Margaret WHITTY
Name Variations WHITTEY, WHITE1
Father unknown b. m. d.
Mother alive 1870 b. m. d. aft. 1870
Brother William WHITTY b.c. 18612 m. d.
Inmate Margaret WHITTY b.c. 1862 m. (see below) d.
Sister b. m. d.
Husband b. m. d.
Son b. m. d.
Daughter b. m. d.
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Mother Eliza aka Jane McKITT or WHITTY or JARRELL3 60 4’ 11” brown blue sallow slight

Margaret WHITTY was reported to be about eight4 when she appeared in Dubbo Court before J. M. PEIRS and D. McKILLOP on 11 January 1870.5 She had been brought before the court by Constable WHALEY:

… who in his evidence prayed that the girl might be sent to some industrial establishment, as she had no lawful visible means of support.

Margaret's mother, who was unidentified, reportedly had appeared in Dubbo court for stealing and had been imprisoned about a week earlier. Margaret was sentenced to be admitted to Newcastle and left the court weeping.6 Margaret was not sent to Newcastle until 22 April 1870, when her name was entered into the Entrance Book7 and it is unknown why this delay occurred but it may be that she was permitted to remain with her mother in Dubbo while she was undergoing her sentence for larceny. On 20 March 1870, Margaret was admitted to Bathurst Gaol from Dubbo. She remained there until 19 April on which date she was sent on to Newcastle.8 Her admission details were recorded in the section of the Entrance Book that has not survived so no confirmation of her age, religion, parents or discharge details can be confirmed from this source. Margaret transferred to Biloela and was recorded as ‘In the Institution’ on LUCAS’s April 1872 list.9 This list contains the only relatively accurate record remaining for Margaret.

The transfer lists,10 usually so useful in identifying or confirming religions and ages, are useless in regard to Margaret. They erroneously record Margaret’s admission date as 31 July 1869, and not the 22 April 1870, shown on LUCAS's 1872 list of inmates11 and confirmed by the Bathurst gaol admission register. LUCAS's list, apart from some minor transcription errors regarding numbering, surnames of three girls and given names in three girls is correct in every other way. Records for the Entrance Book for July 1869 appear just before the missing section of record and the reference attributed to Margaret WHITTY, copied onto the transfer list comes from the entry referring to Margaret WHITE – the alias of Sarah AUBURN – who was received from Goulburn on 31 July 1869. The handwriting in the original entry in the Entrance Book for Sarah appears to read WHITI.12 No girl with the name Margaret WHITE was ever admitted to Newcastle. Because the 1872 list of inmates13 is recorded chronologically, the record referring to Margaret must be her personal information, however, everything transcribed on the transfer list14 refers to Sarah AUBURN so no confirmation of Margaret's admission date, or details of her age or religion can be made using this source. Neither list indicates when Margaret was discharged but she was still in the school in August 1872.

This error in Margaret's surname was then perpetuated within the school. Entries for Margaret WHITE begin to appear, possibly as a result of this original error. KELLY in her compilation of the skills of her students on 7 August 1871, shortly after the transfer, indicated that Margaret WHITE could read and write, was a Catholic and had good behaviour.15 The only certainly of this statement is KELLY's actual assessment as Sarah AUBURN's behaviour was not good at this time. Margaret's religion cannot be confirmed as Sarah AUBURN was also Catholic. The statement may however be true, as while LUCAS was new to the school at this time, KELLY had been in the school since 1867 and, as the teacher, would have known her students. It may be that Margaret was actually using this surname as she had been referred to by it so many times that she began using it herself. Because she was relatively young at the time of her arrest and it is considered very likely that she and her mother did not share the same surname, Margaret may very well not have been certain of the spelling of or the actual name attributed to her at the time of her admission. This was also the case with Louisa ARDIS.

As Margaret was probably born in about 1862, she was likely to have been apprenticed from the school at about the age of twelve – or in about 1874. Because her discharge details don't appear in the Biloela Discharge Book, under either surname, this confirms that she was discharged before 1877. This was the period when LUCAS was responsible for communication and because he was an irregular communicator in this area, no records for Margaret seem to have survived. There is nothing recorded in the CSIL Index or in CLARKE’s letters concerning either Margaret WHITTY or Margaret WHITE. It may be that a reference to Margaret may be found if a letter referring to her has been included in a bundle referring to another girl. It may also be possible to track any correspondence, if any exists, through the main register but to date, this has not been done. There are no gaol records yet located for Margaret other than the admission to Bathurst, for which there is no corresponding description yet found, and it is thought that no records exist.


Margaret's identity and family are currently unknown. An appearance in Dubbo Court isn't indicative of her residence so there is no guarantee that Margaret came from Dubbo only that that she had been arrested within the Dubbo Police District and had been tried in Dubbo. There is no woman who may match someone tried in Dubbo and either admitted or released from Dubbo gaol during the first three months of 1870. There are no Dubbo newspapers extant for Dubbo until 1887 even though publications began in 1865. It will therefore not be possible to identify any family using early papers.

The spelling of Margaret's surname is also unclear. The most likely spelling is WHITTY and other alternative spellings are less likely but are also possible. The WHITTY name was quite common west of the great divide so Margaret may have immigrated although no appropriate immigration has been found in NSW. The men, Thomas and Patrick WHITTY, lived in the general area and were having children in time to produce Margaret's mother - if her surname was WHITTY.

Margaret's age is also unclear as the only age available is the one recorded in the Sydney newspapers reporting earlier articles printed in the Dubbo papers and there are currently no Dubbo newspapers scanned for this time period. The existing articles indicated that Margaret was about eight or nine when she was admitted to Newcastle so this age has been attributed to her and this age is supported because LUCAS's August 1872 list of girls eligible for apprenticeship doesn't record Margaret's name as either WHITE or WHITTY and this list named every girl who was in the school at this date who had been in the school for twelve months or more and was twelve years or older. If Margaret had been 16, as recorded on the transfer lists, she should have been recorded on this list as the tone of the correspondence strongly suggests that an attempt was being made to discharge the older, possibly more difficult, girls. Unfortunately Sarah AUBURN was also not named on this list.16 It is known however, that Sarah was using her correct name by this stage as she was reported in the newspapers as AUBURN. It seems very likely that a major error and almost certainly confusion within the school of accurate numbers, had been perpetuated with the initial transcription error or Margaret's name.

There is a chance that further information will become available for Margaret. Newspapers reported at her trial that her mother had received a month's imprisonment the 'previous week' for stealing. To date no possible identification has been able to be made of either Margaret's mother or any background or her trial. Newspapers reported that she had been tried in early January, possibly around the 4th. No evidence can be found in the Police Gazette concerning any woman who may be her mother. It also must be considered that the two women didn't share the same surname. There are no obvious depositions that may refer to Margaret's mother during 1869 or 1870. It is likely that if a woman was tried in Dubbo she would be placed in Dubbo Gaol but Dubbo Gaol records are not thought to be extant for this period and the current historic gaol had not been constructed at this time. If Margaret's mother's name can be located in a newspaper reporting a larceny in the Dubbo courts during late December 1869 or early January 1870 and before Margaret's trial, the opportunity to identify Margaret will improve.

Who was Margaret Whitty?

The woman named Margaret WHITTY who advertised for her husband, Patrick WHITTY, may possibly be connected. She wrote in the SMH:

NOTICE. – If PATRICK WHITTY does not come and claim me and his child, I intend to get married one month from this date. 22nd February, 1869.
MARGARET WHITTY, Kent-street.17

This couple had had a son named George in 1868 so is less likely to indicate the Newcastle girl's family as no marriage or older children have been located in the NSW BDM Index.

Maitland gaol records indicated that the woman variously known as Eliza McKITT or WHITTY,18 and Susan JARRELL19 or FARRELL alias MILLS, was admitted in 187020 She was a Catholic born in Ireland and had arrived in 1835 aboard the Mary. She may have been the same woman who was arrested in Bathurst in 1862 under the name Susan FARRELL.21 Another appropriate woman was Bridget WHITTY who was also imprisoned in Maitland in 1869 who had arrived Free (or was now free) on the Fast Monarch or East Monarch in 1857. She had also been born in Ireland in 1843, was 5’ 3¼” tall with brown hair and eyes and was thin with a sallow complexion. This woman had been tried in Maitland so is less likely to be Margaret's mother, although the trial location of the older woman isn’t known.

There is a registered birth of a Margaret JEPSUR in DUBBO in 1862 to David and Margaret JEPSUR. This likely to be a transcription error and the surname is more likely to be JEPSON22 as this couple had another child born in Sydney in 1858.23 No other references to birth have been found between 1840 and 1880.

Sands Directory in 185824 indicated that there was a Martin WHITTY who was a brass founder living at 2 Riley Street but as this location was in Sydney, this family is unlikely. It is also very likely that this man's daughter married James ENGLAND in 1870 while Margaret was in Newcastle. This Margaret was 22 years old and her parents were recorded at her death as Martin and Mary Ann so it is fairly certain that this cannot be the family of the Newcastle girl.

It may be that Margaret's parents were John and Margaret as there are births and deaths recorded using the names WHITTY and WITTEY to this couple. There are no births but some deaths including that of a Margaret WHITTY who died in 1881 [1466/1881] to John and Mary.

Where has She Gone?

The death of Margaret WHITTY in Sydney on 20 May 1891,25 is the most likely death but nothing can be confirmed until her parents are identified.26 There is no Funeral Notice in the SMH between the 21st and 23rd May and no appropriate report to this date on Trove for Margaret WHITTEY or WITTEY or WHITTY.

Ancestry Trees identify most women with this name who married between 1875 and 1910. No identification has yet been found for the woman who married James WHITTY in Cowra in 191027 or John T. DALY in Sydney in 1909.28

The woman who married Michael SHANNON in Moruya in 189229 has not been identified in the three online trees but Michael SHANNON had been born in about 1862 although they record no age for Margaret. More investigation of this family needs to be undertaken but no births have yet been located for this couple on the NSW BDM Index.

The family in Cowra is remotely possible because if Margaret married, the most likely marriage occurred in 187630 and was to Thomas SMITH in Cowra. Online trees indicated that this woman was named Margaret Mary WHITTY and that she had been born in about 1855. There is no birth or baptism registration for her. This girl was too old by about five or six years but the age of the Newcastle admission has onlbeen reported in the Sydney newspapers so may not be correct. One tree indicated that Margaret was sixteen at the time of her marriage but has the marriage occurring in 1871 when the Newcastle Margaret was still in the school, and this appears to be based on Thomas SMITH's obituary rather than the actual NSW BDM Index which identified the year as 1876. This error doesn't assist researchers in trusting the rest of this tree's research. It is quite possible that if Margaret was under 21 she may have lied about her correct age at the time she married therefore appearing to have been born in about 1855. Online trees indicated that she was the daughter of Patrick and Ann WHITTY nee RYAN31 and this is the couple who were living around the Bathurst area when many of their children were born. Ann's death registration in 1889 indicated that Margaret was their youngest child and that she and Patrick had married in Ireland and arrived with their sons, Thomasand John, aboard the Larne in 1841. The children of the marriage were recorded on Ann's 1889 death record as Thomas (50), John (48), Mary (45), Patrick (43), Rosannah (41), Edward (36) and Margaret (33). NSW birth registrations exist for Mary (1843), Patrick (1845), Rosanna (1848) and Edward (1853) and possibly Hannah (1846). Other children were not registered, included that of Margaret. Edward's baptism needs to be read to see if his birth was in an area close to Dubbo. The Australian Birth Index on Ancestry indicated that it had occurred at Hartley. This marriage must be considered although it is less likely because the family were all in Cowra, a headstone remains for the parents, considerable knowledge of the family appears on the death registration and the parents were apparently in a stable relationship. The difference in age and all these details do suggest that this is not the correct family of the Newcastle girl but this suggestion is mainly based on typical Newcastle admissions and there were exceptions. It is conceivable that because Patrick died in 1860, Margaret as the youngest child, was cared for extended family or friends in the Carcoar area.

The woman who married Charles EVES in 1892,32 died in 1946 and her parents were identified as Thomas and Sarah on NSW BDM Index. Online trees indicated that Charles EVES had been born in 1871 and while the trees don't indicate it, Margaret had been born in 1868 and her birth was registered. She cannot be the Newcastle girl if she was born at this time as she would have been two at the time of her admission to Newcastle.

The woman who married Thomas TIMBS33 was born in 1883 so cannot possibly be the Newcastle girl.

A William WHITTY was discharged as an apprentice from the Roman Catholic Orphan School on 27 February 1873.34 This boy may be connected.

All of these possibilities consider that Margaret used the name WHITTY or variations but there is also a good chance that while Margaret was in Newcastle she adopted the surname WHITE and tracing a woman of this name without knowing where Margaret WHITTY was apprenticed is impossible.

Perhaps the spelling of the Margaret's surname may be WHITLEY. There are some registrations for this surname in country NSW.

Updated September 2018

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