Charlotte was given into the custody of constable GRAHAM by the matron of the Female Refuge29 and was brought before the Court on 6 December 1867, charged with being under the age of sixteen and having no visible means of support. Charlotte protested that she would be sixteen next Christmas. Sarah ASPINALL, matron of the Female Refuge, stated that Charlotte had no parents and no means of support. She had been cared for by charitable institutions and had been in the refuge since 15 September 1865, but had escaped for a third time the previous Tuesday.30 Charlotte was sent to Newcastle and was admitted on 7 December 1867. Her age was pencilled into the Entrance Book as sixteen. She was recorded as a Protestant with an educational level of 'first book' but no comment was recorded concerning her writing ability.31 Charlotte was also identified on SELWYN's list of Protestant girls.32
Charlotte's behaviour was often refractory at Newcastle and in the weekly report to the Colonial Secretary on 18 May 1868, by the teacher, Margaret KELLY indicated that Charlotte's behaviour in class on one afternoon was very insubordinate.33 The following month, on 22 June 1868, KING wrote to the Colonial Secretary indicating that Charlotte, Sarah Jane WILDGUST and Bridget DOWNS had made an escape between five and six in the afternoon of 20 June. Bridget returned of her own accord after crawling under the fence but Sarah and Charlotte were not recaptured until half-past eleven when they were found wandering the streets. The two spent the night in the cells and were then placed in isolation within the school.34
From this time and probably as a result of this escape, it seems likely that Sarah Jane and Charlotte were taken under the specific care of Frederic CANE and it was this decision that features often in the statements and criticism of the catalysts for the first riot on 9 July 1868. Following that riot, KING identified Charlotte as one of the instigators, when she 'took a handful of straw from her bed lighted it and declared she would burn down the building' before joining in the smashing of the windows of the school with the intention of escaping. Charlotte was one of those arrested by the police and locked up on the 4 July, five days before the riot began.35 Charlotte's statement of what occurred on the night of 9 July 1868, is reproduced in full.
Age 17. I ran away on Saturday with Sarah Wildgust. I joined in the disturbance with the others when I came back. I don't like the place because things are thrown [?] up to me I thought I came to reform Mrs King told me I was the sweepings of Sydney streets. One night at prayers some of the girls were moving the forms Mrs King blamed me for it I told her it was not me I gave her some answer and she gave me a slap in the face, when I went up stairs I called her bad names" She then warned [?] me and said she would lock me up – I was present in the Dormitory on Friday night. I never heard Sarah Wildgust or any other girl say __"I am in for blood tonight" I saw Eliza OBrien holding the lamp in her hand and heard her say she would smash it if any body took it. On Saturday night I assisted to light the fire. After the Fire was taken out of the Grate I lit some straw and ran up and down the room I had not the slightest intention of setting fire to the building I did it only for play without thinking of the consequences. We all sang out together "There will be no peace while Miss Ravenhill is here" I have nothing myself against Miss Ravenhill I only joined in the cry of the others. It was because I had things thrown in my teeth I joined in these things On a Sunday evening some time ago there were two men going by the premises I was walking in the back yard I believe some of the Girls were talking to them I was not but Mrs King said to me "I could not do without a man" Girls often talk to them and I Get blamed when I have not done so. Mrs King told me I was reared on a dung heap. she told me this in the Prayer Room This was on the occasion of my refusing to come to prayers On the day of the disturbance I heard the matrons called for but I did [not?] hear any bad words used I did not see any of the Girls with knives The only knife I saw was that used for opening the door of the room which we were locked up in I heard of no plan to attack Mrs King or any of the Matrons. We all rushed up together without knowing what we were going to do The reason we made a noise in the Cell was because we had no beds.36
Charlotte signed this statement and her signature and the she used language in the statement suggest a good vocabulary and education.
About two weeks after the riot KING reported that Charlotte, Eliza McDONALD, Eliza O'BRIEN, Elizabeth SAMPSON and Eliza O'NEILL were noisy and refractory.37 Charlotte absconded with six other girls from the school on 20 November 1868, and a further two girls made a separate escape shortly afterwards. KING named the escapees in a letter to the Colonial Secretary on 21 November 1868,38 stating that all except one39 were returned by two constables at eleven o’clock that night – half an hour after they had escaped – and placed in the cells. The girls had
forced open the windows of No. 4 dormitory, they then climbed over the fence near Mr SCOTT’s residence.40
After the change of Superintendents at the end of November 1868, CLARKE, possibly upon the suggestion of Frederic CANE, employed Charlotte and Sarah Jane WILDGUST were employed within the school upon the resignation of the school laundress to do the laundry at the school. CLARKE initially suggested to the Colonial Secretary that he wanted to wait a week before making this arrangement official to be sure that it would work. CLARKE recommended that the girls receive half the laundress’s wage each41 so that they would be paid £20 a year each. This amount was £10 per annum higher than the laundress’s salary but CLARKE reasoned that it would 'be saved in the ration of that servant.' The official request to implement this decision was made on 13 April but the increase in total wage for the two girls was rejected and they were paid £15 per annum.42
By 19 December 1868, Charlotte had been at the school for a year and CLARKE wrote to the Colonial Secretary stating that she and six others were eligible for service and he wanted to seek permission to find situations for them all – CLARKE having already negotiated positions for five of them.43 Six months later, in a further letter on 10 June 1869, CLARKE was still endeavouring to get permission to discharge Charlotte and four other girls. He repeated her admission date and stated that as far as he
could ascertain [Charlotte] has attained the age of eighteen years. I cannot however furnish the documentary evidence required as to their age as some of the girls do not know that they were ever baptized. They are all full grown young women.44
The Colonial Secretary approved the discharges as requested by CLARKE45 and Charlotte was discharged to friends46 as she was too old for an apprenticeship, and she was discharged from the school on 10 July 1869. Charlotte therefore never transferred to Biloela in May 1871. In his report on 13 July, CLARKE confirmed that the four girls Charlotte, Eliza O'BRIEN, Mary HOPKINS and Sarah Jane WILDGUST had been discharged.47 In his letter to the Colonial Secretary on 1 August 1870, CLARKE reported that Charlotte was
living with a married sister in Sydney and … doing well as a laundress. This girl with WILDGUST were some time before they left the institution employed and paid as laundresses.48
There may be some further correspondence indicating with whom Charlotte lived as both her sisters were married – Isabella to David SMALL and Mary Ann to William SPENCELEY – and living in Sydney. It is almost entirely certain that Charlotte married David GOWER. They married on 5 April 1871, and her marriage announcement identified her father as the late William Robert PERRY.49 It is unknown whether this statement was deliberately or inadvertently different from her likely baptism record. The information on her marriage registration may not identify her parents as the only online tree for her only identified her father.50 The couple had three children before Charlotte died. Charlotte GOWER was buried on 27 October 1878, at the age of twenty-six.51 No father was identified on the death registration and her mother was recorded as Rose. While these records don't match, the original registration has not been viewed, this is the death that has been attributed to Charlotte and it is believed to be correct.
Because Charlotte’s father, and possibly also her mother, were dead, neither was identified in the Entrance Book. As there was a baptism recorded at the correct time to match the age and religion of Charlotte PERRY, it is almost entirely certain that she was the daughter of Robert C. PERRY and Mary Ann GREENWOOD.52 This ancestry is supported by the likely death of Robert prior to Charlotte's arrest. Charlotte had been born on 1 November 1852, and was baptized on 26 December 1852, by A. H. STEPHENS.53 This was a Protestant record which further supported the record of Charlotte's religion in the Entrance Book.
Robert C. PERRY was a confectioner. At the time of Isabella’s baptism in 1845 his family was living in Parramatta Street and when his son, William, was baptised, in October 185054 the family were living in Dalton's Lane. Robert had formerly been in partnership with William KELLAN but this partnership was dissolved in October 1853.55 Robert was recorded as a confectioner living in Elizabeth Street South,56 at the time of William Robert's baptism on 1 August 1855. He died in the infirmary on 27 March 1859,57 at the recorded age of 49, shortly after the death of his infant son, Robert.58 His parents were identified as Robert and Isabella on his death registration.59
Records of convict absconders in January 1829 suggest that Robert PERRY was likely to have been the 25-year-old convict who had arrived on the Guildford (5) in 1822. He was first assigned to Mr HILL of Sydney and in October 1835 he was employed by Mr CORDEAUX but absconded, was recaptured and sent to Penrith Gaol on 28 April 1825.60 Robert was assigned to Number 24 Road Gang and the 1828C located the Number 24 Road Gang in Windsor. The Absconders' List61 identified Robert as a confectioner who had been born in Bermondee.62 This information had been sourced from the Guildford (5) convict indent where Robert appeared on page 144. His name is now unreadable but trial details and the occupation that match the Absconders' List were clearly recorded. He had been tried on 5 December 1821, and transported for seven years for stealing lead. The record of his trial identified that he was seventeen.63 Robert achieved his certificate of freedom in April 1929.64
NSW gaol records indicate that two other transportees with this name arrived on the Eliza (4) in 1828 and the Surrey in 1834. The man per the Eliza (4) was imprisoned in Darlinghurst in 1861 after the known death of Charlotte's father. The Surrey man is yet to be traced. It must be considered that the man who married Margaret FERRIS or FERNS in 1836 was one of these three man so it may be that a marriage to Mary Ann GREENWOOD was unable to occur. The marriage to Margaret will be read to see whether an occupation or location was recorded for Robert.65
Charlotte's mother has been identified by descendants of Charlotte's sister, Mary Ann PERRY, who married William George SPENCELEY in Sydney in 1865. She was Mary Ann GREENWOOD.66 After Robert's death Mary Ann went on the remarry Charles PRATT on 29 August 1859.67 This marriage registration should identify her age and birth location that may permit a more detailed identification. Charles and Mary A. G. PRATT had one registered child named Charles W. PRATT in 1861. This man married Mary Eliza WHITE in 188268 and the couple had a son named William Charles PRATT. Mary Eliza PRATT died in December 1941 and at this time Charles was not identified in her Funeral Notices.69 Mary Ann PERRY's remarriage was verified in the Funeral Notices in 1910 for Mary Ann SPENCELEY. One insertion read:
SPENCLEY.—The Friends of Mr. and Mrs. C. PRATT and Mr. and Mrs. W. PRATT are kindly invited to attend the Funeral of their beloved SISTER and AUNT, Mary Ann Spencley; to move from Pemberton, Mooney-street, Belmore, THIS DAY, at 1 o'c., for C. E. Cemetery, Rookwood, via Burwood Station.
No death has been confirmed for Mary A. PRATT formerly PERRY née GREENWOOD. She did not die in 1864 at the age of 44 because this woman was the wife of James PRATT however, it is believed but has not been confirmed that she had died by 1867, the time of Charlotte's admission to Newcastle, as the Entrance Book and the circumstances of Charlotte's life prior to her arrest suggest that she was probably an orphan. No identification of the name 'Rose' can be linked to the PERRY family but it is interesting to note that this name appears not only in the names of Charlotte's children but also in those of Mary Ann and William SPENCELEY.
It is unknown whether there is any connection to the Mary Ann GREENWOOD who had been transported for 14 years on the General Hibbert.70 This woman had received permission to marry George CHALKER in 1841.71 No births were recorded to the couple.
Another Mary Ann GREENWOOD arrived from Leeds on the Elizabeth on 31 March 1845. Her parents were Isaac and Anne and she was Episcopalian. This woman may be unlikely depending on the birth date of Isabella and the unlikelihood of Robert being on the same ship.
Another woman who was born in about 1834 arrived on the Ayrshire in 1841.72
A Mary Ann PERRY also appeared often in the gaol records and this woman had arrived on the Larkins.
Mary Ann was not the woman who arrived on the Fanny Fisher as this woman was the wife of John PERRY who she murdered in 1859.
Updated July 2016