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Jane Ann Benson - love story turns sour

Jane Ann Benson, or Jeannie as her family and friends called her, was born in Sydney in 1880 to William and Janet Benson. She was the eldest of ten children. Her father was an engineer and the family had just moved to Forster by 1898. The records shown below document Jeannie's relationship with Thomas Breckenridge, their engagement and subsequent falling out. Jeannie appears like any other eighteen year old in love - a little bit naive about how the world works and infatuated with an older man.  The abortion and breakup was further soured by the court trial in 1899 and gaol sentences for Thomas and his sister, Mary.

In 1902 Jeannie married Hugh Marsh, a marine engineer, in Sydney. They had seven children and one hopes a happy life together. Jeannie died in Petersham, Sydney in 1939 aged 58.

Note: Many of the following images are from the exhibits used in the trial. In most cases the Exhibit numbering on the front of the exhibit has been used to identify each record as this correlates to a typed exhibit list at the start of the trial papers.

  • Promise of marriage
  • End of engagement, February 1899
  • Letter, 3 March 1899
  • Relationship sours, 1899
  • Relationship sours, letter continued
  • Jane's pre-trial statement, 3 March 1899
  • About the abortion
  • Jeannie's court testimony
  • Testimony from Jeannie's father
  • Telegram from Mary Breckenridge, 11 November 1898
  • Gaol photo of Thomas Breckenridge
  • Gaol photo of Mary Breckenridge

State archives consulted

Below is a list of records that have been consulted in the creation of this webpage. Copies of some of the records can be found in the images above but many of the references can be used for further research.

Series Item Case Reel Title Contents
NRS 10958


- Reel 3143 NSW Police Gazette 1899, arrest of Breckenridges
NRS 880 [9/6975] Case #8, 1899 Not copied Supreme Court, Papers and depositions Trial papers
NRS 2138


Photo #7748 Reel 5108

Darlinghurst Gaol, Photograph description books

Photo of Mary Breckenridge

NRS 2138


Photo #7750 Reel 5108

Darlinghurst Gaol, Photograph description books

Photo of Thomas Breckenridge

NRS 2142


- Not copied Darlinghurst Gaol, Discharge books -
NRS 13660 -

Probate 4-147310

Not copied

Probate packet for Maria Wesley Breckenridge

Died 1926
NRS 13660 -

Probate 4-365315

Not copied

Probate packet for Hugh Marsh

Died 1950

No probate or deceased estate records could be located for Jane Ann Marsh.