Mary Burgess

Evidence Type: Newspaper Report
16 April 1839

THE FAIR SEX

Independence.—No.1.—A woman named MARGARET JAMISON, an assigned servant to H. C. SEMPILL, Esq., J. P., was put into the witness box, on the prisoners’ side of the Police Office, yesterday, to give evidence against a fellow prisoner, when she plainly told the Magistrate that sworn she would not be, and she shrank from the book which was extended to her by the constable with the utmost abhorence [sic]. Neither remonstrance nor threats were of any avail—she stoutly refused to give evidence, and the bench sentenced her to the cells on bread and water until the spirit should be subdued.

No.2.—Mr PERRY, of Hunter-street, complained against his female assigned servant MARY BURGESS, for “doing the aristocratic.” Mr PERRY stated, that on Friday, the lady in question requested to take her breakfast in bed, as she felt rather languid, but as her demand was not complied with, she exerted herself so far as to rise to breakfast, after which she retired to bed again. At dinner time she descended in a loose robe, picked the leg of a chicken, and again retired to bed; at tea time she played the same part. On Saturday morning, she announced her intention of performing the same part, which she found more agreeable than the menial situation she had hitherto filled, but her mistress, although she good naturedly put up with the first day’s farce, objected strongly to a repetition of it. She was sent for three months to the third class of the factory, where the ladies do not take their coffee in bed, and she stated that she would never return to her mistress to be so cruelly used again.

No.3.—ANN COOK, of diminutive person, but high spirit, was charged by her mistress, Mrs EWEN, of Globe-street, with refractory conduct, which consisted simply of throwing a broom at, and afterwards striking her mistress, who, however, stated that at the time the prisoner was in a paroxysm of fury, to which she was subject by fits which caused a temporary madness. She was sent two months to the factory. These are samples of the every day business of the prisoner’s court, and most of the women declare that they would much rather be in the factory than in private service, unless they can have full controul [sic] of their own actions. Surely the punishment in the factory must be considerably soothing to make such an impression on the women.


See Original: “THE FAIR SEX,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848), Tuesday 16 April 1839, p.2