Father John SUMMERFIELD b. 18271 m. (1) 18472 d. abt. 18583
Step-father Benjamin COKER aka CROKER aka CROAKER b.c. 18154 m. (2) 18665 d. aft. 18786
Mother Catherine SCOTT b.c. 18207 m. (1) 1847 (2) 1866 d. 18728
Sister Sarah SUMMERFIELD b. 18489 m. unknown d. aft. 185910
Sister Esther SUMERFIELD b. 184911 m. none - d. 185012
Inmate Catherine SUMMERFIELD b. 185113 m. (see below) d. aft. 1875
Brother John Cornelius SUMMERFIELD b.c. 185714 m. 190015 Catherine Jane HENRY d. 190516
Step-sister Anne COKER b. 185117 m. d.
Step-brother William COKER b. 185318 m. 187819 Marion CALDWELL d. 193420

Note: Catherine has been referred to as Kate throughout this biography as this was the name she used in her correspondence. The spelling of her surname varied in the records. At the time her parents married, when Kate was admitted to Newcastle and in her personal correspondence, her surname was recorded as SOMERFIELD. For the purpose of this biography the spelling SUMMERFIELD has been used. This was the spelling used by Kate's brother and by many authorities in Sydney. This spelling may change if Kate can be traced.

As Kate SUMMERFIELD, Catherine, was recorded as fourteen-years-old when she appeared in court in Sydney on 15 June 1869. She was charged with stealing a shawl which was the property of her master, Thomas P. CHAPMAN.21 Kate pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to be imprisoned until the rising of the Court22 but immediately after this she again brought before the bench under the Industrial Schools Act charged with having no ostensible lawful means of support. Kate was ordered to be sent to Newcastle23 and appeared in the Entrance Book for the Industrial School. Even though the Reformatory was operating at this time and Kate had received a criminal charge, the reason for her admission to Newcastle was under the Industrial School Act and so the charge was not a criminal offence. Kate was admitted to Newcastle on 17 June 1869, as Catherine SOMERFIELD. She was a Catholic who could read and write a little.24 Because her baptism identified that her correct age was about seventeen, she had been illegally arrested under the Act as she was over the age of admission. Her admission to Newcastle should not have occurred. It is unknown whether Kate's stated age of fourteen was a deliberate error on her part or she was unaware of her correct age but it seems likely that her admission to Newcastle was a considered act by the magistrates to avoid a gaol sentence or possibly an admission to the Reformatory.

After spending eighteen months at Newcastle, CLARKE arranged an apprenticeship for Kate with Mr J. C. PETTIT, the Post and Telegraph Master at Murrurundi. She was to be apprenticed for two years and was to be paid five shillings a week for the first year and six shillings a week for the second year. CLARKE's letter was written on 17 November but a week later on 24 November, Catherine's mother, identified as Catherine CROKER, wrote petitioning her release. Catherine enclosed a copy of Kate's baptism proving that she was now over eighteen and therefore was illegally in the school. The Colonial Secretary's office suspended the order for Catherine's apprenticeship as she was too old for an apprenticeship and requested that CLARKE send another girl to PETTIT. CLARKE responded by writing:

I have the Honor to state for the information of the Honorable the Colonial Secretary that it is Somerfield's express wish not to be placed in a position where her mother would have access to her. If however there is any objection to this girl being discharged to the service of Mr J. C. PETTIT I would respectfully submit the name of Eva RUSSART

He included in the correspondence to the Colonial Secretary a letter written to him by Kate on 25 November. She wrote:25

Sir, I am sorrey that I am not to be sent to Murrurundi as I should like to go to service there Better than going home to Sydney.
Kate Somerfield26

A letter from PETTIT dated 2 December urging a that decision be made quickly was also sent to the Colonial Secretary. The Colonial Secretary's office relented and Kate was discharged into the service of Mr. J. C. PETIT of Murrurundi on 6 December 187027 so never transferred to Biloela in May 1871. It is unknown whether Kate completed this apprenticeship and no trace of her can be found in the Murrurundi area. By 13 August 1875,28 she was in Sydney where she appeared in the Central Police Court charged with obscene language and drunkenness. She spent a month in gaol.29

No further trace of Kate as Kate or Catherine SUMMERFIELD or SOMERFIELD has been located after her release from Darlinghurst gaol in September 1875.


Kate's mother and step-father were identified in the Entrance Book as Catherine and Benjamin CROKER.30 She was the daughter of John and Catherine SUMMERFIELD. This couple had married as John SOMERFIELD and Catherine SCOTT in 1847.31 The couple were living at Miller's Point when their daughter, Sarah, was born on 16 June 1848.32 On this record John was recorded as a mariner of Gloucester Street. Another daughter, Ester was born in 1849 however this baptism can't be viewed and nor can her burial in 1850. A younger brother, John Cornelius, was born in 185733 but no registration for this boy has been identified. Kate's baptism was recorded as Catherine SUMMERFIELD. She had been born on 4 October 1851, and had been baptized on 16 January 1852, at St James Roman Catholic Church, Sydney, by Rev. John E. GOURBELLION. Her sponsors were Alexander and Catherine RAIN. A copy of her baptism was included in correspondence to the Colonial Secretary in 1870.34 The record in the 'V' reels indicated that her baptism occurred on 7 January 1852, but the birth date on both records were identical.35 Catherine's maiden name was recorded on the baptism and the couple were again recorded as residents of Miller’s Point. By 1860 Catherine had left Sydney and was residing at Cook's River.

Little information concerning Catherine's father, John, has been confirmed. He identified himself as a mariner at the time of Sarah's baptism in 1848 and was reported to be dead by the time of the admission of his three children into the Roman Catholic Orphan School during 1859 and 1860. It may be that by this time he had abandoned his family and Catherine may through necessity have lied about his death to get her children admitted.36 It is considered very likely that John was the man who was working as a crew member on coastal or long distance ships and appeared in the unassisted immigration records of NSW. He may be the man who arrived on 24 October 1848, aboard the Munford. There are no further confirmed listings for him after this date and he did not arrive on 25 October 1880, aboard the Teanau as this man is thought to be the same man who arrived in Sydney aboard the Sultan on 26 September 1879 and Victorian records indicated that he had been born in about 1840 so he cannot be Kate's father. If John continued to work as a mariner it may be that his death occurred at sea or he never returned to NSW after a voyage. No appearances for John can be identified in the Police Gazette as the only two records are for a man in the Shoalhaven in 1880. No certain trace has been found of him. He may possibly be the man who died in 188037 at Windsor at the age of 53 years.

John is less likely to have been the convict John SUMMERFIELD who had been tried in Bedford, England, and who had arrived on the Asia. This man received his Certificate of Freedom in 1846 and because this certificate was granted in Woollongong, it is more likely that this was the man who married Ann BERRIE in the Illawarra area of NSW on 27 September 1850.38 The actual record39 does not designate a marital status to either party and while this may have been an omission, this record was Presbyterian and both John and Catherine were identified as Catholic in the communications regarding the admission of Sarah to the Roman Catholic Orphan School. Catherine was located in the Cook's River in 1860, rather than the Illawarra area of NSW.

An arrival for Catherine SCOTT has not been identified. After living in Sydney from the time of her marriage and the birth of her children, after her husband died or disappeared, Catherine moved to the Cook's River area south of Sydney.40 Her three children were accepted into the Roman Catholic Orphan School from 1859 and it is believed that it was at about this time that her husband died. Sarah was admitted to Parramatta at the age of ten-and-a-half on 17 May 1859.41 The following year on 20 January 1860, Kate and John C., were also admitted. At this date their mother, Catherine, was described as twenty-two years of age.42 This age is very unlikely to be correct as she would have been only about 9 when she married. It does however suggest that she may have been born later than 1820.

In Sydney in 1866, as Catherine SUMMERFIELD, she remarried Benjamin COKER, ten years after the death of his first wife, Susannah. Benjamin had possibly arrived on the Shackamaxon in about 1860.43 At the time of Kate's arrest in June 1869, John and Catherine CROKER lived at the Glebe near Maitland Place, Parramatta Street,44 Sydney. Benjamin was confirmed in the Entrance Book as a labourer, of the Glebe.45 The couple appeared in the court where Benjamin was charged with cutting and wounding Catherine.46 His trial in the Central Criminal Court showed how volatile the COKER family situation was.47 At the time of Catherine's petition to facilitate her daughter's release from Newcastle, the family was living in Keen's Buildings off Bay Street, Glebe.48 Catherine almost certainly died in Sydney as Catherine CROAKER in 1872 at the reported age of 52. It is possible that she was younger than this. Her death may have been the reason Kate returned to Sydney from her service at Murrurundi.

It may be that the Catherine SCOTT who was admitted to Darlinghurst in 1854 was an admission for Catherine. This woman had arrived on the Isabella in 1840 so had arrived in time to have been Catherine's mother.49

Tracing any members of the SOMERFIELD or SUMMERFIELD family is difficult. Catherine's older sister, Sarah, was admitted to the Roman Catholic Orphan School in 1859.50 She was erroneously recorded as a nine-year-old orphan in 1859 in further orphan school records.51 Sarah was probably apprenticed from the orphan school at about the age of twelve. Because Sarah had probably disappeared from Catherine's life early, it seems unlikely that even if a marriage can be identified, she could be used to track Kate.

Sarah was not the woman who married William SAM as a transcript of the marriage indicated that SAM's wife was a widow. The ages of the two women do not easily match and the death of Sarah SAM identified that her mother was named Emma and her father had the surname, TAYLOR. While one online tree does attribute this marriage to Catherine's sister, another tree, containing far more research, has identified parents that match those recorded on Sarah's death record and it is believed that this tree is more reliable.

Using John Cornelius, Kate's brother, to attempt to trace her has not yet been successful. John died in an accident in 1905 but any mention of Kate is missing from both the coroner's report and from any Funeral Notice yet located.

Where has She Gone?

It is not considered likely that Kate adopted the surname CROKER or COKER after she left the school but if she did, she was not the woman the correct age who appeared in court on the 14 May 1875. She was not the Catherine COKER who married John MYERS in Newcastle in 1874 as this woman was born in London and the registration suggested no connection with either Catherine SCOTT or the SUMMERFIELD name.

Kate was not the woman named Charlotte SUMMERFIELD who married Daniel HOLDEN [sic] in 1877 as this woman died as Charlotte HOLDER52 in 189253 at the age of 56.54 She was therefore too old to be the Newcastle admission.

December 2017

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