I’d like to marry your daughter

Would you let your daughter marry this man?

I’ve written a little about William Henry O’Connor (1861-1900) before.  I’ve since learned a bit more about his life.

Physical description: 5 feet, 6 and a half inches tall, medium build, fresh complexion, dark brown hair, brown eyes, large scar centre forehead, small scar over left eyebrow, first joint small finger left hand missing, twitching in eyes

A somewhat disturbing description.  How did he acquire all those scars and lose part of his finger by the age of 20?

Gaol Entrance Book 1882

Gaol Entrance Book 1882

When he gained John Payne’s permission to marry John’s daughter, Laura Suzette (1871 – ??), he had the following impressive cv:

  • Learned to read and write
  • Trained as a journalist/compositor
  • 1881: charged with aiding a prisoner to escape, further charged with stealing a watch and chain
  • 1882: imprisoned in Grafton Gaol for theft but acquitted of aiding a prisoner to escape
  • 1884: released from prison
  • 1885: working in Narrabri, New South Wales and seeking permission to marry a thirteen-year-old
Some 19th Century Australian prisoners

Some 19th Century Australian prisoners

I don’t know what John Payne was thinking but he gave permission.

Their 1885 marriage entry is the last public record to be found for Laura.  William managed to stay out of jail but seems to have been down on his luck when he died of opium poisoning on the banks of a creek in Moree in 1900.

I’m not sure if this is the same William O’Connor (but I kind of hope it was) who in 1892 was travelling with Samuel Coutts Rinder who was wanted by the police. This O’Connor was described as “a frequenter at billiard rooms and racecourses, and sings comic songs when drunk”.