Category Archives: Salmon

Brickwall #4 – “Mary Jemima Elliott” – update

Since my original post about my Mary Jemima Elliott brick wall, I am happy to say that the brick wall has now been knocked down 🙂 .

But first, to step back a little.  Last August, I was contacted by a researcher from Who Do You Think You Are.  At the time, they couldn’t tell me who the celebrity was (as it turned out, it was Casey Donovan, her episode screened last night).  What they could tell me was that the person was descended from Edward and Mary Jemima Elliott.  I shared all of the information I had with the researcher, as well as theories I hadn’t been able to confirm or refute.  As the researcher found information, she shared it back with me.  With this newly found information, I was able to trace back further.

And now, to the demolition of the brick wall!  It turns out that Mary Jemima WAS in fact Mary Salmon, who came out as an Irish Orphan in 1850 on the Tippoo Saib (theory #1 proven).    I am not sure where the name “Jemima” came from, she only appears to have started using it from about 1856 (birth certificate for her daughter Abigail).  Certainly, any documentation I have found for her prior to 1852 her name is listed as Mary Salmon.

Mary was initially indentured to a Mrs Leeke, presumably in Sydney.  Her indenture was cancelled on 21 March 1851.  She would probably have been returned to the Hyde Park Barracks after her indenture was cancelled.  On 31 January 1851, Mary was sent to the Immigrant Depot at Maitland.  She was subsequently indentured to a Francis Dale and his wife Grace in February 1852 for twelve months as a domestic servant.  In April 1852 Mary took Francis to court to claim owed wages and a discharge from her indenture.  The case was dismissed. What became of Mary after this is unknown, but it is possible that she was returned to the Immigrant Depot at Maitland.

Of interest from this, however, is that she looked after the Dale’s baby.  Investigation has shown that the baby’s name was Jemima, she was born in 1851.  Mary appears to have added “Jemima” to her name, she named one of her daughters Jemima Mary, another daughter was given the name Grace as a middle name, and she named a son Francis.  Were these names coincidence, or were they connected to her experience with the Dale family?   This is probably one question that will not be answered.

How Mary and Edward Elliott crossed paths is unknown, but they are supposed to have married in Maitland on 26 December 1852.

The researcher also found evidence that Edward Elliott was still alive after Mary married Jonathan Watson.  Mary had claimed to be a widow on the marriage certificate, but I was never convinced about this (theory #2 proven) .

It is still not known exactly how many children Mary and Edward Elliott had, and the exact total may never be known.  What is known is that they had between 12 – 14 children, I have names of 8 of the children, and can trace 7 of these children from birth to death.  I have also found that one of the children, Lillian, was born in Queensland, so this confirms the claim on Mary’s death certificate that she had spent time in Queensland.  I have not found any evidence of the claim that she also spent time in Tasmania…yet.

The researcher found Jonathan Watson’s death certificate.  Mary was the informant on the certificate, she gave her maiden name as Salmon.

As to where the surname Austin came from, and why Mary used it, we may never know for sure, but there are assumptions that can be made.  Mary first started claiming her maiden name was Austin on the birth certificates of her sons with Jonathan Watson.  It is most likely that Mary was trying to hide her past, as Edward Elliott was still alive when she married Jonathan.  By using a different maiden name, perhaps she was trying to hide the fact that this marriage was illegal.  Perhaps she picked a name that didn’t sound Irish, on the birth certificates for her Watson sons, she gave her place of birth as England (when she was the informant on birth certificates for her Elliott children, she gave her place of birth as Dublin Ireland).

As time permits, I will write Mary’s full story, and add it to the stories section of my website.