52 Ancestors #3 Mary Davey

Mary Davey (c1826 -1904), my greatMary to Me great grandmother, was the third of my direct ancestors to migrate to Australia. This makes her the third of my ‘boat people’.

Mary was one of 235 “assisted” immigrants on the barque “Elizabeth” which sailed from Plymouth on 11th April 1849 and arrived in Port Phillip on the 23rd July 1849.

The ‘Nominal List’ of the passengers on the “Elizabeth” listed her as Mary Davey; a nursemaid aged 23, from Truro, Cornwall. Her religious denomination was Independent, and she could both read and write.

Also on the ship were her brother Ebenezer Davey, aged 26, a carpenter, from Falmouth, Cornwall and his wife Mary (nee Holditch) who was listed as aged 28 from Cape. Both were of the Independent denomination and could read and write.

The ‘Disposal List’ added that Mary went to Melbourne with her brother Ebenezer Davey, and that he went to Melbourne, ‘disengaged at own request’.

The next record I have of Mary is her marriage to John Ferres in 1851.

Mary Davey and John Ferres - Marriage certificate 23rd January 1851
Mary Davey and John Ferres – Marriage certificate 23rd January 1851

We do solemnly declare that we hold communion with the Independent or Congregational denomination of Christians
John Ferres
Mary Davey

I Alexander Morrison Minister of the Independent Church of Melbourne hereby certify that John Ferres of Melbourne Widower, and Mary Davey of Melbourne Spinster were married by me on the 23d day of January 1851 in my residence Melbourne in the presence of Ebenezer Davey and William Walter Swinnerton and Eliza Cooper.

Witnesses { William Walter Swinnerton
                   { Eliza Cooper

Alexander Morrison

Eliza Cooper was John’s sister. Why Mary’s brother Ebenezer was crossed out, as a witness is a mystery to me, as is the identity of William Walter Swinnerton. A search of old newspapers via the Trove website reveals several people with the surname Swinnerton in Melbourne at the time. The closest I have been able to find are references to a William Wellington Swinnerton and a William H. Swinnerton, both listed as ‘printer’. Perhaps Mr. Swinnerton was a friend or fellow printer on the ‘Melbourne Morning Herald’ with John Ferres?

Where the new family lived at first is unclear (possibly St Kilda) but, once John was appointed Government Printer (Nov 1851), they lived in a succession of dwellings associated with the ever-expanding Government Printing Office.

Their growing family probably needed the extra space too! Mary and John had seven children: Robert (16 April 1852), John Davey (30 June 1854), Elizabeth (25 Dec 1855), William (9 Aug 1857 – 26 July 1859), Mary (4 Feb 1859), Arthur Wilton (1 Nov 1863) and Ebenezer (16 May 1865).

Mary’s parents, Ebenezer and Elizabeth Davey, together with her younger sister, Elizabeth, moved to Australia in 1853, in time for Robert’s first birthday.

After John’s retirement in 1887, they lived at 75 Oxley Rd, Hawthorn where, according to her death certificate, Mary died of ‘Bronchitis Asthenia’, aged 79, on the 15th August 1904. She was buried in the Melbourne General Cemetery 2 days later by the Independent minister Revd A. Gosman.


Questions and Ideas for Future Research
When and where was Mary born?
When and where were her parents married?
Where was she living for the 1841 Census?
Where did she live and work for her first two years in Melbourne?

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