Charlotte PERRY
Father Robert PERRY b.c. 18041 m. (1) c. 1845 d. 18592
Step-father Charles PRATT b. m. (2) 1859 d.
Mother Mary Ann GREENWOOD3 b. m. (1) c. 1845 (2) 18594 d. 18655
Sister Isabella PERRY b. 18456 m. 18637 David SMALL d. 19238
Sister Mary Ann PERRY b. 18499 m. 186510 William George SPENCELEY d. 191011
Brother William PERRY b. 185012 m. d.
Inmate Charlotte PERRY b. 185213 m. 187114 (see below) d. 187815
Brother William Robert PERRY b. 185516 m. Ellen17 d. 192318
Brother Robert Collingwood PERRY b. 185719 m. none - d. 185920
Half-brother Charles PRATT b. 186021 m. 188222 Mary Eliza WHITE d.
Husband David GOWER b. m. d.
Daughter Charlotte Rose GOWER b. 187223 m. 189424 Isaac PICKERING d. 195425
Son David Charles GOWER b. 187426 m. none - d. 187527
Son Alfred D. GOWER b. 187628 m. d. aft. 192829
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Father Robert30 25 5' 5" light grey pale a mole in the middle of his back

Charlotte was given into the custody of constable GRAHAM by the matron of the Female Refuge31 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.32 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.33 Charlotte had also arrived in time to be identified on SELWYN's list of Protestant girls.34

Charlotte's behaviour was often refractory at Newcastle and in the weekly report by the teacher, Margaret KELLY to the Colonial Secretary on 18 May 1868, KELLY indicated that Charlotte's behaviour in class on one afternoon recently had been very insubordinate.35 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, probably those in the gatehouse, after which they were placed in isolation within the school.36

From this time, and probably as a result of this escape, it seems very likely that Sarah Jane and Charlotte were taken under the personal care of Frederic CANE and it was this decision that featured often in the statements and criticism of the incidents considered by the office of the Colonial Secretary to be catalysts for the first riot on 9 July 1868. Charlotte was one of those arrested by the police and locked up on the 4 July, five days before the riot began. Following the riot, KING identified that Charlotte was one of the instigators when she had taken 'a handful of straw from her bed lighted it and declared she would burn down the building' before joining in the smashing of the school windows with the intention of escaping.37 Charlotte's statement of what occurred on the night of 9 July 1868, is reproduced in full and as written. Emphasis on her statement in the form of underlining had been made by the office of the Colonial Secretary.

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.38

Charlotte signed this statement and her signature and the language she used in the statement suggested 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.39 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 1868,40 stating that all except one41 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.42

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 to do the school laundry after the resignation of the employed laundress. CLARKE suggested to the Colonial Secretary that he wanted to wait a week before making this arrangement official, just to be sure that it would work. CLARKE further recommended that the two girls receive half the laundress’s wage each43 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 each paid £15 per annum.44

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. He had already negotiated positions for five of them.45 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 Charlotte's 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.46

The Colonial Secretary eventually approved the discharges requested by CLARKE47 and Charlotte was discharged to friends48 because she was too old for an apprenticeship. Charlotte, Eliza O'BRIEN, Mary HOPKINS and Sarah Jane WILDGUST were discharged from the school on 10 July 1869, so never transferred to Biloela in May 1871. In his report on 13 July, CLARKE confirmed their discharge.49 In his letter to the Colonial Secretary on 1 August 1870, CLARKE, probably with some relief, 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.50

There may be some further correspondence indicating with whom Charlotte lived as both her sisters, Isabella and Mary Ann, were married and living in Sydney. Isabella had married David SMALL in 1863 and Mary Ann had married William SPENCELEY in 1865. There is very little doubt that on 5 April 1871, Charlotte married David GOWER who by 1872 was recorded as a tailor.51 Charlotte's marriage announcement identified that her father was the late William Robert PERRY.52 It is unknown whether this statement was deliberately or inadvertently different from her baptism record. It is not believed that Charlotte's marriage registration has identified her parents as online trees do not name either parent. David and Charlotte GOWER had three children before 1878 when Charlotte died. Charlotte GOWER was buried on 27 October at the age of twenty-six53 and this age matches very well with the known year of birth of the Newcastle admission. No father was identified on the death registration and her mother was recorded as Rose. While these names don't match nor has the original registration been viewed, this is the death that has been attributed to Charlotte and it is believed to be correct.

Note: Charlotte cannot have married John Richard SHIRLEY in 1876 as the marriage record from St David's Surry Hills recorded that this woman had been born in Somerset, England.54


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 Charlotte was the daughter of Robert C. PERRY and Mary Ann GREENWOOD.55 This ancestry is supported by the very 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.56 This was a Protestant record which further supported the record of Charlotte's religion recorded 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 185057 the family was living in Dalton's Lane. Robert had formerly been in partnership with William KELLAN but this partnership was dissolved in October 1853.58 Robert was recorded as a confectioner living in Elizabeth Street South,59 at the time of William Robert's baptism on 1 August 1855. Charlotte's father died in the infirmary on 27 March 1859,60 at the recorded age of 49, shortly after the death of his infant son, Robert.61 It is believed that Robert senior was closer to 55 years of age at this time. His parents were identified as Robert and Isabella on his death registration.62

Records of convict absconders in January 1829 very strongly suggested that Robert PERRY was the 25-year-old convict who had arrived on the Guildford (5) in 1822. He was first assigned to Mr CORDEAUX but by September he had absconded. Robert was eventually recaptured by Francis CARDEN and was sent to Robert LOWE Esquire at Bringelly and then to Penrith Gaol on 28 April 1825.63 Robert was assigned to Number 24 Road Gang. The Absconders' List64 identified that Robert was a confectioner who had been born in Bermondsey.65 The 1828 census located Robert in the Number 24 Road Gang at Windsor. It is assumed that he had been working in the Government employ, probably on the roads, since 1825. Information from the Absconders List had originally been sourced from the Guildford (5) convict indent where Robert appeared on page 144. His name is now unreadable although the trial details and the occupation that matched the Absconders' List remain clearly recorded in the record. Robert had been tried on 5 December 1821 and had been transported to NSW for seven years for stealing lead. The record of his trial identified that he was seventeen.66 After these early incidents, Robert finally achieved his certificate of freedom in April 182967 and after this date he would have been free to make decisions without government intervention.

NSW gaol records indicated 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 Parramatta where the records record that he had been born in Cheshire.68 He then entered Darlinghurst in 1861 after the known death of Charlotte's father so he cannot be connected. He had married Sarah NEWBY as Robert PARRY in 1841 so is unlikely to have made an earlier marriage. The Surrey man appeared on the 1837 muster at the age of 22 with H. L. BASS in Sydney69 and appeared in the Sydney Gaol records transferring to Parramatta on 9 April 1838.70 Neither of these men could have been the man who married Margaret FERRIS or FERNS in 1836, as one was still a convict so would have required a permission to marry and was with an assigned master. The other was already married. It is therefore increasingly likely that any marriage to Mary Ann GREENWOOD was unable to legally occur as it is believed that the marriage to Margaret was an earlier marriage by Robert. The following marriage records will be read to see whether an occupation or location was recorded for Robert.71 No children from this 1836 marriage have been identified.

Charlotte's mother was identified by descendants of Charlotte's sister, Mary Ann PERRY, who had married William George SPENCELEY in Sydney in 1865 as Mary Ann GREENWOOD. Nothing more is yet known of her history.72 On 29 August 1859, after Robert had died, Mary Ann remarried Charles PRATT.73 This marriage registration should identify her age and birth location and that may therefore permit a more detailed identification of her. This remarriage was verified in the Funeral Notice in 1910 of Mary Ann SPENCELEY, one of which 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.

Charles was a baker. He and Mary A. G. PRATT had one registered child named Charles W. PRATT on 10 December 1860.74 As Charles W. PRATT this child married Mary Eliza WHITE in 188275 and the couple had a son named William Charles PRATT. Charles died in Marrickville on 18 September 1920, at the age of 58.76 The NSW BDM Index confirmed that his father was Charles but his mother was erroneously identified as Charlotte. Mary Eliza/beth PRATT died in December 1941.77

No death has been confirmed for Mary Ann PRATT formerly PERRY née GREENWOOD. It is considered likely that Mary Ann had died between the birth of Charles PRATT and by the time of Charlotte's admission to Newcastle in 1867. The circumstances of Charlotte's life prior to her arrest very strongly suggested that Charlotte was an orphan and no parents were recorded in the Entrance Book. After her release from Newcastle Charlotte was reported to be living with a married sister.

The death of Mary GREENWOOD in 1865 has been very tentatively attributed to Charlotte's mother. The registration has not been viewed and there is no evidence to attribute this death to her other than the consideration that she had died. Charlotte had been in the female refuge in 1865 suggesting that this was around the time she became an orphan. It is also possible that Charles PRATT died in Sydney in 1863 at the age of 50.78

Mary Ann did not die in 1864 at the age of 44 because this woman was the wife of James PRATT.

The death of Mary A. PRATT in 189979 is not likely to record the death of Mary Ann as this woman had brothers named William and John COOK.80

It is unknown whether there is any connection to the Mary Ann GREENWOOD who had been transported for 14 years on the General Hibbert.81 This woman had received permission to marry George CHALKER in 1841.82 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 her religion was recorded as Episcopalian. This woman may be unlikely to be Charlotte's mother but this verification is dependent on the Isabella's birth date and perhaps the unlikeliness of Robert being on the same ship. Another woman who was born in about 1834 arrived on the Ayrshire in 1841.83

A Mary Ann PERRY also appeared often in the gaol records and this woman had arrived on the Larkins. The Larkins was probably a convict transport.

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.

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.

Updated July 2019

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