In Search of a New Life- Mary Ann Gransden

This chapter is under extensive review and will be updated over the next few months ©Tina Bean 2014

In 1833 when Mary Ann was just 18 years old she would have seen a notice in her local paper or announced by the priest at her local church, advertising the Bounty Scheme for young women wishing to immigrate to Australia. For the sum of £5.00 Mary Ann would be able to immigrate to Australia under the Bounty Scheme. The rest of the cost of her passage would be paid by the government of the day. At this time even this amount of money was a stretch for many of the women who were aboard the Layton. Many women took out promissory notes and borrowed money to obtain the £5.00 required. At this stage it is unknown if Mary Ann was able to afford this or if she was one of the many women who borrowed money. What is known is that her family was not in general well off and less than 10 years after Mary left on the Layton her Grandmother, Sarah, was recorded as living in the Portsmouth poor house where she died in 1846.

Once Mary Ann decided that she wanted to immigrate to Australia she would have to go through a selection process to determine if she was a suitable candidate. The Bounty immigration scheme wanted young single women of marriageable age to immigrate to Australia. Most of these women were poor and the idea was that by marrying men in Australia they would help to address the gender imbalance and lack of female workers in Australia. One can only imagine what it must have been like for Mary Ann and her family for them to contemplate loosing her to a strange and remote land. When Mary Ann left England she must have realised that it would be unlikely for her to ever see her parents again and it would be years, if ever before she would see any of her brothers and sisters.

The Layton was a three-masted square rigged ship that weighted 513 tons. She had a scroll head as a figure head and she had already made several trips to Australia transporting convicts. At some time, probably in the August of 1833 Mary Ann and possibly some of her family made the trip from Alverstoke Hampshire to London for Mary Ann to embark on her trip to Australia. At this stage her youngest brother, Silas, would have been just four years old. This would have been a trip full of new sights and surprises some pleasant and others not so pleasant. Most of Mary Ann’s friends and family would have has to have said their goodbye’s before she left Hampshire. It can only be imagined what it would have been like for Mary Ann saying good bye to all of her friends and family and wondering if she would even survive a trip half way around the world to Australia, let alone if she would ever see any of her friends and family ever again.

On the day of departure Mary Ann waved goodbye to the friends and family who came to London to fair well her. She was about to embark on a voyage that was going to take her to a new life, away from all that she had known previously. At the beginning of this life lay a journey that was going to take her over four months to complete.

Mary Ann’s voyage began at 7am on the Saturday the 13th of April. A steamer took all the women who were to board the Layton from St Katherine’s dock to Gravesend where the ship would depart from. Gravesend was at this time the biggest port in England. It was the centre of trade going up and down the river Thames and for ships both coming into, and leaving London. In the 1880’s Charles Dickens Junior described Graves end as “the narrow channel is day and night full of shipping of every class and description, from the stately ironclad, to the fussy tug, the clean-cut China clipper to the picturesque if clumsy Dutch galliot, and the graceful schooner yacht to the ungainly hay-barge.” Contemporary accounts of the women embarking aboard the bounty ships describe many of the women as bursting into tears as they were saying farewell to their families, others were happy and cheerful as they looked forward to their new life. No matter what they expressed at the time many of the women must have been both apprehensive and excited at the thought of a journey they had no doubt planned for some time finally starting.

Elizabeth Wright, one of the passengers on the Layton described embarkation on the Layton

Upon our first arrival in the ship, the scene of misery and wretchedness it exhibited was beyond description… I will leave you to judge what the scene must have been, some fighting, others swearing and many carried down in strong fits… There were about 50 of us who would have given all we possessed to have returned; but they would not suffer one of us to leave the ship.”

It is unknown if Mary Ann was one of the 50 who would have preferred to leave the Layton but by now she was committed to her journey. Once on board and out of the Thames there were all the horrors of the open sea in a ship to be contended with. Over the four months that Mary Ann was aboard the Layton she experienced storms, high winds and sea sickness among the many discomforts aboard ship in the 1800’s. The women were often confined below decks and experienced freezing winds and extreme high temperatures plus the ever present fear of pirates.

Storms posed an ever present menace; contemporary accounts describe the women as terrified and huddled together many of them screaming during some of the worst storms. Sea sickness was ever present and the sleeping areas were cramped with little room for the women to move about. The Layton surgeon described the scenes below decks as being so crowded that the women were unable to see to get into their beds. Luggage was everywhere, on all the tables often stacked up to the deck and there was no place for the women to eat. In stormy conditions the luggage occasionally fell on the passengers increasing their discomfort and fear.

Although there were many frightening times aboard the Layton the trip was mostly one of boredom. With little area to move about in and not much that any of the women was able to do in the cramped and confined quarters the days soon turned into one of unending monotony. At night the women were closed below decks where the temperature rose and the air was very stale and unpleasant. The inside of the ship would heat up during the day when the women were above decks. When it came to nightfall the women were put below decks to reduce the possibility of accidents while the crew were unable to see as well as during daylight hours. Imagine the women being forced to go below decks into an airless and cramped space and temperatures that were so high that the heat would hit you like a wall. Unsurprisingly many of the women fought to remain on decks. Often they were forced below decks with treatment that was harsh and brutal. The weather and boredom aboard ship were not the only discomforts with at least one fight breaking out when some of the women tried to protect themselves unwanted attention from some of the male crew members aboard.

On Tuesday the 24th of September some of the boredom was alleviated when the Layton crossed the equator. This was a cause for celebration singing and dancing continued through much of the day and until about 10pm at night.

Once the Layton arrived in Sydney the ordeal of Mary Ann’s journey was still not yet over. The people of Sydney were not as happy to receive the women aboard the Layton as the women had been lead to believe. Bad publicity and misunderstanding of why single women were being bought to Sydney meant that the women aboard the Layton and other ships in the Bounty scheme were thought of as prostitutes and those of low moral character. When Mary Ann arrived she would have been marched to the government lumber yard. The lumber yard was located on the corner of George and Bridge Streets and it was the only building in Sydney large enough to house all of the women disembarking from the Layton.

The lumber yard was dirty and run down. Shortly after the arrival of the Layton it was found to be in such disrepair that it was torn down, but to this building all of the women from the Layton were taken and Mary Ann with them. On the journey up form the dock to the lumber yard the women were crowded in by the hundreds of men that had come too see them arrive. Many of them making lewd suggestions and grabbing at the women as they walked past.

The women who arrived aboard the Layton were expected to get a job and move themselves out of the lumber yard and therefore out of government accommodation as soon as possible. Mary Ann found employment with Caleb Salter for £7.00 pounds per annum. This was a low wage but not the lowest that was accepted by other women who arrived aboard the Layton. Mary Ann was probably employed as a maid servant for Caleb Salter’s Public House, on the corner of Argyle Street and Harrington Streets in the heart of today’s tourism centre in the Rocks.

If Mary Ann was one of the 50 women who borrowed money and wrote a promissory note for the sum of £10.00 so that she could afford to immigrate she would have been expected to pay now that she had employment and a wage. Unsurprisingly with such low incomes and such a relatively high amount that needed to be paid back, none of the 50 women redeemed there promissory notes.

The King’s Head was a public house run by Caleb Salter. Caleb had arrived in Australia as a free man on the Henry Wellesley in 1828 and had obtained employment as a servant to Mr. Lambert. An ex-convict who had worked out his term as a convict and was later freed by servitude. Mr. Lambert was a sawyer who had worked himself into a position where he employed a number of people including Caleb Salter and his wife Mary Salter.

Caleb Salter obviously did well in the employ of Mr. Lambert and on the 6 Jul 1830 Caleb Salter was granted the license for the Kings Head. Caleb paid 25 pounds for the house.

Mary Ann’s life as a domestic servant would have only been slightly more comfortable than her life aboard the Layton. The day of a domestic servant, or maid of all work, began before sunrise with lighting the fires in all the rooms. The cooking range would have needed to be blackened and lit and the servant’s quarters would also have needed cleaning. All of this would have needed to be done before Caleb and his family started the day to day running of the public house. Kitchen floors and benches would have had to be cleaned in preparation for breakfast around 7am. The tap room- where customers came to drink, would have to be cleaned and if the King’s Head had any private parlours or private guest rooms they would also have to be cleaned and fires lit.

As well as doing the cleaning Mary Ann would have had to make the cleaning products that she used. These were often made using sand as a base and incorporating wax, vinegar, turpentine, linseed oil and methylated spirits among others. Using these cleaning products to then scrub floors, the bar and wood furniture would have given Mary Ann red and raw arms and hands that would have cracked and bled during the colder months. All of this for just £7.00 per annum. She may well have had to serve in the tap room in the evenings and possibly help cook dinner for the guests as well as her normal cleaning chores. Maids of all work were given little time to themselves but through all of this Mary Ann must have found some time to herself because on the 31st of March 1834, just four months after she had arrived in the colonies Mary Ann married John Adams.

Not much is known about John Adams other than that he was working as a Porter at the time of their first daughter’s baptism on the 20th of March 1835 just less than a year after they were married. At the time of their wedding John and Mary Ann were both living in Sydney. John declared that he was a bachelor and their marriage was done by the calling of banns every week for three weeks prior to their wedding. It is unknown if Mary Ann continued to work once she was married but it is unlikely that she worked for long after she fell pregnant. The rest from such intense activity must have been an amazing experience for someone who had spent the last few years of her life experiencing back breaking work and the loss of all her close family and friends.

When Mary Ann and John were married two people signed as witnesses to their marriage Mary Fluskey and James Court who was possibly married to Mary Ann Smith who came over to Australia on the Layton with Mary Ann Gransden. It is comforting to think that on the voyage to Australia that Mary Ann made some good friends that were to be with her during her new life in the colonies.

Not much further is known about the John and Mary Ann’s life together but what is known is that sometime between the baptism of their first daughter in March of 1835 and the birth of their second daughter in March of 1837 Mary Ann and John decided to move to Bathurst.

Bathurst would have been another amazing experience for Mary Ann. The route across the mountains had only finally been forged in 1815 with the first property first owned and lived on in 1816. By 1818 there were a hundred and fourteen people living in the Bathurst district including seventy five convicts. In 1832 the Surveyor-General Major Thomas Mitchell ordered the town of Bathurst to be opened as soon as possible. The town would have been remote and the trip across the mountains to Bathurst was hard and took days to complete.

Contemporary descriptions of the trip to Bathurst describe a long and arduous journey. It started with a mail coach journey from Sydney to Parramatta. Once again Mary Ann, this time with her husband and her first child, Emma Louisa would have been saying good bye to friends, although this time there would have been no family to stand waving good bye. Once again Mary Ann would probably have wondered when and if, she would see her friends again and what her life in Bathurst would be like. Her home in Portsmouth must have seemed very remote at this time.

Once Mary and her family arrived in Parramatta they would have had to change to a gig or cart or some other sort of vehicle to drive further on to Penrith. Sydney to Penrith alone could have taken a day or more depending on the vehicles they were able to afford.

Horses were usually used for the trip over the mountains but if Mary Ann and John had all of there belonging with them they probably would have taken a cart packed high. The first stage was to Lapstone hill which was reached via a road that zig-zagged up the hill. I was common for accidents to happen on the pass through the mountains. The roads were narrow and rough and all sorts and sizes of vehicles used the road including big dray carts and single horses. During wet weather the road was boggy and vehicles could get stuck for hours if not days and during the heat the weather could become unendurably hot and the road baked causing traffic to slip into ruts which could turn a smaller vehicle over.

Even if doing the trip in a vehicle it was common for passengers to have to get out and help push their vehicle through some of the more difficult parts of the journey. The trip would take about a week to complete with stops along the way. The stops were often in small weatherboard cottages or public houses with holes for windows that were boarded up in foul weather and at night. Travellers tended to group together for safety and companionship making friend en-route to their new lives as it was uncommon for a lot of people to move across the mountain’s unless they were going to stay for quite some time.

One lady described the end of the trip as:

“The heat, the loneliness, the sombre colouring and monotony of the bush, the discomforts of horseback travelling, and the painful shock (to those not inured to such spectacles) of coming upon chain gang after chain gang of convicts, making and mending the road, all tended to give the experience a depressing tone.”

Bathurst and Kelso were divided into two distinct areas, Kelso was the town and Bathurst was the penal colony. Kelso in the 1830’s had two public houses, one with a shop attached and a scattering of cottages. Bathurst also boasted just a smattering of cottages, a hospital and a convict building with an attached lumber yard and a two story building was used as a combined police barracks and gaol. One building was utilised as a court house, Post Office, and quarters of the Police Magistrate and Colonial Surgeon. There were also quarters for the mounted police. Mail and supplies could take weeks to arrive in Bathurst and regular communication between those in Bathurst and in Sydney, or family in England must have taken many months to receive.

John and Mary didn’t live in Bathurst for very long if at all. By the time their second daughter was baptised, Sarah, the Adams family had moved to O’Connell Plains, between Mount Victoria and Bathurst and John was working in the local area as a labourer. Sometime between 1837 and 1847 when Mary Ann married again John and Mary split up and it is probable that John Adams died. No details are known at this stage but Mary Ann was living with, and had her first child to, her future husband William Russell in March of 1839.

William was a convict who had been sentenced to transportation for life and send to Australia. William was tried at the oxford Assizes on the 13th of July 1831 for stealing a waistcoat. Previously William had been convicted and gaoled for six months for stealing sheep skins. It is probable that Mary Ann and William met in Bathurst, William would have been assigned to one of the larger land owners as either a labourer or servant. Obviously he did a good job as on the 31st of December 1847 William was granted a conditional pardon. The condition attached to William’s pardon was that he never return to England. William had been a convict for 16 years.

Convicts were not allowed to marry without permission. It is unknown if William ever sought this permission but he didn’t marry Mary Ann until after he had received his pardon. Mary Ann Adams nee Gransden and William Russell were married by banns in Bathurst on the 6th of March 1847. On the 29th of March 1847 their first four children George, Isaac, William and Charles were all baptised. Later that same year, in May their 5th child, Catherine was born. At the time that the children were baptised William was noted as farmer.

William seems to have been remarkably versatile. Shortly after his pardon he worked as a cattle jobber (a person who bought and sold cattle), butcher and farmer- probably a share farmer. William does not seem to have owned any land and when his last child was born, George, in 1854 William was still noted as a labourer. William and Mary had seven children between 1839 and 1854.

The couple seem to have moved about living for the majority of there early years together at Campbell’s River just south of Bathurst, most likely near O’Connell. Later they moved to Bathurst and then across to Kelso. Not much further is known about this couple other than that William was still alive and possibly in the Kelso/Bathurst area in 1863 when he gave permission for his underage daughter- Catherine, to marry.

Mary Ann had an amazing and eventful life, it is a deep shame that at this stage where and when she died and is buried is unknown.


In Search of a New Life- Mary Ann Gransden — 1 Comment

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