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. (1) 18746 (2) 18807 (see below) d. aft. c.19148
Brother Edward MACDONALD b. 18589 m. d. 195810
Brother John MACDONALD b. 186011 m. none - d. 186112
Sister Mary MACDONALD b. 186113 m. none - d. 186314
Brother Bernard MACDONALD b.c. 186315 m. Violet16 d. aft. 1930
Sister Margaret MACDONNELL b. 186417 m. d.
Sister Mary A. MACDONALD b.c. 1866 m. none - d. 186618
Brother Patrick MACDONALD b. 186619 m. d. 194820
Sister Elizabeth MACDONALD b. 186821 m. none - d. 186822
Sister Maria J. MACDONALD b. 186923 m. d.
Brother Owen MACDONALD b. 187324 m. none - d. 187325
Brother Bartholomew MACDONALD b. 187426 m. d. 194627
Husband (1) Charles William ALLEN b. 184828 m. 187429 d. unknown
Husband (2) Thomas PORTER b. 184030 m. 188031 d. 191632
Son Charles William33 ALLEN b. 187534 m. d.
Son Edward C. ALLEN b.c. 1875 m. none - d. 187635
Son John William ALLEN b. 187636 m. 189837 Mary Margaret GREALEY or GREALY d. 191938
Daughter Winifred ALLEN b.c. 187839 m. 190640 Harold C. PURNELL d. 195541
Son Thomas (Tom) Joseph/James PORTER b. 188142 m. Sue d. 196943
Son Patrick PORTER b.c. 188344 m. d. 195445
Son Charles PORTER b.c. 188546 m. d. 193147
Son Arthur B. PORTER b. 188748 m. d.
Son Matthew PORTER b.c. 188949 m. d. 193150
Son Henry PORTER b. 189151 m. none - d. 189252
Daughter Harriet PORTER b. 189653 m. none - d. 189954
Son Joseph PORTER b. 189855 m. d.
Son Herbert J. PORTER b.c. 1898 m. none - d. 190156
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Father Barnard57 40 5’ 8” red florid stout red beard; stoops much; dressed in moleskin trousers, cotton shirt, Bulcher boots and old felt hat
Father Bernard58 47 [sic] 5’ 4¾” fair & grey; bald grey fresh stout nose, mouth & chin medium
Inmate Winifred59 9 4’ 0” light blue fair & freckled medium nose, medium mouth, medium chin
Inmate Winifred60 16 5’ 3” red blue fair stout
Brother Burney61 21 5’ 4” sandy blue
Brother Bartholomew62 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.63 At the time of her discharge from the gaol in March 1866,64 she was described as a Roman Catholic servant who had been born at sea in around 1857.65 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.66 She appeared in the Coonamble police court before the police Magistrate, Frederick William EDWARDS, and A. B. WILMOTT on 4 November 1869. Winifred was moved from Coonamble via Bathurst where she was held in Bathurst Gaol67 with Ellen YOUNGMAN The pair was discharged from Bathurst on 29 November and arrived in Newcastle where she was admitted to the Industrial School on 2 December 1869.68 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 section of the Entrance Book that has not survived so none of these details can be confirmed from this source.

Winifred remained at the school for just over a year when CLARKE arranged an apprenticeship for her as a housemaid for Timothy MONAGHAN, the schoolteacher at Bishop’s Bridge.69 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.70 Sydney papers recorded her surname as MACDONALD.71 Winifred was sent to Maitland Gaol with the other girls also involved in the riot.72 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.73 On her release from Maitland on 12 April 1871, her native place was recorded as ‘not known.’74 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.75

Winifred continued to be involved in troubles on the island as in his report on 20 November 1871, CLARKE's replacement LUCAS reported that she was one of seven girls76 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.'77 LUCAS’s list from April 1872 indicated that Winifred had been apprenticed to G. S[UR]GH[?], Esq., at Murrurundi, on 8 February 1872.78 LUCAS confirmed this apprenticeship in his report to the Colonial Secretary on 12 February 1872 but did not repeat the name of her employer.79

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 the age of 21. 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 both Charles and Winifred and their children is ongoing and difficult. What has been achieved suggests that Winifred returned to and remained in the Newcastle/Maitland/Cessnock area until about 1914 and then moved to Sydney.

By May 1900, Winifred's daughter, recorded as Winnie ALLEN, 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.80

This court report indicated that Winifred senior was still alive at this point but locating her second relationship alluded to by her daughter is not possible using appropriately named records. Further clues are provided in an In Memoriam notice in the Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate on 29 April 1921, where one of Winifred's sons, recorded as Tom, was identified as John William ALLEN's brother a year after his death. While the year reported in the notice 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.81

Tom's existence was a clue to Winifred's next relationship but it was only researchers working from both ends of Winifred's life that have enabled her ancestry and this marriage to be identified. In September 1880 Winifred MACDONALD married the commerical traveller Thomas PORTER.82 Winifred's daughter stated 21 years later in 1901 that her father Charles was alive and living 'up the country' then83 so this second marriage was bigamous and this was almost certainly the reason that Winifred was recorded on the document as the widow Wentworth ALLEN. The birth of Thomas James PORTER to Thomas and Wentworth PORTER was registered at Uralla in 1881.84 Registrations of other children showed that the family moved to Walcha and then to Newcastle where they lived in the Hamilton/Islington area. In May 1892 Winifred's son, identified as James PORTER but most probably Thomas James PORTER, appeared in court where there was an identification of the problems faced by Winifred and her children. The marriage to Thomas PORTER was difficult.85 By August 1892 Thomas had assaulted Winifred and the court report of the incident suggested that she had left him by this date.86 Thomas 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 1871.87 Winifred attempted to find honest work to support herself and her children but was forced to take her employer Andrew MINCH to court for unpaid wages. Her case was dismissed as it was stated that as her husband was still alive, she had no right to sue MINCH.88 This situation demonstrates the difficult predicaments faced by abandoned or abused women at this time. After Thomas' release from Maitland Gaol Winifred was likely forced to return to a difficult marriage due to her circumstances and by about 1895 the family can be found living at West Maitland where births of two more sons were registered. Eventually Thomas and Winifred appeared to be living in some comfort as she employed a servant89 but the ultimately the couple did separate. Thomas died at his son's house at Port Stephens on 10 October 1916.90

Winifred was believed by her descendants to have moved to Sydney by about 1914 and no further confirmation can be located for her.91 Attempts to trace Winifred's children and siblings in order to locate her is ongoing.

By September 1901 Winifred's daughter, Winifred, was admitted to Maitland Gaol from West Maitland Court92 charged with having no visible lawful means of support. She stated then that she had been born in Tamworth. Other details on the record are almost unreadable but Winifred appeared to have been a servant aged either 22 or 23. In August 1902, she was almost certainly a witness at the trial of Richard MILLS93 and she also appeared before the Singleton court charged with theft in October 1902.94 She returned to Louth Park near Maitland where she may have lived within the Chinese community.95 A daughter Elsie G. M. ALLEN was born in 190396 in Singleton. It may be that for support, Winifred moved to areas near where her father lived. In Singleton in 1906 she married Harold C. PURNELL. The couple resided in Inverell and Tamworth where the couple had at least four children. Harold died in Tamworth in 1922.97 In 1924 Winifred was again the victim of an assault which resulted in a further court appearance.98 She died in Tamworth in 1955 where her parents were confirmed as Charles William and Winifred.

Family researchers have recorded that Charles and Winifred's son John William ALLEN, had been born in Tamworth. He was almost certainly the man who worked at the Pelaw Main Colliery and who was injured in an accident in 1909.99 John died in Kurri Kurri at the age of 43 in 1919 although 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.

Winifred's son, Charles William ALLEN, is not the man who died in Sydney in 1939100 as this man was too old by about nine years and online trees suggested that he had had different parents.


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 mother was confirmed as Mary KEEGAN. Her father was recorded as James and no occupation was identified for him. The sponsors for her baptism were Patrick and Rosy KEEGAN,101 Mary's brother and sister-in-law.102 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, Patrick. 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 confirmed on the indent as Patrick and Winny.103 Just over a year later Berrnard McDONNEL arrived and Mary was identified as his cousin. Further children born to Bernard and Mary MACDONALD were registered in Maitland from 1858. The baptism on 10 November 1867,104 of Winifred's brother, Patrick, indicated that the family was living at this time at Denton Park.105 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.106

While the research of descendants available online suggests that Winifred's father also used the name James,107 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 Boanerges108 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.109 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.110 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 1895.111 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 59.112 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 1908.113 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. No appropriate woman named Winifred can be located in either Kurri Kurri or Greta Cemeteries.

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.

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 1919114 and who had parents named Bernard and Mary as this woman was only about 34.115 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 July 2018

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