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.


You can find out more about Harriet and her family in my book Susan: convict's daughter, soldier's wife, nobody's fool.
It's available on Amazon and other online books stores

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