Ellen Handley, Thomas Brown & John Hawthorn of the Midlands, Tasmania

created 2014  *   last updated Dec 2016

by Greg Harling & Bruce Eames

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Ellen, Cascades Female Factory

Wednesday 5 Dec 1849 in London was a dull hazy day with some rain, and darkness fell about 4 pm (The Morning Chronicle, December 5, 1849). Ellen Handley and her constant companion Elizabeth Hillery slipped out  on a night time foray  into Lambeth Walk as they often did, undoubtedly planning to get a drink somewhere. On the way they entered a draper's shop belonging to Miles and Maria Fawcett, looked around without buying anything and left. Later they returned and put into action  a plan they had hatched  in the meantime.  They began by looking at a pile of shawls on the counter, some of which Elizabeth dropped and ostensibly picked up again, but when Mrs Fawcett came from the back of the shop  and showed her more  she said she  did not like any of them. Ellen hovered nearby, trying to obstruct the shopkeeper's view of her friend from behind the counter. Mrs Fawcett was suspicious and counted the shawls to find 5  were missing, upon which she moved around the counter to search the girls. At that moment  14 year old John Russell (employed by the Fawcetts) came in the door and seeing the fringe of the shawls hanging round Elizabeth's heels pulled them all out and put them on the counter (it turned out there were 6). The girls then rushed from the shop, followed by fellow shopper  and witness to the attempted theft Amelia Wetton who saw where they lived. Ellen tried to shut her up by urging her to " take a shilling and have something to drink, and say nothing about it." No such luck - the police came searching for them the next day  and they were arrested.  Brought before magistrate the Hon G. C. Norton at Lambeth, they were committed for trial and remanded to Newgate on 13 Dec (The National Archives (UK) HO 77/56 frame 00447)
Newgate prison and the Old Bailiey ca 1810, by George Shepherd (1784-1862)

At the Old Bailey trial on 17  or 18? Dec 1849 Elizabeth Hillery pled guilty and received a 6 month gaol sentence. Ellen Handley pled not guilty  but the evidence weighed against her, and a previous conviction  and 3 month gaol term  in May 1848 for  stealing 20 yards of printed cotton ensured she received a harsher sentence of 7 years transportation. (Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.0, 16 March 2014), December 1849, trial of ELIZABETH HILLERY ELLEN HANDLEY (t18491217-271)

    271. ELIZABETH HILLERY and ELLEN HANDLEY ; stealing 6 shawls, value 27s.; the goods of Miles Fawcett: Handley having been before convicted: to which

    HILLERY pleaded GUILTY .† Aged 24.— Confined Six Months.

    MARIA LOUISA FAWCETT . My husband's name is Miles; he is a draper, at 111, Lambeth-walk. On 5th Dec, soon after six o'clock in the evening, the prisoners came to the shop, and went to a pile of six shawls at the end of the counter—when I came down from the top of the shop they both had hold of one shawl, which Hillery pretended she was looking at, and wished to purchase—I showed her two or three others—she said she did not like any of them—she took the ticket off the one she was looking at, and threw it down on the counter—I afterwards pinned it on again—I thought their manner very suspicious, and told them I did not believe they came in to purchase a shawl at all; I thought they came in to steal, and I should not let them go till they were searched—I said I would first look and see how many shawls I missed—I looked over them, missed five, but did not say so—I was coming round to search them, when a boy came in and took hold of the shawls from under Hillery's clothes, and put them on the counter—I gave them into custody—these (produced) are the shawls—there were six tied together, and they were exactly as they now are—Handley stood by Hillery's side, on the opposite side of the counter to me—she was not doing anything—she stood so as to screen Hillery—Mrs. Wetton was in the shop at the time and stood close to me, and another person also, who went out, there was no light at the end of the shop, where I and Mrs. Wetton were, and they could not see us when they came in—they bought nothing—they came in twice.

    Handley. Q. Did not I tell you Hillery did not want to buy a shawl? A. Yes; you said she had not money to purchase one—you said you came in to ask me to let you have half a yard of ribbon you had been looking at about ten days before—I had seen you frequently before—you did not ask for the ribbon when you came in.

    AMELIA REDKNAPP WETTON . I was at the back part of the shop, where I could see the prisoners, but they could not see me—I watched them, and saw Hillery pull the pile of shawls, and drop them by her side—I saw Mrs. Fawcett showing them shawls, and I thought Hillery picked up those she had dropped, till I saw her shuffling about—I thought it was very suspicious—Handley stood as if trying to shield the other from sight—they gave their address, and I went with them to see where they lived—I stopped with Hillery while Handley went, as she said, to fetch Hillery's mistress—she came back, and said, "Don't tell her mistress, or she may lose her place; take a shilling and have something to drink, and say nothing about it."

    JOHN RUSSELL. I am fourteen years old, and am in Mr. Fawcetts employ—I saw the fringe of the shawls hanging round Hillery's heels.

    HENRY MORTON (policeman L 63.) I apprehended Handley the next day—no money was found on either of them—they do not live together, but associate constantly.

    SAMUEL BRINE (policeman, E 33). I produce a certificate of Handley's conviction—(read—Convicted May, 1848, of stealing 20 yards of printed cotton, confined three months)—I am quite sure she is the person.

    HANDLEY— GUILTY . Aged 21.— Transported for Seven Years.

Fawcett's shop was only about a mile over the Thames  from Ellen's family home  at 19 Grey Coat st, Westminster, where her family lived : Sarah her mother, John Purves her stepfather, a Scottish baker, , her brother Joseph Handley and his wife Hannah (see 1851 Census). Ellen's father James Handley had died in 1836 and originally came from Worcestershire, where he married Sarah Heritage on 30 May 1819 at  St Andrew's, Worcester (named as Hundley).  James was a widower but his origins are unknown. Sarah came from Bengeworth, about 16 miles east of Worcester, where she was baptised on 4 June 1797, the oldest daughter of John  and Jane Heritage. John was the son of William Heritage and was baptised 29 March 1767 at Bengeworth.

Sarah had an illegitimate son, George,  baptised 25 Jan 1817 at Bengeworth. Ellen's convict records do list a brother George but no further trace of him has been found (TAHO CON15-1-6_00188_L - 00189_L)
Fire at Palace of Westminster
Palace of Westminster on fire 1834

James and Sarah Handley  had at least 1 child in Worcester - Joseph born approx 1826 - but soon after the family  moved to London and settled in Westminster, where a daughter Jemima  was baptised on 15 Sept 1827.  Several other children followed : Eleanor Jane (our Ellen), born 15 Feb 1829 and baptised 5 July at St Margaret's, Westminster,  and John, born 8 Dec 1830 and baptised 26 Jan 1831, St Margaret's Westminster). Jemima  and John died young, respectively buried  6 Oct 1828  and 12 Oct 1831, both at St John the Evangelist, Westminster.  James was a marble polisher and marble mason. They lived at various addresses in Westminster : York St, Windsor Place, Garden St, Rochester St, and Gardener's Lane. 

During these years the family would have been well placed to view some of the biggest events of 19th century London. On 16-17 Oct 1834 the Palace of Westminster burned down, and on 28 June 1838 Queen Victoria was crowned at Westminster Abbey : both events drew immense crowds of spectators and it is nice to picture the Handley and Purves family among them!

When Ellen was about 7 years old, her father died. Sarah remarried  to John Purves, on 21 Aug 1836 at St Martin in the Fields.  They moved to Gray Coat St, Westminster,  where Sarah ultimately lived into the 1860s.  The 1841 Census  records them there  but by the time of her transportation Ellen lived in nearby York St.

After her trial at the old Bailey, Ellen was moved to Millbank Prison on 14 Jan 1850 . She was described as 21 years old, a  spinster, 5'3" tall, with a fresh complexion, dark brown hair, solid build,  and a scar over the left eye  (TNA PCOM 2/212 frame 00058). On 8 April she was removed to the convict transport Baretto Junior, which departed 12 April from Gravesend, Kent with a contingent of 190 female convicts bound for Van Diemen's Land (see The Morning Chronicle  13 April 1850 for departure date).  Six weeks into the voyage Ellen  was treated by the ship's surgeon for 'colica' (27-31 May) (TNA ADM 101/7/6/1 ). On 10-11 July after passing the Cape of Good Hope the Baretto Junior  encountered a frightening tempest of hurricane, snow and hail, "the wind and sea such as the oldest sailors had not experienced  it before", and "many of the poor women thought their last hour was come  ; the least frightened among them, under the direction of the surgeon, baling and swabbing the water up with great industry, although they were thrown and bruised about by the  heavy rolling of the ship" (The Courier  31 Jul 1850 ).

On 26 July the Baretto Junior arrived at Hobart  (The Courier Sat 27 Jul 1850). Ellen's conduct record was drawn up recording all the standard information (TAHO CON41/1/27). Her physical description  was noted as a fair complexion, round head, brown hair, long visage, forehead of medium height, brown eyebrows, brown eyes, long nose, large mouth, large chin, with  a scar over the left eyebrow,  plus some tattoos : TW I♥L on the lower right arm, F:::C I♥L on the upper right arm, and "some blue letters rather indistinct" on the lower left arm (TAHO CON19/1/8)

Cascades Exterior
Cascades Interior

While many convicts arriving at this late stage of transportation  received their tickets of leave virtually straight off the boat, Ellen  was ordered "to serve 6 Mths probation, the first 3, strict separate treatment, 30/7/50...", at the Cascades Female Factory.   On 18 Feb 1851 she was allowed to enter private service but if it did eventuate this could not have gone well as she was back at the Factory by April where  she remained until April of the following year due to constant misconduct -

1851 (TAHO CON138/1/1)
2 April - "not atg to her work",  3 days bread  & water
April 19 - 5 days cells (for being out of berth)
May 21- 2 months hard labour  (out of sleeping berth)
12 July – dismissed from the Watch...
3 Sept – 3 days b & w talking in chapel
7 Oct – not attending to work when ordered, 3 days solitary confinement
1852  (TAHO CON41/1/27)
8 Jan  - disobedience of order 14 days cells
21 Jan  - disobedience of orders 3 moths hard labour
2 April  - not attending to work, 3 days b & w. (TAHO CON138/1/1)
From April to December 1852, Ellen Handley was in service to many people in the Hobart area (TAHO CON41/1/27) -
22 April  John Davidson, New Town
6 May Ja Thompson... ord St
14 May Jno Lucas
10 Aug John Barlow, Hough St
20 Aug Mrs Jessy Spurling, Montefiore St
28 Aug William Shrimpton ... ay St
2 Nov T or J Brosnan, Elizabeth St
8 Nov Robert Humphries, Battery Point
4 Dec J E Chapman, Elizabeth St
Clearly this  did not go too well either, and Ellen topped it off by absconding from service on 14 Dec 1852. When she was finally caught in February she was sent back to the Female Factory  for 12 months hard labour. Other misdemeanours  occurred during this time (TAHO CON138/2/1) :
Ross Female Factory
Site of Ross Female Factory

5 April  - dirty apartment, 3 days b & w
13 July - “disorderly in sleeping wain”,  1 month S[olitary]. T[reatment]. when not at labor.
Later in 1853 the authorities decided to move Ellen  and by 2 Nov she was at the Ross Female Factory, marking the beginning of her lifelong association with the Midlands. Her behaviour continued to be bad however -
8 Nov – using obscene language  1 mo hard labor
9 Dec – smoking, 2 mos hard labor
3 Jan – misconduct 2 mos hard labor (extension to 12 month sentence from Feb 1852)
In 1854 Ellen was finally sent out for service again. On 20 or 26 July she was assigned to John Robinson at Oatlands, but within days she was misbehaving again! On 1 Aug she appeared at Oatlands Court  where she pled guilty to being out after hours with George Bisp (per Oriental Queen, also in service to John Robinson) and admonished. The following day, she was in Court again  and this time pled not guilty to being absent without permission. Mr Robinson testified that Ellen "was absent from my premises yesterday. She had no permission from me to be absent at all" (TAHO LC 390/1/3). Found guilty, she was sentenced to 4 months incarceration with hard labour back at Ross Female Factory.

Oatlands Court
Oatlands Court House
Cells, Oatlands
              Court House
Cells, Oatlands Court House
Gate, Oatlands Gaol
Gate, Oatlands Gaol

In November 1854, the Female Factory closed and Ellen was sent to work for John Jillett at Oatlands (10 Nov). Two months later she absconded for the final time (25 Jan 1855), and on this occasion the authorities could not locate her or perhaps did not bother to do so.

At this  mysterious turning point in  Ellen Handley's life, she became pregnant within 5 weeks of her abscondment to the even more mysterious  and elusive Thomas Brown, and their child Ellen was born on 26 Nov 1855 at Ross. Given the speed of the conception, one imagines that she must have known Thomas Brown already either from Oatlands or Ross. The birth registration gives no clues  and Ellen  was careful to give her name as "Brown" rather than Handley to avoid detection. The informant for the registration in Campbell Town on 29 Dec 1855 was  the famous convict stonemason Daniel Herbert, noted for his sculptures on Ross Bridge.

Ross Bridge
Ross Bridge

It would appear they moved up to the Campbell Town district after this where 2 other daughters followed : Sarah Jane born 10 Dec 1856,  and Emily (known as Angelina) born 24 Aug 1859. In the birth registrations Ellen gave her maiden name as  "Eritage", still concealing her identity. Sarah Jane was the only child to be baptised, on 30 Nov 1857 up on the Macquarie River, where their residence was given as Baskerville (Parish of Campbell Town registers, TAHO  NS1190/1/1)

No marriage has been found : Ellen obviously wanted to avoid the attention of the authorities but the fact that she married  a few years later suggests that it may have been Thomas Brown  who was the impediment to marriage, because he did not want to, or could not  due to being married already.

Like Ellen, Thomas Brown deliberately concealed his identity - was this even his real name? Nothing in the 1850s gives any clue to his origins. Documents in the 1860s  contain a mix of lies and facts which he could not so easily distort. Born about 1828, he was either 5' 5-6" or 5' 2" tall, with black hair and whiskers, with a very dark complexion. He was English, named Cambridge as his native place, and was a general farm servant. Making no secret of his convict origins, he claimed to  be free by servitude and to have been transported on the Waterloo  in 1842 (at about 14 years of age?). The Waterloo was  wrecked off Cape Town  and while some survivors were forwarded onto Tasmania via the Cape Packet in November 1842, no "Thomas Brown" or anyone like him was aboard.  (Tas Police Gazette 7, 14 Oct 1864, 5 May 1865, 16 Feb 1866).

Back in England, Ellen's stepfather John Purves died and her mother Sarah married Joseph Green, tailor, who lived in the High St, Lambeth. They wed at St Mary's, Lambeth on 25 June 1860. Sarah named her father as John Heritage, basket maker, deceased. Joseph's father was Hutton(?) Green, publican, deceased. Both signed the register.  Sarah and her new husband continued to live in Gray Coat St, Westminster, where they were recorded in the 1861 Census.

In September 1860, Ellen Handley  fell pregnant again and on 4 June 1861 she gave birth to an unnamed female child (later named Catherine).  According to the registration on 27 July, the father was John Brown, the mother Ellen Brown formerly Handley, and the informant  Thomas Hawthorn. On 28 July, the banns were called at St Luke's, Campbell Town, for the marriage of Ellen and John Hawthorn (also on 1 and 11 Aug) and on 12 August they wed at St Luke's. (TAHO NS1190-1-3, NS1190-1-6).
              Luke Campbell Town
St Luke's, Campbell Town

Who was John Hawthorn and what happened to Thomas Brown? Whose child was Catherine Hawthorn?

According to Ellen, Thomas Brown left her and his 3 children without support and "after Brown left her she married John Hawthorne", by whom she had 2 children as of  Aug 1864  (TAHO SWD26/1/7).  However the muddled birth registration for the new daughter in June/July 1861 leaves one wondering  if the father is Thomas Brown or John Hawthorn. If there was no doubt that the father was John Hawthorn, surely the birth registration would have recorded this and no mention of anyone named Thomas or Brown would have been necessary.  And either way, why would one man act as informant for the other in such circumstances?

Whatever the truth of this tangled web of relationships, Ellen spent the rest of her life with John Hawthorn. He was about 29 at the time and was transported as a teenager of 18 or 19 on the Lady Kennaway in 1851. He came from Burslem, Staffordshire and from the age of 13 engaged in petty theft. At the age of 15, he appeared at  Stafford Quarter Sessions on 8 March 1848  and was sentenced to 7 years transportation for larceny at Wolverhampton. Young John remained incarcerated in the UK for almost 2 years and was put on board the Lady Kennaway to begin the voyage to Tasmania on 30 Jan 1851. On arrival he was 5' 3/4" tall,  with a fresh complexion, medium sized head, brown hair, round face, medium sized forehead, brown eyebrows, blue eyes, medium sized nose, mouth and chin.

Along with many other young transportees on the Lady Kennaway he was sent to Cascades Probation Station  on the Tasman Peninsula, where he remained until mid1852.  In April 1854 he got his ticket of leave and resided at Ross by this time. On 22 May 1855 he absconded and when caught was sentenced to 12 months hard labour. However by 13 June the authorities realised they had made a terrible mistake as his sentence had ended  on  March 1855 and the incarceration was illegal. John was therefore released and obviously stayed in the Ross district. (TAHO CON33-1-102_00115_L)

Around Feb 1863, John and Ellen had a son named John, whose birth was unregistered.

Another mouth to feed and the lack of regular work for John precipitated the family into crisis. On 23 May 1864 he wrote to one of the Wardens (councillors) of Ross, Adam Jackson -

"To Adam Jackson Esq.

I most respectfully beg leave to apply that three of my children may be admitted into the Queens Asylum as I am totally unable to support them. Being a farm labourer my wages at this season of the year are eight shillings per week with rations for myself, and with this I have to support my wife and five children as well as clothe them, pay house rent, buy fuel and water . This I am unable to do and the consequence is the children are being brought up in poverty and ignorance because I being unable to clothe them they have not been fit to go to school. Their mother also is insufficiently fed and clothed.
Lately I have been out of employment and went in search of work along the South Esk,. I have a promise of work from Mr Thomas Gibson where I could take my wife and the two youngest children if I was relieved of the three eldest whose ages are seven and a half, six and a half and five years. I would be able to support my wife and two youngest whose ages are three years and one year and three months.
... that you will kindly recommend the reception of the three eldest children into the Queens Asylum.
I have the honor to be Sir, your most obedient humble servant
John Hawthorn"
(TAHO SWD26/1/7)
The authorities began to look for Thomas Brown in order to force him to support his children  but  in the meantime John's desperate request produced no immediate relief for the family and 10 weeks later on 5 August  John Hawthorn left his family  and went North to presumably seek work.
WARRANTS ISSUED... ROSS. -- On the 9th instant, by Adam Jackson, Esquire, J.P., and is now in this Office, for the arrest of John Hawthorn, charged with deserting his wife and five children, at Ross, on the 5th instant, and leaving them without means of support. Description. 32 years old,. 5 feet 6 inches high, dark brown hair, whiskers lighter, sallow complexion, round face, light grey eyes, has lost a tooth from right side of upper jaw, stout build, active, erect gait; native place Staffordshire; wore an old light plaid coat (narrow check), dark tweed trousers, brown billy-cock hat, and a red and white comforter; per Lady Kennaway. Was last seen going along the Macquarie River towards Campbell Town District. (Tas Police Gazette 12 Aug 1864)
John was arrested soon after by the Ross Police (PG 19 Aug 1864) and the authorities finally acted on his request  for the children  to be admitted to the Queen's Asylum. The application form, signed by Ellen  on 20 August,  is an invaluable insight into their lives (SWD26/1/7)

According to Ellen, Thomas Brown was a farm labourer, Protestant, free by servitude, and was transported on the Waterloo. An assiduous government official later noted on the form : "no Thomas Brown on the Waterloo". Ellen  herself  was described as resident at Ross, Roman Catholic, transported on the Baretto Junior, and free by servitude. An official note  records the date of her freedom as 17 Dec 1856. There is no suggestion that anyone was worried about her abscondment in 1855!

The Wardens (Adam Jackson JP and  Arthur Leake JP) recorded their investigations and found -
...that after 'Brown' left her she married 'John Hawthorne' by whom she has 2 children  of the ages of  4 & 2 years, that Hawthorn is a labourer but doe not procure much employment having been to our knowledge weeks together without work . When employed his usual wages are 8/- per week which seems totally inadequate to support his wife, children and self and pay house rent. This application has been withheld for several months in the hope that 'Brown's' whereabouts might be ascertained but hitherto the efforts of the Police have been unsuccessful. 
On receipt of the paperwork, the Colonial Secretary may have wondered how hard the Wardens had been looking for Thomas Brown  : he "trusts the Warden will be good enough to direct the Superintendent and the Police to continue their efforts to trace the whereabouts of the father of the children. Has he been published in the Police Gazette? There is no Thomas Brown by the "Waterloo"" (1 Sept 1864). 

Prompted by this, notices appeared in the Police Gazette on 7 and 14 October 1864 -
INFORMATION is requested respecting the whereabouts of Thomas Brown, F.S., per Waterloo and Cape Packet, About 36 years old, 5 feet 6 inches high, dark complexion, black hair and whiskers, black eyes, a general farm servant; wore, when last seen at Ross, a black pilot cloth coat, moleskin trousers, and black billycock hat; he is accompanied by a woman named Margaret Hughes, who has lost part of her nose, and speaks partially through that organ.
This is the first decent record of Thomas Brown but at the end of the day it is based on the what he had told Ellen about his past, what she chose to tell the authorities and also possibly what the Ross Police knew about him. It also reveals some sort of relationship with Margaret Hughes : was she just a travelling companion or something more?

Margaret Hughes (alias Mckenna) was transported to Tasmania on the Tory and arrived on 6 August 1848. Originally from Belfast, she was tried at Glasgow Spring Circuit Court on 20 April 1847 for stealing a chair from the door of a shop in Great Clyde St., Glasgow (Glasgow Herald 23 April 1847). This was her sixth conviction and she  was sentenced to 7 years transportation.  The Tory left the South of England in April 1848, and from the ship's surgeon's log we learn that she had syphilis and was on the sick list for a month  (TNA ADM 101/71/11/1, 1848, ADM 101/71/11/2 )

According to the ships' indent  and her conduct record, Margaret was 17 years old, a needlewoman by trade, , 4' 10" tall, with a sallow complexion, round head, brown hair, oval face, medium sized forehead, brown eyebrows, grey eyes, small mouth, medium sized chin and a nose described as "deformed".  She had 5 siblings at Belfast.  (TAHO CON15-1-4_00344_L, CON41-1-18_00081_L, suplementary record CON42-1-1_00089_L)

Margaret Hughes constantly misbehaved  and spent time at the Cascades Female Factory  in 1849-1850 and Ross Factory in Jun 1853- July 1854, which raises the distinct possibility that she and Ellen Handley knew each other.

In March 1855 Margaret achieved her freedom but 3 short months later was arrested on several serious charges: stealing 19 sovereigns, 4 £1 notes  and a ring from fisherman Charles Hunter,  and with accomplice Ann Stephens a pistol from  a man named William Barrett and a counterpane worth 8s from Jane Kay. The newspaper report about their committal on 8 June described Margaret as a  "repulsive looking woman" ( Hobarton Mercury  11 June 1855, see also TAHO  LC247-1-24 8june1855). At the Supreme Court trial on 24 July she was sentenced to 10 years further transportation (Courier  25 July 1855). In 1858 she received her ticket of leave, and the last trace of her before appearing at Ross in Thomas Brown's company was a disturbance of the peace in Hobart in February 1864.

While the authorities were looking for Thomas Brown, they admitted the girls Ellen, Sarah Jane and Angelina (Emily) to the Queen's Asylum in Sept-October 1864. This left Ellen and John Hawthorn  with 3 year old Catherine and 20 month old John. Ellen  had also fallen pregnant  again about the time John originally asked for help, and a daughter later named Louisa May was born  on 10 Jan 1865 in the Campbell Town registration district. The informant was a  Mary Ann Glover, Cleveland, 28 km north of Ross - perhaps she was travelling through the latter on her way home and dropped into the Registrar in Campbell Town?
Queen's Asylum
Queen's Asylum, Hobart ca 1867 (State Library of Victoria IMP25-04-67-52)

Queen's Asylum
Orphan School (North)
Queen's Aylum
St John's Church
Queen's Asylum
Infant School

Thomas Brown, it turns out, can't have gone far from Ross for very long. He was in the service of Messrs Gibson in the Campbell Town district as a ploughman prior to working for Philip Thomas Smith at Syndal, near Ross. On 28 April 1865 an arrest warrant was issued for him for absenting himself from Smith's service and stealing  a screw-wrench. The Police knew he was the same man wanted in October 1864  and the entry in the Police Gazette  also repeats his association with Margaret Hughes, but whether he was still with her at this time is unknown (Tas Police Gazette 5 May 1865). By February 1866 they caught up with him and on 16 Feb he was sentenced at Ross to 1 month in Launceston Gaol. In the week ending 21 March, he was released from Gaol. At this time his details were recorded as : transported on the Cape Packet, native place Cambridge, 38 yrs old, 5' 2" tall (compared to 5'5" or 6" in the 1864 description), with black hair (Tas Police Gazette 23 March 1866).

On that day in March 1866 when Thomas Brown walked out of Launceston Gaol, he disappeared from history and his fate and identity remains frustratingly unknown.

Back in Ross, John and Ellen had another daughter, Selina, born in Sept or Oct 1867 (birth not registered).  Around the time of the birth, John Hawthorn broke a fence at Ross and was imprisoned in Launceston Gaol  from 22 Oct for 1 month, a portent of trouble to come. (Tas Police Gazette 29 Nov 1867)
Young Selina died of whooping cough  on 18 Jan 1869. In the following year or so, their final child was born, a daughter named Theresa, again unrecorded in birth registrations.

1870 brought more upheaval to the family. It began on 11 (or possibly 18) March. Ellen Brown, now 14 years old and back from the Queen's Asylum, was walking through Ross with her sister Catherine and friends 11 year old Annie Clieve and her 14 year old sister Mary Clieve.  The stories differ but according to the girls Annie was indecently assaulted in Shay's Paddock  by 59 year old William Thomas. Ellen and Mary came to the rescue  and the next day he tried to bribe them all with a shilling each. According to Thomas, no assault took place : the girls hassled him for sweets and became physical, grabbing at his clothes and he consequently threatened  to hit them if they did not desist. He further claimed that 2 of the girls previously  denounced other men for indecent assault but that the committing magistrates believed "all the the girls" were of "morally bad character".  The trial took place in Launceston on 26 May 1870 and all the girls gave evidence, as well as Ellen Hawthorn. William Thomas was found guilty and imprisoned for 12 months. (Cornwall Chronicle  Fri 27 & 30 May 1870, Examiner  Fri 28 May 1870)

Coincidentally, it was about this time that John and Ellen  applied to the Queen's Asylum to have their remaining children admitted : John, Catherine and Louisa. Theresa was possibly not born yet, and Ellen was probably old enough to  board with an employer.  They are recorded in the index to Asylum applications but all the actual applications for 1870  are not in the Tasmanian Archives, so alas this potential goldmine of information is missing. John was admitted on 16 May 1870, and Catherine and Louisa  on 12 July 1870 (TAHO SWD27/1/1 p84-85)

The 3 Hawthorn children thus joined their Brown half-siblings Sarah and Angelina at the Asylum. Ellen Brown of course was out by this date  and 6 months later began a relationship with John Hughes, shepherd, who she married on 27 March 1871 at St Luke's, Campbell Town, when she was only 15 years and 4 months old and he some 20 years older. It is possible that Ellen cared for her infant half sister Theresa. Sarah was discharged from the Asylum on 1 March 1871  as an apprentice to Timothy Donovan in Westbury.
Market House Tavern Longford
Market House Tavern, Longford

Freed from parental responsibilities, the lives of Ellen and John now span out of control. Within weeks of the children entering the Asylum, they left Ross for Longford which was their base for the next 5 years  in  a regular state of drunkeness and disorderliness.  This began on Sunday 4 Sept 1870. John and Ellen were drinking with Edward Clarke and were admitted to the Market House Tavern, Longford, officially closed for the day of worship but where the landlord's wife served them in breach of the license.  "Feeling a little the worse for liquor," Clarke "went to the skittle ground and laid himself down and went to sleep, and when he awoke missed his money." Sergeant East tracked them down later and found some of Clarke's money in John's possession. Both were charged with "larceny from the person, in stealing from one Edward Clarke the sum of £2 4s." and at the trial on 9 Sept pled not guilty. Ellen was found not guilty but John was convicted and sentenced to 3 months incarceration. He entered Launceston Gaol on 14 Sept and was discharged on 8 Dec. (Examiner 13 Sept 1870, TAHO SC244/1/1, Tas Police Gazette 16 Dec1870, TAHO L362/1/11).

Back in England, Ellen's mother  was now a widow again  and  was destitute. Her health began to decline and she spent time in Fulham Rd Workhouse (St George's Union), admitted 5 Sept 1870, 26 Sept 1870, 6 June 1871, 6 Oct 1872, and  on 18 May 1876 was discharged to Kensington, possibly St Mary Abbots Workhouse. Sarah Purves died soon after (the death registration gives St George's Hanover Square as place of death)

After John came out of gaol on 8 Dec 1870, he and Ellen must have gone back to Ross for a time, for on 28 Dec Ellen was convicted at Ross Court of being idle and disorderly and was imprisoned at Launceston Gaol  for 14 days (Tas Police Gazette 13 Jan 1871). From this time to the end of her life, she always falsely claimed to have been transported on the Sea Queen - was she still trying to conceal her identity?

1872-73 saw Ellen back at Longford and gaoled twice in Launceston Gaol for a total of 5 months. On 22 June 1872 at Longford Court, Constable Sweeney -
... arrested the defendant coming out of a public house in a very disorderly state , cursing & swearing. She has been a week on the township  & has not done any work during that time . She is constantly wandering from one public house to another . I have warned the the husband to clear off but he has not done so." (2 month sentence, TAHO LC362-1-11, Tas Police Gazette 23 Aug 1872)
On 27 Nov 1872, Ellen was back in Longford Court, where Superintendent James East testified -
I have known the defendant for a considerable time. She has been at Longford for some weeks past. She is constantly in various public houses in company with the worst characters. She does no work and has no settled place of residence and no visible means of having a livelihood. I was present when she was taken in charge last night. She was drunk. She has been repeatedly cautioned by the Police." (3 month sentence, TAHO LC362-1-11, Tas Police Gazette 7 March 1873)
In February 1874 John and Ellen got very drunk at Deloraine. Ellen appeared in Deloraine Court on 6 Feb  and was fined 5s or 24 hrs imprisonment in  default, and the very next day both were in Court  for their misbehaviour the previous night  and were fined 5s or 24 hrs imprisonment in  default (TAHO LC114-3-1)

Later in 1874, they drifted to Perth, where they were arrested on 31 July  for being idle and disorderly. At Longford Court on 3 Aug, Constable Sweeney testified -
"I arrested the defendants at Perth on 31st ultimo. They had been at Perth 4 days. I arrested them as ... I have known them for 5 years. They had not done any work to my knowledge while they were at Perth.Their conduct is generally bad. They are drunkards & the associates of thieves. They are in company  with the man Moran who has been convicted of larceny [also tried 3 Aug]. They have no fixed place of abode." (TAHO LC362-1-11).
Both received a 1 month gaol sentence served at Launceston (Tas Police Gazette 11 Sept 1874, SC2441/1).  In a sad and terrible coincidence, while Ellen sat in her gaol cell, a short distance away in Launceston at the Hospital her daughter Angelina (Emily) was admitted. Discharged from the Asylum in 1873 or 1874 she was sent to work for a Mr Just (possibly Thomas C. Just, publisher of the Cornwall Chronicle in Launceston). On 22 Aug 1874, two days before her 15th birthday, Angelina died. Her death is unregistered : the only record is a brief memorandum in the Brown girls' Asylum application file (TAHO SWD26/1/7 p8)

After John and Ellen got out of Launceston Gaol in September they may have briefly returned to Ross, as in mid-December John resisted arrest by a Police Constable there and was sent back to Launceston Gaol for 14 days from 16 Dec (TAHO SC244/1/1, not in Police Gazette).  Upon release on 28 Dec, he rejoined Ellen  who had been back at Longford from the previous week. The locals were not happy to see them back again and Ellen did not help things by getting drunk and incapable on the night of 30 Dec, for which she appeared in Longford Court the following day  and received a 5/- fine ( TAHO LC362-1-11). The Police reached the end of their tether and brought both to Court again on 5 Jan 1875 charged with being idle and disorderly, having no fixed abode and with no visible means of gaining a livelihood.

Their old adversary James East (now Superintendent of Police) testified to their long  and disorderly connection with Longford and made an extraordinary claim about Ellen  which is not borne out by any evidence in her entire life -
"I have known defendants for four years. Their conduct is always bad on the township. The woman is believed to be a prostitute & that the man knows it & participates in the proceeds. On Wednesday last he told me he had... ed 1£  a week for 8 weeks. I have spoken to him .. about not working."
Constable Gannon added -
"I arrested the defendants on Saturday night last [2 Jan]. The man had been on the township from the previous Tuesday [29 Dec] & the woman the week before [22 Dec?]. They were p...ing from one public house to another in a disorderly manner all the time they were in the township. There were two larcenys committed & on the Friday night I saw them going to Doyles Lodging house. She was scolding him & saying that he got the ... from his .. to pay her fine & drunk it. He is only just out of gaol & has been here nearly all the time since. They have been complained of by the inhabitants."
The Magistrates came down heavily on them and handed out a sentence of 6 months gaol. They were admitted to Launceston Gaol the following day, bringing John and Ellen's Longford years to an end  (TAHO SC244/1/1, see Longford Court entry TAHO LC362-1-11, Tas Police Gazette 9 July 1875)

On 3 July 1875 when they were discharged from Launceston Gaol, John and Ellen returned to the Campbell Town district. In September their children Catherine and John were discharged from the Queen's Ayslum and apprenticed  to Lavinia Cuthbert, Hobart, and  Roger Mayne, Table Cape, respectively (TAHO SWD 32-1-1 p 11-12). Ten year old Louisa remained in the Asylum and 5 year old Theresa's location is unknown. Ellen Brown, by then 19 years old with a family of 3 children, remained in Campbell Town but one wonders how much contact she had with her recalcitrant mother.
Campbell Town Police Station
Campbell Town Police Station (with gaol adjacent), ca 1926. (State Library of Victoria H22156)

During the following years, John and Ellen were brought before the Campbell Town magistrates 9 times for misdemeanours comprising use of indecent and obscene language, being idle and disorderly, drunkeness and theft. In 1880 Ellen was named on a drunkards list in the Campbell Town Court records.  They were incarcerated on several occasions in Launceston Gaol : Ellen for 5 days (1879), 2 months (June-Aug 1877), 1 month (April-May1880) ; and John 14 days (April-May 1876 in the Campbell Town House of Correction) and 1 month with John (April-May 1880). ( See TAHO LC83-1-14 :  23 Feb 1876, 9 Oct 1876, 13 June 1877, 18 Feb 1878, 4 Nov 1878, 15 Oct 1879, 9 April 1880, 21 June 1880, 29 Feb 1884 ; Tas Police Gazette 14 April 1876, 28 April 1876, 20 Oct 1876, 17 Aug 1877, 17 Oct 1879, 14 May 1880)

These incidents are perhaps the tip of the iceberg in terms of John and Ellen's excessive use of alcohol to ease the pain of a difficult life, in which they could often barely afford to feed and clothe themselves and gave up all their children, and felt as many of the poor probably did alienated from the society around them.

When an arrest warrant was issued for John in April 1876, he was described as "about 45 years of age , about 5 feet 7 inches high, dark hair, inclined to curl , very stout build . Well known to the police as Shaky Jack" (Tas Police Gazette 14 April 1876).  One wonders  if this nickname  is evidence of a tremor caused by alcoholism or perhaps Parkinson's Disease?

Later in 1876, Ellen was put on a 6 month good behaviour bond  for stealing 1s worth of wood and the Police Gazette described her as a housewife, aged 50, 5' 3' tall, and formerly resident in the Northern Districts (Tas Police Gazette 20 Oct 1876).  In her last known description in 1880, Ellen's ship is still erroneously given as the Sea Queen ; she is aged 51, free by servitude, with brown hair, a broken nose and tattoos of the letters TWJE and a likeness of a girl on the right arm (Tas Police Gazette 14 May 1880).

On 29 Feb 1884, Ellen appeared before Campbell Town Court for being drunk and disorderly the day before. She pled guilty and was fined 5s or 24 hours incarceration in  default (TAHO LC83/1/14). This is the last time we see her alive in the historical record.
Macquarie River
Macquarie River, close to site of Turnbull's Bridge

In June 1884 John and Ellen lived in a hut at Turnbull's Bridge, near Campbell Town. This crossed the Macquarie River on the Western boundary of the Taylor property St Johnstone, near present day Macquarie Rd. (See TAHO maps AF396-1-970 and AF396-1-974).

On Sunday evening, 8 June 1884, John left Ellen to work at Wanstead, 8km north of Campbell Town.

11-12 June saw very heavy rain throughout the Midlands (Daily Telegraph  13 June 1884) and Campbell Town experienced "the highest flood for years" (Mercury 14 Jun 1884).

On the evening of 12 June David Taylor of St Johnstone rode down to Turnbull's Bridge to collect Ellen and take her to safety. The full moon was on 9 June so it was not too dark.
"She was a long time dressing, and was quite calm and collected, She seemed to fear the horse which was restive, more than the flood. He placed her on the horse and led it, wading up to his waist in the water. He took her to where she would be quite safe and told her to go up to his kitchen."
Taylor then went off into the night to look after his sheep and returned to the homestead, not realising that Ellen had never arrived. At 9.30pm they became aware that someone was calling out from a nearby hill. He investigated but could not get across the floodwaters. When informed Ellen did not turn up earlier he decided to go out again and even though the location of the calls was above the water he set out to rescue the person from the cold.

Taylor went to his brother John on the neighbouring property, Winton,  and they proceeded to the Morningside Bridge where they knew there was a punt. In the meantime one of David Taylor's employees, Thomas Dench,  had already taken the punt and searched with no success. When David and John Taylor returned to St Johnston they met up with Dench and they all went out and searched again. They found no one.

Over the following 8 days, the Police and many others looked for Ellen and newspapers reported her likely fate  as a victim of the floods (Mercury 14 June, 19 June 1884, Examiner 16 June 1884)
An old woman named Ann Hawthorne is

supposed to have been drowned last night,
near Turnbull's bridge, on the Macquarie
River, The police and others are now out
searching." (Mercury 14 June 1884)
John returned home and joined the search.  On 19 June the Mercury reported -
Campbell Town. - Our correspondent
writes:-"The search for the body of Ann
Hawthorne, the old woman drowned during
the recent floods, has been abandoned until
Friday next, when it is hoped that the Mac-
quarie will be sufficiently low to give a
chance of finding it."
The following day, John Hawthorne and Alex Wilson found Ellen's body in the River. They took her back to the hut at Turnbull's Bridge and the Police conveyed the body to the morgue at Campbell Town Hospital later that day. At 10 am on 21 June the inquest was held at Campbell Town Council Chambers, finding as follows -
"The jury returned a verdict that deceased
had come to her death by suffocation from

drowning, but that how she came into the
river there was no evidence to show. The
jury, with the full consent of the coroner
added a rider to the effect that they desired
to place on record the gallant conduct of
Mr. D. Taylor and Thomas Dench, in their
efforts to save the life of deceased."
(See Examiner 21, 23 June 1884, Mercury 23 Jun 1884, Tasmanian 21, 28 June 1884, TAHO SC195/1/64 Inquest 8843)

Later that day Ellen Hawthorne was buried in Campbell Town (TAHO NS1190-1-15)

Where were Ellen's children at the time of her death?

Ellen Jnr remained in Campbell Town throughout these years. After bearing 4 children to James Hughes, he died  on 1 April 1877 and Ellen married again  9 months later on 31 Dec 1877 to John Ashton, with whom she had 5 children. When Ashton himself died on 11 Jan 1889, Ellen married for a third and final time to William Deakin on 23 Sept 1890, at Kirklands Manse, which her mother would have passed by many times  on the road between Campbell Town and Turnbull's Bridge. Sometime in the early 20th century she  moved to Latrobe where she died on 22 Feb 1931.

Sarah stayed in Westbury after being assigned from the Asylum there and married Samuel Fitch on 9 Feb 1875. They had 7 children. They moved from Westbury to Devonport  ca 1906 and Sarah died there on 23 April 1935.

Catherine was apprenticed from the Asylum several times in 1875-1880,  for the final time to John McCarthy in Westbury, but in September 1880 the Police were looking for her in Launceston. A series of relationships, marriages and children followed over the subsequent 20 years  in Westbury, Burnie, Wynyard, Devonport. Ca 1907, she migrated to New Zealand with unmarried partner Joseph Barber and 3 children. Ca 1930 she moved to New South Wales. Barber's death in 1932 was followed by Catherine's marriage to James Roberts in the same year. She died in 1947.

John Hawthonr Jnr was assigned from the Asylum to Table Cape  from 1875  to 1880. He subsequently drifted down the coast to Burnie  where he was involved in a riot in 1881, then in 1883 he turned up at Remine nr Zeehan  and obtained goods by false pretences. The last known record of his movements is his incarceration in Launceston Gaol 20 Jan -  19 Feb 1885, for again obtaining goods by false pretences : convicted at Campbell Town Court 20 Jan did he see his father when in town?

Louisa was sent out to domestic service  several times from the Asylum 1878-1880 in Hobart and she stayed there, marrying Henry Owen in 1888. He had died by 1915 when Louisa married Colin Bissett in New South Wales. She was widowed another 3 times and her 5th husband survived her. Louisa died 11 April 1950 at Balmain, NSW.

Teresa of course was never in the Asylum  and her situation while her parents were  living a dissolute life in Longford is unknown but by the age of 9  she was in the Launceston Industrial School for girls, from which she absconded in July 1879.  By 1887 she  was back in Campbell Town  and bore a daughter to Peter Mcintyre, whom she left  with her half-sister Ellen for several years, while in the meantime she had another illegitimate daughter in Launceston in 1889. Later that year  she went to Victoria, where Mcintyre's child died. In 1893 Teresa married Thomas Harwood in Hobart  and they had 4 children before his accidental death in 1914.  Later that year Teresa moved to New South Wales and married Robert Stevenson. She died on 2 May 1959.

John's life after Ellen's death was relatively uneventful and interestingly there is no record of drunkeness in these years. He appears in Campbell Town Court on  17 Oct 1887 with co-defendant Robert Phillips for using indecent & obscene language in the street to Messrs Power & Palmer on 5 Oct. They were find 10s plus costs (TAHO LC83-1-14, Daily Telegraph 18 Oct 1887)

Now in his early 50s, John formed a relationship with a woman called Bridget, about 9 years younger than him. There is no record of a marriage and her origins are a mystery. John continued to live in a hut at Turnbull's Bridge and  this is where history incredibly and cruelly repeated itself when on 5 June 1891 Bridget drowned in the Macquarie River.  An inquest was held on 7 June (TAHO SC195-1-69-9921) :


An inquest was held at Kean's Hotel on the 7th last., before Mr. Thomas Littlechild, Coroner (Mr. G. Murphy, foreman of jury), on body of Bridget Hawthorne, drowned in Macquarie River, near Turnbull's Bridge.  John Hawthorne deposed that Bridget Hawthorne was his wife. He left home about 5 o'clock a.m. on 5th last. to go to work, leaving wife quite well. It was washing day, and the boiler was on the fire. She used to wash by river side and rinse clothes in river. There were steps there, and he had placed a bag to keep her from slipping. Some time after was told by John Turner that he had taken his wife out of the river. Hurried home and found her on the floor dead, he believed. Mr. and Mrs. Taylor arrived shortly after, and they tried every means to resuscitate her without success. After a while the doctor came. Had cautioned his wife about the danger of washing on the bank. His wife was 49 years of age. John Turner, in the employ of Mr. David Taylor, deposed that his business took him down to the Macquarie River on morning of 6th last about 9 o'clock. Heard a peculiar sound. Went to the water side and saw Mrs. Hawthorne floating about 30ft. in a deep part of the river, brought her near bank and went in and carried her up to hut and laid her on floor. Had no knowledge how to resuscitate the partially drowned, Reported to Mr, Taylor and Hawthorne and  galloped into Campbell Town for doctor.  Deceased groaned whilst getting her on bank, and whilst carrying her up drew a long breath and her head fell back. Had often seen deceased holding on by tub and washing clothes in the river. The tub was in the water. No one was near when he found her. A bag was on the steps. Walter H. Tofft, duly qualified medical practitioner, deposed : From message received, went out to St. Johnson, Macquarie. Believed deceased was dead when he arrived. Tried all usual means of recovery without success. There were no marks of external violence. To best of belief, deceased died from suffocation by drowning. Verdict : Drowned in Macquarie River, but how deceased got in water no evidence to show.  April 7. " (Mercury 8 May 1891)

John's story for the rest of his life is largely a blank. In 1910 he moved from Campbell Town to Devonport. A newspaper reported  that "his sole relative is a widowed daughter living at that centre", which must be  his stepdaughter Sarah, who left Westbury for Devonport  ca 1906 with her family and  ex-convict husband Samuel, who died there on 17 July 1910 just short of 84 years old.  John's health failed and  on 10 Oct 1911 a local policeman took him to Launceston Benevolent Asylum., where he died the following day aged 84. He was buried at Carr Villa Cemetery on 13 Oct, in block B3, unmarked grave 29 (TAHO NS1172-1-1_00172_L, The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times  11 October 1911.).

Grave of John Hawthorn, Carr Villa
Grave of John Hawthorn, Carr Villa Cemetery, Launceston
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