SRNSW: NRS: 14717; 5/3429; pp. 190 & 228
On 30 November 1865, approximately two years before Margaret was admitted to Newcastle, Ann THOMPSON accused Christopher FERRIS, a publican, of Brickfield Hill, with raping her daughter, Margaret. Ann stated that Margaret had turned twelve the previous September and had been helping with the housework at the FERRIS residence when the incident occurred. Ann and Margaret gave evidence at the trial34 and the case went to the Criminal Court but FERRIS was eventually acquitted.35 Margaret entered the Benevolent Asylum36 on 25 December 1865, for medical treatment for injuries suffered in the attempted rape. She was discharged on the 13 February 1866, after her treatment. On 24 March 1866, Margaret and her younger sister, Eliza, were again admitted to the asylum. Eliza was discharged to the Randwick Asylum on 10 June 1867, at the age of ten. On this record it was noted that she had been deserted by her father.
On 7 September 1867, three months after these events and the day she appeared in court, Margaret was arrested from the asylum by constable PARR, on warrant, at the instance of Mr MANSFIELD, the master of the Benevolent Asylum. She was described as a 13-year-old and a protestant. Although both her parents were alive she said she had no home and MANSFIELD agreed confirming that they had deserted her. MANSFIELD confirmed Margaret’s admissions to the Benevolent Asylum and added that her mother was 'a low, bad character, without a home, and who was herself admitted in the information, as a lock-ward patient.' MANSFIELD wanted Margaret to go to Newcastle because she was too old for Randwick37 and Ann, who had no means of supporting her, was trying to get her to leave38 the asylum.39
Margaret was admitted to Newcastle at the age of thirteen on 10 September 1867. Her level of education was recorded in the Entrance Book as 'first book on slate' and she was recorded as a Protestant.40 Her religion was confirmed as she appeared on SELWYN's list of Protestant students at the school.41 Surprisingly, Margaret’s medical assessment by Dr HARRIS showed that she was a virgin.42 Margaret was in Nswcastle for two years when, on 2 September 1869, Catherine BEVAN, Margaret’s sister, requested that Margaret be released into her custody. Catherine THOMPSON had married William BEAVAN in Wollombi in 1859. The petition from Catherine's local minister, Bowyer E. SHAW, was made on her behalf. SHAW stated
Mrs C. Bevan is a respectable married woman and would provide the girl in question a comfortable home with her own family.
On 14 September CLARKE responded stating that Margaret
… has been in this Institution for the last two years her character is unexceptional, she is now fifteen (15) years of age, and is a strong healthy girl.
The Colonial Secretary approved Margaret's release to Catherine on 21 September and she was discharged on 18 October 1869. The discharge date was confirmed on the list compiled in April 1872 by LUCAS.43 The following day Margaret’s mother, Ann, living in Sydney, wrote her own petition to the Colonial Secretary requesting Margaret’s release. She pleaded that Margaret be returned to her.44
It is the preayr of your humbel petioner the Mother of Margaret Thompson that is now in the Indistriel Shool Niew Castel That your Honour Would be so Kind as to Give me my Dear Gearl beck a gain i am very Much trubled about her I heve wark enuf to keep her and can lern her a tread that can seaport her where [?] She may be situated in this life with the Blessing of the Lord I am with All humility your humbel and obeadient Searvent Ann Thompson
Ann was subsequently informed that Margaret had been discharged into Catherine’s care.45 The closeness of the dates of the two petitions from Catherine and Ann suggested that there was more than coincidence that they wrote at approximately the same time. In his letter to the Colonial Secretary on 1 August 1870, CLARKE confirmed that Margaret’s sister was Mrs. C. BEVAN of Wollombi 'who has been highly spoken of by the clergymen of that place.'46
Margaret married Clement Jonathon LOWER in the house of her brother-in-law, William BEAVAN, in Wollombi on 28 February 1872. LOWER had arrived aboard the Elizabeth Kimball in 1864. Margaret died at Williamtown, north of Newcastle, on 25 April 1911. Her death registration was made in Raymond Terrace. Margaret was buried in Stockton Cemetery.
Margaret was the daughter of Robert THOMPSON and Annie WATERS. The Entrance Book identified her parents and recorded that Robert was a shoemaker who lived in Clarence Street, Sydney. Margaret's birth wasn't registered but she was born in Mangrove in about 1853.47
While Robert and Ann THOMPSON are not unusual names, birth, baptism and death registrations on the NSW BDM Index in addition to court cases reported in the Maitland Mercury, indicated that the family had moved to Sydney from Maitland. Maitland court cases suggested that they had probably resided in the Maitland district from before 185548 and the couple was probably operating a disorderly house from as early as 185749 when they were living in Church Street, Maitland.50 The birth in Maitland of their daughter, Eliza, in 1859 was confirmed by records from the Benevolent Asylum.
On 13 July 1861, Ann and her four children appeared in West Maitland court begging for protection from her 'brutal husband.' A year later, on 16 August 1862, Ann and three children were found in the water-closet of the Maitland Court House and were told to move on. Ann again begged for protection and was taken to court, charged with vagrancy and imprisoned for seven days.51
In 1863, Robert THOMPSON, a shoemaker, living at Horseshoe Bend, Maitland, was charged with assaulting his wife, Ann. Robert was fined but as the fine wasn't paid, he was sent to Maitland Gaol.52 On 22 April 1865, this Robert and Ann again appeared in the West Maitland court charged with keeping a disorderly house and after this date no further record of them can be found in the Maitland newspapers.
Robert and Ann's son, John, died in Maitland in 1863, at the age of eighteen, the result of an accidental stabbing with a gouge – a cabinetmaker’s tool. Sydney newspapers suggest that they moved from Maitland sometime after the death of John as it was in Sydney that Margaret was arrested. Gaol records confirmed the ship of arrival for Robert, Annie, and their daughters, Catherine and Ann. The couple and their eldest two daughters arrived aboard the Herald in 1844, where their parents and birth locations and Ann's maiden name were recorded. Even though they were Irish, they were recorded as Presbyterian. The ship was verified in both Ann’s admission to Darlinghurst in 1870 where she is shown as fifty-two years old and born in Ireland and Robert’s admission to Darlinghurst in 1867 and 1872 where he is shown as forty-eight years of age and has been confirmed by descendants. No admission details have been found in the Benevolent Asylum for Ann being admitted to the lock-ward in 1867 and she may have gone to Hyde Park at this time. There is no age recorded for Annie THOMPSON who was admitted to the Benevolent Asylum on 3 July 1872, and discharged three weeks later on 24 July, but this may also be her. Ann may also have been the woman who appeared in Sydney court on 8 February 1877, charged with being of unsound mind and who was removed to the Lunatic Receiving House at Darlinghurst Gaol for protection. Descendants believe that Ann’s death may have occurred in the Hyde Park Infirmary in 1871 but absolute confirmation is not possible even using information on the appropriate death registration.
Descendants confirm that Robert died at Goonoo near Dubbo on 11 June 1888. He was seventy and had been born in Ireland. His inquest was held at Dubbo on 12 June 1888.
Updated July 2015