Mary Ann WRIGHT (2)
Name Variations alias Mary Ann PRICE
Father unknown WRIGHT or PRICE b. m. d. bef. 1868
Mother Mary Ann WRIGHT aka PRICE1 b. m. d. aft. 1869
Brother b. m. d.
Inmate Mary Ann WRIGHT b.c. 1854 m. (see below) d.
Sister b. m. d.
Husband b. m. d.
Son b. m. d.
Daughter b. m. d.
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Mother Mary Ann WRIGHT2 4' 9" brown brown read and write

Mary Ann appeared before the Bench on 14 July 1868,3 charged with being under sixteen and wandering the Sydney streets with prostitutes. Her mother, Mary Ann WRIGHT, a widow, who worked as a laundress, stated that Mary Ann was fourteen and although she had a comfortable home she would not remain there, preferring to associate with prostitutes. Mary Ann’s only means of support was her mother.4 On her arrival in Newcastle on 15 July 1868, Mary Ann was recorded in the Entrance Book as a fifteen-year-old Catholic. No comment or assessment was made concerning her reading or writing abilities. Mary Ann has been recorded on the SRNSW Child Welfare Index and on Ancestry as Maryann WRIGHT and the index on SRNSW has erroneously indicated that her mother was a 'lunatic', rather than a 'laundress', even though the notation is quite clear on the original record.5

On 29 October 1869, nearly 18 months after her arrival in Newcastle, a request was made specifically to apprentice Mary Ann by Margaret HALL, a seamstress of 137 Liverpool Street, near Elizabeth Street, Sydney. HALL stated that:

… her mother wishes me to apply for her child as apprentice … the girls name is I believe Mary Ann Price Wright

The name 'PRICE' had been struck through and the name WRIGHT inserted above 'PRICE', written in a different ink but possibly in the same hand. The police investigated Margaret HALL. They reported to the Colonial Secretary that:

Mrs Hall is a dressmaker who works for women of illfame and the soil effects of her apprentices having to take home dresses etc to the customers have been evidenced on more than one instance within my knowledge.6

Because the police could not support HALL's request to take Mary Ann on as an apprentice, the office of the Colonial Secretary refused the petition. Mary Ann was subsequently identified by CLARKE in his list of girls eligible for apprenticeship on 15 December 1869, where it was recorded that she was sixteen-and-a-half and had been in the school for one year and six months.7 On 10 February 1870, Mary Ann was apprenticed as a general servant for eighteen months to Robert N. SADLIER,8 auctioneer, of Maitland.9 She was to be paid at the rate of five shillings a week for the first six months and six shillings a week for the last twelve months of her indentures.10 This apprenticeship was confirmed by CLARKE eight months later in his list compiled in August 1870, where CLARKE stated that Mary Ann was 'Doing Well'.11

Mary Ann's apprenticeship would have concluded in late 1870 and, based on CLARKE's statement four months earlier, was likely to have completed her training. No further trace of her has yet been verified after 1870. There has been no confirmation yet found that she remained in Maitland and no appropriate marriage has been confirmed in that locality.

Because of the potential for Mary Ann to have used two surnames, it must be considered that she adopted the surname PRICE after her apprenticeship was completed. This possibility is still being investigated.


Mary Ann's family are still unidentified. All that is confirmed is that her mother, Mary Ann, was a laundress who had a comfortable home in Sydney and that her father had died. It is considered possible that these statements would have been questioned in court if they were untrue.

Margaret HALL's correction of Mary Ann's surname from PRICE to WRIGHT in her 1869 petition12 very strongly suggested that either Mary Ann or her mother had been known to HALL by the surname PRICE. In light of this, it is believed that on 25 May 1868, about six weeks before her arrest under the Act for the Relief of Destitute Children and as Mary Ann PRICE, she was the subject of an advertisement placed by her mother in the Sydney Morning Herald. Mary Ann senior stated:

NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC. – My Daughter, MARY ANN PRICE, having left her place without my knowledge, any one harbouring her after this date will be prosecuted.
MARY ANN PRICE. No. 5, Druitt-street.13

While it cannot be proved that HALL's error was an accurate reflection of the surname used by Mary Ann's mother,14 this is considered very likely. There is no indication in the City of Sydney Archives of anyone named WRIGHT or PRICE living in '5' or '5 off' Druitt Street. The house at this address was probably rented. HALL's petition cannot have referred to the girl who had been admitted to the school with the name Mary Ann PRICE as by this date this six-year-old child had only been in Newcastle since August 1869, so cannot have been the subject of either Margaret HALL's request or her error. This error also very strongly suggested that Mary Ann senior was the woman who had appeared in court on 20 May 1868, identified as Mary Ann WRIGHT alias PRICE.15 Her case was dismissed so no corresponding gaol record or report in the Police Gazette is available.

It seems very likely but is based only on conjecture and coincidence that the woman known as Mary Ann PRICE, a widow, who lived in Kent Street, near Druitt Street and who was known as a brothel keeper was Mary Ann WRIGHT's mother. The need to remove a child from a brothel or to pass the expense of care to the government, may have been a motive for Mary Ann's admission to Newcastle. There is a very strong suggestion that this may have been the case with Mary Ann although it cannot be proven. Mary Ann senior possibly appeared in the court reports in January 1872.16 She was also the woman, 'a widow, residing in Kent Street near the corner of Druitt Street'17 in August 1873, who gave evidence at the inquest into the death of the prostitute, Kate WILSON.18

Another woman with the same surname lived nearby. This woman was the woman listed in Sand's Directory living at 386 Kent Street, Sydney, in 1875, and was almost certainly the wife of the drayman, George PRICE, who had lived in Kent Street from 1851.19 This woman's husband died in March 1869, about six months after Mary Ann had been admitted to Newcastle.20 He was still recorded as a cab proprietor in 1870 in Sand's Directory. His widow was still at this address in August 1871 when she gave evidence into the death of John KYNE, the man who had lived in her house.21 This was not Mary Ann's family. An ad in the Sydney Morning Herald on 26 August 1873, distinguished between the two women.

TO THE PUBLIC.—MARY PRICE, of 386, Kent-street, Dray Proprietress, is not the Mary Price at whose house the late Kate Wilson met her death.22

It may be that the baptism of the girl Mary Ann PRICE in 1853 whose parents were George and Mary Ann PRICE was the baptism of the Newcastle admission. If this is a Catholic record Mary Ann's mother's maiden name should be recorded. This registration23 is yet to be read but it is considered increasingly unlikely. No marriage has been confirmed for this couple but they may have been the couple who married in 1849.24 This marriage will be read. Possible siblings of Mary Ann are still being investigated. Although none have been confirmed two brothers may be:

PRICE FREDERICK b. 1854 (V40 1854/4018) d. 1857 (NSW Death: 167/1857)
PRICE GEORGE L W (V149 1856/271)

These births may also indicate further siblings but the mother was not recorded as Mary A. but as Mary. The father of these children was almost certainly the drayman, George PRICE25 who lived at 411 Kent Street, Sydney, in 1867.26 He was almost certainly recorded in Sand's Directory from 1861 at 407 Kent Street. He died in 1869, after Mary Ann's arrest in 1868, and it is believed that he was the cab proprietor of 386 Kent Street.

PRICE GEORGE b. 1856 (595/1856)
PRICE JANE b. 1858 (1835/1858) d. 185927
PRICE ALBERT J. B. b. 1860 (2136/1860)
PRICE CHARLES J. b. 1862 (1968/1862) d. 1898 (12329/1898)
PRICE AGNES A b. 1865 (542/1865) d. 186728

There were two draymen named George PRICE living in Sydney in the 1860s. Another drayman lived at 2429 Harrington Street,30 Sydney, had been at that address since 1861. He was not rated after 1867.31 He had an adopted daughter, Eliza Jane Spain PRICE, who died in June 1866. No death registration has been identified for this girl on the NSW BDM Index.

It is unknown whether Mary Ann PRICE senior was the woman admitted to Darlinghurst in 1872. Two women of this name were admitted. One, who cannot be connected, had been born in about 1844 in Ireland. Her ship of arrival was unknown but she used the alias McLAUGHLAN. Her admission number was 120. A search of court cases and admissions around this time indicated that this event occurred, not in September as identified in Ancestry, but on 9 January 1872. No reference to Mary Ann PRICE appeared on the same day or in the same court as Mary SHERLOCK, Olav PETERSON and William LAVENDER but this woman may have been recorded as Sarah Ann PRICE in the newspaper as there was no reference to Mary Ann PRICE.32 Another more likely Mary Ann PRICE was also sent to Darlinghurst in 1872. This woman had been born in about 1822 and had arrived on the Maria in 1844.33 Her admission number was 313. Although Ancestry also identified this trial as occurring in September, it was also in January. Two other gaol admissions, Eliza BOYLE and Jane REID, appeared at the same court34 and George EMBERSON appeared the day before.35 No reference to this Mary Ann PRICE appeared in the newspapers in either of the Sydney courts on either of these days. No arrival for a woman named Mary Ann has been located on the Maria indent and this ship has not been identified arriving in this year.

If the Newcastle inmate's name was Mary Ann WRIGHT, her mother, may have been the woman who had arrived on the Ramillies. The date of arrival was variously recorded as any year between 1847 and 1863. In addition to two voyages to NSW carrying assisted immigrants, the Ramillies had arrived in Hobart in 1845 bringing troops to VDL36 and NSW.37 The following detachments arrived:

233 rank and file, 37 women, and 33 children of the 11th regiment, under the command of Major Singleton, and accompanied by Captains Blosse and Kenny, Lieutenant Parker, Ensigns Crook, Stewart, McLean, and Assistant Surgeon Parker, 13 rank and file of the 58th ; 43 rank and file of the 96th ; 5 rank and file of the 99th ; also, 29 men, 2 women, and 3 children, under the command of Capt. Henderson and Lieutenant the Hon. W. C. Yelverton, of the Royal Artillery, destined for New Zealand.

If an arrival on the 1845 voyage of the Ramillies is the woman in Darlinghurst, she had arrived as a child or as a teenager. This woman was imprisoned in Darlinghurst in March 1865. No woman of this name appeared on the assisted immigration Ramillies indent in 1850 but a Mary Ann PRICE, whose mother Mary was also on board, does appear on the indent for the 1855 voyage. There are many admissions for Mary WRIGHT who arrived aboard the Ramillies but only one for Mary PRICE and this admission did state that her arrival year was 1854. She had been born in England in about 1836.38 The women named Mary Ann WRIGHT who arrived on the Ramillies had been born in Ireland anywhere between 1833 and 1838.39 Two admissions indicate a birth in Limerick, Ireland. The Mary PRICE had been born in Kildare, Ireland, yet the birth locations of her mother was Queen's County and her father, John, was Westmeath. Her two siblings Margaret and John had been born in Queen's County.40 Perhaps an arrival into Tasmania seems to be the most likely woman.

Based on Mary Anne’s mother’s statements and the Entrance Book confirmation that her father was dead, it may also be, but is it is conjectural and unconfirmed, that Mary Ann’s father was the James WRIGHT who had died in 1862. His will left his wife as executrix.

In the Supreme Court of New South Wales, ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION.
In the Will of JAMES WRIGHT, late of Liverpool-street, Sydney, gentleman, deceased.
NOTICE is hereby given that, after the expiration of fourteen days from the publication hereof, application will be made to this honorable Court, in its ecclesiastical jurisdiction, that probate of the will of the above-named deceased may be granted to MARY ANN WRIGHT, the sole executrix in the said will named. Dated the eleventh day of July, A.D. 1862.41

This will may give details of his children. An online tree identified that this man was the convict who had arrived on the Surrey (1) in 1814.

Where has She Gone?

The only woman imprisoned who may be the Newcastle admission was the woman born in 1853 admitted to Darlinghurst in 1874 who was a Catholic born in Sydney who could read and write.42 Women entering the gaol at the same time were Bridget McKENNA, Elizabeth VIZARD and Catherine COADY and Hannah LAW. No confirmation of any appearances of this woman can be found in the Police Gazette as references to this name in 1874 only record a release from Darlinghurst in July 187443 and a description for a woman who was ten years older.

A Mary Ann WRIGHT who was the correct age appeared in the Sydney courts charged with theft in November 1871. She was sentenced to seven days in gaol but no gaol record can be matched to this trial.44 Investigations into the name Mary Ann PRICE who spent time in gaol after Mary Ann's discharge from Newcastle needs to be undertaken.

There are some possible references to Mary Ann but without eliminating other women of this name in the gaol records, none can be confirmed. There are many references that may possibly refer to this girl assuming that she didn’t return to her mother and there are many women of this name in the Sydney Courts when it is known that Mary Ann was in Newcastle so this complicates any searches.

Other gaol admissions are unlikely to refer to her. Mary BLAKE alias WRIGHT alias COUGHLAN was in Darlinghurst in 1871.45 There is no indication of her age in the gaol records so whether this was her cannot be confirmed. Another Mary WRIGHT is the woman born in 1850 in Darlinghurst in 1868 and 1872 who was a Catholic born in Sydney who could read and write.46 While the book suggests that these records refer to the same woman 1579, 1783 and 2402 suggest that the woman linked by these numbers was 37 rather than 22.

Mary Ann did not marry William Francis (or Frederick) PARKER in 1874 even though this woman's mother was Mary Ann and she was the correct age as this woman's father, Thomas, didn't die until 1875.47

Sands Directory in 1861 identified the shipowner, William WRIGHT, living at 53 Druitt Street on the corner of Kent Street.48 This man was probably married to Eliza49 and their daughter, Mary, almost certainly married Robert CANE.50

Mary Ann didn't marry William ANDERSON as this woman was probably born in Phoenix Park near Morpeth in 1843.

Updated September 2016

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