Agnes KING was born in Mauchline, Ayrshire, Scotland, in about 1820.12 The author, John William KING, his wife, Agnes, and three of their four children were living in Ecclesall, Bierlow, Sheffield, England, in 185113 and by 1861 were living in St Marlebone, Middlesex. John William KING had been born in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England, and Agnes was Scottish. All their children were illegitimate as the couple did not marry until 1855.14 On 24 May 1855, John and Agnes married at St Pancras Parish Church, London. Both signed the register. John William KING was described as a bookseller from St Pancras. His father was Thomas KING, a gardener. Agnes had no occupation and resided at St George, Hanover Square. Her father, Thomas McQUEEN, was identified as dead.15 The 1861 census described John as an author of polite literature16 and one of his articles, written in 1853, may be viewed at the University of Birmingham, England.17
Agnes and her children, Mary Ann and Herbert Bryant, arrived in NSW on 18 July 186218 aboard the Hotspur where they were described on the indent as 'Widow and Family'. Agnes was shown here as a school teacher.19 This arrival year was confirmed on Agnes's death record.20 The death of John William KING has not been identified but he was alive on 7 April 1861 and was dead by the date of embarkation of Agnes and her two children aboard the Hotspur on 11 April 1862.21 It is therefore likely that he died as John William KING in the third quarter of 1861. His death is probably recorded at Q3 1861, Marylebone, Volume 1a p. 300 or at Q3 1861, Newington, Volume 1d, p. 160. No further information on this death has been investigated and other potential deaths with the name John KING also exist.
Two of Agnes and John's children were born in Ecclesall Bierlow, Yorkshire, England, the location of the family in 1851, where they were recorded as Herbert Bryant and John J. KING. The eldest was registered as Henry Bryant KING in 184922 and another was recorded as Herbert James KING in the same location in 1850.23 No record for John J. KING has been identified even though he appeared on the 1851C and it is unknown if the recorded child, Herbert James, was the same or a different child.
Herbert Bryant KING was recorded on the 1861C as a stationer's assistant.24 and travelled with his parents to Australia in 1862. By 1866, his mother, identified as Agnes KING, advertised informing that she would not be responsible for his debts.25 Herbert was reported to be a lieutenant in the 3rd Hussars in India26 when he was arrested for obtaining money from his friend, Edward RAMSAY, in August 1875. The case was dismissed once the cheque in question was found to have been post-dated.27 However, three months later Herbert was described as a teacher of gymnastics and music at Mr Southey's Academy28 when he appeared in the Sydney courts on a charge of forgery.29 He pleaded guilty to uttering but not forgery30 but was sentenced to two years labour in December 1875 on both charges. His ship of arrival was not stated on the gaol record which indicated that he had arrived in 1875 so it is thought likely that Herbert had travelled overseas after his first arrival with his family in 1862. Herbert was released from Darlinghurst in August 1877 when his sentence was remitted four months from the end.31 His photo may be viewed in the Darlinghurst admissions for 1875 where he was described as an organist.32 By 1885 Herbert had begun a riding school33 and was advertising that he had formerly been a Sergeant-major in the 7th Dragoon Guards.34 No investigation into Herbert's actual military history has been undertaken. Herbert's wife, named in funeral notices as Jennie but registered as Juel, died on 31 May 1887.35 Described as a soldier and a former resident of Sydney,36 Herbert was charged with passing five forged cheques in Hobart and he was charged with false pretenses in the Hobart City Police Court on 11 May 1892. He had only been in Tasmania for a few weeks at this time. He was sentenced to six months in prison.37 His occupation was recorded as a musician.38 No record of Herbert's death has been found in NSW records.
Agnes KING née McQUEEN
Agnes KING was initially appointed to Newcastle as Matron with G. W. JACKSON as the superintendent in charge of the institution. JACKSON didn't take up the appointment so for many months KING managed both roles until her official appointment as Matron-superintendent. The Empire wrote:
We understand that it is not the intention of the Government to fill up for some time hence the appointment of superintendent of the industrial School at Newcastle, it being held that the matron will be quite able to conduct the management of the establishment until there is an increase in the number of persons known to be ready for admission as inmates under the provisions of the Act.39
KING did make some controversial decisions during her time as Superintendent. She suggested that the father of Mary Ann BATHGATE request that Mary Ann's religion be changed from Catholic to Protestant. The Colonial Secretary was very critical of this move stating 'I am directed to inform you that by such a course of action you have exceeded the [?] of your duties as Superintendent. You are not permitted by law to judge of the religious faith of the children committed to your charge.' KING was therefore required to justify her actions and send copies of Mary Ann's warrant. She explained that she had been informed of the difference in religion and enclosed a copy of her letter to BATHGATE where she enquired what religion was correct. The Colonial Secretary checked with the West Maitland court checking the veracity of her statements and deciding in favour of her decision.40
At the time of the first riot on 9 July 1868, CANE interviewed the staff and ringleaders who were involved. KING's statement is transcribed in full.
I know of no specific cause for the present disturbance I have myself noticed a change in the conduct of the Girls since Miss Ravenhill came to the Institution I do not attribute it to any harsh treatment on the part of Miss Ravenhill. I do not believe that Miss Ravenhill says any unkind things to the Girls but I know she is strict and very particular in carrying out my orders I have felt a counter acting influence in the Institution I cannot speak distinctly from what quarter it comes.__ I have been less with the Girls since Miss Ravenhill came I do not think I am sufficiently assisted by the servants of the Institution. I find great difficulty in getting servants in whom I can place confidence. I have never at any time cast any reflections on the parents of the Girls I have told them all that had they obeyed their parents they would perhaps have not been here. I never told the girls in the presence of Sarah Wildgust that it is the fault of their parents they were here.I had said to the Girls. Why are you roaring like the cows in the Field without any meaning. I did not hear Sarah Wildgust say she would split my head open with an axe. I have used my discretion as to allowing the Girls to write to their parents when they asked I have not always complied with their request I have had reasons for not doing so. I ordered the Constable to be placed on duty in front of the Girls dormitories on Friday night in the Verandah and had the blind of the window in order that he might see the Girls did not set Fire to the building as they had prevented the lamp being taken away and they had lighted some straw in the Room I did not hear them threaten to burn the place but I was afraid of them doing so from their actions. I recollect taking hold of one of Eliza Macdonald curls and requesting her to come away from the Fireplace where they had lighted a Fire in spite of all remonstrance. It was on Friday night I heard Sarah Wildgust say "I am in for blood tonight" Both on Friday and Saturday nights Charlotte Perry lighted straw and I was afraid they would burn the place down. I heard the Girls cry out that Miss Ravenhill was the cause of all this and that she was too much of a bounce. I consider Miss Ravenhill only endeavoured to perform her duties in a proper manner I conceived the Girls had conspired together for mischief I had a pretty good idea of the workers of the mischief. I never heard Sarah Wildgust threaten my life but the matrons told me she had threatened my life.
There had been a joke in the School about an apple man it has never been cast as a reflection on the Girls. No mention was made of a Black man. When Wildgust and OBrien refused to go into School I sent for Mr Cane to enter notes in the conduct journal I did not request Mr Cane to take any part in speaking to the Girls. Mr Cane made a request that the Girls should go back to their work and I acquiesced on his request, I considered if I had not done so it would make me appear as an enemy and him as a friend I have allowed Mr Cane on previous occasion to ?? the Girls in my presence as ti their good conduct Some of the Girls ahd yold me that the "Act" had been read to them and they knew all I could do to I could not find out who had told them then and that was not much I did not punish them when they said this. I have said to the Girls You may have been used to going to bed late and laying in bed in the morning but from so they have this is when I had complaints from the Matron that they would not get up. I am quite sure Eliza Macdonald used the words __"I won't pray I will only mock God." it was for this she was placed in the Cell I have slapped her in the Face because she was shouting in a rude and improper manner. I may have made use of words "This place was never made for 'characters as we had got" but I never said it in the presence of any of the Girls. I have never referred to the cause of any of the Girls coming here in their presence. I recollect speaking of Bridget Downs in her presence while the Cook was standing bye. I said she was very delicate and I looked on her as in????e. I did not know the casue of Elizabeth Sampson ??? her bed from one room to another. She refused to go back I ordered her to go back she would not go I could not remove her unless by forcilble means. I never said anything. I never said in the presence of Catherine Casburn "The Girls were the sweeping of Sydney Streets or that they were dirty little Street Walkers." I never said anything to Eliza ONeil about medicine before the Girls. I never said she was not ??th any more medicine. I did not see a knife or cleaver in the hand of any of the Girls I did not hear the words "bring out the Bloody Matrons." I locked the door to the office clothing store and my apartments and went up the stairs to my Daughters Room, Both the Matons were with me Mr Harrison got in through the upper portion of the house and came to my relief. He told me it was not safe for me to go out.__ I was on the remonstrance of Mr Harrison and the Matrons that i gave Mr Harrison p??? to act.
This was on Thursday July 9.
I requested Mr Cane to go with Mr Harrison and do the best he could to assist in putting down the riot and I told Mrs Kelly (The Teacher) and Mrs Holden the assistant matron to go and do whatever Mr Harrison directed them to do for the best This was in the office of the Institution I did not stop Mr Harrison from acting in his authority till The following morning (Friday 10 July) I wished Miss Ravenhill to go out but Mr Harrison thought it better not to do so. This is why I requested Mrs Kelly to assist Mrs Holden. I don't remember saying to Sarah Parsons You cannot roam the streets all night and sleep all day I believe I have struck with my hand Elizabeth Sampson in the Face in the presence of Mrs Kelly. When I sent for Mr Cane to take down motes of what Wildgust and OBrien were saying I was entreating them to obey orders and go into school I did not ask Mr Cane nor did any one ask him to enquire why the Girls did not go to school. I removed the Girls because I thought they were plotting mischief and by putting them in School they would not have a chance of doing it. Mr Cane did not ask me if I wished him to take them to the Cell. Eliza OBrien said she had taken an oath she would not go into school. Mr Cane then proposed to take her to the office to ascertain all[?] her reasons. Miss Ravenhill seemed annoyed at this which occasioned some sharp reply and she said Eliza can state her reason here. Mr Cane then said "with all due deference to you Miss Ravenhill I acknowledge no authority but Mrs Kings he also said Eliza OBrien was neither a stick or a stone or a cat or a dog. Miss Ravenhill answered she had always been treated as a Christian. Mr Cane then proposed to take the Girls back and he would guarantee their better behaviour and I consented. The only complaint I made to Mr Cane about the Girls in his return from Sydney was a change of one of the Girls from the Catholic prayer Room to the Protestant. I never recollect having stated to Mr Cane I fear we have been too kind to the Girls. On one occasion Mr Cane said to me there would be no peace in the school while that black [?] ??? Sampson was in it. I did not request Mr Cane to attend [?] the Cell to handcuff to Girls if it was found necessary The Girls had a bedstead but no bedding I thought it was necessary they ??? have a severe punishment. I think a good deal of mischief has been created with the Girls by those who have left the Institution.41
KING oversaw the school for one year and three months. During this time she arranged no apprenticeships even though 35 inmates could have been discharged within that time under the terms of the Act. By the time KING was replaced by CLARKE around 25 November 1868, 46 girls had been admitted to the school and had been there a full year. Of those admissions only 11 were under twelve so were not old enough for an apprenticeship. These eleven girls were Mary BARRY, Mary Ann BATHGATE, Mary Ann COLLYER, Maria EDWARDS, Theresa HANMORE, Esther HOBBS, Annie KNOX, Sarah McCANN, Emma PEISLEY, Margaret PRICE and Catherine WALKER. According to their stated age at the time of their admission, thirty-five inmates were twelve or older yet only four girls were discharged from the school by KING as Matron-Superintendent and each of these four was returned to their family when it was successfully proved that the inmate was over sixteen and so had been illegally arrested.42 There has been no indication yet found to explain why KING did not discharge these eligible inmates.
Once the Newcastle Reformatory was opened in Januray 1869, KING took over the role as matron of that institution. She was subsequently transferred to Biloela to continue with the girls in this institution in May 1871. It was noted after KING left Newcastle that the floors in her quarters were left in a 'sad state of filth. The contents of night chambers and slop pails having been emptied on them.' A request to employ cleaners was therefore made and approved.43 After four years at Bilolea in the reformatory and a year after the dismissal of George LUCAS, KING wrote to the Colonial Secretary with a request.
The Industrial School for the past twelve months has been under the temporary charge of Mr Dale & as no appointment has been made I have after mature consideration determined to apply for the position of Matron of the Industrial School as well as the Reformatory. I believe I am competent to supervise both Institutions as I have now more experience than when I formerly had charge of the Industrial School. I should also have the assistance of my daughter Mrs Barton & my son, the latter has been in a cavalry regiment in India & is invalided here. the former would be willing and is able to fill the position of submatron or could take the management of the Reformatory under my supervision & with my assistance. I desire to add that I firmly believe an arrangement of this kind would be beneficial to the inmates, as I would endeavour to carry out as far as practicable the plans I have adopted with so much success in my management of the Reformatory.
It was noted on the letter by the office of the Colonial Secretary that
Mrs King has applied personally [?] to withdraw this application put [?] by for the present.44
Agnes KING died on 19 October 1906,45 at the age of 87 and was identified as 'late Matron Superintendent (Shaftesbury Reformatory for Girls)' on her death record.
KING.—At the residence of her grandson, Argreat, Lavender Bay, Sydney, Agnes King, formerly of Shaftesbury, South Heads. Home papers please copy.46
Mary Ann BARTON née KING
Agnes KING's daughter, Mary Ann BARTON, was living on the premises of the Newcastle Industrial School from at least July 1868. She had a room on the upper floor of the building that was to become the Newcastle Reformatory as it was to this room that her mother retreated during the riot on 9 July.59 Mary Ann was still a resident in February 1870 when Mary Ann MEEHAN escaped wearing her clothes.60 Mrs BARTON, as she was known, had not been appointed by the government but because she was living on site, it may be that she had been employed in some way by KING in her capacity as matron-superintendent. If this was the case Mary Ann may have been working as her mother's servant as provision for one servant was allocated in the initial staffing of the school.61 The servant was allowed quarters and a ration of fuel, provisions and light and was to have been appointed by the matron. This entitlement was not recorded in the Blue Book as available in later years. Mary Ann may however have been a resident who paid her own way and by February 1870, the site was very overcrowded as the available buildings were being used for the both the reformatory and also for staff accommodation.
Mrs. BARTON, the daughter of Agnes KING, was confirmed in her marriage to Albert Tinley BARTON in Sydney in 1864 as Mary Ann KING. She was the illegitimate child of her parents John and Agnes and had been born in Dublin,62 Ireland, in about 1846.63 She arrived in NSW in 1862 with her mother and brother. Mary Ann was living in Newcastle at the time of the birth of her son Reginald A. BARTON in 1868.64 Online trees identify that the couple also had a daughter named Eveline May.65 Mary Ann and her brother, recorded as Mrs Barton and H. B. KING, were aboard the Austral returning to Sydney from Melbourne in May 1885.
Mary Ann died as Mary Ann BARTON in Woollahra on 27 June 1887,66 where her parents were confirmed as John and Agnes.
Updated June 2016