Sarah Anderson

What happened to Sarah Anderson?

The one piece of data not found is the death details for Sarah Anderson. Her early background in Sydney is given in the stories of Thomas and Sarah Anderson, and their son Thomas, click on link below. The following information has been put together in an attempt to follow her life in Sydney. If anyone can assist in establishing her date of death, or add any other information about Sarah’s life, I would be most pleased to hear from you.

Partners of Sarah Anderson

Her first partner was Thomas Andrews/Anderson in Oxford, England.

Her second partner was Bryan Overend in Sydney up to around 1810

Her third partner was John Anderson in Sydney.

Her fourth partner was John Curran in Sydney.

And to top it off she had children to all four.

The following extracts are critical to following Sarah’s life.

1822 Muster (Book)

Entry A05196 Curran, Sarah, CF Alexander, widow, Sydney
Entry A05197 Curran, Thomas, age 18, CF, Alexander, child of widow Curran, Sydney
Entry A05198 Curran, Sarah, age 7, BC, child of widow Curran, Sydney
Entry A05199 Curran, Mary Ann, age 2, BC, child of widow Curran, Sydney

Comment – The only Sarah who came free on the Alexander with a son Thomas, was Sarah Anderson, (see my article on the ship Alexander) so I am satisfied that the first two above are Sarah Anderson widow and mother of Thomas, my ancestor.  There was no female named Sarah Curran/Currant, or a child named Thomas Curran/Currant, convict or free, on the ship Alexander in 1806.  The Society of Australian Genealogist CD listing all known convicts between 1788 and 1812, showing ship, year, and sentence, does not list a Sarah Curran/Currant, see next muster.  There is no Sarah Anderson in the 1822 Muster, but I need to say that some people were not recorded in the Muster for various reasons.

In the 1822 Muster, two entries before the group above is

Entry A05194 Curran, John, age 10, BC, Orphan, Orphan School, Sydney    

I am reasonably satisfied this is another child of John and Sarah Anderson.  The NSW BDM online index has a baptism for a John Anderson in 1811, father Thomas, mother Sarah.  My guess is that Thomas is a mistake and the father is John, because of the 1922
muster entry above, see next sentence.  The NSW BDM online index has a Sarah Anderson, father John, mother Sarah, baptised in 1815.  Then there is a burial of a John Anderson, aged 55, in 1816. This cant be relevant as John was murdered by his wife Elezabeth  on 20 February 1816 –  Sydney Gazette 2 March 1816.

One problem is that there are a number of John Andersons listed in this muster, maybe she simply left John.  Re Orphan School, a child in the school does not necessarily mean parents are deceased, although one parent could be deceased, or that the parents could not look after the child.

The NSW BDM online index has the baptism of a Mary Ann Curran in 1820, father John Curran, mother Sarah.  The index also has the burial of a John Curran in 1820 aged 66 years.

Now it gets even more confusing.

In the NSW BDM online index is the following marriage (two entries)

V1817256 7/1817 John CURRANT to SARAH OLIVER CA

What does this mean?  In late 2021 cousin Rick Nelson proposed “English parish registers have many instances of this type of confusion, where the people who were the subjects of a register entry were illiterate and spoke in a regional accent that was possibly not so well understood by the more educated vicar or clerk writing in the register.

I strongly suspect that this is the case with Sarah Holloway and John Curran. There are several documents concerning John and Sarah where the name Curran has been recorded as “Currant”, “Currans” or “Currins”. Likewise, this record of “Oliver” is probably a mistake.

In 1817 the Australian accent would have scarcely developed and the settler population spoke a very wide range of regional British and Irish accents. Someone saying “Olloweh” (for example) may have meant “Holloway” but could easily have been heard as “Oliver”. The case is strengthened by the absence of Mr Oliver from any other records we’ve seen so far concerning Sarah and her family.” Thank you Rick as you have probably resolved this marriage,

1823/24/25 Musters (Book)

This is one listing compiled at the time from all three musters.  This means that there can be three entries for the same person and the introduction to the Musters identifies some.  But generally there is supposed to be only one entry for one person.  The entry does not identify a particular year.  The entries are in the order as compiled at the time, so sequence can be important.  Age appears to be given for children only.  So what do we find regarding Anderson and Curran.

Entry 10415 John Anderson, age 11, BC, Orphan School, Liverpool
Entry 10427 Sarah Anderson, age 8, BC, Female Orphan School, Parramatta
Entry 10428 Mary Ann Anderson, age 5, BC daughter of Susan Anderson, Sydney  (suspect it should be Sarah, not Susan)
Entry 10429 William Anderson, no age, BC, Apprentice Reuben Uther, Sydney
Entry 10446 Sarah Anderson, no age, CF, ship Alexander, 1806, Housekeeper, Sydney
Entry 17782 John  Curran, age 12, BC, Orphan School, Liverpool
Entry 17766 Sarah Curran, FS, Alexander, 1806, 7 years, Resident, Campbelltown
Entry 17767 Thomas Curran, AP, Alexander, 1806, Life, Left the Colony

No adult John Curran/Curren/Currant listed.  No other Curran/Curren/Currant listed at Campbelltown.

There is no entry for an appropriate Thomas Anderson.  As I said above there were no convicts named Sarah Curran or Thomas Curran on the Alexander in 1806. There appears to be nothing relevant under Oliver.

1828 Census (Book)

There is no relevant entry for Sarah Anderson/Curran/Currant etc
There is no relevant entry for William Anderson

John Currant. age 17, BC, Protestant, Apprentice, master Chas. Gregory, Tailor, Castlereagh Sty, Sydney
Sarah Currins, age 14, BC, Protestant, Lodger, at Geog Peat, Kent St, Sydney

There is no relevant entry for Mary Ann Curran/Anderson

From the NSW BDM Index online there are quite a few marriages of a Mary A Anderson or Curran during 1835 to 1860.

So still no death for Sarah Anderson.  Maybe after 1823 she took up with another man and used his name?

Extracted from the original parish entries on the NSW State Records microfilms

Births Sarah Anderson 1A/3513/1815 and 7/398/1815
born 17 Jan 1815 parents John and Sarah Anderson
baptised 19 Feb 1815, St Philips Church, Sydney

Deaths John Anderson 2B/3923/1817 and 7/691/1817
died 30 Dec 1817
buried 31 Dec 1817 aged 7 days, St Philips Church, Sydney

Deaths John Anderson 2B/3540/1816
bur 28 Feb 1816, St Matthews, Windsor
of Pitt Town aged 55 years
Murdered by his wife EWlizabeth.

Births Mary A Curran 1B/5133/1820 and 8/203/1820
born 2 May 1820, parents John and Sarah Curran
baptised 28 May 1820, St Philips, Sydney

Deaths John Curran 2B/4631/1820 and 8/264/1820
died 8 April 1820 aged 66 years, Free
buried 10 April 1820 St Philips Sydney

Marriages Sarah Currant/William Gunn 73A/227/1832
Sarah, spinster aged 17 years, signed with her mark
William bachelor aged 31 years signed
9 Feb 1832 St Philips, Sydney, consent of those concerned
witness J C McDougal and John ????

It is likely that Mary born 1820 was the last child born to Sarah. Sarah first married Thomas Anderson in about 1800. So it is likely she was born around the late 1770s, meaning that in 1820 she would be around her early 40s. In those days it was considered a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant ceased at about 45 years old.


A Sarah Anderson died in Sydney in November 1855. Her funeral notice in the Sydney Morning Herald on 23 November 1855 states her son was named Foster Anderson. The Goulburn Advertiser of 26 July 1856 reports that a Sarah Anderson appeared before the Bench for vagrancy, She stated she had worked for Mrs Roberts of Braidwood and that “she could get employt from her”. She was released. A Sarah Anderson died in Sydney in 1872 (NSW BDM index). She was probably born in Sydney in 1844 the daughter of Henry and Ann Anderson.

A Mary Ann Curran married George Lewis on 8 August 1843 in Mount Cooper NSW. This is not “our” Mary Ann Curran above. Because George Lewis was a convict, permission to marry was required. On the NSW State Archives website this permission, dated 28 July 1843,  reveals that Mary Ann Curran, aged 25 years, came free on the General Henderson (ref INX-68-13187). What happened to our Mary Ann Curren, born 1820, has not been researched.

Closing comments

So we still dont know what happened to Sarah Anderson (nee Holloway) after 1823. In 1823 she was probably aged about 43 years. Please appreciate that any comments and assaumptions made above may be incorrect. Please contact me if you can add any information or would like to comment.

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