Martha L. Ashpole1

#13524, (circa 1872-)
FatherThomas Ashpole1
MotherElizabeth Sharp2
ChartsBrown family - descendants
Miller Family (Scotland) - descendants
Nicholson Family 1 - descendants
Four generations
Last Edited17 Jan 2022
Mary Ashpole, taken 21 March 1893 after her arrest
     NOTE: The information on this page is my research to date and is subject to change as I become better informed. I very much welcome any corrections or additional info you might have - my email address is at the bottom of this page. Whilst historical facts are not copyright, my writing about these facts are. If you wish to use any text from this site on Ancestry or on any other website, please ask me first - Tim Hill.
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Martha L. Ashpole was likely born circa 1872 at Dubbo, New South Wales.3,1 She was the daughter of Thomas Ashpole and Elizabeth Sharp.1,2

Martha and William Donald Olliver became the parents of William O. Ashpole circa 1893 at Parkes, New South Wales. Although it can't be certain, it seems William was born from an indiscretion between his father, just newly married to another woman, and Martha, a twenty one year-old..4

Martha was described as being a one-time member of the Salvation Army.3 She was described as being 5 foot 6 inches high, with black hair and brown eyes.5 She was a domestic servant, employed by a number of families.5

Although the exact circumstances and her motivations can only be guessed at, in January 1895, Martha L. Ashpole fired two shots from a revolver at William Donald Olliver, but failed to hit him.6,7

Martha When Martha first appeared in front of the Bathurst Circuit Court she on 19 April 1895:
wore a thick veil, wept so bitterly and violently, that his Honor remarked that she was evidently quite unequal to the strain of standing her trial. He understood that prisoner was to have been defended, and as it appeared that such was not the case, the interests of justice would be served if some legal gentleman would undertake her defence. The prisoner was then removed, weeping hysterically, and another case was proceeded with. Mr. Moriarty subsequently undertook to defend the accused, and the case was postponed.8

Martha was originally charged with two offences; one of attempted murder and the second of attempting to cause grevious bodily harm. During the trial, circumstances were revealed that indicated that William had behaved in a irresponsible way and had treated Martha poorly, but the judged instructed the jury that they could not take that into account; rather, they had to make a determination about whether she was guilty or not of the charges. It seems likely that the jury had compassion for her circumstances and the first charge was dropped; she was sentenced to imprisonment for 3 years. It was reported in a contemporary newspaper that one of her parents was an Aboriginal person, although this doesn't accord with her acknowledged parents.5,9,10,3

William Donald Olliver was taken to court by Martha L. Ashpole in July 1898 (which was likely to be just after her release from prison if she served her full sentence) and he ordered to pay 5 shillings a week for 'affiliation' - likely as a support for their child William, as Williams paternity was proved during the trial.11

Martha L. Ashpole married John Sutherland in 1899 at Parkes, New South Wales.12

Martha and an unknown person became the parents of Frederick R. Sutherland in 1902 at Forbes, New South Wales.13


1872Birth-LikelyDubbo, New South Wales3,1
1894Note memo only CR CR3
1895Note memo only CR CR6,7
1895Quotation type 18
1895Note memo only CR CR5,9,10,3
1898Note memo only CR CRParkes, New South Wales11
1899Married Name12
1899MarriageParkes, New South Wales12

Family 1

William Donald Olliver (3 Jul 1873-29 Jul 1937)

Family 2

John Sutherland

Family 3



  1. [S1] New South Wales, Birth Certificate, Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages 9488/1872 (index only).
  2. [S3] New South Wales, Marriage Certificate, Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages 1850/1862 (index only).
  3. [S597] The Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal, Bathurst, NSW, Australia, 1895 'Sensational Shooting Case.', Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal (NSW : 1851 - 1904), 24 January, p. 3. , viewed 04 Jan 2022,
  4. [S1] New South Wales, Birth Certificate, Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages 28629/1893 (index only).
  5. [S952] New South Wales, Australia, Gaol Description and Entrance Books 1819-1930, Martha Ashpole No.1011 Bathurst 1895.
  6. [S617] State Records Authority of NSW, New South Wales Government Gazette, 1901-2001, Sydney 1895 No.5, 30 January 1895 ("Attempted Murder
    Parkes.- Martha, charged with firing a revolver (two shots) at William Olliver, with intent to murder him, has been arrested by Constable Hamilton, Parkes Police. Committed for trial at Bathurst Circuit Court. Bail refused.").
  7. [S597] The Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal, Bathurst, NSW, Australia, 1895 'Sensational Shooting Case.', Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal (NSW : 1851 - 1904), 24 January, p. 3, viewed 7 August, 2013, ("Sensational Shooting Case.

    Parkes, Wednesday.
    A sensation was created in town on Tuesday night by a young woman named Martha Ashpole, an aboriginal half-caste. She came from Forbes in the afternoon and called at a house and said she was wanting to have a chat with a young man named William Olliver. At about 7.30 she saw Olliver passing and went out to speak to him about a grievance she had with him. It is alleged she threatened to shoot him. He ran away and two revolver shots were fired at him without taking effect. Constable Hamilton was quickly on the scene, and arrested the woman without any trouble. She had a six chambered revolver, with four chambers loaded and two discharged. Olliver is a very young man and had only recently married. When arrested the woman admitted having fired the shots, and said she would succeed some time or other. The woman was at one time a member of the Salvation Army, and had been a domestic servant with several families in town.

    At the police court to-day Martha Ashpole was committed for trial to the Bathurst court, on a charge of shooting at William Olliver, with intent to murder. The evidence showed that Olliver had been in fear of his life, and police had been watching the woman. She had not seen him since last October. When arrested, the woman said she would shoot Olliver if it took her twenty years to do it.).
  8. [S1019] The National Advocate, Bathurst, NSW, Australia, 1895 'THE CASE OF MARTHA ASHPOLE.', National Advocate (Bathurst, NSW : 1889 - 1954), 20 April, p. 3. , viewed 21 Mar 2018,
  9. [S648] The Goulburn Herald, New South Wales, Australia, 1895 'THE BATHURST SHOOTING CASE.', Goulburn Herald (NSW : 1881 - 1908), 24 April, p. 4, viewed 7 August, 2013, ("THE BATHURST SHOOTING CASE.
    At the Bathurst Assizes on Saturday, Martha Ashpole was charged with maliciously shooting at William Olliver, at Parkes. The evidence disclosed that Olliver had seduced Ashpole, who was a servant at Parkes, two years ago. A child was born, and to avoid
    responsibility Olliver left for Queensland, returning subsequently after arrangements had been made by his friends to support the child. Olliver afterwards married another woman. In January Ashpole met Olliver in the street, and threatened to shoot him for blackening her character. Olliver ran away, and the woman fired twice at him, neither shot taking effect. When arrested, the woman admitted the shooting, and she declared she would shoot Olliver if she waited twenty years. The jury found the accused guilty on the second count, with a strong recommendation to mercy on account of Olliver's treatment of her. She was sentenced to three years imprisonment.").
  10. [S597] The Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal, Bathurst, NSW, Australia, 1895 'SATURDAY, APRIL 20TH.', Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal (NSW : 1851 - 1904), 20 April, p. 2, viewed 7 August, 2013, (SATURDAY, April 20th.
    (His Honor took his seat on the bench at 9 o'clock).
    Martha Ashpole was indicted for that she, on the 2nd day of January, at Parkes, did maliciously shoot at one William Oliver with intent to murder. A second count charged prisoner with shooting with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
    Plea: Not guilty.
    Mr Moriarty appeared for the defence on the assignment of his Honor, the prisoner being without friends or means. Although the charge is not a capital one, prisoner might be punished with penal servitude for life.
    William Oliver, blacksmith, of Parkes, deposed : Am a married man ; in 1893 prisoner accused me of being the father of an illegitimate child; went out back, but was arrested on war rant and brought back ; subsequent to that my father, on my behalf, entered into an agreement with prisoner and paid £5 in settlement of the claim for maintenance; after this agreement was made I returned to Parkes in November, 1893; frequently saw prisoner but never spoke to her ; in consequence of something I heard I asked for protection from Sergeant Rainford ; I married in September 1894 ; do not know whether prisoner was then living in Parkes ; on 22nd January I was walk ing down Court- street ; when passing the corner of Bogan-street the prisoner called out to me and said she wanted me, I went across to her and asked what she wanted; 'I came out from Forbes to-day in consequence of a letter I received stating you had been talking about me. I am going to shoot you.' I replied ' Take me to the one who says I wrote those letters.' She replied, " You will never see them ; you will never get away from here ;' there was a two rail fence between us ; my foot was on the rail and when she said that I put my foot down ; she said ' If you move a yard I will shoot you ;' as she said this she took her hand out of her pocket and I saw the butt of a revolver in her hand ; she told me she had a revolver ; a man named Albert Cook was passing at the time and I looked round, as I did so she said ' If you call any one I'll shoot you;' a great deal more was said but I forget it; she turned her head away and I jumped into the street and ran down Bogan-street ; when about twelve yards away she fired at me; and after going a little further I turned round and saw her going towards the house; she turned round towards the fence and when I turned again and faced her she leaned over the top rail, pointed the revolver at me, and fired ; neither of the shots struck me ; she then went into the house and I went into Main-street, where I saw Constable Hamilton and pointed out the house where prisoner went ; the constable went into tho room and brought prisoner out.
    To Mr. Moriarty: I said nothing in the police court about her aiming at me over the top rail the second time : I suppose it was because I had forgotten it that I did not state it ; I remembered it afterwards ; never spoke to Rainford about it but spoke to friends ; one was Joseph Pritchard, not long after the affair ; cannot call to mind any one else I told ; I never told the Crown Prosecutor about it ; I do not know that I have said some other things to-day I did not say at Parkes ; I believe I said I saw the butt end of a revolver in her hand ; I have known prisoner six or seven years ; never cared for her, always disliked her ; cannot say when I seduced her.
    Mr. Moriarty: Are you so in the habit of seducing women that you cannot remember these things.
    Witness : No ; I never knew her at Forbes ; she was in service at Parkes; I was charged with refusing to contribute towards the support of the child and did not give evidence in my defence ; I have acted improperly towards her more than once; do not know how old the girl is ; used to call her Martha ; knew her sur-name also ; know her brother and sister ; when she told me of her condition I did nothing to assist her, nor did I do anything after the child was born ; this is the first time I was ever in this plight; after the child was born I went to Queensland and other places ; I was shearing and working at my trade; for six months I did nothing ; the whole time I was away I earned £7 for shearing and £4 as a blacksmith: I used to speak to the police although I knew they were looking for me ; I returned about Nov. 1893 ; did not see the unfortunate girl after I came back ; before I got back she had made an agreement to accept £5 for the support of the child for the rest of its life ; do not know if the child was a boy or girl; it was, about 7 o'clock when I began to speak to her on the 22nd January : there was a fence between us ; did not call her anything ; I did not ask to see the letter ; she would not tell me who wrote it ; the man who was passing is a respectable man ; he is not a witness to-day ; she told me she would shoot me if I called him.
    Mr. Moriarty : You were then in a terrible fright weren't you? more frightened than you were of your own child, and because of that you ran away to Queensland. Now, don't you want to have this unfortunate woman locked up.
    Witness : If this woman leaves me alone I am not anxious to have her locked up ; she said something about my being married ; I told her that I could marry who I liked ; I cannot re member what I said to her or she to me ; we were talking most of the time; I am not a coward ; this is the first time I ran away ; after running about 15 yards I stopped running and turned round to look ; I ran across the street; there is no house near; when she fired the second time I saw her aim at me; there was nothing, between prisoner and I; two boys-Smith and Morton— saw both shots fired; neither of them are here to-day,
    To his Honor: I was 21 years of age in July last.
    Constable Hamilton deposed: On the evening of the 22nd January I received informa tion from Oliver and I went to a house occupied by Mrs. Wallace; saw prisoner there; said to her 'Martha, have you got a revolver?' she said she had and I asked where it was ; she pointed to a hand bag and said it was there; on opening the bag I found the revolver produced; it had been loaded in five chambers, and two of then bad been recently discharged; as I moved the cylinder back a little smoke came out of it; I said to her ' Did you discharge this at young Oliver?' She replied 'I did ; I will shoot him if I have to wait twenty years for it;' I then took her to the lock-up and charged her with attempting to murder Oliver ; on the way to the look-up she said she bought the revolver at Burger's store ; one chamber I could not get a charge into ; I handed the revolver to Senior-Constable Rainford and he withdrew the charges.
    To Mr. Moriarty : Cannot say if the girl has been under medical observation in the gaol ; she was under police observation at Parkes.
    Senior-Constable Rainford, of Parkes, deposed that on the night in question prisoner was taken to the lock-up and Constable Hamilton handed him the revolver ; it was warm and he with drew the charges ; smoke came from the empty cartridges ; have known prisoner for three years ; remember the charge she brought against Oliver ; was present at Mr. Coleman' office when Oliver's father made an agreement with prisoner for payment of the £5 for the ohild' s support.
    His Honor : If this agreement was only for the payment of £5 in a lump sum, it is a rather lengthy document, and I think it should be read.
    Mr. Moriarty : By its length, I should think its its preparation must have cost more than the child. (Laughter.)
    Mr. Cohan : No doubt it contains clauses releasing Oliver from any further claims in regard to the child.
    Witntes[sic] : After reading the charge to her I asked her if it was the one she had bought from McKenzie at Parkes , she said, ' No, it is a fresh one I bought in Forbes ;' I had made in quiry about the revolver long before her arrest.
    Terese Gavin, female warder in Bathurst Gaol, deposed . I have had prisoner under my charge while she was in gaol ; she is very peculiar in her manner and has a very violent disposition ; she always knew what was said to her ; she was excitable.
    To Mr. Moriarty: She was under medical observation on account of her peculiarity.
    This was the case for the Crown.
    Prisoner stated to the jury that she made use of the revolver, that she did not fire at Oliver, nor intend to hurt him.
    Mr. Moriarty said the case would not have been placed before the jury bat for the additional evidence given by Oliver to-day about the second shot. It depended entirely on whether they believed this man. whose testimony was unsupported. If he had given this evidence at Parkes witnesses would have been brought for ward to contradict him. The statement of a man of such courage and morality is unsupported. The unfortunate girl had been seduced by this man, who, without hesitation, admits that he had deserted her in her trouble and cared nothing about his grossly base conduct. - Most have the notion that blaoksmiths were fine manly fellows, but what does this Parkes blacksmith do? He takes to his heels and travels over the country, hunted from place to place by a warrant, until he returns after an agreement for £5 had been made. Sergeant Rainford makes himself a sort of godfather by witnessing a deed, but how he came to bo mixed up in it it was hard to say. No doubt he was prompted by good motives, but if he (the speaker) was Rainford he would see that the unfortunate girl got fair remuneration. This agreement was not worth the paper it was written on and all the girl was to do was to go to a Bench and obtain another order. This man was a wretched coward and the unfortunate girl having heard he had been throwing mud on her character- she wanted to frighten him. The only explanation to be given for the absence of the lads who were in the street at the time was that they would give contradictory evidence. It is not at all likely he would forget this important evidence. Instead of being paid by the Crown this fellow should be hunted out of the court for his cowardice and gross conduct. He did not think that Constable Hamilton was right in putting the question to the unfortunate girl as he did. She was of an excitable disposition and it is likely that she said what she did no more than as a threat. The whole charge depended on the evidence of a coward who was a disgrace to humanity, and his statement should be taken with caution. He was such a fellow that if a person pointed a lead pencil at him he would run away for his life.
    The Crown Prosecutor in reply said that the jury had nothing to do with Oliver's morality, or what his relations were with this unfortunate girl. They were not here as a court of morals but they must believe Oliver's evidence or not. This was a prosecution of the Crown but not by Oliver, and he had nothing to do with it. He could not be blamed for not calling these lads. If any one was to blame it was the police.
    His Honor said he would tell the jury that if the case had been loaded by bringing these lads to Bathurst that it was putting the country to unnecessary expense. With such evidence as this for the prosecution it would be unnecessary to call the lads, who doubtless had only heard the shots fired.
    The C.P. said it was quite possible for Oliver to forget the statement he had made to-day for the first time. His testimony is fully borne out by the voluntary admission of the woman herself.
    His Honor summed up and said that when a person points a revolver at another at 25 yards there was danger of killing. There was a distinction in the two counts, but the punishment was not very different. If the jury thought she intended to shoot Oliver dead they could bring in a verdict on the first count, but if she only fired to ' wing ' him then she was guilty of the second count. There were many ingredients outside this case introduced. If they considered her guilty of shooting because of Oliver's treatment of her, and brought in a verdict of acquittal they would be bringing in a verdict contrary to the oath they had taken. When they looked at the two parties they must consider which of the two they thought had been seduced. Oliver would only be 19 years of age in 1893, but judging by the appearance of the woman she was nearer thirty years. But with this the jury had nothing to do. The police had acted in a very reasonable manner and were not to blame for what they did. In considering their verdict the jury must not allow any sympathy which they might have for the prisoner to intrude and warp their judgments.
    The jury consulted for an hour and returned a verdict of guilty on the second count, with a strong recommendation to mercy on account of the manner in which Oliver had treated the woman.
    Remanded for sentence.).
  11. [S645] The Western Champion, Barcaldine, Qld, Australia, 1898 'Police Court.', Western Champion (Parkes, NSW : 1898 - 1934), 22 July, p. 8, viewed 7 August, 2013,
  12. [S3] New South Wales, Marriage Certificate, Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages 8749/1899 (index only).
  13. [S1] New South Wales, Birth Certificate, Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages 31368/1902 (index only).