The WINDSOR Sisters
Step-father Alfred WINSOR b.c. 1818 m. (1) abt. 1838 (2) 18505 d. 18556
Father unknown b. m. (2) none d.
Step-father John ASHPLANT b. m. (3) none d. 18927
Mother Ellen GROUNDS b.c. 18258 m. (1) 1850 (2) none (3) none d. 19099
Half-brother Edward WINSER b. 185010 m. (1) 187511 (2) 192312 (1) Norah DAVIES (2) Margaret GREENLAND d. 192713
Half-sister Emma WINSOR b. 185214 m. none - d. 185515
Half-brother John A. WINSER b. 185416 m. d. aft. 188017
Inmate Jane aka Emma Jane WINSOR b. 185718 m. (1) 1876 (2) 1879 (3) 1906 (see below) d. 193119
Inmate Mary B. WINSOR b. 185920 m. 1883 (see below) d. 192621
Brother Abraham WINDSOR b. 186122 m. 189123 Ellen Catherine HENRY d. 194324
Sister Eliza WINDSOR b. 186325 m. none - d. 186326
Sister Susan WINDSOR b. 186727 m. (1) 188828 (2) 190129 (1) Walter HUGHES (2) Mark Daniel PETERSEN30 d. 195831
Sister Elizabeth aka Eliza WINDSOR b. 187132 m. none - d. 187133
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Brother Abraham34 31 5' 6¼" brown blue fresh medium a striker; can read and write; scar on bridge of nose, freckles on neck; moles on shoulder
Brother Edward35 22 5' 9" light brown blue freckled medium a sawyer; can read and write; fair moustache; no whiskers; a card sharp; dressed in a suit of light tweed
Brother John36 19 5' 5¾" fair grey sailor with a flag in his hand on right forearm; anchor and heart transfixed on left forearm
Inmate Jane37 14 4' 7¾" red blue fair medium
Inmate Mary38 42 5' 8" brown hazel
Sister Susan39 18 5' 2" brown blue can read and write

Emma Jane and Mary were admitted to the Newcastle Industrial School from Parramatta on 23 February 1868, as Jane and Mary WINSOR.40 On 22 February, one day before Jane and Mary arrived in Newcastle, two of their brothers, John and Abraham, were admitted to the Vernon.41 The Vernon records indicate that the reason for their admission was because they were living with a common prostitute – not identified as but probably their mother. The boys – and almost without any doubt the girls too – were tried together at Parramatta before the Magistrates Henry BYRNES and W. STEWART, J.Ps.42 The sisters were recorded in the Entrance Book as Protestants and both girls appear on SELWYN's list of Protestant children in June 1868.43

A little over a year after her children's admissions to the Vernon and Newcastle, Ellen attempted to have them released. Her first attempt was made on 16 November 1869. She documented their names and ages as John – 16, Jane – 13, Mary – 11 and Abraham – 10. Ellen also stressed that her twenty-year-old son, who wasn't named and who was almost without doubt Edward, had 'promised to give her all the assistance in his power.' Signatures of twenty of Parramatta's citizens supported her request. Her letter was supported by a written statement made on her behalf by the Rev. GUNTHER who said

The Petitioner "Ellen Windsor" has been known to me for some time, as a resident of this Parish. Her anxiety for the release of her boys, John and Abraham, from the Vernon is very great. From what I have seen and heard I believe there would be no difficulty in getting a respectable situation for the elder boy and that the mother is capable of maintaining and instructing [?] the other. The woman now bears a good character and while the absence of her children almost drives her to despair their presence at home would be a source of comfort and satisfaction.

The 1869 petition included no information about Jane or Mary and it is thought that correspondence concerning them is either filed separately in the CSIL or the matter was never referred to CLARKE. A search of CLARKE's correspondence during November and December 1869 does not disclose any letters connected to either of the WINDSOR girls.44 One request from Ellen to visit the girls in Newcastle exists and the required permission was given.45 The CSIL file does contain the 1874 request from Ellen for the release of one of her daughters and a copy of the 1868 arrest warrant for John and Abraham but only contains the response from the superintendent of the Vernon, MEIN, who stated that John had received a good conduct stripe and was receiving one shilling a week pay on the Vernon as assistant quartermaster. He added that John was

(one) of the best conducted boys in the ship and has expressed a preference for a sea life rather than return to Parramatta, an apprenticeship could be obtained for him shortly and I am of opinion that it would be better for his future welfare to apprentice him from this Institution. Abraham Windsor, eight years, is a small boy, very tricky and frequently in the punishment list and very untruthful.

The police report from Inspector-general LEWIS [?] clearly outlined Ellen's difficult domestic situation. It stated

The statements made by the Rev. Mr Gunther are not borne out by the police. The petitioner is not a person of good character, her husband has been dead 15 years consequently her last 4 children are illegitimate. Her oldest son has not been at Parramatta for some years and she has no idea of his whereabouts. Her house is unhealthy filthy and destitute of furniture and when her children were with her she did not feed or clothe them properly. Indeed she is not able to earn more than 10/ a week and is not temperate.

Ellen's petition was denied. In November 1874, Ellen again petitioned for Jane's release and the investigations made after this request indicated that she was in

failing health unable to support herself and a child she has with her. A Drunkard named Ashplant is living in the same cottage, and it is supposed cohabits with her.46

This man was almost without any doubt John ASHPLANT who was living in the Parramatta area at this time.47 Again Ellen's petition was denied. Abraham was eventually apprenticed to the north coast where he was soon charged with larceny.48


The sisters were two of the daughters of Ellen WINDSOR nee GROUNDS. They were both illegitimate and had been born in Parramatta. Ellen was recorded in the Entrance Book as a widow. As Ellen GROUNDS, she was married to Alfred WINDSER by Nath. TURNER at the Field of Mars Wesleyan Church, Parramatta, on 8 April 1850.49 The witnesses were Emanuel and Esther BRACE. Alfred was described as a widower but Ellen had never been married. Alfred had arrived as a bounty immigrant aboard the Neptune in 1839. His wife, Susan, had travelled with him but she had died on the voyage. Alfred and Ellen had three children, Edward, Emma and John, by 1855, before Alfred died. Alfred died on 24 March 1855, at the age of thirty-seven and was buried in St. John’s, Parramatta. He was recorded as a gardener and his address was shown as Phillip Street, Parramatta. In January 1860 the Protestant Orphan School enquired after the parents of Edward WINDSOR and four other boys in their care. Of Edward's mother they wrote

This boy has been some years in the school and I believe ought never have been admitted the mother being a good laundress with only one other child to support. She is now cohabiting with a person in the employ of Messrs J. L. W. Byrnes. From my own knowledge of this woman I consider it no charity to support her child.50

Ellen's domestic situation deteriorated after this and it may be that the relationship identified above ended. Ellen had at least six more children, including the four sent to the industrial schools of NSW and the father of some of may have been this unidentified man although no confirmation of his identity can be made. The birth registration of all of Ellen's children identified Alfred WINDSOR as their father.

Ellen GROUNDS had been born in Parramatta in about 1825. She was the daughter of John GROUNDS who had been transported on the Morley, and Mary GOLDING who had been born in NSW in about 1801. While there is no record on the NSW BDM Index of her baptism, she was recorded as a three-year-old living with her parents on the 1828C. Ellen died at the age of 86 on 22 July 1909.51 The same parents recorded on the 1828C are recorded at the time of her death and newspaper announcements confirm her place of birth as Parramatta. In 1910 an In Memoriam notice named her children and grandchildren.52

Ellen's children were all registered using variations of the surname WINDSOR. Only the first three recorded the name of their father, Alfred, and these were his only natural children. Ellen and Alfred's first daughter, Emma, was born on 1 March 1852, and was baptized on 5 April 1852, in the Parramatta Circuit by N. TURNER. This daughter almost without any doubt died, as Ellen was recorded as having only one other child to support in 1860.53 Emma's burial was registered as Emma WISSOR although the record is quite clearly recorded as WINSOR. Emma was three when she died on 27 June 1855, and was buried on 29 June at St John's, Parramatta.54 The abode of the family at this time was George Street. It may be that Ellen hid her other children from authorities if they visited or other people were caring for some of her children as by this stage Ellen had delivered two further daughters, Emma Jane and Mary. In addition to their admissions to the industrial schools, many of Ellen's children were involved in criminal incidents and almost all appear in the NSW gaol records using a variety of aliases. Abraham used the alias Harry BATCHELOR.55 Three photographs for John appear in the gaol records of NSW under various aliases. He was known as John THOMAS, Thomas DAVIS and Thomas BOLTON.56 The origins of the aliases used by the family have not been ascertained.


Name Variations Emma Jane
Husband (1) William WALSH b. m. 187657 d.
Husband (2) Samuel OSBORNE b. 185758 m. 187959 d. 190360
Husband (3) Charles COWELEY b. 186661 m. 1906 d.
Daughter Emma WALSH b.c. 1876 m. none - d. 187762
Son Samuel C. A. OSBORNE b. 188563 m. none - d. 188664
Daughter Millicent Ida OSBORN b. 189065 m. d.
Daughter Josephine Emily OSBORNE b. 189166 m. (1) bef. 1937 (2) 193767 (1) unknown HODGE (2) Carmello VASSALLO d. 197268

Jane's birth was registered in Parramatta in 1857 as Emma Jane WINDSOR but she was known within the family in her childhood years as Jane.69 She was recorded as ten years of age and able to read the first book and write on slate when she was admitted to Newcastle. An actual birth date, 1 June 1857, was recorded in the age column in the Entrance Book70 but her birth registration has not been viewed. On 13 March 1871,71 Jane was tried in Newcastle court with the other girls involved in the riot two days previously. This appearance, reported in the Empire, where Jane was erroneously identified as Jane WEAVER, added the further detail that

Elizabeth Thompson, and Jane Weaver, two small children, were then called to answer similar charges. They were unable to appear for some time in consequence of having torn up their dresses in the lock-up. They were provided with clothing and brought before the court, when having pleaded guilty to the charge, they were at the request of the superintendent ordered to be returned to the school.72

It was at the request of CLARKE that Jane and Elizabeth THOMPSON be reprimanded and returned to the school however, after the subsequent riot in early April 1871, and after the change of superintendents, Jane, Elizabeth and two other girls,73 appeared in Newcastle Court charged with wilfully destroying Government property.74 On the order of LUCAS they were sent to Maitland Gaol where they remained for a month. On 13 May 1871, Jane was released from Maitland and was returned to the school. The Maitland Gaol Discharge Book confirmed that she was a native of the colony.75

Jane transferred to Biloela in May 1871. She was listed by LUCAS as eligible for service in his letter to the Colonial Secretary on 23 June 1871,76 and it was noted by LUCAS in his report of 19 September 1871,77 that she had been placed in No. 3 Dormitory on a bread and water diet for fourteen days for 'bathing in the river'78 with three other girls who were similarly punished.79 Jane was discharged on 16 December 1871, for four years as an apprentice to Mr George EASTMAN of Balmain. She was to be paid '1/-, 2/-, 3/- and 4/- per year for the first, second, third and fourth years respectively.' LUCAS stated that she was 14 and had been conducting herself well. These indentures were cancelled.80 LUCAS's 1872 list indicated that Jane was readmitted to Biloela on 2 March 1872.81 In his report on 12 August 1872, LUCAS recorded that Jane, Mary CASHER and Mary COUGHLAN together with four Biloela girls82 were involved in an arson attempt on the building. LUCAS wrote:

… after their Captain attempted to set fire to the door of the Dormitory in which they were confined – by procuring a few matches from a girl named Sarah Auburn – thro a small slit in the window taking off their stockings and lighting them they created a great [?]tle – which was at once discovered and their mischievous designed were frustrated.83

LUCAS's subsequent weekly report, written on 19 August 1872, noted that the group 'were released from confinement on the 15th.'84 On 16 September 1872, LUCAS again reported some difficulty in No. 5 dormitory when one of the beds was found to be on fire. Jane was one of four girls85 required to give evidence. Her report, written by LUCAS, was attached to his letter. She stated that she was attached to No. 4 dormitory and had only got the keys to retrieve some property and had left BURNS and MILES in the room and knew nothing of the fire.86 Jane, Mary CASHER, Sarah HOWARD, Phoebe WILEY, and three Biloela Girls87 were involved in an altercation with the matrons on 26 November 1872, when they barricaded the door of No. 3 dormitory with their bedsteads and refused admission at lights out at 9 o’clock. They remained barricaded in the dormitory until the morning of 28 November when they voluntarily removed the blockage. LUCAS doesn’t elaborate on any punishment the girls may have received.88 On 1 December 1873, the relieving superintendent, DALE, confirmed that Jane had been apprenticed to Archibald BELL, Esq., of Mulgarra, Scone, on 27 November.89 No indication of a return to the school has been yet identified but Jane was back in Biloela by 1874, as during that year she was made a school monitor by Margaret KELLY. She and Henrietta MITCHELL reported to KELLY that the behaviour of the girls in the school for the last week had been fair. On 8 November 1874, Ellen applied to have Jane discharged from Biloela. Although Ellen doesn't identify her daughter by name, Mary had already been apprenticed and Ellen indicated that her daughter was

seventeen years and six months old and she is anxious to come home to me and she can be of great help to me as my health is very bad

The police report investigating this request referred to the 1869 police report and this explains why the letters appear in the same bundle. The petition was again unsuccessful.90 Jane's final discharge from Biloela occurred on 1 June 1875, after she had attained the age of eighteen.

The following year, as Jane WINSOR, she married William WALSH at Parramatta. The couple had one child, Emma, who was recorded as dying. No further trace has yet been confirmed for William WALSH. It is unknown whether Jane married bigamously – and bigamy must be considered because of her reverting to her baptism name, rather than her more commonly used name – but three years later, as Emma Jane WALSH, she married Samuel OSBORNE. Three more children were recorded. Samuel died on 20 October 1903, at his residence, Cornelius Street, Johannesburg, of double pneumonia.91 Jane was recorded in 1909 in the Funeral Notice of her mother, Ellen, as Emma Jane.92 In 1913, Jane and Mary placed an In Memoriam notice for their mother and here she was recorded as Emma Jane.

An Ancestry tree indicates that Emma went to South Africa after the death of Samuel and there married Charles COWLEY.93 She died as Emma Jane COWLEY on 25 February 1931 at her daughter's residence, 68 Terry Street, Tempe, and both her husbands were identified by name in her Funeral Notice.94 This death registration has not been viewed but her parents were recorded on the NSW BDM Index as Alfred and Ellen. Emma was buried in the Church of England Cemetery, Rookwood.95 No headstone is indicated on the Rookwood Cemetery Headstone Index.


Name Variations Maud Alias FULLER, Mary DIXON,96 Mary BUCKLEY,97 Maud LEWIS98
Husband (1) unknown FULLER b. m. none d.
Husband (2) John FOX b. m. 188399 d. 1926100
Son Reuben Edward WINDSOR b. 1881101 m. d.
Daughter May Maud102 FULLER aka Mary M. WINDSOR b. 1882103 m. 1908104 Thomas Fraser BRUCE105 d. aft. 1917106
Daughter Emily FULLER aka Florence107 Emily FOX b. 1886108 m. 1906109 William WILLIAMS d. 1914110
Son Thomas FOX111 b. m. d.

Mary was recorded as eight years old and able to read the alphabet and write on slate when she was admitted to Newcastle. The Entrance Book recorded that her birthday was 30 March 1859.112 After the riot in the school on 10 March 1871, as Mary WINSER, and in company with Sarah DICKSON and Elizabeth PHILLIPS she was charged with destroying Government property. The trio appeared in Newcastle Court on 11 March where, at the request of CLARKE, they were reprimanded and returned to the school.113 Mary transferred to Biloela with her sister in May 1871114 and permission was sought for her to be apprenticed for five years to Thomas ASHBY, Esq., of Church Street, Parramatta, on 5 February 1872. She was to be paid '1/- per week for the first two years, 2/- for the next two years and 3/- per week for the fifth year.' LUCAS reported that Mary was well conducted.115 He confirmed her apprenticeship in his report on 19 February 1872.116 Mary was readmitted to Biloela from Parramatta and the date was clarified in LUCAS's report of 22 September 1873, when he indicated that Mary had returned to Biloela on 16 September117 after her indentures were cancelled by the Parramatta bench. In December 1873,118 Ellen wrote to LANGLEY, Esq., J.P. of Parramatta, one of the magistrates who had cancelled the indentures, and stated that Mary had worked for ASHBY for nineteen months and was to have been paid one shilling a week for this time. She claimed that Mary hadn't been paid and when she was returned to Biloela five months earlier, none of her clothes or shoes had been sent on from ASHBY's so Ellen had had to spend money to provide them for her. Investigations uncovered that Mrs ASHBY stated that she had paid Mary's wages to senior-sergeant KELLY but had not received a receipt and KELLY had subsequently died before the money was paid to Mary.119

Mary was readmitted to Biloela from Parramatta on 17 September 1874.120 DALE, the temporary officer in charge of Biloela reported that she was re-apprenticed to Duncan McPHEE, Esq., Surgeon, of Campbelltown in his report on 5 October.121 The apprenticeship was for two years and Mary was to be paid two shillings a week for the first year and three shillings a week for the second year.122 Mary didn't complete her apprenticeship as about a year later Mary appeared in Windsor QS on 12 October 1875, charged with stealing eleven pounds from her employer, Duncan McPHEE, of Richmond. She had been arrested on warrant by constables McNEELY and FOWLER123 and was sentenced to two months in Windsor Gaol.124

In her early life after leaving Biloela, Mary assumed many aliases and spent time in gaol but despite her admissions, no description has yet been found in either gaol or the NSW Police Gazette. Mary was called as a witness in the trial for theft by her brother, John. The Evening News in 1880, in connection to this trial states:

A young lady giving evidence, to-day, at Darlinghurst, admitted that she gave her evidence as Mary Dixon : had signed the deposition at the police court as Maude Fuller, and that her real name was Mary Windsor. She was extremely reticent as to what claim she had on the name of Fuller.125

It is very likely that the two illegitimate births to Maud WINDSOR, Mary M. and Reuben Edward WINDSOR are Mary's children. Family Notices confirm that one of her daughter's was named May M. and this girl married as May M. FULLER in 1908 and no birth for her can be confirmed. Mary married John FOX in Sydney in 1883 using the given name of Maud. No trace of John FOX has been confirmed however in 1900 when Mary was admitted to Biloela gaol his address was given as 54 Bay Street, Glebe, and in 1901 his address was 89 Bay Street, Glebe. At both these dates Mary's address was recorded as 9 Abion Street, Surry Hills.126It is considered likely that this was a deliberate change to hide her past gaol admissions. It is almost certain that the Maud/e FOX involved in a shooting incident in a brothel at 33127 Wexford Street,128 Surry Hills, on 30 September 1884, was Mary.129 Maud/e FOX and Mary WINDSOR were both born in 1859,130 she was referred to as 'Mrs FOX' in court and no references to Maud/e FOX have yet been located prior to December 1883. Maud had attempted to shield another woman in the house, Bridget GRIFFIN, from a gunshot and took the shot in her hand. The shooter, George WILKINSON, went on to shoot GRIFFIN in the side. Maud was not seriously hurt.

In Memoriam notices for her mother131 and her brother-in-law, Sam OSBORNE,132 further confirm that the name she used was Maud for most of her adult life. Mary's children have been identified through the In Memoriam for Emma Jane's husband, Samuel.133 The woman named Maud LEWIS living at the house at 28 Yurong Street, with Mary's daughter, May Maud BRUCE, in 1909 when Ellen WINDSOR died134 and in 1914 when Emily WILLIAMS died, remained in that house until 1920135 and may be a further alias of Mary but Mary was almost certainly still known as Mrs J. FOX when a boarding-house she operated was severely burned in 1909 when Elizabeth STANTON died. The reports of the coroner in the Sydney newspapers indicated that the house, known variously as Milton House or Craignathan, was owned by a Leonard DODDS but the occupier was Mrs J. FOX.136


Craignathan, Neutral Bay [c. 1880]
Courtesy of State Library of NSW: Call No. SPF/377

Mary's death was registered in Annandale, as Mary FOX, on 20 July 1926,137 where only her mother’s name and her maiden name were recorded. Her death notice indicated that she was 67 years old and her final address was 22a Kentville Avenue, Annandale.138 She was buried in the Church of England Cemetery139 at Rookwood. A headstone remains indicating that she and John were buried together. John died on 3 September 1926, at the age of 64. Buried with them were Mary's daughter, Emily WILLIAMS nee FOX, who died on 22 June 1914, at the age of 28; Robert WINDSOR who died on 29 August 1927, at the age of 77, and who was probably Mary's brother, Edward, and Emily's husband, William WILLIAMS, who died on 4 June 1929 at the age of 46. The only name on the headstone on the grave is that of Emily WILLIAMS.140

Tracing Mary's other daughter, May Maud BRUCE, is difficult after the death of her husband in 1917141 but she was thought to have been living at 409 New Canterbury Road, Dullwich Hill, in 1919 and 1920. She had moved from this address after this date. In 1930, the address 22A Kentville Avenue, was the home of Thomas John BRUCE, May's son, known in the family as 'Boyo', and his wife, Iris York Whitehall BRUCE. They were also recorded as living at 35 Dixson Avenue and it must have been in about 1930 that they moved from Kentville Avenue as they appear in Dixson Street from this date.142

Updated April 2016

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