Catherine SMITH (2)
Father Cornelius aka Condy SMITH b.c. 18131 m. 18432 d. 18653
Mother Mary A. McNALLY b.c. 1820 m. 1843 d. 18754
Brother John SMITH b. 18435 m. d.
Sister Mary SMITH b. 18466 m. d.
Sister Margaret SMITH b. 18487 m. d.
Brother Cornelius SMITH b. 18518 m. none - d. 18759
Inmate Catherine aka Kate SMITH b. 185310 m. (see below) d. aft. 1898
Brother Phillip SMITH b.c. 185411 m. d. 190712
Sister Ann SMITH b.c. 1856 m. none - d. 185813
Brother Joseph T. SMITH b. 185814 m. none - d. 186115
Sister Jane SMITH b. 186116 m. - d.
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Father Cornelius17 22 5' 4½" dark brown hazel dark brown and pocked broad featured
Brother Cornelius18 25 5' 5¾" black brown dark19 a reported pugilist
Brother Phillip20 40 5' 4¼" brown to grey grey P S left arm

As Kate SMITH, Catherine appeared in court on 11 March 1869, after being arrested by sergeant GOLDRICK on a warrant instigated by her mother, Mary who complained that Kate lived in a house at the corner of Barrack-street with common prostitutes. According to Mary’s statement, Kate was 15 years and 11 months old21 and her birthday was 23 'of next month'.22 Mary indicated that she was a widow and lived in Bourke-street, Woolloomooloo. She reported that Kate had been in service on and off during the last twelve months but some time ago she took poison and had already been tried at the last sittings of the Central Criminal Court.23 Kate's age had reduced in the months between her arrest for attempted suicide and her arrest under the Industrial Schools Act. Newspaper reports of the Quarter Sessions appearance where she had taken poison indicated that Kate was sixteen but by the time of her arrest by Constable MULQUEENY on the night of 2 February 1869, near the Prince of Wales Theatre, she was just under sixteen. This reduction in age ensured her admission to Newcastle but it is likely that her arrest had been illegal. Her mother ensured that she was taken from the streets.

It was recorded at her trial for attempted suicide in February 1869 that Kate was:

in a state of considerable excitement, and complained of acute pain in the stomach, caused by taking poison; the bottle produced smelt of, and contains, carbolic acid, an instant poison.

Kate had taken this drastic action because she had fallen out with a young man named Billy WHITE. The house physician, Rudolph SCHUETTE, removed the contents of her stomach, which contained carbolic acid24 and Kate was committed for trial at the Quarter Sessions. There she was found guilty but kept in custody until the rising of the court when her employer accepted her back.25 Mary reported that after this event Kate was discharged from this employment but was offered a situation at Parramatta by the Sheriff's lady. Kate 'refused as she said she would not go out of Sydney for anyone.' Mary maintained that Kate had said that 'she would never lead a good life after her father's death, and that's five years ago.' Kate was ordered to be sent to Newcastle and in a response to the bench she said this would be better that going home to a drunken mother.

Most newspaper reports identify Catherine as Kate SMITH but she was recorded in the Entrance Book on 14 March 1869, as Catherine SMITH. She was identified as a Catholic. No assessment of her reading or writing abilities was recorded in the register. Her parents were not identified and it was recorded that her father was dead.26 It is considered likely, but it cannot be confirmed, that Catherine refused to provide her parent information due to her anger towards her mother at the circumstances of her arrest and perhaps also because of her continued distress due to the death of her father.

Kate was discharged from Newcastle by CLARKE on 5 December 1870, to Mr William THROSBY, of Muswellbrook. This apprenticeship was confirmed on the April 1872 list compiled by LUCAS.27 There has been no information yet located indicating whether the apprenticeship was ever completed. No letters specifically referring to Kate have yet been found in CLARKE's letter book, even around the date of her discharge, and there are no references to anyone in the CSIL named either Kate or Catherine SMITH that might refer to the girl admitted to Newcastle and apprenticed before the transfer to Biloela.

No further trace of Catherine or Kate has been confirmed after the date of her apprenticeship. She does not appear on the Biloela transfer lists compiled in April and May 1871 as she had not been readmitted to the school from her apprenticeship but it is not able to be ascertained whether she was still in Muswellbrook on this date. It is thought that Kate probably left Muswellbrook after she had completed her apprenticeship but it is unknown whether she returned to Sydney or remained in the Hunter Valley. No trace of her has therefore been confirmed after December 1870.

While the 1871 marriage to Benjamin WEARING, outlined below, is very compelling, further investigation into this couple suggests that the marriage is increasingly unlikely.


The Entrance Book doesn't identify Catherine's parents and only indicated that her father had died. Catherine's situation is considered to be a further circumstance where family information was provided to authorities by the inmate at the time of admission and little information seemed to have been forthcoming from Kate. Newspaper reports indicated that Kate had been very unhappy since the death of her father and had welcomed her admission to Newcastle. She further stated that she was unwilling to live with her mother who drank. Catherine's date of birth, 23 April 1853, was identified by her mother, Mary, in the court case admitting her to Newcastle.28 Mary stated that she had been a widow for 'about five years' so based on this statement, the most likely man to be Catherine’s father was Cornelius SMITH who had died in 1865. The Catholic baptism of Cornelius and Mary's daughter, Catherine, in 1853, confirmed the details provided in the Entrance Book. Her age, birth date, mother's name and religion exactly matched what was known of the Newcastle admission.

Catherine was the daughter of Cornelius (X) SMITH and Mary (X) McNALLY. Mary had received Permission to Marry Condy SMITH from the Rev. F. MURPHY of Sydney on 21 January 1843.29 They were married on 10 February 1843, at St Mary's Church, Sydney, by Michael BRENNAN. The witnesses were Andrew (X) GATELY and Catherine (X) GATELY.30 The couple lived in Stephen Street, Sydney, an address confirmed at the time of the death of their daughter, Ann, in September 1858.31 The property, 6 Stephen Street, was sold in 186432 and the family moved to Blue's Point where the following year, Cornelius died.33 No occupation was shown on Ann's baptism record but Sands Directory identified the man of this name living in Stephen Street in 1861 as a waterman.34

Cornelius SMITH had been transported for life as Condy SMITH aboard the Portland (2) in 1833. He had been born in County Cavan. By the time he married he had a ticket of leave and stated that he was 33-years-old at the time the Permission to Marry was granted.35 Cornelius had been imprisoned in Newcastle gaol during 1836 but no details concerning this admission have yet been located.36 In 1854 as Condy SMITH, he sponsored the arrival of his sister, the 23-year-old Margaret SMITH,37 who arrived aboard the Bermondsey in May 1855. The Bermondsey indent identified that her parents were Phillip and Bridget.38 Cornelius died in his bed on 15 January 1865, at the age of fifty-two after having worked the previous day. His inquest indicated that both he and his wife were drunkards and confirmed that he was a waterman. The decision of the inquest was that he had died of natural causes.39 The death registration on the NSW BDM Index confirmed that his parents were Philip and Bridget.40

The 1843 Permission to Marry indicated that Mary McNALLY had arrived free on the Jason Matthews and that she was 24 years old. Her ship of arrival was almost certainly the James Matherson which had arrived in 1841.41 She was recorded on this indent as a 17-year-old and was identified as the daughter of John and Catherine McNALLY. Based on these names, it is likely that Mary died in Sydney in 1875 where these parents were recorded on her death registration on the NSW BDM Index. Only the actual registration will verify whether this was her death.42 It may be that she was the Mrs SMITH who was recorded in Sand's Directory in 1870 as a laundress at 86 Bourke Street. This woman was possibly at 91 Bourke Street in 1871 and 226 Bourke Street in 1873. The Mrs Mary Ann SMITH of 16 Yurong Street in 1875 and 1876 may also be this same woman. She was no longer living at that address in 1877.

Phillip SMITH and Cornelius SMITH were almost without any doubt Kate’s brothers. They appeared at various times in the gaol records of Sydney. Cornelius probably died at the age of twenty-four in 1875. He had been found lying on the road at Watson's Bay and from there was taken to the Infirmary where he died shortly after his admission.43 No inquest was undertaken. Gaol records indicated that Phillip SMITH was a fisherman and that he also used the alias William SMITH. He lived at Pittwater, Broken Bay in 1895 (Number 1833).44 He had been arrested in July 1902 for a theft of shoes where he was identified as a 49-year-old.45 It is believed that Phillip died on 8 May 1907. No death or Funeral Notices have been located for him in the SMH until 13 May. No trace of any other of Kate's siblings has yet been confirmed.

Where has She Gone?

The relationship with Benjamin WEARING is a possible but increasingly unlikely match for the Newcastle admission due to its timing. The marriage occurred very early in January 1871 and only about a month after Kate's discharge from Newcastle. On 19 January 187146 Benjamin WEARING married Kate SMITH in Sydney. It occurred at the private residence of the minister47 who had married them, Wm F. X. BAILEY. Kate described herself as 'a lady' whose usual residence was Camperdown. No age or parents were identified on the registration for either participant. It is conceivable that Kate may have viewed herself as 'a lady' as her father had most likely owned his home. The availability of the actual church record will be investigated. Benjamin was a printer and died in Waterloo in January48 189749 but in no Family Notice yet located is Kate mentioned and it is thought that the couple had separated by this date. The following children have been identified but the birth of only one was registered.
1. Thomas Henry WEARING b. 1872;50 d. 191551
2. Albert E. WEARING d. 193552 (Albert has some online trees but none identify his parents.)
3. Frederick A. WEARING53 d. 193254

No apparent death of Kate WEARING has been identified but a woman of this name and age appeared often in gaol records and the Police Gazette. This woman used the aliases of Kate SMITH, Kate WEARIN, Kate GREEN, Kate BROWN, Kate FLYNN and Kate WEARNE.55 The first gaol admission yet found was from 18 November 1878. In June 1879 this woman appeared at the same court as Mary WINDSOR. In January 1894 this woman undertook another suicide attempt.

A WOMAN POISONED.—A married woman named Kate Wearing, 34 years of age residing at No. 66 Cooper-street, Waterloo, was admitted to the Sydney Hospital last night suffering from the effects of chlorodyne poisoning. The usual remedies were resorted to, and the woman was then placed in one of the wards for treatment.56

Gaol photos exist from 1887, 1891 and 1899 for Kate WEARNE alias WEARING. She had been born in Campbelltown between about 1854 and 1857 and had a very long rap sheet. A Campbelltown birth is reasonable for someone whose father was a waterman and this is also a good location for that of the family of Cornelius and Mary SMITH. On 27 August 1896, as Katherine WEARIN alias WEARNE she was sentenced appear at the Quarter Sessions where she received a four year term for stealing from the person at Biloela gaol and from there was sent to Goulburn gaol. Kate was transferred from Goulburn to Bathurst gaol in July 1898 and was released on 7 December 1899. No trace of her after 1900 has yet been confirmed. Permission from State Records to use Kate's first photo from Darlinghurst Gaol may eventually be sought. Kate's list of offences outlined in Bathurst did not include 'about 70 other summary convictions of 2 months & under for drunkenness, indecent language, assault and riotousness since 22 May 1878.'

CPO 9 April 1880 vagrancy 3 months H L
CPO 9 September 1880 drunk & obscene language 3 months H L
CPO 23 May 1881 drunk & obscene language 3 months C
WPO 6 February 1882 riotous 3 months H L
CPO 25 May 1882 obscene language & assault 12 weeks C
CPO 6 January 1883 obscene language 3 months C
CPO 16 April 1883 obscene language 3 months C
CPO 3 September 1883 drunk & obscene language 3 months H L
CPO 12 April 1884 vagrancy 3 months H L
CPO 13 October 1884 drunk & obscene language 3 months C
CPO 13 January 1885 obscene language 3 months C
CPO 29 May 1885 vagrancy 6 months H L
CPO 8 January 1886 drunk & indecent language 3 months C
CPO 15 June 1886 indecent language 3 months C
CPO 26 November 1886 indecent language 3 months C
Sydney QS 4 April 1887 stealing from the person 3 years L L
Sydney QS 10 November 1891 malicious injury [to] property 12 months L L
CPO 7 January 1896 drunk & indecent language 21 days C
CPO 19 January 1896 vagrancy 4 months H L
Sydney QS 27 August 1896 stealing from the person 4 years P S

If the marriage is not Kate, the illegitimate birth of John SMITH registered in Patrick’s Plains in 187457 may possibly be a birth to the Newcastle girl. The illegitimate birth of the daughter, Mary E. SMITH, to Kate SMITH in 187758 in Sydney may also record a birth to the Newcastle admission.

The illegitimate birth in 1885 in Muswellbrook59 of Laurence M. SMITH to Catherine SMITH was also registered in Glebe.60 It has not been attributed to the Newcastle admission but only the actual registration will provide ages and a place of birth for the mother.

Kate is unlikely to be the Catherine SMITH who married John EWER in Bathurst in 1875 as this girl was only seventeen at the time so was therefore too young by about 5 years. No parents were recorded on either the marriage registration or in the church records from Bathurst and the registration had already been updated from the original register number 2109.

Entries for Kate and Catherine SMITH into the Benevolent Asylum have also been checked but the ages are for a woman who was younger that the Newcastle admission by about five years so these admissions cannot be attributed to her.

Kate isn't the Harriet McPHERSON alias Kate SMITH who was admitted to Darlinghurst in 1869. This woman was a Protestant born in Sydney in about 1849 and could read and write.

Updated January 2017

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