Mary Ann PARKER (2)
Father unknown b. unknown m. none d. unknown
Step-Father Henry PARKER b.c. 18311 m. 1856 d. aft. 1868
Mother Eliza aka Elizabeth FITZPATRICK b.c. 18302 m. (1) unknown (2) 18563 d. aft. 1870
Inmate Mary Ann PARKER b.c. 1853 m. (see below) d. aft. 1870
Half-sister Catherine aka Kate PARKER4 b. 18565 m. (1) 18736 (2) 18837 (1) William Henry HUGGINS (2) Edward Richard PONMAN d. 19308
Half-brother Joseph W. PARKER b. 18589 m. none - d. 185810
Half-sister Ann S. PARKER b. 185911 m. d. unknown
Half-sister Eliza PARKER b. 186012 m. none - d. 186013

Mary Ann was known to the police of Sydney before her admission to Newcastle. In a court case on 26 October 1864, nearly three years before her arrest under the Act for the Relief of Destitute Children, Henry PARKER took his wife, Eliza, to court charging her with hitting her daughter, Mary Ann, with a broom handle.14 Eliza had come home drunk and Henry had instructed Mary Ann not to let her into the house. In this court appearance Mary Ann was described as aged about eight.15 On 31 July 1867, a month before the school opened, Mary Ann's name was recorded on the list of at risk children compiled by the constables of Sydney. She was described there as a Protestant who was fourteen years old and of robust health. The constables indicated that it was not known if she had ever worked as a prostitute. They wrote:

… father respectable residing in Devonshire Street, mother a dissipated character, the girl is the constant associate of thieves and prostitutes.16

Mary Ann was again described as fourteen when she appeared in the Central Police Court a month later on 30 August 1867.17 The Empire erroneously reported that her given name was Margaret.18 Constable CAMPHIE stated that at about nine o'clock the night before, he had seen Mary Ann in company with a prostitute in Elizabeth Street where they had accosted two gentlemen. He took them into custody and the other girl was sent to 'the refuge.' Mary Ann stated then that she had not been home for some time so CAMPHIE went to her home in Devonshire Street and found her step-father drunk. Henry said that he could get no good of the girl and that she 'ought to have been apprehended long ago.' The Maitland Mercury, probably erroneously, reported that the drunkard, Henry, was her father.19 Sergeant LEE stated that about two months earlier he had seen Mary Ann at a brothel in George Street, Redfern. He reported too that her mother was a prostitute and that, within the last few days, she had been sent to gaol under sentence of two months as an idle and disorderly person. This arrest and gaol admission occurred on 28 August 1867, where Eliza had been recorded as Elizabeth PARKER.20

Mary Ann's arrived in Newcastle on 31 August 1867, with the very first intake of girls admitted to the school. These girls were recorded in the Entrance Book in order of age – from oldest to youngest. Mary Ann was recorded as a 14-year-old Catholic with an educational level of 'Sequel Number 2 Small hand' which was one of the best reading levels of girls admitted to the school.21 No explanation can be found regarding the difference in her religion recorded in the Entrance Book and that identified by the constables on the list compiled in July. It is believed that this difference occurred because her father was Church of England and her mother was Catholic and it may be that there was some religions conflict within the family. Mary Ann's medical assessment by Dr HARRIS showed that she was a virgin.22 In May 1868 KING identified that Mary Ann had suffered from an undisclosed illness.23 No reports of any misbehaviour have been located for Mary Ann in any industrial school record.

Mary Ann's discharge from Newcastle was atypical. On 14 June 1869, at about the age of sixteen, Mary Ann was sent from the school by the superintendent, CLARKE, by order of the Colonial Secretary as a domestic servant rather than as an apprentice. Her master was Alexander FLOOD, Esq.,24 gentleman, of Newcastle.25 Mary Ann was to remain with FLOOD for at least the next year and was to be paid four shillings a week.26 CLARKE added that Mary Ann’s character was good and that she had been well trained in the school as an apprentice. In an earlier letter to the Colonial Secretary written on 28 May, CLARKE noted that FLOOD was not prepared to undertake the responsibility of an apprentice, therefore explaining why Mary Ann' was sent as a servant. CLARKE stressed that he felt sure that there would be no difficulties with the difference in religion between the Protestant, FLOOD, and Mary Ann.27 This correspondence very strongly suggested that there was an acceptance on Mary Ann's part to live in a household where religions differed. It may also be that CLARKE was able to assess that FLOOD would permit Mary Ann to practise her chosen religion if she desired. In a further letter to the Colonial Secretary on 1 August 1870, CLARKE reported that Mary Ann had served her one year with FLOOD and was still working in his family but for higher wages.28

Because Mary Ann was not apprenticed there would have been no defined length of time for her to stay employed by FLOOD. No trace of her has been confirmed after 1870 when CLARKE's report indicated that she was still in the employ of Alexander FLOOD. It is likely that if she behaved well then her job as a domestic with the FLOODs would be indefinite however FLOOD's wife died in November 187029 and FLOOD himself died in June 1871.30 By this date Mary Ann, if she was still employed with the FLOOD family, would have needed to find herself a new position.


Mary Ann's true ancestry has not been confirmed. All that is known for certain is that she resided with the woman, Eliza, identified as her mother and Henry PARKER, a drayman, who was described as her step-father.31 Eliza FITZPATRICK and Henry PARKER had married in Sydney on 17 March 1856. Both Henry and Elizabeth were residents of Swan Street, Sydney, when they married in the Protestant Christ Church.32 Henry was a Protestant and additional records outlined below indicate that Eliza was Catholic. This is believed to be the reason why reports concerning Mary Ann's religion differ. No easily read births for Henry and Eliza/beth have been identified in the 'V' reels but the couple had four children although only one is known to have survived. Mary Ann was recorded as only the daughter of Eliza and she was almost without any doubt older than these children. Henry and Eliza had married after Mary Ann’s birth.

The difference in age between the two events known to involved Mary Ann PARKER, firstly in 1864 and then in 1867, and the date of birth in October 1856, of Henry and Eliza's daughter, Catherine, suggest that Mary Ann had been born sometime between 1853 and 1855. Official records indicated that Mary Ann was more likely to have been older than the 1864 age suggested but this cannot be verified as no confirmation of her birth has been located. She had, however, unless she had been adopted into the PARKER family, been born in NSW. Her mother was known to have arrived in 1849, at least four years before her birth. The arrival date of Henry PARKER is unknown. Because Mary Ann had been born before compulsory registration began in NSW in March 1856, the only record of her birth, if one exists, would be as a baptism and no appropriate baptism has been found. If Mary Ann was illegitimate and a baptism does exist, it must have been made under the name of her actual father. Because Catholic baptism records for this period identified the mother's maiden name, a search of girls named Mary baptised between 1852 and 1855 whose mother was Eliza or Elizabeth FITZPATRICK was undertaken on Family Search, but no appropriate baptism was found. It should be considered that Mary Ann may have been a child of Henry or of another member of the PARKER family and another woman because Eliza treated her so poorly.

Because Eliza aka Elizabeth PARKER went by the surname JONES,33 the birth registration of Mary A. J. JONES to Daniel and Eliza JONES in 1853 may indicate a possible baptism for Mary Ann.34 No marriage has been identified for this couple but four children were recorded before 1856, Because more seem to have been registered after Eliza's confirmed marriage to Henry PARKER makes this possibility unlikely although it is uncertain whether these records refer to one or more couples. This baptism will be read but has proved difficult to locate in the microfilm.

A baptism does remain from 1857 for a Mary Ann PARKER and it is outlined here as the record contains some very strange information although is is thought that this child was too young to be the Newcastle admission. This baptism was for a child whose father was identified as Henry PARKER and this does not agree with records in the industrial school. No matching birth registration has been found to match this baptism and the birth of this child should have been registered. The baptism indicated that Mary Ann PARKER had been born on 18 June 1857. Her father was a Henry PARKER and her mother was Mary Anne SARKER. She had been baptised on 12 July 1857, at the St James Catholic Church, Sydney. Mary Ann's sponsors were Edmond and Sarah BURKE. Henry PARKER and Mary Ann SARKER lived in Chippin Street, Chippendale.35 It may be that because this record was a handwritten copy of the original church record of the Catholic St. James Parish, Sydney, a mis-transcription of part of the original may have occurred in the NSW BDM record. While the record was clearly written,36 the original record has not been viewed but attempts will be made to locate it.

It is not possible for this child to be the child of Eliza as this birth was less than nine months after the birth of Catherine PARKER on 28 October 1856, but the maiden surname of the mother, SARKER, cannot be traced either on Ancestry or the NSW BDM Index. It is also not considered likely that this was a child of Henry with another woman, as it occurred early in the marriage before any difficulties had begun and Henry was constantly referred to as Mary Ann's step-father. It is possible that this was a dalliance that Henry had had prior to the marriage. A check of the NSW BDM Index by date identified two other children named Mary born to a Henry and Mary. They were Mary Ann PEEL (V159 1857/147) and Mary Ann BAILEY (V142 1857/1557). These were both baptisms and not registrations so are very unlikely to refer to the child of Henry PARKER and Mary Ann SARKER. Neither can be read.

The Entrance Book and many newspaper reports confirmed that Mary Ann’s mother was Eliza PARKER, however KING’s list also recorded her given name as Elizabeth.37 Eliza was known to use the given names Eliza and Elizabeth as both were recorded in various court records. She also acquired and used at least one alias. Eliza was one of the Irish Famine Orphans leaving Ireland because of the Potato Famine.38 She had been born at Monstraven, Kildare, had no relatives in the colony, and had arrived in July 1849 aboard the Lady Peel as an assisted immigrant. Eliza was the 19-year-old daughter of Stephen FITZGERALD and Elizabeth BRYAN who were both dead.39 These parents were confirmed when she married Henry PARKER in 1856 where she was recorded as a 24-year-old who had been born in Ireland. It was unusual that this marriage occurred in a Church of England church as Eliza was consistently recorded in gaol records as a Catholic.40 No appearances in court before 1856 for Eliza/beth FITZPATRICK have been identified and it is believed that she was in a stable relationship or work between the time of her arrival in 1849 and the date she married Henry PARKER as it is considered unusual that it took so long for her to marry. As she was young it may very well be that she made an earlier marriage but no marriage is recorded in the NSW BDM Index. It may be that she was busy working.

Gaol records for Eliza/beth PARKER, summarised below, confirmed that she had arrived on the Lady Peel. While the indent indicated that Elizabeth could read, gaol records concerning her age and her level of education vary. No detailed description for her has been located amongst these numerous gaol admissions. Many admissions have been confirmed, most for Elizabeth and some for Eliza with the surnames, FITZPATRICK, PARKER and JONES. All the following records have been summarised from the NSW gaol records unless otherwise stated. They commence in 1860, four years after she married and after the birth of her last child. No earlier records have been located.

Date Name Born Ship Court (Gaol) Crime Sentence
16 April 1860 Eliza PARKER CPC41 drunk 20s. fine
9 August 1862 Elizabeth PARKER CPC42 obscene language 20s. or 14 days
3 October 1862 Eliza PARKER CPC43 obscene language 10s. or 48 hours44
21 October 1864 Eliza PARKER 1836 (Ireland) Lady Peel CPC (Darlinghurst) insulting language 10s. fine45 (not paid) 3 days
21 September 1865 Elizabeth PARKER CPC46 prostitution 3 months
26 October 1864 Eliza PARKER 1836 (Ireland) Lady Peel CPC47 (Darlinghurst) assault 14 days
20 August 1866 Eliza JONES alias PARKER 1831 (Ireland) Lady Kennaway CPC48 (Darlinghurst) vagrant 1 month labour
20 December 1866 Elizabeth FITZPATRICK 1844 Lady Peel Quarter Sessions stealing49 postponed to 4/2/6750
27 February 1867 Elizabeth FITZPATRICK CPC drunk and riotous 20s or 7 days51
5 August 1867 Elizabeth PARKER 1833 (Ireland) Lady Peel CPC (Darlinghurst) drunk 3 days
28 August 1867 Elizabeth PARKER 1833 (Ireland) Lady Peel CPC52 (Darlinghurst) vagrant 2 months
4 November 1868 Elizabeth FITZPATRICK CPC (Darlinghurst) drunk 7 days
1867-8 Elizabeth JONES 1828 (Ireland) Lady Peel (Darlinghurst)
15 July 187053 Elizabeth aka Eliza JONES 1831 (Dublin) Duchess of Peel CPC (Darlinghurst) common prostitute 1 month

Note that admissions for Eliza JONES to gaol have only been viewed to 1880.

A search of gaol records for women named Eliza or Elizabeth who had arrived on the Lady Peel disclose admissions with various surnames including the names PARKER, FITZPATRICK and JONES. Eliza appeared in court in August 186254 as Elizabeth PARKER where she was described as a prostitute. She was admitted to Darlinghurst Gaol in 1864 as Eliza PARKER.55 and while no gaol records documented a Mary A. PARKER or SARKER entering the gaol, this rhyming name, together with BARKER, may indicate a link to the 1857 baptism outlined above. The 35-year-old woman who could neither read nor write and using the alias JONES also stated in 1866 that she had arrived on the Lady Kennaway56 but this is still believed to refer to her. On 20 December 1866, as Elizabeth FITZPATRICK, she was to appear at a Quarter Sessions trial with Thomas or James FROST. The accused were released on their own recognisances to appear again on 4 February 1867, after the trial was postponed. She stated at this time that she was 33, or born in 1844, and had arrived aboard the Lady Peel. When the case came to trial she and FROST were discharged as the prosecutors, John HENEBERY and John LEFTWITCH,57 failed to appear.58 Eliza may also have been admitted to Darlinghurst as Elizabeth O'BRIEN in 1867 but this has not yet been confirmed.

The death in Sydney on 16 November 1870,59 of a 39-year-old Elizabeth PARKER may very likely reflect her death. No records have been located identifying a ship of arrival after July 1870 so this strengthens the case for this to be her death and the age would be a good match for Eliza FITZGERALD.

The following woman may be Eliza. If the 1870 death was not her then she was perhaps described as a prostitute and fined for riotous behaviour on 19 January 1871.60 She did not go to gaol as she doesn't appear in the Darlinghurst records for this date. This was the last confirmation of a woman named Eliza using the surname PARKER yet located although as Elizabeth PARKER she may have been a witness at an inquest a month later in February 1871 when she was described as a resident of Castlereagh Street.61 She may possibly also have been identified as Elizabeth BARKER62

Date Name Born Ship Court (Gaol) Crime Sentence
11 April 1870 Elizabeth PARKER aka DART63 CPC64 vagrancy 7 days
28 June 1870 Elizabeth JONES alias DYCE (Darlinghurst) riotous 3 days
19 January 1871 Eliza PARKER CPC65 riotous behaviour 20s. or 7 days
4 December 1874 Elizabeth PARKER alias BARKER CPC (Darlinghurst) drunk 1 day

The following woman is unlikely to be Eliza because it is not thought that Mary Ann's mother ever entered any gaol other than Darlinghurst. Unfortunately no descriptions or any other identifiers have been found for Port Macquarie Gaol for this period. The 1870 burial66 recorded the death registration67 of the 41-year-old Eliza PARKER at Port Macquarie.

Date Name Born Ship Court (Gaol) Crime Sentence
6 January 1870 Eliza PARKER Port Macquarie (Port Macquarie) vagrant 2 months
19 March 1870 Eliza PARKER Port Macquarie (Port Macquarie) vagrant 1 month
16 May 1870 Eliza PARKER Port Macquarie PS (Port Macquarie) vagrant 21 days

Eliza was not the woman admitted to gaol as Elizabeth HOWLETT. While no woman of this name has yet been found on the Lady Peel indent, gaol records consistently state that this Elizabeth had arrived aboard that ship. Elizabeth HOWLETT died in Parramatta in 1910 at the age of 77. Only her age and maiden name of BROOTHER were recorded on the NSW BDM Index.68 There was a marriage at Parramatta in 1852 to Matthew HOWLETT or a woman with this very odd maiden name and she and Matthew were having children in Parramatta until 1875. Elizabeth or Eliza HOWLETT cannot be an alias for Eliza FITZPATRICK.

At this stage Mary Ann's actual father remains unknown.

Henry PARKER, the man identified in the Entrance Book as Mary Ann's step-father, was described in the list of at-risk children in July 1867 as 'respectable.'69 Henry PARKER, a drayman, stated that he had been born in England in about 1831 when he married Eliza FITZPATRICK at Christ Church, Sydney, on 17 March 1856. This was a Church of England marriage. Henry named his parents as Joseph PARKER and Ann SCOTT. The witnesses were John LISTER and George R. WOOD. WOOD was a clerk at Christ Church70 but LISTER has not been identified.71 Henry was the man recorded in the City of Sydney Assessment Books in 1865, when he was living at 60 Crown Stree. In 1863 when he was living at 9 Edward Street and in 1867 when he was confirmed at 149 Devonshire Street. Henry was renting in every location.72 Sands Directory confirmed the 60 Crown Street in 1861 and that he was a drayman at 9 Edward Street in 1862 and that by 1866 he was in Devonshire Street where he remained until the last confirmed entry for him in 1868. No further entries for Henry can be confirmed in Sands Directory after 1868 unless he had changed his occupation to become a plumber and this man disappeared after only one year. No arrival for Henry in Australia has been confirmed but he had to have arrived before 1856. It is conceivable that Mary Ann was actually his illegitimate daughter73 although a possible arrival in Melbourne in 1852 would suggest that this was not the case if she had been born in 1853.

In light of the known existence of an older brother, William, a man who possibly also came to Australia, the arrival of the brothers, William and Henry, into Port Phillip aboard the Diadem in November 1852, may identify Henry's arrival. The Diadem indent identified that Henry was 18 and that William was 21 and these ages match those identified on the 1841 census of the children of Joseph and Ann PARKER who were living in Bridekerk, Cumberland, where Henry was recorded as a ten-year-old and William was four years older. By 1851 Henry was working as a 19-year-old miller's apprentice at Workingham, Cumberland, where he identified his place of birth as Brigham, Cumberland.74 No court reports have been identified for Henry during the 1850s or 1860s except in connection to Mary Ann. The first possible appearance in court for him alone, if one occurred at all, was on 1 May 1861.75

The number of gaol admissions for Eliza/beth suggests that, although the couple were living together at the time of Mary Ann's arrest in August 1867, the marriage was very unhappy. It is unknown whether they remained together not cared for the children of the relationship as it is known that Catherine survived. It may be that the child Ann died but no registration for this death has been located.

Mary Ann's half-sister, Catherine aka Kate PARKER, is the only child of Henry and Eliza PARKER who has been successfully located. Details of her life between 1868 and 12 July 1873, the date she married William HUGGINS, have not been found. She was old enough to have been apprenticed or working and as her father was respectable, this may have occurred due to his influence. Kate was widowed in July 1883 but no reference to any member of her family has been found in the Funeral Notice for her first husband, William HUGGINS.76 Kate remarried Edwin aka Edward Richard PONMAN in October 1883. In 1890/91 the PONMAN family all immigrated to Edwin's family home in Blackfriars, London, probably because of the devastating unemployment caused by the Maritime Strike of 1890. Catherine PONMAN died in Southwark, London, in 1930.77

Nothing further has yet been confirmed for Henry PARKER after 1868 and he is believed to have left Sydney - perhaps after the possible death of Elizabeth but this also cannot be confirmed. It is only remotely possible that Henry was the man living at 1 Herbert Street in 1880.78

It must be considered that the William PARKER who sponsored the immigration of his wife, Margaret, to NSW79 was Henry's brother who had perhaps also arrived on the Diadem. Margaret PARKER arrived in NSW in 1863 aboard the Severn and the indent indicated that she had been born in Cockermouth, Cumberland, England,80 a very similar location to the place of birth attributed to Henry by his descendants.81 No children to William and Margaret have been identified. It is also interesting to note that a William PARKER whose parents were Joseph and Ann died on 4 February 1904.82 No Funeral Notice has yet been identified for this man.

Where has She Gone?

Alexander FLOOD lived in Newcastle and it is possible Mary Ann may have remained in the Hunter Valley after she left his service. A good recommendation by FLOOD would also have ensured that she continued to earn an honest living if she didn't remain with him. She is known to have worked for FLOOD for more than a year. The only marriage of a Mary PARKER in the Newcastle area was the marriage to William AVERY in 1884. This marriage is very interesting as the Sobraon records for their son, William, on 12 June 1896, suggest that his admission may be part of a cycle of institutionalisation for the family. The boy William had been born in Parramatta on 23 June 1885.83 His birth was recorded as William George AVERY.84 He was their only child. William AVERY senior was a sailor. Mary AVERY was described as:

laundress; earnings nil …
mother a vagrant convicted several times85

Neither the HVPRI or the records for either Christ Church or St John, Newcastle, refer to this marriage. Gaol records from Sydney in 1895 and 1896 indicate that a Mary AVERY used the alias of WILLIAMS.86 By 1907 Mary was also known by the surname ERSKINE when she was arrested for selling liquor without a license.87 An online tree that looks quite reliable has William George AVERY dying in 1938 and his mother dying at Campsie on 9 February 1921. This record gives an approximate date of birth as 1863 and gaol records suggest that this age was approximately correct. The matching death registration for this death identified her parents as William and Mary A. and there is a matching birth for a child of this name in Parramatta in 1862,88 very strongly suggesting that this was not the Newcastle admission. This however is only correct if this actually was the woman who married William AVERY in Newcastle and it is yet to be confirmed that the Mary Ann PARKER who married in Newcastle was the woman born in Parramatta in 1862. Her use of the surname WILLIAMS has not yet been explained. There is still every chance that a different couple married in Newcastle although it does appear that a William AVERY, a seaman, was in Newcastle at the time.89

No appropriate gaol admissions or mentions in the Police Gazette have been found for a girl or a woman named Mary Ann PARKER. None of the women named Mary A. PARKER in gaol or court in July 1869 [PG1869: p. 207], May 1870 [PG1870: p. 124] or November 1870 [PG1870: p. 296] can be the Newcastle admission as the Newcastle girl was known to still have been in service at these times.

It is considered very unlikely that the child, Amelia PARKER, the daughter of a servant of Mary Jane TULLOCK of Bondi, who died on 9 December 1871, and who had been born at the Benevolent Asylum on 8 October, was the child of Mary Ann. Amelia had been discharged from the Asylum with her mother on 16 November 1871. This woman was recorded in the asylum records at the end of 1871 as a 21-year-old and so had been born in about 1850. The Newcastle Mary Ann was not thought to have been this old.

Updated April 2017

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