International Journal of Historical Archaeology

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 552–567 | Cite as

Mistress of her Domain: Matron Hicks and the Hyde Park Destitute Asylum, Sydney, Australia

  • Peter Davies


Matrons were often powerful figures in the daily workings of benevolent asylums and other institutions of refuge. Responsible for hygiene, subsistence and the moral oversight of inmates, matrons occupied a strategic point in the relationship between institutions and wider society; they embodied notions of institutional care, refuge and reform. Matron Lucy Hicks was typical of this pattern. As matron of the Hyde Park Asylum for Infirm and Destitute Women in Sydney, Australia, from 1862 to 1886, she exercised enormous influence over the inmates and the daily operation of the institution. Archaeological and documentary evidence reveals important aspects of the life of Matron Hicks and her family, and her role as intermediary between governing authorities and pauper inmates.


Benevolent asylums Matrons Hyde Park Barracks Australia 



The research on which this project is based was funded by the Australian Research Council (LP0882081) with the support of the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales and La Trobe University. This paper expands on work presented in An Archaeology of Institutional Confinement: The Hyde Park Barracks, 1848–1886 (2013), co-authored by Peter Davies, Penny Crook, and Tim Murray. Susan Lawrence, Edwina Kay and two reviewers provided valuable critical feedback on earlier drafts of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Archaeology ProgramLa Trobe UniversityBundooraAustralia

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