The infamous Mary Molly Morgan

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The infamous Mary Molly Morgan

Compiled by Jude Conway

Molly Morgan was not the typical Novocastrian female convict.

To quote an article from Bowral’s Southern Highland News in 2015

“Should Hollywood ever contemplate a blockbuster about the more-colourful women from our wild colonial past, it would need to look no further than the tale of Molly Morgan.”[i]

OR

Mike Scanlon from the Newcastle Herald in 2010

‘Her story reads like pulp fiction; a wild, wanton woman with a string of grog shops and known for her sexual exploits … an angel of mercy, although marrying three times … and being transported to Australia twice as a convict.[ii]

 

The beginning

Molly was born in a cottage in the small village of Corfton in the west midlands of England in January 1762, the daughter of a humble farm labourer cum fox catcher. (Was this how she learn’t to be wily?) She was baptised Mary Jones.

Molly Morgan’s birthplace of Corfton in England
Molly Morgan’s birthplace of Corfton in England

Because she could write and do needlework historians assume that she must have attended school, but compulsory education was not enforced in England until 1880 so she may have gone to a local school, or learnt from her mother.

Child I

When Molly was sweet 16 she was asked to look after a child aged 3 and a baby who were the children of a recently widowed neighbouring farmer. When she was 21 she had her own baby out of wedlock, who was baptised Mary. A father was not registered, not unusual at the time, but was rumoured to be the widower. Molly did not apply for ‘poor relief’ which suggests she was receiving money from someone.

 

Marriage I

In 1785 Molly married William Morgan a wheelwright and carpenter, in nearby Diddlebury church. Unlike 60% of brides & grooms at the time, she signed her name on the marriage register.

Copy of Molly and William Morgan’s marriage certificate - ( Walter Allan Wood Research Papers, A6632, University of Newcastle Cultural Collections)
Copy of Molly and William Morgan’s marriage certificate – ( Walter Allan Wood Research Papers, A6632, University of Newcastle Cultural Collections)

 

Molly's signature on marriage certificate - ( Walter Allan Wood Research Papers, A6632, University of Newcastle Cultural Collections)
Molly’s signature on marriage certificate – ( Walter Allan Wood Research Papers, A6632, University of Newcastle Cultural Collections)

 

Molly, William and little Mary lived with Molly’s parents at Corfton. The following year a son James was born and the Morgans moved 10 km to the (now deserted) village of Cold Weston.

Cold Weston
Cold Weston

 

Crime & Punishment I

1789 was a pivotal year in Molly’s life.

Valuable clippings of hemp yarn laid out in a Corfton bleaching yard disappeared.

Whether because Molly and William had past transgressions or it was known they had visited her parents, a warrant was issued to search the Morgan house. The clippings were found and both were arrested. William managed to escape and fled the district.

The police locked up Molly overnight in a room in the local tavern. She was so distressed that she cut her own throat.

(Did she have her sewing scissors with her, or break a piece of crockery to use?)

She was discovered in time and sewn up by a surgeon.

When sufficiently recovered she was taken 30km north to Shrewsbury Gaol.

Presumably neighbours or relatives were caring for the children, six year-old Mary and three year-old James.[iii]

Molly was in the dock in August 1789 tried for stealing 38 clippings of yarn.

They were worth £4, which made it a capital crime and she was found guilty and sentenced to death. Of course there would be no Molly Morgan saga if her death sentence was not transmuted to transportation to the new penal colony of New South Wales for 14 years. The colony had an imbalance of males to females of 8 to 1, so the authorities were making efforts to transport more women.[iv]

 

Transportation I

Molly Morgan’s misfortunes continued when she was placed on the infamous Neptune

Which sailed in the second fleet from Portsmouth with about 420 male and 78 female convicts on 19 January 1790.[v] It was around her 28th birthday.

To make the best profit possible from the £17 fare paid for each convict, the Captain of the Neptune, ‘one of the monsters of naval history’ cut the convicts’ rations to an appallingly low level. The prisoners were locked in irons in the crowded, stinking, unsanitary holds for the entire voyage. Fever, scurvy and starvation were rife.[vi]

Neptune https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Fleet_%28Australia%29#/media/File:Convict_ship_Neptune00.jpg
Neptune (Source: Wikipedia)

The soldiers on the Neptune included Lieutenant John MacArthur along with his wife Elizabeth, of merino sheep fame. On the ship’s arrival at Cape Town Elizabeth MacArthur requested a transfer to another ship as she could not bear the moans and the stench of the female convicts packed in the room next to their cabin. The MacArthurs were relocated to the Scarborough.[vii]

 

New South Wales

By the time the ‘hell ship’ reached Port Jackson on 28 June 1790, 158 convicts, that is nearly one in three, had died. Three-quarters of the survivors needed to be hospitalised and many of them died. Only 75 convicts disembarked needing no medical assistance. The Neptune had the highest mortality rate of all convict ships to sail to Australia. Molly’s condition on arrival is fodder for lurid storytellers who cast her in the mode of seductress. With no proof that I have found, they write that when Molly stepped ashore in old Sydney Town, she was fit and healthy because the soldiers had plied her with rations for her favours. The best looking convict women were known to be shared amongst the officers when being transported to NSW, so there could be some truth in the accusation. The female convicts on the Neptune were not kept in chains and were able walk on the decks so their conditions were not as horrifying as the men’s, though still 11 out of 78 females died on the voyage. [viii]

 

Sydney Cove c1790 http://imgc.allpostersimages.com/images/P-473-488-90/72/7205/Z9FN100Z/posters/cci-archives-sydney-cove-australia-circa-1790.jpg
Sydney Cove c1790
http://imgc.allpostersimages.com/images/P-473-488-90/72/7205/Z9FN100Z/posters/cci-archives-sydney-cove-australia-circa-1790.jpg

 

Molly was taken to Parramatta where life was still difficult for both the military and the transportees as food was in short supply. With the shortage of women also, Molly probably had no lack of male ‘friends’ before her husband William unexpectedly made his way to Sydney as a free settler. What was she thinking when she saw him? Angry that he had run off and left her to face the music alone? She lived with William for a couple of years, and they possibly kept a shop in Parramatta. [ix]

 

Escape

On 9th November 1794 the authorities realised that three prisoners were missing, John and Mary Randall and Molly Morgan. (Molly and Mary had been transported together on the Neptune). Search parties were sent out to the two ships in anchored in the harbour. Captain Locke of the whaler Resolution ordered the soldiers off and set sail the next day, with the missing prisoners aboard. [x] Had Molly used her charms to persuade Locke to smuggle her home to England as is usually suggested? Possibly the three of them had bribed Captain Locke.

 

England

On arriving back in England Molly made her way straight to her children – Mary was now aged about 12 years and James about 9. Molly gathered them up and took them to live with her in London.[xi]

 

Back in the colony in June 1796 a fishing boat was wrecked near Port Stephens.

The crew managed to reach shore and Worimi Aborigines guided them overland towards Broken Bay. The Worimi made the fishermen understand that they had seen a white woman with some natives in the area. It was assumed to be Molly who had craftily talked about going bush before her disappearance. A search party rowed up the northern arm of Broken Bay and beyond, without catching sight of her.[xii]

 

“Nor could they very well have seen or heard anything of her” wrote former colonial Judge David Collins “for at the time … she was leading a life in London, which she most certainly preferred to the society of either the black or white people” in NSW.[xiii]

 

The enterprising Molly moved to Plymouth, set up her own dressmaking business and found herself a middle-class business man.

 

Marriage II

In November 1797 aged 35, she married the respectable Thomas Mears the owner of a bell-foundry, presumably not telling him that she had a husband back in Sydney. [xiv]

 

Before long there were disputes between the now-named Molly Mears and her new husband. An apprentice at the bell-foundry reckoned that Molly was suspected of setting fire to her husband’s house. Her son James went back to his relatives before running away to join the royal marines. No research has pinpointed what happened to the daughter.

Molly scarpered back to London.[xv]

 

Crime and punishment II

Molly could not keep out of trouble, perhaps she left Plymouth with few possessions or else her nature was that she took what she desired. On 20 September 1803 a respectable widow reported that she had found her petticoat and napkin in Molly’s possession. A stolen handkerchief was also found in Molly’s room. She pleaded not guilty but in October Molly, under her current legal name of Mary Mears, was convicted of a felony and sentenced to be transported to NSW for 7 years.[xvi]

 

Transportation II

Molly was among the 136 female and two male convicts packed into the ship Experiment.

Their conduct appalled an English publication which spat out

These abandoned unfortunate wretches are allowed to walk the decks, where they parade, dressed in all the finery of their former depredations; and their behaviour is so shamefully indecent, and their conversation so abominably gross, that neither the settlers’ wives nor daughters, can have the benefit of the air without hearing their shocking language.[xvii]

It seems that Molly was not in the company of ‘ladies’.

Experiment sailed on 4 December and once again the voyage was eventful. A storm In the Bay of Biscay broke the ship’s main mast and it had to return to England for repairs. It sailed again on 2 January 1804. After encountering favourable weather, Experiment with Molly arrived safely at Port Jackson on 24 June 1804.[xviii]

What was she thinking as the ship sailed through Sydney Heads?

 

New South Wales II

Along with the majority of the convict women she was sent up the river to the Parramatta Female Factory which at the time was the top floor of the male prison. The women were employed spinning wool, sewing clothes and washing.[xix]

Image 6. A view of Parramatta Port Jackson 1809 by J. W Lewin Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW http://www.migrationheritage.nsw.gov.au/cms/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/parra2.jpg
Image 6. A view of Parramatta Port Jackson 1809 by J. W Lewin
Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW
http://www.migrationheritage.nsw.gov.au/cms/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/parra2.jpg

 

The 1806 Muster records Molly as working at the Factory.[xx]

She was recognised as Molly Morgan but nothing was done about her absconding or her bigamy. Her lawful husband William had settled down with a new family. Molly acquired a man friend, described by some historians as a ‘protector’ who was possibly a soldier with Parramatta garrison and she became virtually a free agent – given land near Parramatta and a few cattle. Her farm flourished.[xxi]

 

Crime III

Until 1814 when it was discovered that Molly was increasing her herd by branding Government cattle as her own.[xxii]

Her protector was not powerful enough to prevent her being tried at the Criminal Court – 2nd April. A cow was led to the court house door as evidence and she was found guilty and sentenced to 7 years transportation to Newcastle.[xxiii]

 

Transportation III

Molly was packed onto the Endeavour to sail to Newcastle penal camp a “hell hole of brutality” for second offenders, or in convict jargon “double distilled”. [xxiv]

Molly must have been a highly concentrated brew.

The convict women in Newcastle were provided with no official accommodation until barracks were built in 1819, so they had to share huts scattered along the beach with the male convicts.[xxv] Molly, however even now at age 53, had not lost her popularity with men and was invited to take up residence with an officer.[xxvi]

I am wondering if one reason that Molly may have stood out from other women was that as an experienced seamstress she may have been able to improve her clothes to a better standard than the other female convicts, some of who would have been dressed in rags.

Image 7. Joseph Lycett’s ‘Newcastle, New South Wales, looking towards Prospect Hill’ c.1816-1818. https://downloads.newcastle.edu.au/library/cultural%20collections/images/Lycett1816detail3.jpg
Image 7. Joseph Lycett’s ‘Newcastle, New South Wales, looking towards Prospect Hill’ c.1816-1818. https://downloads.newcastle.edu.au/library/cultural%20collections/images/Lycett1816detail3.jpg

Land I

In 1818 Molly Morgan’s fortunes turned.

She was one of 11 well-behaved convicts given tickets-of-leave by Governor Macquarie under his policy of reforming sinners and sent to establish a settlement at Wallis Plains.

They were given a few acres of land along the banks of the Hunter River to farm.[xxvii]

She was the only female of this group to receive land in her own right, though not the only woman at Wallis Plains. There were several wives, as well as female convicts assigned as domestics and dairy women.[xxviii]

Molly’s farm was outermost in the settlement on a peninsula of land called Horseshoe Bend which came to be known as Molly Morgan’s Bend. With the help of a few assigned convicts she cleared and cultivated the land and built a cottage. She grazed cattle on unallocated land and became a successful small farmer.[xxix] Not without challenges, for example in 1820 John Eckford recalled ‘floodwaters reaching the window sills of her cabin’.[xxx] While facing the obstacles of being a new settler, Molly built up a reputation as a woman who could ‘ride, shoot, build fences, dig drains and construct dams better than any man’.[xxxi]

Image 8. Map from Bound for Wallis Plains: Maitland’s convict settlers by Cynthia Hunter, page 21, shading added. Blue shaded block number 11 was molly’s first allocation, the pink block number 12 was what she was reallocated in an 1823 survey.
Image 8. Map from Bound for Wallis Plains: Maitland’s convict settlers by Cynthia Hunter, page 21, shading added. Blue shaded block number 11 was molly’s first allocation, the pink block number 12 was what she was reallocated in an 1823 survey.

 

Molly allowed many new arrivals to squat on her land, rarely asking for rent. Many of the huts they lived in were hers and many of the residents reputedly owed their survival to her generosity in the ‘trying seasons’ in the 1820s.[xxxii]

 

Wine shanty

‘The ships that brought the first newcomers also brought alcohol and spirits even though this was contrary to government orders.’[xxxiii]

The stories are that she set up a ‘wine’ shanty at Molly Morgan’s Bend, where river navigation from Newcastle terminated, and with Molly welcoming newcomers onto her land she may have traded a place to stay for some hard to get liquor. The shanty was believed to be profitable as Molly “welcomed weary waterborne” travellers which could explain why she became so well-known and Wallis Plains was colloquially called Molly Morgan’s Plains.[xxxiv]

Image 9. ‘The Life and Legend of Molly Morgan’ by Dudley Lewis, from the exhibition Telling Tales: Hunter history told through simple stories and perfect pictures at the Newcastle Library Lovett Gallery, 14 August-30 September 2014
Image 9. ‘The Life and Legend of Molly Morgan’ by Dudley Lewis, from the exhibition Telling Tales: Hunter history told through simple stories and perfect pictures at the Newcastle Library Lovett Gallery, 14 August-30 September 2014

 

Many words have been written about Molly Morgan’s love of rum, both drinking and selling (which Mitchell declares ‘were probably normal for the times’); and her voluptuous dancing on the bar.[xxxv]

She was approaching sixty years of age by the time she ran her wine shanty so the dancing seems unlikely though not impossible as there was still a great shortage of women in the valley and I do recall that the great ballerina Margot Fonteyn did not retire until she was 61!

 

Marriage III

Molly knew that to be granted title to her land she was required to be a ‘married woman’.

Despite already being a bigamist, she received permission from the authorities to marry and on 5 March 1822 at Christ Church Newcastle she tied the knot with Thomas ‘Joe’ Hunt, one of her assigned convict servants and over thirty years younger. [xxxvi] Legally she was now Mary Hunt but she was still known as Molly Morgan. People often called her husband Joe Morgan. [xxxvii]

 

In February 1823 when Henry Dangar surveyed the Wallis Plains farms Molly occupied and had cultivated 35 acres and the improvements on her farm were valued at:

Frame wattle and plaster cottage £10, stockyard fence £5, fenced garden, peach orchard and huts and skillions £5. Dangar resumed the Horseshoe Bend land for another convict (Patrick Maloney) but marked out 159 acres nearby for Mary, with good frontage to the river (see block 12 on above map).[xxxviii] In November 1823 Governor Brisbane authorised her lease of the 159 acres and allocated her a convict clearing gang.[xxxix] One story is that the convicts assigned to Molly were particularly productive because Molly supplied them liquor as a bonus for hard work. This was illegal, but Molly had no trouble with the authorities.[xl]

 

Aboriginal contact

Molly Morgan and her fellow farmers would have had frequent contact with the local Aboriginal people and undoubtedly there was some conflict. However at least one contemporary observer considered ‘to these emancipated settlers we are indebted for the obliging disposition of the aborigines in that part of the country.’[xli] A good working relationship between the Morgans and the original occupiers of the land is suggested by historian Mark Dunn. He describes how in 1823 Robert and Helenus Scott hired a horse from a Wallis Plains settler named Morgan who also sent an Aboriginal guide to facilitate the Scotts’ search for good land. As Dunn notes ‘The best known Morgan at Wallis Plains … was Molly Morgan’, so he presumes it may have been her husband Joe using the name of Morgan, and acting as ‘a go-between for newly arrived colonists’ and Aboriginal guides.[xlii]

 

The Angel Inn

After the Newcastle penal camp had been shifted to Port Macquarie by 1824 the rich, alluvial floodplains of the Lower Hunter Valley were rapidly settled.[xliii] The authorities decided it was time to allow licensed drinking places in the valley.[xliv] Molly began to build a substantial inn of iron bark slabs and bark roof for the accommodation of the more respectable settlers, to be called the Angel Inn.[xlv]

Image 10. Time Gentlemen please! Maitland’s hotels past and present by Cynthia Hunter and W. Ranald Boydell’s page 12
Image 10. Time Gentlemen please! Maitland’s hotels past and present by Cynthia Hunter and W. Ranald Boydell’s page 12

 

In his book Wild Colonial Boys Frank Clune wrote that Molly Morgan opened the Angel Inn in 1826. He described her as ‘a lady with a pub and a past, the much-travelled and much-married pioneer settler of the town’ and envisaged her at the jetty in conversation with a lieutenant, when an assigned convict (father-to-be of bushranger Ben Hall) was landed on his way to a valley estate in 1827.[xlvi]

 

An old pioneer of the district recalled in the late 19th century that his father had quelled a disturbance in Molly Morgan’s public house so she offered to hand over her land to him for a hogshead of rum (250 litre barrel of rum). The father declined to have any business dealings with the woman he labelled an old virago.[xlvii]

 

Molly was never registered as the innkeeper of the Angel Inn. She had applied for a licence to sell spirits in 1827 stating that she and her husband were the first people to open a licensed house for the accommodation of gentlemen and travellers in Wallis Plains.

Persons of authority (including Justices of the Peace) testified to having known her for some years and that she had industrious habits.[xlviii]

So if she did like a rum or two, she could handle her liquor.

 

The track that ran through Molly’s new land became the main street of the future town of Maitland, and portions along the river and the track were in demand by people wanting to establish stores and inns.[il] Pioneer Samuel Clift thought Molly was a wonderful settler who subdivided portions of her farm to open up a long length of what is now High Street, for commercial growth. Clift said that she had traded land for hogsheads of rum just as others had done, because rum was recognised as a means of barter.[l]

 

Land II

Molly Morgan’s farm had been productive for crops and cattle but in 1825 Molly was affluent enough to write to the colonial secretary to say her land was not large enough for her stock of 303 head of horned cattle, 18 horses including 8 brood mares, and 100 sheep. She asked to be allowed purchase more land so she could increase her stock holdings.[li]

Image 11. Map from Bound for Wallis Plains: Maitland’s convict settlers by Cynthia Hunter page 57, shading added.
Image 11. Map from Bound for Wallis Plains: Maitland’s convict settlers by Cynthia Hunter page 57, shading added.

 

Granted permission she sought land on the outskirts of Maitland suitable for raising cattle.

In the Allandale-Greta area, she found 203 acres traversed by Anvil Creek.[lii] It included ‘a range of hills fringed by tall timber and slashed through by swiftly running streams’.[liii] The range is still known as Molly Morgan Ridge and a nearby summit Mount Molly Morgan.

Respectability

In 1826 Molly Morgan’s name was among the signatories of ‘wealthy and articulate settlers of the Hunter Valley’ on a petition urging the colonial government to extend the Great North Road into the valley.[liv] Molly was becoming respectable.

 

The Australian, 23 January 1828, named her as one of the largest landholders on the Hunter River. The census of 1828 indicates the complexity of her enterprises. Molly and Joe were listed as cattle holders and tanners residing on their Wallis Plains land along with 20 other people in huts on the property: Two assigned convicts, ten with completed sentences, two had conditional pardons and two tickets-of-leave. Their occupations were stockman, labourer, dairyman, blacksmith, shoemaker servant and groom ‘suggesting an effectively run farm’. Also living in her the house were a 36-year old female transportee, an 8 year old native born ‘currency lad’. As well Molly’s staff included a 40-year old blind servant, also a transportee. The composition of her household suggests loyalty between her and her former convict employees.[lv]

 

After 1828 Joe and Molly moved their entire establishment to the Anvil creek property and called it “Molly Morgan’s agricultural and dairy farm”.[lvi] The road to Singleton became known as Molly Morgan’s line of road.[lvii]

 

In 1830 Charles Boydell, from a well-respected Hunter Valley settler family, wrote in his journal: ‘We came to Mrs Hunt’s, alias Molly Morgan, the owner of our borrowed gig.

We left after partaking some excellent bread, cheese and porter for which the good lady would accept no remuneration.’[lviii] This anecdote is another example to Molly’s good relations at least with the free male settlers.

 

Generosity

Many acts of Molly’s generosity have been recorded.

She often rode many miles to bring comfort to sick settlers.

She built a rough-and-ready hospital on her land where she treated sick men personally – usually with quaffs of medicinal rum.[lix]

When land cost 5-shillings an acre, she gave a whopping £100 towards the building of a church school for the young generation of Wallis Plains.[lx]

Unlike many other landholders who viciously abused their assigned convicts, Molly had a special interest in their welfare e.g. in the 1820s she is reputed to have ridden to Sydney, several days ride along a bush track, to intercede with the governor for convicts bound for the gallows. She was in her 60s.[lxi]

 

Last years & death

Molly’s wealth started ebbing away and she had to sell off or mortgage her holdings, a necessity at the time as finance was ‘hard to raise’.[lxii] The Reverend J. D. Lang had noted that in 1830 ‘Interest rates ranged as high as 20%’.[lxiii]

 

By now she was a little old woman with an age-stooped back and nodding head,

but still with impressive gestures, ready wit, ever-ready advice and capable of soundly berating those who annoyed her. [lxiv] The Sydney Monitor reported in 1833 that bushrangers robbed Molly of two of her ‘good’ horses and when the police finally arrived the following day the outraged Molly told them that they had taken so long, the horses would most probably be ‘four or five score miles distant’ in any direction by then.[lxv]

 

In 1835, the last year of her life, the balance of her property slipped into the ‘quagmire of mortgage’.[lxvi] On June 26, “Old Molly Morgan”, aged 73, died in her Anvil Creek home

She was buried on the property. Her obituary in the Sydney press expressed regret that her latter days were not those of enjoyment of the comforts of life to which she was entitled from the numerous acts of kindness she had evinced to all around her.[lxvii] After Molly’s death, Joe Hunt ended his days as a servant. He was thrown from a cart and killed while driving down a hill in Maitland.[lxviii]

 

Immortality

Molly Morgan stood out as a colourful and remarkable personality at a time when the majority of women remained in the background. And she has not been forgotten.

There have been and still are numerous newspaper articles about Molly. Stories of her loves and drinking and adventures abounded, for example

* Truth newspaper article in 1951

 

Image 12. Frank Driscoll, ‘Molly Morgan … Queen of the Hunter Valley’, Truth, 14 January 1951, 31. Read the Complete Article in TROVE
Image 12. Frank Driscoll, ‘Molly Morgan … Queen of the Hunter Valley’, Truth, 14 January 1951, 31. Read the Complete Article in TROVE

* Peter FitzSimons wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald in 2009, about ‘the unconquerable, the unkillable spirit of Molly Morgan’.[lxix]

Her memory has also been ‘immortalised’ by Molly Morgan Drive in Maitland and a winery, a homestead and a Motor Inn. As David Ellis from the Southern Highland News wrote in 2015 “For someone who enjoyed the pleasures of the bar and the bedroom as much as she did, Molly would doubtless get a kick from knowing that both a winery and a motel in the Hunter Valley are named after her.”[lxx]

There have been two musicals, both performed in Newcastle

Image 13. Choice Ladies: From Molly Morgan to Joy Cummings by the Playhouse Theatre Company, performed at the Civic Playhouse as part of the Newcastle Women & Arts Festival October 1982
Image 13. Choice Ladies: From Molly Morgan to Joy Cummings by the Playhouse Theatre Company, performed at the Civic Playhouse as part of the Newcastle Women & Arts Festival October 1982

 

Image 14. Mission Molly Morgan with Kris McQuade and the Castanets, presented by the Hunter Valley theatre Company 9 November – 10 December 1983 https://i.ytimg.com/vi/EHHHxNeFLRQ/maxresdefault.jpg
Image 14. Mission Molly Morgan with Kris McQuade and the Castanets, presented by the Hunter Valley theatre Company 9 November – 10 December 1983
https://i.ytimg.com/vi/EHHHxNeFLRQ/maxresdefault.jpg

 

‘You’ll see romance you’ll see joy, you’ll see suffering, you’ll see thrills, you’ll see adventure …’[lxxi]

And historians like me are still writing awe-struck articles about the marvellous multi-faceted much-described Molly Morgan.

Jude Conway
28 September 2016


[i] David Ellis, ‘Molly Morgan: Convict to “Queen”’, Southern Highland News, 30 June 2015, http://www.southernhighlandnews.com.au/story/3179651/molly-morgan-convict-to-queen/

[ii] Mike Scanlon, ‘Not so wild colonial girl’, Newcastle Herald (NH), 27 February 2010, 10.

[iii] All the early information from F. Mitchell, Molly Morgan: Convict to Queen, London: Orphans Press, 1980, 3-6.

[iv] Mitchell, Molly Morgan, 7; ‘Convict Women of Newcastle’, Newcastle Morning Herald (NMH), 3 February 1963, 7.

[v] R.J. Ryan (ed.), The Second Fleet Convicts, Sydney: Australian Documents Library, 1982, xiv.

[vi] Chrys Russell, ‘Charming Molly: a convict survivor’, The Age, 27 December 1988, 46; Harry Boyle, ‘Some Women in Hunter Valley History: Molly Morgan’ April 1986, Raymond Terrace Historical Society Journal, 13.

[vii] Boyle, ‘Some Women in Hunter Valley History’, 13.

[viii] Ibid; Elizabeth Guilford, ‘Molly Morgan nee Jones (1762-1835)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/morgan-molly-2480; Mitchell, Molly Morgan, 10; Michael Flynn, The Second Fleet: Britain’s Grim Convict Armada of 1790, Sydney: Library of Australian History, 2001; Russell, ‘Charming Molly’; Legend Of Molly Morgan, http://www.mollymorganmi.com.au/Legend-Molly-Morgan.htm.

[ix] Guilford, ‘Molly Morgan nee Jones (1762-1835)’; W. Allan Wood, Dawn in the Valley, Sydney: Wentworth Books 1972; 10; Norm Barney, ‘No stopping Molly’, NH Saturday Magazine, 18 March 2000, 8.

[x] Guilford, ‘Molly Morgan nee Jones (1762-1835)’; Mitchell, Molly Morgan, 10; David Collins, An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Vol I, 1802, 332, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/12565/12565-h/12565-h.htm.

[xi] Mitchell, Molly Morgan, 11.

[xii] Wood, Dawn in the Valley, 7; Mitchell, Molly Morgan, 10.

[xiii] Wood, Dawn in the Valley, 7; David Collins, An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, edited 1804.

[xiv] Guilford, ‘Molly Morgan nee Jones (1762-1835)’; Barney, ‘No stopping Molly’.

[xv] Mitchell, Molly Morgan, 12; Carol Wood, ‘Morgan, Mary – Convict’, HistoryAustralia, http://www.historyaustralia.org.au/twconvic/tiki-index_p.php?page=5520.

[xvi] Mitchell, Molly Morgan, 12-13; Greg Ray, ‘Molly Morgan – Queen of the Hunter’ NH Supplement, 5 December 2005, 16-17.

[xvii] ‘Female Convict Links’, Free Settler or Felon, http://www.jenwilletts.com/female_convicts.htm

[xviii] Charles Bateson, the Convict Ships referenced in Jen Willetts ‘Free Settler or Felon’

[xix] ‘Convict Ship Experiment 1804’, http://www.jenwilletts.com/convict_ship_experiment_1804.htm

[xx] Carol Wood ‘Morgan, Mary – Convict’.

[xxi] Wood, Dawn in the Valley, 8; Mitchell, Molly Morgan, 13, Cynthia Hunter, Bound for Wallis Plains: Maitland’s convict settlers, 2012, 54; Carol Wood ‘Morgan, Mary – Convict’; Guilford, ‘Molly Morgan nee Jones (1762-1835)’; Russell, ‘Charming Molly’.

[xxii] Barney, ‘No stopping Molly’.

[xxiii] Wood, Dawn in the Valley, 8; Colonial Secretary’s Correspondence (NRS 937), 1814-1825 quoted by Free Settler or Felon; Boyle ‘Some Women in Hunter Valley History’, 12.

[xxiv] Colonial Shipping Index (CSI), 70025 in Free Settler or Felon http://www.jenwilletts.com/searchaction.php?page=1&ship=experiment%201804&firstname; Marilyn Hey, ‘Molly Morgan’ in Choice Ladies: from Molly Morgan to Joy Cummings, Playhouse Theatre Company, 1982, script (held by Newcastle Local Studies Library), 2; J.T. Turner, When Newcastle was Sydney’s Siberia, Newcastle: Hunter History Publications, 1980, 3.

[xxv] ‘Convict women of Newcastle’.

[xxvi] Wood, Dawn in the Valley, 8 referencing G. Gipps despatches 1843, A1231, 491-94.

[xxvii] Guilford , ‘Molly Morgan nee Jones (1762-1835)’; Wood, Dawn in the Valley, 4; Emma Swain, ‘Maitland, from Old Molly Morgan’s days …’ Maitland Mercury, 4 May 2012; Frank Clune, Wild Colonial Boys, Angus & Robertson, 1948, 17.

[xxiii] Hunter, Bound for Wallis Plains, 54.

[xxix] Wood, Dawn in the Valley, 6; Hunter, Bound for Wallis Plains, 54; Swain, ‘Maitland, from Old Molly Morgan’s days …’.

[xxx] ‘Molly Morgan: An Amazon Pioneer’ NMH, 17 August 1929, 3; Mitchell, Molly Morgan, 14.

[xxxi] Mitchell, Molly Morgan, 15; ‘Maitland Pioneer: Molly Morgan of Molly Morgan’s Plains’ Maitland Mercury, 8 August 1936, 5.

[xxxii] Ray, ‘Molly Morgan – Queen of the Hunter’; ‘Death’ The Australian, 3 July 1835, 3.

[xxxiii] Cynthia Hunter & W. Ranald Boydell, Time gentlemen please! Maitland’s hotels past and present, Maitland City Council, 2004.

[xxxiv] Guilford, ‘Molly Morgan nee Jones (1762-1835)’; Wood, Dawn in the Valley, 89; Ray, ‘Molly Morgan – Queen of the Hunter’.

[xxxv] ‘The Hunter River District Forty years Ago’, Maitland Mercury 13 June 1868, 2; ‘Molly Morgan: An Amazon Pioneer’; Mitchell, Molly Morgan, 15; Carol Wood, ‘Morgan, Mary – Convict’; Ellis, ‘Molly Morgan: Convict to “Queen”’; Hey, ‘Molly Morgan’; Ray, ‘Molly Morgan – Queen of the Hunter’.

[xxxvi] Hunter, Bound for Wallis Plains, 54; Wood, Dawn in the Valley, 28; ‘Christ Church Marriage Register Book 1818 – 1825’ referenced in Free Settler and Felon; Wood, Dawn in the Valley, 28; Ray, ‘Molly Morgan – Queen of the Hunter’; Ellis, ‘Molly Morgan: Convict to “Queen”’.

[xxxvii] ‘The Hunter River District Forty years Ago’.

[xxxviii] Mitchell, Molly Morgan, 14; Wood, Dawn in the Valley, 28, 89, 253; Hunter, Bound for Wallis Plains, 54.

[xxxix] Guilford, ‘Molly Morgan nee Jones (1762-1835)’.

[xl] Legend of Molly Morgan.

[xli] Letter from Gooyorah, Australian, 14 February 1827, 2.

[xlii] Mark Dunn, A Valley in a Valley: Colonial struggles over land and resources in the Hunter Valley’, NSW 1820–1850, PhD Thesis, University of NSW, 2015, 238-9 referencing Anonymous diary of a servant of the Scott Family, 8 August 1821-March 1824, ML, MSS 7808, 56.

[xliii] Mike Scanlon, ‘Pubs where women ruled’ NH, 16 May 2014, http://www.theherald.com.au/story/2286974/pubs-where-women-ruled-gallery/interactive/

[xliv] Hunter and Boydell, Time gentlemen please! 12.

[xlv] Guilford, ‘Molly Morgan nee Jones (1762-1835)’; ‘Maitland Show: Diamond Jubilee’, NMH, 26 February 1935, 9.

[xlvi] Clune, Wild Colonial Boys, 19.

[xlvii] ‘Death of Mr Roland Yeomans’, Maitland Mercury, 3 March 1905, 6.

[xlviii] Mitchell, Molly Morgan, 15; Scanlon, ‘Pubs where women ruled’.

[ixl] Hunter, Bound for Wallis Plains, 55; Carol Wood, ‘Morgan, Mary – Convict’.

[l] Hunter, Bound for Wallis Plains, 56.

[li] Wood, Dawn in the Valley, 89.

[lii] Hunter, Bound for Wallis Plains, 56.

[liii] ‘Work on Greta camp is going quickly’, NMH, 22 November 1939, 6; Scanlon, ‘Pubs where women ruled’.

[liv] Scanlon, ‘Not so wild colonial girl’; The Great North Road, http://greatnorthroad.com.au/about-the-trail/history-of-convict-trail/the-road-begins.

[lv] Hunter, Bound for Wallis Plains, 56; Wood, Dawn in the Valley, 251.

[lvi] Hunter, Bound for Wallis Plains, 56.

[lvii] Guilford, ‘Molly Morgan nee Jones (1762-1835)’.

[lviii] Quoted in Wood, Dawn in the Valley, 254.

[lix] ‘Maitland Pioneer’; Guilford, ‘Molly Morgan nee Jones (1762-1835)’; Ray, ‘Molly Morgan – Queen of the Hunter’ from an interview with Maitland historian Harry Boyle.

[lx] Letter from Gooyorah, Australian, 14 February 1827, 2; James Waddell, A History of St Peters Church East Maitland NSW, 1996, 5.

[lxi] Barney, ‘No stopping Molly’; Guilford, ‘Molly Morgan nee Jones (1762-1835)’; Mitchell, Molly Morgan, 15; Ray, ‘Molly Morgan – Queen of the Hunter’.

[lxii] Wood, Dawn in the Valley, 251, 253, 299; Guilford, ‘Molly Morgan nee Jones (1762-1835)’; Mitchell, Molly Morgan, 16; Ray, ‘Molly Morgan – Queen of the Hunter’.

[lxiii] Wood, Dawn in the Valley, 178.

[lxiv] ‘The Hunter River District Forty years Ago’; ‘Women of the Past: Molly Morgan: Historic Maitland Identity’ NMH, 1 February, 1938, 2.

[lxv] Sydney Monitor, 11 May 1833, 2.

[lxvi] Wood, Dawn in the Valley, 300.

[lxvii] Mitchell, Molly Morgan, 16; Ray, ‘Molly Morgan – Queen of the Hunter’; ‘Obituary’ The Australian 3 July 1835, 3.

[lxviii] ‘A pioneer’s reminiscences’ NMH, 25 April 1923, 6.

[lxix] Peter FitzSimons ‘Place in time’, Sydney Morning Herald, November 26, 2009.

[lxx] Legend of Molly Morgan; Ellis, ‘Molly Morgan: Convict to “Queen”’.

[lxxi] Script page, Mission Molly Morgan in ‘The Castanet Club’, Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=the%20castanet%20club


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