A Murder is Announced

By Danielle Thyer

Supported by a Create NSW Arts and Cultural Grant – Old ParramattansMurder Tales

WARNING: This essay discusses domestic violence, which may be distressing to some readers. Reader discretion is advised.

A Mysterious Death: July 1865

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. “Seven Hills” is in the top left corner of this map. Originally, the area known as “Seven Hills” was actually part of Toongabbie, Toogagal Country. The name “Seven Hills” began to be used around 1800 in relation to the Pearce grant, because it was situated near the seventh hill along the road from Parramatta. Parish of St. John, County of Cumberland, printed & published by W. Meadows Brownrigg, Surveyor, (Sydney: William Meadows Brownrigg, 18??), MAP F 360, National Library of Australia via Trove.

Early on the morning of 13 July 1865 in the district of Seven Hills, Toogagal Country, John Brien visited his elderly mother, Mary Anne Smith, who lived nearby.[1] On arriving at the small home she shared with her husband of twenty years, William Henry Smith, Brien saw charred rags and a petticoat strewn across the front lawn. Confused and alarmed, he walked into the home and called out to his mother, only to find more burnt clothing. She did not answer, and his dread rose with each step. He continued walking through the home to the back bedroom, where he soon found the badly burnt body of his mother, who lay rolled up in a blanket. Her back and sides were black and red raw, and the stench of burnt flesh lingered in the air. Despite the horrific injuries, seventy-four-year-old Mary Anne was still alive. She would not die until the early hours of the following morning. But how did Mary Anne’s fatal burns occur?

The previous night, William Smith arrived home with Alice White, the wife of a local brickmaker, after an afternoon of drinking and frivolity in Parramatta, Burramattagal Country. The pair continued to drink in the parlour, and being a cold winter’s night, they warmed themselves in front of the open fire. Did Mary Anne join the pair, or did she observe them both with disgust, her husband appearing to violate their marriage vows by bringing another woman into their home? As the hours wore on and the pair became increasingly intoxicated, Alice fell asleep on the sofa in front of the fireplace. William took himself to bed. Both did not rouse until the following morning.

Mary Anne’s scorched clothing lying throughout the house and lawn indicates she struggled in vain to survive. Given her extensive injuries, she would have screamed or cried loudly, pleading for help, and yet Alice and William claimed they had no knowledge of when or how Mary Anne sustained her fatal injuries. Indeed, Alice slept not one yard away from the fireplace in which Mary Anne sustained her injuries. Described as ‘feeble,’ did Mary Anne fall into the fireplace in a tragic accident, or was she intentionally pushed—by her husband or his potential lover? In any case, this was not the first fire that had a catastrophic effect on Mary Anne’s life, but it was certainly the last.

Crime, Conviction, and an Ominous Prediction

Born around 1788 or 1789 in Nymet Tracey, a small town in Devon, north of Dartmoor in South West England, Mary Anne (referred to at the time as ‘Ann Wilcox/Wilcocks’) is mostly absent from historical records until March 1806, when at the age of sixteen she sought employment as a servant for William Hull, a local nurseryman, in the village of Tamerton Foliot, north of Plymouth.[2] She stood at five feet tall with blue eyes and brown hair, and had a ‘sallow & pock pitted’ appearance, most likely from being infected with smallpox during her early years.[3] Her time in Hull’s employ was short-lived, however, when two months after starting she was suspected of stealing fifteen pounds in notes from a small box her employer kept in his room. To compound her crime, Mary Anne fled to her mother and stepfather’s home. Given the sum involved, Hull, along with one of his labourers, went to the Wilcox home in Plymouth where they found the young servant hiding. The two men took her to the prison where she was subjected to a physical search. In one of her shoes they found a ten-pound bank note, which confirmed their suspicions.[4]

Mary Anne was brought before John Hawker Esq., the mayor and a Justice of the Peace at the Plymouth Guildhall.[5] Several witnesses testified in the case, including William Hull’s eleven-year-old daughter, Susannah, who told the court that a few weeks earlier, Mary Anne had visited her mother where a fortune teller, Mary Brock, had predicted the servant’s future. Brock allegedly told Mary Anne that to prevent a tragic house fire, she had to take two shillings, a crown, and a twenty-shilling note from where her master kept his money in his room and give it to the old woman. Due to where the money was located—an area she had no legitimate reason to access—Mary Anne co-opted Susannah into the plan, asking her to steal from her father and give her the money afterwards. The young girl obliged and stole a one-pound note from her father’s pocketbook. During her testimony, Susannah noted that Mary Anne repeatedly forbade her to relay any of their conversations to her father. If she did, Mary Anne warned, ‘the house would be burnt down and every person in it’, and Susannah would be sent to Bridewell. Given the appalling conditions in this prison, the details of which were widely known, this was a cruel threat to ensure young Susannah did not speak.

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. In court, Mary Anne claimed a fortune teller named “Mary Brock” had predicted a tragic house fire in her future. The old woman urged Mary Anne to steal money from her employer and to give it to her, to prevent the fire from occurring. “Die Zigeunerin wahrsagt den Töchtern [The gypsy fortunes her daughters],” proof illustration to Der Landprediger von Wakefield, translation of Oliver Goldsmith’s The Vicar of Wakefield by Ernst Susemihl (Leipzig: 1841, Plate 20, p.68); after Ludwig Richter, (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0), © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Shortly after Susannah stole this money Mary Anne gave her seven shillings and asked her to go into town to buy three handkerchiefs and, later, to use the change from this purchase to buy a neckerchief and two pairs of black stockings. These items could speak to a young woman, having grown up poor and penniless, who coveted the beautiful objects she saw within her master’s home, but which would remain forever out of her reach through legitimate means. Mary Anne was born the ‘base child’ of Ann Parker, a ‘pauper’, in Nymet Tracey.[6] Given her illegitimacy, her father’s details were notably absent. She was baptised ‘Ann Parker’ on 10 April 1791 at St. Bartholomew’s Church in the same town.[7] A year later, in July 1792, her mother married widower Edward Wilcox (also cited as Wilcocks), and the couple went on to have four more children.[8] Wilcox’s occupation is unclear, as is how the family earned money, but we can surmise from Ann Parker’s prior listing as a pauper that both she and Edward were of the working class, perhaps as labourers in the woollen industry or as farmers.[9]

On the one hand, if there was a fortune teller, perhaps Mary Anne naïvely believed her predictions and leveraged the limited means available to her—a poor, young servant—to prevent such an outcome. On the other hand, given the tactics used to ensure Susannah’s compliance, what is more likely, however, is that Mary Anne fabricated such a tale to lessen her culpability in what was a sophisticated scheme to steal money. Despite travelling across the world, leaving her life of crime behind, the very prediction the fortune teller allegedly made to Mary Anne came to pass over fifty years later, when she herself perished as a result of a fire.

On hearing the rest of the testimonies, Justice Hawker determined that there was enough evidence to merit a full trial at the Exeter Assizes held at Exeter Castle and issued a warrant for Mary Anne’s incarceration until it could take place. She was sentenced to death by execution when tried at the summer sessions of the Exeter Assizes that same year. As was often the case, however, this was commuted to seven years transportation to New South Wales.[10]

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. The Castle of Exeter, also known as “Rougemont Castle,” was where Mary Anne’s trial was held in the summer of 1806. The castle was built into Roman city walls on the highest part of the city of Exeter around 1068 CE, and came to be known as “Rougemont Castle” as a result of the red volcanic rock used to construct its original buildings and upon which it stood. Its early Norman gate house, pictured here, is one of the remaining features of the original castle. Rougemond Castle, at Exeter, by unidentified artist (early 19th century), (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0), © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Lord George John Spencer, then Secretary of State for the Home Office, signed an order of removal on 3 November 1806 for Mary Anne (listed as ‘Ann Parker alias Ann Willcocks’) and Maria Smith, a fellow inmate. The document stated that the two women were to be removed from the gaol at Exeter, where they had been detained since their trials, to the ship Sydney Cove, which was docked at Portsmouth. In addition, the women were ordered to ‘be cleanly and properly cloathed [sic], as also provided with the additional Articles of Wearing Apparel under-mentioned….’[11] These items included: one jacket or gown, a petticoat, two spare shifts, two spare handkerchiefs, two spare pair of stockings, and one pair of shoes.[12] In being convicted of a crime, she was provided garments similar to the ones she was accused of illegally acquiring. Mary Anne and her travelling companion, Maria Smith, were also certified as being ‘free from any infectious Distemper’ and in a ‘good state of Health’ before they boarded the vessel.[13] Built in Rotterdam, the Netherlands in 1803, the Sydney Cove set sail from Falmouth on the Cornwall coast on 7 January 1807 carrying 114 convicts. Captained by William Edwards, the ship arrived in Warrane (Sydney Cove), Cadigal Country, 158 days later, on 18 June 1807. Three convicts had perished on the journey.[14]

The Colony of New South Wales

In October 1809, just over two years after her arrival in the colony, Mary Anne gave birth to her first child, a girl called Catherine.[15] The father of the child was a former Third Fleet convict named Daniel Brien, who was twenty years her senior and worked as a farmer in Toongabbie, Toogagal Country, not far from Parramatta. But how did Mary Anne go from arriving in the colony as a convict to becoming a mother living on a farm in two short years?

There are few details about Mary Anne directly after her arrival in the colony, but one possibility is that she made her way to the ‘factory above the gaol’ in Parramatta, where female convicts unassigned to local masters as servants were sent to produce textiles for use within the colony, among other tasks. Historian Carol Liston confirms that ‘Females on arrival [to the Factory] were put into the manufactory under the direction of the resident magistrate [the Reverend Samuel Marsden], from where the well-behaved women were selected by settlers and others to become their housekeepers or servants.’[16] Continuing, Liston asserts that women who were deemed ‘incorrigible were confined in the Factory, or sent to the coal works at Newcastle.’[17] At this point, the factory was under the superintendence of Scottish Master Weaver George Mealmaker (a political prisoner), but was partly destroyed by fire in December 1807.[18] It is possible that Mary Anne was assigned to Daniel Brien as a servant, or that he had gone to the Female Factory in search of a wife. Given the gender disparity between men and women in the early years of the colony, the Female Factory also served as a quasi-marriage brokerage agency, allowing men to select wives.[19] Yet given the couple did not marry until 1821, it seems unlikely that this was Brien’s express purpose in visiting the Female Factory.

Daniel Brien

Daniel Brien (alias Brian, Bryan) was born in England around 1769.[20] In February 1787, eighteen-year-old Brien was indicted and convicted for felonious theft from the property of Susannah Walker, who operated a boarding school for ladies in Clapton, east London. The items were intended for a local washerwoman and included: a breakfast cloth, fourteen shifts, two petticoats, gowns and other frocks, and stockings, all valued at 57 shillings.[21]

Entrance to London at Shoreditch Church,” drawn by Jacob Schnebbelie & Engraved by F. Hay, for Dr Hughson’s Descriptions of London (London: J. Stratford, 112 Holborn Hill, 31 May 31 1810), (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0), © The Trustees of the British Museum. Click here to view the church from the same angle in a present-day Google Map.

William Styles, a brickmaker who witnessed the crime, observed two men enter the brickfield where he worked on the afternoon of 7 February 1787. One of the men was carrying a bundle of clothing, which he found suspicious. Styles ran after the pair, grabbing one by the collar while the other fled. At that moment, a third young man came along—Daniel Brien.[22] Brien later argued that he had offered to pass the clothing along to a local washerwoman on behalf of the second man’s mother, and his actions, according to him, were not evidence of his guilt. Nevertheless, a man named Armstrong, who worked with the judge presiding over the case, testified that he had seen ‘the prisoner and others near Shoreditch church this same day the robbery was committed in company.’[23] For the jury, this testimony undermined Daniel Brien’s protestations of innocence by suggesting premeditated collusion between the defendants and they found him guilty. He was sentenced to death, but this was commuted to seven years transportation to the Colony of New South Wales on 9 September 1789.[24]

“I saw the prisoner [Daniel Brien] and others near Shoreditch church this same day the robbery was committed in company; and there was another that I knew well; they were going towards Hackney-road,” stated one witness under oath on 21 February 1787. The Shoreditch Church and the “Road to Hackney” are visible in this earlier map of London. Detail from John Rocque and John Pine, A Plan of the Cities of London and Westminster, and borough of Southwark, (1746). View the interactive 1746 map and modern Google Map of the same area via Locating London’s Past (www.locatinglondon.org, version 1.0), accessed 27 October 2020. Courtesy of MOLA/MOTCO.

Two months later, on 19 December 1789, Daniel was moved from Newgate Prison in London near the Old Bailey and transported to the hulk Dunkirk at Plymouth, one of the many vessels used for the purpose of housing prisoners.[25] He remained on the floating prison until he was removed to the ship Salamander, which departed for Cadi (Sydney) on 27 March 1791. Carrying 106 male convicts as part of the Third Fleet, the ship arrived on 21 August 1791.

As with Mary Anne, there is little information outlining what Daniel Brien did in the years after stepping foot in the colony. Despite his earlier life being marred with a criminal conviction, with Mary Anne by his side, he would become a successful landowner in Seven Hills in Toogagal Country near Parramatta. His career began in 1807 when he established his first farm after he purchased 10 acres of land from Hugh Doherty for £35.[26] This land was originally part of a larger crown grant allocated to Samuel Harding and later records suggest that the farm may have initially produced maize and wheat.[27] John Macarthur, who helped develop the Australian wool industry, was a neighbour and owned a sheep farm in the region, after purchasing the land—along with 1,000 sheep—in 1801 from Joseph Foveaux. During Macarthur’s many absences when he returned to England, the farm was overseen by his wife, Elizabeth—another woman whose life and work deserves more attention than has been given.[28]

Life in Seven Hills, Toogagal Country

As with many who moved to the areas around Parramatta at this time, Mary Anne, Daniel and their children lived in humble conditions and struggled to eke out a living on the unforgiving land. In 1810 Governor Macquarie toured through districts within the New South Wales colony, and while he praised the ‘progress’ made on the land, he noted that he:

[could not] forebear expressing his regret, that the settlers in general have not paid that attention to domestic comfort which they ought to do, by erecting commodious residences for themselves, and suitable housing for the reception of their grain and cattle; nor can he refrain from observing on the miserable clothing of many of the people, whose means of providing decent apparel, at least, are sufficiently obvious to leave them without any excuse for neglect.[29]

Major General Lachlan Macquarie, Fifth Governor of New South Wales, St. John's Cemetery Project, Old Parramattans, St. John's Cemetery, Parramatta
Portrait of Lachlan Macquarie, c.1819. “Gen. Macquarie,” in Set of Eight Miniatures of Governor Macquarie and his Family. c.1800–1820s, P*92 / FL1091946, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.

Further, Macquarie ‘recommended’ that the farming families he encountered on his journey should ‘pay more attention to those very important objects; and, by a strict regard to economy and temperance, that they will, on his next annual tour, enable him to give a more unqualified approbation to their exertions.’[30] This critique signals the unfavourable conditions early farmers faced on the land, but also the pressures placed on them from elected colonial officials.

With Daniel labouring as a landowner, Mary Anne oversaw the domestic sphere by caring for her expanding family. Following the birth of Catherine in 1809, Daniel and Mary Anne had another daughter, Jane, in 1811 followed by their son, Timothy, in 1813. A third daughter, Mary Ann, named after her mother, followed two years later, and their second son, Daniel, named after his father, arrived in mid-1817. Elizabeth Brien was born in September 1819, followed by Clara in 1821. John Robert was born two years after Clara. Sarah Jane was born in 1825. Four years later Mary Anne gave birth to James. The couple’s last child, Eleanor Grace, was born in March 1832. In December of that same year, their firstborn daughter Catherine, who was then 23 years old, died suddenly leaving behind her husband James Foulcher, a publican in Parramatta, and three small children.[31] Though no cause of death is listed, perhaps she, like countless women in this period, died during childbirth. Catherine was buried at St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta, Burramattagal Country.[32] Losing their firstborn child would undoubtedly have devastated Mary Anne and Daniel leaving a chasm in their close family.

With a large family to support, Daniel Brien sought more land on which to cultivate crops. In 1811, he applied for a Crown Land Grant of fifty acres, but Governor Macquarie denied this request for unspecified reasons.[33] When Brien reapplied in September 1818, he was granted 80 acres, with his ‘large family’ cited as one of the reasons for his successful application.[34] The extra land enabled Brien to expand crop production, but also to expand into breeding livestock. The Government offered farmers the ability to apply for issues of horned cattle from the government herds, which was granted to those ‘deemed meriting of such Indulgence,’ according to Secretary John T. Campbell. [35] In June 1816, Brien was granted several horned cattle. Notices from the Deputy Commissary General’s office confirm that Daniel Brien submitted 4,000 quantities of fresh meat for the Government stores in September 1818, and followed up with a further 2,000 quantities of meat in December 1819.[36] While this was part of the terms of the cattle grant scheme, it also suggests Brien’s farming was yielding results. Yet, with such a large family, Daniel’s success was only through the support of Mary Anne who, like so many women absent in historical records, provided the backbone to domestic family life.

On 29 January 1821, Daniel Brien and Mary Anne formalised their partnership and were married at St. John’s Church, Parramatta by the Reverend Samuel Marsden. Daniel signed his name with small letters and a careful hand, while Mary Anne, being unable to read or write, marked her name with an ‘X.’[37] What prompted them to take this step we can only speculate.

Reverend Samuel Marsden, Missionary, St. John's Cemetery Project, Old Parramattans, St. John's Cemetery, Parramatta, Principal Chaplain Colony of New South Wales
Portrait of Reverend Samuel Marsden, 1833. Watercolour, possibly by Richard Read Junior. ML 29 / FL1119855. Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.

Census and population musters help to paint a picture of the newlyweds’ domestic situation. In April of 1821, Governor Macquarie granted Daniel Brien a further 110 acres in land.[38] A census conducted the following year indicates Brien had 210 acres in land, 40 of which were cleared. On this, 20 acres of land were equally apportioned to cultivating wheat and maize, while two were dedicated to barley crops. On the Briens’ property was one horse, 60 head of cattle, and 40 hogs, and they had 30 bushels each of wheat and maize on hand.[39] In 1824, Brien, along with his two neighbours, Samuel Beckett and William Hathaway, requested to occupy neighbouring land for their cattle, under the care of John Hillas Jr. Whether this request was approved or not is unknown, but it does suggest the degree to which the Briens’ farm had expanded and diversified, and the cooperative nature of farming in these early years.[40] That same year, Brien requested an additional land grant, which was supported by Samuel Marsden, who stated that ‘[Brien] has always been an industrious man, has a wife and eight children, and lives upon his farm, and will make good use of any land that may be granted to him.’[41] Likewise, it is unclear whether this request was approved. What is known, though, is that at the time of his death Daniel Brien owned five farms around Seven Hills, Toogagal Country.[42] The 1828 Census reveals eight of the Briens’ eleven children still resided at home (the elder ones had married), and that two labourers and two servants also lived and worked on the Briens’ property, one of whom was still a convict under sentence.[43]

In addition to working on his farms, Mary Anne’s husband also served his local community. As early as 13 January 1810, Daniel Brien had been sworn in as a constable for the district of Parramatta.[44] For a man who had been on the wrong side of the law in his youth, the appointment was a significant responsibility and signalled his and his family’s standing within the community. There would be further indications of Brien’s personal growth. In 1823, Brien, along with other landholders, signed a declaration confirming the moral character and conduct of the local teacher, Christopher Limebear Bridges, who absconded.[45] Later, Brien and the other landholders signed a second letter petitioning for lenient sentencing in the case against Bridges, as he was a dedicated teacher to their children. That Brien was involved in penning such a petition suggests something of his regard for education and giving second chances to those, like him, who had strayed in the past.[46] Perhaps Mary Anne Brien, being unable to read and write herself, also pushed for her husband to support their children in receiving the education she was unable to have.

Daniel Brien died on 22 August 1837 at the age of 68 or 69 and was buried in the parish of St. John’s, Parramatta, Burramattagal Country. During their relationship, Daniel and Mary Anne had 11 children and turned 10 acres of land into several successful farms throughout Seven Hills, Toogagal Country. While Mary Anne is never mentioned in archival records during this period of her life, the later reflections of her children on their much-loved mother suggest something of the kind and nurturing presence that Mary Anne must have exuded, making the house and surrounding land a home. Like countless men throughout history, Daniel Brien could only have achieved his level of success through Mary Anne’s quiet but vital presence in the background.

Mary Anne, the Widow

For Mary Anne, Daniel’s death would have been devastating. Not only had she lost her beloved husband, but she was now left with farms to manage while also caring for many young children, the youngest of whom was only four years old. The precarious nature of women’s lives in this period, particularly for widows, alongside the limited occupations already available to them meant that marriage (or remarriage) was often the only means of financial protection, however restricted this was in reality. Men had the ability to work and this was imperative on a farm such as the one Mary Anne inherited on her late husband’s death.[47]

Two years following Daniel’s death, Mary Anne, then aged 47, married fellow Seven Hills resident 46-year-old William Henry Smith, on 8 October 1839 at St. John’s, Parramatta. William signed the entry with a signature, but Mary Anne again scrawled an ‘X.’[48] Perhaps William and Mary Anne formed a close friendship after Daniel’s death and decided to marry, but marriage was as much about security as companionship in this period and this alliance was mutually beneficial to both: William was upgraded from a simple tenant farmer to a landowner, and Mary Anne had a means of providing for her children. The great irony is that the man she chose to love, protect, comfort, honour, and keep in sickness and in health, was also the same person accused of ending her life.[49]

But who was William Henry Smith and how did he end up in Seven Hills, Toogagal Country?

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. St. John’s Church, Parramatta [after 1817], SV1B/Parr/2 / FL3258769, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.

William Henry Smith

William Henry Smith was born in England around 1792. Like Mary Anne and Daniel Brien, he was also a former convict ‘free by servitude,’ but the crime that landed him in the colony was more violent than any the other two had been charged with.

In 1813, Smith was arrested and indicted for highway robbery and tried at the Old Bailey. According to records, on 3 April 1813, William Smith, along with three other men, were on ‘the King’s highway,’ Oxford Road in London, where they attacked a cabinetmaker and stole his watch, watch chain, and key, all valued at 42 shillings. The men then ran away. The victim testified that while it was Smith’s accomplices who stole the items, the accused was not innocent in the matter. Not only had Smith observed the violent assault, he also received the stolen property. As Smith fled the scene, witnesses saw him grab one of the items from his pocket—a watch—and throw it to the ground. He was detained and taken into custody by a watchman. Despite four witnesses testifying to Smith’s good character, he was found guilty of theft, but not with violence, and was sentenced to transportation for life.[50]

“On this night I was coming down Oxford-road; I heard the cry of stop thief. I perceived two people running very hard towards me. I stepped of oneside, and let the headmost one pass me. That was the prisoner. I turned, and ran after him…and seeing the prisoner was going to run up Hanway-yard, I seized him,” stated a witness at the Old Bailey on 7 April 1813. “Oxford Road” aka “Oxford Street” is visible above, as is “Hanway Yard,” aka “Hanway Street,” [top left corner, off Oxford Road]. Detail from John Rocque and John Pine, A Plan of the Cities of London and Westminster, and borough of Southwark, (1746). View the interactive 1746 map and modern Google Map via Locating London’s Past (www.locatinglondon.org, version 1.0), accessed 27 October 2020. Courtesy of MOLA/MOTCO.

William Smith was transported per General Hewett, which left England on 26 August 1813 and arrived in the Colony of New South Wales on 7 February 1814 carrying 300 convicts. He was 5 feet 6 inches tall with brown hair and brown eyes, and had disfigurations of his fingers. Listed as a goldsmith by trade, did his injuries, which undoubtedly impacted his ability to work, push him to partake in a violent crime?[51] After arrival he was assigned to John Liquorish, a settler at Seven Hills, Toogagal Country, who he remained with for several years.[52] According to the 1828 Census records in the district of Seven Hills, 36-year-old William Smith was listed as a farmer living with Mary Copbuck, his housekeeper and 12-year-old Robert Barns, his servant.[53] But around four years earlier, William Smith had been a tenant of Daniel Brien, which is most likely how Mary Anne and William met.[54]

Mary Anne’s Death: A Murder is Announced

Mary Anne and William were married for twenty years, but this quiet existence was thrown into turmoil in the winter of 1865 when Mary Anne died in unusual circumstances. The horrifying fire ‘predicted’ in the tale Mary Anne had spun when she was a young servant had come to fruition fifty years later.

On seeing the state of his elderly mother early the morning of 13 July 1865, John Brien immediately sent his son for help, while his stepfather, William, looked on. When asked how she had sustained her injuries, Mary Anne weakly told witnesses that she had stood too close to the fireplace and her clothing had caught alight. On further interrogation, she offered another far more alarming explanation for her injuries: her husband had ‘shoved [her] right into the fire’ after an evening of ‘indulging in liquor.’[55] She could not say whether this was intentional or not, but the outcome was still the same. When faced with the death penalty at her trial for theft, Mary Anne had sought the solace of fiction and fabrication to justify her actions, presumably in the hopes of mitigating her culpability and reducing her sentence. Faced with a similarly bleak prospect, did Mary Anne, seething with anger at her husband cavorting with another woman, attempt to punish him by turning an accident into a case of murder? Or was she telling the truth and Smith, for the second time in his life, had turned to violence?

Later that same day, Robert Champley Rutter, a Parramatta physician, arrived at the Smith’s home and found Mary Anne ‘labouring under most extensive and severe wounds of the back and sides.’[56] Nothing could be done to save her and despite the doctor’s best efforts, Smith succumbed to her injuries in the early hours of Friday 14 July.

15 Brett Street, Kings Langley is, according to family historian William J. Cuthill, the site of the Smiths’ residence and, thus, the location of Mary Anne’s fiery demise. Click here for the “street view” via Google Maps.

That evening, a magisterial inquiry was held before Christopher McCrae, Justice of the Peace, along with a jury of local men, to investigate the cause of Mary Anne’s death. Her husband was accused of intentionally causing his wife’s injuries that led to her death. Witnesses gave testimony about the events leading up to the victim sustaining her injuries, which included Alice White, the third person in the house at the time Mary Anne fell into the fire. Alice deposed that after drinking with the accused in the parlour and falling asleep on the sofa, she did not leave the Smith home until the following morning. At that point, she claimed, she noticed a slipper and burnt clothing lying outside, but did not stop to investigate the charred garments and made her way home. At the inquiry, Alice insisted she had no knowledge of what happened to Mary Anne Smith. Her recollections of the night were hazy. What was intriguing, however, was that several months later, the jacket Alice wore on the evening in question was produced, and on the front was a very distinct burn mark that had not been there previously.[57] Despite evidence calling her testimony into question, White was never formally indicted in the incident. Had an argument erupted between the two women and it was Alice and not William who pushed Mary Anne into the fire?

William Smith also denied any knowledge of how his wife sustained her injuries. In his deposal, he stated that after drinking with Alice White, he went to his bedroom and left her talking with his wife in the parlour.[58] He did not rouse until the next morning when John Brien, his stepson, came to the door finding his mother badly burned.[59]

The jury appeared to agree with Alice’s denials and with William’s evidence. They arrived at the verdict which seemed to exculpate every person except, perhaps, Mary Anne: ‘accidental death from burning.’[60] Her body was laid to rest in St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta, Burramattagal Country, where she remains to this day.[61]

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. The grave of Mary Anne Smith aka Ann/e Parker, in Section 1, Row D, No. 3, St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta. Photo: William J. Cuthill, The Briens of Seven Hills: The Story of Ann Parker, 1789–1865, [CD ROM], (Camberwell, Vic.: William J. Cuthill, 2002).

Yet this was not the end of the case surrounding the death of Mary Anne Smith. Four months later, and after further probing by her devastated family, William Smith was arrested and charged with his wife’s murder and was ordered to stand trial at the Criminal Court at Darlinghurst in Cadi (Sydney), Cadigal Country. He was denied bail. Again we come back to the question of whether William Smith intentionally pushed his wife into the fire, or was it an accident?

William Henry Smith and the Central Criminal Court

On Tuesday 12 December 1865, William Henry Smith was brought before Justice Alfred Cheeke at the Central Criminal Court where, for a second time, he was called to answer questions about his conduct in relation to his wife’s death. Witnesses gave evidence about Smith’s character. Some suggested the couple never fought, while others claimed Mary Anne was feeble and habitually intoxicated. Elizabeth James, one of Mary Anne’s daughters, claimed that her mother, in her words, had been scolding her husband for bringing Alice White home with him and that ‘he ought to be ashamed of himself.’[62] It was after this dressing-down that Smith allegedly pushed her into the fire.[63] Was his friendship with Alice, however defined, what led to the fateful evening? How did Alice sustain the burns to her clothing if she was supposedly unaware of what happened? Was she, too, culpable?

Another of Mary Anne’s children, Timothy, declared that ‘if there was not a hangman he would hang [Smith] himself.’[64] For Smith, standing in the dock and protesting his innocence to the people he called family, the tension would have been palpable. Nevertheless, the jury deliberated and found Smith not guilty of murder, ruling Mary Anne’s death an accident, and he was released. William Henry Smith would go on to live for eight more years, dying of pneumonia in 1873.[65]

Did William Smith intentionally kill his wife, or was it an accident? As with real life, the deft and neat narrative of a classic whodunnit has no place in this tale. As frustrating as it is for armchair detectives being unable to conclusively determine who is to blame for Mary Anne Smith’s death, this uncertainty should not be the end of her story. Mary Anne Smith’s death was painful and protracted, but her biography also registers other, more widespread injuries suffered by women like her. Her disempowerment in her family situation and her social standing as a former convict are reflected in the general disinterest in her life and death. What little can be gleaned about her life comes through the statements of the men she came into contact with—including the man accused of causing her demise, as he cavorted with another woman in the familial home. But by approaching the fragmentary sources of her life subversively, we might arrive at a very different story about Mary Anne Smith; one that illuminates the strength of character of a woman, a mother, and grandmother who, after being released from the imperial justice system, forged a life for herself and her family in the fertile farming district of Seven Hills in Toogagal Country, far away from the home she knew in England.

CITE THIS

Danielle Thyer, “Mary Anne Smith: A Murder is Announced,” St. John’s Online, (2020), https://stjohnsonline.org/bio/mary-anne-smith, accessed [insert current date]

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Dr. Michaela Ann Cameron for her research assistance and creative input on this piece. Thanks to Peter Selley of The Medical Gentlemen of Bow, (http://medicalgentlemen.co.uk/, 2020), for his research assistance in providing a transcript of the criminal proceedings of Ann Parker alias Wilcox, which are held at the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office, at The Box, Plymouth, England. Many thanks also to Stuart Gregory, Administrator of the Mid North Coast Pioneers: Newcastle to Lismore and Beyond (http://mncp.scss.dyndns.info/, 2020) for assisting my research by forwarding an electronic copy of William J. Cuthill, The Briens of Seven Hills: The Story of Ann Parker, 1789–1865, [CD ROM], (Camberwell, Vic.: William J. Cuthill, 2002).

References

Primary Sources and Databases

Secondary Sources

NOTES

[1] Seven Hills is approximately 26 kilometres northwest of Sydney and seven kilometres from Parramatta. Mary Anne Smith / Mary Ann Smith was also known as Ann Parker, Ann Wilcox / Ann Willcocks, Mary Anne Brien / Mary Ann Brien or Brian at different times of her life, due to marriages and non–standardised spellings of her various names. As this essay is published on St. John’s Online, the name and spelling used consistently throughout this essay is the one that was recorded on her headstone at St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta. For the sake of consistency so as to avoid confusion, the biographical subject has typically been referred to by the last recorded version and spelling variant of her first names only, ‘Mary Anne.’

[2] Her estimated year of birth is based on an 1828 New South Wales Census that lists her age as 39. New South Wales Government, 1828 Census: Householders’ Returns [Population and Statistics, Musters and Census Records, Census, Colonial Secretary], Series: 1273; Reels: 2551–2552, 2506–2507, (State Records Authority of New South Wales. Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[3] New South Wales Government, Butts of Certificates of Freedom, NRS: 1165, 1166, 1167, 12208, 12210; Reels: 601, 602, 604, 982–1027, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales).

[4] Deposition of William Hull to John Hawker, mayor of Plymouth, on 5 May 1806, Plymouth and West Devon Record Office, at The Box, Plymouth, England. This was a considerable sum in 1806, particularly for a servant. The purchasing power of £10 in 1810 is £465 in 2017 currency, the equivalent of 66 days’ wages for a skilled worker. See The National Archives, Currency Converter: 1270–2017, (The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, England), https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/currency-converter/, accessed 9 February 2020.

[5] Warrant for the removal of Ann Parker to the gaol, 12 May 1806, Plymouth and West Devon Record Office, at The Box, Plymouth, England.

[6] Her estimated year of birth is based on an 1828 New South Wales Census that lists her age as 39. New South Wales Government, 1828 Census: Householders’ Returns [Population and Statistics, Musters and Census Records, Census, Colonial Secretary], Series: 1273, Reels 2551–2552, 2506–2507, (State Records Authority of New South Wales. Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia). For her status as “base born” and her mother’s status “pauper” see “England, Devon Bishop’s Transcripts, 1558–1887,” FamilySearch, (Devon Record Office, Exeter), accessed 23 February 2020.

[7] “England, Devon Bishop’s Transcripts, 1558–1887,” FamilySearch, (Devon Record Office, Exeter), accessed 23 February 2020.

[8] “England, Marriages, 1538–1973,FamilySearch, (Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013). William J. Cuthill, The Briens of Seven Hills: The Story of Ann Parker, 1789–1865, [CD ROM], (Camberwell, Vic.: William J. Cuthill, 2002).

[9] Walter E. Minchinton, Industrial Archaeology in Devon, (Devon, UK: Dartington Amenity Research Trust, 1973), p. 18; W. B. Stephens, “Illiteracy in Devon During the Industrial Revolution, 1754–1844,” Journal of Educational Administration and History, Vol. 8, No. 1, (1976: 1.

[10] “Ann Parker, Summer 1806,” 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, Series: HO 27; Piece: 2; Page: 32, (The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England).

[11] George John Spencer, [Re: Maria Smith and Ann Parker alias Ann Willcocks] “Whitehall, 3 November 1806,” New South Wales Government, Musters and Other Papers Relating to Convict Ships, Series: CGS 1155; Reels: 2417–2428, (State Records Authority of New South Wales. Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[12] George John Spencer, [Re: Maria Smith and Ann Parker alias Ann Willcocks] “Whitehall, 3 November 1806,” New South Wales Government, Musters and Other Papers Relating to Convict Ships, Series: CGS 1155; Reels: 2417–2428, (State Records Authority of New South Wales. Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[13] George John Spencer, [Re: Maria Smith and Ann Parker alias Ann Willcocks] “Whitehall, 3 November 1806,” New South Wales Government, Musters and Other Papers Relating to Convict Ships, Series: CGS 1155; Reels: 2417–2428, (State Records Authority of New South Wales. Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[14]Sydney Cove” in Society for the Registry of Shipping, Lloyd’s Register of Shipping 1806, (London: C. and W. Galabin, 1806), supplement p. 86. Some sources note the Sydney Cove’s date of departure from Falmouth as being 11 January 1807 rather than 7 January, see: “Ship News,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Sunday 21 June 1807, p. 1.

[15] Catherine was born on 19 October 1809 and was christened by Samuel Marsden at St. John’s Church, Parramatta on 5 November 1815. “Baptis of CATHERINE BRIEN, 5 November 1815,” Parish Baptism Registers, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia.

[16] Carol Liston, “Convict Women in the Female Factories of New South Wales,” in Gay Hendriksen, Trudy Cowley, and Carol Liston (eds.), Women Transported: Life in Australia’s Convict Female Factories, (Parramatta, NSW: Parramatta City Council Heritage Centre, 2008), p. 33.

[17] Carol Liston, “Convict Women in the Female Factories of New South Wales,” in Gay Hendriksen, Trudy Cowley, and Carol Liston (eds.), Women Transported: Life in Australia’s Convict Female Factories, (Parramatta, NSW: Parramatta City Council Heritage Centre, 2008), p. 33.

[18] Carol Liston, “Convict Women in the Female Factories of New South Wales,” in Gay Hendriksen, Trudy Cowley, and Carol Liston (eds.), Women Transported: Life in Australia’s Convict Female Factories, (Parramatta, NSW: Parramatta City Council Heritage Centre, 2008), p. 33. In addition to this damage, the sheer number of women that would arrive in the colony in those early years increased the demand for such an establishment. This resulted in the erection of a larger, permanent, and purpose–built Female Factory on the Parramatta River, which opened in 1821. For further details on the history of the Female Factory at Parramatta, see Michaela Ann Cameron, “Factory Above the Gaol, c. 1802–1821,” Female Factory Online, (2016), https://femalefactoryonline.org/about/history/the-factory-above-the-gaol/, accessed 9 February 2020 and Michaela Ann Cameron, “Parramatta Female Factory, 1821–1848,” Female Factory Online, (2016), https://femalefactoryonline.org/about/history/parramatta-female-factory/, accessed 9 February 2020.

[19] Michaela Ann Cameron, “Parramatta Female Factory, 1821–1848,” Female Factory Online, (2016), https://femalefactoryonline.org/about/history/parramatta-female-factory/, accessed 9 February 2020.

[20] Some sources list Daniel Brien’s birthdate as 23 April 1769, but the author is unable to confirm this. The 1769 date does align with the 1828 census records, which lists his age as 59. See New South Wales Government, 1828 Census: Householders’ Returns [Population and Statistics, Musters and Census Records, Census, Colonial Secretary], Series: 1273, Reels 2551–2552, 2506–2507, (State Records Authority of New South Wales. Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[21] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 21 February 1787, trial of Daniel Brian (t17870221–27), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t17870221-27, accessed 23 February 2020.

[22] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 21 February 1787, trial of Daniel Brian (t17870221–27), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t17870221-27, accessed 23 February 2020.

[23] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 21 February 1787, trial of Daniel Brian (t17870221–27), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t17870221-27, accessed 23 February 2020.

[24] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 9 September 1789, supplementary material related to Daniel Brien (017890909–16), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=o17890909-16, accessed 23 February 2020.

[25] London Lives 1690 to 1800 (https://www.londonlives.org/, version 2.0), 19 December 1789, “Middlesex Sessions: General Orders of the Court,” (LL ref: LMSMGO556100111), Image 111, https://www.londonlives.org/browse.jsp?div=LMSMGO556100111, accessed 23 February 2020.

[26] William J. Cuthill, The Briens of Seven Hills: The Story of Ann Parker, 1789–1865, [CD ROM], (Camberwell, Vic.: William J. Cuthill, 2002), chapter 5.

[27] These details come from the 1822 census records, which outlines the total land owned by individuals, the crops produced, and the amount of grain stores in the property, among other details. See: New South Wales Government, Secretary to the Governor, Population Musters, New South Wales Mainland [1811–1819], Series: NRS 1260; Reel: 1252; (State Records Authority of New South Wales; Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[28] Alan Sharpe, Pictorial History: Blacktown & District, (Blacktown: Kingsclear Books, 2000), p. 117. See also Margaret Steven, “Macarthur, John (1767–1834),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/macarthur-john-2390, first published in hardcopy 1967, accessed 9 September 2020.

[29] John T. Campbell, “Government and General Orders, Government House, Sydney, Saturday, 15 December 1810,” in James O’Hara, The History of New South Wales [second edition], (London: J. Hatchard, 1818), p. 358.

[30] John T. Campbell, “Government and General Orders, Government House, Sydney, Saturday, 15 December 1810,” in James O’Hara, The History of New South Wales [second edition], (London: J. Hatchard, 1818), p. 358.

[31] James Foulcher, Catherine’s husband, operated an establishment called Native’s Companion. “Licensed Publicans in Parramatta,” The Australian, 10 March 1829, p. 3.

[32] Catherine Foulcher is buried in Section 1, Row D, No. 2, St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta. See Judith Dunn, The Parramatta Cemeteries: St. John’s, (Parramatta, NSW: Parramatta and District Historical Society, 1991), p. 44.

[33] Cited as “Daniel Bryan.” See: “Daniel Bryan, Seven Hills, New South Wales, 4 March 1811,” New South Wales Government, Land Records of the Surveyor General, Series: 13902; Roll: 1434, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[34] “Daniel Brian, Seven Hills, New South Wales, 10 September 1818,” New South Wales Government, New South Wales, Various Land Records, Series: 1220; Reel: 2654, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[35] 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).

[36] Fred Drennan (Approved [by]) Lachlan Macquarie,“Deputy Commissary General’s Office – Sydney, 31st July 1819,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Saturday 7 August 1819, p. 1; William Cordeaux, “Deputy Commissary General’s Office – Sydney, December 22nd, 1819,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Saturday25 December 1819, p. 2.

[37] The 1828 census lists both Daniel and Ann, along with all their children, as being ‘Catholic,’ even though all the children were christened at St John’s Anglican Church, alongside Ann’s own christening at an Anglican church in Nymet Tracey, Devon. For the 1828 Census see: New South Wales Government, 1828 Census: Householders’ Returns [Population and Statistics, Musters and Census Records, Census, Colonial Secretary], Series: 1273, Reels 2551–2552, 2506–2507, (State Records Authority of New South Wales. Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia). For the marriage record see: “Marriage of DANIEL BRIEN and ANN PARKER, 29 January 1821,” Parish Marriage Registers, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia.

[38] “Daniel Bryan, Prospect, 5 April 1821,” New South Wales Government, Registers of Land Grants and Leases, Series: NRS 13836; Item: 7/448; Reel: 2561, State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[39] For details on the 1822 census, see New South Wales Government, Secretary to the Governor, Population Musters, New South Wales Mainland [1811–1819], Series: NRS 1260; Reel: 1252; (State Records Authority of New South Wales; Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[40] New South Wales Government, Main Series of Letters Received, 1788–1825, Series: 897; Reels 6041–6064, 6071–6072, (State Records Authority of New South Wales. Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia. New South Wales Government).

[41] New South Wales Government, Main Series of Letters Received, 1788–1825, Series: 897; Reels 6041–6064, 6071–6072, (State Records Authority of New South Wales. Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia. New South Wales Government).

[42] William J. Cuthill, The Briens of Seven Hills: The Story of Ann Parker, 1789–1865, [CD ROM], (Camberwell, Vic.: William J. Cuthill, 2002).

[43] New South Wales Government, 1828 Census: Householders’ Returns [Population and Statistics, Musters and Census Records, Census, Colonial Secretary], Series: 1273, Reels 2551–2552, 2506–2507, (State Records Authority of New South Wales. Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[44] New South Wales Government, Main Series of Letters Received, 1788–1825, Series: 897; Reels 6041–6064, 6071–6072, (State Records Authority of New South Wales. Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia. New South Wales Government).

[45] New South Wales Government, Main Series of Letters Received, 1788–1825, Series: 897; Reels 6041–6064, 6071–6072, (State Records Authority of New South Wales. Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia. New South Wales Government).

[46] Bridges’s school was not the first in the region. Thirteen settlers applied to Governor Macquarie in 1816 to establish a school ‘on or about the Seven Hills’ and local parents paid one shilling or sixpence per week for their children to attend. See Jack Brook, “Seven Hills,” Dictionary of Sydney, (2008), https://dictionaryofsydney.org/entry/seven_hills, accessed 24 February 2020.

[47] The remainder of Daniel Brien’s farms were bequeathed to his elder sons, Timothy, Daniel, John, and James. William J. Cuthill, The Briens of Seven Hills: The Story of Ann Parker, 1789–1865, [CD ROM], (Camberwell, Vic.: William J. Cuthill, 2002), chapter 5.

[48] It should be noted that on this second marriage, Ann listed her name as Mary Ann. The first appearance of ‘Mary Ann/e’ in archival material appears in the 1828 census records. Why Ann changed her name to Mary Ann/e is unknown, but for clarity the author has used ‘Mary Anne,’ the name and spelling recorded at her burial, throughout the essay. “Burial of Mary Anne Smith,” Parish Burial Registers, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia. See 1828 census records: New South Wales Government, 1828 Census: Householders’ Returns [Population and Statistics, Musters and Census Records, Census, Colonial Secretary], Series: 1273, Reels 2551–2552, 2506–2507, (State Records Authority of New South Wales. Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[49] The marriage vows taken from the Book of Common Prayer. See “The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony,” The Church of England, https://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-and-worship/worship-texts-and-resources/book-common-prayer/form-solemnization-matrimony, accessed 28 February 2020.

[50] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 7 April 1813, trial of William Smith (t18130407–114), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t18130407-114, accessed 9 February 2020.

[51] The entry reads: “No: 375: Wm Hy Smith, Ship: General Hewitt (1814): Year of Birth: 1793; Stature: 5 feet 5 inches; Make: Medium; Complexion: Sallow; Colour of Hair: White; Eyes: Blue; General Remarks: First joint of fore finger on right hand broken, first joint of all fingers contracted; Native Place: London; Religion: Protestant; Trade: Prisoner was Goldsmith; Reads and Writes: Both.” “Wm. Hy Smith,” at Parramatta Gaol, North Parramatta, November 1865, Ancestry.com, “Entrance Book: Parramatta, 1863–1867,” New South Wales, Australia, Gaol Description and Entrance Books, 1818–1930, (Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012); Conditional Pardon for William Smith, #226, New South Wales Government, Card Index to Letters Received, Colonial Secretary, Reel Number: 775; Roll Number: 1250, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[52] William Smith, per General Hewett, is listed as an assigned servant to John Liquorish from his arrival until at least 1821. See Home Office: Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania, Series: HO 10; Pieces 1–4, 6–18, 28–30, (The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England).

[53] New South Wales Government, 1828 Census: Householders’ Returns [Population and Statistics, Musters and Census Records, Census, Colonial Secretary], Series: 1273, Reels 2551–2552, 2506–2507, (State Records Authority of New South Wales. Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[54]Wm Smith, per General Hewitt (1814), T. L. [Ticket of Leave], Life [sentence], Tenant to Danl Brian,” New South Wales Government, Magistrates Population Books, 1820–1825, Series: NRS 1264; Reel: 1253, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[55]Parramatta. Charge of Murder,” The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), Tuesday 14 November 1865, p. 2.

[56]Parramatta. Accidental Death,” Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 -1875), Thursday 20 July 1865, p. 5.

[57]Intercolonial News. New South Wales. A Woman Wilfully Burned to Death,” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), Tuesday 21 November 1865, p. 1.

[58]Parramatta. Accidental Death,” Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 -1875), Thursday 20 July 1865, p. 5.

[59]Parramatta. Charge of Murder,” The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), Tuesday 14 November 1865, p. 2.

[60]Parramatta. Death from Burning,” The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), Monday 17 July 1865, p. 8.

[61] Mary Anne Smith is buried in Section 1, Row D, No. 3, St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta. Judith Dunn, The Parramatta Cemeteries: St. John’s, (Parramatta: Parramatta and District Historical Society, 1991), p. 45.

[62] “Central Criminal Court. Manslaughter,” The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), Wednesday 13 December 1865, p. 3.

[63] “Central Criminal Court. Manslaughter,” The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), Wednesday 13 December 1865, p. 3.

[64] “Central Criminal Court. Manslaughter,” The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), Wednesday 13 December 1865, p. 3.

[65] William Henry Smith’s burial was recorded in the burial register for the parish of St. John’s, Parramatta, but there is no marked grave in St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta. Given that he died in the Government Asylum at Parramatta, it is possible he was actually buried in a pauper’s grave in one of the other Parramatta cemeteries, such as All Saints, which had a lot of unmarked burials associated with the nearby asylums.

© Copyright 2020 Danielle Thyer