Sarah McDUFF
Father James McDUFF b. 18261 m. (1) 18522 d. 18583
Step-father George Henry ANSELL or ANCEL b.c. 18044 m. (2) none d. 18645
Step-father William J. ROGERS b. unknown m. (3) 18646 d. unknown
Mother Sarah GRAHAM b. 18257 m. (1) 1852 (2) none (3) 1864 d. aft. 1869
Sister Mary McDUFF b. 18538 m. 1872 William ORR d. 19039
Inmate Sarah McDUFF b. 185610 m. 1872 (see below) d. 192711
Half-brother Henry George McDUFF aka ANSELL or ANCEL b. 186112 m. (1) 188413 (2) c. 1900 (1) Emily Ada SHOWESMITH (2) Annie HUMPHRIES14 d. 191515
Husband John REED b.c. 1851 m. 187216 d. 193617
Daughter Sarah Jane REED b. 1874 m. none - d. 1875
Daughter Alice Matilda REED b. 1875 m. 189618 Henry J. COLLARD d. 196719
Son Henry Frederick REED b. 1877 m. 190620 Sarah J. JACKSON d. 195921
Daughter Martha Sarah REED b. 1879 m. 190222 Charles W. E. HICKS d. 194723
Son Francis John REED b. 1881 m. 190724 Sophie E. GILL d. 193825
Daughter Mary Eliza REED b. 1883 m. 190626 Richard J. FORD d. 198227
Son John REED b. 1885 m. none - d. 190128
Son Arthur James REED b. 1891 m. 191229 Margaret I. E. STEWART d. 195730
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Sister Mary31 25 5' 2" brown blue fresh

Sarah was recorded in the newspapers as either thirteen or fifteen when she was arrested in company with Sarah BLAKE, Mary Ann O’HARE, and Amelia and Sarah Jane JOHNSTON. She had probably already been in employment as a servant as she had appeared in September 1869 she took another servant, Susan RILEY, to court due to an assault that had occurred in the Belmore Market.32 This charge was dismissed. Sarah and the four other girls arrested in October 1869 appeared in the Sydney court on 8 October.33 Constable THOMPSON deposed that, between seven and eight o'clock the night before, he had found the girls in York Street, and one of them complained to him that they had left their homes on Sunday night and had been sleeping out and leading bad lives.

Monday and Tuesday nights they passed in a house in Hay-street. On Wednesday night they went to Ivory's stables in Bourke-street, Surry Hills, where they were going to sleep with a jockey but were turned out by the police, and promised to go home ; they however then went and passed the rest of the night in an empty kitchen in Kelly's-lane.

Sarah’s mother was in court but was unnamed and stated that she had no control over her. The girls were ordered to be sent to the Industrial School at Newcastle and the bench stated that they were of the opinion that 'the whole of the blame of the present position of these children rested on the parents.'34 Sarah's record would have been recorded in the now missing section of the Entrance Book so no family, religious or educational details can be verified from this source.

On 10 October 1870, Rose E. SELWYN wrote from the parsonage in Newcastle, probably to CLARKE, stating

I am obliged to you for letting me know that Sarah McDuff is now eligible for service … Mrs Child is not I think prepared to pay more than 5/ a week at first … I hope that the wages being a trifle lower than what you propose will not be a hindrance to her having a place where every surrounding influence would be good and kind

Sarah was apprenticed from the school to the Rev. Coles CHILD of Morpeth on 24 October 1870,35 so she didn't transfer to Biloela in Sydney in May 1871. She was to be paid five shillings a week for the first year and six shillings a week for the second year. CHILD was soon to regret Sarah's apprenticeship and on 21 May 1872, he wrote to LUCAS and requested that the indentures be cancelled. He stated that Sarah's

… conduct has been so very indifferent and her inability to do her work properly so inconvenient to us that I am most anxious now that she should leave my employ. For some time past she has been so impertinent and shown such disobedience of orders, neglect of her ordinary work that I fear it my duty no longer to submit to it.
Besides this for some weeks she was confined in the Maitland Hospital with a bad toe and now the same thing is likely to occur again as you will see by the enclosed certificate. … The girl herself is tired of the place and wanted me to let her go without communicating with you.

A medical certificate from W. K. BULLIMORE stated that Sarah had a diseased toe nail and was unable to work about the house. LUCAS requested permission to cancel the indentures and stated that Sarah's warrant indicated that she was born on 15 January36 1856.37 The Colonial Secretary permitted the indentures to be cancelled. He requested that Sarah be returned to Biloela as she wouldn't turn eighteen for two more years but in the meantime Sarah also wrote to LUCAS requesting that the indentures be cancelled stating that she38

… was unabel to fulfil my duties as housemaid to Mr Child on account of haveing a complaint - called under groing toe nale in both my feet. … kindly cancel the agreement and allow me to marry John Reed a respectabel young man living in Morpeth i have keept his compeney for 15 months my Mrs knowing of it and allowing him to come to see me too evenings in the week …

A letter and a reference from John was also enclosed. CHILDs stated that John REED had a good character and was working for Frank MacFARLANE. He also stated that Sarah had told him that she was over eighteen and that she had been told this by the Superintendent of the Industrial School. CHILD wrote again stating that the school seemed to have made an error with Sarah's age39 and she certainly looked eighteen and nobody could prove her correct age.40 CHILD stated

All I want is that the indentures may be cancelled so that I may be freed[?] for the girl without going before the bench to prove what perhaps I cannot prove.

At the same time Sarah also wrote to the Colonial Secretary begging to have the indentures cancelled. The Colonial Secretary's response written on 20 June was to state

It is expedient it appears that the girl whatever her age between 16 and 18 should be allowed to marry John Reid who is a young man fairly spoken of and in present employ.

Things didn't move quickly enough for Sarah as explained in CHILD's next letter to LUCAS at Biloela where he says

I have to inform you that on going to the Registrar of the Morpeth district to procure the papers for Mr Middleton's consent, I ascertained that she had been already married to John Reid on May 24 last by the Primitive Methodist Minister Mr Jabez Ashmead who lives within a few doors of my house ; and that she stated herself to be of full age. I at once communicated this matter to Mr D. E. Middleton and on my return home questioned the girl about it. She acknowledged to being married so I at once sent her away to live with her husband. I may add that some time ago a report of her being married reached me and when mentioned to the girl was [?]ed to be true. You will have the goodness to report this to the Hon. the Colonial Secretary, and I hope that for the sake of justice he will direct such a breach of the marriage law shall be punished.

LUCAS passed COLES's letter on to the Crown Solicitor who responded that ASHMEAD should be prosecuted if it could be proved that he had known or had suspected by Sarah's juvenile appearance that she was underage.41 No indication has been found that any prosecution of ASHMEAD occurred.

Sarah McDUFF had married John REED in Morpeth on 24 May 1872, just after the correspondence into cancelling her indentures commenced.42 The couple went on the have eight children whose full names and dates of birth were recorded in the St James Church of England, Morpeth, register.43

The couple remained in the Morpeth area for the rest of their lives. Sarah died on 19 December 1927, at the age of seventy-one, confirming a year of birth of around 1856. Her death was registered in Wickham. While her death registration recorded that her parents were Harry and Mary, the location of her grave and that of her husband and her age at the time of her death are correct. John was eight-five when he died on 27 March 1936. The couple were buried together in the Church of England Cemetery, Morpeth, near Maitland.44


Sarah's headstone at Morpeth Cemetery
Jane Ison 2014


Sarah was baptised in 1856, just before compulsory registration occurred.45 The HVPRI recorded that she had been born on 2 February 1856, and baptised on 23 March in the Roman Catholic Church, West Maitland. Because this was a Catholic record the full names of both her parents, James McDUFF and Sarah GRAHAM, were recorded. This couple had arrived as assisted immigrants in 1855 aboard the St. Helena with their one-year-old daughter, Mary, who had been born in Bolton, Lancashire.46 James and Sarah had married in Bolton, Lancashire, on 17 October 1852.47

The marriage records from the Lancashire Online Parish Clerks recorded that James was a bricklayer when he married.48 The St Helena indent confirmed that he was a twenty-eight-year-old bricklayer from Carlilse, Cumberland. He was a member of the Church of Rome and it is likely that this religion differed from that of his wife.49 From approximately the time they arrived, the family lived in the Maitland area of the Hunter Valley. It is unknown when they moved from the Maitland area but James McDUFF died in Parramatta in 1858.50 His death registration confirmed that his parents were Samuel and Mary – the same parents recorded on the St Helena indent.51

Sarah GRAHAM was a twenty-nine-year-old from County Cumberland when she arrived in NSW aboard the St Helena. The second immigration reel confirmed her maiden name and recorded that her parents were John and Mary GRAHAM. Her religion probably differed from that of her husband and was probably52 Church of England.53 After James's death, Sarah began a relationship with George Henry ANSELL or ANCEL.54 The couple never married. George ANSELL senior died in 186455 and Sarah very soon remarried William J. ROGERS at Windsor. It is unknown why during September 1865, in Sydney and after the date of this marriage, that Sarah was admitted to Darlinghurst Gaol charged with vagrancy56 and it may be that William ROGERS had abandoned her. Gaol records recorded that she was the forty-three-year-old Protestant, Sarah ROGERS alias McDUFF. Her ship of arrival and her religion were confirmed in this gaol record but no description was recorded.57 Sarah was still in Sydney in 1866.58 Her death hasn’t been verified but she wasn't the Sarah A. ROGERS whose death was registered in Windsor in 1898 as this woman was ninety years old.

Sarah's sister, Mary McDUFF, was the woman assaulted by Julia CUNNINGHAM in 187059 and this conviction was confirmed on her record for a further conviction for assault and robbery in February 1880. Mary was identified as McDUFF alias ORR in the CSIL correspondence when she was imprisoned for 18 months. Mary requested that the Colonial Secretary permit that after her release she would be sent to her relatives60 and as she served her time in Maitland Gaol, this relative was probably Sarah who was living nearby. A photograph of Mary appeared in the Darlinghurst Gaol records in 1880.61

The illegitimate birth of Henry A. McDUFF, registered in 1861 in Windsor, recorded the birth of Sarah's half-brother. On 28 August 1869, Henry McDUFF aka ANSELL was admitted to the Benevolent Asylum at the age of nine.62 More information on this admission may be available by viewing the original record that is available only to descendants. [[/footnote]] Henry had been found wandering the streets and had been admitted to the asylum by the City Magistrate. He was transferred to the Randwick Asylum on 22 October 1869,63 about two weeks after Sarah was sent to Newcastle. The Randwick records confirmed that his father was dead but contained no statement concerning his mother.64 A notation on the bottom of his admission record read: 'query Rogers to ask Hony Sec. respecting.' This enquiry verified the remarriage of Sarah to William J. ROGERS. Henry was apprenticed from Randwick to the Rev. Thomas DRUITT of Cooma, on 16 September 1873, at the age of 13.65 Eventually he adopted the surname ANSELL. His half-sister, Sarah REED, was a witness at his first marriage in 1884.66

Note: Another man named James McDUFF and his wife, Janet, were also living in Maitland at the time of Sarah's birth. This couple probably attended the Presbyterian Church as this was where their children were baptised and are not known to be connected to the other James McDUFF.

Updated July 2017

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