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.
- Section 1, Row E, No. 8, St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta
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>>
- Bell Family Collection UQFL79: Manuscript Finding Aid, University of Queensland, https://www.library.uq.edu.au/fryer-library/ms/uqfl79.pdf, accessed online 26 May 2019.
- Sue Bell, “A Trip to County Galway, Ireland,” Genealogical Society of Queensland Inc Blog (2018), https://gsq-blog.gsq.org.au/a-trip-to-county-galway-ireland/#_ftn3, accessed online 26 May 2019.
- Sue Bell, “Special Feature – Sarah Bell and Thomas Bell,” Parramatta Female Factory Friends Inc. Newsletter, 14, (March/April 2017), p. 5.
- Elizabeth Malcolm and Dianne Hall, A New History of the Irish in Australia (Sydney: NewSouth Publishing, 2018).
- Laurel May Heath, (MA Thesis), “The Female Factories of New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land: An Examination of their Role in Control, Punishment and Reformation of Prisoners between 1804 and 1854,” (Canberra, Australian National University, 1978). http://hdl.handle.net/1885/10869
- Carol Liston, “Convict Women in the Female Factories of New South Wales,” in Gay Hendriksen, Trudy Cowley and Carol Liston, Women Transported: Life in Australia’s Convict Female Factories, (Parramatta, N.S.W.: Parramatta City Council Heritage Centre, 2008).
- Cameron Nunn, “‘Making Them Good and Useful’: The Ideology of Juvenile Penal Reformation at Carters’ Barracks and Point Puer,” History Australia, Vol. 14, No. 3 (2017): 329–343.
- W. M. Robbins, “‘The Lumber Yards: A Case Study in the Management of Convict Labour 1788–1832,” Labour History, No. 79, (November 2000): 141–161.
# Came free
# Ship: Cleopatra (1832)
# Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania)
# Parramatta Female Factory
# Burial year: 1853
# Grave: marked