Anne Hamilton-Byrne, born 1920
by Mary W Maxwell
“The Family,” a new movie, is currently playing in Australia. There is a trailer for it on Youtube. What a strange story about a cult that dates back to the 1960s. Let me lay out some facts. I got most of them from writings by Sarah Moore, one of the children who grew up at Eildon, Victoria. Luckily for us she wrote a book in 1995, published by Penguin, called Unseen, Unheard, Unknown.
Sarah was born in 1969 and left the troubled home in 1987 at age 17. She then entered medical school and upon graduation did charity work in Burma, and came back and practiced medicine in Melbourne. She died at age 46 last year. Anne Hamilton Byrne is in palliative care.
One hears that Julian Assange grew up in that house in Eildon, but I have no evidence of it. The Family in Victoria might be connected to the one in South Australia (of which the best-known convict is Spencer von Einem).
The movie was first shown at the International Film Festival in Melbourne in 2016, with Anna Grieve as producer and Rosie Jones as co-producer and scriptwriter. According to the newspapers, the group is a cult that has had many adult members not just the houseful of children.
It was a religion that featured both Jesus Christ (of whom Anne Hamilton Byrne was “a reincarnation”) and elements of Hinduism, particularly yoga. Sarah Moore says that a morning (mandatory) hatha was often the only exercise the children got, and that they were kept in darkness indoors.
The cult had some involvement with a private psychiatric hospital in Victoria, called New Haven. I pass over the fact that Skull and Bones, at Yale, is in the city of New Haven CT. This hospital closed in 1992. Relatives of patients said that New Haven used Deep Sleep therapy – I use the term “therapy” in the loosest possible manner.
Deep Sleep – à la Dr Ewen Cameron in Montreal –was the subject of a Royal Commission concerning Chelmsford Hospital, Sydney. In Victoria, it was found, or should I say “found” that Deep Sleep had not been used there.
An odd thing about Anne Hamilton Byrne is that she did not spend much time with her raft of kids in Australia. She was usually overseas at one of her properties in England or in America such as one in the Catskill Mountains of New York where she was eventually grabbed by the FBI.
This is not to say the kids escaped the pressure Anne put on them. She was there via phone calls and by sending lectures on tape. She also had cult members known as “Aunties” live in Eildon as disciplinarians. The house was called Uptop.
I mentioned the FBI. It seems that when Sarah Moore left the home she contacted police about the bad things that were happening. This led to a much-reported raid in which the kids were liberated, never to have to go back.
This probably saved the life of Cassandra whom Anne had been starving to death. Sarah Moore speaks with approval of the way the state handled the liberation. She wished it had happened circa 1978 when police came out to snoop.
The kids’ transition to reality was not easy. Anne was their mother, after all, and they were indoctrinated to adore her and to believe she had many supernatural powers. Sarah Moore admits to having believed everything, or nearly everything. She craved her mother’s love, as all children do.
I am not sure when Dr Moore found out that Anne was not her biological mother. Anne probably had no real offspring. In 2001 Sarah found her real Mum. I have seen Youtube videos that imply that some of the “brothers and sisters” are still faithful to Anne. That is, they defend her and are still believers in the cult. Anne is far gone with dementia.
When growing up at Eildon the kids had no outside source or means of comparison, certainly no TV or newspapers. They did not go to school. There were 14 of them, adopted, and fosterings sometimes meant 22 or 28 lived together.
Secrecy may have been needed as the adoption papers were not according to Hoyle. A solicitor, Peter Kibby, later said he forged some of them. It seems that some of the babies were grabbed from mothers.
In 1993 Anne and her husband Bill Byrne were extradited to Australia but no charges were brought regarding the abuse of the children. They each got fined $5000 for some sort of fraud. Bill died in 2009 At present Anne’s wealth is said to be as much as $150 million but that figure may be way off.
Sarah asked, in her 1995 book:
“Why did she subject us to the bizarre and cruel regimen in which we grew up? Was it to demonstrate that she had the power to create a generation that would be reared with her beliefs and believing in her? I suspect perhaps that there were more sinister motives than these alone. Some of us had multiple birth certificates and passports. Only she knows why thus was and why we were also all dressed alike, why most of us even had our hair dyed identically blond.”
“Because she travelled so much she left two books of instructions called ‘Mummy’s Rule Books.’ These books listed penalties for infractions. They had entries such as: “If David rocks or sways during meditation, he is to be hit over the head with a chair.”
Lack of activity was a feature. The kids seldom went out to play. Listening to tapes and praying and meditating took up many hours. Anne claimed to have supernatural powers.
The kids were terrified of punishment. They got belted. In the morning they heard the first screams from one of the boys who had wet their bed. The cane used had three-corners, that is, each side of it was sharp. Food deprivation was also used to punish even the tiniest breaking of rules, or for giving an insolent look.
It should be emphasized that this cult was not a preparation for life as a prostitute. Sarah hardly knew that sex existed. Seven when she started to menstruate at 16. The girls were also instructed not to wash “down there.”
Sarah wrote the book in 1995 and may have been planning to update it. I am guessing her death was murder-by-cult.
Let me summarize what she said about the drug diet all the kids were on, and the participation of medical and other professionals in the cult. Some of the names are: Raynor Johnson, (head of a college at University of Melbourne), John Mackay, psychiatrist, and Joan Villimek, who owned the Newhaven Private Psychiatric Hospital in Kew.
An Abundance of Drugs
LSD was not illegal in the 1970s and was distributed to all the children at Uptop. Even after it was criminalized Anne was able to stock it. I now quote Sarah Moore about drugs:
“We would be given extra Mogadon if the adults thought we needed calming down The Aunties would say, ‘Have a Moggy, you’re feeling upset.’ We were also given Largactil, Stelazine and Tofranil. Often our food tasted strange and sometimes we would uncover little pieces of tablets or powder in it. When we questioned these findings, the Aunties would say, ‘It’s just something to calm you down.’
“The climax of each child’s drug-taking came in the sect practice known as ‘going-through.’ During this process, also known as ‘clearing,’ we were given LSD and a number of other hallucinogenic drugs. It was a state that was basically a sustained LSD trip. It was meant to clear your soul and take you to a higher plane of understanding, and was perhaps the key to Anne’s spiritual influence.
“I had my first ‘go-through’ at fourteen and afterwards I was given Largactil, Haloperidol and Diazepam by Anne to ‘slow me down.’ One of the ‘foster’ girls, Mechalia, was also given Lithium because of her uneasy mental state.
“For a period of about six years our daily vitamin dose was staggering. Each day we had to take twenty-eight yeast tablets, twelve kelp, two vitamin C, two white and one oily vitamin E, one desiccated liver and half a B-forte tablet. We took this size dose two and sometimes three times a day.”
Other Adults Involved
Sarah said Joan Villimek may have supplied the money for the vitamins. She also mentioned a rumor that that Lord Casey had made a donation to the cult! He served both Britain and Australia and was Governor General until 1969. Casey died in 1974, from the effect of a car accident.
Sarah had insight to see that these professional people: doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects, psychiatrists, nurses social workers “allowed Anne to successfully pull the wool over everyone’s eyes for more than twenty years.” Anne had no qualifications herself, she only lied about having them!
“Had The Family been a group of strangely dressed people meeting twice a week for meditation, an address by the Master, playing of music and chanting, they would never have gone unnoticed for so long. But professionals in their pin-striped suits with their impeccable social credentials could get away with maintaining in their private life morals that were completely at variance with their professional ethics. They looked respectable, people thought, therefore they must be respectable.
“Lawyers wrote out Deed Polls that were needed to forge passports and birth certificates, social workers allowed Anne to by-pass normal channels to allow her to adopt, or simply steal in some instances, sixteen children; doctors and nurses who gave her contacts with rich dying people who then left their estates to her “and doctors and nurses who supervised the abuse of LSD, which for a while they actually obtained free of charge from the Swiss drug company, Sandoz.” !!!
I don’t know if anyone has looked for connections here:
- Raynor Johnson, appointed head of a college, was a professor of religion, known for his studies of meditation in India. He was co-founder with Anne of the cult, known as The Family and also as The Great White Brotherhood. He must have known what the aunties were doing to the kids.
- New Haven private psychiatric hospital was accused by a patient of using Deep Sleep. Its owners were in the cult.
- The aunties were said to have nursed Lord Casey Jones – he was a – wait for it – Knight of the Garter.
- Sandoz bothered to supply LSD to the Family — for free!
- Sarah Moore lost her left leg and blamed it in hospital mistreatment and then she died last year, age 46. Poor soul. As far as I can tell, media has not shown an interest in her.
— Mary W Maxwell is assistant editor of GumshoeNews.com
Photo credit: dailymail.co.uk