Note Mary Ann was the most notorious girl in Newcastle and later in Sydney. So many national newspaper reports concerning her and her exploits during the 1860s and 1870s exist that many have not been referenced. A verification of her ancestry has not yet been possible using purchased registrations or online sources but there is no doubt as to her identity. It is hoped that one of the numerous letters concerning her located in the CSIL will provide evidence that will positively identify either her family or at least her mother but to date none has been found. Attempts to contact Mary Ann's descendants have not been possible so if they read this it is hoped that they will contact the author.
Mary Ann was the second girl admitted to the Newcastle Reformatory.28 She was arrested for theft at Rutherford near Maitland in the Hunter Valley by Sub-inspector HARRISON29 and she appeared before the Police Magistrate, Helenus SCOTT in Newcastle on 29 May 1869, charged with stealing a diamond ring, worth ten pounds ten shillings from Herbert Edwin HOPKINSON, to whom she had been employed as a nursemaid for three or four days. Mary Ann was sentenced to three years in the Reformatory30 and she was probably admitted to Newcastle immediately after her court appearance. The Newcastle Chronicle described her as a ‘young girl … thought to be under the age of fourteen years’ and the paper attributed to her the alias of HEWESTLER. The Newcastle Reformatory Entrance Book has not survived so no family details can be identified from this record however, the letter to the Colonial Secretary in August 1874, that identified the reformatory inmates admitted up to that date, confirmed her trial details. This record further indicated that Mary Ann had been discharged from the Reformatory on 28 May 1872.31
Mary Ann's stay in Newcastle and later in Biloela was turbulent. She challenged authorities almost constantly over her incarceration. Nearly three months after her admission, CLARKE, in his letter of 1 September 1869, reported to the Colonial Secretary that Mary Ann
… was placed in solitary confinement and on a bread and water diet on Friday 27th and released on Sunday 29th August for insubordinate conduct towards the Matron, Mrs King in having thrown a cup of water and a pound of bread at the door as Mrs King was retiring from the girls room.32
On the night of 14 February 1870, Mary Ann made her first escape from Newcastle disguised in clothing belonging to the Reformatory matron, Agnes KING, and her daughter, Mary Ann BARTON.33 The Maitland Mercury facetiously referred to Mary Ann as Miss MEHAN when she was eventually captured by constable KING of the Newcastle Police. It is uncertain whether this was typical of the reporter or whether he had formerly reported on her exploits. Mary Ann was admitted to Maitland Gaol on 21 February to await her trial.34 Mary Ann again appeared in the Newcastle court35 charged with stealing the clothes and was committed to appear at the next Quarter Sessions.36 The description books for Maitland Gaol in 1870 and 1871 indicated that Mary Ann was a Protestant who had been born in Tamworth. It further identified that she could read and write. The Maitland Gaol punishment records of May 1870 indicated that Mary Ann had been placed in the cells for three days for being noisy in her cell.37
Mary Ann was eventually returned to the reformatory where two months later, on 4 August 1870, she again absconded in company with the other reformatory inmates, Jane TAYLOR and Ellen YOUNGMAN. CLARKE's letter explained how their escape had been achieved.
I went to the Dormitory where the three girls should be and, found three forms made of blankets in the three beds, and the girls gone the forms were covered with quilts and looked like people in the beds. Upon further examination, the clothing that the girls had on was found in the paddock in front of the institution.
Mrs King stated that she locked up the girls in the dormitory about six o'clock but that she did not see Jane Taylor in the room, that the other two girls told Mrs King, Jane was under the bed, that it was only her fun, she would be out presently, Mrs King states that she locked the door and left the key in the lock – that she suspects that Jane Taylor was in another room and that she unlocked the door and let the other two out. I then went in search of them accompanied by two policemen we arrested them about two miles out of town and brought them back to the Institution about 12 o'clock on the same night from what the girls state Mrs King was right in suspecting Taylor but they all say that the door was not locked, that there was no key in it, it was only bolted …
Meehan is now undergoing punishment in solitary confinement and on bread and water diet … Meehan is sixteen she is not a bad hearted girl but very wild and easily led astray.
On this occasion the three girls were assisted by George ALLSHORN, an omnibus driver. 'He took them out of town in an omnibus.' George was brought before the court by CLARKE and was charged with assisting in the escape of the trio so he spent a month in Maitland Gaol as punishment.38 Only a fortnight later on 21 August, Mary Ann made her third successful escape one evening when Agnes KING was on leave. KING's daughter, Mary Ann BARTON, was supervising the three reformatory girls. Attempts were made by CLARKE to find Mary Ann and he rode to Maitland searching for her.39 She was described as being about sixteen of rather stout build with dark hair and was supposed to be dressed in a Holland jacket and white straw mushroom hat. These clothes had again been stolen from employees of the industrial school. CLARKE's letter, written on 14 September, reported that she was still at large.40 The report of her arrest by constable SCULLY at Radfordsleigh,41 near Branxton, appeared in both the Maitland Mercury and the Police Gazette.42 After her arrest Mary Ann stated that she had facilitated her escape by chopping through the wall with an axe and CLARKE's communications indicated that this may have been the case. He stated that her escape 'was effected by cutting a hole in the iron fence that forms the back boundary wall of that Institution.' In a report on the reformatory to the Colonial Secretary on 29 December 1870, CLARKE described Mary Ann as 'very troublesome'.43
A fourth escape44 on 14 April 1871, occurred in company with two industrial school girls, Lucy AH KIN and Annie HOWARD, who are thought to have been temporarily isolated in the reformatory buildings.45 The three girls remained at large for a week living in a deserted hut on the Minmi Creek between Minmi and Teralba.46 They were concealed by three men, one of whom was identified as Thomas HAFEY. Constable LEONARD of Wallsend Police arrested HAFEY and the three girls.47 On 20 April 1871, Annie and Mary Ann were charged with destroying Government property48 but at their subsequent appearance on 22 April, this charge was withdrawn. Annie was returned to the school and Mary Ann was immediately charged with absconding. She was again sent to Maitland Gaol for three months as she stated that she would escape again if she was returned to the school.49 HAFEY subsequently received one month’s gaol for concealing an absconder50. HAFEY and MEEHAN were recorded together in the Maitland Gaol records for this period.51
When the Newcastle Reformatory closed, Mary Ann was transferred to the Reformatory section of Biloela on Cockatoo Island but arrived, not with the girls who made the first transfer in May, but on 25 August. This was some weeks after the other inmates had arrived on Cockatoo Island and had occurred once Mary Ann had completed her sentence in Maitland Gaol.52 At KING's request Mary Ann was assessed by the doctor, Owen Spencer EVANS, after her readmission. On Friday 1 September, Mary Ann threatened to drown herself in the harbour and again was visited by EVANS who used phrenology, the then common 'science of character divination [and] faculty psychology',53 to assess her. He stated that:
Mary Ann Meehan has a morose expression combined with cunning, a low degree of intelligence, a quick impulsive temper; when raised violent and almost maniacal – her head presents a low development of the intellectual and moral faculties – lack of early control or restraint has tended no doubt to make her temper more difficult to manage. I think she is able to distinguish right from wrong and responsible for her actions and that the eccentricities of demeanour are put on for effect. I do not consider Mary Ann Meehan a proper subject for treatment in a lunatic asylum.
On 16 September 1871,54 Mary Ann, attempted to burn down the door of the dormitory at Biloela.55 She shared the room with Elizabeth RANDALL, Jane TAYLOR, Louisa WINTER and one other unnamed girl who could only have been Louisa BELLINGHAM.56 RANDALL stated that, between 1 and 2 o'clock on Saturday morning, Mary Ann set fire to the door of the dormitory with some straw and stringybark from her bed using matches supplied to her by WINTER. During the appearance Mary Ann further accused WINTER of bringing a saw and an ax into the dormitory and WINTER wasn't reported to have denied this accusation. TAYLOR declared that she was going to call out for assistance but didn’t because Mary Ann had threatened to gag her with an apron if she tried. TAYLOR further stated that Mary Ann and Louisa had intended to abscond and that both were already dressed when the fire was lit. Mary Ann denied that she was planning an escape, saying instead that it was WINTER and RANDALL who had planned this. George LUCAS, the superintendent, and Agnes KING, the Biloela Reformatory matron, attended Mary Ann's trial.57 KING stated that Mary Ann had admitted setting the fire. LUCAS stated that when he had arrived in the dormitory Mary Ann was beating the charred door with the leg of a bedstead and WINTER58 was making a 'great noise.'
Mary Ann denied setting the fire and although the jury stated that they believed that all the girls were involved, no newspaper reports of any further trials have been located. Mary Ann was charged with attempted arson and pleaded not guilty. She was unrepresented in court and chose to defend herself. Her skill in questioning was commended by the Judge, directly contradicting the comments regarding her intellect previously recorded by Dr EVANS.59 Mary Ann's detailed statement made during her summing up in court recounted a harrowing story of her time in the reformatories of Newcastle and Biloela. The Empire report has written the best summary and it is quoted here. It must be considered that Mary Ann's account is not chronological. It represents her perspective and has almost certainly been sanitised for her jury.60 It does however, reflect the frustration she, and probably many others, felt with the system. It makes poignant reading but it doesn’t accurately reflect the charges for which she was initially admitted to Newcastle. Attempts to curb her rebelliousness must have been soul-destroying for her if her account is true but it is her version of the events and letters from CLARKE indicate that she was given many chances.
[Mary Ann who] is endowed with a remarkable degree of oratorical facility, cross-examined the witnesses with an astonishing display of forensic ability, and endeavoured to insinuate, by the course she adopted in regard to their testimony, that the attempted firing of the premises was the result of a conspiracy, in which all the girls participated, and therefore, they should share the penalty. In point of fact, this was the leading point of a very lengthened and plausible address to the Court, and which was artfully intermingled with a harrowing description of the treatment she had undergone at the old Reformatory at Newcastle, where, she alleged – even when she was over age, and therefore, in her opinion, could not be legally detained, although she had been sentenced to serve three years at the establishment – her hair had been violently cut by Captain Clarke and Mrs. Barton, under circumstances of great brutality. She also added that she had often been led to believe that if she conducted herself well for certain periods, she should have her liberty ; but these hopes had not been fulfilled, and hence she made up her mind to escape; for if she failed in the attempt, even the gaol was preferable to the reformatory. … She was willing and able to get her own living – as Mrs. King well knew, for she had done Mrs. King's washing and ironing for two years. She had been sent to gaol for six months by Judge Dowling, and she was willing to serve the remainder of her time in gaol. There was justice in the gaols, but none in the schools. She had been driven to do what was not good by being kept in the reformatory as the confinement there was more than she could bear. She hoped his Honor would take these circumstances into consideration, as she had nothing more to say.61
The Judge expressed pain concerning Mary Ann's statement and voiced his concerns about the reformatory system. The jury foreman, Mr B. COCKS, when pronouncing Mary Ann's guilt, recommended mercy as the entire jury:
… had felt the case most acutely, and … felt acutely for [her and] … [two members] were willing to find her some employment, whereby she might not only earn her living, but by the intelligence which she seemed to possess be enabled to make for herself a position which would be creditable to her and to those who took her under their charge.
The judge said that he wished to consider a point of law62 that may be in Mary Ann’s favour but added that he had inquired about her and 'what he had heard might modify the opinions of the jury. He considered that, if his inquiry proved correct and turned out as he anticipated, he should not feel the same compassion as he did now.' His final comment63 implied that Mary Ann had delivered a child prior to her court appearance and that her mother was caring for this baby. Mary Ann denied all knowledge of any child and no registrations have been found to suit this birth. This event may possibly have occurred while Mary Ann was in Maitland Gaol in April 1871 although no evidence of this child appears in any gaol record found to date. Hopefully more information will be found in the CSIL or in the Maitland gaol letter book for this period which has not yet been read.
Eventually Mary Ann pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of attempting to burn down a dwelling house and was sentenced to six months with hard labour in Darlinghurst Gaol. The gaoler's report of her incarceration there identified that she had been punished on two occasions – firstly for being noisy and in a further instance for fighting with another inmate.64 On her release in May 1872, she was described as a native of Maitland and born in 1853. This record contradicted the earlier gaol admissions to Maitland concerning her place of birth which had stated that she had been born in Tamworth.
Mary Ann didn't return to the Reformatory after her release on 6 May 1872. The remainder of her sentence in Darlinghurst was remitted. She was released into the service of Madame DELSARTE in Sydney, a situation arranged for her by the foreman of the jury, Mr. COCKS.65 She didn't remain long in Sydney as on 24 July 1872, at the Registrar's Office in Newcastle, Mary Ann MEEHAN married George Henry Melville ALLSHORN – the man who had assisted her in her second escape from the Newcastle Reformatory. This record is also recorded on the NSW BDM Index under the names Georgertt M. ALLSHORN and Mary Ann WEELAN. George erroneously recorded his age as thirty-two on this registration. He was described as a seaman in 1868 and was recorded as a mariner when he married. Mary Ann's age was recorded as nineteen and permission for her to marry was provided by Ellen HOLMES, her guardian. Mary Ann's parents were identified on the registration as James MEEHAN and Ellen BRADY. It is considered that Mary Ann had no reason to lie about her ancestry at this point in time so this record is probably the most truthful record available for her. It is thought that Ellen HOLMES and Ellen BRADY were the same person and this almost certainly identified Mary Ann's mother as court reports earlier in the year indicated that she was still alive. The HVPRI has been searched for records of possible references to these people but nothing yet located has been attributed to them. The witnesses to the marriage were Alex KIRKALDY and Ellen (X) HOY. Ellen HOY may have been one of two women in the Newcastle area at this time. It is possible that one of these women may be Mary Ann's sister or half-sister. Mary Ann and George's only recorded child was born in 1873 in Newcastle but died there the following year.
George ALLSHORN probably first arrived in South Australia as the SA Register in 1854 listed an uncollected letter for G. H. ALLSHORN.66 The Hawkes Bay Weekly Times quoting from the Newcastle Pilot, reported an attempt by George to commit suicide.67 Newcastle Court appearances also indicated that George appeared often under the surnames ALLSHORN and ALSHORN.68 Sometime after appearing in court charged with using threatening language to Mary Ann in December 1874,69 Mary Ann moved to Sydney. George was still in Newcastle in June 187570 and in April 1876.71 The couple had certainly separated by 1879 as this was the year of the birth of the first OLDHAM child. George was the fifty-three-year-old Sydney resident who was being treated in the Sydney Infirmary in December 1880.72 His death was recorded on the NSW BDM Index as George ALLSHOM on 18 August 1882.73 In 1892, his brother, William,74 placed a lost relatives advertisement searching for him and his sisters, Emma GOUGH and Maria.
There is much evidence to indicate that Mary Ann would have been very keen to hide her past. The circumstances and results of her arson trial in 1871 had been reported in papers across the country. By about 1878 she had commenced a relationship with John OLDHAM while she was still married to George ALLSHORN. It is likely that absolute proof will never be found that she became who she did because there is no doubt that she lied to authorities at the time of the registration of her second marriage. It must also be considered that she may not have been completely honest at the time of her first marriage nor on the birth registrations for her children. There are certainly inconsistencies recorded on the NSW BDM Index for these births. There is almost overwhelming circumstantial evidence that Mary Ann MEEHAN assumed the alias of Marion aka Emily Marion MAYNE. On 5 September 1882, just over a fortnight after the death of George ALLSHORN, the marriage75 of Marion ALLSHORN to John OLDHAM occurred in Sydney. This registration has not been viewed but online queries from descendants of this couple indicated that on this record Marion stated that her maiden surname was MAYNE.76 The similarity of the pronunciation of MAYNE and MEEHAN is considered significant as is the date the marriage occurred. Online queries from descendants also suggested that no parents were recorded on this marriage registration as researchers have found identifying John's parents problematic.77 Marion stated on this record that she had been born in Tamworth. It may be that on the registration Mary Ann may have identified a relationship to George ALLSHORN – possibly stating that he was her father. It is unknown whether she correctly stated that she was a widow. It is considered possible that John OLDHAM was aware that Mary Ann was already married when the relationship began and that he perhaps knew who she was. Some online sources inexplicably state that the OLDHAM marriage occurred in Newcastle on 24 July 1872,78 yet this date is identified on the NSW BDM Index as the same date as the marriage of Mary Ann MEEHAN and George ALLSHORN. It may be that this date was recorded in the marriage section of birth registrations for their children. Yet another descendant has identified that Mary Ann was the daughter of George and Mary Ann ALLSHORN so it is clear that there is some difficulty in accurately identifying her. This further suggested that she was the Newcastle girl. It is considered unlikely that Mary Ann re-entered Darlinghurst Gaol in 1873 as she had married by this stage and gaol records identified that this woman's year of birth was 1859.
The OLDHAM family lived in Paddington. From 1879, the NSW BDM Index recorded birth and death registrations of children to John and Emily Marion OLDHAM. Marion and Emily Marion were used interchangeably on these registrations, although Emily Marion was more frequently recorded. The first of these children were illegitimate. It is interesting that a Mrs Mary Ann OLDHAM was a resident in Lambton, Newcastle, when she appeared as a witness in Lambton court on two occasions in 1892 and 1894.79 It is unknown whether these appearances refer to Mary Ann but it is considered possible. In 1902, as Marion OLDHAM, Mary Ann filed for divorce from John but this decree was never presented to court80 and this state of affairs was confirmed as no record of the divorce can be found on the SRNSW site. The newspaper reports of her complaint against the solicitor she had employed to serve the papers identified that one of her sons had recently died in South Africa. This son was Thomas Joseph and his death was registered on the NSW BDM Index in Sydney with the other casualties of the Boer War. Thomas was either Private T. J. OLDHAM No. 2234 who served with the 3rd NSW Imperial Bushmen or Orderly Thomas Joseph OLDHAM who served with the Imperial Hospital Corps.81 It is believed that both references refer to him as one of the sixteen In Memoriam notices appear in the Sydney Morning Herald on 13 December 1902, was from his 'comrade', Jack Ellis, from the Army Medical Corps. The most poignant was from his mother that in part stated:
Trooper T. J. Oldham (Joe), of the 3rd N. S. Wales Bushmen, Colonel Willliams's fighting column; killed in action at De Witte Kranz, South Africa, December 13, 1901, after a night march, and while bravely capturing a large gun from the Boers. Buried with all military honours. Aged 21 years.82
The major newspaper article indicated that Emily Marion's husband, John OLDHAM was a captain in the Salvation Army but had left Sydney for Tasmania before the divorce papers had been served.83 It was further stated that Emily operated a disreputable house named Maybrook House84 at 27 Elizabeth Street, Sydney. Advertisements for Maybrook House suggested that it was a boarding house. Mary Ann was relatively well-off as she employed servants. Constable NUTLEY testified that he knew Marion OLDHAM by the name Mrs. DICKINSON.85 This name may very likely reflect a further relationship undertaken by Mary Ann MEEHAN and at least one scandalous incident occurred at her property.86 In this article she was referred to as Emily Marian DICKSON. In November 1897, Emily Marion DICKINSON appeared in the Quarter Sessions charged with keeping a brothel.87 In light of these reports an observation of the marriage registration between Leonard DICKINSON and Emily M. CANNON in Mosman in 1900 might be interesting to view. At this time Mary Ann was still legally married to John OLDHAM so a charge of bigamy would most likely have been brought if any evidence had been found by anyone. Mary Ann was charged with sly grog selling in Paddington Police Court in December 1912.88
No trace of John OLDHAM has been confirmed and descendants have also been unable to locate his death. The death registration in February 1926 recorded the death of an unmarried, seventy-eight-year-old man in the Parramatta Mental Hospital who had been buried in the Church of England Cemetery, Rookwood. Most information on the registration was recorded as unknown.89 Emily Marion OLDHAM died in Waverley on 22 June 1927, at the age of seventy-six. This age puts her birth as 1851 which is a very good match for what is known of Mary Ann MEEHAN. Her father was recorded on the NSW BDM Index as Hugh, which was an interesting statement considering the as yet unidentified alias of HEWESTER attributed to her in 1869. She was buried with her son, Stanley,90 in the Catholic section of Waverley Cemetery on 24 June 1927.91 A headstone was erected for Stanley John C. OLDHAM, who died on 16 June 1919, at the age of 31.92
Mary Ann had been born in Maitland in about 1853 but there is no appropriate baptism for her under the name MEEHAN or its variations. There is little doubt about this year of birth because Mary Ann had required permission to marry in 1872 and because she stated in 1871 that her mother had lied about her age at the time she had been admitted to the Newcastle Reformatory because she believed that admitting Mary Ann would be a good thing.
I was three months over sixteen when I was sentenced.
Mary Ann's 1872 marriage registration to George ALSHORN identified that her parents were James MEEHAN and Ellen BRADY. No confirmation of these parents has been found in any other record but it is reasonably certain that Mary Ann had been honest at this time. It is uncertain whether her mother was present when she married. One witness was named Ellen HOY and consent for the marriage was provided by Mary Ann's guardian, Ellen HOLMES. It is believed that her mother was more likely to have been Ellen HOLMES. On this marriage registration Mary Ann specifically stated that she had been born in West Maitland. This birth location is further supported by the location of her mother in 1871 who was reported to be alive and living in Newcastle and two escapes from the Newcastle Reformatory that were made to the West Maitland area – specifically Rutherford and Branxton. Maitland was also one of the birth locations recorded for Mary Ann in the NSW gaol records. Maitland is therefore considered to be the most accurate birth location yet identified for Mary Ann. It has been suggested by online trees that Mary Ann's birth location may have been Tamworth and this location was also attributed to her in the NSW gaol records. It is unclear which location was correct even though gaol records clearly referred to the same person but it is believed that more credence should be placed on the first admissions to Maitland Gaol where Mary Ann's place of birth was the same on two occasions within one year than on records where she had formerly deliberately lied.
All that is known of James MEEHAN was that Mary Ann's 1872 marriage identified that he was a mariner. There is no indication that any of the following men were Mary Ann's father but they are listed here to avoid replicating the research.
1. The James MEEHAN who was tried at Armidale when Mary Ann would have been about six years of age may be a reference to her father.93 Investigations into people named MEEHAN in Armidale Gaol may also be valuable. The marriage of James MEEHAN and Fanny MARTIN in Tenterfield in 185994 occurred near Tamworth, an area identified by Mary Ann in some records. Only one child was registered to this couple.
2. Free Settler or Felon identified a convict names James MEEHAN who had been residing in Maitland in June 1832 and who had arrived on the Sir Godfrey Webster in 1826. An Application to Marry was refused. The actual application was under the name John MEEHAN so a transcription error has been made on Free Settler or Felon or a change of name was made by the person when they married.
3. A James MEEHAN with a wife named Bridget appeared as baptism sponsors in the HVPRI. Little is known of this man or whether he may be one of the men outlined here.
4. A James MEENAN was admitted to Bathurst Gaol on 13 January 1864, after a trial at Hartley for cattle stealing. He was reported in the NSW Police Gazette as James MEEHAN and he pronunciation of the names in similar. He had been sentenced to five years on the roads and had arrived on the St Vincent in 1837 and was on a bond. The St Vincent was a convict transport and it had arrived in Sydney on 5 January 1837.95 James was shown on the indent as a blacksmith's apprentice from Londonderry. On arrival James had been sent to work for Colin McLEOD of Patrick's Plains.96 After his imprisonment in Bathurst, James was transferred to Darlinghurst Gaol for three years hard labour in May 1864.97 He had been born in Ireland in about 1818. James died in the gaol hospital at Darlinghurst on 12 June 186498 and an inquest was held.99 Online trees identify that he married Mary SAUNDERS under the name of James MINAN.100 Children were registered to the couple as MEENAN near Bathurst from 1854. This man is considered unlikely because of his location in Bathurst.
5. James was not the James MEEHAN who was imprisoned in Newcastle gaol in 1840. This man had been tried for assault in Windsor Quarter Sessions on 14 May 1840, and had been sentenced to twelve calendar months. He went by the name of 'one hand Jemmy'101 and had arrived on the Morley. He stated that he was free but he had actually been transported. James had returned to Windsor by December 1841 when he appeared as a witness when 'considerable merriment was occasioned in Court on the examination of James Meehan, better known in Windsor by the appellation (as he gave it himself) of "one arm'd Jemmie", and a lady named Eather [Esther], neither of whom were at all daunted by the examination of the learned gentleman, although it was of a most searching description.'102 There is little doubt that this man died in Windsor Gaol in September 1842103 but the Windsor Gaol records and associated descriptions for this period have not located this man's admission.
No identification of Mary Ann's mother, Ellen BRADY, has yet been confirmed. There is nothing found about her in letters connected to Mary Ann in the CSIL. It is strongly believed that Ellen BRADY was the same woman as Ellen HOY. In 1871 Mary Ann identified that her mother was living in Newcastle. An Ellen HOY, a widow, was living in Newcastle by 1865.104 She was a resident of Watt Street, Newcastle in June 1869.105 It is likely that this was the same woman who was giving evidence in a case involving land in Bolton Street, Newcastle, in October 1878. Ellen HOY had known the land for 'about twenty years'.106 It is likely that this woman died in Newcastle in 1878.107 Tracing Ellen HOY and Ellen HOLMES is complex and ongoing.
Ellen CALLAGHAN married Robert HAY in Newcastle in 1869 and this woman has not yet been successfully traced before this date. This woman may have died in Newcastle in 1887 where her parents were recorded as Henry and Ellen. The only marriage of an Ellen to a HOLMES occurred in 1853 in Sydney but this record is yet to be viewed.
It is unknown how Mary Ann acquired the alias of HEWESTLER but, considering her age at the time of her admission to the reformatory, it is thought that this was an alias by association. It is therefore likely that HEWESTLER was the name of the man with whom her mother lived, or had married. When Mary Ann died as Emily Marion in 1927 her father was recorded as Hugh. Based on the 1869 alias of HEWESTLER, two potential deaths are being investigated. The death of Hugh MACAMINSTER at the age of 70 at Tambaroora in 1865 (NSW Death: 5987/1865) and the death of Hugh ROSTERN at the age of 60 at Patrick's Plains, also in 1865 (NSW Death: 5422/1865) It is unknown whether but is believed to be unlikely that this surname was Mary Ann's surname at birth. More connections may be found once all the Newcastle papers are scanned and corrected.
It is also possible that the witness, Ellen HOY, was Mary Ann's sister. Gaol records from 1890 indicated that this Ellen HOY was a Catholic who had been born in Newcastle and who was three years younger than Mary Ann. Ellen HOY was reported to be thirty-four when she appeared in Newcastle Court charged with drunkenness on 17 March 1890.108 Ellen also appeared on at least one earlier occasion on 12 September 1894, also charged with drunkenness.109
It is probable that what follows is irrelevant but until Mary Ann's mother can be located it may be that these elimination records may be connected.
The only baptism of a Mary A. MEEHAN was on 4 November 1852. She had been baptized on 6 December 1852, by Rev. John E. GOURBEILLIAN at St James Roman Catholic church, county Cumberland. This girl's parents were recorded as William MEEHAN and Margaret GLANCEY. While the baptism matched Mary Ann's stated age well because Mary Ann MEEHAN was recorded in gaol records as a Protestant. Mary Ann had been born outside Sydney and this baptism occurred in Sydney so this record is therefore probably unlikely. There has been no marriage for these parents found in NSW nor any confirmation of a death for William. The William MEEHAN who died in 1857 was about 39 with a son named Patrick and a brother named Daniel and lived in Sydney but his wife was named Ellen. Margaret’s surname is unusual and it is possible that there was a connection between her and Bridget GLANCEY, the mother of Anna GREENFIELD. Margaret (X) MEEHAN of Maitland and John (X) GALLAGHER of the Williams River, both Catholic, were married in the Catholic Church at Maitland by J. LYNCH on 14 January 1856. The witnesses were Patrick and Bridget CLEARY.110 It is interesting to note the names of the witnesses and it is possible that the surname of Margaret in the baptism of Mary Ann MEEHAN has been mistranscribed and should ready CLANCY rather than GLANCY. It may be that the original record could be located to enable a check of the signatures.
A five-year-old Mary MEHAN and her brother, Patrick, were admitted to the Randwick Asylum in 1855. One Daniel MEEHAN was a Hunter Valley settler111
It is considered unlikely that the marriage of Ellen RYAN and James MEEHAN in Ipswich, Queensland, is connected to Mary Ann as online trees indicate that James and Ellen died in Queensland.
The marriage in West Maitland by J. LYNCH on 23 December 1852, of Mathew (X) BRADY and Ellen (X) McHENRY aka McKENDRY,112 is interesting and is still being investigated. Both were Catholic and were residents of Maitland. The witnesses were Matthew HUGHES and Mary (X) WALSH. This couple had only one child, Mary Ann BRADY, who was baptised in 1853113 but whose baptism cannot be read. This girl was exactly the age of the Newcastle admission. Her place of birth is being investigated but is thought to be Maitland. This child was probably a Catholic so this makes this couple less likely to be Mary Ann's parents.
The Matthew BRADY who was in Maitland in September 1844114 had arrived on the King William in 1840. He had spent time in Newcastle gaol in 1840 and in 1841 and had been born between 1800 and 1805.115 He may have been the man who died in Goulburn in 1863116 who by 1860 was described in the Goulburn newspapers as a 'cripple who had lost both legs.'117
A Mary McCUSKER alias McHENRY was admitted to Maitland Gaol in 1874. She had been born in Newcastle in 1840.
Updated March 2017