The EDWARDS Sisters
Name Variations EDWARD
Father Thomas EDWARDS b.c. 18221 m. 18462 d. 19143
Mother Jane HAYCOCK4 b. 18285 m. 1846 d. 18846
Step-mother Mahala MANSER7 b.c. 18338 m. 18889 d. 1896
Sister Mary EDWARDS b. 184710 m. (1) c. 1875 (2) 1887 (1) Thomas LANGHAM (2) James FORESTER d. 192911
Sister Elizabeth EDWARDS b.c. 185012 m. 186913 George TUCKER d. 191514
Inmate Sarah EDWARD b. 185215 m. 1871 (see below) d. 193716
Inmate Alicia EDWARDS b. 185317 m. 1870 (see below) d. 190218
Son Richard James19 EDWARDS b. 1857 m. d. 192720
Brother John T. EDWARDS b.c. 185821 m. none - d. 186122
Inmate Maria Jane EDWARDS b. 185923 m. 1894 (see below) d. 196124
Daughter Fanny Mary EDWARDS b. 1861 m. 188325 Clement YATES26 d. 194027
Son Charles28 EDWARDS b. 186429 m. d. 1943
Son William Michael30 EDWARDS b. 1866 m. d. 1943
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Father Thomas31 14 4' 3" brown blue ruddy freckled scar left side of forehead; scar outside right eye; anchor inside right arm; fish, T E E F lower left arm; five dots back of left hand; scar left side of head; scar back of right foot
Mother Jane32 35 5' 0" brown brown sallow

The sisters, Sarah, Alicia, and Maria EDWARDS, were sent to Newcastle after the elder two girls were arrested for larceny and their mother was gaoled for receiving the property they had stolen. Alicia and Sarah were the two midnight prowlers apprehended for theft33 from various properties in the Bathurst area some time around 5 August 1867. The sisters had been stripping clothes lines and removing the clothing from farms in the neighbourhood of Dennis' Island and Caloola. One morning between 1 and 2 o'clock, Mr. Samuel SWEETMAN and his servant, discovered two horses tied up in the bush. The men soon saw the two girls emerging from the creek. They were disguised and pretended that they had lost their way but claimed that they owned the horses. Unfortunately for Alicia and Sarah they were recognized as being the children of 'a man named EDWARDS who resided at Caloola' and as one of them had been living as a servant in the neighbourhood, their story about being lost was not believed. A search warrant was obtained and at their home the stolen articles were discovered and identified. The sisters were taken into custody on the charge of theft, and their mother was arrested for receiving the stolen goods. It was reported that their father was away at the Lachlan with his team and had been gone for some time. Alicia, Sarah and their mother appeared before Judge CAREY, even though efforts were made to prevent their going to trial because they were so young. It was reported that a telegram was sent to discover whether Newcastle was an industrial school and the three sisters were sent there when it was discovered that it wasn't a reformatory.


The sisters were the daughters of Thomas EDWARDS and his wife, Jane HAYCOCK. The Entrance Book identified and named their father but there was no identification of their mother.34 Although only Thomas was named, by matching the baptisms, registrations and ages of the three sisters admitted, it is possible to identify both parents and the correct family. The NSW BDM Index recorded that the marriage of Thomas EDWARDS to Jean HAYCORK was celebrated at St Michael's Catholic church, Kelso.35 This marriage can't be easily viewed but descendants36 have identified that the marriage date was 10 March 1846.37 Because the family was Catholic, Jane's maiden name of HAYCOCK was confirmed on both Sarah's and Alicia’s baptisms. The Entrance Book further recorded that the family lived at Bartlett’s Swamp near Bathurst.38 Alicia's baptism identified that the family residence was Dunn's Plains and the 186039 and 186140 reports concerning the death of Thomas and Jane's son John, specified that the locality of the family was near Mulgunnia.41 Newspaper articles associated with the arrests of the sisters located the family at Caloola which is about 30 km south of Bathurst. No contemporary references have been located for Bartlett’s Swamp.

On 23 September 1867, Jane was tried in Bathurst and found guilty of receiving the goods stolen by Alicia and Sarah.42 She was imprisoned in Bathurst Gaol for twelve months with hard labour and was released in September 1868.43 At her trial it was reported that she had three young children with her. The baby was probably William, but the identity of the other two children is unconfirmed. Although Jane's three daughters were sent to Newcastle after this trial, none of her sons appear on the Vernon index for the same period although in 1876, Charles was admitted to the Vernon from Rockley at the age of twelve.44 His admission to the Vernon confirmed the name of his father and stated:

Father alive: Thomas Edwards Address Caloola via Bathurst Farmer and Currier. Mother not heard of for 6 years.

Jane was admitted to Bathurst Gaol on 24 September 1867, charged with receiving stolen property45 after her appearance at the Bathurst Quarter Sessions. While the Police Gazette at the time of her release from gaol recorded that she had been born in NSW in about 1833,46 she appeared with her parents as a five-month-old baby on the NSW 1828C47 at Weeo.48 This records permits the calculation of a year of birth of about 1828 and her baptism does appear on the NSW BDM Index as Jane ECOCK. Descendants identify that Jane had been born in Tuena and was the daughter of Richard HAYCOCK, who had been transported aboard the Barwell and Mary LINEHAN, who had been transported aboard the Brothers.49 Jane's surname was recorded as ACOCK on Sarah's baptism. Jane may possibly have been the woman who was charged with stealing 14 pound 12 shillings from James LONSDALE. She had been arrested by constables CHIPLIN and ROCHE of Hargraves police and was remanded on bail for trial at Mudgee50 EDWARDS researchers confirm that Jane died in Bathurst in 1884 at the age of fifty-one. In light of the statement – that Jane had not been with her family for six years – made when Charles was sent to the Vernon, it is uncertain whether she ever returned to the family after 1876 and only her death registration will indicate the name of the informant which may identify whether any family connection was maintained.

Thomas was convicted of larceny at the Old Bailey at the age of eleven. He was an errand boy who had already had a previous sentence of one month by the time of his conviction on 3 July 1834. Thomas was sentenced to transportation for seven years and arrived aboard the John Barry in 1836. Although he was tried and imprisoned in Middlesex, the indents confirmed that he had been born in Pembrokeshire, Wales.51 Upon arrival he was assigned to Mary FRENCH at Bathurst.52 Thomas would have completed his seven years by 1841. He received his certficate of freedom on 30 January 1843. Thomas would therefore not have required any permission to marry Jane.

Thomas was a difficult man with whom to live and this is supported by family recollections and newspaper articles. His son, William, appeared at the Bathurst Quarter Sessions in 1886 charged with stealing a horse and saddle from his father, identified as Thomas EDWARDS of Dunn’s Plains. William was reported as desperate to leave home as he was badly treated by his father who had a violent temper. William had informed his unnamed brother-in-law of his intention to pay his father when he got work. It is unknown to which brother-in-law this statement refers. The court made a concession and sent William to Windsor Gaol rather than Bathurst Gaol as punishment. Comments in court suggested that all of Thomas’s children had suffered from his outbursts.53

After Jane's death Thomas remarried the widow, Mahala KING nee MANSER, in 1888. He died at his residence, Trunkey Road, Caloola,54 at the age of 90 in early January 1914.55 Sarah's son, Arthur WILSON, was the informant. Arthur omitted both Alicia and Charles from the list of Thomas's children as well as the child, John, who had died at a very early age. Thomas's parents were recorded on the registration as James and Elizabeth. His headstone in Caloola Cemetery indicated that Thomas was 91 when he died.


Husband Peter Johann LEMBKE b.c. 183656 m. 187057 d. 190858
Son unnamed male LEMBKE b. 187159 m. none - d. 1871
Daughter Annie LEMBKE b. 187260 m. none - d. 187261
Son unnamed male LEMBKE b. 187362 m. none - d. 187363
Son unnamed male LEMBKE b. 187464 m. none - d. 187465
Son unnamed male LEMBKE b. 187466 m. none - d. 187467
Daughter Anna LEMBKE b. 187668 m. 189969 James T. PERKINS d. 193470
Son Henry LEMBKE b. 187871 m. 190072 Ada Mary CAMPBELL d. 193673
Son Peter John LEMBKE b. 188374 m. 1908 Emma Alice HOGBIN d. 195275

Alicia was born on 13 July 1853, and baptized as Alice on 14 February 1854,76 in the Catholic Church in Bathurst by L.[?] GRANT. Her parents' abode was recorded as Dunn's Plains. The Entrance Book recorded that she was fourteen and a Catholic when she was admitted to the school on 8 October 1867. Her level of education was 'first book on slate.' A medical assessment by Dr HARRIS77 showed that she was a virgin. Alicia spent in excess of a week in the hospital within the school in November 1868,78 with a liver complaint.79 In her report on 17 November 1868, KING confirmed that Alicia had been in the hospital ill but was now convalescent.80 On 22 November 1869, CLARKE wrote to the Principal Under Secretary81 requesting that he:

be furnished with the necessary authority to apprentice [Alicia] to Mr C. C. MASON of Dempsey Island, Hunter River, farmer, as general servant at five shillings per week. [She] has been over two years in this institution, is of good character and between sixteen (16) and seventeen (17) years of age.

Alicia left the school on 6 December 1869, to take up this apprenticeship. On 2 April 1870 these indentures were cancelled and Alicia was returned to the school because MASON had had to return to England.82 Just over a fortnight later on 26 April 1870, a proposal of marriage was received by CLARKE from Peter LEMBKE. CLARKE investigated LEMBKE's character and habits of life and stated that he:

has been working as a gardener in the neighbourhood of Newcastle for some years and had the amount he states [to] his credit in the bank he is about thrity-six years of age. The girl being seventeen (17) years of age and of [f]ull[?] quiet habits. I think the offer a good one for her and with [?] motives (They being very much together when on the Island) I would recommend the case to the favourable consideration of the Honbl Colonial Secretary.83

Permission was given by the Colonial Secretary and on 2 May, CLARKE wrote to Thomas EDWARDS to request his permission for the marriage just had been done with Elizabeth MORGAN.

I beg to inform you that your daughter Alicia Edwards was apprenticed to Mr C. C. Mason of Dempsey Island Hunter River on the 6th December last as [a] domestic servant, but owing to Mr Mason having to return to England, the Indentures were cancelled and your daughter returned to this Institution, while, however the girl was on the Island made the acquainance of a young man named Peter Lembke who now proposes to marry Alicia. Lembke is about thirty years of age and from everything that I have learn[ed] is a man of good character.
He has saved, I believe out of his own earnings, about (£250) two hundred and fifty pounds and proposes to lodge in the savings bank one hundred pounds (£100) to Alicias credit.
As far as I can see, I must say the match would be to the girls advantage, but at the same time I think it is due to you as her father, to ask if you have any objection to the girl getting married or rather if you will give your consent to their union. An answer at your earliest convenience will oblige.84

On 6 June 1870, as Alicia EDWARD she married Peter Johann LEMBKE in Newcastle. In his letter to the Colonial Secretary85 on 1 August 1870, CLARKE confirmed that Alicia had married and stated that 'she is very comfortable and is doing well.' The couple had eight children but only three survived for longer than one day. These newborns were buried at the St Andrew's Church of England Cemetery, Mayfield, (North Waratah) between March 1871 and October 187486 The home where she and Peter eventually lived in the Newcastle suburb of Mayfield they named 'Caloola'.87 Alicia died on 3 March 1902, at the age of 50. Her death was registered in Wallsend as Alacia LEMBKE and her parents were confirmed on the registration on the NSW BDM Index. Alicia was buried in Sandgate Cemetery, Newcastle, as Alacia LEMKE. When her daughter, Anna PERKINS died, she was buried in the same plot as her mother.88

Maria Jane EDWARDS

Husband Charles James SMITH b. m. 189489 d.
Daughter Ethel M. SMITH b. 189590 m. d.
Daughter Olive May SMITH b. 189791 m. d. 194992
Daughter Grace E. SMITH b. 190193 m. d.
Son Charles SMITH b. m. d. 192794

Maria (pron: Mariah) Jane arrived in Newcastle at the same time as her two older sisters. She was almost certainly one of the two very young children who appeared with their mother Jane, at the time of her court appearance in Bathurst for receiving stolen goods. On Maria's admission95 at the age of seven on 8 October 1867, her religion was recorded as Catholic and her education level was described as 'alphabet on slate.' Maria’s medical assessment by Dr HARRIS96 showed that she was a virgin. Maria transferred to Biloela on Cockatoo Island in May 1871 and was the only one of the three EDWARDS sisters to make the move to Sydney. On 29 November 1871, permission was sought to apprentice her by LUCAS. She was apprenticed to Thomas. R. HALE, Esq., J. P. of Sydney shortly after. This apprenticeship was for six years and Maria was to receive 1 shilling a week for the first two years, two shillings a week for the third and fourth years and three shillings a week for her final two years. LUCAS described her as well-behaved. The Colonial Secretary recommended the arrangement and commented that HALE was a great supporter of the school so it was considered that he would show an interest in Maria's welfare.97 LUCAS confirmed her apprenticeship in his report of 26 December 1871, although in this correspondence there was no indication concerning the date it began.98 LUCAS's April 1872 list erroneously indicated that Maria was apprenticed on the same date as her sister, Alicia.99 This can't be correct as she was only seven at the time of her admission and it was not only highly unlikely that she would have been apprenticed at the age of nine but this apprenticeship date occurred before the transfer to Biloela. This is clearly a clerical error made by LUCAS at the time.

Maria eventually returned to Bathurst where in 1894 she married the widower, Charles James SMITH, the twin son of Sergeant-Major and Mrs Joseph SMITH. The births of three children were recorded in Bathurst to Charles and Maria, adding to the three children from Charles's first marriage. The couple were living at 232 Rankin Street, Bathurst, at the time of the death of Maria's brother-in-law, Sarah's husband John WILSON.100 A Golden Wedding Anniversary announcement appeared in the Molong Express and Western District Advertiser on 24 March 1944, when the couple were living at 96 Edenholme Road, Fivedock.101 Maria Jane SMITH died in Bathurst in 1961 at the age of 101. Her mother was not named on the NSW BDM Index but her father, Thomas, and her maiden name were recorded on the death registration. Her Funeral Notice appeared in the SMH on 10 January 1961. It was reported that she died on 8 January at the Bathurst District Hospital and was late of Eglington.102 Maria was buried at Caloola cemetery.103

Note: Descendant's don't believe that Maria was the woman recorded as Maria EDWARDS who entered the Sydney Benevolent Asylum on 22 May 1894, at the age of twenty-six, and remained there until 28 July, leaving on 28 July with a daughter, Elizabeth.


Husband John WILSON b. 1844104 m. 1871105 d. 1918106
Son John T. WILSON b. 1871107 m. 1900108 Ellen THOMAS d. 1931109
Son Charles Edward WILSON b. 1873110 m. d. 1945111
Son William Henry George WILSON b. 1875112 m. none - d. 1884113
Daughter Mary Jane WILSON b. 1877114 m. 1912115 William Charles BURGE d. 1978116
Son Arthur James WILSON b. 1880117 m. 1932118 Ivy May DARTNELL d. 1969119
Son Alfred Robert WILSON b. 1882120 m. 1908121 Mary Ann THOMAS d. 1968122
Daughter Maria Elizabeth WILSON b. 1885123 m. 1912124 Frederick Arthur ROLLO d. 1980125
Son Joseph Henry WILSON b. 1888126 m. none - d. 1888127
Daughter Edith May WILSON b. 1889128 m. none - d. 1893129
Daughter Ivy Ellen WILSON b. 1894130 m. 1916131 William George BURGE d. 1963132

Sarah's baptism on 4 June 1853, by J. GRANT in the Bathurst area was recorded under the name of Sarah EDWARD. She had been born on 10 January 1852.133 Her father was a labourer of Brownlee. On her admission to Newcastle her age was pencilled into the Entrance Book134 as sixteen and her education level was described as 'first book on slate.' She was a Catholic. Sarah’s medical assessment by Dr HARRIS135 showed that she was a virgin. By 19 December 1868,136 Sarah had been at the school for thirteen months and CLARKE wrote to the Colonial Secretary stating that she and six others were eligible for service. He requested permission to find situations for them all – CLARKE having already negotiated positions for five of them. Sarah was discharged to service as a domestic servant at a rate of seven shillings a week on 2 February 1869, to William Howard GREENWAY, Esq., a fruiterer, of Newcastle. GREENWAY was described as a Gentleman. The Colonial Secretary's Department commented that CLARKE should have apprenticed Sarah after seeking permission from the Executive Committee although CLARKE clearly stated in his letter that he had discharged the girls 'in compliance with Instructions I received from that Minister [the Colonial Secretary] when here.'137 Sarah was to be paid six shillings a week. As a postscript to his letter to Thomas EDWARDS concerning Alicia, written on 2 May 1870, CLARKE suggested that when Thomas replied to the school concerning Alicia, he would also be provided with information about how Sarah was progressing.138

Sarah remained in this apprenticeship position for ten months before she returned to Bathurst. In his letter139 to the Colonial Secretary on 1 August 1870, CLARKE stated that he had been in contact with Sarah’s father who had reported that Sarah was well and had returned to Bathurst. Sarah married John WILSON junior, in Bathurst in 1871. The Bathurst papers140 identify a woman named Sarah WILSON often in court but no definite evidence that this woman was the girl admitted to Newcastle has yet been located in gaol entrance books. Sarah's death as Sarah WILSON was recorded at Rockley in 1937. The death on the NSW BDM Index correctly recorded the names of her parents. An obituary appeared on page 2 of the National Advocate, Bathurst, on Monday, 11 October 1937.

The death took place on Saturday morning at her residence, ''Rosedale'' Caloola, of one of the oldest residents of the Caloola district in the person of Mrs. Sarah Wilson, at the age of 86 years. Deceased lived in Caloola all her life and was predeceased by her husband, Mr. John Wilson, by 19 years, surviving members of the family are three sons, Messrs. Charles and Arthur, of Caloola, and Alfred, of Lyndhurst; three daughters, Mrs. C. Burge, of Arkell; Mrs. Rollo, of Croydon Park; and Mrs W. Burge, of Cow Flat. The funeral took place yesterday morning moving from her late residence to the Church of England portion of the Caloola cemetery. There was a large attendance of relatives and friends. The pall bearers were deceased's four nephews, Messrs. Percy, Harold and Keith Burge and Fred Barrett. The Rev. Mr. Nelson, of Rockley, officiated at the church and graveside. Many beautiful floral tributes were received.141

Updated March 2020

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