Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Sad Story of Emma Noad

Emma Amelia Noad (sometimes recorded as "Knowles") was my great great aunt. She was born in Melbourne in 1853, and when she was about 10 her parents separated. Her mother married William Flynn a few years later.

I came across an entry in the Children's Registers of State Wards in the Colony of Victoria in 1867. Emma was then aged 13. She had been  sentenced to two hours in gaol and two years at a reformatory. She was admitted to the Abbotsford Girls' reformatory on the same day. According to the Admissions Register, she was found in a brothel. Of course, I wondered why Emma had ended up in these circumstances.

Some answers were provided through the wonderful National Library of Australia Trove site. An article in the Melbourne Argus reported that:

"Margaret Reilly, seventeen years of age, and Emma Knowles, thirteen years of age, were accused of vagrancy. The former, a girl of prepossessing appearance, has only been in Melbourne about six months, but during the greater portion of that time she has been cohabiting with a Chinaman in Little Bourke Street. The little girl, Knowles, has been seen visiting this Chinaman's place several times recently, notwithstanding her mother's command that she was not to do so. She was ordered to be kept in the reformatory for two years; but Margaret Reilly was discharged, and is once more free to continue her abandoned course."

In another great resource - the index of Patients in Melbourne Hospital 1856-1905 produced by the Genealogical Society of Victoria, I found a reference to Emma's step-father, William Flynn. The hospital ward books recorded that William was a blind man and an alcoholic.

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