Mary WILLIAMS (3)
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.
Description
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 in the Bathurst papers and nor has any record of her being admitted to Bathurst Gaol as a temporary measure been located but there is no doubt that the correct admission has been identified. Mary's arrest almost certainly occurred as 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 possibly dead, there was no person in a position to care for Mary, the youngest child in the family. She was therefore 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 upon some more 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 into 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 recorded 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 yet another 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 may suggest that CLARKE considered that by 1869 Mary had attained the age of 18. Because her baptism is known and recorded her year of birth it is known that this wasn't the case. It may be, as was occasionally the case with other older girls, that Mary 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 subsequently moved of her own accord to Sydney. Her name was therefore not recorded on the Biloela transfer lists. She was however sentenced to be readmitted to the industrial school at Newcastle as Mary Ann WILLIAMS after an appearance in the Central Police Court in Sydney on 11 May 1871,32 a fortnight before the transfer of the school from Newcastle to Biloela occurred.33 It has been discovered that no girls tried in April or May and sentenced to be sent to Newcastle ever made the journey but was kept in Sydney, perhaps on Cockatoo Island, until the transfer from Newcastle to Biloela was made. The complete list of admissions to Newcastle and Biloela to April 187234 shows that the first three admissions to Biloela occurred on 31 May 1871 and Mary Ann was one of these girls.35

There is no doubt that 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 are almost identical. CLARKE reported that Mary WILLIAMS had moved to Sydney by 1870 where the subsequent arrest occurred. When she was arrested, Mary Ann WILLIAMS was living with an aunt and not her parents. Most significantly, absolute confirmation that they were the same girl occurred on Wednesday, 26 November 1873, when Mary Ann WILLIAMS was the very first girl to give evidence to the Royal Commission into the operation of the Biloela Industrial School. Mary's evidence recounted that she had been one of the Biloela girls imprisoned within the school as punishment during September 1873. These girls received appalling mistreatment and beatings at the hands of George LUCAS. On 15 September 1873,36 Mary had been locked in number three dormitory by LUCAS with two Biloela admissions37 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.38 They were released from the dormitory on the 18 September.39

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 explaining the total period of stay in the schools. With the period of her apprenticeship with LEWIS and her later time in Sydney removed, 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 her apprenticeship time is taken into account, Mary Ann's admission date calculated to late 1867 which is correct. In addition three girls with the surname WILLIAMS were admitted to Newcastle but both the others with the surname WILLIAMS, Ann WILLIAMS and Honora WILLIAMS (2), married in 1873 before the Royal Commission began, so cannot have been in the school at Biloela.

Records in the Entrance Book have not survived for this period but there was only one girl admitted to Newcastle or Biloela named Mary or Mary Ann WILLIAMS 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 were readmitted. A notation was made in the Entrance Book. No such notation had been made beside Mary WILLIAMS' initial admission.40

Mary's 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.41 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 186742 and once on 31 May 1871.43

On 16 September 1872, Mary Ann was discharged to her aunt identified as Mrs LODGE.44 Four months later, on 21 January 1873, this time under warrant, Mary Ann again appeared in court 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.45

LUCAS confirmed this admission but did not identify that it was another readmission.46 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.

Family

Mary's parents were clearly identified in the Entrance Book as Henry and Mary WILLIAMS where Henry was described as a 'surveyor's man'.47 It is likely that Mary provided these details to the administrators of the Industrial School.48 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 her parents were recorded in full. Henry WILLIAMS was a labourer and her mother was Mary O’BRIEN. A report of the circumstances of Mary's arrest has 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.49 No other children with any surname 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. Numerous reports of the infanticide appeared in papers across Australia during 1867. Both Henry and Mary were identified in these reports and also in the subsequent death of Mary's brother-in-law, Alfred SHORT, Harriet's husband.50 A matching baptism with these parents, in an identical area to the arrest together with the closeness of Mary's arrest and Harriett's infanticide, almost without any doubt confirm that the correct family has been identified.

No marriage for Henry WILLIAMS or WILLIAM and Mary O'BRIEN has been located on the NSW BDM Index and it must be considered that they had never married. It is unknown whether, and unlikely that any children were recorded on Mary's 1871 death registration and no descendant has positively identified Henry's death so it is very possible that no children of the marriage were recorded on the death registration for either parent. It is believed that Mary was the youngest of their six known children who had all been born before compulsory registration in 1856 so only baptisms and burials would remain. To date only baptisms for James, Harriett and Mary have been identified and of these, only that of Mary can be easily read so it is possible that more children remain unidentified. Both children were recorded as consecutive baptisms in Bathurst on 17 July 1847 and were recorded on the NSW BDM Index with the surname WILLIAM. Neither record can be easily viewed but descendants have either purchased them or viewed them in the original Catholic register in Bathurst. At the time of this joint baptism, James was about one and Harriet was about four.51 The burial of the infant James WILLIAMS in 1848,52 will be read to see if it belongs to this WILLIAMS family. The death registration for Henry WILLIAMS in 186453 is believed to identify another child but this has not been confirmed. This record may be the only registration completed by Henry or Mary senior available for the family. There is no birth registration or baptism for the child Henry. Information from descendants has identified that two older sisters whose baptisms have not survived existed. Elizabeth had been born in about 1840 and Catherine had been born in about 1841. Records connected with Elizabeth and Catherine identified that they had both been born in Sydney.54 Elizabeth and Catherine are linked to the family through records connected to the their younger sisters, Mary and Harriett. Catherine WILLIAMS was the sponsor at Mary's baptism in 1853 and connections to Thomas NORRIS, the husband of Elizabeth WILLIAMS were identified on Harriet's death registration. Note that the baptisms for John WILLIAMS55 and Elizabeth WILLIAMS56 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.

Investigating Mary's ancestry is difficult due to the lack of verifiable records that can be linked to the family. Of Mary's parents only her mother can be identified. Mary WILLIAMS née O'BRIEN and her daughter Harriett, made news across the country in October 1867, and the resulting documentation makes it possible to identify her and her family. This confirmation and the reports and records associated with it, as unpleasant as they are, connect Henry, Mary and their daughters Harriett and Mary. The records show 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. Mary O'BRIEN arrived alone so she had to have met Henry WILLIAMS 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 have worked on their family, that Mary spent her early years after her arrival in Sydney.57 Mary was employed from her ship of arrival by Mrs MOSES of George Street, Sydney.58 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 in any criminal endeavour before the incident in October 1867 as there are no gaol records or entries in the Police Gazette yet found that refer to her. 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.

Where and when Mary met Henry WILLIAMS and when they reached Bathurst cannot yet be confirmed but it is almost certain that they did not arrive in the Bathurst area until after 1843 because both Elizabeth and Catherine, the two oldest known daughters of the couple, both stated on records that Sydney was their place of birth. The fact that the location of Sydney was identified at all when the family lived in Bathurst, suggested that this location was likely to be accurate. By 1847 Mary and Henry had moved to Jeremy, an area south of Bathurst near the Abercrombie River, perhaps to prospect for gold, where Harriet and James were potentially born. By 1853 they were living in Bathurst where Mary was baptised. Between about 1856 and about 1864 the family was living in or around the Forbes district and sometime around 1865 Mary senior was operating a restaurant in William-street and at about the same time had been working as a housekeeper.59

Some time around 31 August 1867, the illegitimate child of Henry and Mary's married daughter, Harriett SHORT née WILLIAMS, was found drowned in a well in Bathurst. Mary, Harriett and the reputed father,60 Charles ATKINS,61 were arrested and trial reports documented that Mary had admitted to having thrown the newly-born, illegitimate girl into the well when Harriett was unable to do it.62 The discovery and retrieval of the body of the child had occurred some time before the arrest of the pair for the crime.63 Both mother and daughter were tried in Bathurst on 23 October 186764 and were sentenced to death. Eventually both sentences were commuted to ten years in prison with hard labour.65 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.66 On 24 January 1870, Mary was transferred to Port Macquarie Gaol67 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 1871,68 and her death was noted in the gaol Entrance Book.69 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 birthplace and date of trial.

Harriett WILLIAMS had married Alfred Cæsar aka Alfred Charles SHORT70 at St Michael and St John's Catholic church in Bathurst on 28 December 1859.71 A detailed account of Harriett’s family life can be found in the Sydney Morning Herald on 26 November 1867.72 Alfred was advertising in the Bathurst papers as a teacher in 186073 and had arrived on the Providence in about 1856. Two children were born to Alfred and Harriet74 before he was arrested for forgery75 and sent to Darlinghurst for two years.76 Although Alfred had been imprisoned and his leaving was tentatively attributed by the Queanbeyan Age on 16 November 1867, to incidents of Harriett'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.77 After Alfred's death his children inherited money from their paternal family in England.78 It is unknown who cared for these two children after Harriett's arrest and sentencing. It may have been one of Harriett's older sisters. Harriett's death sentence was commuted to ten years in prison with hard labour79 and this sentence was ultimately remitted. She was released from Darlinghurst Gaol in about March 187580 and after her release returned to the Bathurst area 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 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.81 Elizabeth, who married Thomas NORRIS eventually settled in Millthorpe, just east of Orange.82 A record of Harriett's autopsy has not been located. While it is acknowledged that family researchers know their family well, the 1895 death in Adelaide, South Australia, attributed to Harriett and identified by most online trees is therefore wrong. Could it be that family stories deliberately referred to Harriett leaving NSW to hide her infanticide and imprisonment?

Nothing has been found to identify Henry. Few records for Henry's children identify any 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. 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 Harriett SHORT. 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.83 Henry was named in the Entrance Book, so this record does suggest that he was still alive at the time of Mary's arrest and at the time of Harriett's infanticide. Evidence at the trial does not mention Henry and seems to suggest that Mary had been working to support the family. It is very difficult to imagine why Henry was not mentioned at Mary and Harriet's trial in any substantial way. And this does suggest that he had died or was away for extended period so as to seem to be permanently away. This is possible if he was labouring with a surveyor. In October 1867 Mary was living in Ranken Street where the house was described as her's. No reference was made to Henry.84

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].85 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.86

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.87

The evidence of these witnesses suggests that Henry was an infrequent resident of Bathurst.

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 unidentified reason Henry and Mary had travelled to Forbes at some time between 1856 and 1864. It was there that ATKINS first 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. Other than the information provided by these small pieces of information, Henry was not mentioned in any of the trial reports for his wife and daughter88 and while this is odd it is also significant that there was there no mention of Henry at the trial. If Henry had had a profile in Bathurst it would be expected that some comment regarding a well-known local identity would have yet many witnesses stated that they did not know the family. Why was he not asked to give supporting evidence of his knowledge of his wife's actions at the time of the death of the child? 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.

The connection uncovered through the records of the industrial schools of Newcastle and Biloela may be a lead to uncover the family. The known connection to the woman named Mrs LODGE and described as Mary's aunt in both 1871 and 1872 may eventually lead to colonial relations of either Mary O'BRIEN or Henry WILLIAMS. DNA may also eventually be able to be used to make links. Just because Mrs LODGE was described as an aunt, doesn't necessarily confirm a familial relationship. It is very possible that she was in fact a relative of some kind as she was part of Mary's life for some time. It is also possible that Mary left to take up employment with Mrs LODGE, especially as she was the woman who operated a boarding house, and simply called her aunt.

Mrs LODGE operated a boarding house probably at 209 Macquarie Street, Sydney in 1875 and 198 Macquarie Street in 1876. She was running a boarding house in Macquarie Street from at least as early as March 1872.89 Houses in Macquarie Street were renumbered90 and Mrs LODGE was in the same house at 163 Macquarie Street in 1880. She does not then appear again in the Sydney Assessment Books. In 1881 she was operating a boarding house at 163 Macquarie Street.91 It is believed that she was the same woman as Mrs C. LODGE recorded in 1896.

One letter for Mary Ann WILLIAMS in the CSIL that has yet to be retrieved contained the name of one other person. C. J. LODGE lived at 735 George Street, Sydney.92 Sands Directory recorded that William LODGE had a restaurant at this address and articles in Trove further suggested that the C. was likely to refer to Charlotte LODGE who operated boarding houses and also a restaurant in George Street.93 NSW BDM suggested that William was Charlotte's son and this relationship was confirmed in the assisted immigration records for one group of the LODGE family who arrived aboard the Hotspur in 1863.94 The LODGE family was from Gloucestershire and Charlotte was from Monmouthshire. Their sponsor was John BARRY, the brother-in-law to Charlotte's husband, John. In July 1878 the wife of another John LODGE died. Her name was Emma. In 1862 Emma and her husband, also John LODGE arrived as assisted immigrants from Monmouthshire, Wales, aboard the Lady Milton. The deposit journals show that this LODGE family was sponsored together with Emma's niece, Mary Ann WILLIAMS who had been born in 1850. This girl did not emigrate with the family so she cannot be the same person as the Newcastle inmate. While the second reel has not survived, Emma's maiden name and parents were identified in one of her Funeral Notices that read:

LODGE.—July 15, at her residence, Redfern-street, Redfern, Emma Lodge, aged 49 years, the dearly beloved wife of John Lodge, and the daughter of John and Amy Williams, of the town of Trylick, Monmouthshire, England.95

Further investigations into the LODGE family and any potential connections to Henry WILLIAMS have not been undertaken. Charlotte LODGE died in Sydney 1897. WILLIAMS is an extremely common surname in Wales but this tenuous connection may assist in identifying some connection.

The WILLIAMS family is extremely difficult to identify due to the scarcity of records. It is not the purpose of this biographical investigation 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 identification from these documents can only be speculative and is limited to name, occupation, current abode and date. Only baptisms for the children remain so no ages or birth locations for either Henry or Mary exist. There is no evidence available in any record yet found concerning Henry's year of birth. 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. It can only be assumed that Henry was about as old as Mary but this is also speculation. There is disagreement amongst family 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 photographic collections and have identified the subjects as Mary and Henry. These images strongly suggest that Henry and Mary lived in comfortable circumstances. Because these same researchers have identified that Henry died in 1859, the original picture 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 1866.96 These WILLIAMS photographs must therefore be very early and must have been very expensive to acquire. An attribution to Henry WILLIAMS and Mary O'BRIEN is problematic. Dating the photo by investigating the clothing may help verify the approximate date of the photograph and assist in some identification of the couple. Might it be that the image was of a later family member or of a completely different Henry WILLIAMS? Whether the WILLIAMS family lived in such comfortable conditions must also be questioned as Henry was described in two confirmed records as a labourer and as a surveyor's man so the conditions under which the family lived seem unlikely to have enabled the expense of studio photography. Some family researchers who have accessed the baptism records for both Elizabeth and Catherine, identify that the family lived in impoverished circumstances.

Further problems found 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. Many researchers have based the age of these women on the age stated at the time of their death rather than considering the age provided by the woman when she was the informant. There are also a large 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 identified that Harriett SHORT née 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 marriage registration which clearly identifies this woman's parents. These omissions, guesses and lack of verification then call into question the rest of the research.

While it is possible that some records were made and have not survived, missing records cannot be used to identify people and other records cannot be substituted without verification. Comments online97 hypothesised that the church records relevant to the WILLIAMS family may have been omitted from the NSW BDM Index and that the marriage of Henry WILLIAMS and Mary O'BRIEN was perhaps recorded in a register from either Gundagai or Tumut. Strength is given to this suggestion because some baptisms have been found and it is likely that Mary O'BRIEN believed strongly in baptising her children. It is therefore quite possible that these baptism and potential marriage records have not survived although Gundagai and Tumut are both some considerable distance from the known location of Bathurst although they are not so far from Forbes and the Lachlan.

Due to the similarity of the names, it is very remotely possible that the marriage of Henry WILLIAMS and Mary O'BRIEN may have been recorded under the names William WILLIAMS and May DEVINE.98 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.

Mary's story is fairly typical of stories of other Newcastle inmates whose ancestry has been traced to convicts, so it is considered very likely, although it has not yet been proven, that Henry WILLIAMS had been transported. If this were the case then there were many convicts named Henry WILLIAMS who could have begun a relationship with Mary O'BRIEN. No permission to Marry has been found for any Mary O'BRIEN so unless the permission was lost, Henry would have needed to have been free or arrived free and this is possible. A recent arrival however would seem unlikely. Admissions to Bathurst Gaol identified other men with this name who had arrived free and who were also in the area. Some records also attribute various aliases to these men. It may also be that Mary's father 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 her children. The information on all of 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.

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.99 This man is generally accepted by family 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.100 Free Settler or Felon101 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 1843,102 and notations on the certificate indicated that by 1843 he was in Mudgee.103

The majority of family researchers have identified that Henry WILLIAMS operated a shop in Bathurst and they have attributed to Henry the occupation of storekeeper. Henry WILLIAMS aka Holy Billy had frequently advertised his store located in Howick Street, Bathurst.104 He was in the process of expanding the store in July 1849105 but by November was suffering financially.106 The final dividend in his insolvency was announced in July 1850107 but by July 1851 Henry was trading again and specifically targetting the requirements of miners.108 No evidence of Henry disobeying the law has been located although he does appear in court cases in situations when his store was robbed.109 He was still selling stock in 1852.110 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.111 His buildings, yards and stores had been taken over by Joseph SARGEANT by March 1856112 and by April, SARGEANT was occupying the premises.113 It is unknown how long the stores had been unused before that date. It is this Henry WILLIAMS who is frequently recorded as dying in 1859 and whose images are copied onto many trees. 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. Other researchers do not believe that Henry had the means to do this. Mary and Henry lived some considerable distance south of Bathurst in 1847 and Holy Billy was well-established in Howick Street, Bathurst by 1848.114 Most online trees identify that this Henry WILLIAMS aka Holy Billy died in Bathurst as William H. WILLIAMS between July and November 1859 but an 1859 death cannot be the death of the man who married Mary O'BRIEN as he was still alive in December 1859 when Harriett married. The parents shown on the NSW BDM Index identified that William H. WILLIAMS' parents were Robert and Ann. Of these names, only Ann (as Hannah) is reflected in the names of Henry's children.

It is considered unlikely that the Henry WILLIAMS who was part of the committee for elections in Bathurst is this same man or Mary O'BRIEN's husband.115

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.116 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.117 'Hood's Harry' was finally apprehended by the Bathurst Detective Force in about May 1856.118

A Margaret WILLIAMS who married James GUNNING in Bathurst and who is identified on some trees as another child of Henry and Mary,119 cannot be a member of this family because her sisters, Mrs Kate120 CLARKE and Mrs H. RYAN, were named in her obituary.121 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 late 1873 when she left the control of the government. There are some CSIL records still to be retrieved for this inmate including the one identifying the location of C. J. LODGE. 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 or her.

Potential marriages that Mary may have made are currently under investigation however 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 absolutely certain that they have not purchased this marriage registration as the parents of Mary Jane WILLIAMS are identified as William WILLIAMS and Mary HARVEY and she had been born in Cornwall. Thirdly, Mary Jane BADCOCK's obituary in the Wellington Times confirmed that she had come to Australia from Cornwall.122 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 also too old to be the Newcastle admission. Mary Jane BADCOCK had been buried in the Methodist cemetery, Oberon, on 24 October 1935,123 so her religion also differed to that of the Newcastle admission.
  2. William HEARN as Mary WILLIAMS in Sydney in 1872.124 Darlinghurst Gaol records suggest that this woman, using the alias HEARN, had been born in Bathurst in 1844.125 She was therefore too old. Although one gaol entry recorded an erroneous age for her suggesting a year of birth in 1853,126 number references in the gaol Entrance Book refer to earlier admissions of the same woman with different and more consistent ages. This woman can’t be the Newcastle admission as she was in Darlinghurst at the same time as Mary was in Newcastle and had also been in Darlinghurst in 1865 and 1866 when the Newcastle admission was living in Bathurst.

Updated August 2019

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