Sarah Jane WILDGUST
Name Variations HANLON, HANLAN or HANLEY Alias WILDGUST, WILPGART,1 WILDGURT,2 Mary Jane LOWNEY3 aka LOWE, alias WOOD or WOODS
Step-father John ORAMS b.c. 1797 m. 18324 d.
Father unknown HANLON or HANLEY b. unknown m. unknown d. unknown
Step-father William WILDGUST b.c. 1816 m. 1857 d. 18905
Mother Anne DONNOLLY b.c. 18196 m. (1) 1832 (2) none (3) 18577 d. 18688
Step-mother Lucy CAMERON b. m. 18749 d. unknown
Brother George DONNALLY aka HANLAN10 b. 185111 m. unknown d. unknown
Inmate Sarah Jane HANLAN alias WILDGUST b.c. 1852 m. (1) none (2) 1871 (see below) d. 192912
Sister Elizabeth A. WILDGUST b. 185713 m. none - d. 185914
Sister Elizabeth WILDGUST15 b.c. 1860 m. unknown d. unknown
Husband (1) unknown WOODS b. unknown m. none d. unknown
Husband (2) William STUBBS b. 184616 m. 187117 d. 191018
Daughter Elizabeth Ann WILDGUST b. 187019 m. none - d. 187120
Son Henry STUBBS b. 187321 m. 189422 Mary Ann JORDAN d. 195323
Daughter Emma Jane STUBBS b. 187524 m. 190025 James FORWARD d. 192226
Son William James STUBBS b. 187727 m. 189928 Nellie SMITH d. 191829
Daughter Elizabeth STUBBS b. 187930 m. none - d. 188031
Son Sidney Purvis STUBBS b. 188132 m. 190333 Maud Margaret NEWELL d. 195334
Son George STUBBS b. 188335 m. d. 190736
Son John Charles (Jack) STUBBS b. 188537 m. d. 196138
Daughter Annie May STUBBS b. 188739 m. 191240 Walter S. WILMOTT d. 195941
Daughter Edith M. (Edie) STUBBS b. 189042 m. (1) 191043 (2) 193444 (1) William E. NEWCOMBE (2) John M. MEEHAN d. 197145
Son Walter STUBBS b. 189246 m. d. 194847
Daughter Elsie Ruby STUBBS b. 189548 m. 191249 Edward ROBERTS d. 196650
Description
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Mother Ann51 22 4' 9½" brown blue ruddy freckled J C T R 1831 A D William Sougan I love to the heart on upper left arm; SCMCWZIL heart on lower left arm; E.DWm, flowerpot, W. Smith, heart and C D on upper right arm
Mother Ann52 35 4' 9¾" light brown blue fresh slight G C J R 1831 A D and other blue marks on left arm
Inmate Sarah53 13 5' light brown dark brown fresh/much freckled a small nose, large mouth and round chin
Inmate Sarah54 17 5’ 2” brown stout round face, high cheek bones, sunken eyes and a flat forehead
Inmate Sarah55 20 5' 2" brown brown
Step-father William56 25 & 51 5' 6¾" & 5’ 7¼” brown hazel dark ruddy and freckled, fresh missing two front teeth on the left side of his upper jaw, small scar on the left side of his forehead, W tattooed inside his lower right arm, medium nose, large mouth and round chin
WARNING: Details of the story of Sarah Jane WILDGUST may cause distress to descendants.
9171269975_248f2f63d0_z.jpg

Sarah Jane HANLON and her grandson
Image generously provided by and used courtesy of Sarah's descendant, Bill.

From around 1865, when Sarah Jane was about the age of twelve, she appeared in the courts of both Goulburn and Sydney. The first appearance found to date occurred in Goulburn court when, in company with Hannah PARSONS, she stole a knife from a local shop. Sarah Jane was fined one shilling and six pence and Hannah was discharged.57 Two days later, in a second appearance, this time in company with Elizabeth Jane PARSONS, Hannah’s mother, Sarah was tried for stealing 'a front of false hair and some curls', the property of the Goulburn hairdresser, Mr. POTTER. Although she was described as being about twelve, Sarah Jane was sent to gaol for a month.58 Goulburn Gaol records identified that she had been born in Goulburn and that she was 'a mere child 13 years of age.'59 A further incident was reported in the Police Gazette towards the end of 1865 when it was documented that she had been 'charged with stealing a shilling, the money of Peer FLANDERS, Goulburn. … Supposed to have gone on the Sydney Road in company with another girl and a woman.'60

Sarah’s next Goulburn court appearance on 6 January 1866, was in response to this incident. Sarah Jane was reported as having run away from her father, William WILDGUST. While the newspaper reports stated that William was her father, subsequent documents identified that he was her step-father. By the time she reached Sydney she had assumed the name Mary Jane LOWNEY.61 or LOWE62 She had been successfully employed as a servant to Walter SCOTT from whom she subsequently stole. Sarah made her way back to Goulburn with the goods where she was arrested, charged with larceny and returned to Sydney for trial.63 Although William WILDGUST was arrested for receiving the stolen items, he was discharged when he appeared in Goulburn Court.64 Sarah Jane was sentenced to three months in Darlinghurst Gaol where her age was recorded as thirteen. It was erroneously reported that this was her first time in gaol.65 The record stated that she had been born in Sydney and could neither read nor write. On her discharge in April 1866, she was described as a native of the colony who was born in 1853.66 On 1 October 1866, Sarah was again arrested in Goulburn by senior sergeant FENTON and charged with stealing twenty-nine shillings – again from Peer FLANDERS who was this time recorded as her employer.67 She was tried in Goulburn, found guilty of larceny and sentenced to one year’s imprisonment in Goulburn Goal. She appeared on 21 August 1866, at the Quarter Sessions.68 A deposition remains for this appearance69 but it has not been viewed.

It is unclear how often Sarah was living with her step-father, William, at the time of her arrest and admission to Newcastle. Because she was arrested for vagrancy70 and had been employed within the district, it is likely that she rarely lived with him. Her mother was also not living with William at this time. Sarah appeared in Goulburn court some time before August 1867 and was sent to Goulburn Gaol. She appears in the punishment records of Goulburn Gaol during August 1867 when on the 23rd, she spent three days in solitary confinement for "Improper conduct towards the male Prisoners."71 On 30 October 1867, she again appeared in Court72 charged with vagrancy but was discharged. A fortnight later she appeared under warrant in Goulburn court in the trial of William MABER who she accused of raping her. She had …

failed to appear on the previous day. She deposed that she had been staying for a day or two at the house of prisoner's mother, and that prisoner committed the offence during his mother's absence ; did not call out at the time ; and did not say anything about the matter for some days as she was ashamed ; was then persuaded to do so. On cross-examination witness said that she had been three times in jail, the last time for twelve months for larceny, and while there was punished for improper familiarity with one of the male prisoners ; slept one night at Mrs. MABER's after prisoner had committed the offence ; had told prisoner she would not appear against him.
The police-magistrate said that as the prosecutrix had not taken the steps that any respectable girl would have taken under the circumstances, the bench would discharge the prisoner.73

Four days later Sarah was arrested and charged with having no means of support and no place of abode and was sent to Newcastle.74 Sarah was admitted to Newcastle on 21 December 1867, at the recorded age of sixteen even though at the time of her final court appearance a week earlier she was only recorded as fifteen and based on her first court appearances was probably only fourteen. The Entrance Book describes her as a Protestant whose education level was recorded as '2nd book.'75 Sarah appears on SELWYN's list of Protestants from June 186876 but arrived too late to appear on HARRIS's list.

KING identified Sarah as one of the initiators of the first riot in July 1868, when she and Eliza O'BRIEN, who were occupied with work for Frederick CANE

in consequence of misconduct, were requested to leave the work they were engaged upon and attend school this they refused to do

CANE interceded, promising that they would behave if they were permitted to continue with his task but this didn't eventuate and after returning to their dormitory they became involved with contributing to the general unrest. Sarah was reported to have 'sat down on her bed and exclaimed "I am in for blood tonight"' before stirring more trouble by lighting a tallow candle with the matches she had acquired and secreted about her person. She was locked up with O'BRIEN and PERRY and on passing KING 'shouted "You shall never conquer me if I am steeped to my neck in blood."' The three confined girls stirred trouble by yelling to the rest of the school who responded and 'the noise and confusion in consequence was almost deafening.' These events occurred in the days preceding the riot of the 9 July.77 Sarah was one of the eleven girls interviewed after the first riot. He interview runs for four foolscap pages but is fully transcribed below.

Sarah Jane Wildgust - age 17. I joined the in the disturbance. The reason I did so was, that when we did anything wrong we were told it was our parents fault, and if we were brought up right we should not do it. That we were like the Bull and the Cow we were too hot and it was the dirty old sailord we counted and that we would run after a man while we had a leg on us calling us wretches and said we would lay rotten on the Field. Mrs King slapped Eliza MacDonald three times in the face because she singing a Hymn. She was singing in a loud biosterous way which was contrary to the rules of the school. I think this was on Thursday (2nd July). I was singing in an ordinary way when Mrs King said it shows our rearing or else we would not do those things. It is having our past conduct thrown up to us that makes us feel so grieved. When I was taken to the cell on Saturday I threatened Mrs King's life. I said I would split her head open with an axe and I used very improper language which I know to be contrary to the Rules of the Institution. I wished to write to my mother and was not allowed. On Friday night 3 July - we refused __ to undress to go to bed because a Constable was on the Verandah all night a window blind was taken down so that he could see into our Dormitory. The lamp was ordered to be taken out but we would not allow it. Eliza OBrien seized the lamp and said she would break it on the Floor sooner than any one should take it from us.
Saturday night 4 July we heard I don't know from whom our light was to be taken from us. Some of the girls thought up some coals & wood and made a Fire in the Grate we did this because we heard the lamp was going to be taken from us and not with any intention of setting fire to the Building. Mrs King came up and ordered the Fire to be taken from us. Five of us - myself, Eliza OBrien, Charlotte Perry, Eliza McDonald, Hannah Burt gathered round the fire to stop them from taking the fire out as Mrs Heal (Cook) was taking the fire out we kept pushing her away She took the fire out in spite of us and then three of us Charlotte Perry, Eliza OBrien and myself, got up the chimney and blacked out faces. Mrs King while we setting round the fire and before it was taken out seized Eliza Macdonald, by the hair and pulled her back She then said My God Mrs King better mind what you are doing and don't pull me by the Hair any more and I said Oh that's a damned shame she ought not to pull any Girl by the Hair if she was to pull me by the Hair I would give her a hit. Then Mrs Ling ordered the lamp to be taken out as Mrs King was going only I called her a grey headed old Sour[?]. It was on Friday night. I found a box of matched on a stool in the lobby we had been making a noise on the water tanks in the Bath Room beating them with a Broom when we knocked a candlestick down with a piece of Tallow Candle in it. This I kept-tite Saturday night (July 4). The matches I had given to Eliza OBrien Charlotte Perry after the fire was taken out took a handfull of Straw out of the bed lit it and swing it round the room while this was going on there was a great noise and I could not hear what Mrs King said but with others sung out we would not behave ??? or do any good while Miss Ravenhill was in the place she was too much of a bounce We objected to the manner in which Miss Ravenhill addressed us She was always reporting us unnecessarily to Mrs King and throwing up our former life to us which caused continual jaws. On being ordered to the cell I made use of some very bad language to Mrs King but I cannot recollect the events. I did so because I felt agrieved at being taken for one of the ringleaders when I was no different to any of the rest after I was put in the cell 6 others were brought in I admit we misconducted our selves in the cell used very bad language destroying all the property we could lay our hands on We tried our best to break out of the cell and nearly succeeded when we were removed to the room used as an Hospital We had no plan for doing this mischief but were doing it on the excitement of the moment - Eliza OBrien succeeded in opening the door I did not see how she did it as soon as we found the door open we agreed to wait till the Constable came to the window we then all rushed out in different directions. Eliza Niel was the first one I saw seized by the Constable, and because we thought she was being illused, we picked up stones, and commenced breaking the windows, When I first came down from the Hospital, I cam into the dining room, and took a knife, which I concealed, when I took the knife, I really meant to take the life of Mrs King, and I never stopped to consider what the consequences would be. It was Eliza Neil who broke the window with her hand and in doing so cut her wrist. I did not hear any others threaten to Take the life of Mrs King or ill use her I did not tell any of the others what I was going to do with the knife. Elizabeth Sampson found[?] out I had the knife by laying hold of me and told the Constable who took it from me I dont know if I should have used it tho' I said so.
By Mrs King78
You have frequently on previous occasions thrown up our former lives, and the lives of our parents to us. I am sure about the words you used about a Bull and a Cow On two occasions I concealed a knife about me no one in the Institution knew I had the knife.

Sarah Jane made her mark on this statement.79 While CANE was criticised in the report to the government for his becoming involved with individuals during the riot, this startling admission by Sarah Jane may not have been disclosed without the bond that he had clearly established with these difficult young women.

In addition to her involvement in the rioting, Sarah made various escapes from Newcastle. The first occurred on 1 January 1868,80 in company with Susan ATKINS less than a fortnight after her admission to Newcastle.81 KING's report of the incident was sent to the Colonial Secretary on 2 January. She stated

I saw them in the Hospital at 10 p.m. In the course of the night they broke a pane of glass drew the nail that fastened the sashes on the outside got down from the verandah on the Rain Pipe and escaped over the large gate in front. They were discovered secreted in a tank on the wharf at 7.0 a.m. and were afterwards captured at Cottage Bridge in the suburbs by constable McCullam & brought back at 9.0 a.m. and placed in the cell.82

Further escapes followed. On 22 June 1868, KING wrote to the Colonial Secretary indicating that Sarah Jane, Charlotte PERRY and Bridget DOWNS had made an escape between five and six in the afternoon of 20 June. Bridget returned of her own accord after crawling under the fence but Sarah and Charlotte were not recaptured until half-past eleven when they were found wandering the streets. The two were placed in the cells overnight and then placed in isolation within the school.83 About 6 o'clock on the evening of 31 July 1868, Sarah and Elizabeth SAMPSON, made their escape from the school. They were captured by constable GRIFFIN of Newcastle police around eleven o'clock near Burwood and returned to the school.84 They were placed in solitary confinement but on 2 August they were caught attempting to escape by removing the screens from the windows so KING had them removed to the cells at the guardhouse.85 Sarah absconded a second time with government property on 20 November 1868. Two successful escapes bids by different groups were made on that day and Sarah was one of two girls who made a separate escape shortly after a larger group of six girls. KING named the escapees in a letter to the Colonial Secretary on 21 November 1868,86 stating that all except one – Sarah – were returned by two constables at eleven o’clock that night – half an hour after they had escaped. The girls had

forced open the windows of No. 4 dormitory, they then climbed over the fence near Mr SCOTT’s residence.87

Sarah was hidden before her recapture by Joseph LEE88 but was eventually arrested about 24 November by constable WOODS in Newcastle.89 Sarah appeared in Newcastle Court as Sarah WILDGURT90 or WILPGART and received two months in gaol for stealing clothing.91 LEE’s trial was postponed until Sarah's release from gaol to save the trouble and expense of transporting her from Maitland Gaol to Newcastle.92 No further report or gaol admission has yet been found for Joseph around this date but he may be the man born in Adelaide in about 1850 who appeared in Maitland gaol records from about 1872. Sarah Jane's felony was recorded in the Entrance Book and also was reported by the new Superintendent, CLARKE, to the Principal Under-secretary. During her stay in Maitland Sarah Jane received three days in the cells for disobeying orders.93 The gaol records document that Sarah had been born in Goulburn and that her stepfather, a plasterer, still lived there.94

Sarah Jane re-entered the Industrial School on 27 February 1869, after completing her sentence. CLARKE noted in his report of 2 March 1869, that Sarah had returned from the gaol and it was his 'duty to make a report of her case in a few days.'95 His decision, for which he needed to seek approval to implement, was to employ Sarah and Charlotte PERRY to replace the school laundress who had resigned. They were to do the laundry at the school, although he wanted to wait a week before making it official to be sure that the arrangement worked. CLARKE recommended that the two girls equally share the laundress’s wage, receiving £20 a year each. This amount was £10 per annum higher than the laundress’s salary but CLARKE reasoned that 'it will be saved in the ration of that servant.' The official request to implement this decision was made on 13 April but the increase in total wage for the two girls was rejected and the girls were to be paid £15 per annum.96 Of Sarah he went on the state :–

The last named girl was returned to the institution from Maitland Gaol about six weeks ago, her antecedents are such that I could not send her to any family as servant, and as I must shortly ask for her discharge in consequence of age, I trust, the Honbl the Colonial Secretary will allow me to employ her in this capacity as the only means of saving her from Utter vice.

In a further letter to the Colonial Secretary on 10 June 1869, CLARKE, endeavouring to get permission to discharge Sarah Jane and four other girls, repeated her admission date and stated that as far as he

could ascertain [Sarah] has attained the age of eighteen years. I cannot however furnish the documentary evidence required as to their age as some of the girls do not know that they were ever baptized. They are all full grown young women.97

The Colonial Secretary approved the discharges as requested by CLARKE.98 and because she was over eighteen, Sarah was discharged by order of the Colonial Secretary into the care of 'her father' in Goulburn on 10 July 1869. In his report on 13 July, CLARKE confirmed that the four girls, Sarah, Mary HOPKINS, Eliza O'BRIEN and Charlotte PERRY had been discharged.99 Ten days later CLARKE wrote to the Colonial Secretary expressing his concerns about Sarah.

I beg to call attention to the enclosed telegraph message from the Police Magistrate, Goulburn, to the Police Magistrate here by whom it was handed to me. The girl therein named has been discharged from this Institution with a good character for five months and I fear very much that if the police authorities continue to point at the girl this way it will be the means of preventing her from earning a respectable livelihood.100

It is unknown whether he also communicated with the Police Magistrate in Goulburn, John ALLMAN. No records of Sarah between her discharge have been found and news from Sydney was slow in reaching CLARKE because in his letter on 1 August 1870, he stated

I have been informed she is doing well as a laundress to which the girl was well-trained in this institution.101

This proved to be an overly confident statement as by this time Sarah was pregnant and had gone to Sydney. As Sarah Jane WOOD102 she was arrested103 in Sydney for stealing a watch from the commercial traveller, Alexander NELSON.104 She appeared in court and then in the Quarter Sessions where she was acquitted as it was believed that she had been given the watch by NELSON who was so drunk he had no memory of the incident. On 23 July 1870, whilst awaiting trial for this incident in Darlinghurst gaol in Sydney, Sarah Jane gave birth to an illegitimate daughter who was registered as both Elizabeth Ann WILDGUST and Elizabeth Jane WOODS.105

It is unknown how or why Sarah selected any alias and she was known to have used three – LOW/E or LOWNEY, before her time in Newcastle, and WOOD/S after her release. In October 1870 she appeared in the records for Darlinghurst Goal as twenty-year old Sarah WOOD alias WILDGUST106 On this record she was recorded as Catholic for the first time. Her place of birth was recorded as Sydney and it was documented that she was unable to read or write. She was again acquitted at her court appearance.107 One further court appearance for Sarah Jane WOODS, which occurred on 24 November,108 has been found but further appearances for Sarah Jane WILDGUST, WOOD or WOODS have not been identified after this date. Sarah Jane had returned to Goulburn by 1871 where her baby, Elizabeth Ann, died. Her death was almost without any doubt registered in Goulburn in 1871 as Elizabeth Ann STUBBS. Descendants of Sarah Jane and William hold her bible that indicated that Elizabeth, their first child, for whom there is no birth registration, was born on 22 July 1870. The registration for the child of Sarah Jane WILDGUST or WOODS indicated that she was born on 23 July 1870. These two dates are so close that they almost without any doubt indicate that Sarah Jane WILDGUST and Sarah Jane HANLAN are the same person and the difference of one day in the birth date can be put down to either an administrative error or Sarah Jane's confusion at the time of the birth.

On 28 August 1871, in Goulburn, Sarah Jane HANLAN married William STUBBS. A copy of the marriage certificate109 recorded that William STUBBS and Sarah Jane HANLAN were married in the Presbyterian Manse in Goulburn by Simon MACKENZIE. Consent was given to Sarah Jane's marriage by John ALLMAN, J.P. and P.M., because she was under the age of 21. No age was recorded on the registration but she had been working as a domestic. The witnesses were Mary (X) CHRISTIE and John James McDONNELL. No parents were recorded for Sarah Jane although William's parents were indistinctly written on the registration. It is almost certain that ALLMAN knew exactly who Sarah was because of his position as Police Magistrate. He was the Police Magistrate in June 1869110 a month before Sarah's discharge from Newcastle so was the person responsible for the telegraphic correspondence to his counterpart, Helenus SCOTT, in Newcastle in 1869 concerning the return of Sarah Jane WILDGUST.111 His involvement further supported that Sarah Jane's surname was HANLON as ALLMAN, as a J.P., must have believed that Sarah was undertaking a legal contract using her correct name. He would also have been aware that WILDGUST was the surname of her step-father.

It must be questioned why William WILDGUST wasn't involved in her marriage but Sarah's behaviour up until 1870 strongly suggested that before and especially after the death of her mother, she and her step-father were estranged. No further evidence has yet been found of any criminal activity on Sarah's part as the wife of William STUBBS and it would be good to think that her dreadful early life was replaced with a happier one. There is absolutely no doubt that Sarah would have wished to be totally disconnected from her turbulent early experience, further strengthening the radical surname change and the removal of her step-father, William, from her life completely.

Sarah was remembered within her family as being tiny – 'no more than 5' tall.'112 Descendants also report that there was some religious conflict within the family as Sarah was a staunch Catholic. This religion is directly opposed to that recorded in the Entrance Book, on SELWYN's list or in the burial location of Sarah Jane STUBBS but doesn't disagree with Sarah's final court appearance in 1870. At the time she married, Sarah, was in service on a local property but after moving to Sydney she became a local midwife and she was remembered within her family as always wearing a white apron.113 William and Sarah Jane STUBBS moved to Sydney where they had eleven children. They were living at 99 Harbour Street, Sydney, in 1880 when their daughter, Elizabeth, died.114 William STUBBS died on 31 January 1910.115 Sarah Jane died in Croyden, Sydney, on 8 February 1929, at the age of seventy-six.116 She was buried in the Church of England Cemetery, Rookwood.117 Her death registration recorded that her maiden name was HANLIN. There has been no Funeral Notice or In Memoriam located to date that might indicate who or where her siblings, George and Elizabeth, were.

It is understandable that her descendants find the connection between their ancestor and the Newcastle admission difficult to reconcile with the woman that they knew and are rightly concerned that some error may have occurred with the connections made. Their generosity in providing facts known only to the family, specifically the birth date of Sarah Jane HANLON's first child and the name of her brother, have permitted what once was supposition to be verified. Changing given names is difficult and Sarah Jane's use of the given names Sarah Jane remained constant however changing her surname would have been easy knowing that WILDGUST was not her father. It must also be considered that Sarah kept returning to Sydney so she was likely to have had contacts or possibly family, there. There is however no doubt that Sarah Jane WILDGUST had a lot to hide and only a change of name was going to be effective in separating herself from her past. CLARKE expressed concerns that the police in Goulburn would force Sarah into ruin by deliberate or inadvertent victimisation. It must be considered that as a result of CLARKE's letter, support was eventually given to her by the local J.P. and P.M., John J. ALLMAN. ALLMAN almost without doubt knew of her difficult early life as Sarah had almost certainly appeared before him in court. ALLMAN ultimately gave Sarah Jane permission to marry William STUBBS almost without any doubt knowing who her dead mother was and probably knowing the support network, even though it has not been identified, that existed for Ann's children.

Family

At the time of Sarah Jane's admission to Newcastle, the Entrance Book identified both her parents. Although she died shortly after Sarah Jane's admission to Newcastle and it is likely that she never saw her daughter again, Ann WILDGUST, was still alive when Sarah Jane was arrested and she was named in the Entrance Book. The record clearly indicated that William WILDGUST was Sarah Jane's step-father.118 Her admission surname, WILDGUST, was therefore almost without any doubt an alias by association. While some newspaper reports do state that William WILDGUST was Sarah Jane's father, and a comparison of the descriptions available for Sarah Jane and William WILDGUST suggest that this may be possible, it is considered unlikely.

Sarah Jane was the illegitimate daughter of Ann DONNOLLY but her father is unknown. She had been born in about 1853, before compulsory registration and at least three years before her mother and WILDGUST married. No appropriate baptism has been found for Sarah or Sarah Jane under any variation of WILDGUST, DONNELLY, LOWNEY, LOWE, HANLAN or WOOD/S. A search of the NSW BDM Index entering no surname but with a mother identified as Ann*, elicits no definite record that may refer to Sarah. Like her brother she had probably been born in Yass or Goulburn. Sarah Jane's descendants have been unable to confirm her birth but, according to family stories, she often identified that she had been born in Sydney. This birth location agreed with many gaol records for Sarah and both before and after her time at Newcastle she attempted, often successfully, to reach Sydney. Sarah had two known siblings – a brother named George and a sister named Elizabeth. Her descendants hold correspondence from both these siblings. Sarah married as HANLON but it is unknown where the use of this surname originated. It may be that her unknown father had the surname HANLON, HANLEY or a variation of this name. It may also be that this was the surname of someone who cared for either her or her siblings. For the purposes of this biography, WILDGUST, has been retained as Sarah's surname as it was this name under which she was admitted to Newcastle and the name under which she registered her first child.

Ann DONNELLY was a Protestant born in London in about 1819 and had been transported in 1832 for fourteen years aboard the Burrell. After her arrival she received permission to marry John ORAMS. The permission to marry was granted by Rev. T. REDDALL of Campbelltown,119 an area reasonably close to, but east of, Goulburn. The couple married by Banns at St. Peter's, Campbelltown, on 6 August 1832, by Thomas REDDALL. John's name was transcribed on the NSW BDM Index as GRAMS. The witnesses were Thomas and Rebecca LLOYD from Airds. There was no indication in the record whether any of those involved signed the register but these details should appear on the actual record of St Peter's, Campbelltown.120 It is unknown how long this marriage lasted but in 1846 an admission to Parramatta of Ann DONNELLY confirmed that she used the alias of ORAMS.121 John ORAMS had been transported for seven years aboard the Mary (2) in 1822 but at the time of his marriage had a ticket of exemption rather than a ticket of leave. John ORAMS appeared on the 1825 muster at Bringelly between Parramatta and Goulburn.122 By 1828 John, as John ORMES, was in No. 16 Road Party.123 No record of any children to John and Ann ORAMS have been identified but if any were born they would have been born before compulsory registration began so if they were never baptised, or if those records were lost, they would seem not to exist on the NSW BDM Index. A John ORAMS was having children with a woman named Jane during the 1830s and 1850s and it is unknown whether this was the same couple. John may have died in Liverpool in 1864 at the age of 69.124 It may be that this was an institutional death.

On 17 January 1851, Ann's son, George, was born in Yass where his mother was recorded on his baptism as a servant. He had been baptised in the Church of England Church in Yass by Charles BRIGSTOCKE on 5 June 1851. No father was recorded on the baptism record.125 At some stage after this date Ann moved to Goulburn. It may be that she arrived in Goulburn as a result of an appearance in Yass Court as Ann DONELLY on 10 September 1854, which resulted in an admission to Goulburn Gaol for two months. After her release from the gaol she would not have been automatically returned to the Yass area. There is no indication in the records that she had any children admitted to gaol with her but it is thought that Sarah Jane was born shortly before this trial and it is known that her son George would have been about three-and-a-half. In 1857 Ann DONNOLLY married William WILDGUST in Goulburn.126 William and Ann's daughter, Elizabeth Ann WILDGUST, was born in Goulburn on 19 July 1857. This registration confirmed that DONELLY was Ann's maiden name and that she had been born in London, England, in about 1817.127 Elizabeth died in 1859 at the age of about two. It is very likely that another sister, who was also named Elizabeth, was born sometime after this date but her birth was not registered.128

Ann was reported in the Goulburn newspapers for repeated bouts of drunkenness as both DONNELLY and its variants, and also as WILDGUST. Her first appearance was probably in Goulburn Court in February 1855 as Anne DONNELLY.129 It is also considered very likely that she was the Mrs. Anne DONNELLY reported in November 1855130 but this cannot be verified. If this is a reference to her it suggests that her children were with her and she was adopting a suitable persona. Appearances for Ann WILDGUST in September 1858131 and February 1866132 were also for drunkenness. It may be possible to identify more court appearances once all the Goulburn newspapers are scanned. Gaol admissions for both Ann WILDGUST and Ann DONNELLY match the information on Elizabeth Ann's birth registration and also on the NSW BDM Index entry for the death of Ann. Ann WILDGUST died in Goulburn in 1868 at the documented age of 55, the year after Sarah Jane was admitted to Newcastle.

It may be that Ann was connected to the Bernard DONELLY who also appeared in the Goulburn Courts but this is unconfirmed. Searches of gaol records for women named Ann who had arrived on the Burrell and who had been born in London disclosed an Ann DRAIN or DRANE,133 Ann HUDSON or HENSON134 and Ann HILLARY.135 All these women appear with these names on the Burrell indent so are not aliases for Ann DONNELLY.

John HORAM was described as the innkeeper of Sutton Forest when he was robbed in 1863.136 Sutton Forest is a settlement close to Goulburn and this incident may be a reference to the man who had married Ann DONNELLY. The John HORAM who married Mary ALLISGAR in 1842 had arrived free on the Emma was at least ten years younger than the man who married DONNELLY.

Although his baptism was recorded as George DONNELLY, Sarah Jane's brother went by the name George HANLON. A George HANLON was imprisoned in Orange Gaol in 1875 charged with embezzling money from his master, James WILDIE.137 Permission was sought from the Colonial Secretary to employ him in work outside the gaol walls. He had appeared at Orange Quarter Sessions on 19 February 1875, and was sentenced to 6 months hard labour.138 Orange Gaol records have not survived so it is not possible to further identify this young man. An entry in the Police Gazette in 1910 indicated that a George HANLAN, born in about 1857, was five feet six, medium build, pale complexion, dark moustache, waxed at the ends and 'apparently dyed', was a fortune teller.139 This reference may also be a record of Sarah Jane's brother.

William WILDGUST was Ann's step-father. He had been born in Nottingham, England, in 1816 and had arrived on the Barossa on 8 December 1839.140 William was a Protestant who had been tried at Nottingham (Town) Quarter Sessions on 4 April 1839, for stealing coals. He was unable to read or write. William spent time in Darlinghurst Gaol in the years after his arrival and on Cockatoo Island Gaol in 1849. He141 spent time in the Goulburn courts. By 1868, William had been charged with operating a brothel and other court appearances show incidences of his operating bawdy houses. The 1868 charge was held over for a fortnight to see if more complaints were made against him142 but no further articles were found in the Goulburn papers. More may be found when all the Goulburn newspapers are scanned. By 1873 William had moved to Bathurst143 and in 1874 he married Lucy CAMERON.144 William died in the Bathurst hospital about 10 July 1890.145 His last days were reported in the Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal and the paper provided an extensive outline of his later life. Lucy, his widow, was reported as having gone to live with her son in Queensland. These articles make it clear that no one was involved in William's care in his later life.

Updated January 2016

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