The WHITE Sisters
Father William WHITE b.c. 18321 m. 1856 d. aft. 1868
Mother Mary Ann HEALY or WHITE or SHORT b. 18382 m. 1856 d. 18803
Inmate Isabella WHITE b. 18584 m. 1878 (see below) d. 19455
Brother George aka Henry WHITE b. 18606 m. unknown d. aft. 1872
Inmate Mary WHITE b. 18627 m. unknown (see below) d. aft. 1875
Sister Ann aka Jane WHITE b.c. 1865 m. unknown d. aft. 1868

In early March 1868, because she was destitute, Mary Ann WHITE petitioned the Colonial Secretary to have her four illegitimate children admitted to the Randwick Asylum from Goulburn. Her petition was supported by the local Church of England minister, W. SOWERBY. Because they were illegitimate, this request was rejected by 'certain gentlemen of the House Committee, constituting a majority, labouring under the misapprehension that such a rule (or at least a Bye Law to that effect) was in existence.' In May, Mary Ann again petitioned for their admission to Randwick and this time she was informed that if she sent her children's ages and religions to Randwick, they would be admitted. No admissions to Randwick for any of her children occurred as a telegram from the Chief Clerk of the Colonial Secretary's Office specified that 'another solution' was available and should be implemented.8 This solution was an admission to the Newcastle Industrial School.

On Monday, 20 July 1868,9 Mary Ann's three older children, Isabella, Mary and George, were brought up for protection and appeared at the Goulburn Police Court. It was reported in the newspapers that their mother was unable to provide for them10 so they had been sent to beg in the streets.11 Isabella and her younger sister, Mary, were sent to Newcastle, and their brother, George, was sent onto the Vernon. George was received on board on 2 July 1868, and Mary and Isabella appeared in the Entrance Book for Newcastle on 18 July 1868. It is believed likely that the sisters were admitted earlier than this date and that the entry in the register was made later but this is speculation and is based only on George's admission date. The Goulburn newspapers do not provide any further information about the family but because there seemed to have been nothing scandalous about their arrest, there was almost certainly no need for further reporting and no further newspaper articles have yet been located that can be connected to the family.


The WHITE children were illegitimate and while their births were registered they do not appear on the index to be siblings. Locating these registrations is very difficult and the evidence of their illegitimacy was only recorded in the CSIL.12 This correspondence didn't identify the children's father but did strongly suggest that the four siblings shared the same father. Building the identity of the family can be commenced with details of their mother outlined in references in the Police Gazette, the Newcastle Entrance Book and the admissions to the Vernon. These records all noted that their mother was Mary Ann WHITE and the Entrance Book added that she was a widow.13 It is unknown who provided these details about Mary Ann to the authorities. George's Vernon admission further identified that any correspondence for his mother would reach her care of W. JOHNSON, Grafton Street, Goulburn,14 however, by 1872, the Vernon list of destitute boys recorded the notation, 'mother's whereabouts not known' beside George's name.15

Identifying Mary Ann is a laborious process that would not have been possible without the assistance of and extensive research of her descendants. The process of making a clearer identification is ongoing. Because Mary Ann's petitions were completed and signed by her using the surname WHITE and declaring that she was a spinster, it has been assumed that their certification by Rev. W. SOWERBY stating 'that the stated in the above are correct' was what he believed to be true. SOWERBY's honesty and verification must be assumed due to his position in the community. This then suggested that the surname of the children's mother was more likely to have been WHITE and the surname of their father was probably not WHITE but this can't yet be verified and this assumption may still be found to be incorrect. It remains uncertain whether Mary's maiden name was WHITE, HEALY, SHORT or some other surname entirely.

The birth registrations for the three children admitted to Newcastle and the Vernon have been identified. Their births were all registered in Goulburn and the registration years matched the known ages of each of the three siblings. Parents on these three registrations were identified as William and Mary Ann but the surnames of these parents varied with each record. Details from these registrations, while not matching exactly, almost without any doubt refer to the same mother – or to her extended family. It is significant that the registration of the eldest child, Isabella, contains different ages for her parents. This registration must be read in conjunction with details of the siblings from official records, details from their likely birth registrations and the recollections of Isabella's daughter, Clara.

Isabella's birth was registered in 1858 as Isabella SHORT. The registration identified that Isabella had been born at Run of Water, Goulburn, on 28 June 1858.16 Confirmation of this date was made by Clara OPENSHAW during the 1970s when she recalled that her mother, Isabella, had been born in Goulburn, on 25 June 1858. It is believed by Isabella's descendants that this birth was registered by Isabella's grandmother, Mary Ann WHITE, nee DONOVAN formerly SHORT, and that it recorded an illegitimate birth for her daughter, Mary Ann. If this is true, and age differences on this record and those of Isabella's sibling suggest that it is, these details were almost certainly made in an attempt to protect the younger woman's reputation and to cover the fact that Isabella was illegitimate. Mary Ann and her recorded husband, William SHORT, were both forty-five so had both been born in about 1813. Mary Ann had been born in London and William had been born in Bristol. The birth transcription erroneously identified that they had married in 1850. This year probably indicated an error in the transcription on the NSW BDM Index17 as the marriage may be found located in the records of St Saviour's, Goulburn, on 10 March 1856.18 Mary Ann (X) SHORT had been married to William (X) WHITE on 10 March 1856, at St Saviour's, Goulburn, by W. SOWERBY. No further information appeared on the marriage registration but the church record identified that William was a bachelor from Brisbane Grove and Mary was a widow from Springfield. She was not referred to as Mary Ann on the church record. The witnesses were Thomas (X) BULL of Brisbane Grove and Catherine CAPEL of Goulburn. Mary Ann SHORT recorded that Isabella had two older sisters who were living and three deceased brothers. This suggested that Mary Ann almost certainly had a mother in the local area and also almost certainly an aunt in NSW. There is no verification yet found of who these women were or where they went.

It is only on subsequent birth registrations attributed to Mary and George aka Henry, that the birth details for Isabella's actual mother, also named Mary Ann, were recorded. Parent details are consistent for the birth registrations of Mary and Henry WHITE so these two children appear to be siblings. Henry's mother was Mary Ann SHORT, who was twenty-two and who stated on both records that she had been born in Sydney in about 1838. The 1860 birth registration of Henry WHITE indicated that he was born on 3 July 1860. Henry's father was twenty-nine year old, William WHITE, a labourer, who had been born in England. Henry's registration indicated that he had an older sister. This sister was not identified but was almost certainly Isabella. The transcription for the birth of Mary WHITE on 10 August 1862, identified that her mother was the twenty-three-year-old Mary Anne HEALY. Her father was identified as William WHITE, a labourer, who was thirty and who had been born in Bristol. Mary had an older brother and an older sister. Mary Ann WHITE was living in Mundy Street, Goulburn, when Mary's birth registration was made. Although the surname on Mary's birth registration indicated that her mother was Mary Ann HEALY, there is little doubt that this was the third registration of three of the WHITE siblings.

Events would suggest that Mary Ann's mother and step-father had moved from Goulburn or had disowned her. She stated in her first petition to the Colonial Secretary that her youngest child, Ann, was two-and-a-half, but in the second petition, also written by Mary Ann, she was recorded as Jane, aged three19 so the child had had a birthday between the dates of the petitions. No birth of an Ann, Anne, Annie or Jane was registered in Goulburn between 1 March 1865 and 31 May 1865. No mention of this girl was made in the Police Gazette or the newspapers at the time of the arrest of her older siblings. No birth registration for Ann aka Jane has been verified. It has been assumed that Ann aka Jane remained with her mother for some time after her siblings were removed from Mary Ann's care but even this may not be correct as, if the mother was in dire circumstances, her child may have been informally adopted by a local parishioner or been given to her grandmother, the woman who registered Isabella's birth. It is also possible that Ann aka Jane may have been known by the name Matilda.20

It is believed that Mary Ann WHITE was admitted to Gladesville Hospital in Sydney on 24 October 1879, after suffering a small stroke in the street. The Gladesville casebook indicated that she had first been admitted to the Sydney Infirmary. She been born in London but the casebook also stated that:

Nothing appears to have been known of this woman until she was taken to the Sydney Infirmary.21

Mary Ann remained in Gladesville until she died on 16 February 1880, at the age of forty-five. The casebook and her death registration indicated that she had been the wife of a labourer and had had four children.22 These matches of Mary Ann's age and the number of her children, the fact that she had been married and her birth location of London support that this registration identified the death of Isabella and Mary's mother. It has been tentatively accepted by her descendants.

It is possible that Mary WHITE was sentenced to three months labour in Darlinghurst at the CPO on 14 June 1869, for vagrancy as it is conceivable that she left Goulburn after her children were sent to the industrial schools. This woman stated that she had been born in Ireland in 1840. No ship of arrival or description was included in the Police Gazette23 A Mary WHITE was released from Darlinghurst in January 1870 [PG1870: p.5]. A Mary WHITE alias NOWLAN who had arrived on the Andromeda in 1833 was sentenced to three months in Bathurst Gaol for petty larceny on 31 March 1864, at Carcoar [PG1864: p. 233].

The children's father has not yet been identified. While records do suggest that he was named William, even this is uncertain. No appropriate marriage has been identified and it is possible, because the WHITE children were illegitimate, that their father may already have had a wife preventing a marriage to Mary Ann SHORT. It must also be considered that Mary Ann's mother had died and her step-father had begun a relationship with her. It is possible that any re-marriage for him would be unacceptable. There is, however, no evidence that this was the case.

It is believed by Isabella's descendants that the only boy in the family, George, may have been named after his father.24 It was notable that Isabella also named one of her sons George and this given name may suggest another possible avenue of investigation that may uncover identity of her father. Mary Ann's petitions confirmed that by 1868, the father of her children was 'now an insolvent debtor.'25 Insolvency records are still being investigated in an attempt to identify him. The Goulburn papers for this period have not yet been completely scanned so it is likely that further information about a possible identity of the children's father may be made when they become completely available.

William WHITE may be the man who appeared in an article on Trove dated 29 June 1867, where a first sitting for insolvency was held in the Supreme court, Sydney. He was present. This article has not been located. The time period is appropriate for this to be the children's father. One debt for 8 pound 15 shillings was proved. The sitting was closed and the third sitting was fixed for 8 August. A meeting of creditors was set down for 16 October,26 but there is no further information available after this appearance.27

There is no indication that the following men are or may be connected. A George WHITE was sentenced to take his trial at Braidwood Quarter Sessions on 2 February 1870, and was admitted to trial for perjury to be tried in July.28 A man of this name who been tried at Bathurst Quarter Sessions for forgery on the 16 February 1869, and who had received twelve months, was released from Bathurst around 25 February 1869. He was a labourer born in England in 1836. He was 5’ 6¼” tall with a sallow complexion, dark brown hair and brown eyes. He had arrived on the Croesus in 1850.

Isabella WHITE

Husband Christopher CHANTLER b. m. 187829 d. 193730
Son Christopher CHANTLER b. 187931 m. d. 194632
Daughter Harriett CHANTLER b.c. 1881 m. none - d. 197333
Daughter Sarah Mary CHANTLER b. 188334 m. 190535 Thomas L. BUTLIN d. 196036
Son George CHANTLER b.188437 m. 190538 Maud Elizabeth HEFFERNAN d. 196639
Daughter Ellen CHANTLER b. 188640 m. 192141 Charles Herbert LING d. 196942
Son Frank CHANTLER b. 189043 m. 192344 Annie E. M. THOMPSON d. 197345
Daughter Clara CHANTLER b. 189346 m. 192047 Herbert OPENSHAW d. 197948
Daughter Daisy CHANTLER b. 189649 m. none - d. 189750

Isabella WHITE
(Image generously provided by and used courtesy of her descendant, Patricia)

Isabella was recorded in the Entrance Book as a ten-year-old Protestant who could read the second book and write in a copy book.51 This reading and writing ability was higher than other girls the same age who were admitted to the school. Her mother was able to read and write well as evidenced by her petitions to the Colonial Secretary. This may suggest that a relatively stable family life had existed before her admission to Newcastle.

On 18 August 1870, the two sisters, Mary and Isabella, were separated when Isabella was apprenticed by CLARKE to Mr H. H. BENNETT of East Maitland.52 A letter from CLARKE to the Colonial Secretary outlined the BENNETT family's desire to have a younger child as an apprentice. A further letter written on 8 August 1870 outlined her wages and described the locality of Bolwarra. Isabella was to be paid three shillings a week for the first two years, four shillings a weeks for the third year, five shillings a week for the fourth year and six shillings a week for the fifth year of her apprenticeship. Letters of recommendation attached to the correspondence from A. McCULLUM and James SMITH stated that the BENNETTs wished 'to get a little girl to bring up' and described BENNETT as a 'respectable, sober and industrious man [who] is blessed in having a kind and affectionate wife and I have no doubt the little girl they wish to adopt will find a very comfortable home.53 Henry Harvey BENNETT and his wife, operated a farm near Pitnacree Road, East Maitland. BENNETT was also the manager of a property on the Liverpool Plains near Warialda. The BENNETTs were childless and Isabella was eventually included as part of their family. BENNETT's obituary suggested that the couple had also raised two other children who they had informally adopted. By 1877, Isabella was working on Tulloona near Warialda when, on a visit to East Maitland, she gave ten shillings to the Maitland Benevolent Society.54 Isabella married Christopher CHANTLER at Tulloona the following year. Her marriage registration confirmed her year of birth and indicated that she had been born in Goulburn.55

After the deaths of the BENNETTs, Isabella inherited the farm and house in East Maitland – in the area now known as Tenambit.56 Isabella's eldest granddaughter, Marion, a daughter of Sarah, married the son of a nephew of H. H. BENNETT.57 It is believed by Isabella's descendants that, because BENNETT was a lay preacher at St Peter's Church, East Maitland, and the owner of the property Tulloona, G. W. PAINE, was the brother-in-law of Samuel CLIFT who was also a lay preacher at St Peter's Church in East Maitland, this relationship facilitated Isabella being given a situation on the Liverpool Plains where she met CHANTLER.58 Christopher died at his residence, 2 Morpeth Street, East Maitland, in 1937. He was buried in the Church of England Cemetery, East Maitland, on 2 July.59 Isabella died in East Maitland on 28 March 1945. The NSW BDM Index indicated that she was 86 but recorded no parents.

Isabella's story is one of the few happy outcomes of admissions to the Newcastle School but it is unknown whether she and her sister were ever reunited or able to maintain a relationship.


Husband Patrick CARRICK or GARRICK b. m. 188160 d.
Son Martin Everard CARRICK b. 188261 m. d. 194462
Son Clifford W. C. I. CARRICK b. 188463 m. d.
Son James C. CARRICK b. 188764 m. none - d. 188765

Mary was six years old when she was admitted to Newcastle66 At the time of her admission, Mary, recorded as a Protestant, was able to either recite or read the alphabet. There was no comment recorded about her ability to write. Her birth was registered in Goulburn as Mary WHITE. Her admission age, the NSW birth registration year and her mother’s name on both the registration and in the Entrance Book all agree. Mary was separated from her sister after Isabella's apprenticeship to East Maitland so of the two, only she transferred with the school to Biloela in May 1871. She was recorded by LUCAS in his April 1872 list as 'In the Institution.'67 It isn’t known whether the sisters ever met again after this separation.

On 14 October 1874, Frederick MERRITT applied for an apprentice from Biloela. His application was supported by J. P. ROCHE, of Campbelltown. A further letter from Frederick's wife, Susan, was written on 27 October and she requested an apprentice 'by next Saturday as it is a most convenient day.' DALE, the acting Superintendent recommended Mary to take the six-year apprenticeship and specified that she was to be paid a shilling a week for the first two years, two shillings a week for years three and four and three shillings a week for the final two years. DALE further outlined that Mary had been conducting herself well and confirmed her admission date.68 Mary was discharged as an apprentice to MERRITT on 6 November 1874.69

About a year later, these indentures and those of MERRITT's Vernon apprentice, Frederick JUDSON, were cancelled by the Campbelltown Bench after both apprentices made complaints to the police about their treatment at the hands of the MERRITT family. They claimed they were being beaten, starved and not provided with necessary clothing. On 17 November 1875, thirteen-year-old Mary made a complaint to the police at the Campbelltown Police Station. Even though she was instructed by the police to return to her master, Senior-constable GOODMAN also wrote to Mr RYELAND, the Officer in Charge of the Eastern District, about her complaint saying that she had:

… complained that her master illtreated and misused her that he had cruelly beaten on yesterday morning she had marks of violence on her mouth and back where he had beaten her and that she was otherwise badly clothed … [and] is it the duty of the police to proceed against her Master …

The letter was forwarded to the Principal Under-secretary and GOODWIN was instructed to proceed against MERRITT. Mary's statement was included in the bundle of letters. She stated that:

… I am a member of the Church of England which Mrs Merritt knew, I have only been to church about four times since I came to Campbelltown the last time I was there when Mr Langley was there last she said she would not let me go to church because I had no cloths. They both Mr and Mrs Merritt used to beat me every day. Mr Merritt beat me with a cloths line over the head face back and arms he hit me on the mouth with the rope and made it swell and bleed the blows on my arm was from the wound on my mouth caused by the hit with the rope he beat me because he said I did not do the work quick enough. Yesterday Mr Merritt beat me with a [under fold] whip because he said I broke [under fold] that was at dinner. Mrs Merritt beat me last night because she wanted me to make bread after tea but there was no milk to make it with she beat me with a whip I never got any money since I came to Merritts –
I had a white hat when I came to Merritts Mrs Merritt took the hat and took the trimming off + trimmed her own childs hat with it + took the hat for her own little girl
I have not washed myself for a long time as Mrs Merritt would not let me use the soap Mrs Merritt used to call me an orphan brat and wretch so used Mr Merritt Mrs Merritt told me never to speak to Mr Willis The only cloths Mrs Merritt gave me was one print frock and a black dress she made me out of an old dress of hers I had two [obscured] dresses when I came to Mrs Merritt she took them from me and kept them I have to sleep in my chemise I had a pinafore when I came up Mrs Merritt took it and made it into a coat for her boy I never wore it it was made of Holland I am not allowed to go – Church or Sunday School + have to wash on Sundays – one day I was sick Mrs Merritt had beat me with a bottle and made me sick I used to be sent in the bush to mind sheep and cows

A representative from the Vernon attended the Campbelltown Court appearances of both children on Saturday, 20 November 1875, where MERRITT was ordered to pay the outstanding wages of the two apprentices and the costs of court.70 The newspaper report for the court case held at Campbelltown has not been found but Mary's statement and the report of the Campbelltown Police were included in the correcpondence regarding her apprenticeship arrangements. JUDSON's complaint was not addressed in the same bundle of correspondence as Mary's but his is probably included in other letters filed under his name that are held in the CSIL.

Mary was returned to Biloela after MERRITT's trial71 but at some stage during the legal process investigating MERRITT's assault, attempts were being made for the transfer of her apprenticeship. A letter from Alexander GREVILLE to the Principal Under Secretary stated:

Having been informed that Mary White (13) an apprentice to Mr. Frederick Merrick, of Campbelltown will be returned to the Industrial School at Biloela to-day under an order from the Campbelltown Bench of Magistrates – I beg respectfully that the girl may be apprenticed to me for the remainder of her term. I enclose a recommendation from the Rev. Thomas Kemmis of St. Mark's, in support of my application.

KEMMIS's statement read

Mrs Greville is a parishioner of mine & is, I understand, desirous of securing the services of a girl named Mary White … Mrs Greville would I am sure be[?] a kind mistress and it would be an advantage to the girl to go to her.72

Approval was subsequently given for the remaining five years of Mary's apprenticeship to be transferred to Alexander GREVILLE of the Crown Law Offices in Sydney and Mary left Biloela for this apprenticeship on 3 December 1875.73

Where has She Gone?

No marriage has been confirmed for Mary and no appropriate death has been found for her as Mary WHITE. If she remained in the apprenticeship with GREVILLE, she would have been free to leave and marry in about 1880. There are no Sydney marriages during this time for a girl of this name.

It must be considered that Mary married Patrick CARRICK on 20 January 1881, at St Mary's Catholic Church, Sydney, and this marriage has been tentatively attributed to her although it has not been verified even though the registration has been viewed. There are compelling reasons to suggest that this may be Mary and even though the registration doesn't confirm anything that is known of her, it can't be discounted. By this date Mary would have been nineteen. The registration indicated that this Mary WHITE was a machinist, was under the age of 21 and had been born in NSW. Her father was recorded as John WHITE and no mother was named. Patrick was a bachelor who had been born in Ireland. His parents were identified as Patrick CARRICK and Bridget WALSH. Three children – Martin, Clifford and James – were registered in Newtown. Mary was recorded as Mary M. J. at the birth of Clifford, May M. J. at the birth of Martin and Mary W. at the death of James. Martin, living with his parents at Union Street, Macdonaldtown, is almost certainly the boy who broke his arm and was taken to hospital in August 1889 at the age of seven.74 Sands Directory confimed that this boy's father was Patrick CARRICK and the newspapers indicated that, unless Patrick had remarried, Mary was still alive. Patrick CARRICK was at the address until 1889. He has not been traced after that date and was almost certainly not the man living in John Street, Newtown in the next decade.

To date of Patrick and Mary's children, only the deaths of James and Martin have been confirmed. No appropriate deaths can be found for Clifford, Patrick or Mary. Clifford was not the man of this name in Western Australia as this man had been born in about 1912.75 Why none of the children were named after their father is unknown. The baptism of the Patrick CARRICK whose birth occurred in NSW in 185476 and the 185377 marriage of Martin CARRICK and Bridget FLYNN, will be viewed to ascertain whether Bridget married as a spinster as it may be that this marriage was connected to the family. Patrick CARRICK, the son of Martin CARRICK was admitted to the Vernon on 28 April 1869,78 so was the same boy for whom an advertisement was placed inthe newspaper at this time.79 This man died on 2 August 1938, at the age of 83.80

In 1891 Patrick CARRICK and his wife Bella registered the birth of a daughter Irene M. in Goulburn in 1891.81 This couple were the parents of the child Mary A. CARRICK who died in Goulburn in 1889. In 1896 the Sydney Morning Herald reported:

April 11, at his parents' residence, 9 John-street, Newtown, Donnelly Martin, dearly beloved son of Patrick and Bella Carrick, aged 1 year and 5 months.82

//Sands Directory confirmed that this was the man living at 9 John Street, Newtown until 1897. No birth has been located for Donnelly CARRICK but shortly after his death83 Isabella CARRICK also died.84 Her father was James.85

Neither surviving son has been identified in WWI records. Martin Everard CARRICK died when he fell from the Pyrmont Bridge in November 1944.86 He was also recorded as Martin Edward CARRICK and lived in Kent Street. He had been in ill health.87 The 1930 electoral roll identified that he was a barman who lived at 411 Kent Street.88 His death was registered as Martin Everard GARRICK and his parents were identified as Patrick and Mary Matilda.89

A Patrick CARRICK was the father to twin sons who died in March 1882,90 but no death registrations can be found for these children.

It is unconfirmed, but Patrick's father may have died in Sydney in 1915 at the age of about 84. His Funeral Notice indicated that South Australian, specifically Mount Gambier, papers were to copy the Family Notice.91

Some entries into the Sydney Benevolent Asylum for a woman of this age may indicate appearances of Mary. Mary WHITE aged eighteen entered the asylum on 29 July 1879, and probably left aged 19 on 3 December 1879. This visit was to deliver the illegitimate child, Ethel May WHITE, who was born on 31 October 1879, and who left with her mother on 3 December, aged one month. Ethel May died in Newtown in 1886.92 It is unconfirmed whether this was Mary as the mother on the death registration was recorded as Mary A. and this is a very common name and not known to have ever been used by Mary. All other entries for appropriately aged women are in the 1890s.

Updated December 2018

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License