Edith Annie Smith Hasleby
I started researching a family I’m not related to, as I noted in an earlier post and in the process, discovered a compelling story that had me fascinated for weeks, as I uncovered it strand by strand.
The story that follows is a sad one. Life in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s was difficult for many, both in England and in Australia. This story highlighted for me the difficulties women, in particular could experience throughout their lives, without the protection of family or a supportive husband.
Although born ‘out of wedlock’, Edith Hasleby had the support of her grandparents and her mother/aunts through her childhood. Her family life appears to have been stable, her family were educated and literate. However, life does not always go smoothly or to plan.
The Hasleby (and sometimes Haselby and occasionally Hazelby or Hazleby) family in Western Australia appear to all be descendents of James Hasleby, who was transported to Western Australia in 1867 aboard “Norwood”. James Hasleby’s story is fascinating too but will require a separate post.
James Hasleby was born in Stamford, Lincolnshire, England in about 1833, a son of Robert Hasleby and Ann Stimson. Robert Hasleby was variously recorded as a slater, a plaster or a schoolmaster, born in about 1804, also in Stamford, Lincolnshire. Ann Stimson was born in about 1806 in Pea Kirk or Peafork, Stamfordshire (All Saints Parish), England. Robert and Ann had at least five children: James (b. 1833 d. 1903); Mary Ann (b. 1835 d. 1926); Elizabeth (b. about 1836); John (b. about 1840); and Fanny (b. about 1842).
The family can be traced in the Census, and Lincolnshire has many parish records available online, so tracing the family was fairly straightforward.
In 1851, the household consisted of: Robert and Ann Hasleby, and their sons and daughters – James (18); Mary A (16); Elizabeth F (13) and Fanny (8).
Edith Annie Smith Hasleby makes her first appearance in the 1861 Census, aged 4. The household in 1861 consisted of Robert and Ann, Mary Ann, Fanny and Edith AS Hasleby. Edith is recorded as granddaughter of Robert Hasleby, head of the household.
I had a number of theories at this point. James had married, but was visiting elsewhere when the census was recorded. Could Edith be the daughter of James and his wife? Elizabeth does not appear in the household in 1861 – was she married and living elsewhere, or had she died, leaving an illegitimate daughter behind? Could she be the daughter of John, or of Mary Ann or Fanny? My gut instinct was that she was the daughter of James, living with her grandparents because of time he spent in prison – but my next bet was that she was the daughter of either Mary Ann or Fanny.
A search of the parish records seemed to hold the answer. Edith Annie Smith Hasleby was baptised in the Stamford All Saints Parish Church on 17 October 1860 and was recorded as the daughter of Mary Ann Hasleby, single woman. Why wait so long (3 years) to baptise a child?
At around the same time, I found a birth index entry for Edith and ordered a birth certificate from the GRO. Having found the baptism record, I thought this would be a mere formality – give me a definite birth date and perhaps an indication of the name of father. The certificate that arrived about two weeks later recorded that Edith Ann Smith (Hasleby) was the daughter of Elizabeth Fanny Hasleby, no father’s name recorded. Edith was born on 23 January 1857 at the family home in Austin Street All Saints, Stamford and the birth was registered on 21 February 1857.
There is a marriage index entry for an Elizabeth Hazelby in the first quarter of 1860 in Caistor, Lincolnshire. There is another index entry for a marriage of Elizabeth Fanny Hazelby in the last quarter of 1887 (when ‘our’ Elizabeth would have been 50), in Thetford, Norfolk. If either of these is Elizabeth Fanny Hasleby, (first) mother of Edith Annie Smith Hasleby, it may explain why Fanny had her baptised in October 1887 at the age of three. Perhaps Mary Ann had raised Elizabeth’s baby all along. Or perhaps Elizabeth or her new husband did not want to remove Edith from her secure home environment. Perhaps Elizabeth’s new husband did not want another man’s child brought in to their new life together? On the other hand, an Elizabeth Hazleby died in Stamford, Lincolnshire in 1863. But that doesn’t explain why Elizabeth’s daughter should be baptised at the age of three, as the daughter of her unmarried sister, Mary Ann.
For whatever reason, Elizabeth is not living with the family in 1861, when Edith makes her first appearance in the household Census.
Robert Hazelby, Plasterer (Journeyman) died in Bath Row, All Saints, Stamford on 18 January 1865 aged 60 years, of Phthisis Bronchitis. Ann Medwell of Austin Street, Stamford made her mark as the informant on his death certificate on 20 January 1865.
The 1871 Census records the household as consisting of: Ann (65) head of the household, and Mary Ann, Dressmaker; Fanny, Milliner; and Edith, Scholar aged 13.
Ann Hasleby died in April 1865 and was buried in the All Saints cemetery on 26 April 1865.
The 1881 Census records the household as consisting of Mary Ann, unmarried Dressmaker aged 41 (head) and Fanny, unmarried Milliner aged 35, and Edith, Niece (!) unmarried Mantle Maker, aged 22.
A Fanny Hazelby died in Stamford in the last quarter of 1885.
The National Probate Calendar records that on 8 June 1887, the will of Mary Ann Haselby, late of Peter-street in the Parish of All Saints, Stamford was proved. Mary Ann, who died on 18 May 1887, left her estate to her sole Executrix, her niece, Mary Ann Haselby of 27 Clyde-road Redland in the parish of Westbury, in the city and county of Bristol.
‘Our’ Mary Ann did not live in Bristol at any time up to the 1881 Census. However over the period between 1865 and 1887, Mary Ann had lost her Father, Mother and her sister. The household would now have consisted of just Mary Ann and Edith. The Mary Ann who died could well have been the person ‘our’ Mary Ann was named after – wife of her father’s brother.
As noted earlier, Mary Ann’s brother, James was transported to Western Australia in 1867. He had been convicted previously of obtaining money by false pretences, in 1856 and was sentenced to four years imprisonment (presumably until about 1860). A James Hasleby and his wife, Sophia, both born in Stamford, Lincolnshire, were visitors at the home of John and Charlotte Cousens and their family in Islington, at the time of the 1861 Census. James was again charged with embezzlement on 1 February 1864 at the Old Bailey and was sentenced to 8 years penal servitude. Presumably he was in prison when his father died in January 1865, and he was transported aboard “Norwood” on 6 April 1867.
James had been in Western Australia about 20 years when Mary Ann Haselby left £188 4s. 1d (which would have been well over two years’ annual income for a man skilled in textile trades at the time, never mind a woman), to her niece, Mary Ann Hasleby.
Whatever the case may be, Mary Ann and Edith Hasleby boarded “Nairnshire” in London and arrived in Fremantle on 8 October 1889 as steerage passengers. They were recorded on the passenger list as sisters.The Western Mail, Saturday 12 October 1889, carried the following report:
ARRIVAL OF. THE S.S. NAIRNSHIRE.
As notified in our issue on Wednesday, this steamer arrived in the harbour on Tuesday night with saloon passengers, 48 female domestic servants, and general cargo. The vessel has good passenger accommodation, being equal to that of the Australind or the ocean mail steamers, as she is fitted with the electric light, and all modern improvements conducive to the comfort and safety of those on board. The steamer has been specially constructed, for the frozen meat trade from the colonies and New Zealand, and has refrigerating chambers capable of bringing home a large number of carcases of sheep while the engines and machinery for these chambers are of the most improved pattern.
About 50 saloon passengers can be accommodated, the state rooms being comfortable and well ventilated, and the main saloon lavishly furnished and possessing a piano. The vessel is 2,428 tons, length 360 feet; breadth 48 feet, and her dead weight capacity is 5,500 tons. The engines are triple expansion, and about 2,500 h.p. She is classed 100 A1 at Lloyd’s, and in time of war will be on the Admiralty list as a transport ship.
She is brig-rigged. Capt. Wallace is in command and he has had much experience in the passenger trade between the United States and England, while the chief officer Mr. Fernbach, has already visited the colony while mate of the s.s. Elderslie. The steamer left London On August 21st and called in at Las Palmas, fairly good weather being ex-perienced during the whole trip. After discharging, the steamer will proceed to Albany, Melbourne and Sydney. The following
were the passengers-
For Fremantle: Mr. G.F. Moore, Miss Davis, Mr. E.G. Price, Miss Dora Moore, Mr E.P Logan, Miss Goodwin, Dr. and Mrs. Lovegrove and family,
Mr. T.W. Faldgate, Mr. F.S Smith and Miss Monks and 48 in the steerage.
For Adelaide: Miss Julia Castle. For Sydney – Dr. J Ellison, and Mr. and Mrs. DeNerny. For Melbourne, Miss Jean McDonald .
Mary Ann and Edith travelled from Fremantle to Northampton, about 500km north of Perth, to join James and his family. They may, however, have stayed overnight in the Depot – a place where single women recently arrived in the Colony would be accommodated until they located employment. If so, they may may have been there when one of the seamen from the “Nairnshire” tried to force his way in to the Depot – as reported in the West Australian on Friday 11 October 1889:
FREMANTLE POLICE COURT
(Before Mr Fairbairn RM)
THURSDAY, OCT. 10
KARL STEINBACK, a seaman on board the Nairnshire ss, was charged with having been drunk and disorderly on the previous night. Constable Charnell said that the prisoner was very drunk, and would insist upon forcing his way into the Depot where the single girls were staying. Witnesses considered that the best thing to do was to lock him up, and he consequently conveyed him to the station. The magistrate said that the prisoner had no right in the Depot, and he inflicted a fee of [indecipherable], or in default, 14 days’ imprisonment.
Shortly after their arrival, Mary Ann and Edith advertised their services as dressmakers recently arrived from fashionable London in the Victorian Express newspaper on 26 October 1889:
THE MISSES HASLEBY
English Costumes, Milliners
and Mantle makers
Having just arrived in the Colony from the
West End of Landon, are prepared to execute
Orders in the above lines.
Perfect fit and style guaranteed with
On the 6th of December 1890, Edith attended the wedding of Miss Mary Jane Williams when she married Michael Morrissey and gave the couple a pair of vases.
Northampton is a rural town north of Perth in Western Australia, and in rural towns, word gets around. Two ‘misses’ Hasleby arriving and staying with James and his wife and setting themselves up in business, would not have escaped the notice of the local people. A family member has told me that there were rumours in the town that Edith was James’ daughter from England, and even that Mary Ann may have been his first wife. People wondered about what brought them to Northampton after two decades.
James had made a successful and respectable life in Western Australia since arriving. He married Eliza Barlow in Guildford, Western Australia in 1873 and went into business in Northam, running a hotel there. The temperance movement in Northam contributed to that business not succeeding, and James and Eliza moved their family to Northampton, where James was a school teacher for many years. James and Eliza had a family of seven children, born between 1874 and 1888. One daughter, born in 1875 was named Edith Mary.
It is difficult to conceive how Edith’s life must have changed following her arrival in Western Australia. She appears to have had a stable family life, growing up in the Hasleby household in ancient Stamford. She was educated and had learned a trade. She was a mantle maker – a type of tailor – a skilled occupation she probably learned from Mary Ann and Fanny who were recorded as dressmaker and milliner, respectively. Together, the three of them would have had the skills to make a woman’s complete fashionable outfit – from the hat on her head to the coat or cloak over her gown.
Arriving in a small rural community, where gossip was a part of life, and being the new arrival with a variety of questions attached to her background, not to mention another Edith Hasleby already in the family, must have been difficult for Edith.
I discovered the arrival of Mary Ann and Edith in Western Australia quite by accident. I did an online search for Northampton Cemetery, and thought I would just make a list of all Haslebys buried there. Given that all the Haslebys I have found in Western Australia have been descendents of James, and the family’s long association with Northampton, it seemed like a logical way to collect death dates and other information for a number of individuals to add to the details I had already gathered.
I found that all of the people with the surname Hasleby I found on the Northampton Cemetery site were indeed descendents of James and Eliza. With one exception – Mary Ann Hasleby, died 6 June 1906 aged 93. I did the necessary calculations and realised that Mary Ann, sister of James, mother/aunt of Edith, was the right age to be this Mary Ann. It was then that I went on a search for an arrival for Mary Ann. I already knew I’d been unable to find her on the 1991 Census in England.
I was at that stage looking for Mary Ann. I searched the 1991 census for Edith. I searched for marriages, deaths, but couldn’t locate her anywhere after the 1881 census. It was while looking for Mary Ann’s arrival that I found the record for Miss E and Miss MA Hasleby arriving in Fremantle together aboard “Nairnshire”. This has since been confirmed by a member of the family.
So Mary Ann lived to a fine old age, and was buried along with other family members in Northampton. What happened to Edith? I began searching in earnest in Western Australia, and in other Australian states, for Edith Annie Smith Hasleby/Haselby/Hazelby/Hazleby. What I found made me very sad.
A newspaper report I stumbled upon in a fairly open search for Edith led to a concurrent search of WA Police Gazettes and newspapers. I became increasingly sad as I read the reports and found myself alternating between anxious to discover more, and reluctant to keep going, in case it got worse.
The first time Edith appears is in Geraldton, near Northampton, where she is discharged from prison in Geraldton after seven days hard labour for ‘Drunk’ on 12 October 1896 – almost exactly seven years after her arrival in Western Australia. A week later she was back in Court in Geraldton. This time the Geraldton Express carried the report on 19 October 1896:
Edith Haselby was charged with drunkenness, the same being a repeated offence. The magistrate said he would not send the woman to gaol if any respectable person would be answerable for her leaving for the Greenough and directed the Sergeant to make enquiries. The accused tearfully protested her willingness to take the pledge if she might be let off with a fine.
Rural towns being what they are, and Edith’s appearances in court and her subsequent sentences of imprisonment making the newspapers, it would have been difficult for her to stay in the community where her large extended family lived and worked.
The next time she appears, she is in Fremantle Court, charged with vagrancy, for which she received a one month sentence. The West Australian, 7 September 1897 reported that:
Edith Hazelby, who appeared to be verging on delirium tremens, was placed in the dock on a charge of vagrancy. Constable Hansen stated that the woman was very much addicted to drink and was leading an immoral life at Beaconsfield. She was awarded one month’s imprisonment.
She was discharged from Fremantle Prison, where she would have been one of very few women in a prison primarily populated by men, on 6 October 1897.
She next appears on 6 January 1898, again in the Fremantle Court, charged with being idle and disorderly. This time she received a sentence of three months hard labour. The West Australian reported on 7 January 1898:
FREMANTLE POLICE COURT.
THURSDAY, JANUARY C.
(Before Mr. E. Fairbairn, R.M.)
A FEMALE VAGRANT.-Edith Hazelby was led into the dock in a trembling condition, and charged with being an idle and disorderly person, having no visible means of support. Water P.C. Rogers informed the magistrate that he found the woman sleeping in a basket on the river wharf on the night of the 5th inst. He had frequently seen her about the streets in company with men, and she was always in a half-drunken state. The accused, who appeared to be verging on delirium tremens, admitted her weakness for strong liquors, but said she had work to go to if the Bench would give her another chance. Mr. Fairbairn provided her with employment in the Fremantle prison for three months.
The thought of Edith sleeping in a basket on the river wharf and making the money to buy her alcohol “in company with men” broke my heart. The Fremantle wharf would have been a very rough place to be in 1898. Possibly almost as rough as Fremantle Prison.
Edith was discharged from Fremantle Prison on 6 April 1898. The first winter rains usually occur in April in Perth and Fremantle, Western Australia, and the weather is starting to become cold. The wind that blows off the water in Fremantle can be icy in May and June.
On 16 April 1898, just ten days after she was discharged from prison, Edith was in court again, charged with being “an idle and disorderly person having no visible means of support”. This time she was imprisoned for six months. She would see the winter out in the cold and inhospitable limestone prison. The West Australian on 18 April 1898 reported:
FREMANTLE POLICE COURT.
SATURDAY, APRIL 16.
(Before Mr. R. Fairbairn, R.M.)
Drunkenness.-Five inebriates, named respectively Joseph McGrady, James Walsh, William Doyle, John Gray and Obadiah Mitchell, wore fined 10s. each.
A Female Vagrant.-A disreputable looking woman named Edith Hazelby was charged with being an idle and disorderly person, having no visible means of support. Constable Keever stated that he had known the accused during the last 12 months. She did no work, and was always ” loafing ” about public-houses in the day- time, while her haunts at night were out- houses and the beach. She was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment.
Magistrate Fairburn was probably tired of seeing Edith so frequently. However, I can’t help noticing that five male inebriates received a 10s. fine each, and Edith, who this time was not accused of being drunk, but simply “loafing” and loitering about disreputable places, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment. I wonder if her record went against her, or whether the judgement of a woman behaving badly was harsher than for men.
Presumably, Edith was released from prison in October (15th or 16th), 1898. Once again, on 10 February 1899, Edith is before the Magistrate – this time in Perth – for being idle and disorderly. However, this time she is only sentenced to one month. Again I wonder whether the frequency of her appearances in Fremantle increased the severity of her previous sentence. As this is the first appearance in Perth I have found, I wonder whether she was less familiar to the Court, or whether her behaviour had improved somewhat.
On 9 May 1899, Edith is in Court again. This time the charge is “soliciting prostitution”. She is no longer “in company with men” – this is an outright prostitution charge – no allusions or innuendo or mere suspicion. She must have been caught ‘on the job’ so to speak. She received a sentence of one month hard labour.
The Police Gazette and the newspapers go quiet on Edith at this point.
On 14 January 1901, in St Philips Church in Newcastle (now Toodyay) Western Australia, Edith Annie Hazelby married William Warris. William Warris described himself as 57 years old, a widower and labourer. He gave his father’s name as George Warris (Deceased), Army Captain, and his mother as May Green (Deceased). Edith described herself as 32 years old, a spinster, dressmaker and gave her parents names as Charles Hazelby (Deceased), Solicitor, and Edith Annie Smith (Deceased).
Perhaps she gave that name for her mother because she was hoping for a new life, a new identity, as Mrs Warris. She could leave Edith Annie Smith Hazelby behind.
Both Edith and William listed their present and usual addresses as Newcastle (Toodyay). William Warris made his mark on the marriage certificate. Edith signed her name. Witnesses to the marriage were Charles Kilpain and Mrgret McLimy. ‘Mrgret’ signed her name that way.
A family member provided me with the following information about William Warris (thank you, Sue!):
William Warris was born about 1832 in England. He was convicted in Sheffield, in 1863 for larceny, and sentenced to 10years. He had a previous conviction. According to his convict papers he was a widower with 2 children, and he arrived in Fremantle aboard the “Racehorse” on the 10th of August 1865. He was illiterate and worked as a blacksmith. His convict Number was 8457, he received a Ticket of Leave on the 18th of October 1869, and his Conditional Freedom on the 30th of May 1874 generally having worked in the areas of Champion Bay, Fremantle, Perth and Newcastle as a labourer, grubbing, a general servant and fencing.
I believe William Warris was previously married to Hannah Bennett in Sheffield in 1862. She died in 1871 in Sheffield. This is unsubstantiated.
The only other details I have about William Warris’ life is that he cohabited with one Christina Burkenshaw, a deserted wife with 2 small children for some 8 years about 1874 – 1882 when Christina was murdered near New Norcia. Charles Cole was convicted of the murder and all three (Charles Cole, William Warris and Christina Burkenshaw) had been drinking very freely at nearby Brown’s public house in the days leading up to her murder. Other witnesses at the trail were James Mahoney, aka Carrick, James Charles Hobbs, Felix O’Hara, John Brown, John Henry Monger, PC Hustler.
No record of Edith and William’s life together has been uncovered yet. That may be because there is not much to tell – perhaps they kept a low profile. However their life together was short. William Warris, file grinder died on 6 July 1909 at the Old Men’s Home in Claremont, aged 78 years, of Senile Decay and Cardiac Failure. He was buried on 7 July 1909 in the Church of England Cemetery, Karrakatta.
Having located and purchased William’s death certificate, I went to the Metropolitan Cemeteries Board index to locate his grave. I couldn’t find it. He is listed by the cemetery as William Warren. I thought it may have been a transcription error, but I ordered the Funeral Application Form from the Cemeteries Board, and it clearly states William Warren. It took a bit longer to locate Edith. If she was hoping for a new identity when she married William, she may have chosen the right person. Edith’s death is recorded as Edith Wallace by the Cemeteries Board. It was only by carrying out increasingly open searches (anyone with the first name Edith) and narrowing it down by age, that I finally located her, buried at Karrakatta. She is recorded as Edith Wallace and she died in the Claremont Hospital for the Insane on 10 December 1913. It is possible that the document trail is not silent on William and Edith’s time together, rather that they have been recorded with widely variant surnames. Also – William was recorded as 57 in 1901 and 78 and senile, just eight years later. I wonder who he was fooling when he gave his age at the time of his marriage to Edith.
I am still keen to learn more about Edith’s life. Since making contact with a member of the family, we have worked together to solve many of the puzzles that have remained unsolved over many years – locating Edith’s death, while a sad discovery (we had both hoped she had escaped and had a happy new life somewhere else), had remained completely unsolved until recently. We have not discovered any children of Edith Annie Smith Hasleby/Warris, so it appears she doesn’t have any descendents. Her status as a family ‘skeleton in the closet’ – not spoken of, and therefore not ‘remembered’, rendered her largely invisible after her ‘fall from grace’ and her imprisonments and lifestyle became common knowledge in the small community she had relocated to. The family she came to live with were known to Mary Ann, but they were not known (except through letters and family stories) to Edith. I have wondered how her life might have been different (hopefully better), had she stayed in England. But without her mother/aunt, Mary Ann, the last remaining member of the household she grew up in, she would have been left to rely totally on her own devices. A young unmarried woman without the support of her family had a difficult life.