Name Variations Emily, PIESLEY1 PEASLEY, BEASELY
Step-father Robert CADBY2 alias McFARLANE3 b. c. 1814 m. none d. aft. 1850
Father William PIZZEY aka PEISLEY aka BEASLEY b. 18024 m. 18675 d. 18846
Mother Bridget McFARLANE b. 18327 m. 1867 d. 18818
Half-brother John MACFARLANE9 b.c. 1848 m. d. 192910
Half-sister Margaret MACFARLANE11 b.c. 1852 m. 187112 Isaac PARKES d. 193513
Brother George Henry PEISLEY b. 1859 m. 188114 Amelia RALPH d. 193915
Inmate Emma aka Emily PEISLEY b. 186116 m. (1) none (2) 1899 (see below) d. 194617
Brother William PEISLEY b. 1863 m. d. 190218
Husband (1) William READER b.c. m. (1) none (2) 1900 d. unknown
Husband (2) John Oscar JACKSON b.c. 185919 m. 189920 d. 192921
Daughter Mary Gertrude PEISLEY b. 188522 m. 191523 Albert MARTIN d. 192424
Step-son Leslie Victor JACKSON b. 189625 m. none - d. 189726
Step-son Sidney C. JACKSON b. 189727 m. d.
Step-Son George Alexander JACKSON b. m. d. 196928
Son John JACKSON b. m. d.
Son Roy S. JACKSON b. 190029 m. d.
Son Anthony J. J. (Jack) JACKSON b. 190330 m. d.
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Grandfather John McFARLANE31 56 5' 4½" grey hazel fresh stout
Father William32 49 5' 8½" brown brown fresh stout
Father William33 30 5' 8¾" brown grey fair scar on top of forefinger of right hand; scar on ball of right thumb; scar back of fore/middle & little fingers of left hand; scar inside of left thumb
Mother Bridget McFARLANE34 23 5' 2½" brown brown fresh stout
Mother Bridget PEISLEY35 40 5' 5" brown brown fair
Brother George36 38 5' 7⅞" brown blue scars on right thumb and forefinger which appears to have been broken; scar outside right forearm, in centre of forehead and under right eye

Emma appeared on the list of at risk children compiled by the constables of Sydney on 31 July 1867, a month before the school at Newcastle was opened. She was described there as a six-year-old Catholic of delicate health. The list recorded that she wasn't a prostitute. The constables wrote:

Parents are very poor and dissipated, mother twice convicted for larceny.37

About a month after this list was created, on 1 September 1867, Emma was arrested by warrant at at the public house of Mrs HUMPHRIES, a publican,38 on the Illawarra Road in the Cook's River area.39 She was about the age of seven when she appeared before the court the day after her arrest where she was charged with living with common prostitutes. The prostitute was likely to have been her mother. Senior Sergeant TAYLOR stated that the person who called herself Emma’s mother was of bad character, a drunkard and had been committed twice in the last two years for larceny.40 He believed that Emma appeared 'very much neglected particularly for a girl of such tender years.'41 Emma was admitted to the school on 5 September 1867, and her educational level was recorded in the Entrance Book as 'alphabet on slate.'42 Because she was a Protestant Emma was also listed on SELWYN's list of Protestant girls at the school in June 1868.43 A medical assessment by Dr HARRIS showed that she was a virgin.44 Emma had been at the school for some months when an application for her release was made by her parents. The application was unsuccessful.45 Emma's parents continued to work very hard to achieve her release and by June 1869 again wrote to the Colonial Secretary with a petition signed by members of their community and Helenus SCOTT the Police Magistrate in Newcastle, which stated:

When this girl was sent to the Industrial at Newcastle the parents were not married. A promise was made at the time that if they married a recommendation would be made to the Honble the Colonial Secretary to return the child to her parents and as they are now married I the child will be permitted to return to them.46

On 21 August 1869, CLARKE responded with his report to the Colonial Secretary47 where he repeated Emma’s admission details and stated that '[t]he child is well conducted but I have no means of ascertaining anything about her parents.' No further communications appear in the correspondence file until August 1870. At this time Bridget again wrote and again requested that her petition be given 'serious consideration.'48 This petition was finally successful and the Entrance Book recorded that Emma was discharged on 8 May 1870, into the care of her mother.49

The NSW Police Gazette reported that Emma PEISLEY, a servant for Mrs MILNE, Spring Street, Darling Point, was the victim of a robbery in June 1882.50 This incident is thought to refer to Emma prior to her move to the Penrith area where in 1885 she delivered her illegitimate daughter, Mary, whose father at the time of her death in 1924 was recorded as William. Funeral Notices in August 1924.51

MARTIN.—The Relatives and Friends of Mr. ALBERT MARTIN and FAMILY, of Brandon-avenue, Bankstown, are invited to attend the Funeral of his beloved WIFE and their MOTHER, Mary Gertrude ; to leave the residence of her sister, Mrs. W. Fitzmaurice, Willenade, Morwick-street, Strathfield, THIS SATURDAY, at 1.45 p.m., for Catholic Cemetery, Rookwood, via

Burwood Station.

MARTIN.—The Friends of Mr. and Mrs. J. READER and FAMILY, Mr. and Mrs. ARTHUR READER and FAMILY, Mr. and Mrs. ALBERT READER and FAMILY, Mr. and Mrs. J. JACKSON and FAMILY, Mr. and Mrs. W. FITZMAURICE and FAMILY, Mr. and Mrs. S. DOWSETT and FAMILY are invited to attend the Funeral of their late beloved SISTER and SISTER-IN-LAW ; to leave her sister's residence Willenade, Morwick-street, Strathfield, THIS (Saturday) AFTERNOON, at 1.45 o'clock, for Roman Catholic

Cemetery, Rookwood.

In Memoriam announcements52 for Mary in 1925 identify her sisters, Margaret and Ada, and her brother, the children of Adam aka Thomas Adam READER and Mary READER née McFARLANE. This then very strongly suggests that Mary's father was Bridget's cousin, William READER.

MARTIN.—In loving memory of our dear sister, Mary Gertrude Martin, who departed this life August 15, 1924.
Dearer to me than words can tell Was the sister I lost and loved so well.
Inserted by her loving sisters, Margaret and Ada.
MARTIN.—In loving memory of our dear sister, Mary Martin, who departed this life August 15, 1924, aged 38 years.
Inserted by her loving brother and sister-in-law and family, Albert and Annie Reader.

Thomas READER, whose birth registration53 documented that his father was William and his mother was Emma, may also be a child of Emma but this birth has not been attributed to her as his death later in 1895 recorded that his mother was Florence READER and William READER had married Florence M. BARKEL in 1900.54 Perhaps only the actual birth registration or DNA may solve the mystery of Thomas' parentage.

No further information about Emma's life can be confirmed after Mary's birth until 1899 in Burwood when Emma married John Oscar JACKSON. This marriage was confirmed in the Funeral Notice for Emma's brother, 80-year-old George PEASLEY, on 6 February 1939, where Emma was referred to as Mrs. E. JACKSON.55 Emma was the beneficiary of George's estate.56 John JACKSON was buried at Woronora in June 1829. His Funeral Notice read:

JACKSON.—June 16, 1929, (suddenly), John Oscar, dearly beloved husband of Emma Jackson, and loving father of George, Albert, Roy, and Jack, aged 70 years.

Emma died on 4 June 1946, at the age of 85.57 Her death was registered in Sydney and her parents were recorded as William and Brigid. Her Funeral Notice read:

JACKSON.—June 4, 1946, at the Sacred Heart Hospice, Darlinghurst, Emma Jackson, late of Samuel Street, St. Peters, beloved mother of Mary (Mrs. Martin, deceased), Roy, John, George, and Albert, and grandmother of Marie, Patricia, Roy, Shirley, Joan, John, Eileen, Ron, Norman, Gwen, Ray, Dorothy, and Betty, aged 85 years.


Emma's parents were named in the Entrance Book as William and Bridget PEISLEY and their abode was recorded as Cook's River. William was a sawyer. Emma was the illegitimate daughter of William PEISLEY and Bridget McFARLANE. No marriage registration has been found for this couple before Emma's birth in 1861 and the newspaper report at the time of Emma's arrest confirmed that Bridget lived adulterously with PEISLEY. Even though it occurred before the marriage of her parents, the registration of the birth of Emily PEISLEY in Newtown in 1861 matches her age and her parent details so there is little doubt that this registration identified her birth. No further references to Emily PEISLEY have yet been located so it is considered very likely that Emma was the name used for her within the family. Correspondence held by the Colonial Secretary confirmed that William and Bridget did not marry until after Emma's arrest and they married in an attempt to have her released from Newcastle. The Catholic denomination of the church for the marriage may conflict with Emma's stated Church of England religion at the time of her admission to Newcastle but there is no doubt that this is her. William BEASLEY and Bridget McFARLANE were married in the Newtown Catholic Presbytery by Joseph Mario GARAVEL on 7 October 1867, about five weeks after Emma's arrest. The witnesses were Bridget's sister and brother-in-law, Mary (X) READER and Adam (X) READER. A copy of the church record of the marriage was included in the first petition for Emma's release.58

William and Bridget continued to try to have Emma released from Newcastle but were often unsuccessful and her release took some months. Their 1868 petition to the Colonial Secretary stated that after Emma's arrest, Bridget:

applied to Captain SCOTT, Police Magistrate for the restoration of the child and was told to reform and get married to the father of the child, and then he would recommend the child to be returned … your petitioners are in employment with Mrs Gannon in the forest and able to support their family

The police response to the petition confirmed that the name on the enclosed marriage was incorrect and:

that Peisley is the correct name of the petitioners, the name Beasley having been inserted … in error. … The petitioners were formerly tenants of Mr Michael Gannon Cook's River, but were ejected from his house in consequence of their intemperate habits. … Their only shelter is the boughs of some trees in the bush, at Kingsgrove, near Canterbury. They have no means whatever of providing for their child.

All references to William PEISLEY from the Cook’s River and Kingsgrove localities without any doubt refer to Emma’s father. The first article located referring to William PEISLEY appeared in 1844 when he was charged with stealing green barley from W. M. CLARK of Cook's River59 but earlier reports appear for him under the name William PIZZEY. Gaol records confirm that the two men were the same person. Even though there are differences in eye colour in the Darlinghurst Gaol records, this is considered an error made perhaps due to haste by the recorder or William's age. William had been born in Greenford Green60 and had been tried in London. He had been transported aboard the Hebe in 1820. Old Bailey Online records show that William PIZZEY, with another man named William BRYANT, was tried for the theft of lead from the dwelling house of a Daniel PIZZEY, who was very likely to have been a family connection. Both men were transported for seven years. On the 1828C he appeared as William PENSLEY and his age was recorded as twenty-two.61 His 1832 Certificate of Freedom records that William received a sentences in NSW. He:

Had three years added to his original sentence by the Windsor Bench 18 July 1820 for theft and three other years added by the same bench 27 December 1828 for forcibly entering his master's premises with intent to steal was transported to Norfolk Island by the Sutton Forest Bench 2 May 1829 for the remainder of his sentences for running into the bush.

William returned to Sydney from Norfolk Island in May 1832 and appeared William PISEY in the records of the Phoenix Hulk. He finally received his Certificate of Freedom that year.62 He and Elizabeth GREY aka GRAVES per the Numa applied for permission to marry twice in late 1837. Both applications were initially granted but were subsequently refused. There are no records of any marriage under these names in the NSW BDM Index. It is unclear when William returned to Sydney from the Penrith and Sutton Forest areas but by 1855 was associating with the McFARLANE family in the Cook's River area of Sydney. Their family connection was confirmed in Darlinghurst Gaol records after a trial at the Quarter Sessions on 28 March 1855, where the McFARLANEs and William appear together.63 The records confirmed that William had been transported aboard the Hebe in 1820.64 In 1866 he was the victim of a robbery.65 Bridget and William were the couple mentioned in the court appearance of 18 June 1869, where Bridget's brother-in-law Adam READER, was charged with abusing Bridget and assaulting William.66 References to William haven't been confirmed after 1871 but he may be connected to the men involved in the conspiracy cases during November and December 1878. William died in Kingsgrove as William PEASLEY in 1884 at the age of eighty-three.

Emma's mother, Bridget, was the daughter of John McFARLANE and Margaret REDMOND who had married at St. Mary's Catholic Church, Sydney.67 Bridget had been baptised at St. Mary's the following year.68 She was the Bridget MacFARLANE, described as under sixteen, who was abducted by the brothers James and Robert CADBY from the Cook’s River area in August 1847.69 James and Robert CADBY had arrived aboard the John Barry in 1826. As they were both aged only about 11 and ten respectively when this ship arrived, it must be considered that they came with a family but no arrival for the brothers has been located. Gaol records indicate that Robert had been born in Canterbury, England, but James had been born at sea the year after the birth of his brother. Newspaper reports stated that Bridget and Robert CADBY had been on 'intimate terms'70 so it is believed that Robert CADBY was the father of Bridget's first two children, John and Margaret McFARLANE, who had been born in about 1848 and 1852 respectively. Robert was recorded with both surnames in Darlinghurst Gaol records in 1850.71 No appropriate death has been located for him in NSW but when James died in 1883 his parents were identified as George and Catherine.

Bridget appeared in court on at least two occasions in connection with William PEISLEY. In March 1855, William was reported to have been arrested in company with Bridget and John McFARLANE in the Cook's River area.72

STEALING FROM A HUT. — Mary McFarlane, Thomas McFarlane, and William Martin, all children under the age of fourteen, were placed in the dock on the charge of stealing; and John McFarlane, William Peisley, and Bridget McFarlane were charged with receiving the stolen goods. It appeared from the evidence that the prosecutor, James Waters, a charcoal drawer, residing at Kingsgrove, left his hut on Thursday morning last, to go to Sydney. In the course of the day the three children were observed by one Samuel Lovely to be running through the bush, carrying bundles from the prosecutor's house. He ran after them, but they escaped; Martin, however dropped an accordeon and several other articles, which Lovely replaced in the hut, and then went in search of the runaways. He did not succeed in finding them; and on returning to the hut, found that they had paid a second visit there and again taken the accordeon. He told the prosecutor on his return in the evening, what had occurred. Information was given to the police, and, on Friday morning, the hut of William Peisley was searched, and a number of articles consisting of gown pieces, remnants of calico, a piece of silk, and the accordeon were taken from Peisley's box. In the elder prisoner, John McFarlane's hut, a watch was found concealed in the rafters. The whole of the property, valued £4, was identified by the prosecutor as his. On the constable, John Harris, entering the hut of Peisley, the prisoner, Bridget, exclaimed, "Oh ! I know what you have come for — you want the bundle my sister left here yesterday." The defence of the elder prisoners was that they knew nothing of what the children had been doing. The latter have been before the Court on a previous occasion for stealing. They were committed to take their trial at the Court of Quarter Sessions.73

The children, Mary aged twelve, and Thomas aged ten,74 had carried out the theft and the three adults, William, Bridget and John, appeared in the Quarter Sessions charged with receiving the stolen goods from the children. In this case William was acquitted but Bridget was charged with receiving and was sent to Sydney Gaol for eighteen months. Newspapers described Bridget, who was reported to be living in the PEISLEY house as his housekeeper, as the wife of John McFARLANE who was living in his hut about a mile away. This relationship isn’t supported by the NSW BDM Index. While the children were described in one report as Bridget and John’s children, the ages of the participants indicate that this was impossible. The children were John's children and Bridget's siblings and it is thought that these relationships were an erroneous section of the newspaper report. John and Bridget appeared in Darlinghurst Gaol records after this incident where Bridget was confirmed as having been born in the colony and John's ship of arrival was identified as the Minerva.

The first incident occurred in May 1854 when a woman identified as Catherine SMITH who resided at Kingsgrove was assaulted75 by Bridget and her brother, Patrick McFARLANE.76 Then in June 1856 Patrick McFARLANE assaulted Catherine PEISLEY who lived in the same house as he did.77 While nothing has been found to positively link Catherine SMITH and Catherine PEISLEY, and not even an age has been identified, it is believed that they were the same person. Could Catherine be either a daughter of William by an earlier relationship or might she be a former partner? There are no appropriate suggestions on the NSW BDM Index that might assist in defining the possible relationship. Her connection to William PEISLEY is a further avenue that could assist in further identifying any family connections.

Bridget McFARLANE, as Bridget PEISLEY, was almost without any doubt the woman who appears in court and gaol records for various misdemeanours from about 1867. Other records from Darlinghurst Gaol describe Bridget as a Catholic. Some of her descriptions are contradictory, most often showing that she was born in the colony but on occasion her ship of arrival was marked the Boanages and she was reported to have been born in Ireland. Because the initial incident occurred in Gannon's Forest,78 it is certain that Bridget was charged with perjury in early 187379 where she accused a group of men of rape.80 She was described there as 'an old woman'81 and the Police Gazette recorded that she had been born in the colony in 1832. She was found guilty of perjury and sentenced to eighteen months in Darlinghurst Gaol but the sentence was remitted82 and she was released from Darlinghurst in December 1873.[footnote]] NSW PG1873: p. 350 [[/footnote]] This remission was the result of a petition signed by many residents of the Gannon's Forest area. They argued that because the trial had lasted so long, one important witness had had to leave before he gave his evidence.83 Bridget ceased to appear in court as PEISLEY shortly after this incident.

The family relationships of the PEISLEY and McFARLANE families is complicated and they spread over much of NSW. There were also long-lasting connections between Emma, Bridget and the CALF sisters. Bridget's brother, Thomas McFARLANE married Eliza CALF who had also been admitted to Newcastle. Thomas was known to once have lived in the area around Bathurst. Patrick McFARLANE married Eliza's sister, Fanny CALF who was admittedto Biloela.84 Emma was the beneficiary of the estate of her brother George PEISLEY alias SPARKES alias WILLIAMS after his death in 193985 and after George abandoned his wife Amelia, he spent time in Bathurst. George's 1898 gaol admissions confirmed that he had been born in 1860 in Kingsgrove, NSW.86

How and why Bridget moved to Bathurst is unconfirmed but these relationships show that there was at least some family in the area. Descendants confirmed that Bridget's death was registered as Bridget PIESLEY in Bathurst in 1881. They reported that only some of the information on the registration matched what was known of Bridget and that the informant was the hospital superintendent.87 Other families who were also residents of the Bathurst area may prove to be connected in some way.

It is unknown whether there was any connection to the William PEISLEY who was the butcher from Parramatta and whose mother was Elizabeth.88 He had probably been born in about 1819.89 The William PEISLEY who was living in William Street, Wooloomooloo, during the 1850s may also be a connection. There was also a PEISLEY family residing in Bathurst.90 Thomas and Elizabeth PEISLEY were the parents of Sarah (1832), John (1834), Benjamin (183891), Mary (1844), William (184692), Mary (1847) and Elizabeth (1849). All these connections are possible but considered unlikely because William's surname was originally not PEISLEY but PIZZEY.

Updated November 2019

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