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 before.
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 September.
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 pressman, 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 Margaret [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 HERE.
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. Baptised 30th April 1859, mother Margaret 'Goulding' father blank. Abode Mullenderree [which was the area name where the Shannon View property was situated] No further trace of Ellenor has been found.
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. Research continues.]
Margaret and Mary Jane are discharged from the Benevolent Society on 13th April 1861 "to the service of W Ryan, Manero"
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.
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 Lena.
From NSW BDM online: A total of 10 children
HUGHES MARGARET; 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: Children: 20634/1881 ROLLASON MARGARET CHRISTINA 23082/1883 ROLLANSON THOMAS (Granville) 25593/1885 ROLLASON ANNIE 27202/1887 ROLLASON MARK 11411/1898 SHEPHERD JAMES E 21247/1900 SHEPHERD ARTHUR J JAMES . Died 1904 21274/1902 SHEPHERD ALMA K 269/1905 SHEPHERD HERBERT W 31950/1907 SHEPHERD ELIZABETH J G
HUGHES WILLIAM; COOMA; Ref 8080/1865 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]
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.
HUGHES JAMES; COOMA 9893/1869
HUGHES ANN; [twin] COOMA ref 8962/1872 Possible married to Peter Newman at Yass 1894.
HUGHES SARAH; [twin] COOMA ref 8963/1872
HUGHES LEWIS MARY; COOMA ref 9698/1874 AKA Elizabeth 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 TILTON CLARA N N
Deaths: 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.
References: [a] Death Cert William Hughes,Margaret Hughes [b] Birth Cert Rosa Lena HUGHES, Margaret Hughes, Theresa Hughes. [c] Parish Register Marriage William Hughes and Margaret Gordon