Sarah Bell (1803–1853)

SARAH BELL served as the Matron of the Parramatta Female Factory alongside her husband THOMAS BELL, who took on the role of Factory Steward and Keeper. The Bells were the first married couple appointed to run the Factory together. In her own right, as Factory matron SARAH was one of a small group of women with an official government role and salary. Their tenure ended with her husband being accused of fraud and breach of trust, but he was never convicted.


Burial Location

  • Section 1, Row E, No. 8, St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta

Related Content

Sarah Bell: Female Factory Matron

By Jennifer McLaren

Abstract: A great deal of interest surrounded Sarah and Thomas Bell’s appointment as the first married couple placed in charge of the Parramatta Female Factory. Governor Bourke, for one, hoped the Factory, which had become ‘much more a Gaol than an Asylum,’ would subsequently be placed ‘upon an entirely new footing.’ The Bells also had their detractors who claimed they would have little impact, but during their tenure the lives of convict women at the Factory changed enormously; solitary confinement cells were constructed, the convict women were set to work as needleworkers and laundresses to generate revenue, and the Factory’s population soared beyond belief—literally. For the Bells, the Factory population statistics published regularly would come to haunt them when a former convict inmate turned Factory sub-matron with ‘a degree of animosity utterly hostile’ towards the Bells cried “fraud!” more>>


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# Irish

# Came free

# Ship: Cleopatra (1832)

# Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania)

# Parramatta Female Factory

# Matron

# Burial year: 1853

# Grave: marked