Charlotte Ann MACDONALD (2)
Father Frederick MACDONALD b. m. 1854 d. 1869
Mother Ann aka Mary SUTCH b.c. 18232 m. 1854 d. 18903
Inmate Charlotte A. MACDONALD b. 18554 m. (1) none (2) 1882 (see below) d. 18925
Brother William Frederick MACDONALD b. 18576 m. d. 19317
Sister Mary MACDONALD b. 18598 m. none - d. 18609
Sister Alice MACDONALD b. 186110 m. 188211 Alfred H. WESTBROOK d. 195012
Sister Emma Rachael MACDONALD b. 186413 m. 189714 John BOYLES d.15
Husband (1) unknown b. m. none d.
Husband (2) John Peter JENSEN aka JOHNSON b.c. 185016 m. (1) 188217 d. 192618
Daughter Edith Annie McDONALD b. 187319 m. none unknown d. 191720
Son Peter JENSEN b. 188121 m. d.22
Daughter Charlotte A. JENSEN b. 188223 m. 190324 Alexander A. GUNN d.25
Son George JENSEN b. 188626 m. d. 196027
Son Frederick J. JENSEN b. 188428 m. d. 196329
Daughter Emma Mary JENSEN b. 188830 m. 191131 Francis J. BYRNE d. 197832
Daughter Catherine JENSEN b. 189033 m. 191234 Charles Henry James Hamilton FILMER d. aft. 193135

Charlotte was fifteen on 14 July 1870, when she was brought before the Court on a warrant instigated by her mother, identified in the newspapers as Mary. Mary stated that Charlotte stayed away from home at night, kept the company of prostitutes and she had no control over her. No mention was made of Charlotte's father in any newspaper report. Charlotte's surname was variously reported in the newspapers as McDONNELLY36 or McDONNELL37 and it was further recorded in industrial school records as McDONALD. Charlotte's admission originally appeared in the section of the Entrance Book that has not survived so no admission, discharge, family, religious or educational details can be confirmed from this source. She was recorded by LUCAS as Charlotte L. MACDONALD in his duplicate list copied from the original record in April 187238 but was recorded as McDONNELL on the transfer lists. No middle name or initial was identified there.39 LUCAS was unreliable in many of his actions and the accuracy and honesty of his written records must always be considered and while the school records are considered more reliable than newspaper reports, the inconsistency shown in these documents makes Charlotte's identification very difficult. No identification has yet been made in official records of the middle name attributed to Charlotte beginning with either A. or L. Many transcription errors have been identified on the complete inmate list40 so it cannot be certain whether the use of McDONALD here is accurate. There have been fewer errors found on the transfer lists that record Charlotte's surname as McDONNELL. Together with than the letter outlined below there are no further communications concerning Charlotte in the CSIL.

In a letter dated 5 April 1871, while the school was still based in Newcastle and within two months of the transfer to Biloela, Rose SELWYN, the wife of the Church of England minister at Christ Church, Newcastle, wrote on behalf of Mrs ARNOLD, of Stradbroke, Paterson, requesting that Mary Ann AYLIFFE and Annie BANHAM might be apprenticed to her. Because Mary Ann had already been apprenticed, Mrs SELWYN then requested that Charlotte might be sent instead. LUCAS reported that the girls were of good character and he considered that they would make excellent servants so the apprenticeship for Charlotte was approved. The consideration that Mrs SELWYN requested Charlotte as an apprentice is a strong indication that her ancestry was untainted with either crime or a convict stigma. It is also significant that Mrs SELWYN recorded the spelling of Charlotte's surname as MACDONALD.41 LUCAS' comments further supported that her upbringing was considered by him to be more acceptable than that of others. Charlotte was not placed in this apprenticeship as by this date she had only spent about nine months of her required year in the school. The intervention by Rose SELWYN also pointed to Charlotte being a Protestant and this religion was confirmed on the Biloela lists when she transferred to Biloela in May 1871.42

Charlotte was eventually apprenticed for two years to J. DOUGLAS, Esq., of Marra Creek on 12 February 1872, and this was reported to the Colonial Secretary by LUCAS in his report written on 19 February 1872.43 She was to be paid two shillings a week for the first year and three shillings weekly for the second year. Marra Creek is a tributary of the Barwon River west of Tamworth so was a long way from Charlotte's place of arrest. Arrangements had taken some time as DOUGLAS was 'held up in the interior' so LUCAS made a second request of the Colonial Secretary to send Charlotte to James BRAY of Berrima. This request then had to be rescinded.44 LUCAS' 1872 list identified Charlotte's apprenticeship location as Marrow Creek.45 This apprenticeship should have concluded in about February 1874 but subsequent events almost without any doubt indicate that apprenticeship was never completed.

Charlotte's experiences after her discharge from Biloela are reflective of the experiences of many of the other inmates, so the identification of the Newcastle inmate has been made using the relative scarcity of her given name Charlotte and the confirmation of her age and her birth location of New South Wales, recorded on the 1873 birth registration for Edith Annie McDONALD. Research into Charlotte's life has almost without any doubt confirmed that her surname was MACDONALD and that her mother's given name was not Mary but Ann. There is little doubt that Charlotte McDONALD was the seventeen-year-old girl who entered the Sydney Benevolent Asylum on 12 March 1873. It is known that Charlotte was in this area. She was the correct age and the name matched. Charlotte may have become pregnant while she was apprenticed and this would have been considered a breach of her contract and the apprenticeship would have been cancelled. Charlotte delivered an illegitimate daughter named Edith Annie McDONALD, on the 19 May 1873, and the pair left the Benevolent Asylum together on 5 July.46 Charlotte stated on Edith's registration record that she had been born in NSW. It is considered likely that after leaving the asylum, her family assisted her and perhaps even raised Edith when Charlotte married. In 1897 Edith A. MACDONALD also had an illegitimate daughter named Dorothy May MACDONALD. Dorothy married Milton CHAPMAN in 1921.47

The marriage of Charlotte A. McDONALD to John Peter JOHNSTON in 188248 shows that ten years passed before Charlotte married and no trace of her has been located during that time. No births have been found registered to the couple under the surname JENSEN but this name was almost certainly been Anglicised to JOHNSON at the time of the marriage and the registrations of their childrens' births. The name JENSEN was confirmed when in 1912, John and Charlotte's daughter Catherine JENSEN married in St Peter's Church of England, Woolloomooloo. The church record named her parents as Charlotte Anne McDONALD and the gardener John Peter JENSEN. Charlotte had died by 1912.49

Finding Charlotte's death is more difficult as a search for the death of Charlotte JENSEN or JOHNSON identified nothing. A search for Annie JENSEN however located a death in Leichhardt in 1892 for a 38-year-old Annie McD. JENSEN. The registration has not been viewed but the NSW BDM Index identified that Annie's parents were John and Ann. Her age was confirmed in the Rookwood Church of England Cemetery records and she was buried on 10 February 1892.50 No Funeral Notice has yet been identified on The Ryerson Index and none has yet been located in the newspapers even though a search for this specific date has been undertaken. This ancestry and death have also been confirmed on an online tree. This death has been attributed to Charlotte. It is believed that the woman with this name who found a body in Leichhardt in 1902 was her daughter51 who shared the same given name. It is uncertain whether Charlotte adopted the name Annie or whether this was the name by which she was known. It is also unknown whether she and John were still together when she died.

John Peter JOHNSTON may have been in Liverpool in 1883 when he was robbed52 and by 1886 he may have been a cab driver in Sydney.53 It is possible that John Peter JENSEN had relatives in South Africa or had a son who fought in the Boer War.54 John Peter JENSEN died in June 1926 and was buried in the Church of England Cemetery, Rookwood55 in a separate plot to Charlotte.56


Charlotte was difficult to trace and her identity is not absolute but reasonably confident. No arrivals have been located that might able to be identified as Charlotte had she not been the NSW girl. The identification of her family is based on a high degree of coincidence, a process of elimination and the use of records that confirm locations. The inconsistent spelling of her surname, recorded variously as McDONALD, MACDONALD, McDONNELL or McDONNELLY in official records from the school and from newspapers referring to the Newcastle girl, contributed to the difficulty in identifying her. Reports for Winifred MACDONALD also exhibited the same variations in the spelling of the McDONALD surname, so these similar sounding name variations must be accepted as referring to the same person when other identifiers are considered. A further difficulty also encountered in identifying Charlotte were the newspaper reports, now considered erroneous, that identified her mother, who appeared in court at the time of her trial. It cannot be ascertained whether the given name of Mary was a deliberate falsehood or a reporting error. Little confidence should be placed on Charlotte's apprenticeship to an area outside Sydney as LUCAS was often careless and lacking in compassion when arranging apprenticeship locations. His predecessor CLARKE was more inclined to consider carefully a location and assess how it would affect the girl. CLARKE tended to return girls to an area similar to or the same as their arrest location.57 More strength should be placed on Rose SELWYN's assessment of the character of Charlotte's family, as SELWYN was in a position to be well aware of the background of many of the inmates.58

Charlotte Ann McDONALD had been born in NSW near Bathurst, Sofala and Hill End on 14 June 1855, and had been baptised on 19 August. Her parents were identified in this record as John MACDONALD and Ann. John was a goldminer at Bald Hill near Tambaroora.59 There is little doubt that John was identical to Frederick MACDONALD and this record has either been erroneously transcribed from the original record or was written incorrectly by the minister at the time of the baptism. It is certain that this baptism identified the sister of William F. and Emma R. MACDONALD whose baptisms were also made in the same area. Charlotte's parents were Frederick MACDONALD and Ann SUTCH who were married on 21 August 1854, by banns at St James, Sydney, by Charles F. D. PRIDDLE. The witnesses were Charlotte GUY of Frances Street and Thomas AVERY of Bourke Street.60

Confirming Charlotte's family was achieved by tracing her first daughter. In 1873 Edith MACDONALD was born to Charlotte at the Sydney Benevolent Asylum. When Edith died in Marrickville on 12 August 1917, her Funeral Notice identified that she was the niece of William F. MACDONALD61 and that she was unmarried. Edith's uncle, William F. MACDONALD, had married Susannah LITTLE in Petersham in 1885.62 There was no record of either Charlotte or Edith in Susannah's Funeral Notice when she died in July 191063 so this was the only notice yet found connecting the family. William and Susannah had only two sons, Arthur and Cecil. These men were named in Frederick's Funeral Notice in June 1931 together with another niece, Mrs J. BOYLES.64 Mrs J. BOYLES was formerly Emma R. MACDONALD who had married John BOYLES in Woollahra in 1897.65 When William died in 1931, his parents were identified as Frederick and Ann MACDONALD.

Anne SUTCH had arrived on the Talavera in 1853. She was a Protestant and a plain cook who had been born in London in about 1823. Her parents were identified as John and Ann.66 Frederick and Ann moved to Sydney in about 1860. Their other children were Frederick and Emma Rachael, whose births were registered in Tambaroora and Alice67 whose birth was registered in Paddington. Mary's birth had also been registered in Tambaroora but her death was registered in Paddington in 1860. It is interesting that none of the daughters in the family were named Ann. Charlotte at least had her mother's name as a middle name. Alice MACDONALD married in 1882 and the announcement for her marriage identified her as the second daughter of the late F. MACDONALD68 confirming that Charlotte was still alive and that Mary had died. Funeral Notices identified that Ann died in August 1890.69 Only her father, John, was identified on the NSW BDM Index.70 Like her granddaughter Edith, Ann was buried in Waverley Cemetery71 and Waverley Cemetery records would be interesting to access. A check will be made to see if there is a headstone.

Nothing is yet known of Frederick MACDONALD. It is believed that he had a middle name of John and that he died at the age of 45 in 1869.72 It is likely that the pressure that his death placed on the family may have been the catalyst for Charlotte's admission to Newcastle.

Updated September 2019

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