Mary Parsley (1794–n.d.)

MARY PARSLEY was a Scottish convict woman who was tried and convicted at the Cumberland Quarter Sessions on 3 July 1838 for stealing a shawl and sentenced to seven years transportation. She arrived in the colony of New South Wales per Planter (2) (1839) and was based in Parramatta for at least part of her sentence. In February 1844, she was likely the woman incorrectly recorded as MARY PEISLEY; one of at least two servants working for the HOUISON family, i.e. the family of distinguished Parramatta architect JAMES HOUISON and ANN HOUISON (née ANN STARK). Like MARY, JAMES HOUISON was also Scottish and Presbyterian.

When Mrs. HOUISON discovered an unknown man sneaking into the HOUISON family home to have a Valentine’s Day rendezvous with MARY on 14 February 1844, however, MARY found herself hauled before the police and sentenced to two months in the third class of the Parramatta Female Factory with the first and last week spent in solitary confinement. Nevertheless, MARY PARSLEY received a ticket of leave within the district of Parramatta in May 1844. In September that year, her ticket was applied to Sydney “for so long as she remains in the service of Mrs. MARTIN of Sussex Street.” In December, her ticket of leave for Sydney was updated following her reassignment to a man living on Castlereagh Street, Sydney. On 17 May 1845, however, her ticket of leave was cancelled when she was “found living in a state of adultery per the Government Minute on a letter from the Hyde Park Bench.” Nevertheless, MARY received her Certificate of Freedom on 10 October 1845. What became of MARY PARSLEY after this date is not yet known.


Names

  • Alternate: MARY BATEY
  • Alternate: MARY PEISLEY (c.f. Law Reports on MARY PEISLEY, February 1844)

Timeline

  • Born: c. 1794, Dumfriesshire, Scotland
  • Married: < 1838
  • Tried and convicted of stealing a shawl: 3 July 1838, Cumberland Quarter Sessions
  • Sentenced to seven years transportation: 3 July 1838, Cumberland Quarter Sessions
  • Sailed to the colony of New South Wales per Planter (2): 10 November 1838, Portland, Dorset, England
  • Arrived per Planter (2): 9 March 1839, Port Jackson, Colony of New South Wales
  • Assigned to the HOUISON family: < February 1844, “Kia Ora” (Houison’s Cottage), 64 Macquarie St, Parramatta
  • Appeared before the local police, accused of arranging a rendezvous with a strange man in the HOUISON home on Valentine’s Day night: 19 February 1844, Parramatta
  • Sentenced to two months in the Parramatta Female Factory with the first and last week spent in solitary confinement: 19 February 1844, Parramatta
  • Received ticket of leave: 14 May 1844, District of Parramatta
  • Assigned to Mrs. MARTIN of Sussex Street, Sydney: > 14 May 1844, Sussex Street, Sydney
  • Ticket of Leave applied to Sydney “for so long as she remain[ed] in the service of Mrs. MARTIN”: 4 September 1844, Sussex Street, Sydney
  • Assigned to a man living on Castlereagh Street, Sydney: c. December 1844
  • Ticket of Leave updated to apply to Sydney “for so long as she remain[ed] in the service of Mr B[illegible] of Castlereagh Street, Sydney: 2 December 1844, Castlereagh Street, Sydney
  • Ticket of Leave cancelled “for being found living in a state of adultery per the Government Minute on a letter from the Hyde Park Bench”: 17 May 1845, Sydney, Colony of New South Wales
  • Received Certificate of Freedom: 10 October 1845, Colony of New South Wales

Law Reports


Occupation

  • Dairy maid

Religion

  • Presbyterian

Description

  • Age on arrival: 42 years old
  • Marital status: Married
  • Height: 5 feet 0 inches (another source states 4 feet 11 ½ inches)
  • Hair: Brown mixed with grey
  • Complexion: Sallow and freckled (another source states “ruddy”)
  • Eyes: Dark hazel
  • Distinguishing features: Small scar on right side of mouth, semicircular scar on ball of left thumb, two scars on back of little finger of left hand
  • Education: Could read but not write
  • Prior convictions: None

Related Content

Houison’s He-Creature: A Valentine’s Day Story of Unrequited Love (2019)

By Michaela Ann Cameron

Abstract: On Valentine’s Day in 1844, Cupid flung his love-shafts in the direction of an unidentified “he-creature” and a Scottish convict Mary Parsley (aka Mary Peisley); a servant in the elegant Colonial Georgian family home of prominent Parramatta architect James Houison at 64 Macquarie St, Parramatta. As night fell, the smitten he-creature entered the abode, only to be caught midway up the staircase by a much alarmed Mrs. Houison. For Mary, the ill-fated dalliance led to the Parramatta Female Factory. more>>


Multimedia


Sources

  • New South Wales Government, Annotated printed indents (i.e., office copies), NRS: 12189; Item: [X642]; Microfiche: 739, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).
  • New South Wales Government, Butts of Certificates of Freedom, NRS: 12210; Item: [4/4401]; Reel: 1021, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales).
  • New South Wales Government, Ticket of Leave Butts, 31 Mar 182720 Aug 1867, NRS: 12202; Item: [4/4187]; Reel: 952, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).
  • No title,” New South Wales Government Gazette (Sydney, NSW : 1832 – 1900), Tuesday 21 May 1844, [Issue No. 47], p. 711.
  • Police Intelligence,” Parramatta Chronicle and Cumberland General Advertise (NSW : 1843 – 1845), Saturday 24 February 1844, p. 2.
  • COUNTRY NEWS. PARRAMATTA,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848), Thursday 22 February 1844, p. 3.
  • SHIPPING. Arrivals,” The Sydney Standard and Colonial Advocate (NSW : 1839), Monday 11 March 1839, p. 2.

Lists

# Convict

# Scottish

# Trial Place: Cumberland Quarter Sessions

# Punishment: Seven Years Transportation

# Ship: Planter (2) (1839)

# Parramatta Female Factory

# Year: 1844