Elizabeth Lees: Departed Innocence

By Michaela Ann Cameron

Supported by a Create NSW Arts and Cultural Grant – Old Parramattans

‘More than usual demonstrations’

On the morning of 12 July 1826, in the grounds of the Female Orphan School at Parramatta in Burramattagal Country, a horse was draped in a snow-white caparison and attached to a carriage bearing the coffin of seventeen-year-old Elizabeth Lees, or ‘Betsy,’ as she was affectionately known.[1] Within the large, colonial Georgian school building, over forty young children ‘belonging to the Institution’ readied themselves for the sad day, and no doubt experienced an overwhelming sense of dread when they proceeded outside and were confronted by the sight of their friend’s coffin.[2] Four men took their places at the very head of the cortège, followed by Reverend John Espy Keane ‘in cannonical [sic] robes,’ while a further two men stood either side of the horse’s head.[3] Four of the young girls, who ‘but a few days previously’ were ‘the gay companions of her who now slumbered, prematurely, in the arms of death,’ accompanied her coffin, ‘neatly attired in white hoods and scarfs.’[4] The remaining pupils lined up behind the carriage ‘three by three,…followed by four young girls who had lately left the School, in pairs.’[5] Now a vision of perfect symmetry, all commenced their slow, mournful journey on foot to Parramatta, Burramattagal Country.

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. American & Australasian Photographic Company, Female Orphan School, Parramatta, 1870–1875, (1870), SPF / 2661 / FL347899, State Library of New South Wales.

Coordinated as it was with such care and attention to detail, the cortège would have attracted much attention from the townspeople as it made its way through the town, finally stopping at St. John’s Church, ‘where divine service’ was performed.[6] At the conclusion of the service, ‘the melancholy procession resumed its way to the grave yard,’ (St. John’s Cemetery), where ‘a new-made grave was marked out,’ ready to receive Betsy’s earthly remains.[7] As The Australian reported:

The children drew round it, each one eager to catch a last glimpse of the coffin which held all that remained mortal, of their lamented play-mate; whilst the Rev. Mr. Kean [sic], in an impressive and affectionate tone of voice, read over the funeral service. Scarcely one out of the numerous concourse which attended, could refrain from dropping a tear, over departed innocence.[8]

Before the general mourners and amid the silent stones and unhearing, tranquilly reposing departed ones, the voices of the Reverend and the children ‘ascended in “choral symphony,” to the skies,’ chanting a hymn.[9] Only at the sight of Betsy being ‘consigned to her narrow tenement of clay’ did the order and harmony of the ‘funeral obsequies’ at last give way to the pure emotion of ‘sobs and tears’ from her school-fellows.[10] Yet ‘when the grave had closed over’ Betsy Lees, the grieving children, still weeping, ‘retired to their school, in the same order they had set out,’ knowing that even as they each did as they had always done, nothing would ever be the same.[11]

St. John's Cemetery, Parramatta, cemetery, burial records, history, Australian History, St. John's Cemetery Project
CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. American and Australasian Photographic Company, St John’s Cemetery, Parramatta, around July 1870, (1870). Courtesy of Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection, Sydney Living Museums.

Nineteenth-century Parramatta was no stranger to grand funeral processions. D’Arcy Wentworth’s procession extended nearly a mile and moved from his ‘Home Bush’ estate to his final resting place at St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta, Burramattagal Country.[12] Reverend Samuel Marsden and his wife Elizabeth were both farewelled in style with funeral processions, the Reverend’s in particular being called ‘one of the largest and most respectably attended processions ever witnessed in the colony…’ with around ‘sixty carriages form[ing] the mourning train, and a numerous assemblage of mourners’ drawn from the colony’s elite ‘follow[ing] him to the grave.’[13] Not even Nicholas Bayly’s suicide prevented ‘a long train of Civil and Military Officers, and other Gentlemen’ from following his remains from the Bank of New South Wales building where he lived, worked and died ‘to the toll-gate,’ or several of those ‘gentlemen’ from ‘proceed[ing] all the way to Parramatta’ to accompany his body to his resting place at St. John’s Cemetery.[14] And then there was the most elaborate procession and public funeral in Parramatta of all—that of the tragic Lady FitzRoy and Lieutenant Master.[15] Even Constable Benjamin Ratty’s community-funded hero’s funeral would not have been short of ceremony.[16] But at the time of Elizabeth Lees’s passing, with the exception of Bayly’s 1823 burial, these notable funerals had not yet occurred: Ratty’s was two months away; Wentworth’s a whole year; the Marsdens’ a decade or so; and the Lady and Lieutenant another twenty-one years into the future.[17] In fact, if the complaints of ‘Philomath’ are anything to go by, it seems in the early 1820s Parramattans were more likely ‘to see (and to hear also)’ a ‘solitary procession’ of ‘unhappy (saying nothing of degraded) beings,…shackled with iron manacles, known by the more common and opprobrious name of “the gaol gang” bearing deceased persons,’ be they convict or free, from the colonial hospital on George Street to St. John’s Cemetery than the ostentatious, choreographed ceremony that elites like Wentworth, the Marsdens, and FitzRoy would later garner.[18] Small wonder, then, that the burial of an ‘Orphan Institution’ girl, ‘performed’ as it was ‘with more than usual demonstrations of respect and solemnity,’ struck The Australian as being so thoroughly remarkable.[19]

So what was it about Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Lees that made her life apparently more grievable than the average pupil who passed away at the Female Orphan School, or even, for that matter, the average Parramattan?

Betsy

In a number of ways, Betsy was not at all exceptional. Like many if not most of the girls and boys admitted to the colonial orphan institutions, her parents had both arrived in the colony as convicts. Her father, Thomas Lees, arrived per Canada (1801) under sentence of transportation for seven years for stealing a silver pint jug from Langfield innkeeper Thomas Knowles in July 1795.[20] Her mother Amy, also recorded as ‘Emma’ Staples, was tried and convicted at the Old Bailey and initially sentenced to death for stealing six silver tablespoons and a silver nutmeg-grater in the dwelling-house of her employer Sussanah Penfold before her sentence was commuted to seven years transportation per Glatton (1803).[21]

Seven months after Amy arrived in the colony, Amy married Thomas at St. John’s Church, Parramatta, Burramattagal Country, on 31 October 1803, with Reverend Samuel Marsden officiating.[22] After another seven months elapsed, the couple had the first of their children, a daughter named Ann (b. 29 May 1804), followed by James Lees (b. 23 November 1806).[23] As the 1806 muster demonstrates, by the time his second child arrived Thomas Lees was freed by servitude and already proving himself to be a capable and hardworking man of the colony as a self-employed blacksmith.[24] Betsy arrived on 12 April 1809 and was privately baptised by Reverend William Pascoe Crook on 30 April the same year, the baptism registered at St. Philip’s Church of England, Sydney, like all the other Lees children before her and to come.[25] Next came Mary (b. 6 October 1811), Thomas Jnr (b. 22 January 1814), and Jane, who was born on 14 October 1816 only to die two weeks later.[26]

Thomas operated his ‘smithy’ business out of ‘No. 2 King Street,’ Cadi (Sydney), Cadigal Country,[27] and at some stage acquired other parts of King Street, as the family apparently resided at ‘No. 38 King Street.’[28] Later, a public notice regarding Thomas’s property stipulated that he and his family could claim all the King Street land between Pitt and Castlereagh Streets, where ‘Lees Court’ can still be found today.[29]

The street name ‘Lees Court’ off King Street in Cadi (Sydney), Cadigal Country, is a dim reminder that the Lees family once resided there in the 1810s and 1820s.

In spite of his convict background, Thomas earned a reputation as ‘an industrious inhabitant of the Colony for several years past’; a statement wholly corroborated by the fact that he was successful enough in 1813 to hire additional staff in the form of ‘Two Nailors [sic]’ and to take on an apprentice,[30] and was among the ‘twelve good and lawful Men of Sydney…Sworn and Charged to enquire on the part of our Lord the King When, Where, How and after What Manner’ two individuals came to their deaths, one of those being ‘an Asiatic servant’ named Sheikh Peroo/Peroh who had ‘blown his head to pieces by discharging a blunderbuss into the gullet in an elevated direction.’[31] Just four months after the Peroo/Peroh inquest, the well-respected, industrious ex-convict, blacksmith, and juror Thomas Lees became the subject of a coronial inquest himself after he ‘expired suddenly in Pitt Street’ on Tuesday 30 September 1817. The verdict was that Thomas had died ‘by the Visitation of God.’[32] His wife, Amy, was eight months pregnant at the time, and gave birth to their seventh child Hannah on 30 October.[33]

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Saturday 4 October 1817, p. 3, nla.news-page493520. Courtesy of National Library of Australia via Trove.

Betsy was, therefore, like many children who ended up in the colonial ‘orphanages,’ insofar as she and her siblings were not complete orphans—one of their parents was still living. However, as historian Caitlin Adams has discussed, and as Amy Lees’s desperate situation after her husband’s passing makes plain, such children may as well have been complete orphans if the father, as the ‘natural protector’ and main breadwinner in the family in this period, was the one to pass away.[34] Now a single mother to six (living) children, Betsy’s mother Amy worked to support them all as a washerwoman, but it was not enough to keep the family together.

Ten-year-old James was the very first boy ever admitted to the Male Orphan School when it opened on 1 January 1819 in the former Female Orphan School premises on the corner of George and Bridge Streets, Cadi (Sydney), Cadigal Country, ‘for the Reception of such Children as may be recommended and approved for receiving the Benefit of it, in deriving Support, Education, and Instruction in some mechanic Art.’[35] In her doctoral work on the orphan schools, Beryl M. Bubacz questions why a school site that had been considered ‘inadequate and unsuitable for the girls’ was immediately deemed fit for purpose when it came to equally young boys, and suggests the choice was ‘perhaps…a matter of expediency. It was after all a property belonging to the Orphan Institution, and the delays of erecting another building would not be encountered.’[36]

No record of Betsy or Mary’s admission to the Female Orphan School has been located, but given that Amy ensured her eldest son was literally at the front of the queue when the Male Orphan School opened in 1819, it seems logical that she might have also seized the opportunity at the same time to send her eligible daughters to the Female Orphan School, especially since its new premises in the comparatively clean, rural location of ‘Arthur’s Hill,’ Burramattagal Country probably made the prospect all the more inviting. It is even possible that Betsy and Mary had been admitted to the Female Orphan School in Cadi (Sydney), prior to its relocation. Nevertheless, while we may lack an admission record for the Lees girls, we can be certain Betsy and Mary were both pupils at the Female Orphan School by 1822 at least, as they are recorded as such in the muster for that year.[37]

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. The Male Orphan School, Cabramatta, Cabrogal Country. The only building still extant is the Master’s Residence. Unknown artist, Orphan school, Charlie’s birth place, 3 miles from Liverpool, New South Wales, sketched in April 1840. Charlie born on 5 April 1840, (1840), V1B/Live/2 / FL148516, State Library of New South Wales.

The same 1822 muster reveals that the eldest Lees child Ann, now eighteen, was a free servant to Ticket of Leave convict turned licensed victualler William Hodges per Royal Admiral (2) (1799) and his wife Margaret Rae/Rea/Rey, who arrived free per Kangaroo (1816), and that only the two youngest Lees children, Thomas Junior and Hannah, were still living with Amy, although Thomas would not be doing so for long.[38] While Ann had married William Ludwell Dunn in February 1824, she was probably in no position to take on the responsibility of any of her younger siblings as she was soon expecting a child of her own (Margaret Sarah arrived 29 November).[39] On 16 August 1824, nine-year-old Thomas therefore became the fourth Lees child admitted to the Orphan Schools; by then, the Male Orphan School had also relocated to a more rural setting at Cabramatta in Cabrogal Country.[40] Ann Lees likely believed her siblings were better off where they could be educated, trained, and (hopefully) placed in a good position; in James and Thomas’s case, that might have been true, but for her sisters Betsy and Mary, this was far from accurate.

Female orphans in general had less chance of fulfilling their potential in this period of the Orphan Schools, because the girls’ education, training and physical and moral welfare were severely neglected.[41] They endured being ‘badly clad,’ drinking ‘bad water,’ as well as residing in an understaffed and overcrowded School with more than three children in some beds, all of which inevitably led to poor hygienic practices and health complaints, including an eye condition that saw many of the girls afflicted with ‘inflamed eyes’ (ophthalmia).[42] In 1825, Betsy and Mary would have experienced all this firsthand, as they were still mustered as pupils at the Female Orphan School, where some of the children were wearing ‘ragged,’ ‘indelicate…clothes that had not been washed for three weeks or a month before,’ and many were virtually illiterate and had not seen the inside of a church for months.[43] The Wesleyan minister Reverend William Walker, his wife, and his domestic staff, the Broadbears, improved the girls’ situation to a degree,[44] but when they all left in a huff ‘without authority’ on 30 March 1826, only one servant named Mrs. Johnston remained.[45] Mrs. Johnston was burdened with the Herculean task of maintaining the enormous and problematic building, as well as looking after every single need of the 125 pupils, including 15 infants all on her own.[46] Not surprisingly, when Reverend Keane and his wife arrived in April 1826, they found the ‘School in a deplorable state,’ utterly ‘filthy and swarming with bugs’ writes Bubacz.[47] As an emergency measure, to alleviate some of Mrs. Johnston’s workload, Keane assigned each of the infants to an older pupil.[48] Given that most of the pupils at the School were not above the age of twelve, Betsy and Mary, aged seventeen and fourteen respectively, had to have been among those who were charged with the duty of caring for these children. While it might have been a reasonable task for Betsy and Mary, girls who were even slightly younger would have struggled, as Keane soon realised when he was confronted with the sight of babies ‘rolling about in filth’ in the middle of the night.[49]

By contrast, Betsy and Mary’s elder brother James had ‘quit’ the Male Orphan School on 25 August 1825, having secured an apprenticeship as a carpenter.[50] The Male Orphan School records reveal that James had been a consistently high achieving student. He won a medal for being ‘best writer’ in January 1821, although he would eventually use those literary skills as signatory to a letter of complaint against the institution regarding food supplies and ill-treatment experienced by the boys at the hands of the School’s Master.[51] James’s carpentry work was clearly also prized: in early 1822 he was deemed proficient in his trade and was apprenticed as a carpenter to the school itself, while in 1823 the school Committee decided a desk he had made in 1822 was worthy of being presented to the Colonial Secretary.[52] But, for all the hardships he obviously endured at the Orphan School, he was comparatively one of the fortunate ones. The entry immediately below James in the admissions book reveals, John Pounds, admitted to the institution the same day as James and also the son of a washerwoman, had died at the ‘unsuitable,’ overcrowded and unhygienic Sydney incarnation of the orphanage on 31 August 1820 from ‘Inflammation of the Bowells [sic].’[53] Adams provides a further example in the dysentery-related death of First Fleet convict James Ogden’s son, David, aged twelve, at the Male Orphan School’s Cabramatta site, just two months before James Lees left the orphanage in which he had both excelled and survived against the odds.[54] Betsy, of course, would not be as lucky as her elder brother, but there is good reason to believe that she was every bit as clever and outstanding as him.

On 8 June 1826, at his residence ‘Macquarie Grove’ (later renamed Hassall Cottage), in the district of Cooke, Samuel Otoo Hassall penned a letter to ‘The Venerable Archdeacon [Thomas Hobbes] Scott.’ Archdeacon Scott was the head of the Clergy and School Lands Corporation, which had taken control of the Orphan Schools in 1825 in a bid to ensure the Church of England’s supremacy in the colony. Hassall’s letter read:

Macquarie Grove, Cooke

8th June, 1826

Rev.d Sir,

I have to request as a particular favor [sic] that you will be pleased to indent to me Mary Sullivan or Elizabeth Lee [sic] from the Female Orphan School, if either of them can be permitted to leave the Institution.

I have the honor [sic] to be

Rev.d Sir

Your Most Obed. Servant

S. O. Hassall

The Venerable Archdeacon Scott

Parramatta[55]

Samuel Otoo Hassall was the son of ‘devout Congregationalists’ and artisan missionaries Rowland Hassall and Elizabeth Hassall (née Hancox), with whom he had travelled to Tahiti per the Duff (1796) as a babe in arms.[56] The Hassalls arrived in the colony per Nautilus (1799) and raised their family at Hassall House, which once stood at 106 George Street, Parramatta, Burramattagal Country.[57] In the colony, the Hassalls occupied important civic roles and remained active members of the Christian community, and this was very much something that the second generation carried on, as eldest son Thomas opened Australia’s first Sunday School in the Hassalls’ George Street home in 1813.[58] While Samuel Otoo may not have shone quite as brightly as his parents or his elder brother Thomas, his contemporaries described him as ‘a keen man of business, yet kind, hospitable, and benevolent, all bottomed on a due sense of religion…A more hospitable kind man than he we know not in New South Wales.’[59]

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. Mrs. Elizabeth Hassall (née Hancox) holds her infant son Samuel Otoo Hassall and is seated next to her eldest son Thomas Hassall in this image, Cession of the District of Matavai [6 March 1799] in the Island of Otaheite [i.e. Tahiti] to Captain James Wilson for the Use of the Missionaries Sent Thither by that Society in the Ship Duff, painted by Robert Smirke, engraved by Francesco Bartolozzi, (London: Published for the benefit of the Missionary Society by W. Jeffryes, [c.1797–1799]) DL Pg 52 / FL8795730, State Library of New South Wales. For the identification of other key people depicted in the image, see William Ellis, Polynesian Researches, During a Residence of Nearly Eight Years in the Society and Sandwich Islands, Vol. II, (New York: J. & J. Harper, 1833), pp. 13–14.

Betsy and her fellow pupil Mary Sullivan, therefore, had been singled out by a well-to-do member of one of the most respectable families in Parramatta, and this should not be underrated. Not all girls at the Orphan School secured a place in a good situation, and in some cases it could be the ruin of them. Elizabeth Richardson, for instance, absconded from her master in 1821 and became pregnant by a local Parramattan named John Batman, who denied her claim, refused to marry her, left the colony, and went on to ‘found’ the city of Melbourne.[60] Another Orphan Institution alumna, Martha Emily Cadman, was ‘ill-used’ by her master and sentenced to the ‘House of Correction,’ only to be raped by convict constables tasked with ensuring her safe delivery through ‘the wilds of Australia’ to the said place of correction in 1836.[61] Henceforth, Cadman reportedly ‘adopted a disgraceful course of life’ as ‘a blasé-looking demirep of the “pave”’ who daily drank herself into ‘a most delectable state of “betweenity”’ and frequently participated in violent exchanges with others of her ilk.[62] That Betsy and only one other girl had been requested specifically indicates that someone of good standing had probably recommended them to Hassall as ideal servants who were worthy of a good placement. Like her elder brother James who showed such skill and commitment to his work, Betsy and the second girl had perhaps demonstrated high competency in domestic tasks. Yet we may go further and posit that, even more particularly, these two girls probably showed an exceptional dedication to their religious study, too.

There is no explicit mention that Betsy or Mary Sullivan were model Christians in the few records remaining of Betsy’s life, but a distinct pattern is discernible in other girls who were selected from Parramatta’s institutions to live in and serve the households of the Hassalls and equally eminent religious families, including the Wesleyan Carvossos. As it happens, the Broadbears who, much to Reverend Keane’s disgust, had abandoned Betsy and the other ‘helpless children’ of the Female Orphan School in 1826, had a daughter of their own named Lucy who, at ten and a half, had secured a place as a domestic servant in the Parramatta home of Samuel Otoo’s brother Reverend Thomas Hassall, pictured below. There, on 15 October 1823, whilst busy with her ‘domestic concerns,’ Lucy had gotten too close to the fire and the flames caught her clothes.[63] ‘In her fear, she ran out of the house, as if for the River. The wind was high, and the little sufferer was, in an instant, enveloped in flames!’[64] Though Thomas Hassall did his best to smother the fire with his coat, ‘the poor child was alarmingly burned,’ and she died the following morning.[65] Rather like the ‘more than usual demonstrations’ that would occur at Betsy’s 1826 funeral, ‘an astonishing and interesting number of children were present’ when Lucy was buried the next day, ‘and the occasion was improved in a sermon delivered in the Parramatta Church, by [Lucy’s] much respected and sorrowing master.’[66] Most significantly, The Sydney Gazette noted that Lucy ‘was a scholar at the Kissing Point Sunday School; and, in her, the blessed effects of such Institutions were abundantly displayed. We may conclude by observing,’ wrote the Gazette, ‘that her years were few; she has taught us little of life; but, in her death, she taught us how to die!’[67] The Hassalls’ matriarch, Elizabeth Hassall, pictured below, also took in young ladies who showed an outstanding commitment to their educational and religious studies. Some ‘considerable time’ before 1822, for example, Bolongaia (Maria Locke), the daughter of Yarramundi, Chief of the Boorooberongal People and student of the Native Institution, lived with and was ‘maternally treated’ by Mrs. Elizabeth Hassall.[68] Bolongaia had proven to be a gifted interpreter and is widely believed to have been the unidentified fourteen-year-old Aboriginal girl who took first place against Sunday School and Orphan School children in the Annual Anniversary Examinations of 1819—examinations in which pupils had to demonstrate religious knowledge.[69] Another pertinent example is the Female Orphan School apprentice Mary Innes, who, once again, seems likely to have earned her place with Elizabeth Hassall at Hassall House by September 1825 as a result of her commitment to Christian worship and values.[70] Innes appears to have regularly attended church services at the Wesleyan Methodist chapel on Princes Street, Tallawoladah (The Rocks), prior to her admission to the School, and ended up a teacher alongside her husband Samuel Barber, at Mogoaillee (Castle Hill), Bidjigal Country.[71] In an eerily similar case to Lucy Broadbear, fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Coleson burned to death when her clothes caught fire in the Parramatta home of her master Reverend Mr. Carvosso. She had ‘only very lately been taken out of the Orphan Institution into the family by which her loss is now severely deplored,’ noted the Sydney Gazette.[72] Like all the other girls placed in these respectable homes from the various institutions, Elizabeth Coleson, it was claimed, had been a model of Christianity who somehow ‘reflected honor [sic] on the beneficent Institution in which she had been, for years, succoured and well instructed,’ despite the previously noted shortcomings of the Female Orphan School in all areas of the girls’ welfare, including education and religious instruction.[73] Coleson’s ‘mind, previous to the sad accident, was evidently under the influence of Divine truth,’ the Gazette emphasised, ‘and her afflicted master and mistress have to rejoice at the pleasing testimonies afforded, of her happy release from a world of “grief and sin.”’[74]

Samuel Otoo Hassall’s first letter, dated 8 June 1826, requesting Betsy Lees as his servant received no response. Reverend Keane and his wife had only been nominated Master and Matron ‘pro tempore’ at the same time the Walkers and company unceremoniously exited three months earlier.[75] The Keanes’ hands were full implementing a number of changes to improve the overall management of the Female Orphan School and, moreover, Mrs. Keane had resigned as matron after giving birth to her own daughter, Charlotte, on 22 June.[76] The Female Orphan School continued to be a place of upheaval and transition, so it is understandable that Hassall’s first letter went no further than the Archdeacon. Hassall sent a second letter ‘renewing [his] application’ for Maria Sullivan or Elizabeth Lee [sic] ‘and wish[ing] to know if the rules of the Institution will permit either of the above named girls to be indented’ to him as his servant on 3 July.[77] At last, Reverend Keane was able to provide a brief but definitive answer to Hassall’s application for Betsy’s removal from the orphanage:

Mr Keane will report on these.

no objection … against Mary Sullivan aged 15 being indented to Mr. Hassall who is a married man of respectable character and in good circumstances residing at the Cowpastures Cooke.

Betsy Lee the other girl named is apparently dying.

J E Keane[78]

There is no record of what brought Elizabeth’s life to a premature end a mere six days after Hassall’s second letter. However, Keane’s words suggest that her death was not the result of a sudden, traumatic accident, such as those that took Lucy Broadbear and Elizabeth Coleson, nor was her death recorded among a number of other Orphan School deaths at the same time, which would indicate an epidemic. What is clear is that Betsy’s final, mortal illness was a protracted one, involving a slow decline that all concerned recognised as hopelessly incurable, so it may have been ‘consumption’ (tuberculosis). The generally ‘deplorable’ state of the Institution in the years and months leading up to Betsy’s death, and the fact that she, as an older pupil, would have been relied upon heavily by both the Walkers and the Keanes certainly would have increased her exposure to bacteria and severely compromised her immune system, preventing it from fighting off the illness.

Contrary to the media coverage associated with Betsy’s funeral, she was not at the Female Orphan School at the time of her passing, although she would be the first to die while still an enrolled pupil of the institution’s Parramatta location.[79] Perhaps endeavouring to give her greater comfort if not a better chance at recovery, or to protect the other students lest her condition be contagious, Reverend Keane sent Betsy to the General Hospital at Sydney, where hospital records indicate she died on Sunday 9 July.[80]

In light of the appalling situation of the Female Orphan Institution and the circumstances that led to and continued to surround its degradation in mid-1826, it is no longer difficult to see why Betsy’s loss was felt so intensely and mourned so publicly. Reverend Keane undoubtedly saw Betsy as the ultimate victim of the mismanagement of the School, exacerbated by the tensions between the Protestant branches represented by the Wesleyan Walkers and the Anglicans, including the Archdeacon Scott and Keane himself, not to mention what he openly saw as the unforgivable actions of Mrs. Mary Broadbear, who had left Betsy and the rest of the orphans ‘helpless’ despite having lost her own little girl, Lucy, in tragic circumstances just a couple of years earlier. Betsy had been failed by so many who had owed her a duty of care. Then there was the added tragedy, that Betsy died right when a member of an upstanding Christian family had personally requested that she become a part of his household, presumably as a reward for her dedication and model behaviour. A cynical and superstitious person might point to the tragic ends of Broadbear and Coleson in eerily similar accidents at notable Christian homes in Parramatta just eleven months apart, and speculate that Betsy was somehow doomed to go up in flames at Macquarie Grove (Hassall’s Cottage) at Benkennie (Camden), Gandangara Country, if she had the opportunity to fulfil the role Samuel Otoo intended for her anyway. Those more optimistically inclined might look to the likes of Mary Innes, whose time at Elizabeth Hassall’s home on George Street, Parramatta, Burramattagal Country proved to be a stepping stone to a life of purpose and prosperity, as it brought her into contact with her future husband, the ‘Currency Lad’ Samuel Barber of George Street, already a man of property at fifteen.[81]

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. In the 1820s, this cottage was known as ‘Macquarie Grove,’ and is therefore where S. O. Hassall wrote his letters requesting Betsy’s removal from the Orphan Institution, and where Betsy potentially would have been assigned, had she lived. When the name ‘Macquarie Grove’ was transferred to another structure on the same property, this one was renamed ‘Hassall Cottage.’ E. W. Searle, Hassall Cottage, Camden, New South Wales, 1940, (1940), PIC P838/348 LOC Cold store SEA Box 4, nla.obj-142108567. Courtesy of National Library of Australia via Trove.
Betsy’s sister and fellow pupil at the Female Orphan Institution, Mary Lees, aka Mary Ann Lees, in later life. She was presumably one of the four girls in white hoods and scarves who accompanied Betsy’s coffin to her final resting place at St. John’s. Uncredited image from a public source.

Thus, Reverend Keane donned his canonical robes, while the horse drawing Betsy’s coffin to its resting place as well as the four orphan girls accompanying her body were all adorned in white. White had long been a colour associated with mourning, and in the Regency period specifically was a colour worn in the period of half-mourning, which is probably why it was considered appropriate for one who had died so young: it was yet another reminder of Betsy’s unfulfilled potential.[82] Their white raiment no doubt also symbolised Betsy’s ‘departed innocence.’[83] As a student of the Orphan School herself, Betsy’s fourteen-year-old sister Mary had to have been one of those four white-hooded girls accompanying Betsy’s coffin all the way from the Orphan School to the church, and onward to the burial ground where Reverend Keane delivered his heartfelt words and sang with the orphans. Just eighteen days later, on 30 July, he would be there again, farewelling another innocent—his own one-month-old baby, Charlotte.[84]

Thomas junior was finally able to leave the Male Orphan School at the age of thirteen, on 27 October 1826, having secured an apprenticeship as a seaman.[85] James, the eldest boy, fell afoul of the law multiple times, with one of those occasions resulting in a sentence of transportation to Moreton Bay; but he was also publicly praised for rescuing a drowning child on his return to Cadi (Sydney) and, in the long run, his carpentry skills served him well. Mary Lees married a convict in August 1828, and went on to have eleven children, the first of whom she called ‘Elizabeth Ann’ as a living memorial to her lost sister, whose grave at St. John’s lies evergreen and unmarked still.[86]

CITE THIS

Michaela Ann Cameron, “Elizabeth Lees: Departed Innocence,” St. John’s Online, (2021), https://stjohnsonline.org/bio/elizabeth-lees, accessed [insert current date]

References

Primary Sources and Online Databases

  • Biographical Database of Australia (BDA) (https://www.bda-online.org.au/)
  • British Newspaper Archive (https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/)
  • William Westbrooke Burton, The State of Religion and Education in New South Wales, (London: J. Cross and Simpkin and Marshall, 1840).
  • Home Office: Criminal Registers, Middlesex and Home Office: Criminal Registers, England and Wales; Records created or inherited by the Home Office, Ministry of Home Security, and related bodies, Class: HO 26, (The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England).
  • Home Office: Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania, Class: HO 10, (The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England).
  • New South Wales Government, 1828 Census: Alphabetical Return, Series Number: NRS 1272, (State Records Authority of New South Wales; Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).
  • New South Wales Government, Applications for Children out of the Orphan Schools, Series: NRS 783, (State Archives Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).
  • New South Wales Government, Bound Manuscript Indents, 1788–1842, Series: NRS 12188, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).
  • New South Wales Government, Child Care and Protection Index 1817–1942: Indentures of Apprenticeship, Series: NRS 798, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).
  • New South Wales Government, Copies of Letters Sent within the Colony, Series: NRS 937, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).
  • New South Wales Government, Male Orphan School Admission Books, Series: NRS 796, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).
  • New South Wales Government, Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages (https://www.bdm.nsw.gov.au), (Chippendale, NSW: NSW BDM, 2021), https://familyhistory.bdm.nsw.gov.au/lifelink/familyhistory/search?2, accessed 9 April 2021.
  • New South Wales Government, Secretary to the Governor, Population Musters, New South Wales Mainland [1811–1819], Series: NRS 1260, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).
  • New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series: NRS 898, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).
  • Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0).
  • Parish Baptism Registers, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia.
  • Parish Burial Registers, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia.
  • Parish Marriage Registers, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia.
  • Trove (https://trove.nla.gov.au/)

Secondary Sources

NOTES

[1]The funeral obsequies…,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848), Saturday 15 July 1826, p. 3. For the primary source in which she was referred to as ‘Betsy’ see “Elizabeth Lee, aka Betsy Lee; Application for Removal; Date of Application: 3 July 1826; Petitioner Name: S. O. Hassall,” New South Wales Government, Applications for Children out of the Orphan Schools, Series: NRS 783; Item: [4/333]; Roll: 2776; Page: 58, (State Archives Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[2]The funeral obsequies…,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848), Saturday 15 July 1826, p. 3.

[3]The funeral obsequies…,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848), Saturday 15 July 1826, p. 3.

[4]The funeral obsequies…,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848), Saturday 15 July 1826, p. 3.

[5]The funeral obsequies…,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848), Saturday 15 July 1826, p. 3.

[6]The funeral obsequies…,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848), Saturday 15 July 1826, p. 3.

[7]The funeral obsequies…,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848), Saturday 15 July 1826, p. 3.

[8]The funeral obsequies…,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848), Saturday 15 July 1826, p. 3.

[9]The funeral obsequies…,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848), Saturday 15 July 1826, p. 3.

[10]The funeral obsequies…,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848), Saturday 15 July 1826, p. 3.

[11]The funeral obsequies…,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848), Saturday 15 July 1826, p. 3.

[12]The Late D’Arcy Wentworth, Esq.,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848), Wednesday 11 July 1827, p. 4; See also Catie Gilchrist, “D’Arcy Wentworth: A Gentleman Rogue,” St. John’s Online, (2021), https://stjohnsonline.org/bio/darcy-wentworth, accessed 9 April 2021.

[13]Family Notices. Deaths,” The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 – 1842), Monday 5 October 1835, p. 3; “No title. The funeral of the late Rev. Samuel Marsden took place…,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 17 May 1838, p. 2; J. B. Marsden, Life and Work of Samuel Marsden(Melbourne: Whitcombe and Tombs, 1913), p. 214, http://www.chr.org.au/books/Life-and-Work-of-Samuel-Marsden_REDUCED.pdf, accessed 9 April 2021.

[14] See James Dunk, “Nicholas Bayly: The Anti-Settler,” St. John’s Online, https://stjohnsonline.org/bio/nicholas-bayly, accessed 9 April 2021.

[15]FUNERAL OF LADY MARY FITZROY AND LIEUT. C. C. MASTER,” The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), Friday 10 December 1847, p. 2; “Friday, December 10, 1847,” The Australian (NSW : 1824 – 1848), Friday 10 December 1847, p. 3; Peter Cochrane, Colonial Ambition: Foundations of Australian Democracy, (Carlton: Melbourne University Publishing, 2006), p. 155; “MOST MELANCHOLY ACCIDENT – DEATH OF LADY MARY RITZROY AND LIEUTENANT C. C. MASTERS, A.D.C.,” The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), Wednesday 8 December 1847, p. 2; Jim Badger, “The Lamentable Death of Lady Mary FitzRoy,” Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 87, No. 2, (2001), pp. 236–7. See also Sarah A. Bendall, “Lady FitzRoy: The People’s Lady,” St. John’s Online, (2020), https://stjohnsonline.org/bio/lady-fitzroy, accessed 9 April 2021.

[16] See Michaela Ann Cameron, “Benjamin Ratty: Convict Constable,” St. John’s Online (2019), https://stjohnsonline.org/bio/benjamin-ratty, accessed 9 April 2021.

[17] All examples listed here were buried at St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta. See Parish Burial Registers, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia.

[18] Philomath, “To the Editor of the Australian,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW: 1824 – 1848), Thursday 30 December 1824, p. 2.

[19]The funeral obsequies…,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848), Saturday 15 July 1826, p. 3.

[20] Leeds Intelligencer, Monday 27 July 1795, p. 3; “THOMAS LEES, Canada; Convicted: 18 July 1795; Place of Conviction: York, Yorkshire, England; Sentence: 7 Years,” Home Office: Convict Transportation Registers, HO 11; Piece: 1, (The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England).

[21] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 2 December 1801, trial of AMY STAPLES (t18011202-59), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t18011202-59, accessed 9 April 2021; “AMY STAPLES; Age: 26; Birth Location: Swanley; Date of Trial: 3 December 1801; Location of Trial: Middlesex, England: Sentence: Transportation,” Home Office: Criminal Registers, Middlesex and Home Office: Criminal Registers, England and Wales; Records created or inherited by the Home Office, Ministry of Home Security, and related bodies, Class: HO 26; Piece 8: Page: 119, (The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England); “AMY STAPLES, Vessel: Glatton; Date of Arrival: 11 March 1803,” New South Wales Government, Bound Manuscript Indents, 1788–1842, Series: NRS 12188; Item: [4/4004]; Microfiche: 631, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[22] “Marriage of AMY STAPLES and THOMAS LEES, 31 October 1803,” Parish Marriage Registers, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia.

[23] “ANN LEE [sic], daughter of THOMAS LEE, AMEY LEE, [sic], Born: 29 May 1804; Baptised: 30 September 1804, Registered at St. Philip’s Church of England,” Church Register – Baptisms; ML ref: Reel SAG 90; Volume entry number: 826, St Philip’s Church of England, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia via Biographical Database of Australia; “Baptism of JAMES LEE [sic], Born: 23 November 1806; Baptised: 29 March 1807; Father: THOMAS LEE; Mother: Amy,” FHL Film Number: 993949, Australia, Births and Baptisms, 1792–1981, (Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013).

[24] “THOMAS LEES, Canada; Free by Servitude, Employment: Self-employed Blacksmith,” General Muster of New South Wales 1806; TNA ref: Reel PRO 72 Vol. 10/37, published in “Musters of New South Wales and Norfolk Island 1805–1806,” edited by Carol J. Baxter, published by (Sydney: ABGR, 1989) Book entry number: A2594, via Biographical Database of Australia.

[25] “Baptism of ELIZABETH LEE [sic]; Born: 12 April 1809; Birthplace: Port Jackson, New South Wales, Australia; Baptised: 30 April 1809; Father: THOMAS LEE [sic]; Mother: AMY,” FHL Film Number: 993949, Australia, Births and Baptisms, 1792–1981, (Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013).

[26] “Baptism of MARY LEES; Born: 6 October 1811; Birth Place: St. Philip, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; Baptised: 3 November 1811; Father: THOMAS LEES; Mother: EMMA LEES,” FHL Film Number: 993949; “Baptism of THOMAS LEES; Born: 22 January 1814; Baptised: 13 February 1814; Baptism Place: St. Philip, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; Father: THOMAS LEES; Mother: EMMA,” FHL Film Number: 993949; “Baptism of JANE LEES; Born: 14 October 1816; Baptised: 18 October 1816; Baptism Place: St. Philip, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; Father: THOMAS LEES; Mother: EMMA,” FHL Film Number: 993949,” Australia, Births and Baptisms, 1792–1981, (Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013). “Burial of JANE LEES; Death Date: 28 October 1816; Burial Date: 30 October 1816; Age: 2 weeks; Death Place: City of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; Cemetery: Old Sydney Burial Ground,” Old Sydney Burial Ground Inventory of Burial, (updated 10 August 2020), https://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/history/old-sydney-burial-ground, accessed 9 April 2021.

[27] 2 King Street address for Thomas Lees’s smithy business is sourced from the following 1813 advertisement: Thomas Lees, “WANTED, Two Nailors [sic] and an Apprentice,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Saturday 16 January 1813, p. 2. 

[28] The 38 King Street address comes from James Lees’s Orphan School Admission: New South Wales Government, Male Orphan School Admission Books, Series: NRS 796; Item: [4/353]; Roll: 2777; Page: 1, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[29] The parameters of Lees’s King Street property were publicly stated by his married daughter Ann Dunn (née Lees) and her husband William Dunn in June 1832: William Dunn and Ann Dunn, “The Public are hereby cautioned…,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 21 June 1832, p. 3 and see also A. Thomson’s retort: A. Thomson, “To the Editor of the Sydney Gazette,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Saturday 30 June 1832, p. 3.

[30] Regarding the 1813 advertisement for two nailers and an apprentice see Thomas Lees, “WANTED, Two Nailors [sic] and an Apprentice,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Saturday 16 January 1813, p. 2. Richard Alcorn, who was Amy Lees’ shipmate, having arrived per Glatton (1803), was taken on as his apprentice, but on 5 April 1817, Thomas Lees was compelled to notify the public in The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser that Alcorn had “absconded from his Duty since the 28th day of February last:—This is therefore to Caution all Persons against harbouring the said Apprentice on Pain of rigid Prosecution. THOMAS LEES”: Thomas Lees, “Whereas RICHARD ALCORN, my Apprentice, has absconded from his Duty…,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Saturday 5 April 1817, p. 1. Thomas’s youngest daughter Hannah ended up working as a servant for a woman who also arrived per Glatton (1803) named Sarah Alcorn (née Smith) in 1828 when she was aged eleven, at ‘Pitt Town,’ (Windsor area), though this Sarah was wife to Edward Alcorn, not Richard, so the common surname, ship, and locality may have been purely coincidental or, at the very least, evidence of a network of friends, drawn to each other by the things they had in common: New South Wales Government, 1828 Census: Alphabetical Return, Series Number: NRS 1272; Reel: 2554, (State Records Authority of New South Wales; Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia). No marriage record has yet been located to confirm whether “Sarah Alcorn” and “Richard Alcorn” were related in any way, but it does seem likely. By 1810, “Rd. Alcorn, Blacksmith” appeared on the weekly return of Government men at labour at the Greenhills, Hawkesbury, i.e. Windsor: See New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series: NRS 898; Reels 6020–6040, 6070; Fiche 3260–3312; Page: 133, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[31] See the inquests of Daniel Tonar on 11–12 April 1816 and Sheikh Peroo on 14 May 1817, New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series: 898; Reels: 6020–6040, 6070; Fiche: 3260–3312, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia); “Sydney: A Coroner’s Inquest,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Saturday 17 May 1817, p. 3.

[32]On Tuesday last, Thomas Lee, smith, of King-street,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Saturday 4 October 1817, p. 3.

[33] “Baptism of HANNAH LEES; Born: 3 October 1817; Baptised: 8 November 1817; Father: THOMAS LEES; Mother: EMMA,” FHL File Number: 1483370, Australia, Births and Baptisms, 1792–1981, (Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013).

[34] William Westbrooke Burton, The State of Religion and Education in New South Wales, (London: J. Cross and Simpkin and Marshall, 1840), p. 131. The definition of orphan at the time was, therefore, a child who had lost their father, an illegitimate child, or a child who had lost both parents. See John Ramsland, Children of the Back Lanes: Destitute and Neglected Children in Colonial New South Wales, (Sydney: New South Wales University Press, 1986), pp. 2458. For a more in depth discussion about the perils of losing a male breadwinner, see Caitlin Adams, “Lives Left Behind: The Forsaken Families of First Fleeters,” St. John’s Online, (2019), https://stjohnsonline.org/bio/james-ogden, accessed 9 April 2021.

[35] John Ramsland, “Children’s Institutions in Nineteenth-Century Sydney,” Dictionary of Sydney, (2011), https://dictionaryofsydney.org/entry/childrens_institutions_in_nineteenth_century_sydney, accessed 9 April 2021. “No. 1. Name: JAMES LEES. Age: 10. When Admitted: 1819, Jany 1. Time of Quitting the School: 1825 August 25. Parents’ Name. ANN LEES [sic: AMY LEES]. Occupation: Washerwoman. Residence: 38 King Street Sydney,” in New South Wales Government, Male Orphan School Admission Books, Series: NRS 796; Item: [4/353]; Roll: 2777; Page: 1, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia), https://search.records.nsw.gov.au/permalink/f/1ebnd1l/ADLIB_RNSW110001039 For the opening date and objectives of the new Male Orphan School see “GOVERNMENT AND GENERAL ORDERS. Government House, Sydney, 26th December 1818. CIVIL DEPARTMENT,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Saturday 26 December 1818, p. 1. While James was clearly the son of Thomas and Amy aka Emma, not ‘Ann Lees’ it may be that the name ‘Ann Lees’ under ‘Parents’ Name’ was only partially wrong. It is not hard to imagine that a woman busy looking after six children while working as a washerwoman (and perhaps wishing to avoid the heart wrenching moment of giving up her own child to an orphanage) might have delegated the task of admitting James to the orphanage to her eldest, Ann, who was then fifteen and probably also working as a washerwoman to help her family. Another list of boys admitted to the orphanage in the Colonial Secretary’s Papers states “AMEY LEES’ [sic] under ‘Surviving Parent of Guardians Name.’ See “Special Bundle: List of 117 Boys received into the Male Orphan Institution 1819–1824,” in New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series: 898; Reels: 6020–6040, 6070; Fiche 3260–3312; Pages: 1–2, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia), extracted from New South Wales Government, Main Series of Letters Received, [Bundle 22 No. 42] 4/7208, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[36] Beryl M. Bubacz, [PhD Diss.], “The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales, 1801–1850,” (Sydney: University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work, 2007), p. 123.

[37] “ELIZABETH LEES and MARY LEES, Orphan School, Parramatta, 1822,” Home Office: Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania, Class: HO 10; Piece: 36, (The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England).

[38] “THOMAS LEE, Aged 9, BC [born in colony], and HANNAH LEE, Aged 5, BC [born in colony], Children of E. Staples [sic: A Staples or A Lees], Sydney Home Office: Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania, Class: HO 10; Piece: 36, (The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England). Regarding ANN LEE’s employment see the previous page of the 1822 muster and District Constable’s Notebook, Parramatta (Baulkham Hill [sic]), 1822, (Book 3) in New South Wales Government, Secretary to the Governor, Population Musters, New South Wales Mainland [1811–1819], Series: NRS 1260; Items: [4/1224–25, 4/1227], (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[39] New South Wales Government, Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages (https://www.bdm.nsw.gov.au), Marriage of ANN LEES and WILLIAM L[UDWELL] DUNN, 1824, Sydney, New South Wales, Registration Number: 330/1824 V1824330 8, (Chippendale, NSW: NSW BDM, 2021), https://familyhistory.bdm.nsw.gov.au/lifelink/familyhistory/search?2, accessed 9 April 2021.

[40] “THOMAS LEES, Re: Admission to Orphan School, 16 August 1824,” New South Wales Government, Copies of Letters Sent within the Colony, Series: NRS 937; Reels 6004–6016; Page: 195, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia); “THOMAS LEES, 16 August 1824,” New South Wales Government, Male Orphan School Admission Books, Series: NRS 796; Item: [4/352]; Roll: 2777; Page: 9, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[41] Beryl M. Bubacz, [PhD Diss.], “The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales, 1801–1850,” (Sydney: University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work, 2007), pp. 233–50. http://hdl.handle.net/2123/2474

[42] Beryl M. Bubacz, [PhD Diss.], “The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales, 1801–1850,” (Sydney: University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work, 2007), pp. 243–4. http://hdl.handle.net/2123/2474 The eye condition occurred in January 1826, even after many improvements had been implemented, demonstrating that the health of the girls continued to be a struggle at the Female Orphan School; Joy Damousi, “‘Wretchedness and Vice’: The ‘Orphan’ and the Colonial Imagination,” in Joy Damousi, Depraved and Disorderly: Female Convicts, Sexuality and Gender in Colonial Australia, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), p. 143; Michael Belcher, [PhD Diss.], “The Child in New South Wales Society: 1820 to 1837,” (Armidale: University of New England, 1982), pp. 91–2.

[43] Rev. Walker to Rev. R. Watson, 7 February 1825, in Bonwick Transcripts, Box 53, pp. 1470–1471, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, cited in Beryl M. Bubacz, [PhD Diss.], “The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales, 1801–1850,” (Sydney: University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work, 2007), pp. 236–7.

[44]The Reverend Mr. and Mrs. Walker…,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Wednesday 5 April 1826, p. 2; Beryl M. Bubacz, [PhD Diss.], “The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales, 1801–1850,” (Sydney: University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work, 2007), p. 246 http://hdl.handle.net/2123/2474; “Female Orphan House,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 19 January 1826, p. 2.

[45] Beryl M. Bubacz, [PhD Diss.], “The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales, 1801–1850,” (Sydney: University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work, 2007), p. 246 http://hdl.handle.net/2123/2474.

[46] Beryl M. Bubacz, [PhD Diss.], “The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales, 1801–1850,” (Sydney: University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work, 2007), p. 248 http://hdl.handle.net/2123/2474.

[47] Beryl M. Bubacz, [PhD Diss.], “The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales, 1801–1850,” (Sydney: University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work, 2007), p. 248 http://hdl.handle.net/2123/2474.

[48] Beryl M. Bubacz, [PhD Diss.], “The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales, 1801–1850,” (Sydney: University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work, 2007), pp. 248–9 http://hdl.handle.net/2123/2474.

[49] Beryl M. Bubacz, [PhD Diss.], “The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales, 1801–1850,” (Sydney: University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work, 2007), p. 249 http://hdl.handle.net/2123/2474.

[50] New South Wales Government, Male Orphan School Admission Books, Series: NRS 796; Item: [4/353]; Roll: 2777; Page: 1, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia); New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series: NRS 898; Reels: 6020–6040, 6070; Fiche: 3260–3312, Pages: 1–2, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[51] James Lees awarded prize as “Best Writer,” in New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series 898, Reels 6020–6040, 6070; Fiche 3260–3312; Page: 25, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia). For more on his complaint, see Beryl M. Bubacz, [PhD Diss.], “The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales, 1801–1850,” (Sydney: University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work, 2007), p. 157 http://hdl.handle.net/2123/2474.

[52] Beryl M. Bubacz, [PhD Diss.], “The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales, 1801–1850,” (Sydney: University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work, 2007), pp. 157, 202 http://hdl.handle.net/2123/2474; New South Wales Government, Main Series of Letters Received, 1788–1825, Series: 897; Reels 6041–6064, 6071–6072; Page: 60, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[53] New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series: NRS 898; Reels: 6020–6040, 6070; Fiche: 3260–3312, Pages: 1–2, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[54] Caitlin Adams, “Lives Left Behind: The Forsaken Families of First Fleeters,” St. John’s Online, (2019), https://stjohnsonline.org/bio/james-ogden, accessed 9 April 2021.

[55] “ELIZABETH LEE [sic]: Application for Removal, 8 June 1826, S. O. Hassall,” New South Wales Government, Applications for Children out of the Orphan Schools, Series: NRS 783; Item: 4/333; Roll: 2776; Page: 53, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia) and https://records-primo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/f/1e5kcq1/INDEX1923418, accessed 9 April 2021.

[56]DIED,” The Sydney Monitor (NSW : 1828 – 1838), Wednesday 4 August 1830, p. 3.

[57] Later known as “Aldine House.”

[58] See Michaela Ann Cameron, “Part I: Georgian Parsonage” in “Lost Landmark: St. John’s Parsonage, Parramatta,” St. John’s Online, (2020), https://stjohnsonline.org/about/the-parsonage/lost-landmark/part-i-georgian-parsonage/, accessed 9 April 2021. For more discussion of the Hassall family see Elizabeth de Réland, “Elizabeth Lawry: Little Babe,” St. John’s Online (2020), https://stjohnsonline.org/bio/elizabeth-lawry/, accessed 9 April 2021.

[59]DIED,” The Sydney Monitor (NSW : 1828 – 1838), Wednesday 4 August 1830, p. 3.

[60] Beryl M. Bubacz, [PhD Diss.], “The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales, 1801–1850,” (Sydney: University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work, 2007), pp. 207–8 http://hdl.handle.net/2123/2474.

[61] See Michaela Ann Cameron, “Benjamin Ratty: Convict Constable,” St. John’s Online, (2019), https://stjohnsonline.org/bio/benjamin-ratty, accessed 9 April 2021. See f.n. 96 of “Benjamin Ratty: Convict Constable” for the full references pertaining to the Cadman case.

[62] This point was made previously in my piece Michaela Ann Cameron, “Benjamin Ratty: Convict Constable,” St. John’s Online, (2019), https://stjohnsonline.org/bio/benjamin-ratty, accessed 9 April 2021. See f.n. 96 of “Benjamin Ratty: Convict Constable” for the full references pertaining to the Cadman case.

[63]Wednesday morning, the 15th instant, a most distressing accident…,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 23 October 1823, p. 2.

[64]Wednesday morning, the 15th instant, a most distressing accident…,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 23 October 1823, p. 2.

[65]Wednesday morning, the 15th instant, a most distressing accident…,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 23 October 1823, p. 2.

[66]Wednesday morning, the 15th instant, a most distressing accident…,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 23 October 1823, p. 2.

[67]Wednesday morning, the 15th instant, a most distressing accident…,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 23 October 1823, p. 2.

[68]On Friday night last,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 6 February 1823, p. 2.

[69] Michaela Ann Cameron, “Part I: Georgian Parsonage” in “Lost Landmark: St. John’s Parsonage, Parramatta,” St. John’s Online, (2020), https://stjohnsonline.org/about/the-parsonage/lost-landmark/part-i-georgian-parsonage/, accessed 9 April 2021.

[70] “MARY INNES, Aged 15, B[orn in the] C[olony], Employed by Mrs. Hassall, Parramatta, 1825,” Home Office: Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania, Class: HO10; Piece: 19, (The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England).

[71] For evidence of Mary attending church services, see “MARY CHENHALLS Coroners’ Inquest, 21 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: NRS 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia). For evidence of Mary Innes and husband Samuel Barber’s time as school teachers at Mogoaillee (Castle Hill), Bidjigal Country, see New South Wales Government, Returns of the Colony (‘BlueBooks’), 1822–1857, Series: 1286; Publication Year: 1830, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[72]The family of the Reverend Mr. Carvosso…,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 9 September 1824, p. 2.

[73]The family of the Reverend Mr. Carvosso…,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 9 September 1824, p. 2.

[74]The family of the Reverend Mr. Carvosso…,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 9 September 1824, p. 2.

[75]The Reverend Mr. and Mrs. Walker…,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Wednesday 5 April 1826, p. 2.

[76] “Baptism of CHARLOTTE KEANE, Born: 22 June 1826; Baptised: 27 July 1826; Abode: Female Orphan School; [Father’s] Quality or Profession: Chaplain,” Parish Baptism Registers, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia.

[77] “Elizabeth Lee, aka Betsy Lee; Application for Removal; Date of Application: 3 July 1826; Petitioner Name: S. O. Hassall,” New South Wales Government, Applications for Children out of the Orphan Schools, Series: NRS 783; Item: [4/333]; Roll: 2776; Page: 57, (State Archives Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[78] “Elizabeth Lee, aka Betsy Lee; Application for Removal; Date of Application: 3 July 1826; Petitioner Name: S. O. Hassall,” New South Wales Government, Applications for Children out of the Orphan Schools, Series: NRS 783; Item: [4/333]; Roll: 2776; Page: 58, (State Archives Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[79] Elizabeth Coleson was the first death recorded in the St. John’s burial register that can be traced back to the Orphan Institution’s Parramatta location; however, Coleson had recently left the institution and been assigned at the time of her death, making Betsy Lees the first pupil to die while still enrolled at the institution. “The funeral obsequies…,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848), Saturday 15 July 1826, p. 3.

[80] “ELIZABETH LEES, Age: 17 years; Gender: Female; Current Status: Free; Died: July 1826: Death Place: Sydney General Hospital,” Deaths in Sydney Hospital 1811–1812, 1818 & 1826 extracted by Carol Baxter from New South Wales Government, Sydney Hospital Deaths (Weekly Reports), 1 Jan–14 Oct 1826, Series: NRS 905; Reel: 6024; Item: 2/8295, pp. 1–17, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia) via Biographical Database of Australia (Biog Item No. 11380760).

[81] Annette Burns and Lynda Reid, The Barbers: A Parramatta Family, (Victoria: Aristoc Press, 1996), p. 89.

[82] Jane Austen Centre, “Regency Mourning: An In-Depth Look,” Jane Austen Centre, (10 July 2012), https://janeausten.co.uk/blogs/womens-regency-fashion-articles/regency-mourning-an-in-depth-look, accessed 9 April 2021.

[83] Jane Austen Centre, “Regency Mourning: An In-Depth Look,” Jane Austen Centre, (10 July 2012), https://janeausten.co.uk/blogs/womens-regency-fashion-articles/regency-mourning-an-in-depth-look, accessed 9 April 2021.

[84] “Burial of CHARLOTTE ESPY KEANE, Parramatta, 30 July 1826, Age: One month, daughter of the Chaplain,” Parish Burial Registers, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia. There is no headstone in St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta, for Charlotte, despite being the Chaplain’s daughter.

[85] “THOMAS LEES, When Admitted: 16 August 1824; Time of Quitting the School: 27 October 1826,” New South Wales Government, Male Orphan School Admission Books, Series: NRS 796; Item: [4/352]; Roll: 2777; Page: 9, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia); “THOMAS LEES, Apprenticed as seam to R. Jones and Walker,” Child Care and Protection Index 1817–1942: Indentures of Apprenticeship, Series: NRS 798; Item: [4/390]; Reel: 1484; Page: 49, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia). https://records-primo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/f/1e5kcq1/INDEX1923470; “MARY LEES and JAMES LEES, 8 July 1828,” New South Wales Government, Registers of Convicts’ Applications to Marry, Series: NRS 12212; Item: 4/4511; State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[86] For the information about what became of James Lees, see “Supreme Criminal Court,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Wednesday 26 November 1828, p. 2; “Accidents, Offences &c.,” The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 – 1842), Thursday 17 November 1836, p. 2; “Burial of ELIZABETH LEES, 12 July 1826; Free; Orphan School,” Parish Burial Registers, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia. 

© Copyright 2021 Michaela Ann Cameron