Academy for Young Ladies : Sarah and Thomas Bell, Matron and Keeper at the Parramatta Female Factory 1836-1843 - Sue Bell

Academy for Young Ladies

Sarah and Thomas Bell, Matron and Keeper at the Parramatta Female Factory 1836-1843

By: Sue Bell

Paperback | 24 July 2023

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Fascinated to discover that her great-great-grandparents, Sarah and Thomas Bell, had been matron and keeper at the Parramatta Female Factory, the author decided to research their lives. Her ancestors had arrived in Sydney from Ireland in 1832 and four years later were appointed to the factory.


Did they have the skills to manage the large number of female convicts at the factory? Did they understand the complexities of working for the government back in Britain?


Using records and newspaper reports from the period, the author reconstructs their story, revealing what happened as the number of female convicts in the factory grew, and the Bells were buffeted by events beyond their control as well as their own serious misjudgements.


To illustrate the story, the author has used drawings of scenes around Parramatta done by William Augustus Miles, Commissioner of Police at the time. These illustrations have been held for over 160 years by descendants of Sarah and Thomas Bell.

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