Esther was almost certainly first reported in the Sydney courts on 3 June 1866, when she was charged with riotous behaviour in the streets and was sent to gaol for forty-eight hours.19 On 17 January 1871, she was finally brought to court20 by sergeant CONDICK, who stated that he had arrested her in Pitt Street that morning. She was charged under the Industrial Schools' Act with being under sixteen years of age and having no visible lawful means of support.21 Esther stated in court that she had no parents or friends. John F. SHERIDAN, a Roman Catholic clergyman, stated that he’d known Esther from the Randwick Asylum,22 from where she had been apprenticed to Mr. HAWDEN of Mullenara on 15 August 1868. He believed that she was about fifteen years old and couldn’t be sixteen. He further stated that on 22 December Esther had been returned from her apprenticeship and as the directors didn’t know what to do with her, applied to him, and, on 3 March 1870, he managed to get her into the House of the Good Shepherd. Esther had become incorrigible so had been expelled the morning of her court appearance and SHERIDAN considered that Newcastle was the best place for her.
Esther was admitted to Newcastle on 19 January 1871,23 but her family details are missing from the Entrance Book as the records for this period have been lost therefore no details of her family, religion, education or apprenticeship can be identified using this source. Her first entry into Randwick as Esther Maria HALL, indicated that on 14 August 1861, she was nine. At this time she entered the Randwick Asylum with her sister, Elizabeth, and her two brothers, James and Edward. The children were recorded as Catholic. Randwick records confirmed SHERIDAN's statements and documented Esther's return to Randwick on 22 December 1868, at the age of thirteen. Her first entry into Randwick and her subsequent birth records prove that Esther was at least seventeen and should not have been sent to Newcastle. It is considered likely that SHERIDAN knew this but made a genuine attempt to get Esther off the streets of Sydney.
Because it was a requirement that Esther spend twelve months at the school after her arrest she transferred to Biloela in May 1871. She appeared on the transfer lists as a fifteen-year-old Catholic.24 No discharge information has yet been identified for Esther and her name does not appear on the CSIL index. It is therefore believed that she was released by LUCAS without permission from the Colonial Secretary into an apprenticeship. She would have been eligible for apprenticeship by January 1872, yet she was still identified by LUCAS as 'In the Institution' in his April 1872 list.25 School records would have identified her as 18 by 1874 and by this time there was a new superintendent who followed discharge directions.
It is thought likely that on 15 June 1874, as Esther Maria DARLING, Esther was imprisoned for four months for vagrancy26 but no court appearance has been located for this sentence. It is believed that Esther died in Sydney in 1876 at the recorded age of twenty-one.27 This registration has not been viewed.
Esther’s age reported in the newspapers and the Randwick Asylum records match her baptism record from 1853. Her siblings who were also admitted to Randwick match records for her baptised siblings. Esther was born on 27 March and was baptised on 17 April 1853, by R. WALSH at the Roman Catholic Church at Queanbeyan.28 Her parents were recorded as Henry HALL and Maria BURNS who were married by John KAVANAGH at St Mary’s, Sydney, on 9 December 1850, as Henry HALL and Maria (X) BURNE. Only Maria was Catholic.29 The witnesses were Henry (X) LODER and Bridget (X) LODER.
Henry had arrived as an unassisted immigrant aboard the St George in 1846. He was described on the indent as a gentleman who intended to remain in NSW.30 Henry was working as a constable in the Queanbeyan Police when his daughter Jane was born in 185731 but in 1860 he was arrested for horse-stealing32 from George NYE. He was reported to have gone towards Lake George.33 Henry was arrested and was sentenced to eighteen months in Goulburn Gaol in February 1860.34 His records from Goulburn gaol confirmed his ship of arrival and indicated that he was a coach painter who had been born in Maidstone, Kent, and was a Protestant.35 Earlier admissions to Goulburn in late 1852 and Darlinghurst in 1848 again confirmed his ship of arrival but identified the year of arrival as 1847 and indicated that he had been born in about 1822.36 Henry's death was registered in Goulburn in 1894. The NSW BDM Index indicated that his mother was Sarah.37
After Henry's arrest for horse-stealing Maria was unable to maintain her six children so in August 1861, the Police Magistrate of Queanbeyan sent her four older children to Randwick. Maria's death was registered in Goulburn in 1908.38
Esther’s sister, Jane, may have been cared for locally and was placed in service at about the age of ten in about 1866. She was killed in a horse riding accident near Queanbeyan in 1874, and was recorded as Jane Ann SMITH39 at the inquest. The Queanbeyan Age subsequently received a letter to correct the error.40
Elizabeth was apprenticed from Randwick in August 1865 to Mr John CUNNINGHAM of Bathurst. In March 1874, Edward was apprenticed to Mr M. RYAN of Palmer Island on the North Coast and in January 1867, James was apprenticed to Kiama on the South Coast. It is unknown whether any of these children ever met their parents again but they did attempt to reunite and Edward and James were successful in locating each other. In August 1884, a Mrs GREIGG from Wyndham Street, Alexandria was seeking contact with James Thomas HALL and Edward Henry HALL, natives of Queanbeyan.41 By September Thomas was advertising for Edward and Elizabeth to contact him so it is clear that at this stage the children had not returned to Queanbeyan after their discharge from Randwick.42 It is thought that Mrs GREIGG may be a sister but she is not yet identified. In light of the order of the advertisements, she is unlikely to be Elizabeth. Edward died in June 190443 and James on 13 August 1915.44
Updated November 2015