Father Henry WILLIAMS b.c. 18161 m.c. 1836 d. aft. 18642
Mother Mary O’BRIEN b.c. 18173 m.c. 1836 d. 18714
Sister Elizabeth WILLIAMS5 b.c. 18406 m. 18577 Thomas NORRIS d. 19118
Sister Catherine Ann WILLIAMS9 b.c. 1841 m. 187110 Matthew WALSH d. 191811
Sister Harriett Hannah WILLIAMS b. 184312 m. 185913 Alfred Cæsar SHORT14 d. 187515
Brother James WILLIAMS b. 184616 m. d.
Brother Henry WILLIAMS b.c. 1850 m. none - d. 186417
Inmate Mary WILLIAMS b. 185318 m. (see below) d. aft. 1873
Husband unknown b. m. d.
Son b. m. d.
Daughter b. m. d.
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Father Henry19 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 Hannah20 32 5' 2½" black black stout21 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. To date no report of Mary's trial has been located. Neither has any record of her being admitted to Bathurst Gaol as a temporary measure. Her arrest was almost certainly a direct result of the earlier arrest and trial of her mother Mary, and her older sister Harriet. It is believed that after their arrest, and with her father either working away or perhaps dead, there was no person to care for the youngest child in the family so she was arrested for protection. Mary was admitted to Newcastle on 8 October 1867, before the trail of her mother and sister. She was described in the Entrance Book as a Catholic. Her level of education was 'sequel No. 2 on slate.'22 Her medical assessment by Dr HARRIS showed that she was not a virgin23 so while her arrest was for vagrancy, it may be that she had embarked on serious behaviour resulting in an arrest for association with thieves or prostitutes. More information may become available when and if details of a court appearance for her can be located.

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 requested permission to find situations for them all but stated that he had already negotiated positions for five of them.24 Mary was discharged by CLARKE to service on 30 January 1869,25 to Mortimer W. LEWIS, Esq., Clerk of Works at Newcastle, as a nurse maid with a salary of five shillings a week.26 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.'27 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.28 In his April 1872 list LUCAS indicated that Mary and Annie KNOX had been apprenticed to the same location but no further details have been located to verify whether this statement was correct or whether this was a further error on LUCAS's list.29 It may be that LEWIS had two properties, one at Scone and one in Newcastle.30 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.31

The fact that Mary was placed in service and not sent to an apprenticeship is unusual. It perhaps suggested that CLARKE considered that by 1869 Mary had attained the age of 18. Because her baptism indicated that this wasn't the case, it may be, as was the case with other older girls, that she had convinced CLARKE that when she was admitted to Newcastle, she was older than 15, her stated age in the // Entrance Book//. Mary never transferred with the school to Biloela on Cockatoo Island in May 1871 as she had been sent into service from Newcastle and then moved of her own accord to Sydney. Her name was not recorded on the Biloela transfer lists.

However Mary was readmitted to the Biloela Industrial School after the transfer in May 1871. Mary WILLIAMS and Mary Ann WILLIAMS are one and the same person. The ages of the Newcastle Mary WILLIAMS and the Biloela Mary Ann WILLIAMS were almost identical. CLARKE reported that Mary WILLIAMS had moved to Sydney by 1870 where the subsequent arrests occurred. When she was arrested Mary Ann WILLIAMS was living with an aunt and not her parents.

On Wednesday, 26 November 1873, the very first girl to give evidence to the Royal Commission into the operation of the Biloela Industrial School was one Mary Ann WILLIAMS. Mary had been one of the Biloela girls imprisoned during September within the school as punishment and received appalling mistreatment and beatings at the hands of George LUCAS. On 15 September 1873,32 Mary had been locked in number three dormitory by LUCAS with two Biloela admissions33 on a bread and water diet. The windows were boarded up. No bedding was provided. The girls were given blankets and matting but more water was denied to them.34 They were released from the dormitory on the 18 September.35

He first words of her evidence at the Commission Mary Ann said:

8894. President] How old are you? I am seventeen.
8895. How long have you been here? Three years and about six months.

By the date of the commission Biloela had only been operating for one year and and six months so Mary Ann's stated period of stay confirmed that she had formerly been a Newcastle admission. It is believed that the duration stated by Mary was an exact statement in her evidence. With the period of her apprenticeship with LEWIS and her later time in Sydney removed from her total stay, the length of time stated is considered to be factually correct. Three years and six months identified an admission date of early 1870 but Mary WILLIAMS had been gone from the school between February 1869 and her rearrest in May 1871, a period of about two years and three months. Once this apprenticeship time is taken into account Mary Ann's admission date calculates to late 1867 which is correct. In addition three girls with the surname WILLIAMS were admitted to Newcastle but both the others with this surname, Ann WILLIAMS and Honora WILLIAMS (2), married in 1873 before the Royal Commission began, so cannot have been in the school at Biloela.

Mary WILLIAMS and Mary Ann WILLIAMS are one and the same person and to date the Newcastle readmission is the only girl named Mary or Mary Ann WILLIAMS sent to Biloela during the time when records have not survived. Prior to this readmission girls returned to Newcastle were not given a new admission number when they returned and a notation was simply made in the Entrance Book. No such notation appeared beside Mary WILLIAMS' initial admission.36 Her readmission was different in that she was arrested and appeared in court on 11 May 1871, where magistrates dictated that she was to be admitted to Newcastle.37 Rather than being sent there is no doubt that Mary Ann was admitted directly to Biloela. This research has uncovered that children tried and sent to Newcastle in April and May 1871 were sent to and retained in Sydney. At this time the Entrance book was still in Newcastle in the hands of the new Superintendent George LUCAS. In addition LUCAS did not know Mary WILLIAMS so there was no recognition when they met. It is therefore believed that this is the reason that Mary Ann's name appears twice on LUCAS' April 1872 list – once on 8 October 186738 and once on 31 May 1871.39

After this second readmission in May 1871, on 16 September 1872, Mary Ann was discharged to her aunt identified as Mrs LODGE.40 Four months later Mary Ann subsequently appeared in court on 21 January 1873, where she was readmitted for a third time.

Mary Ann Williams was brought before the Court, under the Act for the Relief of Destitute Children, at the instance of her aunt, charged with being under 16 years of age, and residing with prostitutes in a house in Druitt-street. This girl was, some time ago, an Inmate of the Industrial School for Females, and on her promise of good behaviour, was taken home again. She however returned to her old habits, frequently absenting herself from home on one occasion for a fortnight, and more than once has come home in a state of helpless intoxication; she has neither father nor mother; of the character of the house, however, at which she had been residing, the only evidence was that the girl herself so described it. To be sent to the Industrial school at Biloela.41

LUCAS confirmed this admission but did not identify that it was another readmission.42 There is no doubt that the newspaper reports in May 1871 and January 1873 refer to the same girl and there is also no doubt that the September 1873 admission refers to the Newcastle admission as the report identified that she had been 'an Inmate of the Industrial School for Females' aka Newcastle Industrial School. On both occasions Mary's aunt lied about her age in order to have her accepted into Biloela. By the date of her third admission, Mary Ann was actually aged about 18.

After her appearance at the Royal Commission Mary Ann was discharged from Biloela. No details of this discharge remain in official records for the school. The Child Care and Protection Index on NSW State Records identified no discharge from Biloela for any girl of this name so Mary was discharged before the Discharge Register was established. There are letters in the CSIL that do refer to Mary that have not yet been retrieved as they were initially believed to belong to a Biloela only admission. It is certain that Mary was released onto the streets of Sydney and perhaps returned to her aunt but also perhaps to her associates in Druitt Street. It may be that some of these were her former friends from Newcastle.


Mary's parents were clearly identified in the Entrance Book as Henry and Mary WILLIAMS and Henry was described as a 'surveyor's man'.43 It is likely that Mary provided these details to the administrators of the Industrial School.44 A report of the circumstances of Mary's arrest have not been located but it is almost entirely certain that she had been charged under the Industrial Schools Act at the time of, or very soon after her mother Mary, was arrested for her involvement in the infanticide of the illegitimate daughter of Mary's older sister Harriett SHORT.45 No other children were arrested from Bathurst in this time period and sent to either Newcastle or onto the Vernon so only this family and no siblings were involved. Reports of the murder appeared in papers across Australia. Both Henry and Mary were identified in these reports and in the subsequent death of Mary's brother-in-law, Alfred SHORT, Harriet's husband.46 These parents, a baptism and the timing of both incidents almost without any doubt link the two sisters. No marriage for Henry WILLIAMS and Mary O'BRIEN has been located on the NSW BDM Index and it must be considered that they had never married. It is believed that Mary was the youngest of their six children and all the children had been born before compulsory registration in 1856. To date only three baptisms have been identified and of these, only that of Mary can be easily read. Mary had been born on 26 March 1853, and was baptised at the Roman Catholic church in Bathurst on 14 April 1853, by T. GRANT. Because the baptism was in a Catholic register, the names of both Mary's parents were recorded in full. Henry WILLIAMS was a labourer and her mother was Mary O’BRIEN. Elizabeth and Catherine, the two older daughters of Henry and Mary, are linked to them through records connected to their daughters, Mary and Harriet. Catherine WILLIAMS was the sponsor for Mary's baptism in 1853 and connections to Thomas NORRIS, the husband of Elizabeth WILLIAMS were identified on Harriet's death registration.

This WILLIAMS family is extremely difficult to identify due to the lack of any records that can be positively linked to them. It is not the purpose of this researcher to critique the research of descendants but difficulties do need to be outlined as many contradictions are reflected in the variety of online family trees for the family that are able to be viewed. All birth records connected to Henry and Mary occurred before compulsory registration so any detailed identification from these documents can only be speculative. Only baptisms for their children remain so no ages or birth locations for either Henry or Mary exist. No marriage for the couple has been found and because it should have occurred before 1856, it would contain no identifying details for either Mary or Henry. No Permission to Marry record or marriage banns have yet been located. There is no evidence available concerning Henry's year of birth. It has been assumed that he was likely to have been about as old as his wife but this is also speculation. There is disagreement amongst researchers about Henry's year of death and some identify that he died before November 1859. This cannot be correct as in December 1859 Henry WILLIAMS gave permission for his sixteen-year-old daughter Harriet to marry. Many descendants are in possession of images in their family collections and have identified the subjects as Mary and Henry. These images strongly suggest that Henry and Mary lived in comfortable circumstances and this may not be the case. Because these same researchers have identified that Henry died in 1859, these images must therefore predate his death. The oldest known photograph in Australia is held by the Mitchell Library and this image dates from 1845. The Holtermann Collection of images from the Bathurst area dates from the 1870s and Beaufoy Merlin was creating images from 1866.47 These WILLIAMS photographs must therefore be very early and must have been very expensive to acquire. Dating the photo by investigating the clothing may also help verify the identities of the couple in the image. Might it be that the image was of a later family member or of a completely different Henry WILLIAMS?

Further problems in available online trees stem from a lack of verification. Records connected to the children of Henry and Mary, especially the older two girls Elizabeth and Catherine, identify contradictory places and years of birth and this creates difficulties. Many researchers have taken the age at the time of death to be correct rather than considering the ages provided when the sisters were alive. There are also a number of researchers who have clearly not made the unpleasant connection between the WILLIAMS family and the Bathurst infanticide and it is this incident that allows family connections to be confirmed. Some researchers have provided a death for Harriet SHORT nee WILLIAMS in South Australia, many years after her actual death in Orange, NSW. Many descendants identify a marriage for the Newcastle admission Mary, that is not correct and those researchers can't have purchased the registration which does clearly identify this Mary's parents. These omissions, guesses and lack of verification then call into question the rest of their research.

Mary WILLIAMS nee O'BRIEN and her daughter Harriet, made news across the country in October 1867, so the resulting records make it possible to confirm Mary O'BRIEN's identity. This confirmation and the reports and records associated with it, as unpleasant as they are, tie together Henry, Mary and their daughters Harriet and Mary. They prove that the older Mary had arrived as a single immigrant aboard the Duchess of Northumberland, a female immigrant ship travelling from London via Dublin and Cork. Henry did not arrive with Mary O'BRIEN so the couple had to have met in NSW. No details of Mary's life, from the time of her arrival in February 1835 until the baptism of her daughter Harriet in 1843, have been absolutely confirmed but it is believed by descendants who do hold registrations, that Mary spent some years in Sydney before moving to the Bathurst area.48 Mary was employed from the ship by Mrs MOSES of George Street, Sydney,49 but which Mrs MOSES is uncertain, as her address at this date is too early to locate in the City of Sydney Assessment Books. What is reasonably sure is that there was no involvement by Mary for any criminal endeavour before the incident in October 1867 as there are no gaol records or entries in the Police Gazette found that refer to her. Where and when Mary and Henry met and when they reached Bathurst cannot yet be ascertained. It cannot be discounted that Mary had formerly been in an earlier relationship but she cannot be identified by her ship of arrival on any permission to marry.

The names and identities of all the children of Henry and Mary WILLIAMS are still uncertain. It is believed that they had six children but there may have been more. It is unknown whether, and unlikely that, any children were recorded on Mary's death registration and as no descendant has positively identified a death for Henry, it is possible that their children have not been recorded on any death registration. Because some records connected with Elizabeth and Catherine WILLIAMS, the two elder daughters of the couple, indicated that these sisters had been born in Sydney, it is likely that an arrival in the Bathurst area did not occur until after about 1843. The mere fact that the location of Sydney was identified at all when the family lived in Bathurst suggests that it is likely to be correct. While these dates disagree with online trees, it is believed that Catherine had been born in about 1841 and Elizabeth had been born in about 1840.[footnote]] email from descendant, Margaret: January 2019 [[/footnote]] Mary and Henry moved to Jeremy, an area west of Bathurst, within the Abercrombie Ranges, perhaps to prospect for gold, where Harriet and James were born. Both children were baptised in Bathurst on 17 July 1847. They were recorded on the NSW BDM Index with the surname WILLIAM as consecutive baptisms. Neither record can be easily viewed on the 'V' reels so they must be purchased but the baptisms can and have been viewed by some descendants in the original Catholic register in Bathurst.50 At the time of this joint baptism, James was about one and Harriet was about four. At least two children were born after 1847. One was Mary who was baptised in Bathurst in 1853. In 1864 there was a death registered in Bathurst of a Henry WILLIAMS whose parents were Henry and Mary and this death is believed to be another child of the couple who had been born before 1853 as there is no birth registration or baptism for Henry. The burial of the infant James WILLIAMS in 1848,51 will be read to see if it belongs to this WILLIAMS family.

Comments online52 suggest that the church records relevant to the WILLIAMS family have been omitted from the NSW BDM Index and that the marriage of Henry WILLIAMS and Mary O'BRIEN was recorded in the Mudgee Catholic register. Strength is given to this consideration because some of the baptisms for the children have not been found and it is likely that Mary O'BRIEN believed strongly in baptising her children. It therefore may be that these records have not survived.

Some time around 31 August 1867, the illegitimate child of Henry and Mary's daughter, Harriet SHORT née WILLIAMS, was found drowned in a well in Bathurst. Mary, Harriet and the reputed father,53 Charles ATKINS,54 were arrested and trial reports documented that Mary had admitted to having thrown the newly-born, illegitimate girl into the well when Harriet was unable to do it.55 The discovery and retrieval of the body of the child had occurred some time before the arrests of the pair for the crime.56 Mother and daughter were tried in Bathurst on 23 October 186757 and were sentenced to death. Eventually both sentences were commuted to ten years in prison with hard labour.58 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 identified that she had been born in Sligo, Ireland.59 On 24 January 1870, Mary was transferred to Port Macquarie Gaol60 but soon after, on 16 May, she was returned to Sydney for the benefit of her health. As Mary WILLIAMS she died in Darlinghurst Gaol on 25 February 1871,61 and her death was noted in the gaol Entrance Book.62 Gaol records suggested that she was about fifty-eight but the NSW BDM Index recorded that she was sixty-two. 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 all records consistently confirmed her ship of arrival as well as her place and date of trial.

Harriet WILLIAMS had married Alfred Cæsar aka Alfred Charles SHORT63 at St Michael and St John's Catholic church in Bathurst on 28 December 1859.64 A detailed account of Harriet’s family life can be found in the Sydney Morning Herald on 26 November 1867.65 Alfred was advertising in the Bathurst papers as a teacher in 186066 and had arrived on the Providence in about 1856. Two children were born to Alfred and Harriet67 before he was arrested for forgery68 and sent to Darlinghurst for two years.69 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.70 After Alfred's death his children inherited money from their paternal family in England.71 It is unknown who cared for these two children after Harriet's arrest and sentencing. It may have been one of Harriett's older sisters. Harriet's death sentence was commuted to ten years in prison with hard labour72 and the sentence was then remitted. She was released from Darlinghurst Gaol in about March 187573 and returned to the Bathurst area after her release where she died shortly afterwards. On her 1875 death registration her mother was identified only as Mary but her father was confirmed as Henry WILLIAMS. One thorough researcher who has generously provided access to the death registration confirmed Harriett's actual date of death of 17 June 1875. The registration identified that the informant was the George TOWSON, the coroner for Orange but one witness to the death was J. NORRIS who was likely connected through marriage to Harriett's sister, Elizabeth.74 A record of Harriett's autopsy has not been located. Elizabeth, who married Thomas NORRIS eventually settled in Millthorpe, just east of Orange.75 While it is acknowledged that family researchers know their family well, the 1895 death in Adelaide, South Australia, identified by most online trees is therefore wrong. Could it be that family stories deliberately referred to Harriet leaving NSW to hide her infanticide and imprisonment?

Nothing has been found to identify Henry. What little is known of him comes from statements made at the time of his daughter's admission to Newcastle and at the trial of his wife and other daughter. The Entrance Book, probably recording what Mary knew of her father, identified that in 1867 he was a 'surveyor's man'. Although exceptions and some errors have been identified in the Entrance Book, it was not the practice of the industrial school administrators to record the names of deceased parents.76 Because Henry was named in the Entrance Book, this record does suggest that he was still alive at the time of Mary's arrest. This is possible if he was labouring with a surveyor and away from home for long periods. However, it is very difficult to imagine why Henry was not mentioned at Mary and Harriet's trial in any substantial way, suggesting that he had died or was away. In October 1867 Mary was living in Ranken Street where the house was described as her's. No reference was made to Henry.77

In his evidence in Mary and Harriet's trial in 1867, Charles ATKINS stated:

I am acquainted with prisoner Short. She never had a child by me. I was acquainted with her mother and father. I never kept company, with her. I have been in Bathurst about three years. I have often been at the mother's house, perhaps two or three times a week. I deny the connection said to have existed between us. … I first knew Mrs. Williams on the Lachlan. I used to visit them at the Lachlan on a Sunday and when I came to Bathurst I used to visit them. I went because they owed me money for [stores they got at Forbes].78 I used to talk to the old people. … I remember the time [about two years ago] when [Mrs] Williams kept a restaurant in William-street.79

Further evidence in the case was given by Mary Ann WALLIS who stated that:

Mrs Williams was living with my father as a servant two years ago.80

ATKINS had arrived in NSW in about 1856 and his evidence is clear that he had known both Mary and Henry WILLIAMS before 1864 when he came to Bathurst. His use of the term 'was' rather than 'am' in his evidence referring to the couple suggested that that couple no longer existed, implying that Henry was dead. For some reason Henry and Mary had travelled to Forbes at some time between 1856 and 1864. It was there that ATKINS knew them and he had visited 'them' and 'the old people' when he arrived in Bathurst because Henry and Mary WILLIAMS owed him money. The evidence also makes it fairly clear that Henry was no longer at the Bathurst house and probably hadn't been there for at least two years. Whether he was away working or was dead is still uncertain but it seems likely that he had died. Other than in these small pieces of information, Henry was not mentioned in any of the trial reports for his wife and older daughter.81 It is considered off that there was there no significant reference to Henry in the trial. Why was Henry not asked to give supporting evidence of his knowledge of his wife's actions at the time of the death of the child? If Henry had a profile in Bathurst it would be expected that some reference would have been made to a relatively well-known local yet many witnesses stated that they did not know the family. The original trial records may identify whether Henry was still around but these records have not been retrieved. If Henry was still alive after October 1867, it must be considered that the knowledge of his local community concerning the crimes of his wife and daughter may have encouraged him to remain away from Bathurst or to assume a different name in order to achieve some anonymity.

Few records for Henry's children identify an occupation for him. By 1853, when Mary was baptised, Henry was recorded as a labourer. When Elizabeth married Henry was described as a cook. No record yet found has identified that he was a storekeeper. There has been no Henry WILLIAMS yet identified in Bathurst on the 1841C.

Mary's story is typical of stories of 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 had been transported. If he had been a transportee then there are many convicts with this name who may have begun a relationship with Mary O'BRIEN. Admissions to Bathurst Gaol identify other men named Henry WILLIAMS who had arrived free who were also in the area. Some records also attribute various aliases to these men. It may also be that Henry did not arrive as Henry WILLIAMS although no actual identification of any arrival using another name has been made. Attributing Mary's paternity to any of the following men is pure speculation and this researcher is unwilling to attribute any identification to the partner of Mary O'BRIEN and the father of their children. The information on all the men identified here is to assist in attribution or, more likely elimination. If Henry stayed clear of the law after his term of transportation ended then he is virtually untraceable unless further records are identified that can be positively linked to him. No permission has been found for Mary O'BRIEN to marry a convict so, unless the permission was lost, Henry would have needed to have been free or arrived free. A recent arrival would therefore seem unlikely.

It is considered that the woman named as Mrs LODGE and described as Mary's aunt in both 1871 and 1872 was in fact a relative of some kind as she was around Mary for a long time. It may also be that Mary left to take up employment with Mrs LODGE, especially if she was the woman who operated the boarding house. It may be that this woman was the Mrs LODGE who operated a boarding house at 209 Macquarie Street, Sydney in 1875 and 198 Macquarie Street in 1876. Mrs LODGE was running a boarding house in Macquarie Street from at least as early as March 1872.82 Houses in Macquarie Street were renumbered83 and Mrs LODGE was in the same house at 163 Macquarie Street in 1880 but then does not appear again in the Sydney Assessment Books. In 1881 she was operating a boarding house at 163 Macquarie Street.84 Neither a husband or a first name of Mrs LODGE has been identified. It is not certain that she was the same woman as Mrs C. LODGE recorded in 1896.

Some descendants state that Henry WILLIAMS operated a shop in Bathurst but other family researchers do not believe that he had the means to do this. The research by some descendants has attributed the occupation of storekeeper to Henry. Henry WILLIAMS aka Holy Billy had frequently advertised his store located in Howick Street, Bathurst.85 He was in the process of expanding the store in July 184986 but by November was suffering financially.87 The final dividend in his insolvency was announced in July 185088 but by July 1851 Henry was trading again and specifically targetting the requirements of miners.89 No evidence of Henry disobeying the law has been located although he does appear in court cases in situations when his store was robbed.90 He was still selling stock in 1852.91 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.92 His buildings, yards and stores had been taken over by Joseph SARGEANT by March 185693 and by April, SARGEANT was occupying the premises.94 It is unknown how long the stores had been unused before that date. It is considered unlikely that the Henry WILLIAMS who was part of the committee for elections in Bathurst is this same man.95 It is this Henry WILLIAMS whose images are shown on many trees but it is considered very unlikely that Holy Billy was married to Mary O'BRIEN as Mary and Henry were poor and Holy Billy operated a successful and well-stocked store. Mary and Henry lived in the Abercrombie Ranges in 1847 and Holy Billy was well-established in Howick Street, Bathurst by 1848.96 Most online trees identify that this Henry WILLIAMS aka Holy Billy died in Bathurst as William H. WILLIAMS in about 1859 but this cannot be the death of the man who married Mary O'BRIEN. The NSW BDM Index date check has this death occurring between July and November and Henry WILLIAMS gave permission for his daughter Harriet to marry in December 1859. The parents shown on the NSW BDM Index identified William H. WILLIAMS' parents as Robert and Ann. Of these names, only Ann is reflected in the names of Henry's children.

Some descendants believe that Henry had been transported aboard the Royal Sovereign (2) for seven years in December 1835, but only one online tree acknowledged that this identification is tentative.97 This man is generally accepted by online researchers to be the ancestor of the family but there are no records that can be linked to the family yet found that will verify this. The Royal Sovereign (2) indent described Henry as a 19-year-old bricklayer's labourer from Buckinghamshire.98 Free Settler or Felon99 identified that the Windsor Bench recommended that Henry receive a Ticket of Leave in 1840 and this was then transferred to Bathurst. Henry achieved his certificate of freedom on 22 April 1843,100 and notations on the certificate indicated that by 1843 he was in Mudgee.101 Mudgee is not near the Abercrombie Ranges.

Another 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.

Another man who had arrived on the Marquis of Hastings was also in Bathurst.

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.102 He was described as a 37-year-old Englishman who was 5'8", stout made, fresh complexion, dark hair and blue eyes. 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.103 'Hood's Harry' was finally apprehended by the Bathurst Detective Force in about May 1856.104

Due to the similarity of the names, it may be that the marriage of Henry WILLIAMS and Mary O'BRIEN may have been recorded under the names William WILLIAMS and May DEVINE.105 This record is yet to be read and the witnesses and accuracy of the transcription assessed but it is considered that this marriage is unlikely. While no baptisms for a couple named William and May have been located and Catholic pre-1856 baptisms almost always recorded the mother's maiden name, no baptism with the surname DEVINE has yet been located and many WILLIAMS baptisms have been read. It is therefore believed that May/Mary DEVINE is not the same immigrant as Mary O'BRIEN even though the names sound similar. Even if this was the correct marriage, O'BRIEN not DEVINE would be recorded on any Catholic baptisms. It is also significant that on 16 August 1843, William LISLE of Yass granted permission for a 24-year-old Mary DEVINE who had arrived on the Duchess of Northumberland to marry George BALLARD, a convict transported for Life aboard the Lord Melville (2). Both Mary O'BRIEN and Mary DEVINE are named on the Duchess of Northumberland indent, proving that Mary DEVINE was a different person to Mary O'BRIEN. On arrival Mary DEVINE had been recorded as a 17-year-old from Cork. It is considered extremely unlikely that Mary DEVINE married twice within two years in two very different locations.

The baptisms for John WILLIAMS106 and Elizabeth WILLIAMS107 cannot refer to this family as they were recorded in a Protestant register in Sydney and the record identified that the father of these children was Henry WILLIAMS, a cooper. The Bathurst family used the Roman Catholic church so these baptisms 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,108 cannot be a member of this family because her sisters, Mrs Kate109 CLARKE and Mrs H. RYAN, were named in her obituary.110 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 likely last located in Sydney in late 1873. There are some CSIL records still to be read for this inmate. Mary had left the control of the government by this date. It is unknown when, or if, she ever returned to Bathurst but the presence of an aunt means that contact with her sisters was possible. It must be considered that, due to the criminal aspects that were the catalyst for her arrest, Mary chose not to identify her parents when she married so even a marriage registration may not identify her family.

Potential marriages that Mary may have made are currently under investigation.

Mary did not marry:

  1. Richard James BADCOCK as Mary Jane WILLIAMS in Bathurst in 1878. Some WILLIAMS family researchers have erroneously attributed this marriage to her but 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 extremely doubtful that they have cited this marriage registration. This record has been purchased and 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.111 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 1935,112 another difference to that of the Newcastle admission.
  2. William HEARN as Mary WILLIAMS in Sydney in 1872.113 Darlinghurst Gaol records suggest that this woman using the alias HEARN had been born in Bathurst in 1844. One entry appears to have an erroneous age recorded for Mary suggesting a year of birth in 1853. This woman can’t be the Newcastle admission as she was in Darlinghurst at the same time as Mary was in Newcastle and was ten years too old.

Updated March 2019

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