Henrietta MITCHELL
Father James Horne MITCHELL b.c. 18231 m. 1851 d. 1904
Mother Ellen CUSACK b. 18292 m. 18513 d. 1902
Sister unnamed MITCHELL b. 18564 m. d.
Brother John H. MITCHELL b. 18575 m. d. 19296
Brother Alexander MITCHELL b. 18597 m. d. 19068
Inmate Henrietta MITCHELL b.c. 1860 m. 1886 (see below) d. 19389
Sister Lillias E. MITCHELL b. 186410 m. 190011 Alfred HECKENBERG d.
Husband William ALLISON b. 186012 m. 188613 d. 189214
Daughter Elizabeth Jane MITCHELL b. 188615 m. (1) 191716 (2) 192517 (1) George Henry COKER (2) Norman H. GADDIE d. 196818
Son William ALLISON b. 188819 m. 191720 Ethel Lithgow ELLIS d. 195621
Daughter Hilda Emmaline ALLISON b. 189122 m. 191723 Arthur F. COKER d. 197224
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Father James25 59 5' 6¼" light grey fair strong scar on right cheekbone; JM on right forearm
Mother Ellen26 35 5' 5" brown blue sallow thin read and write; lost a front tooth in upper jaw

Henrietta was eight when she was arrested by senior sergeant De VERNET, of Murrurundi Police around 3 March 1869, and charged with having no lawful visible means of support.27 She was admitted to Newcastle on 30 March 1869. The Entrance Book named her parents and stated that she was a Protestant who could neither read nor write. Henrietta transferred with the school to Biloela in May 1871 where she was recorded as 'In the Institution' by LUCAS in April 1872.28 Henrietta was made a school monitor by Margaret KELLY and she and Jane WINDSOR reported to KELLY that the behaviour of the girls in the school at Biloela for the last week had been fair.29 Mention of her as a monitor appeared in the superintendent's reports of 17 August 1874,30 24 August,31 7 September,32 14 September33 and 21 September34 She was apprenticed on 28 September 1874, at the age of about thirteen to Mr W. H.[?]35 HOSKINGS of Ashfield.36

While only circumstantial evidence remains and this evidence conflicts with the research of Henrietta's descendants, there is very little doubt that Henrietta was the mother of the illegitimate daughter, Elizabeth MITCHELL, who had been born on 5 August 1886, at Liverpool Road, Ashfield. On 25 September 1886, about six weeks after Elizabeth’s birth, Henrietta MITCHELL married William ALLISON in St John's Church of England, Ashfield. The marriage registration indicated that Henrietta's father was the carpenter, James MITCHELL. The witnesses, James FORD and J. H. STONHAM, do not appear to be related to Henrietta. Henrietta's mother was identified as Catherine but her maiden name was not provided. While this was not correct in regard to what is known of the Newcastle admission, it is considered very likely that due to her very young age at the time of her arrest that these parents recorded what she either believed or poorly recalled. It may also be that Henrietta had deliberately lied about the identity of her mother, Ellen, as she may have been aware that she had been imprisoned. Ellen's absence may also have contributed to the error on the marriage registration as she was often away from her family either in gaol or ill so Henrietta may not have been sure of her name. It is possible but unproven that her father, James, may have been in a relationship with a woman named Catherine while Ellen was away. No evidence for any of these possibilities has been found.

While is is uncertain whether Henrietta was ever reunited with any other members of her family after her admission to Newcastle and subsequent transfer to Biloela, it may be possible that she did. At the time of her marriage Henrietta only identified that she had been born in NSW but the registration of her daughter, Elizabeth, specifically located that she had been born in Maitland in about 1864. At the time of the registration of the birth of her son, William, Henrietta was identifying her place of birth as England but when her daughter, Hilda, was born in 1891, she specified that she had been born in West Maitland. This lack of clarity strongly suggested that she was either not within easy access to other members of her family so didn't know her actual place of birth or she was not telling the truth and had forgotten what information she had previously given. This pattern of inaccuracy is consistent with statements made by other Newcastle admissions about their ancestry. The most specific birth locations of Maitland and West Maitland provided by Henrietta, are those that were very close to where her parents married and where her aunt, Margaret, lived. Henrietta's stated age also varied. While she identified that she was twenty-two at the time Elizabeth's birth was registered and when she married, descendants have put her year of birth as about 1859 so it seems likely that subsequent records held by them must provide different ages for Henrietta. This age assessment of 1859 is a fair match for Henrietta's age recorded in the Entrance Book.

It will probably never be possible to prove that the wife of William ALLISON was the Newcastle admission. Ancestry trees have identified that Henrietta, the wife of William ALLISON, had parents named James MITCHELL and Catherine CAHILL.37 No references have been provided to identify where the information concerning Catherine's surname has been located as it was not identified on the marriage registration.

Three children were registered to William and Henrietta MITCHELL. William ALLISON was killed in an accident in Sydney in May 189238 leaving Henrietta a widow. She never remarried. The sisters, Elizabeth and Hilda, married two brothers, George and Arthur COKER, in Granville in 1917. This extended family lived with Henrietta in Merrylands and on at least one occasion featured in a lurid report in the Truth.39 Elizabeth remarried Norman GADDIE after COKER's death. Henrietta, the wife of William ALLISON, died at her residence at 179 Clyde Street, South Granville, on 31 March 1938.40 She was identified as 79 years of age and two of her children, Elizabeth and William, were named in her Death Notice in the SMH on 1 April 1938. The death of Henrietta ALLISON in 1938 confirmed the parents stated at the time of her marriage.

The marriage to William ALLISON has been attributed to the child of James MITCHELL and Ellen CUSACK. It would be very interesting to hear what the ALLISON descendants have to say about this attribution and I welcome them to respond by using the contact button on this site.


Henrietta was recorded in the Entrance Book as the daughter of James and Ellen MITCHELL. James was identified as destitute and Ellen was recorded as being in gaol.41 Henrietta’s parents were married in 1854 at '… Tomago House, on the 20th July, by the Very Rev. W. CHAUCER, Mr. James H. MITCHELL, to Ellen CUSACK.'42 This was a Presbyterian marriage by William CHAUCER and was recorded on the NSW BDM Index under the names James H. MITCHELL and Elen [sic] CUSICK. Ellen was Catholic but James Horne MITCHELL was Presbyterian. The witnesses were Anne BAKER and Maria WYNDEYER.43

After their marriage James and Ellen registered four births on the Liverpool Plains, Tamworth and at Murrurundi. Two girls were registered as unnamed females and the child, Lillias, may be one of these. It is unknown whether one of these registrations referred to Henrietta or whether her birth was not registered at all. No further children have been identified for James and Ellen and no appropriate deaths have yet been confirmed for them. Because Henrietta had been arrested in Murrurundi, it is possible that she had been born there but it is considered more likely that she was the woman who married William ALLISON and on two birth registrations for her children she identified that her place of birth was Maitland. It is possible that a twelve-year-old could be believed to be eight if she was small but it is less likely, albeit not impossible, that an eight-year-old would be confused with a four or five-year-old. It may be that Henrietta's birth had been registered late and, if it occurred, this may create confusion. Because a mother was responsible for registering births and because Henrietta's mother seems to have been unable to read or write, it may be that births of her children were not registratered. It is also possible that Henrietta's age was incorrectly recalled at the time she was admitted to Newcastle.

Ellen CUSACK had arrived from Ireland aboard the Una.44 Ellen, her sisters, Margaret, Eliza, Theresa, Winifred, and her brothers, Michael and Keiran, were from Gilling or Gillen, Kings County, Ireland. The Una indent identified that their parents, George and Mary, had died before their embarkation. The indent further noted that all Ellen's older and younger sisters and brothers could read but, even though Ellen was eighteen, she couldn't do so45 although by 1869 Ellen was recorded with these skills.46 As Ellen MITCHELL she appeared frequently in gaol records and all these admissions confirmed her ship of arrival. Ellen also appeared in the Sydney courts during the 1870s.47 She was eventually imprisoned for being of unsound mind. She almost certainly appeared in Maitland court in 1874. There is little doubt that this Ellen MITCHELL was Henrietta's mother even though she stated that she was only thirty because in this trial Ellen’s sister, Margaret LEDSAM, gave evidence.48 It is likely that Ellen was also the 54-year-old woman appearing charged with drunkenness in Newtown in 1886.49 Ellen's age in her gaol admissions varied but her ship of arrival remained constant. She may have died at Coonamble in 1902 where her parents were recorded as George and Ellen.

Tracing Ellen's siblings may identify how the MITCHELL children were cared for while their father worked and their mother was in gaol. Margaret CUSACK married John LEDSAM in the Catholic Church at Maitland in 1852. As Margaret LEDSAM she died in 1885 where her father was confirmed as George on the NSW BDM Index.

Winifred almost certainly married Patrick McLOUGHLIN in Maitland in 187350 and the birth of one daughter, Ann, born in 1876 has been identified. A son, Patrick, died in West Maitland in 1908.51 Theresa married William KANNARD in Mudgee in 186452 and died as Theresa KANNARD in Queensland in 1894 where her parents were confirmed as George CUSSACK and Mary KENNY.53

Ellen's brother, Michael CUSACK, left NSW in about 1853 for Victoria after involvement in a murder at Maitland.

A SELF-ACCUSED MURDERER.—On Tuesday evening a wild, half-mad looking man, named Michael Cusack, was brought into town from Ballarat, where he had given himself up to the authorities as the perpetrator of a murder at Parramatta, N.S.W., some eighteen months ago. As the court was about to rise, the unfortunate man was placed at the bar, and, judging by his appearance, there could be little doubt that he was not quite compos mentis. In reply to questions from the Mayor, he stated that he was the brother of five sisters, and arrived at Sydney in 1849, per Una. He then resided at Parramatta, when one morning meeting a man named Campbell, he killed him in a water-closet. Subsequently he embarked on board the Indus, by which he arrived in Victoria. He was remanded for seven days.
SELF-ACCUSATION.—At the City Court, on Wednesday, 27th June, Michael Cuisack was brought before the Mayor, remanded from Ballaarat on a charge of murder. The prisoner stated that he had drowned a man named John Campbell at Maitland, with whom he had quarrelled. He had sailed from Newcastle to Geelong, and had been at the diggings. At Creswick's Creek he gave himself up. He was remanded for seven days, as he had all the appearance of a lunatic.54
CHARGE OF MURDER.—Michael Cusack, who had been sent up from Melbourne to Maitland, having voluntarily confessed to have murdered John Henderson or Campbell, by drowning, near Mr. Nicholson's mill, West Maitland, in the latter end of August, 1852, was yesterday remanded by the bench tor eight days, in order to give the chief constable time to subpoena witnesses.55

Michael was eventually discharged through lack of evidence but shortly afterwards was placed in Tarban Creeks judged to be insane. It is likely that Michael died in 1861 at the age of 33 at Parramatta.56 Michael, may have married Catherine GREY at St Mary's, Sydney in 1851. It is unknown what happened to Catherine and it may be that hers was the name that Henrietta was recalling as it is conceivable that she had a hand in raising the sometimes motherless children of her sister-in-law.

It may be that Ellen was in the Liverpool Asylum in 1886 where she was identified as a 74-year-old widow whose husband had worked on the diggings and who had also been in the Hyde Park Asylum.57 This admission was much older than Ellen was known to be but variations in her stated age mean that this woman cannot be discounted.

James Horne MITCHELL has not been clearly identified. Because he was Presbyterian, it may be that the gaol admission in February 1871 for a man of this name born in Scotland may refer to him and this admission has been tentatively attributed to him. This man had arrived on the Steadfast in 1849, was a carpenter and could read and write.58 The Steadfast indent indicated that this man had arrived with a wife, Margaret, and son, John, and on the indent he was identified as a miner. His parents were John and Margaret.59 A James Worne Mitchell was a sponsor at the baptisms of Margaret RYAN on 21 June 1863 and John Henry WILSON on 3 May 1862. This man may be Henrietta's father as the middle name is very similar and differences could be attributed to poor handwriting. A James MITCHELL was also charged with being of unsound mind in 1874 and this also may be Henrietta’s father. No positive links have been made placing James in gaol. James may possibly have died in 1904 and his death was registered in Redfern.

When Henrietta's brother, Alexander MITCHELL, died in 1906 there was no indication in his Funeral Notice of any siblings but as his family may have been separated for a long period, this may not be considered unusual.

Updated April 2017

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