Sunday, 31 March 2013

Mini Profile

Today's challenge is to write a mini-profile (500 words or less - I scraped in at 499). I chose my great great great great grandmother, Mary Mayall.

Mary Mayall was born in Saddleworth, Yorkshire around 1776, possibly the daughter of Thomas Mayall and Mary Andrew. Her family were weavers and spinners, heavily impacted by the industrial revolution. During Mary's lifetime, spinning and weaving went from cottage industries to factory production. Mary married James Slater of Ashton Under Lyne, Lancashire, on 26 September, 1797 in Manchester Cathedral (the priests had a fee scam going so it was cheaper to marry at the Cathedral). James was a weaver and engineer. Mary and James had ten children:

Sarah, born 1797, who died as a baby
Sarah, 1798-c1862
Mary, 1800-1882
Ann, 1801-?
Esther, 1803-1876
Miles, 1805-?
Daniel, 1807-1810
Moses 1809-1893
Miriam, 1810-1840
Maria, 1812-?

In 1812 James was arrested for stealing a weaver's sack and in 1814 was transported to Australia, leaving Mary with eight children to raise. Fortunately, James' father was quite well off, so Mary and the children had a house to live in, but it must have been tough at times. Moses later on lied about his age, shaving off six years on his Bounty papers. In the 1841 Census Mary was living with or next door to her children Sarah, Moses, and Maria, with their spouses and children, so she was far from alone.

Moses left for Australia shortly after the Census was taken, arriving in Australia aboard the Champion on 12 February, 1842, along with Mary's grandson John Hall and granddaughter Ann ni Hall with her husband, James Walker. Then in 1844, more of the Slater clan made for Australia's shores. Mary's daughter Mary, with her husband David Hall and eight remaining children made the journey on the Briton, arriving in Sydney on 26 June 1844. There is a Mary Slater on board the Briton as a paying passenger, but I have doubts about her being my Mary.

Mary's end is difficult to discern. Some other family members believe that she died in Australia in 1847. There is a death record for a Mary Slater of Balmain in that year, and the age is about right, but this Mary was exhumed from Sydney Burial Ground when Central Station was to be built and reinterred in Bunnerong by her daughter Sarah, along with Sarah's husband John Bradford, who also died in 1847. My problem with this is that Mary Mayall's daughter, Sarah married James Green and was still in Lancashire in 1861. Also I can find no record of her coming to Australia.

In 1854, Mary and James' daughter Esther immigrated to Australia with her children. Her husband, John Hilton, had died a few years earlier, so Esther understandably came to be with her family. On Esther's immigration records it states that her father, James is living in Balmain and that her mother, Mary is deceased. Did Esther leave because her mother had also died, or did she leave because of news that her mother had died? When did Mary die and where was she buried? Her story remains incomplete until these questions can be answered.


  1. John Bradford ,dealer of Balmain employed the widowed Ann Walker (nee Hall) in his store and as his housekeeper. Ann was the main beneficiary in the Will of John Bradford. In order to cut burial costs Ann must have decided to bury her "good friend", John Bradford in the same grave as her grandmother, Mary Slater (nee Mayall) who died a few months before John.
    There is a possibility yet to be explored that John Bradford was related to the Slaters by marriage.

  2. Thank you for this comment. One of the great things about family history is sharing and collaboration. In the last 24 hours I have been sent a lot more information on Mary, Ann Walker and John Bradford. And I had forgotten about the report on her inquest in the Sydney Morning Herald (19 July 1847, p3), which makes it clear that Mary died in Balmain. It also implies she was living with James at the time, which means they were reunited at last. The whole Bradford/Slater thing is going to be an interesting one to chase.