Friday, 8 November 2013

Mary Jane ANNETT c1835-1869

Born in c1835, the first of seven children to William ANNETT and Mary RODGERS. Research supports Mary Janes mother was born in the Catholic faith about 1803 in Dublin, Ireland. Her father born c1808 to James and Elizabeth nee ?SHEPHERD was a farm labourer Kent, England and of Church of England faith.

There is some confusion as to whether Mary Jane was born at Sevenoaks, Kent, ENGLAND (as were all her siblings), IRELAND (1841 census) or Halifax, Nova Scotia, CANADA (1851 census)... to date I have been unable to substantiate or locate any records of her parents marriage, her birth, or documentation pertaining to her travel as an infant.

If born overseas,Mary Jane had returned to her fathers home at Seven Oaks in Kent, ENGLAND before the birth of her first brother in 1838.

By the 1850s revolutions in agriculture and industrial practice had caused great changes in the lives of village folk and many landless farm workers flocked to the large towns and cities.

Meanwhile in Australia, there was an acute shortage of labour caused by the gold rushes which began in 1851. The incentive of assisted passage was offered to emigrants of good character whose skills were needed in the colony. This no doubt had a bearing on the decision of the ANNETT family to emigrate.

At age 16, Mary Jane emigrated aboard the "Priam' as a single woman along with her parents and siblings but on a separate document, she is recorded as a housemaid who could read and write. The Priam departed from Plymouth, England on the 21 May 1852 and arrived 3 months and 4 days later at Portland, Victoria, Australia on 25 August.

At disembarkation Mary Jane went with her parents, who had been allocated a round tent, and camped in that until accommodation was found. Her brother Henry recalled this experience remembering seeing as many as 200 aborigines taking part in a corroboree at Wattle Tree Hill, near Portland.

Upon reaching the new country, Mary Janes father aged 49 years joined the Police Force on the 01 September 1852, but by 1855 he had been found 'Drunk on Duty' on three occasions and was dishonorably discharged.

When 18 years old Mary Jane was married on 09 March1853 to Charles WIGGINS, son of John Wiggins and Sarah Hodges. The Marriage was held in the Presbyterian Denomination in the Portland Parish and recorded in the Pioneer Index file no. 3154.

There is no known issue.

Two years and eight months later aged 20, she married Johannes Barends GROENEVELD son of Barends Hendriks Groeneveld and Catharina SIMMERMANS, at the home of William ANNETT (father), at Portland, Victoria on 17 November 1855.

As Charles did not die until June 1901, it can be assumed that Mary Janes marriage to Johannes was either after an annulment or bigamous. I am unable to substantiate either at this time. Provision for divorce in Victoria was not introduced until 1861.

It is worthy to note here the verbal history, albeit forth-hand and four generations further on , that mentions the idea that Mary Jane was a barmaid or dancer when Johannes rode into town from the goldfields one day. A fellow worker commented to Mary Jane about the handsome gold miner, to which Mary Jane replied 'keep your eyes/hands off him, he's mine' as he was until her untimely death.

Eleven months after their marriage and while Johannes was seeking their fortune in gold, Mary Jane gave birth to their first child Johannes at the Armstrong Diggings, Mt Ararat, on 27 December 1856. Mary followed in 1858 at Belfast (renamed Port Fairy), Victoria, and Caterina at Warnambool, Victoria in 1860.

Perhaps it was the primitive conditions in which they were raising 3 small children, the thrill of a new goldrush, or simply the promise of a better life in a new country... but by the time the youngest child was a year old, Johannes and Mary Jane again emigrated... this time to New Zealand.

Johannes preceded Mary Jane by three months arriving at Port Chalmers, North Otago on either the 'Mary Anne Wilson' or the 'Aldinga'. He traveled on to and settled at Oamaru, a fast developinging South Island harbour town, where he arrange accommodation for his family. Mary Jane and Johannes lived here the remainder of their days.

Mary Jane traveled aboard the 'Mary E Ray' to Port Chalmers, Otago, New Zealand in March 1862 with her 2 oldest children. Another Mrs Greenfield had traveled to Port Chalmers two weeks earlier aboard the 'Blue Jacket' with a 1 year old infant, I suspect it was Mary Janes sister Frances traveling with the youngest child but to date I have been unable to substantiate this.

Mary Janes brother, Henry ANNETT (aged 30 years) also traveled to Port Chalmers on the same voyage as Mary Jane.

Within 14 months of arriving in the new country, on 20 May 1863, Mary Jane gave birth to her third daughter Fanny undoubtedly named for and in appreciation of her younger sister. Sadly this child survived only one week and succumbed to "inflammation of the lungs".

Jane was born 14 months later on 10 July 1864 and baptised at the local Oamaru Church 'St Lukes'.

A second son, Henry, was born at Oamaru 31 March 1867.

Her final child, Eveline was born on 16 February 1869 also in Oamaru.

DEATH NOTICE IN THE OAMARU TIMES. 24 Sept 1869

On 22nd September, Mary Jane Annett, Beloved wife of John Greenfield, aged 34 years.

The funeral will leave her late residence, Wharfe Street tomorrow (Saturday), at 2 O'clock.

M Grenfell, Undertaker.

Mary Jane died of "Phthisis and weakness" on 22 September 1869 in Oamaru aged only 34 years.

She left a legacy of seven children; Joseph (Johannes Junior) aged 13 years, Mary aged 11 years, Caterina aged 9 years, Fanny (deceased), Janes aged 5 years, Henry aged 2 years, and Evelyn aged only 7 months.

The funeral left the family home in Wharfe Street and traveled to the Oamaru Cemetery. Mary Jane is buried at Block 9 Section 22.

Her final resting place is marked with a significant oamaru stone headstone bearing the inscription:



In loving memory of Mary Jane ANNETT


beloved wife of John GREENFIELD

who departed this life 22 September 1869 aged 34 years.

"Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord"

John is also buried with his wife but only her name appears on the headstone.

Only three of Mary Janes children would survive to produce descendants.

It was only once I traced Mary Jane back to Victoria that any light was shed on what had become of her for fellow researchers, to date I have been unsuccessful in all attempts to find any further information on her sister Frances in either Australia or New Zealand.

Mary Janes male siblings became founding families of the area of settlement in Australia and quite prominent and well documented members of society.