The MONAGHAN Sisters
Father James MONAGHAN b.c. 18151 m. 18512 d. 18913
Mother Ann McCANN b.c. 1833 m. 1851 d. 18694
Brother James MONAGHAN b. 18505 m. none - d. 18506
Brother William MONAGHAN b.c. 18517 m. d.
Sister Margaret MONOGHAN b. 18528 m. none - d. 18529
Sister Rosea Catherine MONAGHAN b. 185310 m. 187911 Richard Henry ALDRICH d. 191912
Brother James MONAGHAN b. 186013 m. d.
Sister Mary Ann MONAGHAN b.c. 185514 m. (1) 189015 (2) 190916 (1) James L. LEWIS (2) Charles H. JORY d. 191917
Inmate Annie Margaret MONAGHAN b. 185818 m. (1) 1879 (2) 1899 (see below) d. 1900
Inmate Bridget Margaret MONAGHAN b. 186019 m. 1884 (see below) d. 193020
Brother Patrick MONAGHAN b.c. 186221 m. 188822 Mary Jane MAHON d. aft. 189523
Brother John Thomas MONAGHAN b. 186624 m. 189125 Mary aka Maggie CARMODY d. 194526
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Father James27 26 5' 4" grey brown ruddy and freckled medium scar over inner corner left eyebrow; small scar or left cheek; small dark mole on back of left arm;28 unable to read or write; little finger of right hand deformed; dent in centre of left hand; scar on right shoulder29
Brother Patrick30 12 4' 8" dark hazel dark slim unable to read or write
Brother Patrick31 18 5' 6" dark hazel dark medium unable to read or write

WARNING: Details of the story of the MONAGHAN family may cause distress.

Online information in some family trees concerning James MONAGHAN and his family contradicts the information outlined below. These trees erroneously state that James had been born in about 1828 in county Fermanagh, Ireland, and was the son of Francis MONAGHAN and Rose Anne DUFFY. They also suggest that he had arrived in 1841 aboard the //Margaret.32 It is very clear from the linked records outlined here that James was at least ten years older than the age attributed to him in these trees. Newspaper articles concerning the incidents in 1871, the links between the names of those involved and the subsequent gaol admissions for James confirm his ship of arrival.//

Fourteen-year-old Annie and her ten-year-old sister Bridget, were arrested by Senior Sergeant PARKER of Wollombi Police under the Industrial Schools Act33 in about February 1871 after an incident involving themselves and their father, James. Concerns were expressed at the time by the authorities about the suitability of an admission to Newcastle. John W. TYNE[?] stated:

I think some further enquiry should be made into the [?] [?] [?] case. As far as I am aware the girls are simply unfortunate and not coming within the intention of the Industrial Schools Act their confinement with some of the present inmates of the Newcastle school might be their ruin. Perhaps I might be allowed to suggest that a circular by [?] [?] the Hon. Colonial Secretary to all country benches on the subject would have a good effect.34

Despite these concerns, Annie and Bridget were admitted to Newcastle from Wollombi on 29 March 1871, although it was noted that they were required to return to Wollombi to attend court for the trial of their father on 21 April 1871.35 The girls were the last but one of all the girls admitted to Newcastle. They were Catholic.36 Because the pages of the Entrance Book from this period have not survived, Annie and Bridget's parents, religion, education and discharge details are unable to be confirmed from this source. Their family has been identified through the detailed newspaper reports as well as through letters in the CSIL and registrations on the NSW BDM Index. James senior almost certainly never had contact either Annie or Bridget again after his release from prison after the incident in March 1871. It is considered likely that the older MONAGHAN children cared for their other younger siblings as best they could.

Both sisters transferred with the school to Biloela on Cockatoo Island in May 1871 after only about two months in Newcastle. They were recorded as 'In the Institution' on the list compiled by LUCAS in April 1872.37 On 28 September 1875, their brothers Patrick and John, living at Kangaroo Flat near Wallabadah, requested through their solicitor, R. W. THOMPSON, that both Annie and Bridget be permitted to leave the school to live with them. By this stage, because both girls had been apprenticed, THOMPSON, the solicitor was informed of their apprenticeship arrangements38 and presumably gave these details to John and Patrick. It is still unknown whether the siblings were ever reunited.


Annie and Bridget were two of the daughters of James (X) MONAGHAN and Ann/e (X) McCANN who were married in Wollombi on 23 June 1851, by J. T. LYNCH in the Roman Catholic Church of Maitland.39 Both the participants were from Wollombi. When she married Anne’s name was recorded in the NSW BDM Index as McCABE. While the HVPRI suggests that the witness Thomas (X) McCANN, was Anne’s father, he was more accurately her older brother.40 The second witness was Mary PENNIS[?] who was the only person who signed the register and her signature is difficult to read.

Anne McCANN had been born in about 1833 in Newbridge, Ireland and had arrived with her parents, William and Mary, and her siblings Thomas, James and Michael aboard the Elphinstone in October 1940. After their marriage Anne and James had eleven children. Anne died at Ellalong on 23 January 1869, at the age of thirty-six and her death almost certainly placed pressure on the family. While newspapers at the time reported that an uncle and aunt of Annie and Bridget lived close by, it is thought that these people were Anne's older children and not her siblings41 but this has not yet been confirmed.

James MONAGHAN had been born in about 181542 and had been transported for ten years aboard the Pekoe in November 1840. The Pekoe indent recorded that he had been born in Donegal, Ireland. Prior to leaving Ireland James had been the sole support for his mother and two siblings.43 He was occasionally in trouble with the police in the Wollombi area and in 1867 he was fined for having beef in his possession for which he could not satisfactorily explain.44 In March 1871, James was accused of assaulting two of his younger daughters. He initially appeared in court charged with committing a rape on Annie at Ellalong on 3 March 1871, where he pleaded not guilty and was undefended. Because rape at this time was a capital charge Mr DARLEY and Mr WISDOM undertook his defence.45 The capital offence was eventually withdrawn and ultimately James was found not guilty of Annie's assault. James was then detained in custody as another charge was listed against him for a rape on Bridget.46 This case was almost certainly heard at Millfield near Wollombi in a closed court where no names were mentioned in the newspaper.47 Those involved were however identified in reports in the Newcastle Chronicle and the Maitland Mercury. James was eventually found guilty of the assault on Bridget – almost certainly because she was so young. He was admitted to Maitland Gaol in April 1871 as a direct result of these cases and was described in the 1871 Maitland Gaol records where his ship of arrival, the Pekoe, was confirmed. James was transferred to Darlinghurst Gaol on 22 April where he was to work for three years on the roads.48 James was released from Darlinghurst in October 187349 and no further gaol references have been confirmed for him – either before or after his imprisonment in 1871. After his release he returned to the Hunter Valley to live. His descendants have identified that James died in the Macquarie Street Asylum, Parramatta, on 25 September 1891, at the age of seventy-seven. The death registration confirmed that he had been in NSW for 51 years and that he was a widower but didn't name either his wife or his children.

Of the girls in the family only Annie and Bridget were sent to the Newcastle Industrial School but their brother Patrick was admitted to the Vernon from West Maitland Court on 13 June 1877.50 The year before Patrick had been imprisoned in Murrurundi Gaol for stealing a bridle and he escaped from there in May 1876.51 Patrick's Vernon record is in very poor condition with parts obscured with an ink blot. It has no surname remaining but the record confirmed the appearance before the West Maitland court on 11 June 1877,52 before ADDISON, the Police Magistrate, and SCOBIE for having no visible lawful means of support. He had been arrested from Wallabadah.53 It is not clear whether the letter on his page on the Vernon record referred to Patrick or the boy admitted just before him. The Vernon admission comments that do refer to him state:

Date of birth not known but says he is 15 years of age constable's affidavit as to boy's statement of his age Roman Catholic can neither read nor write Character very bad health good Father alive James Monaghan lives at Wa[?]adah as a shepherd to Mr Gonggen[?] not [in a] position to support the child.54

By 1882 Patrick had been sentenced to two years hard labour after being found guilty of three charges of larceny. A photograph of him remains in the gaol records. Two years after his release he married, but deserted his wife Mary Jane and disappeared. It is unknown whether he was still alive at the time of Mary Jane's 1895 application for a divorce due to this desertion. Annie, Bridget and their siblings ultimately scattered throughout Queensland, NSW and Victoria.

Annie Margaret MONAGHAN

Husband (1) James Lyon PONCHO b. 1858 m. 187955 d. 189556
Husband (2) James Underwood WELLS b. 1857 m. (1) 1899 (2) 1911 d. 193757
Son Herbert James PONCHO b. 187958 m. 1894 Anastasia Bridget McCANN d. 195759
Son Ralph PONCHO b. 188060 m. 191161 Stella Pearl FROST d. 194662
Son Guyder John PONCHO b. 188263 m. d. 196064
Son Richard William PONCHO b. 188465 m. 191166 Valma GLISS d. 1957
Son Robert Lyon PONCHO b. 188667 m. d. 192568
Daughter Johanna PONCHO b. 188869 m. 190870 Charles Walter YOUNG d. 1916
Son Charles PONCHO b. 189071 m. none - d. 189172
Daughter Rosey PONCHO b. 189173 m. 190974 Collinge HOLLINGSWORTH d. 194275
Son Sydney PONCHO b. 189476 m. none - d. 189477
Son Arthur WELLS aka PONCHO b. 189578 m. none - d. 191679
Daughter Mary Underwood WELLS aka PONCHO b. 189780 m. d. 1918
unknown unnamed WELLS b. 1900 m. none - d. 1900

Ann’s birth registration was almost without any doubt the registration made in 1858 and recorded as (Female) MONAGHAN. Like her siblings she had been born at Ellalong. In March 1871, her father, James, was accused of assaulting her. James first appeared in court charged with committing a rape on Annie at Ellalong on 3 March 1871, where he pleaded not guilty and was undefended. Annie and her sisters, Rosanna and Mary Ann, were witnesses. Annie stated that she was about fourteen and at the time she lived with her father at Ellalong.

Her mother had been dead three years ; she had three brothers and three sisters, but only the eldest brother and a younger sister were at the time living at home. At the time when the offence occurred there was no one in the house but her father and herself. She was outside when her father sent her inside to mend her frock. She went into the bed room and took off her frock to mend it, and sat down on the bed in her chemise and petticoat. While thus engaged her father came in with a saddle-strap in his hand, and threatened to hang her at once unless she consented to let him "bed with her." He then pushed her down on the bed, lifted her clothes, and attempted to commit the offence with which he was charged. There was great difficulty in getting this witness to answer the questions that had necessarily to be put to her, but it was very clear from her evidence that the assault, if committed at all, had not amounted to an offence of a capital nature. Witness averred that she cried out, but there was no one to hear her. She did not tell her eldest brother what had occurred when he came home, as he was not right in his mind, and would not have understood her. She afterwards told her sister, and subsequently, after her father had been arrested on another charge, she told sergeant Parker. At first she distinctly swore that her father had never acted towards her in a similar manner before, but afterwards, in cross-examination, she corrected this statement. She declared that she did not mention the circumstance to the neighbours because she was frightened.81

On cross-examination Annie stated that she had been in the Newcastle Industrial School for three weeks. Her father’s defence team immediately associated Annie's evidence with that given by another industrial school girl, Lucy AH KIN, in her unconnected trial held earlier in the day.82 Annie stated that she and her sister had not been allowed to mix with the other girls at the school and this declaration was almost certainly true. Evidence remains that Lucy had been isolated within the reformatory buildings before her case so it was very likely that this was also true of Annie and Bridget and that all three girls were isolated within the school. Any contact was probably minimal or nonexistent and almost certainly only with staff. In James's trial it was proved that Annie was an unreliable witness and it was further proved that there was some question about whether the rape had actually occurred. The capital offence was withdrawn and James was found not guilty of her assault.

Annie had only been at the school for a few weeks before she transferred with the school to Biloela in May 1871. She was still on Biloela in April 1872. On 31 October 1872, LUCAS requested permission to apprentice Annie to Mr H. COWAN of the New Town Road, Sydney, for four years at the rate of a shilling a week for the first two years, two shillings a week for the third year and three shillings a week for the last year. Permission was given but COWAN declined to take an apprentice so on 14 January 1873, an arrangement was made to apprentice Annie to Mr James LAWRENCE of Randwick under the same terms.83 This was confirmed in LUCAS's report on 27 January.84 Annie was returned to Biloela five months later and these dates were verified on 28 September 1875, when Selina WALKER, the superintendent at the time, identified Annie's apprenticeships. WALKER offered no explanation concerning the reasons for Annie's return. The Colonial Secretary had required this communication in response to a request for Annie's discharge made by her brothers, Patrick and John. WALKER reported that:

Annie was discharged on the 21st of January 1873 to Mr J. Lawrence of Randwick. Readmitted on the 27th June 1873 and again discharged on the 14th November 1874 to Mr James Love Cessnock for a period of one year and nine months.85

Before Annie's final apprenticeship to LOVE86 it was reported by DALE the relieving superintendent, that Annie had been placed in the hospital during August 1874, with an unspecified illness.87 Superintendents' reports indicated that she was still in hospital on 17 August,88 24 August,89 7 September,90 14 September,91 21 September92 and 28 September.93

By 1879 Annie had moved to Queensland when, as Annie MONAHAN, she married James Lyon PONCHO. Her sister, Rose, was also resident in Queensland so it is likely that there was some communication between them. James and Annie PONCHO settled in the Cunnamulla district and registered births of nine children. James died at the age of 36 on 3 February 1895, at Cunnumulla, leaving Annie a young widow with a large family of dependent children. James's youngest child, Arthur, was born nearly nine months after his death. His birth was registered as Arthur PONCHO on 20 October 1895, at Cunnamulla. At the time of her second marriage, Annie was recorded as the mother of nine living and two deceased children.94

On 19 December 1899, at 422 Queen Street, Melbourne, Annie married James Underwood WELLS. Family stories indicated that James was almost certainly acquainted with James and Annie PONCHO as he drove horses between Victoria and Queensland. After James PONCHO died, his eldest son, Richard PONCHO, helped James Underwood WELLS with the droving between Cunnamulla, Queensland, and Benalla, Victoria. Annie and her children, Bob, Arthur, Rosey, Johanna and Mary, eventually moved to Victoria.95 James WELLS and Annie had a daughter, Mary Underwood Wells PONCHO.

On 15 January 1900, shortly after she married, Annie died from complications of childbirth delivering another child. The notice of her death was reported in the Euroa Advertiser on 19 January 1900, identifying her place of birth as Maitland, NSW, and indicating that she had lived in Victoria since about 1880.96 Annie was buried in the Presbyterian section of the Benalla Cemetery on 15 January 1900.97 After her death her children lived for a time in Healesville and James and Annie's sons, Arthur and Jim PONCHO, worked at cutting timber for sleeper logs. They used bullocks and Clydesdales.98 Mary PONCHO died from pneumonia in Healesville in 1918 at the age of 21 years. Annie's youngest son, Arthur, died of wounds received in 1916 on the Western Front.99 Some of Annie's children remained in Victoria but evenually Bob and Johanna returned to Queensland.100 James remarried Clara Ann HUNT in Victoria in 1911101 and ultimately returned to Queensland where he died in 1937. James was identified as a farmer from Monto, Queensland, and his widow was confirmed as Clara Ann WELLS.102

Bridget Margaret MONAGHAN

Husband Charles103 William STEWART b. 1863104 m. 1884105 d. 1918106
Son William John (Jack)107 STEWART108 b. 1883 m. c. 1921 Priscilla Catherine (unknown) d. 1952109
Daughter Cecilia Maud STEWART b. 1884110 m. none - d. 1886111

Bridget was a ten-year-old112 when she and her sister, Annie, were admitted from Wollombi to Newcastle on 29 March 1871. Her father, James, was tried and found guilty of a rape on her.113 The case was almost certainly heard at Millfield near Wollombi in a closed court and no names were mentioned in the report.114

Bridget transferred with her older sister from Newcastle to Cockatoo Island in May 1871. On 28 September 1875, Selina WALKER, the superintendent at this time, reported to the Colonial Secretary in response to a request for Bridget's discharge to her brothers, Patrick and John, that:

Bridget was discharged to Mr W. Goltaker of Woodhouse Goulburn on the 22nd Novr 1873 for a period of six years.115

This is the only indication yet found that identified Bridget's apprenticeship location. Descendants have confirmed that Bridget married Charles STEWART in Sydney in 1884. On this record Charles was identified as William and Bridget was recorded as MONAHAN. Charles was a member of a large Goulburn family and it is almost certain that the couple met when Bridget was apprenticed to the area.116 The registrations of only two children, William and Cecelia, have been found. When Cecelia died in April 1886, her parents were living in Auburn Street, Goulburn.117

Charles William STEWART worked as a policeman at Cootamundra before moving to Sydney.118 He had also served at Wyalong and Glebe Point.119 Charles died at his property Ellalong, 29 England Avenue, Marrickville, in June 1918.120 His parents were recorded on the NSW BDM Index as William and Mary. Bridget was living at 10 Dennis Street, Lakemba, at the time of her death on 18 October 1930. The NSW BDM Index recorded that her parents were John and Anne but her death has been confirmed by her descendants. Only her son, William John aka Jack,121 was named in her Funeral Notices122 that also indicate that she was known to her friends as Maggie.123 Bridget was buried with Charles William on 20 October 1930, at Waverley124 Cemetery and a headstone remains. Also buried in the grave are her son, William, and his wife, Priscilla, and two of her grandchildren, John Raymond STEWART and William Robert KINGSTON.125

Updated December 2017

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