Catherine HUDSON
Father Thomas HUDSON b.c. 18281 m. (1) 1856 (2) 18622 d. 18733
Step-father John MAIL b. m. (2) 18734 d.
Step-mother Sarah LAMBERT b.c. 18325 m. (1) 18566 d. 18607
Mother Mary HUDSON b.c. 18408 m. (1) 1862 (2) 1873 d. 18859
Half-brother Thomas HUDSON b. 185810 m. d. 188411 or 193312
Inmate Catherine HUDSON b. 186513 m. 188914 (see below) d. 195715
Brother Edward HUDSON16 b. 186817 m. (1) 188718 (2) 191019 (3) 191520 (1) Harriett Esther CHARLES (2) Elizabeth FRANKLIN (3) Jessie Dallas THOMPSON d. 193621
Sister Mary Elizabeth HUDSON b. 187022 m. 1892 Abraham John NORMAN d. 189923
Half-sister Jane MAIL24 b. 187425 m. none - d. 187426
Husband Edwin Alonzo Ambrose POTTER b. 186327 m. 188928 d. 194329
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Mother Mary30 35 5' 0" brown blue

Catherine was admitted to Newcastle at the age of six on 9 November 1870. Because her details appear in the missing section of the Entrance Book her trial location, family, religious and educational details are unavailable from this source. Selina WALKER, at the time of Catherine's second discharge from Biloela, reported that she had been tried at the Central Police Court, Sydney, on 9 November 1870.31 No newspapers reports from this court have been located in the SMH or the Empire of 10 November 1870, and no arrest details have been found in the Police Gazettes. Catherine transferred to Biloela and the transfer lists compiled by LUCAS indicated that she had been tried in Parramatta and was a Protestant.32 An error has clearly occurred in the transcription of the records by either WALKER or LUCAS at some stage as her place of trial differs. It is likely that WALKER has made the error as it is almost certain that Catherine would have appeared before the same bench as her three-and-a-half-year-old brother, Edward.33 The Vernon records named his mother as Mary HUDSON and indicated that Edward had been tried at Parramatta. Unlike other boys in the Vernon record, no newspaper clipping appeared near his name further confirming a trial at Parramatta as to date no court reports for any girl admitted to Newcastle from Parramatta or Penrith have been found reported in the newspapers. It is therefore thought that any background for Catherine or Edward outlined in court has not been recorded anywhere.

LUCAS documented that Catherine 'In the Institution' in his list compiled in April 1872.34 In October 1873, John and Mary MAIL petitioned the Colonial Secretary for Kate's release. They gave their return address as c/o Mr DIXON, Church Street, Parramatta. The Colonial Secretary requested a response from both LUCAS and the bench of Magistrates at Parramatta concerning the advisability of releasing Catherine. One notation on the original letter stated:

At the time this petition was forwarded the Petitioner and her husband were favourably reported by Senior serg. John Kelly since then however we find on enquiry that Mary Mail has again given pray to drunkenness and we therefore think it advisable that the recommendation should not be acted upon.35

Mary's petition was rejected. J. DALE, the relieving officer, reported that Catherine suffered from a bout of the measles in his report on 15 February 1875.36 In March 1875, this time petitioning from Chippen Street, Chippendale, Sydney, Mary again attempted to have Catherine released. She stated that she was in a position to support and educate Catherine. Her petition was supported by William LONG and Alfred H. STEPHEN, who did state that the petition should only be considered 'after inquiry, maybe.' J. DALE, the officer in charge of Biloela at the time, stated that Catherine was behaving well and repeated her arrest details but Mary's petition was again rejected.37

Catherine finally left the island at the age of twelve. Selina G. WALKER, the superintendent 1877, requested permission to apprentice Catherine to Henry A. B. SHERIDAN, the Manager of the Commercial Bank, West Maitland, for five years and nine months. She was to be paid one shilling a week for the first year and nine months, two shillings a week for the next two years and three shillings a week for the last two years. She was identified as twelve years and three months old and WALKER described her as 'conducting herself well.'38 Catherine was discharged to H. A. B. SHERIDAN39 of East Maitland on 14 March 1877, but was returned and re-admitted to Biloela on 23 February 1878, due to bad conduct.40 Catherine was re-apprenticed on 19 August 1878, about eighteen months later, to Mr Percy R. SMYTHE, of Balmain,41 'as a domestic servant, primarily for nurturing a baby' for four years and three months at the rate of a shilling a week for first three months, two shillings a week for the next two years and three shillings a week for the last two years.42 This apprenticeship was subsequently transferred to Mr ALLEN of Yerrinbool[?] and she was again transferred to Gilgour, Willar?[?], Brewarrina. It was finally recorded that Catherine's apprenticeship had been completed favourably43 and it is likely that she at the conclusion of her apprenticeship, which would have occurred around November 1882, she returned to Sydney.

Catherine married Edwin Alonzo Ambrose POTTER on 24 April 1889.44 Edwin's death registration indicates that the couple had no children. Catherine and Edwin's Golden Wedding Anniversary notice identified her as the daughter of Mrs. John MAIL. Details of Edwin's ancestry can be found on the website devoted to the POTTER family.45 Edwin died on 31 March 1943,46 and Catherine thanked well wishers.47 Catherine's death was registered in Sutherland on 25 October 1957. She was buried with Edwin at Woronora Cemetery.


Catherine's headstone at Woronora Cemetery
Photograph courtesy of Australian Cemeteries Index (


Catherine's birth was registered in Parramatta. She was born on 27 January 1865, and her parents were Thomas HUDSON and Mary HUDSON who had married in Parramatta in 1862. Thomas was thirty-seven and had been born in Lancashire, England, and Mary was twenty-five and had been born in Thomas Town, Kilkenny, Ireland.48 The Mrs HUDSON who was present at her delivery was probably Catherine's grandmother, Mary.

Catherine's parents appeared in Court from at least in March 186449 and were not living together by 1871.50 Research by descendants51 confirmed the death of Thomas in the district hospital at Parramatta on 27 May 1873. The informant was a hospital administrator who recorded that Thomas was a sailmaker. No details of any marriages or children were recorded on his death registration. He was recorded as forty-six years of age so the registration can't record the death of his son, Thomas.52 While the ages vary slightly, it may be that Catherine's father, Thomas, was the man who had been imprisoned in Newcastle gaol in 1851 and who had arrived on the Bangalore in about 1850 but this hasn't been confirmed and the name is common.

Thomas had almost without doubt made and earlier marriage to Sarah LAMBERT. In January 1869, one year before Catherine and Edward were admitted to the Vernon, a boy named Thomas HUDSON was also admitted to the Vernon. His admission indicated that his father had married a second time and that his father and step-mother were 'reputed thieves and great drunkards.' His father was named as a nightman, Thomas, on a Vernon list from 1871.53 This boy was born in 1858 and was the son of Thomas (X) HUDSON, a bachelor, and his first wife, Sarah (X) LAMBERT, a spinster, who were married on 31 March 1856. The witnesses were George BENNETT and Elizabeth (X) LAW.54 Sarah died at Parramatta in 1860. Her parents were recorded as Thomas and Harriet.55 The younger Thomas was eventually apprenticed from the Vernon to Maitland but was returned to the Vernon after absconding on six occasions.56

Mary HUDSON's family had arrived aboard the Gloriana on 27 July 1855. Mary spent time in Parramatta gaol, being released in March 1859,57 and her imprisonment in Darlinghurst gaol in 1870,58 was probably the catalyst for Catherine's admission to Newcastle and Edward's admission to the Vernon. Mary was described in the Vernon records as a prostitute who was unable to support Edward. Thomas was recorded at Edward's admission as either a lighterman or nightman.59 No further trace has been found in the Vernon records for Edward so it is possible that his mother had him returned to her as she attempted to do with Catherine.

Mary HUDSON married John MAIL, a Parramatta butcher, in 1873, after the death of her first husband, Thomas. The couple had been friendly for some time as Mary and Thomas had separated before July 1871.60 John MAIL was quite an old man61 when he and Mary married but the marriage was not a contented one as John was stabbed by Mary during a dispute in October 1878.62 Mary continued to appear in court and abuse people after her marriage to John MAIL.63 Mary died on 26 October 1885, four years before John MAIL.64 John died intestate65 in Sydney Hospital in 188966 at the age of 82.

Updated June 2015

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