The HOWARD (2) Sisters
Father Elias aka Eli HOWARD alias Joseph SMITH aka Eli Joseph HOWARD b.c. 18111 m. 18552 d. 18913
Mother Catherine CURRY b.c. 1829 m. 1855 d. 18914
Sister Mary HOWARD b. 18565 m. MAGUIRE6 d.
Inmate Sarah HOWARD b. 18597 m. 1890 (see below) d. 19348
Inmate Catherine HOWARD b.c. 1860 m. 1874 (see below) d. 19219
Brother Eli John10 HOWARD b. 186111 m. 188312 Mary Jane DALTON13 d. 193514
Sister Elizabeth aka Bessie HOWARD b. 186615 m. 188816 George GILLARD d. 189917
Brother Thomas HOWARD aka SMITH18 b. 186819 m. d. 192420
Brother Francis21 HOWARD22 b. 1870 m. d.
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Father Eli23 40 5' 5¾" dark brown blue fresh medium head, nose, mouth & chin; oval visage; high forehead; dark brown whiskers & eyebrows; bald on top of head

Sarah and her younger sister, Catherine, were arrested around the end of 1869 by constable GASKON of Orange Police for stealing boots and other articles the property of several storekeepers in Orange.24 All the stolen property was recovered but their mother, Catherine, was charged with receiving the goods. The sisters appeared before J. F. LANE, P.M., in Orange Court on 29 December 1869, and on 25 January 1870, were recorded in Bathurst gaol records together with Catherine REDDAN prior to their transfer to Newcastle.25 The three girls were admitted to Newcastle on 26 January 1870. Records for the Entrance Book are missing for this period so the educational ability, family, discharge particulars and religion can’t be confirmed from this source. Neither sister transferred to Biloela in May 1871 although the list transcribed from the Entrance Book by LUCAS in April 1872 has erroneously marked both sisters as 'In the Institution' even though it also shows their correct discharge date.26

Petitions in a series of letters in the CSIL from the sisters' father, Eli, requesting his daughters release date from July 1870.27 The superintendent at the time, CLARKE, wrote in response to these letters indicating that the Entrance Book had recorded that Eli had abandoned his family. CLARKE added that the sisters 'are well conducted nice children but I have no means of knowing anything of their parents.' HOWARD wrote that

Having had two little girls of the ages of eleven and twelve taken away from me while absent from home being at[?] a reaping 50 miles from them to earn an honest livelihood for my family, I now crave your Honor's assistance in endeavouring to restore the two girls to their own home in Bathurst where myself and their unfortunate mother resides broken hearted.

J. A. POULTON in Orange responded

As Eli Howard is now living with his wife whose character is bad I do not consider that he is fit to be entrusted with his children. Howard himself is an honest fellow but his wife is an old offender.

Eli's initial application was rejected in September based on these unfavourable police reports. Although the family was in Orange and local records may contribute further details, no other incidents involving Catherine appear in either the Police Gazette or Bathurst gaol records so it seems a little harsh on the family that this one incident was used so harshly against her family. By December, HOWARD was again writing to achieve his daughters' release, reminding the government that they had been in the school for nearly a year. This time J. M. MARSH Esq., J.P., and R. ?. WATERS, senior sergeant jointly signed the following letter28

Eli Howard is working at Blockdown[?] for Mr. Rotten J.P., at 30/- per week – his wife and five children are kept respectable & clean he is now three months in Bathurst and come from Sydney. The wife and family are some months longer about six months and there has been no complaints of them. – The wife's relations are in Bathurst and are quite industrious people. – Mrs Howard done two months in Orange gaol for receiving two pairs of boots stolen by the children at Newcastle – She states that she sent the children with half a sovereign to purchas a pair of boots – they lost the half sovereign and began to cry when a Mrs O'Conner who resided next door to the Howards suggested to the children to steal the boots, that the mother & no one would know any thing of it and that there was plenty of them there, and when it was done gave information to the police. There is a suspicion that Mrs O'Conner picked up the half sovereign.

Additional notation on the letter stated 'Under this report the children may be released to the care of their father' resulted in both sisters being discharged into his care after almost a year at the school. The girls left the school on 6 January 1871.29


Sarah and Catherine were two of the children of Eli and Catherine HOWARD of Orange and Bathurst30 and formerly of Tasmania. No registration has been located for Catherine’s birth but the registration for Sarah and the location of Orange match the area of their arrests. Joseph SMITH alias Eli HOWARD and Catherine CURRY were married in Hobart, Tasmania, on 28 May 1855, at the Catholic church of St Joseph, by Banns by John FITZGERALD. Eli was recorded there as a widower. The witnesses were Benjamin SMITH and Margaret (X) CURRY.31 It is unknown whether Benjamin SMITH was connected in any way to Eli. It is also unknown when the couple left Tasmania but their first recorded child, Mary, was baptised in Sydney in 185632 so it was probably shortly after their marriage. They were located in Durham Street, Bathurst, in 1870. Eli was living at Mount Rankin, near Bathurst, when he was a victim of a robbery around March 1871.33

Eli was described as an old man in police reports during September 1871 and he stated in his letter written on 23 July 1870, that he had been fourteen years in the colony.34 This was an indication of his arrival in NSW, not Australia. Eli arrived as the convict, Joseph SMITH, alias Eli HOWARD, and had been born in Lancashire in about 1812. He had been tried at Chester on 4 August 1849, and was transported for seven years for obtaining goods by false pretenses and arrived on the Prestonjee Bomanjee (4) into Van Diemen’s Land on 31 July 1852. His real name was recorded on his conduct report as Elias HOWARD. Eli had been married before his transportation and the research of his descendants identified that his first wife was named Elizabeth PATTERSON who died in England in 1851.35 Eli received a ticket of leave on 2 August 1853, and a Conditional Pardon in July 1854.36 In July 1885, Catherine took Eli to court requesting maintenence insisting that he had 'Thousands in the Bank.'

Catherine Howard sued her husband, Eli Howard, for maintenance. She averred that Eli had thousands in the bank; while Eli said he had not a shilling in the wide, wide world, and earned only about 15s a week by dealing. His wife had left him owing to her drinking habits. No order was made.37

Eli died as Eli J. HOWARD in Sydney on 28 March 1891.38 His parents were recorded on the NSW BDM Index as Joseph and Martha HOWARD. No trace of a will or a deceased estate for Eli has been found as HOWARD or SMITH.

Catherine CURRY had arrived in Tasmania at the age of 20 in August 1854 aboard the Kingston. Her sister, Margaret, was also in Tasmania as she was witness at Catherine's wedding. Catherine had been born in County Cavan, Ireland. After the arrest of her daughters, she was tried on 3 March 1870, at Orange Quarter Sessions presided over by John OLIVER and was sent to Orange Gaol for two months for receiving goods knowing them to be stolen.39 She was allowed bail of forty pounds with two sureties of twenty pounds each. No gaol record has yet been located for Catherine in either the Police Gazette or gaol. Catherine died in Sydney on 7 May 1891, two months after her husband.40

Marriages for family members are not easy to locate, partly due to the commonality of the surnames HOWARD and SMITH that were both used by Eli and Catherine's children. Eli junior married as John. Catherine married as SMITH. Mary is thought by descendants to have married 'MAGUIRE' but nothing of her can be located. One online tree has identified another child, Francis HOWARD, as a brother of Sarah and Catherine but have been unable to locate more on him. Another sister, Elizabeth, was identified in Funeral Notices for Sarah. Using the In Memoriam notice in 1935 for Sarah COOPER by Agnes REID,41 it is possible to track back and locate Agnes's marriage and the death registration of her mother, Elizabeth T. HOWARD who had married George GILLARD in 1888.

Catherine HOWARD

Name Variations Catherine SMITH
Husband John F. EWER b. 1848 m. 187442 d. 190443
Daughter Annie M. EWER b. 187544 m. 189745 Jennings SMALL d. aft. 192346
Son John Francis EWER b. 187747 m. none - d. 189548
Daughter Lilly Mary EWER b. 187949 m. 190150 Joseph William McGRAW d. 196551
Daughter (Teresa) Elsie EWER b. 188252 m. 190353 Frederick WRIGHT d. 192854
Daughter Ethel S. EWER b. 188355 m. 190456 Ernest DUFFY d. aft.192357
Daughter Catherine Ruby EWER b. 188658 m. (1) 190359 (2) 191860 Thomas M. WALSH (2) Thomas BAYLISS d.
Daughter (Cecilia) Martha (Mattie)61 EWER b. 188862 m. 190563 Frederick G. ANDERSON d.
Daughter Grace EWER b. 189164 m. 191065 Richard C. (Cliff) SMITH d.
Son Joseph Eli EWER b. 189866 m. d. 194267

Catherine was reported to be nine years old when she was arrested in Orange. Because she was recorded to be younger than her sister, Sarah, it is considered almost certain that she was born in the Orange/Bathurst area. An In Memoriam notice in 1896, placed by Catherine's married sisters, Sarah COOPER and Bessie GILLARD,68 remembering their nephew, John Francis EWER, who drowned in University Park in Sydney on 18 March 1895, leads to identifying Catherine after her discharge from the school. The death registration for this seventeen year old indicated that his parents were John and Catherine H. EWER and two of his sisters were Annie and Lillie.69 In 1874 at the very young age of about about 13 and using the name Catherine SMITH, she married John F. EWER in Bathurst. The age on her marriage registration would be interesting to observe as permission for this marriage should have occurred. It is unknown why Catherine adopted the surname SMITH when she married but it must be considered that the name change occurred because she was only about fourteen and was hiding her marriage from her family. It is also unknown whether there was any permission for her marrying underage. No online trees have indicated whether her parents were recorded and none have made the link to the HOWARD family. Ages of Catherine on online trees of her descendants provide an age varying from 1850 through to 1860. It is unlikely that the birth registration for Catherine SMITH in 1858 in Bathurst with parents John and Catherine70 does indicate her birth because school records do attribute to her a younger age than her sister, Sarah. Only the details on this record will confirm whether the exact parentage reported on the record matches Catherine's known family.

John and Catherine EWER lived in Bathurst and Carcoar before moving to Sydney. They had nine children before John's death, probably in 1904. Catherine's seven daughters were unfavourably reported in the newspapers71 and often appeared before the courts. Her daughter Catherine Ruby Ewer was sent to Shaftesbury Reformatory in February 1901.72 Two images of Ruby appear in the Darlinghurst Gaol records in 1909 and 1913. Identifying Catherine's children is ongoing as newspaper reports and Family Notices suggest that not all were registered. When Catherine'd daughter, Elsie Teresa WRIGHT, died in 1928, a large number of friends and relatives were identified.

WRIGHT. – The Friends of Mrs. A. SMALL, Mr. and Mrs. J. McGRAW, Mr. and Mrs. H. DWYER, Mr. and Mrs. L. BAYLISS, Mr. and Mrs. A. HENRY, Mr. and Mrs. C. SMITH, Mr. and Mrs. J. EWER, Mrs. S. COOPER and FAMILIES are invited to attend the Funeral of their beloved SISTER, NIECE, and AUNT, (Elsie Teresa Wright) to leave 65 Metropolitan-road, Enmore, THIS DAY, at 3 p.m., for Waverley Cemetery.

WRIGHT. – The Friends of Mr and Mrs W. ANDERSON are invited to attend the Funeral of their beloved AUNT, Elsie Teresa Wright, to leave 65 Metropolitan road, Enmore, THIS DAY, at 3 p m , for Waverley Cemetery.
WRIGHT. – The Friends of Mr. and Mrs. W. DOWD are invited to attend the Funeral of their beloved FRIEND, Elsie Teresa Wright, to leave 65 Metropolitan-road, Enmore, THIS DAY, at 3 p.m. for Waverley Cemetery.

Catherine died at her home at 64 Edgeware Road, Enmore, on 15 March 1921,73 and was buried in the Catholic Cemetery at Rookwood.74 She was known to her family as 'Ninnie'.75 On her death registration her mother was recorded as Catherine but her father is erroneously recorded as John E – probably John Eli.

Sarah Theresa HOWARD

Note Two girls with this name were admitted to the industrial school. This girl, the younger of the two admissions, didn't transfer to Biloela in May 1871. The older girl was the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth HOWARD – also of Bathurst. There is no indication yet found that there was any connection between the two families.

Husband Edward Frederick COOPER b. 1861 m. 189076 d.
Son Herbert Ray COOPER b. m. d. 197977
Son Edward John COOPER b. m. d. 193678

Sarah was recorded as ten years of age when she was arrested and sent to Newcastle.79 Sarah Thresa [sic] HOWARD married Edward Frederick COOPER on 23 December 1890, at St Paul’s Church of England, Sydney. The registration80 confirmed that Sarah was the daughter of Eli and Catherine HOWARD and that she had been born in Bathurst. She was recorded as twenty-eight years of age and Edward was twenty-nine. She was actually four years older than her stated birth year of about 1862 but her correct age would have made her older than Edward so it is possible that this was a deliberate statement however it is unknown whether this was a deliberate or unintentional error. No maiden name was recorded on the record for her mother, Catherine. Edward was a butcher and his parents were William COOPER and Annie MITCHELL. The witnesses were Annie May EWER and Charles GILDEART or GILDCART. Annie May EWER was Catherine's daughter and Sarah's niece.

No confirmed birth registrations for the couple have been identified but the deaths of two possible sons exist and these sons have been confirmed on online trees. Sarah COOPER died in Sydney on 8 August 1934, and her parents were confirmed on her death registration. Because there is only one death registration of a Sarah COOPER during 1934, Funeral Notices and In Memoriam notices almost without any doubt refer to her. An In Memoriam was placed by her niece and nephew, Agnes and Jack REID.81 It is also almost entirely certain that Sarah cared for the children of her older sister, Elizabeth (Bessie) GILLARD, after she died in 1899.82

Updated February 2016

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