Robert Davidson

Robert Davidson- Minister of Port Macquarie- A Centenary History of the Presbyterian Church in NSW.

Robert Davidson was the youngest of the children born to John Davidson and Mary Davidson nee Dalrymple of Mauchline.

Robert was born on the 4th of September 1856 at Mauchline1, the year after John Davidson, his father, formed a partnership with Robert Wilson and the same year that Samuel Amphlet joined the partnership. The company of Davidson, Wilson, and Amplet was thriving and the family was well established. The company Davidson, Wilson, and Amphlet made boxes. Their innovation was to use prints of the local area on the boxes. This essentially was the foundation of today’s tourism industry trinkets with pictures on items of the areas that people visit.

John Davidson was already a firm believer in the temperance movement and it was in this background of affluence and temperance that Robert Davidson was born. Robert’s childhood was influenced by the death of his mother when he was seven years old, the involvement of his father and older siblings in community events, particularly those that revolved around agriculture sport,s and temperance, as well as the family business. Robert was the goalkeeper for a Mauchline football team2. Family members entered horticultural and agricultural shows and all members of the family attended temperance meetings.

The Davidson family had a strong belief in education. This was evident in that the children of the family are shown engaging in education up until at least the age of 12, before starting to take their place in the Davidson and Son’s Box manufactury. Universal education for children was very much promoted in Scotland. The requirement for all students between the ages of 5 to 13 to attend schools was not fully enforced in Scotland until 1872, however, it was notable that the children of the Davidson family were all receiving some level of education in the 1861 census. The children older than the age of 12 may also have received an education, however, this level of detail is not recorded in the 1851 census.

It may have been the changing fortunes of the Davidson family or the number of family members that were in the box-making business, it may also have been the challenges of raising a young and intelligent boy once Mary Davidson had died that decided the Davidson family to encourage Robert to build upon his education. 

Robert’s early education, like that of his older siblings, was at a public school in Mauchline. The school conducted the education of between 30-50 students, most of these were educated for free, and some students paid a fee3. Robert obviously demonstrated some aptitude for study and an interest in furthering his studies. At the end of his studies in Mauchline Robert continued his education, culminating in his attendance at Gilmorehill College at the University of Glasgow4.

It was while at University that Robert met Jane (Jean or Jeanie) Logan Muir. Jane was born on the 12th of July 1858 in Stewarton, Ayrshire in Scotland. In her younger years, Jane’s father owned and ran a carpet manufacturing business that employed 19 men, 8 women, and 3 boys5. By the time Jean was 12, her father was no longer employing people in his business, instead, he was working as a Commission Agent6, possibly, at this stage, in the same carpet manufacturing business. Later Jean’s father was to be a Commissions Agent clerk for an Oil and Soap business. This was a far cry from his early career. At its height James Muir was a carpet manufacturer, the business also included wool spinning and bonnet making. From the 1851 census, it appears that the carpet manufactury employed 7 men, 43 women, and 10 boys, while the remaining part of the company employed 48 men, 20 women, 23 boys, and 23 girls7.

Like her future husband, Jean had gone through some schooling, at least until she was 12 years old. After that, she was noted as a shopkeeper in the 18818 census in Hanover St in Glasgow, less than two miles from Gilmorehill, at the University of Glasgow and the Free Church Theological College where Robert Davidson studied theology.

Jean and Robert met not long after Robert took up his studies at university and were swiftly engaged. However, Robert and Jean were unable to get married until Robert had completed his university degree and been ordained, seven years later9. Over the seven years of Robert’s Master of Arts Degree in Theology, he worked small jobs to put himself through university and support himself in Glasgow. This flexibility was to help him later in life. Shortly have graduating from Glascow University, Robert was ordained a Presbyterian Minister, on the 31st of August 1883 and then swiftly accepted a Charge in the Presbyterian Church in Australia10.

During the time that Robert completed his studies, Jean continued to work in a shop in Glasgow. However, her health was gradually deteriorating as she developed bronchial trouble that was exacerbated by the cool climate. It was with this in mind that Jean and Robert decided that he would take up a Charge in Australia. It was hoped that the sun and warmer climate would help restore Jean to health. On the day that Robert was ordained as a Presbyterian Church Minister, he also married Jane (Jean) Logan Muir11. The couple were booked on the S. S. Sorata, as Saloon passengers, to leave Scotland on the 4th of November 188312, less than three months after their wedding. The couple left Scotland in exalted company. On board the steamer passengers included four other Ministers of the Church bound for Australia as well as a Governor of the West Indies, his wife, family, and entourage13.

In general, the Sorrento had an excellent trip with few troubles. However, as the ship rounded the Cape of Good Hope, it ran into some bad weather that impacted Robert Davidson badly. As a result, when he arrived in Australia, Robert was so weak that he needed to be carried ashore on a stretcher14. Once in Australia, Robert and Jean stayed at Balmain for a couple of weeks. Robert Davidson was given a choice of the Charges of Port Macquarie or Broken Hill15. Robert chose Port Macquarie16 and within two weeks of arriving in Australia the couple once again had to get onboard a steamer to travel the short distance to Port Macquarie. The Port Macquarie Charge included Port Macquarie, Camden Haven, Wauchope, Yarras, Rollands Plains and Telegraph Point. From Port Macquarie, this area stretched north approximately 20km, West almost 70km, and South over 40 km. All of this would need to be traversed by Robert Davidson on a horse as he worked with the parishioners of his Charge.

Back standing, Nancy, Jean and Bert

Sitting Robert Davidson and Jean Logan Davidson (Jeannie) nee Muir and Mary

Front Row Douglas, Jack, and Eric

(Authors Collection)

Once the couple arrived in Port Macquarie they had expected to live a the Port Macquarie Manse. However, another family, the Wilsons had been permitted to live in the Manse and so the Davidson’s had to find alternative accommodation. For the first two years of their time at Port Macquarie, the family lived at Edinborough House. It was in this house that the first of the two Davidson children was born. Mary Calderwood Dalrymple Davidson, 5 July 188417, and Jeanie Logan Muir Davidson, 19 August 188618. At the end of two years, the Davidsons and the Wilsons swapped houses. The Davidson’s moved into the Manse, a convict-built home that was constructed to house the minister for the Church.

The Davidsons continued the naming traditions that had been used by their family for generations. Mary was given the name Mary, the name of both Robert and Jean’s mothers, Calderwood, the maiden name of Jean’s mother, and Dalrymple, the maiden name of Robert’s mother. Jean was given her first name in honour of her mother and then the name Muir for Jean’s maiden name and Logan for Jean’s mother’s maiden name.

The Davidson family moved into the Manse between the birth of Jeannie and Robert Alexander Boyd (Bert) Davidson, born in 188819. Bert was named after one of Robert’s brothers Alexander Boyd Davidson.

The Manse was an old convict building that had originally been built in 1841. The building was in poor repair when the young family first moved in. There was a large cellar that had problems with damp and the floor boards were rotting. Aside from the rotting floorboards, the wood throughout the rest of the manse was of cedar and was very good quality. French doors opened from the front verandah into the bedrooms on each side of the entrance. Above each of the doors was a moon-shaped fanlight reaching from the top of the doors to the twelve-foot-high ceilings. On entering the manse there were locked cabinets on either side of the door where Mary Davidson displayed the wedding gifts of china that she and Robert had bought to Australia with them. Unfortunately, when the manse was having its floors repaired the majority of the china was damaged when the builders removed the cabinets20.

The manse also had large open fireplaces in all of the bedrooms and living spaces. The fireplace in the sitting room had a bar across for boiling the kettle. The kitchen was a separate building away from the house to reduce the risk of the house burning down. During the time that the Davidsons lived in the manse, the house was renovated and modernised. This included the construction of an internal kitchen.

Over the next few years, Robert and Mary had four more children after the birth of Bert. Agnes Gillies Walker (Nancy) Davidson, born in 189021. Agnes Gillies was the name of Jean’s maternal grandmother. John James (Jack) Muir, named after Jean’s father, born 189222, William Eric (Eric) Davidson, born 189323 and Douglas Neil Davidson, born 189524.

During Robert’s time as the Minister for the Port Macquarie Charge, he spent nine years riding from farmhouse to farmhouse and from one church building to the next. Robert would often be away from home for long stretches staying overnight at farmhouses or anywhere else that he could get a bed. Robert would preach three services a week on a Sunday, all in different locations. This would frequently necessitate him crossing large creeks and rivers. Where these were swollen due to rain, he would remove his clothes, place them in his valise, and swim his stock horse, (Bertie) across the river. Andrew McQuade of Wauchope described Robert Davison, “I saw a tall man on a tall horse coming along out of the scrub. I saw he was a clergyman and that he was either a fool or some new chum, to cross the river as he had done.25 After his services in each area, Robert would often stay with one of the local families so that he could perform any marriages, christenings, or burials that were needed in the area.

Over the nine years that Robert was the Minister for the Port Macquarie Charge, he became well-respected in the area. However, years of rugged travel, little time at home, and the poor fare of salted beef and cold damper that was available to him when on the road took a toll on his health. So, nine years after he arrived in Port Macquarie Robert Davidson resigned, on the 30th of June 1893 and purchased the ‘Port Macquarie News’26

During his time as Minister for the Port Macquarie Charge, Robert had found that the district for which he was minister was not increasing in prosperity. Floods were frequent and when they occurred the prime industry of the area, which was maize growing, for fattening pigs, and timber getting were not lucrative for the area. Transport difficulties also made timber a challenging industry for the district. For a short while it was thought that sugar cane may be a better crop than maize. Some of the local farmers tried growing sugar cane but they found that the frequent frosts in the Hastings District killed the young shoots. As both minister and later as proprietor of the local newspaper Robert continued to travel to all areas of the local Hastings District. In doing so, he confronted these problems daily. With his knowledge of other agricultural pursuits, possibly as a result of the early influences on his own family when they were in Mauchline, Robert Davidsons started to introduce the concept of dairying to the Hastings District. As his influence continued to grow many of the farmers started to take his suggestions seriously and the concept of a dairy industry in the Hastings area became popular27.

Robert owned and edited the ‘Port Macquarie News’ for nine years. During this time, the paper focussed on local news, agricultural pursuits and included a regular column of advice that was very much focussed around similar subjects to those that Robert had preached as a Minister for the Church. Robert continued to travel to local events, often taking his wife and family to agricultural shows and to events that the family were easily able to get to, his daughter Nancy, wrote about the events that they attended in the many letters that she wrote over the years.

Mr. Buntine was inducted Minister of the Port Macquarie Charge that was put in place to take over when Robert Davidson resigned from the Charge. When Mr Buntine took over, despite the many innovations that Robert had brought to the Church there were some new ideas that Mr. Buntine decided to introduce. This included a ‘Session’ a council of Elders that took on the administration of the Church. They also often conduct church services. Robert Davidson was chosen along with Mr. W. S. Lindsay of Huntingdon to be the first Elders of the Port Macquarie Charge. They were inducted on the 26th of February 1894. They were quickly joined by Adam Johnston28

While Robert owned and worked in the ‘Port Macquarie News’ he was also trying his hand at farming. The family had to leave the Manse when Robert was no longer Minister. So, they took a lease on 40 acres of land on a peppercorn rent from the Church of England. The rent was based on the condition that Robert cleared the gum trees on the land. The land included a small house that was extended by the addition of a few extra rooms for the family’s use. The Davidson family decided to name their new residence ‘Glimorehill’, after the University in Scotland that Robert had attended. The new home included the Davidson family and Mary Knight, a live-in helper for Jean Davidson. Nancy remembered the move to Gillmorehill by the family. “I remember I had to burrow my way through a thick clump of lantana. It was so high that you could walk under it. Bert, Jack and with Eric in the pram went the long way around”29.

In 189830 Robert introduced the first purebred Ayrshire cattle to the district. Ayrshire cattle were ideal for the rugged terrain of the Hastings area and were good dairy cattle. Robert showed his cattle at a number of local country shows, on occasion winning blue ribbons31

With the introduction of Ayrshire Cattle and the continued influence of Robert Davidson the Hastings area built up a small but productive dairying centre. Soon, they were able to build a separator in a factory at Wauchope. Jean Davidson was there, with her husband to open the separator by turning on the tap to let the first milk flow into the separator32. There is still a thriving dairy industry in the Hastings District of New South Wales, to this day with Aryshire Cattle continuing to be popular dairy cattle in the region33.

Sketch of Robert Davidson when running for the seat of Cowper, NSW. (The Port Macquarie  News 12 Dec 1999).

After nine years as a journalist and proprietor of the ‘Port Macquarie News’ Robert Davidson again decided to change careers. His next new challenge was to enter the New South Wales State Parliament. In 1901 Robert Davidson was elected as the member for the Hastings and Manning Electorate and a Member of the Legislative Assembly (M.L.A.)34. Robert was elected as a member of the Liberal Party and Reform Party. Robert had run for Parliament at the previous election for the Cowper Electorate but had not succeeded. In 1901, he was elected as the representative of the Hasting Macleay Electorate35.

Robert Davidson and Jean Logan Davidson nee Muir (authors collection)

During his time as a Member of the Legislative Assembly, Robert campaigned tirelessly for improvements to the local district. He was on committees that included; the Scone Cattle Sale-yards, Dairying Industry, Lismore Markets and Cattle Sale-yards, and several other committees for both regional and town interests, including the North Sydney Brick and Tile Company’s Tramway Bill Committee36. Other improvements that Robert campaigned for included a number of bridges and the North Coast Railway. The North Coast Railway had been a topic of discussion for some time. Many in the area felt that it was a necessity and would open up the region to new trade opportunities and increase the local economy. During his nine years in Parliament, Robert Davidson did not get the North Coast railway opened up. However, he entertained members of Parliament and continued to push for the railway line during his entire term and after he had left Parliament. He is still credited as one of the driving forces that caused the North Coast Railway line to be built. The railway line saw an influx in families and employment opportunities in the area as each station was opened up, increasing the prosperity of the region37

On one of his many trips to Sydney as a member of Parliament Robert met with a serious accident. As he boarded a tram at Leichardt on his way into the city a dray attempted to pass in front of the tram. While doing so, a rabbit cart was coming along near the dray and the tram. The dray touched the cart which pulled over onto the tram. The cart then struck the tram footboard and swerved into Robert Davidson on the right leg, below the knee causing a serious fracture. Robert was taken to the Prince Alfred Hospital where he was treated. The fracture was a complex one with the bone showing through the skin. Robert Davidson was “laid up” for around five weeks. The cart was badly damaged but the drivers of both the cart and the dray were unharmed38.

Robert Davidson (Parliamentary Photo NSW Parliamentary Website).

In his early days as a member of Parliament, Robert Davidson was asked to officially open the bridge across the Wilson River at Telegraph Point. Robert had campaigned for the bridge and the whole family was there to witness his pride at being able to open the bridge. Robert and family were also present for the opening of the first District Hospital, called the ‘Cottage Hospital’ and in 1907 Robert was again part of the official party at the opening of Bain’s Bridge in Wauchope39.

In 1910 after having represented the Hastings District under two different Premiers for nine years, Robert Hastings was ousted as the representative of Hastings as a Labor Government swept into power40. Robert Davidson again turned his focus to farming and his family. However, there were the stirrings of the First World War on the horizon and Robert would again feel the need to use his influence.

The family continued to participate in local agricultural shows. Jean was particularly known for the quality and variety of her jams. Other members of the family entered flowers, sewing, and a variety of other endeavours41. But as war loomed the attention of the Davidson family turned to other things.

Like many families during the First and Second World Wars the female members of the family and the younger members of the family turned to knitting. They mostly knitted socks for the men fighting in the trenches. Robert Davidson on the other hand turned his attention to the recruitment of men and women to the front.

In 1915 the Coo-ee March started on the 10th of October in Gilgandra with 25 men and finished on the 12th of November with 263 recruits42. The march had stopped at many towns on the way as it gathered in pace and size. Robert Davidson witnessing the success of this march and wanting to do his bit organised a March of his own. Robert started the ‘Long March’ in Grafton where he spoke to the men “with much patriotic fervour”, then “like the Pied-Piper” he led them to Port Macquarie and then onto Taree to catch the train to Sydney. By the time the contingent reached Port Macquarie there were 200 recruits. Overnight accommodation was provided by the use of the hall at the Port Macquarie Show Ground. Nancy recalled working with her sister Jean and many other helpers “washing dishes, providing tea, and cutting sandwiches for the boys” to take with them. The next morning Nancy and Jean climbed into the Tower of St. Thomas’s and “watched the marchers wheel around Horton Street into Gordon Street and kept watching until they were over the crest and out of sight. Although we could no longer hear them, we could still hear the strains of “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” for the next few minutes.43

During the War and after the Long March, Robert Davidson again focussed his energy on farming. He wanted to have a place for his children to return to when the war was over. Robert purchased a ten-acre block of land and started to clear it so that it could be made ready for planting. Each day he would take a seven-pound golden syrup tin full of drinking water and some food and after breakfast, he would start clearing the land. He used a plough and all of the cleared growth was removed with his sulky.

Three of Robert Davidson’s sons and one of his daughters saw service in World War 1. They all returned home. However, by the end of the war, the Davidson family went in different directions. By 1914, Mary had moved to Kiama with her husband the Rev. Torbett. The couple had met while George Torbett had the Port Macquarie Charge. Jeanie was the Matron of the Forbes Hospital, she had continued nursing after she had returned from the war. Robert (Bert) was the manager of the Port Macquarie Butter Factory, Jack was living on the farm that Robert had bought while four of his children were away at war. Eric moved from Port Macquarie to the Australian Capital Territory where he worked as a Surveyor and both Nancy and Douglas had eventually moved to Sydney44.

At this time Robert went into semi-retirement45. He sold his farm and house and the majority of his stock46. Robert was still a presence in the town of Port Macquarie, but he no longer engaged in the advocacy that he had previously and he was no longer as evident in public life. In 1929, Robert and Jean went into full retirement, by this time Jean’s health was in considerable decline and Robert was also struggling with poor health. Robert and Jean moved to Kiama to live with their daughter Mary Torbett and their son-in-law. As they left the Port Macquarie district the couple were given a grand farewell. The event took place in Green’s Hall in Port Macquarie. Attendees included the Mayor and Mayoress, several Alderman the Shire President, and other dignitaries. Letters were read from other dignitaries who were unable to make the occasion, including those of members still in Parliament. Both were feted as pioneers of the Port Macquarie District and as major players in the foundation and running of many of the public bodies in the town. It was claimed that there was no public body in town that one or both of the Davidsons did not have a connection to. Speakers took the stand, each of them recalling personal anecdotes about their interactions with Robert Davidson or his wife and calling to mind some of their activities in the service of the district. After the speeches, the Mayor presented the couple with a wallet containing £90. Robert Davidson responded on behalf of himself and his wife, thanking everyone for their support over the 46 years that the Davidsons had lived in Port Macquarie47

Robert and Jean moved in with Mary at the Manse in Kiama. However, Jean’s health did not recover, and twelve weeks after they moved to Kiama Jean died. Jean was remembered for her constant companionship of Robert in the Port Macquarie District. She was also remembered for her contribution to the Red Cross during the war. Jean was described as “having a gentle nature, a kindly and charitable disposition towards all her acquaintances, and criticism never fell from her lips.48” Jean was buried at Kiama Cemetery. She died on the 16th of December 192949.

Twelve months later on the 5th of August 1931, Robert Davidson also died. His health had not recovered on moving to Kiama and once his wife died Robert never recovered from the shock and steadily declined into senility50. For some months before Robert died he had been moved to the Forbes Hospital where he was looked after by his daughter Jean and other staff at the Forbes Hospital. Robert was also buried at Kiama with his wife. Papers across New South Wales, but particularly in the Port Macquarie and Kiama areas included obituaries that summarised the lives of Robert and Jean Davidson and the impact that they had on so many people and communities.

Grave of Robert Davidson and Jeanie Logan Davidson nee Muir.
Find a Grave, database, and images ( (accessed 02 January 2024)


  1. Scotland  Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950, Robert Davidson ↩︎
  2. 1929 ‘FAREWELL & PRESENTATION.’, The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate ↩︎
  3. Groome, H. F. Mauchline; A Historical perspective. ↩︎
  4. Mr Robert DAVIDSON (1856 – 1931), NSW Parliamentary Website ↩︎
  5. 1861 Scotland Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2006. ↩︎
  6. 1871 Scotland Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007. ↩︎
  7. 1851 Scotland Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007. ↩︎
  8. 1881 Scotland Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007. ↩︎
  9. Harte, B. 1979. Man with a Mission, Port Macquarie News, Monday, September 24, 1979. ↩︎
  10. Coombes, L., 2006. Miss Nancy; A Unique Lady 1890-1987. ↩︎
  11. Scotland Scotland Registry, marriage certificate 644/9 365 (1885), Davidson-Muir. ↩︎
  12. New South Wales Government. Inward passenger lists. Series 13278, Reels 399-560 ↩︎
  13. Coombes, L., 2006. Miss Nancy; A Unique Lady 1890-1987. ↩︎
  14. Ibid. ↩︎
  15. Eipper, A. J. The History of the Port Macquarie Charge of the Presbyterian Church, sesqui-centenary edition 1990. ↩︎
  16. Cameron, J. 1905. Centenary History of the Presbyterian Church in New South Wales. ↩︎
  17. Birth Cert. DAVIDSON, Mary C D. ↩︎
  18. Birth Cert. DAVIDSON, Jeanie L M ↩︎
  19.  Birth Cert. DAVIDSON, Robert A. B, DAVIDSON ↩︎
  20. Coombes, L., 2006. Miss Nancy; A Unique Lady 1890-1987. ↩︎
  21. Birth Cert. DAVIDSON, Agnes G. W. ↩︎
  22. Birth Cert. DAVIDSON, John J. M. ↩︎
  23. Birth Cert. DAVIDSON, William E. ↩︎
  24. Birth Cert. DAVIDSON, Douglas, N. ↩︎
  25. Harte, B. 1979. Man with a Mission, Port Macquarie News. ↩︎
  26. 1931 ‘OBITUARY.’, The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate ↩︎
  27. Harte, B. 1979. Man with a Mission, Port Macquarie News ↩︎
  28. Eipper, A. J. The History of the Port Macquarie Charge of the Presbyterian Church, sesqui-centenary edition 1990. ↩︎
  29. Coombes, L. 2006. Miss Nancy; A Unique Lady 1890-1987. ↩︎
  30. Wauchope First Hundred Years Pt 2. ↩︎
  31. 1929 ‘FAREWELL & PRESENTATION.’, The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate ↩︎
  32. Ibid. ↩︎
  33. Australian Ayrshires. (2023) ↩︎
  34. 1931 ‘DEATH OF ROBERT DAVIDSON, EX-M.L.A.’, The Richmond River Herald and Northern Districts Advertiser ↩︎
  35. 1901 ‘MR. R. DAVIDSON (HASTINGS-MACLEAY).’, The Sydney Morning Herald ↩︎
  36. Robert Davidson. NSW Parliamentary Website ↩︎
  37. Wauchope First Hundred Years Pt 3. ↩︎
  38. 1903 ‘MR. ROBERT DAVIDSON, M.L.A. ↩︎
  39. Harte, B. 1991. ‘Dirty’ politics- and the coming of the railway line. ↩︎
  40. Premiers of New South Wales, NSW Parliamentary Website. ↩︎
  41. Harte, B. 1991. ‘Dirty’ politics- and the coming of the railway line. ↩︎
  42. 1915 Coo-ee March (2014) ↩︎
  43. Opcit Harte, B. 1991 ↩︎
  44. 1929 ‘OBITUARY’, The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate ↩︎
  45. Harte, B. 1979. Man with a Mission ↩︎
  46. 1920 ‘Advertising’, The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate ↩︎
  48. 1929 ‘OBITUARY’, The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate ↩︎
  49. 1929 ‘Obituary.’, The Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser ↩︎
  50. Coombes, L., 2006. Miss Nancy; A Unique Lady 1890-1987. ↩︎


1901 ‘MR. R. DAVIDSON.’, Macleay Argus (Kempsey, NSW : 1885 – 1907; 1909 – 1910; 1912 – 1913; 1915 – 1916; 1918 – 1954), 23 March, p. 6. , viewed 16 Dec 2023, 

1903 ‘TELEGRAPHIC.’, The Macleay Chronicle (Kempsey, NSW : 1899 – 1952), 23 April, p. 4. , viewed 17 Dec 2023, 

1907 ‘Mr. Robert at Davidson at Kempsey. ‘, The Macleay Chronicle (Kempsey, NSW : 1899 – 1952), 20 June, p. 4. , viewed 16 Dec 2023, 

1907 ‘MR. ROBERT DAVIDSON’, The Macleay Chronicle (Kempsey, NSW : 1899 – 1952), 22 August, p. 4. , viewed 12 Dec 2023, 

1910 ‘Mr. Davidson’s Candidature.’, Macleay Argus (Kempsey, NSW : 1885 – 1907; 1909 – 1910; 1912 – 1913; 1915 – 1916; 1918 – 1954), 23 September, p. 11. , viewed 16 Dec 2023, 

1910 ‘Mr. Davidson at Port Macquarie.’, The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate (NSW : 1882 – 1950), 1 October, p. 4. , viewed 18 Dec 2023, 

1910 ‘Presentation to Mr. Davidson’, The Macleay Chronicle (Kempsey, NSW : 1899 – 1952), 21 December, p. 6. , viewed 13 Dec 2023, 

1911 ‘Mr. Robert Davidson on the Referenda.’, The Macleay Chronicle (Kempsey, NSW : 1899 – 1952), 26 April, p. 3. , viewed 12 Dec 2023, 

1913 ‘General Elections.’, Nambucca and Bellinger News (NSW : 1911 – 1945), 21 November, p. 3. , viewed 16 Dec 2023, 

1913 ‘Mr. Davidson on the Hastings.’, The Macleay Chronicle (Kempsey, NSW : 1899 – 1952), 26 November, p. 3. , viewed 17 Dec 2023, 

1915 Coo-ee March (2014) 

1920 ‘Advertising’, The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate (NSW : 1882 – 1950), 28 February, p. 5. , viewed 08 Jan 2024,

1929 ‘FAREWELL & PRESENTATION.’, The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate (NSW : 1882 – 1950), 28 September, p. 4. , viewed 26 Jun 2023, 

1929 ‘Obituary.’, The Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser (NSW : 1863 – 1947), 21 December, p. 2. , viewed 13 Dec 2023, 

1929 ‘OBITUARY’, The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate (NSW : 1882 – 1950), 21 December, p. 4. , viewed 19 Dec 2023, 

1931 ‘DEATH OF ROBERT DAVIDSON, EX-M.L.A.’, The Richmond River Herald and Northern Districts Advertiser (NSW : 1886 – 1942), 14 August, p. 3. , viewed 24 Mar 2023, 

1931 ‘LATE REV. R. DAVIDSON.’, Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954) , 11 August, p. 7. , viewed 27 Aug 2017, 

1931 ‘Obituary.’, The Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser (NSW : 1863 – 1947), 8 August, p. 2. , viewed 27 Aug 2017, 

1931 ‘OBITUARY’, The Maitland Daily Mercury (NSW : 1894 – 1939), 10 August, p. 4. , viewed 24 Mar 2023, 

1931 ‘OBITUARY.’, The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate (NSW : 1882 – 1950), 8 August, p. 4. , viewed 26 Jun 2023, 

1931 ‘THE REV. R. DAVIDSON.’, The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), 10 August, p. 11. , viewed 27 Aug 2017, 1851 Scotland Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007. 1861 Scotland Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2006. 1871 Scotland Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007. 1881 Scotland Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007.

Archives, Port Macquarie News; 1961-1987; News. Australia, Death Index, 1787-1985 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.

Australian Ayrshires. (2023) 



Birth Cert. DAVIDSON, Jeanie L M, .  Cit. Date: 1 Jan 2024.


Birth Cert. DAVIDSON, Mary C D. Name:     Mary C D Davidson Birth Date: 1884 Birth Place: New South Wales Registration Year:1884 Registration Place: Port Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia Father: Robert Davidson Mother: Jane L Registration Number: 21839



Cameron, J. 1905. Centenary History of the Presbyterian Church in New South Wales. Angus and Robertson, Sydney, NSW. 

Coombes, L. 2006. Miss Nancy; A Unique Lady 1890-1987. Wauchope District Historical Society Inc. Wauchope, NSW, Australia.

Eipper, A. J. The History of the Port Macquarie charge of the Presbyterian Church, sesqui-centenary ediction 1990. 

Harte, B. 1979. Man with a Mission, Port Macquarie News, Monday, September 24, 1979.

Harte, B. 1991. ‘Dirty’ politics- and the coming of the railway line. Port Macquarie News, Wednesday, January 23, 1991

Find a Grave, database and images ( accessed 02 January 2024), memorial page for Robert Davidson (unknown–5 Aug 1931), Find a Grave Memorial ID 48913395, citing Kiama Cemetery, Kiama, Kiama Municipality, New South Wales, Australia; Maintained by Wooday2 (contributor 49066939).

New South Wales Government. Inward passenger lists. Series 13278, Reels 399-560, 2001-2122, 2751. Mariners and Ships in Australian Waters. 2009. Sorata. State Records Authority of New South Wales: Shipping Master’s Office; Passengers Arriving 1855 – 1922; NRS13278, [X164] reel 458.   Transcribed by Margaret Ranger. Proofed by P & H Smith. 

NSW Parliamentary Website

Port Macquarie and Districts Family History Soc Inc.

Premiers of New South Wales, 1856- present. Parliament of New South Wales. viewed 2 Jan 2024.

Scotland Operations, Inc, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950, Statutory registers Births :  616/ 95, 1858/ 616/95; Jane Logan Muir 12 Jul 1858 Father: James Muir- manufacturer Mother: Mary Muir maiden name Calderwood 

Scotland  Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950,  (Birth Certificates, FHL microfilm, Mauchline,Ayr,Scotland),  035516 (1856). Rec. Date: 27 Aug 2017.  Cit. Date: 27 Aug 2017. 

Scotland Scotland Registry, marriage certificate 644/9 365 (1885), Davidson-Muir; digital image,, “Statutory registers Marriages 644/9 365,”Scotlands People ( ). Rec. Date: 27 Aug 2017.  Cit. Date: 27 Aug 2017.

State Records Authority of New South Wales; Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia; Indexes to deceased estate files; Archive Series: NRS 13341; Series: “Pre A” Series (1923-1939); Reel Number: 3216

Scotland Scotland Registry, marriage certificate 644/9 365 (1885), Davidson-Muir; digital image,, “Statutory registers Marriages 644/9 365,”Scotlands People ( Rec. Date: 27 Aug 2017.  Cit. Date: 27 Aug 2017.

Wauchope First Hundred Years Pt 2. 

Wauchope First Hundred Years Pt 3.

Dressing the Past: Part 4- Using a photo to research Family History

Photos illustrate what is happening at a particular time and place in a family’s history. They also, usually illustrate the best of a family. Photos are about presenting an appearance. In particular, early photos are often staged with all members wearing their best clothing. These photos are very different from today’s snapshots of every aspect of a person’s life.

Photos may show relationships. For example, the father of the bride, the members of a wedding party including family and friends. Photos may also show good clothing over a range of events for example a wedding dress being worn by multiple family members at different weddings. See below as each bride from the same family wears the same dress. In this case, the dress was purchased during the war when fabric was very expensive. Coupons were used to source the materials. It was only possible for the family to afford one dress of this type so it was made in such a way that adjusting the dress could be done relatively easily so that more than one family member could wear the dress. Each bride had their own veil and accessories.

Jeffrey Carter, Shirley Gransden and Robert Stanley Gransden August 1946
Robert Burt, Betty Gransden and Robert Stanley Gransden April 1945
Keith Baker and Thora Gransden February 1945

In addition to the above, photos may be used to help identify individuals and or places. Using the backs of photos and the details of the photographer it can be possible to identify where and when a photograph was taken. Photos of one individual over time can be used to help identify people or other photos.

For example, the photo of Robert Gransden below is from the Tasma Studios. Robert had two sons marry around the time of this photo and one daughter. I have photos of one of those weddings but I don’t know who was the person who was married. In this case, as all of those weddings took place in Rural NSW it is probable that either the photographer was travelling, or more likely, the wedding parties did a combined trip to Sydney and all had their photos taken at the same time.

Robert Gransden
Same studio, same time frame. Either Henry and Naomi Gransden or Albert and Emily. Approximately 1901

The older photo of Robert Gransden also helped me to identify an earlier photo of Robert Gransden. The set of the jaw is the same, the hair parting is in the same place, the way the ears sit is the same and the mouth is the same. There is a significant difference in the time of the photo but it is the same person.

Robert Gransden- earlier photo, probably around 1870s. May well have been a wedding photo. If so, the photo of his wife Sarah Balcomb from the same date seems to be missing.

Overall, photos can be used to add colour to a family’s history. They can add connections between family members so that the family can be seen as a group, not just as individuals. Photos show the family as they come together to celebrate. They can also show the family as their grieve for lost members or in other circumstances and celebrations, for example, the celebration of Fred Lockwood and Emma Lockwood nee Atkins’ 50th wedding anniversary shown below.

Fred Lockwood and Emma Lockwood nee Atkins 50th Wedding Anniversary July 18 1929. ‘The Caraleon’ George St, Parramatta

Photos are yet another tool in the arsenal of the Family Historian to help the historian move beyond just the names and dates of family members. They help us to find the stories of those family members.

Part 3- Impacts of the Clothes People Wore

Part 5- Researching the Clothes in a Photo

The Death of Mary Ann Russell- the asylums

Years ago I did a series of blog posts that looked at the death of Mary Ann Russell nee Gransden. At the time I had written all of the information up but I got caught up with work and didn’t publish the final possibility on my blog. A few weeks ago I was going through my research and realised that my blog was missing that final post. So, this is the final possibility for the death of Mary Ann Russell. This is also the possibility that I think is the most likely.

Newington Asylum

Mary Russell died in the Newington Asylum age 70 (NSW BDM Russell, Mary 1890/4311). The Newington Asylum was a pauper asylum for women. Whilst men were being sent to either the Parramatta Asylum or the Liverpool Asylum women were also sent to a number of different asylums. One of those was the Newington Asylum. This Mary Russell died in the Newington Asylum.

The Newington Asylum was located where the Silverwater Penitentiary is located now. The Asylum building is apparently still on the grounds of the Penitentiary. It is difficult to find out about Asylums for women in NSW during the period that Mary Russell was in the Newington Asylum. Dates conflict and there seems to be little real information on who was where and when.

Hyde Park Barracks

Figure 1 Hyde Park Barracks, NSW- Authors Collection

In 1862 the Hyde Park Asylum became the first Government-run Asylum for the aged and infirm. Unfortunately, none of the records for the Hyde Park Asylum has survived making it near impossible to identify the women who lived out the last of their lives in the Hyde Park Asylum. However, the Asylum at Hyde Park lasted only around 20 years before a purpose build Asylum at Newington took on the role of housing the infirm and destitute women of New South Wales.

The women living at the Hyde Park Asylum were transferred to the Newington Asylum in 1886. With no records to go on it is unknown if the Mary Russell who died at the Newington Asylum had lived at the Hyde Park Asylum or had joined her compatriots at the Newington Asylum.

Within a short space of time after the Newington Asylum was opened it was the subject of scandal and an investigation due to the lack of facilities and the harsh conditions.


A lady, writing on behalf of the Ladies’ Board of the Newington Asylum, N.S.W., contributes to the Sydney press a letter, the publication of which is authorised by Lady Martin, the president, and the other members of the board. The writer, referring to the charges of cruelty and brutality, published in the Times of 13th inst., says:– “I cannot accept the testimony of inmates who for years, maybe, have assisted in the work of oppression against the evidence of my own senses. I have seen the eyes, nose, and mouth of the dying full of flies, no screen or net being near. I have seen Mrs. Crother, a young consumptive woman, dying, and since dead, who told me that the first night she was at Newington a woman died in the adjoining bed, and was left there until noon the next day. In the ward in which the young woman died there are 35 beds, and the wardswoman has the charge of all, night and day. I have not seen the woman very harsh, but I have seen the women in charge of the other wards cruel to the sick and dying. I have seen the women dying with the sheets over their faces to protect them from the flies. I have often heard the groans and cries of poor women suffering with some inflammatory disease, and I think it was almost impossible for the doctor to have his orders carried out with the system of nursing which is exercised. I have seen sago taken in a bucket (after Mr Didds had ordered more medical comforts) to the sick, and put into tin pannikins, and partaken of with black looking iron spoons. The bucket may have been clean, but it looked dirty. On Thursday last every pillow in one of the wards of the Cancer Hospital was made of coarse holland, about a quarter filled with chaff, and no pillow cases. The drinking water for due want of the latter hospital on the occasion of my last three visits was kept in a galvanised slop pail. The old people present a strong contrast to a similar institution in Melbourne, where day and night nurses are provided, and where the cost is only 2s 11½d a week per head.

In the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday night, says the Age, in reply to Mr Dibbs, Sir H. Parkes, said it would take him another week before he could inform the House what he was going to do with regard to the Government asylums report, but he could promise that the asylums would be placed under good management.

1887 ‘THE NEWINGTON ASYLUM SCANDAL.’, The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), 20 May, p. 2. , viewed 05 Nov 2016,

In December of 1887 the condition of Newington Asylum was still being debated with little or no progress having so far been achieved.

Newington Asylum.


The Colonial Secretary has not lost sight of Newington Asylum as some people, whose wish is father to the thought, seem to suppose. Oh the contrary, the matter has been for months past and is now occupying the attention of Sir Henry Parkes. He has resolved upon some very  weeping changes in the management and personnel of this particular asylum as soon as they can possibly be made with advantage and without prejudice to the health and comfort of the inmates. While the Premier is of opinion that the management of Newington Asylum is not all that can be desired, he is convinced, from personal observation and inquiry that the sick, decrepit, enfeebled old women there are as well treated as the circumstances will permit, and as well as this class of patients are treated in similar institutions in other parts of the world. Nevertheless, changes of a very sweeping character are to take place shortly; but, although the Government is anxious to effect them with as little delay as possible, probably two months will elapse before this can be done. What the charges are is not exactly known; but it has been decided to remove certain people attached to the asylum, but whose removal is surrounded with special difficulties, one of which is that of getting properly qualified persons to take the places of those whose services are to be dispensed with. Another difficulty in the way of the contemplated change is the difficulty experienced by the Government in finding a building which shall offer all the requisite, accommodation and conveniences. The Government would like to secure the Randwick Aylum for the Newington Asylum patients; but there are legal obstacles in the way at present, which, it is hoped, may ultimately be overcome. The necessity of trained nurses being: attached to this institution has been recognised by the Government, and authority has been given for engaging the services of four trained nurses, to whom is to be given the care of the very old and feeble of the inmates. The ultimate intention is to classify the whole of the patients in accordance with the ages and complaints, and the more aged women and hopeless cases will be placed entirely under the care of trained nurses. In short, old Newington is to disappear altogether, and the care of the aged is to be conducted on more thorough and scientific lines, and entrusted to those most competent to carry out so important a trust.

1887 ‘Newington Asylum.’, Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 – 1931), 30 December, p. 6. , viewed 05 Nov 2016,
1890 ‘CHATS ON OUR CHARITIES.’, Illustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1881 – 1894), 20 February, p. 10. , viewed 05 Nov 2016,

By 1890, the date of the death of Mary Russell, the Newington Asylum does seem to have gone through some of the badly needed reforms. An overview of daily life in the Newington Asylum can be read, 1890 ‘CHATS ON OUR CHARITIES.’, Illustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1881 – 1894), 20 February, p. 10. , viewed 05 Nov 2016, At the time of Mary Russell’s death the Newington Asylum held 450 inmates. The original house, Newington House, was still being used for the Asylum but by this stage, it was more an admissions house rather than the main quarters for the inmates. As the new regulations and changes occurred the death rate for the inmates went down and the quality of food and care increased.

Newington House. Courtesy of the National Library of Australia. C.1895 Boileau, F. (Francis) Sir, 1830-1900. Public Domain,_(New_South_Wales).jpg

Mary Russell died at the Newington Asylum. There are no admission or patient records for the Asylum prior to 1897 according to the NSW State Archives Like with the Mary Russell who died at Athlone Place it may never be possible to tell if this Mary Russell is Mary Russell nee Gransden. If she is our Mary Russell then it is possible that she was in both the Hyde Park Asylum and the Newington Asylum. William Russell, the one most likely to have been married to Mary was transferred to the Liverpool Asylum for aged and infirm men in 1883 after having requested support in 1882 from the Bathurst Police as he was aged and unable to look after himself.

VAGRANCY. – William Russell, 70 years of age, was charged with vagrancy. He had come into town from Rockley and applied at the lock-up for relief, seeking admission into the Benevolent Asylum. He said he was without friends and was suffering from rheumatism.

The Bench gave him an order for admission into the Bathurst Hospital, from which place he could be forwarded to the Benevolent Asylum if proved to be a fit subject.

1882 ‘POLICE COURT.’, Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal (NSW : 1851 – 1904), 18 November, p. 2. , viewed 17 Apr 2016,

It appears likely that Mary Russell was not living with William at this stage. So either she was already in one of the Asylums or she was living elsewhere and earning a living or living with one of her children. Given this and if this is the correct Mary Russell, it is possible that Mary Russell was in one or both Asylums for a considerable period of time.

Aside from the newspaper articles included detailed here, a lot of the information contained in this article and a lot further information can be obtained here:

Hughes, J. N. 2004. Hyde Park Asylum for Infirm and Destitute Women, 1862-1886: An Historical Study of Government Welfare for Women in need of Residential Care in New South Wales. School of Humanities, University of Western Sydney, Australia

It is my belief that this is the most likely Mary Ann Russell nee Gransden death. Mary left her husband in the mid 1840s. It is possible that she returned to him, however, it is also very obvious that Mary was a very independent woman who was happy to make her own way in life even if that meant travelling halfway around the world to a new land. I think that it is highly likely that Mary Ann left her husband and when she was no longer able to look after herself and support herself she ended up in the Hyde Park Barracks before being transferred to the Newington Asylum. Unfortunately, it is probable that we will never know for certain.

Previous related post

Dressing the Past

Impacts on the Clothes people Wore

Social, environmental and cultural events all impact the clothing people wear and how they wore them. During the nineteenth century, there were a number of events that impacted the availability of clothing, colours and the fabric that people wore daily. This post very specifically looks at clothing in Australia and some of the world events that impacted that clothing. Like with this whole series of blog posts, this particular post is not going to be exhaustive.

1832- Universal male suffrage- this started to erode class distinction. As a result, the clothing that people wore, particularly those of the working class, could become more aspirational.

1830s- Australian artefacts such as Emu feathers and Kangaroo fur becomes a trend on clothes in countries other than Australia. This was driven by an overall interest in all things Australian and was not limited to Emu and Kangaroo. This in turn encouraged people living in Australia to wear clothing that utilised Australian flora and fauna. There is a whole ethical debate over this use of Australian flora and fauna and its impact on Aboriginal people. I want to acknowledge that this is a serious issue that had huge impacts. I am not going to go into those impacts here as that is not the purpose of this post.

1840s-1850s- Irish Famine, this increased the presence of people of Irish descent in Australia and thus increased the wearing of clothing that had been fashionable or popular in Ireland.

1847- Women and Children in the UK were given a 10-hour working day. This was part of a fight for general improvements in the quality of working conditions. In 1856, some men in Australia were granted the 8-hour working day. There followed a series of disputes and fights for greater working rights that continued into the 20th century as men women and children fought for shorter working days and better pay and conditions. The impact of these fights for working right on fashion was the increasing demand for clothes that could be worn while working and were easy to take on and off and to care for.

National Museum of Australia- eight-hour working day parade, Melbourne 1907.

1850s- Increases in income and the gold rushes in Australia- fashion became more accessible. Those that were successful as a result of the gold mines wanted to show off their wealth. This is a time of conspicuous consumption in Australia. Fashion starts to be marketed towards the working classes, not just the wealthy.

1857– Indian rebellion against the British East India Company. This contributed to the British take-over of India and the start of the British Raj. A wave of Indian-inspired fashion and fashion designs followed. This love of Indian-inspired clothing started earlier than 1857 but was expanded after the start of the British Raj. See the paisley shall in the image below as an example of Indian-inspired clothing.

British artists of the late 19th Century were great admirers of the pattern, including William Holman Hunt, who painted his paisley-adorned wife Fanny (Credit: William Holman Hunt),took%20the%20continent%20by%20storm.

1861- Death of Prince Albert- this sparked a wave of fashionable mourning attire including black clothing, jet beads, broaches with hair in them and many other items of fashionable clothing and adornment. While popular before the death of Prince Albert the prevalence of these items after Prince Albert’s death was much higher.

1861-1865- American Civil War- this changed the access to cotton that many countries had. Prior to the civil war, many countries were easily able to obtain cheap cotton. After the civil war, this was much harder to obtain and other fabrics gained popularity.

1880-1901- New Zealand becomes the first country in the world to grant female suffrage, followed by Australia and many other countries over decades. This, along with the increasing popularity of the bicycle is linked to feminine dress reform. The bicycle allowed women the freedom and flexibility to be able to go where they chose when they chose and not to need a man for them to be able to travel. As bikes became more popular with women skirts became less bulky and eventually bloomers and trousers became popular for women.

Women riding bikes in the later nineteenth century, early twentieth century.

Late nineteenth century- the increase in leisure activities that came with industrialisation and workers rights meant that there was a demand for clothing that could be used for leisure activities such as swimming, cycling, tennis, horse riding, train travel etc. This resulted in substantial changes to the way that clothing was used and perceived.

1890s Depression- this, plus the increasing popularity and affordability of the sewing machine contributed to an increase in the amount of home-sewn clothing, particularly for men. Up until now men had mostly found it easier to buy clothing in Australia, for many reasons including the gender imbalance. In the 1890s home sewn clothing for men once again starts to regain some popularity.

Part 2- 1860s-1890s

Part 4- Using a photo to research family history


1840-1849- Fashion History Timeline, 2020

Australian History Research, 2022. Victorian Fashions. Norfolk Island.

Baker, L. 2017 Paisley’s journey from its origins in Persia to hippy chic and contemporary fashion, vit a Scottish textiles town.,took%20the%20continent%20by%20storm.

Frost, L. Dating Family Photos 1850-1920. Valiant Press Pty Ltd. Victoria, Australia

Gold Museum Ballarat, 2018. A Victorian Dress

Just History 2021 Historical Fashion: Victorian Women’s Clothing 

Mortkowitz 2019. The Bicycle Politics Throughout History. We Love Cycling.

National Museum of Australia 2022 Eight-hour day.

Singer Sewing Machine. 2022 Powerhouse collection.,SEWING%20MACHINES%20IN%20THE%20WORLD

Sovereign Hill Education Blog- 1850’s Fashion in Australia 2018.

V&A Museum- Collections.

V&A History of Fashion 1840-1900

Working woman’s day dress, circa 1840s (Gold Museum collection, 80.1294)

Fernleigh from Construction to Destruction: Part 2 Edward Atkins Jnr.

Edward Atkins Jnr was born on the 10th of January 1852 in West Pennant Hills. Edward Atkins Jnr, like his father, also known as Edward Atkins, was a successful Nurseryman. He married Maria Allsop in 1878 and the family made their home mostly at Edward Atkins Snr’s property ‘Mount Pleasant’ situated at present-day Atkins Road in Ermington. In the 1880’s Edward was planning on expanding his Nursery and Orchard Company, this would also give Edward Jnr and his young family, the opportunity to move to their own house.

Purchase of sections of the Bennet Estate by Edward Atkins.

Edward took out a loan in 1891 to buy the section of Bennets Farm that he was interested in purchasing. He then set about building the house.

1890 ‘Ermington.’, Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 – 1907), 24 May, p. 14. , viewed 09 Feb 2019,  

Unfortunately, due to a series of court cases ending in eventual bankruptcy for Edward Atkins Jnr Fernleigh had to be sold shortly after the house had been completed and the family had been able to move into the new residence.

In particular, Edward has appointed a Mr Morris to act as an assignee to his estate while he was absent in Mildura. Edward went through a series of losses in banks and companies that he held shares. As a result, Mr Morris sold Edward’s nursery in one lot failing to account for the assets in the nursery, such as trees and other plants. These losses and poor financial management, particularly due to the resale, Mr Terry, then foreclosed on the mortgage on Fernleigh. The discharge on the Mortage after selling the estate finally came through in October of 1895.

In 1894 the house and lands were advertised for sale.

1894 ‘Advertising’, The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), 27 February, p. 3. , viewed 08 Feb 2019,

Edward did manage to build his fortune back up and do well for himself. But, Fernleigh was, by this time, lost to the Atkins family.

Fernleigh House as it was originally built in the 1890’s.

For further information about Fernleigh please see Part 1 below.

Fernleigh from Construction to Destruction Part 1

Fernleigh from Construction to Destruction Part 3- Owen and Stark Families

Clothing of the 1860s-1890s

Women’s wear of the 1860s -1870s

While the sewing machine was invented in the late 1770s, it did not become readily available until the 1860s. In Australia, the first sewing machine factory, built by Singer, was constructed and began selling sewing machines to the public in 1864. At around the same time, synthetic dyes became readily available. This meant that for colour it became much easier to purchase fabrics that were bright and colourful. Prior to this time, it was much more expensive to obtain brightly coloured cloth, or it needed to be dyed at home using plants from the local area. The impact of the sewing machine meant that women were more easily able to make fashionable clothing faster than they had previously been able.

At the same time that colour and fabric was changing, skirts were also changing. The bulk of the fabric was shifting to the back, with the introduction of the bustle, later the front of the skirt started to flattern out to emphasise the bustle further. Bodices were tight, necks were high, particularly for daywear and the front of the jacket was often buttoned. In the 1870s trains started to be used for both day wear and evening wear. This necessitated a button on flounce that sat under the train. This could be taken off and washed and then put back on to help to prolong the life of the skirt.

Hair was worn in low chignons at the nape of the neck. As the decade progressed these shifted to high complicated fashions often enhanced by fake hair.

Unknown woman circa 1874-1876 Bean collection

Menswear of the 1860s-1870s

Single-breasted coats and jackets were worn. The outer jacket was usually semi-fitted and thigh length. Waistcoats were also single-breasted. Sometimes they matched the outer jacket but they did not have to. High starched collars were worn with cravats and neckties. Three-piece suits started to be worn as an alternative to the frock coat. In these cases, the waistcoat did match the suit. Frock coats, when worn were often fastened high on the chest.

Facial hair was becoming common, even for fashionable men in the city. For those who were more fashion conscious, this may be quite sculpted, for those in more rural areas this could be a significant beard and whiskers.

Headwear still included the top hat, but this was being increasingly overtaken by the use of the Bowler hat.

Unknown person from Bean collection circa 1870s.

Women’s Wear 1880-1890s

Tightly fitted bodices with narrow sleeves were still very popular during this period. High necklines remained fashionable as did trim and or frills of lace, particularly at the neck and cuffs. Skirts were still being drawn to the back, but the bustle disappeared for a while until the middle of the 1880s when it made a resurgence. There was a lot less material in the skirts overall than in previous decades. During this period there was a lot of movement in skirts. At some stages, skirts were cinched in around the legs which could make walking difficult. At other times the skirts flowed in what was known as the free-form style which contained a low bustle but was not as distinct as the much larger bustle of the mid 1880s.

In the later 1890s, the sleeves became larger at the head of the sleeve. This became known as the “leg of mutton” sleeve and was a considerable departure from the earlier tight sleeve that had dominated fashion for a couple of decades.

Hats were small and sat perched on top of the hairstyle. Hats became quite elaborate and decorative, often with a lot of colour.

Mary Carter circa 1890, Bean collection

Menswear 1880-1890s

Lounge suits were increasing in popularity. They included slim-line jackets worn open. Under the jacket was a high buttoned waistcoat and usually a fob or watch chain. Collars were still and high with neckties becoming increasingly common. Frock coats were still worn but they were becoming dated and old-fashioned.

Trousers were being worn more loosely than had been worn in previous decades and they often had a turned-up cuff. The trouser press became popular and easy for people in the cities to access. This lead to a fashion for a straight crease down the front of the pants.

Unlike previous decades, at this time it was more fashionable for men to be clean shaved with shorter hairstyles.

Headwear was increasingly leaning towards the Bowler hat. For those that were not wearing a Bowler, crowns of hats were still lowering or not being worn at all.

Balcomb Family circa 1890s Bean family collection

Part 1- History of Clothes in the nineteenth century; clothes from the 1840s-1850s

Part 3- Societal impacts on the clothes people wore


1840-1849- Fashion History Timeline, 2020

Australian History Research, 2022. Victorian Fashions. Norfolk Island.

Frost, L. Dating Family Photos 1850-1920. Valiant Press Pty Ltd. Victoria, Australia

Gold Museum Ballarat, 2018. A Victorian Dress

Just History 2021 Historical Fashion: Victorian Women’s Clothing 

Singer Sewing Machine. 2022 Powerhouse collection.,SEWING%20MACHINES%20IN%20THE%20WORLD

Sovereign Hill Education Blog- 1850’s Fashion in Australia 2018.

V&A Museum- Collections.

V&A History of Fashion 1840-1900

Working woman’s day dress, circa 1840s (Gold Museum collection, 80.1294)

Dressing the Past; Clothes and their impact on daily life.

This post is going to be a series of posts about a dress that I made over a year ago that was based on an unknown photo in my Great Aunty Margarets collection. The photo was one that she had received a while ago, it was probably taken in Orange, but I don’t know because when I was given the photographs to scan I didn’t know about making sure that I scanned the backs as well as the fronts of the photographs. The box held a large number of photos, some of which I could identify were of family members and some that were of famous people of the day. Many of the photos are still unidentified.

One of the photos caught my attention. So far, my attempts at identifying this photo suggest that the woman in the photograph may be one of my three times great grandmothers.

Unidentified photo approximately 1874-1876 NSW, Australia

I decided to use the dress in this photo to try and find out more about the woman in the photo. Even if I never identified the the woman the research that I could do to understand the photo and the woman are comprehensive. But, because I also want to make this post relevant to family historians, first a little bit about dating photos based upon dress.

History of Clothes in the 19th Century

Women’s Wear of the 1840s-1850s

Women in this period typically wore a close-fitting bodice with a full skirt and sleeves. The skirt was shaped through the use of lots of petticoats or through the use of a crinoline. A crinoline is usually made out of horsehair and linen and then stiffened with steel, cane or gutta-perch.

Sleeves were off the shoulder and both collars and sleeves, particularly for under-clothing were often detachable.

Dresses during this time were aimed to give a woman the Victorian ideal of a meek and delicate woman with a pale complexion and of passive behaviour. However, in Australia, and many other parts of the world, despite appearances this is not what a woman was. Having to work in rural areas and undertake back-breaking physical work while looking after children meant that the ideal and the reality were often far from the same.

Dresses during this period were often made at home and were usually hand-stitched. Although sewing machines had been invented in the later 1700s, they did not start to become readily available or cheap until after the 1850s. For women in Australia, they were extremely rare until the middle of the 1860s when Singer established a factory in Australia.

In addition to the overall clothing of the 1850s, women wore deep bonnets and their hair was usually in a bun or coils with a centre parting.

Working woman’s day dress, circa 1840’s (Gold Museum collection, 80.1294)

Menswear of the 1840-1850’s

Menswear was usually ready-made. Clothes had a long thin line with narrow sleeves and a fitted look. It was much more common for men’s clothing to be readily available rather than made at home. Many men were away from cities for a long period of time, particularly in Australia. They made trips to the city for a short space of time and they were often on the move. There was also a huge gender imbalance in Australia. So, having clothes ready-made and able to be purchased made a lot of sense.

Along with the long slim line of the coat, trousers were relatively tight, waistcoats were fashionable and collars were upstanding with neckties. At this time the sack coat- a thigh-length loosely fitted coat become popular. As the decade progressed everything in male fashion became more exaggerated. In Australia, much of this was due to money from gold mining changing who had access to wealth. Suddenly those that had never experienced wealth before may be able to make their fortune at the digs and men who made their fortune wanted to show that fortune in their clothing, this was a time of conspicuous consumption.

In the 1850s the Bowler hat was invented and gradually overtook the popularity of the top hat. In the early 1850s, the Bowler was very much a working class hat. It had been designed initially to protect gamekeepers from low-hanging branches. However, over the next few decades, the Bowler became universally popular as male attire.

Richard Ansell 1857 London V&A Museum

Part 2- Clothing in the 1860s-1880s.


1840-1849- Fashion History Timeline, 2020

Australian History Research, 2022. Victorian Fashions. Norfolk Island.

Frost, L. Dating Family Photos 1850-1920. Valiant Press Pty Ltd. Victoria, Australia

Gold Museum Ballarat, 2018. A Victorian Dress

Just History 2021 Historical Fashion: Victorian Women’s Clothing 

Singer Sewing Machine. 2022 Powerhouse collection.,SEWING%20MACHINES%20IN%20THE%20WORLD

Sovereign Hill Education Blog- 1850’s Fashion in Australia 2018.

V&A Museum- Collections.

V&A History of Fashion 1840-1900

Working woman’s day dress, circa 1840’s (Gold Museum collection, 80.1294)

Fernleigh from Construction to Destruction Part 4- Nursing Home

On the 30th of March 1945, George Stark died leaving Fernleigh to his sons Kenneth Lawrence Stark and Arthur Campbell Stark. Once again Fernleigh was sold, this time to Mary Jane Elizabeth Clark and Eric Charles Clark.

The Clarks had already been living in Meadowbank, on Bowden Street. Mary was working as a nurse and it is probable that it was this family who first thought of using the large home as a hospital. Eric was working as an electrician, which would have worked well as a way of maintaining the house. However, Eric Clark died shortly after the couple moved into the house and the house was sold in 1947 to Ivy Niland.

Like Mary Clark, Ivy Niland was a widow. Her husband, William Martin Niland a local solicitor had died in June of 1945. The couple had lived in Waverly before William had died. After his death, Ivy had moved for a short time to Mosman. However, Ivy purchased the Fernleigh property and decided to open up a rest home. The first indication that Fernleigh has actually become a nursing home of some type is an entry in the 1954 electoral roll which shows Ivy Niland as a Rest Home proprietress.

Ivy remained at Fernleigh, running the nursing home until 1961. At this stage, the Fernleigh property is broken up. Previously, Fernleigh had included all of the lands within the boundaries of Constitution Road, Station Street, Sherbrooke Road and Mons Street. The early Meadowbank Estate subdivisions had originally planned to break this area up into four smaller blocks, however, they had been purchased as one. With the death of Ivy Niland, the earlier planned break up finally occurs.

During this time the Fernleigh property still reaches from Sherbrooke Road to Constitution Road, but the long driveway to the house is hemmed in by properties on either side.

The Fernleigh Property is now divided up among a number of people and companies. Patricia Mary Foley of Maroubra and Nolene Marie Crowley of Mosman become tenants in common of a portion of the property. Florence Nominees Pty Ltd and Pentagon Investments Pty Ltd own the rest of the property, also as tenants in common.

Ivy Niland- owner of Fernleigh

By 1961 there are more people owning a portion of the Fernleigh property. The Cassady’s own 107 Constitution Road, the Rylands, and Shepherds own 105 Constitution Road which is the address of the Fernleigh House. The opposite side of the block, at 8 Sherbrooke Road is lived in by Richard Nobbs and his wife who is a nurse. They reside with another nurse Theresa Mary Camillus.

By 1968, Ruby Violet Ward and her husband Harry Herbert Ward are living at, and own, 8 Sherbrooke Road. They are living with Elsie Pamela Mountney and Kenneth William Mountney. Both women are nurses, while the men are plant protection officers and clerks. At this stage, it is highly likely that both couples are working at Fernleigh and operating the house as a nursing home. Certainly, at this point in time, the Fernleigh house is the property of Ruby Violet Ward.

In 1977 the house once again changes hands. At this stage, the address of the property where the house is situated is 105 Constitution Road, lived in by Kenneth Leslie Shephard and Lilian Alice Shephard. 8 Sherbrooke Road now has two different residents, number 8 and number 8a. 8a is still tied to the main house with Lleida Wild, resident of 8a, being a forelady.

Sometime between 1964-1967 and 1968, the frontage of Fernleigh is moved from Constitution Road to 8 Sherbrooke Road. At the same time, the house is extended through a red brick addition.

Fernleigh as it was just before destruction. The frontage is now on Sherbrooke Rd and the red-brick additions are clearly visible. The original chimneys can still be seen and some of the original stonework.

At this time Fernleigh starts to be promoted through large ads placed in the Sydney phone books.

Fernleigh was successfully run as a nursing home for a number of years. But, by 1982 there was an application to transfer the license of Fernleigh Nursing Home, 8 Sherbrooke Road, West Ryde from Joseph Arthur James Barrington and Lawrence James Adler to Moran Hospitals Pty Ltd. Fernleigh was registered as a general class nursing home licensed to accommodate 93 patients.

Adler had made money through insurance companies. He bought a string on insurance companies and later started to move into nursing homes. It is not certain when he obtained Fernleigh, however, it was probably during a merger or takeover as there does not seem to be any other record with Land Titles, other than the Niland purchase. So it is probable that this was part of a larger property swap.

Moran was a sort of rags to riches story. Moran worked towards making his money in real estate. He when he was married a nurse called Greta King, so Moran went into nursing homes. He built up this business and was extremely successful.

Moran has a difficult reputation, in particular, he was seen as extensively money-hungry, making comments about “elderly bludgers”. He was influential in the Howard Government until his attitude meant that the Government had to pull out of supporting him as he was becoming electorally unpopular.

Moran Aged Care became part of the MFS Group, a large financial group in the US. In the 2000’s Principal Aged Care, now part of the Domain Aged Care group also came under the MFS banner. At this time there was a dispute between MFS and Village life, another provider of aged care services. This left hundreds of elderly pensions with no homes.

In 2008 Domain Aged Care changes its name and now comes under the Opal banner. This has not stopped the bad publicity that has so far dogged the company. This has been particularly evident in the late enquiry into nursing homes.

The inquiry into tax practices of for-profit providers of age care services report found that in 2015-16 the six largest for-profit aged care providers including BUPA, Opal Aged Care, Regis Healthcare, Estia Health, Japara and Allity received over $2.17 billion in government subsidies, made after-tax profits of $210 million and paid around $154 million in tax.

Opal and Allity paid no tax in the year 2014-2015 and Allity also paid no tax the following year, according to the report.

As part of Opal’s plans for Fernleigh Nursing Home, the original building was pulled down in 2019.

The destruction of Fernleigh in 2019.
The continued destruction of Fernleigh 2019.

Today, all that remains of a once beautiful old home, with a long history in Meadowbank, is a part of the original front gate which leads out onto Constitution Road. The gate post sits between two large blocks of units and is a relic of the past.

The last remaining part of the original Fernleigh property. One side of the gate.

With the destruction of Fernleigh, the commencement of the building of the new structure that now takes the place of Fernleigh was started.

Start of the construction of the new “Meadowbank Grove” nursing home that was being built on the site of the original Fernleigh homestead. The construction of the new nursing home required the purchase of a number of the properties that were originally part of the Fernleigh estate and that were sold off in the 1960’s.

Meadowbank Grove, as it is now known, has been completed. While there are potentially some nods to the original house, in the sandstone blocks and even the house as it was in the 1960s with the red walls, the loss of one of Ryde’s early homes is a considerable cultural loss.

Meadowbank Grove as it now looks.

Fernleigh: From Construction to Destruction: Part 1

Collecting by Caravan

The below article was remembered by one of Nancy’s grand nieces. The cottage and the fireplace in the article were donated to the council. Unfortunately, it was not looked after well and eventually became infested with white ants. This meant that the house had to be knocked down. However, the article below and the family photo show demonstrate Nancy’s love of Australia and of the home that she built.

A Harvest and a Hearth of Stones

MISS NANCY DAVIDSON drives her caravan over all parts of New South Wales, and wherever she goes she looks for a beautiful stone and brings it home. This has been going on for several years, and all that time she has been dreaming of the little house where she would live in between times of caravaning. Now
the house is built. It is set in the bush near Wahroonga, with a brook-or a “crick,” if you have it that way across the grounds.

THE house is called Teribori, which is aboriginal for rainbow, and the garden is being laid out in rainbow colouring of flowers. Starting from the southern end past the ferns, growing in pockets and over rocks there are to be seen the red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet flowers of the prism. Natural trees are left, and leafy paths go round the rocks just as the rocks happen to be. There is a belt of tropical plants that Miss Davidson has culled during her caravaning and a patch of Australian wild flowers. Down in the creek lie some of the lovely stones that the caravan has brought to rest here.
Geologists may give stones high-sounding names such as micraceous schist, but Nancy Davidson is just a natural naturalist who loves colours and shapes and indulges a passion for collecting while she earns her living by her caravan. All sorts of people go [for] trips in the caravan, and many of them have not seen a stone before. Some laugh at Miss Davidson, some help to find a really good stone, others watch her move rocks with a superior air. Quite a number have gone home to build a bird-bath or rockery of stones.
There is a saying, “You can’t throw a stone across the Darling at Bourke.” When Miss Davidson reached Bourke she was determined to find a stone. After much hunting she discovered, as she thought, a stone to throw, but a geologist member of the party scraped it and declared it merely “baked earth” There are no stones to throw at Bourke.

Red Yellow and White

AMONGST Miss Davidsons collection there is a stone from the meeting of the waters of the Cotter and Murrumbidgee, and white quartz from near Collector and Bungendore, lovely smooth pebbles from the River Deua in the Araluen Valley, and quite a family of feet-like stones from the Araluen, with the biggest stone of all nearly two feet long and like a big pear drop-it was the heaviest she could carry. There is a pretty red stone from the seaside place of Merimbula and little stone from Budgewoi, where the caravaner made soup of pippies. Most of the reds and yellows came from the beach at Port Macquarie – Miss Davidson’s birthplace. Her father- Presbyterian minister and Member of Parliament – early imbued her with the love for stones.
Another caravan trip took Miss Nell Holden who wanted not stones, but clays and colourings, for her pottery work, and the volcanic soil at Port Macquarie yielded up oxide and cobalt. When the house at Wahroonga was ready for its fireplace the stones were placed in a pile
and the bricklayer or “brickie,” as he calls himself, was brought in to confront it. He jibbed at the idea of combining stones into a fireplace. Looking at the pile, he said, ‘They’re just stones, wouldn’t you rather have some nice fire-bricks? Miss Davidson threw a bucket of water over them, transforming dullness into glowing colours. ‘My!” he said, “they are stones. I’ve never seen stones like that before. You’ll have to throw a bucket of water at the fireplace every time you have a visitor.”
From that moment the “brickies” turned to their job, and while owner and architect were away fashioned one of the most delightful of fire surrounds that one could see.

A Den and a Home

ALL the fire-box and hearth are of necessity in fire-brick, as stones are liable to explode with heat. In front, the edges of the bricks step regularly into the stones just as the uneven stones demand; all the facing
up to the mantelpiece is of stones in all colours, sizes, and shapes and these meet the wall with the wallpaper neatly trimmed up to them. The mantelpiece of wood has ornaments chosen to emphasise the colour in the stones, there is a blue iridescent bowl which heightens the blue in some stones and a Limoges scent bottle in pink, left from an old dressing-table set of grand mamma’s day, which brings up the pink; there is a grey pewter tankard and a black pot. Beside the hearth an old chair of great-great-grand-mother date is of walnut and marquetry with tapestry cleverly worked by Miss Davidson. All this lovely room is part of the attic floor of the house in the bush. Miss Davidson does all kinds of things, and, as Miss Davidson has many interests and hobbies, the attic room has to be a den as well as a home when her caravan is resting.

Nancy Davidson and Budgewoi Cabin
Nancy (Agnes Gillies Walker) Davidson at her cabin in Budgewoi.

1939 ‘Collecting by Caravan’, The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), 10 July, p. 6. (Women’s Supplement), viewed 13 Feb 2022,

Ragged Schools

On researching the Gransden family I was struck by the fact that Mary Ann Gransden nee Stone had left her husband in 1852 to strike out on her own. In 1852 this is an extremely unusual thing for a woman to do. However, a notice in the Hampshire Advertiser indicated that this was exactly what she did do.

Hampshire Advertiser and Sailsbury Guardian Sat July 17, 1852.


NOTICE.- I, Robert Gransden, of Orchard-lane, Southampton, Oil and Colourman, HEREBY GIVE NOTICE, that my wife, MARY ANN GRANSDEN, having left my residence, I will not be answerable for any debts she may contract after the date hereof.

Dated the 17th of July 1852


The next time I come across Mary Ann Gransden is in the 1861 census where she is still living separately from her husband. Mary is 72 years of age and is working as a Schoolmistress and living at 107 St Georges Rd, Millbrook Hampshire.

There was nothing in my research that indicated that Mary Ann was literate enough to be a schoolmistress and it was fairly unusual at this time for women to have significant education. So to see Mary as a schoolmistress was really interesting. Thus, I fell down the rabbit hole looking for possibilities as to why Mary may have been more educated than most women of her period.

The first place that I looked was at Mary’s parents. The family was reasonably well off, it can be assumed. As Mary’s father James Eloard Stone was a barber. He had an apprentice and was considered a Master Barber. This profession obviously had some links to his family as, to date, it has been possible to find that one of James’ brothers is a peruke maker or wig maker. Given the trade that James was in it would be expected that he would have a reasonable education. However, his wife was unable to sign the marriage register so she could not have taught her children to read and write. Either James was able to hire someone to educate his children or his children had been educated via other means. I still don’t know the answer to this question. However, I have found a possibility.

John Pounds, late of St. Mary Street, Portsmouth: who, while earning an honest subsistence by mending shoes, was also school master, gratuitously to some hundreds of the children of his poor neighbours. : Born 17 June 1766. Died 1 January 1839, aged 72. Published by Bouvé & Sharp, 221 Washington St., Boston, ca.1843-1845

Just down the street from Mary Ann Stone and where her parents lived and raised their children was a man by the name of John Pounds. John lived from 1766-1839 in Portsmouth. In his early years, John had signed up for a four-year apprenticeship as a sailor. However, he had fallen from the rigging at one point and broken his thigh and damaged his back significantly enough that he became badly deformed.

During John Pounds’ recovery time he learned to read and write. It seems that he took significant pleasure in the education that he developed as he healed. In addition, John took up the trade of cobbler where he made and fixed shoes.

John was quite an accomplished cobbler and when his nephew, Johnnie, was born with a deformity that caused his feet to turn in John made a series of boots for him with the aim of gradually fixing the deformity. Despite the gradual change in his feet, it appeared that Johnnie like to spend time at his Uncles shop, whether that was because he found running around in the early days difficult or not, I do not know. However, gradually Johnnie bought his friends to his uncle’s shop and that became the space that they played in.

John began to teach Johnnie and his friends how to read and write, he also taught simple arithmetic and some general knowledge. This space where kids were playing and learning gradually attracted more children. This included girls who were given the same basic education that the boys were given as well as some extra skills such as cooking. John Pounds used to like the concept of nature teaching children. So, he and the children would go on excursions outside of the town walls where they learned about flowers, wildlife and nature.

Over years John taught many children. They were the “ragged” children of the streets. John became quite famous for his work. One particular person, Thomas Guthrie wrote a book about John Pounds. There are many memorable quotes, one among the many describing John’s work.

“Many of the poorest of them he partly feeds and clothes. His shop is full of them. Oh such a little bit of a shop! One wonders how he gets them all in. Thirty or forty children at once; sometimes more; all happy about him. On a fine day you may see a row of them sitting outside in the street, on a little form, just under hiss (sic) little tumbledown window”.

On the death of John Pounds in 1839, John had inspired enough people that there were others who decided to take on his work and expand upon it. The first of these was Dr. Thomas Guthrie who opened up “Ragged” schools in Yorkshire. Thomas Guthrie continued to advocate for free schooling for all. In 1844, Lord Shaftesbury formed the Ragged School Union which continued to espouse John Pounds initial ideas.

English: Thomas Guthrie (1803-1873)
early 1870s Web link below as it stuffs up my formatting.

By the 1870s there were over 350 Ragged Schools in Britain. This led to the 1870 Education Act which encouraged the education of all children. Ragged Schools were not just in Britain, there were schools all over the world including in Australia. This became the beginning of the concept of universal education that many countries have today.

I still don’t know if Mary Ann Stone ever met John Pounds. Given where she lived, and when she lived, it would have been hard for her not to have known of him. Was Mary taught in her family or was she one of the hundreds of young children that clustered into John Pounds shop over the decades that he taught? We may never know. But, it is possible that Mary was one of those first little girls to be educated in the “Ragged School”.

John Pounds, Educational Reformer. 2020

Ragged University. 2021 Great Educator: John Pounds 1766-1839

The History of Ragged Schools 2020 The Maybole Home Page.

Thomas Guthrie image