Catherine Edwards1

F, #80, b. 1762, d. 14 October 1818
Relationship5th great-grandmother of Timothy George Sheens
ChartsAncestors of Timothy George Sheens
Last Edited13 Oct 2015
Birth*1762 Dublin, Ireland1 
Transportation*26 September 1791 "Queen", Sydney, NSW;
Name: Catherine Edwards
Ship: Queen
Trial Place & Year: Dublin 1790
Sentence: 7 years
Age: 282 
Article*October 1791 NSW;
From the journal of Judge Advocate David Collins

On the first day of this month, information was received from Parramatta, that a body of twenty male convicts and one female, of those recently arrived in the Queen transport from Ireland, each taking a week’s provisions, and armed with tomahawks and knives, had absconded from that settlement, with the chimeral idea of walking to China, or of finding in this country a settlement wherein they would be received and entertained without labour …. A few days afterward the people in a boat belonging to the Albermarle transport, which had been down the harbour to procure wood on the north shore, met with the wretched female who had accompanied the men. She had been separated from them for three days, and wandered by herself, entirely ignorant of her situation, until she came to the water side, where, fortunately, she soon after met the boat. Boats were sent down the next day, and the woman’s husband was found and brought up to the settlement. They both gave the same absurd account of their design as before related, and appeared to have suffe4red very considerably by fatigue, hunger and the heat of the weather. The man had lost his companions forty eight hours before he himself was discovered; and no tidings of them were received for several days … Three of these miserable people were some time after met by some officers who were on an excursion to the lagoon between this harbour and Broken bay … These people were sent up to Parramatta, whence, regardless of what they had experienced, and might again suffer, they a second time absconded in a few days after they had been returned. Parties were immediately dispatched from the settlement, and thirteen of those who first absconded were brought in, in a state of deplorable wretchedness, naked, and nearly worn out with hunger.3 
ArticleNovember 1791 NSW;
From the journal of Capt. Watkin Tench of the Royal Marines

A very extraordinary instance of folly stimulated to desperation, occurred in the beginning of this month, among the convicts at Rose Hill. Twenty men and a pregnant woman, part of those who had arrived in the last fleet, suddenly disappeared with their clothes, working tools, bedding, and their provisions for the ensuing week, which had just been issued to them … In the course of a week the greatest part of them were either brought back by different parties who had fallen in with them; or were driven in by famine … The others, however, ashamed of the merriment excited at their expense, said that their reason for running away was on account of being over-worked, and harshly treated; and that they preferred a solitary and precarious existence in the woods, to a return to the misery they were compelled to undergo. One or two of the party had certainly perished by the hands of the natives; who had also wounded several others. I trust that no man would feel more reluctant than myself, to cast an illiberal national reflection; particularly on a people whom I regard, in an aggregate sense, as brethren, and fellow-citizens, and among whom, I have the honour to number many of the most cordial and endearing intimacies, which a life passed on service could generate – but it is certain that all these people were Irish.3 
Birth of Son1 April 1794 NSW;Principal=Edward Yardley4 
Birth of Daughter1795 Toongabbie, NSW;Principal=Ruth Yardley1 
Article9 March 1806 "The Sydney Gazette", NSW;
From the observation of persons resident in the flames by which his habitation was consumed, a suspicion arose that he was destroyed by human hands, and the house afterwards set on fire intentionally to conceal the wilful murder. On the first disclosure of the suspicion every probable means of determining it were promptly resorted to by Thomas Arndell, Esq. Magistrate at the Green Hills; who with the active aid and perseverance of Mr. Thompson, chief constable for the district, collected such information as at the present juncture to justify the strong presumption of his inhuman murder; in which we are shocked to state his wife was implicated on strong suspicion, and after undergoing a long examination before Mr. Arndell, was committed to the county gaol yesterday se'nnight. A Bench of Magistrates was yesterday convened, before whom a further investigation of this lamentable affair took place; when one principal circumstance in establishing the fact upon evidence appeared, that when the mutilated remains of the deceased were found among the ruins, the head alone remained uninjured by the flames; that the appearance of blood was at that time visible about the lower part of the face, which was very reasonably attributed to a violent blow from part of the building falling in upon him; but that in consequence of the subsequent suspicion, the interred remains were taken up and more minutely examined; when a handkerchief tied firmly about the head being unbound, discovered to the astonished spectators a large and ghastly aperture in the skull, which might indeed have been attributed to the above cause, did not the cavity appear to have been filled with cloths, and covered with a bandage, as was also the hair of the deceased, which was very much stained with blood. A man servant to the deceased, also in custody, pleaded an alibi; but was, with the woman, remanded for further examination.;Principal=William Yardley5 
Article*16 March 1806 "The Sydney Gazette", NSW;Mary Yardley and her servant Henry Murray underwent another examination for the suspected murder of the late unfortunate William Yardley.
John Campbell a settler at the next farm to that of the deceased, appeared to answer to the Bench such interrogatories relative to this unfortunate transaction as should be thought necessary. His depostion comprehended a narrative of all the circumstances attending it; the deponent was the first that rendered assistance in extinguishing the fire he had, at the hazard of his own life, attempted to get the decased [sic] out of the house, hoping that he might yet be saved; but upon the first touch found the body almost consumed, and desisted from any further attempt ; he was afterwards present at the Inquest taken on the body, and saw the handkerchief round the head, which he proposed taking off, owing to some little curiosity being excited by the appearance of blood under the nose: but was vehemently opposed by all his brother jurors, who concluded that to gratify so idle a curiosity could have no other end than to increase the horror, of the spectacle. His evidence with respect to Murray principally went to prove a dislike to his master ; and on being questioned as to the conduct and general deportment of Mary Yardley during the time, he said he conceived it becoming, and that she appeared sensibly affected. The compress about the head, however, was still a mystery which none could fathom. The Medical Gentlemen correspond in the opinion of its being a premeditated and deliberate murder ; and the Magistracy take every possible pains to discover its authors. - Both prisoners were remanded.;Principal=William Yardley6 
Death*14 October 1818 Lower Portland, NSW1 
Article5 December 1818 NSW;
Criminal Court,
The next trial was that of Richard Hayman, committed by the Coroner for the suspected murder of his mother-in-law, Mary Yardley, on or about Wednesday the 14th of October last, at Cumberland Reach, Portland Head. The evidence taken upon this trial was to the following effect: that the defendant was the husband of the deceased Mrs. Yardley’s daughter, by whom he had several children, towards his wife and whom he had always envinced the strongest marks of a sincere affection; from causes that none of the witnesses could delevop, Mrs. Yardley (the deceased) had so far disagreed with her son-in-law, (the defendant) as to compel him to leave her house and his won family, who had continued to live with her. On Wednesday the defendant went to Portland Head, from the upper parts of Hawkesbury, and breakfasted in the house of Mrs. Dorrington, which was near to that of the deceased, saying that he was going to cross the river. And was obliged to go so low down for the purpose of getting a boat, as he could not get one higher up. He was under the necessity of passing near Mrs. Yardley’s house; and scarcely left Dorrington’s before she entered, and seemed already agitated, but became much more so on hearing that he had gone that way. They were both seen ascending a steep activity, Mrs. Yardley far distant behind. The defendant dined with his wife and children on that day, but not with the deceased, with whom he had not been seen. He called at several of the neighbouring houses throughout all parts of the day, until four o’clock when he went to Knight’s, close to Yardley’s, & there remained an night; he went away next morning; he had no stick or weapon whatever, and had never been by any person observed to show any marks of agitation or concern, except upon the mention of his separation from his wife and children. His deportment was described to be mild and gentle; that of the deceased passionate and otherwise intemperate. The deceased was afterwards missing from her habitation, but for what space of time did not appear in evidence, and on the morning of the following Sunday was found dead a short distance from her own house, in a state, from which it was evident she had been dead for several days; a severe wound was on the back of the head, and a broken stick laying by her side, with a small stain upon it. The Inquest assembled on Monday morning, and the defendant attended, saying he had been informed by Mr. Howe, of Windsor, of the event. These were the circumstances brought out upon the trial; and as no particle of the evidence could at ah apply to the defendant, he was acquitted without being required to enter on a defence, and ordered to be immediately liberated.

Note: Richard Hayman's mother-in-law was Catherine Yardley nee Edwards;Principal=Richard Hayman7 


William Yardley b. 9 Nov 1757, d. 4 Dec 1805


  1. [S51] Tom Croucher Years of Hardship.
  2. [S156] The Convicts to Port Jackson 1788 - 1849, The Convicts to Port Jackson.
  3. [S166] Bob Reece Exiles from Erin.
  4. [S47] Microfilm Baptism, St Philips Sydney, 1787-1937.
  5. [S356] The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, Sunday, March 9th, 1806.
  6. [S356] The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, Sunday, March 16, 1806.
  7. [S154] Australian Newspapers,, Sydney Gazette, Saturday 5 December 1818.