Catherine WALKER
Father William Robert1 WALKER b. 18102 m. (1) none (2) none d. aft. 1872
Step-mother unidentified b. m. d.
Mother Frances COLE aka CLARKE b.c. 18263 m. none d. 18714
sibling unknown WALKER5 b. bef. 1856 m. none - d. bef. 1856
Inmate Catherine WALKER b. 18566 m. 1887 (see below) d. 19517
Brother William WALKER aka COLE b. 18598 m. d. 18879
Husband (1) Benjamin ENGLISH10 b. 184611 m. (1) none d. 191112
Husband (2) John HAMILTON b.c. 184313 m. (2) 188714 d. 191215
Son William WALKER b. 187516 m. none - d. 187517
Daughter Litlent [Lillian] Frances W. WALKER b. 187918 m. d.
Daughter Mary Ellen WALKER b. 188319 m. d.
Son Theoras [Thomas] M. WALKER b.c. 1880 m. none - d. 188420
Son John Albert HAMILTON b. 188821 m. d. aft. 1951
Son William E. HAMILTON b. 189022 m. none - d. 189023
Daughter Mildred Isabel HAMILTON b. 189124 m. (1) 191125 (2) 192326 Frank C. WALL (2) Joseph B. R. SKINNER d. 197627
Daughter Gertrude Mary Eileen HAMILTON b. 189428 m. (1) 191429 (2) 194730 (1) William H. ELLIOTT (2) Francis John LOXLEY d. 198131
Daughter Ethel M. HAMILTON b. 189632 m. none - d. 189633
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Mother Frances COLE34 44 4' 9¾" brown hazel swarthy medium

Catherine was arrested in Tamworth around July 1867, and was one of the very first – if not the first – girls admitted to Newcastle. It is believed that Catherine appeared in court at the same time or shortly after the appearance of her brother, William. On 30 July 1867, William had appeared in the Tamworth court and from there was sent on board the Vernon. He was admitted there on 17 August and was described as:

no partitioner[?]
He says he has a nurse[?] mother[?] alive
dirty habits, rather dull in intellect and disposition conduct indifferent at first but has greatly improved can read and progressing in school.

William was the only William WALKER admitted to the Vernon until 1888 so information from the Vernon list compiled in 187235 indicating the capacity of parents to contribute to the upkeep of the boys on board, must refer to him and his family. William's admission to the Vernon at this early date may suggest that Catherine was actually the first girl to be arrested under the Act for the Relief of Destitute Children as with the likely knowledge of the Tamworth police that Newcastle was to open,36 they may have held her in Tamworth for the month before her admission.37 When the Tamworth newspapers are scanned further information about the arrests of William and Catherine and their family may be uncovered.

Catherine was one of the large number of girls recorded in the Entrance Book on the first day of admissions – 31 August 1867. These entries were made in decreasing order according to the age of the girl. She was described as ten years of age and a Catholic whose level of education was recorded as 'First Book; on slate'. Catherine’s medical assessment by Dr HARRIS indicated that she was a virgin.38 She was identified as the daughter of William WALKER but her mother was unnamed in the Entrance Book although it was noted that she was in Maitland Gaol. Catherine transferred to Biloela and in a letter to the Colonial Secretary by LUCAS on 23 June 1871, she was recorded as Kate WALKER who he identified as eligible for service.39 Catherine was named in the Second Report of the Commissioners of Public Charities undertaken in late 1873 and reported in the SMH on 2 June 1874. The report indicated that:

The duties which the paternal care of the institution saw neglected with indifference, were, it is told to the praise of Catherine WALKER, one of the girls in the school, as long as she was there, reverently observed. Since she left a witness states that she has not known the girls to say their prayers.40

The Entrance Book simply recorded the pencilled words ‘discharged’ and ‘1871’ near Catherine's name and beneath her entry date41 but LUCAS confirmed that Catherine was discharged as an apprentice to Mr Edward FARR of Keppel Street,42 Bathurst, in his report of 5 December 1871.43 LUCAS's April 1872 list identified that Catherine had been discharged on 27 November 1871, and it further reported that her apprenticeship had been transferred to G. W. THOMPSON, Esq., also of Bathurst, in January 1872.44 Further details of this apprenticeship transfer were outlined in a bundle of letters where it was noted that the transfer 'might be of benefit to the girl herself as Mr Thompson resides a few miles out of the town'. On 1 September 1873, a further request was made by THOMPSON to transfer Catherine's apprenticeship to A. G. STUCKLEY [?] J.P. of Rockley. The Colonial Secretary's only communication in this part of the correspondence was to identify if Catherine was over 18.45

Knowing the location of Catherine's apprenticeship strongly suggested that some or all of the illegitimate children born to Catherine WALKER in Bathurst between 1875 and 1883 belonged to her and all these births have been attributed to her but only one registration has been viewed so this assumption may not be correct. Bathurst Pioneers,46 identified that the father of Catherine's first child, William WALKER, who was born on 1 March 1875, was Benjamin ENGLISH.47 Benjamin was identified in Bathurst Pioneers as subsequently marrying Elizabeth SCROGINGS in 187748 so it is considered unlikely that he was the father of any of Catherine's subsequent children. The birth registration of Mary Ellen WALKER in 1883 indicated that her mother, Catherine, of George Street, Bathurst, was the informant. Mary Ellen had been born on 3 April 1883. Her mother, Catherine, had been born in NSW and was twenty-seven years old. This is an extremely good match for Catherine's year of birth and while the birth location was not specific, it would also match what little is known of her. Unfortunately no other children were listed on Mary Ellen's registration so it is unknown whether any existed or if they did, whether they were still alive.

Catherine returned to Sydney after this birth where she married the 44-year-old brickmaker, John HAMILTON, who had been born in Grenfell. The couple placed a marriage announcement in the Sydney Morning Herald on 15 April 1887. The name and middle initial of her father, her initial arrest location and her family position of 'only daughter' were identified in the notice which stated:

HAMILTON – WALKER. – April 14 by the Rev. Ernest Claude Buck, at St. Andrews Cathedral, John Hamilton of Grenfell, to Catherine Ellen Walker, of Sydney, only daughter of William R. Walker, of Tamworth.49

The St Andrew's, Sydney, record confirmed that Catherine's father was the carpenter, William Robert WALKER, and that her mother was Frances CLARKE. Catherine identified that she was a 25-year-old spinster who had been born at Marrickville but was a resident of West Maitand at the time she married. This location of West Maitland strongly suggested a connection to the area and that she may have been reunited with family members – perhaps her mother and her older half-siblings. John's parents were identified as John HAMILTON, a squatter, and Bridget RYAN. The witnesses were Thompson WATSON and Edward CROKER.50

Children were subsequently born to John and Catherine HAMILTON in Bathurst, Grenfell and Temora. Two of these children died as infants. John died in Forbes in April 1912 after playing a game of billiards. His obituary identified that his wife was Ellen but correctly stated his number of children and the age of his youngest child. It further specified that he had originally lived in Grenfell, had been well-known in Temora and had only lived in Forbes for about ten years. These locations match the locations of the registrations of the births of his and Catherine's children. John's parents on his death registration were confirmed as John and Bridget HAMILTON. At the inquest John's wife stated:

… that deceased was 70 years of age last January. He was born at Sydney, and was a brickmaker by trade, but an injury that had crippled him since youth had prevented him from following that calling of late years. Occasionally he took too much drink, but as a rule he was temperate. He left no property, neither was his life insured. He was an invalidity pensioner. He had never been attended by a doctor since he was married. Witness last saw him alive about 3 o'clock yesterday, when he was sober, and appeared to be in his usual health. … The deceased had left three children, the youngest of whom was 18.51

It is almost entirely certain that Catherine died at the reported age of 95 as Catherine Ellen HAMILTON at her home at 149 Lawrence Street, Alexandria, in September 1951. On the death registration her father was recorded as Robert but no mother was identified.52 Her Funeral Notice named her surviving children as John Albert HAMILTON, Mrs SKINNER and Mrs LOXLEY.53 This death clearly identified the death of the woman who married John HAMILTON and the age was an exact match for the year of birth of the Catherine WALKER who had been admitted to Newcastle. Catherine was cremated at Botany Crematorium on 14 September and her ashes were taken by her family.54


There is no doubt that Catherine's birth was registered in 1857 on the Liverpool Plains55 close to the Tamworth area where it was known that the Newcastle admission had been arrested. This was the only birth of a Catherine or Kate WALKER whose details matched what was recorded in the Entrance Book. On this record in the NSW BDM Index, Catherine's mother was identified as Frances. This couple were also identified as the parents of a son, the correct name and age of the boy who had been admitted to the Vernon in July 1867. Catherine had been born in Tamworth on 17 November 1856, and her parents were named on her birth registration as William WALKER and Frances CLARKE. William was the informant. The birth registration showed that an older child born to the couple had died. William stated on the registration that the date and location of their marriage was unknown.56 This statement and the lack of any marriage registration is a very strong suggestion that Catherine and her brother, William, were illegitimate. There is no record of any marriage between any man with the surname WALKER and any woman named CLARK, CLARKE or COLE. No other births to William and Frances have been found on the NSW BDM Index but it may be, based on Frances' surname identified in the gaol records, that the other child was recorded in the earlier baptism of Henry T. COLE in 1854.57 This baptism record will be read as it may provide a family location and, if it is a Catholic baptism, Frances' maiden name should also be identified. It must be considered that William or the transcriber of the birth registration, made an error with Frances' maiden name on Catherine's birth registration in 1857.

The identity of William WALKER is uncertain. It is unknown whether he had been transported although this is considered quite likely. Catherine's birth registration identified that he had been born in Yorkshire, England, in about 1810 and was a builder.58 The Vernon list of 1872, referring to the admission William WALKER and indicating the capacity of his parents to pay for his support in an industrial school, provided the details of William senior describing him as:

W. R. WALKER, Waterloo
Father earns on an average of 20/- per week – has a wife and 3 children.59

William cannot yet be accurately identified in Sand's Directory and the City of Sydney Assessment Books are yet to be searched. It is unknown whether this second marriage to this currently unidentified woman, occurred in the Tamworth area either before or after his relationship with Catherine and William's mother or whether he had moved from Tamworth before or shortly after the arrest of his two – possibly eldest – children. It has been assumed that the three children were different children to William and his sister. Because at the time of Catherine and William's arrests their family was identified as vagrant, it is likely that William senior had abandoned Frances and her two children. He may have left to seek work but he never returned. It is considered possible that the births of William A. and Everard M. WALKER in Newtown were Catherine's half-siblings as the name of William's next wife remains unknown but neither registration has been viewed. On 29 June 1857, a William WALKER married Elizabeth Wooley GOODWIN in St Peter's, Armidale,60 and this marriage may possibly be a connection.

No identification of William senior has been made but two convicts of this name and born in approximately 1810 in either York or Yorkshire, arrived on the Lord Lyndoch and the Asia (10) respectively. There were two men of a similar age living in the Hunter Valley or the Liverpool Plains during the 1840s and 1850s but nothing has yet been located to connect any of these men to Catherine WALKER. He was not the William Robert WALKER who died in 1900 as this man was only 31.61

On Catherine's birth registration the informant, Frances' husband William, identified that his wife had formerly been Frances CLARKE who had been born in Parramatta in about 1820.62 It is possible that William may have been in error with Frances' maiden name. The birth registration for Catherine's brother, the child, William, has not been viewed to identify whether the surname of his mother agreed with that shown on the registration of his sister but it almost certainly recorded two surnames for Frances. His birth registration was recorded on the NSW BDM Index with the two surnames, WALKER and COLE63 so Frances' maiden name or former name was either CLARKE or COLE. No newspaper accounts have yet been found that show anyone named France/is WALKER having been admitted to gaol during the 1860s however a Francis COLE was admitted from Tamworth for three months with hard labour to Maitland Gaol in August 1867 after having appeared before WILLIAMSON and IRVING at Tamworth for having no lawful or visible means of support. There is little doubt that this woman was Catherine's mother as the date, year, location and the notation in the Entrance Book all agree with these details. Frances was described in the gaol records as a washerwoman who had been born in Parramatta in about 1825 therefore matching the information recorded on Catherine's birth registration. She was a Protestant. Frances was discharged from Maitland Gaol on 22 October 1867.64

No woman named Frances COLE appeared on the 1828C. A transportee named Frances COLE arrived on the Canada (2) in 1810. She had been tried in Middlesex on 12 April 1809 so may appear on the Old Bailey records.

Frances COLE had returned to Tamworth by 1869 when on 28 May she was sentenced to a further six months gaol for vagrancy.65 A further sentence of six months was again passed at Tamworth on 2 January 1870.66 Her sentences were served in Maitland Gaol and by 1869 she was describing herself as a widow.67 Other court appearances, usually for vagrancy, for Frances COLE almost certainly also occurred in Maitland.68 By October 1870 Frances was in Sydney where she was appeared before the Water Police and was again sent to gaol for three months.69 On 5 November she was transferred to the Parramatta Asylum70 where she almost certainly died in 1871 at the age of 48.71

Catherine's brother, William, may have been the man of this name who died in Waterloo in 1887, at the age of twenty-nine.

The following woman is not connected to Catherine due to her age and the reserch of her descendants. Because of the similarity of her surname to this research her details have been left for elimination purposes and to avoid completing it again.

Husband John COOKE b.c. 1807 m. 184072 d. 186473
Wife Frances HAMILTON b.c. 1813 m. 184074 d. 187375
Daughter Margaret COOKE b. 183976 m. 185577 James DIVE/S d. 189478
Daughter Mary A. COOKE b. 184279 m. 185880 Thomas LOVEDAY d. 191881
Son John R. COOK b.c. 1842 m. none - d. 184282
Son John R. COOK b. 184683 m. Louisa Adelaide ADLARD d. 189684
Daughter Rebecca COOK b. 184985 m. d.

One Frances CLARKE who appeared often in gaol records from about 1864 was the wife of John COOK/E and her maiden name was HAMILTON. From 1842 she was recorded as both Frances CLARKE and Frances COOK. Her last admission to Maitland was in 1873. NSW gaol records indicated that she was a frequent offender who had been admitted often and who had been born in either Ireland or Scotland between about 1807 and 1813. She had been admitted to Maitland Gaol from Newcastle Court by Helenus SCOTT on about 8 May. Her admission identified that she had arrived on the George Hibbert in about 1833. In 1860 she was identified as on a bond but was free by servitude.86 Frances lived in Lochinvar west of Maitland during the early 1850s87 and she had married after her arrival. In an admission to Newcastle in 1850 she was admitted with a child.88 Frances had first married John COOKE who had been transported aboard the Norfolk. John COOK and Fanny HAMILTON had received permission to marry in Maitland on 11 March 1840.89 They married on 30 March 1840, at a West Maitland chapel by W. STACK. The witnesses were Mitchell HASKITT and Peter GREEN.90

Fanny HAMILTON was named on the indent of the George Hibbert in 1834. She had been transported for seven years. She had been born in Country Antrim, Ireland, but had been tried in Glasgow. She was single and a housemaid at the time of her arrival.91 By marrying John COOKE, she became more difficult to trace as a convict as she hid her convict past. Frances died in Maitland Gaol on 6 June 1873, of dysentery and diarrhoea after living a terrible life of vagrancy and abuse. At the time of her death she was described as having been born in Ireland.92

Updated November 2018

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