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Sydney Gazzette

31 October 1827


     We briefly noticed in our last, as the circumstance was hastily communicated to us on Saturday evening, the fact of a riot having taken place on the morning of the same day, at the Factory in Parramatta. Since then, we have been made acquainted with further particulars. A short time previous to the resignation of the late Matron (Mrs. Raine), which took place on Friday evening last, it was found necessary to mulet some of the confines in their proportion of tea and sugar, & in consequence of which a general spirit of discontent was excited, and a determination to have revenge on the retiring Matron, was loudly proclaimed. Mrs. Raine, however, who had intimation of the gathering storm, took measures accordingly ; and, on Friday evening, was rescued by a party of constables, who were previously instructed, from the fury of a number of women, by whom she was assailed, in one of the rooms, a short time previous to her departure. On the following morning (Saturday), about 7 o'clock, the new Matron, Mrs. Gordon, being then in charge, the allowance of bread and sugar being stopped in consequence of the misconduct of the previous day, a considerable number of women broke out of the Factory ; but, persuaded by Mrs. Gordon and the constables, they returned in again, threatening at the same time, that, if the usual allowance of bread and sugar was not immediately forthcoming, they would tear down all before them. Some little delay ensued, and in about half an hour afterwards, a numerous party again assailed the gates, with pick-axes, axes, iron crows, & c. & c. the united force of which, wielded as they were by a determined and furious mob, soon left a clear stage, and the inmates of the Factory were quickly poured forth, thick as bees from a hive, over Parramatta and the adjoining neighbourhood. About one hundred came into town, exclusive of numbers that took different routes. Constables were seen running in all directions. A Captain, a Lieutenant, two serjeants; and about forty rank and file, were in immediate requisition by the Magistrates, and were seen flying in all directions with fixed bayonets, for the double purpose of securing the fugitives, and staying the mutiny ; and so violet were the Amazonian banditti, that nothing less was expected but that the soldiers would be obliged to commence firing on them. After a little time, however, numbers of those who broke loose were secured, and conducted back to old quarters under a military escort, shouting as they went along, and carrying with them their aprons loaded with bread and meat, for which, after the manner of a conquering army, they had laid the inhabitants of Parramatta and its vicinity under contribution. On their arrival at the Factory, Major Lockyer, the Superintendant of Police, at Parramatta, directed the ringleaders to be selected an confined in the cells, but so determined were the rioters, that, though opposed by a military force, they succeeded in rescuing their companions, declaring, that if one suffered, all should suffer. About forty, we understand, who took to the bush, towards Toongabbee, have not yet been retaken. A military guard is now stationed at the gates of the Factory, and Parramatta is again quiet.
       Since writing the above, we have been informed, that the number of missing, has, by the exertions of the pursuers, been reduced to nineteen.  §

Compiler Note:  In regard to the 28 Oct 1827 riot and breakout - the 2 January 1828 report of the Female Factory Board of Management for the six months ended 31 Dec. 1827 stated : "of the number which then escaped, only three are now at large." (HRA, Series I, vol. 14, p.187).

The Australian

Wednesday, 31 October 1827, p.3

Factory Frolics

     On Saturday the town of Parramatta presented a whimsical scene of bustle and rioting. Our ladies of factory had managed to defy stone walls and stout gates, and in no gentle humour to satisfy cravings of appetite with bread and beef, and whatever else "mote please a dainty palate", out of shops, and at the expense exclusively of several Parramatta householders, who could not generally avoid looking upon the scene with a degree of astonishment, strongly mixed, with the ludicrous. The women appeared as if they held together by one leading string. Some paraded the streets, clamouring and brawling, and looking as though animated with a spice of the spirit of the gentle poissards of the French Revolution - whilst others shewed little seeming disposition for deeds of strife, though "Playful as Peris let loose from their cages."
    The first sparklings of discontent appeared on Wednesday among the fair ones of No. 3, class, which mustered in number 130. Salt had been substituted for the ounce of sugar that each one had previously been served with, as a qualifier to her morning's meal of ominee - an arrangement which was no sweetener to the disposition of any of the ladies', however acceptable salt might be on the dinner platter, with occompaniment of bouille and vegetable aliment, they could not be brought to relish, or look upon it tranquilly, nor with other than eyes of loathing, when floating like ice upon their breakfast bowls of ominee ; and as the ounce of sugar had ceased, so they determined to cease working, till such time as it should be restored. The same day it was current throughout the town that the women shewed every disposition to pay the inhabitants outside a visit, and accordingly a body, composed of part of the ecclesiastical, civil, and military strength of Parramatta, proceeded to the factory, the yard of which was then in the uncontrolled possession of the women, who expressed their determination to admit none in the shape of intruders. They had already conveyed a constable out of the yard, and laid him fairly, and without hurt, by the heels, outside. Several of the more refractory spirits were, however, taken from among the gentler ones, and clapped in cooling cells under lock and key. The factory continued in a state of agitation till Saturday morning, when the storm raged fiercer than before. The ladies, by some means, got possession of tools, with which they belaboured most unmercifully the hinges and panels of one of the gates, till it left an opening, through which, in a joint and corporate body, all rushed, and dispersing through the town , proceeded to beat up the bakers' and butchers' quarters. Many of the bakers, sooner than be troubled in-doors with such customers, threw into the street whatever loaves the women required, which the latter then and there devoured with avidity. Another detachment shouting out "Starvation," proceed to dislodge from the stall of a butcher, where it was hanging ready for purchasers, a raw quarter of beef ; but while those fetes were going forward, the Police Magistrate was not idle - constables and others., his majesty's lieges, civil as well as uncivil, being called upon to assist in the work of peace making. The bugles sounded to call in the aid of the scattered soldiery, and the tocsin of the prisoner's barrack rang out a peal to the overseers of different working parties, to keep their men from mingling in the fray - such a scene of clamor, of trepidation, and uncertainty if the business boded weal or woe, does not often recur with all its tragi-comical importance. The storm rage too violently in the commencement to last long, the peaceably inclined gradually surrendered to the Magistrates, and others, who went about striving to restore order. Many of them had their aprons loaded with provisions, the spoils of vanquished bakers, and other inhabitants. Nineteen women managed to get off, and are thought to have joined the male runaways, who had made their escape from barracks - the remainder meekly surrendered to the magistrate, and were led back to the factory.
    When the "hurly burley" had somewhat subsided, the Magistrates formed a committee, which was employed investigating into the circumstances of the row, to a late hour of Saturday night.  §

Compiler Note:  A same issue editorial on the riot re the number involved stated - "two hundred women sallied out of the factory".

Transcribed by J. Raymond, Brisbane - 2000


The Sydney Herald

Monday, 22 August 1836, p.2, col 2

The Female Factory - The abuses which prevail in this penal establishment have long been matter of public notoriety ; and we have reason to know they are, at present, by no means decreasing either in extent or variety. The ungovernable impudence of female convict servants has long been a subject of complainant with those persons who have been constrained to employ them ; but this by no means surprises us when we look to the discipline maintained in the Female Factory - that only place for refractory women convicts. It is, we have had occasion to know, no very uncommon thing for some of these women to absent themselves for weeks from the service of their employers ; and when, for some gross impropriety they are sentenced by the magistrates to the "third class", if they should happen to be good needle women - expert in making up "slops" - they are very speedily released from punishment and taken into the special favour of the ruling powers. Some of them boast that they can get "two glasses of rum every day"," if they chose to work for them - that is assist in making up "slops" !  In short, we may as well say at once, that the abuses of the "Factory System" are such as call loudly on the British Government for "reform" ; and we very much mistake if "reform" is not approaching, and that with rapid strides. §

Transcribed by J. Raymond, Brisbane - 2000


Sydney Gazzette

11 October 1836

      The  Female Factory under the old system, was one of the most disgraceful establishments that any Colony ever supported, the damsels there confined when tired with the noise and bustle of the town, would give their masters and mistresses intimation that it was their intention to quit, and rusticate for a short time at Gordon Ville, where if a good hand at making up slop clothing, they could spend their leisure hours in the delights of smoking and Jamaica. At last the system has been altered, and the third class are now employed in performing evolutions round a circle to the tune of double quick time; this has had a powerful effect upon the ladies, who did not in the first instance, understand this innovation upon the comfortable and snug rules, and a revolt of the Factory took place ; a very pretty scene for the pen of a Dramatic writer, quite equal to the far-famed "Revolt de Sevail'. The refractory were however soon cooled by having lodgings provided for them in the cells ; the adoption of this plan has had beneficial results, assigned women now begin to think that rusticating in the country is not quite the thing, even in the heat of summer, and therefore remain quietly in town. The tread mill is talked of as likely to be brought into vogue at that establishment, if so the assigned women servants will not be half so troublesome as they have hitherto been. §

Transcribed by J.G. Raymond, Brisbane  - 2000