Martha Ward RAVENHILL
Husband John HERITAGE b. m. 1871 d.
Wife Martha Ward RAVENHILL b.c. 18241 m. 18712 d. 18873
Son b. m. d.
Daughter b. m. d.

Martha Ward RAVENHILL, was recorded as the daughter of John RAVENHILL at the time of her marriage and her death. Although the ages are ten years different, Martha almost certainly arrived from London as an unassisted immigrant at the recorded age of 34 into Port Phillip, Victoria, aboard the Sir Charles Napier4 on 26 February 1858. This age has been taken to be the most accurate assessment of her age. No confirmation has yet been found for her on either the 1841 or 1851 censuses in England.

Martha was appointed to Newcastle as a house matron on 4 May 1868, at a salary of £75 per annum. Statements made by staff and inmates of the Industrial School indicated that Martha's appointment as a house matron greatly unsettled the inmates who described her as unkind. She featured in every statement made at the internal inquiry into the riot on 9 July 1868 and a considerable number of objections to her poor treatment of the girls were recorded. Her own statement recorded by Frederic CANE is recorded in its entirety.

I have been here since the 5th May last. I found a great difficulty in getting the Girls to obey orders when I first came. They gradually grew better till the last 3 Fortnight or Three weeks. I am almost always in the Muster Room when Mrs King speaks to the Girls for any of their misconduct ??? ??? ??? I have frequently had to complain of the Girls not rising at the proper times in the morning. I have never heard Mrs King use such words as —"dirty little street walkers"__ or that she supposed they were not up to street walking all night and laying in bed late in the day. Mrs King has said to them You may have been in the habit of going to bed when you like and rising when you like but you cannot do that here or words to that effect. The Girls have said I was the cause of their behaving in this way but they did not state what charge they had against me they said I was always reporting them to headquarters. I never heard Mrs King say they were the sweepings of Sydney Streets. I never heard such words as "they were like the Cow and the Bull they wanted ducking down the well but I heard Mrs King say they were out waving for the sake of making noise like the wild [?] animals in the Field. The only two Girls I recollect Mrs King striking were Elizabeth Sampson and Charlotte Perry this was for ?????ist at prayers and for using improper and obscene language in prayers. I have heard Mrs King say the place was not intended for such characters as were sent to her but this was not said in my presence to the Girls. When the Girls have been deprived of their recreation they have complained that the whole of Girls should be punished for two or three I never knew Mrs King to call the attention of the Girls to a Black Fellow and an apple man on the Hill. I never called any child a bastard or alluded to them in such a manner. When the riot was at height I was advised by Inspector Harrison not to go out I heard the girls threaten to use violence to the matrons. I heard the words used bring out the bloody matrons. I was in the Dormitory the night the fire was lighted by the Girls I saw mrs King take hold of Eliza McDOnald by the Hair she did not do it in a violent manner I heard Sarah Wildgust say that if I am up to my back in blood she shall not conquer me Mrs King has never reflected on their parents in my presence but she has told them if they had obeyed their parents they would not have been here nor have I ever myself cast reflections on their parentage I did not see a knife in any of their hands but I heard Sarah Wildgust had one in her possession I never heard Mrs King say the sight of the man would drive them mad I have heard the Girls say "They would rather be in jail than here because they would then know how long there [?] I have heard Eliza McDonald say If I go to prayer I wont pray I will only mock God. I was not present during the interview with Mrs Kelly, Mrs King and Mr Harrison. I was present when Eliza OBrien and Sarah Wildgust were ordered into school and became very violent and abusive Mrs Kelly requested to take the children away and that was done. Mrs King then sent for Mr Cane to take note of what they said after some time Mr Cane told Mrs King if she would let them go back to their work for the remainder of the week he thought he could answer for their good behaviour Mr Cane recommended they should be ??? to the office. Previous to this the Girls had stated they never would be better so long as I was here and said every thing had been so different since I came and they would never be better while I remained it was then that Mr Cane recommended they should be brought to the office. I remarked of course they could have justice if they remained here. Mr Cane then remarked Eliza is neither a stick nor a stone a cat nor a dog. I remarked Mr Cane we all are fully sensible of that fact Eliza OBrien has always been treated as a Christian. Mr Cane turned round and said with all due respect Miss Ravenhill I acknowledge no authority but Mrs Kings this was in the presence of the Girls Mrs King then allowed the Girls to return with Mr Cane.
Previous to this the Girls had been making complaints against me in my absence.

Martha signed her statement.5 She left the school on 31 August, two months after the riot but no indication has yet been found if her leaving was voluntary. She was succeeded by Margaret ELLIOTT.6

Martha married John HERITAGE in Bombala on 17 June 1871,7 and died in Little Bay in 1887. No children were recorded in the NSW BDM Index.

Updated September 2014

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