Note: While the records connected with the Industrial School were in the name of Mary Ann HOPKINS, and there is no doubt that Mary's baptism was in the name of Mary Margaret HOPKINS, this inmate was most usually referred to as Mary HOPKINS.
Mary HOPKINS was involved in incidents of larceny in the years prior to the implementation of the Act for the Relief of Destitute Children in 1866. On 12 December 1865, Mary, in company with an older girl, Jane TATE, both inmates of the House of the Good Shepherd, stole clothing from the Matron, Mrs GIBBONS. Mary was reported to be thirteen or fourteen years of age at this date.46 The girls were discharged as GIBBONS did not appear in court.47 Eight months later, on 10 August 1866, Mary was reported to be fourteen years of age when she appeared at her next court appearance. She had been arrested by detective ELLIOTT48 under warrant charged with stealing a gold watch and chain from her uncle, Henry WRIGHT, a fruiterer, of Palmer Street. WRIGHT spoke of Mary’s character and stated that she had been living with him 'for a considerable time' and that he’d never known her to commit any offence before. On this occasion however, she had left his house on 26 July49 after the theft and went to live 'an abandoned life.'50 Mary was committed for trial at the Quarter Sessions to be held on 4 September 1866, where she pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three months’ hard labour in Maitland gaol.51 Darlinghurst Gaol records for August 1866, before her transfer to Maitland gaol, recorded that she was a sixteen-year-old Catholic who had been born in Sydney and who could read and write. She was moved to Maitland gaol on 16 September 1866, to complete her sentence.52 The following February Mary was again suspected of stealing from her uncle but no warrant was issued.53
On 19 October 1867, as Mary Ann HOPKINS, who was recorded as fifteen, was brought before the court by constable TATTERALL,54 under the Act for the Relief of Destitute Children as she was an associate of bad characters, had been convicted at Quarter Sessions, and that her father, James, had sent her from his house owing to her continued misconduct.55 Mary had been arrested at midnight when she was seen 'loitering on the South Head Road.' James gave evidence in court that Mary was unruly, would not obey either of her parents and he didn’t know where she has been. She had stayed out at night after the family had gone to bed. She hadn’t been at home for four weeks and when she returned the previous night he had struck her and told her to be off. Mary told him she had been in service but James believed that if she wasn’t taken away, his other children would be influenced by her bad conduct. Her unnamed uncle agreed with James so Mary was sent to Newcastle where she was admitted on 23 October 1867,56 the day before her mother died.57 Mary's age was pencilled into the book as sixteen and her level of education was recorded as 'sequel no. 2 small hand.'58 Her medical assessment by Dr HARRIS showed not only that she was not a virgin but that she was suffering from gonorrhea.59 There is little doubt that Mary had been illegally arrested under the Act as her baptism record proved that she had already turned 16 so the statement in the Entrance Book was true.
Mary, Mary Ann DEVENEY and Eliza O'BRIEN escaped from the school on 22 December 1867, between 11 and 12 pm. They were recaptured and returned to the school at 11 am the following day where they were placed in the cells on a bread and water diet.60 KING released the girls the following day and reported that they were 'sorry for their reckless conduct. On the Christmas day they were united and happy.' KING further investigated the method of escape and reported to the Colonial Secretary.
Eliza O'Brien got out of bed (after all the lights were extinguished, and everyone asleep) dressed and came out through the window on to the verandah, unfastened the window in the next dormitory called the others up, went back through the window again, thence down the stairs through the door, and climbed over the large Gate in front.61
On 2 July 1868, Mary again absconded,62 from the school in company with Sarah PARSONS and Grace CRAWFORD. The girls were reported as all coming from Sydney. This was the most publicised escape from the Newcastle school as the three were successful at covering such a large distance. Although some reports indicated that the trio walked about half the way,63 the girls must have travelled almost the entire distance from Newcastle by sea due to their relatively quick recapture. After escaping the school the girls immediately proceeded towards Lake Macquarie which they crossed in a boat. They were followed by one member of the Newcastle Police who failed to catch them.64 The trio made their way – almost without doubt by boat – to Brisbane Water, where they joined a schooner and obtained a passage to Sydney. The police received information that they were on their way to Sydney and once they had arrived there safely, two were soon recaptured. The third unnamed girl was supposed to have taken refuge with some friends in Sydney but eventually she was also recaptured and all three were brought back to Newcastle on the morning of the 8 July in the steamer. KING reported the incident to the Colonial Secretary prior to their arrest. She identified that the girls escaped at 5.30 pm.65 How the trio paid for their passage to Sydney is unknown.
The Escapades from the Industrial School.66
Two of the three girls who have recently escaped from the Industrial School, Barrack-square, have been retaken in Sydney, and were brought to Newcastle yesterday morning in the steamer. It would seem that, on effecting their escape, they immediately proceeded towards Lake Macquarie, which they crossed in a boat. They then made for Brisbane Water, where they fell in with a schooner, in which they obtained a passage to Sydney. The police received information that the girls were on their way to the metropolis via Brisbane Water, and, of course, telegraphed to head-quarters to that effect. The wanderers got safe to Sydney, and the apprehension of two of them took place shortly after their arrival there. The third is still at large, but her capture may be speedily looked for. She is supposed to have taken refuge with some friends in Sydney, of which city the whole three are natives. Their respective ages were from sixteen to eighteen years.
A further incident occurred a couple of weeks later on 21 July, when KING reported that Mary and Sarah PARSONS
absented themselves from muster, and although sent for three times, they refused to attend. The Sergeant on duty accompanied me to the Hospital where they were sitting in open defiance of the rules, I entreated them to obey, when Sarah Ann Parsons replied "I have made up my mind not to surrender." They were then removed from the Cell. … [They] commenced smashing their utensils, battering the door, screaming and yelling, I had all possible articles removed with the exception of their beds and bedding; while seeing this done they said, "Stop until Mr Walker comes, we have got something to tell him now."67
On 1 August, it was reported that Mary and Eliza O'BRIEN were 'most rebellious [and] made several attempts to break the new bell by throwing stones at it, and by inciting the younger girls to follow their example'. They were absent from muster and evening prayers so KING placed them in solitary on a 'low diet'.68 KING indicated in her report on 11 August 1868, that to celebrate the birthday of the Duke of Edinburgh on 6 August 1868, that:
I gave the girls a holy day and liberated those in confinement they were all happy and contented except Mary Ann Hopkins who upon being liberated confessed her determination to have her liberty in defiance of all reason on authority, since this she has endeavoured to make her escape on two occasions.69
The teacher, Margaret KELLY reported on 1 September 1868, that Mary, Elizabeth SAMPSON and Bridget DOWNS 'were ordered to attend school they [had] absented themselves on several occasions and shewn the greatest disinclination to pay attention.'70 A further escape occurred when, on 20 November, Mary absconded from the school with six other girls and a further two girls made a separate escape shortly afterwards. KING identified them in a letter to the Colonial Secretary on 21 November 1868,71 stating that all except one72 were returned by two constables at eleven o’clock that night – half an hour after they had escaped. The girls had
forced open the windows of No. 4 dormitory, they then climbed over the fence near Mr SCOTT’s residence … and placed in the cells.73
In a letter to the Colonial Secretary on 10 June 1869, the new superintendent, CLARKE, endeavouring to get permission to discharge Mary Ann and four other girls, repeated her admission date and stated that as far as he
could ascertain [Mary Ann] has attained the age of eighteen years. I cannot however furnish the documentary evidence required as to their age as some of the girls do not know that they were ever baptized. They are all full grown young women.74
The Colonial Secretary approved the discharges as requested by CLARKE75 and on 10 July 1869, Mary was discharged from the school to her father in Sydney by order of the Colonial Secretary. In his report on 13 July, CLARKE confirmed that the four girls, Mary, Eliza O'BRIEN, Charlotte PERRY and Sarah Jane WILDGUST had been discharged.76 CLARKE paid Mary's fare and that of Eliza O'BRIEN on the steamer to Sydney, an act which the government requested that he explain.77 CLARKE's explanation outlined that he already had, either with government permission or at their request, paid for fares to Sydney for Bridget DOWNS and the sisters, Ann and Marian SMITH, so rather than keep Eliza and Mary illegally after their discharge, he provided their fare. The government subsequently approved his action.78 In a further letter to the Colonial Secretary on 1 August 1870, CLARKE reported that Mary's return to her father had had the same effect 'as in the case of OBrine' and of Eliza O’BRIEN he said,
… her character was such that I could not send her to any respectable family, I am informed that this girl left her friends and is on the streets.79
LUCAS's list in April 1872 recorded only that Mary had been 'discharged'.80 In 1870 Mary was imprisoned in Darlinghurst where she was recorded as a twenty-year-old who had been born in Sydney and who could read and write. No date was specified in the gaol records but the court case placing her in gaol may have been for prostitution on 14 February 1870,81 when she was fined ten shillings or was to spend three days in gaol.
Although the middle name doesn't match, it is almost certain that as Mary Elizabeth HOPKINS, Mary was married to Henry SWEETMAN of Burren Street, Newtown, by Rev. Dr BAILEY on 11 April 1870. The marriage announcement identified that she was the daughter of James HOPKINS82 of Chippendale Street, Chippendale, but this marriage registration hasn't been viewed. Henry and Mary appeared in court charged with larceny in 1870 and Henry went to prison but Mary was discharged.
The marriage with Henry SWEETMAN didn't last and by about 1875 Mary had begun a liaison with John GREIG. Online trees by their descendants identify that John had been born in 1847.83 John and Mary married in 1881 after the birth of at least one child. In 1875, in Sydney, Mary became the mother to an illegitimate son, William Charles Greig84 HOPKINS, who in 1901, as William GREIG, married Frances JONES. He died in 1911 at the age of 35,85 and this age matched the birth year of William C. G. HOPKINS. Another child of Mary and John GREIG was Edward James GREIG who has not been traced in the NSW BDM Index and no mention of him has been found after 1912.86 John GREIG possibly died in 1884 as the 1885 death registration for John GRIEG identified the death of his father.
Mary GREIG went on to marry Allen GRAINGER,87 a stonemason. She was recorded as a thirty-year-old widow on the registration and the registration confirmed the name of both her parents.88 Allen was named on the birth registration of his son, Rupert, as Harold but this child was confirmed as his when Rupert died and the correct name was recorded on the index.89
Between 1885 and 1919, Mary GRAINGER placed In Memoriam notices for both her father, James HOPKINS, and her son, William Charles GREIG. Mary HOPKINS died as Mary GRAINGER at the age of 72 in 1922, making her year of birth about 1850. She died of carcinoma of the ear, chronic bronchitis and heart failure. Her husband, A. GRAINGER, of 7 Abercrombie Street, Redfern, was the informant. Mary was buried on 30 October 1922,90 and in the Roman Catholic Cemetery, Rookwood.91 No headstone has been recorded on the Rookwood Cemetery Inscriptions CD.
Mary’s parents were named in the Entrance Book that also recorded that her father was a sawyer who resided at Sussex Street, Sydney. The HOPKINS family were Catholic. While the names do not consistently match those recorded in the NSW BDM Index, there is no doubt that the correct family has been identified as Mary's uncle, Henry WRIGHT, her mother's brother, was also identified in court cases directly involving her. Mary's parents, James HOPKINS and Mary WRIGHT, had been married at St Mary’s Catholic Church, Sydney, on 14 April 1846, by J. C. SUMNER. The witnesses were Henry and Margaret (X) WRIGHT, Margaret’s brother and – probably – her mother. Most subsequent baptisms and births for the couple were made under the names James and Martha HOPKINS. Mary had been born on 15 November 1851, and was baptised about a month later on 10 December as Mary Margaret WRIGHT. Her parents were erroneously recorded as James and Martha on the NSW BDM Index but on the copy of the register were clearly recorded as John HOPKINS and Mary WRIGHT who lived in Goulburn Street, Sydney.92 Commencing in 1860, the three youngest daughters of the couple were registered with parents recorded as Mary and James.
It is likely that there were difficulties, possibly health issues, within the HOPKINS family as, in addition to Mary Ann having lived with her uncle, Henry WRIGHT, for some years before 1866,93 some of her siblings were also cared for outside the family. At the age of ten on 6 July 1866, Edward was sent to the Benevolent Asylum from the Central Police Office and from there was transferred to the Randwick Asylum on 6 August. He escaped from there a month or so later94 but was returned and on 20 February 1869, Edward was apprenticed to the Rev. C. COGLAN of the Macleay River. On 12 February 1868, both Alice and Elizabeth were also admitted to Randwick. Elizabeth was returned to her father in 1873, unfortunately the month of her release is unclear. Alice was returned to Jane HOPKINS, described in the record as her step-mother, on 15 October 1873.95 Descendants of John William HOPKINS indicate that he moved to the Gulgong area and it may be that he was also sent away from his parents due to these unidentified problems within the family. Because no trace of the children, Henry or Jane HOPKINS, it is thought that they may have died before 1866. The likely burials identified for them are yet to be confirmed.
Mary aka Martha WRIGHT, and her brother, Henry WRIGHT, had both been born in Sydney. Their parents were the convicts, John WRIGHT and Margaret KINCHLEY.96 Mary Margaret HOPKINS died the day of her daughter's admission to the school so it was not unusual that she was named in the Entrance Book. As well as a Funeral Notice from her husband, James, a Funeral Notice was also inserted by her father, John, and brother, Henry.97 On 24 October permission was sought by Henry to bury his sister in the Roman Catholic Burial Ground98 perhaps suggesting that James and Mary HOPKINS were separated or were under financial strain. At this time James and Mary were living in Liverpool Street East. Because Margaret was not named in Mary's funeral notice it is thought that she had died before her daughter. It is possible that John WRIGHT died in Redfern in 1868 at the age of 67.99 Henry WRIGHT was probably still alive in April 1868.100
James HOPKINS does not appear anywhere in Sands Directory. He had been admitted to Darlinghurst gaol in August 1869 for drunkenness and this record indicated that he had arrived aboard the Crescent in 1839. He was a Catholic born in Ireland and he could read and write. James had arrived as an assisted immigrant in February 1840 at the age of 17. He had been born in County Tyrone, Ireland. The Crescent indent recorded that his parents were James and Jane HOPKINS and that his father was a sawyer.101 James may have also been admitted two further times for drunkenness 1873 and 1880 but court reports are unlikely to exist outlining the circumstances of his arrest as it was rare for drunks to be named in the newspapers. In 1869, two years after Mary senior's death, James married Jane TAYLOR.102 He and his new wife were probably the James and Jane HOPKINS who were fined in June 1873 for using obscene language.103 James died at his residence, Harris Street, Pyrmont,104 on 11 October 1884, and, as Mary GRAINGER, Mary regularly inserted In Memoriam notices into the newspapers for her father.105
It is unlikely that James’s house at 64 Dixon street, South, burned down in 1870106 as this was very soon after the marriage when he was identified as living in Chippendale street, Chippendale. A James HOPKINS was sent to Darlinghurst for being of unsound mind in 1873107 but there is no proof that these incidents refer to this family.
Updated September 2016