Sydney Female Orphan School 1801 – 1818

The Sydney Female Orphan School was set up by Governor King in 1801, was initially located in George Street, Sydney.

It was the first school established using public funds, and furthermore, as a residential school to provide care for ‘orphan’, destitute, neglected and abandoned girls, it was the initial provider of child welfare provisions for children in need of care.

Thirty-one girls, not all of whom were orphans, between the ages of seven and fourteen years were enrolled in the beginning (17 August 1801).

There are no extant admission registers, school rolls or requests for admission forms for this period of the Orphan School. The names of those thirty-one girls and the backgrounds from which they came remain unknown.

When a new building was completed near the existing residence, there was room for more girls, and by 31 December 1801 forty-nine girls had been received into the Institution.

By 24 March 1803 there were fifty-four girls enrolled, although the capacity of the school at that time was for one hundred girls.

By 1806 …. Six Orphans have been married, and portioned with £10 each; and eleven have been bound Apprentices to Officers’ Wives’. The reference to the eleven girls who had been apprenticed indicates a role which the Female Orphan School was to play in the colony, namely the supply of servants for the ‘colonial elite’.

The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales 1801 – 1850, Beryl M. Bubacz. Thesis, August 2007

Girls who did attend the Orphan School


Sophia Charlotte EAST

Elizabeth EDWARDS


Henrietta LANGLEY

Prudence LOVERIDGE: died 1816 Sydney

Elizabeth MacKELLAR. 


Sarah PATFIELD (1805-1879) and her sister Elizabeth PATFIELD

Mary PEAT: b. 1790, England, arrived Royal Admiral 1792 as infant, both parents free. Her mother died December 1792 at Parramatta. Mary went to Norfolk Island with her father William Peat per Kitty in Jan 1793.  William died on Norfolk Island June 1795. She returned to NSW per HMS Porpoise May 1801, Mary married 31 Aug 1803,  St Johns Parramatta NSW, Lawrence BRADY, b. 1790 England. Marriage notice, Sydney Gazette 4 Sept 1803: On Wednesday last, at St. John’s Church Parramatta, Lawrence Brady, baker to M.Peat, spinster. She is the first young woman married from the Orphan House.


Mary SANDALL: born 1804

Elizabeth SANDLIN – SANDLING – SANDLANDS: Born 1790 Sydney. Her Mother Ann Sandlin was a First Fleet convict Lady Penrhyn. Ann worked as a cook at the orphanage. Elizabeth (SANDLANDS) married 10 September 1806, Thomas BOULTON  jnr who arrived in 1801 on the Minorca.

Other possible attendees
Elizabeth Boggis – Smith, born Norfolk island
Isabella Oakley/Wood from Norfolk Island, arrived in Sydney 1804.
Maria Lee – Smith from Norfolk Island, arrived in Sydney 1806.
Bertha Loveridge from 1815.
Margaret Murrell/Carty

If you add to the list of girls who attended the Sydney Orphan School between 1801 and 1818, please email us