Monday, January 25, 2016

Hard labour for Harriet Whybrew

This newspaper article from May 6, 1882 sheds some light on why Harriet Whybrew was sent to prison for two months while she was already serving time in the Industrial School in Magill for theft.

Although she was said to be 15 at the time, she can't have been more than 13. (She was born in September 1868). Hannah Masey and Ellen Paterson were born in 1867 and the other girls were probably about the same age. The magistrate, Mr Samuel Beddome, was the same Police Magistrate who presided over the court when Harriet's mother Susan Mason made her appearances there. He had a reputation among the 'respectable' as a fair and just judge, but those who came before him in the Police Court were seldom overwhelmed by his kindness.

[Before Mr. S. Beddome, P.M.].” 
The Express and Telegraph 4 May 1882: 2.

"Hard labour" for women in prison usually involved working in the laundry, mending clothes, sewing wheat bags and similar tasks. 

Harriet returned to the Reformatory in July. But that wasn't the end of the matter. On October 16 she and the same group of girls were back in court. It seems that having spent two months together in prison they were united in their dislike of Matron McColl:

"POLICE COURTS." Adelaide Observer
(SA : 1843 - 1904) 28 Oct 1882: 29.
(This gives Harriet's name as "Wybron" but other newspapers report it as "Whybrew" or "Whybrow").

Harriet would have had little likelihood of finding work once she left the Industrial School. With this record, she would have had no chance. Perhaps it's not surprising that she after a while she decided to try her luck with her parents in England.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Discoveries in Adelaide (part 2)

St Luke's Anglican church,
Whitmore Square, where
Susan Mason and David Whybrew
were married in 1869.
Our trip to Adelaide seems a long time ago now, but here at last is "part 2" of this series.

My second port-of-call after the State Library was the SAGHS library in Unley. This private library is the custodian of microfiche copies of the Catholic baptism records from the early days of South Australia. Since Catholics didn't bother to register their children with the government in those days, this was the only way to check the dates of births for John and Catherine Mason's daughters who were born in Adelaide.

I haven't used microfiche since I was at university back in - well, the last century. They haven't become any easier to use, and these sets were rather worn at the edges. But I was eventually able to find the date of birth, date of baptism and the baptism sponsors for all the girls. The records included the mother's maiden name, which was very helpful.

What I was most interested in, of course, was Susan Mason's details. She was born on May 6, 1848 and was baptised "Susanna" on June 4, 1848. Her baptism sponsors were Bartholomew McCarthy and Ellen Lennon (?) I'm not certain of that last name as it wasn't clear. All the other girls also had sponsors with Irish sounding names.

I've been trying to find out something about Susan's sponsors, but I can't find Ellen, and the only Bartholomew McCarthy I can find seems to have been born in 1838. Technically that makes him too young to be a sponsor (similar to a god-parent in other denominations.) He was quite a character, if the newspaper reports about him are any guide, so he'd be an apt sponsor for Susan if it was him.

While I was at the SAGHS library I had a look at their index cards for the Destitute Board. I didn't find Catherine, but I found Harriet Whybrew's entry to the Industrial school in 1882. As I mentioned in my last post, the person who recorded it seemed to have confused her father, David Whybrew, with her uncle, Harry Atkin.

Later I went back to the State Library and looked up the original entry in the record book*. Poor Harriet - at the age of 15, after being sent to the Industrial School in Magill on January 17, 1882 (ie to a reformatory) , she got transferred to prison for a couple of months on May 3 for "riotous behaviour and destroying government property". She then returned to finish her time at the school on July 1. I wonder what she was rioting about?

The entry for Harriet Whybrew,
reading across the page of a very large book
 (not great photos, but click to enlarge each image.)
Although not strictly a discovery made in Adelaide, I have recently found that the Adelaide Rates books are now online and can be searched. As I've mentioned before, with a few exceptions Australian census records have always been destroyed once they've been processed, so these Assessment records are a wonderful alternative source of information about where people lived. Tennants' names are given as well as the owners of properties. The images of the records are not transcribed, and only indexed in a very basic way, so it takes a bit of searching. But I've been able to find John Mason's name several times.

It seems the family lived in a 2 room pise house on Grenfell Street for the first few years that they were in Adelaide. At that stage Adelaide was divided up into numbered 'Acres' and they were in one of several houses on Acre 95. By 1852 they had moved to the other side of the town to a house on Acre 131 on Currie Street. In 1854 they had moved a little further up Currie Street to a 4 room brick house on Acre 130. Even though this was a larger house, it must still have been quite crowded with 7 or 8 children living there.

In 1855 they had new neighbours next door - Henry Atkin and his family. I assume this is Henry Atkin senior, whose two sons, Henry and Thomas, married Mary Ann and Margaret Mason a few years later.

The rates books also enabled me to find the Ship Inn, across the road from the Mason's house, on Acre 120. Where it once stood is now a car park.

Part of the Adelaide map from 1880 showing Acre 130 (circled in red)
and the site of the Ship Inn (circled in blue). Click on the image to enlarge it.

*GRG28/5/2, entry number 45 and 238 on the State Records index.