1887: 11th November at Nowra PC [Police Court?] Peter is convicted of unlawfully assaulting and beating his wife and sentenced to 6 months in Wollongong gaol. He is described as being a labourer. He was discharged 10th May 1888. [Wollongong Gaol records - Ancestry] The Shoalhaven Telegraph dated 16th November 1887 reported: Shoalhaven Court of Petty Sessions, Friday, November 11, 1887. (Before Mr. L. W. A. Macarthur and Dr H K. King, Js P) Peter Hixson [sic] on remand from the previous day, (and who was arrested on warrant) was charged with unlawfully assaulting his wife. Mr. Richards appeared for the prosecution; and (Mr. Parker of Nichols and Whittells office) was allowed to prompt the defendant. Matilda Ann Hixon deposed: the defendant is my husband. I was married to him on the 2nd November, 1868 and after residing at Nambucca and Macleay River we removed to Sydney. I had 7 children at this time, and defendant refused to work to support them; I put them in the Randwick Asylum, and went to service myself; I received 12/- per week, out of which I paid 10/ per week for the support of my infant child ; defendant had left before this; after the children had been 3 months in the Asylum, defendant took them out, and slept in Moore Park; I informed on him, and he was apprehended and received six months imprisonment, the children being again put in the asylum; I had to get a judge's order to protect me [defendant here objected to the evidence]; I went to live with him again, and we came to reside at Nowra: on Prince of Wales Birthday I was working all day; when I returned home, defendant rushed at me and hit me; he ordered the children away front the house ; he hit the little boy ; he tore my dress; he pulled me about by the hair of my head, until my son released me; I stopped at Mr. McPherson’s house that night; he is often tipsy; I don't know what he does for a living, but I believe he has been scrubbing rooms at Condons hotel ; he hit me on the side of my face two or three times; I am afraid of defendant ; he threatened to take my life saying that he would hang for me some day ; he has often threatened to take my life. To defendant: I did not throw a stool at you, or a pair of old boots, on Tuesday night; I wash for Mr. Richards; I do not remember you forbidding me to go there. To Mr. Richards I only work for Mrs. Richards I wash for her; you did not engage me to wash. Walter Hixon deposed; Defendant is my father ; on Wednesday last my father hit my mother he tore her dress; he went to throw; a box at her ; I took it from him my mother ran out screaming ; defendant then hit my brother, he pulled my mother’s hair and hit her about the head, said defendant had taken 2s out of her purse, and he then struck her; my mother remained at McPherson's ; I do not think it safe for my mother to return home; she has good cause to be frightened ; I was put in the Randwick Asylum; I was there about 3 months; I was on the “Vernon” ship for 6 year and had £16 10s coming to me; he took £10 from me, and would not give it back to me. I kept £6 and came home; defendant stopped in Sydney for a week, and came home without a penny. Ada Hixon deposed: Defendant is my father ; I have seen my father.. ill-use my mother ; on the 9th my father hit my mother and he was swearing at her; my mother did not give my father any provocation ; he shoved her over by the fire place ; my brother and I had to put up our hands to prevent my, father from hitting my mother; my father was under the influence of drink; I have been in the Randwick Asylum, and also in the Industrial School ; I was put there because I had no means of support; my father often ill-uses my I mother; he took hold of the back of a chair and we ran out of the house ; I left the' Industrial School in September last, and live with my mother ; we are supported by my mother going out washing ; so far as I know my father does nothing to support. By defendant: I remember and mother and I coming home the night before last; I did not see her throw a stool at you, or a pair of boots; we slept at home last night ; my mother said she was frightened to go into the house last night, but I coaxed her in; I saw you hit my mother ; Thomas McPherson deposed to hearing defendant quarrelling with his wife, Defendant handed in certificates of character from Patrick Casey, of Nowra, and J. Wilson, foreman of new Commercial Building. In reply to a question from the Bench, defendant pleaded not guilty. The Chairman Mr McArthur said the case was as bad a one as could possibly come before the Court. There was not a single feature of the case in defendant's favour as he had been guilty of the worst possible conduct. It would have served him right if they had ordered him to be lashed for it. The Bench had decided to sentence him to six months' imprisonment in Wollongong gaol.
1890: Sands Directory for 1890 shows Peter Hickson at 18 Gipps Street.
1891: The 1891 census records show Peter Hickson residing at 27 Gipps Street, Paddington. In the household are 5 males and 1 female. The City Assessment Books show Peter Hickson renting at 8 Crown Lane
1891: NSW Police Gazette dated 6th May 1891 states a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Peter Hickson charged with using offensive words to Matilda Ellis [his niece, Matilda nee Hickson]. Peter's description is given as; 45-50 years old, 5 foot 10 inches tall, medium build, full sandy beard, whiskers and moustache. He was dressed in a blue serge sac coat, dark check trousers and a hard brown felt hat. His occupation appears to be a 'rag gatherer'.
1892: Son Frederick is admitted by warrant dated 22nd June 1892 to the Vernon. The warrant states Frederick 'has been found habitually wandering about the streets in no ostensible lawful occupation.' The circumstances for him being sent to the Industrial School is recorded as being 'Mother has no control over him, sleeps out at night, wanders about the streets'. His parents are described as being Peter Hickson, address unknown, character 'bad'. Matilda Hickson, character good, occupation - washing earning 8/6 per week. She is willing to contribute 2/6 per week to Fredericks upkeep. Frederick was also given the opportunity to make a statement: "I have had three brothers here and my sister has been in the girls school - my father has been locked up for hammering my mother and for being drunk. I used to sell whitest?? and my mother beat me if I went home with not enough money. Remarks state: Comes from a bad family - 3 brothers have at various times been here. See former book for family history.
1898; May 31st Peter Hickson [delusional] is admitted to Armidale Gaol. His offence is 'unsound mind' He is discharged to the police on 7th June only to be readmitted on the same date and charged with 'Lunacy'. He is then transferred, presumably to Gladesville Hospital. NOTE: Peter's address will be shown as Hillgrove, a town about 30 km east of Armidale. It was the centre of a mining boom in 1880s and 1890s. Hospitalisation: On 15th June 1898 Peter was admitted to the Hospital for the Insane at Gladesville. You can read a transcript of his hospital records below. Name: Peter Hickson Age 46 Status Widower No of Children 14 Occupation Sawyer Nativity NSW Residence Hillgrove Religion C of E Form of Mental Disorder: general paralysis [Note: This is the term used at that time for tertiary syphilis of the brain] Weight: 153 [lbs] Admitted 15th June 1898 No. on Registrar 8535 Medical certificate states: that patient says he is very wealthy, owning thousands of acres of land and great herds of cattle. Did not know in what town he was. Says he milks 200 cows a day and that he has given £200 to the Salvation Army M R.H. 2 days quiet clean Mental and Bodily Conditions, Symptoms etc. June 20 1898 On examination: Has double aortic murmurs. Physically: is a poorly nourished man 5 feet 8 inches in height with brown hair and blue eyes. Slurring speech, facial and [?tongue?] tremors[,] exaggerated reflexes are present. Mentally: is in a state of excitation[?] Has a large number of cattle. Milks large numbers of cows daily, and owns a large quantity of land. Has all the grandiose deliriums of a general paralytic. [Note: These are all typical symptoms of Tertiary syphilis of the brain]: June 27: there is no change in his condition: July 4: No change. July 11 No change. July 18 No change July 25 No change. Aug 1 No change. Sept 1 No change. Oct 1 ditto. Nov 1 No change. Dec 1 Has had several epileptic ?? attacks. Jan 15 1899 No change. Feb 15 Ditto. March 15 Ditt. June 28 He died this day after a septic attack of bronchitis.
Death: Peter died on 28th June 1899 at the Hospital for the Insane at Gladesville. Cause of death was general paralysis of the insane [syphilis of the brain]. Duration of illness was three years. Peter was buried on 29th June 1899 in the Church of England section of Field of Mars Cemetery [Anglican Portion, Section D, Plot 894]. An entry in the Death Notices of the Sydney Morning Herald dated 13th July 1899 reads:
"HICKSON - June 28 1899, Peter Hickson, aged 53 years leaving a wife and six children to mourn their loss. Macleay papers please copy." Entries such as this were quite expensive in their day and it shows the depth of feeling of whoever paid for the notice.
The Worker [Wagga] dated 15th July 1899 carried the following: 29 Lower Campbell St Surry Hills, July 8th, 1899. The Resident Secretary, Temperance and General Life Office, 301 Pitt St, Sydney. Dear Sir, I must write to express my gratitude to you for the prompt manner in which you settled the claim under Policy No. 42579 on my late husband's life, the cheque for the full amount being paid immediately the death certificate was produced at your office. I also desire to thank you for the valuable assistance rendered me by the officers of the Society in assisting me to obtain the necessary papers. — Yours truly, Matilda Ann Hickson.
Sands Directory: Sands Directory of 1910 & 1915 shows Matilda residing at 1  Wallis street, Woollarha [possibly above a furniture store]
Death: Matilda [late of Oxford Street, Woollahra] died on 16th August, 1924, at the Newington State Hospital and Asylum in Lidcombe Municipality, Auburn NSW. Cause of death was senility, chronic [?] and disease of the heart. She is buried in the C of E section of the Rookwood Cemetery, Section H, Grave 5731. The following notice appeared in the SMH:
HICKSON -August 16, Matilda Ann Hickson, beloved mother of George, Sarah, grandmother of Ernest, Jean, Alfred, Roberta, great grandmother of Geoffrey and Ruby.
Postscript: It is interesting to contrast Peter's life with that of his older brother Thomas Henry Hickson. Thomas' life is summed up in his obituary which contains several noted inaccuracies and possibly more. Click HERE to read about Thomas
The other Matilda Hickson: Peter and Matilda also had a niece named Matilda, daughter of Peter's brother Thomas and his wife Ann Fogarty. I gathered some information on her whilst researching 'my' Matilda. You can read about her life HERE.
Below Left : Approximate unmarked gravesite of Peter Hickson situated between the tree and the path. Field of Mars Cemetery. Below Right: The approximate burial site of Matilda Ann Hickson [nee Sheppard] at Rookwood. There is no headstone. Photos courtesy of Lorna.