 1881, Jane's two surviving sons, David (as John) and Joseph, had been arrested under the Industrial Schools Act and sent to the Vernon.45 The brothers were taken from:

a brothel in Waterloo, at which their mother is an inmate. She acquiesced in their apprehension, and said that she was willing to contribute towards their support.46

Only weeks before John HOOSEY's admission to the Vernon he had appeared in court charged with theft.47 After their time on the Vernon both boys eventually settled on the north coast of NSW around the Macksville and Kempsey areas. It is likely that one, probably John aka David, was apprenticed there with Joseph eventually joining him in this location. It is questionable whether 1881, Jane ever saw her sons again even though she also moved to the north coast of NSW. It may be that it was to try to reestablish contact that she moved there.

Admissions for the Vernon for this time have not survived so family details cannot be accessed from official records. Joseph HOOSEY was apprenticed from the Vernon to northern Queensland as he was initially working in the Rockhampton area48 when he was called as a witness into the death of a fellow worker, Aaron SOLOMON, who was also a former Vernon admission.49 Aaron was a native of Sydney50 and had been admitted to the Vernon in 1875. His father was Aaron and this was confirmed on his Queensland death registration.51 The Vernon records identify that he had been born in 1861 and had been admitted in March 1875 but identify that he was 'Aaron SOLOMON the younger', suggesting that another boy with this name was admitted.52 John eventually assumed the name David and it was with this given name that he died in 1953, a year after the death of his brother Joseph.53

After her husband's abandonment of his family, Jane was forced to earn her living as a prostitute and it is considered likely that from 5 October 1885, all appearances for Jane DAVIS in the courts of Sydney and often in Darlinghurst and Biloela Gaols, were for the Newcastle admission. It was shortly before these admissions began that Jane's sons were sent to Vernon. The summary below indentifies her likely appearances but at least two women with this name were admitted during this period as an overlap of time for admissions on 6 and 10 August 1886 is evidenced below. Confirmation is difficult as Darlinghurst Gaol records for this period only provide admission information and no discharge register has been found and those admitted to gaol for drunkenness were rarely named in newspaper court reports at this time.
Date Age Offence Tried Sentence Gaol and Number
5 October 1885 ns drunk WPC 4 days (released 8 October) Darlinghurst Gaol: 1885/9232
12 January 1886 3754 drunk & indecent language CPC 2 months (released 11 March) Darlinghurst Gaol: 1886/364
30 July 1886 ns drunk WPC 4 days (released 2 August) Darlinghurst Gaol: 1886/7242
6 August 1886 ns drunk WPC 7 days (released 12 August) Darlinghurst Gaol: 1886/7515
10 August 1886 ns drunk CPC 24 hours (released 11 August) Darlinghurst Gaol: 1886/7643
7 September 1886 ns drunk WPC 7 days (released 13 September) Darlinghurst Gaol: 1886/8604
23 September 1886 ns drunk WPC 4 days (released 26 September) Darlinghurst Gaol: 1886/9196
8 February 188755 ns drunk & indecent language WPC 14 days (released 21 February) Darlinghurst Gaol: 1887/1119
11 April 1887 ns drunk WPC 7 days (released 17 April) Darlinghurst Gaol: 1887/3128
9 July 1887 ns drunk CPC 7 days (released 15 July) Darlinghurst Gaol: 1887/3490
4 November 1887 ns drunk CPC 7 days (released 10 November) Darlinghurst Gaol: 1887/8902
18 January 1888 ns drunk WPC 7 days (released 24 January) Darlinghurst Gaol: 1887/465

After 1888, contrary to the reports that Jane had lived in the Maclean area since the late 1800s, Biloela Gaol records very strongly suggest that she was in Sydney for much of this time as the birth location and description of the woman frequenting this prison between 1885 and 1901 reasonably match the 1905 description of the woman known to be Jane. Ages for these admissions vary but The Australian Star report on Thursday, 10 October 1901, entitled Jane's Actions, indicates the presence of lies told to the court.

Jane Davis gave her age as 35 without reserve, but she might as well have said 65 for all anyone would have known to the contrary, and Constable McQuaker, when he picked her up last night, was so impressed with this that he mentally inquired what she had been doing to bring on premature old age that way. Jane said simply she had been doing nothing, and for this omission she was sent to gaol for six months by the Central Police Court bench to-day.56

The name 'Jane Amelia Davis', which matches the initials of the tattoo on the 1905 description of the Newcastle admission, and gaol descriptions that link to identification of the same relatives in Victoria also confirm that the admissions befor 1901 are the same woman. References to Jane's uncle Samuel WILSON, of Brookfield Station, Melbourne, Victoria, may provide a further family connection to descendants. Jane's residence was 13 Sussex Street in July 1900; Harbour Street, Darling Harbour in December 1900 and August 1901;
Date Age Birthplace Height Description Offence Tried Sentence Gaol and Number
20 August 1897 4357 Sydney 4' 11" grey hair, blue eyes vagrant CPC 3 months HL (released 19 November) Biloela Gaol: 1897/1462 - see 1897/110[?]
28 May 1898 43 Sydney 4' 11" grey hair, blue eyes vagrant CPC 6 Months HL (released 26 November) Biloela Gaol: 1898/1271 - see 1898/967 or 957
9 July 1900 50 Sydney 4' 11" grey hair, blue eyes drunk CPC 4 days (released 12 July) Biloela Gaol: 1900/1597 - see 1900/1554
24 December 1900 54 Sydney 4' 11" grey hair, blue eyes stealing from the person CPC 1 month (released 12 July) Biloela Gaol: 1900/2968 - see 1900/2704
26 August 1901 55 Sydney 4' 11" grey hair, blue eyes stealing from the person CPC 1 month (released 12 July) Biloela Gaol: 1901/1936 - see 1901/421
26 October 1901 55 Sydney 4' 11" grey hair, blue eyes vagrant CPC 6 months (released 9 April) Biloela Gaol: 1901/2358 - see 1901/421

Jane's court reports from 1904 identify that she had reached the Maclean area by the late 1880s and she was certainly there by April 1902 when she was a witness at an inquest.58 Sydney gaol records however very strongly suggest that Jane had only been a permanent resident of the Maclean area since about 1901.

The Maclean Poisoning Case was reported in various newspapers across Australia from late 1904 and early 1905.59 From the late 1880s Jane DAVIS began a relationship with a kanaka60 named Frank TANNA. She lived with him as a wife and housekeeper. On 25 November 1904, Jane was accused of attempting to poison Joe WILLIAMS, another islander who shared TANNA’s hut. Court appearances described Jane as a white woman who was living apart from her husband. Comments made in court, reported that her previous life had been 'bad'. The court proved that there was conflict between Jane and Joe WILLIAMS. Jane was initially tried at the Maclean Police Court on 16 December 1904,61 where she was committed to the Grafton Quarter Sessions62 but on 28 May 1905, when the jury couldn't agree on her guilt, she was re-tried at the Sydney Criminal Court.63 On the charge sheet64 dated 16 December 1904, Jane was said to have:

… lived with Frank Tanna for 15 or 16 years in his house in Maclean. Previous to this she lived with other coloured men; and is said to have been a prostitute in Sydney 20 years ago. She is a woman who drinks at times. She states now that her husband died 30 years ago and that his name was John [sic] Hoosey. She was known to Joe Williams, the accuser, as Jinny. Another witness called Jule Peno said he had known Jane Davis working as a prostitute in Paddington. Glovie Bell, a Kanaka brought her to the Clarence River about 18 years ago.65 She afterwards lived with Jack Tooklo then Frank Tanna take [sic] her 16 years ago. She then ran away with Dick Tanna66 and stopped with him 12 months and went to Sydney. She wrote to Frank Tanna to take her back and she has been living with him ever since. She had no other convictions in Maclean.

Jane was found guilty of poisoning WILLIAMS and was sentenced to death67 however in mid-1905, WILLIAMS and another islander were found to be suffering from leprosy so a Royal Commission into the decision was held. This resulted in Jane's death sentence being commuted to life in prison with hard labour when it was successfully argued that the disease may have been the cause of WILLIAM's symptoms rather than poison.68 WILLIAMS was placed in the leper colony at Little Bay and died of leprosy in 1906.69 When this news broke some newspaper reports named TANNA as the other leper but the Sydney Morning Herald of 20 July 1905, verified that the name of the second islander was Tommy ABRAHAMS. Local newspapers reported that TANNA had returned to Maclean and was still living in his house in Union Street.70 Over the next eight years, at least three other people living in TANNA's house contracted leprosy.71 There was much local discussion about the residence and in 1913 it was demolished by fire72 and TANNA was compensated for his loss. TANNA’s death at the age of seventy-five was registered in 1916 at Maclean. Confirmation that Jane was the girl who was sent to the Newcastle Industrial School appear in the Darlinghurst Gaol records73 that attribute to her the alias of HOOSEY and identified that she had been born in Ryde, Lane Cove, Parramatta River.

Jane was firstly imprisoned in Darlinghurst but was soon transferred to Bathurst Gaol where she stayed for four years. By 1909 she had been transferred back to the Sydney Reformatory, the former name of Long Bay Gaol. Jane DAVIS was released on licence from Long Bay Gaol at nine o'clock on the morning of 12 July 1915.74

She has disappeared from the records on the NSW BDM Index.

Jane's sons went on the have productive and respected lives living on the North Coast of NSW. It will never be known for certain whether they were aware of the close proximity of their mother to them but it is considered that they were aware that she had left Sydney. It was during Jane's court appearances for the attempted murder that Joseph HOOSEY married. His marriage certificate is interesting in that he stated that the name of his mother was Alice BRAIDY75 and this error is believed to be significant. It is considered likely that Joseph must have been aware or have become aware of who the accused was, as when he died both his mother and father were correctly named on his death registration.76

Family

Jane was the daughter of Joseph DAVIS, a labourer, and Mary HINCHLEY. The couple had never married, probably because Mary was already legally married to Joseph HUNT.77 Joseph and Mary were named in the Entrance Book which recorded that they lived at Liberty Plains on the Liverpool Road. Letters to the Colonial Secretary from the couple identified that Jane had been born on 26 January 1849. This birth date makes her considerably older than her age recorded at the time of her admission to the school and makes her arrest illegal under the terms of the Act. Joseph and Mary achieved Jane's release from Newcastle because they successfully proved that she was older than sixteen. There is however, no guarantee that this birth date attributed to Jane was accurate. It may have been a deliberate deception by her parents to have her freed. No confirmation will ever be able to be found as the registers of the Rev. Mr WILKINSON of Enfield left the country with him.78

Only one baptism for the family of Joseph and Mary has been located and its existence very strongly supports that baptisms for the other children did occur. The baptism of their child, Joseph DAVIS, is the key to the identification of Jane's family. The baby, Joseph, was baptised by V. BOURGEOIS at the St James Catholic Church, Sydney, on 11 November 184579 and this record represented the only place where Mary’s maiden name of HINCHLEY had been recorded in connection with her second family. While the family was not Catholic, descendants believe that Joseph, who had been born on 4 August 1845, was sickly and when his parents expected that he would die, they had him baptised in the most convenient church. Joseph died five days after his baptism on 16 November 1845. He was subsequently buried by C. C. KEMP of the Church of England on 18 November80 where he was recorded as the son of a sawyer who lived in Kent Street.

Permission to Marry81 had been granted in 1834 to Mary INCHLEY from Peterboro [sic] and Joseph HUNT from Shell Harbour. Mary had arrived on the Fanny in 1833, and Joseph HUNT had arrived on the Hoogley in 1828. They married in the schoolhouse on 1 April 1834. Neither signed the register. The witnesses were George WHITEMAN and William DAVIS who was believed by Mary's descendants to be Joseph's brother. Joseph HUNT and Mary had two, possibly three children before they separated and Mary took up with Jane's father, Joseph DAVIS. They moved from Peterborough to Sydney and later moved to Liberty Plains, possibly to escape detection from HUNT. They remained in this area for the rest of their lives.

Joseph was the son of the convicts, William DAVIS and Ann COTTERILL.

Joseph had been born at Brickfield Hill in NSW in November 1818, while his father was away exploring with John OXLEY's expedition.82 Mary's ethnicity is unknown but the Fanny indent records that she came from Birmingham, Warwickshire. She was one of very few women described on the Fanny indent as having brown skin. Once Mary had moved to Liberty Plains she contributed to the family income by telling fortunes.83 Mary was imprisoned in Darlinghurst in 1858 and is recorded there as 'blind'.84 Mary's death was recorded in Concord in 187585 and she was buried at Enfield. The informant was her daughter, Mary,86 and information from this record states that her father was Edward HINCHLY [sic]. Mary's children are not named on this registration but the record documents that one male and five females were alive and one male and two females were dead. Joseph died five years later on 19 September 1880, in the Sydney Infirmary and his death was recorded as Joseph DAVIES.87 His brothers placed a death notice in the Sydney papers, confirming his correct family.88 By the time of Joseph's death only two of his daughters were recorded as still living and his son and four other daughters were dead.

Identifying Jane's siblings is difficult due to the paucity of records. No DAVIS baptisms occur in the NSW BDM pre-1856 records other than Joseph's in 1845. Other baptisms were stated by Joseph and Mary to have been in the register of the officiating minister, the Rev. Mr. WILKINSON, which was retained by him when he left NSW.89 Jane’s father and sister, Eliza, are named as witnesses at the inquest into the death of one of Eliza's children.90 This article records Joseph's declaration that:

I am a woodcutter, and reside on Liberty Plains. I am married, and have six children alive, all daughters, the eldest of whom is 23 years of age … born in Sydney … never been to school … used to go to church. I have another daughter who took up with Chinamen, but she is now living with an Englishman.

Jane's confirmed sisters are Eliza, whose story and circumstances are outlined below, Mary,91 who was the informant at the death of her mother, and Betsy92 The remaining two DAVIS sisters are unconfirmed. The Bark Huts and Liberty Plains localities are within the registration area of Concord. Many confirmed DAVIS registrations were recorded here including Mary DAVIS nee HINCHLEY's death, Eliza's death and the births of Jane's children. BDM searches in this area indicate another possible sister, Ann/Annie DAVIS, who was the mother of the illegitimate son, Robert (1878-1880). Because the birth of Anne HUNT93 occurred between the birth years stated by Joseph of his two oldest daughters, it is possible but conjecture only, that this record refers to the same girl. The three marriages recorded in Concord could also indicate other sisters viz. Elizabeth DAVIS to John MANSER (NSW Marriage: 1048/1859), Emily Elizabeth DAVIS to Samuel BEAUMONT (NSW Marriage: 1196/1863) or Emma DAVIS to James JENKINS (NSW Marriage: 1485/1869) – the earliest marriage may possibly refer to Jane's sister, Betsy.

A detailed account of Eliza's life shows the appalling conditions under which some members of the family lived.94 Another of Eliza’s children was also to die and she was committed for trial for manslaughter in 1864.95 The Maitland Mercury includes the following statement in connection with Eliza that '… she used to go by the name "Black Sal."' The origins of this enigmatic statement are unknown. The name 'Black Sal' was a character in a popular music hall skit of the time and also that of a famous race horse96 but because Mary was described as having brown skin, it is possible that her daughters also had dark complexions. Their darker skin colour coupled with the stigmas of illegitimacy and transportation, may have made it difficult to establish relationships within the European community and may have contributed to the girls drifting towards men of other races.

It is likely that all Joseph's daughters mixed with the Chinese community who were considered outcasts, had language restrictions and who continued to practise their own customs rather than following the conventions of the English society. On 21 March 1873, Eliza's half-Chinese daughter, Sarah Ann YUN SIM,97 was admitted to Biloela. Eliza attempted unsuccessfully to have her released from Biloela but she was unsuccessful as Sarah Ann was still considered by authorities to be under the age of sixteen.98 Sarah Ann was eventually released on 15 August 1874, to Eliza and Jane's father, and Sarah Ann's grandfather, Joseph.99

Where has She Gone?

It is believed by the author and also by Eliza's descendants that after Jane's release from Long Bay Gaol in 1915 she adopted an alias to enable her to live in peace and without the stigma of the murder with which she had been charged. It has been assumed that she would retain her given name and change only her surname but no appropriate death as DAVIS, DAVIES, HOOSEY, HOSEY, HOSY, HINCHLEY, INCHLEY, HUNT, BRADY, BRAIDY, TANNA or TANNER can be found on NSW BDM. Because she would have been over sixty when she was released, she would have needed some form of financial support as gaining employment when she was partially paralysed and aged would have been difficult or impossible. Because she was tattooed with initials it may be that her final surname began with a 'D' so it is suspected that she may have named herself 'Jane D.' It is also considered unlikely that she would have lived for longer that ten years after her release so her death is probably registered before 1925. The only possible way to trace her may be through applications for the old age pension from 1915. This line of inquiry has not been investigated.

Updated: November 2019

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