Emma FERN
Name Variations MARTIN, FERAN, FEARN, FERNS, FAIRN, FUERN
Father John MARTIN b. m. d.
Step-father Thomas FERN aka FERAN aka FEARN b. 18191 m. (1) none (2) 1868 d. 18942
Step-mother Fredericka RUSHBROOK b.c. 1835 m. none d. 18573
Mother Margaret aka Sarah SCOTT aka PURTOOKS b. 18334 m. 18685 d. 18816
Inmate Emma MARTIN aka FERN b. 18557 m. 18968 (see below) d. 19399
Sister Sarah MARTIN aka FERN b. 185710 m. 187711 Richard PEET12 d. 193113
Half-brother Thomas FERAN b. 185914 m. 187715 Elizabeth Hannah WALTERS d. 190316
Half-sister Frances FEARN b. 186517 m. none - d. 186718
Half-sister Phoebe Ann Margaret FEARN or FERAN b. 186919 m. 189020 Arthur Albert RAWARD d. 194721
Half-brother Robert E. FERAN b. 187222 m. none - d. 191023
Husband John Thomas HAINES b.c. 185724 m. 189625 d. 193926
Son Edward L. FEARN b. 187127 m. d.
Son James MARTIN b. 187328 m. d.
Son Henry Charles MARTIN b. 187529 m. none - d. 187630
Description
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Inmate Emma31 18 dark brown thin features; slightly freckled; dressed in black jacket and black straw hat with narrow crown and red rose on one side

Note: Emma's baptism and marriage were recorded with the surname MARTIN, however the surname and its spelling under which she was admitted to Newcastle has been retained for this biography.

Emma appeared in the Sydney court on 11 September 1867, charged with having no visible lawful means of support.32 Margaret GALBRAITH, the assistant matron of the Female Refuge in Sydney, reported that Emma had been sent there from Maitland, in early 1866. The refuge had found her an apprenticeship with Margaret BARBOUR, a dressmaker in York Street, Sydney, but as she had absconded twice from this situation, the refuge committee refused to take her back.33 The response from KING confirmed the arrest details and stated

I found Emma Fern's temper very ungovernable, for a long time she would obey no rule or perform any duty without great reluctance.34

The police report attached to Emma's correspondence added that BARBOUR had reported that Emma had said that she didn’t know how old she was but the Entrance Book recorded that she was thirteen when she entered the school on 17 September 1867. Emma was a Protestant and was listed on SELWYN's list of Protestant girls.35 Her educational level was assessed as 'sequel number 2 small hand.'36 Her medical assessment by Dr HARRIS indicated that she was a virgin.37 Emma was one of ten girls who escaped from the school at about 6 o’clock38 on the evening of 8 July 1868,39 the night before the first riot at Newcastle. The girls were all recaptured by the Newcastle police – some at Borehole and some at Waratah – before ten o’clock and returned to the school.40

On 10 September 1868, an application was made for Emma's release by her mother, recorded on the letters as Sarah FEARN. KING responded by stating

Though her temper and disposition is improved I am of opinion, the interest of the Girl would be advanced by her remaining in the institution some time longer.41

The application was therefore rejected. Two months later in November 1868, Emma and Jane BAKER were involved in assisting in the escape of Mary Ann CREGAN.42 Under Mary Ann's directions Emma had been watching the fence on the southern side of the building waiting for the appearance of the man with whom Mary Ann intended to escape. The escape was successful and Mary Ann remained at large for a little while. There is no indication that Emma was punished for this involvement. A year later, on 20 September 1869, Sarah FEARNS again petitioned the Colonial Secretary begging him to release Emma stating that she would guarantee that Emma would behave. This application was supported by CLARKE who on 8 October 1869, wrote to the Colonial Secretary requesting permission to discharge Emma. Emma was recorded in this correspondence as FEARN. CLARKE stated that she

has been a very wild, bold child, but not vicious, of late however she has been quiet and obedient. Her parents are in a – respectable way of business at Maitland. The girl is now about fifteen years of age and has been two years in this institution. I would respectfully recommend her discharge.43

Emma was subsequently discharged to the care of her parents on 24 November 1869.44 This discharge was confirmed in CLARKE's letter of 9 December that year.45 On 1 August 1870, CLARKE again reported to the Colonial Secretary, restating Emma’s discharge date and adding that her parents were shopkeepers and that she was living with them and doing well.46 A year later Emma almost certainly gave birth to the illegitimate son, Edward L. FERAN, in Maitland.

No further confirmation of Emma can be verified after this birth but in January 1889 an Emma FERN contributed three pound, three shillings to the Sydney Hospital.47 This may be a further reference to her although it is believed that by this date Emma had ceased to use the surname FERN as it is thought that she had begun using the surname MARTIN from about 1873.

It is considered almost entirely certain that in Sydney in April 1873, Emma, recorded as Emma MARTIN, went

to No. 2 Station at about 10 p.m. on the 21st ultimo for protection, stating at the time she had no friends or home in Sydney. She appeared to be in an advanced state of pregnancy, and stated she had applied for admission to the Benevolent Asylum, and was directed to apply to the committee, on the following Tuesday, but she failed to do so. … (S)he is believed to be a native of Maitland. Information to Inspector General of Police.48

The illegitimate birth of James MARTIN occurred on 28 May 1873,49 shortly after this incident and it is believed that this birth and child refers to the woman appearing at No. 2 Station. This birth and another illegitimate birth of Henry Charles MARTIN in 1875 have been attributed to Emma but neither registration has been viewed. Henry died in Sydney in 1876 at the age of one and no trace of James has yet been located. Again as Emma MARTIN, Emma married John Thomas HAINES in West Maitland in 1896. It is likely but unproven that this was a Church of England marriage but there was no reference to this marriage in the HVPRI. The Newcastle Anglican records have not yet been viewed. By 1908 when John's mother, Mary A., died, the couple was living at 93 Church Street, Newtown.50

Emma died on 21 October 1939, shortly before the death of her husband. She was privately cremated at Rookwood on 23 October 1939.51 No detailed In Memoriam for Emma has yet been located. Her death registration on the NSW BDM Index identified her parents as John and Margaret,52 just as they had been named at the time of the death of her sister, Sarah PEET, in 1931. Only Sarah's death registration would identify her children and this registration has not been viewed. John Thomas HAINES died at the age of 82 at his home, 27 Robert Street, Newtown, on 28 November 1939.53

Emma's children are as yet untraced. Her son, Edward, didn’t marry Elizabeth McEACHERN in Sydney in 1922. The WWI details of the man named Edward Leslie FERN record that his next of kin was his mother, Mrs. E. FERN, who lived in Paddington but this man had been born in Queensland as FERNS in 1870 and his parents were Scottish immigrants and Catholic and Ema was still alive and married to MARTIN at this date. The Edward Norton ELMES whose mother was Emma FEARN and who died in April 1935 in Queensland is not Emma's son as an online tree indicated that this woman had married in England in 1868. The death of Edward FEARNS in Waterloo in 190254 is not verified as being connected to the family but this isn't impossible. Edward may have adopted the surname MARTIN.

Family

Information contained in the Entrance Book, newspaper reports, Maitland rate books, the NSW BDM Index and correspondence regarding Emma's family is conflicting. Emma’s parents were clearly identified in the Entrance Book as Thomas and Margaret FERN. The record noted that Thomas was a cabinet maker and the Maitland rate books identify that a Thomas FERN with this occupation rented premises in Maitland on the embankment. During Emma's court appearance, she confirmed that her father, whom she had not seen for two years, had a furniture shop in Maitland but she also stated that her mother was dead. The Entrance Book rarely recorded the names of parents who had died but in Emma's case Margaret was named. No death for Margaret can be confirmed before Emma's admission and subsequent correspondence from a woman purporting to be Emma's mother indicated that Emma had very probably lied. Emma can be identified in the 1910 obituary55 of her brother. Robert FERAN's obituary identified the husbands of his three surviving sisters and their marriages may then be located on the NSW BDM Index. Emma and her sister, Sarah, both married using the surname MARTIN. The obituary of Thomas FERAN in 1894 indicated that he was the stepfather to two of his five children,56 although there is no evidence yet found that these step-children were Emma and Sarah, it is thought that this was the case.

The available, albeit conflicting, evidence identified that Margaret FERN was Emma's mother but Emma was almost certainly the daughter of Margaret aka Sarah FERAN nee SCOTT who married Thomas FERN aka FERAN after Emma's birth. Emma's father was probably a man named John MARTIN. Emma had a sister, Sarah, who was a daughter of Sarah and John MARTIN but no proof has yet been found that she and Emma shared the same father although it was accepted within the family that they did. Emma had been born in about 1854, the approximate date of Margaret's arrival in NSW.57 Baptisms on NSW BDM Index are still being investigated but none has yet been confirmed for Emma. It is remotely possible that Margaret aka Sarah was Emma's step-mother and Thomas FERAN was her actual father and this possibility cannot be disproved.

Emma's mother used the names Margaret and Sarah in official records but it was under the name Margaret that she was baptised, was married and died. Correspondence from 1868 and 186958 was signed by Emma's mother, who was recorded as both E. FEARNS and Sarah FEARN. Initial letters from Sarah FEARN were dated 10 September 1868, and outline the FEARN version of Emma's arrest.

I have visited her [at the Newcastle School] on two or three occasions. She Emma Fearns who about two years ago misbehaved herself so badly, I was induced to place her in some asylum for a short time ; for her better behaviour. I applied to Rev. Mr Hills West Maitland upon whose recommendation she was admitted into the Good Shepherd School Sydney ; were I was proud to say she conducted herself remarkably well, so much so that she was let out in service with a lady in Sydney she not liking her place did not stop long consequently the lady took her back to the Good Shepherd, I believe it is against rules to take her in again so they advised the lady in whose service she had been to hand her over to police (as she had no home in Sydney and told them her parents was dead) which she did … I have every reason to believe that she is an altered and good girl it is both her father's and my wish she should come home We can well afford to keep her We are freeholders both houses and land in the town of West Maitland and the business we follow is dealers59

Margaret SCOTT has been born on 8 February 1833, and had been baptised by P. PALMER, the Rural Dean, on 14 March in the parish of Trinity, County Buckingham, Tasmania. She was the daughter of the mariner, John SCOTT, and his wife Ellentweeda aka Ellen Tweeda SCOTT, who were residents of Hobart Town.60 It is unknown how or when she arrived in NSW nor where her parents were. Margaret FERAN died on 1 April61 1881, in High Street west, East Maitland. Her death registration indicated that she and Thomas FERAN had married in Maitland when Margaret was thirty-four.62 It is almost certain that their actual marriage was the 1868 registration of the marriage between Thomas FERAN and Margaret PURTOOKS. This marriage has been attributed to the couple but only the actual registration will have a chance of identifying their parents. Again, because it is an Anglican record the HVPRI or the Newcastle Church of England records – especially those of St Paul's – may provide more information. At the time of her death, her father's given name was unknown but her maiden surname was recorded as SCOTT. Margaret had been born in VDL and by 1881 had lived in NSW for twenty-seven years.63 Family Notices confirmed that she was the wife of Thomas FERAN of High Street, West Maitland,64 and Thomas was recorded in this notice as Thomas FERAN senior. The actual death record of Margaret FERAN only named her children but if, as it is suspected, she had had Emma and Sarah prior to her relationship with Thomas FEARN, there is no guarantee that all her relationships and children would be recorded.

Thomas and Margaret are recorded in the NSW BDM Index in Maitland with four children with the surname FERAN and one child with the surname FERN. The baptism65 of the child with the surname FERN was Sarah's record. Margaret's death confirmed the numbers and sexes of her four children with Thomas – two boys and two girls. These children were Robert, Thomas, Phoebe and Frances. One of the girls66 had died by 1881. These figures may suggest that Emma was the daughter of Thomas although this is uncertain and only his death record is likely to contain this information. In Memoriam notices placed in the SMH in reference to the death in November 1891 of John MARTIN, the husband of Margaret MARTIN, may be connected. Sarah and Emma MARTIN were named as this man's nieces67 and this notice may refer to the MARTIN family who were at a time resident in Maitland.

An online query68 indicated that the marriage of Sarah MARTEN to Richard PEET occurred at St. Paul's Church of England, West Maitland, on 1 November 1877. The witnesses were Ellen E. HOWARTH and Walter A. HOWARTH. Because both Sarah and Richard were under twenty-one, parental approval was required. Sarah recorded the names of her parents as Thomas MARTEN and Margaret SCOTT but an almost illegible note on the registration stated that consent to marry was given by the bride's mother, Sarah FERRY.69 In the Maitland newspapers in April 188670 and March 1888,71 Sarah inserted In Memoriam notices identifying Margaret as her mother. Earlier notices may exist but they are yet to be located.

There were two men – father and son – living in Maitland named Thomas FERN or FERAN and they are very difficult to separate. Both operated shops in Maitland and both worked as dealers. Thomas senior's 1894 obituary indicated that he had arrived in Australia from Norwich, Norfolk, England, in 1857 and had initially worked as a fisherman with John BOYLE.72 This early occupation then strongly suggested that he was the Thomas FEARN, a fisherman, who was witness into the drowning of his partner, Frederica RUSHBROOK in 1857.73 He may also be the Thomas FERN of Ravensfield who was recorded in 1857 as having applied for assistance from the flood relief fund as he had lost all he had in the flood74 that had disturbed Fredericka's body. Thomas died as Thomas FERAN in 1894 in West Maitland. The registration indicated that his parents were Robert and Frances. There are no appropriate arrivals for Thomas in NSW or Victoria but because appearances as FERAN begin in about 1855, they suggest that Thomas may have arrived on the Araminta, possibly as captain.75

The birth of Emma's brother, Thomas, was recorded in the NSW BDM Index as both FERAN and SCOTT, and may even have been registered a second time as SCOTT where his parents were recorded as Margaret and James. This man married Elizabeth WALTERS in 1877. The death of this Thomas FERAN occurred in 1903, and was registered in Redfern, Sydney. Only his father, Thomas, was recorded on the death registration. Family Notices from 1903 indicated that his daughter was Pearl FERAN. Pearl FERAN married George WILSON in 1911 and when his widow, Elizabeth FERAN, died in September 1921, she was identified as the relict of Thomas FERAN from West Maitland and her funeral left from the residence of her daughter Mrs G. WILSON. Nothing can be found linking Emma to this family but the link may been made through the death of another brother, Robert.

Online trees have attributed the birth of Phoebe FERAN to the couple who married in 1868 but have not included on their tree Phoebe's siblings, Frances and Robert, whose surnames are spelled the same way. Additionally Phoebe's marriage announcement indicated that her father was living in West Maitland when she married.76 This tree has Thomas and Margaret recorded as resident in Lanarkshire, Scotland, on the 1871C, with two further children whose births are not registered at all on the NSW BDM Index. This tree is considered very unreliable and has been disregarded.

Based on his obituary, it is unlikely that Thomas was connected to Robert FAIRN aka FUERN aka FAERN who had been transported on the Morley and Norah CONNOR on the Asia. They had had one refusal to marry before permission was granted on 14 July 1836, by Thomas WALPOLE of Narellan. Robert stated that he was single and that he was thirty-seven years old. Norah was about thirty-six.77 Both had been transported for seven years. The couple are recorded on the NSW BDM Index as Robert HERN and Honorah CONNOR.78 The permission to marry document in regard to Norah noted that 'no such name as Norah Connor in m/s79 of Asia.'

Updated March 2016

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License