Mary Ann Clarke: a convict’s daughter who married a convict’s son

Mary Ann Clarke was one of fourteen children of convict Robert Smith (John) and his wife, Margaret (Hartley). Convicted of horse stealing at Bristol Assizes, Smith arrived in the colony in 1827, aged 21. In the 1828 Census he is listed as labouring for the shipbuilder, John Grono, and in 1835 married Margaret, the daughter of David and Elizabeth Hartley and grand-daughter of Grono.

Mary Anne Clarke 01a.jpg

(This photograph of my great-grandmother, Mary Ann Clarke, is in my private collection. The items surrounding the photograph all belonged to Mary Ann Clarke and are also in my personal possession.)

In 1869, one of their daughters, Mary Ann Smith, born in 1851 in Pitt Town, married Charles Hitchen Clarke. Her brothers, Lawson and Samuel Smith, married Sarah Ellen Clarke and Isabella Martha Clarke (both sisters of Charles Clarke). To confuse family historians further, Mary Ann’s sisters Jane, Emma and Charlotte all married into the Gibbs family from the Wellington district.

Mary Ann and Charles Hitchen Clarke farmed at Freemans Reach for most of their lives, apart from several years at Cooyal, near Mudgee, from about 1871 to 1879. Their first child, Robert Hilton, was born at Freemans Reach, then four children were born at Cooyal: Samuel Alfred, Elizabeth Margaret, Charlotte Isabella and Alice May. They had gone to the Mudgee district to make a new life for themselves and to be near Mary Ann’s elder sister, Elizabeth, who had moved to the area after her marriage to Joseph Pitt in 1854.

An unfortunate accident occurred in 1879 when Mary Ann and Charles’ daughter, Charlotte (aged two years), was severely burnt when her clothes caught fire. The skin damage from the burns required extensive treatment and, as her parents had heard of the excellent skin graft treatments being carried out by Dr Thomas Fiaschi in Windsor, they packed up and moved back to the Hawkesbury where Charlotte could receive ongoing treatment. Five more children were born at Freemans Reach: Annie Florence, Ethel Jane, Hilda(h) Amelia (died aged one year), Charles Henry and Colin Edward. They married into the Collison, Cupitt, Hornery, Gardiner, Butler, Davis, Gibbs and Lamond families, thereby establishing a long line of descendants who shook off the convict stain and contributed greatly to agricultural, community, sporting and business life in the Hawkesbury, Mudgee and Wellington districts.

Mary Ann Clarke died at the home of her daughter, Charlotte, at 92-98 George Street, Windsor, in 1919 and Charles Hitchen Clarke died in Richmond in 1930. Although their parents are buried at St John’s Anglican Cemetery in Wilberforce, Mary Ann and Charles made a decision early on that St Matthew’s Anglican Church in Windsor would be their family church and they are both buried in St Matthew’s cemetery. Rev. Norman Jenkyn conducted each service and spoke of the ‘esteem in which the late Mrs Clarke was held throughout the town and district…she was a good Christian woman’ who ‘loved her children, lived and worked for them, and was a true helpmeet to her husband’. It was said of Charles Clarke that ‘the Hawkesbury district has lost one of its oldest and most respected residents’.

copyrightCarol Roberts, author 2016

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(This article by Carol Roberts first appeared in the Hawkesbury Gazette, on Wednesday, 9 November 2016.)

References:

Family genealogical information from Carol Roberts, great-granddaughter of Mary Ann and Charles Hitchen Clarke.

NSW Death Certificates:Mary Ann Clarke registration number 1919/008222

Charles Hitchen Clarke registration number 1930/006241

 

Card clubs entertained during the Great Depression

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This photograph was taken by my uncle, Bert Hornery, of Windsor, on the occasion of the Wests Card Club’s first birthday in September 1932. My grandmother, Charlotte Hornery (nee Clarke), my mother Iris Hornery and her sister, Lily, are in centre-front row behind the children. (I have a framed, enlarged original of this photograph, left to me by my mother.)

Despite the difficulties of life during the Great Depression in the 1930s, the people of the Hawkesbury rallied together and continued their participation in social and sporting clubs. Card clubs were extremely popular and together with other social clubs, they offered friendship, entertainment and in many cases, a helping hand to those in less fortunate circumstances.

Wests Card Club in Wilberforce, formed in 1931, was renowned in the district for holding crib, euchre and dance parties. Wests also held the cup for being the best players although they were challenged by the Easts, Souths, the Cockey Boys from Ebenezer, the Don’t Worry Club in Windsor and the club in Vineyard at regular tournaments. Crowds of up to three hundred people attended Wests functions in the Wilberforce School of Arts, with ‘crowded card tables and a full orchestra’. Admission for men was two shillings and one shilling and sixpence for ladies. Festivities were led by Herb Shepherd, captain of the club, with assistance from Wes Thompson and Garney Salter, with Les Owens and Reg Turnbull acting as Masters of Ceremony.

The club’s first birthday function in September 1932 saw a record number of people participate in activities and enjoy the club’s birthday cake, which was organised by Mrs Neate of the Royal Hotel, Windsor. Flowers were presented to Mrs Neate by ‘little Shirley Owen[s]’. Due to the large number of patrons at a euchre party and dance held later in the year, players were split up and the euchre players were taken by bus to Inglebrae guest house.

Gladys Owens usually played piano for the dances, while Horrie Stevens and Ernie Keller played the cornet and violin. Bert Hornery from Windsor was the photographer at nearly all of these functions and his sister, Iris, often helped out on piano. Prizes were generous and boxes of handkerchiefs, goblets, wallets, cigarettes, socks, chocolates, handbags, cuff links and tobacco pouches were handed out to winners of card games and Monte Carlo dance competitions. Some of the Wests most successful social functions were held in 1933, with presentations to Wes Thompson on his marriage and William Thompson when he married Madge Beecroft, then 87th birthday celebrations for James (Da) Sullivan.

As the effects of the Depression took a firmer hold, members of Wests Card Club often joined with organisations such as the Upper Hawkesbury Motor Boat Club, Returned Soldiers’ League and the Merriment Sunshine Club to run functions for charity, assisting patients at the Home for Infirm and the hospital in Windsor. It was observed that ‘Wilberforce has two organisations, the Wests Card Club and the Merriment Sunshine Club, which are not merely charitable organisations, though the greater part of their proceeds are devoted to the sacred cause of charity…If anyone is sick or in distress of any kind and the fact comes under the notice of either of these bodies steps are at once taken by either or both to afford relief’.

copyright Carol Roberts

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(My article on Wests Card Club first appeared in the Hawkesbury Gazette on Wednesday, 26 October 2016.)

References:

‘Challenge match in card tournament, Easts v. Wests’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 30 October 1931, National Library of Australia Trove News Article 85890291, http://trove.nla.gov.au, accessed 29 August 2016.

‘Card Tournaments: Challenge for the Cup’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 20 November 1931, National Library of Australia Trove News Article 85888118, http://trove.nla.gov.au, accessed 7 October 2016.

‘Wilberforce: To a packed house, crowded card tables and a full orchestra’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 30 September 1932, National Library of Australia Trove News Article 86056534, http://trove.nla.gov.au, accessed 29 August 2016.

‘Wests Card Club’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 4 November 1932, National Library of Australia Trove News Article 86055453, http://trove.nla.gov.au, accessed 29 August 2016.

‘In Charity’s Cause: Two Wilberforce organisations, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 27 January 1933, National Library of Australia Trove News Article 86051638, http://trove.nla.gov.au, accessed 29 August 2016.

‘Wests Card Club: Happy social function, presentation to Will. Thompson’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 10 March 1933, National Library of Australia Trove News Article 86050413, http://trove.nla.gov.au, accessed 13 October 2016.

‘Wilberforce: Another enjoyable euchre party and dance’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 7 April 1933, National Library of Australia Trove News Article 86055879, http://trove.nla.gov.au, accessed 29 August 2016.

‘Wests Card Club: Presentation to Wes. Thompson, another successful function’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 9 June 1933, National Library of Australia Trove News Article 86052912, http://trove.nla.gov.au, accessed 7 October 2016.

‘ “Da” Sullivan: Popular Wilberforce identity celebrates 87th birthday’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 11 August 1933, National Library of Australia Trove News Article 86051409, http://trove.nla.gov.au, accessed 13 October 2016.

Roberts, C. ‘Top spots in darker times’, Hawkesbury Gazette, Wednesday, 26 October 2016.

Sanders, J. ‘Merriment Sunshine Club’, The Hawkesbury Crier, Newsletter of the Hawkesbury Family History Group, March 2016.