Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mary Wade (1778-1859)

Pioneering Australian Matriarch

From the age of 10yo, Mary spent her days sweeping the streets of London as a means of begging. Young Mary was one of a large family of a single mother living in poverty. With another child - said to be 14yo - Mary stole the clothes off a small 8yo girl and pawned them. However, young Mary was turned in by yet another child; she was arrested, and brought before the court. Both young girls were condemned to be hanged. Mary spent 93 days in the notorious Newgate Prison till her sentence was commuted to transportation for life, to Australia. Mary was transferred to the ship the "Lady Juliana" of the Second Fleet.

Mary arrived in Australia barely 11yo (c.1789) - the voyage from England to Australia took 11 months. It was not an unusual practice for the officers aboard to take a mistress from the female convicts for the duration of the voyage. Once in the colony, most female convicts were assigned to free-men - ostensibly as house servants. There was no record of who was Mary's master, nor was there any record as to who the father of her first two children was. The first child was born on Norfolk Island before her 15th birthday (c.1793), the other was born two years later (c.1795).

Mary was taken from Norfolk Island to Sydney. Here she lived in a tent, where she gave birth to a third child by a emancipated Irish transportee, Teague Harrigan - who joined a whaling expedition three years later. After this Mary married, and lived with her husband Jonathon Brooker near the Hawkesbury River (1809). It was here that Mary raised her family which numbered 21 children, seven of which lived to have their own children.

When Mary became emancipated, she and her family moved and established a farm at Airds, in Campbelltown, New South Wales. Mary and her husband owned 30 acres (1822) until bushfires destroyed their property (1823) - and Jon's livelihood (he was a carpenter by trade and his tools were all destroyed). The family was destitute. But they recovered. Mary (50s) and Jon (68yo) went on to own 62 acres in Illawarra (1828). Here Mary lived till Jon's death (1833), and then her own death (1859). Mary's funeral service was the very first to be held in St Paul's Church of England church, Fairy Meadow - her son donated the land on which the church was built.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi could I find out where this photo came from thanks


Marys great great great grand daughter

Irene

Anonymous said...

Really because I'm her great great great great grand daughter found out threw the family tree ha!

Anonymous said...

hey we are matilda and mackenzie and we are marys great great great great great great grandaughters

Anonymous said...

Well you know she has, like, tens of thousands of descendants so...

Anonymous said...

Everyone attributes the "first two chldren" (1793, 1795) to this Mary Wade. How do we know they weren't the children of Mary Wade per Lady Penryhn who was also a convict at Norfolk Island at the same time?

Anonymous said...

Hi on another website it said that Mary had 21 children in the end not 3 so are you right or the ather website I don't know who to trust

Amelia said...

Is this definitely a picture of Mary Wade? Do you have a JPEG you could send to me for a history story for the Southwark NEws? My email is amelia@southwarknews.co.uk Thank you

Cluck Suffolk said...

I would also like to use a jpeg for a book from the National archives if any one has a printable one please hallvictoria@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

There is absolutely no way this is a picture of her. The very, very earliest photographs weren’t around until the late 1820s – in *Paris*, not a convict settlement on the other side of the world. This woman’s clothing and hairstyle are decades later than that. And if this was Mary photographed in the 1850s, then she would have been an old woman.

Anonymous said...

And - quite honestly - I'm a bit worried that the people who want a copy of the picture for various books know so little about history they could even entertain the fact it was her.

Maybe do a bit more research (other than Google Images!) before setting out to write something with historical themes.

Anonymous said...

I am a direct descendant of Mary Wade and have been researching her for over 10 years and thus I believe I am correct in pointing out a couple of errors (apart from the obvious error with the photo). Mary was actually 13 when she was convicted and she arrived in Australia as a 14 yo. She (and her mother) lied about her age during the trial in an attempt to avoid the death penalty. The Westminster Baptism records show the birth of a Mary Wade in December 1775 and her baptism in January 1776. There's also no proof she had 21 children - I can only find 9. A claim made by her husband, Jonathan Brooker, to the colonial secretary for help after a fire in 1823 refers to there being only 7 children (2 having died in infancy).

Lucy Gray said...

Hi all
I'm looking to speak to descendants of Mary Wade for a piece for Daily Mail Australia.
If anyone would be interested in speaking to me please email me at lucy.gray@mailonline.co.uk
Many thanks
Lucy

brett caldwell said...

I have an original pic of her son Edward 1803-1891 if somebody needs a copy.

Di Grinter said...

the photo is of sarah wade, Mary's daughter