The HOWARD Sisters
Father James HOWARD b.c. 17941 m. none d. aft. 1871
Mother Elizabeth aka Betsy BURTON b.c. 18252 m. none d. 18953
Brother James HOWARD b. 18414 m. 18705 Elizabeth Ann McKITT d. 19096
Sister Elizabeth HOWARD b. 18437 m. d.
Brother William HOWARD b.c. 1845 m. d.
Brother John HOWARD b.c. 18468 m. 18709 Mary Ann McKITT d. 192910
Sister Mary Ann HOWARD b.c. 1849 m. 187011 John SLINGSBY d. 189912
Sister Harriett HOWARD b.c. 1853 m. none13 Edward AH SEE d. 192914
Inmate Ann aka Hannah HOWARD b.c. 1855 m. (see below) d. aft. 1873
Inmate Sarah HOWARD b.c. 1857 m. 1880 (see below) d. 194615
Sister Rachel HOWARD b. 185816 m. none - d. 186117
Inmate (twin) Emma aka Emily Elizabeth HOWARD b. 186118 m. 1881 (see below) d. 191019
Inmate (twin) Lucy HOWARD b. 186120 m. (see below) d. aft. 1877
Sister Mary HOWARD b.c. 186121 m. d. aft. 189522
Sister Rachel HOWARD b.c. 1862 m. none - d. 186723
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Father James24 39 5' 6" brown mixed with grey brown dark scar under chin; scar ball of left thumb; scar back of forefinger of left hand; four scars back of forefinger of same
Sister Elizabeth25 31 5' 4" brown brown dark

In mid-October 1869, fourteen-year-old Ann aka Anna HOWARD, and her sisters, Sarah, aged twelve, and the twins, Lucy and Emma, both aged about nine, in company with Susan ARROW aka HARROW26, were charged in Bathurst with stealing a shilling from a child named ROPER. Senior-sergeant WATERS deposed that they had been:

… strolling about the town, some of them in a state almost approaching to nudity, and were pictures of misery and destitution. Susan Arrow was found guilty and sent to gaol for one month; the others were discharged, but were immediately rearrested on a charge of vagrancy. Senior sergeant Waters deposed that they were continually strolling about the streets, insufficiently clothed, and apparently ill fed; previous charges of robbery had been preferred against them and they were being brought up in a state of ignorance and immorality. The mother of the children appeared at the Court, and said she was very poor but she pleaded with the Bench to allow the children to return home with her. She said her husband was living, but he was old and infirm and unable to do anything towards maintaining her and the children. She had had thirteen children, three of whom were dead; two of her daughters were in service and two of her sons helped to support her. If the children were allowed to return home she would do her best to keep them better in future. The Bench were of opinion that it would be much better for the children to be sent to the Industrial School, where they would be fed, clothed, educated, and fitted to follow some useful occupation. They accordingly ordered that the children should be forwarded to the Industrial School at Newcastle, and the mother was informed that she would be allowed the privilege of corresponding with them, or, if she went to Newcastle, she would be allowed to see them.27

The four sisters were admitted to Bathurst Gaol28 whilst awaiting their transfer by escort, first to Sydney and then on to the Newcastle Industrial School29 where they were admitted on 21 October.30 Their admission details have not survived as this date occurred during the period when records for the institution are missing from the Entrance Book so no confirmation of family, education, discharge or religion can be confirmed from this source. The four sisters transferred to Biloela in May 1871 and were recorded as 'In the Institution' on the list compiled by LUCAS in April 1872.31 The Biloela transfer lists indicated that the sisters were Protestant.32


Because two of the HOWARD admissions, Lucy and Emma, were named and described in newspaper reports as twins,33 their birth registrations and subsequently their family can be positively identified. The sisters were four of the daughters of James HOWARD and Elizabeth BURTON who lived with their extended families on the O'Connell Plains near Kelso and Bathurst. The identity of their family can further be verified because their mother was charged with a larceny and appeared in court on the Monday following the sisters' appearance for vagrancy. Elizabeth and her elder daughter, Harriet, were charged with the theft of goods from Catherine WRIGHT and were sentenced to three months' hard labour in Bathurst Gaol. Bathurst Gaol records for this period only supply trial dates and provide no descriptions. While many online trees have identified that James and Elizabeth had married in 1840,34 it is almost entirely certain that they, and perhaps many of their children, never married. No marriage has been identified. This was very probably because James HOWARD already had a wife in England.

Baptisms and registrations for only five of the children of have been confirmed in the NSW BDM Index and identifying their children is ongoing. Descendants have also found a similar difficulty. The eldest children of the couple were probably James and Elizabeth, born in 184135 and 184336 respectively. They had been baptised in the Holy Trinity Church of England at Kelso37 on the eastern side of Bathurst. It is possible that other children were baptised and the register containing their names has not survived or has been omitted from the NSW BDM Index. Three birth registrations were made in Bathurst where Elizabeth was recorded as Betsy so was relatively 'hidden' on the NSWBDM Index. No tree has identified that Lucy and Emma were registered as twins and this has occurred partly because they were recorded with different ages on the death registration for their mother.38 The numbering of their registrations on the NSW BDM Index indicate, and newspaper statements refer to them, as twins and these records must be accepted as fact. It is not believed that Emma and Lucy were identical twins. While this can't be certain, it is considered highly unlikely that they were two sisters registered at the same time to avoid a government fine because a registration for the eldest had not been made.

Identifying the children is complicated because James and Elizabeth's son, James, married Elizabeth KITT aka McKITT, so their children also begin to appear on the NSW BDM Index mingled with the names of their aunts and uncles. It is thought that the younger couple's first child was registered as Dethia but only the actual registration39 will confirm the mothers' surname and therefore her identity. Bathurst Gaol records, newspaper articles and the notation in the Police Gazette at the time of their arrest are the only written evidence of the existence of Ann and Sarah, two of the arrested daughters of the couple. The older two Newcastle admissions, Ann and Sarah, were not identified on the NSW BDM Index with either a birth or a baptism and Sarah's age very strongly suggested that she had been born after the commencement of compulsory registration in NSW so a registration should have occurred. Ann was the eldest of the admitted sisters, and had been born before 1856 so only a baptism would have been available. Neither Sarah nor Ann were recorded on the death registration of their mother and it is known that Sarah was alive and married so it can't yet be ascertained whether Ann was still alive in 1895.

The marriage of James HOWARD and Elizabeth TAYLOR in the Scots' Church in Sydney on 23 October 1843, by John Dunmore LANG40 is considered very unlikely to identify the marriage of James HOWARD and Elizabeth BURTON. While this original marriage record didn't contain a maiden name for Elizabeth and identified that she was a widow, because it had occurred far from Bathurst, the identified location of the couple in both 184141 and in 1843,42 it is not thought to refer to the couple.

Elizabeth HOWARD née BURTON, was the daughter of James BURTON aka BOLTON, who had been transported aboard the Atlas in 1816. James BURTON's wife, Elizabeth BURTON née HILLYER, and their daughter, Sarah, had arrived free aboard the Surry (3) in 1819. James was subsequently assigned to his wife.43 Their daughter Elizabeth had subsequently been born in Windsor in about 1825 but no appropriate baptism has been located for her. She was recorded as a three-year-old in 1828.44 The extended BURTON family eventually moved to and were living in the Bathurst area by about 1841. In April 1895, some family connections were outlined in a newspaper report concerning a fight between Peter ARROW and his cousins, John, Charles, Albert and William HOWARD. The report included references to their father, John HOWARD, a son of James and Elizabeth. Peter stated that the '… accused [John] and my father are cousins.'45 Peter’s father was identified in the NSW BDM Index as James ARROW, whose baptism or birth was also not registered. Other birth records for the children of Peter's parents, William and Sarah ARROW, confirmed that Sarah’s maiden name was BURTON. The 1929 death registration of John HOWARD, identified that his father was James and recorded that his mother's maiden name was also BURTON. The Susan ARROW who had been arrested at the same time as the HOWARD sisters, but was too old to be sent to Newcastle, was therefore their cousin, baptised in 1854 as Susannah ARROW. Susan was recorded in Bathurst Gaol records as HARROW.

Elizabeth HOWARD, senior, together with her daughter, Harriet, had also been arrested for larceny in October 1869. Elizabeth was tried and sentenced to three months hard labour in Bathurst Gaol and was released in January 1870.46 At the time of her daughters' arrest in 1869, Elizabeth stated that:

[S]he had had thirteen children, three of whom were dead ; two of her daughters were in service and two of her sons helped to support her.

Only two of Elizabeth's deceased children have been identified. These were the daughters who were both named Rachel. The identity of the other dead child is unknown. Elizabeth's death registration in 1895 identified only seven more of her children. James was recorded as 50 but was probably closer to 60. John was recorded as 48 but may have been closer to 50. Mary Ann was 44 but was probably closer to 46. Harriett was recorded as 42. Lucy was recorded as 40 and Emily was recorded as 37 but they were only 34. Another child named Mary was reported to be 35 and this woman's identity is unknown. Annie did not identify that Emma, recorded as Emily, and Lucy were the same age and omitted to name Sarah.47 It is therefore unknown whether Ann was still alive by 1895 or had also been omitted. One more child who was alive in 1869 was not identified in 1895.

Elizabeth died on 30 July 1895 as Elizabeth HOWARD and her death was registered in Dubbo. Her father was recorded as James but no mother was identified. While Elizabeth's daughter Harriet was a resident in the Dubbo area at this time,48 the informant of Elizabeth's death, Annie MELROSE, was not at that time a family member, so her ability to recall a complete and accurate family history for Elizabeth's death certificate must be questioned. Annie MELROSE has been potentially identified by descendants as the future wife of Harriet's son, Edward AHSEE.49 Elizabeth was buried in the Dubbo Cemetery.50

Note: Some online trees indicate that Elizabeth remarried John SANDRY as Elizabeth BURTON in 1879.51 This relationship is not correct. From 1880 John and Elizabeth SANDRY became the parents of eight children all born in Bathurst. The 1879 marriage refers to Elizabeth BURTON the daughter of William and Mary Jane BURTON.52 Elizabeth, the widow of John SANDRY died in 1939.53

At the time of the arrest of his daughters, James HOWARD, was described as the:

… father of this unfortunate family … who, we understand has been eking out an existence somewhere in the bush, came into town a day or two ago, and procured an order to visit his wife and five daughters in the gaol. To judge from his appearance, the fact of his four children having been ordered to be sent to Newcastle is most fortunate. Age, poverty, and disease have rendered him a spectacle sickening to behold, and combined, they must eventually terminate what at present appears to be but a miserable existence.54

James' identity is difficult to establish. Some online trees. presumably using information recorded on birth registrations, have identified that James had been born in Gloucestershire, England, in about 1820. There are many trees that contain this unreferenced information and it must be questioned. One online query outlined a more specific origin and very strongly suggested that the contributor held a record that confirmed that James had been born in Bristol, Gloucestershire, England, in about 1810.55 James' actual age has not been confirmed but it must be considered that he was actually older than the age he declared and that it was closer to the age suggested in the newspaper report in 1869 at the time of his daughters' arrest. It is speculation only that James had been transported but it must be considered as his children's arrest was a typical circumstance for many admitted to the industrial schools at this time. A potential arrival, believed to be correct but is based only on supposition and circumstantial evidence, is outlined below.

It is considered almost certain that the man imprisoned for vagrancy in Bathurst Gaol on 14 November 1870, about a year after the arrests, and who had subsequently been transferred to the Benevolent Asylum in Sydney on 15 December 1870, was the girls' father.56 He was very probably the same man who, on 4 January 1871 at the stated age of 65, was admitted to Darlinghurst Gaol after an appearance for vagrancy at Hartley near Bathurst before Thomas BROWN.57 In Darlinghurst he was detained at the gaol hospital and discharged on 10 February. James HOWARD was described as having arrived on the Susannah in 1835. He had been born in Bristol and was a Protestant.58 SRNSW identified only one ship named the Susannah and it had arrived in 1839. A search of convict transports identified a James HOWARD, a farm servant, who had been transported on the Susan in 1835 for seven years for sheep stealing. He had been born in Gloucestershire and had been tried in Bristol on 8 April 1833. This transportee was already married with two children at the time of his transportation. The Susan indent recorded that he was 39 in 1835 so he had been born in about 1794.

While this age does not match statements made by James, because family researchers have been unable to agree on his age, this suggests that regarding his age, James had made inconsistent and conflicting statements. It is also almost certain that an aged man from the same area known to be the abode of the HOWARD family, has been tracked to this gaol admission and information matches the documentation on the scant records available to his descendants. The 1837 muster indicated that James HOWARD had been indented to Thomas EVERNDEN in Bathurst59 and he had received his ticket of Leave in 1839 while a resident at Bathurst. James received a certificate of Freedom in 1841.60 Although he had previously had a family in England, he would have been entitled to eventually remarry after his arrival in NSW but it is possible that he may not have known this or may have personally prevented him from marrying Elizabeth BURTON. It must also be considered that James may have planned to hide and had effectively hidden his convict history from his family. The Susan (1835) transportee has been attributed as the father of the four Newcastle admissions.

No death record can be confirmed for James. He was alive in early 1871 but it is considered unlikely that he have lived far past 1880 as by 1871 he would almost certainly have been close to eighty years of age. Only one potential death might refer to this man. The most likely is the death in 187161 recorded that of a 48-year-old man who died at Parramatta. The other in 1884 recorded the death of a 73-year-old man at Liverpool.62 This is not likely to be the correct James HOWARD as it is believed that this man died at the Liverpool Asylum and these records indicated that he had arrived aboard the Traitor.

Online trees are unreliable in their identification of and fate of James and Elizabeth's children and no trees have yet been found that provide references, actual birth, marriage or death dates or an accurate identification of the Newcastle admissions.

James and Elizabeth's daughter, Harriet, didn't marry. Her son, Alfie, was arrested in Dubbo in 1897 and was admitted to the Sobraon.63

Their daughter, Elizabeth, may have been the Elizabeth HOWARD arrested by O'Connell police in August 1875 for obtaining goods with false pretenses. She appeared at the Bathurst Quarter Sessions where she was sentenced to six months hard labour in Bathurst gaol on 6 September 1875.64 She had been born in 1853 and was a native of the colony.65 Elizabeth may have been the victim or a rape in October 1889.66 It is believed that the Eliza HOWARD who was was mother to a Lucy Ann HOWARD – an illegitimate birth in 188067 – that occurred in Bathurst, may have been Elizabeth HOWARD who had been born in about 1843. The child, Lucy Ann, was admitted to the Benevolent Asylum in 1895. It should also be considered that this Eliza HOWARD was actually one of the four girls admitted to Newcastle who had assumed another given name.


Ann's birth or baptism have not yet been identified on the NSW BDM Index as either Ann or Hannah. She had been in the school for more than a year when, in about April 1871, she escaped. Ann, Mary Ann MEEHAN and Lucy AH KIN absconded from the Newcastle Reformatory around 14 April.68

They were found inhabiting a deserted hut on the Minmi Creek between Minmi and Teralba and the trio spent a week living in a deserted hut in the bush at Minmi.69

The three girls were arrested by constable LEONARD of Wallsend Police after having been concealed by Thomas HAFEY and two other men. HAFEY was also arrested by LEONARD at Wallsend and received one month’s gaol for concealing an absconder. Ann's associates in this escape were two girls known to have been in the Newcastle Reformatory at this time and this circumstance suggests that for some reason she had been accommodated in the reformatory section of the school. Mary Ann was a reformatory admission and Lucy AH KIN had been temporarily placed in the reformatory whilst awaiting a trial. No proof other than the names of her associates has yet been found but George LUCAS had taken over as superintendent by this stage and he was far harsher in his dealings with the girls than the former superintendent, Joseph CLARKE. Ann's involvement in the April riot may have necessitated isolating her from other industrial school rioters and the reformatory was nearby and effectively removed her from influencing other inmates.

Ann and Mary Ann appeared in Newcastle Court on 21 April 1871, charged with destroying Government property in the riot of 14 April, but their trial was deferred until the following day as the superintendent, LUCAS, was at the Maitland Assizes.70 Ann appeared again on 22 April but the charge against her was withdrawn and she was returned to the school.71

After her transfer to Biloela in May 1871, Ann was listed in LUCAS's letter to the Colonial Secretary on 23 June 1871, as eligible for service.72 LUCAS confirmed that she had been discharged as an apprentice in his report on 5 February 1872, but the name of her employer was not confirmed in this letter.73 It may have been Edward MOORE who lived on the property, Greenfields, Reedy Creek, near Singleton or she may have had an earlier apprenticeship that has not been identified. Ann absconded from her situation with MOORE some time around November 1872 and she had been with MOORE in November 1872. The Maitland Mercury reported that Annie 'formerly an inmate of the Biloela Reformatory' brought a charge of rape against MOORE. MOORE’s arrest for a rape that reportedly took place in November 1872, occurred in January the following year74 and Annie appeared in Singleton Court in January 1873.75 The court concluded that

the whole case appeared to be a trumpery affair, got up by the girl in revenge for Mr. MOORE applying for a warrant for (her) apprehension.

After Annie's cross-examination, no further witnesses were called, with the bench decided that there was no case to be sent to the jury, and dismissed the information.76

Where has She Gone?

No further confirmation of Ann had been located although many appearances for a woman of this name are recorded in the Darlinghurst Gaol records. No descriptions are available so it cannot be ascertained whether this woman was an appropriate age or whether her birth location would match what is known of Annie. One of the admissions used the alias of HADLEY77 and HARTLEY78 and these names need further investigation. One of the women admitted to gaol had been born in about 1824.79

There are no appropriate deaths for an Ann, Anne, Anna, Hannah or Annie HOWARD. There are no confirmed gaol entrances for an Ann HOWARD, so while it possible that she appeared in Sydney courts from 1876 until about 1898 and subsequently went to gaol, this can't be proved. An Ann HARTLEY aka HADLEY appeared in Darlinghurst admissions on 28 May 1877, and 27 November 1882, but no descriptions are available80 and no trial details have yet been located. No ages have yet been identified in any court cases.

Ann may have been the mother of the illegitimate son, James T. HOWARD whose birth was registered in Sydney in 1885.81 This man may have been the James Jefferson HOWARD who died in Sydney in 1964.82

The following women are interesting:
1. Nothing is known about the woman who married John TURNER (1864-1911) in Cootamumdra in 1883 as the one online tree available indicated that this family went to Western Australia and John died in South Australia. It may be that this woman was too young but no marriage registration has been viewed.
2. Nothing is known about the woman who married Samuel BROWN in Sydney in 1879. There are no online trees. She continues to be investigated. No marriage registration has been viewed. Only two children may have been born to the couple although they have not been confirmed. Florence Magdeline BROWN's birth was registered in Newtown in 1879 where Ann may have been recorded as Annie.83 Elizabeth R. BROWN's birth was registered in Balmain in 1881 where Ann may have been recorded as Anna.84
3. She was unlikely to have married (Thomas) John Edward FIELD (1856 - 1928) as Ann E. HOWARD at Nandi, Coonabarrabran, on 1 January 1876.85 Online trees vary her date of birth from between 1853 to 1858 but most identify that she had been born in Maitland. No parents were recorded on the marriage registration and no online trees identified any parents. When this woman died on 9 June 1937, her death was registered in Narrabri.

Online trees and research strongly suggest that Anne:
1. did not marry Herbert BURGES in Maitland in 187486 as the parents of this woman don't match those of the Newcastle girl and her obituary indicated that she had been born at Camden in about 1854.87


Husband Joseph EASTERBROOK b. 1850 m. 188188 d. 192889
Son Joseph Philip EASTERBROOK b. 188590 m. 1910 Florence Mary MONTGOMERY d. 1962
Daughter Hilda Ann EASTERBROOK b. 188991 m. 1909 William Ernest HOOKE d. 1953

Emma appears to have been remembered or recorded as Emily within the family as this was the name recorded on the death certificate of her mother in 1895 where she was still recorded as living.92 She was certainly known and recorded as Emma during the time at the institution but it is very likely that this was the name which she used in later life. Emma transferred to Biloela with her sisters in May 1871. On 16 April 1873, LUCAS requested permission to apprentice her for six years to Henry MURDOCK senior, of Cleveland Street, Redfern. She was to receive a shilling a week for the first two years, two shillings a week for the next two years and three shillings a week for the last two years. LUCAS described Emma as twelve years of age and stated that she was conducting herself well. The Colonial Secretary's comment cannot be easily read and it is believed to question the apprenticeship.

The apprenticing in Sydney is ad?allmed[?] which ?? to permit[?] ?? it is believed informed.

This apprenticeship didn't go ahead because on 14 May 1873, Emma was apprenticed to Mrs BAYLEY of Liverpool at the same rate of payment as arranged with MURDOCK and this apprenticeship was approved.93

It is believed that as Emily Elizabeth HOWARD Emma married Joseph EASTERBROOK in Tamworth in 188194 and this marriage has been tentatively attributed to her although the registration has not been viewed. That this is Emma is also believed by Sarah's descendants who are also yet to verify this relationship. It is considered more than coincidence that one of the attendants at the birth of Sarah's son John, in Moree in 1887 was a Mrs EASTERBROOK.95 It is not known whether Emma's parents were recorded on her marriage registration but Joseph's do appear and are recorded on an online tree – now private. The couple resided at Boomi near Inverell.96

An online tree that no longer functions but which contains some very specific information, stated that Joseph EASTERBROOK had been born on 4 September 1850, at Mulgoa, NSW. Joseph became a carpenter and married Emily Elizabeth HOWARD, the daughter of James HOWARD and Elizabeth BURTON, on 25 October 1881, in the Presbyterian Church at Tamworth where he was living and working. Emma was at that time a domestic servant. She had been born on 17 October 1860, in Bathurst, NSW. The EASTERBROOKs had two children, Joseph who became a carpenter and mill owner and Hilda who married William Hook and had nine children.97

In 1885 Joseph senior was working in Eulowrie, a station on the coach route from Moree to Barraba which was then owned by Edward W. KING. In 1889 he was working as a carpenter at Boomi and he built his own house. In 1892 he purchased land in Moree and until at least 1895 continued to work in the area. In about 1900 one of the local landowners, C. F. BROUGHTON of Naroola, near Boomi, was involved with some building on his property. He stated, "I had not far to look for a carpenter, in fact he came to me, in a tilted cart with camp equipment for his small family. One son was a very helpful lad of about 14 or 15 years of age and there was no haggling about wages. Joe Easterbrook, a competent carpenter as I knew him to be, asked 13/- a day for himself and his son and I take it that was equal to the ruling wages of the day and what he had charged elsewhere."98 In 1900 Joe was working for G. W. LEADINGHAM at Wallon via Moree.99

The wife of Joseph EASTERBROOK died as Emma E. EASTERBROOK on 12 November 1910 at the age of 50. No parents were recorded at the time of her death but her maiden name was confirmed as HOWARD on the NSW BDM Index.100 Emma was buried on 13 November, 1910 in Boomi Cemetery, NSW.101

The EASTERBROOKs remained in their home at Boomi until 1922 when, apparently due to advancing age, Joseph sold the property to his son Joseph. He had sold his Moree property to his son some years earlier in 1911 shortly after the death of Emma. Joseph died in Garah near Boomi on 18 October 1928102 at Garah near Boomi, NSW. He was buried on 19 October, 1928 in Boomi Cemetery, NSW.103


Lucy transferred with her sisters to Biloela on Cockatoo Island in May 1871. On 29 October 1874, the Church of England clergyman, Robert WILLIS, at Campbelltown, requested on behalf of Henry MORRIS, of Redfern, Clerk in the Audit Office of the railway station specifically for 'Lucy Howard from Bathurst … [who] has been recommended to him'. If Lucy wasn't available, MORRIS was happy to take 'some other country girl.' WILLIS recommended Mr and Mrs MORRIS ensuring that they would treat Lucy with kindness and look after her well. The relieving superintendent, John DALE, sought and received permission for the four-year apprenticeship. Lucy was to be paid one shilling a week for the first year, two shillings a week for the second year and three shillings a week for the final two years. He stated that Lucy had been conducting herself well.104 She was discharged105 but about two weeks later, on 13 November, Lucy disobeyed the commands of Mrs MORRIS106 and was taken to court107 where her indentures were cancelled by mutual consent.108 Lucy pleaded guilty and expressed her determination not to return to MORRIS, preferring to be sent back to Biloela. She was readmitted to the school on 18 November.109

On 29 April 1876, Lucy was again apprenticed, this time to Mr Joseph TERRY of Campbelltown. An apprenticeship for two and a half years with Mr Benjamin WARBY had been arranged by Selina WALKER and approved by the Colonial Secretary. Lucy was to be paid two shillings a week for the first year and three shillings a week for the remainder of the time.110 This apprenticeship with WARBY was declined by him at the last moment 'on account of the misconduct to take her on account of the misconduct of her sister who lives next door to him.'111 The indentures with TERRY were for two years and six months but they were also cancelled due to misconduct and Lucy returned to Biloela on 15 January 1877.112 This return was confirmed by WALKER in her report written on 22 January.113 By this stage Lucy was seventeen. Nine months later Lucy escaped from the island with two Biloela inmates, Ada SOLOMON and Mary FEENEY.114 Once the girls had been missed, the superintendent, Selina WALKER, notified the Water Police, providing them with their names and descriptions. The girls were recaptured at about 9.30 on Sunday night and were returned to the Biloela. It was noted that Lucy and Ada had been on the island for more than nine years. Mary had only been at Biloela for two years.

Escape from Biloela.
On Saturday last, three girls named Lucy Howard, Ada Solomon, and Mary Feeney, inmates of the Biloela Reformatory, made their escape and came on to Sydney. Information of the "bolt" was at once given to the police authorities, and on Sunday night about half-past 9 o'clock, the runaways were found, "doing" Castlereagh-street. They were arrested and sent back to the reformatory. It is supposed that the girls escaped by the 8.20 p.m. Parramatta steamer, but according to their own recount, they swam off to the nearest shore. This is highly improbable.115

The use of the word 'reformatory' in this case is deceptive and even at the time the word was often used generically referring to the either of or the combined institutions. These girls were all admitted to the industrial school and although it is possible that there had been an internal transfer made to the Reformatory, all appear in the Discharge Register for the Industrial School. Additionally, no record of any transfer between the schools has yet been located. After their return to the island on 22 October, WALKER reported that they:

were placed in separate dormitories on bread and water diet.
Lucy Howard was yesterday 23rd Inst., was placed in a cell and refused this morning to come out. She will therefore be kept there until this evening when she will probably change her mind.

The location of the cells on Biloela referred to in this letter is unknown but further instructions from the Colonial Secretary instructed that:

(i)t will be better simply to keep the girls separate on restricted diet.

WALKER's response confirmed that '(t)hese instructions shall be attended to.'116

On 29 November 1877, Lucy was discharged from Biloela as she had turned eighteen. No notation was made in the records about where she may have gone and it is thought that she was simply released. Her discharge was confirmed by WALKER in her report on 3 December 1877.117

Where has She Gone?

No appropriate Police Gazette entries or gaol admissions have been found for anyone named Lucy and born between 1859 and 1863 other than the initial 1869 arrest details indicated above. It may be that Lucy was the mother to the illegitimate son, William HOWARD who was born in 1895.118 This registration has not been viewed.

It is almost certain that after her release Lucy adopted a new name and probably never registered a marriage. Lucy was recorded as a forty-year-old on the death registration for her mother, Elizabeth, in 1895 so It is believed that some contact was made after 1877. Because it is known that Lucy knew Ada SOLOMON and Mary FEENEY well, it is possible that she maintained a friendship with these woman but unless she is recorded in a Family Notice maintaining either of these relationships, this will be difficult to prove. No such connection has yet been identified.

Lucy was too young to have married:
Silas CROSS, as the wife of Silas CROSS had parents named Edward and Jane
Herbert LOMAS, as the wife of Herbert LOMAS had parents named Thomas and Emma
Edward BRAY

The Lucy McHUGH who died in Bathurst in 1889 cannot be a reference to Lucy as the Bathurst Headstone Transcription CD from the BFHG indicated that this woman was a nun.


Note Two girls with this name were admitted to the Newcastle Industrial School. The girl from this family was the elder of the two, was arrested from Bathurst and was discharged from Biloela at the age of 18 and not returned to her family. Only this girl transferred to Biloela in May 1871 as the younger Sarah HOWARD (2) was discharged to her father in January 1871.

Husband John STEPHENS b. m. 1880119 d.
Son b.120 m. d.
Daughter b.121 m. d.

Sarah's birth has not been registered. Her name was omitted from the list of children identified on her mother's death registration.122 These two omissions have effectively meant that she seems not to exist on the NSW BDM Index or belong to any family making tracing her and confirming her ancestry extremely difficult. The only written proof of her connection to the HOWARD family of O'Connell Plains and around Bathurst exists in the Bathurst Gaol records at the time the sisters were transferred to Newcastle and in the widely published newspaper articles reporting on their arrest.

Shortly after the school arrived at Biloela on Cockatoo Island, Sarah was the thirteen-year-old girl recorded on LUCAS’s list of girls eligible for apprenticeship.123 She was recorded as ‘In the Institution’ on LUCAS’s list compiled in April 1872.124 At the age of fourteen on 29 January 1872 Sarah was apprenticed to Mr. Henry MOORE, of the Hunter River. Her apprenticeship was to be for four years and she was to be paid a shilling a week for the first year, two shillings a week for the next two years and three shillings a week for her final year. LUCAS confirmed her admission date and stated that Sarah had 'generally conducted herself well.'125 This apprenticeship was cancelled and Sarah was returned to the school but the date of her return, like her initial admission to the school, would have appeared in the section of the Entrance Book that has not survived. An appropriate letter explaining why the return occurred has not yet been located and because it occurred at the time of the superintendency of LUCAS is considered unlikely to exist. Sarah, Mary CASHER, Jane WINSOR, Phoebe WILEY, and three Biloela girls126 were involved in an altercation with the matrons on Biloela on 26 November 1872, when they barricaded the door of No. 3 dormitory with their bedsteads and refused admission at lights out at 9 o’clock. They remained barricaded in the dormitory until the morning of 28 November when they voluntarily removed the blockage. LUCAS didn't elaborate on any punishment the girls may have received.127

On 17 July 1873 LUCAS again reported that Sarah was discharged as an apprentice to Mrs Emily OXLEY, the wife or mother of Henry OXLEY,128 of Hunter’s Hill.129 She was to receive two shillings a week for the first year and three shillings a week for the second year. He confirmed Sarah's arrest details and that she was currently aged sixteen in a further letter written on 7 July 1873. The Colonial Secretary approved the apprenticeship three days later.130 Sarah was returned to Biloela from this apprenticeship on 29 September 1874 and this return was confirmed by John DALE, the Temporary Officer in Charge in his report on 5 October 1874.131 Sarah had run away and appeared at the Ryde Police Court where her indentures were cancelled. No newspaper report of this appearance has been located. Mrs OXLEY stated to the Constable who found and returned Sarah to her that she would not pay 'one fraction of her wages untill I am compelled to do so.' On 23 October a letter was written by DALE to Mrs OXLEY concerning a complaint made against her by Sarah. Sarah stated that she had received no wages for the fourteen months when she was apprenticed to the OXLEY family and was owed 6 pound and eleven shillings. She also complained that Mrs OXLEY had kept her clothing. DALE told Mrs OXLEY that he required a response otherwise he would need to take the matter to the Colonial Secretary and on 3 November this he did. On 11 December Mrs OXLEY responded with a comprehensive list of very high quality clothing for which she stated that she had paid eighteen pound, twelve shillings and nine pence. She unfortunately had no receipts. The list was made up of sixteen pairs of boots, three of which were kid, seven dresses, two hats, three pairs of stays, two petticoats, six hair nets, ten pairs of stockings, 3 pairs of gloves, six handkerchiefs, a silk jacket and various items such as collars and cuffs, ribbons and aprons. OXLEY stated that Sarah still had some of her own clothes at the house that she would forward on if they were applied for. DALE responded to the Colonial Secretary that:

I beg leave leave respectfully to state that the statement offered by this lady is in direct opposition to the acknowledgement made to Constable Turner of the Water Police Force who took the girl back to this Lady on the 27th September last "that she wanted to know what was "to be done with her wages this girl was readmitted on the 29th September two days after this assertion.
Admitting that this girl behaved in the manner described in this lady's letter, she had a remedy, wherewith she might have easily availed herself of, for I advised that lady some time ago what steps to to take on the matter however it seems this lady was quite satisfied with the girl in retaining her for fourteen months and then not giving her a penny of wages, the clothes alluded to she was [?] to furnish from the terms of the agreement

The Colonial Secretary stated:

Mrs Oxley may be furnished with a copy of the enclosed letter from W. Blaxland J.P. and informed that it is necessary that she should [?] show that she has paid the amount to which Sarah Howard was entitled[?] under her indentures, or make payment of the amount.132

No further details of this disagreement have yet been found but as the Colonial Secretary believed that Sarah should have received her wages, it is likely that OXLEY was compelled to pay them. Sarah remained on Biloela after this incident and on 25 January 1875, DALE reported that she had been released because she had reached the age of eighteen.133 It is expected that Sarah was released directly onto the streets of Sydney but no evidence has been found for this and it may not be the case.

It is unknown how Sarah gained employment on the North Coast of NSW. She may have answered an advertisement or found an employer through connections that she had made either within or outside the school. By some means she gained employment as a domestic servant and moved north. Some time before 1880 she was working as a domestic servant on Palmer's Island on the Clarence River. On 26 January 1880 at the Manse at Rocky Mouth, now Maclean, Sarah married John STEPHENS who was also a resident of Palmer's Island. No parents were identified for either participant. The witnesses to the marriage were almost certainly connected to the Presbyterian minister, Duncan McINNES.134 The couple moved frequently around northern NSW and southern Queensland where John worked as a miner and their children were born.135

Sarah's death was registered as Sarah STEPHENS in Portland in 1946 where her parents were confirmed as James HOWARD and Betsy BURTON.136

Updated February 2018

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