The WINSOR 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 Alfred 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 the sisters arrived in Newcastle, two of their brothers, John and Abraham, were admitted to the Vernon.41 The Vernon records indicated 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 – had been tried together at Parramatta before the Magistrates Henry BYRNES and W. STEWART, J.Ps. To date no newspaper report for any trial for any admission to the industrial schools from Parramatta or Penrith has been located for this time period and it is unknown whether any newspaper report was ever written. The sisters were recorded in the Entrance Book as Protestants and both girls appeared on SELWYN's list of Protestant children in June 1868.42

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 either Jane or Mary and it is thought that correspondence concerning them had either been 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 WINSOR girls.43 One request from Ellen to visit the girls in Newcastle does exist and the required permission was given.44 The CSIL file also contains the 1874 request from Ellen for the release of one of her daughters from Newcastle and a copy of the 1868 arrest warrant for John and Abraham. This correspondence only contains the response from MEIN, the superintendent of the Vernon, 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 but dismissively 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 therefore 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.45

This man was almost without any doubt John ASHPLANT who was living in the Parramatta area at this time46 and again Ellen's petition was denied.


The sisters were two of the daughters of Ellen WINSOR née GROUNDS. They were both illegitimate, being born well after the death of Ellen's husband, and both had been born in Parramatta. Ellen was confirmed in the Entrance Book as a widow. As Ellen GROUNDS, she was married to Alfred WINSER by Nath. TURNER at the Field of Mars Wesleyan Church, Parramatta, on 8 April 1850.47 The witnesses were Emanuel and Esther BRACE. Ellen had never been married but Alfred was described as a widower. 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. By 1855 Alfred and Ellen had three children, Edward, Emma and John, but on 24 March 1855, at the age of thirty-seven, Alfred died. The burial records recorded that he was a gardener living in Phillip Street, Parramatta. Alfred was buried in St. John’s, Parramatta. With no breadwinner Ellen's domestic situation deteriorated and in January 1860 the Protestant Orphan School enquired after the parents of five boys in their care, one of whom was Edward WINDSOR. 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.48

In the years after Alfred's death Ellen had at least six more children, including the four sent to the industrial schools of NSW and their father cannot be confirmed. Birth registrations of all of Ellen's children born after Alfred's death identified no father however after their births her children regularly named Alfred WINSOR as their father. It may be that their father was the man identified in the article above or a different person entirely. This unidentified man may also have been John ASHPLANT but if ASHPLANT was the father he was operating two households at this time as he and his wife, Mary Ann PRESTON were still having children well into the 1860s. No confirmation of the father of Ellen's younger children can be made with any certainty and only DNA may hrlp to solve the mystery.

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 Mary was recorded as a three-year-old living with her parents on the 1828C. Ellen died at the age of 86 on 22 July 1909.49 The same parents recorded on the 1828C were identified at the time of her death and newspaper announcements confirmed her place of birth as Parramatta. In 1910 an In Memoriam notice confirmed her children and grandchildren.50

Ellen's children were all registered using variations of the surname WINSOR. Only the first three recorded the name of a father and these were Alfred's 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. There is no doubt that this daughter was deceased as a burial record remains. She was only three when she died on 27 June 1855 and was buried on 29 June at St John's, Parramatta. Her burial was recorded as Emma WISSOR on the NSW BDM Index although the original record is quite clearly recorded as WINSOR.51 The abode of the family at this time was George Street. Her death was confirmed as Ellen had been recorded as having only one other child to support in 1860.52 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. Edward was involved in a disagreement while playing cards that reached the newspapers and subsequently outlined his previous gaol admissions.53 Abraham was eventually apprenticed from the Vernon to the north coast where he was soon charged with larceny.54 He used the alias Harry BATCHELOR.55 John Alfred WINSOR was apprenticed from the Vernon as a sailor and was listed as a 15-year-old apprentice aboard the Adventurer in 1870.56 Three photographs for John appear in the gaol records of NSW under various aliases. He was also known as John THOMAS, Thomas DAVIS and Thomas BOLTON.57 The origins of the many aliases used within the family have not been ascertained and it is considered likely that noy all of them have been found.


Name Variations Emma Jane
Husband (1) William WALSH b. m. 187658 d.
Husband (2) Samuel OSBORNE b. 185759 m. 187960 d. 190361
Husband (3) Charles COWELEY b. 186662 m. 1906 d.
Daughter Emma WALSH b.c. 1876 m. none - d. 187763
Son Samuel C. A. OSBORNE b. 188564 m. none - d. 188665
Daughter Millicent Ida OSBORN b. 189066 m. d.
Daughter Josephine Emily OSBORNE b. 189167 m. (1) bef. 1937 (2) 193768 (1) unknown HODGE (2) Carmello VASSALLO d. 197269

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.70 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 Book71 but her birth registration has not been viewed. On 13 March 1871,72 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.73

It was at the request of CLARKE that Jane and Elizabeth THOMPSON were reprimanded as punishment and then returned to the school. After the next riot in early April 1871, that occurred after the change of superintendents, Jane, Elizabeth and two other girls74 appeared in Newcastle Court charged with wilfully destroying Government property.75 On the order of the new superintendant George 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 only that she was a native of the colony.76

Jane transferred with the school to Biloela in May 1871. She was listed by LUCAS as eligible for service in his letter to the Colonial Secretary on 23 June 1871,77 and it was LUCAS also noted in his report of 19 September 1871,78 that she had been placed in No. 3 Dormitory on a bread and water diet for fourteen days for 'bathing in the river'79 with three other girls who were similarly punished.80 Jane was discharged on 16 December 1871, for four years as an apprentice to 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. This type of response from LUCAS appeared to have been made as a matter of course irrespective of the standard of behaviour of the child. It could be argued that he used this type of response in order to get rid of troublesome girls. Jane's indentures were soon cancelled.81 LUCAS's 1872 list indicated that Jane had been readmitted to Biloela on 2 March 1872.82 In his report on 12 August 1872, LUCAS recorded that Jane, Mary CASHER and Mary COUGHLAN together with four Biloela girls83 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.84

LUCAS's subsequent weekly report, written on 19 August 1872, noted that the group 'were released from confinement on the 15th.'85 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 girls86 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.87 Jane, Mary CASHER, Sarah HOWARD, Phoebe WILEY and three Biloela girls88 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.89 On 1 December 1873, after LUCAS' dismissal, the relieving superintendent, DALE, confirmed that Jane had been apprenticed to Archibald BELL, Esq., of Mulgarra, Scone, on 27 November.90 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.91 Jane's final discharge from Biloela occurred on 1 June 1875, after she had attained the age of eighteen.

The following year, on 5 April 1876, as Jane WINSOR, she married William WALSH at St John's, Parramatta. William was a boatman from Dublin. The witnesses to the marriage were Jane's sister Mary and a Joseph BERGAN. William was the son of Michael and Rose WALSH but no parents were recorded for Jane.92 A daughter Emma, was born to the couple but she sadly died as an infant. No further trace has yet been confirmed for William WALSH so it is unknown whether Jane married bigamously – and bigamy must be considered because she reverted 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 registered in NSW. Samuel died on 20 October 1903, at his residence, Cornelius Street, Johannesburg, of double pneumonia.93 Jane was recorded in 1909 in the Funeral Notice of her mother, Ellen, as Emma Jane.94 In 1913, Jane and Mary placed an In Memoriam notice for their mother where she was again recorded as Emma Jane.

An Ancestry tree indicated that Emma Jane went to South Africa after the death of Samuel and there married Charles COWLEY.95 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.96 This death registration has not been viewed but her parents were recorded on the NSW BDM Index as Alfred and Ellen. Emma Jane was buried in the Church of England Cemetery, Rookwood.97 No headstone is identified on the Rookwood Cemetery Headstone Index.


Name Variations Maud Alias FULLER, Mary DIXON,98 Mary BUCKLEY,99 Maud LEWIS100 Annie JAMES101
Husband (1) unknown FULLER b. m. none d.
Husband (2) John FOX b. 1862102 m. 1883103 d. 1926104
Son Reuben Edward WINSOR b. 1881105 m. d.
Daughter May Maud106 FULLER aka Mary M. WINDSOR b. 1882107 m. 1908108 Thomas Fraser/Frazer BRUCE109 d. aft. 1917110
Daughter Emily FULLER aka Florence111 Emily FOX b. 1886112 m. 1906113 William WILLIAMS d. 1914114
Son Thomas FOX115 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 1859.116 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.117 Mary transferred to Biloela with her sister in May 1871118 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.119 He confirmed her apprenticeship in his report on 19 February 1872.120 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 September121 after her indentures were cancelled by the Parramatta Bench. In December 1873,122 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.123

Mary was readmitted to Biloela from Parramatta on 17 September 1874.124 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.125 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.126 Mary didn't complete her apprenticeship as about a year later shw appeared in Windsor Quarter Sessions 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 FOWLER127 and was sentenced to two months in Windsor Gaol.128

In her early life after leaving Biloela, Mary assumed many aliases and spent time in gaol but despite her admissions, no detailed 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 stated:

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.129

It is believed that the two illegitimate births in the early 1880s, Mary M. WINDSOR and Reuben Edward WINSOR, where their mother was named as Maud, were births to Mary. Family Notices confirmed that one of her daughters was named May M. This girl married as May M. FULLER in 1908 and no birth under this name can be confirmed for her. Mary had been working as a prostitute around this time and on 20 September 1882 was imprisoned for three months using the alias FULLER. She was erroneously recorded as WILSON in the Sydney Morning Herald on 21 September and no other reports of the incident have yet been located.130 Mary married John FOX on 4 August 1883, at St Michael's Surry Hills, Sydney using the given name of Maud. Her mother was correctly identified but Mary named her father as John WINSOR. John had also been born in NSW. His parents were named as John FOX and Louisa NORTON.131

It is uncertain of the kind of relationship existed between Mary aka Maud and John FOX as on 30 September 1885, this time as Maud FULLER, Mary was again imprisoned, this time for drunkenness.132 It is believed that of the countless admissions to either Darlinghurst Goal or Biloela Gaol of a Mary FOX from the 1880s, the bulk of the admissions referred to Mary WINSOR. There is little doubt that the Maud/e FOX involved in a shooting incident in a brothel at 33133 Wexford Street,134 Surry Hills, on 30 September 1884, was Mary.135 Maud/e FOX and Mary WINDSOR had both been born in 1859,136 she was referred to as 'Mrs FOX' in court and no references to Maud/e FOX have yet been located prior to December 1883. As Maud WINDSOR she was known to have lived in the area around Wexford Street at this time.137 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 1900 when Mary was admitted to Biloea Gaol the address of John FOX was recorded in the Biloela Gaol records 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.138

In Memoriam notices for her mother139 and her brother-in-law, Sam OSBORNE,140 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.141 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 died142 and in 1914 when Emily WILLIAMS died, remained in that house until 1920143 and may be a further alias of Mary. Mary was almost certainly still known as Mrs J. FOX when a boarding-house she operated was severely burned in 1909 when Elizabeth STANTON, who seems to have been employed by Mary, 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.144


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 1926,145 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.146 She was buried in the Church of England Cemetery147 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 very 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.148

Tracing Mary's daughter, May Maud BRUCE, is difficult after the death of her husband in 1917.149 The couple divorced150 before he enlisted and after his death 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.151

Updated November 2018

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