Rebecca POWER
Father Edward aka Edmund POWER b.c. 18221 m. 18552 d. aft. 1872
Mother Mary Ann late CAMPBELL formerly RYAN b. 1827 m. 1855 d. aft. 1868
Brother Allan or Alice POWER b. 18563 m. none - d. 18564
Inmate Rebecca POWER aka CAMPBELL b. 18575 m. unknown (see below) d. aft. 1878
Husband unknown b. m. d.
Daughter Florence Ann POWER b. 18786 m. none - d. 18787
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Father Edward8 36 5’ 8” sandy blue

Rebecca had been tried Bathurst in early February 1868. While the Bathurst papers are not scanned for this period, correspondence from the Bathurst Police Magistrate, W. PALMER, to the Colonial Secretary explained the circumstances of her arrest. PALMER was responding to a request written on 10 February 1868, by Dr Matthew QUINN, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Bathurst, to take Rebecca CAMPBELL, who attended the Denominational school in Bathurst, into their orphanage rather than have her sent to the Industrial School in Newcastle. PALMER responded:

that a warrant was issued by the Bench under the Industrial Schools Act for the apprehension of a child named Rebecca Power – She was brought before the Court and it was proved in evidence that her father is a convicted thief, that he is now in Bathurst Gaol charged with burglary and larceny, that her mother left town some months ago with another man, that she has no home or visible lawful means of support and that she is under the age of sixteen years namely about eleven years of age. … the child mentioned as Campbell is identical with Power.

PALMER had placed Rebecca temporarily in the Bathurst orphanage to avoid the necessity of sending her to gaol9 as a gaol admission was a typical temporary solution to care for children awaiting transfer by escort to Newcastle and/or Biloela. The direction from the Colonial Secretary was that not sending Rebecca to Newcastle would be illegal presumably because a court sentence had already been made, so eventually Rebecca made the trip to Newcastle. Rebecca was admitted to Newcastle from Bathurst on 13 March 1868. She was recorded as a ten-year-old Catholic who was able to read the first book and write on slate. Her parents were identified by name in the Entrance Book.10

Rebecca transferred with the school to Biloela in May 1871 and was listed as eligible for service in a letter from LUCAS to the Colonial Secretary on 23 June 1871.11 On 15 January 1872, she was apprenticed to James WHITE of Merriwa.12 This location was erroneously recorded as Berrima in the April 1872 list of inmates.13 Rebecca was recorded as a fourteen-year-old so her apprenticeship was for to be of four years duration. She was to be paid two shillings a week for the first two years, three shillings a week for the third year and four shillings a week for the last year of her apprenticeship.14 Rebecca didn't complete this apprenticeship as she was readmitted to Biloela on 18 March 1874.15 On 3 August, J. DALE, the Officer in Temporary Charge of the Industrial School and Reformatory, replacing LUCAS who had been dismissed, wrote suggesting that

… according to the Warrant from the Bathurst Bench no particulars or age is described, and as every enquiry has been instituted by me to ascertain the girl's age but without success – I would respectfully suggest that this girls case might be taken into your favourable consideration – that from her appearance also her own statement she is Eighteen, having been at the time of her admission over Twelve years of age – and that since her readmission from apprenticeship her conduct has been good – the Warrant is herewith attached.16

This letter identified an age for Rebecca that better matched the birth registration located for her and confirmed that her admission age recorded in the Entrance Book was incorrect. Although she still wasn't quite eighteen Rebecca was discharged from Biloela on 26 August 1874.17 It is unknown whether she was returned to Bathurst or released onto the streets of Sydney but it is believed more likely that she was discharged into Sydney as seemed to have been the case with other discharged inmates.

Rebecca is thought almost certain to have been the mother of an illegitimate daughter named Florence Ann POWER who was born in Sydney in 1878 and who died later the same year. Rebecca, aged twenty-one, had been admitted to the Benevolent Asylum on 20 February 1878, and was discharged on 29 August 1878. The registration recorded that Rebecca had been born in NSW but a specific location was not identified.18 Florence Ann appeared in the Sydney Benevolent Asylum admission records on 30 March and in the discharge register on 30 June 1878.19 These dates are likely to have been the birth and death dates of Florence.

No further confirmation of Rebecca can be found after the Florence's birth. There are no appropriate admissions for any woman named Rebecca to any gaol yet located. There any no appropriate entries in the Police Gazette for a Rebecca POWER or CAMPBELL. It is thought that she formed a relationship with someone, assumed his surname and never married and so effectively disappeared from the records.


Rebecca was identified in the Entrance Book as the daughter of Edward and Mary Ann POWER. Her admission record confirmed that Edward had been convicted of a robbery and that Mary had absconded.20 Rebecca's birth had been registered in Penrith in 1857. She had been born at South Creek near Wagga Wagga, on 25 May 1857. Her mother, Mary POWER, was the informant. Mary stated that she and Edward had been married in 1854 in Bathurst by a Roman Catholic minister.21 This marriage was recorded in the Catholic church in the Bathurst, Kelso area under the names Edmund POWER and Mary A. CAMPBELL in 1855.22 An older unnamed sister who had died by the time of her birth was recorded on the birth registration but it is considered likely that this 'sister' was registered in 1856 as Allan POWER. It is unknown whether the older sibling was a boy named Allan or whether this was poor handwriting and the name was Alice. Edward and Mary may possibly be the same couple as the Edward and Mary POWER who had two daughters in 1848 and 1850 and these two sisters, Margaret and Elizabeth, may perhaps be Rebecca's siblings. More investigation into this relationship is being undertaken.

No family background can be found on Rebecca, Edward or Mary in any of the Bathurst papers, as they haven't been located on Trove for this period.

Rebecca's father, Edward POWER, was described on her birth registration as a tanner and currier who had been born in America in about 1832. It is believed that Edward's correct age was more likely older than the age stated when Rebecca was born as Bathurst Gaol records from 1865 provide a year-of-birth for him of 1822. In October 1864, four years before Rebecca's arrest, Edward was sentenced to six months in Bathurst Gaol for a larceny.23

The man admitted to Bathurst Gaol had been born in New York, United States, in 1822. Shortly after his release on 1 May 1865 Edward was again arrested in Bathurst for a larceny and a deposition remains for this offence.24 Admissions to Bathurst Gaol also occurred after a burglary in April 1865.25 Four further incidents of larceny occurred after this time. On 13 April 1868, Edward was again arrested and tried firstly in the Bathurst Circuit Court and then in the September Quarter Sessions.26 Finally on 18 April 1868, Edward was sentenced to five years on the roads.27 During those five years Edward spent time in both Darlinghurst Gaol, Parramatta Gaol and Berrima Gaol. Gaol records confirmed that he was a Catholic and a cooper who could read and write. He had been born in New York and had arrived free on the Champion in 1849. Edward was discharged from Parramatta on 19 June 1872.28 He returned to Bathurst where the following month he was charged with the theft of a watch and was again sent to Bathurst Gaol for a month.29 A summary of his offences was reported in many newspapers at this time.

On Monday last a man named Edward Power was charged with having stolen a watch. Desirous of knowing the antecedents of the accused, senior-sergeant Waters was asked by the Bench if he was acquainted with the prisoner, and be stated that he had known him some thirteen or fourteen years ; he first knew him as a prisoner at Cockatoo Island in 1858, serving a sentence of five years. He was afterwards arrested at Bathurst in 1864 by the sergeant on a charge of robbery, and was sentenced to twelve months' hard labour in Bathurst gaol. Again in 1865 he received a sentence of two years' imprisonment, with hard labour, for burglary ; and in April 1868, at the Bathurst Circuit Court, he was sentenced to five years' hard labour on the roads for four different charges : on all these charges, with the exception or the former one, be was apprehended by sergeant Waters. The prisoner was sentenced to one months' imprisonment with hard labour in Bathurst gaol.30

Edward was released in August 187231 and has disappeared from the records. No further confirmation of him has been found and no appropriate deaths have been identified on the NSW BDM Index. He was very unlikely to have been the man who died in 1881 as this man had 'a wife and seven children to mourn their loss'.32

Mary POWER was identified as Mary, late CAMPBELL formerly RYAN on Rebecca’s birth registration. She stated on this record that she had been had been born in Ireland in about 1827. It seems likely that she arrived as either an assisted or a bounty immigrant and perhaps as a married woman but she may have been transported. No appropriate arrival has yet been located. It has not yet been possible to confirm any earlier marriages for Mary nor ascertain where she has gone.

Note: The Edward POWER who married Mary GOOLEY in Bathurst in 1864 and who subsequently lived at O'Connell Plains near Oberon, is not this same man even though both men married and lived in Bathurst. This Edward POWER was still alive in 1891 and while no online tree for this family identify his place of birth, no gap exists in the births of children for the couple so he cannot have been imprisoned for any length of time. Edward POWER and Mary GOOLEY were together in May 186833 and this was at the same time that Rebecca's father had been sentenced to five years hard labour on the roads.34 Mary GOOLEY was originally a resident of Thomastown, Ireland, and had arrived in Australia on the Hornet in 1859 with her sister, Ann. Another sister, Catherine, arrived in 1865.35 Mary GOOLEY's parents were Edward GOOLEY and Mary MULDOWNEY.

Where has She Gone?

No further confirmation of Rebecca can be found on the NSW or Queensland BDM Indexes. It is unknown whether Rebecca retained the surname POWER or returned to the surname CAMPBELL but it is thought likely that she used POWER. It should also be considered that Rebecca adopted the surname of the man with whom she eventually settled. There has been no indication yet found that Rebecca ever reunited with either her father or her mother.

There are obviously illegitimate births between 1879 and 1900 to a Rebecca in Sydney that appear on the NSW BDM Index. It may be that one of these woman was Rebecca although other less obvious illegitimate births may also exist.

Rebecca did not marry:

  1. William LINDWALL as Rebecca M. POWER as this couple was having children well into the 1900s so this Rebecca was too young.
  2. Samuel HANNAH as Rebecca RYAN in 187936 as when Henry J. RYAN died in 1899 he was described as Rebecca's brother and his parents were identified as James and Ellen RYAN.37

Updated July 2019

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