Jane Kelly was born circa 1830 in Athlone, Westmeath, Ireland to Patrick Kelly (-bef1849) and Isabella (-bef1849) and died 12 July 1872 St Vincents Hospital, Darlinghurst, New South Wales, Australia of Tuberculosis.

Immigration to New South Wales, 1849

19 year old Jane Kelly arrived in Sydney from Ireland on the ship "Digby" with her younger sister Isabella, 17, on 4 Apr 1849. Their parents were named and were recorded as deceased. Both girls could read and write. They also both had Church of England recorded for their religion, the same as about 25% of the other girls on the ship.

Jane Kelly and her sister Isabella came out to Australia as part of Earl Grey's Famine Orphan (or Pauper) Immigration Scheme which operated from 1848 to 1850 during the Irish potato famine. Under the scheme 4,112 destitute teenage female orphans (meaning the loss of one or both parents) were taken from workhouses throughout Ireland and transported to Australia for a better life.

Life in Goulburn, 1849-1850

On arrival in New South Wales Jane was indentured to work for James Chisholm (1806–1888) and his wife Elizabeth Margaret Kinghorne (1807-1894) on their large property "Kippilaw" that was located 6 miles (10km) west of Goulburn on the Goulburn to Gurrundah Road. Jane's duties focused around the impressive large homestead which had been built from locally convict quarried stone.

In January 1850 Jane was brought before the Goulburn Police Court for having absconded from her employment. The Goulburn Herald of 19 January 1850 reported:

IRISH ORPHANS - Jane Kelly, an Irish Orphan girl under indentures to J. W. Chisholm, Esq., of Mummel, was yesterday brought before the Police Court, on a charge of absconding from her service. By direction of the Bench, the indentures were cancelled.

The next record was that Jane had moved to Yass, 50 miles (80km) west of Goulburn, where Jane married on 4 November 1850.

Marriage of Jane Kelly to Thomas Lansdown

It had been passed down in the family of Thomas Lansdown (1817-1885) that he had been married to Jane Kelly, the mother of his eldest children. A marriage explained why Thomas Lansdown and Rebecca Best (1834-1921), in an era when divorce was the perogative of the rich, were not able to marry until after Jane's death, and why Thomas stated that he was a widower. It also explained why Jane Kelly never married the widower William Garner (1809-1868). A court case held in Sydney in January 1863 also evidenced that a marriage had taken place between the couple. No record of a marriage between Thomas Lansdown and Jane Kelly, however, had been able to be found. The only record of a marriage that had been found was a marriage between Jane Kelly and a Thomas Digby in Yass in 1850. It was believed, incorrectly, that Thomas Digby and Thomas Lansdown were different people, and that Thomas Digby must have died allowing Jane Kelly to marry Thomas Lansdown at a time and place that were unknown.

From research undertaken in April 2013 by the Goulburn & District Historical Society into Goulburn newspapers that had not been at that time not been digitised on-line by the National Library of Australia, it is now known from a report about a court case in December 1857 that Thomas Lansdown married Jane Kelly at the Presbyterian Church in Yass in 1850, and that the ceremony was performed by Rev Ritchie. The record of the wedding in Yass, however, is that the name of the groom in this wedding was recorded by the minister as "Thomas Digby", a "member of the Australian Presbyterian Church", who signed the register as "Thomas Degby". Thomas Lansdown and Thomas Digby are the same person. Thomas Lansdown, as Thomas Digby, married Jane Kelly at the Presbyterian Church in Yass on 4 November 1850, and the ceremony was performed by Rev William Ritchie. Witnesses to the wedding were Patrick Curran (c1813-1859), a publican at Yass, and his partner Ann Griffiths (c1818-).

Life in Yass with Thomas "Digby", 1850-1851

The first records of Thomas Digby, and his wife Mrs Ann Digby, are found in 1850 and show that they were living at Yass.

In 1850 and 1851 Thomas Digby is shown in the newspapers to be a brewer (Sydney Morning Herald 6 Nov 1850), confectioner (baker of cakes) (The Goulburn Herald and County of Argyll Advertiser 22 March 1851), and baker (Sydney Morning Herald 25 March 1851) at Yass. In April 1850 he signed a letter to the newspaper as one of the "inhabitants of the town and district of Yass". Alternative spellings for his surname that turn up in the records are Degby and Degley.

Newspapers of the day reveal that 50 girls from the Earl Grey scheme who had arrived at Sydney on 3 February 1850 on the "Thomas Arbuthnot" were sent to Yass. When the 50 Irish orphan girls arrived in Yass on 2 March 1850 looking for placements, heavily pregnant Mrs Ann Digby, hired 15 year old Bridget Canny (c1835-1869) for a period of 2 years. On 17 April 1850 Thomas Digby, together with other citizens of Yass, signed a letter mentioning the "general good conduct of the fifty girls who have obtained situations amongst us" from the "Female Irish Orphan Immigrants". Bridget Canny was soon, however, removed from the Digby household and resettled with more 'Christian people' as heavily pregnant Mrs Ann Digby had proved to be 'violent-tempered'. Thomas Digby Jnr conceived in late August 1849, was born in Yass in 18 May 1850. Unfortunately the baby only lived for 6 weeks. Subsequent events show that Mrs Ann Digby also died in 1850, but unfortunately it is not known when as there is no record of her death. It is possible that she had died in childbirth, or soon after.

On 4 November 1850 the widower Thomas Digby remarried. His bride was 20 year old Jane Kelly who had moved from Goulburn to Yass. Thomas was about 32 years old. (It would have been impossible for Thomas to remarry in such a small community as Yass in 1850 if his first wife Ann was not deceased.)

About 6 weeks after the wedding, in mid-December 1850, Thomas's and Jane's daughter Isabella was conceived.

Both Thomas and Jane were still living at Yass in March 1851 when a court case was held in Yass about property of Thomas's that had been stolen at Yass. Jane was mentioned in evidence, and Thomas was a witness. Before 4 September 1851, when their daughter Isabella was born, however, Thomas and Jane were living in Hunter Street, Sydney, and the newspapers show that uncollected mail for Thomas Digby was being returned from Yass to the central post office for New South Wales in Sydney. With the move to Sydney Thomas had changed the family surname from Digby to Lansdown.

It is not known why Thomas changed his name from Digby to Lansdown in 1851, or why he stopped being a baker. It is also not known why he subsequently settled with his family near Goulburn, especially as Goulburn is only 80km (50m) from Yass, with people regularly travelling between the two towns, Goulburn lying on the route from Yass to Sydney, and Yass lying on the route from Goulburn to Melbourne. It makes no sense for a man who had changed his name for whatever reason to live in an area where he would be recognised, but this is what he did.

Life in Sydney and Goulburn with Thomas "Lansdown", 1851-1856

By September 1851 Jane's husband Thomas had moved with her to Sydney and changed his name to Thomas Lansdown.

Their daughter Isabella Landstone(sic) (known as Isabella Lydia Lansdown), was born on 4 September 1851 in Sydney and christened on 6 October 1851 at St Mary's Catholic Cathedral, Sydney, as the daughter of Thomas Landstone(sic) and Jane Kelly (shown in the records by those names). Baby Isabella was named after Jane's sister & mother who were also both named Isabella. It is not known why Isabella was baptised at the Catholic Cathedral as immigration records record that Jane was protestant. (Isabella was also christened at the Presbyterian Church in Goulburn for a second time on 27 November 1857 confirming her date of birth, and her parentage. That she was born in Sydney is confirmed at her marriage in 1900, and at her death in 1911.)

Thomas and Jane's second daughter, Rebecca Jane Lansdown, was born on 25 December 1852 at "Springfield", Tirrannaville, 20 kilometres south of Goulburn, where Thomas had moved his family to work on the farm of William Pitt Faithfull (1806-1896). (Goulburn is about 80 km [50m] east of Yass.) Mary Anne Lansdown was born on 21 January 1854, followed by their son Thomas on 11 January 1855, and their daughter Ellen Henrietta on 26 January 1856. Birth records do not exist for these children, but their dates of birth are recorded at their baptism, together with their elder sister Isabella who was rebaptised from Catholic to Presbyterian, at the Presbyterian church in Goulburn in November 1857. The Presbyterian church recorded mother's maiden names. The record there shows the father as Thomas Lansdown and the mother as Jane Kelly for Jane's eldest 2 children and Mary(sic) Kelly for Jane's youngest 3 children.

Jane's relationship with Thomas Lansdown (1817-1885) broke down in late September 1856 when Thomas had "brutally beaten her (Jane's) naked body with a whip". At the time of the beating Jane had been 6 weeks pregnant with their next child. The beating that she received put Jane into hospital for 3 weeks. (Court documents, December 1857.) As a result Jane had been compelled to leave behind her 5 young children, from 5 year old Isabella to 7 month old Ellen. Jane also had no means to support herself, let alone her children.

Birth of Martha in May 1857: Jane Lansdown nee Kelly again becomes Jane Digby

When her next child, Martha, was born in May 1857 in Goulburn Hospital, Jane, who prior to her break-up with Thomas Lansdown had been known as Jane Lansdown, returned to their previous surname of Digby.

Jane named the new baby Martha Digby. Jane stated that her name was Jane Digby, that her maiden name was Jane Kelly, and that she had been born in Westmeath, Ireland, 25 (born about 1831). The details that she provided for her husband Thomas, Martha's father, was that he was Thomas Digby, a baker, born in Southampton, England, 37 (born about 1819).

Jane also stated on Martha's birth registration that she had previous living issue of 5 girls and 1 boy. She had misunderstood the question as the court case of December 1857 showed that 5 girls and 1 boy included Martha.

Christening of the Lansdown children, November 1857

On 27 November 1857, the Lansdown children who were living with their father Thomas Lansdown, that is Isabella, Rebecca, Mary Ann, Thomas and Ellen, were baptised at the Presbyterian Church in Goulburn. Isabella who had been previously baptised as Catholic was rebaptised as Presbyterian. Thomas's and Jane's then youngest child, Martha Digby, who was living with her mother Jane and had born in May 1857 after the break-up of her relationship with Thomas Lansdown (1817-1885), was not christened in this ceremony. This was because the older Lansdown children were living with their father Thomas Lansdown, the christening was arranged by Thomas Lansdown, and Jane was not invited to the christening due to the acrimosity between them. Thomas was then in a new relationship with Rebecca Best (1834-1921) who was at the time pregnant with their first child, and who had been helping to care for his children (court documents, November 1857, December 1857). Jane was named as the mother of the children, but the minister was not able to record her name correctly and recorded the mother's name as Jane Kelly for the record of Isabella's and Rebecca's christenings, but as Mary Kelly for Mary Ann's, Thomas's, and Ellen's.

Tuesday, 29 December 1857: 1st day of court case of December 1857

In December 1857 Jane and Thomas Landown were before the court in Goulburn with Jane, using the name of Jane Lansdown, sueing Thomas Lansdown for spousal maintenance. Their older children with the surname of Lansdown, Isabella, Rebecca, Mary Ann, Thomas and Ellen then ranging in age from 1 to 6 years, were living with Thomas Lansdown. Their youngest child, baby Martha Digby 7 months old, who had been born after Jane had been compelled to leave the family home leaving behind her older children, was living with Jane. At the time that this case was before the courts Jane was pregnant to her newly-widowed new partner William Garner (1809-1868), and Thomas was expecting his first child with his new partner Rebecca Best (1834-1921).

There is much to be learnt about both Jane Kelly and her husband Thomas Lansdown from this case that was reported in the "Goulburn Herald" on Wednesday 30 December 1857.

Standing before the court was "Thomas Lansdowne, of Goalago(sic), appeared to show cause why he should not be compelled to support his wife, Jane Lansdowne". Jane was being represented by Mr C.H. Walsh, and Thomas was representing himself.

First, however, Jane had to establish that she was married to Thomas, otherwise she had no grounds on which to sue for maintenance. Placed before the court was an affidavit from Jane stating that "in the year 1850, she was married to Thomas Lansdowne, at Yass, by the Rev. Mr. Ritchie, a Presbyterian minister; that the clergyman has since died; and that she had not the means to procure the attendance of the two witnesses to the marriage". The affidavit met the conditions of proof of marriage, and the case was able to proceed. The interesting thing about this evidence is that Jane had not married "Thomas Lansdown" in 1850 at Yass but "Thomas Digby". This shows that Thomas Lansdown and Thomas Digby were the same person, that is that Thomas Lansdown also went by the name of Thomas Digby.

Jane's case

Mr C.H. Walsh opened Jane's case by stating that "if what his client related was true – and there was no reason to doubt that – hers was one of the most pitiable tales that could be well heard". He summarised Jane's case as follows:

"She was married to the defendant, at Yass, in the year 1850, and had several children by him. Some fifteen or eighteen months back, the husband ordered her to bring a charge of rape against a man in his employ, and on her refusing to do so he beat her so severely that she had to go into the hospital, where she remained under surgical treatment for three weeks. Since that time Lansdowne had taken another woman to live with him, and of course his home was no longer a fit residence for his wife."

Jane was placed into the witness box and stated that she had left the family home in September 1856. The day before she left Thomas had "tied me up to what he called the triangles. He said that they were used for punishment in the old times of the colony. Such of my clothes as he could not tear off he cut with a knife. While undressed, he struck me on the bare back with a whip, which I think he must have made for the purpose"..."My breast and stomach, as well as my back, were much hurted"..."I was six weeks advanced in pregnancy when he thrashed me." (She had since "been confined" or given birth.)

Jane gave evidence that the next day she made it into Goulburn (20 kilometres or more) and went to see Rev William Sowerby (1799-1875), a Church of England minister, who managed to get her admitted into the hospital so that her wounds could be dressed. Jane had then "remained in the hospital, under Dr. Hanford’s treatment, for three weeks". These circumstances demonstrate that when Jane left the family home to go into Goulburn for help, which had resulted in her being hospitalised for 3 weeks, she had been compelled to leave her 5 children, the youngest being a baby of only 7 months, behind with their father.

Jane also gave evidence that before she had been beaten her husband Thomas Lansdown had wanted her to bring rape charges "against a man who was living with him" (his Employee Burns). "He told me if I would not do that he would have my “bare life.” He had thought of other charges against this man, but none would do so well as rape, as he said it would make me a party to the man’s committal. In consequence of my refusal to enter into his plans, he beat me." She added "I dare not continue to live with him after his ill-treatment".

Jane finished her evidence with a statement about Thomas's means, their children, and her attempt to get her children back.

"The defendant is a splitter; he has a farm, and carts and horses, and cattle, and is altogether well to do. I have six children by Lansdowne; five are living with him. I offered to take the children if he would give me a small sum of money to set me up in business in Goulburn. He would not give me any assistance whatever." (Thomas's sixth child who was not living with him was baby Martha Digby who had been born after the Jane had left the family home.)

Sarah Jane Ash (c1775-1860), a "very old woman" (82 years of age) then gave evidence. This evidence was designed to reflect on the moral character of Thomas Lansdown. Sarah's evidence was that she had "taking charge of the children" and lived with the family for about 12 months. About 9 months after starting to care for the children (about June 1857) Thomas Lansdown had brought "a young woman" into the home and "two lived together afterwards as man and wife". She added that "In consequence of this conduct, I left Lansdowne’s house. The woman Rebecca is near her confinement", that is pregnant.

Rev William Sowerby, a Church of England minister, then gave evidence for Jane. He stated that she was "admitted to the Hospital on my application". He added as a testimonial of Jane's character that he had seen or heard of Jane frequently since she had moved into Goulburn (in late September 1856) and that "she has behaved with great propriety" (conforming to conventionally accepted standards of behavior or morals). In regard to Thomas Lansdown he stated:

I made a personal application to the defendant for support for his wife; he refused to give anything, or to have anything more to do with her. He alleged as a reason that she had been unfaithful to him.

Rev John Watson, another Church of England minister, was Jane's last character witness. He gave evidence that Jane had been working for him, that she "has been in my service for the last five months past"..."Her engagement with me as servant has ceased." He added, "She is a remarkably quiet and well-behaved young woman."

Thomas's case

Thomas, who was defending himself, "declined to put any questions to the witnesses, but made a long statement in justification of his conduct." He admitted that Jane was his wife, but stated that she had been "unfaithful to him". "He admitted giving her some blows with a cord on the occasion referred to in her evidence, but emphatically denied having her tied up to triangles. He struck her in his rage on discovering her in the very act of adultery."

Thomas also accused Jane of the following:-

  • Leaving the family home on 3 separate occasions.
  • "In consequence of her bad conduct" Jane had caused him to leave Yass.
  • That when Jane was living in Sydney, on one of his returns from the (gold-)diggings he had "found her in a house of ill-fame". "On another occasion, Jane introduced a woman of infamously bad character to his house, under the pretence that she was her sister."
  • "Since he had been living in the neighbourhood of Goulburn, Jane left her home with a man, and remained away for three weeks at a stretch."

Thomas then stated that in April 1857 he had seen Jane at the Goulburn Hospital. He gave evidence that "Her conduct was very violent; she threatened to take his life, and pursued him with a large knife as far as Mr. Bradley’s wheat paddock." The reporter added: "[This portion of the man’s statement is true. The poor woman was at the time suffering from puerperal mania.]" Thomas has to have mistaken his dates when he gave this evidence as puerperal mania is the sudden onset of psychotic symptoms following childbirth, and Martha was not born until May 1857. Puerperal mania is rare and it is unlikely that Jane was actually suffering from it. It is more likely that her anger over the beating that she had received, and Thomas's refusal to help her earn a living so that she could get her children back, had surfaced and she was unable to control her rage. (It is interesting to note that Thomas visited Jane in hospital after the birth of their sixth child, Martha Digby.) Thomas added in his statement to the court that "after her conduct to him he refused to admit her to his home again on any terms; he would be constantly in fear of his life".

As a result of the previous evidence and Thomas's statement it was now clear that Jane feared for her life at the hands of Thomas Lansdown, and that Thomas claimed that he feared for his life at the hands of Jane. By refusing to admit Jane "to his home again on any terms" he was denying Jane any access to her older children.

Thomas then spoke to his having "taken another woman to live with him". "What could he do?" he said. "He had five young children, deserted by their mother to take care of." In this he not only made an excuse for his behaviour, but accessed Jane of having deserted her children.

Thomas then addressed the character references that had been provided for Jane by Rev William Sowerby and Rev John Watson. He said that "What had been stated by the Rev. gentlemen as to his wife’s conduct might be true. She had been making a mantle (putting on an act) with which to hide her faults."

When Thomas had finished the magistrate then asked Thomas if he could prove his statements to the court. Thomas said that he had no witnesses in attendance, but if the case were adjourned he would produce some.

Jane's legal counsel, Mr Walsh, had no objection to an adjournment, provided that Thomas would name his witnesses.

Thomas said that he would call "Mr. Huggart, Mr. Faithfull’s superintendent, who could prove that she was absent from her home for three weeks on one occasion."

The magistrate then asked Thomas "But can he support your more serious charge, that your wife has been unfaithful to you." Thomas replyied to this question "No, your worship."

The case was then remanded to resume in 2 days time on the Thursday.

Thursday, 31 December 1857: 2nd day of court case of December 1857

On Tuesday 29 December 1857 was resumed the hearing of what the reporter of the "Goulburn Herald" called "this extraordinary case". In recapping the case in the newspaper of Saturday 2 January 1858, the reporter wrote that on the first day of the court case Thomas Lansdown had justified "his refusal to pay maintenance to his wife" because "she had been unfaithful to him". Jane had given evidence to the court that in September 1856 Thomas had "brutally beaten her naked body with a whip". Thomas's evidence had not denied the beating, but he had given as the reason for the beating that on that day he had found Jane with his employee Burns in "an improper intimacy".

On this second day of the case Thomas, in defense of his conduct, placed a letter dated March 1857 before the court "purporting to have been written by his wife." He said he had forgotten about the letter previously, but now wanted it read before the court as it would show the "abominable nature of his wife's conduct". He also desired to have Jane re-sworn in order that he may put questions to her. The letter which was signed "your affectionate wife Jane" had a tone "intended to bring about a reconciliation between the husband and the wife" and contained "admissions and exculpations [excuses] in about equal proportions". The admissions in the letter included that Burns had been in her bedroom, that he had "pulled her about" on various occasions, that she had not told her husband as she feared he would want her to take Burns to court "and she was averse to that course from motives of delicacy". The construction of other parts of the letter admitted by implication that there had been improper intimacies between Jane and Burns, and that Jane had not been guilty of "bad conduct" until the "wretch" Burns had "taken liberties" against her consent (that is until after Burns had raped her). Jane's legal counsel, Mr C.H. Walsh, privately read the letter and then retired from the court for a few minutes to consult with his client, Jane. On his return to the court he addressed the Bench and stated that "the letter, if a genuine one, would be a complete answer to the case for the prosecution, for it amounted to an actual confession of 'guilty' to the charges brought against the woman by her husband". His client, however, "most expressly denied" that she had written the letter. She said that the handwriting was not hers, and nor had she authorised another person to write the letter for her. He had read parts of the letter to his client, and she said that she had never, on any occasion, stated anything of the kind. She said that all the statements were utterly untrue. He believed his client to be telling the truth, "and if such were the case a greater piece of rascality than that of which the defendant [Thomas] had been guilty could not well be brought before any court of justice". Walsh stated that Lansdown, anticipating that at some time he may be before the courts as he was on that day, had deliberately written the letter himself, had mailed it to himself back in March 1857 so that the post-mark of the Goulburn Post Office would appear on the letter with a March date to "give to it the appearance of genuiness", had then put the letter aside and produced it today "to bolster his disgraceful charges against his wife". He asked the Bench if they could really believe, if it was a genuine leter, that Thomas had not produced this letter on the first day in court because he had forgotten about such such an important document.

Thomas then told the court that he had not forgotten the letter but had not been able to find it as it had been mislaid. He had only found the latter subsequent to the last hearing (2 days earlier). Walsh then again addressed the court stating that it was improbable that Thomas's statement was true. He then proposed to put Jane back on the stand to "give her version of the matter". Jane gave evidence that she never wrote the letter, nor asked anyone else to write it for her. She said the document was in the handwriting of Thomas Lansdown.

Thomas "vehemently declared that he had not written the letter". As proof of this Thomas produced for the court a document bearing the date 4 September 1856 purporting to be a receipt for wages signed by the man Burns. The body of the receipt was in Thomas's hand, and Thomas claimed that their Worships would be able to see that the writing in the two documents was dissimilar. Jane's Walsh then stated that Thomas had just proved Jane's case. The receipt was not genuine. It should have been dated 24 September and not 4 September, and, although the paper had been crumpled and dirtied to give it an old appearance, the ink was hardly dry. (It was the statement about the dates that show that the horsewhipping occurred in late September 1857.) Walsh contended that if their Worships compared the two documents they would find that the handwriting was the same and that they were written by the same person. Thomas had already admitted writing the receipt dated September 1856, so he had then to be the author of the latter dated March 1857. Their Worships Police Magistrate Jenkins, and Messrs. Thomas Gibson and W. Chatfield did inspect the two documents, and agreed in their opinion with Walsh, Jane's legal counsel, that the two documents that Thomas Lansdown had produced had been written by the same person, and that therefore the letter had been written by Thomas Lansdown.

Jane was awarded 8s per week maintenance to be paid by Thomas Lansdown to the Chief Constable. Thomas was also ordered to pay Jane's legal costs to her counsel, Mr Walsh, of 3 guineas (£3 3s) and costs of the court.

Life in Goulburn with William Garner, 1857-1862

In May 1857 Jane was in Goulburn Hospital giving birth to her daughter Martha Digby. Co-incidentally at about the same time Mary Ann Garner nee McCann (c1815-1857), the wife of carrier William Garner (1809-1868) and mother of his 4 children, was diagnosed with cancer.

In June or July 1857 Jane and her young baby Martha moved in with William Garner (court records, January 1863) before his wife Mary Ann McCann died in November 1857 after being terminally ill with cancer for 6 months. Jane had fallen pregnant with their first child in mid-August 1857 while she had continued to work in the service of Rev John Watson. It can only be assumed that William Garner had set up 2 households, one for his wife Mary Ann and their children, and one for Jane and her baby Martha. When William Garner's wife Mary Ann died on 3 November 1857 William Garner played the part of the grieving husband placing an appropriate death notice in the newspaper and paying for a head-stone for Mary Ann's grave with a inscription lamenting her loss.

In late December 1857 was Jane's court case against her husband Thomas Lansdown (1817-1885) suing for maintenance. In late December 1857 Jane was 4½ months pregnant with her first child to newly-widowed William Garner (1809-1868) whose wife had died nearly 2 months previous on 3 November 1857, and with whom she was living. Regardless Jane had been supporting herself and Thomas's daughter baby Martha by working. Jane had been working for the "last five months past" as a servant for Rev John Watson, but this job had now ceased. Jane was awarded spousal maintenance of 8s a week to be paid by Thomas to the Chief Constable each week. Thomas was also ordered to pay to the Chief Constable Jane's professional costs of 3 guineas (£3 3s) and the costs of court.

On 12 May 1858 Jane's first child by William Garner was born. No birth records exist for this child, Ann Jane Digby, but her date of birth has been retained by her descendants. Her year of birth is also confirmed from independent sources. That Ann Jane was the daughter of William Garner was confirmed by later court records (January 1863).

Ann Jane was followed by William on 28 November 1860. (Jane was extremely fertile having her children often only 12 months apart, and the 21 month gap between Ann Jane and William is the largest gap in Jane's births.) Baby William was baptised on 18 January 1861 at Goulburn as William Gernar(sic) the son of William Gernar(sic), carrier, and Jane Gernar(sic). Baby William's birth was registered as William Digby, father unknown. Little William died at the age of 4 months on 19 April 1861, and his death was registered as William Gardner(sic), father William Gardner(sic) and mother Jane Digby. His age was recorded as 5 months, and the cause of death was an 'accident' with the illness lasting 3 months.

Jane was soon pregnant again and on 20 March 1862 Jane gave birth to her daughter Cecilia Digby, at Tarlo 20km north of Goulburn. Cecilia's birth was strangely registered as William Minn Digby, male child, father unknown. That this child was a girl named Cecilia who was the daughter of William Garner was confirmed by later court records (January 1863), and records of the Sydney Benevolent Asylum. That this was not a twin birth with the boy dying at a young age is also confirmed by the court records of January 1863. In this court case Jane stated that she had born three children to William Digby, who it is known from other records were Ann Jane (1858), William (1860), and Cecilia (1862).

Jane's last child with William Garner was conceived at Tarlo in mid-July 1862. This child was not due until April 1863.

In September 1862 Jane was then "compelled to leave his (Willaim's) house for want of means of subsistence, he being away from home on a journey" (court records, January 1863), taking her children with her. She left behind those of William Garner's children from his 1st marriage who were living with them, and William Garner's second eldest child, 12 year old Catherine Garner, died at Tarlo on 18 October 1862.

Leaving William Garner's house, pregnant Jane took her children, Martha (5), Ann Jane (4) and baby Cecilia (8m), with her on the long journey to Sydney, arriving there on 8 December 1862.

Life in Sydney from 1862 to 1872

During this time Jane mainly used the name of Jane Digby, but occasionally also used the name of Jane Lansdown.

On 8 December 1862 Jane arrived at the Sydney Benevolent Asylum with a baby in her arms, and two young children at her feet. The Benevolent Asylum had been opened in 1821 by Governor Macquarie to care for the infirm and the destitute. It was located on the corner of Pitt and Devonshire Streets, Sydney on a site now occupied by Central Railway Station. In 1851 the Sydney Benevolent Asylum had become a female only institution, and in 1852 it began to also care for orphaned children. In 1854 in the north wing of the Sydney Benevolent Asylum, where the hospital facilities were located, an obstetric unit was opened particularly for single women, but not excluding married women who were deserted or destitute. Jane was on the door-step of the Sydney Benevolent Asylum because she was pregnant, abandoned, and destitute.

Jane's desperation in her current plight was displayed by her having walked with her children the 200km from Goulburn to Sydney in search of support. Sydney Benevolent Asylum records on their admission state that Jane was 31 (she was 32), Martha was 6 (she was 5), Ann Jane was 3 (she was 4), and Cecilia was 10m (she was 8m). The records also state that "the father of the above children William Gardner(sic) with whom she has been co-habitating has since deserted her and the children, a warrant is issued against him for support of the children."

On Tuesday 30 December 1862 baby Cecilia died in the Sydney Benevolent Asylum at the age of 9 months (recorded age 10m) from exhaustion caused by "inanition during dentition" (lack of nourishment during teething). Taking her young children to the Sydneu Benevolent Asylum had not saved the life of Jane's baby.

On Wednesday 31 December 1862 William Garner was apprehended in Goulburn and brought before Goulburn Police Court being charged with disobeying a summons from the Sydney Bench. He was bound over on his own recognisance to appear before the bench on the Tuesday of the next week. ("Goulburn Herald", 3 January 1863)

On Tuesday 6 January 1863 William Garner was again before the court being charged with unlawfully deserting his two illegitimate children [Ann Jane and Cecilia] and leaving them without means of support. Reported in the "Empire" of 8 January 1863, Jane Digby gave evidence that she was a married woman who lived apart from her husband who lived apart from her husband up the country, beyond Goulburn. In 1857 she had "contracted an intimacy with the defendant, the result of which was that she had two children of whom he was the father [Ann Jane and Cecilia]. One of the children had died about a month ago [an exaggeration as Cecilia had died only a week before on the day that William Garner had first appeared in court], and the other [Ann Jane] was left destitute, without any means of support. William Garner denied paternity of the child [Ann Jane] although he admitted "having co-habited with the woman Digby". The Bench remanded the case for one week to give the parties an opportunity to reach an amicable arrangement.

However, before the week was out, on Friday 9 January 1863, William Garner was again before the court to continue the case against him of deserting his illegitimate child. The "Sydney Morning Herald" of 10 January 1863, and the "Goulburn Herald" of 14 January 1863, reported that William Garner was appearing before the court to answer Jane Digby's complaint that he had "deserted a female illegitimate child [Ann Jane], of which he was the father and she was the mother". Jane stated that she was a married woman and had last seen her husband in 1856. She also stated that she believed her husband was living somewhere in the colony. It is known from the court documents of December 1857 that December 1857 was the last time that she had seen her husband Thomas Landsown. It is alo known that Jane knew exactly where Thomas was living. Jane's testimony on this point was designed to make her make her next admission, that she had begun living with William Garner in June or July 1857, appear less morally damning. Jane next stated that she had begun to live with William Garner in June of July 1857 "as his wife". It is known that Jane conceived her 1st child with William Garner in mid-August 1857, but that William Garner's first wife was still living until November 1857. Therefore Jane could not have begun to live with William Garner "as his wife" this early. William Garner never disputed this point as it was the date that Jane moved into his house, and also the approximate date that their sexual relationship had begun. Jane testified that she had lived with William Garner until September 1857 bearing him 3 children during that time [Ann Jane, William, and Cecilia], 2 of whom were dead [William and Cecilia]. Jane had been compelled to leave William's house for "want of a means of substance" as William had been away from home on a journey. Jane had seen William in Goulburn in October 1857 and had asked him for assistance to live and he had at that time given her about 5s. In December, when she had been travelling on foot to Sydney with the 2 children of William Garner's then living [Ann Jane and Cecilia] , William had passed her with his team [of oxen] on the road, but he had taken no notice of them. Jane stated that William had 2 teams [of oxen] and could make about £40 a month. She also stated that she was residing at the Benevolent Asylum, where the younger of the 2 children of William Garner's that she had brought to Sydney [Cecilia] had died in the previous month [December 1857] of the "effect of previous starvation". When William was placed on the stand and examined he no longer denied paternity of the two of his children that Jane had brought to Sydney with her [Ann Jane, Cecilia]. He only contradicted Jane's statement that he had taken no notice of Jane and the children as he passed them on the road as they were walking to Sydney. He stated that he had not seen them and had not known that they were there. The "Empire" of 10 January 1863 more fully reported William's testimony. It stated that his evidence was that in the year 1857 he had begun to live "with a woman named Jane Digby", at Goulburn, and that she had lived with him about 3 years (it was longer). Jane had 3 children [Martha, Ann Jane, Cecilia], 2 by him [Ann Jane, Cecilia] and the one before the court (that he was charged with deserting) was the older of the two [Ann Jane]. He had not been aware (before being told in court a few days earlier) that the youngest child [Cecilia] had died of starvation since Jane had arrived in Sydney. He did have a team [of oxen] and he was a carrier on the road. William was ordered to pay 7s 6d weekly maintenance for the female illegitimate child [Ann Jane] for 12 months, costs of the court, and 10s 6d professional costs for Jane's legal counsel.

The reporting in the Goulburn newspaper of this case between Jane and William Garner informed Jane's husband Thomas Lansdown that Jane was in Sydney, information that he was able to pass on to Jane's eldest children Isabella (11), Rebecca (10), Mary Ann (nearly 9), Thomas (8) and Ellen (nearly 7).

On 13 January 1863 Jane discharged herself and Martha (5) and Ann Jane (4) from the Sydney Benevolent Assylum 'at her own request'.

On 29 January 1863 Martha (5) and Ann Jane (4) were admitted back into the Sydney Benevolent Asylum with their mother Jane being sent to the watchhouse drunk. From this time forward Jane is often in trouble with the law for drunken behaviour as she attempts to drown her sorrows, and ease her broken heart, in the bottle.

On 7 April 1863 Jane was back in the Sydney Benevolent Asylum, in the maternity section, giving birth to her new baby who she also named Cecilia.

On 2 September 1863 Jane discharged herself and Martha (6) and Ann Jane (5) and new baby Cecilia (4m) from the Sydney Benevolent Assylum 'at her own request'.

On 28 November 1863 Ann Jane (5) and baby Cecilia, now 7 months old, were admitted back into the Sydney Benevolent Asylum.

On 7 December 1863, just over a week later, baby Cecilia was discharged from the Sydney Benevolent Asylum 'to the mother'. Ann Jane (5) remained in the Sydney Benevolent Asylum.

On 9 January 1864 the 12-month maintenance order against William Garner ceased. Jane was again destitute.

On Sunday night 31 January 1864 baby Cecilia, now 9 months old, was readmitted to the Assylum. The entry in the admission book for Monday 1 February reads "thrown over the fence" and "found between 7 and 8 on Sunday evening, Digby Cecilia 8 months". Jane at this stage still had Martha with her. It was a desperate emotional state that caused Jane to throw her baby over the fence rather than to deliver her to the front door.

On 23 March 1864 Ann Jane (5) was discharged from the Sydney Benevolent Asylum and sent to the Randwick Asylum for Destitute Children. She was recorded in the records of the Randwick Asylum for Destitute Children as being 5 years of age, the illegitimate child of Jane Digby a "bad character". (8 years later on 3 May 1872, at the age of nearly 14, Ann Jane was apprenticed as a servant to Robert Henry Kennedy of "Collingwood", Gunning.)

On 14 April 1864 baby Cecilia, now 12 months old, died in the Sydney Benevolent Asylum of "dentition" (teething). Her parents were listed as unknown. Jane, who had left Cecilia at the Sydney Benevolent Asylum in the belief that Cecilia would be better off there was to find that her child died in their care.

On 1 June 1864 Martha (7) was admitted back into the Sydney Benevolent Asylum with the notation "Digby Martha 7 native C.E. (church of England) illegitimate child of Jane Digby whose history is in the books". Jane now had none of her children with her.

On 11 August 1864 Jane was before the Sydney courts, as Jane Lansdown, being charged with vagrancy, but she was discharged.

In December 1864 Jane was jailed at Darlinghurst Gaol for "riotous behaviour".

In August 1865 Jane acted as a witness in a theft case. She ststed she was living in Sussex Street, Sydney. The case invloved a shawl taken from Bridget Hegney, a fellow "Dibgy" ship orphan.

In February 1866 Jane, alias Martha Digby, was jailed for 1 month for "riotous behaviour in a public street".

On 9 July 1866 Jane, as Jane Lansdown, was gaoled for 7 days for "riotous conduct in the public streets". Bridget Hegney was also gaoled.

On 6 August 1866 Martha (9) was discharged from the Sydney Benevolent Asylum and sent to the Ransdwick Asylum for Destitute Children where she joined her younger sister Ann Jane (8). She was recorded in the records of the Randwick Asylum for Destitue Children as being 11 years of age, the illegitimate child of Jane Digby a "bad character". (3 years later on 1 September 1869, at the recorded age of 13 [she was 12], Martha was apprenticed to the Ransdwick Asylum for Destitute Children, which meant that she did not have to then leave her younger sister Ann Jane who was then 11.)

On 31 October 1868 William Garner died at Yass.


Jane Kelly died of tuberculosis at the age of about 42 on 12 July 1872 in St Vincents Hospital, Darlinghurst, Sydney. Her death was recorded under the name of Jane Digby. Tragically she died alone without family so few personal details were able to be recorded on her death registration. The only details known to the matron of the hospital were that Jane was about 40 years old (born about 1832), had been born in Ireland, and had been in Australia for 23 years (1849). Jane had been sick in hospital for 3 months and 1 week prior to her death. Jane was buried by the nuns at the hospital in an anonymous gave at Section M1, Lawn 4, No 594 in the Catholic section of Rockwood Cemetery.

Not Bridget Kelly (c1814-1872) who died in Goulburn in 1872

For a long time it has been assumed that Jane Kelly died in Goulburn in 1872 and that her death was registered under the name of Bridget Kelly. Bridget Kelly (c1814-1872), however, was a completely different person. Bridget Kelly died on 2 June 1872 in Cole Street, Goulburn at the stated age of 58 (born about 1814). She had been born in Limerick, Ireland as Bridget Egan, and had been in Australia about 26 years (immigrated about 1846). She had married in Ireland to John Kelly. She had 2 sons living, and 3 sons and 1 daughter deceased. She was given a Catholic burial.

Not Bridget Kelly the daughter of Daniel Kelly (c1790-) & Ann Whelan (c1802-)

For a long time it had also been assumed that the Bridget Kelly who died in Goulburn in 1872 was born in 1822 in Paramatta as the daughter of Daniel Kelly (c1790-) and Ann Whelan (c1802-). It had also been assumed that their daughter Bridget was Jane Kelly. Neither of these assumptions are correct. Their daughter Bridget Kelly was Bridget Margaret Kelly (1822-1916) who married George Sweeney in 1842, had a daughter Ellen Sweeney (1844-1870), and she died at Hunters Hill in 1916 with her death registered under the name of Bridget Margaret Sweeney, father Daniel Kelly, mother Ann Whelan. This Bridget was also known as Biddy (not Jane) and was shown with her father Daniel Kelly in the 1828 census of New South Wales by her middle name of Margaret, aged 5.


Offspring of Jane Kelly and Thomas Lansdown (1817-1885)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Isabella Lydia Lansdown (1851-1911) 4 September 1851 Hunter Street, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 12 July 1911 Orange, New South Wales, Australia Thomas Narin Thomas Narin Henry Conquit (1863-1906)
Rebecca Jane Lansdown (1852-1923) 25 December 1852 Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia 6 November 1923 Orange, New South Wales, Australia John Dyger John Dyger David Forrester (1839-1907)
Mary Anne Lansdown (1854-1921) 21 January 1854 "Springfield", Tirranaville, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia 28 March 1921 Marrickville, New South Wales, Australia Charles Gale (1852-1877) David Dyger Charles Gale (1852-1877) David Dyger David Lamb Sutherland (1860-1924)
Thomas Lansdown (1855-) 11 January 1855 "Springfield", Tirranaville, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia
Ellen Henrietta Lansdown (1856-1932) 26 January 1856 "Springfield", Tirranaville, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia 8 June 1932 Katoomba, New South Wales, Australia Walter Hardy (c1850-1904)
Martha Digby (1857-1926) 18 May 1857 Goulburn Hospital, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia 20 August 1926 Petersham, New South Wales, Australia William Hugh Rabbits Craddock (1845-1889) William Hugh Rabbits Craddock (1845-1889) George Jager

Offspring of Jane Kelly and William Garner (1809-1868)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Ann Jane Digby (1858-1943) 12 May 1858 Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia 1943 Bronte, New South Wales, Australia John Poulter (1855-1936)
William Digby Garner (1860-1861) 28 November 1860 Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia 19 April 1861 Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia
Cecilia Digby (1862-1862) 20 March 1862 Tarlo, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia 30 December 1862 Sydney Benevolent Asylum, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Cecilia Digby (1863-1864) 7 April 1863 Sydney Benevolent Asylum, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 14 April 1864 Sydney Benevolent Asylum, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia



Footnotes (including sources)

¶ Death
  • She died after 3 months and 1 week in hospital. St Vincents was a Catholic hospital that did charity work.