Catherine HUDSON
Father Thomas HUDSON b.c. 18281 m. (1) 1856 (2) 18622 d. 18733
Step-father John MAIL b.c. 18074 m. (2) 18735 d. 18896
Step-mother Sarah LAMBERT b.c. 18327 m. (1) 18568 d. 18609
Mother Mary HUDSON b.c. 184010 m. (1) 1862 (2) 1873 d. 188511
Half-sister Sarah A. or J. HUDSON b. 185412 m. none - d. 185413
Half-sister Mary J. HUDSON b. 185614 m. d.
Half-brother Thomas HUDSON b. 185815 m. none - d. 188416 or 193317
Inmate Catherine HUDSON b. 186518 m. 188919 (see below) d. 195720
Brother Edward HUDSON21 b. 186822 m. (1) 188723 (2) 191024 (3) 191525 (1) Harriett Esther CHARLES (2) Elizabeth FRANKLIN (3) Jessie Dallas THOMPSON d. 193626
Sister Mary Elizabeth HUDSON b. 187027 m. 1892 Abraham John NORMAN d. 189928
Half-sister Jane MAIL29 b. 187430 m. none - d. 187431
Husband Edwin Alonzo Ambrose POTTER b. 186332 m. 188933 d. 194334
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Father Thomas35 40 5' 6" brown grey sallow stout; anchor right forearm and anchor between thumb and forefinger right hand; T H left forearm; [?] marks both forearms
Mother Mary36 30 5' 3" dark brown brown fresh stout; mole on left cheek; mole on right side of chin

Catherine, also referred to as Kate, was admitted to Newcastle in late 1870. Because her name appears in the missing section of the Entrance Book, details of her trial location, family, religion and education are unavailable from this source. No arrest details have been found in the Police Gazette for Catherine. 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 1870.37 No newspapers reports from this particular court have been located in either the Sydney Morning Herald or the Empire on 10 November 1870. Catherine transferred to Biloela in May 1871 and the transfer lists compiled by LUCAS indicated that she had been tried in Parramatta and was a Protestant.38 An error by either WALKER or LUCAS has clearly occurred as Catherine's place of trial differs. It is believed that WALKER has made the error as it is almost entirely certain that Catherine would have appeared before the same bench as her three-and-a-half-year-old brother, Edward.39 The Vernon records named Edward's mother as Mary HUDSON and indicated that Edward had been tried at Parramatta and this matched what LUCAS had recorded. Unlike many other boys in the Vernon records, no newspaper clipping appeared near Edward's name, further confirming a trial at Parramatta as to date, no court reports for any child admitted to Newcastle from Parramatta or Penrith have been found reported in the newspapers. It is therefore believed that neither a family background nor any court events for either of the HUDSON children has been recorded anywhere.

Catherine was admitted to Newcastle at the age of six on 9 November 1870. She was at the school for the final seven months of its stay in Newcastle and this was its most turbulent time so Catherine experienced three major riots. In May 1871 the school transferred to Biloela and LUCAS documented that Catherine was 'In the Institution' in his list compiled in April 1872.40 In October 1873, John and Mary MAIL petitioned the Colonial Secretary for Kate's release. They provided a return address of: '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.41

Mary's petition was therefore rejected. John DALE, the relieving superintendent after the departure of LUCAS, reported that Catherine suffered from a bout of the measles in his report on 15 February 1875.42 In March 1875, this time petitioning from Chippen Street, Chippendale, Sydney, Mary again attempted to have Catherine released. Mary stated that she was in a position to support and educate Catherine. This petition was supported by both William LONG and Alfred H. STEPHEN. STEPHEN did make the statement that the petition should only be considered 'after inquiry, maybe' suggesting his reservations. DALE stated that Catherine was behaving well and repeated her arrest details. Mary's petition was again rejected.43

Catherine finally left Biloela at the age of twelve, the usual age for apprenticeship. Selina G. WALKER, the superintendent in 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. Catherine was identified as twelve years and three months old and WALKER described her as 'conducting herself well.'44 Catherine was discharged to H. A. B. SHERIDAN45 of East Maitland on 14 March 1877, but was returned and re-admitted to Biloela on 23 February 1878, due to bad conduct.46 She was re-apprenticed on 19 August 1878, about eighteen months later, to Mr Percy R. SMYTHE, of Balmain,47 '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.48 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 favourably.49 It is likely that at the conclusion of her apprenticeship, which would have occurred around November 1882, Catherine returned to Sydney.

Catherine married Edwin Alonzo Ambrose POTTER on 24 April 1889.50 Edwin had been admitted to the Vernon on 16 November 1874, at the age of about ten.

Edward Potter, 10, was brought before the Court, charged with having stolen a £1-note, the property of Nickeler Olsen. Prosecutor deposed that he is a dealer, carrying on business at the Haymarket; between 2 and 3 p.m. of Saturday he asked him to go to a public-house with a £1 note to get change; the boy went with the note, but did not come back with the change; about 6 o'clock he fell in with the boy, and gave him into custody. The boy was discharged in respect of the larceny, but was soon afterwards brought again forward, charged by his mother under the Act for the Relief of Destitute Children, with habitually wandering about the streets in no ostensible lawful occupation. Margaret Tring, of Campbell-street, Surry Hills, deposed that the boy before the Court is her son, is between 10 and 11 years of age, and that she has no control over him whatever he wanders about the streets in the company of boys, one of whom she knows as a convicted thief; he can neither read nor write, nor will he go to school; neither she nor her husband, the boy's stepfather, has any control over him. The Justices reprimanded the woman as being, for her neglect; more to blame than the boy, for the wretched account she gives of a mere child—her own son. To be sent on board the Vernon.51

Unlike the girls sent to Newcastle and Biloela, little can be discovered about the life of the boys on the Vernon and Sobraon due to different expectations from the Colonial Secretary regarding boys and girls.52

Catherine and Edwin's Golden Wedding Anniversary notice in the Sydney Morning Herald on 24 April 1939, confirmed that she was the daughter of Mrs John MAIL.

POTTER—HUDSON.—April 24, 1889, by the Rev. James Buchan, Edwin Potter to Catherine Hudson, daughter of the late Mrs. John Mail, of 1 Wattle Street, Ultimo. Present address: Gymea Bay, Sutherland.53

Details of Edwin's ancestry can be found on the website devoted to the POTTER family.54 Edwin died on 31 March 1943,55 and Catherine thanked well wishers.56 His death registration confirmed that the couple had had no children. 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 had been born on 27 January 1865, and her parents were Thomas HUDSON and Mary HUDSON who had married in Parramatta in 1862.57 The Mrs HUDSON who was present at Catherine's delivery was probably her grandmother, Mary. Catherine's mother may have appeared in court in January 1862 charged with 'exposing her person in Phillip-street.'58 Thomas and Mary were both in court from at least March 186459 and were not living together by 1871.60

Thomas had been born in Lancashire, England, in about 1828.61 He had arrived as a sailor in NSW aboard the St Mary in 1850.62 In 1853, as Thomas HUDSON Esq., he married Sarah LAMBERT:

By special license, at St. James' Church, on the 31st ultimo, by the Rev. Thomas King, B.A., Thomas Hudson, Esq., of Sydney, to Sarah Lambert, only daughter of the late Thomas Lambert, of Parramatta.63

Thomas (X) HUDSON was a bachelor and Sarah (X) LAMBERT was a spinster. The witnesses were George BENNETT and Elizabeth (X) LAW. This marriage has been erroneously recorded on the NSW BDM Index as occurring in 1856.64 Thomas and Sarah had three children, two daughters and a son, before Sarah died in Parramatta in 1860. Her parents were recorded as Thomas and Harriet on the index.65 Responsible for the care of three small children, Thomas remarried Mary HUDSON. In March 1864 Mary took Thomas to court charged with abusive language but neither appeared.66 By November 1870 both were admitted together into Parramatta Gaol where it was confirmed that Thomas was a sailor born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England.67

In January 1869, one year before Catherine and Edward were admitted to the industrial schools, their half-brother, Thomas HUDSON, was admitted to the Vernon. His admission there confirmed that his father had married a second time and that his father and step-mother were 'reputed thieves and great drunkards.' His father was identified as a nightman. The younger Thomas was eventually apprenticed from the Vernon to Maitland but was returned to the Vernon after having absconded six times.68 Thomas, appeared on a Vernon list from 1871.69 He was joined aboard the Vernon by his half-brother, Edward, in 1870 that recorded that his father was either a lighterman or nightman.70 Research by HUDSON descendants71 confirmed that Thomas died 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 forty-six years of age and his father was recorded as Thomas.72

Mary HUDSON had been born in Thomas Town, Kilkenny, Ireland, in about 1840.73 She and her family had arrived aboard the Gloriana on 27 July 1855. Mary spent time in Parramatta gaol, being released in March 1859,74 and her imprisonment in Darlinghurst gaol in 187075 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.76 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.

In 1873, after Thomas died, Mary HUDSON remarried John MAIL, a Parramatta butcher. The couple had been friendly for some time as Mary and Thomas had separated before July 1871.77 John MAIL was a relatively old man78 when he and Mary married. Mary continued to appear in court and abuse people after her marriage to John MAIL.79 In March 1877 she made a written apology in the Sydney Morning Herald to Mary HOLLAND.80 Nor was her remarriage contented as John was stabbed by Mary during a dispute in October 1878.81 Mary died on 26 October 1885.82 Four years later, in 1889, John MAIL died intestate83 in Sydney Hospital84 at the age of 82.

Updated July 2017

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License