Report on Female Factory

Evidence Type: Newspaper Report
20 June 1832


To the Editor of the SYDNEY MONITOR.


The attention of the public having been directed at this moment to the Female Factory and its management, by your criticisms on the encomiums of the “Herald,” as to the recent notice published by the committee of the establishment — I beg to trouble you with my observations, on what took place on Tuesday the 12th instant, on an inquest held on the body of JAMES CONNELL, adding another to the long lists of infants that die in this prison. The insight which a visit of a few short minutes gave me of the establishment, induces me to believe, that the introduction of many useful regulations, or a radical change of men and measures, are required before the Factory is likely to produce the results which can justify the imprisonment of so many strong females in a state of comparative idleness. But to the inquest. On the Coroner and Jury proceeding to view the body, which was laid out in “the lying-inn ward,” a room on the ground-floor about 20 feet by 15 wide, we found the room occupied by nine women and their infants, confined to their beds, apparently a short time after their accouchment; and Dr. ANDERSON, and two nurses were consulting with the patients and the medical officer, and his attendants; we formed a larger party than is usually permitted by medical men to assemble in a room tenanted in the manner I have described.

The body of the infant presented a very emaciated appearance. It had deceased on the Sunday evening, and had been allowed to remain in this ward from that time till Tuesday morning. From the evidence of Dr. ANDERSON, and the head nurse and midwife, it appeared, that the child had been infected with the itch, had died with convulsions, and had been under medical treatment for some time. In this “Lying-inn ward,” we learnt from the head nurse and midwife, that three of the women (and we suppose their children) were infected with the itch, and strange as it appeared to us, were suffered to retain their beds, although the other six woman and their children were perfectly free from the disease. I would here ask first, is the itch infectious? Secondly, was it proper that the dead body should be suffered to remain in this ward from 6 o’clock on Sunday evening, till half past eleven on Tuesday morning? Thirdly, was it delicate in the authorities there, to allow the Coroner and Jury to visit a room where so many females were in bed, and under such circumstances, when there was a dead-house belonging to the establishment? Presuming the itch to be infectious, if there is want of accommodation in this already large pile of buildings, the authorities ought to be apprised of it, that the evil may be remedied; or, the consequences to those families supplied with servants from the Factory, will be very afflicting.

I am, Sir,

your obedient servant,



Female Factory Online (, “Letter to the Editor: Coronial Inquest of JAMES CONNELL,”, accessed [insert current date]

See Original
Burial Register: JAMES CONNELL

© Copyright Michaela Ann Cameron 2016