Rachel E. McCURDY
Father unknown b. m. (1) none d.
Step-father James CLARK1 b. m. (2) 18622 d.c. 18703
Step-father John James SMITH b. m. (3) 18704 d. aft. 1903
Mother Harriett McCURDY b. 1842 m. (1) none (2) 18625 (3) 18706 d. 19007
Inmate Rachel E. McCURDY b. 18598 m. 1883 (see below) d. 19299
Half-brother John Henry CLARK b. 186310 m. 1886 Clara B. ROSE d. 194111
Half-sister Elizabeth McCURDY b. 186412 m. none - d. 1864
Half-brother George J. McCURDY b. 186513 m. none - d. 186514
Half-Brother Joseph H. SMITH b. 186715 m. none - d. 186716
Half-sister Augusta SMITH b. m. d.
Half-sister Maria Ann SMITH b. 187117 m. 189018 George Henry BUDIN d. 194719
Half-sister Alice SMITH b. 187320 m. d. aft. 189821
Half-brother William Napoleon SMITH b. 187522 m. 190023 Marie ADLER d. 194624
Husband John O'SHEA25 b.c. 185626 m. 188327 d. 191328
Son (adopted) Albert aka Albion Edward O'CONNOR b. 189029 m. 191630 Violet M. BROWN d. 192931
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Grandfather John HASLEM32 18 5' 0½" brown hazel pock pitted

Rachel was eleven when she was admitted to Newcastle on 1 February 1870. She had appeared before the Sofala bench charged under the Industrial Schools Act because she was living with reputed thieves and prostitutes.33 The location of her family was identified as Dead Horse Gully, Wattle Flat.34 Rachel's admission details appeared in the pages now missing from the Entrance Book so no family, educational, religious or admission details can be confirmed from this record. Rachel was recorded as a Catholic by CLARKE in his list sent to the Colonial Secretary on 1 June 1870.35 Rachel didn’t spend the required twelve months in the school as on 24 May 1870, her mother, Harriett, wrote from Wattle Flat requesting that her children be released from the Industrial schools and returned to her. Her daughter, Rachel, was in Newcastle, and her son, John CLARKE, had been admitted to the Vernon. She directed that any correspondence be sent to Harriett SMITH, c/o Mr STEWART's Royale Hotel, Wattle Flat.36 Rachel was discharged into the care of her mother on 28 June 1870.37

Online trees confirm that Rachel adopted the surname SMITH and attribute to her the marriage to John O'SHEA in Dubbo in 1883.38 No children were recorded to the couple but they informally adopted the boy, Albert or Albion Edward O'CONNOR who had begun living with them before 190039 and probably from as early as 1895 when his father, William, had died.40 Albion was John O'SHEA's nephew and the son of his sister, Mary Ann O'CONNOR nee O'SHEA. He was recorded as Albion at the time of his marriage. The March before Rachel's death, Albion Edward O'CONNOR, died and the funeral notice read:

O'CONNOR.—The Relatives and Friends of Mrs. RACHEL O'SHEA, Mr. and Mrs. MICHAEL McDONALD, Miss ELIZABETH O'SHEA, and Mr. WALLACE BROWN are kindly invited to attend the Funeral of her late beloved SON, their NEPHEW and BROTHER-IN-LAW, Albert Edward O'Connor; to leave 2 John-street, Lidcombe, TO-MORROW (Tuesday), at 9.45 a.m., for Catholic Cemetery, Rookwood.41

Albion's death registration was in the name of Albert Edward O'CONNOR and his parents were recorded as William and Mary A. O'CONNOR. The Miss Elizabeth O'SHEA referred to in the Funeral Notice may have been born in Parramatta in 1868. Her parents were recorded as John and Abigail.

John died on 5 November 1913, at the age of fifty-seven.42 Rachel died in Devonshire Street, Sydney, on 23 May 1929, at the age of 74. Only her mother, Harriet, was recorded on the death registration. Rachel was buried with John in the same grave43 in the Catholic Cemetery, Bathurst.44 Rachel's will confirmed that she was a widow at the time of her death.45 The headstone is of white marble.


Rachel was the illegitimate daughter of Harriett McCURDY and it is very likely that the birth of the unnamed, illegitimate female registered in Bathurst by Harriet McCURDY belongs to Rachel. No identification of her father has been located but proof may exist in records held by descendants of Harriett. There is no evidence that John CLARK's father, James, was also the father of Rachel as she was born four years before the birth of the first child attributed to the relationship between James CLARK/E and Harriet McCURDY. It was significant that no request was made by Jas. CLARKE senior, for Rachel to be released into his care at the time he petitioned for the release from the Vernon of John Henry CLARKE, possibly suggesting that he did not consider Rachel his granddaughter.

Harriet McCURDY was the daughter of the convicts, James McCURDY of the Tottenham in 1818 and Rachel RICHARDS who had been transported aboard the Lord Wellington in 1820, received permission to marry on 10 December 1923. An earlier permission for Rachel to marry John HASLEM, also of the Tottenham in 1818, was given on 4 November 1822. No record of this marriage has been located either. Because there has been no convict named James McCURDY located on the Tottenham indent and because the indent lists a John HASLEM, it is believed that these names referred to the same man and that John HASLEM adopted and used the alias of James McCURDY. Rachel RICHARDS had been transported aboard the Lord Wellington in 1820.46 The Lord Welington indent is in such poor condition that a description or an entry for Rachel has not yet been located. Rachael McCURDY nee RICHARDS died in Lane Cove in 1873. Her father was recorded as Richard on the NSW BDM Index.47 Online trees confirmed that Harriet had been born in Berrima in about 1842 but no record of her birth has been located in the NSW BDM Index even though baptisms of many of her siblings do appear.

In 1870 in Bathurst, Harriet McCURDY married John James SMITH. The couple had four further children and can they be located in Sofala until 1873. Rachel's mother died as Harriet SMITH in Parramatta on 13 June 1900.48 Her parents were confirmed as James and Rachael on her death registration.

At the time of Rachel's admission to Newcastle, her half-brother, John Henry CLARKE, was also admitted to the Vernon. He was recorded there as having come from Wattle Flat, near Sofala. Another brother, George McCURDY, who was also illegitimate, was born and died in Sofala in 1865. Other half-siblings were registered with the surname CLARK and online trees identify that the father of these children was James CLARK/E. At the same time as Harriett applied for the release of her two children another petition was sent to the Colonial Secretary via a firm of lawyers, Macintosh, Pinnock and Price, located in Bathurst. Their letter stated

Some few weeks since a boy by the name of John Clarke whose father had lately died was received into the Bathurst gaol for protection and has since we understand been conveyed to the authorities of the Vernon. His grandfather Mr. Jas. Clarke of Wattle Flat near Sofala has since been appointed guardian of the child49

Updated July 2015

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