Report on Female Factory

Evidence Type: Newspaper Report
21 May 1828

A brace of the constabulary was entertained on Sunday with a chase which proved but “a wild goose chase,” after a couple of suspected rogues, whom the constables came suddenly upon, whilst the rogues were snugly relining in a snug part of the government domesne [sic demesne], and caused them to break cover; off started the rogues, and the constables at their heels. The latter finally gave in, when the rogues had fairly given them leg-bail; and, before finally disappearing three hearty cheers.

Constables may go every day and night, in search of lawful prey, in far more unlikely haunts than the government demesne aforesaid.

Some nights back attempts were made, doubtless with no good intention towards the holders, to enter by stratagem, as well as by force, two houses in the heart of the town of
Parramatta. The thieves had managed to cut through the throats of two chimneys, through which a fair opening offered for unfairly entering into either house, when the noise of the tumbling brick bats, or something else that answered the purpose quite as effectually, aroused the inmates and caused them to be on the move for their disturbers. The thieves, who had striven so hard to break in, were now striving as desperately to get out, and get out they did, and get off too, without ever meeting a soul in the shape of a poll catcher to impede their retreat.

To ask why the town constables did not manage to pin the rascals, is an idle question; for the sight of such folks haunting the streets of Parramatta by night, for the protection of the inhabitants against thieves and thieving, would be a sight indeed, so seldom is it looked upon, and more likely if beheld, to excite such speculation as that of having to look upon as many hobgoblins, made up of airy nothing, than as so many poor harmless constables of flesh and blood.

The complaint amongst the inhabitants is in fact general, of no protection, whatsoever being afforded to them, in the shape of an efficient police, such as they might look to for securing the streets, and for preserving the honesty disposed in some sort of security, from outrage and plunder, whilst reposing in their beds by night; and so generally is the evil said to be felt, that it has been represented as the intention of the majority of the good folks of Parramatta to call a meeting, and to represent such grievance to the quarter where they should properly look for redress.

There are four constables employed to keep watch and ward outside of the female factory walls—a sort of Arguses—to whom the authorities have confided the task of defending the chastity of “the ladies” inside the walls from casual or intended contamination—and for keeping the ladies aforesaid from keeping such appointments as their wayward fancies may dispose them to keep, or any the like high crimes and misdemeanors. Besides, there are four veterans of the New South Wales Corps employed as overseers, inside the walls—of these the Parramatta folks know or see but little. The four constables however, who are in the habit of mounting guard lightly, without the pale of chastity, the inhabitants aforesaid consider might be made in some way more subservient to the general good than that of Quixotising all night and not allowing themselves, or not being allowed by the rules of their order to transgress beyond the parallel of a yard or two from the outer walls, which bind up the noviciates within—

“The walls are high and hard to climb (’tis true)
But stony limits cannot hold love out”—

and therefore if the refractory frolic loving factory “lady” can manage to slip the vigilance of the matron and her powers from within, and over-perch stone walls, it is not an improbable expectation, that she will also manage to ‘scape the constable, taken unawares, without, and despite of all his caution. Hence it would be better policy bestowing this constabulary force upon the town, to guard against the visit of a near, and probable, rather than of a distant and possible evil.

See Original: “From a Correspondent,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848), Wednesday 21 May 1828, p.3