Sarah DICKSON
Name Variations DIXON1
Father b. m. d.
Mother Ann DICKSON b.c. 18192 m. unknown d. 18613
Inmate Sarah DICKSON b.c. 18554 m. (see below) d. aft. 1874
Husband b. m. d.
Daughter b. m. d.
Son b. m. d.

Sarah had been arrested by constable IRWIN of Kempsey Police around 20 January 1869, and was sent to Newcastle as she had no means of support.5 She had appeared in West Kempsey Court and was admitted to the school on 26 January 1869, where she was recorded as a thirteen-year-old Catholic. The newspaper report of this court appearance has not been found and is thought not to have yet been scanned into Trove. The Entrance Book recorded the spelling of Sarah's surname was 'DICKSON' and the record stated that nothing was known of her father and that her mother was dead. Sarah's mother was therefore not identified in the Entrance Book. The register contained no statements concerning Sarah's education level.6 After being involved in the riot in the school on 10 March 1871, Sarah was tried in Newcastle court together with Mary WINSOR and Elizabeth PHILLIPS, charged with destroying Government property. The trio appeared on 11 March, where, at the request of CLARKE, they were reprimanded and returned to the school.7

Sarah transferred with the school to Biloela on Cockatoo Island in May 1871.8 At the end of January 1872, a request was made by Patrick O'DOWD, on behalf of Mrs JORDAN, of Sydney, to have Sarah apprenticed to her. O'DOWD represented that Mrs JORDAN was a respectable dressmaker living in Woolloomooloo and his original note, written in January 1872, further indicated that 'the Rev. C. D. Coghlan of Dapto is very desirous of having her out.' This correspondence contained a history of Sarah's early years before her arrest at Maclean as Mrs JORDAN elaborated on how she and Sarah had become connected.

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 4th inst. in which you state that the girl for whom I applied from the Biloela School could not be granted to me being a resident of Sydney. I now venture to state a little of the History of the girl and how I have been situated towards her.
When this girl, Sarah Dixon, was but five years old, she was given in to my charge by her mother when on her dying bed. I then had her with me between 8 and 9 years during this time I used my best efforts to give her a useful and moral training – during my residence on the Macleay she exhibited some wildness and during her absence from me on one occasion she was taken up by the Police and sent to the Reformatory9 – I still take a great interest in her and am quite willing and ready to take her again under my charge and if you would graciously concede to my wish I pledge to give her a useful trade with some education & to pay every attention to her moral training – I may mention that she has no relatives or friends whatever in Sydney so that she would be entirely under my eye.10

This letter suggests that other relatives may exist but they were not in Sydney. The request was eventually approved and in his report on 8 April 1972, LUCAS confirmed that Sarah had been apprenticed to Mrs JORDAN of Woolloomooloo, Sydney.11 His list compiled in April 1872 indicated that Sarah had left Biloela on 5 April.12 On 20 February 1873, after about eight months into her apprenticeship with JORDAN, Sarah was readmitted to Biloela. It is unknown whether the apprenticeship was cancelled or whether Sarah had absconded but the relieving Superintendent, DALE, in his weekly report on 24 February 1873, confirmed her readmission.13 Sarah finally left Biloela on 26 January 1874, but this date occurred before the commencement of the Discharge Register so she was not recorded in that record. No concerning her discharge have been found in the CSIL index and it is likely that no additional information was recorded in the register.14 Only letters in the CSIL are likely to indicate any locations of a further apprenticeship – if one had been arranged – as it is believed that by January 1874, Sarah had turned eighteen and so had been discharged from the island.

The identity of the mysterious Mrs JORDAN is uncertain but it is known that she was a dressmaker and was connected to the North Coast of NSW in some way. It may be that she was the wife of the Grafton identity, J. P. JORDAN, as two children to John and Catherine JORDAN of Queen Street, Grafton,15 were born in the 1860s. As Phillip JORDAN and Catherine STRAUSS, the couple married in Grafton in 1856.16 By the 1880s a Miss JORDAN was operating a dress maker's business in Queen Street. It is possible that she was the daughter of this couple. John Phillip JORDAN died in January 1888 and his wife Katherina aka Catherine,17 died in 1877.18

Family

No evidence of a birth, baptism or arrival for Sarah has yet been identified. It is believed that she had been born in NSW and if that were the case, she had certainly been born before compulsory registration. If a record of her birth exists in NSW it would therefore only appear in the form of a baptism and no appropriate baptism has been identified. Although Sarah had been arrested in and sent from the Macleay area on the North Coast, Mrs JORDAN's letter clarified that Sarah had originally lived in Sydney, only moving to the Macleay in the company of Mrs JORDAN. Based on the information contained in JORDAN's letter, it is believed that the circumstances and age of the daughter of Ann DICKSON refer to this inmate and this parentage has been attributed to her. It is expected that details from the records of the Sydney Benevolent Asylum would confirm that the girl discharged from there in 1861 was the Newcastle admission but these records are not easily accessed by non-descendants. An identification of any other child who might be Ann's daughter or Sarah's sibling has yet been found. What were the circumstances of the removal of the five-year-old Sarah from the asylum? Do the records from the asylum identify any further family? It is possible that the answers to these questions would have been recorded in the registers of the Benevolent Asylum.

Ann and Sarah DIXON entered the Sydney Benevolent Asylum on 21 November 1860. The Benevolent Asylum index identified that Ann was forty-two years of age and that Sarah was five. The names Ann DIXON and Ann DICKSON were used on the index but while the actual record has not been viewed, the index entries record that both women were the same age so it is believed that they referred to the same woman. Sarah left the asylum two days after her admission, almost certainly in the company of Mrs JORDAN, but Ann remained in the asylum. Ann was eventually recorded leaving the asylum on 17 January 1861.19 The registration of the death and the burial of the forty-two-year-old Ann DICKSON in Sydney identified this same woman as her burial record indicated that she had died at the age of 42 in the Benevolent Asylum on 15 January and had been buried on 17 January by Charles G. KEMP.20 The NSW BDM Index confirmed that Ann's death had occurred on the same date recorded on the burial record.21

An identification of Ann has not yet been possible. She was aged about 37 when she had Sarah. It must be considered that she may have been either an old convict or an abandoned wife. It is very likely that she had older children but none have been identified.

The following women approximately fit the description of Ann DIXON:

  1. The Protestant widow, Ann DIXON who had arrived aboard the Mary Ann (5) in 1839, had been born in about 1814.
  2. The transportee per the Grenada in 1827, Ann DIXON was also reporting that she was this age. She had actually been born in approximately 1805. This woman also went by the alias TODD although no marriage to anyone of this surname has yet been found.
Where has She Gone?

No trace of Sarah has been confirmed after January 1874. There have been no illegitimate births as DIXON or DICKSON identified for her although it is possible that one may be hidden in the NSW BDM Index under a different surname. Although some court admissions exist for Sarah DICKSON or DIXON, no confirmation has been found that any might refer to the Newcastle admission.

Sarah may be the 'young girl' appearing in court in November 1875, when her fiancé, William SAUNDERS, appeared after an assault on a child. He received five years hard labour on the roads22 so it has been assumed that this marriage didn't go ahead as no marriage has been identified.

As Sarah DIXON this girl may have appeared in court in Sydney in September 1877 with Elizabeth SINGLETON charged with larceny and as both were previous offenders they received three months imprisonment. SMH: 20 Sep 1877 [WPC].

On 18 November 1886, an advertisement seeking Miss Sarah DIXON formerly of Lismore to contact an old friend was made.

Potential marriages are still being investigated.

The comments from Patrick O'DOWD in his correspondence concerning the Rev. COUGHLAN from Dapto, very strongly suggest that Sarah had a link to the south coast and it may be that she eventually moved to this area.

The Alexander DICKSON whose wife was Ann KENNEDY and was living in this South Coast was not Sarah's brother as online trees indicated that he died in 1869 as Alexander DIXON. Is it possible that he was Sarah's father and Ann KENNEDY was the Ann DICKSON who died in the Benevolent Asylum? Online trees indicated that the Alexander DICKSON who died in 1909 was connected to the Alexander DICKSON who arrived aboard the Duchess of Northumberland and who had lived for some years on the South Coast. He had been admitted on occasion to Tarban Creek. His wife had died in Goulburn in 185223 so cannot be the mother of Sarah. While this man's obituary stated his birth location and the year of birth matches, his obituary indicated that his father was a military Captain.24 Could he have fabricated an acceptable history because, even if Sarah is not his sister, there is no doubt of the ship of arrival for the Alexander DICKSON who was charged with the rape and who has been identified on the tree as this man's father?

In June 1857 the following advertisement appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald.

IF THIS SHOULD meet the eye of MICHAEL CALAHAN, native Co. Clare, Ireland, he will hear from his niece, ANN LICETH, by sending his address to J. E. O'BEIRNE, agent, 7, Castlereagh-street, Sydney.
IF THIS SHOULD meet the eye of JAS. DIXON, or ANN DIXON, his wife, late Co. Clare, Ireland, will hear of their niece, ANN LICETH, by sending their address to J. E. O'BEIRNE, general agent, 7, Castlereagh-street, Sydney.25

This woman may have been the Ann LYSAGHT who had been born in about 1834 who had arrived aboard the Partician in 1854, probably with her sisters, Mary and Bridget.26 The James and Ann DIXON may have been the couple living in Maitland27 who seem to have been placing some terse advertisements in the Maitland newspapers in December 1858.

CAUTION.
THE public are hereby CAUTIONED not to give any CREDIT to my WIFE ANNIE DIXON after this date, as I will not be responsible for any debts incurred.
JAMES DIXON, Mudgee Cottage, East Maitland. Dec. 28th, 1858. 8391
To the Editors of the " Maitland Mercury."
GENTLEMEN-You will be pleased to CONTRADICT the Advertisement, No. 8391, cautioning the public not to give credit to my wife, Annie Dixon, the same having been put into the Mercury WITHOUT MY KNOWLEDGE or CONSENT.
JAMES DIXON, Of Mudgee Cottage, 134 East Maitland.
TO MRS. JANE DIXON.
I BEG to thank Mrs. JANE DIXON for the trouble she has taken in ADVERTISING ME, and hope that she will let me alone in future.
ANNIE ELIZABETH DIXON. East Maitland, Jan. 1st, 1859.28

It is unlikely that the Anne DIXON, admitted to Parramatta Gaol during the 1830s, whose ship of arrival was the transport, the Grenada was connected because, irrespective of the ages recorded in the gaol records, she had probably been born in about 1805. She had been tried in Liverpool, England, and had been sent for 14 years.29 No appropriate women named Ann DIXON or DICKSON have been identified in NSW gaol records before 1860. Any appearances after this date cannot be Sarah's mother as she had died.

The 1858 marriage of John S. DICKSON and Ann BEATTIE at Wollombi possibly ended in 1870 when Ann left him.30 There is no indication that this is Sarah's mother but if it is there was no baptism prior to this marriage and it is possible that this couple reconciled.31

The Sarah Ann DICKSON who married Henry Joseph CORK in Ulladulla in 1875 cannot be the Newcastle girl even though she married on the South Coast as she was identified in the will of her father, John, in 1874.32 Might it be possible that the Newcastle Sarah was in some way connected to her?

Note: It cannot be that Sarah was the daughter of James and Sarah DICKSON who were having children between 1850 and 1870, firstly in the Sydney area and later on the North Coast of NSW. Records from the //CSIL recorded that Sarah's mother had died by January 1869 and this wasn't the case with the family of James and Sarah//

Updated October 2017

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