Father Henry WILLIAMS b.c. 18161 m.c. 1836 d. aft. 18532 or 18673
Mother Mary O’BRIEN b. 18174 m.c. 1836 d. 18715
Sister Elizabeth WILLIAMS6 b.c. 1837 m. 18577 Thomas NORRIS d. 19118
Sister Harriett Hannah WILLIAMS b. 18439 m. 185910 Alfred Cæsar SHORT11 d. 187512
Sister Catherine Ann WILLIAMS13 b.c. 1845 m. 187114 Matthew WALSH d. 191815
Brother James WILLIAMS b. 184616 m. d.
Brother William WILLIAMS b. 1847 m. 188917 Mary W. PEARCE d. 1921
Brother John WILLIAMS b. 185118 m. d.
Inmate Mary WILLIAMS b. 185319 m. (see below) d. aft. 1870
Husband unknown b. m. d.
Son b. m. d.
Daughter b. m. d.
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Father Henry20 19 5' 5" dark brown brown ruddy and freckled mark of a bite right side of neck; scar right side of upper lip, two scars on chin, scar inner corner of left eyebrow; C H in a heart surrounded by a wreath on upper, two stars, H M M A B, inside lower right arm; raised mole back of right hand, heart inside lower left arm, large scar left shin
Sister Harriet Hannah21 32 5' 2½" black black stout22 in good health
WARNING: Details of the story of the WILLIAMS family may cause distress to readers.

Mary was fifteen when she was arrested from Bathurst charged with having no lawful visible means of support. No other children were arrested with her and sent to either Newcastle or onto the Vernon. To date no report of her trial has been located and no record of her being admitted to Bathurst Gaol as a temporary measure has been found. Her arrest was almost certainly a direct result of the earlier arrest and trial of her mother Mary, and her older sister Harriet, for murder. It is considered likely that Mary was the youngest daughter in the family. It is believed that after the arrest of her mother and sister, with her father either working away or perhaps dead, there was no person to care for her so she was arrested for protection. Mary was admitted to Newcastle on 8 October 1867, and was described in the Entrance Book as a Catholic. Her level of education was 'sequel No. 2 on slate.'23 Her medical assessment by Dr HARRIS showed that she was not a virgin.24

By 19 December 1868, Mary had been at the school for thirteen months so CLARKE wrote to the Colonial Secretary stating that she and six others were eligible for service. He was requesting permission to find situations for them all but stated that he had already negotiated positions for five of them.25 Mary was discharged to service on 30 January 1869,26 to Mortimer W. LEWIS, Esq., Clerk of Works at Newcastle, as a nurse maid with a salary of five shillings a week.27 LEWIS was a Protestant. The Colonial Secretary's Department commented that CLARKE should have apprenticed Mary after seeking permission from the Executive Committee although CLARKE clearly stated in his letter that he had discharged the girls 'in compliance with Instructions I received from that Minister [the Colonial Secretary] when here.'28 According to CLARKE in a letter to Mrs[?] LEWIS aka LOUIS on 30 January 1869, Mary’s character was described as good and while her 'personal antecedents' were unexceptional, he felt that she would be treated with kindness and prove to be a faithful servant.29 In his April 1872 list LUCAS indicated that Mary and Annie KNOX were apprenticed to the same location but no other details have been located to verify whether this statement was correct or whether this was a further error on LUCAS's list.30 It may be that LEWIS had two properties, one at Scone and one in Newcastle.31 In his letter to the Colonial Secretary on 1 August 1870, CLARKE confirmed that Mary

remained eleven months [and] is now in a respectable position in Sydney where she has been seen by Mrs LEWIS.32

No further confirmation for Mary has yet been located after 1870.

Note: WILLIAMS family researchers have erroneously attributed the marriage of Mary Jane WILLIAMS to Richard James BADCOCK in Bathurst in 1878. These researchers firstly seem not to have made the connection with the infanticide case so it is uncertain how complete their investigation of this particular family has been. Secondly, it is doubtful that they have cited this marriage registration. This record has been viewed and clearly identified that Mary Jane WILLIAMS had been born in Cornwall and that her parents were William WILLIAMS and Mary HARVEY. Thirdly, Mary Jane BADCOCK's obituary in the //Wellington Times confirmed that she had come to Australia from Cornwall.33 The NSW BDM Index further also confirmed that this Mary Jane's father was William and that she was eighty-six years of age when she died in 1935. This age indicated an approximate year of birth of 1849 so she was too old to be the Newcastle admission. Mary Jane BADCOCK had been buried in the Methodist cemetery, Oberon, on 24 October 1935,34 another difference, albeit not impossible, to the Newcastle admission.//


Mary's parents were clearly identified in the Entrance Book as Henry and Mary WILLIAMS and Henry was described as a 'surveyor's man'.35 It is almost entirely certain that Mary had been arrested about a fortnight after her mother, Mary, was arrested for her involvement in the infanticide of her granddaughter in Bathurst.36 Reports of the murder appeared in papers across Australia. Both37 Henry and Mary were identified in these reports and the subsequent death of Mary's brother-in-law, Alfred SHORT, Harriet's husband. These parents and the timing of both incidents almost certainly link the two sisters. No marriage for Henry and Mary has been confirmed in the NSW BDM Index and it must be considered that they had never married. All the children of the couple had been born before compulsory registration and to date only four baptisms have been identified but not confirmed. Of these only those of John and Mary can be easily read. Mary had been born on 26 March 1853, and was baptised on 14 April 1853, by T. GRANT, at the Roman Catholic church in Bathurst. Her parents were confirmed on the record as Henry WILLIAMS, a labourer, and Mary O’BRIEN. John's baptism is yet to be viewed.

Descendants believe that the relevant church records have either been omitted from the NSW BDM Index and that the marriage of Henry WILLIAMS and Mary O'BRIEN was recorded in the Mudgee Catholic records, or that it was recorded under the names William WILLIAMS and May DEVINE.38 This record will be read and the witnesses and accuracy of the transcription will be assessed. This certainly may be the correct marriage as no baptisms for a couple named William and May have been recorded. The Catholic pre-1856 baptisms record the mother's maiden name and none with the surname DEVINE have yet been located. It is also significant that on 16 August 1843, the 24-year-old Mary DEVINE who had arrived with Mary O'BRIEN, on the Duchess of Northumberland was granted Permission to Marry George BALLARD by William LISLE of Yass. On arrival Mary DEVINE had been recorded as a 17-year-old from Cork so was a different person to Mary O'BRIEN and was very unlikely to have married twice in such a short time in two very different locations. BALLARD had been transported for Life aboard the Lord Melville (2).

No details of Mary's life between her arrival in February 1835 and her move to the Bathurst area have been found and it is possible that she had formerly been in a different relationship. Mary made news across the country in 1867 and her identification is possible by using the resulting records. Some time around 31 August 1867, the illegitimate child of Henry and Mary's daughter, Harriet SHORT nee WILLIAMS, was found drowned in a well in Bathurst. Harriet and the reputed father,39 Charles ATKINS,40 were arrested and trial reports documented that Mary had admitted to having thrown the newly-born, illegitimate girl into the well when her daughter, Harriet, was unable to do it.41 The discovery and retrieval of the body of the child had occurred some time before Mary and Harriet were arrested for the crime.42 Mother and daughter were tried in Bathurst on 23 October 186743 and again in Sydney where they were sentenced to death. Mary's sentence was commuted to life in prison with hard labour.44 Gaol records from 1867 confirmed that Mary O'BRIEN had arrived on the Duchess of Northumberland in 1835. She was recorded on the indent as an eighteen-year-old Irish immigrant from Dublin. Gaol records indicated that she had been born in Sligo, Ireland.45 On 24 Januaru 1870 she was transferred to Port Macquarie Gaol46 but was returned for the benefit of her health on 16 May. As Mary WILLIAMS she died at the age of about fifty-eight in Darlinghurst Gaol on 25 February 1871,47 and her death was noted in the Darlinghurst Gaol Entrance Book.48 The NSW BDM Index recorded that she was sixty-two-years-old. No detailed description of Mary as either O’BRIEN or WILLIAMS has been located in either the NSW gaol records or in the Police Gazette but the records consistently identified her ship of arrival and her place and date of trial. This therefore confirmed that she and Henry had not arrived together as immigrants.

Mary's story is typical of many of the other Newcastle inmates who are known to have had convict ancestry so it is considered very likely, although it has not yet been proven, that her father Henry, had been transported. Descendants generally accept that he had been transported for seven years in December 1835 but only one online tree acknowledged that this identification is tentative.49 Other convicts of this name may also be Mary's father and admissions to Bathurst Gaol further identify men named Henry WILLIAMS and attribute to him various aliases. It may therefore be that Henry did not arrive as Henry WILLIAMS although no actual identification of any possible arrival under another name has been possible. It is important to consider that a younger transportee named Henry WILLIAMS who had arrived on the Mermaid was also in the Bathurst area when he received his Certificate of Freedom and Conditional Pardon, as was another man who had arrived on the Marquis of Hastings. No record to confirm Henry's age has been confirmed but it has been assumed that he may have been about as old as his wife, Mary. Only baptisms for the children of Henry and Mary remain therefore no birth details for Mary's father exist. No marriage has been found and because it would have occurred before 1856, it would contain no identifying details for either Mary or Henry. No Permission to Marry or marriage banns exist for the couple.

The Royal Sovereign (2) that arrived in December 1835 has therefore been attributed as Henry's ship of arrival but there are no records that can be linked to the family yet found that will verify this. The Royal Sovereign (2) indent of 1835 described Henry as a 19-year-old bricklayer's labourer from Buckinghamshire.50 Free Settler or Felon51 identified that the Windsor Bench recommended that Henry received a ToL in 1840 and this was then transferred to Bathurst. Henry achieved his certificate of freedom on 22 April 1843,52 and notations on the certificate indicate that by 1843 he was in Mudgee.53

Family researchers indicate that the earliest birth to the Henry and Mary occurred in about 1837 but there is some difficulty in this attribution if Elizabeth was Henry's daughter. If Elizabeth was born in this year Henry and Mary must have met each other soon after Mary's arrival in NSW. If Elizabeth had been born this early, Henry was a relatively newly arrived convict when their relationship began. It seems unusual that only two years after his arrival he had begun a relationship while he was under sentence and almost certainly still working for a master. Whether this was likely so early in his time in NSW must be questioned although it is not impossible. This may have been a reason why there was no permission to marry sought but alternatively permission to marry would not have been needed if Henry, like Mary, had arrived free or the couple had married after he received a Certificate of Freedom. Alternatively, the birth of Elizabeth was much later than 1837, which is considered much more likely. There was no Henry WILLIAMS yet identified in Bathurst on the 1841C.

That Henry and Mary lived in comfortable circumstances is evidenced by images that must date from before 1867 and perhaps from before 1859, as these same descendants have identified that Henry had died by this time. Descendants, who must hold these images in their family collections, have identified the subjects as Mary and Henry. The oldest known photograph in Australia is held by the Mitchell Library and dates from 1845 so these WILLIAMS photographs must be very early. It may be that the image was of a later family member and dating the photo by investigating the clothing may verify the identities of the couple in the image.

The research of descendants has been the basis of their knowledge of the occupation of Henry. Family researchers state that he operated a store in Howick Street, Bathurst, using the alias, 'Holy Billy'.54 He was in the process of expanding the store in July 184955 but by November was suffering financially.56 The final dividend in his insolvency was announced in July 185057 but by July 1851 Henry was trading again and specifically targetting the requirements of miners.58 No evidence of Henry disobeying the law has been located although he does appear in court cases in situations when his store was robbed.59 He was still selling stock in 1852.60 On 27 November 1852, Henry wrote to the Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal proclaiming that he was still alive and trading and expressing annoyance at the person who had announced his death.61 By 1853, when Mary was baptised, Henry was a labourer. His buildings, yards and stores had been taken over by Joseph SARGEANT by March 185662 and by April SARGEANT was occupying the premises.63 It is unknown how long the stores had been unused before that date. It is unknown but considered unlikely that the Henry WILLIAMS who was part of the committee for elections in Bathurst is this same man.64

After Mary's baptism no further confirmation of Henry WILLIAMS living in or appearing in the Bathurst papers can be made. However, a Henry WILLIAMS 'better known as Hood's Harry' was being sought in November 1854 after absconding from the hired service of Edward J. WHITE of Queen Charlotte's Vale.65 He was described as a 37-year-old Englishman who was 5'8", stout made, fresh cpmplexion, dark hair and blue eyes. It is considered very likely that 'Hood's Harry' was a new alias for Henry but again there is no proof and while the description roughly matches a man of the age attributed to Henry, there is no proof of age yet able to be linked to him. The Police Gazette gives an approximate date of birth for Hood's Harry as 1817. The description identified him as about 37; 5' 8"; stout made, complexion fresh; hair dark; eyes blue. He was an Englishman and was thought to have gone towards Dunn's Plains.66 'Hood's Harry' was finally apprehended by the Bathurst Detective Force in about May 1856.67

Most online trees identify that Henry died in Bathurst as William H. WILLIAMS in about 1859 but none have been able to verify this death and it is unknown whether the actual registration has been purchased and whether any children were identified and whether the informant was someone who would know William Henry. There is therefore no evidence that this death is correct. It may very well be that Henry used the name William WILLIAMS or Henry William WILLIAMS but it is questionable whether he was dead by this date. No researcher has stated whether the informant of the death has been confirmed as a family member nor whether any names or numbers of children were recorded on the certificate and how long he had been a resident in the colony. Henry left his family, perhaps to work around 1852.68 If he was 'Hood's Harry' he had left them again shortly after Mary's birth. The Entrance Book, probably recording what Mary knew of her father, identified that in 1867 he was working as a 'surveyor's man'. Although there are exceptions and also some errors, it was not the practice of the industrial school administrators to record the names of deceased parents in the Entrance Book69 and because Henry was named in this record, this record therefore strongly suggested that he was still alive when Mary was arrested. If he was labouring with a surveyor then he would have been away from home for long periods. Henry was not mentioned in any of the trial reports for his wife and older daughter, Harriett,70 and it is considered odd that he was not asked to give evidence. It must be also considered that the knowledge of his local community concerning the crimes of his wife and daughter may have encouraged him to assume a different name in order to achieve some anonymity and if he was not in the immediate area when the murder occurred he may have decided never to return to Bathurst.

The names and identities of the children of Henry and Mary are still uncertain. No record is known to exist where they were all likely to have been identified. It is unknown whether and unlikely that any were recorded on Mary's death registration and as no descendant has positively identified a death for Henry, it is likely that their children have not been recorded on any death registration. It has not been possible to accurately identify other family members according to their location and only two other baptisms or registrations for this couple have been identified on the NSW BDM Index. As well as Mary, Harriet and James appear in the records at Kelso, NSW, recorded with the surname WILLIAM. Neither Harriet's nor James's record can be viewed on the 'V' reels so must be purchased. It is possible that other children may appear in the original registers for the Catholic church in the Bathurst area but no descendant has indicated that this was the case. This Catholic church was very likely to have been used by other members of the family so more information may be located within its register.

The descendants of Elizabeth and Catherine, the two older daughters of Henry and Mary, must have identified their ancestry through information cited in their marriage records. Harriet however, is positively identified through newspaper articles. Harriet WILLIAMS had married Alfred Cæsar aka Alfred Charles SHORT71 at St Michael and St John's Catholic church in Bathurst on 28 December 1859.72 A detailed account of Harriet’s family life can be found in the Sydney Morning Herald on 26 November 1867.73 Alfred was advertising in the Bathurst papers as a teacher in 186074 and had arrived on the Providence in about 1856. Two sons were born to Alfred and Harriet75 before he was arrested for forgery76 and sent to Darlinghurst for two years.77 Although Alfred had been imprisoned and his leaving was tentatively attributed by the Queanbeyan Age on 16 November 1867, to incidents of Harriet's infidelity, he had left Harriet by early 1867 because she was pregnant. Alfred had made his way to Queanbeyan where he had been working as a tutor. He was identified in newspapers in the Queanbeyan area as the son of an English solicitor named John Samuel SHORT. Alfred died in Queanbeyan Hospital in early July 1867 about a month before the murder of the illegitimate child that placed his wife and mother-in-law in prison. His father was erroneously recorded as Charles on his death registration.78 After Alfred's death his children inherited money from their paternal family in England.79 It is unknown who cared for these two children after Harriet's arrest and sentencing. Harriet's death sentence was commuted to ten years in prison with hard labour80 and was then remitted. She was released from Darlinghurst gaol in about March 187581 and she returned to the Bathurst area after her release where she died shortly afterward. On her 1875 death record on the NSW BDM Index her mother was identified as Mary. Her father was recorded as Henry W. but it is unknown whether the W. was a reference to a second name or to his surname. Only the actual registration will confirm details and the correct death location for Harriet but one tree does identify the actual date for this death of 17 June 1875, possibly suggesting that this researcher has verified the information on the actual document.82 While it is acknowledged that family researchers know their family well, most online trees have attributed an 1895 death in Adelaide, South Australia, to Harriet Hannah SHORT, inexplicably ignoring the most likely death for her in 1875 in the town of Orange. No detailed description of Harriet SHORT has been located in gaol records or in the Police Gazette but gaol admissions confirm that she had been born in the colony. Could it be that family stories deliberately referred to Harriet leaving NSW to hide the infanticide?

The baptisms for John83 and Elizabeth WILLIAMS84 do not refer to this family as they were recorded in a Protestant register in Sydney and identified that this Henry WILLIAMS was a cooper. They therefore almost without any doubt identify a different WILLIAMS family.

The Margaret WILLIAMS who married James GUNNING in Bathurst and who is identified on some trees as another child of Henry and Mary,85 is unlikely to be a member of this family because her sisters, Mrs Kate86 CLARKE and Mrs H. RYAN, were named in her obituary.87 Aside from the identification of different sisters, when Margaret GUNNING died, if she was a child of Henry and Mary, why was she not also taken to Newcastle in 1867? While it is possible that she was cared for by an older sister it is hard to imagine why she was not arrested with Mary.

Where has She Gone?

Mary WILLIAMS was last located in Sydney in 1870. There is no known way of locating any Government record for Mary indicating any return to Bathurst as Mary had left the control of the government once she had been apprenticed. It is therefore unknown when, or if, she ever returned to Bathurst but she was old enough at the time of her admission to have known her family well so she may have attempted to be reunited with her father or sisters. It also must be considered that, due to the criminal aspects that were the catalyst for her arrest, that Mary chose not to identify her parents when she married, so even a marriage registration may not identify her family.

Possible marriages that Mary may have made – even one in Bathurst in 1874 – are currently under investigation.

Updated March 2016

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