Name Variations Emily, PIESLEY1 PEASLEY, BEASELY
Step-father Robert CADBY2 alias McFARLANE3 b. m. none d.
Father William PEISLEY b. 18064 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 MACFARLANE b.c. 1852 m. 187111 Isaac PARKES d. 193512
Brother George Henry PEISLEY b. 1859 m. 188113 Amelia RALPH d. 193914
Inmate Emma aka Emily PEISLEY b. 186115 m. 1899 (see below) d. 194616
Brother William PEISLEY b. 1863 m. d. 190217 or 189718
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 b. m. d.
Son Roy S. JACKSON b. 190029 m. d.
Son Anthony J. J. JACKSON b. 190330 m. d.
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Grandfather John31 56 5' 4½" grey hazel fresh stout
Father William32 49 5' 8½" brown brown fresh stout
Mother Bridget33 40 5' 5" brown brown fair
Brother George34 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 opened. She was described there as six years old and of delicate health. She was a Catholic and it was recorded that she wasn't a prostitute. The constables wrote

Parents are very poor and dissipated, mother twice convicted for larceny.35

Emma was about seven when she was arrested by warrant on 1 September 1867, at the public house of Mrs HUMPHRIES, a publican,36 on the Illawarra Road in the Cook's River area.37 She appeared before the court the day after her arrest where she was charged with living with common prostitutes. 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.38 He believed that Emma appeared "very much neglected particularly for a girl of such tender years."39 Emma was admitted to the school on 5 September 1867, and her educational level was recorded as 'alphabet on slate.'40 She was described as a Protestant and is listed on SELWYN's list of Protestant girls at the school in June 1868.41 A medical assessment by Dr HARRIS showed that she was a virgin.42 Emma had been at the school for some months when an application for her release was made by her parents. The application was unsuccessful.43 Emma's parents worked very hard to achieve her release and by June 1869 wrote again to the Colonial Secretary with a petition signed by members of their community and Helenus SCOTT the Police Magistrate in Newcastle which stated that

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.44

On 21 August 1869, CLARKE replied with his report to the Colonial Secretary45 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 are in the file unitl August 1870. At this time Bridget wrote again requesting that her petition be given "serious consideration."46 It was recorded in the Entrance Book that Emma was discharged on 8 May 1870, into the care of her mother.47

The Police Gazette reports that Emma PEISLEY, a servant for Mrs MILNE, Spring Street, Darling Point, was the victim of a robbery in June 1882.48 This incident is thought to refer to Emma but by 1885 she was living in the Penrith area where she delivered the illegitimate daughter, Mary, whose father at the time of her death was recorded as William. Funeral49 and In Memoriam50 notices for Mary naming her 'sister,' strongly suggest that her father was Bridget's cousin, William READER. Those placing the notices were the children of Adam51 and Mary READER nee McFARLANE. Thomas READER's whose birth registration52 records that his father was William and his mother was Emma, may also be a child of Emma but has not been attributed to her as his death later in 1895 records that his mother was Florence READER. William READER had married Florence M. BARKEL in 1900.53

No further information about Emma's life can be confirmed until 1898 when she married John Oscar JACKSON. As Emma PIESLEY she married John Oscar JACKSON in Burwood in 1899, and this marriage is confirmed in the Funeral Notice for Emma's brother, George, on 6 February 1939, where Emma is referred to as Mrs. E. JACKSON.54 Emma was the beneficiary of George's estate.55 John JACKSON was buried at Woronora in June 1829. His death notice reads

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 85.56 Her death was registered in Sydney and her parents were recorded as William and Brigid. Her funeral notice reads

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. Her abode was recorded as Cook's River and William's occupation was recorded as a sawyer. The registration of the birth of Emily PEISLEY in Newtown in 1861 matches both the known age of Emma and her parents recorded in the Entrance Book. No further references to Emily PEISLEY have been located so it is likely that this was either a transcription error at the time or Emily was known within the family as Emma. The 1861 registration should confirm Bridget’s maiden name but it is almost entirely certain that it will be McFARLANE. Emma was the illegitimate daughter of William PEISLEY and Bridget McFARLANE. The newspaper report of the court proceedings at the time of Emma's arrest disclosed that Emma’s mother lived adulterously with a person named PEISLEY and strength is given to this assertion as there has been no marriage registration found for this couple before her birth. In an attempt to have Emma returned to them, William and Bridget 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) and Adam (X) READER. The Presbyterian marriage conflicts with Emma's stated religion on her admission to Newcastle. William and Bridget's 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

A copy of the church record in the names of William BEASLEY and Bridget McFARLANE is included in this first petition.57 The police response to the petition reports

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 that refers to William, appears in 1844.58 Bridget and William are almost certainly the couple mentioned in the court appearance of 18 June 1869, in which an Adam READER was charged with abusing Bridget and assaulting William.59 Their connection is confirmed in Darlinghurst Gaol records in 1855 where the McFARLANEs and William appear together. These records show that William was a convict born in 1811 and his ship of arrival was the Hebe.60 This is an incorrect age because on the 1828C, where he appears as William PENSLEY, his age was recorded as twenty-two, giving a year of birth of 1806. William was the victim of a robbery in 186661 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. He was probably closer to the age of seventy-eight. The identity of the Catherine PEISLEY and her connection to William PEISLEY is a further avenue that could assist in further identifying any family connections. Catherine was living in the same location and very probably the same house when she was assaulted by Bridget and her brother, Patrick McFARLANE.62 Could Catherine be the Catherine SMITH who was also interacting with the McFARLANE family?63 The George PEISLEY (alias SPARKES alias WILLIAMS) who was born in 1860 and who was imprisoned in 1898 gives his place of birth as Kingsgrove, NSW, was Emily's brother whose birth is registered in 1859.64 George had married in 1881 but had abandoned his wife after only a few years. Emma was the beneficiary of his estate when he died in 1939.65

In March 1855, William PEISLEY was reported to have been arrested in company with Bridget McFARLANE and John McFARLANE in the Cook's River area.66 The children, Mary, aged twelve, and Thomas, aged ten67 carried out a theft and the three adults, William, Bridget and John, appeared in the QS for receiving stolen goods from the McFARLANE children. In this case William was acquitted but Bridget was charged with receiving and sent to Sydney Gaol for eighteen months. While she was described the wife of John McFARLANE and reported to be living in the PEISLEY house as his housekeeper while John McFARLANE lived in his hut about a mile away, this isn’t supported by NSW BDM. Bridget was almost without any doubt the daughter of John McFARLANE and Margaret REDMOND who married at St. Mary's Catholic Church, Sydney.68 She was baptised at St. Mary's the following year.69 While the children were described in one report to be Bridget and John’s children, this record is doubtful and the newspaper was probably incorrect. The children were almost certainly John's children and Bridget's siblings. John and Bridget appear in Darlinghurst records in 1855 and John's ship of arrival was recorded there as the Minerva.

Emma's mother, Bridget, was the Bridget MacFARLANE, described as under sixteen, who was abducted from the Cook’s River area in 1847.70 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 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,71 it is certain that Bridget was charged with perjury in early 187372 where she accused a group of men of rape.73 She was described there as 'an old woman'74 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 remitted75 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.76 Bridget ceased to appear in court as PEISLEY shortly after this incident.

Descendants confirmed that Bridget's death was registered as Bridget PIESLEY in Bathurst in 1881. They report that only some of the information recorded on the registration matched what was known of Bridget. The informant was the hospital superintendent.77 Bridget's brother, Thomas, was known to once have been in the area around Bathurst and Emma's brother, George, also spent time in Bathurst after he had abandoned his wife, Amelia. The family below may be connected in some way as they were residents of Bathurst. It is interesting to note that Bridget's brother, Thomas McFARLANE married Eliza CALF and Patrick McFARLANE married her sister, Fanny CALF.78

It is unknown whether William PEISLEY was connected in any way to the butcher from Parramatta with the same name whose mother was Elizabeth79 and who had probably been born about 1819,80 or the William PEISLEY who was living in William Street, Wooloomooloo, during the 1850s. These connections are possible but seem unlikely. There was a PEISLEY family in Bathurst.81 Thomas and Elizabeth PEISLEY were the parents of Sarah (1832), John (1834), Benjamin (183882), Mary (1844), William (184683), Mary (1847) and Elizabeth (1849).

Updated July 2015

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