Margaret Janet PARKER
Name Variations BAKER1 alias Margaret DUKE or DUKES
Father William PARKER b. 18192 m. 18513 d. 18644
Step-father John MATHEWS b. m. 1867 d. aft. 1877
Mother Catherine KEOGH aka KEHOE b. 18305 m. (1) 1851 (2) 18676 d. aft. 1877
Brother William PARKER b. 18527 m. d. aft. 1867
Brother Thomas PARKER b. 18538 m. d. aft. 18619
Inmate Margaret PARKER b. 185510 m. (1) none (2) none (3) none (see below) d. 192711
Sister Esther PARKER b. 185712 m. none - d. 185813
Sister Mary A. PARKER b. 195914 m. d.
Brother Walter PARKER b. m. d. 195715
Brother John PARKER b. 186416 m. d. 193317
Half-brother Richard MATTHEWS b. 187018 m. d. 192719
Half-brother Thomas MATTHEWS b. 187420 m. d.
Husband (1) unknown b. m. none d.
Husband (2) Michael McMAHON21 b. m. none d.
Husband (3) unknown DUKE22 b. m. none d.
Daughter Fanny Beatrice PARKER b. 187423 m. none - d. 187424
Son Michael Joseph PARKER b. 187625 m. none - d. 187726
Son William Caldridge McMAHON27 b. 187828 m. d. aft. 1886
Son William J. D. PARKER b. 188229 m. d.
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Inmate Margaret30 28 5' 4" brown blue

Margaret was admitted to the school on 31 August 1867. She was one of the inmates admitted in the initial intake of girls whose names appear on the Entrance Book on 31 August 1867. She had been apprehended on warrant at her mother's house in Chippendale and had appeared in court on 30 August.31 The Empire attributed to her the second name, Janet.32 Sergeant LEE deposed that he had frequently seen Margaret in the company of prostitutes and reputed thieves. Her mother, Catherine PARKER, named in both the trial and in the Entrance Book, agreed with LEE and further stated that Margaret associated with persons of bad repute and had been away from home three nights that week. LEE deposed that Catherine was a hard-working, respectable woman and had complained to him that she was unable to prevent her daughter from leaving the house. She had even 'chained her up to keep her at home' but Margaret had pulled the chain from the wall. Margaret was recorded in the Entrance Book as a 12-year-old Catholic when she was admitted to Newcastle. Her level of education was assessed as 'Sequel Number 2; large hand.'33 In the medical report by Richard HARRIS Margaret was erroneously recorded as Margaret BAKER. HARRIS identified that she was a virgin.34

Margaret was one of ten girls,35 who escaped from the school at about six o’clock on the evening of 8 July 1868,36 after about ten months at the school. The girls were all recaptured by the Newcastle police – some at Borehole and some at Waratah – before ten o’clock and were returned. This escape occurred the day before the first riot broke out at the school but Margaret wasn't included as a ringleader of the uprising on 9 July. Margaret again absconded with six other girls from the school on 20 November 1868.37 A further two girls made a separate escape shortly afterwards. KING identified them in her letter to the Colonial Secretary on 21 November, as Margaret BEVAN, Bridget BOURKE, Martha EVERLEY, Mary Ann HOPKINS, Hannah McGILL, Sarah Ann PARSONS, Charlotte PERRY and Sarah WILDGUST, stating that all except one38 were returned by two constables at eleven o’clock that night – half an hour after they had escaped. The girls had:

forced open the windows of No. 4 dormitory, they then climbed over the fence near Mr SCOTT’s residence … [on their recapture they were] placed in the cells.39

In June 1869, Margaret's mother petitioned to have her returned to her family. Her petition in the Colonial Secretary’s correspondence was personally written by her. She wrote:40

Sir ihave a girl at the Industrial School New Castle By the name of Margret Parker age Just turned 14 years Whitch was sent there By Captain Scott41 on the 30th Day of August 1867 Whitch then iwas awiddow and thinking my Girl Hould turn out Bad isent her to the school Whitch ibeg of you Sir to Return her to me again as ihave Married again and my Husband says he will look after Her iplied to Captain Scott and her orded me to Wright to you Sir
so iremain your Hunbel Servent Catherine Matthews
adress Mr Matthews
No 30 Kensington st

On 15 June 1869, in a response to the petition forwarded to him from the Colonial Secretary, CLARKE stated:

Margaret [is] a hard working good little girl. I enclose a copy of the warrant I hold for her and I respectfully suggest that the Police authorities be requested to ascertain the character of her step-father of whom I have no knowledge.42

The Inspector General of Police undertook the investigation of Catherine and John MATTHEWS and wrote:

The stepfather and mother of the girl Margaret Parker are persons of good character. They occupy a small cottage of two rooms, cleanly kept, the stepfather earns about 35s/- a week, and has two young children to support.
The girl Margaret was sent to the Industrial school in consequence of having formed acquaintance with some girls of bad repute, when the mother was absent from home at work, but considering the good character she has earned at the school and the control her stepfather may be expected to have over her, I think her release would be justifiable.43

On 27 July 1869, CLARKE wrote to the Colonial Secretary stating that although permission had been given to release Margaret, he had no authority to pay her expenses home. He had written to Catherine MATHEWS requesting that she contribute the money but John MATHEWS had refused. CLARKE therefore needed direction concerning how he was to proceed in this and other similar cases.44 Permission was granted for CLARKE to pay Margaret's fare although the Colonial Secretary commented that her parents should pay the five shillings costs as Margaret had been supported by the government for nearly two years.45 In his report on 9 August 1869,46 CLARKE confirmed that Margaret had been discharged to her mother. She had left Newcastle on 3 August and this date was verified in the April 1872 list compiled from the Entrance Book by LUCAS.47 Nearly a year after her discharge, on 1 August 1870, CLARKE erroneously recorded her discharge date as 3 April 1869, but confirmed that she had been discharged to her mother.48

There is little doubt that after her discharge, Margaret's life became difficult and deteriorated until at least the turn of the century. It is considered almost certain that she was the woman who appeared before the courts off and on after her release from Newcastle even though CLARKE’s letter of 1870 doesn’t indicate that by that date she had been responsible for any crimes.49 The only other girl with the same name and who had been born at about the same time, almost certainly died as an infant shortly after her birth.50 While it is possible that another Catholic woman had been born in Parramatta in about 1855, this is considered unlikely and strong indications, but no absolute confirmations, have been found that link Margaret to locations and addresses known for her mother, Catherine MATTHEWS, formerly PARKER née KEOGH.

The births of four illegitimate children between 1874 and 1882 have been attributed to Margaret. Certainly one and probably at least two others of these children were the sons of Michael McMAHON. The deaths of two of these children occurred shortly after their birth. One other, William Caldridge PARKER aka McMAHON, survived infancy. The fate of the final child is unknown. Only the birth registrations will record the age and birthplace of their mother and none of these registrations have been viewed. While the woman appearing in court in April 1882 brought with her a child51 and was described as a married woman in the newspapers, gaol records identify this appearance and another trial for the same woman who had almost certainly registered the four illegitimate births.

William Caldridge PARKER's date of birth was recorded in the Vernon records as 3 June 1877, but the NSW BDM Index indicated that he had actually been born the following year. He was registered as William Caldridge PARKER on 3 June 1878,52 so was a year younger than the Vernon records indicated. This birth registration has not been viewed. In April 1879, Margaret PARKER took the father of her illegitimate child named William McMAHON to court in an affiliation hearing. Michael McMAHON, the father, was ordered to pay six shillings a week for William's support at this time. On 3 September 1886, as William McMAHON, the boy was sent to the Vernon where his mother was identified by his father, Michael McMAHON, who stated

The mother [Margaret PARKER] is now in gaol and has frequently been there.

Margaret was the 25-year-old woman appearing in court on 26 June 1880, accused of stealing a watch.53 She was the same age as the Newcastle admission. A report of the crime appeared in Sydney newspapers in July.54 Gaol records indicated that Margaret's trial had been scheduled for the August Quarter Sessions but it was subsequently held over to the following Quarter Sessions so she was imprisoned during this time.

Margaret Parker was brought before the Bench by acting sub-inspector Larkins, who deposed that about 1 p.m., on Thursday, he proceeded with sergeant McNamara to a house in Campbell-street, Newtown, where he saw the prisoner, and said to her, "I want to speak to you about that watch you pawned at Newtown; she said, "I picked it up on this day fortnight ; I went out to wash at a house on Newtown Road, about 6 o'clock, but found it was too early, and turned back; near Myrtle-street I saw the watch, and picked it up ; I told a woman named Fitzsimons that my young man gave it to me; I looked for several days to see if it was advertised, and seeing nothing about it I pawned it; " he then took her into custody and charged her with having stolen a watch of the value of £60, the property of the late Henry Charles Farley; she denied the charge ; produced a watch which he received from Max Saufer, managing the business of Fraenkil, a pawnbroker ; prisoner told him that the pawn-ticket was in her box at her mother's, and there he found it; on Thursday night he and sub-inspector McKay took prisoner to Newtown Road, and she pointed out a spot near Shepherd's gate where she said she found the watch. Prisoner asked no questions ; she said that the evidence was the truth.55

The address of Margaret's mother's house was reported in the newspapers as 'Chandler's Lane'56 and the City of Sydney Archives Assessment Books two years after this incident identified that a John MATTHEWS paid rates for the property at 3 Chandler's Cottages, and that he rented from Chandler.57 While this was two years later it is believed that this is significant. Margaret was eventually found not guilty of the charge and was discharged58 on 5 October.59 While no gaol descriptions have been located in NSW gaol records or the Police Gazette for this gaol admission, the records for the woman admitted after a further larceny in 1882, attribute the theft of this watch to the Margaret PARKER alias DUKE, admitted to Wagga Wagga Gaol from Sydney where she had been tried.60 This record identified that Margaret was a Catholic who had been born in Parramatta in about 1856.61 Margaret's short list of offenses outlined in Wagga Wagga were mostly recorded with the name Margaret DUKE and did not include 'two summary convictions for drunk and obscene language of 7 days & under.'

Sydney QS 5 October 1880 steal a watch acquitted
Sydney QS 30 May '82 steal clothing 9 months H Labour
Sydney QS 4 June '83 larceny acquitted62
Sydney QS 1 October '83 attempt to assault and rob 12 months labour Sydney gaol63

Again as DUKE alias PARKER, Margaret was sentenced to two months for vagrancy in June 1885.64 By 1886 she was probably reported in newspapers as earning a living as a prostitute as she appeared for indecent behaviour in September.65 The 39-year-old Margaret PARKER charged with assault in December 1896 was also an appropriate age to be the Newcastle girl66 and this is considered likely to be a further reference for her. No further appearances for Margaret have been found after this date.

A gaol photograph from Wagga Wagga Gaol remains for Margaret and permission has been sought from SRNSW to use that photo on this page.

Margaret died in the State Hospital at Newington, on 29 November 1927. She had formerly lived at 29 Raglan Street, Waterloo, in the Municipality of Mascot. Her parents were confirmed on her death registration as William PARKER and Catherine KEOGH. No record of any children was made and it was stated that she had never married. Margaret was buried in the Catholic Cemetery, Rookwood, on 1 December. No location of her burial has been found in the Rookwood Cemetery Transcriptions CD so there is no headstone.

It is considered unlikely that Margaret was the servant who spent time in Armidale gaol for the murder of her newborn child in 187167 as it was confirmed that she was discharged from Newcastle to her mother in Sydney and this child had been born in December 1870 so must have been conceived at about the beginning of 1870. CLARKE only identified that she had been sent to her mother in Sydney but this incident had occurred in August 1869 and it is considered unlikely that Margaret had been apprenticed by her mother and step-father to Armidale.


Margaret was the daughter of William PARKER and Catherine KEOGH who had been married by John KAVANAGH in St Mary’s Catholic Church, Sydney, on 16 June 1851. The witnesses were Thomas (X) THOMPSON and Sarah (X) MORTON. Catherine was recorded as a widow in the Entrance Book and no father was named on Margaret's admission entry, confirming the likelihood of his death. Both KING68 and CLARKE recorded in their correspondence that Catherine was a washerwoman in Sydney. Margaret’s baptism was a Catholic baptism in the parish of Parramatta. Her father was recorded on the baptism as a farmer at the Field of Mars. She had been born on 2 May 1855, and was baptised nearly a fortnight later on 13 May by J. T. McCLENNAN. Margaret's mother’s name, her age and religion recorded in the Entrance Book, were confirmed on this baptism record.

Catherine identified herself on Mary Ann's birth registration as a 30-year-old who had been born in Kilkenny, Ireland. She had arrived as an assisted immigrant in December 1849 and was recorded on the Lismoyne indent as Catherine KEHOE, an 18-year-old farm servant from County Kilkenny, Ireland. Her parents were identified as Thomas and Margaret who were both dead.69 By 1859, Catherine and William had three sons and one daughter who were still alive and one daughter who had died. They had moved from the Field of Mars to Chippendale.

After William's death Catherine maintained her respectability by taking in washing and was quite successful in having her children placed in the care of the government. These attempts to have her children put either in situations of safety or alternatively have them removed from her responsibility, commenced with the likely admission of her children William and Thomas to the Randwick Asylum on 25 October 1861. The notation beneath William's name read: 'Mother is in distressed circumstances.' The brothers were discharged to the care of their parents on 9 April 1862.70 The admission of her children continued with Margaret's admission to Newcastle and two of Margaret's brothers to the Vernon.

About a fortnight after Margaret's admission to Newcastle, her eldest brother, William, was apprehended by constable LAWRENCE at his mother's residence for having no lawful means of support. The newspaper report explaining the circumstances of this arrest provided insight into the assistance needed by many families at this time. Margaret's mother, identified only as Mrs PARKER of Chippendale, attempted to get 15-year-old William 'sent on board the Vernon for his own good.' She said that she could get no good of her son and that she had younger children to support by her unaided effort. The court questioned:

whether a lad of that age, living with his mother, is bound to give account of his means of support, or whether he is bound to support himself at all. It is a matter of very grave importance not to stretch the law in these cases, it would open the floodgate to a large amount of imposition, and throw a burden upon the public they have no right to bear.

It was argued that because Catherine's residence wasn’t alleged to be a house of ill-fame, it was questioned whether the constable had a right to take William so it was considered that the boy had been illegally arrested. William said he would be happy to work if he could get employment. He was discharged but was warned that if he associated with persons of bad repute, or was found from home at an unseasonable hour, he would probably be taken into custody.71 It was reported at Margaret’s trial that one of her brothers was in gaol for larceny but the identity of this imprisoned brother is unknown. Neither William not Thomas has been found in gaol at the time of her arrest. It must be considered that Margaret's father had had an earlier family and the Catherine KEOGH was a second marriage and that it was one of these earlier half-brothers who was in gaol although no appropriate admission has been found.

William was probably identified in Darlinghurst records in 1870 as a 19-year-old Catholic when he was admitted. He may also have been admitted for an earlier incident although no other gaol record can be confirmed. A William PARKER, aged about fifteen, was reported in the Police Gazette in 186672 and this is also an earlier likely a reference to him. He was described as having brown hair and dressed in a light tweed trousers, light shirt and a light-coloured hat, no coat or boots. He was with a boy named Orlando CLEGG when they were charged with stealing two calico bags containing thirteen sovereigns and about fifteen pounds in silver from the shop-keeper, Michael McGEE. No trial or capture details have been found in either the Police Gazette or the newspapers. Orlando was not tried for this crime until 1 May 1868 when he appeared without William and using the given name, Andrew.73 It is uncertain whether, and unlikely that, William was the 17-year-old who was admitted to Darlinghurst in 1868 with the alias of JOHNSON.74

In February 1877, as Catherine MATTHEWS, Catherine was more successful when she attempted to have her son, John, sent to the Vernon. The Vernon records confirmed that the thirteen-year-old, John PARKER, who had been admitted on 6 February 1877,75 was Margaret's youngest brother. The admission provided John's birthdate and confirmed that he was Catholic. This incident replicated Catherine's earlier attempts with fifteen-year-old William as she used – this time successfully – the same method of admission to the industrial schools for John. John appeared in court and it was stated that:

John Parker was brought before the Bench at the instance of Catherine Matthews, charged under the Industrial Schools Act with sleeping in the open air. Catherine Matthews deposed that she is the wife of John Matthews, of Kensington-street, coachpainter, and that the boy before the Court, her son by a former husband, is under 16 years of age – to wit, 12 years; he has not been at school for two years past, but conducted himself well until the last day of the last year, when, for the first time, he was from home all night; he was afterwards absent three days; and last night he was brought home by a neighbour after an absence of nine days; he must have picked up with some bad companions; she never saw him sleeping out, nor does she know where he slept, or where or how he lived ; he told her this morning that he had slept in Murphy's paddock; her husband does not ill-treat him, nor does he give him a kind word; he says he will not keep him if he will not work; she wished the boy to be sent on board the Vernon for a twelvemonth, believing that it would do him good. The boy begged his mother to forgive him, and he would not run away any more; and the Bench suggested that she might give him another trial, but she was inexorable.76

Catherine remarried John MATTHEWS in 1867. The marriage was almost certainly registered as Catherine PARK and John MATHEWS. The two children referred to in the CSIL were almost certainly two further sons named Richard and Thomas. This remarriage was confirmed in the letters relating to Margaret in the CSIL and also in the court case of John PARKER in February 1877. Catherine and John were living at 64 Kensington Street, Sydney, in February 1877.77 Sands Directory recorded that the man at this address in 1877 worked as a coachpainter. By 1879 he was located at Yeend's Place, George Street West, Sydney. He has not been confirmed in 1883.78 No confirmation of Catherine has yet been verified after February 1877.

Making an identification of William PARKER is ongoing. He had been born in about 1819 as he was recorded on Mary Ann's birth record in 1859 as 40 years of age so he was at least ten years older than Catherine. Mary Ann's birth registration only indicated that he had been born in Ireland but no specific location was recorded by the informant, his wife, Catherine. William was a farmer at the Field of Mars when Margaret was baptised in 1855 but four years later he was a labourer in Chippendale. At the time of Margaret's death he was recorded as a stonemason.

It may be that he had been transported or, his 1855 location of the Field of Mars may suggest a land grant to a former soldier.79 No convict permission to marry for a man of this name and approximate age occurred in areas where William was thought to live. One assisted immigrant from Bovine, Kings County, Ireland, arrived aboard the Pearl on 16 August 1841. He was unmarried and his parents, who were both dead, were Robert and Susan PARKER. William’s death was perhaps registered in Redfern in 1864 but this registration has not been viewed so this cannot be verified. His parents on the NSW BDM Index were identified as Christopher and Hesther and these are unusual parents in that no children received these names. William's age has only been recorded on one record so is also uncertain.

A thorough investigation of the William and Sarah PARKER who arrived on the United Kingdom with their four children in 1844 had been born in about 1806 in Newry, County Down, Ireland. This family has not yet been traced but they were Presbyterian so are very unlikely to be connected. The unmarried man who had arrived on the Sir Edward Paget was also a Protestant and was from Worcester. No other assisted immigrants from Ireland have been found arriving in NSW or Victoria before a marriage date of 1851. No convict arrivals born between 1805 and 1825 were tried in Ireland.

The convict from Tasmania who had arrived on the Constant had not left Van Diemen's Land by the time this William was married in Sydney.

Updated April 2017

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