When I first started researching William Hughes and his wife Margaret Gordon I was
under the impression that they were both the parents of Mary Jane 'Hughes' as she was
known throughout her life. I soon found that I could not find a birth record for Mary
Jane.  Since William and Margaret did not marry until 1863 and Mary Jane appeared
to be born before this I started looking under her mothers maiden name. Another family
researcher had passed on some old notes and they had identified a birth in Moruya for
'Unnamed Female' Gordon. This eventually turned out to be the birth of Ellenor, Mary
Jane's older sister.  I still have not found  an actual birth or baptism record for Mary
Jane, but she is mentioned in the Sydney Benevolent Society records along with her
reputed father, who is NOT named as William Hughes. William Hughes himself was
somewhat of a mystery man. Although I had his parents and birthplace from his
marriage and death records, I was unable to find when or how he arrived in Australia.
Finally, after much research and a long process of elimination I now believe he was a
convict who arrived on the Portland in 1832. There is still much more to discover  and
research continues into William Hughes, a 'step-ancestor' and Margaret Gordon.  
William Hughes was born about 1814 and baptised on 8th June 1817 at St Georges,
Stamford, Lincolnshire, England, son of
William Hughes and Maria Close. I have been unable
to find William in the 1841 or 1851 British Census. According to information from his death
certificate, William came to Australia about 1851, however I now believe him to be the convict
of the same name who arrived on the Portland in 1832:

Old Bailey records report:

WILLIAM HUGHES, Theft  pocketpicking;
JAMES CARNEY, Theft  pocketpicking, 8th
September 1831.  
1676. WILLIAM HUGHES and JAMES CARNEY were indicted for stealing, on the 22nd of July
, 1 handkerchief, value 2s., the goods of Robert Norris, from his person . [CARNEY pleaded
GUILTY - Aged 16]  ROBERT NORRIS. I am an East India agent , and live in Hatton-garden. On
the 22nd of July, about eleven o'clock in the morning, I was on  Holborn Hill , going into the
City, and was not aware that my handkerchief was taken until the officer told me - he was in
the act of securing the prisoners; I saw my handkerchief on the ground, close to me.

SAMUEL DAVIS . I am an officer of the City. I saw Mr. Norris walking arm-in-arm with another
gentleman down Holborn the two prisoners and another boy got behind him; the other boy got
away as soon as Stone laid hold of one of them .  I saw Carney take hold of the handkerchief
twice before he got it out; the other two were with him at the time, and could not avoid seeing
him,  a cart passed, which prevented my crossing to take hold of See original between them he
crossed before the cart passed; I am quite sure of their persons, and had seen them repeatedly

BENJAMIN ALLEN STONE . I belong to the City Police. I was with Davis, who told me to look
out - I saw Hughes take the handkerchief from the gentleman's pocket; the other one had his
hand ready to receive it - I seized them - in the scuffle the hat dropped out of his hand, and
the handkerchief fell at his feet.(Property produced and sworn to.)
Hughes' Defence. I was coming down Holborn, by the side of the prosecutor, but did not know
him - all in a moment the officer caught hold of me and Carney - at that instant Carney
dropped the handkerchief.

HUGHES - GUILTY . Aged 17.  Both   Transported for Life .

Hulks: William was sent to the hulks [floating prisons] on 16th September 1832 while awaiting
transportation. [FMP] It appears he was sent to the hulk York, possibly arriving 30th

Transportation: William Hughes was one of 178 convicts transported on the Portland leaving
England  19 November 1831 and arriving  26th March 1832. Joseph Cook, the surgeon of the
Portland made the following general remarks:
On 14 November 1831, 178 male convicts were
embarked at Spithead from the Leviathan and York convict hulks. The ship arrived at Port
Jackson on 26 March 1832 and on 6 April the original number of convicts were landed at
Sydney fit for immediate employment.

Convict Indent per Portland:
Age 18, read and write, single, protestant, native place: Stamford, trade or calling: Printers
, offence: picking pockets, sentence: life, former convictions: none, 4 foot 11 inches
tall, complexion: sallow, hair: brown, eyes: hazel, description: hairy mole under left jaw, scar
on right cheekbone, WH [tattoo] on lower left arm.

1832: William is assigned to A E Hayes of Sydney who was editor of The Australian newspaper.

1837: William is assigned to J T Hughes in Port Macquarie [probably John Terry Hughes who
owned land in many places including Port Macquarie and Goulburn]

Ticket of Leave: William was granted ticket of leave no 43/2648 for Goulburn on 10th
November 1843 on the recommendation of the Port Macquarie bench. This was altered to Port
Macquarie on 4th July 1845 by the Port Macquarie bench.

Ticket of Leave Passport: No 46/692 on 20 Jul 1846

Conditional Pardon: William was granted a conditional pardon on 15th November 1848.
Conditional pardons were generally given to convicts with long sentences (14 years or life) and
excused them from serving the rest of their sentence on condition that they remain in the
colony and not return to the UK or Ireland.

At The time of his marriage in 1863 William was labourer and mail carrier.  Grevilles 1872 Post
Office Directory shows William as a labourer living at Cooma Creek.  

Margaret Gordon was born about 1840/1 at Parramatta, daughter of Patrick Gordon and
[unknown] according to her marriage certificate although no record of her birth or
baptism has been found. For a discussion on Margaret's possible parents, please click

Children: Margaret had at least two illegitimate children before she married:

Ellenor [sic] Mary Gordon: born 24th January 1859 at Shannon View, Moruya. Birth
registration under 'unnamed female Gordon ref 1859/6072. Mother Margaret aged 18 born
NSW. No father mentioned. Informant was Ellen Jones, Mistress, residing at Shannon View.
Present at birth Mrs Jones and Mrs Oliver.  Baptised 30th April 1859, mother Margaret
'Goulding' father blank. Abode Mullenderree [which was the area name where the Shannon
View property was situated] Witnesses were John Long and Margaret Lynch.
suggests that Ellenor was informally adopted by Ellen Jones and her husband.

Mary Jane Gordon: My Great Grandmother - born early December 1860, no birth
registration found although Mary Jane will later state she was born in Sydney.  Margaret
Gordon, single woman aged 20 and infant Mary Jane aged 9 weeks were admitted to the
Sydney Benevolent Society on 12th February 1861 on the recommendation of Thomas
Makinson esq [an ex-Anglican clergyman who had converted to the Roman Catholic faith]   
There is no mention of baby Ellenor. The admissions register states that
William Sweeney,
jockey of Broulee, is the father of Mary Jane. [SMH reports from 1860 report 'Billy Sween(e)y
riding for Mr Flanagan at Moruya races. There is also a report of William Sweeney of
Mullenderree, victim of an assault.
] Recent DNA matches to descendants of William
Sweeney suggest that he is the father of Mary Jane.

Margaret and Mary Jane are discharged from the Benevolent Society on 13th April 1861 "to
the service of Mr Ryan, Manero" possibly Jeremiah Ryan of Bombala.

Marriage: William, a mail carrier and Margaret, a house servant were married on 5th July
1863 at the Catholic Church in Cooma. [Ref 1780/1863]  At the time they were both residents
of Bombala. The witnesses were Thomas O'Brien and Johanna O'Brien who appear to be the
couple by this name who resided in Cooma [Family trees on Ancestry]. Father Patrick Newman
performed the wedding.
Parish Register sighted.

William's and Margaret's Children:

William's death certificate states he had 3 sons and 7 daughters living and 1 son deceased - a
total of 11 children. Margaret's death certificate states there are 3 males and 6 daughters
living and 1 male deceased - a total of 10 children.  Daughter Theresa is not mentioned. The
birth certificate of youngest child Rosa Lena states there were 4 males and 6 females living
plus one male deceased at the time of her birth, making a total of 12 children, including Rosa

From NSW BDM online: A total of 10 children

HUGHES  MARGARET;  DNA Match to this family line born 1st May 1864, BOMBALA ref
6337/1864. Married
Thomas Rollason, Cooma 1881 Cooma as Margaret Christina Hughes.
Thomas Rollason died 1887/8. The Queanbeyan Age dated 11th January 1888 reported:  WE
notice from the Cooma papers that a subscription is afloat in that town on behalf of the late
Thomas Rollason, who met with his death under such painful circumstances a few weeks ago.
The sum  of L32 11s. 6d, has been already received a by the treasurer, Mr. Henry Gunning of
the Royal Stores, Cooma. Burial at Queanbeyan Riverside cemetery: Rollason, Thomas, d. 17
Dec 1887, age: 28yr, C of E Sec, Unmarked.
Second marriage as Margaret C Rolleson to
James Shepherd ref 881/1897 Cooma:
23082/1883  ROLLANSON  THOMAS (Granville)
25593/1885  ROLLASON  ANNIE  
 ROLLASON  MARK. Married Jane Elizabeth Gillen, grandaughter of Esther
Byrne and Patrick Gillen
11411/1898  SHEPHERD  JAMES E   
21247/1900  SHEPHERD  ARTHUR J  JAMES . Died 1904
21274/1902  SHEPHERD  ALMA K
269/1905  SHEPHERD  HERBERT W    

HUGHES  WILLIAM;  COOMA; Ref 8080/1865  [15th October 1865, Murimbula Station,
Snowy River] William may have been a granted a mail contract for delivering mail to Foxlow,
Captains Flat, Ballanafad, Whinstone Valley, Numerella, Cooma 78 miles once per week on
horseback 98 pounds per year [26th January 1884 Goulburn Evening Penny Post] Married
Maida Elizabeth Taylor in Victoria 1890. Died Victoria 1936, occupation miner [Victorian
Wills and Probate]

HUGHES  JOHN; COOMA; 8561/1867   Possibly a mailman: 18th March 1886 - John Hughes,
mailman from Cooma to Bobunbarah, has been committed for trial on a charge of stealing a
letter, the property of the Postmaster. 1907: The tender of Mr. John Hughes has been
accepted for the carriage of mails between Jindabyne and the hospice, Mount Kosciusko.
Ellen White, Cooma 1909

HUGHES  JAMES;  COOMA 9893/1869. Married Mary Phillips 12th June 1897 at Cooma
[marriage cert sighted online at Ancestry]

HUGHES  ANN; [twin] COOMA ref 8962/1872   Possible married to Peter Newman at Yass

HUGHES  SARAH;  [twin] COOMA ref 8963/1872

HUGHES  LEWIS MARY;  COOMA ref 9698/1874 AKA Elizabeth Mary as per her mothers
death certificate.

HUGHES  THERESA Martha; COOMA.10228/1876   Born 29th July 1876 at Barrack Hill,
Cooma. Married
Donald Levitt/Levett, Wyalong 1895. Died Newcastle 1955. 5 children
-details to come.

HUGHES, JOSEPH Cooma 11944/1879 Died 5069/1879 Cooma.

HUGHES  ROSA LENA;  COOMA ref 20651/1881. Born 27th June 1881 at Cooma. Married
Charles Henry Tilton, Wyalong, 1900 . Died Gosford 1970. One known child - 18493/1901  


William died 1st May 1884 at Cooma [ref 10895/1884] Cause of death was bleeding piles
which he had suffered from for 3 months.  William was buried at Cooma on 3rd May 1884.

Margaret died on 28th September 1896 at Cooma [ref 13239/1896] Cause of death was
influenza and congestion of the lungs from which she had suffered for 11 days. The informant
was daughter Mary Jane Glennan [nee Hughes] At the time of her death, Margaret is recorded
as being a widow aged 57. Margaret was buried on 1st October 1896 in Cooma.

William Hughes and Margaret Gordon

- a carrier from Cooma and his wife -