Father Michael DEVINE b.c. 18164 m. bef. 1841 d. 18685
Mother Mary aka Maria McNAMARA aka MACK b. 18166 m. bef. 1841 d. 18757
Sister Bridget DEVENEY8 b. 18409 m. none d. aft. 185410
Brother Dennis DEVENEY b. 184411 m. d. unknown
Brother Thomas DEVENEY b. 184612 m. none - d. 185413
Brother Michael DIVENEY14 b. 185015 m. 1883 Louisa Jane EVANS d. 193416
Inmate Mary Ann DEWINY b. 185217 m. (see below) d. 189618
Husband Hugh MARTIN b.c. 184919 m. 187320 d. 191721
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Father Michael22 49 5' 2" brown grey pale and sallow slight blind in right eye, pearl on both eyes, read and write
Mother Mary23 43 4' 11" grey mixed brown grey fair stout unable to read or write
Sister Bridget24 12½ black blue with a brown speck
Inmate Mary25 14 4' 7" light blue fair stout medium nose and mouth and small chin; Read and write imp.
Inmate Mary Ann26 15 4' 7" short fair blue fair broad set wearing a grey dress, a black jacket trimmed with black, white beads and a black hat trimmed with velvet27
Inmate Mary Ann28 23 4' 4" light blue fair medium

Two years before her admission to Newcastle and before the passing of the Act for the Relief of Destitute Children, fourteen-year-old Mary Ann had appeared before the West Maitland Police Court charged with stealing half a sovereign and some silver coin from Robert STONE. Senior constable LEONARD deposed that when he had apprehended her she had initially denied the charges until a half-sovereign was found in her boot.29 She pleaded guilty and was sent to gaol for two months. On her release from gaol she was described as having been born in Maitland in 1852.30 On 8 November 1867, she was apprehended by Constable McGUIRE on a warrant from the Maitland Bench.31 McGUIRE had arrested her from a brothel and stated in court that Mary Ann had no visible means of support, was always in the company of prostitutes and he was aware that she had earned her living by prostitution for the past four years. He further indicated that her parents were unable and unwilling to restrain her as her father was blind and her mother was nearly always drunk. Mary was taken away crying and admitted to Newcastle.32 The Entrance Book recorded that she was a Catholic and her educational level in reading was 'sequel no. 2.' There was no statement about her ability to write at the time of this first admission but when she was readmitted in 1869 she was recorded as able to ‘read and write.’33 Mary Ann’s medical assessment by Dr HARRIS showed that she was not a virgin.34

Mary Ann, Mary Ann HOPKINS and Eliza O'BRIEN escaped from the school on 22 December 1867, between 11 and 12 pm. They were recaptured and returned to the school the following day at 11 am and placed in the cells on a bread and water diet.35 KING released the trio the following day and reported that they were 'sorry for their reckless conduct. On the Christmas day they were united and happy.' KING further investigated the method of escape and reported to the Colonial Secretary.

Eliza O'Brien got out of bed (after all the lights were extinguished, and everyone asleep) dressed and came out through the window on to the verandah, unfastened the window in the next dormitory called the others up, went back through the window again, thence down the stairs through the door, and climbed over the large Gate in front.36

While no names were recorded on any document yet found, it is almost without doubt that Mary Ann was identified as the 'Maitland girl' who had again escaped from the school in February 1868. Mary Ann was one of only two 'Maitland girls' admitted to Newcastle by this date and had already been involved in one escape. The other was the six-year-old Mary Ann BATHGATE. This incident has therefore been attributed to Mary Ann. She attempted to escape from the school by making

… a rope by tying sheets, blankets, petticoats, and sundry other articles together, and let herself down from the window of the dormitory. When some considerable distance from the ground the rope broke and let the would-be run-away down. We hear that the foolish girl was considerably hurt, but we have not been able to learn the exact nature of the injuries sustained.37

By 19 December 1868, Mary Ann had been at the school for fifteen months and CLARKE wrote to the Colonial Secretary stating that she and six others were eligible for service. He was seeking permission to find situations for them all38 and he had already negotiated positions for five of them.

On 14 January 1869, Mary Ann39 and Hannah BURT (2) were apprenticed to Benjamin Marriott CUNNINGHAM, the manager of the Waratah Coal Company in Newcastle. Mary Ann's apprenticeship as a domestic servant was to pay six shillings a week and was to last for ten months as by that time she would be eighteen.40 Mary Ann and Hannah escaped from CUNNINGHAM’s service and a warrant was issued by the Newcastle Bench for their arrest. Newspapers reported that they had gone to either West Maitland or Sydney. The pair was apprehended and appeared before the West Maitland Court on the 11 March 1869, charged with deserting their hired service.41 They were sent back to Newcastle and appeared in the Newcastle Court on Friday, 12 March and again on Monday, 15 March.42 Mary Ann was readmitted to the Industrial School straight from court as she was still under sixteen. Her readmission to Newcastle was recorded in the Entrance Book as the next chronological entry so was separated from her first admission.43 CLARKE reported her return to the Colonial Secretary in his report of 23 March 1869,44 where he stated

she absconded from his service, she was arrested on warrant, her Indentures cancelled and sent back by the bench to this Institution on the 15th inst.

In December 1869 Mary Ann appeared first on CLARKE’s list of girls eligible for apprenticeship, where she was recorded as an eighteen-year-old who had been in the school for two years.45 On 28 December 1869, CLARKE requested the authority to apprentice Mary Ann to Mr LANE, Ship Chandler,46 in Newcastle, pointing out that because Mary Ann was already eighteen she could not be apprenticed and only go to service.47 On 12 January 1870, CLARKE again wrote to the Colonial Secretary about difficulties dealing with Mary Ann's family and stated

In obedience to instructions contained in your letter of 30th November last, No. 19, I made out a list of girls eligible for service, at the top of that list I placed the girls name given in the margin and having written to her mother (who I am informed is constantly drunk and keeps a house of ill fame in Maitland) respecting that she would send me the girls Baptismal certificate, I detained my list and my reply to your letter of 31st[?] November until the 13th of December with the hope of being able to forward to you this documentary evidence required, and as I did not receive it, I sent on my list without that document describing the girls over eighteen years of age and recommending her discharge when a suitable situation could be provided for her, thus[?] guided in the matter of her age by the girls own statement by her appearance and by the warrant I hold for her which is two years and three months old.
On the 28th December I had the honor of informing you that I had obtained a situation for this girl in a respectable family at 8/- per week, and when I received your letter of the 5th Inst. I wrote again requesting Mrs Deveney to furnish me with her daughter’s Baptismal certificate, and as I have not received a reply I most respectfully request that you will place this explanation before the Honbl the Colonial Secretary and I trust that it will remove the impression that I have neglected your instructions in the matter.
The girl in question is grown[?] a young woman she is a cook and has been for the last five months doing the laundry work in this institution during which time she saved £5-10-0 with which she has purchased a suitable outfit for service. She has learned obedience and I am happy to say she has sufficient self respect to say she never will return to her mothers house. I trust under those circumstances I may be furnished with authority to place her in her situation.48

Mary Ann must therefore have replaced either Sarah Jane WILDGUST or Charlotte PERRY as laundress after they were discharged suggesting that CLARKE continued to employ the girls admitted to the indtitution to do this work and earn money.

This employment opportunity arranged in January 1870 can’t have occurred because Mary Ann's second entry in the Entrance Book and the list compiled by LUCAS in April 187249 identify that she was eventually apprenticed to Captain CROP on 7 February 1870, at a wage of eight shillings a week. She was sent to this situation in place of Margaret BEVAN.50 CLARKE confirmed that Mary Ann was still with CROP in his letter on 1 August 1870, and was 'giving every satisfaction.'51 On 4 August 1873, Mary Ann appeared in the temporary court-house, at West Maitland charged with being drunk and disorderly in High street. Constable MAGUIRE mentioned that she had been sent to the Industrial school and that she had a bad character. Mary Ann was described as 'a young girl…who gave her age as twenty years, but who looked at least five years younger than that age.' She pleaded guilty but was discharged with a caution.52 A little over a month later on 15 September she again appeared charged with using profane language and was fined or was to go to gaol.53

Mary Ann married Hugh MARTIN in Maitland in 1873 as Mary Ann DIVINY. No births have been identified for the couple. Hugh and Mary Ann were placed in Maitland gaol after a court appearance in Maitland on 16 December 1876. They were fined and the fines were paid but they both appear in the Maitland gaol records where they were probably kept whilst awaiting their trial. The couple were Catholic.54 Mary Ann's age and place of birth are confirmed. Hugh, a tobacco twister, was confirmed as having arrived aboard the Caribou in 1859 at the age of ten. His parents were recorded on the indent as James and Mary. While the rest of Hugh's family came from Donegal, Ireland, he had been born in New York, America.55 Hugh had earlier been imprisoned in Maitland in 1867.56

Mary Ann's death has not been confirmed. No appropriate death for Mary Ann MARTIN has been confirmed in NSW. Hugh MARTIN was almost certainly recorded living alone in New Border Line in the electorate of Darling Downs in the sub-district of Warwick in 1903. Hugh has not been confirmed on any later rolls. Hugh MARTIN died in Queensland in 191757 where his father and mother and place of birth, America, were confirmed on the Queensland BDM Index. If Hugh and Mary Ann remained together only one appropriate death for Mary Ann MARTIN in Queensland exists and that occurred in 1896.58 No parents or any other information was recorded on the death registration. This death has been tentatively attributed to the Newcastle admission but the original record has not been viewed.

Note: The Hugh MARTIN who died in Mitchell Street,59 Tighes Hill, on 18 September 1900, also had a wife named Mary.60 When he died his parents were recorded on the NSW BDM Index as John and Mary and he was buried in Sandgate Cemetery. When his son, Hugh, died in Wickham in 1932, he was buried with his father. The younger Hugh had been born in 1895.61 This cannot be the family as this Mary Ann would not have had her first child in 1895, 20 years after she married. No record of anyone named Mary has yet been found interred in the same grave but this cannot be the husband of Mary Ann DEVENEY.


Mary Ann’s parents, Michael and Mary DEVENEY, were named in the Entrance Book. They and their family are very difficult to track and trace. Mary was described as a washerwoman and Michael was recorded as blind.62 They had arrived in 1841 as the married couple, Michael and Mary DEVINE, from Fakel, County Clare, Ireland, aboard the Comet63 as assisted immigrants. They were Catholic. Mary Ann was their youngest child. Her baptism was erroneously indexed as Mary A. DWINY on the NSW BDM Index. The 'V' reel transcription indicated that Mary Ann had been born on 28 August 1852, but the HVPRI, transcribed from the original church register, recorded that her birth date was 29 August. Mary Ann had been baptized by Rev. J. T. LYNCH, at St John’s Catholic Church, West Maitland, on 19 September 1852.64 Constable Matthew BEIRNE, must have referred to these records at the time of Mary Ann's court appearance on 7 November 1867, when he proved Mary's date of birth.

Michael and Mary DEVENEY aka DEVINE were known to the constables of Maitland and appear in gaol and court records together and separately from shortly after their arrival in NSW. Michael and Mary DEVINEY were committed for trial on 28 November 1861, for keeping a disorderly house in Rose Street near the Polka Castle65 where they were committed for trial at the next Quarter Sessions. Mary was referred to as Maria DEVINY in this case and both were recorded as elderly prisoners.66 The deposition may add more information to what is known about the family. At the time of their imprisonment in Maitland Gaol for this offence67 they confirmed that they had both arrived in 1841 on the Comet.68 The indent further indicated that their eleven-month-old daughter, Bridget, had arrived with them and also under their protection was a twenty-year-old girl, Margaret CUNNINGHAM, from Tilly, Clare. The indent provided no family information for Margaret.69

The Comet indent identified that Michael's parents were Dennis and Mary and that Dennis was still living in 1841. It is very likely that Michael was a brother to Dennis and William DEVINEY who were already living in the Hunter Valley, as in 1842 a Dennis DEVINEY was a sponsor at the baptism of Thomas MACNAMARA.70

Mary's maiden name was recorded on the Comet indent as MACK and her parents were identified as Thomas and Bridget. At the time of the baptism of her daughter, Mary Ann, in 1857, Mary's maiden name was identified as McNAMARA so it may be that the indent was incompletely completed or her accent was difficult to understand.71 Further gaol records for Mary confirmed that she had been born in County Clare, Ireland. Mary was almost certainly either the sister or daughter of a Thomas MACNAMARA who was also in NSW as in 1842 a Dennis DEVINEY was a sponsor at the baptism of Thomas MACNAMARA.72 The first individual court appearance found to date for Mary senior occurred in December 185773 when she was sentenced to fourteen days imprisonment. Court appearances on various charges continued to occur until at least 5 January 1865, when she appeared in the West Maitland Police Court74 charged with committing an assault, a blow upon the head, on her husband, a blind man, two days earlier. She was reported to have been intoxicated at the time. Michael stated that at other times she treated him well and he did not wish to press the charge so the bench dismissed the case, cautioning her against treating her husband badly in future. Mary was imprisoned in Maitland gaol in 1872 and almost certainly died in Maitland in 1875 where her parents were recorded as Dennis and Mary.

The Mary DEVINEY who appeared in Darlinghurst Gaol records in 1862 may be this same woman even though where she is shown as being 5’ tall with black hair and black eyes as her ship of arrival is the same. She was recorded as being born in 1830 but was also described as elderly in 1861 so it is possible that a transcription error has occurred. This woman is still being investigated.

Michael DEVENY also appears individually in court in Maitland from as early as 1855.75 There are no confirmed deaths for Michael in Maitland but it is possible that his death was registered in Liverpool, Sydney, where the death of a Michael DEVANEY aged 83 in 1868. This death has been tentatively attributed to him. This registration puts his birth as 1780 and this would match with the statement that he was an elderly man but this doesn't match his year of birth indicated in the gaol records. He had possibly been imprisoned or committed to an institution.

It is impossible to discover whether there were one or two families in the area with a father named Michael76 There are baptisms to both couples occurring in the same church. The baptism of Thomas DEVINEY in 1846 recorded the name of his mother as Honorah DEVINEY nee NESDON. Michael was a labourer at the time of this baptism. Thomas's baptism occurred right in the middle of births to Michael and Mary DEVINEY nee McNAMARA. There is no burial record remaining for Thomas's death in 1854 to help in verifying his father's occupation but Thomas had a sister named Bridget who was a witness at his inquest.77 Bridget had arrived with her parents aboard the Comet so this almost certainly confirmed that Thomas was a son of the couple arriving on the Comet.

Bridget DIVINY had run away from home on 7 May 1853,78 at about the age of twelve and a half and no indication has been found that she ever returned to her parents. The article suggested strongly that she had run off with a boy. Michael placed advertisements describing her and attempting to find her

To Constables and Others.
ABSCONDED OR STRAYED, from her home, on Saturday last, about twelve o'clock, BRIDGET DIVINY, daughter of the Undersigned. When leaving home she wore a white and blue muslin de laine dress, and lilac hood, a pair of cloth boots. Her description is as follows:— Fresh color ; age, 12½ years ; eyes blue, with a brown speck in one ; black hair. Any person giving intelligence of her whereabouts to the undersigned will be rewarded ; and any person harbouring her after this notice will be prosecuted as the law directs.
Near the Race Course, West Maitland.
10th May, 1853.

Bridget has not been traced after that 1854 inquest. While the ages are similar it is unlikely that she was the Bridget WILD operating a house of ill repute near the pottery works in The Junction in 1866.79 Bridget DARCY had married Daniel WILD or WYLD in Newcastle in 185780 and it is not believed that she was this woman.

In 1846, Michael DIVINY was living near the Maitland racecourse when he requested payment for services as a gardener.81 No identification of or deaths of Honorah have been found and it is unknown who she was or whether she was an alias used by Michael's wife, Mary aka Maria. Bridget DEVINEY has been unable to be traced on the NSW BDM Index.

It is considered likely that Michael was the same man but it seems unlikely that Honorah and Mary were the same woman. All the baptisms on the 'V' reels and the HVPRI need to be reviewed to identify how and if Michael's occupation changes. This may possibly identify whether either two men or two women exist.

Where has She Gone?

It is very likely that Mary Ann died as Mary Ann MARTIN in Queensland in 1896 and this is the death that has been tentatively attributed to her although this registration has not been verified.

Other possible deaths for Mary Ann may be as Mary A. DEVENNEY in Sydney in 189782 where the mother was recorded as Mary A. but no father is shown. A Mary DEVANEY died intestate in 1894 and this woman may in some way be connected.83

It is possible that the Michael DEVENEY who was sent to Parramatta Hospital for the Insane for treatment on 27 July 1900, may also be connected. More information may be located now the Newcastle newspapers are scanned.

Updated February 2016

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