Monday, December 27, 2010

Mary Reiby (1777 - 1855)

Pioneering Businesswoman

Originally from Bury, Lancashire, England, Mary Reibey was convicted of horse-stealing and sentenced to 7 years transportation at the age of 13yo. She arrived in Sydney Australia on the "Royal Admiral" (1792) and was assigned as a nursemaid in the household of Major Francis Grose.

Mary married Thomas Reibey (Sept 1794), a young Irishman in the service of the East India Company. The first years of married life were spent farming on the Hawkesbury River. Reibey then extended his activities to grain transport and importing general merchandise, naming his establishment in Macquarie Place - Entally House - after a suburb in Calcutta.

On the death of both her husband and his partner Edward Wills, Mary was left with 7 children and complete control of numerous businesses. She was a hotel-keeper and already experienced in assisting her husband when he was absent on voyages. Mary soon became prosperous, and gradually rose to respectability and affluence. She soon became a favourite of Governor Macquarie.

Gradually retiring from active business, Mary began to take an active interest in the church, education and charity. She was appointed (1825) on of the governors of the Free Grammar School. Her three sons followed their parents' lead and established mercantile and shipping ventures in Tasmania, and her grandson was archdeacon of Launceston and Premier of Tasmania.

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