Born in Cornwall England, Mary was the daughter of a family well-known for sheep-stealing. Mary was a wilful and adventurous young lass which led to her being sentanced to transportation to Australia (1786) for stealing. Mary arrived in Australia with the First Fleet (1788).
It was whilst serving her sentance that Mary rebelled against the harshness of the existence in the colony and the feeling of virtual banishment - she planned her escape. Mary organised provisions and muskets (guns); from a Dutch Captain, Mary obtained nautical equipment. With her husband and two children and companions, Mary made off with the Governor's cutter (ship).
The group travelled 5000 kilometers through the then unknown Barrier Reef and reached Timor. At first they were accepted as shipwreck survivors, however, the Dutch on Timor proved them to be otherwise. Mary and her family were transferred to Batavia - Mary's husband and son died here. Mary was sent back to England for trial, but on the voyage her daughter died.
Through the influence of the newspapers in England, the mandatory death sentance for escaped convicts was quashed. The writer James Boswell sponsored Mary anonymously. Mary returned to her native Cornwall and remarried, fading into obscurity.