Catherine HARDING
Name Variations HARDEN, HORDERN,1 HARDY2
Father Daniel J. C. B. HARDING b.c. 1818 m. (1) 1845 (2) 1864 d. 18953
Mother Catherine FITZPATRICK b.c. 18234 m. 18455 d. 18876
Step-mother Ellen MORRIS b. m. 18647 d. 1909
Sister Sarah Ann HARDING b. 18448 m. d. 19259
Brother Robert Lorn Pattison HARDING b. 184610 m. 1869 Mary Rose WILSON d. 193611
Sister Rosanna aka Rose HARDING b. 184912 m. James SWADLING d. 188813
Sister Martha HARDING b.c. 1851 m. 187614 John KENDALL d. 192615
Inmate Catherine Mary HARDING b. 185316 m. 1874 (see below) d. 191717
Half-brother William R. J. HARDING b. 186518 m. d. 193319
Half-sister Ellen Constance20 HARDING b. 186821 m. 189022 Andrew John ROBERTSON d. 189323
Husband Charles Joseph CONWAY b. 185024 m. 187425 d. 190226
Son Charles Robert CONWAY b. 187527 m. none - d. 187628
Daughter Clara Maude Conway b. 187729 m. 190230 John J. B. MacGIRR d. 197131
Son Charles Joseph CONWAY b. 187832 m. 190433 Rose Agnes34 O'SHANNESSEY35 d. 197036
Son Henry Robert CONWAY b. 188037 m. d. 197038
Daughter Margaret M. CONWAY b. 188239 m. none - d. 189040
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Mother Catherine41 26 4’ 11” light blue sallow slender strong make; no particular marks
Inmate Catherine42 17 5’ 1” brown grey fair stout

Catherine appeared in court on 17 February 1870. The Empire named her as Catherine HARDEN.43 She had been arrested under warrant from a brothel in Francis Street and was charged with being found wandering about with prostitutes. She told the apprehending officer that she had been on the town for two months and would prefer going to Newcastle than to go home to her father. Daniel HARDING stated that Catherine would be sixteen in September, that her mother was dead, but that she had a stepmother. He said that he had no control over her, that she had left home twice and the previous night he had found her in a brothel. He said that he could afford to pay £1 a month if she went to Newcastle and this was the order made by the court.44 Because Catherine's details appear in the missing section of the Entrance Book, no family, educational, religious or discharge details can be confirmed from this source.

Catherine was one of four girls45 punished by CLARKE with 48 hours solitary confinement on a bread and water diet for 'sleeping together and making use of obscene language.'46 Then, on the night of 6 January 1871, Catherine was one of the four ringleaders47 of the riot48 that occurred in the school. CLARKE stated

… that the eleven girls who conducted themselves so badly, are still in solitary confinement and on bread and water diet they cannot in any way account for their conduct nor give any reason for acting as they have done, it has been estimated that it will take from £8 to £10 to repair the damage they have done.
Under these circumstances I would most respectfully suggest that the four ringleaders … should be handed over to the Police Magistrate and dealt with according to law for using obscene language, for mutinous conduct, and for wilfully destroying Government property. On speaking to Mr Scott on the subject I regret to find that the punishment is not near so great for such conduct as I think they deserve.49

Shortly after this riot, on 3 March 1871, Catherine, Jemima BURT and Mary COUGHLAN escaped from the school. They were recaptured by constable SMITH of Newcastle Police.50 Catherine was again one of the girls who appeared in Newcastle Court charged with damage to Government property at the school during one of March riots. On 22 March, Catherine, in company with Margaret DIXON and Ann ELDER, were convicted on their own confession of wilfully destroying Government property in the school and ordered to pay a fine of five pounds each or be imprisoned in Maitland Gaol for two months.51 The fine wasn’t paid and the trio were admitted to Maitland, appearing with Mary Ann BROWN in the Maitland gaol entrance book. Catherine was described there as a Catholic who was born in Sydney in 1854. As Catherine HARDY, she and some of the other girls also sent to Maitland at this time,52 continued to misbehave during their time in the gaol as the Maitland Gaol punishment return for April 1871, shows that Catherine spent seven days in the cells for 'talking to a male prisoner' and a further seven days for 'singing in the cell while undergoing punishment.'53 The May punishment return shows that Catherine and Margaret DIXON were again punished by being kept separate from the other inmates for the rest of their sentence for striking a fellow prisoner.54 This suggests that the pair may have been fighting with each other. On her release Catherine was recorded being an 'NC’ but no age is shown in the Gaol Discharge Book. The girls were released from Maitland on 21 May 1871,55 and were returned to the school just days before the transfer to Biloela.

Catherine's age and religion were confirmed on the transfer lists.56 She was recorded as Kate HARDING in a letter by LUCAS to the Colonial Secretary on 23 June 1871, as eligible for service.57 Shortly after her arrival on the island she was – as Catherine HARDEN or HORDERN – one of the eight girls fined or imprisoned for damage to government property.58 They were charged and convicted in the Water Police Court with damaging thirty windows by throwing stones. The papers reported that the

… conduct of the girls prior to their arrest was described by the police as outrageous. Stones and bricks were flying about in all directions, and about 100 panes of glass were destroyed. On being placed in the Water Police boat the prisoners commenced singing, and continued in the exercise of their vocal powers up to the Circular Quay.

Catherine pleaded guilty to the charge and was admitted to Darlinghurst Gaol. Gaol records for 1871 show that Catherine was able to read and write, was a Catholic and was born in Sydney in 1853. She was returned to the school after her release from Darlinghurst as on 29 January 1872, Catherine was apprenticed to Edward KENNEY, Esq., of Lake George.59 KENNY was recorded as E. RENNIE on LUCAS's April 1872 list.60 The apprenticeship was for a year and she was reported by LUCAS to be seventeen and conducting herself well. Catherine was to be paid two shillings a week for the year's apprenticeship.61 LUCAS confirmed her apprenticeship in his report on 5 February 1872, where he recorded Catherine's name as Kate HARDEN.62 Kate completed her apprenticeship but her next appearance in the papers was about a year later after a very serious incident near Goulburn. On 5 February 1873,

Mr. E. KENNY, of Lake George, was coming into Goulburn with a dray and waggon heavily laden with wheat, and when near Mr. PATON’s, Bangalore, he found it necessary to remove some of the bags. A young woman named Catherine HARDING, who was coming into town with Mr. Kenny, with the intention of proceeding to Sydney, got off the dray while the load was being removed, and sat reading a book at the back part of the dray. There being no horses in the shafts at the time, and the weight being chiefly behind, caused the dray to tip up, and the hinder part of it came up with great force on the young woman, almost doubling her up. After a short time, she was released from her perilous position, but was found to be suffering from severe injuries. Mr. KENNY also got nearly crushed, through a number of the bags falling on him. Mrs. Paton had the girl taken to her house on a stretcher, and attended to her with all possible kindness. Dr. Hayley was sent for, and found Miss Harding much bruised and almost scalped. He attended on her during the night, and revisited her again on Thursday morning, when he found her somewhat better, although suffering greatly from the very severe injuries which she had sustained.63

The Goulburn Evening Penny Post adds that KENNY was from Lake George and contributed further details of Catherine's injuries.

The sufferer was found to be severely injured in the spine, and one side quite paralysed, besides being bruised from her head to her feet. The doctor did all that he could for her that night and visited her again this morning, when he found her better. She was conscious but unable to swallow even a drink of water : her pulse is better and the doctor is not without hopes. Mr. KENNY himself got a severe crushing about eighteen bags falling on him. Mrs Payton who lives near the scene of the accident, at once supplied a stretcher and had the sufferer brought to her house and when she arrived did all that she possibly could, sitting up with her all night and attending to her as if she were a daughter.64

It is unknown whether Kate ever completed her journey to Sydney as she is likely to have needed some time to recover from her injuries. It is also unknown whether she and her father were ever reunited. Kate did recover from the accident and she lived for the rest of her life in the far west. As Kate Mary HARDING she was married to Charles Joseph CONWAY in Bourke by Rev. Father RYAN65 on 16 April 1874. The couple had five children. Charles died on 12 August 1902, at Mungunyah homestead near Eungonia.66 Catherine Mary CONWAY died in Bourke on 4 June 1917.67 Only her father, Daniel, was recorded on her death registration.


Catherine was the daughter of Daniel J. C. B. HARDING and Catherine (X) FITZPATRICK who had married in the Church of England Church on 10 December 1845, in the St Andrew's Parish, County Cumberland. The witnesses were Ian and Margaret KAIN.68 Catherine was born on 10 February 1853, and baptised on 10 April by Rev. William X. JOHNSTON of St James, County Cumberland. This was a Catholic baptism.69 Catherine was almost certainly the youngest of Daniel's children from his first marriage as shortly after her birth her parents separated, although this is uncertain. It must also be considered that Catherine was not a child of Daniel and was the product of an extra-marital relationship undertaken by Catherine. This may explain Daniel’s initial reluctance to take her from her mother in March 1855.70 It is almost entirely certain that the couple had lived separately from about 1854, shortly after Kate's birth, and that she initially grew up with her mother rather than her father. A child, who was almost certainly Catherine, was reported to have been abandoned by her mother, Catherine HARDING, in September 1854,71 May 1855,72 November 1855,73 and February 1856.74 No further references to the Daniel and Catherine appearing together have yet been located and Catherine ceases to be reported in the papers after about 1857. Kate was in the care of her father at the time of her arrest in 1870.

The HARDING marriage was volatile and Catherine senior appears often in court – especially from 1850. Gaol records show that Catherine senior was often admitted to gaol and these records indicate that she had been born in County Cavan, Ireland, and had arrived aboard the Gilbert Henderson in 1841.75 From as early as 1851, difficulties with the marriage were reported.76 Warning advertisements appeared in the papers during 1852 indicating that Catherine had left Daniel.

CAUTION. – All persons are hereby cautioned not to give any trust or credit to any parties on my account, particularly my wife Catherine Harding, she having left her home and deserted her children without any just cause or provocation. DANIEL HARDING.77

Catherine must have returned to Daniel as reports in the Sydney papers on 26 March 1855, report a Breach of the Peace, suggesting that Catherine had again taken their youngest child – unnamed but almost certainly Catherine – with her after she had again left him during the previous year. As Daniel HARDY, he was ordered to pay five shillings maintenance for Catherine in August 1854.78

Catherine Harding was charged by her husband Daniel Harding, with having, on the 21st instant, threatened to take his life and thereby put him in bodily fear. It appeared that the parties had separated about a year ago ; the prisoner applied for maintenance to this court for herself and child, an order was made for 5s. a week for the support of the infant but owing to the evidence given on behalf of the prosecution, nothing was done for the prisoner. She took the child to him on the 21st, but prosecutor refused to have anything to do with it ; she then made use of the threat complained of. Mr. Cory in defence submitted that the prosecutor had not carried out the order made for the support of the child, but the Bench did not think that this was any justification of the threat and required prisoner to enter into recognisances herself in £40 and two sureties, of £20 each, to keep the peace for six months, or in default to go to gaol for that period.

Contrary to reports at the time of the younger Kate's trial in 1870 that her mother was dead, it must be considered that Catherine HARDING nee FITZGERALD's death was recorded in Newington in 1887. While the recorded age of seventy-two is not consistent with Catherine's known age, it is still a reasonable age for a woman who had lived a hard life and may not have been well known to the informant. An error may also have been made in the online index and only the original death record is likely to shed light whether this registration actually records Catherine's death. This registration has not been viewed. It is not hard to imagine that Catherine senior would have been quite happy to retain the surname of HARDING as Daniel was a prestigious connection. It must be considered that Daniel’s statement at the time of Kate's trial in 1870 that Catherine was dead, may not have been true. Deliberate and accidental errors have been found in the records for the Industrial School as no proof for statements was required and lies told in court and the admission record have been uncovered in the records.79 Daniel had the means to obtain a divorce but no evidence has been found that this occurred. It may be that by 1856, Catherine had handed the care of her children to Daniel and disappeared. It may be that Daniel paid her to get out of his life and kept his remarriage a secret from her. If Catherine had disappeared, Daniel would have been free to remarry without a divorce by 1863. His remarriage to Ellen MORRIS was registered in 1864 and it must be questioned whether this marriage was bigamous. This suggestion is purely supposition but very conceivable and only the location of the elder Catherine's death is likely to assist with clarifying what may have occurred. It may be possible to discover the identity of the Catherine HARDING whose address was care of J. F. CASTLE, Esq., and who sponsored her nineteen-year-old cousin, Mary HANNON, from Monegal, County Tipperary, Ireland, who arrived on the Morning Star in September 1864.80 The child, Martha, whose birth in Sydney has not been located, married in Roma, Queensland, in 1876, provided the names of her parents on her marriage registration as Daniel HARDING and Catherine BURLEIGH.81 In all other respects the certificate is correct for this family but it is unknown why this error occurred but it is significant that it is there. Martha had been apprenticed in the Newcastle area in August 1868.82

Daniel HARDING was a master mariner and appears often in the NSW newspapers in connection with coastal shipping movements, although he was listed in the Insolvency Court in the 1860s. Over his long sea career, Daniel was master of the Rose,83 the William,84 the Fenella,85 the Morpeth86 and the Rhea. He remarried Ellen MORRIS in 1864 and she is the step-mother referred to in Catherine's trial under the Industrial School Act. Daniel plied the Sydney/Newcastle route until his drowning death at Ballina on 8 September 1895.87 He was seventy-seven when he died. His body was returned to Newcastle aboard the steamer Oakland and he was buried in Sandgate Cemetery.88 An account of his commands was reported in the Maitland Mercury on 11 September 1895.89 No obituary has yet been located that provides further details of his personal life.

Updated October 2015

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