Father Bernard MACDONALD aka McDONNELL b.c. 18361 m. none d. 19092
Mother MARY aka May KEEGAN b.c. 18333 m. none d. aft. 18764
Inmate Winifred MACDONALD aka KEEGAN b. 18565 m. 18746 (see below) d. aft. c. 19147
Brother Edward MACDONALD b. 18588 m. d. 19589
Brother John MACDONALD b. 186010 m. none - d. 186111
Sister Mary MACDONALD b. 186112 m. none - d. 186313
Brother Bernard MACDONALD b.c. 186314 m. Violet15 d. aft. 1930
Sister Margaret MACDONNELL b. 186416 m. d.
Sister Mary A. MACDONALD b.c. 1866 m. none - d. 186617
Brother Patrick MACDONALD b. 186618 m. d. 194819
Sister Elizabeth MACDONALD b. 186820 m. none - d. 186821
Sister Maria J. MACDONALD b. 186922 m. d.
Brother Owen MACDONALD b. 187323 m. none - d. 187324
Brother Bartholomew MACDONALD b. 187425 m. d. 194626
Husband (1) Charles William ALLEN b. 184827 m. 187428 d. unknown
Husband (2) Thomas PORTER b. 184029 m. 188030 d. 191631
Son Charles William32 ALLEN b. 187533 m. d.
Son Edward C. ALLEN b.c. 1875 m. none - d. 187634
Son John William ALLEN b. 187635 m. 189836 Mary Margaret GREALEY or GREALY d. 191937
Daughter Winifred ALLEN b.c. 187838 m. 190639 Harold C. PURNELL d. 195540
Son Thomas (Tom) Joseph/James PORTER b. 188141 m. Sue d. 196942
Son Patrick PORTER b.c. 188343 m. d. 195444
Son Charles PORTER b.c. 188545 m. d. 193146
Son Arthur B. PORTER b. 188747 m. d.
Son Matthew PORTER b.c. 188948 m. d. 193149
Son Henry PORTER b. 189150 m. none - d. 189251
Daughter Harriet PORTER b. 189652 m. none - d. 189953
Son Joseph PORTER b. 189854 m. d.
Son Herbert J. PORTER b.c. 1898 m. d. 190155
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Father Barnard56 40 5’ 8” red florid stout red beard; stoops much; dressed in moleskin trousers, cotton shirt, Bulcher boots and old felt hat
Father Bernard57 47 5’ 4¾” fair & grey; bald grey fresh stout nose, mouth & chin medium
Inmate Winifred58 9 4’ 0” light blue fair & freckled medium nose, medium mouth, medium chin
Inmate Winifred59 16 5’ 3” red blue fair stout
Brother Burney60 21 5’ 4” sandy blue
Brother Bartholomew61 35 5’ 9” dark brown blue scar second knuckle of left middle finger; knuckle disfigured; scar right shoulder; two scars right knee

Note: While Winifred's original surname was McDONNELL, the most common spelling of the name on the NSW BDM Index was with the surname McDONALD and its variations.

Three years before her admission to Newcastle, Winifred, at the age of ten, had been arrested by Senior constable LEONARD for stealing one pound ten shillings from the dwelling house of John DOBNEY in East Maitland. She was tried on 19 February 1866 at the Maitland Police Office and was sentenced to three months in Maitland Gaol.62 At the time of her discharge from the gaol in March 1866,63 she was described as a Roman Catholic servant who had been born at sea in around 1857.64 No ship was stated on the description and this omission was probably due to her extreme youth. In 1869 this same girl was arrested by constable HASSARD of Coonabarrabran Police under the Act for the Relief of Destitute Children for being under the age of sixteen and an associate of prostitutes.65 She appeared in the Coonamble police court before the police Magistrate, Frederick William EDWARDS, and A. B. WILMOTT on 4 November 1869. Winifred was held in Bathurst Gaol until 29 November, arriving at Newcastle with Ellen YOUNGMAN.66 While Ellen was admitted to the Newcastle Reformatory, Winifred was admitted to the Industrial School on 2 December 1869.67 On 6 December, CLARKE wrote to EDWARDS, at Coonamble, requesting that he complete and return the form of record for Winifred. Any admission records showing Winifred's religion, education level, parents and discharge are contained in the lost section of the Entrance Book so none of these details can be confirmed from this source.

Winifred remained at the school for just over a year when an apprenticeship was arranged by CLARKE as a housemaid for Timothy MONAGHAN, the schoolteacher at Bishop’s Bridge.68 The Colonial Secretary approved this apprenticeship but it is unknown whether Winifred ever went to Bishop’s Bridge or whether she was returned to the school after spending some time working for MONAGHAN. On 13 March 1871, as Winifred McDONNELL, she was tried in Newcastle Court under the Injuries to Property Act for wilfully destroying Government property during the riot that had occurred at the school shortly before that date.69 Sydney papers recorded her surname as MACDONALD.70 Winifred was sent to Maitland gaol with the other girls also involved in the riot.71 The Maitland Gaol Entrance Book described her as a Protestant who was born 'at sea' in about 1855. Winifred continued to misbehave during her time in the gaol as the punishment return for April 1871, shows that she spent seven days in the cells for being disorderly in her cell.72 On her release from Maitland on 12 April 1871, her native place was recorded as ‘not known.’73 Winifred returned to the industrial school in Newcastle but shortly afterwards, in May 1871, she transferred with the school to Biloela. On this transfer record she was recorded as a Catholic.74

Troubles continued with Winifred on the island as in his report on 20 November 1871, LUCAS reported that she was one of seven girls75 who were 'confined in No. 3 Dormitory for the remainder of the day for holding conversation with some men in a boat cruising off the island.'76 LUCAS’s list from April 1872 indicated that Winifred had been apprenticed to G. S[UR]GH[?], Esq., at Murrurundi, on 8 February 1872.77 LUCAS confirmed that Winifred had been apprenticed in his report to the Colonial Secretary on 12 February 1872 but did not repeat the name of her employer.78

On 29 December 1874, Winifred married Charles William ALLEN in the courthouse at Murrurundi. The registrar, G. G. BRODIE, officiated and the witnesses were Thomas (X) BUSH and Elizabeth (X) BUSH. Winifred was recorded as a nineteen-year-old spinster who had been born at sea. Her father, Bernard McDONALD, had given his consent for her marriage as she was under age. Both her parents were recorded on the registration. Charles was a bachelor who had been born in Kent in 1848. His parents were named as William ALLEN and Jane HERNSHAW. Both Charles and Winifred were recorded as residents of the Liverpool Range.

Tracing the children of Charles and Winifred is ongoing and difficult. What has been achieved suggests that Winifred returned to and remained in the Maitland/Cessnock area for the rest of her life but no proof has been found for this and no woman appeared on the 1913 electoral rolls for Cessnock. In May 1900, as Winnie ALLEN, Winifred's daughter charged Samuel NICHOLS with rape. The case was reported in The Newcastle Morning Herald & Miners' Advocate on 21 May. While NICHOLS was ultimately discharged, Winnie's evidence identified the whereabouts of her parents. She stated that

She was 21, and had no sisters. Her mother lived at East Greta with a man. Her father was living up country. Her mother was living with the man for about nine years. The man has four or five sons.79

This indicated that Winifred senior was still alive at this point and in August 1902, it is almost certain that she was a witness at the trial of Richard MILLS.80 It seems likely that she assumed the surname of the man with whom she was living. In September 1901, the younger Winifred ALLEN was admitted to Maitland Gaol from West Maitland Court81 charged with having no visible lawful means of support. She stated then that she had been born in Tamworth. Other details are almost unreadable but she appeared to have been a servant aged either 22 or 23. Winifred, or more likely her daughter, appeared before the Singleton court charged with theft in 1902.82 The younger Winifred married Harold C. PURNELL in Singleton in 1906. The couple resided in Tamworth where Harold died in 1922.83 After this Winifred was the victim of an assault in 1924 which resulted in a court appearance.84 She died in Tamworth in 1955 where her parents were recorded as Charles William and Winifred. An online tree recorded that Charles and Winifred's son, John William ALLEN, had been born in Tamworth and this is almost certainly the man who worked at the Pelaw Main Colliery and who was injured in an accident in 1909.85 Kurri Kurri and Greta are located very close together and it is possible that he remained near his mother while his sister moved to an area near her father however neither Winifred or Charles have been located. John died in Kurri Kurri at the age of 43 in 1919.86 His death registration recorded that his father was James E. and his mother was Winifred. He was buried in Kurri Kurri Cemetery and a headstone remains but no appropriate woman named Winifred can be located in either Kurri Kurri or Greta Cemeteries. Winifred's son, Charles William ALLEN, is not the man who died in Sydney in 193987 as this man was too old by about nine years and online trees suggested that he had different parents.

Another son, Tom, was identified as John William ALLEN's brother in an In Memoriam published in the Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate on 29 April 1921, and while the year they have submitted for John's death differed from the preceding notice placed by John's wife, Mary, the actual date matched.

ALLEN.—In loving memory of our dear brother, Jack, who died April 29, 1920. … Inserted by his loving brother and sister-in-law, Tom, Sue, and children, Tea Gardens.88

Tom existence was a clue to where Winifred had disappeared. While it is unconfirmed that Charles had died, Winifred was recorded as the widow Wentworth ALLEN at the time of her next marriage89 in September 1880 to Thomas PORTER. Thomas was a commercial traveller. The birth of their first child, Thomas James PORTER, was registered at Uralla in 1881. His mother's given name was also recorded as Wentworth.90 Registrations of other children showed that the family moved to Walcha and Newcastle where they lived in Hamilton. In May 1892 James PORTER, Winifred's son, and probably Thomas James, appeared in court where some background of the difficulties faced by Winifred and her children by Thomas PORTER.91 By August 1892 Thomas assaulted Winifred and the court report of the incident suggested that she had formerly left him.92 He was sent to Maitland Gaol where he was recorded as an Englishman who had been born in 1840. He stated that he had arrived on the Clara Ellen in 1871.93 After his release the family can be found living at West Maitland by about 1895 where two more sons were registered. Winifred was possibly forced to return to a difficult marriage due to circumstances that demonstrate the difficult predicaments faced by abandoned or abused women in the late 1800s.94 Eventually Thomas and Winifred appeared to be living in some comfort as she employed a servant.95 The family eventually separated and Thomas died at his son's house at Port Stephens on 10 October 1916.96 Winifred was believed to have moved to Sydney and descendants have not located a likely death for her.97


Bernard and Mary MACDONALD were recorded on the NSW BDM Index in the Maitland area from 1856 when Winifred's birth was recorded as the 'Marine' registration of an unnamed female. This registration verified Winifred's consistent statements that she had been 'born at sea.' The HVPRI further indicated that she had been born on 7 June 1856 and that she had been baptised on 21 September 1856, by J. T. LYNCH at the Catholic church at West Maitland. On this record Winifred's father was recorded as James. No occupation was identified for him. Her mother was confirmed as Mary KEEGAN. The sponsors for her baptism were Patrick and Rosy KEEGAN,98 Mary's brother and sister-in-law.99 Patrick and Rosy KEEGAN nee RILEY had arrived as a couple aboard the Ramilles in 1850 and they then had a succession of children in the Maitland area. Patrick's parents were recorded on the indent as Patrick and Winny.100 Winifred was almost without doubt illegitimate and her father was almost certainly Bernard, who had not arrived in NSW at the time of this baptism. Winifred's birth was also registered as a 'marine' birth and this registration may provide a possible marriage date in Ireland. Winifred had arrived in NSW with her mother aboard the Ben Nevis on 6 July 1856, a month after her birth. The use of the surname MACDONALD or McDONALD on Winifred's baptism is very probably incorrect as this spelling was very likely wrong on both the registration and on the baptism.

Mary KEEGAN had arrived with her unnamed female child, aboard the Ben Nevis in July 1856. Her parents were confirmed on the Ben Nevis indent as Patrick and Winifred, the same as those of her brother. She was identified as Bernard McDONNEL's cousin when he arrived just over a year later. Further children born to Bernard and Mary MACDONALD were registered in Maitland from 1858. The baptism on 10 November 1867,101 of Winifred's brother, Patrick, indicated that the family was living at this time at Denton Park.102 The sponsors of Patrick's baptism were Mathew BYERS and Amelia BRADFORD. By 1869, the birth of a daughter, Maria J., was registered in Coonabarabran. At the time of the birth of Owen in 1873 the family was in the Tamworth area and by 1874 their son, Bartholomew, was registered in Murrurundi. These locations exactly match the areas of the arrests of Winifred and later the locations where she resided, suggesting that the family tended to remain in Northern NSW. Mary was still alive in 1874 as this was the date of the registration of her last child, Bartholomew. She was almost certainly still alive in 1888 as she was very likely the wife of the man identified as her husband admitted to the government asylum in 1888 and who was living in Mudgee.103

While the research of descendants available online suggests that Winifred's father also used the name James,104 this is almost certainly not the case as this name has not been verified in any record other than on Winifred's baptism when Bernard was not present. At the time of his arrival, Bernard identified that his cousin, Mary KEEGAN, was his relation in the colony. He arrived as Bernard McDONNEL from County Cavan aboard the Boanerges105 at the age of about 23, in October 1857. His parents were identified as Bernard and Margaret on the indent. He and Mary had children recorded across the New England and Liverpool Plains areas until 1874. The areas of these registrations may indicate employment with the A. A. Company on or near the properties of Goonoo Goonoo and/or Warrah on the Liverpool Plains. In 1874 Bernard gave permission for Winifred to marry and he was alive in November 1876 when the Tamworth Bench issued a warrant for his arrest under the name Barnard McDONALD, for assaulting his son, Barnard, who was under ten. More details of this incident may become available once more New England papers are scanned. It is almost certain that Bernard was the man who appeared twice – in 1888 and 1890 – on the register of inmates of Government asylums and was described in these records as being 'eccentric and not of sound mind'. The records confirmed his year of arrival and it was recorded that he was married and his wife was living in Mudgee.106 In 1891 Bernard was almost without any doubt recorded as 'A Tramp' who had been 'picked up by the enumerator' and who was living in Smith Lane, Tamworth Area.107 Bernard was working as a miner in 1895 when he was admitted to Armidale Gaol charged with being of unsound mind. His ship of arrival was confirmed and he was recorded as having been born in Ireland. His year of birth was given as 1848 and while this age was about 12 years too young, under the circumstances of this arrest, this understated age may not have been a deliberate error. The record is clear and well written. Bernard was forwarded to Darlinghurst on 3 June 1895.108 Based on the earlier age error it is almost entirely certain that Bernard's death was registered as Bernard McDONNELL in Ryde in 1909 at the recorded age of 59.109 He was more correctly aged about 71.

Tracing the children of Bernard and Mary is also ongoing. Bartholomew has been located in Goulburn Gaol in 1909 as Bartholomew McDONNELL. He was tried in Maitland under this name in October 1908.110 Winifred's brother, Burney, who identified his place of birth as West Maitland, was admitted to Goulburn gaol in 1886.

Maria J. is almost certainly not the woman who married William SMIDT in Dubbo in 1896 as this woman was too young and online trees suggested that she had been born in Ireland to John and Jane McDONALD.

Where has She Gone?

No newspaper reports of either court report that sent Winifred to Maitland Gaol in 1866 or Newcastle in 1869 have been found to add details to her family or personal information. Pages from the Maitland Mercury on 20 February have not appeared to have survived and any Coonabarabran or Coonamble newspaper is yet to be scanned onto TROVE. 

The Charles William ALLAN who married Constance P. HURCUM in Gulgong in 1918 seems to be unconnected to the family although this has not been verified. The Winifred M. ALLAN who died in Gulgong in 1893 (6801/1893) was a sister to this man and their parents were identified on the NSW BDM Index as John and Lucy W. ALLEN. Another unconnected Winifred McDONALD, born in Bombala in 1866, married a Charles ALLAN in 1885 and died at Hay. Winifred is not the woman of this name who died in West Maitland in 1895 as this registration recorded the death of a woman who was eighty-one years old. Knowing that Winifred was very probably alive and living in East Greta in 1902 suggests that the woman named Winifred ALLEN who was a witness in a court case in 1902 was probably her and this appearance has been attributed to her.

Winifred is not the Winifred Emmie BLAKEMORE living in East Greta in 1913. This woman had married in 1909 to George BLAKEMORE as Winifred E. SINGLE. The couple began having children after 1909 which makes it impossible for her to be the Newcastle inmate. There are therefore no women named Winifred living in East Greta in 1913 who could be Winifred MACDONALD. Earlier electoral rolls are still under investigation.

Winifred is not the Winifred M. HICKS who died in Gunnedah in 1919111 and who had parents named Bernard and Mary as this woman was only about 34.112 She was not the Winifred CAMBOURN who died in Kurri in 1910 (9745/1910) and whose parents were James and Mary E. as this death was that of a child.

Updated December 2017

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