Elizabeth first appeared in the records of NSW after being imprisoned in Darlinghurst in April 1866 at the age of 1464 after appearing in court on 11 April charged with using abusive language towards Ann WALLIS. A fine of 10 with two sureties of 10 each were inflicted but she was unable to pay so was imprisoned for seven days.65 At some stage after this time Elizabeth moved to Newcastle. It may be that she had been apprenticed in Sydney as other members of her family were recorded living in Newcastle before 1866. Elizabeth appeared in the Newcastle Police Court on 27 September 1867, and was probably admitted to the school that day.66 Newspaper reports of her court appearance would almost certainly recorded in the Newcastle papers, the Newcastle Chronicle and the Newcastle Pilot, which no longer exist for this date. The Entrance Book recorded that her education level was assessed as 'sequel No. 2 on slate' which was quite a good level of achievement when compared to other admissions at the time. Her age, documented as sixteen, was recorded in pencil, possibly suggesting that KING found it unlikely that Elizabeth was under this age and it is thought that even at this early date believed that Elizabeth had been illegally admitted. This was the case, and correspondence and baptism documents prove that Elizabeth had been illegally arrested under the act. It must also be considered that her admission may have been a conscious decision by the local officials to remove her from the streets as it is known that Elizabeth left Sydney to live with her older married sister,67 Catherine, who was described in an 1866 Newcastle court appearance as 'a notorious prostitute'.68 Elizabeth was recorded in the Entrance Book as a Protestant and this was confirmed by her appearance on SELWYN's list in 1868.69 Her medical assessment by Dr HARRIS recorded that she was not a virgin.70
On 12 November 1867, after Elizabeth had been at the school for about a month, KING, in her weekly report to the Colonial Secretary, described a punishment of Elizabeth, KING stated that she personally had
tried her [Elizabeth] in every way. She was in close confinement on bread and water for three consecutive days and nights for striking Mrs Rice. She is still most incorrigible.
KING again communicated with the Colonial Secretary on 3 January 1868, that it was still necessary to keep Elizabeth separate from the other girls as Elizabeth's behaviour
has been uniformly most rebellious and insubordinate in School everywhere and even in Prayers.71
Elizabeth was described as one of the ringleaders of the riot on 9 July 1868. Her statement was transcribed by Frederic CANE and her words are transcribed here in full.
Elizabeth Samson – a Half cast
Age 17. I was one of those placed in the cell, and broke out of the room in which we were locked up, but I did not throw any stones at the windows. I was confined to the cell for refusing to obey the matrons orders-. I remained in the room to assist the Constable in taking a knife from Sarah Wildgust. She stated she would rip Mrs King's guts out and make garters of them. Some of the Constables sang out to the Girls to come and muster as Mrs King had given up her situation to Inspector Harrison I then came down stairs and went into Mrs Heals room and from there I went to the kitchen to assist the laundress who was in a fit I then got a dress for Eliza Macdonald and went to work [?]. after dinner the Constables took me with Eliza Niel to the cell. outside the Gate. On Mr Harrison searching me in the presence of Mrs Kelly and Mrs Heal I made use of obscene language. I felt agrieved at Mrs King telling me before the other Girls that I had p???ned them in consequence of this I removed my bed into No 3 Dormitory and refused to go back and I was left in No. 3 Mrs King said this to me on the Thursday the night before I removed on. I was in the Dormitory on Friday night (3rd Inst) when Mrs King came in. I am quite sure Sarah Wildgust never said "I am on for blood tonight" she could not have used these words without my hearing her. Some of the Girls refused to go to bed because the blind was down while the Constable was on the Varandah. On Saturday I saw Mrs King drag Eliza Macdonald on the ground by the hair of her head. McDonald then said My God Mrs King better mend what you are doing dont pull me by the hair I will slap you in the mouth We lit the Fire intending to stop up all night because the blind was down I hit-up [?] some of the meterials for lighting the Fire.
There was a general dissatisfaction because Mrs King was in the habit of throwing up our past life to us - and telling us that we were used to be up all night and sleep all day and that we might not think of doing that here She told me on one occasion I would die like a __ dog rotten on the Field__ and I would go after a man as long as I had a leg to crawl on. This was because two men passed by and waved their hands to us. but we took no notice of them Julia Cunningham was with me at the time Sarah Wildgust and Elizabeth Morgan were the only two girls who had knives and I did not see any one with the cleaver.*
If we do the least thing Mrs King will throw up our parents to us she told me one night "My father was nothing but a savage" this was in the presence of all the Girls and also that Mr Scott could give my Fathers character on one occasion on the Green we were looking at a kangaroo at Mr Scott's. Mrs King said There is a black Kangaroo it is little Lizzy Samson. Mrs King has often said she wondered at the Girls speaking to a black girl She was sorry I had no reason Hopkins and OBrien must have heard these words as they told me not to mean what she said.
(When Sampson stated this she shed bitter tears at the reflections which had been cast upon her and spoke of it constantly with great reluctance.)72
At the point marked (*), Elizabeth signed her statement with a confident signature however more of her account continued over the page. The language in the record suggested a superior level of language. The final comment in Elizabeth's statement was recorded in pencil rather than ink and was almost certainly made by CANE although it was not signed.
About two weeks after the riot KING reported that Elizabeth, Eliza McDONALD, Charlotte PERRY, Eliza O'BRIEN and Eliza O'NEILL were noisy and refractory.73 At about 6 o'clock on the evening of 31 July 1868, Elizabeth and Sarah WILDGUST made an escape from the school. They were recaptured between ten and eleven o'clock in the Burwood locality by constable GRIFFIN of Newcastle police and were returned to the school.74 They were placed in solitary confinement but on 2 August they were caught attempting to escape by removing the screens from the windows. KING subsequently had them removed to the cells at the guardhouse.75 The teacher, Margaret KELLY reported on 1 September 1868, that Elizabeth, Mary Ann HOPKINS and Bridget DOWNS 'were ordered to attend school they [had] absented themselves on several occasions and shewn the greatest disinclination to pay attention.'76
On 23 October 1868, KING again wrote to the Colonial Secretary stressing that Elizabeth was over eighteen and requested that she be released immediately. KING referred to a report on Elizabeth from the Registry of the School of Industry, Macquarie Street, Sydney, as proof. The report written on the 29 October by A[?] D[?] THOMSON or possibly Mrs E. D. CHANTON [?], the Honorary Secretary of the committee, to H. HALLORAN of the Colonial Secretary's office stated
In reply to your letter of the 27th Inst. my [?] [unclear] [unclear] of the age and circumstances of the girl named Elizabeth Sampson formerly an inmate of the "Female School of Industry" I beg to inform you, for the information of the Colonial Secretary that she was admitted into that Institution in December 1857 - being then 7 years and 11 months old - which would make her age at present 18/eighteen years and 10/ten months.
At the usual age of fourteen she was apprenticed to a Mrs Jutable [?], person in Wooloomooloo but her conduct was there so obstinate and unmanageable that after having several times reprimanded to no purpose the Ladies Committee were obliged to expel her from the School - Elizabeth Sampson then [?] to reside with a married sister at Newcastle - since then the Committee have heard nothing of her -
Her Father was not a very steady man and earned a livelihood working on the wharves in Sydney - he is now dead.
KING also attached a chronological list of Elizabeth's misbehaviour at the school concluding with the report of the assault that had necessitated her imprisonment. It was recorded that she had:
Septr 2677 1867: From her admission has been insubordinate violent and abusive. has continued so with little intermission since Confined in Cell at Dates as in margin.
Feby 27, 4 days: For violent conduct to Sub-matron and threatening to stab one of the elder girls.
April 1, 5 days: For using revolting language to Superintendent and threatening violence
July 7: For insubordination abusive language and violent conduct
July 9, 8 days: Concerned with other girls in breaking windows and committing other acts of violence
July 29, 7 days: For escaping with another girl.
August 15, 4 days: For getting intoxicated with Rum introduced clandestinely
October 27: In committing the assault for which she was charged before the Bench of Magistrates, Newcastle and sentenced to Maitland Gaol for two months.
KING also complained that Elizabeth had been caught 'writing letters to send out of the school contrary to rules. She refused to give them up when I ordered her to be searched by the Asst. Matron, Mrs Sadlier, whom she assaulted in a most violent manner, for which Mrs Sadlier preferred a charge against her.'78 On 29 October 1868, Elizabeth had attacked the Assistant Matron, Bridget SADLIER.79 A charge of aggravated assault was made against her and she was arrested by constable SMITH of Newcastle Police. Elizabeth was tried in Newcastle on 29 October 1868,80 and was sentenced to two months in Maitland gaol. The newspaper report for this appearance is likely to appear in the Newcastle Chronicle of about 30 October and this issue of the paper is considered to no longer exist.
Elizabeth was never returned to the school after her release from gaol as she was discharged straight from Maitland by order of the Colonial Secretary due to the proof of age outlined in KING's letter of 23 October 1868.81 This however wasn’t what CLARKE was expecting as he wrote letters to both the Principal Under Secretary asking whether she would be returned and to the gaoler at Maitland. His letter to the gaoler stated:
I am under the impression that she should have been handed over to the police to be brought back to this school as I hold a warrant for her Body. I have written to the Government for Instruction.82
Because CLARKE did not discharge Elizabeth she doesn't appear on his 1870 list, so there is no record of the reason for her initial arrest and admission to Newcastle. It must be considered that if she was living with her sister, Catherine, Elizabeth may have been arrested and sent to Newcastle for associating with thieves and prostitutes.
Elizabeth was married to James CURRAN, a bachelor, born in Glasgow, Scotland, in Newcastle on 18 June 1869, at the Registrar's Office in Newcastle by Jno. BURROWES, the Registrar. Consent for the marriage was given by Helenus SCOTT, the Newcastle Police Magistrate because Elizabeth was under the legal age to marry. Only Elizabeth's father, Aaron, was named on the record and it was stated that her mother was unknown. The witnesses were John (X) PETHERICK and Maria (X) PETHERICK.83 James and Elizabeth moved almost immediately to Sydney where their first child was registered in 1870. They had eleven more children. Elizabeth placed a Funeral Notice when her sister, Catherine, died in April 1893.84 Elizabeth died in Sydney in 1904. Only her father was named on her death registration. She was reported to have been buried at Rookwood85 although descendants locate her burial at Waverley86 and as this is the location of the burials of many of her sisters, this is considered very likely.
Because Elizabeth's parents were dead, they were unnamed in the Entrance Book but confirmation of their identity is made possible by compiling the records and reports connected with Elizabeth before and during her time in Newcastle. Elizabeth was the second daughter of Aaron and Elizabeth SAMPSON. She had been born on 31 January 1850, and was baptized by William COWPER at St Philip’s, Sydney, on 24 March later that year. Aaron (X) SAMPSON and Elizabeth (X) NEAL or NEALE, were married on 4 January 1847, at St Phillip's, Sydney.87 This record has been omitted from the NSW BDM Index but does appear in the transcribed V records as the second marriage in Volume 32C identified as occurring on 2 January 1847. The witnesses were Edward McROBEDS and and Mary (X) JONES, both of Sydney.88 There has been no identification made of the identity of these witnesses.
For a time the family lived in Kent Street, Sydney, but eventually they moved to the Newcastle area. The baptism of an older daughter, Catherine, occurred in 1848 where her father was identified as Abraham. This baptism has not yet been viewed. Catherine was confirmed as an orphan in Newcastle court appearances in 186189 and in October 1861 she was identified as a 'half-cast Maori.'90 Catherine was recorded as 'a quadroon'91 and 'a coloured woman' in gaol description books. The use of the term quadroon92 strongly suggested that the authorities of the time had decided that Catherine's – and by association Elizabeth's – father, Aaron, had one Caucasian parent. As the eldest child in the family it is likely that the burden of the support of her younger siblings fell to her after the death of her father in 1860.
Elizabeth SAMPSON née NEAL or NEALE was recorded as thirty-three years of age when she died in Newcastle in 1857. This registration has not been viewed so it is unknown whether the NSW BDM Index has correctly transcribed her age. Nothing further has been verified for Elizabeth however, descendants identify that she was the daughter of John and Sarah NEALE née NICKERSON93 who was baptised in Sydney in 1821 as Elizabeth Greenhale NEALE at St Phillip's, Sydney. The record indicated that she had been born at sea.94 She may have been recorded with her parents as an eleven-year-old on the 1828C so it is possible that she was older than the 1821 baptism suggested, This age does not match well the age of the wife of Aaron SAMPSON but this is not considered unusual for the time. The 1822 muster recorded the same family with three children matching the ages on the 1828C where Elizabeth had been recorded as the eldest. Both John and Sarah NEAL identified that they had been born in the Colony95 but the 1822M indicated that John had arrived free on the Surprize in 1791. The 1814M identified a William NEAL listed immediately before a John NEAL. Both were free. William was also reported to have arrived on the Surprize (1) but John had been born in the colony. Because no convict named William NEAL appeared in Michael FLYNN's publication on the Second Fleet, this may suggest that he was a member of the 102nd Regiment who arrived on these transports and this may be supported by a lack of any confirmations on earlier musters. A man of this name appeared in the Colonial Secretary's correspondence on a list of men discharged from the 102nd regiment who had received a grant of land in March 1811. These suggestions have not been verified by facts and direct links to the family.
Aaron SAMPSON was recorded as a mariner and stated that he had arrived in Sydney aboard the Susan in 183596 but he had actually arrived in NSW two years later – in 1837. As Abraham SAMPSON, he had been transported to Tasmania in 1836 aboard the Asia (4) for piracy aboard the vessel Beatrice, of which he was in charge. Abraham had been tried in St Christopher's and had been born in the West Indies.97 He was then transferred to NSW aboard the Susan98 and eventually went back to working aboard the coastal traders almost always using the name Aaron. While the descriptions of Aaron and Abraham SAMPSON are not exact, sufficient similarities in tattooing and other details exist for the two men to be confirmed as the same person. Aaron's name was most likely Abraham as on his arrival this given name was tattooed on his right arm. It is considered likely that his tattoos were deliberately varied once he adopted the given name, Aaron. As Aaron, Elizabeth's father was admitted twice to Newcastle Gaol, firstly for three months in June 1859, and secondly in October 1859, for one month. It was documented there that he had been on a bond on both occasions, hinting at his earlier conviction and on both occasions it was recorded that he was a protestant who had been born in about 1809 in Nevis, West Indies, and could read. It is unknown whether he was of African or Carib or Arawak descent but it is considered likely but is unproven that he had been descended from an African slave.
Note: Elizabeth and Aaron's family should not be confused with the family of William and Eliza/beth SAMPSON who also had a daughter named Elizabeth who had been born in about 1845. This couple lived in Maitland.99 William SAMPSON, a coloured100 person,101 had left his family at the beginning of 1852102 and this Elizabeth SAMPSON also spent time in gaol in Maitland. She had been born in about 1830 and had arrived on the Sir E. Paget.103 It should be considered that there may be some family connection between William and Aaron SAMPSON.104 This William is likely to be the man born in about 1817 and transported aboard the Heber in 1831. He had been born in the West Indies but tried in Cork, Ireland.
Updated August 2015