Margaret POWELL
Name Variations alias Alice KENT
Father b. m. d.
Step-father Joseph POWELL b.c. 18031 m. 18482 d. 18853
Mother Mary Jane BECK b. m. 1848 d.
Sister Selina aka Lena Jane POWELL b. 18494 m. 18695 William LOCKWOOD d. 19396
Brother Joseph POWELL b. 18517 m.8 d.9
Inmate Margaret POWELL alias Alice KENT b. 185210 m. none (see below) d. 189411
Brother Edward POWELL b.c. 1854 m.12 d.13
Brother Thomas POWELL b. 185714 m.15 d. 189816
Brother George Samuel POWELL b. 185917 m.18 d. 193719
Sister Lucy S. POWELL b. 186120 m. 188021 John Johnstone GRAHAM d.22
Sister Emily A. POWELL b. 186423 m.24 d.25
Sister Adeline M. POWELL b. 186726 m. 189027 Thomas FOY d.28
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Inmate Margaret POWELL29 17 5' 2ΒΌ" brown brown

Margaret was recorded as fifteen-year-old Alice KENT, when she appeared in the Central Police Court on 12 October 1869. She had been charged with habitually wandering about in no ostensible lawful occupation and as she had no friends and no means of subsistence30 she was sent to the Industrial School at Newcastle.31 As Alice she was admitted to Newcastle on 16 October 1869.32 Her admission was recorded in a report written by CLARKE the following day where he stated that she 'has been received and is of unsound mind.'33 Her admission occurred during the period where the records of the school were lost, so no confirmation of family, education, religion or discharge details can be made from this source.

On 13 December 1870, Joseph POWELL, described as Margaret's step-father and living next door to the Paddington dispensary, applied to have her released into his care. He confirmed in this correspondence that Alice KENT's real name was Margaret POWELL. No identification of Margaret's mother appeared in this correspondence but the letters stated that her actual father was dead.34 In his response to this application CLARKE said:

Alice Kent alias Margaret Powell was committed to this school in October 1869 for wandering about the streets of Sydney in no ostensible lawful occupation. Her father is dead her step-father Joseph Powell, is I believe a stonemason, and able to support the girl. Properly speaking this girl should not have been sent to this institution for being of weak intellect she never can be sent out to earn her own bread. I would therefore recommend that she should be released to the care of her friends.35

No exact date of Margaret's discharge was obvious in the correspondence but it was likely to have occurred shortly after this response to the Colonial Secretary.

No explanation has been found concerning the use of the alias, Alice KENT but it must be considered that if Margaret was intellectually challenged, her parents may have deliberately had her committed to the school under a different name. This strategy is a possibility.

No confirmation of this admission, either as Margaret or as Alice, can be made after her discharge to her family. It may be that she was the Margaret POWELL who was imprisoned for a month for having stolen property in her possession in March 1876.36 She may also have appeared at the Quarter Sessions on 27 January 1879, and been imprisoned for six months in Darlinghurst for the theft of two rings.37 The two rings had been stolen from Phillip SELFE of Paddington Street, Paddington.38 As Margaret POWELL she spent time in Woollongong gaol.39 Gaol records indicated that she had been born in Newtown in about 1861. While the ages don't match well it is conceivable that an intellectually challenged girl could be either mistaken about her age or considered to be a younger person due to her disability so this age is not an unreasonable match to be the Newcastle girl.40 No court records for this women have yet been identified.

The death of Margaret POWELL on 8 November 1894,41 was for the daughter of the sugar boiler, Joseph and Mary Jane POWELL. Margaret had died at the age of 43 at the Coast Hospital, Little Bay. The calculation for her year of birth is about 1851. She had never been married and was a servant. This woman was the daughter of the family that has been very tentatively attributed to the Newcastle admission, Alice KENT aka Margaret POWELL. Joseph was shown on this record as a sugar boiler.


Nothing is yet certain concerning Alice's family but the letter purportedly from her step-father in 1870 suggested that her given name was Margaret, rather than Alice. It is possible that KENT was the surname of either her father or mother but it is equally possible that KENT was also a fabrication made at the time of her arrest in 1869.

Alice's mother was unnamed in any correspondence found but her step-father was identified as Joseph POWELL. There were no appropriate marriages of Joseph POWELL to anyone with the surname of KENT. No Sydney marriages for a Joseph POWELL occurred until 1874 which was after Alice's release to her step-father. Children were born to Joseph and Mary Jane POWELL from 1857 and it may be that this woman was Alice's mother as all ages shown on documents suggest that Margaret had been born before 1857. No record of any marriage of Joseph and Mary Jane has been identified and it must be considered that none occurred.

This POWELL family is an ongoing investigation but circumstantial evidence suggests that Mary Jane POWELL was the Newcastle admission's mother and that Joseph POWELL was her father rather than her step-father. Mary Jane POWELL's maiden name was BECK and the death registration for Margaret POWELL in 1894 clearly identified that her parents were Joseph POWELL and Mary Jane BECK.

Mary Jane died on 15 October 1906. The funeral of Mrs M. J. POWELL left from her late residence 178 Henderson Road, Alexandria. The Funeral Notice was placed by her daughter, Mrs LOCKWOOD.42 The NSW BDM Index indicated that her parents were Thomas and Selina J.43 In 1919 an In Memoriam placed by her daughter, Mrs T. FOY, and her son, George, erroneously indicated that she had died on 6 October 1906.44

Online trees indicate that Joseph died in 1885.45 He was either 8246 or 8447 and was likely to have been the convict of this approximate age who had arrived on the Clyde in 1832. At the time of his death he had sons named Joseph, Edward, Thomas and George.48 Only the registrations of Thomas and George appear on the NSW BDM Index. The order of the sons in the Funeral Notice suggest that Joseph and Edward were the older boys. This age suggested that he may have had an earlier family and these older sons were children of his first marriage. When Joseph the son of Joseph and Mary Ann died in 191849 If Joseph was born before Alice aka Margaret this cannot be her family. The tree indicated that Joseph POWELL and Mary Jane BECK had married in the Catholic Church, Singleton in 1848,50 but this original record has not been viewed. Because this marriage was before Alice's birth she may not have been illegitimate and even though Joseph was recorded as her step-father, this may not be true.

It also must be considered that Joseph POWELL, the husband of Mary Jane was the man who attempted to wound his sister-in-law, Adeline POWELL, the wife of Edward POWELL, in 1872. Joseph had been living with them.51 Edward died in 1908 at the age of 67.52 The appearance of the given name, Adeline, in the children of Joseph and Mary Jane suggests this connection. This man had possibly arrived aboard the Winifred.

Other online trees contain contradictory information on this family identifying that Mary Jane died in 1880 and Joseph in 1898.53 This tree is wrong as a Family Notice in 1880 indicated that the Mary Jane POWELL who had died at this time was 26 years old and her maiden name was SMALL54 so she was far too young to have married in 1848.

Updated November 2015

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