Chapter 10: Mary Ann Crawford (Nee Miller)

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 330

Mary Ann Miller

Mary Ann Miller was born at Comrie, Perthshire in October 1831, the third of four daughters of William and Christian Miller.  Christian’s maiden name was a Comrie, the same as the town. William was a shoemaker who at one time employed 7 men (some were family members)

Her uncles and cousins lived in toll houses, collecting payment from those using the network of “turnpikes” that connected the highland villages with Perth and Edinburgh.  Additionally, they worked as shoemakers, brush makers and sewers (dressmakers).Most, however, emigrated to Canada.

Mary Ann’s first two brothers, William and Peter were both born, and died, before she was born.  Sister Margaret was born in 1823. She worked as a “Boot Binder” for her father, worked with her brother James (born in 1833), who was also a shoemaker, and then lived with him as his housekeeper when he became the town’s Postmaster. Margaret also cared for her uncle Thomas Miller.  Thomas lived with her parents until 1851.  He was a “cattle dealer”, however in his 60’s became a “Toll keeper”

For a time prior to becoming the “postmaster”, James was both a “shoemaker” and a “toll collector” at the same time.  From the early 1800’s through to the 1880’s much of the Scottish Highlands had a network of “turnpikes” or “toll roads”, with Toll houses built at all major intersections, which was usually a town.  Both James and his uncle Thomas were Toll Collectors at different times in their lives.

Sister Janet was born in 1826.  By the time she was 25 in 1851, she was married to Samuel Carmichael and had 5 children.  They lived just down the street from her parents in Dundas St.  Samuel was 7 years older than Janet and worked as a “wright”, employing 8 people.  Comrie being on a main transit route, there would have been much demand for “wheel wrights”

Sister Grace was born in 1835.  She married John McDonald who was 18 years older.  He was a ploughman, and by the 1861 census, was living at Brae House., St Ninians, Stirlingshire with three children.

Brother David was born in 1837.  He followed in his father’s footsteps as a “shoemaker”.  He didn’t marry until he was in his mid-40’s, marrying Catherine Murray who was 13 years younger. In his 50’s he became a postman, working for his brother James.  In 1891, they were living in Dundas St, probably in the family home, as both parents William and Christian had passed away in the 60’s and 80’s respectively.Also, at the address were John McDonald his nephew aged 33 a postman and his son George aged 12, a telegraph messenger.

Finally, there was George Miller born in 1842. At the age of eighteen, in 1861, he was working as a teacher at Tranent, just east of Edinburgh. In 1870, aged 27 he married Marjory Forest at Duddingston, a suburb of Edinburgh.  For most of the 1870’s, they lived at Alnmouth where George taught at the school there. Ten years later, they were living at Berwick Upon Tweed with 4 children and he was working as a “Bookseller’.  In 1875, James Crawford, Mary Ann’s son, was sent to study with his the Alnmouth school when the family returned to the U.K.

When Mary Ann Miller was growing up in Comrie, it was a small village.  The village stands 60 metres above sea-level, on the left bank of the Earn where there is an old five-arch bridge, immediately below the confluence of the Ruchill and above that of the Lednock.  We have photographs taken in the 1940’s that Halle Morton was given when she visited the Millers just after WW2.  The Millers lived in solid stone-built houses, however as all their families consisted of 6 or more children, it must have been crowded.

Mary Ann grew up in country that had four distinct seasons, however it was humid, cloudy, windy and wet throughout the year; rarely above 19c. 

They would have had a fairly frugal diet of 'broses' made from barley, oats, beans and pease cooked in a cauldron over an open fire. Foods such as potatoes, kale and porridge featured prominently.  Pease are dried split peas or legumes.  They might also have had access to fish from the river running through town and perhaps even milk and ale, butter and cheese. It was regarded as a limited but wholesome diet, however when Mary Ann arrived in Victoria, she would have been amazed at a compete change in diet, with meat and wheat flour as the new major part of her diet.  She may have experienced bread made with flour, in Edinburgh, for the first time in her life, however in Victoria it would become a staple.

The MIllers had lived in the Parish of Comrie and Perthshire for generations. The furthest back I have found is James Millar (the name was variously spent with an “a” and “e”) born at Logie in 1693.  Just 20 miles to the south of Comrie.  By 1772, William Miller and Margaret Menzies, Mary Ann Miller’s grandparents, were living in Comrie.  When Mary Ann was born, Gaelic was still the predominant language of the community.  Over 80% spoke Gaelic and most of those were over 60 years old, and had no understanding of English. We can only assume that because they lived in the middle of the town, our Millers were English speakers. Certainly, Mary Ann and her brothers and sisters all spoke English.

Comrie is twinned with a town in Ontario, Canada, probably reflecting the large number of people who left Comrie to settle in Canada, and our Miller family, specifically in Ontario, beginning with Mary Ann Millers grandparents and many of her Uncles, Aunts and cousins.  They were part of the Highland Clearances.


As a young girl, Mary Ann would have participated in the Flambeaux parade and Hogmanay. 

On the stroke of midnight, a torchlight procession marches through the village. Traditionally the procession involves the twelve strongest men of the village carrying long, thick birch poles, to which burning tarred rags are attached and taken to each of the four corners of the village. The procession is usually accompanied by the village pipe band and villagers with floats and dressed in costume. After the procession the torches are thrown from the Dalginross Bridge into the River Earn. The origins of the ceremony are unclear. It is generally assumed to have pre-Christian Celtic or possibly Pictish roots, and to be intended to cleanse the village of evil spirits in advance of the new year. The use of the birch tree specifically may have significance as the first letter of the Celtic Ogham alphabet, and a symbol of new beginning.

Mary Ann lived in Comrie from her birth on 29th October 1831, till she left for Edinburgh in her late teens.  The 1851 census records Mary Ann Miller was 19, and living at St.Cuthberts  Edinburgh.  She was a dressmaker, lodging with James Sandilands (sea merchant) and his sister Marion Sandilands, a 41-year-old dressmaker.

In her 64 years, she lived in a small Scottish village in the highlands for 21 years, in a large sophisticated city for three or so years, in two large colonial towns for 23 years, Probably in a small Irish town for ten years, and finally several small villages in Morayshire for her final ten years.

When Mary Ann was born in Comrie, it had a post office, with money order, savings' bank, insurance, and telegraph departments.  In 1851, her brother James was an apprentice shoemaker working for her father, who employed 7 men.  By 1871, he was the Postmaster and some years later, he also employed their brother David Millar as a postman as well as their nephew John McDonald as a postman and his son George as a telegram boy.

There was also a branch of the Commercial Bank, 5 insurance agencies, 2 chief inns, a reading-room, a masonic lodge, gas-works, ploughing and horticultural societies, and fairs on the third Wednesday in March, the second in May and July, the last in October, and the first in December. While a small population lived in Comrie, it serviced the entire parish.  It was also a parish that attracted many well-to-do people in Scotland, both as a home and as a holiday destination.

The parish church built in 1804, seats 1026 people, so is quite large; has a lofty spire, and crowns a gentle hill beside the Earn. A new Free church built in 1879-81 seats 650 people and is one of the finest in Scotland, French Gothic in style, with a clock-tower and an adjoining hall; its cost, exceeding £10,000, was defrayed by a bequest of Miss McFarlane of Comrie.  That meant that the town had two churches that could accommodate 1,700 people and yet the population just at around 1,000 when she was born, and by 1870, the population had reduced to 746, with entire families emigrating to Canada. It did however serve a parish of over 3,000 people.  Today the population of the parish is around 2,000.

Despite its small size and isolation, Comrie has always been a favorite of Kings, Queens, outlaws and Poets:  Robert the Bruce (1274–1329) King of Scotland, the outlaw Rob Roy McGregor (1671–1734) and Scotland's renowned national poet Robert Burns (1759–1796) all mentioned their stays in the village in their writing, including in Burns' case time spent at Aberuchill Castle.  Mary Queen of Scots (1542–1587) held Comrie and the surrounding woodlands as one of her favourite hunting grounds.  Queen Victoria (1819–1901) stayed in the Royal Hotel in Comrie, as did Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands (1880–1962)

When Mary Ann was 8 years old, and just a week before her birthday, the town was rocked by an earthquake.  Comrie sits on the fault line that separates the Lowlands and the Highlands, and therefore experiences more shocks than anywhere else in the U.K.In 1875 an ingenious apparatus was established in a small building at the village, to register the force and direction of the shocks, and the quake of October 1839, is still regarded as one of the two most severe in its history. 

There was an infant and female, and a public school, with respective accommodation for 84 and 268 children, which also declined so that by 1880, had an average attendance of just 42 and 168 respectively.  Because of the strong Calvinist base to the church in Scotland, Scotland established an education system that was vastly superior to the English.  Calvinism demanded that the people be able to read the bible, so schools were established and a broader range of subjects included.  Boys and girls attended school from the age of 5 to 15 or 16, and while all the Miller boys would have been taught to read and write, to do arithmetic and perhaps even sport, and some French and Latin, Mary Ann and her sisters were taught to read and write and a range of “domestic economy” subjects, such as sewing, knitting and cooking.

Mary Ann must have excelled at sewing, at a time before sewing machines, when everything would have been hand stitched.  She was obviously so proficient, that she moved to St Cuthberts, a middle-class parish in Edinburgh, where she worked with a dress maker, making clothes for well-to-do women. Perhaps someone visiting Comrie recognized her talent as a dress maker, or she sought out employment herself.  Whatever the case, it is highly likely that she made the move shortly after leaving school at the age of 15 or 16, so possibly spent as long as 5 years in Edinburgh before deciding on travelling to Victoria as an assisted migrant.

St Cuthberts and Canongate were in the new section of Edinburgh and well away from the old town slums with a population of 100,000.  Mary Ann was a country girl; unsophisticated, however, sewing for clients who were perhaps more worldly wise.  Perhaps this exposed her to a wider world, with opportunities she could never have imagined back in Comrie.

Some of her neighbours’ occupations were: saddlers, stonemasons, waiters in spirit shop, governesses, mill porters, bakers, cow feeders, compositor printers, a conservator of royal college of surgeon’s museum, engineers, tailors, mason stonecutters and shoemakers. Many would have been of a class she was familiar with, just a larger community.

While fashions did change over time, at any given time during the 19th century, women’s day dresses would have been very similar; and any variation would have come in the trimming and detailing. Only the very poor, the very rich or the very famous dared ignore the dictates of fashion. To do so was ‘social suicide’. This meant that in the course of their working lives, dressmakers would continually have had to be learning new ways of cutting out and making up.  This would have been Mary Ann’s experience in Edinburgh where she lived in a relatively affluent area.

As to the dressmaking itself, this was an article published in 1851:

First as to material. A lining of stout muslin or Holland, thin elastic whalebones, cord, hooks and eyes, or buttons, thread and silk. To fit the lining, if you do it yourself, it is well to cut a pattern from some dress that sets nicely, allowing for the seams.

Cut your lining by this; first the back, then the front, of the corsage, which should always be bias to insure a good fit. If a coat-dress, and very few others are worn now, baste up the side seams, called the “darts,” technically, hem the fronts, and baste the seams on the shoulder and under the arm.

Anyone in the family will tell you what alterations are needed; whether there are wrinkles to be smoothed or seams taken in. Remember, in cutting, it is always easier to clip than to piece. Creasing the seams with your nail, that you may close them at the exact point of basting, rip them all open, and you are ready to fit the material of your dress to it.

It is well to tear off the skirt first, measuring by another, and allowing for a hem wherever it is possible, if not, a facing. Then you can calculate better for sleeves and trimming.

The lining should be covered exactly with the material – let us suppose it to be mousseline-de-laine – if it be a coat-dress, that is all that is necessary before closing the seams once more, stitching the darts, side bodies, etc., and binding the throat and waist with a cord, faced down on the inside.

Skirts are now gauged with one or two rows, half an inch apart, and care should be taken to have the breadths hang evenly and well. The tight and open sleeves of the present day are very little trouble, and the trimming of fringe, gimp, folds, or puffs, easily put on.

A full corsage is more difficult, but can be mastered by time and observation. Like everything else, dress-making requires care and experience to be successful; but it has very little mystery. It is well to have a good supply of what the ladies call “needle and thread trimmings” always on hand; it is a saving both of time and money.

When gold was discovered in Victoria in 1851, it must have made emigrating an attractive proposition for Mary Ann.  We can never know if her prospects of marriage, or even as a dressmaker in Edinburgh was an issue, or if it was the lure of a new life. Perhaps the wages offered were better, and the prospects of finding a husband in a country where men outnumbered women 5 to 1, and most of them were young.

It is highly likely that agents in Britain recruited young women to work for families in Victoria.  They would offer a fixed annual wage for a fixed period of time, in return for a free passage to Melbourne or Geelong.  Particularly after the first gold rush in 1852, there was a shortage of workers in both towns. 

Mary Ann Miller is recorded as being under contract to Mr. John Haslam on a salary of £20. For three years.  An illiterate 19-year-old, Eliza Kirkpatrick, from County Down in Ireland was also contracted to John Haslam on the same wage and also for three years.  Both were recruited as “Housekeepers”.  John Haslam was a shoemaker; however, he also operated a boot and shoe importing business in Geelong.  This meant that the two girls weren’t regarded as assisted passage immigrants but, sponsored immigrants.

Whatever prompted her to decide to emigrate, as a sponsored migrant to Victoria, she still had to make the journey from Edinburgh to Liverpool to begin her voyage.  This was by train, from Edinburgh to Glasgow and then south to Liverpool.  With thousands of emigrants arriving in Liverpool every week, there was a major threat from “runners”.  These criminals would steal luggage and do a runner.  Only on payment of a ransom, would they return the luggage. 

In response, and also to coordinate the sailing of so many ships, the Birkenhead docks were fenced off, and accommodation for assisted immigrants built within the compound.  May Ann would have already been assigned to The Banker’s Daughter, for her voyage to Geelong, Victoria, and accommodated with other single women from Scotland and possibly even with Eliza Kirkpatrick.  They might have stayed there for up to a week as they only boarded the ship either the day before or on the day of sailing. 

Mary Ann would have had to pack a wooden trunk, with her clothing, soap and towels, a comb and a hair brushes, almost definitely a Bible and prayer book, and all of her dressmaking equipment such as needles, pins, pincushions and scissors, and any other personal possessions she might fit in the trunk.

Before boarding, she removed from her trunk, all the clothing and personal items she would need during the voyage. Once at sea, she would no longer be able to access her trunk.  It was recommended that she place all these in a bag to hang on a peg next to her bed. She would need 6 chemises, 6 pairs of stockings; half worsted, 2 flannel petticoats, 2 lighter petticoats, 2 pairs of boots or good shoes, 1 good warm coat with hood and one hat or light bonnet.

Mary Ann set sail on the “Bankers Daughter” on the 19th May 1853.

On board, a matron was appointed to supervise and regulate the single women’s daily lives. Deck time was limited and compartments below deck were often cramped, dark and poorly ventilated. Most ships had only one bathroom for the single women, while others had none at all.

To protect their moral character, and ensure no improper conduct during the voyage, the women were strictly segregated from the rest of the passengers at all times. How the women were separated varied between ships, but they were frequently held behind wooden barriers or ropes, and locked into their compartments at night. As a rule, the women were forbidden to talk to male passengers and crew, although some matrons allowed contact with male family members. Single women’s quarters were at the stern of the ship, families and married coupled in midships and single men in the bow.

Like other steerage passengers, single women were organized into messes before embarkation. Under the matron’s supervision, women would eat their meals and perform their chores with other members of their mess. The ‘girls’ had to prepare meals, wash dishes and their own clothing, keep their berths clean as well as sweep and scrub floors. Sometimes women in the cabin classes would hire a single woman from steerage to help look after their children. In their spare time the women could do needlework, read, write, take lessons, attend singing classes or take part in performances.

Rations were distributed weekly – twice weekly for meat – and included bread, oatmeal, preserved cabbage, vinegar, various preserved meats, pickled fish, flour, suet, peas, sugar, tea, coffee and mustard

While the “Bankers Daughter” is listed on one record, as a ship used by the Highlands and Islands Immigration Society to transport the poor and destitute from the Highlands, the fact that the Australian shipping records list many other immigrants as being from England and Ireland suggest that she was a general assisted immigrant ship.  It also doesn’t appear to have been a clipper ship, as speed wasn’t a priority.  Profit for the shipping line was the only priority, so accommodation and food rations would have been compromised.  Her weekly ration should have been: 1 lb preserved meats, 1lb soup, 1lb York ham, 1lb Fish, 1 ½  Prime Beef,1lb Irish pork,  3 ½ lb  biscuit, 3lb flour, ½ lb rice, ½ lb barley, ½ pint of peas, 1 pint oatmeal, 1 lb raw sugar, 6oz lime juice, 1 ½ oz tea, 2oz coffee, 6 oz each of butter, cheese, currants or raisins, and suet, ¼  pint of pickles, ½ oz mustard, pepper and salt, 2lb potatoes, and 21 quarts of water.

Emily Skinner was the same age as Mary Ann when she voyaged to Melbourne to join her fiancé just a year after Mary Ann.  She wrote a detailed diary of her voyage and we can draw upon it to appreciate what Mary Ann probably experienced.

It is highly likely that she and many of the passengers suffered sea sickness immediately they set sail.  Most stayed in bed all of the first day and didn’t even get up for meals.  The matron would have forced them up onto the deck for fresh air and perhaps given them something to alleviate the seasickness, however they would only have eaten ships biscuit and bitter black coffee, probably without milk or sugar.

It would be several days before they felt well enough to eat, however the seasickness would return, particularly in wild weather.  Matron may have provided them with “Will’s smelling salts” to alleviate the seasickness, particularly if they were suffering because of the smell of the livestock on deck.  The sight of pods of dolphins and seabirds would have been a novelty, however after a couple of weeks, boredom became an issue.

The routine was breakfast at 7.:00, Dinner at noon, Tea at 6:00 and lights out at 10:00pm.Dinner was the main meal, so for the first five hours, they were either cleaning or preparing food.  Emptying the chamber pots into a large can and carrying it to the toilet, airing the bedding and then remaking the beds, sweeping and scrubbing the wooden floor.

Dinner over, they might have some time on deck, and if confined to quarters, knit, sew or read or write letters.  Letters to family back in Britain would be exchanged with vessels they passed who were making the return voyage, or left for a ship at either the Canary Islands, Rio de Janeiro or Cape Town, depending on their route.  The longer the voyage took, the less they had to write about as every day was much the same.  In Mary Ann’s case, the “Bankers Daughter” most likely stopped off at Rio de Janeiro before heading to the Southern Ocean to pick up the trade winds for a shorter and faster trip.

On Saturdays, the crew would wash and holystone the decks.  On Sundays, the sailors would change into a new white uniform for church services and perhaps provide some entertainments.  

That’s when the weather permitted.  When wild weather; “The whole ship in a very dirty state, very different from last Sunday, everyone looking dirty and Oh! Horror of Horrors, nearly all a little seasick again.”  … “sat and did nothing all day but wished myself at the bottom of the sea, but had not the courage to jump over.”

The heat when in the tropics, must have been a totally new experience, particularly when they weren’t allowed on deck.  Crossing the equator, King Neptune boarded the ship and paraded with “..his bride and child, a doctor, secretary, barber, six policemen and four bears.” 

Then, just several weeks later they would have been far down into the southern hemisphere, where it was the beginning of winter and as the weeks passed, they were sailing past icebergs.  They would have seen the “Southern Cross” for the first time.  “We are doing 12 knots an hour but such work with the crockery, we are obliged to fetch our tea in cups, nothing put on the table, and we are rolling about from side to side of the place to another.  I am obliged to wedge myself up in bed or I should certainly be tossed out.  The sea look mountains high – and we have nearly all been seasick again.”  Storms and gales would have been the norm for the last 8 weeks of their voyage, and from a newspaper report that I cite a little later, the “Bankers Daughter” sailed dangerously too far south. 

Emily Skinner’s ship was transporting all paying passengers and yet, she recorded that the food served to the sailors was very poor, and that mutiny was feared.

The captain would have been instructed to deliver the migrants and then strip the hold out of all cabins and beds and tables and convert it into a cargo hold for the return voyage.  The timber was then sold off in Geelong or Melbourne. There were few returning passengers, so most ships returned with their hold full of wool and wheat.  They continued across the southern Pacific Ocean and around Cape Horn to return to Britain rather than against the winds back in the Indian Ocean.

EMIGRATION FROM LIVERPOOL. — During the past month more emigrants have left Liverpool than in any preceding month for the past few years. The Government returns show that in the month ending Saturday last, between 27,000 and 28,000 emigrants left Liverpool, the greater proportion being for the United States. The emigration to Australia has received a check, owing to the unfavourable accounts lately received. Notwithstanding this, upwards of thirty vessels have cleared for Australia within the last few weeks. The Banker's Daughter is in the river, with four hundred emigrants from the Government Emigration Office, Birkenhead, and she will be followed in the course of the month by three large ships with passengers from the same depot. -Times. 7th of May.1853

If the following letter written in 1933 is correct, her voyage was anything but uneventful, as was the immediate aftermath, as reported in 1855. Mary Ann was lucky not to meet the same fate as her sister in law, who lost her life when her ship was lost in the Antarctic, a few years later.  She must also have had a difficult trip, with a crew that either deserted to join the goldrush, or “mutinied” on the return voyage.

Age, Saturday 14 October 1933, page 6

"The Banker's Daughter."


Sir, — I have read with interest in “Age" of late references to the old windjammers that came out to Australia many long years ago. I would like to ask your readers if anybody could give me news re a sailing ship named "Bankers Daughter” which came in the early days. ' ' With immigrants aboard, she sailed from Liverpool some time about the 50s. destination was Geelong; she anchored Point Henry, after a very long voyage, was reported by Lloyd's as lost. She had many mishaps, tiller rope broke two or three times, and. she got out of her position, and drifted a long way down to the south. If it had not been for the mate (a Mr. Heron, who, kept an hotel afterwards in Moorabool St Geelong, (the west side), he having been out to Australia previously, the boat would have been lost.  By his skill the ship arrived safe

Yours, etc


Moonee Ponds, 7th October

Age, Wednesday 21 March 1855, page 4

The Banker's Daughter. — The long detention of this ship at Point Henry, about fifteen months ago, in consequence of the mutiny and desertion of the crew, has resulted in a reference to the English law courts. In the Court of Queen's Bench, on the 16th December, the case of Kelly v. Goulburn and others was tried. The plaintiff in this notion was an able seaman, who sued the defendants, merchants, and shipowners, at Liverpool, trading under the style of Messrs. Lodge, Pritchard, and Co., to recover the sum of £31, due for wages on a voyage from Liverpool to Geelong and back to Liverpool. The defendants paid £ll into court, and also pleaded mutiny, extortion and set-off. It appeared that the plaintiff sailed from Liverpool in May, 1853, on board the Banker's Daughter, a passenger ship, bound for Geelong. On her arrival at Geelong, a large portion of the crew, as usual, deserted. The master engaged what hands he could, and among the rest four runners to Bombay, to whom he agreed to pay the sum of £40 each. According to the evidence given by the plaintiff and two others of the crew, the master voluntarily offered to give, and did give, a gratuity of £20 to each of the crew who continued with the ship, which sailed in due course and arrived in England. When the vessels arrived at Liverpool, the owners refused to pay the plaintiff his wages, upon the ground that he had been mutinous, and the present action was thereupon brought. The defence now relied upon by the defendants was, that the plaintiff, during the voyage, had extorted the sum of £20 from the master of the ship, and they ought to set off that sum against the plaintiff's claim, which they said was covered by the £20 and £11 paid Into court. The master was called, and said that when the four runners were brought on board, at Geelong, he was sent for by the plaintiff and others of the crew, and asked why the runners were to have £40 each? The master said that was no business of theirs. The seamen said, it was too bad, and they ought to have some advance. The master proposed that the matter should be left to the owners when the ship arrived at Liverpool; but the men answered that in that case they should get nothing. They then said, that they would not heave anchor unless the master acceded to their demands; and in the result, the master was, compelled, as he said, to pay the plaintiff and some others £20 each before he could induce them to do their duty according to the articles. Lord Campbell, in summing up the evidence, said, the question for the jury was, whether the sum of £20, which had been paid to the plaintiff, was a mere gratuity voluntarily given by the master, In breach of his duty to the owners : or whether, as the master said, the payment was extorted from him by the plaintiffs refusal to do his duty. In the former case the plaintiff would be entitled to a verdict; but not so if the money had been extorted, for in that case it might be recovered back, or set off. The jury retired to consider their verdict, and upon their return into court found it in favor of the plaintiff— damages £20.

Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer, Monday 5 September 1853, page 2

The Banker's Daughter has been put in quarantine by the Harbour Master and Dr. Coward, the Colonial Surgeon, on account of fever being amongst the emigrants.


Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer, Tuesday 6 September 1853, page 2

September 3-Banker's Daughter, ship, 1133 tons, Robert Pall, master, from Liverpool. 101 days out, with 380 Government emigrants. Messrs. Henderson and Co., agents.

Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer, Thursday 8 September 1853, page 2

The Banker's Daughter, emigrant ship, was declared free from Quarantine yesterday. The Board of Immigration will sit to-day about noon, on board the said ship.

Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer, Saturday 10 September 1853, page 2

SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE. GEELONG. Imports. Per Banker's Daughter, from Liverpool--352 tons coals, 1 case pistols, 5 bales clothing. R Pace.

Mary Ann Miller was 21 years-old. when she arrived in Geelong on the 3rd September 1853.  She was indentured for three years on a wage of £22 per annum, and would have been met at the ship by John Haslam.Haslam’s address was the corner of Bellarine and James Streets and he was recorded on the electoral roll as being a shoemaker.  Considering Irish girls who could read and write, and were indentured for three to four years as “house maids” at £6, Mary Ann must have been valued as a dressmaker.

Also assigned to John Haslam for three years on the same wage was 19-year-old Eliza Kirkpatrick from County Down in Ireland.  An illiterate C of E girl who I cannot trace after her time in Geelong. Around 80% of the immigrants were Scottish. It may have come as a shock to both women, to find that women in Melbourne were being paid £40 or £50 per annum as housemaids. 

It seems more than just a coincidence that Mary Ann was indentured by a shoemaker and put to work as a dressmaker in Geelong.  It also seems to be more than a coincidence, that having arrived in September 1853, she married James Crawford in March, just 7 months later.  There are no records of James Crawford’s arrival as an immigrant.  Could he have been a member of the crew of The Banker’s Daughter and one of those who deserted the ship?  Was he so in love with Mary Ann that rather than head off to the diggings like almost everyone else, he waited with her until her three years indenture had expired?  There is a record of a James Crawford being issued with a “Certificate of Competency as Master” on the 9th March 1953, at Liverpool, just two months before the “Bankers Daughter” set sail.

Mary Ann had barely settled into John Haslam’s employment when he decided to wind up his shoe business.  As to what this meant to her work, we’ll never know.

Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer (Vic. : 1851 - 1856), Thursday 20 April 1854, page 2

THIS DAY, Thursday, April 20th. To Boot and Shoemakers, and the trade in general. J. TANNOC & CO. Have received instructions from Mr. John: Haslam, Bellerine-street, who is retiring from business, to sell by public auction, on the premises, on Thursday, April 20th, at II o'clock, THE whole of his Stock-in-Trade, Stock which has just been purchased for cash, and are particularly adapted to the wants of the present season, comprising cloth boots galoshes Children's ditto ditto Women's double sole shoes Men's lace up and Blucher. In fact, a general assortment of useful articles which are in first rate condition, and all worth the attention of the trade. Terms-Cash,

Mary Ann and James, were two of half a million immigrants to settle in Victoria between 1850 and 1970.  They would have been familiar with the social structure; inasmuch as it was a British culture transplanted.  It was primarily the country, food, housing and climate that was different.  Much would have been familiar.

The people were familiar, being primarily Scots and English people.  The buildings were familiar, being built of stone and in the same design as buildings and houses back home, however they were set in country that she would have described as barren and parched with trees that were straggly and dry looking.  Quite a contrast with the lush green vegetation she was used to in Scotland. The streets were mostly unpaved, and after rain, quite muddy.  Dysentry was the scourge of the colony.

The clothing, and the social structure, weren’t quite the same. Nearly all the men had bushy beards, wore straw hats and thigh length boots.  They had adapted to hot and sunny days and muddy streets and countryside.  They purchased their fruit and vegetables by the weight instead of by the unit, eggs by the dozen, and had treats for children called “Lollies”.  Back home, “Lollies” were “Sugar Plums”.

Geelong at the time, had a population of 20,000, and was the fourth largest city in Australia. It was a town largely built of stone and brick, populated by English people, not colonials, and as active in the industrial revolution as any similar sized town in Britain.  It was the people of Geelong who raised the money and built the first rail line in Australia, connecting Geelong with Melbourne.  It was the city where mechanical ice production and refrigeration was invented.  The talk of the town when she arrived in 1853, would have been James Harrison, a fellow Scot from Glasgow, who was the owner of the “Geelong Advertiser”.  He had observed that ether used to clean the typeface left the metal cold, so proceeded to invent a machine and began manufacturing ice in 1853.

It was also a city that was losing its people and almost every immigrant to the gold fields.

Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston, Tas.), Saturday 30 April 1853, page 2


A correspondent from Geelong writes: — "The emigration barracks are now empty, with the exception of the hospital department for the newly arrived sick. The demand for domestic servants is insatiable. The supplies, which have been large lately, have been absorbed almost immediately on arrival; and, curious to say, nearly all in the town. This absorption is going on steadily and imperceptibly. Our means of intercourse with Melbourne have of late been much extended. We have now six passenger steamers plying, inclusive, however, of the new purchase of Messrs. Thorne, Sparks and Co., the Melbourne, which was to have made its trial trip to-day. There is now a prospect of reduction in fares. The Steam Navigation Company fell to the ground in consequence of a refusal of the new directors to take the " Keera" to stock at the valuation of the proprietors. We are informed here that the Geelong Railway Company is not in great favor in Melbourne, for of the 7000 shares subscribed for, nearly all have been taken here. The deposits flow in famously, and landholders have great faith in the line. Allotments in the neighbourhood have advanced £20 to £30 a foot in consequence of their proximity to it. This exorbitant valuation of land can hardly be exceeded in Melbourne. This place is getting enormously wealthy. Business sites in town are commanding a ground rent of £10 per foot per annum, for 10 years' leases.

Despite the fact that in 1854, Melbourne had a population of 80,000 compared to Geelong’s, 20,000, Melbourne was determined to benefit most from the gold rush.That year, they had a map drawn that falsely showed Geelong as being twice as far from the Ballarat Goldfields as Melbourne, when in fact, Geelong is closer than Melbourne.  This map was used in the United Kingdom in advertising to attract shipping to Melbourne rather than Geelong. 

Both Mary Ann Miller and James Crawford arrived with the first rush, within 2 years of the first discoveries, when Geelong was the major destination.  They remained in Geelong however, for three years before heading for the gold town of Maryborough. During that time, Robert James Crawford was born in February 1854, and we assume that Mary Ann was able to continue as a dressmaker.  It is highly likely that they applied for a grant of land, as it is recorded that deeds were drawn up for J Crawford in January 1855.

For three years, James Crawford worked as a painter, as stated on son Robert’s birth certificate.  There was only one mention of him in the Geelong newspaper:

Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer, Monday 16 April 1855, page 2

COUNTY COURT OF GRANT. Saturday, 14th April. Before his Honor Mr. Justice Wrixen and two Assessors. (£50 Jurisdiction)

Crawford V. O'TOOLE. This was a suit of assumpsit brought to recover the sum £40 1s 6d, for work and Iabour done for the defendant.

Crawford deposed--That he was employed at the beginning of the year by Mr. O’Toole to finish two cottages, situated in Little Ryrie Street, the defendant furnishing the materials, and sent in an account for £40 13s 6p, of which he received £12 in part payment. and the balance of £28 13s 61 when demanded was refused payment, on the plea that extras, had been charged for, without being authorized by the defendant; there was only a verbal agreement made between them. James Balmain stated-That he was employed by the last witness to assist him in painting, glazing, etc., two cottages in Little Ryrie Street, the property of Mr. Toole. Mr. Henry Nash, who surveyed the work, pronounced it well done, and also gave his opinion that the charges were moderate. Mr. Elliott, who appeared for the defendant, called upon his client to give evidence, but Mr OToole did not appear. A verdict for the plaintiff for the balance, £28 13s 61. 

The lure of the goldfields must have finally proved too much.  In 1857, the Chinaman’s Flat field, at Maryborough was booming, and Mary Ann and Robert were there.  So were 27,000 other people, most living in tents.  For Mary Ann, who had always lived in stone houses, this must have been an amazing hardship.  They would have arrived at Chinaman’s Flat with Robert around eighteen-months-old, and she pregnant with William, who was then born in February 1857. It is almost certain that they had saved enough money to purchase a horse or several horses and cart to make the journey north.  Once at Chinaman’s Flat, the horses could have been used to power a puddling machine to wash the dirt for gold, or James took to transporting goods, rather than gold prospecting.

Whatever the case, James and Mary Jane would have lived on the field for several years. It was here that their son William was born in February 1857.  He was to die 12 months later at the Havelock goldfield, several kilometers to the east and also part of the Maryborough fields. His death, would most likely have been, one of hundreds who died of dysentery or similar diseases that broke out every summer on the goldfields, and recorded in these records:

Mount Alexander Mail, Friday 16 April 1858, page 3


(From the Advertiser.)Abstract of Births and Deaths at- Maryborough and Dunolly, for the quarter ending 31st  March : — - Maryborough Number of births,, 71; number of deaths, 34 ; causes of death, disease .22, (of, which seventeen were under three years of age) accidental 9, and murder 3.' Dunolly : Number of births, 38 ; number of deaths 19 ; causes of death, disease, 1 1 (of which eight were under three years of age) .'accidental 5, suicide 2, murder 1). The similitude of the returns in these two places is somewhat remarkable. In each the number of births is just double that of the deaths. In Maryborough seventeen out of: twenty- two deaths by disease were infants; in Dunolly eight of eleven were the same. In both cases the number of deaths is small in proportion to the population, and the districts may be fairly assumed as being among the healthiest in the colony.

At around the same time that William died, Emily Skinner lost her daughter as well.  She and her husband were on the Beechworth goldfields, and when the disease broke out in summer, they and their daughter were severely infected.  They had only just relocated to a new goldfield close to Bright and described their new “house”; “In a few hours it was finished.: a neat frame firmly fixed, of strong wood covered with stout unbleached calico tightly stretched.  It was divided into two compartments, a place left for a door and windows to be put in next day, which, alas, were not of glass, but calico again.  A second roof stretched a little distance above the first, was called a ‘fly’ and helped to make the tent much cooler (great fun it used to be on a windy night, when the flies would become loose from their fastenings and break away).  There was no fireplace, that was a luxury to come, and for the present the cooking must be done on a stump burning in the open air.  The floor was roughly pared and then furniture moved in, but by this time night was falling and there was not time to put up bedsteads, so spreading first oilcloth, then whatever we could find, under our mattresses on the somewhat damp ground, we were glad to rest so.” ….” In a few days’ time we had a fireplace built of turf sods, cut evenly and laid like bricks one above the other.  We lined the tent with green baize, and it was really pretty and comfortable, only much hotter than our old bark house.:”

Mary Ann’s experience of the summer fever, as Emily described it, might have been similar: “I lay many weeks at deaths door, raving in delirium in intense weakness.  In the midst of this the dear child, from a fine healthy babe, became sick and passed from us.  So utterly worn down was I that I was almost indifferent to it; and not till partly restored to health did the anguish of the loss came upon me.”  I find it very telling, that in her diary, Emily never uses the name of the children she lost when living on the goldfields.  Mary Ann’s five sons were all recorded in the Miller family bible back in Comrie, and even their place of death recorded.

Like Emily’s daughter, Mary Ann’s son William was buried on the goldfield, and both in not just unmarked graves, but unrecorded graves.  Neither mother was ever able to find the grave to visit.

Mary Ann suffered the loss of her son, while all around her, there were thousands of prospectors lured by reports such as:

Age (Melbourne, Vic.), Thursday 22 April 1858, page 5


The Advertiser has the following: — There is a large rush to the Maryborough end of the new lead that was first Struck opposite Bowen's store. The lead has been traced across the Carisbrook road to the head of the cricket ground, where it joins a gully worked some months ago. The lead evidently rises from here, and, is very rich. Several parties are washing as much as' an ounce to the tub, and we have heard of larger finds. The gully had some good holes in it, but no idea was' entertained at the time of such a lead springing from it.  It shows how little justice has yet been done to the large gold-field that exists between Havelock and Maryborough, when the immediate neighborhood of where the worked ground has been so slightly tried. We believe the whole of the large flat extending towards Chinaman's Flat, is intersected with leads and runs of cold. At a bend in the creek, not far from Havelock, a new machine has been erected for crushing Cement, which from the novelty of its construction and apparent efficiency, is well worthy of examination. It consists of an immense wooden wheel shod with iron, revolving in a hollow basin similar to that used in a Chilian mill. A horse turns the wheel. The owners are working the cement claims on the Hard Hill, and deserve much credit for their ingenuity and enterprise. As far as wo know the machine is novel in idea, and perhaps might be adapted with advantage for crushing quartz. It powders the cement very finely.

An excellent description of life on a goldfield is this: 

Of course, diggers hardly made their new homes in pristine wilderness. Newcomers often compared the mining-ravaged landscape to a battleground or graveyard – ‘a burying ground with all new graves just opened.’ But the land was also teeming with life, ‘like a country fair’ or ‘the races’, as miners worked and set up tent. In an attempt to maintain some sanitary conditions, tents had to be pitched twenty feet apart and the same distance from a creek. Tiny single-digger tents with barely enough room to sleep in could be found next door to tents that housed groups of five or six and were high enough to stand up in. There were idiosyncrasies and, sometimes vast distinctions created by wealth, but tents were typically canvas thrown across a timber-frame and then pegged to the ground over a dirt floor. Open-air fires were initially used for cooking and warmth. Autumn rains and the first winter (of 1852) caused many diggers to re-assess their living conditions. Some added mud-brick fireplaces and chimneys to their tents and/or clad them with slabs or bark, and a few constructed crude huts. A sketch by Eugene von Guerard depicts the primitive interior of such accommodation in 1853: there’s quite a substantial fire-place at one end of his tent while a rustic bed and table and log to sit on constitute the ‘furnishings’.

In 1854, Emily Skinner was dismayed when first confronted with the basic bark hut she was to ‘keep’ for her husband on the goldfields, but admitted ‘it was unusually good for the time and place, as most people lived in tents.’  It is almost certain that like Emily, Mary Ann initially lived in a tent.  At the 1858 census, it was recorded that men outnumbered women 2 to 1 and that 75% of the population lived in tents.

It was noted by contemporaries that women added a certain level of ‘civilization and womanly refinement’ to domestic life. However, early goldfields households were commonly exclusively male and men had to perform what was traditionally female work. The men of a party often took it in turns to cook and keep tent – to do ‘all those nameless things that one never thought of at home, because they never come under our notice’ as one male contemporary observed of this novel situation.”  Caitlin Mahar

After several years of living under very trying conditions on the diggings, Mary Ann and James moved to the town of Maryborough itself. From 1859, they probably rented a timber house as James began contracting work as a carter and various government works in the district.  Eventually in 1863, they bought their own land in High St and built a house there.

Mary Ann would have been surprised by the different plants, animals and birds in Victoria.  As already observed, immigrants commented on the trees and bush being wild and weathered, compared to the lush green and tamed country of home.  Instead of many small birds twittering in hedges, here they saw large flocks of big colourful birds; loud squawking parrots, laughing Kookaburras and the warbling Magpies. The sound of the magpies  was found to be particularly romantic.

What she would not have witnessed, was a thriving indigenous people.  By the 1850’s, many of the indigenous people had died or been murdered.  It was estimated that prior to the arrival of the squatters who set up “stations” throughout the country, there would have been 150,000 or more indigenous people and by the census of 1858, an estimate of 2,500.  When she arrived in Geelong, there were just a small number of indigenous people who camped near town and were issued with blankets in winter.  The traditional Possum skin cloaks had been appropriated by the settlers. Emily Skinner specifically records the use of the possum skin cloaks on coaches when the weather was cold.

The newspapers recorded little more than the occasional death of an aboriginal such as:

Argus (Melbourne, Vic), Wednesday 3 January 1855, page 5


Tuesday, 2nd January, 1854.

The body of a blackfellow, an aborigine, was found in the Barwon on Sunday last, and from its appearance, little doubt existed but that the unfortunate fellow had been murdered. An inquest was held yesterday when the evidence went to shew that a number of blacks, who were in a state of intoxication, and quarreling and yelling all Tuesday night had been encamped near the spot where the body was found. The body of deceased, which could not be satisfactorily identified, presented a horrible appearance, the throat being cut from ear to ear, and a stab appearing on the left breast, besides numerous contused wounds. The jury returned a verdict of willful murder against some person or persons unknown, supposed to be aboriginal natives. Two blacks have been apprehended on suspicion, but nothing important has yet transpired. It is a most sinful practice to supply these unfortunate creatures with drink, as they are thereby led to commit the most frightful excesses. I consider any man who has supplied liquor to a blackfellow who commits a murder 0r other crime under its influence is morally, and ought to be made, to a certain extent, legally guilty of the same crime.

By the time she arrived in the Maryborough goldfields, there were few aboriginals left.  It was reported that with the decimation of the indigenous people and their dingoes, the kangaroo population had exploded and was causing a major problem for the graziers.  Even then, the graziers continued to murder the local people. Mrs Douglas who lived on Glenmona Station near Maryborough, told of seeing Aboriginal people who had been poisoned in 1859.  She said that a parcel of wine had been left on a track used by an aboriginal family and that late in the day when some of the men drank it “… the blacks were taken ill as soon as they got to the camp and they made a great noise and one of the overseers and mother and another woman and. I think Mr Bradshaw, took a large basin of mustard and water and made the Blacks drink it.  The men were sick and the dogs ate what they heaved and the dogs died so it was poison.”

In 1860, when living in Maryborough, she may have attended a performance at the Theatre Royal.  Probably not a genuine corroboree, so much as an entertainment.

Mount Alexander Mail (Vic), Monday 21 May 1860, page 2

MARYBOROUGH.  (From the Advertiser.)

Aboriginal Theatricals. — An extraordinary exhibition was given at the Theatre Royal on Wednesday evening, which consisted of a number of Aboriginals duly decorated with white chalk and red paint, which, I am told, is called war paint, appearing on the stage and performing a corroboree in five acts. The attendance was somewhat numerous, owing to the novelty of the entertainment, and the exhibition altogether very reprehensible although it seemed to amuse the audience by means of its extreme ludicrous nature. There was one scene where two of our ebony brethren killed a third and duly buried him under one of the trap doors of the stage. He appears above another, smothered with white chalk, and is supposed to have "jumped up white fellow." He chases his murderers twice round the stage and then disappeared. So commenced and ended one delectable act of the corroboree. This exhibition is to be repeated on Saturday evening next.

Mary Ann was barely settled in Maryborough when James jnr. was born.  It is highly likely, that following the death of William, Mary Ann insisted in living in town where there was less risk of catching a fatal summer disease.  Despite living in a significant sized town, water still needed to be carted in from surrounding creeks, some as far away as Carisbrook, and therefore it would have required boiling to drink.  It remained a carrier of disease and it claimed the life of David Miller Crawford when he was just 2 ½ years old in 1866.  Her final son, John Hamilton Crawford was born in 1867.

They would have been barely settled in the town when a bushfire surrounded the town.

Maryborough and Dunolly Advertiser (Vic), Monday 23 January 1860, page 2


The oldest inhabitant of the district can recollect nothing like the frightful heat that has prevailed during the last three days. The whole country for miles round Maryborough and Dunolly has been ravaged by fire. At Dunolly, on Friday, an intensely hot but not violent breeze prevailed, mingled now and then with the smell and odor of charred wood. Towards evening it was perceived that the ranges and high ground, extending from Mount Bealiba for miles in every direction, were in flames. Mount Moliagul presented a grand sight, towering in broad outline against the lurid sky, one mass of flames to the topmost boughs of the tallest trees. In the most substantially built houses, with double roofs, the thermometer registered during the day within a degree or two of a hundred, and in those less proof to the fierce atmosphere without, as much as 112° was reached.

In the post office the thermometer showed at three o'clock, 110 °. A most remarkable instance came under our own observation; indeed, we could scarcely otherwise have credited it. A thermometer, a portion of a spirit testing apparatus, whose extreme range was 150 degrees, was shattered by the force of the mercury imprisoned within its tube. On Saturday evening the fire absolutely seemed to be on the confines of the town. Standing on one side of the street, one would fancy the- fire was burning immediately behind the houses on the opposite side. From the White Hill's road, a magnificent view was observable. The fire had careered along a broad belt of timber, several miles in extent, completely destroying it. In advance, the flames towered above the topmost branches of the loftiest trees, still proceeding with swift and remorseless steps. In the rear where the trees had been burnt down, the stout stumps still blazed with almost the brilliancy of electric lights, presenting the appearance, in the distance, of a large gas lighted city; or on a nearer approach, of the countless watch fires of a besieging army. The blast, as it was. wafted from the flames exceeded anything it is possible to describe. All Saturday night the heat continued equally oppressive and stifling, few were able to sleep, Sunday, yesterday, was rather cooler, but the hot wind continued during the day ; and the smoke of the bush fires mingled with the atmosphere, till one almost seemed to be inhaling the fumes of burning wood.

Just a week later, the heat persisted.

Mount Alexander Mail (Vic. : 1854 - 1917), Friday 3 February 1860, page 5

Maryborough District

The dryness of the season begins to be seriously felt in Sandy Creek, Out of six quartz crushing machines erected here, there are only two at work, the others had to stop for want of water, and these two obtain most of their supply of water by raising it from some of the claims on Poverty Reef. "Alluvial mining is confined to a few isolated spots, where the auriferous earth is found to pay being carted to the Loddon for washing it. a singular effect of the hot weather, not elsewhere reported to have been noticed, was observed here, in the great distress manifested by a large number of birds belonging to the psittacus family (Parrots). They seem to have been so much affected by the heat as to take shelter in shafts among old workings, and on being discovered they would not fly to leave their cool place of shelter, but submitted to being captured in numbers. Some of these birds were seen to attempt drinking water out of teapots and other vessels actually placed on the fire ; others took: shelter in houses and tenements, and alighted on the heads of the inmates, as if wishing for relief in distress, some dropped dead, others were captured, and such a number of these birds were secured, that after the memorable hot weather, the parrot taming and teasing mania became very general in Sandy Creek. Taking Time by the Forelock.— The Maryborough' Council have resolved on applying to government for a portion of the government grant of £50,000 for water supply.

Mary Ann and her family lived in Maryborough for 15 years, and it was very much a Scottish “Highland” town.  The first “Highland Games” were held on New Years Day 1857, and by the 1860 games, there were 3,000 people attending.  The Maryborough Highland Society is still the towns oldest community, and its building is just 50m up High Street, from the Crawford’s home. 

There is a good chance that Mary Ann continued as a dressmaker, as the cost of imported clothing was very expensive, however with the likelihood that James was away from home for extensive periods of time either carting goods or on public works projects such as repairing roads and bridges, or cutting and carting timber and firewood, she would have been fully occupied in looking after the children and her house. The house was constructed of weatherboards and substantial enough to be still standing 150+ years later.

Out the back of the house, is a large brick wall with an oven.  It’s possible that this was where the original kitchen was located.  Most homes at the time had a separate kitchen accessed from the back door via a verandah or covered walkway. 

The rooms are reasonably large, with high ceilings, however it would have required heating in winter and must have been very hot in summer.  After 7 years in the colony, all pretense at maintaining a British lifestyle would have been abandoned.  Mary Ann’s first Christmas would have alerted her to the fact that a big traditional dinner wasn’t appropriate.  Even if they struggled through a hot main course, a plum pudding would have been too much.

In 1861, “Mrs. Beaton’s Book of Household Management” was published, and was as big a seller in Australia as Britain.  It was followed by Edward Abbott’s “The English and Australian Cookery Book.  Cookery for the Many, as Well as for the ‘Upper Ten Thousand’ ”, which contained the recipe for ‘Slippery Bob’; battered kangaroo brains fried in emu fat.  I suspect that Mary Ann primarily cooked mutton and whatever vegetables were in season and available. Being available, was dependent upon where gold might be found, and in 1860:

“The branch of the co-called main lead which faces for Maryborough, is paying most satisfactorily. Wise's paddock, which stands in front of the lead, has been rushed all over. There is a garden growing vegetables in the middle of the paddock, which has as yet been left untouched, but I fancy that in a few days all consideration of cabbages and potatoes will vanish, and that the garden will be unceremoniously defaced.”

It is almost certain that the Crawfords had a garden at the rear of their house and grew, potatoes, carrots, turnips, cabbages and other vegetables.  Rather than be dependent upon produce from market gardens, that were always under threat if there was a suspicion of gold, they would have grown much of their own.  In 1862, there was a riot and a major court case over a market garden at Burnt Creek.  A Chinese market gardener was attacked by several hundred Chinese miners, as well as one hundred European miners, when they discovered gold on the adjoining land.  It appears that in order to defend his garden from being overrun, Ah Wing decided to sell some of the land to a European miner, thinking he would defend it from other miners.  He had also been approached by other Chinese miners, however knowing that they operated in very large groups, he wouldn’t sell to them.  Among the 200 or so Chinese who attacked him, was Ah Tam, who actually beat him up.  Ah Tam was imprisoned for one month.

Like her future daughter in law, Ann Elizabeth Neale, her life for the 15 years at Maryborough would have been one of continuous child raising and housekeeping.  Monday was washing day, and with water so scarce, probably only clothing on a regular basis.  She would have had a washing tin and a wash board, and spend much of the morning scrubbing the clothes with a strong soap that would have been damaging to her hands.  Unfortunately, she wouldn’t have had the washing table described below.  It gives you a good idea however, of what is was like to wash clothes without a machine.


Argus (Melbourne, Vic. Thursday 21 September 1871, page 4

There is now on exhibition, in a room near the Clarence Hotel, at the corner of Elizabeth and Collins streets, an apparatus, which is the invention of a Victorian patentee.  It is known as "Mrs. Lang's New Economical Domestic Washing-table," and the inventor is the wife of Mr. T. Lang, florist, of Melbourne. The machine is simple enough, and consists of a shallow square trough, made of kauri pine, 4in. deep, 3ft. long, 2ift. wide, and the bottom covered with closely corru-gated zinc like that on the little American washing-boards. The process is to steep the articles in water, lay them on the washing table, soap them, and then roll them up wet in a cylindrical bundle. A wooden tray with handles is next put on the top of the bundle, which is then rolled backwards and forwards for a few moments. The result is the subjection of the articles in the bundle to a species of "swish-swash," and the theory of the invention is that that "swish-swash" extracts the dirt. The articles are then left to be boiled in blued water and dried, when they are ready for the iron. It will be seen that the use of warm water is dispensed with till the last, and the knuckle-rubbing is superseded by a process which occupies one twentieth of the time, and is not laborious. The experiments with this apparatus appear to be invariably successful. The cost of the apparatus, which is patented in England and America as well as in Australia, is under £2.

A day spent washing and drying clothes meant that there wasn’t much time left for preparing meals.  This is probably the origin of the Australian tradition of a roast dinner on Sundays followed by leftovers on Mondays.  Perhaps mince the left-over mutton, mash some potatoes and make a shepherd’s pie.

As the streets were unpaved, dirt could be walked into the house, so cleaning was likely a daily task.  We know that Mary Ann’s daughter in law and her family, were involved in church and temperance movements, so it can be assumed that she was as well.  She would have belonged to the "Cult of Domesticity, " first named and identified in the early part of the century, was solidly entrenched by mid nineteenth century, especially in rural environments. The beliefs embodied in this ‘Cult’ gave women a central, if outwardly passive, role in the family. Women’s God-given role, it stated, was as wife and mother, keeper of the household, guardian of the moral purity of all who lived therein. The Victorian home was to be a haven of comfort and quiet, sheltered from the harsh realities of the working world. Housework took on a scientific quality, efficiency being the watchword. Children were to be cherished and nurtured. Morality was protected through the promulgation of Protestant beliefs and social protest against alcohol, poverty and the decay of urban living.

In April 1875, after 22 years in the colony, Mary Ann, her husband James Crawford and sons James jnr and John Hamilton returned to Britain.  We cannot definitely say as to where, however most likely to Magherafelt in Ireland.  James Crawford was returning to Ireland to try to have his fathers will overturned.

1875 was a significant year for the family.  They returned to Britain in April, their son Robert Crawford was married to Ann Elizabeth Neale in May and Jame’s brother Robert died in Deniliquin in June.

In the 1881 census, Mary Ann is living with her 84-year-old mother Christian Miller, in the family home in Dundas St., Comrie.  Also living there was her 42-year-old brother David Miller, still carrying on the shoemaking business.  Also living there, is Mary Ann’s 20-year-old niece Margaret Carmichael and 23-year-old nephew, John McDonald.  Both were children of two of Mary Ann’s sisters.  It is likely Margaret is there to care for her very old grandmother and John because he is working as a postman for his uncle James Miller, the postmaster.

James’s mother, Mary Crawford (nee Gibson) died in Magherafelt just four weeks after her husband Robert . His brother John Hamilton Crawford would only have just been released from prison after serving ten years for killing the family maid.  James, Mary Ann, James jnr. and John Hamilton would have moved into the family home near The Diamond in Magherafelt.  Mary Ann then wrote to her brother George Miller who was the schoolmaster at Alnmouth, and arranged for James jnr. to complete his schooling there.  They had sent him to the newly established Maryborough Grammar School for 1 ½ years until it closed due to lack of funding, and he needed to matriculate in order to attend Edinburgh University.

James Crawford completed his final two years of school at Alnmouth in 1875-1877.  He attended Edinburgh University to study to become a schoolmaster, graduating with a MA in 1885. 

There are no records of James Crawford, or the sons James jnr. and John Hamilton in any of the English or Scottish census records for 1881.  It is therefore likely that James and John Hamilton were in Magherafelt in April when the census was taken.  John Hamilton would have been fourteen years old at that time.  With the Irish census records lost, we cannot ever know for sure.  James jnr. would have been at Edinburgh University, however we cannot find any census records for him. He would have been 22 years old at the time and perhaps visiting his father in Ireland.

Mary Ann reappears in the late 1880’s living with her son James who was a teacher at Duffus, near Elgin. In the 1891 census she is recorded as “married” and living with James jnr. in the schoolhouse at Hopeman, just another couple of kilometers away.  On James jnrs. marriage certificate in 1893, she is widowed.  The assumption is that James Crawford remained in Ireland, and died somewhere between 1891 and 1893.  Then again, he could have returned to Victoria and joined his son Robert’s family at Kerang.  His other son John Hamilton Crawford, when at Edinburgh University in the late 1880’s, recorded his home address as being “Kerang”.  Why give his brothers address as his home address, unless his father was there as well?  Unfortunately, he doesn’t appear on any shipping records, so highly unlikely.  Perhaps John Hamilton Crawford just liked the idea of an exotic address.

What an amazing life Mary Ann had.  Her first 22 years in Scotland, the next 23 in a very foreign environment and then another 20 years back in a very different Scotland to the one she had left. 

In 1893, Mary Ann’s brother James Miller died.  He left an estate of £744.13.00 and made his brother George the executor.  The family believe that Mary Ann received around L100, and when she died two years later, her estate was valued at £90.00.  She died in a home in Elgin, the town from which her parents-in-law, Robert and Mary Crawford had left for Ireland 73 years earlier.  It’s probably why my father always regarded Elgin as home, more in memory of his Great Grandmother than his GGGgrandparents.

Submitted: May 11, 2020

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