Sunday, December 6, 2009

Mary Wade

I know who Mary Wade is, because I ran into her the other day. She's the convict who came over when she was very young. Was it eleven? Twelve? I thought her story would be interesting, so I added her to my list. But then I realized I had ALREADY added her to the list...back when I had added all those other convicts.

Baby Mary was born in London on 5 October 1777. If she had been born three days before, she'd be exactly two hundred years older than my sister.

Lord Wiki says she came over on the Second Fleet when she was eleven-years-old. She traveled on the Lady Juliana. I read a book about this ship when my interest in Australia first exploded into this huge obsession. I had gone to the library and picked up whatever books on Australia I could find. I don't remember much of what I learned from the book. What else is new?

I'll review what I learned by reading what Lord Wiki has to say about the ship.

The ship left the UK in 1789. She was the first ship to arrive after the First Fleet. Some consider her to be part of the Second Fleet, and some do not. Maybe we could say she was the Inbetween Fleet.

The ship had 226 female convicts.

It took 309 days to reach Australia. Lord Wiki says this journey took longer than most of the other convict ships.

The ship was known as being a floating brothel. Yeah. I think I remember that from the book. Actually, I think the phrase floating brothel might have been in the book title.

The convicts on the ship were treated fairly well. Only five died. The ship was kept fairly clean. Women had free access to the deck. Rations were properly distributed, and fresh food was obtained on port. That's good!

The ship arrived on 6 June. They came to an island of very hungry people who were dismayed to see women rather than food.

Oh wait. Lord Wiki has stuff about Mary Wade's childhood. I missed that with my first glance.

She grew up in a large family led by a single mother. They lived in poverty. Little Mary would sweep the streets as a form of begging. I guess maybe this is like the people who clean the windshields of your car, and then ask for money.

On her eleventh birthday, Wade and another child stole clothes from a third child. They sold the clothes to a pawnbroker, except I guess Wade had kept some of it...a tippet? I have no idea what that is.

Lord Wiki says it's kind of like a scarf.


Another child shared her suspicions, with authorities, regarding Wade's involvement in the crime. An officer found the tippet in her room. Young Wade was sent to prison. Three months later she was sentenced to die. How ridiculously crazy is that?

I really don't know much about child crime and punishment of today. I mean I think executions, in general, have been cut down considerably in our society. I don't think eleven year olds are still being sentenced to death. I think some are seriously punished, but I'm hoping that's for VERY scary and severe murder.

This website says that in the United States, a child can't be given the death penalty. However, they can end up spending their whole life behind bars. I don't know how I feel about that. A part of me thinks, well if they're one of those kids who murdered their classmates simply because they wanted to see what death looks like....well, I'm going guess they're psychopaths. There is nothing you can really do to fix them, and they might be better off locked up. But what about children who commited crimes out of some sort of desperation? What about people who commited crimes not because of their inborn nature, but because their situation pushed them into making certain choices? Is it fair to lock them up for life? What if they could be rehabilitated?

This other website has some scary information. It says that within the United States (I think today!) there are eleven thousand children being imprisoned in the same facilities as adults. Out of these, about 2-3 thousand are not separated from adults. That makes them very vulnerable to abuse.

In 1995, they did a study of kids transfered from juvenile court to the general one. Only half of them had been convicted of a violent crime. So maybe modern day America is not that different from eighteenth century Britain.

Anyway, back to Wade.

Two months after she received the dreadful hanging sentence, something happened to King George III. He was suddenly believed cured of some type of madness. Well, that's an interesting story I was unaware of. I'm reading through some of it now. Some modern folks believe he had something called Porphyria. It's a fascinating thing, but I don't want to spend too much time on it. Maybe I'll read on my own later.

Anyway, the king was believed to be cured (although I'm guessing he might have just been in some sort of remission). To celebrate this good news, all women on death row had their sentences switched to transportation.

Wade arrived in Sydney on 3 June 1790. Two months later she was sent to Norfolk Island. I wonder why. Had she commited a crime in Sydney? I thought convicts were sent to that island for further punishment.

Well, Lord Wiki doesn't say anything about her being sent there for punishment or stronger confinement. Maybe she just wanted a change of scenery? Or maybe they wanted more women on Norfolk Island?

No wait. Actually, I've gotten my history wrong. Convicts weren't sent over to Norfolk Island for worse punishment. Although maybe that came later. It was more about trying to reduce the pressure on Sydney's land. I guess they felt dispersing the population might reduce starvation and all that.

Ah! It wasn't until 1824 that Norfolk Island became the place to send the worse criminals. Okay, but at least it happened at some point. I feel better knowing that I hadn't dreamed up that whole idea of Norfolk Island being used for that purpose.

In Norfolk Island, Wade had two children. She had a daughter Sarah with an Irish guy, and a son William with another man. The Irish guy was named Teague Harrigan. Wade returned with him and the kids to Sydney. Later, she had a third child which she named Edward. It's interesting that the second child came from a different father. Did Harrigan realize it was not his son? Was he okay with that? Maybe he didn't know. Lord Wiki says it's BELIEVED that William had a different father. Maybe there's a chance that all three kids had the same father.

By 1806, Wade had a daughter about the age of ten, a son around the age of eight, and a three-year-old. At this time, her man went off on a whaling trip. He never returned. Did he die?  Or was this a matter of abandonment?

Oh wow. This is turning into a soap opera. The man that Wade might have had the second child (William) with was Jonathan Brooker. I ignored his name earlier because I figured it wasn't that important. But guess what. She got back together with this guy in 1809. Together they lived near Hawkesbury River. Their little family of five eventually blossomed to a family of twenty-three. I'm getting that she had nineteen kids with this Brooker guy....twenty if you count the second one. Holy shit. I didn't even realize it was possible to give birth that many times.

In 1811, Booker received his Certificate of Emancipation, and in 1812 Wade received hers.

By 1816, they moved to Campbelltown, a south-west suburb of Sydney. I'm looking at Google Maps now. It's pretty far out there....about forty-five minutes south-west of the airport.

In 1817, Wade finally married her man.

The family had thirty acres of land, but then they lost it in a bushfire. Not only did they lose their land, but Booker lost the tools he used in his chair making business. This family was totally screwed; but not for long. They asked the governor for help, and I guess he gave it to them. They received more land. That's good!

They ended up with sixty-two acres in Illawarra. Isn't that where Wollongong is? Yeah. And it also includes the South Coast....where we visited on our last trip to Australia. How could I forget that? Sad that Lord Wiki had to remind me.

Wade's beloved husband died in 1833. Wade herself died sixteen years later in 1859. She was eighty-two at the time of her death. Lord Wiki says her funeral service was the first one to be held at St. Paul's Church of England.

This MIGHT be the website of the church. They don't mention Mary Wade, but they do say the Church was started in 1859.

When Wade died, she already had three hundred descendants. Wow. Lord Wiki says that only seven of her twenty-one children ended up having children of their own. How did those seven children end up giving her three hundred grandchildren? Well, maybe she had great grandchildren as well? I don't know.

Today there are tens of thousands of Mary Wade descendants. Guess who is one of them? Kevin Rudd! That's so exciting.

Here's a whole website about Mary Wade and her family. It's made mostly for all the descendants. The site says, Most people who read this introduction to the story of Mary Wade will have one main interest in common. They will be descendants of Mary Wade, or at least be a close relative of someone who is. Well, I guess I'm in the minority then.

On this page, they have a biography of Wade. I'll see if there's anything I didn't get from Lord Wiki.

She was sixteen when she gave birth to her first daughter...Sarah.

The site says that in the earlier days, most of the descendants lived around the Wollongong area. But now they're scattered around the world. I wonder how many still live in Australia? I wonder if there are any living in America. I wonder if any of my friends are one of them....Australian or American.

The webmaster of the site is a descendant....not very surprising, of course. His name is Jeff Robinson. His Wade family line comes via his mother who had the last name Hurst. So I guess any Hurst person might potentially be a Wade descendant.

Growing up, Jeff Robinson knew and cared little of his heritage. Then he saw a movie about the floating brothel, and it became exciting to know that he was the descendant of a child who was supposed to be hanged. He says that Wade was ten, and not eleven. Since this guy does a lot of research into all of this stuff, I'm going to believe him. Although I guess I could just do my own math.

Well, IF Lord Wiki has his dates right, Wade was already eleven when she commited the crime. But maybe he had the wrong dates. I don't know.

There was a book published to guide descendants with history and genealogy. It's called Mary Wade to Us. Robinson says the book is pretty much out of print, so he has created the website as a sort of alternative.

Oh! On the page I linked to just above, there's actually links to an e-copy of the book. That's cool.

It looks like the seven of the reproducing children have their own chapter.

Their names are:

1. Sarah Wade
2. William Brooker
3. Edward Harrigan
4. John Brooker
5. Elizabeth Brooker
6. Mary Brooker
7. James Brooker

Wow. There's a story about each of them. I'm not going to go over each of them, but I definitely might want to return to this site in my own time.

Oh! I see the Rudd's! It looks like he's a descendant of the first daughter, Sarah.

Okay. I'm going to go through this.

Sarah married a man named William Ray when she was about fifteen. This happened three years after her father had disappeared on that whaling voyage. Sarah Wade had either two or four children with the Ray guy. I'm a bit confused. Then she left Ray for the guy who owned the farm next to theirs. This new guy was Nathanial Boon. She had seven children with Boon, including triplets.

I'm so confused. It says here that William Ray and Mary Wade had five kids together. I thought it was either two or four. Oh well.

The second Ray/Wade child was named Sophie. She married a guy named Thomas Rudd, Jr. I guess this is where Kevin Rudd comes about.

I'm getting dizzy reading all this.

Here it says that all of Wade's children except one were Jonathan Booker's. Lord Wiki had said the first was Harrigan's the second was Booker's and then the third was back to Harrigan. This one says that only the third (Edward) came from Teague Harrigan.

Good. They have family trees...that's easier to read than the long descriptions. Sarah did have five kids with William Ray. Then she had eight kids with Nathanial Boone. Five of her kids didn't live past very early childhood. It looks like two of the three triplets died in infancy.

Or maybe I'm reading this wrong. Some people have a date of birth, but no date of death. I figured that meant they died in infancy. But maybe it's just that no one knows their date of death.

No, that I look closer....I'm pretty sure they did die.

I think I'm just going to skim the family tree and see if there are any names I recognize.

Thomas Rudd and Sophie Ray seemed to have had no boys that survived....just girls. Actually, it looks like nine out of their ten children were females. did the Rudd name get passed on? Maybe Kevin Rudd doesn't even come from that line. Maybe someone else married a Rudd. Or maybe someone decided to take on their mother (or grandmother's) maiden name.

Well, maybe I'll figure it out on the day I research Kevin Rudd.

This website has the transcript of the trial of Mary Wade. That's pretty amazing. I didn't know stuff like that had been recorded.

The court talks to the victim of the crime. She was eight-years-old when it happened.

It's eerie reading all of this.

The judge at the end says, I am distressed how to state to you, that this is a less crime than robbery; because, though there is no such violence as would affect the constancy of a grown person, or alarm them; yet the very circumstance of such a child falling into the hands of two strangers, young as they are, standing over her and stripping her, does seem to me to be equivalent to holding a pistol to the breast of a grown person; therefore, I cannot state it to be any thing less than robbery; the consequence of that is, that they must answer it with their lives


Thank goodness for that madness of King George. It's tragic to think a child would be put to death for such an incident.

I mean little Mary and her friend weren't exactly nice. From what I'm reading, they stripped a girl of her clothes....major bullying here. It sounds nasty. But to be punished by death? And the victim admits that no one physically hurt her in any way.

I actually found the court site via this other Wade related site. It's about the Perry Family. I guess they're related to Wade.

The webmaster of the site is the descendant of Mary's eldest daughter...Sarah. He/She is the descendant of other convicts as well. I'm getting tired of genealogy right now, so I'm not going to wade through it. But I highly recommend his site to anyone who's interested in that stuff.

Oh! This British newspaper has an article about Kevin Rudd's ancestry. They say he's the descendant of an underwear thief and a man who stole some sugar.

Mary Wade is Rudd's fifth great grandmother. Would that be his great-great-great-great-great grandmother?

The article says that Thomas Rudd is his fourth great grandfather. So he IS a descendant of Sarah Wade's daughter. I guess someone did take their mother or grandmother's maiden name.

Now I'm confused. It says that Thomas Rudd married someone named Mary Cable. Maybe this is a whole different Thomas Rudd? Maybe the Rudd side doesn't even come from the same side as Mary Wade.

This website has more information about the Rudd thing.

Oh forget it. I can't figure this all out.

Wait. I think I got it. Reading yet another article has helped. The Thomas Rudd who married Mary Cable was Thomas Rudd, Senior. The one who married Sarah Wade's daughter, Sophie was Thomas Rudd, Jr. Okay.

The people who uncovered all this was the Mormon church. I guess they're into genealogy.


  1. A good one. Mormons do a lot of genealogy research. I don't know why. I think they are owners of the biggest online genealogy sites.

  2. Fabulous research and post! Hey thanks too for your feedback re moving my blog ... great advice.
    Did you get inside the old Darlo Gaol when you were here ... you'd adore it there ... I've just done a post ... love that place. xoxo

  3. Andrew: Thanks. I have a new friend who is Mormon. Maybe I'll ask her about that.

    Redness: Thank you : ) I'm glad my advice helped. I look forward to seeing your post about the gaol. Unfortunately, we didn't go there.

  4. I.m pretty sure the mormans do the genealogy to baptise the deceased,something about one big family under God in Heaven,but you have to be...recognised as baptised by their church,so they do it after you've gone.

    I enjoyed all the Mary Wade info. I have convict roots myself :)

  5. Iwasntbloggedyesterday,

    I'd love to know more about your convict roots, if you ever want to share!

    Makes sense about the Mormons. I have a friend who's Mormon, so I was reading a little bit about it. I remember reading about them baptizing deceased people. Or maybe she told me about it....

  6. "Ancestors and Anecdotes - The Memoirs of Kevin Barry Morgan" (ISBN 1 74018 066 6) has p.304-305 a family tree that starts with Thomas Rudd m. Mary Cable.

    KBM's father Charles Albert Aaron Morgan (who visited my parents in Sydney about 1964), b. 1-27-1897, d. 11-27-1967, was Federal Member for Reid 1940-1958.

    KBM himself, b. 5-22-1921, d. 2003, was NSW Member for Parramatta 1953-1956.

  7. Anonymous,

    Thanks for the extra information!