A New Life

This is one of a series of e-tivities that I am doing, or have done, for the latest unit of the Family History Diploma that I am doing. In this case the challenge was to use three documents to compose a story about an ancestor. I chose Mary Ann Russell nee Adams nee Gransden.


She was leaving her home forever.

Years of listening, first to her Uncles stories and then, more recently, to her brothers’ stories, of their adventures sailing around the world, had contributed to her, Mary Ann, wanting to do the same thing. So when the chance came to do just that, she took it. But was it the right thing to do?

What was this new country going to be like? Would she even make it the huge distance to Australia? Would she find friends and a job, maybe even, eventually, a family of her own?

She was travelling with so many women, all wanting the same thing. All excited by what they were doing, at the same time scared that they were leaving everything that they knew behind. The family, the places, the friends. Like the rest of the women, she didn’t know if she would ever see her family or friends again?

Too late to back out now. The Layton was pulling her away from the home she had always known. Looking back as the ship moved further out to sea Mary knew she would never see the place that she had called home again. A new life beckoned with a new future, a different future in a different land.


Three documents were used to compose this piece. The shipping arrivals for the Layton, the female immigration ship. This had Mary Ann as one of the passengers aboard the ship. To find out about Mary’s Uncle a newspaper from Sydney provided the details of his position aboard a ship and the fact that he had visited. Finally a ships surgeons log provided the information that her elder brother had also gone to sea.

I find the story of this particular ancestor fascinating. She was a single female that travelled to Australia on one of the first female only immigration ships. Because this ship was one of the first female immigration ships to leave England Mary would have had little, if any, knowledge of what was going to happen to the women as they arrived in Australia. This would have been an incredibly courageous decision to make and I am sure that Mary Ann would have second guessed herself throughout the entire experience

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *