The TUCKER Sisters
Father Charles TUCKER b.c. 18381 m. none d. aft. 1889
Mother Ann MURPHY b.c. 18412 m. none d. 18793
Inmate Mary Jane TUCKER b. 18624 m. (see below) d. aft. 1875
Inmate Annie aka Amy TUCKER b. 18635 m. (see below) d. aft. 1878
Child unknown TUCKER6 b. bef. 1869 m. d.
Child unknown TUCKER7 b. bef. 1869 m. d.
Sister Ellen TUCKER b. 18708 m. d. aft. 1872
Brother Herbert TUCKER b. 18729 m. d. aft. 1872
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Father Charles10 31 5' 9¼" dark blue/brown fresh/dark sallow stout/strong scar on left thumb; his back full of freckels[sic]; dark brown whiskers and thin moustache;11 nose and mouth large; chin medium; second joint fourth and fifth fingers broken; scar right wrist; fourth finger right hand missing from second joint.
Father Charles12 c. 181913 5' 9" black, curly hair swaggering gait; sandy mustache: no whiskers; dressed in dark tweed trousers, a red-striped Crimean shirt over a white shirt and a cabbage-tree hat
Mother Ann14 26 5' 1½" dark brown fair thin burn on right forearm
Inmate Annie15 14 4' 9" brown grey slight rather long face; very freckled

Mary Jane TUCKER, and her younger sister, Annie, were arrested from the Murrurundi police district during 1869 and appeared before the Murrurundi bench. No account of their court appearance has yet been located. The arrest of their parents had precipitated this appearance and subsequent admission to Newcastle. The Maitland Mercury in July 1869, recorded the family's circumstances prior to the arrest of the sisters. Charles TUCKER and his wife, Ann, who was unnamed in the report, were arrested by sergeants Du VERNET and LANG for robberies in the Murrurundi and Wallabadah areas. Their children were with them although this wasn't stated.16 Charles had been:

… on the road of late, with a team, and has managed to rob kitchens and clothes-lines [and take other items], whenever he camped in any township.

Mary Jane and Annie were admitted to the school on 10 August 1869, a short time after the arrest of their parents.17 Their names appeared on the very last page of the Entrance Book so only their trial location and ages remained as the page recording their family details is the first page of the section of the book which has not survived. As a result of this the girls' religion, education, discharge details and parents' names can't be confirmed from this source.

Attempts to have their daughters released from Newcastle were made in 1870 by their parents, Charles and Ann. On 20 October a letter was written from Teralba, near Lake Macquarie, on behalf of Charles. He made his mark rather than signing. The correspondence indicated that he could afford to care for his two daughters. The opinion of CLARKE was sought and he stated:

Annie and Mary Jane Tucker, aged seven and eight years respectively, were committed to this Institution by the bench at Murrurundi in August 1869, their parents being then in Maitland gaol on a charge of larceny. The children were then in a most wretched state, but have improved greatly since. Their parents came to see them some days since, and altho they may be able to support the children I question if they are fit or proper people to have charge of them.

The Inspector General of Police, in his response to the request, also referred to Charles and Ann as 'disreputable' and as a result their petition was refused. On 19 November, Charles wrote again stating:

I am now at liberty and have been for the space of one month and have a good home for them to come to – I am a sawer by trade and can maintain them as they ought to be in every sense of the word. I am well known and I hope never to be in want of constant work – in fact I am a native of this District and there are many which will prove so if required – my being a hard working sober Industrous man and able to support my own children allowing that they are well taken care of where they are but being their father I wish them to be at home – And Sir if you will be kind enough to grant my request I shall be most happy to do all that lays in my power to bring them up in the paths of virtue.

This letter appeared to have been signed by Charles but it is considered that this communication was also written on his behalf. There is no further correspondence in this file until 13 May 1871, when a petition signed by 'Readett & Son' on behalf of Charles again requested the release of his daughters. This letter stated that Charles was innocent of the charge that had placed him in Maitland and that he now earned over three pounds a week. A report from Charles E. HARRISON, the sub-inspector of police at Newcastle, again stressed that Charles and Ann were 'both bad characters' with Charles having been brought up on warrant but released due to insufficient evidence and Ann having been imprisoned for being drunk and disorderly in both February and March. Their request therefore was again denied.18 Both Mary and Annie transferred to Biloela in late May 1871 and were confirmed on the May 1871 transfer lists compiled by LUCAS as Catholic.19

After transferring to Biloela, a further petition, dated 22 August 1871, was sent to the Colonial Secretary. The final statement from the Colonial Secretary was that Charles and Ann:

[M]ay be informed that the children cannot be released as decided in June last.20

On LUCAS's April 1872 list, the sisters were recorded as 'In the Institution'.21


Annie and Mary Jane were the children of Charles TUCKER and his wife, Ann MURPHY.22 Charles and Ann had both been born in NSW and were Catholic and stated that they had been married at Lake McQuarie [sic] in August 1861. No appropriate marriage has been located between 1860 and 1861 under any appropriate name and none is believed to exist. The NSW BDM Index recorded that the couple had registered two children, identified on the index as Mary and Amy, in the Mudgee area of NSW. These girls were the correct ages to be the Newcastle girls and their birth locations matched very well with the various localities recorded in the Police Gazette for Ann and Charles TUCKER. There is little doubt that the registration in the name of Amy TUCKER, actually referred to Annie as the two names sound alike and may be written in a very similar way. In November 1869, Ann, in a petition to the Colonial Secretary, again written from Teralba, indicated that she had four children.23 While it is thought that Annie and Mary were included as two of these children, the identity of the other two cannot be ascertained and it is uncertain whether they existed. It is considered likely that Ann had embellished the number of children she actually had or perhaps was caring for children who weren't hers as no registrations have been identified before this 1869 petition. After 1869 two more children, another daughter, Ellen, and a son, Herbert, were registered in 1870 in Newcastle and in 1872 in Brisbane Water. Unless these children had been registered a long time after their birth, they cannot be the two children referred to by Ann in 1869. There is little doubt however, that Ellen and Herbert were the two children reported to have been abandoned by Charles in 1872.24

After their arrest for larceny near Murrurundi in 1869, Charles and Ann were sentenced to two months in Maitland Gaol for the offence. A deposition, that hasn't been viewed, remains for this incident.25 There were six or seven further offences listed against the couple and the sentence was only for the first charge.

Charles TUCKER had been born in Australia in about 1838 and was a sawyer.26 Gaol records specified that he had been born in Sydney27 but his ancestry is still unknown. Because it is known that Charles frequented the Central Coast area of NSW, he is believed to have been the man reported in the Gosford court returns on 6 July 1854. No indication of his crime was recorded but Charles was fined either a pound or to undertake a fourteen day imprisonment.28 It is also believed that Charles was the man sought for an assault on Mary KELEHER in Coorungbung29 in 1862.30 After his release from Maitland after serving his time for the theft in July 1869, Charles was again sentenced at Murrurundi Quarter Sessions31 to twelve further months on 20 October 1869.32 Details of this trial have not yet been found. No further gaol admissions were recorded on Charles's gaol record included in Ann's 1869 petition other than the sentence that resulted in the girls being sent to Newcastle. It was probably at this time that a warrant was issued for his arrest by Gosford Court for disobeying a summons for using threatening language. It was thought then that he had gone towards Maitland.33 By 1871 Charles and Ann were residing in Wallsend, a suburb of Newcastle.34 Charles was a witness in Wallsend in the rape case involving Leonard TRUBODY, the future husband of Sarah DURBIN. The NSW Police Gazette indicated that a warrant had been issued during 1872 by the Newcastle Bench for the arrest of thirty-five-year-old Charles TUCKER, a sawyer and bushman, charged with deserting his two children.35 It was recorded that Charles was working at Beach Brush near Broken Back Mountain twelve miles from Mount Vincent at this time. These children were unnamed but can't have been Annie and Mary as at this time these girls were still in the Industrial School. The two children were in the care of the family of Joseph and Jane HILL at Plattsburg at this date.36 It is believed that this was a reference to Ellen and Herbert. Charles was also wanted in connection with a theft of rations at Platsburgh37 – near Wallsend. He was eventually arrested by Sergeant FORD and Constable EGGLESTON of Tambaroora Police and was sent to Newcastle for trial. Charles was eventually discharged on the charge of deserting his children but was fined for the theft. No trace of either Ellen or Herbert has yet been confirmed after this date. Shortly afterwards Charles was arrested and appeared in Newcastle Court where he was sentenced to six months in Maitland Gaol38 after stealing five shillings from the Minmi innkeeper, William CORK.39 It is considered very likely, as descriptions are very similar, that Charles was also the man who was sought for a theft in the Nelligen area on the South Coast in 1875.40 This Charles TUCKER was described as a bushman who needed a finger and part of the bone in his hand removed after a fight in April 1880.41 He was admitted to Grafton gaol in 1889.42 Many depositions for Charles TUCKER, that may all refer to him, are listed in SRNSW. No trace has yet been found of Charles after 1889.

It is considered unlikely that there was a connection with the Charles TUCKER who married Mary BRADY in the Church of England Church, Brisbane Water, even though this was an area often frequented by Charles and Ann TUCKER. There is no record of a permission to marry but this man is almost certainly the transportee who had been born in Wiltshire and who had been arrived aboard the Waterloo in 1829. On the 1841C at Blue Gum Flat, Brisbane Water, this Charles TUCKER was recorded as married with his wife and one other male living in his house. All the household were shown as free and none was recorded as either born in the colony or arriving free. They were all between the ages of twenty-one and forty-five and were all recorded as Church of England so there was a difference in the religion between the two men named Charles TUCKER.

Charles was not the man who was the publican in Maitland's Metropolitan Hotel.

Ann MURPHY had been born in Australia in about 1841.43 Gaol records indicate that her place of birth was in the Hawkesbury area north of Sydney. Ann had no education.44 In August 1869, Ann TUCKER of Murrurundi was arrested for having stolen fabric.45 In November 1869, whilst Charles was in gaol Ann petitioned the Colonial Secretary. She requested a remission of his sentence because she was:46

… in the greatest distress and want, having four,47 children depending upon her for support her husband being in prison and owing to ill health she cannot work for a livelyhood.

It was considered by the authorities that Ann's petition should not have been presented so soon after Charles's imprisonment and therefore the request was denied.48 Ann appeared in Newcastle court in April 187249 and she was identified there as an old offender. Gaol records confirmed that she had been born on the Hawkesbury in about 1841.50 After about 1872 it seems likely that she and Charles lived separately and Ann may have gone to Sydney to be closer to her older daughters. Ann was admitted to Darlinghurst Gaol in 1874. When her daughter, Annie, absconded from her apprenticeship in 1878, the Police Gazette identified that Ann was living 'with a Mr. Saunders, opposite the "Handy Andy Hotel", Woollahra.'51 It is expected that Ann was reunited with both her daughters but it has only been confirmed that she had contact with Annie.

She is also thought to have been the woman appearing on the Darlinghurst prisoner returns in January 1878. It is further believed that she appeared in court in early November 1878 charged with drunkenness and obscene language52 and was again sent to Darlinghust for fourteen days. Ann was released on 20 November and doesn't appear again in court or gaol records after this date. It is therefore considered likely that Ann was the forty-year-old Ann TUCKER who died in Sydney in 1879. While this death has not been confirmed, it has been attributed to her.

It is believed that the Sarah TUCKER who was admitted to Biloela on 7 October 1878, and who had been born in about 1866, was not connected to the Newcastle admissions. This girl's still unidentified mother was residing in Randwick at the time of her arrest and her father was recorded as dead. She was a Catholic.53 Her court appearance has not been found in the Water Police Court on the trial date of 7 October 1875. No record of her birth has been confirmed but she was more likely to have been born in 186954 and be the daughter of Charles and Jane TUCKER, than to have been one of the two unidentified children of Charles and Ann TUCKER born before 1869 whose existence cannot be proven. Sarah was discharged from Biloela as an apprentice in November 1880 but absconded and no record of an arrest or a readmission for her has been identified. A Sarah A. TUCKER was the mother to an illegitimate daughter named Jessie in Forbes in 1886.55 The coincidence of these names and the locality of Forbes have not been proved to be anything more than coincidence.

Note 1: The Charles TUCKER and his wife, Jane, the couple charged with the gross ill-treatment of their child, Jessie TUCKER, in December 187256 are not the same couple and it is not thought the this family was connected despite the similarity of the names and ages of their children. The NSW Police Gazette in 1873 identified Jane TUCKER's place of birth as Scotland.57 Three years later, in October 1875, the couple were charged with murdering Jessie. At their trial, their daughter, Mary Jane, Jessie's sister, '… gave evidence to the effect that she [Jessie] was treated the same as the other children – she used to be fat in the summer, and fall away again in the winter.58 The couple were acquitted.59 Jessie's death registration indicated that her mother was named Jane60 and her birth registration was made in the same year as that of Mary Jane. Online trees for Lachlan J. TUCKER identified that his parents were Charles TUCKER and Jane McKINNON61 This tree has identified that Jane's age was almost the same as that of Ann but that Charles was approximately eight years younger than the father of the Newcastle admissions and, if he told the truth, had not been born in NSW but in England.62 It is believed that this man was released from Port Macquarie gaol in 1868 after serving a sentence of three years. He stated that he had arrived aboard the Edinburgh in 1857. He had been born in about 1836 and was shorter than the father of Annie and Mary.63

Note 2: It is uncanny that Charles TUCKER, who married Elizabeth EDWARDS, who were often featured in ploughing competitions and were leading citizens in Maitland, also had children named Amy and Herbert. This man had a brother named George TUCKER. The Charles TUCKER who died in 189064 was the son of Herbert TUCKER, the son-in-law of William BUCHANAN and the son of this man. No link has been found between his family and the family of the Newcastle admissions.


Name Variations Amy TUCKER

Annie's birth had almost without doubt been registered in Mudgee in 1863 as Amy TUCKER. Although her birth had been registered while her family was residing at Lagoon, near Mudgee, she had actually been born in the Lake Macquarie area on 18 October 1863.65 This may very well have been the location of Teralba where it was known that her mother was living in 1871.66 The Entrance Book indicated that Annie was six at the time of her admission to Newcastle.67 In April 1875 she was confined to the hospital at Biloela with measles.68

On 15 April 1875, Francis William BOURNE of Beckford House, Bent Street, Paddington, applied to the Colonial Secretary for an apprentice. Selina WALKER, the superintendent at this time, arranged for Annie to be apprenticed to BOURNE. She stated that Annie's behaviour had been good and that she had been in the school since 10 August 1869.69 No further details of the apprenticeship appear in the correspondence. In her report on 10 May, WALKER confirmed that Annie had been discharged from Biloela on 8 May.70 In January 1878 Annie absconded from her apprenticeship with BOURNE, who was reported in the Police Gazette as BROWN. By this date BOURNE was a residento f Saunders Street. It was believed at this time that she may have returned to her mother who was a resident of Woollahra on the North Shore of Sydney.71 It is unknown whether Annie was ever apprehended and returned to her apprenticeship after this date. This incident indicated that Annie's mother had reentered her life and that by 1878 both women were still in Sydney.

It is possible but had not yet been confirmed that Annie was the resident in Ryde who was summonded to appear at Ryde Court in April 188472 for selling spirituous liquors. A month later she was provided with the alias of GALBRAITH when she was fined £10 for 'conveying about 5 gallons of beer, reasonably supposed to be for sale in an unlicensed house'.73

Further references in the Police Gazette may also refer to Annie.

Where has She Gone?

No further correspondence concerning Annie has been found in the CSIL and no trace of her has yet been verified after January 1878. The illegitimate birth of Leonard W. TUCKER (3049/1889-2077/1889), whose mother was named Annie, occurred in Sydney in 1889. The Benevolent Asylum records show that this woman had probably been born in 1857. If this age was correct, this reference is unlikely to refer to this girl as she was too old to be the Newcastle girl.

Mary Jane TUCKER

Husband unknown b. m. d.
Son b. m. d.
Daughter Minnie E. TUCKER b. 188574 m. d.

Annie's birth registration indicated that she had an older, unnamed sister and there is little doubt that this sister was Mary.75 Mary Jane's birth had been registered in Mudgee in 1862.76 On her arrival in Newcastle on 10 August 1869, the Entrance Book recorded that she was seven.77 No records have been found for Mary Jane until 13 April 1875, when Thomas SLATTERY of Campbelltown, applied for an apprentice

… between 9 and 10 years of age to mind a baby and in her spare time to be taught needlework.

SLATTERY's application was supported by William FINCHAM the Congregational Minister who described SLATTERY as 'very industrious' and 'strictly sober.' SLATTERY's wife was a dressmaker. FINCHAM requested that a Catholic girl be sent as SLATTERY was also Catholic. Selina WALKER arranged that Mary Jane be apprenticed to SLATTERY for five years at a rate of a shilling for the first year, two shillings for the second and third years and three shillings for the final two years. She informed the Colonial Secretary on 3 May 1875, that Mary Jane had been apprenticed to Mr T. SLATTERY of Campbelltown.78 The birth of the illegitimate child, Minnie E. TUCKER, who had been born in 1885 in Sydney, has been attributed to her.

Because Mary Jane's sister, Annie, was reunited with their mother,79 there is a strong chance that attempts were made by them to locate Mary Jane. Campbelltown is not close to Sydney but it is possible that a reunion occurred.

Where has She Gone?

Mary Jane is not likely to be Mary Jane TUCKETT? The woman, Mary Jane JONES or TUCKER, who was admitted to Biloela Gaol on 10 April 1890, charged with vagrancy80 was reported as TUCKETT in the newspapers. Newspapers indicated that she had been born in about 1858. A child she had with her was sent to the Benevolent Asylum.81 In 1886 this Mary Jane TUCKETT was almost certainly the same person charged with vagrancy and sent to Goulburn Gaol.82 Goulburn records indicated that she had been born in about 1855 so was probably too old but significantly, she had been tried at Gosford so has not be discounted. No marriage to a JONES or vice versa has been located but three births to Mary Jane and William Thomas TUCKETT were registered between 1881 and 1888. These children and Mary Jane were often admitted to the Sydney Benevolent Asylum. William TUCKETT had married Mary Jane ORGAN in Gosford in 1880.83 He was also imprisoned in Goulburn for an assault from Gosford and Goulburn Gaol records indicated that he had been born in China. William was probably the man who was found dead on the railway line near Liverpool in July 188984 and who had died due to injuries received. This man had been born in England.85 Mary Jane TUCKETT died in 191586 in Sydney.

The only registered death of a Mary J. TUCKER occurred in Petersham in 190487 and indicated a married woman, the widow of another Charles TUCKER. No link to any of the men of this name have yet been investigated. There has been no marriage found in NSW for the Mary BARRY who died in 1912 at the age of 58 (13121/1912) whose maiden name was TUCKER and whose parents weren’t known but this woman was perhaps too old to be connected. The Mary Hannah TUCKER tried at Paterson on 15 February 1881, was deemed insane so mental health records may assist with identifying whether this is one of the two sisters88 although it is considered unlikely.

Note:** Because another family in NSW had a daughter named Mary Jane TUCKER who was approximately the same age, it is considered unlikely that the woman of this name who was stabbed in the abdomen at Forbes in January 1886 was the Newcastle girl. There is very little doubt that this stabbing victim was the same woman who was the witness at the death of Jessie TUCKER ten years earlier89 and this girl was the daughter of Charles and Jane TUCKER. She was probably the Mary Jane TUCKER who married BLACKER and had been born in 1859 and died in 1932.

Updated September 2016

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