Mary Ann Ray - mother of Catherine Peever

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Note: see also Clarke=Ray=Clarke , written later, and Mary Ann's Tattoo, which shows that Mary Ann Ray was Mary Ann Clarke.

New evidence has come to hand which indicates that Catherine Peever who married Thomas Beswick was not, as previously stated in chapter 4, the daughter of the convict Mary Ann Clarke who arrived on the "Garland Grove" in 1843 but of Mary Ann Ray (Clarke) who was transported on the "Emma Eugenia" in 1842.

STOP PRESS - In addition to what follows I have just discovered conclusive evidence that Mary Ann Clarke of the "Garland Grove" did not marry John Anderson, and cannot on those grounds be identified as the mother of Catherine Peever. She married James Miller at Longford in 1848. The crucial evidence came not from the marriage but from an index of convicts permissions to marry compiled and recently made available on the net by Jackie Brown [see ]. For once we were lucky for she happened to have done an index for the limited period 1845-50, which has CLARKE Mary Ann ** TL [ticket of leave] Garland Grove ** MILLER James ** FREE ** both residing in Longford ** November 1847. Note Longford, as we suspected. She was right there and could have been the one, but I was wrong. I should have checked further into all the original records of possible marriages and any permissions for marriages of Mary Ann Clark(e) and similar names, but there were so many and we thought we had it with the John Anderson marriage. Sorry for misleading everyone all these years.

The significance of the marriage information will be clear from what follows, and further necessary amendments will be made. Of course a remote possibility still remained that some other Mary Ann Clarke was Catherine's mother and married John Anderson, but I think it is clear from what follows that Catherine's mother was Mary Ann Ray, and the likelihood of her being known later and possibly earlier also as Mary Ann Clarke is increased by the marriage of the convict from the "Garland Grove" to someone other than John Anderson. DB 12 May 1999.

The following baptism has been found* in the register of the Catholic Church of the Apostles, Launceston, which was only recently lodged in the Tasmanian Archives:

When Baptised: 6 July 1845

When Born: 19 June 1845

Name: Catherine

Name and Surname of Father: Henry Pevor

Name and Maiden Surname of Mother: Mariane Ray, Extra Matri.

Residence of Parties: F. H. Correction

Name of God-Father and Mother: Catherine Mac

Officiating Minister: Thomas Butler.

There is a corresponding registration for the birth of an unnamed female child to Mary Ann Ray in the District of Launceston in 1845, which we had not found previously because the child was not named Catherine in the register, nor was the father named, and we had no reason to look for her mother's name as Ray:

When born:19 June

Name, if any: -

Sex: Female

Name and Surname of Father: -

Name and Maiden Surname of Mother: Mary Ann Ray, Female Convict

Signature, Description and Residence of Informant: A McLeod, Supt F. H Correction.

"F. H. Correction" was the Female House of Correction, Launceston, where her convict conduct record shows that Mary Ann Ray who arrived on the "Emma Eugenia" 9 April 1842 was resident several times. She was sentenced to transportation at Liverpool on 25 October 1841, for stealing a watch and other articles from the person, and she had several prior convictions. The record shows that she was aged 17 at the time of her trial and 18 upon arrival in Tasmania. At Liverpool she had been "2 or 3 years on the town", that is, a prostitute like many of the other women transported with her. The four convicts listed immediately before her name on the list for her ship had been "on the town" or "on and off the town" for 18 months to 6 years. Note that prostitution was not a crime, but the profession of pick pocket (stealing from the person) often went with it. She is also described as a "house and needle girl" and as "house and nurse girl". One record states her sentence as 15 years, but the conduct record which was kept current has 10 years written above another entry which is crossed out. She had a number of later convictions in Tasmania and was repeatedly sentenced to periods of imprisonment with hard labour and several times to solitary confinement for offences such as "insolence and being very riotous and disorderly when in charge" or "absent from her residence and in a disorderly house", or "being drunk" or simply "disorderly". The last entry on her conduct record, before she was granted a ticket of leave on 27 November 1849, was 8 February 1848 "absent without leave and found in a brothel, 6 months hard labor".

Catherine Mack (spelled Mac in the Baptismal Register), Catherine's Godmother, was a convict whose record shows that she was in the Female House of the Correction at Launceston when the baby Catherine was born. She also came from Liverpool. She too had a record of riotous behaviour and many additional sentences, including two years added to her original sentence of transportation, which was unusual. Catherine Mack arrived, oddly perhaps, on the "Garland Grove" in 1841, the same ship as brought Mary Ann Clarke, the convict we had previously thought to be Catherine's mother, to Tasmania in 1843. It remains to be discovered, if it ever is, whether either of them, or Henry Peever, knew the convict Mary Ann Clarke, but she was in the same area near Launceston a few years later.

Significantly, two charges on her conduct record link Mary Ann Ray as an assigned servant with one "Saltmarsh" in July and October 1844. This "Saltmarsh", the complainant on those occasions, is almost certainly William Saltmarsh, a land holder at Longford, who was the half brother of Richard Jordan (both were children of Mary Butler whose trial is described in chapter 1 and whose Jordan descendants are the subject of the book by Alma Ranson, "Jordans of the Three Isles"). Saltmarsh was granted land adjoining that of Richard Jordan after they were evacuated from Norfolk Island, in 1813. The Saltmarsh family was at Longford for at least two more generations. Richard Jordan who later moved to White Hills and then to "Oaks" near Adelphi in the Westbury district in 1844, was a friend of Henry Peever, and according to family tradition Henry took Catherine from her mother and brought her up with the help of the Jordans. Catherine named her first child Richard after Richard Jordan who was also a friend and neighbour of the Beswick family both at White Hills and at Adelphi. We do not know where Henry Peever was in August 1844 except that all the records we have place him somewhere in the Launceston, Longford, Westbury region of Northern Tasmania. If Mary Ann Ray was a servant in the Saltmarsh household between May and October 1844 she was placed in the same social and geographic context as Henry Peever at the time when she became pregnant with the child who was Christened Catherine, daughter of Henry "Pevor". That the same Catherine was my great grandmother is as near as one is likely to get to a practical certainty.

The big puzzle is how it came to be that we had the name Mary Ann Clarke for our Catherine's mother. It depends upon the witness of her eldest grandchild Thora Bottcher (married name Burton) who told Richard Gandy that Catherine's mother married a man named Anderson, together with the fact that Catherine's maiden surname was recorded as Clarke at the registration of her marriage to Thomas Beswick. Clarke (or Clark) was also the mother's maiden name recorded for the registration of the births of 12 of the 14 children of Catherine and Thomas. For two, the first Richard, unnamed at the time, and Ethel who died as an infant at Mathinna, she was Catherine Peever, as she was otherwise generally known. According to family tradition she could not use the name Peever at her marriage because Henry Peever was not married to her mother, although that was not always required at an early date in Tasmania or VDL. In any case, given the name Clarke we looked for the marriage of a Clarke woman to a man named Anderson and found only one, that of Mary Ann Clarke to John Anderson in 1853, hence the Mary Ann part of the name to go with Clarke. Much depends on what Thora told Richard Gandy - that Catherine's mother married a man named Anderson. As noted elsewhere, Thora was not always a reliable witness. Although she told Dick this she said in a recorded interview with her daughter Dorothy Hooper that she knew nothing of Catherine's mother other than that she was Irish.

We know that Catherine herself claimed Irish descent, and Mary Ann Ray's Roman Catholic religion fits with that, in contrast to Mary Ann Clarke of the "Garland Grove" who was recorded as Methodist. Her "native place" of Liverpool, a likely port of entry for Irish settlers in England, suggests that she could have been born there of Irish parents or that she could have come directly from Ireland with her "native place" being incorrectly reported. The convict records give no family for her except for a brother Francis at Sheffield.

It is a nice co-incidence that the woman who had previously been identified as the mother of Catherine, Mary Ann Clarke, was named Mary Ann, and that she was about the same age and had a convict record which was very similar to, but not as bad as, that of Mary Ann Ray. We placed Catherine with the convict Mary Ann Clarke who arrived on the "Garland Grove" in 1843, for reasons which are explained in footnotes notes to the history chapters 3 and 4 and in "Tasmania Roots". It now appears that I was wrong, but there is some explaining to do, especially in regard to the name Clarke.

It has been suggested that there could have been two children named Catherine whose father was Henry Peever, or that there could have been two men named Henry Peever. The odds are against there being two children of Henry Peever born of convict women at about the same time and whose mother was named Mary Ann in both cases and who were both named Catherine. The Tasmania records are clear that there was only one Edward or Henry Peever at that time, and there is only one registered birth and one baptism to fit with our Catherine, and that she was the child of Mary Ann Ray. We previously thought that her birth was not registered because we could find none with a mother who could have been Mary Ann Clarke. Excluding other possibilities, a search of the Tasmanian records shows that there was no Catherine Ray of about the same age who died or who was married in the following period. Nor was there any subsequent record for Mary Ann Ray. So we have one birth, one baptism, one father who is the man well known to us who had been living at Florence Vale with Catherine and Thomas Beswick when he died, and one mother Mary Ann Ray who seems to have disappeared; but where the Clarke name came from remains a mystery.

That there was some deliberate distortion of the record, we know too, at other points. We know that Henry Peever gave quite different accounts of his own age at different times and he could well have been misleading in what he passed on about the date of Catherine's birth. On the other hand the deception could have come from Catherine and Thomas. They back dated the date of their marriage in their entry in the family Bible, making it 21 January 1862 when the register shows it was 1 March. (Richard was born 1 October 1862.) Catherine's date of birth in the Bible is 18 May 1844, oddly 1 year, 1 month and 1 day before 19 June 1845. They had also apparently told people in the family that she was born in Hobart, for that is what is recorded on her death certificate. They were both children of convicts and attempts were made to hide that from later generations. By the time the relevant Bible entries made, sometime after 1884, they were well established as respectable citizens and the name Clarke could, similarly, have been made up by them as part of a strategy of concealing their background, and the identity of her mother in particular. But it seems unlikely that the story of the marriage of her mother to a man named Anderson was entirely fictitious given fact that we found a marriage of a Mary Ann Clarke to one John Anderson at the right time. One possible explanation is that Mary Ann Ray took the name Clarke after she was freed from her transportation sentence. Clarke was a common alias, but we have no direct evidence of that having happened. I would doubt that it was all made up by Thomas and Catherine, who were I think capable of a little bending of the truth in a harmless sort of way, but they were not criminals and probably not given to systematic deception. All we know of the next generation represents the Florence Vale family as people of integrity in whom trust was well placed, so that highly systematic fiction seems unlikely. It is true that nothing was more characteristic of the later colonial society in Tasmania than the search for respectability, indeed it is still going on in some respects after a hundred years. Thomas and Catherine were great examples of the descendants of convicts who transformed "the fatal shore" into a decent and humane society. Hiding the past was not, however, regarded in the same light as cheating on a friend.

If the mother of Catherine was in fact known later as Mary Ann Clarke, an alternative to Mary Ann Ray taking the alias Clarke after she was freed is that Clarke could have been her original name and Ray an alias she had used as a prostitute in Liverpool, and the name by which she was known at the time of her arrest which would have been retained on her convict records. Clarke was a fairly common name in Liverpool and among Irish convicts. We have another convict ancestor, Anne Clarke, who came from Liverpool a generation earlier. One thing which suggests that Ray might not have been Mary Ann's family name is that according the physical description of her in the convict records she had a tattoo of "John Ray and other marks too faint to be made out" on her right arm above the elbow. She also had numerous initials on both arms: J H H A G and J on her right arm below the elbow; and J K (or R) I P M A C J H M C on her left arm. Edward Peever, who was known as Henry, had his own initials E P on his arm, but it is not clear whether all those marks carried by Mary Ann Ray included her own initials at any point. There is one sequence of M A C which could be Mary Ann Clarke. There was no M A R. The initials in her tattoos are perhaps more likely to refer to the names of men whose partner she had been. The name John Ray was the only one spelled out. It might be for a relative, say her father, but one would think it more likely to have referred to a lover whose name she could have taken. Remembering too that she could neither read nor write, at least officially, what those signs might have meant to her must remain something of a mystery. The convict records often included an alias, but not all aliases would have been known. Obviously, we need more evidence to account for the name Clarke but it could have been her original family name and Ray the alias. We might for example see if we can find her brother as Francis Ray or Francis Clarke in the marriage and census records of Sheffield or Liverpool. She might also have left Tasmania after she was freed in 1851, married someone named Clarke, been widowed, and returned in time to marry John Anderson in 1853. We can check the Victorian records and the limited information in the Archives on departures from Tasmania, but the unlikely nature of such an alternative points to the need for a better explanation which gives some reason for her being known as both Clarke and Ray at different times, unless she were never Clarke at all, and that is almost as hard to accept as any remaining claim that she was not as Mary Ann Ray the mother of Catherine who married Thomas Beswick.

The description of Mary Ann Ray in the Tasmania Archive Con 15/1 is, in addition to the tattoos noted above, as follows:

Trade: House and needle girl

Height (without shoes): 4/11

Age: 18

Complexion: Fresh

Head: Oval

Hair: Brown

Visage: Full

Forehead: Flat

Eyebrows: Dk Brown

Eyes: Hazel

Nose: Medm.

Mouth: Small

Chin: Round

How much Catherine inherited from Mary Ann is hard to say. There were people with hazel eyes and brown hair in later generations. For what it is worth, Dorothy Beswick (Russell) claimed that Catherine was known as the best looking and best dressed woman in the region were she lived, though I think our Auntie Dorrie was inclined to look through rose coloured glasses at what had been passed to her in the family. She seemed also to attribute her grandmother Catherine's good looks, which appeared in several of her eight daughters, to "Handsome Harry" as old Henry Peever was sometimes called. Here are three photographs of Catherine, as a young woman with a baby, in her middle years, and later. To me, these images tend rather than demonstrating exceptional good looks to confirm her strength of character. How much of that was genetic and how much of that due to Mary Ann Ray is beyond us now, but one could say that the little we know of her mother even in her delinquency shows her to have been a person of vigour, persistence and passion, traits which were evident also on the life of Catherine.

The birth of Catherine to Mary Ann Ray and Henry Peever is quite well established, but we need to know more about Mary Ann Ray and whether she was known as Clarke before as well perhaps as after her term of transportation.

DB 9 May 1999

* The baptism of Catherine, daughter of Henry Peever and Mary Ann Ray was found by Margaret Bryant, who works in the Tasmanian Archives and passed it my cousin Kathleen Alexander.

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