Phoebe WILEY
Name Variations Elizabeth, Euphemia WYLIE, WILIE1 MILEY2
Father James WYLIE b.c. 1823 m. bef. 1858 d. 18703
Mother Mary KEARNEY or CARNEY b.c. 1825 m. bef. 1858 d. aft. 18704
Sister Jane WYLIE b.c. 1842 m. d.
Sister Mary WYLIE b.c. 1846 m. d. aft. 1873
Brother James WYLIE b.c. 1851 m. d. 18795
Inmate Phoebe aka Euphemia WYLIE b. 18566 m. (1) 1876 (2) 1886 (see below) d. 1911
Brother Thomas WYLIE b. 18597 m. d. aft. 18688
Husband (1) George PAT b. m. 18769 d. unknown
Husband (2) William MARTIN b. 185610 m. 188611 d. aft.1886
Daughter Ada Jane PAT b. 187612 m. d.
Son unknown PAT b. bef. 188613 m. none -
Daughter Agnes PAT b. 188614 m. 190515 Alfred Henry NORFORD d. 194016
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Sister Mary Ann17 23 5' 3" brown grey fair stout
Inmate Phoebe18 39 5' 2" dark grey sallow slight

Phoebe's first appearance yet found in the institutions of NSW was when she was admitted to the Benevolent Asylum on 22 July 1868. She was recorded as WILEY and was discharged from the asylum three months later on 5 October 1868. The online index of the Benevolent Asylum was unable to accurately identify her age, perhaps as it was unclear on the original. Phoebe was probably thirteen because she had been admitted for a second time on 3 February 1870, at the age of fourteen. On this occasion Phoebe only remained one day as she was sent from the asylum to court and then on to the Newcastle Industrial School. Phoebe had been apprehended on a warrant on the morning of 2 February 1870, and had been brought to court by constable GROUNDWATER. She was identified in the newspapers as thirteen,19 In court she was charged with habitually wandering about the streets in no ostensible lawful occupation. Evidence was given that she had been at the Benevolent Asylum for about eighteen months before this time but that she and a boy had made an escape from the asylum over the fence into the burial ground on the Sunday evening before her court appearance.20 Eliza WATTERS, one of the nurses in the Benevolent Asylum, confirmed that Phoebe had been an inmate of the Benevolent Asylum and that she hadn't initially been sent to the Randwick Asylum as she was 'a little lame'21 and that this would be considered an objection to her reception there. WATTERS believed that Phoebe's brother had returned her to the asylum on Monday evening and that she had then appeared before the asylum committee who ordered her into custody and then to court. WATTERS stated that Phoebe’s father had died in the Infirmary but that her mother lived at Parramatta.22 Original records from the Belevolent Asylum have not been viewed and are sure to add more information to Phoebe's story and clarify the dates provided on the online index but access to these records has not been made and may not be available to non-descendants.23

Phoebe was admitted to Newcastle on 3 February,24 but because her name appeared in the missing section of the Entrance Book, no information about her family, discharge, education or religion can be verified from this record. She transferred with the school to Biloela in May 1871 and was identified on the transfer lists as a thirteen-year-old Catholic who had been admitted at the age of twelve,25 an admission age two years younger than her actual age recorded on the Herald of the Morning indent. She was identified by LUCAS as eligible for service in his letter to the Colonial Secretary on 23 June 1871,26 but no apprenticeship details can be found and it was recorded that she was still 'In the Institution' in April 1872.27 Phoebe, Mary CASHER, Sarah HOWARD, Jane WINSOR, and three Biloela girls28 were involved in an altercation with the matrons at Biloela on 26 November 1872, when the girls barricaded the door of No. 3 dormitory with their bedsteads and refused admission at lights out at 9 o’clock. They remained barricaded in the dormitory until the morning of 28 November when they voluntarily removed the blockade. LUCAS didn't elaborate on any punishment the girls may have received.29

No indication of any discharge or apprenticeship has been found for Phoebe and all records currently identified for her in the CSIL Index have been viewed. Further investigation of the CSIL Index needs to be undertaken in order to ascertain whether all available letters have been identified and whether any records may be available for her extended family. Because the few records available for her indicated that she had been admitted at twelve she would only have been 17 in 1873. As Phoebe probably left Biloela before November 1873, she was likely to have been discharged by George LUCAS, who left the institution by November 1873. This lack of correspondence is believed to be the responsibility of LUCAS rather than any other reason. Official discharge records should have been created for her at the time of her discharge but records initiated by LUCAS have been difficult to identify in the CSIL so it is unknown whether Phoebe was discharged as an apprentice or whether a family member requested that she be released to them. It is thought that an apprenticeship is more likely.

Phoebe married George PAT in Sydney in 1876. The marriage registration confirmed that George was Chinese. Their daughter, Ada, was born in the Benevolent Asylum on 9 April 1876, and Phoebe was recorded in the asylum records as 21 years old. While George was named on Ada's birth registration, it is considered likely that he had abandoned Phoebe by this stage and no trace has been found of either Ada or George after 1876. By the time of the birth of Agnes ten years later, her birth registration confirmed that an older sister was still living but that one brother and one sister were deceased.30 The identity of these children is uncertain. Only one child was alive in 189031 || and when Phoebe died only Agnes and one brother were recorded. Perhaps the form was completed in error and Agnes had been erroneously included as one of the previous issue. It is believed that Ada died as an infant and that her death was not registered.

Nine years later, on 13 September 1886, as Phoebe PAT, Phoebe again entered the Benevolent Asylum where, on the day of her admission, her daughter, Agnes, was born. No discharges were recorded on the online index for either Phoebe or Agnes. While Phoebe's age in these online records was recorded as 22, the original from the Benevolent Asylum showed that she was 31.32 While Agnes was registered with the surname PAT, she was almost certainly the child of William MARTIN who married Phoebe shortly after this birth. William also had a sister named Agnes who had been born in 1859.33 Phoebe PAT married William MARTIN in Christ Church, Sydney, on 5 October 1886, just over a fortnight after Agnes had been born. Phoebe and William were both recorded as thirty-two and William was identified as a bachelor who had been born in NSW. His parents were Thomas and Catherine MARTIN. Catherine's surname was not identified on the record. Phoebe was recorded on the marriage registration as a widow who had been born in Scotland. Her parents were identified as James WYLIE and Mary CARNEY. On 26 April 1887,34 the birth of a daughter, Cora M. MARTIN, was registered in Redfern. No father was identified on the NSW BDM Index suggesting that William had left Phoebe by this time.

As yet no trace of Phoebe's known husband, William MARTIN, has been confirmed after their marriage but it is believed that he led a criminal life and possibly abandoned Phoebe shortly after their marriage. William MARTIN's birth had been registered in Sydney in 1856.35 Although this birth record has not been viewed, William MARTIN had very likely been born in the Hunter Valley as a younger brother and sister had almost certainly been registered in Maitland. The HVPRI may hold more details on his family. William MARTIN was very likely to be the criminal William MARTIN alias HOLMES whose photograph and extensive rap-sheet appeared in the Bathurst Gaol records in 1899. He gave his address in 1899 as Auburn Road, Auburn,36 when he was admitted to Darlinghurst and, as he had a two year sentence, was transferred to Bathurst Gaol where he was eventually released in 1901. On 25 August 1902, William was tried as William HOLMES alias MARTIN at the Parramatta Quarter Sessions and was sentenced to five years penal servitude.37 This man is certainly an age match for Phoebe's husband.

It is believed that Phoebe's first gaol admission occurred on 23 September 1878, when she was admitted to Darlinghurst as Phoebe MILEY for drunkenness. She had been tried at the Central Police Court that same day and was imprisoned for four days.38 Names are rarely reported in the newspapers for drunkenness. There is little doubt that in 1890 and 1891, Phoebe, as Phoebe MARTIN alias Elizabeth MARTIN, was admitted to Biloela Gaol in the old Biloela Industrial School premises. On 26 June 1890, 21 July 1890, and then 6 October 1891,39 Phoebe MARTIN spent a week in gaol for being being drunk and disorderly. Biloela records for this period of time are in poor condition so are very difficult to read and again, it is unlikely that any account of these incidents would have been reported in the newspapers. In 1890 Phoebe was admitted to gaol with a two-and-a-half-year-old child40 and this age roughly matched that of Agnes.

It is considered almost certain that the woman known variously as Elizabeth MILEY alias WILEY alias CLARK was also Phoebe. The first admission to gaol for the woman with the given name Elizabeth appeared to have been in June 1879. She had been tried in Sydney as a common prostitute by Robert GREY on 19 March 1879, and admitted to Bathurst Gaol to serve her three months hard labour.41 She was again likely to be the 29-year-old Elizabeth WILEY who appeared in the Central Police Court on 15 February 1884, charged with having insufficient lawful means of support. She was sentenced to be imprisoned for one month with hard labour and Goulburn Gaol records indicated that she had been admitted there. Her year of birth in gaol records ranged from 1849 and 1864 but there is little doubt that the same woman is being described and these apparent errors are thought to be due to poor handwriting.42 Further gaol admissions for Phoebe are still being investigated.

Agnes PAT aka MARTIN married as WILEY on 5 December 1905 and because she was not 21 Phoebe gave consent to the marriage and was a witness.43 Phoebe died on 5 November 1911, at Woodville Road, Fairfield. Her father was recorded as Thomas on the registration and no mother was identified. She was recorded as a 63 years old who had been born in Scotland. She was buried at Rookwood Church of England Cemetery.44


Phoebe was the daughter of James WYLIE and Mary KEARNEY45 aka CAIRNEY aka CARNEY who had arrived with their children in 1858 as assisted immigrants aboard the Herald of the Morning.46 Phoebe was recorded on the indent as the two-year-old Euphemia WYLIE and, while both her parents had been born in County Clare, Ireland, Phoebe and her three older siblings had been born in Scotland. Her birth as Euphemia WYLIE occurred on 7 August 1856, at Dalkeith, Midlothian.47 Phoebe's parents on this record were confirmed, although the spelling of her mother's maiden name was CARNEY and on her birth registration in Scotland as CAIRNEY. These matched the names of her parents stated at the time that Phoebe married William MARTIN.

The indent of the Herald of the Morning identified that James was the son of John WYLIE, who was dead, and Jane, who was living in Glasgow. When Thomas, the youngest child in the WILEY family, who had been born in Sydney in 1859, was sent to the Vernon in 1868, newspaper reports indicated that James was dying. Two years later in 1870, when Phoebe was sent to Newcastle, newspapers confirmed that James had died. The notation 'father dead' had been added to Thomas's record from the Vernon but no date was provided.48 No exact registration can be located that identified James' death on the NSW BDM index. Only two death registrations of men with the surname WHILEY, WILIE, WYLIE or WILEY were made and they are not thought to indicate the children's father. It is believed that the death of James WHITE, whose mother was identified on the index as Jane and registered in 1870,49 was that of Phoebe's father and this record has been tentatively been attributed to him. The NSW BDM Index provided an age of fifty-two but it may be that this was due to poor handwriting or a poor transcription and may actually read thirty-two.

Of the other records, the first, of Joseph WILEY whose parents were Denis and Frances, had been made in Paddington in 1868.50 The second death was that of Alfred WILEY in St George in 1869. His parents were Joseph J. and Lydia.51 Alfred WILEY was a child and was very possibly the grandson of the other man.

Mary's parents were identified on the Herald of the Morning indent as Thomas and Jane who were living in Scotland in 1858. At the time of the arrest of her youngest child, Thomas, the Vernon admission register identified that Mary had run away.52 When Phoebe was arrested two years later, newspapers reported that Mary was alive and living in Parramatta.53 Mary was unlikely to be the woman often in gaol who stated that she had arrived on the Herald of the Morning. This imprisoned woman was almost certainly Mary's daughter, Mary Ann. Mary WILEY's whereabouts after 1870 are unknown. No appropriate remarriages as WILEY, or variations, have been identified.

There is no doubt that the boy sent to the Vernon on 20 July 1868, and identified in the newspapers as James WILEY,54 but who was nine years old was in fact Phoebe's brother, Thomas. This admission occurred two days before Phoebe was admitted to the Benevolent Asylum. Thomas was admitted to the Vernon as Thomas WILIE.55 His trial reported that his father was dying at St Vincent’s hospital and that his mother had run away. His unnamed brother, who shared the same surname, – probably James – stated that he wandered the streets with reputed thieves and in no ostensible occupation. Thomas's Vernon admission recorded the notation 'father dead.' No further trace of Thomas has yet been confirmed but he was recorded in the Vernon records that he was learning to be a sailor.

Gaol records indicated that Phoebe's sister, Mary Ann, was in trouble with the authorities and appeared often in gaol records. She may be identified in gaol records by her place of birth and ship of arrival, the Herald of the Morning. Mary identified her place of birth at most admissions as Scotland. Her first located admission was at the Sydney Quarter Sessions on 8 August 1867, when she was arrested and charged with John DESMOND for the assault and robbery of William WYLANDS. She was sentenced to three years in Maitland Gaol and these records identified an earlier conviction on 18 January 1865. She was probably recorded in 1865 in the Darlinghurst records as Maria WILEY.56 She had appeared in the Central Police Court on 1 February 1873,57 charged with having stolen property. Her aliases of McDONALD and CLARK were recorded in newspaper and gaol admissions.58 The Police Gazette indicated that she was cohabiting with a Robert HOW or HOWE at this time.59 Mary Ann was acquitted of this charge at the Sydney Quarter Sessions. A Robert HOWE married Mary A. McCARTY in 1883. Might this be Mary? Tracing Mary Ann has not been further possible and searching for her has not assisted in locating other family members.

No trace of Phoebe's older two siblings, James and Jane, is certain.

The eldest WILEY child, Jane, may have married Richard MORAN as Jane WHALEY in 187860 or William SMITH as Jane WYLLIE in 1884.61 A tree on Ancestry that has not been investigated, suggested that Jane didn't marry David HARRISON. No further record of Jane has yet been confirmed. The death of Jane WYLLIE in East Maitland in 1894 was that of a woman whose father was identified as James but whose mother was unknown.62

Phoebe's brother, James, may have been the boy who appeared in the Darlinghurst records in 1859 described as a boy under the age of 16.63 This child was identified in the newspapers as a 13-year-old.64

Note: William and Phoebe MARTIN formerly PAT née WILEY are not to be confused with the William and Phoebe MARTIN née DOIG65 who married in Lithgow in 1885 and who went on to have five daughters with only the last born in Sydney. This Phoebe MARTIN died in Sydney in 1917.66 She was reported to be 52.67

Updated June 2017

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